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Today's category: PastorsThe Talking Frog
“Shy” creator drew stories of sin and salvation seen by millions.His name did not appear on his art. Most of the millions who have seen it do not know who he is.But Fred Carter’s art is unforgettable.He drew bodies that were heavy—weighted with humanity and the possibility of redemption. He painted biblical characters who seemed real enough that their struggles and stories could be the viewers’ own. He depicted sin so that it was tempting; salvation so it mattered.And his art was reproduced by the millions. It was distributed across the country and around the world while he remained in anonymity.Carter—an African American artist who drew gospel tracts, evangelical comic books, and Black Sunday school curricula—died on May 9 at the age of 83.He was the close collaborator of Jack Chick, pioneer of the popular evangelistic cartoons known as Chick Tracts. According to Christian Comics International, more than half of Chick Tracts were drawn by Carter.Carter worked with Chick for eight years before Chick acknowledged the partnership, despite the obvious, dramatic difference between the men’s two art styles. Some suspected Chick was trying to hide Carter’s contributions, perhaps out of a desire to claim all the credit or out of fear the presence of a Black man would spark controversy.Chick, for his part, said the decision was Carter’s.“Fred is rather shy and declines to put his name on the art,” he said.Carter appears to have only given one interview in his 49-year career, speaking briefly to a Los Angeles Times reporter in Rancho Cucamonga, California, in 2003. His statements were simple and straightforward.About his calling: “It’s almost not like a job. It’s like a ministry I always wanted ...Continue reading...
Investigation: SBC Executive Committee staff saw advocates' cries for help as a distraction from evangelism and a legal liability, stonewalling their reports and resisting calls for reform.Armed with a secret list of more than 700 abusive pastors, Southern Baptist leaders chose to protect the denomination from lawsuits rather than protect the people in their churches from further abuse.Survivors, advocates, and some Southern Baptists themselves spent more than 15 years calling for ways to keep sexual predators from moving quietly from one flock to another. The men who controlled the Executive Committee (EC)—which runs day-to-day operations of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—knew the scope of the problem. But, working closely with their lawyers, they maligned the people who wanted to do something about abuse and repeatedly rejected pleas for help and reform.“Behind the curtain, the lawyers were advising to say nothing and do nothing, even when the callers were identifying predators still in SBC pulpits,” according to a massive third-party investigative report released Sunday.The investigation centers responsibility on members of the EC staff and their attorneys and says the hundreds of elected EC trustees were largely kept in the dark. EC general counsel Augie Boto and longtime attorney Jim Guenther advised the past three EC presidents—Ronnie Floyd, Frank Page, and Morris Chapman—that taking action on abuse would pose a risk to SBC liability and polity, leading the presidents to challenge proposed abuse reforms.As renewed calls for action emerged with the #ChurchToo and #SBCToo movements, Boto referred to advocacy for abuse survivors as “a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.”Survivors, in turn, described the soul-crushing effects of not only their abuse, but the stonewalling, insulting responses from leaders at the EC for 15-plus years. ...Continue reading...
King Saul, the more he disobeyed the Lord, became increasingly erratic in his behavior. He would love young David one day and hate hm the next. For example: “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.” (1 Samuel 19:1) Of course Jonathan, being David’s lifelong friend, […]
Today's category: GodGod the Parent
“Shy” creator drew stories of sin and salvation seen by millions.His name did not appear on his art. Most of the millions who have seen it do not know who he is.But Fred Carter’s art is unforgettable.He drew bodies that were heavy—weighted with humanity and the possibility of redemption. He painted biblical characters who seemed real enough that their struggles and stories could be the viewers’ own. He depicted sin so that it was tempting; salvation so it mattered.And his art was reproduced by the millions. It was distributed across the country and around the world while he remained in anonymity.Carter—an African American artist who drew gospel tracts, evangelical comic books, and Black Sunday school curricula—died on May 9 at the age of 83.He was the close collaborator of Jack Chick, pioneer of the popular evangelistic cartoons known as Chick Tracts. According to Christian Comics International, more than half of Chick Tracts were drawn by Carter.Carter worked with Chick for eight years before Chick acknowledged the partnership, despite the obvious, dramatic difference between the men’s two art styles. Some suspected Chick was trying to hide Carter’s contributions, perhaps out of a desire to claim all the credit or out of fear the presence of a Black man would spark controversy.Chick, for his part, said the decision was Carter’s.“Fred is rather shy and declines to put his name on the art,” he said.Carter appears to have only given one interview in his 49-year career, speaking briefly to a Los Angeles Times reporter in Rancho Cucamonga, California, in 2003. His statements were simple and straightforward.About his calling: “It’s almost not like a job. It’s like a ministry I always wanted ...Continue reading...
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies are not abortion. Pro-life Christians urge clear distinctions in state laws.In the recent breathtaking development from the US Supreme Court, a leaked draft opinion for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case indicated that abortion rights would be reversed.In the fallout, headlines appeared warning women that if the rulings Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are overturned, their access to healthcare would be compromised—not just for abortion, but also their treatments for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages.While news reports declare “Overturning Roe v. Wade Will Make It Harder to Treat Miscarriage” and “Overturning Roe Could Make Ectopic Pregnancies Extremely Dangerous,” some pro-life advocates are saying there should be no cause for concern—and that to say otherwise is to play into the agenda of abortion advocates.As a Christian woman who’s been involved in the pro-life movement for well over a decade, both professionally and personally, it deeply matters to me that the pro-life movement always provides the utmost care and concern for both a woman and her preborn child.I worked on Capitol Hill for the sponsor of much of the pro-life legislation, like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” and the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” and I’ve volunteered with local pregnancy centers, advocated for children in foster care, and now my husband and I are in the middle of an adoption.Statistics show that approximately 10–20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is when the embryo or fetus does not survive by 20 weeks gestation. In an ectopic pregnancy—just 1–2 percent of the time—the embryo improperly implants outside the ...Continue reading...
Even if the pills and procedures seem similar to elective abortion, doctors know the difference between treatment when a pregnancy ends and treatment to end a pregnancy.Roughly 10 percent to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and one in 50 pregnancies will be diagnosed as ectopic pregnancies, a potentially fatal condition in which an embryo develops outside the mother’s uterus.Both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy can be physically and emotionally painful. For Christians who believe human life begins at conception, losing a baby even early in pregnancy is a singular kind of grief. There are ministries for families suffering miscarriages, and many churches hold funerals or memorial services for babies who have died before they were born.But miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy removals aren’t merely a spiritual matter. They also have a clinical term: abortion. Miscarriages are described in medical language as “spontaneous abortions,” while the removal of an ectopic pregnancy can be referred to as an “induced abortion.”That can lead to confusion as Americans debate abortion policy after a leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court signaled the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. Outside of a medical context, “abortion” is used colloquially to describe “elective abortion,” or the intentional killing of a healthy and growing preborn child.In the aftermath of the leaked opinion, some abortion advocates have suggested that new abortion restrictions enacted could endanger health care for pregnant women. They worry that pregnancies that end through miscarriages or as a result of ectopic pregnancies will be wrapped into the new state laws.But many Christian ob-gyns, including those at major antiabortion institutions, such as the Charlotte Lozier Institute and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists ...Continue reading...
They saw that their ability to truly be the church was at stake. “Therefore I conclude that we should not cause extra difficulty for those among the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19, NET) It has never been more complicated to be a pastor than it is right now. At least that’s how it often seems. As racial tensions and culture clashes have dominated the headlines in our nation, too often those unwanted guests have decided to attend our churches as well. How do we navigate our ministries to the safe harbors of peace and unity while still fulfilling our prophetic call to proclaim the truth of the gospel that challenges our tendency to elevate our norms over others? And how can Scripture equip us to address today’s racial and ethnic tensions?In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke highlights one of the greatest threats the early church faced: ethnocentrism and cultural pride within the fellowship of believers. As the gospel spread beyond the initial band of Jesus’ Jewish followers across geographic and cultural boundaries, these impulses threatened to pull the adolescent church apart. Eventually the controversy led to the Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15.“The key question, then, in Acts 15 is not ‘Do these people have to do circumcision as a good work in order to get justified?’ ” N. T. Wright observes. “It’s ...‘Do you have to become ethnically Jewish in order to belong to the family of Abraham, the people of promise?’ ” The way early church leaders dealt with this question in the Jerusalem Council provides a powerful model for how we can respond to racial division in our churches and communities today.The situationAt his ascension, Jesus told his followers, “You will receive ...Continue reading...
Today's category: MarriageBlack and White
3 changes in the way Jesus worked after Pentecost.
The chief concert technician for Steinway & Sons gave Bibles to the world's greatest pianists and told them about Jesus.
During the pandemic, just a couple years after Bill Hybels's resignation, attendance at the Chicago-area megachurch fell by half. Willow Creek Community Church, one of the largest and most highly regarded congregations in the nation, will lay off 30 percent of its staff due to post-COVID-19 declines in attendance and giving.“Willow is about half of the size we were before COVID, which is right in line with churches across the country,” Dave Dummitt, Willow Creek Community Church senior pastor, told his congregation in a video announcing the cuts. “But as you can see, and as you can imagine, that has fiscal impactions.”Founded in the mid-1970s, Willow Creek grew from a start-up congregation meeting in a movie theater to one of the most influential Protestant congregations in the United States, drawing more than 25,000 worshippers weekly by 2017, according toOutreach Magazine.But the church has struggled in recent years after the resignation of co-founder Bill Hybels, who was accused of sexual harassment and abuse of power. The co-pastors who succeeded Hybels also resigned not long afterward, followed by the entire church elder board.Hybels has denied any wrongdoing. A 2019 investigation by a group of outside Christian leaders found the allegations against him credible.Before the layoffs, staff costs made up about 72 percent of the church budget, according to an update released by the church earlier this month. The layoffs will save $6.5 million, bringing staff costs closer to half of the current budget.“These changes are difficult on staff members whom we love who will no longer have a staff role—some of them have been with us for many years,” the church said in the update. “We are providing generous financial care for each of these individuals, ranging between three months and ...Continue reading...
The chief concert technician for Steinway & Sons gave Bibles to the world's greatest pianists and told them about Jesus.Franz Mohr, former chief concert technician at Steinway & Sons in New York, has died at 94.He was, in his own assessment, “just a piano tuner who loves the Lord.”But Mohr’s expertise and backstage support was valued by the world’s most famous concert pianists, including Van Cliburn, Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, and Emil Gilels. They relied on his deep musical knowledge and technical skill.He traveled around the world with them, protecting and servicing their concert-grade grand pianos, each of which was built by 200 Steinway & Sons artisans and cost more than $200,000. Mohr prepared the pianos with tuning, voicing, and adjustments for optimal performance to the artist’s particular liking. Between concerts, he could be found in Steinway Hall’s basement in Manhattan, doing regular, meticulous maintenance.His true passion, however, was unashamedly proclaiming the love and hope of Christ to this niche community.“He was like a magnet drawing them in,” said Tom Carpino, Franz’s pastor at The Bridge (Nazarene) Church, in Malverne, New York, “and bringing the Bible’s message to whomever he could.”Franz was a member of The Bridge for more than 40 years and served as for many years as an elder. He also regularly spoke to Christian groups and worked with Crescendo International, a Cru ministry.“With my little tuning hammer I have shared the Lord in unbelievable places,” he said.He died at home on March 28 from complications related to COVID-19.Mohr was born in Nörvenich, Germany, on September 17, 1927. He was the second of three sons in a musical family in which Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Beethoven were ...Continue reading...
A new biography captures the misunderstood faith of Huldrych Zwingli.Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) has not usually fared well at the hands of historians. Whether cast as Martin Luther’s antagonist or as John Calvin’s (largely forgotten) understudy, the Zurich reformer has been widely misunderstood, oftentimes vilified, and frequently ignored. Even in death, Zwingli proved to be controversial: Though a fierce opponent of the Swiss mercenary system, he perished in battle, sword in hand, seeking to extend Reformed Christianity to neighboring Catholic territories.In his insightful new biography, Zwingli: God’s Armed Prophet, historian Bruce Gordon offers a compelling interpretation of this 16th-century preacher, theologian, political strategist, and self-styled prophet, demonstrating that Zwingli’s creative vision of church, sacrament, and sacred community forged a new form of Christianity that came to be known as the Reformed faith. For Gordon, Zwingli’s creative but combative leadership in Zurich proved to be “remarkably generative, fecund, and destructive.”The embattled reformerBorn in the high Alpine village of Wildhaus on January 1, 1484, the boy Huldrych Zwingli grew up in a world of subsistence farming, Catholic piety, and stunning natural beauty. From an early age, he developed a deep attachment to the Swiss Confederation, its land and people.Zwingli’s formal schooling took him to Basel, Bern, Vienna, and then back to Basel (where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1504 and a master’s in 1506). This academic journey instilled in him a permanent love for humanistic learning, including the study of classical Greek and Roman literature, the mastery of the biblical languages, and the application of Scripture for the renewal of ...Continue reading...
During the pandemic, just a couple years after Bill Hybels's resignation, attendance at the Chicago-area megachurch fell by half. Willow Creek Community Church, one of the largest and most highly regarded congregations in the nation, will lay off 30 percent of its staff due to post-COVID-19 declines in attendance and giving.“Willow is about half of the size we were before COVID, which is right in line with churches across the country,” Dave Dummitt, Willow Creek Community Church senior pastor, told his congregation in a video announcing the cuts. “But as you can see, and as you can imagine, that has fiscal impactions.”Founded in the mid-1970s, Willow Creek grew from a start-up congregation meeting in a movie theater to one of the most influential Protestant congregations in the United States, drawing more than 25,000 worshippers weekly by 2017, according toOutreach Magazine.But the church has struggled in recent years after the resignation of co-founder Bill Hybels, who was accused of sexual harassment and abuse of power. The co-pastors who succeeded Hybels also resigned not long afterward, followed by the entire church elder board.Hybels has denied any wrongdoing. A 2019 investigation by a group of outside Christian leaders found the allegations against him credible.Before the layoffs, staff costs made up about 72 percent of the church budget, according to an update released by the church earlier this month. The layoffs will save $6.5 million, bringing staff costs closer to half of the current budget.“These changes are difficult on staff members whom we love who will no longer have a staff role—some of them have been with us for many years,” the church said in the update. “We are providing generous financial care for each of these individuals, ranging between three months and ...Continue reading...

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