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Jesus Used Illustrations To Humble Pride, Not Encourage It (via Barry York at Gentle Reformation)

Illustrations, as their name demonstrates, are not the focus of a sermon’s message but serve to help important points of teaching or application be clarified and understood.
They must not distract or confuse, nor should they focus attention on the preacher or alienate hearers from the message.

This article about illustrations by Barry York is a good reminder of some basic principles.
I particularly appreciated this one:

Do not let them be boring or boorish.
If there is one place that should be guaranteed to be more lively and engaging in a sermon, it is when an illustration is given. If a story or anecdote is done poorly and does not hold the interest of the listeners, then things do not bode well for the rest of the sermon. Make them lively both in their content and presentation! Neither should the preacher seek to use the illustration in a condescending way, for instance having as its motivation an attempt to show the superiority of his church over others. Jesus used illustrations to humble pride, not encourage it.

Read the whole article at Gentle Reformation.


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Deep Communion vs Digital Communication (via Drew Hunter at Crossway Blog)

Drew Hunter observes that modern communication technology can be a helpful aid in growing relationships when it supplements face-to-face interactions, but when it becomes a primary or sole means of communication relationships will stagnate at superficial levels.

Deep Communion vs. Digital Communication
… Modern technology is a great tool for keeping up certain aspects of our relationships. Writing emails, sending texts, scanning posts—all of these helpfully complement true companionship. But they cannot fully replace it. These are the shallow ends of relationships. We find these tools convenient, but then we’re tempted to neglect the deeper waters of shared experiences and face-to-face conversation. Very often the way we use technology leads away from, rather than in to, stronger friendships. We often trade deep communion for digital communication.
Technology can hinder friendship in four ways. First, it often depersonalizes communication. We use it to connect, but over time, we feel less, not more, connected. We use it to move closer, but we end up farther away. We trade conversations and experiences for details and updates. We’re more connected to more people more often than ever before, but many of our relationships become more superficial and less satisfying.
Second, technology can disengage us from real communion. Sometimes when we connect with people through technology, we disconnect from those who are sitting right around us. Friends sit across the table at a coffee shop and enjoy friendship, but not with each other—with the friends on the other end of their phones. Once when I visited a workplace, I stepped into a break room and saw six coworkers sitting around a lunch table. The room was silent. Five of them stared at their phones while the sixth looked at her food. She sat at the table with them, but she ate her lunch alone. Surrounded by peers, she had no one to talk to.
Third, technology disembodies conversation. When we engage in person, we experience our friends in unrepeatable and holistic ways. We notice her expressions, intuit her moods, and learn her quirks. Embodied friendship is full of dynamic, realtime, give-and-take interaction. In contrast, digital communication doesn’t demand much more than fingers to flit around a keyboard. This has a place of course, but it doesn’t match experiencing a person’s real presence. For me to see Dane’s head roll back and hear his laugh, to talk through personal challenges across the table with Taylor, to see the romance in Christina’s eyes, to sense the sincerity in Bill’s encouragement, or to pick up the witty humor in Trent’s tone—there is simply no digital equivalent.
Finally, technology creates dependence on less personal ways of addressing personal issues. Confessing sin and admitting failure, or on the other hand, addressing sin and confronting failure—each of these is challenging, and digital communication seems easier. We take time to craft a statement, and we don’t need to worry about immediate reactions. But then we soon prefer to replace a personal meeting with a phone call; a phone call with a voicemail; a voicemail with an email; and an email with a text. Each step smooths the path for the next. Soon we can hardly muster the courage to say anything difficult in person. And without the reassuring eye contact, gentle tone, and responsive clarifications, we often end up adding complications rather than clearing things up.

Read the rest of the post at Crossway Blog.


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Silence Teaches Us to Listen (via Brian Croft)

Brian Croft writes about the virtues of silence in a noisy and distracted world.
It is a practice that Christians exercise before God, and one that we then exercise toward one another, so that we might truly listen.
Croft explains how silence enables us to listen, not just wait for our turn to make noise.

Silence Teaches Us to Listen
I was deeply troubled to learn that I had been a pastor for so long, and yet remained a poor listener. Sure, I listened, but it was mostly to prepare a response. I needed to learn to listen without needing to respond—just to listen and empathize.
As I embraced silence, I realized I was learning to listen. I heard sounds around me I never noticed before. I felt more receptive to God’s Word. It’s amazing what happens when you’re not preoccupied with trying to figure out what to say or do next.

Read the rest of Croft’s post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

112.
Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. That I do not bear false witness against anyone, twist anyone’s words, be a gossip or a slanderer, or condemn anyone lightly without a hearing. Rather I am required to avoid, under penalty of God’s wrath, all lying and deceit as the works of the devil himself. In judicial and all other matters I am to love the truth, and to speak and confess it honestly. Indeed, insofar as I am able, I am to defend and promote my neighbor’s good name.


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Therapeutic Lying (via Larissa MacFarquhar at The New Yorker)

An in-depth article in The New Yorker dealing with dementia care and the way its practictioners struggle with the lying and untruths that are part of the life of carers and patients.
Over the decades and even within among practitioners differing points of view and practices have been dominant and then given way to others.
Consider what it is to work day by day in a world where truth is often judged as being what the patient needs to hear.

In dementia care, everybody lies. Although some nursing homes have strict rules about being truthful, a recent survey found that close to a hundred per cent of care staff admitted to lying to patients, as did seventy per cent of doctors. In most places, as in Chagrin Valley, there is no firm policy one way or another, but the rule of thumb among the staff is that compassionate deception is often the wisest course. “I believe that deep down, they know that it is better to lie,” Barry B. Zeltzer, an elder-care administrator, wrote in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias. “Once the caregiver masters the art of being a good liar and understands that the act of being dishonest is an ethical way of being, he or she can control the patient’s behaviors in a way that promotes security and peace of mind.” Family members and care staff lie all the time, and can’t imagine getting through the day without doing so, but, at the same time, lying makes many of them uncomfortable. To ease this “deception guilt,” lying in dementia care has been given euphemistic names, such as “therapeutic fibbing,” or “brief reassurances,” or “stepping into their reality.”

Read The Comforting Fictions Of Dementia Care at The New Yorker.


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Never Wrong

No one was ever wrong between me and my kids.
There were a lot scenarios like the one illustrated below.
The other definition of not being wrong involves being less correct than someone else.


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A Social Media Strategy From Ligon Duncan

Ligon Duncan is a Presbyterian from the USA.
First posted as a series of Tweets, then collated and shared around the internet, here’s his ten-point social media strategy.

  1. Relentlessly encourage, edify, and inform.
  2. Ignore trolls, mockers, and slanderers into oblivion.
  3. Starve dissensionists, narcissists, and errorists of the attention they crave.
  4. Point people to sound people and resources.
  5. Exalt Christ. Bible. Grace. Truth. Gospel.
  6. Stay out of food fights. Don’t lob hand grenades into serious discussions. Bring people together.
  7. Be kind. Persuade (rather than rally).
  8. Treat people on social media like I would treat them in person.
  9. Don’t be different on social media from what I am in my life, family, church, and ministry. Be the same person online and offline.
  10. Don’t give inordinate attention to people whose only “platform” is social media and who elsewhere have little accountability, responsibility.

source