The Ingredients for Higher Education Disruption

Higher Education has not yet experienced a major disruption like other cultural institutions, but that time is coming. As some of you know I have served as the president or director of three small higher education institutions over the past eight years. I have worked in higher education administration since 2001. This is a world I am familiar with. I have also been deeply immersed in arena of tech disruption. I have watched the music industry be disrupted by iTunes. I have watched the print news be disrupted by online journalism. We are watching the disruption of TV and Cable programing as YouTube and Netflix grow in popularity. Age old cultural institutions are capitulating— being disrupted — by the innovation of the internet. But to date this has not happened to higher education.

One might disagree with this premise and point to the rise of online education. But that does not constitute a full blown disruption of the institution as we know it. The for-profit college concept made an attempt at disruption, but they were thwarted by government regulation.

The disruption I'm talking about will be evident when major colleges and universities begin to shut down because they cannot keep up with the new option (whatever that may be). That has not happened yet… but it will.

This does not mean that higher education will cease to exist. But college, as we know it, will radically change. I am convinced of this fact and these are the seven reasons why.

The Disruption Trend Shows No Sign of Stopping

The concept of the internet has been on a warpath against every industry and institution. There are very few areas where the internet has not made it’s reach known. Just looked at the track record of the internet should cause us to say that there is an inevitability about change.

There is a Growing Sense That Higher Education is Inadequate in its Current Form

Recently James Altucher — a successful investor and entrepreneur — stated that the University is a scam.  James also elaborated on his blog. He isn’t alone in his opinion. Jason Calacanis reiterated this same point when he appeared on the 20 Minute VC Podcast. PayPal founder and legendary VC Peter Thiel paid 24 young adults $100k to drop out of college. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of thought leaders within the culture that are critiquing higher education. Their complaints include: The learning process is analogue in a digital age. The delivery of information is not personalized for the student. The classroom is too theoretical and disconnected from real life.

Mounting Debt from Student Loans

College debt is a significant problem that is gaining a lot of attention. According to a recent Washington Post article student’s college debt is estimated be $1.3 trillion dollars. This site gives a run down on the numbers. Forbes wrote in 2014 on why student loans are a unique form of debt that are toxic for the US economy.

The Meaninglessness of a Degree and Proof that College Does not Equal Success

To say that a college degree is meaningless would idiotic. There are plenty of statistics that show a person with a bachelors degree earns more then a non-degreed adult. But as the Economist pointed out a few years ago, that return on investment is decreasing. The debt load combined with the economy has contributed to a decline in value for a college degree. If that trend continues there will be less and less incentive to pursue a degree.

The Rapidity of Change Within Particular Fields

Many fields, especially related to technology, are evolving so quickly that a four year education becomes outdated. The only way to keep up with the change is to always be learning. In these fields it doesn’t work to front load your education at the start of your career.

The Broad Access to Information That Was Once Only Available in College Classrooms and Libraries

Access to information is one of the biggest reasons for disruption… not just in higher education. The easy access of info is changing all of education. Once upon a time the information that you would learn at University was only available through direct access to the professor or through elite libraries. Now anyone with a computer (mobil phone all the way up to a desktop) can access this same information.

Evidence That Successful People Don’t Need a Degree

Stories about successful entrepreneurs that didn’t finish college are becoming more and more common. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs come to mind. Business Insider has created their own list of rich college drop-outs. As more and more people succeed without a college degree there will be an impact on the psyche of potential students. If their hero didn’t need college to succeed why should they?

These seven factors lead me to believe that higher education is ripe for disruption. The current product is poor to moderate. The delivery methods are antiquated. The competitive edge has greatly diminished. The costs have skyrocketed. And the results have diminished. Higher Education is extremely vulnerable to disruption.

One of the major factors that will delay the disruption time frame in higher education is government regulations. The government is fairly active in regulating the changes that take place in higher education because they are funneling grants and loans to students. This was seen most recently when the government cracked down on for-profit colleges. Until new government regulations were rolled out in 2010 for-profits colleges were steamrolling the industry. For-proffit college pioneer, Michael Clifford, spoke about this in an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal.

Government regulations have only stalled the inevitable. Higher education disruption is coming. It is only a matter of time.

The GOP Field Doesn't Surprise Me

In the past five years I have only published one political article on my blog. It was published in 2013 as praise to Ted Cruz' decision to filibuster Obamacare. I appreciated the boldness of such a move and I found it fascinating to watch how little support Cruz had among his fellow Republicans. Cruz' decision was bold and different. He stood out as a man of principles.

I also wrote a political article early last Fall but did not publish it. That article was an affirmation of Donald Trump hours after he had suggested that John McCain was no hero. It was not an article that defended Trumps disrespect for McCain, but rather was an explaination on why it was a brilliant political move as the GOP nominee. In the article I noted the pent up frustrations that many Republicans felt towards McCain for his continual comprises with Democrats in Washington. And I suggested that Trump's attacks on McCain were perfectly in tune with an inward anger felt by many conservatives. I didn't publish that article because I feared looking like an idiot buttressing an egotistical outside candidate.

But here were are. The two remaining GOP candidates are Cruz and Trump.

When playing politics there is something to be said for strength, guts, and bold communication. The supposed political decorum has been turned on its head. This time around... Strong, bold personalities have won the day.

I actually don't like either candidate. Neither man will do a good job of representing my political views. But I respect both men's political acumen.

Pastor Saeed Abedini Release

I was delighted to see the news about the release of Saeed Abedidni this morning. It has been a long, heart-breaking, saga since Saeed's imprisonment in 2012. His wife Naghmeh Abiding did an amazing job advocating on his behalf. She was perpetually available to the press and requests for interviews. Here is Nagmeh's tweet from this morning:

This past summer Naghmeh gave me an interview update on Saeed.

Christianity Today has started an article journalling the news of Saeed's release. You can find that here.

On Sunday, January 18th, 2016 I spoke with Naghmeh about Saeed's release: I'll update this article as more information becomes available.

Splitting 1 Timothy 2:12 In Half: Women Teaching and Leading In The Church

[This is a part of an email response I sent to a young lady who was asking about the Complementarian position and women teaching mixed audiences in the church. It does not delve deeply into an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, but it does give a basic lay of the land.] Hi,

Thanks for contacting CalvaryChapel.com. You are asking an excellent question that is currently debated in Calvary Chapels. Since it is an ongoing debate I don’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of anyone other then myself.

As you have discovered in your research, there are some Complementarians that distinguish between the teaching and exercising authority spoken of in 1 Tim. 2:12. I would be in that camp.

In support of women teaching mixed audiences I would point to the follow biblical examples:

  • Women wrote doctrinal worship songs and they are now scripture (Hannah, Miriam, Elizabeth, Marry)
  • A women birthed the Messiah (and every male leader that God called in OT and NT)
  • Women were the first to see the resurrected Christ and report their findings back to the apostles
  • Women were welcomed as students and learners of Jesus in Luke 10:38-42
  • Women were filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way that men were
  • Women were gifted to prophesy
  • Women were permitted to pray in the church

When it comes to women not exercising authority I would point to the following biblical examples:

  • 1 Timothy 2 appears to teach that women should not take an authoritative role in the church
  • I look at the garden and who God made responsible for sin and how that theology is developed through the NT.
  • I look at the fact that 99% of the time God raised up men to be leaders in the OT. Additionally the priesthood was a male only role.
  • I look at the fact that Jesus chose 12 men to be disciples.
  • I look at the absence of female presbyters (elders) in the NT.
  • I look at the male leadership of the husband in marriage established in Ephesians 5.
  • The qualifications for an elder in Titus 1 are written for men and hinge on leadership in the home.

As is always the case, we want to let scripture interpret scripture. In my opinion it is difficult to look at all of scripture and say women cannot teach a mixed audience. At the same time, when I read through all of scripture I don’t see a strong case for women being the head leadership of the church.

Other then that short answer, I’ll try to point you toward some resources that might help you answer this question.

Here is an article that Pastor Kellen wrote on the subject:

I also really enjoyed Kathy Keller’s book: Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles.

Hope that helps!

God bless,

Josh Turansky

The Potential Danger When Warning Against Christian Liberties

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Today on Pastor's Perspective we had a follow up call regarding pastors and alcohol. Yesterday Julie called to ask about an incident that occurred over Christmas. She was at a meal with her pastor and his wife and they were drinking wine. This shocked Julie and she called to ask if that was okay. Both Pastor Brian and I assured her that drinking alcohol was not a sin but that drunkeness was a sin. Later in the hour we got a call about gambling and we gave some warnings against gambling. You can view the show here. Today we got a follow up question asking if we were being consistent in our response to Julie in the same way that we had talked about gambling. It was an excellent follow up in that allowed us to clarify both our comments on gambling and alcohol.

You can watch the dialog here... (starting around the 45 minute mark)

[embed]https://youtu.be/O2jwhQO6ry0?t=46m25s[/embed]

I wanted to explain briefly what I meant when I said that there can be a danger when a leader gives warnings about Christian liberties.

First, Christian liberties are discussed in 1 Corinthians 8-10, Romans 14-15, and Galatians 2. There are other related passages, but I would classify those three locations as "home base" when we discuss the theology of Christian liberty.

Second, Christian liberty is an arena where people can make ethical decisions that are not governed explicitly by scripture. It is essential that we understand that arena as a one which is purchased by the blood of Jesus and one where the Holy Spirit wants to help us decide how to live. A Christian's liberty is directly tied to the work of Christ on the cross.

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." - Gal. 5:1

When we get Christian liberties wrong we aren't just being legalistic or licentious, we are impugning the finished work of the cross. Our freedom (liberty) is personally connected to Jesus. He paid for our liberty with his blood.

This is an important point because both the weak brother and the strong brother (Rom 14-15) could mistakenly strip the arena of liberty from it's personal connection with Jesus. The legalist (weak brother) boasts in what liberties they don't exercise at the expense of other's spiritual wellbeing (Gal. 2:14-21). The strong brother might mistakenly flaunt their liberties at the expense of other's conscience before God (1 Cor. 8:9-13). But both are violating the implications of the cross.

Third, all liberties can be abused to the point of sin or natural consequences.... including the two we discussed on the radio today: alcohol and gambling. That being the case it is appropriate for pastor's and Christian leaders to warn against excess. Hebrews 13:17 says that Christian leaders keep watch for the souls of those they lead. And that passage implies spiritual leadership.

And that brings me to my point.

When a pastor warns believers regarding Christian liberties and encourages limits they must do so without condemning the stronger brother. If the stronger brother hears the warning of the Christian leader and falls under condemnation that Christian leader has plaid the role of Peter in Galatians 2. If the stronger brother feels less spiritual after hearing the leaders warning then the leader has begun to impact the work of grace in that persons life.

Excessive warning does not compliment the New Covenant message of grace because it can give a sense of spiritual superiority to the person who limits their freedom. We know that our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ and not through us limiting our Christian liberty. By coming down hard on Christian liberties a leader can easily convey a moralistic gospel rather then the message of God's grace. Therefore the christian leader must warn (1 Cor 4:14; Col 1:28; 1 Thess 5:14) without condemning the strong brother and without miscommunicating the gospel of grace.

The Bible gives three specific reasons why we limit our Christian liberty:

  1. We limit our freedom for the sake of the gospel message reaching non-believers. (1 Cor. 10:23-33)
  2. We limit our freedom for the sake of other Christian's conscience. (1 Cor. 8)
  3. We limit our freedom so that our sinful nature is not indulged (1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:13, Proverbs 4:23)

The biggest emphasis for Paul as he discussed Christian liberties was the advancement of the gospel, second to that, Paul asked for a mutual love. The strong and weak were exhorted to love one-another and not judge each other.

A couple of years ago I shared at length on this given topic. You can watch my lecture here:

[embed]https://vimeo.com/105066869[/embed]

Pastor's Perspective with Brian Brodersen and Ed Stetzer

On December 18th we were privileged to have Dr. Ed Stetzer on Pastor's Perspective with Brian and I. Ed happened to be in town to help his daughter check out Biola University and was gracious enough to give us an hour in the studio. We talked about living a life on mission for God, the purpose of denominations, the Syrian Refugee crisis and the controversy surrounding the Wheaton College professor who was placed on administrative leave of absence. [embed]https://youtu.be/SzpZB3qnpWc?t=2m18s[/embed]

The Kim Davis Situation May Not Be Persecution…

Are your views on the Kim Davis situation a slam dunk? I’ve been following the County Clerk situation in Kentucky for the past couple of weeks. Once she was sent to jail yesterday there was an outcry from Christians. Many on Facebook were suggesting that this is a preeminent example of Christian persecution. On the surface that is how it appears. A Christian has a particular conviction. She is sent to jail for being faithful to that conviction.

But starting yesterday afternoon an alternative view has been emerging. It now appears that support of Kim Davis’ position may be self-defeating.

This is an emotional situation because of the recent defeats that Christians have experienced within US culture. But it is vital that we do not respond emotionally at the expense of logic.

There are some particular principles at stake as Christians opine on this situation.

  1. We don’t want to respond on a superficial level without understanding the particulars of the case.
  2. We ought to make sure our opinion is logically consistent across the board.
  3. We must make sure our opinion is rooted in a biblical understanding of government, conscience, and work.

I haven’t come to a conclusion yet, but I am concerned about a Christian misstep in the public square. Here are some articles that shine more light on the matter.

I’m seeing really good arguments for and against Kim Davis actions which means that this is not a slam dunk issue. And if it isn’t a slam dunk issue we should use less emotion and more humility to share our opinion. Remember, the world is looking on.

Finally, the Christian worldview lost on June 29th when SCOTUS ruled in favor of SSM. The ramifications of that decision are now playing out in real life situations. Those ramifications are going to be incredibly painful for Christians. The next generation of American Christians will live in a world pos-SCOTUS ruling. The faster we can embrace this new reality the better we will do at strategically plotting the way forward.

Lessons From Fallen Leaders

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If there is one accepted fact among millennials it is this: leaders aren’t perfect. From politics to business to sports and the church, this fact is illustrated on a annual basis.

But I find it interesting how leaders are now handling their fall from grace. I don’t have a grand summarizing statement about the evolution of post-fall activity. But I do find some aspects of this interesting.

  • access to the internet platform that these leaders developed are not revoked when they resign
  • many people are willing to forgive and allow those leaders to have a voice in their life as long as they are humble

Over the past month Mark Driscoll has reemerged starting with a lengthy interview with Brian Houston. And now blogging at markdriscoll.com. Both parts of the interview are worth watching.

The second leader who has been interesting to watch has been Tullian Tchividjian. On June 21st Christianity Today wrote about Tullian’s resignation from the pastorate. His resignation occurred after having admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a women. He recently gave an interview to the Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast.

For myself personally, I appreciate both of these leaders and value their voice in the the public square. I am always concerned about the people who may have been wounded by these leaders failures, but I don’t believe that these leaders silence will be the antidote to the pain of the wounded . And I say that as one who has been wounded by bad leadership in the past.

I would love to hear your thoughts on either of these cases.

Where is the Listener’s Curation Tool for Great Podcasts

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This is a feature request for anyone developing a podcasting app. (You're welcome!) Basically I’m asking for someone to combine Pinterest with my favorite podcasting app for the sake of episode curation.

Here is why.

Podcasters are creating a ton of content. Not every episode from a podcaster is a home run. Some episodes are better then others. Some times I want to listen to the best episodes rather then the best podcasts.

The listening habits of most podcast consumers are composed of working in reverse chronological order. When a person opens their podcasting app they typically see the most recent episode first. Based on their settings they may only see the most recent episode.

But is this the best episode to listen to? What if the episode from four weeks ago was so much better? How would the listener know? What about shows that stop generating new content? There has to be a better way of locating and discovering the best of the best on an individual episode basis.

The current world of podcast discovery reminds me of the music industry 15 years ago. The music listener was pretty much locked into purchasing an entire album even if they were interested in one song off that album. Once iTunes came along it gave the music listener the option to purchase the individual song. Podcast listening is similar to the old model. The consumer is pretty much forced to subscribe to the show and keep their ears perked up for good content. Yes, iTunes allows you to download on an episode by episode basis, but unless you know what you are looking for it is useless.

Right now, the discovery of podcasts are primarily based around shows and not episodes. (The iTunes store does give you the ability to identify top episodes vs top podcasts, but this is just based on popularity. And most of the time the ranking is based on new content vs what is the best.) What if I want to find some good episodes that deal with preparing my kindergartener for her first year of school? What if I want to find some episodes that will help me prepare for a future trip to Europe? In these use cases I would love to discover the top episodes from multiple podcasters that help me with the given topic.

I also would love to do my own work of curation. Sometimes I’m listening to a show and think “I’ve got to remember that for later.” Or “That show fits perfectly with that other show from a few months ago.” I wish I could create and save my own list of episodes based on how my brain works.

And this is the genius of Pinterest. That platform empowered individuals to do curation around their own themes and passions. That is what I want for the podcast world.

So basically here is the feature request:

  • This is a podcast episode curation tool.
  • It needs to allow my to “pin” an individual episode to a particular “board” that I created or collaborate on.
  • It needs to be built into an existing podcasting app because that is where podcast consumption takes place.
  • It needs to allow me to rate the individual podcast episode or identify priority in some way or another.
  • It needs to have a social layer that allows me to view my friends “boards” and lets them see mine. I also would want to be able to subscribe to a friends “board”.
  • It could generate original art or some type of visual cue because most episodes don’t come with their own graphic.
  • It needs to allow me to give my own written commentary or context for why I “pinned” it.

It is my guess that is will become a standard feature in future podcasting apps. But there is the opportunity for an innovator to create the first version of this concept. And that first version could become the gold standard that other podcasting apps choose to license.


UPDATE: [8/18/15] There are a few early attempts that have been produced around the idea of podcast episode discovery. While these are not what I have described in my article above, they are based on a similar objective. I’ll keep adding them here as I come across them.

Help Jim Mulligan

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My friend Jim Mulligan faithfully attends Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He prays for our church every Saturday night with a handful of other guys. He is one of the kindest men I know.

Recently he told me a crazy story.

On paper he is dead. According the the Veterans Administration Jim was killed in Vietnam around 1968. It took him 20 years to receive an honorable discharge. But to this day he cannot access any type of retirement. He has been living off of an extremely small Social Security check over the past decade and doing side carpentry work.

I am trying to connect him with someone who can advocate on his behalf.

So far Jim has been to the VA offices in Los Angeles and Mission Viejo, California. In both instances he has been told that the paperwork that is needed is located in the National Archives. They said “We’ll call you when we find them.” That was last year.

Jim has also been to US House Representative Dana Rohrabacher’s office. He was given a basic form to fill out letting the congressmen know what he needs.

I have only heard horror stories about the VA in the news. I haven’t had a face for it until now.

If you have any suggestions on what Jim could do please added them in the comments below.

What I’m Checking Out Online

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Periscope 1.1

Today Periscope 1.1 was released. I have been using Periscope since it first launched a couple of months ago. It represents one significant aspect of new social media. This update includes an awesome map view of where people are “scoping” from in the world. It is interesting to see how few livefeeds are happening at any given time.

Sacca’s Recent Essay About Twitter

Chris Sacca is in a league of his own as a VC and has a tone of Twitter stock. This week he wrote a lengthy piece about his opinions on Twitter and what needs to be developed to keep it growing. I think it is highly likely that a number of his ideas will find their way into the app over the next year. Sacca is also on Periscope and is pretty generous with his time in answering Q&A.

The Nuzzel App

Nuzzel is a news aggregator that pulls the top stories from the people you follow on Twitter. It uses an algorithm to determine what is most popular and important. This is a great tool because it is easy to miss important links in the raw Twitter feed. Check it out here.

Periscope, Meerkat, and The Church

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This morning Twitter introduced their livestreaming app called Periscope. This is Twitter's response to the run away success of an app called Meerkat that launched about a month ago.

Both of these apps run on your iPhone and allow you to immediately start streaming video and audio from you phone.

Meerkat was well accepted and even got some usage by Jimmy Fallon this past week.

I have tried out both apps and have some initial thoughts.

1. This Has The Potential to Be Huge

Everyone of these new technologies are a platform for communication and relationships. People using them is what makes them valuable. To be more precise, my friends using them is what makes them valuable. Right now it looks like people are really interested in this type of platform.

2. Use Cases for the Church

Obviously, any church can stream their worship service over this platform. That is a no brainer. You should do it this weekend like my friend Mike Neglia did last week. 

But beyond that, it is a great leadership tool. It gives church leaders an opportunity to communicate with their local congregation and with a global audience.

I think it also is a great tool for missionaries to give live updates from the field. It is another platform for connecting your local church with the missionaries that they support.

I would love to hear how you are using it for ministry or business. Leave a comment below.

 

My New (Extra) Job

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So as of January, 2015 I have a new title: President of Community Christian College. Many of you know, I love post secondary education. I started working in education leadership back at Calvary Chapel Bible College in 2002. It was there  that I learned the ins and outs of college administration. IMG_1195

In 2007 our family moved to Kauai where I started a Bible College and helped develop the campus for 3 and a half years.

In 2010 we moved back to California so that I could lead Calvary Chapel University through a very important rebuilding season.

In total I have had a hand in college leadership for more than eleven years.

Which brings me to this past January. I received a call from my friend Pastor David Zamor asking me if I would consider accepting an offer to become the next President of Community Christian College. This would be no cake walk. The college has gone through a rough couple of years with a decline in enrollment and some serious financial challenges. But at the same time it has good “bones.” It has accreditation through the Transnational Associate of Christian Colleges and Schools with a degree that is widely transferable.

The college offers an accredited AA and has the ability to help students receive Title IV funding including the Pell Grant. The college has a dual enrollment program for high school juniors and seniors. The high school students enrolled in this program can graduate from high school with a diploma and AA degree finished. And the price of this program is amazing. All of their classes are available online or can be taken in residence at the Redlands, Fontana, or Downey campuses.

I have accepted this new role without lessening my responsibilities at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa  My day off from the church is Monday and so I spend that day out at in Redlands or Fontana. Throughout the rest of the week I address college projects remotely.

I would ask that you keep the college and myself in prayer as we go through a significant season of rebuilding. I need wisdom and opportunities to help expand upon the foundations that other leaders have laid. If you need to take general education classes please check out the school web site. If you have any good networking leads please contact me.

 

John Turansky’s Discipleship Manual

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On my way into church this morning I got a text letting me know that my Grandpa, John Turansky, passed away. His health had deterietied significantly over the past year. His passing was not unexpected. He was deeply loved by his family and is survived by my amazing Grandma. My Grandpa was the “tip of the spear” in my surrender to Christ. I have often shared how my Grandpa paid me $100 to memeroize 100 Bible verses. It was through that process that my heart opened up to the gospel.

My Grandpa was an intense guy. He had a famous saying “Let’s go, go, go.” He was ready to act and take bold steps. This was evident in the churches he planted and the ministry jobs he took.

He was extremely practicle. He wanted to connect the Christian faith with normal everyday life. That led him to develope his discipleship manual. Last year I found some of the studies from one of his discipleship manuals. I thought I would post it here as a free download. There are thousands of people who have gone through my Grandpa’s discipleship material. Hopefully this will be a blessing to many of you.

John Turansky Discipleship Manual

The Gospel Offers a Robust Identity

Yesterday Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, came out of the closet and announced that he is gay  This has been a well known fact for a number of years, but yesterday was his formal announcement.

One of the reasons I am broken hearted over the gay agenda is the impoverished identity that it gives to it's adherents. I can't imagine being primarily identified off of my sexual orientation. It is a very narrow identifier. The leaders of the LGBT community are using many wonderful people who have same-sex attraction to further their agenda. But the benefit of primarily being identified as "gay" is not equitable exchange for the follower.

Aside from the fact that I agree with scripture when it says that homosexual acts are sin, I am sad that wonderful people are allowing themselves to live off of such a narrow identity. And I wish that people who find themselves attracted to the same sex would buck the trend of identifying themselves with only that feeling. Even if they are not convinced of my ethical system I wish they would consider whether being primarily identified off of sexuality is the most beneficial label to take on.

Humans are hungry for an identity. Just consider some of the movements that have developed over the past 100 years. Civil rights... Feminism... Anti-war... People want to be a part of a movement that changes society for the sake of change as much as they want to gain an identity.

Your identity determines so much of what you do and how you interact with others.

That is where the propositions of Christianity should be considered. Christianity is not just a moral code that opposes homosexual acts. It is a life giving identity that gives endless possibilities.

Just consider the first chapter of Ephesians.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,to the praise of his glory. - Eph. 1:3-14

Even if a gay person is not ready to relinquish their lifestyle they have to consider what identity is most beneficial.

Is it possible that coming out as gay is only abrogating a significant amount of freedom and life that God intended for you? Is is possible that the LGBT community is handing out cheap and shallow identities that give the movement leaders power while the followers are restricted.

On this Halloween, as people take on a new identity for a couple of hours consider the benefits of these costumes. Are all Halloween costumes created equal? Can you dress up however you want without ramification? What about the guy who dressed like Ray Rice and was dragging a female manikin behind him? Was that a win?

Not all available identities are created equal and there are ramifications that flow from identity.

I love and have a great deal of compassion on those who are struggling with their sexual identity. I am upset with the narrowness of the "gay" label. And it is my hope that all who have homosexual desires will consider how they identify themselves moving forward.


Logos 6 Has Arrived

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If you think about it, we have the ability to analyze and research  scripture unlike any generation that has preceded us. Studies that take us seconds once occupied a scholar for a lifetime. Have you ever thought about what it must have been like to put together Strong’s concordance before the computer age? It is remarkable to consider the ease at which we can look things up and do a comparative study.

All that to say, Logos 6 was released this morning. I’ve had a couple of weeks to give it a test drive and I was impressed.

Right off the bat you will notice the ascetic improvements. The user interface looks like it has gone through a year of refinements. The overall look and feel is more appealing.

Some of the updates have to do with text comparisons. These are valuable, but it isn’t a major feture that I’ll utilize.

The new Proverbs Explorer is pretty cool. My Dad would have loved this feature when he was in seminary. The book of Proverbs has been tagged by theme, character and so on. With the click of your mouse you can filter the book of Proverbs by the word “wisdom” or “fool”. There are close to 50 different ways to filter the book.

The guys at Logos have also built an extensive tool for Psalms. Check out the video below to see how that works.

Here is the official press release:

BELLINGHAM, Wash., October 27, 2014 — Faithlife Corporation, makers of Logos Bible Software, just released Logos 6, the world’s most innovative Bible study software. Logos 6 offers a brand-new lineup of tools and resources that empower Christians to study the Bible’s background, explore Greek and Hebrew, visualize the biblical world, and make new and exciting discoveries.

“Logos 6 is all about delivering insight,” said Bob Pritchett, Faithlife president and CEO. “Building on the innovations in Logos 4 and 5, this release offers new Bible study tools and interactive media that aim to dramatically change the way Christians study the Word. Logos 6 will impact pastors, scholars, students and laypeople all over the world.”

For pastors, one of the biggest wins is Logos 6’s ability to help them create better sermons, faster. Innovative tools like Visual Copy and Cultural Concepts equip pastors to create engaging presentations while they study and explore the cultural perspective from which Scripture was written.

“Logos 6 empowers pastors to take back their Fridays,” Pritchett said. “They can make new discoveries and share their findings in fresh and engaging ways — all in a fraction of the time.”

For scholars, tools like Textual Variants and Ancient Literature equip them to do intense academic research with ease — with a click, they can connect Scripture to ancient literature and study the Word side by side with original manuscripts and primary texts. Likewise, students can perform impressive research with new study tools, like Inline Search, Morph Charts and Text Converters.

The layperson will also find everything they need for powerful study: easy-to-use tools like Factbook, Everything Search and Interactive Media offer a deeper, more engaging look at Scripture.

“We created Logos 6 so that real people all over the globe could do better, more insightful study — no matter how busy they are or how little they may know about the Bible,” Pritchett said.

Logos 6 is the most advanced Bible study software on the market. Faithlife, its parent company, is the worldwide leader in electronic tools and resources for Bible study, partnering with more than 200 publishers to offer over 43,000 resources across the globe.

Learn more at Logos.com/6.

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About Faithlife Faithlife makes Logos Bible Software, and is the leading provider of multilingual tools and resources for Bible study on Macs, PCs and mobile devices. Faithlife has served pastors, scholars and everyone who wants to study the Bible since 1992, partnering with more than 200 publishers to offer over 43,000 Christian e-books to users in over 210 countries.

Why I Use Cultural References in My Sermons

Yesterday I got a question from a very sweet person about my use of Star Wars as an example of Dualism when I was preaching. You can view the sermon here… The person who asked the question was concerned that I was using secular movies in my message.

Here is their question: 

I am curious as to why you use secular movies to demonstrate the Word of God.  In the one reference you used, Star Wars, there is the Dark Side and the Force, which really are both evil.  It would be like saying the bad witch and the good witch, as they are both witches.  The Force is a form of sorcery and witchcraft as they use manipulation to get what they want.  The Force is not relying on God for trust and help, it is manipulating things and people to get what they want.  I am so watchful in this world where bad is called good and good is called bad that I think our only commentary to the bible should be the bible itself.  If I compromise that to try and get the world’s attention, then I am what the bible calls, weakening their consciences and compromising the Word.

Here was my response…

Using references to movies, novels, poetry, and art are common practice for CC pastors when they preach. We make these cultural references to illustrate the point in a familiar way or to bridge the 2000 year cultural gap that exists between our culture and the culture of the Bible. 

We do this based on the example of Jesus and Paul. Jesus made broad use of cultural (secular) examples when he made his points. When Jesus talked about the hypocrite in Matthew 5-6 he was talking about the theater actors of the day. The audience that Jesus was talking to got Jesus point because they were familiar with the theater. Jesus also used examples from business, agriculture, and the judicial system. 

In Acts 17:27-28 Paul quotes the greek secular poets that were familiar to the Athenian audience when he preached. 
Jesus and Paul did an excellent job of borrowing from a familiar culture to make their spiritual points. They didn’t seem worried about contaminating their listener with the world by borrowing examples from their culture. 

Now… translating that practice over to my sermon on Sunday. I brought up Star Wars as an example of the philosophy of dualism. And I was talking about dualism because 1 John was written to believers who were being threatened by that type of false teaching. 

I would encourage you to check out a recent series that we ran on CalvaryChapel.com about this idea of our relationship to culture. These articles do a good job of explaining our relationship with modern culture and how examples from culture help us share the gospel. 


The Pastor’s Saturday Prayer Closet

I love the prayer outline provided by Zach Eswine in his book on preaching. Here it is: 

  • Illumination - Psalm 119:18 "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law."
  • A message - Ephesians 6:19 "and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,"
  • An open door - Colossians 4:3 "meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,”
  • Effectiveness - 2 Thessalonians 3:1 "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you,"
  • Clarity - Colossians 4:4 "that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."
  • Boldness - Ephesians 6:20 "for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
  • Deliverance - 2 Thessalonians 3:2 "and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith."