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Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

If there is one thing that the Excogitating Engineer enjoys, it is listening to podcasts. He listens to podcasts almost every time he drives to and from work. He listens to various kinds of podcasts — news, apologetics, sermons, history, etc. In this particular post, the Excogitating Engineer would like to give props to his favorite podcasts in the category of Christian Podcasts. Sermons that churches upload to i-Tunes do not fall into this category. This category of podcasts are basically podcasts that are Christian commentary or discussions. Sermons will be another category so don’t be offended if your favorite preacher is not on this list.

I am going to list my top Christian podcasts in the same way that the College Football Playoff selection committee lists their top teams. I will give you my top four Christian podcasts and then I will give you my first 2 podcasts out which just barely missed the cut. These podcasts are not necessarily ones that I agree with the most. They are merely the ones that I find listening to the most in my car. Some of them could be analogous to a train wreck that you just can’t stop looking at. The podcasts could be a train wreck but I just keep listening. So here we go with my top four podcasts and the first two out.

  1. White Horse Inn. The White Horse Inn is hosted by Dr. Michael Horton and he has a panel of pastors or teachers. They discuss theological issues, doctrines, or sometimes they will just walk through a book of the Bible and discuss it. I like it because it is 30 minutes which is a perfect length for my commute to work. The hosts are solid theologically. I don’t always agree with them but I like the fact that the panel is made up of people from various church traditions but have a solid commitment to the Gospel.
  2. The Briefing. The Briefing is a 30 minute cultural commentary by the amazing Dr. R.  Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He selects the major news stories or editorial articles of the day from major new sources and will talk about them. He discusses the news items and helps you, the listener, understand how to view the story through the lens of a biblical worldview. It is all done on the fly with no transcript. Not only is his commentary excellent, he constantly amazes with his knowledge on a vast array of topics.
  3. Theology. Driven. This podcast is a relatively new podcast for me. I’ve know about it for less than six months. There are three guys that drive around in a car and another who joins their conversations via Skype. They talk about whatever they want. Usually they start out with a few minutes of banter and spend the rest of the time discussing a theological topic. I haven’t been listening to this podcast for very long but the guys on this podcast are not learned like the ones in my top 2 podcasts, but they are solid lay people. There is one thing I can’t figure out. Why do they have to drive around to talk? Why not just sit down somewhere with a good internet connection and record the podcast? I understand the “driving” theme in the name of the podcast but is it really necessary to literally drive to “explore the open road of life?”
  4. Doctrine and Devotion. Doctrine and Devotion is very similar to the previously discussed podcast. Instead of having a panel of four hosting the show, it is a panel of two. The type of conversation is similar and they come from a similar theological perspective — Reformed Baptist. The hosts are Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler who are both elders at the same church in St. Charles, Illinois. They have a lot of banter in their show as well and they get very silly and even rude sometimes. If you can get through that, the content of what they have to say is pretty good. And, I wish they would stop talking about smoking all the time.
  5. Mortification of Spin. This podcast is a discussion or conversation between Todd Pruitt, Carl Trueman, and Aimee Byrd. The Excogitating Engineer enjoys their conversation and sometimes disagreements. Carl Trueman is especially enjoyable to listen to with his British accent. One of the shortcomings of this show is that the hosts are all Presbyterian. I know, the previous two podcasts are hosted by Baptists. The difference is that this podcast is supposed to represent the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. That being the case, I do not think that Presbyterians are the only Confessing Evangelicals. I enjoy the show but would appreciate more diversity in church traditions.
  6. Stand to Reason. The last of my top 6 is Stand to Reason. This used to be my most listened to podcast, until I introduced more variety into my podcast library. I’ve definitely been listening to this podcast the longest. The host, Greg Koukl, starts off with some commentary and then takes questions from callers. I enjoy listening to the questions and I learn from Greg by listening to how he answers people’s questions. I think about how I would answer the same question as I listen to him  skillfully present the Christian position on issues or theological challenges.

There you go. My top 6 podcasts. I would love to hear your thoughts on these or what your top Christian podcasts are. Of course, there are others that I like but these are the ones I listen to the most.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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There has been much made lately on youth leaving the church. I subscribe to a lot of podcasts where this has been a topic of conversation. This is not a conversation among just Calvinists or just Arminians but is a conversation that is taking place among Evangelicals of all stripes. There is apparently some kind of data, collected by someone like Barna, that supports this position. What the experts are saying is that American Evanglicals who are active in church as a youth have a tendency to leave the church once they graduate from high school, leave home, and go to college.

I am someone who was part of church youth in high school and left home to go to college and remained in the church. I experienced college as someone who was part of a local church and am still part of a local body of believers today. I now have children who are youth-aged. In fact, I am a parent of multiple teenagers. (Feel free to pray for me. I need it.) I sit watching the youth of our day praying that I don’t screw up as a parent and that my kids will have faith in Christ that will be their own and that their faith will continue to grow into adulthood and that they would be committed lifelong disciples of Christ.

What I see from so many youth today is that they are not part of the church as young people. Their parents take them to church and drop them off with the youth group. They hang out with a bunch of youth at church. They have Sunday School with their peers — which is positive since they are all experiencing the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. While at the youth group, they usually sit around on comfortable sofas because we all know that NOBODY would come if they had to sit in uncomfortable straight back chairs (gasp)! They listen to relevant music and not that boring stuff their parents listen to. And often times, they sit around and complain about how they are not respected because of their youth all the while remaining in their youth cocoon. After Sunday School, or Bible Study, they head off to the worship center for Sunday morning worship. And guess who they sit with during worship? That’s right: they sit with youth. After worship, they find their parents and ask to go eat lunch with the their friends in the youth.

On Sunday night often times the youth have their own get together for more fellowship and study — separate from adults. On Wednesday nights they are with the youth again. They may even have some other get-together on Friday or Saturday because there isn’t enough youth fellowship time already. Yes, I am being a bit sarcastic here.

So, I’ve mentioned four meetings at church: Sunday School, worship, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. How many of those times do the youth at your church integrate with the church body and how many times are they with just the youth? Your answer is probably that the youth are with just youth about 75% or 100% of the time, if your church is like most American churches. If this is the case, how can we say that’s youth are leaving the church? I don’t think we can say that. I submit to you that youth are not leaving the church. I say that they were never part of the church–at least not while they were in the youth group. What they were part of during their youth years was a para-church group called “the youth ministry” but were not really part of the local church. If your church is like this, here are some critical things that your young person is missing out on.

1. First and foremost, they are missing out on worshiping with their family — particularly their mom and dad. They need to see that mom and dad are serious about worship and that they are there to worship God; not just to take their kid to the youth group. They need to see that mom and dad take the sermon seriously by taking notes and not texting and checking Facebook during the preaching.

2. They miss out on the inter-generational nature of the body of Christ. By being with youth all the time they are hanging out with those who are facing similar problems. That is true. But why not hang out (sometimes) with people who have already experienced those problems and have come through them? Why not learn lessons from people who can encourage youth as examples of those who have been through those tumultuous years?

3. They miss out on opportunities to serve and to be the body of Christ. To be part of the church they should be plugged in. They have no right to complain about being disrespected by adults due to their age if they aren’t trying to plug in and serve. Let us not encourage our youth to be spiritual navel gazers but people who are committed to building up the body of Christ by serving!

So, why shouldn’t youth drop out of church when they go to college. They don’t know what it is like to be part of the church and how beautiful the bride of Christ really is. Don’t misunderstand me. Teenagers need teenage friends. They need to know how to build friendships and develop relationships and hold each other accountable in the Lord. However, I don’t think that their relationships should be limited to those with peers. I am praying for a change in the church youth culture and that this change would take place before all of the youth that were never in the church leave the church.

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I work as an engineer.  I think I am pretty good at what I do for a living but it is just that; what I do for a living.  It is not something that I am necessarily passionate about.  It is what I do in order to fulfill my biblical responsibility to work and provide for my family.  There are other things such as various ministries in which I am involved that are really my passion.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard statements similar to the following from Christians.

“I am an accountant but my real passion is apologetics.”

“I work as a salesman in order to make money but what I really enjoy is the work I do at church.”

“I am an engineer by profession but my passion is preaching the Word.”

Have you heard this from many people?  I hear it frequently in the circles in which I am involved.  I am left with the question, “Are we supposed to enjoy our jobs or are we called to endure whatever it is we need to do in order to bring home a salary?”  Is it wrong to wish I was doing some other kind of work related to ministry?  I know the Bible tells us that we should be content in our situation.  Does this mean that it is wrong to desire to be doing something else more fulfilling or even some sort of full time ministry?  I have been thinking about this and do not have the answer quite yet but for now this is what I think.

1. Work is a blessing from the Lord.  It was something that was given to Adam and Even before the fall and is therefore a gift and a blessing.  We can do work to provide for our families while at the same time enjoying the work.  I believe that God even intends the work to benefit us and even society as a whole, especially if your job provides employment opportunities for others.

2. Work became less enjoyable after the fall.  I don’t think I need to cite verses about the curse on humanity after Adam and Eve sinned.  I believe that after the curse, work became less enjoyable and became hard.  By God’s grace some people can still do things they enjoy for the job but I don’t think that this is the norm to be expected.  For those of us who long to be involved in ministry on a full time basis we long for the new heaven and new earth but until then we are called to labor in secular work as well as in ministry.  The grass is not greener on the other side although we think it might be.  We are where God want us for now.

3. For those of us who want to be involved in full time ministry and are stuck in secular careers, we need to understand that there is not enough money to go around.  The economic times are tough.  God can use us as lay people in ministry while we keep our secular professions.  This allows us to have some income that is not dependent on the generous giving of other Christians.  It frees up money for the kingdom and it also allows us to not be beholden to those who give.  In other words, you can spend your ministry time and effort as you want and you are not accountable for what ministry you want to devote your energy to.  You also don’t have to worry about people withholding funds from you because of a controversial stand against something like homosexuality.  You have income and it is based on your work, not on what you teach.

This is where I am for now.  I am an engineer who loves to excogitate.  I would rather be out there teaching or reaching or defending the faith.  But wait, I am doing that.  I am just not doing it on a professional basis and I have an engineering job that pays my bills.

Just to add another comment.  By having a non-ministry job, we are able to come into contact with lost people and people who need to be confronted with the gospel on a daily basis.  If you were a ministry professional you would be in a Christian bubble and would only have limited access to lostness.  But as a member of the secular workforce we have ready-made relationships that are in place.  All we need to do is use those in order to share the message of hope we have within us.

What say you?

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When I called this post, “Our Adoption,” I was referring to our adoption in two senses.  I am not only about the adoption I experienced as an adoptive parent but also the adoption by God of me as a co-heir with God’s son, Jesus Christ.

When I adopted by sons from the former USSR, I had no idea really what I was getting into.  I just knew that these children needed a loving family and I was offering them that.  They brought nothing with them–except themselves.  We went through all of the legal process of them to become our sons and then it became time to go to the orphanage and bring them physically into our family.  We went shopping at the local market for some clothes and shoes for them because they literally had nothing.  The clothes they wore in the orphanage belonged to the orphanage and would not be coming with them.  So when we went to pick them up we took with us a new set of clothes for them to wear.  They took their old clothes off an put on their new clothes.  They had nothing that belonged to them.  Not even a toy or a doll or clothes to wear.  They stripped down completely, put their new clothes on, and turned their old clothes back into the orphanage for other kids to use.  They became ours sons.  Everything I have became accessible to them through me as my children.  I love them as my own offspring and withhold nothing including my love for them.

Isn’t this true also of how we came to Christ?  When I became a Christian, I brought nothing.  I had no good deeds or righteousness to offer.  They were all as filthy rags.  The only things I have are what Christ freely offered and gave to me.  Just as my sons were wearing clothes I gave them when we left the orphanage, after my encounter with Christ the only righteousness I had was that of Christ.  I only had it because of what He did for me on the cross.  I now have access to many blessings through Christ just as my sons now have access to many things as a result of being adopted.

I thank God for His adoption of me.  It was merely a work of His grace.  I trust that my sons are thankful for my adoption of them also.  Their adoption was also a work of His grace.  May God get all the glory and praise.

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