Monday, January 31, 2011

Deepak is Left Speechless

Saturday, January 29, 2011

[Book Review] "Stories about Jesus" by Gwen Ellis

Disclaimer: I received this book free as part of Tommy Nelson's Booksneeze program in order to provide a review.
This is another children's story book about Jesus, but it's a good one. In it, the author has taken 13 well-known stories about Jesus, and condensed them to one page in a format for toddlers to understand. The stories chosen include, Jesus growing up, Jesus' baptism, Jesus healing a sick boy, Jesus raising a girl from the dead, walking on water, welcoming children, Zaccheus, a blind man being healed, stopping a storm, looking for the lost sheep, finding a coin in a fish, healing the lepers and one thanking Him, and Jesus going back to heaven.  Gwen Ellis doesn't water down the story, nor does she offer her opinion on what the story says. She has, however, put questions at the end of each story to ask your toddler or preschooler, to provoke thought about the story. I read it to my 7 year old and my 3 year old, and they both enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the book, as well, and thought it was well-handled. Most children's story books about Jesus or the Bible tend to annoy me as they like to water down the Bible because they think that a child doesn't understand it. That's what I appreciate about this one. The binding is in a board book style, so your infant can even look at it and not destroy it. Overall, if you're looking for a short Bible devotional for your toddler, then I would recommend this one. Just a reminder that this is a short book, but your toddler or preschooler will love it. It might be too simple for older kids, but the questions do help direct the line of thinking.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Southern Baptists, Americanism, and Mosques

Christianity Today reports that Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has quit the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM), of which he is a charter member. The ICOM was created by the Anti-Defamation League as a response to the challenges against mosque-building since the Summer of 2010. What's interesting is that Land states that he did not quit because of a change in convictions, but because he needs to represent the views of the SBC. He writes, “While many Southern Baptists share my deep commitment to religious freedom and the right of Muslims to have places of worship, they also feel that a Southern Baptist denominational leader filing suit to allow individual mosques to be built is 'a bridge too far.'”
Let's look at that statement there. Basically, despite whatever conviction that Land holds, it matters not, because a number of Southern Baptists feel that he's promoting Islam? What if this was a commission on the study and prevention of HIV/AIDS? If a number of Southern Baptists felt that he was promoting homosexuality, would he quit then? This debate has been at the forefront of the news this past year, as we have seen protests against an Islamic and Cultural center in New York City, vandalism at a mosque construction site in Murfreesboro, TN, and other such protests and vandalism around the country. Why the sudden outcry against he building of mosques? A lot of the comments I've seen made by Christians this past year over the issue of building mosques have been downright unChristian and unAmerican. Yet, these very Christians are suggesting that it is unAmerican to allow the building of a mosque.
The First Amendment says the following:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Okay, so, could someone explain to me the law that prohibits the free exercise of religion? I don't see it. I've seen many articles and comments that Muslims cannot be good Americans. I've known quite a few Muslims who were very good Americans. I support their right to worship in their religion. It would be unAmerican and unChristian for me to do so. The apostle Paul respected the Greeks when he went into Athens and proclaimed that they were a very religious people, even acknowledging their "unknown god."  They respected him for it and wish to speak to him further. If we're going to stand up and say that Muslims do not have the right to build their mosque and worship there, then what right do we have to build a church building and worship there. Why not just ban religious worship entirely? Hindus are killing Christians in India, but where's the outcry against Hindu Temples?
I reference Southern Baptists in this issue since they are the largest denomination and that is who Land represents. I attend and am a member of a Southern Baptist church. What we do not need to do, and what I think Land has done, is to put our Southern Baptist identity above our Christianity. We do not need to put our Americanism above our Christianity. That being said, those who oppose those these mosques based on some idea of "creeping Sharia" are being unAmerican and unChristian. We should welcome this opportunity with open arms and proclaim Christ to Muslims, not hostility.
What's interesting to note is that Islam in America goes back to the very founding of our nation. The Treaty of Tripoli, with regards to the piracy off the Northern coast of Africa, states the following:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
So, all this talk of us being a Christian nation is simply false. Yes, a lot of our founding fathers, were Christians, but a lot of them were also Deists, meaning which, they believed in God, but did not believe that God intervenes in worldly affairs. It was this Deism that framed our government. How should we, as Christians, respond and act, then? We should respond as Jesus, and subsequently Paul, did. Not with hate and misunderstanding. Jesus and the apostles always went into the synagogue first whenever they entered a town. They proclaimed Christ crucified and resurrected to the Jews. They were hated and often run out of town, but the Gospel was proclaimed. We are not proclaiming the Gospel by denying the right of a religious group to build a house of worship. The same could be happening to us. 
In summary, let us put aside our denomination (incidentally, I can find nowhere that that the Southern Baptist stance on mosque building is that they should not be built), and put aside our nationality, and proclaim Jesus Christ to those that don't know him. To not do so is to disobey Christ when he tells us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them all His commands (Matt. 28:18-20). We are mocking Christ when we deny others religious liberty for the sake of nationality or a false Christianity.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SoChurch - a new company for online church communication

Note - I do receive an affiliate commission for every church that signs up on SoChurch, so this post is not without some incentive. You can receive a 5% discount by enter the promo code CCOPPENBARGER. Plans start as low as $7.99. Visit for more info.
The above being said, here is a new company dedicated solely to providing resources to churches for their online presence. Features include the following (taken directly from their website):

  • Content Management

    Unleash easy, straightforward ways for you and your members to create, post, edit, approve, share, and store content of all types. Retain ownership of all content created by both you and your church’s members.
  • Member Management

    Utilize reporting and searching to locate members and identify trends. SoChurch even does the heavy lifting of analyzing member information for old data before automatically contacting the member to request an update.
  • Group Management

    Stay in control of who can contribute what, how it’s distributed, and who can see it. Better yet, take advantage of SoChurch’s built-in delegation feature and split admin duties with one or more people.
  • Email Functionality

    Generate focused and tailored email communication with automatic, weekly emails to all group members, based on group affiliation and member demographics. SoChurch even takes member notification settings into account, so you never deliver what’s not wanted.
  • Event Management

    Expand your event’s guest list with third-party invite functionality and solicit feedback with timely post-event follow ups to all or select attendees. Plus, SoChurch helps you nail down logistics with automatic event updates and reminders and RSVP tracking.
  • Prayer Updates and Reporting

    Encourage members to post their own prayer requests and alert members when others are praying for them. Use SoChurch’s automatic reminders to keep prayer requests top of mind and updates to alert when circumstances change or prayers are answered.
  • Need-Meeting and Gift-Giving

    Match members in need with those who can help immediately. SoChurch lets you emulate the spirit of the early Acts church with anonymous needs posting that emphasizes the right reason for reaching out, not recognition.
  • Customizable Design and Branding

    Put your church’s brand front and center with customizable elements like logos, colors, and your unique domain name. SoChurch even extends your church’s brand presence through to Facebook pages, Twitter account, and email campaigns.
  • Facebook and Twitter Integration

    Leverage the communication mediums your members are already using with seamless Facebook and Twitter integration that lets content be both pulled in from and pushed out to the world’s most popular social networks.
  • Viral Share Buttons

    Share and share alike when members post content both within and outside of SoChurch automatically. SoChurch’s cross-group sharing functionality allows the same message to post across any or all groups so everyone’s on the same page.
  • Content Privacy and Security

    Implement the safeguards that distinguish between what content is for public consumption so that security never takes a backseat to sharing. Enable members to create their own privacy settings so they’re in control of their own personal information.
  • Church Website and Visitor Information (Coming Soon)

    Take advantage of SoChurch’s ability to be the perfect social media and communication sidekick to your existing church website or create an entirely fresh site fine tuned to help visitors find and connect with your church. While this won’t be available in our first release, it’s coming soon. Follow our blog for regular product updates.
  • Media Albums and Management (Coming Soon)

    We understand that media is important to any ministry. When we launch you’ll be able to insert images and links into posts but in the near future we’ll be releasing more robust media management tools. While this won’t be available in our first release, it’s coming soon. Follow our blog for regular product updates.
  • Reporting and Analytics (Coming Soon)

    Revel in SoChurch’s data analytics engine that collects, aggregates, and communicates the statistics that best help you gauge your church’s social communication strategy success. SoChurch’s eight pre-defined reports put the right data immediately in your hands. While this won’t be available in our first release, it’s coming soon. Follow our blog for regular product updates.
  • Mobile Apps for iPhone and Android (Coming Soon)

    Whether an administrator, leader, or member, SoChurch will offer various native features directly from within their iPhone or Android phone, allowing them to stay up-to-date, as well as add content, even when they are not near a computer. As such we have specific plans for integrating killer iPhone and Android Applications. While this won’t be available in our first release, it’s coming soon. Follow our blog for regular product updates.
  • Online Giving and Tithing (Coming Soon)

    Rethink your donations and tithing systems to take advantage of the way people prefer to conduct financial transactions now with the security of PayPal. Accept one-time or recurring donations electronically so you can better manage the money coming in. While this won’t be available in our first release, it’s coming soon. Follow our blog for regular product updates.
  • Polls and Member Analysis (Coming Soon)

    Make survey creation and data collection simple so you can get member feedback anywhere, anytime. When the results come in, use SoChurch’s powerful survey data sorting and filtering to segment member for future targeted messages and opportunities. While this won’t be available in our first release, it’s coming soon. Follow our blog for regular product updates.
If you are a church in need of a better online presence, and this looks like something you need, then visit, and enter promo code CCOPPENBARGER to receive a 5% discount as well. Let me know how it works out for you. It seems like a need concept.