Justice and Mercy

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or Why I Am a Christian

by Michael Osborne

On the one hand, we are continually expressing our instinctive desire for justice; on the other, we are expressing our instinctive desire for mercy. Why both? Is this blowing hot and cold with the same breath?
798068_justice.jpgInstincts express themselves early. You’ll find four-year-old prosecuting attorneys expressing in the most rudimentary terms, “That’s not fair. He got to play with the train set longer than I did” and “She scratched me first.” But the same four-year-old will plead, “Don’t spank me! I won’t do it again.”

Adults retain some of these petty concerns (“He cut me off and made me miss the green light”) but also develop stronger, more settled opinions on weightier matters. “We should send all the illegal immigrants back to Mexico.” “I’m sick of standing behind people using welfare money to buy better meat than I do.” “I can’t believe he got only two years for smashing his girlfriend’s face in!” “It’s only fair that the rich should bear the greater tax burden.” But adults, too, want mercy. “I know this assignment is late, but can you give me another 12 hours?” “Don’t send my son to jail. He’s only a kid; he just needs to grow up.” “He stole to feed his family, and it’s hard to blame him.” “I’m so glad I got off with a warning; I was only nine miles over the speed limit.”
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Book Review—No Legal Grounds

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by Adam Blumer

Bell, James Scott. No Legal Grounds. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Paperback, 339 pages, $13.99

(Review copy courtesy of Zondervan)

Purchase: Zondervan, CBD, Amazon

ISBNs: 0310269024 / 9780310269021

LCCN: PS3552.E5158 N62 2007

DCN: 813/.54 22

Subject: Fiction - Suspense/Mystery

James Scott Bell (www.jamesscottbell.com) is a winner of the Christy Award of Excellence in Christian Fiction and the bestselling author of several suspense novels, including No Legal Grounds, Presumed Guilty, Breach of Promise, Deadlock, and Sins of the Fathers. A former trial lawyer, Bell makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife, Cindy.
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Book Review—Same Lake, Different Boat

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Hubach, O. Stephanie, and Joni Tada. Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability. Phillipsburg, NH: P&R Publishing, 2006. Paperback, 234 pages. $14.99

(Review copy courtesy of P&R Publishing)
Hubach_Same LakePurchase: P&R; CBD;WTS Bookstore; Amazon

Notes & Glossary

ISBNs: 1596380519 / 9781596380516

LCCN: BV4460.H83

DCN: 261.8’324

Subject: Disabilities; Church & Ministry

Listen to a interview with the author on the “Joni and Friends” radio program. Look for the “Stephanie Hubach interview” program dated September 7, 2006.
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Book Review—The Bible and Contemporary Culture

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Theissen, Gerd. The Bible and Contemporary Culture. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007. Paperback, 176 pages. $16.00

(Review copy courtesy of Fortress Press)
contemp.jpgPurchase: Augsburg/Fortress, CBD, Amazon

Publisher’s press release.

Special Features: Endnotes; Index of Ancient Texts [Scripture]; & Index of Names and Subjects

ISBNs: 0800638638 / 9780800638634

LCCN: BS511.3.T46 2007>

DCN: 220.6

Subjects: Bible, Contemporary Culture
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Things to Ask a Prospective Pastor

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by Aaron Blumer

I’ve never been on a pulpit committee. But I have interacted with a few and read a fair number of screening questionnaires. I’ve seen the results of pulpit committee work many times. In my experience, both pulpit committees and congregations tend to overlook matters of great importance when choosing the pastors who will lead and feed them.
decisions.jpgSome of these matters are fairly obvious. The committee should get a comprehensive employment and ministry history and make contact with someone at every church where the candidate has served. If there are large gaps, the committee should do a criminal background check. The committee should verify the prospect’s training credentials and have him read the church’s doctrinal statement and comment on points of tension (if there are no points of tension, he’s either not being honest or the doctrinal statement is not comprehensive). Of course, the committee should ask about all the sensitive, emotionally charged issues churches tend to fight about (translations and music, for example).

And nowadays, it should be fairly easy to obtain and evaluate several preaching recordings, preferably in different settings over an extended period of time. If the committee notices overused phrases and repeated rants on pet topics, it should be concerned. What’s slightly annoying on a sermon recording may be extremely distracting in the pulpit every Sunday.

Some less obvious matters also require evaluation. How are his interpersonal skills? How does he view his role? How does he handle opposition and criticism? What liberties does he believe he is entitled to?
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