A sinner saved by the grace of God given to those with faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. Period.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Pray for the People of Florida
Ask God to help people get to safety and to also help all to know that He is present with them, providing for them, and loving them.
Ask God also to encourage people who have simply been hit and hit again by disaster.
Pray for All the Presidents...Would-Be and Incumbent
I acknowledge that wisdom comes from You and that wisdom is a result of reverence and obedience of You. I pray that during this election season that you would give your wisdom to all the presidential candidates. Give them wisdom on how they run their campaigns and how they conduct themselves during these last days of the election season.
I pray in advance for the one that you will allow to lead our country. I pray that you would continue to bless him with your wisdom, the wisdom that is needed to lead our country, our government, and our armed forces.
I also pray that our future leader would not be impressed by his own wisdom but humbled and prepared to lead this country to turn our backs to evil and turn to You. May he continue to build this country on a foundation of your wisdom, a foundation that that is strong and firm for future generations.
Lord, please forgive us of our foolish ways, when we ignore your wisdom and don’t treasure it as we should.
I pray that you would bring yourself glory during this time of election.
I pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ,Amen.
Friday, September 24, 2004
'Tis the Season...to Think About Church/State, Faith/Politics
Some of my previous posts have also explored this topic. Among them...
Politics Doesn't Belong in the Pulpit (March 25, 2003)
Dialog on 'Politics Doesn't Belong in the Pulpit' (March 27, 2003)
Further Dialog on 'Politics Doesn't Belong in the Pulpit' (April 1, 2003)
Bush and Kerry: Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner? (September 20, 2004)
What M. De Tocqueville Discovered About Democracy in America (August 31, 2004)
Habits of the Heart Can Make Democracy in America (or Anywhere Else) Work (September 5, 2004)
Justice: Another Habit of the Heart That Can Help Make Democracy in America Work (September 6, 2004)
Living 'In' But Not 'Of" the World (September 8, 2004)
Prayer: Another Habit of the Heart That Can Help Make Democracy Work (September 10, 2004)
Learning to Pray from the Man Who Taught the World to Read (March 13, 2003)
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Q-and-A: Can You Explain the 'Trinity'?
When I get complicated questions like these, I must admit, I briefly wish that I’d become an orthodontist, or anything other than a pastor. But let me do my best by tackling the questions my friend posed in reverse order, starting today with the issue of the Trinity.
The word “trinity” isn’t found in the Bible. But with a firm Biblical foundation, the Church has always taught that there is one God of the universe Who has disclosed Himself in three distinct, yet interpenetrating, personalities. The Bible refers to these three personalities as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God the Father is usually seen as the Creator of the universe. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...,” the Old Testament book of Genesis says in elegantly understated language. (Genesis 1:1)
God the Son is Jesus Christ and is also called the Savior, the One Who saves people who repent (or turn away from sin), giving them everlasting life and purpose.
“No one has ever seen God,” the Bible says, “It is God the only Son, Who is close to the Father’s heart, Who has made Him known.” (John 1:18) Jesus then, is the ultimate disclosure of what God is like: God, it turns out, is not a pinch-mouthed tyrant waiting for the chance to trip us up in our sins, but a God of grace and mercy Who wants to give everyone the opportunity to live with Him forever.
God is also the Holy Spirit. It’s the Spirit Who came to praying followers of Jesus Christ on a day we call Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead.
As the Pentecost account shows, the Spirit makes it possible for the Church to tell others about Jesus Christ. (Acts 2)
But the Spirit also makes it possible for us to have faith in Jesus. The New Testament says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (First Corinthians 12:3) In a dog-eat-dog world filled with selfishness and the constant demand that we prove ourselves, faith in a God Who loves us as we are and died and rose to give us new lives is so counter-intuitive that only the Holy Spirit can give us the ability to believe.
The equal status of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are seen throughout Scripture. Jesus says of Himself, “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30) He also commands the Church to proclaim His message throughout the world, making new Jesus-Followers (disciples), and to baptize “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” putting both Himself and the Spirit on an equal footing with God the Father. (Matthew 28:19)
And what exactly is the importance of knowing about the Trinity?
Maybe it’s this: God is a big and complicated Being, bigger and more complicated than any of us. More complicated than all of us put together, even. And this great big complicated Being doesn’t really need us. God is utterly self-sufficient. He enjoys full, loving, fulfilling relationships within Himself.
But it’s in the heart of this big, complicated God to love, to reach out beyond Himself. God’s love is more than just good feelings or happy thoughts. God’s love is an action verb, a restless, passionate giving and the will to give more and more of Himself away in love.
God’s love is so huge that it can’t be contained in one personality.
And so, God the Father creates a universe teeming with life, extravagant in all its good and perfect gifts.
God the Son, unwilling to see God’s creation slide into hell, becomes human like us and dies and rises to give us all second chances at God’s love-gift of life.
And God the Spirit emblazons the message and the reality of God’s love on Jesus-Followers’ hearts so that all can receive new and everlasting life from God.
I don’t understand everything about God. But in the mystery of the Trinity, I see the love of God written in large, bold letters.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
WalMart's PR Campaign and the Question of Who Really Is Our God
But the newest WalMart TV ad hits a real low in bad taste.
In the ad, a family tells about their harrowing accident. With their lives on the line, a WalMart manager happens along, like some discount retail version of the Good Samaritan, to provide help. That’s fine, even commendable.
But the clincher comes when the WalMart employee explains his act of kindness by saying, “At WalMart, we're taught to always do the right thing.”
So now we learn that WalMart isn’t just a retail busines and not just a corporation that does good things in the communities where it has stores.
No, WalMart is also a kind of religious society, a repository of communal virtue that instructs its disciples...er, associates...to always do the right thing. You know, things like saving families from certain impending death.
WalMart, it seems, is a sort of church, like the Baptists or Lutherans or Roman Catholics.
In fact, WalMart, by the logic of this ad, is a deity itself, imparting truth that leads to life, the kind of life that causes a humble store manager to become a roving, self-actualized saint.
One can almost imagine that in a subsequent ad, WalMart door greeters, joined by the price-cutting cartoon character, will chant, “Hallelu-WalMart! Amen and amen.”
Of course, as we adopt this new religion, WalMart’s execs, stockholders, and Sam Walton’s heirs want us all to become WalMartite adherents whose purchases make cash registers beep for all eternity.
WalMart's implicit portrayal of itself as a deity to be worshiped is different from the approach most advertising takes. The underlying messages of most ads are pretty simple: Buy this and you’ll be free, or self-sufficient, or strong, more alive, better, faster, younger, popular, attractive.
In a word, the advertisers claim that their products will make you a god, able to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous aging, soap scum, bad breath, interpersonal awkwardness, whatever. You’ll become deities.
On reading this, advertisers and consumers alike will reject such assertions as outrageous hyperbole. Rationally, of course, we all know that a product we buy at Kroger’s or online through e-bay won’t make us gods. We realize that whatever happiness or fulfillment they do manage to bring us will be fleeting, lasting only as long as the Oil of Olay tube or the DVD player’s warranty hold out, probably not as long as that.
But at an irrational, subconscious level, I’m not certain we’re so convinced of that. It seems to me that throughout much of our lives, we search for the sort of control, power, and immunity from pain that in our naivete, we associate with being God. (Or, in our humbler, less self-absorbed moments, what we associate with being lower-case gods.)
One summer Sunday at about noon when my son was in his mid-teens, he and I drove past a restaurant specializing in Buffalo Wings, beer, and big screen televisions tuned to the NFL. The parking lot was teeming with cars and my son, knowing that I was depressed because our worship attendance that day had been paltry, said, “That’s what you need to do, Dad. If you made people pay to come to church, the parking lot would be filled every week. The problem is that you give everything away free.”
My son was onto something. It makes us feel in control of our lives to think that the things we buy or sell or trade can bring us power, fulfillment, happiness, or life.
A big part of us recoils at the idea that things without price tags attached can really have any value. An item that comes to us free is something we can’t possess, manipulate, dominate, or control.
That’s the biggest problem that most people have with following the God the world meets in Jesus Christ.
It was certainly among the biggest problems I had with following Him back when I called myself an atheist.
God demands of those who really want follow Him to first of all, give up all pretense of being gods...of being in control over our lives and our worlds. God insists that we acknowledge that there is only one God and He deserves our highest allegiance.
Moses underscored this for the people of Israel centuries before Jesus’ birth:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your might .” (Deuternomy 6:4-5)
There’s no reason to contact Monster.com: The job of God has already been filled and there’s no need to find a replacement, whether the candidates are WalMart or us or anybody else.
God also demands that we stop trying to bargain our way to a higher place in life, whether at the local country club or church.
There’s nothing that you and I can do to earn God’s favor and the new life He gives for free. All you have to do is trust the God we meet in Jesus Christ and take His outstretched hand. Some key passages from the Bible, God’s authoritative truth source, tell us about this...
“For by grace [grace is a word that in this context, means God’s undeserved favor or charity] you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God---not the result of works, so that no one may boast...” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“...if anyone is in Christ [that is, if anyone believes in Christ], there is a new creation; everything old has passed away;...everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ...” (Second Corinthians 5:17-18)
“...the righteousness of God has been disclosed,...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified [counted right with God] by His grace as a free gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...” (Romans 3:21-24)
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking: All this ranting from a WalMart ad, Mark? Have you taken leave of your senses?
Maybe I have. But as I see it, most advertising---whether aimed at portraying advertisers or consumers as gods---are designed to create, exagerrate, or appeal to our egos, our insecurities, or both. They want to convince us that buying their products will link us to a transcendant entity or will make us transcendant beings or shore up those parts of our lives where we doubt our transcendance.
In that sense, much advertising is no different from the pitch made by the serpent in the Garden of Eden in the Old Testament’s book of Genesis. There, Adam and Eve had a perfect life. They had a handle on the two facts from which happiness and balance comes to us in life: They knew that God was God and that they weren’t.
One day though, the serpent managed to appeal to both the egos and insecurities of Eve, telling her that if she just took a bite of the fruit God had told her to avoid, she would be like God. In the end, that was all it took for Eve and Adam to be convinced. The first ad campaign in human history was a success!
In this day and age, one of the greatest spiritual weapons we may have at our disposal is our remote control. When a commercial comes on, we can change channels or mute the TV.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Bush and Kerry: Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner...and Why
The dinner is a charitable event sponsored by the Archdiocese which has been around for nearly sixty years. Traditionally, presidential election years have seen both major party nominees leaving the campaign trail, sitting on the same dais, and speaking from the same microphone in a night of good humor and light-hearted fun. Generally, candidates use the evening to poke fun at themselves, making light of their foibles and mistakes. The last year in which the presidential candidates didn't both appear was 1996, when their vice presidential counterparts were present instead.
The Archdiocese explained its decision this way:
The tradition of the Smith dinner is to bring people together. Given that issues in this year's campaign could provoke divisiveness and disagreement and could detract from that spirit, it was felt best to proceed in a different direction while maintaining all of the ideals and values of the dinner.This is an interesting statement. Can the Archdiocese really believe that the issues in this year's campaign have a greater potential for provoking "divisiveness and disagreement" than in every previous presidential campaign since 1948?
More than in the campaign of 1968, for example? That year, we had a presidential election during one of the most divided, volatile times in US history. The Vietnam War, the struggle for civil rights, and racial strife contributed to the volatility. By the time of the Al Smith dinner that year, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. had already happened. Because of the severe division that tore at the country, President Lyndon Johnson abruptly withdrew his candidacy for the Democratic nomination after winning the New Hampshire primary. The major party presidential nominees---Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey---engaged in a bitter race for the White House. But, each showed up for the Al Smith dinner. And guess what? Neither one threw a punch at the other, rhetorical or otherwise.
The Archdiocese's decision to disinvite President Bush and Senator Kerry or their veepmates from this year's dinner and the stated reason for doing so then, could reflect one of three things: ignorance of history, unhealthy nostalgia, or something else. I doubt it's the first two. It's something else.
That something else, pure and simple, is John Kerry and abortion.
Throughout this political season, various Roman Catholic primates in the US and even the Vatican have been making statements about what the Church's proper stance should be toward politicians and voters who favor abortion.
Some have advanced the notion that they should not be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Recently, the Vatican has said that Roman Catholics who vote for candidates who advocate "abortion rights" aren't bad Catholics because candidates speak to more than single issues as they run for office.
But it is clear that many Roman Catholic bishops and theologians are deeply disturbed by John Kerry's candidacy. Kerry is the first Catholic to be nominated for either president or vice president since Geraldine Ferraro was Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984. (You may remember that the Church wrestled with her pro-abortion position then as well.)
Apparently, the New York Archdiocese decided that short of riling up a lot of Roman Catholics and others, they couldn't deny Kerry the bread and wine of Mass. But they would deny him the opportunity to shed his wooden image during an evening of good humor. They would deny him a chance to be seen as President Bush's equal for one evening. They wouldn't acknowledge the ability of their apsostate son to behave himself at a dinner party.
It appears that tacitly, anyway, the Archdiocese is endorsing Kerry's Methodist opponent.
I am opposed to abortion. But it seems to me that the Smith dinner has always been an apolitical affair that humanizes the candidates and made it easier for voters, often disgruntled with the meanness of presidential politics, to look at them with fresh eyes.
The Archdiocese appears to have chosen to itself politicize the event, condemning one of their own under the clever guise of promoting amity in the political process.
Q-and-A: Why Should I Ask God for Anything More Than Once?
“I trust that Jesus answers my prayers,” a friend recently told me, “so, why should I ask things of Him more than once? When I keep on praying about a request, I feel as though I’m saying that I don’t really trust Him.”
My friend has a point. Jesus promises, “I will do whatever you ask in My Name.” (John 14:13)
Making requests of God in Jesus’ Name involves asking for things we believe are consistent with the character of Jesus. No one praying in Jesus’ Name would ask God to help them cheat in a business deal or cover up a murder, for example. Those sorts of things aren’t consistent with Jesus’ character.
Praying in Jesus’ Name also entails acknowledging that it’s only through Jesus that we can approach God. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus says. “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
So, assuming that we believe our requests are consistent with Jesus’ character and are offered in the belief that Jesus is the way to God the Father, why should we offer prayers in Jesus’ Name more than once?
One reason is that Jesus tells us that we should. He once told the story of a poor widow who wanted a corrupt judge to find that she had been wronged by someone else. The judge wasn’t in the habit of finding for plaintiffs in such cases unless they could pay him with a bribe. But the widow was so perseverant in pursuing her case that, just to keep her from bothering him anymore, the judge found in her favor.
After telling this story, Jesus contrasts God with the corrupt judge. He says that unlike the judge, God will grant justice to those “who cry out to Him day and night.” And then Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man [that’s Jesus Himself] comes, will He find faith on earth?” [Luke 18:1-8]
If God answered all our prayers at the moments we said them, we might see God as a cosmic ATM. We would see God as our subordinate, instead of as our Master and King.
Or, we might begin to think that the good blessings that come as the result of our prayers had nothing to do with God.
God wants us to keep on praying so that, as we await His answers, we’ll learn to truly trust Him. (Trust is what the Bible is talking about when it speaks of faith or belief in God.)
God also wants to leave no room for questions in our minds about whether the good things that have come to us really are from the God to Whom we’ve been praying.
A final reason that God may want us to persevere in our praying is to change the motives behind our prayers.
We may be tempted to offer prayers like the one in the old Janis Joplin song, “O Lord, please give me a Mercedes Benz.” But God wants us to make love of God and love of neighbor our highest priorities, not personal comfort.
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4 says. As God forces us to wait for answers to our prayers, He causes us to make His priorities our priorities. We become people who genuinely ask for the good things that God wants to bring into every person or circumstance we pray about.
We start to move from being selfish babies treating God like an extension of our own egos and whims, toward being mature children of God who invite the love and power of God into the world.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
The Call to Be Shrewd
(shared with the people of Friendship Church, September 19, 2004)
This past week, Martha Stewart held a press conference. As you know, this woman who is often referred to as a “domestic diva” and heads a major company (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia) was recently convicted of engaging in insider trading on the stock market. At her press conference, Stewart made a stunning announcement: She’s going to take her prison time now.
While reporters and lawyers scratched their heads, savvy business people smiled knowingly. According to them, Stewart’s move was a shrewd one. Her company is hemorrhaging money. Her TV show has been pulled. Her magazines are losing advertising revenue and circulation. The value of Martha Stewart stock is way down. By taking her prison time now, these business experts say, Stewart is knocking all the bad news about her out of the headlines, allowing her to get back to running the company, and maybe, pulling it out of its tailspin.
That is shrewd, when you think of it. Whether you like her or not, Stewart is acting decisively to protect the health and well-being of the empire she has worked so hard to build.
In our Bible lesson for today, Jesus says that people who dare to follow Him need to be shrewd like that. But for very different ends. In the story Jesus tells there, a wealthy man learns that his manager is wasting the wealthy man’s money. The manager is called in and told, “You’re fired. Clean out your desk and give me a complete accounting of my financial situation.” The manager has a dilemma: He isn’t strong enough for manual labor and he doesn’t want to become a beggar, the only options that really exist for him.
So, like Martha Stewart, he does something very shrewd. He calls in his boss’ debtors. One by one, he reduces the amounts of their IOUs. By doing so, he figures that one of these grateful debtors will give him a job. He’s using the boss’ money to create his own golden parachute.
The story ends up strangely. The wealthy man gets wind of the manager’s scheme. But he isn't angry, as you’d expect. Instead, he commends the guy for his shrewdness. Jesus does too. He says: “...the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light [that is, people who follow Him]. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into eternal homes.”
To tell you the truth, I have long struggled with this passage. I knew that Jesus would never recommend dishonesty to those of us who follow Him. But what exactly, I have wondered, is His point?
I think that one thing He's telling us this: Use all the blessings God has given you wisely, shrewdly, as wisely and shrewdly as a domestic diva or a dishonest manager. Don't be dishonest, but for God's sake, be smart. Jesus wants us to employ as much shrewdness toward sharing His blessings with the world as that dishonest manager did toward saving his own neck.
In another place, Jesus tells us to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. We’re to be street-savvy and pure at the same time. We’re to use our smarts not for our own selfish gain, but to help others experience Jesus and His life-changing love.
God has invested the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus in us; God wants us to make good on that investment by using His blessings to attract more people into His kingdom.
I’m sometimes amazed by how otherwise intelligent, wise, insightful people who claim to follow Jesus Christ become so helpless, naive, and stupid when presented with the chance to make good on God’s investments in us. (And I include myself in that indictment.) The way we act reminds me of that character in Gone with the Wind, the slave Prissy. Do you remember the scene in which Scarlet O’Hara is in labor and desperately needs Prissy to help her. Prissy says, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies.” She chose to be ignorant and helpless. And so do we followers of Jesus Christ sometimes.
We can be very enterprising about getting a promotion, but we can’t seem to find the time or means of promoting the good news of Jesus with our friends.
We use creative budgeting to buy the plasma TV, but we can’t leverage a few bucks from our wallets to help with relief efforts in places like Florida or Sudan.
We spend hours watching movies or playing video games, but we can’t find the time to volunteer in a worthwhile, God-honoring cause.
Among the things we say to excuse ourselves and our inability to share Christ in our words and deeds is that we don’t have enough.
We don’t have enough money.
We don’t have enough time.
We don’t have enough contacts.
We don’t have enough expertise.
We don’t know the Bible well enough to be Jesus’ shrewd agents in the world.
We say we don't have enough to live like God's people and so we do nothing. It doesn't have to be that way.
Back in the 1970s, Pastor Jim Killen saw the images of starving people in various parts of the world on TV and his heart ached. He knew he was called to help, he says, but the problems seemed so huge. He couldn’t see what he could do.
And then he realized God wasn’t calling him to solve the whole problem of world hunger. He was only to tackle what he could do. So, Killen and his wife figured out a way to contribute what little they could to the cause. He also became involved in telling others about hunger relief efforts. He did what he could do. He wisely---Jesus would say shrewdly--- used the money and time and ability he did have to do God’s work in the world.
After telling the story of the shrewd manager in our Bible lesson today, Jesus says, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much...”
I love the words of scholar and preacher Fred Craddock:
The life of a disciple is one of faithful attention to the frequent and familiar tasks of each day, however small and insignificant they may seem...[L]ife consists of small opportunities. Most of us will not this week christen a ship, write a book, end a war, appoint a cabinet, dine with the queen, convert a nation, or be burned at the stake. More likely the week will present no more than a chance to give a cup of water, write a note, visit a nursing home, vote for a county commissioner, teach a Sunday School class, share a meal, tell a child a story, go to choir practice, and feed the neighbor’s cat.Each of us can do our seemingly small things and make good on God’s investment in our lives. I don’t know if Andre Agassi the tennis player is a Christian or not. But I learned something about him this past week. He’s made a lot of money over the years and he wanted to do something good for the world. He heard about some kids in inner-city Las Vegas and so he gave $2-million of his own money to start a school there. He said that he knew he couldn’t help every kid in the world. But he decided to try to help some kids. He wanted to give them hope. “A kid without hope,” he said, “is a walking suicide bomb.”
You and I don’t have two-million dollars to give away. (If you do, I want to talk with you after worship about tithing!) But the same principle applies to us as applies to Andre Agassi. We need to find a niche of the world and do what we can to shine the light of Jesus’ love into it.
As you do, don’t give in to despair. Don’t worry that what you’re doing is too small. Mother Teresa was fond of saying, "Small things done with great love can change the world."
By now, you’ve probably heard the story of the starfish many times. But it bears repeating. The story’s told that some guy used to walk out on an ocean beach early in the mornings and pick up starfish that had been washed ashore, tossing them back into the water. Someone asked him what he was doing. The guy explained that if the fish weren’t thrown back in, they’d die. "But millions of starfish wash onto the shore," his questioner said. "You can’t possibly make a difference to all of them." At that, the first fellow threw another starfish into the water and said, "I can make a difference for that one."
Be shrewd. Use the life God has given to you to make a difference in whatever part of the world you can. You might even want to invite somebody to be here with us on Friend Day. You could change a life forever. You could make a friendship that lasts through eternity. That would be a great golden parachute!
[Pastor Jim Killen tells about his desire to do something about world hunger in a sermon which appeared in The Abingdon Preaching Annual 2001.]
Web Sites I Like
I'm up way past my bed time, still savoring the Buckeye victory and I thought that I would list some of my favorite places on the web...especially noting the sites of fellow bloggers. So, here they are, in no particular order...
I love the site of Mark Roberts. This southern California pastor is thoughtful, thorough, and fair, while upholding his faith in Christ! Mark is prolific, writing nearly every day.
Another Presbyterian pastor from southern California, Craig S. Williams, gives his insights less frequently than most bloggers. But each thing he writes is a gem.
Gordon Atkinson recently revealed his true identity, having presented his blog for some time now as the Real Live Preacher. I appreciate his honesty. He is a truly gifted writer of moving prose. Gordon is one of those people who by his truthful witness for Christ helps restore the bad reputation given to God by judgmental religionists.
I absolutely love the web site of BBC News. No organization in the world does a better job of covering the news. The BBC does a fantastic job of covering international events. They're in tune with the arts and sciences and history. Plus, as an Anglophile, I love to read about all the particulars of life in Great Britain. This is an indispensable web site.
New Zealander Rachel Cunliffe's site is fantastic. Not only is it visually pleasant to look at, she has good content. Rachel is unpretentious and honest. Her intelligence and faithfulness to Christ shine precisely because she doesn't try to call attention to these attributes or herself. Often, she just asks questions and opens up an interesting international dialog. I am very fond of her site.
Martin Roth is an interesting and articulate blogger who hasn't posted for awhile. (He's on sabbatical.) But even delving into his archives is interesting. Roth is also generous and kind to other bloggers who, unlike him, haven't written books. The story of his coming to faith in Christ is good reading.
There are more web sites I like and I'll talk about them another time. But now, I need to get some sleep so that as I lead worship and preach tomorrow, I make sense.