Religion and Depression, Hallmark Channel’s LGBT Shift, and Being Religious or Spiritual (02.25.21)

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Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

After missing last week, the podcast is back and we have three new stories to discuss. The first discusses the complex connection between religion and mental health. Then we talk about the shifting values in what has traditionally been seen as “wholesome, family-friendly” entertainment. We end with a conversation about how people view themselves as being religious and/or spiritual.

STORY #1 – Attending Religious Services and Ward Off Depression

“Religion has been a source of comfort and support among believers for a long, long time. It’s often said that faith provides something to fall back on when everything else in life fails us. Now, a new study has investigated the complex relationship between religious experiences and mental health. Researchers from Westmont University find attending religious services helps attendees avoid or stave off depression. Unfortunately, not all of the project’s findings follow this pattern. […] ‘But what if the religious environment or beliefs themselves are the source of depressive symptoms?’ [study author Blake Victor Kent] asks. Researchers define ‘experience-driven religious environments’ as churches and other religious communities that normalize divine interactions and even tell parishioners to expect such experiences. ‘Those who struggle to establish an emotional connection to God may be constantly disappointed even though they work hard to hear from God and feel led by God. They may wonder whether God has abandoned them and why they’re not experiencing God the way everyone else seems to,’ Kent explains.” (Study Finds)

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STORY #2 – Hallmark Channel Promises More LGBT Characters and Storylines

“Hallmark Channel, once known for its sentimental and family-friendly movies, has announced it is making it a “big priority” in the coming year to increase the number of LGBT characters and plotlines it features in its films. […] Michelle Vicary, a Hallmark Channel executive, said the network is making it a “big priority” in 2021 to continue its progress in pushing LGBT themes.” (Disrn)

Related material:

STORY #3 – Most Americans Embrace Religion, Spirituality

“The multiyear research project from the Fetzer Institute on spirituality in America found 9 in 10 U.S. adults (89%) consider themselves spiritual, religious, or both. Most (70%) say they are both religious and spiritual. Around 1 in 6 say they are spiritual, but not religious (16%). Close to 1 in 10 (11%) say they are neither. Few (3%) say they are only religious.” (Lifeway Research)

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The Christian and Minimalism (Sermon #44)

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The Christian and Minimalism (Sermon #44)

We’re taking a break this month from our regular episodes. During this break, we’ll be posting audio sermons instead. The sermon for today is titled, The Christian and Minimalism, and was preached on September 27, 2020 at the Eastside church of Christ in Morgantown, KY.

Read the article: The Christian and Minimalism

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The Christian and Minimalism

Bible on desk with cup and clock

If you have spent much time online looking at articles and videos about personal development – how to make the best use of your time, get the most out of life, and focus on what is important – you have likely come across the concept of minimalism. Many self-help gurus promote this philosophy and there are a number of people who describe the benefits they have seen in their own lives by adopting its principles. There are some concepts found in minimalism that will be appealing to most people, even if they do not embrace it in its entirety.

What is minimalism? And what place, if any, does it have in the life of a Christian? Let us briefly consider this concept.Continue Reading

Taking Personal Responsibility

Pointing at ManIn a time of lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing, we are more cut off from others than we had been previously. Obviously, there are challenges to this type of social arrangement – including spiritual challenges. One such challenge is that it is increasingly important for each of us to take personal responsibility for our faith and our standing before God. Paul mentioned this idea in his letter to the brethren in Philippi:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Paul wanted these brethren to maintain their faithfulness even when he was absent from them and could not encourage them in person. The reason for the lack of in-person interaction is different today. And, of course, Paul was only speaking of himself as being absent from them; the brethren in Philippi were still together. However, the challenge described by Paul is the same. We must maintain our faithfulness, even without the in-person encouragement we are used to receiving from other Christians.

In this article, we are going to notice why personal responsibility is important, some ways in which we are to take personal responsibility, and also why taking personal responsibility should never cause us to think that isolation from fellow Christians is to be preferred.Continue Reading

Can Christians Observe the Lord’s Supper Outside of the Assembly? (Episode 5)

Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

The question we’ll discuss in this episode was submitted to me by several people this week:

Can Christians observe the Lord’s Supper outside of the assembly?

As of right now, the situation with the global pandemic caused by the Coronavirus has caused many local churches to suspend their assemblies. In their place, many churches have arranged to have “virtual” assemblies. Others have opted to gather in homes with just family members or small groups. In either case, many are continuing to observe the Lord’s Supper even though they are not in the regular assembly of the local church. Is this authorized? We’re going to consider what the New Testament has to say to address that question.

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Walter Scott: “A Church That Is All Mouth”

Walter Scott: "A Church That Is All Mouth"

George Darsie (1846-1904) from Frankfort, Kentucky wrote a sermon entitled, To Every Man His Work, which was published in a book edited by J. A. Lord – On the Lord’s Day: A Manual for the Regular Observances of the New Testament Ordinances. In the sermon, Darsie illustrated the importance of Christians fulfilling various roles in the work of the church by telling of a visit by Walter Scott (1796-1861) to the Brush Run Church.

“Walter Scott, an associate of Alexander Campbell in the early days of our religious movement, one time went from his home in Pittsburg over to Washington County to visit and spend a Sunday with Campbell at the Brush Run Church. He found the church service quite lengthy, as every male member of the church was called on for a religious address. After long hours had passed and all had spoken, Scott was asked to make the closing address. He did so. But whether he was hungry for his dinner or worn out by the length of the service, his remarks, though quite pointed, were rather testy.

“‘Brethren,’ he said, ‘my Bible tells me that the church is like a human body, of which one member is a foot, another a hand, another an eye, and still another a mouth. That, in fact, it has, or should have, as great variety in its membership as the human body has. But I regret to see that you have reversed all this. You have here a church with but a single member. You have, in fact, a church that is all mouth!’” (On the Lord’s Day, p. 95)

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The Trend of Churches Offering Multiple Services, Sites, and Venues

Map of City

Churches built by men are constantly changing. What a particular church or denomination believes and practices today may not be what they believe and practice by the time the next generation comes along. The reason why these churches change is because they are trying to expand their reach and attract more people. As society changes, these churches must adapt. Too often, these changes are not in harmony with the teachings of Scripture.

Sometimes changes occur among a small minority of churches/denominations. Other times, there are trends that affect a large number of churches regardless of denominational affiliation. One of these trends that I have been hearing about more in the last few years has to do with churches offering multiple services, sites, and venues.

Thom Rainer, former CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, in a blog post titled, Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services (published May 7, 2014), wrote the following:

“‘Multi’ is normative. Most congregants twenty years ago attended a Sunday morning worship service where no other Sunday morning alternatives were available. Today, most congregants attend a service that is part of numerous alternatives: multi-services; multi-campuses; multi-sites; and multi-venues.”

In a more recent post in which he projected what “healthy churches” would look like in ten years, he wrote, “The majority of healthy churches will be multi-site, multi-venue, or multi-day.” He went on to say, “As long as we don’t compromise biblical truths, we need to reach people where they are.”

However, is it true that a church can adopt a multi-service, multi-site, multi-venue model without compromising biblical truth?Continue Reading