Abednego: May 2006 Archives

Marc Driscoll has a post, Death by Ministry, which purports to point out some of the problems with burnout on the part of pastors. He gives some interesting and alarming statistics:

The following statistics were presented by Pastor Darrin Patrick from research he has gathered from such organizations as Barna and Focus on the Family.

Pastors

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
Fifty percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Pastors' Wives

Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

His post has three parts, the first of which is these statistics, the second of which is "Some signs", and the third is "Some solutions". While I think most of his solutions are good, I am not sure I entirely agree with attributing all of these statistics and signs to burnout (or even with saying that they are sometimes due to burnout). But before I write any more on it, I wanted to solicit your comments. What do you think?

A couple links

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Reformation21 has a short series dealing with some people's responses to Paul's teaching in 1 Tim. 2:12, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." The initial post is here, followed by a list of claims (by Wayne Grudem) that some people make about why this passage does not apply to the church today, and then finally some responses to these claims.

On an unrelated note, here's an interesting article about potential Hamas plans to fly planes into Israeli skyscrapers. I hope it's not true or Israel can stop it.

Adrian Warnock points out an interesting "pop quiz" on marriage. I have to admit, some of the answers are pretty surprising, if true. That is, if it's right, things aren't anywhere near as bad as I thought they were (although still pretty bad). Too bad it doesn't have links to all of the relevant evidence. I'm sure it would if it were a blog.

Some comments on books

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There are many good books to read, and my pastor manages to read them way faster than I can keep up with his recommendations, so someone I know says that buying the books my pastor recommends is a good retirement investment. Anyway, this is just a quick post to give a couple of these recommendations, and then mention a couple of other things that I'm reading and hope to write reviews of soon.

One that my pastor recommends that I'm ordering right now is Herman Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ (this is the third volume in a series). Another one that I read a while back that he recommended and I really enjoyed (which I should write a review of, if I didn't already) is John Frame's The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God.

Two that I'm currently reading or starting on for the Discerning Reader (formerly Diet of Bookworms) are Mark Dever's The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept, and John Frame's upcoming Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. While I haven't started the Frame book, I'm enjoying the Dever book. It's a lot more like something you might be interested in sitting down and reading than a survey like Hendriksen's Survey of the Bible, which is more suitable for intense study or a class. Of course, that has its disadvantages, as well -- stuff tends to stick with you better if you study it in great detail like you would if you follow through the Hendriksen book, while the Dever book is based on sermons and includes a lot less detail.

Anyway, I'll write reviews on these when I finish them. I just wanted to mention them, and see if others have any comments on them.

So, I just got an e-mail a few minutes ago that Skype is now allowing free "SkypeOut" calls anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, which means you can now use Skype to call any regular telephone in that region (or mobile phone) for free. I've used Skype before, but I was curious how well it worked (and never wanted to pay for the service in the past), so I just gave it a shot, and it works pretty well. The person on the other end heard a bit of an echo, and the quality wasn't quite as good as a telephone call for me, but it was better than I expected. I'll probably use it again in the future for long distance calls sometimes.

On a related note, though, I have both a Mac and a PC, and I've had occasion to compare the video capabilities of Skype (which aren't available on Mac yet) with that of iChat (on the Mac). The quality with iChat seems a lot better. Does anyone know what's going on behind the scenes? My guess is that Skype isn't using the full bandwidth it could, while iChat seems to be using a lot more bandwidth, but I'm not sure. Regardless, I am delighted with iChat and keep using it to have video meetings with folks at work and elsewhere, while Skype's video is a bit more of a pain to watch. While it's still better than no video, I'd hesitate to use it for a meeting.

I find it remarkable that after decades of predictions that video telephony was just around the corner, now it has finally arrived -- but it's over the Internet, and with relatively little hoopla. We had some relatives on the other coast get Skype so we could call and show them live video of us with our new baby, and they had no idea that such a thing was even possible until they saw it.

ScienceDaily reported a few days ago on an interesting story (actually, a journal article in the April PLOS Biology) about how bats track insects they want to catch in a way that is very different from that of humans and some other animals. Essentially, humans, fish, dogs, and others use a strategy the article calls "constant bearing" to follow things -- basically, they just head straight for their target. Bats, on the other hand, actually take into account the target's velocity and direction and flies partially parallel to the target. In other words, bats work out in advance where they think their targets will be, and head there, rather than directly towards the target, which saves time.

This is pretty interesting. Even further, the article points out that this is a strategy similar to that developed by engineers for guided missiles.

But here's the part I find the most interesting:

This study also demonstrates, for the first time, that bats work out ahead of time how they will catch an insect. Evolutionary pressure to catch flying insects as fast as possible, the researchers speculate, may have pushed the bat to adopt this technique to catch a meal on the go as quickly as possible. Their paper appears in the May issue of PLoS Biology.

There is no mention of evolution in the journal article, so I assume ScienceDaily must have talked to the researchers. But the article also points this out:

The pursuit strategy is different from that reported in earlier studies of target pursuit in humans and other animals.

Now, my gripe is this:

So, I have been absent from the blog for a very long time. I haven't looked back at the archives, but my best guess is that the last time I posted was in November or so. I do intend to start posting again, so I figured I should briefly reintroduce myself for those who have started reading since the last time I posted. Plus, I have some news.

First, the reintroduction. I'm a postdoctoral researcher in the hard sciences at a major U.S. research university. Additionally, I'm a Christian, with a generally Reformed perspective on theology, for those who know what that means. So, my interests include science, theology, issues relating to intelligent design, current events, and so on.

Next, the news: I'm delighted to say that my wife and I just had our first baby, a daughter, several weeks ago. We saw God's answer to prayer many times throughout the pregnancy and the delivery and in the last several weeks, and we are very thankful.

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