The Ethics of Superintelligence

Today, during my lunch, I watched a very interesting TED presentation from Nick Bostrom regarding machine intelligence and the difficult questions surrounding it. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Bostrom is a Philosopher more than an engineer. As a result, his talk ended up being about theĀ ethical questions brought on by the potential of computer superintelligence.

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Tithing is not Giving to God

This past Sunday, I closed out my message with a statement that I honestly felt was controversial but something that should be said nevertheless.

I said that tithing is not giving to God.

Context

On Sunday, I taught a message to my congregation on the incredible problem of greed and how the antidote to greed is generosity.

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Why does God listen to my prayer?

I got a very interesting question on a Connect Card this past Sunday, and I’d like to interact with it here on my site. Here’s what it said:

With all of the prayers God hears every day – how does he hear yours? What makes me as important as everyone else in the world that I am heard?

Here is my response:

Your question is a great one!

I wanted to give you a quick response of encouragement and explanation of why God would pay attention to your prayers.

First of all, remember that He’s God, and he already knows everything.

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To Tithe or Not to Tithe

In a recent conversation I had with a church planting friend of mine, the topic of the tithe came up, and I thought it might be interesting for me to put down in this forum what I am teaching my church regarding giving.

Having been heavily influenced by the likes of Andy Stanley, Randy Alcorn, and my own Dad, I have become convinced that teaching percentage-based giving is not only the number one kind of giving to encourage in our people, but I have also become convinced that the church organization should structure its budget based on the tithes of the people without regard to special offerings, designated funds, or anything above and beyond the tithe.

However, I know there are two major problems with my approach:

Objections to My Approach

First of all, some people find the tithe principle to be archaic and irrelevant to New Testament Christianity.

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How should Christians live out God’s ideal of justice?

Occasionally, I get really deep questions turned in on our Sunday Connect Cards, and this past Sunday, I received this one:

I noticed that two of the songs played in service this morning mentioned justice as something God has and uses to demonstrate his goodness. If one of the classic arguments against belief in a personal God is perceived injustice in the Bible – God plays favorites, the wholesale slaughter of thousands of men, women, children by the Hebrews, the concept of Hell, etc. – how should we answer that charge? On a less philosophical level, how should Christians demonstrate the ideal of God’s justice in our daily lives? How do we commit to something so ephemeral and confusing?

This is such a big question that I responded to the author by email but thought it might be worthwhile to post it here as well.

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Why do we say “Amen” at the end of prayers?

Recently, a note came to me from someone in our church with an interesting question. It said this:

Why is it that sometimes your prayers do not end with “Amen”? Is there a biblical reason why we do or do not say amen after prayers?

I responded personally, but I also felt my answer might benefit others, so here it is in blog form.

The Meaning of “Amen”

First, the word Amen is a Hebrew word that comes from the Hebrew root AMN which means faith/faithfulness.

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Is Modern Worship too Simplistic?

Earlier this week, a discussion among the worship band members at my church pointed to this article where Bill Blankschaen describes his frustration with worship songs sung in churches on Sunday mornings and tells us “Why I’ve stopped singing in your church.”

As of this writing right now, he has 241 comments, and he only wrote it three days ago (July 15). Clearly, he has struck a nerve—a nerve deep enough to get my worship band talking about it, and a nerve deep enough to make me blog about it.

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Reflections on Sin

Some Context

This past week, a number of stories came out in my local newspaper reporting on and analyzing the arrest of a local pastor. He has been accused of placing and monitoring video equipment in the female bathrooms at the church. If you haven’t read the articles, don’t worry about not knowing the details.

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Harmony Not Unison

I have just finished my sermon series on gender issues in the Bible and how to understand the biblical teaching on the topic. If you want to hear the entire series, you can click here:

http://lafayettecc.org/news/gatherings/080-born-this-way/

Now, I promised you that I would write some articles here regarding some of the most controversial passages in the Bible regarding gender, and as a matter of fact, I have addressed a good number of them in my four sermons on the topic, but in the process, I have not had the time to write up the articles I wanted to write.

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Boys and Girls Part 1

This past Sunday, I started a series of messages at Lafayette Community Church entitled “Born this Way” in which I intend to investigate the number of different Bible passages on gender issues.

The biggest problem for me was that for most of the week, I was wrestling with how to tackle the message. You see, there are a lot of controversial passages in the Bible when it comes to gender issues, and I always want to teach the Bible in a compelling, motivational way, and I am always cautious to teach in such a way that the contentious emotions can be defused.

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