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Fracking Isn't a Four-Letter Word

Why Christians should reconsider the oft-misunderstood drilling practice.

"There are many times when I don't share about my husband's work," said Christine Bess.

Christine did not marry a secret agent or a drug dealer. She married an oilman.

"It's not because I'm ashamed of it," she continued, "but because of the reactions I receive, including from many Christians."

Her husband, Brian, has worked in the oil and gas industry for over three decades. He is a partner at Enduring Resources, a company headquartered in Denver that develops oil and gas resources in Texas and Utah through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing—commonly called fracking.

Fracking is the process of drilling holes thousands of feet vertically and then drilling horizontally at that depth. Drillers then send a fluid mixture of water, sand, and chemicals through a steel-cased pipe into the underground rock formations, unlocking and releasing oil and natural gas trapped in the rock. Imagine a high-powered pressure washer and sandblaster stuck into a steel pipe in the ground.

Fracking has been around since the 1940s, but only in recent years has it gained cultural notoriety, and, in particular, become the subject of heated debate.

In 2010, the documentary Gasland quickly earned activist acclaim for introducing Americans to the drilling practice. And in 2012, Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, premiered in theaters with a similar refrain: frackers are earth-plundering villains.

Critics rebutted both films. Gasland prompted a counter-documentary, and many from the communities portrayed in Promised Land disapproved of the film, claiming they were deceived by the filmmakers' intentions.

Furthermore, it was discovered that oil barons from the Persian Gulf ...

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The Real Problem With Female Masturbation

Call it what it is: Ladies who lust.

It's refreshing to finally hear women talking about female masturbation. Given the social stigma around the topic, it can be difficult just to bring it up.

Unfortunately, too often the conversation doesn't overcome the unhelpful stereotypes about the female sex drive…or lack thereof. Time and time again, Christian leaders explain that women masturbate because they want to "fill a void" or have "attachment issues." These emotional generalizations fail to get at the real problem.

When men talk about masturbation (or at least what I have heard and read), everyone pretty much settles on the basics: It's hard to practice self-control. It's hard to resist indulging in lust. Really hard. Few men try to psychoanalyze the process, explaining masturbation away by realizing that they secretly have underlying issues relating to real women. (Though, it's true that many men do struggle to relate to real women in the flesh, if the movie Her is any indication.) Men realize that even if they do resolve those relational issues with women or somehow meet their "unmet needs," that won't solve their real problem. Their real problem is lust.

Many conversations about female masturbation—including some here on Her.meneutics—are missing that realization. Women are sometimes actually drawn to masturbation and pornography because they desire sexual pleasure. Rather than escaping emotional issues, they simply struggle with lust. In sermons and blog posts, pastors give examples of men committing idolatry by looking at pornography, and women committing idolatry by desiring romance, flagrantly ignoring the number of women who suffer from porn addictions.

Christians remain ...

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You Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons

It's not a travel guide. And Colton Burpo isn't the first Christian to have an ecstatic experience.

As death approaches, he leaves his body behind. Angels usher him out of the only world he's ever known and up into a land filled with beautiful flowers and trees. He arrives at a city whose walls beam with light.

The first person he meets is Jesus, clothed all in white. The Lord's face projects a youthful radiance, and he greets the new arrival with warmth and tenderness. The visitor then encounters a parade of faces from earth. He doesn't know them, but they are all excited to finally meet him.

Eventually, this heavenly expedition ends, and he awakens back on earth. His experience is recorded in a wildly popular book read around the world.

No, this isn't the story of Colton Burpo, the four-year-old boy who supposedly traveled to heaven during an emergency appendectomy. It's the story of Saturus, a third-century Christian martyr. Saturus recorded this ecstatic experience shortly before he was brutalized by wild animals and then killed by gladiators in celebration of Emperor Geta's birthday in A.D. 209. His account is found in The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions, one of the oldest Christian texts.

Most 21st-century Christians have never heard of Saturus. But Colton's experience has become something of a phenomenon. Heaven Is for Real, his father's account of the uncanny event, has become a mainstay of contemporary evangelical apologetics. It's sold over eight million copies and has recently been turned into a hit movie.

Yet Colton's story is hardly unique. Eight million people in America claim to have had a "near-death experience" (NDE), a term coined in 1975 by physician Raymond Moody. NDE patients tell eerily similar tales: a dark tunnel, ...

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Morning Roundup 4/22/14

Christian Movies; Theological Education; Pastors Unite Despite Division

Christian Movies at the Box Office—Box Office Mojo

I'm just fascinated at the success of God's Not Dead. Take a look at this list.

I've had the author of the book, God's Not Dead on The Exchange to talk about evangelism a couple of times, once with me and once with Micah Fries and Adrian Warnock.

What If? ... Rethinking Theological Education—Tom Steffen

Tom Steffen passed this on to me... and I wanted to pass it on to you.

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Saved from Hate: An Interview with Mark Phelps, Son of Westboro Founder Fred Phelps Sr.

Mark Phelps graciously shared a bit of his story with me over the last couple of weeks.

Ed Stetzer: First, tell us a little about your background.

Mark Phelps: I left my family and my father's "church" in 1973. I graduated college in 1976 with a degree in business finance. I married my wife of almost 38 years in August 1976. We started a business in 1978.

My wife and I lost three boys to miscarriage during the first 10 years of our marriage. I began doing business consulting in 1986. We adopted two little girls, one in 1987 and one in 1992. We lost our business of 32 years in 2010, and I am currently recovering from lung disease. I look forward to continuing my consulting business when my health allows.

Ed: How did you come to understand God as you do now?

Mark: The Lord saved me during a sermon at a Bible Conference in Ashland, Kentucky, in 1965, when I was eleven years old. I left my family and my father's "church" in 1973. My future wife, and her father and mother, were a loving support to me from the day I left my family.

Though the fear was paralyzing, from the treatment and teachings of my father, by 1983 I was able to start thinking about God again and begin attending church again. There were a group of godly men where I was attending church. I joined their Bible study and began to slowly open my heart, and learn the truth about the Lord.

I was finally able to start formal healing therapy in 1988 and worked toward healing and restoration, overcoming the horrible pain and fear from the 19 years of living with my father. I completed formal therapy in 1994 and I was baptized again, on purpose and with great delight, in the local church I attended. Not because I believed I had to, but because I wanted to celebrate what the Lord had done in my life.

I have continued to grow ...

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What Easter Has to Do with My Everyday Life

Why am I surprised that God is willing to enter into the smallest problems, concerns, and details?

It was a long week.

Penny, my eight-year old daughter, was on spring break. William (5) and Marilee (3) were not. My husband Peter was out of town. So I decided to pull William and Marilee from school and go to the Connecticut shore, where we have a family beach house. We got there Monday afternoon. It was cold and windy, but the sun was out. We picked up stones and the kids walked barefoot on the sand and ran away from the frigid water. But the next morning, it was raining. It rained all day, a cold hard blustery rain. A rain that then turned to ice and snow. Not exactly my vision for spring vacation at the beach.

Meanwhile, I was thinking about Easter. I didn't have Easter outfits for anyone. I didn't have candy or books or bathing suits, the things my mother used to put in our Easter baskets. I didn't have a plan for a special meal. And with Peter gone and Penny on break, I didn't have any time (or much motivation, truth be told) to rectify this situation.

I felt twinges of guilt about my lack of maternal domestic instincts. My mood got even worse when the kids started to bicker with each other. They fought over who got to sit in the "special" chair. They fought over whose fault it was that the orange juice spilled, again. They fought over who got the yellow marker and who got to feed the cat and what we would eat for lunch. And before too long, I was yelling right back at them.

It all felt so very distant from the events of Holy Week. So disconnected from Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, his preaching about justice, his concern for the disciples' well-being. So petty in comparison to his unjust trial and brutal execution. So menial compared to the eternal and cosmic stakes of ...

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