links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to four articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Church, expectations & values: Is Your Church Okay With You? [essential reading]

“What if, when it’s all said and done, there’s nothing cool about your church? Would that be okay with you? … If not, maybe it’s not Jesus or his Church that you’re really in love with after all.”

Depression & emotions: Do You Ever Feel Down .. But Don’t Know Why?

“… working with God seems to be somewhat of a conflict. I must continually remind myself to believe in His ability; not in mine. Inadequacy has always been my strong suit so that part is most natural. The friction may be that I’m trying to constantly yield my inadequate self of me to the quite adequate Holy Spirit … within me. I don’t know if you all find this to be a snap. Me? Not so easy.”

Genocide & Holocaust: Photos: Children of Auschwitz Share Stories of Survival

“They are among the survivors of the Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland, which has come to symbolize the horrors of the Holocaust. Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of that liberation day. These portraits capture 20 survivors, many of whom were children and teenagers during their time at the camp.”

Lust, manhood, objectification, parenting, purity, respect, sex & ‘the talk’: To My Preacher’s Kid, about Becoming a Man

“Brass tacks time, son: If you see a pretty girl, in real life or on Instagram, and from that point on that’s all you can see in them or that’s all you can think of them…that’s YOUR fault son NOT the girl’s fault. I hold you responsible and I’m damn sure your Mother will, too. … You can choose to objectify others or you can choose to treat your neighbors as your self.”

LIFE group discussion guide: serve!

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NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 25) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To declare our need to spend our lives actively serving God, and to urge us to do so.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … servants of the word … (Luke 1.2 CEB)

• … Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1.38 CEB)

• He has granted that we would be rescued … so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1.73-75 CEB)

• You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. … You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 4.8; 16.13 CEB)

• … do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act … (Luke 6.35 CEB)

• That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. (Luke 12.47 CEB)

• … when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.” (Luke 17.10 CEB)

• … the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. (Luke 22.26 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Think employment and job roles. Which ones strike you as “servant-type” jobs?

2. What is the biggest hurdle to your seeing yourself as truly a “servant of God?”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Find and count every occurrence of some form of the word “serve” in Luke’s Gospel.

2. Read Luke 6.35 above. Reflect on it. Then read its context (vs.27-38). Thoughts?

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. How does the word “servant” hit you? Positive or negative? Respectable or humble?

2. Would it truly be best to live tomorrow like it was literally your last day to live?

3. “The good is the enemy of the best.” Is this true? Does this sound like Jesus?

4. We’re saved by God’s mercy thru Christ on his cross. What role do our works play?

5. Which matters most in the long run in serving God: “big things” or “little” ones?”

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Discipline and exercise yourself in a “I expect nothing in return” attitude and air.

2. Habitually give words and actions of appreciation to any you see “doing good.”

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Aggression, American Sniper, Chris Kyle, cinema, distortion, film, miscommunication, myth, nationalism, patriotism & war: Why I Refuse to See ‘American Sniper’ [essential reading]

“When you have experienced firsthand the multitude of ways war wreaks havoc on families, you have little tolerance for the mythmaking that war always seems to invoke. Not to mention the patriotic, almost nationalistic fervor that accompanies a flag-draped coffin.”

Alexander the Great, Amphipolis, archaeology & Greece: Amphipolis Excavation: Discoveries in Alexander the Great-Era Tomb Dazzle the World

“… since August 2014 … the Ministry of Culture has been gradually releasing to the public the incredible archaeological finds that have been uncovered in what is the largest tomb ever found in Greece. … It has been popularly speculated that the Amphipolis Tomb was built for one of Alexander’s generals or family members—perhaps his mother, Olympias, or his wife, Roxanne. After Alexander’s death, his generals fought over control of the Macedonian Empire, which stretched from the Balkans to what’s now Pakistan and northwest India. Alexander’s mother, wife, son and half-brother were murdered during this time—most near Amphipolis. It’s still not clear for whom the magnificent tomb was built and why the five individuals were buried in the tomb.”

Disabilities & Social Security: Social Security’s Christmas Present: Benefit Cuts for Millions of Disabled Workers

“The fact that benefits need to be cut or taxes raised, or both, to keep Social Security solvent does not justify treating the disabled like second class citizens.”

God, free will & the hardening of hearts: God Hardens Hearts – What Does That Mean?

“God justly responds to people’s wickedness by strengthening their resolve against him. In every instance where Scripture speaks of God hardening someone, it’s an act of judgment in response to decisions these people had already made. God simply ensures that these rebels will do what their own evil hearts desire and not alter course for ulterior motives. But it’s altogether unwarranted to suppose that God unilaterally hardens people’s hearts against himself in the first place—all the while pretending to offer them the hope of salvation! When God decides to harden someone’s heart, we can be assured that God wishes it didn’t have to be that way.”

Leisure, technology, time & work: Speed Kills: Has Technology Destroyed Leisure

“… the fact that we welcome progress, increased convenience and the sheer excitement of speed in different forms—are so deeply entangled with detrimental effects (the stress and feelings of disaffection that come with living a mediated life, the actual physical danger of speed in some cases) that the phenomenon is interesting to analyze but difficult to address.”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: January 18-24

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Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …

January 18

1851 – On this day the State of Missouri issues a charter for a female college to be known as Columbia Classical Female Institute. This is the result of effort on the part of a preacher, David Patterson (“D.P.”) Henderson, a man who had been one of Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s closest friends (Stone having died in 1844). Henderson’s efforts will ultimately result in the formation of what will become known as Christian University and, as it is known today, Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, now associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

1926 – William Jesse (W.J.) Fears dies in Tatum, Texas at the age of 72. Not long after his wife of nearly thirty years had left him and taken their children with her (due to her disgust with the trials involved in being a minister’s wife), Fears came to be one of the earliest missionaries in Indian Territory (1905) from the Restoration Heritage. His ministerial work and influence will primarily be felt in what will become (in 1907) southeastern Oklahoma.

January 19

1819 – In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jesse Babcock Ferguson is born to Robert French & Hannah Champlain Babock Ferguson. Baptized in 1838 and starting to preach very shortly thereafter, he will quickly come to be regarded as the most eloquent preacher the South has to offer. His influence among Restoration Heritage churches in Nashville, TN is deep and wide for a decade (1842-1852).

However, upon revealing his beliefs that ultimately no one can be eternally lost and that every person will be saved (universalism) … and that he attempts to communicate with the dead (spiritualism) … Ferguson begins a rapid fall. Alexander Campbell’s strong opposition to Ferguson will prove to be the deciding factor in his falling into disfavor. Still, it will be four years after starting to advance his views (1856) that Ferguson’s church family in Nashville will finally cut ties with him. Never again will he have any real connection with the Restoration Heritage. And yet, those aligned with the Restoration Heritage in Nashville are fractured and devastated over the ordeal.

Ironically, in the early 1840’s Ferguson had co-edited a paper entitled The Heretic Detector. He will die in 1870 at the age of 51 while planning to establish a spiritualist settlement in rural Tennessee.

January 20

1858 – Having served for two decades as a missionary in Jamaica for Congregationalist churches (1838-1850’s), Connecticut-born Julius Oliver (“J.O.”) Beardslee returns today to Jamaica, this time as a missionary within the Restoration Heritage. He is sent to Jamaica now by the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS) and his labors are not without some immediate fruit.

However, Beardslee has been an active abolitionist for over two decades prior to the start of the war and his only son who will live to be an adult, Thomas, serves as a soldier in the Union Army. Consequently, funding for Beardslee’s work will quickly evaporate due to the arrival of the Civil War, the ACMS’ adoption of a resolution in 1863 in support of the Union, and the withdrawal of funding by southern churches for the ACMS.

January 21

1831 – Granville & Ann Lipscomb of Franklin County, Tennessee welcome the birth of their second-born son, David. David’s parents are Baptists; however, while David is still quite small, his parents are persuaded to adopt a Restoration Heritage perspective of things after reading several issues of Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist. David Lipscomb will grow up to become the single most influential figure among southern churches of the Restoration Heritage from the mid-1800’s until his death in 1917.

January 22

1798Aylette Raines is born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He becomes a preacher with Universalist views of the salvation of all of humankind. However, in 1827 he hears Walter Scott preach a sermon on his favorite chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter contains a verse upon which Raines has grounded his Universalist perspective (vs.22). As Scott preaches and brings his sermon to a head, he points straight at Raines (who, along with some of his comrades, is located front and center among those present) and asks him if what has just been preached isn’t so. Raines, blown away with Scott’s message, responds: “I presume it is so.”

Following Scott’s sermon, Raines’ somewhat frustrated companions gather around him and ask to see the notes they presume he has taken during the sermon. Raines holds up a blank piece of paper and says: “Here are my notes, all of them. I have never in all my life heard just such a speaker, or just such preaching. … I am not now prepared to deny what he says, nor am I ready to accept all. … I have so far been unable to detect the slightest flaw in any of his arguments. I must think on these things.” And that he does until, a number of weeks later, he and a friend baptize each other “for the remission of sins.”

Raines will soon begin preaching in the Restoration Heritage, though now keeping his ongoing Universalist perspective to himself. The knowledge of Raines’ now privately held convictions are troubling to some and they strongly agitate for Raines to be shunned. Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott all rush to Raines’ defense, arguing that his views are now privately held opinions and therefore, must not be made a test of faith fellowship. The dissent quiets down and melts away and so, Raines’ faith, acceptance, and ministry continue on.

Raines will cherish his friendship with the Campbells and Scott. Thomas Campbell and Raines become particularly close, Thomas commonly referring to him as “my Timothy.” Raines will continue to preach until his death (in 1881) in a number of places in Kentucky, his state of residence for the last seventy years of life.

[Sidebar: Raines had a son named after him, Aylette Raines, Jr., who served as an assistant surgeon in Confederate cavalry during the Civil War (CSA, 11th Kentucky Cavalry; aka: Chenault’s Cavalry). In 1863, Jr. was captured by Union troops and was imprisoned in Fort Delaware until his death in 1864. My g-grandfather, William Anderson Smith, also served in Confederate cavalry and was imprisoned in Fort Delaware from 1864-1865, but he, unlike Raines, and one in every twelve others imprisoned there, survived the ordeal.]

January 23

1893Kenny Carl (K.C.) Moser is born on a farm near Johnson City (Blanco County), Texas to a “tent-making” preacher, J.S. Moser & his wife. [note: some sources list his date of birth as Jan. 2] K.C. is a born-teacher and will spend his life in education and preaching ministry. Many of his steady stream of articles that appear in the Firm Foundation and Gospel Advocate in the 1920’s and 1930’s will emphasize, as it came to be summarized, “not the plan, but the man.” Consequently, from this point on in life he will serve as a brotherhood lightning rod, perceived by many as being at best, misguided, and more nearly, a heretic. Or as John Mark Hicks has put it (RQ 37:3): “As a preacher, he was hounded by others for his views on grace. As a lecturer, he was persona non grata at various religious events, such as the Abilene Christian College lectureships.”

Moser will go on to become, while in his 70’s, arguably the most influential professor ever to teach on staff at Lubbock Christian College (mid-1960’s thru mid-1970’s) and though his name and writings are not well-known today outside of students of ministry, his perspective and works continue to powerfully reverberate within – and still test – Churches of Christ.

Again, John Mark Hicks has stated things best: “Moser … was one of the key players – if not the most important one – in renewing a theology of grace among Churches of Christ in the midst of polemical exchanges that amounted to ecclesiological perfectionism. Contemporary ministers within Churches of Christ owe a great debt to the perseverance and courage of K. C. Moser who taught a theology of grace when it was quite unpopular and regarded as treason. … We stand on his shoulders and I am grateful for his life-long struggle to proclaim the gospel of grace in the midst of a people who resisted his message.”

[Sidebar: Moser went on to be with the Lord the same week I came to know the Lord. Moser preached in Frederick, Oklahoma (1926-1933) while he was formulating his watershed work The Way of Salvation and I, too, preached in Frederick (1984-1987). Though I did not learn that Moser had preached in Frederick until several years after I had left there, it was primarily while I was in Frederick and doing off-campus graduate work through Abilene Christian University that I first began to read some of his writings with real earnest and came to adopt an orientation of grace and faith myself.]

January 24

1854 – A son is born today to Restoration leader Benjamin Franklin. He will name this son “Walter Scott Franklin.” Not surprisingly, two years earlier he had named one of his sons “Alexander Campbell Franklin.” Such not only speaks as to how highly Benjamin & Mary Franklin regarded two of the Restoration Heritage’s key figures, but serves as a good example of how a great many children in the mid-1800’s who were born in the eastern half of the United States will be named after such.

Though the choice of such names then are certainly not as common as those inspired by Presidential or military figures (e.g. – Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Albert Sydney, Robert E., etc.), through the years I have often encountered first and middle name combinations in the mid and late-1880’s such as “Alexander Campbell,” “Walter Scott,” “Barton Warren,” etc.  in my Civil War, genealogical, and historical studies. Naturally, and invariably, if I’ve been able to learn more about an individual named thus (e.g. – Walter Scott Lavender), I’ve found some strong connection between them and/or their parents with the Restoration Heritage.