links: this went thru my mind

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Here are several links I found to be interesting and helpful.

Choices, decisions, discernment, intuition, morality, rationalization & thinking: Your Mind is a Spin Machine

“… usually, the rider is the servant to the elephant.”

Cinema, faith, film, forgiveness, hatred, movies, torture & war: The Power of Forgiveness [essential reading]

“How does a man forgive what is seemingly unforgivable? In search of the answer, I began a seven-year journey through his life, a journey that culminated in my book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.”

Feast of Dedication, Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, Jesus & Jerusalem: * Jesus Visited Jerusalem During Hanukkah; * Hanukkah: When Jesus Claimed to be God

* “The Gospel of John records more visits to Jerusalem by Jesus than any other of the Gospels. John is the only one to record the visit during the Feast of Dedication.”

* “Today, some say Jesus never claimed to be God. But His words during that Hanukkah left little doubt.”

Israel, roads, the ascent to Jerusalem & travel: New Video: The Modern Ascent to Jerusalem

“Bill Schlegel, author of the Satellite Bible Atlas, has just posted a video showing the ascent to Jerusalem from the Shephelah. The 6-minute video uses drone footage to show the modern highway’s route and the new construction. In antiquity, travelers followed the natural routes along the ridges. Today when we deviate from those ridges, we spend billions to destroy the landscape in the construction of passes, bridges, and tunnels.”

Prison system & teens: End Solitary Confinement for Teenagers

“That the practice is widespread remains a disturbing indicator of how poorly we treat the hundreds of thousands of minors arrested each year in the United States.”

10 reasons I oppose open carry in Texas & hope you will, too

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“Jesus said … ‘Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword.’ …

“They said, ‘Look, Master, two swords!’

“But he said, ‘Enough of that; no more sword talk!'” (Luke 22.36-38)

Texas Governor-elect Greg Abbott wants to see the open carry of firearms become the law of the land in Texas.

With all due respect, I believe his sort of thinking is shot full of holes. For sake of brevity, let me just enumerate here ten ways as to why.

1. If you’re really trying to up your safety factor against criminals we all know the best way to do that is to start openly carrying a handgun – so the criminally-minded know exactly who to take out first, right?

2. Recent events in the national news (aka: deaths of innocent individuals) only reinforce the thought that law enforcement would never make a mistake in shooting someone they thought was carrying what appeared to be a firearm and so, open-carry laws could only minimize the number of such tragedies, right?

3. Everyone packing heat is always very level-headed and would never succumb to a raw emotional impulse, something they could avoid if they weren’t packing to start with, right?

4. All sorts of people in all sorts of places carrying lethal weapons in plain view for everyone to see just makes for a more at-ease, anxiety-free, and peace-minded society, right?

5. Affording quicker and easier access to children, those not fully responsible for themselves – anyone within reach, really – will never result in any accidents, right?

6. Our ancestors who lived through far more openly and consistently dangerous times and situations many years ago just didn’t have a clue what they were doing when they outlawed open-carry to start with, right?

7. No well known pro open carry organizations have a track record of harassment, bullying, or threatening people and have the NRA’s full support, right?

8. This push for legislation is based on solid research/studies and what’s truly best for people, with no political machinations at work, right?

9. There’s certainly no chance of any sort of subtle intimidation, wordless manipulation, unjust persuasion, or unconscious alienation going on in any conversation when one party is strapped and the other one isn’t, making for no distraction or disruption whatsoever in everyday dealings with any and all others, right?

10. After all, open carry just makes good sense for servants of the Prince of Peace and, loving your enemies is just so much easier in an increasingly violence-prone society when you’re totin’ a modern day “Peacemaker,” right?

For these ten reasons – and more – I believe an open carry law in today’s Texas makes little sense and could bring far more harm than any potential good it could ever bring. And so, I don’t think there’s much right about seeking an open carry law in Texas’ future.

Just one Christian thinkin’ out loud here.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.5-7)

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five articles I consider interesting and helpful for thought.

American history, memory, myth & religion: Why 1940s America Wasn’t as Religious as You Think — the Rise and Fall of American Religion

“It’s common for people to believe that religion was always more vibrant in the past. Earlier generations were always more religious than we are, right? Not always. Religiosity can rise and fall just like other things do over time. In fact, America of the 1940s was about as religious as America today.”

Bethlehem, nativity scenes & the birth of Jesus: Bethlehem – the Manger and the Inn

“What actually did a stable look like in the time of Christ?”

Church shopping: ‘It Meets My Needs’ and Other Bad Reasons for Choosing a Church

“If you’re like most, a day is coming when you too will be on the search for a new church to call home. When that day comes, you may want to think twice before using these all-too-common reasons for making your choice.”

God, love, punishment & suffering: Did God Love the Egyptians?

“Did God love the Egyptians when he struck Egypt with plagues? In the larger biblical narrative, the answer is obviously yes. The prophet Isaiah later prophesies about judgments on Egypt (Isa 19:1-17, 22; akin to judgments he also prophesies against Israel); as a result, Egyptians will turn to God and they will become part of God’s people alongside Israel (19:18-25). In the law of Moses, Israelites are forbidden to despise Egyptians, because Israel’s ancestors found refuge in Egypt (Deut 23:7).”

Judging: Fellowship & Judgment

“‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.’ (Luke 6:37) These instructions are more specific iterations of the golden rule (Matthew 7:12), if you think about it.”

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to some reading I consider interesting and helpful.

Church, ministry & obstacles: Ten Ways We Get in the Way of God Building His Church

“When things don’t go well at church, is it possible that we are getting in God’s way?”

Church growth & martyrdom: Sorry, Tertullian

“‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’ … early church theologian Tertullian argued … [However] church growth is ‘not strongly’ correlated with either governmental or societal persecution. However, Christianity ‘tends loosely’ to change more rapidly (grow or shrink) when governmental restriction is high, and stays relatively stable when such pressure is low.”

Cinema, film & movies: Do We Really Need Christian Film?

“What surprises me is that the church has all but ignored, and even villified, this art form. We sit around debating the usefulness of film, bemoaning the latest Hollywood faith-based effort, madly citing Marshall McLuhan with the worst of proof-texting, wondering why we don’t see the likes of Bach, Handel, John Bunyan or C. S. Lewis making powerful, intelligent films. Maybe in the next ten to twenty years a Christian filmmaker will come along and show us what powerful Christian film can be.”

Humanity, inhumanity & violence: Why are We So Mired in Violence?

“… we can’t relate to each other the way God intends unless we’re in relationship with God himself the way he intends.”

Faith & torture: * Christians & Torture; * You Cannot Be a Christian and Support Torture

* “Torture is the arrogance of the mighty. … The cross of Christ reveals what God thinks of torture: it is not the way of God. God turned torture into new life by resurrection and overcoming torture.”

* “… to be a Christian absolutely requires you to reject the use of torture. … Any thoughtful person, no matter their religion or non-religion, knows that you cannot support torturing people and still claim to be a follower of the one who commanded his disciples to love their enemies. The only way around this is to invent a false Jesus who supports the use of torture. (The Biblical term for this invented false Jesus is ‘antichrist.’)

“Those who argue for the use of torture do so because they are convinced it is pragmatic for national security. But Christians are not called to be pragmatists or even safe. Christians are called by Jesus to imitate a God who is kind and merciful to the wicked.”

links: this went thru my mind

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American exceptionalism: What “American Exceptionalism” Means to Me

“True American exceptionalism is saying ‘We did wrong; we apologize and promise never to do it again.’ Unfortunately, and very ironically, true American exceptionalism is becoming the exception.”

Assessment, bucks & butts, church & statistics: Counting Correctly: Create the Right Scorecard for Churches

“Fifty years ago, many churches had signs posted within the building showing weekly numbers on them: worship service attendance, Sunday School attendance, offering total, and even how many people brought their Bibles. We live in a different age now. … Among our churches, we need to ask if we are reaching people. We need to ask if we are discipling people. Are we reaching our goals or are we falling short? These are important questions to ask and important things to count. … What percentage of people in the church are serving? How many are serving inside and outside the church? How many are in small groups? How many are being trained into leadership in groups and in the church?”

Church giving, contribution, electronic giving, technology & the offering: Church Giving Tops $50 Billion A Year In U.S.—And Its Future Is Not A Collection Plate

“Churches are no different than any other operation in that they need to be relevant and convenient …”

Depression, emotions & seasonal affective disorder (SAD): 9 Ways To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder

“Roughly 10 to 20 percent of Americans report feeling tired or sad when there are fewer hours of daylight in the winter month. … While many people can still function even if they’re feeling a bit melancholy, for some, winter brings a clinical form of depression called seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.”

Senses, sense of smell & worship: The Aroma of the Knowledge of God: How the Sense of Smell Inspires Worship and Awe

“… despite its meager number of occurrences in Scripture, the way biblical authors employ the sense of smell is truly remarkable. Here are three broad patterns regarding the sense of smell in Scripture …”