links: this went thru my mind

 

Adultery: The United States of Adultery

[This is an interactive map. Houston is #2 in the country, beat out only by three-time winner Washington D.C.]

Birth of Jesus & Christmas: * Baby Jesus Meek and Mild, Overthrew an Empire – Wild!; * Is There A Dragon In Your Nativity Set?

* “May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ‘empires.’ Merry Christmas.”

* “Every nativity set needs a red dragon. If you don’t remember that part of the story, you might want to read chapter 12 of Revelation.”

China, Christianity & persecution: China’s Hardship-Hardened Church

“Vibrant amid persecution, it seeks faithfulness over freedom.”

Contribution, generosity, giving, possessions, sacrifice, stewardship & wealth: The Scary Truth About Christian Giving

“Over the past 40 years, self-identified evangelicals have given between 2 and 3 percent of their incomes to churches and Christian organizations. Stewardship is a crucial part of the Christian life, and according to these figures, it is sadly lacking.”

Criticism, hatred & humility: Haters

“Never criticize what God is blessing.”

Firearms & guns: Gun Country

“They bring families together and they tear them apart. They kill innocent people and protect them. The United States continues to love and revile its hundreds of millions of firearms. Here is a look at that complicated  relationship, told through the personal stories of Americans.”

Insurance & the uninsured: Mapping Uninsured Americans

“Census data released Dec. 17 show where the uninsured live.”

Love & truth: 3 John: When Love is Abused

“He abused his power; he abused the love entrusted to him.”

Poor & poverty: In the War on Poverty, a Dogged Adversary [required reading]

“Without the panoply of government benefits — like food stamps, subsidized school lunches and the earned-income tax credit, which provides extra money to household heads earning low wages — the nation’s poverty rate last year would have reached almost 31 percent, up from 25 percent in 1967, according to the research at Columbia.”

Warfare: The Great War’s Ominous Echoes

“… the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far-off, it is similar to ours — often unsettlingly so — in many ways.”

guest post: there is nothing hidden

Editorial note. This post is a guest post penned by my very good friend, Dan Williams. Dan has not only served as the preaching minister with the College Ave. Church of Christ in El Dorado, AR since the early 1980′s, but is a licensed family counselor with years of experience. I was privileged to serve across town from him from 1987-1993. He is one of a rare breed; he is “a minister’s minister.” I commend his thoughts to us all for our sharpening.

Gary Hart could well have been elected president back in 1988 – until he got caught in some “Monkey Business” and had to drop out of the race in disgrace.

John Edwards was a candidate for president during the 2004 and 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaigns – until it came to light that he was engaged in an affair while his wife Elizabeth was a cancer patient.

Elliot Spitzer was governor of New York and was being promoted as a presidential candidate for the next election – until the revelation that he was unfaithful to his wife by consorting with prostitutes.

Mark Sanford was governor of South Carolina and was considered a promising candidate for president in the next election cycle – until it became apparent that he was committing adultery with an Argentine “soul mate.”

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, devoutly wants to be our next president, in spite of the trouble he has explaining why he dumped not one, but two, sick wives after beginning adulterous relationships. Now his campaign has imploded, in part because of tensions between his now-departed staff and his young “trophy wife.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to limp out the last years of his second term as governor of California before it was revealed that he fathered a child with a housekeeper: now his marriage and his reputation are in tatters.

Anthony Weiner was widely expected to run in, and win, the next election for mayor of New York, until it came to light that he had conducted lewd textual relations with numerous women. He became the punch line for countless jokes and was forced out of Congress.

In a weird twist of fate, Bill Clinton conducted Eric Weiner’s wedding ceremony last July. Clinton, of course, almost lost his presidency back in 1999 when he was impeached, but not convicted, after his extramarital affairs became public knowledge.

So, what lesson are we supposed to take away from that dismal list? Is it:

a. If a politician is in town, you should lock up your wife?
b. Are some women especially attracted to men in positions of authority?
c. Does the arrogance of power lead office-holders to feel entitled and make them reckless?
d. Is the temptation of adultery so compelling that it leads men to sacrifice even their most cherished life goal?

All of those suggestions have some validity, but Jesus suggests another lesson: “There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17). An illicit affair thrives on the expectation that “We can keep it secret – no one will know.” As history has repeatedly demonstrated, however, the idea that adultery can be hidden is a fool’s dream.

Learn from the sad examples of so many once prominent, now disgraced men: keep your heart pure, your moral boundaries high, and your marriage strong. Remember: “A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).

the seventh commandment

This coming Sunday morning, May 1, most of our English-speaking adult Bible classes (9:00 a.m.) at MoSt Church will study Rock Solid Commitment, a study of the seventh of the Ten Commandments (“you shall not commit adultery”; Exodus 20:14; Deut. 5:18). Utilize the following questions to help you prepare for your part in class this Sunday.

1. What’s the biggest lie that Satan tries to sell people today about marriage? About sex? About fidelity?

2. What is a Biblical definition of adultery? Is adultery always spoken as being sexual in nature?

3. What does adultery have in common with the previous six of the Ten Commandments?

4. How is it that adultery and deceit naturally accompany each other?

5. Why do you think the OT prophets used adultery as a metaphor for idolatry? How are the two alike?

6. This commandment, “you shall not commit adultery,” is a clear call for us to never ignore, exploit, manipulate, or use people. Someone has said, “Disposable sex makes for disposable people.” How does it feel to be used and then discarded, to be treated with unfaithfulness?

7. What do you suppose are some of the drivers behind adultery?

8. How has adultery affected your family? Friends of yours? Our church family?

9. Why do we automatically think “it would never happen to me” when it comes to adultery?

10. Sexual adultery is rarely the first reason a relationship goes south, but it is often “the last straw.” What do you sense are some of the biggest and most common pressures placed on marriages today?

11. What are some situations you face that are potentially dangerous to your marriage?

12. If you were to give advice to a couple about to get married, what advice would you give them as to how to help make their marriage “adultery-proof?” What practical steps do you take to avoid compromising your integrity and purity yourself?

13. How can you best help a struggling friend who has an unfaithful mate? How can you help a friend who is being unfaithful?

from the heart

“Don’t you know that nothing from the outside that enters a person has the power to contaminate? That’s because it doesn’t enter into the heart but into the stomach, and it goes out into the sewer.” … “It’s what comes out of a person that contaminates someone in God’s sight,” he [Jesus] said. “It’s from the inside, from the human heart, that evil thoughts come: sexual sins, thefts, murders, adultery, greed, evil actions, deceit, unrestrained immorality, envy, insults, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evil things come from the inside and contaminate a person in God’s sight.” (Mark 7: 18-19a,20-23 CEB)