151 years ago today in Beech Grove, Tennessee

 

On this day, Nov. 13, in Beech Grove (Coffee County), Tennessee, in 1862, a number of elders and preachers from several Churches of Christ in that area met together and drafted a letter to the President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. A copy of this same letter was also sent to then governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson. A portion of the letter read:

“A large number of the members of the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout this and the adjoining counties of the State of Tennessee … are firm in the conviction of the truth, that no man, who regards the authority of God … can in any manner engage in, aid, foment, or countenance the strifes, animosities, and bloody conflicts in which civil governments are frequently engaged, and in which they often involve their subjects …

“With these considerations of what our duty to God requires at our hands, the enforcement of the ‘Conscript Act’ for the purpose of raising and maintaining an army, for the carrying on of this unhappy war in which our country is involved, cannot fail to work indescribable distress to those members of our churches holding these convictions.” (Restoration Quarterly 8:4 [1965]: 235)

Their plea was heard and resulted in Jefferson Davis extending an exemption law already passed by the Confederate Congress that allowed members of some churches to claim conscientious objector status. As a result, a huge percentage of the men who were members of Churches of Christ in central Tennessee chose not to, and were not forced to, join the military. Writing in light of such four years later, David Lipscomb said:

“The position assumed by the Churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee in hours of fearful trial and trouble … alone saved them from almost total ruin.” (Gospel Advocate [July 3, 1866]: 419)

Consider this:

what it must have been like for Christians to stand their ground of conviction regarding nonviolence even as the lives of their own family and friends were at stake and the lust for war raged ever higher;

how it is that both our understanding of Christian faith and the practical expression of it has come to change so very much across the decades, to the point that we are now quite unlike our ancestors in faith;

and how we as Christians today would best serve our Lord and Savior – yes, their Lord and Savior – by doing likewise.

And so:

let our own minds be made up now, in a relative time of peace, to serve Christ Jesus in this way – nonviolent ways – always, lest when the time of war does arrive, as it always does, we be swept up and swept along with our passions and the fever of war that always sweeps so many away;

may the heroes we celebrate and hold up to our children and grandchildren as models and examples of truly great and mature Christian faith be those who fight the battles of this life not with weapons made by human hands, but with decidedly the opposite - the ways of Jesus Christ;

and let us pray. Come, Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, and swiftly, that all bloodshed and war, hatred and strife, would forever cease. Amen.

this went thru my mind

 

Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind

 

Consumerism: Committed to Unhappiness: Consumerism is the Enemy of the Church by Tony Campolo [required reading]

“The truth is that secular humanism is not the primary enemy of the Church.  Instead, the enemy of the Church is consumerism.  We have made an idol out of the things that are being sold.  We bow down and worship the commodities that are paraded before us on television.  We are enslaved to a mindset that tells us that we must possess more and more because we can never have enough.  These are the things that are dragging us away from Jesus. Our inability to enjoy life without a continual sense of craving consumer goods and being continuously satisfied with who we are and what we have is good news for economic growth and, after all, economic growth is what both political parties are preaching these days.”

Elections: * A Post-Election Reminder by Rubel Shelly [required reading]; * David Lipscomb on Voting by Richard Beck

* “If your candidate wins, can you assume that his every promise will be kept promptly and without fail? … If your candidate loses, will you be demoralized with the thought that all is lost? … You know better. The election of neither candidate will destroy the country, shatter the global economy, or make it impossible for godly people to seek the Kingdom of God. … A believer’s ultimate allegiance – and hope – is in the reign of God. Her hope is not in a human system, political party, or leader; it is in Jesus Christ.”

* “May the voice of David Lipscomb be recovered and increase in the Churches of Christ. Our churches need him.”

Hurricane Sandy relief efforts: New Jersey Congregation Brings Hope to Beach Town Hit Hard by Superstorm Sandy

“Among the New Jersey congregations heavily involved in the relief effort is the Gateway Church of Christ … Carl Williamson provides a first-person account of his family’s experience during the storm and shares details on the Gateway church’s relief work in hard-hit Union Beach, N.J.”

Jesus, our conception of & culture: Oh Constantine by Greg Boyd [required viewing; 5:45 min. clip]

“When you pick up the sword, you put down the cross.”

Marriage: Marriage With a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse by Brad Hambrick

“We are all married to a self-centered spouse. That is what it means for us to be fallen people who are bound to experience life from within our bodies. But there are cases where this ‘general self-centeredness’ becomes chronic — severe to a point that it either results in a marital environment of abuse or neglect.”

Meditation: What Did the Psalmist Mean by “Meditation”?

“… neither of the Hebrew words translated as ‘meditate’ or ‘meditation’ refers to silent activities. … we should probably imagine him singing or reciting the psalm from memory.”

Truth: Our Glaring Obsession With Truth by Terry Rush

“Jesus is the train wreck that must happen to any tribe.  He will not let us continue to do church our smug and small ways.  Yes, narrow is the way; but narrow isn’t that we don’t allow much.  Rather, narrow is defined by one singular Son of God named Jesus….as the author of salvation….and no one else.”

U.S. culture & religious diversity: Map of Religious Diversity in America

“This gets at how varied, or diverse, religious affiliation is in different regions of the country. As you can see, the areas with the most diversity also tend to have the lowest rates of adherence.”

this went thru my mind

 

Change: How the Tech Parade Passed Sony By by Hiroko Tabuchi

“… Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life. In fact, it is in a fight for its life …”

Church: How Your Small Rural Church Can Do Something Big by Whitney Hopler

“… your church’s small size doesn’t have to limit its potential to impact the world in big ways.”

Church problems: * There’s The Door: Dealing with Conflictual Christians by K. Rex Butts; * Remaining Patient: Dealing with Sinful Behavior Among the Church by K. Rex Butts

* “… there comes a time when certain church members must be told ‘There’s the door’ and then told to leave.”

* “While we never want to approve of any sinful behavior, not all sinful behavior has the same consequences upon the local church, its mission and spiritual health.”

Conversion: The New Conversion: Why We ‘Become Christians’ Differently Today by Gordon T. Smith

“It is not be an overstatement to say that evangelicals are experiencing a ‘sea change’—a paradigm shift—in their understanding of conversion and redemption, a shift that includes the way in which they think about the salvation of God, the nature and mission of the church, and the character of religious experience. Although there is no one word to capture where evangelicals are going in this regard, there is a word that captures what they are leaving behind: revivalism.”

Faith: The Maximum Faith series: The Importance of Brokenness by George Barna

“The data indicate that very few people – barely one out of ten adults in the United States – could be considered to have been broken by their understanding of and distaste for their offenses against God. And a huge majority of Christians believes that you can be saved without experiencing such brokenness. Sadly, they are wrong. There is no salvation without brokenness.”

Feeding the hungry: Cuts to SNAP Will Hurt Texas Families Struggling to Afford Food by Larry James

“A cut of this magnitude would affect over 300,000 Texas families who will struggle to put food on the table without the support SNAP provides.”

Gated communities: The Injustice of Gated Communities by David Greusel

“… more than 10 million American households exist sheltered behind walls. While that’s just under 10 percent of U.S. households, it represents a sizeable minority hunkered down in fortified bunkers. … One question to ask about gated communities is, how real is the threat they purport to avoid?”

Pets: Do Pets Go to Heaven?

“An author, a professor, and an animal advocate weigh in.”

Politics: The Impermanent Republican Majority by Timothy Egan

“For those who believe that demography is destiny, there was no more jaw-dropping figure from the 2004 presidential election than this finding from the nation’s far-flung metropolitan frontier: George W. Bush carried 97 of the nation’s 100 fastest growing counties.”

Poverty: David Lipscomb on the Poor (parts 3 & 4)

“Lipscomb encourages a private, daily sharing of resources instead of a public, occasional large gift. The former arises out of a lifestyle but the latter arises out of a desire for reward. The former is the daily life of a Christian but the latter is more tuned to the formal religion with its love of a holy place that is “worldly.” The former practices the gospel in sharing with the poor but the latter practices the religion of building and forms.”

Preaching: The Sermon That Makes Them Mad by Joe McKeever

“… ministers are not sent to make the church happy. They are sent by God to make Him happy, and to make you the members holy and healthy.”

this went thru my mind

 

Complaining: * The Complaining Christian by K. Rex Butts; * Responding to the Complaining Christian by K. Rex Butts

* “… I do wonder how any Christian can contemplate the passion of Jesus and yet complain and manipulate.”

* “In some cases, some complaints are simply the frivolous wines of immaturity and are not worth responding to. So at first, it should be recognized that we need to exercise some discernment in knowing when and when not to respond as well as how to respond. When we do/must respond, here are a few suggestions I believe will greatly help both in the short and long term.”

Grief: What Good Grief Looks Like When a Daughter Dies by Ben Witherington

“The first point immediately confirmed in my heart was theological: God did not do this to my child.”

Leadership & ministry: Did You Know That Ministry Can Make You Feel as if You are Losing Your Mind? by Jim Martin

“Anxious leaders live in a constant state of reaction. For them, a good Sunday morning is when no one complains. Yet, is this the way God wants us to evaluate our assemblies? Somehow I can’t imagine Paul evaluating the church based on the reactions of people.”

Obedience, desire, & duty: C.S. Lewis on Why We Should Do (and read) the Things We Do

“A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (or own loves, tastes, habits etc) can do the journey on their own!”

Offensive & unoffensive: Offensive Jesus? by Michael Kimpan

“Jesus was not at all offensive to the disenfranchised, to the oppressed, to the despised and rejected. Jesus was not all that offensive to sinners. In fact, he was attractive to them. Sure, he was a stumbling block to many… and offended many as well. Namely, the religious.”

Reconciliation & forgiveness: David Lipscomb: Forgiveness and Unity After the Civil War by John Mark Hicks

“Forgiveness only takes one–I forgive my enemies. Reconcilation takes two–a mutual search for peace. But reconcilation cannot happen unless forgiveness comes first. That was true for Lipscomb postbellum and it is true for us post-September 11.”

Religiously unaffiliated: The Religiously Unaffiliated in America by Peter Berger

“At the core … the sharp rise in the number of Americans who declare themselves in surveys as being without religious affiliation. People who study religious statistics, and who also have a sense of humor (the two qualities are not necessarily contradictory), call this demographic ‘the nones’. … In the 1960s the “nones” comprised 5-7% of the population; by the mid-1990s they had grown to 12%; in 2011 the percentage was 19%. … the incidence of ‘nones’ is highest in the age group 30-49. … all ‘nones’ grew by about 18% between 2006 and 2011, but young ‘nones’ grew by about 90% …”

Teenagers: 5 Tips for a ‘First Contact’ With a Teenager by Doug Fields

“… that’s really where we want to be anyway… isn’t it? Getting them talking, so we can listen and learn more about them?”

The Sinner’s PrayerDavid Platt: The Sinner’s Prayer is Superstitious & Unbiblical by Matt Dabbs
[a 3 min. video excerpt of a sermon by David Platt]

“If you ask me what to do, let me point you to Peter, Jesus, and Paul rather than the opinions that are floating around today.”

this went thru my mind

 

apostles: The Apostles by Andrew Todhunter

“They were unlikely leaders. … Yet 2,000 years later, all over the world, the Apostles are still drawing people in.”

criticism: Knowing When to Criticize by Ron Edmonson

“When do you criticize and when do you let it go? That’s always a dilemma. We don’t want to be seen as critical, but not saying something may enable bad behavior.”

democracy: People Aren’t Smart Enough for Democracy to Flourish, Scientists Say

“… no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them. On top of that, ‘very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is …’”

ecology: Pace of Ocean Acidification Has No Parallel in 300 Million Years

“While the present-day release of carbon dioxide is slow on a human time scale, it is essentially instantaneous on a geologic time scale.”

grace, judgment & works: Saved by Grace, Judged by Works? by J. Daniel Kirk

“Every time the New Testament indicates the basis of the final judgment, that basis is the works of the people who are being judged.”

parenting: The Messiness of Raising Children (Our Attempt) by Jim Martin

“… we did this imperfectly.”

politics: Lipscomb, Politics and the Sermon on the Mount by John Mark Hicks

“The antagonism between the principles laid down by Christ and those of civil government is so marked that in history, the statement, that they regulate their conduct by the sermon on the Mount, is equal to saying they take no part in civil affairs.”

vision: Airplanes Have No Rearview Mirrors by Paul Smith

“I love the history of the American Restoration Movement. I also love reformation history, medieval history, and both pre-and post Nicene history. But history can only be instructive, it can never be determinative! We must learn to cast our eyes upon the ultimate, upon the ‘last days,’ so that we can truly live as God’s people and Christ’s disciples in our own age. The ultimate gives meaning to the penultimate. Christ’s return teaches us how to live today.”

this went thru my mind

 

Accountability: Why I Don’t Believe in Christian Accountability | A Response by Mike Breen

“God is constantly speaking to us and is inviting us to himself and his unfolding Kingdom. His desire is that the words he speaks deep into us will change the way we see the world around us (Repentance) and result in us living differently (Belief).”

Bible interpretation & science: Misreading the Bible’s “Scientific Accuracy”

“The point is whether God guided the Biblical authors to write in such a way that they spoke better than they knew about future scientific findings.”

Charles Siburt: For Charlie by Dan Bouchelle

“Like the rest, I am deeply conflicted at the news that Charlie’s battle with cancer is drawing to a close and Charlie is in his final days with us on this side of Jesus’ appearing to set all things right. I’m thrilled Charlie will soon be with his Lord. I grieve over the hole his departure will leave behind.”

Christian conservatism: Christian Conservatives Seldom Conserve the Real Tradition by Richard Rohr

” To be fair, many progressives and liberals are just as bad.”

Church potluck meals: Food, Glorious…Potlucks?

“If food is relational, what are we saying to our friends and neighbors when we invite them to church and offer them overdone Mostacholi à la bland with a side of 15 layer Jell-o dessert?”

Cremation: Cremation: Is It Okay? by Edward Fudge

“Our confidence finally rests not in a scientific explanation, or in metaphysical theories about immortal souls, but in the personal faithfulness of the living God who made us in the first place and in whose keeping we safely sleep until he raises us on the Last Day …”

Defining Christ’s mission: What Was the Mission of Christ? David Lipscomb Answers by John Mark Hicks

“I am often amazed at how some contemporary writers–missional and emergent–seem to believe that they have embraced a new vision for the mission of God. It also amazes me that some more traditional writers–some Evangelicals and some New Calvinists–regard the missional emphasis as a new understanding of the gospel. David Lipscomb (1831-1917) reminds us that such emphases are not new.”

Difficult people: How to Deal with Difficult People and Have Constructive Conflict by Joe Wilner

“When we encounter these extreme personalities it can feel like they are trying to make our life miserable, but more often than not, it’s simply learning about these peoples’ tendencies and how to interact in a more tactful way. Some conflicts are unavoidable and shouldn’t be smoothed over or suppressed, though it’s learning to deal with our differences, and how to understand, resolve, and learn from these interactions that’s important.”

Discipleship: Favorite Quotes: James A. Harding by John Mark Hicks

“Our greatest trouble now is, it seems to me, a vast unconverted membership. A very large percent of the church members among us seem to have very poor conceptions of what a Christian ought to be. They are brought into the church during these high-pressure protracted meetings, and they prove to be a curse instead of a blessing. They neglect prayer, the reading of the Bible, and the Lord’s day meetings, and, of course, they fail to do good day by day as they should. Twelve years of continuous travel among the churches have forced me to the sad conclusion that a very small number of the nominal Christians are worthy of the name.” (Feb. 1887)

Food5 Myths Haunting Your Healthy Foods by Jonathan Bechtel

“The bottom line in all these myths is that people mistakenly assume various certifications as proxies for nutritional quality, but their presence bears no meaning to the quality of food you eat when you hold other things equal. The best way to ensure you’re eating right is to consistently consume a diet of fresh foods with minimally processed ingredients, and spare yourself the confusion of deciphering the legitimacy of the latest fads of the health food industry.”

Form & function: Form Versus Function by Timothy Archer

“How do we know when fulfilling the function is enough and when to insist on the exact form?”

Google Reader: Make Google Reader Pretty with Reeder for Chrome by Bobby Travis

“Google Reader is the best RSS subscription collector out there — but only as a base. In practice it has one of the ugliest user interfaces I’ve ever come across. … Thankfully, some enterprising folks have used browser technology to re-skin Reader into something that actually makes content easy to consume. One of the best is Reeder for Chrome.”

Grief: Good Grief – the E-Book by Ben Witherington

“Mark Galli, senior editor at CT liked the Good Grief articles so well, that Christianity Today is turning them, plus another 35 pages of my reflections that don’t turn up on this blog, into an e-book which you can read on Kindle, and see the pictures in color on Kindle Fire. In addition, there will be a sample in the April print issue of Christianity Today. Finally, all profits from this book are going to be donated to a worthy charitable cause Christy would have supported.”

Leadership: Leading the Leaders (Someone Has to Steer) by Tim Woodroof

“When leadership of the elder group is passed (sequentially and regularly) to different men—with different personalities and preferences … with varying levels of leadership skills and experiences … influenced by diverse constituencies and sensibilities … with assorted understandings of and commitments to the stated goals and directions of the church—the result can be nothing other than confusion and ambiguity and ineffectiveness.”

“Masculine Christianity“: Call No Man on Earth Father: A Comment on “Masculine Christianity” by Richard Beck

“I particularly learned a lot from J.R. Daniel Kirk’s response (who knew the translation of El Shaddai had anything to do with mammary glands?).”

New creation theology/renewed earth theology: From Lipscomb to Wallace on “New Creation” Theology by John Mark Hicks

“My interest in this post is new creation theology, that is, the belief that God will renew this earth, unite heaven and earth, and dwell with his people upon that renewed earth for eternity. This was a rather commonly held view among 19th century Stone-Campbell folk though, of course, not the only perspective. It was certainly the understanding of the theological trajectory connected with the Nashville Bible School, particularly in the thinking of David Lipscomb and James A. Harding. By the end of WWII, however, renewed earth theology had all but disappeared. What happened?”

Small groups: Four Practical Reasons for Small Groups by Rick Warren

“We may attract attenders through preaching, but disciples are made in small groups.”

To-do lists: Using Your To-Do List as a Second Brain by Nate Klemp

“How do you break out of the must-remember-mind? How can you draw your attention away from endless mental to-dos to the experience of this moment? The answer is – you need a second brain, a brain dedicated to holding on to all those emails, tasks, and calls you can’t stop thinking about. Enter the to-do list.”

Work: When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Workload by Michael Hyatt

“Here are six things you can do to cope. … Acknowledge you can’t do it all. … Accept the fact some things won’t get done at all. … Practice workload triage. … Categorize your tasks by priority. … Practice intentional neglect. … Do the next most important thing next.”