links: this went thru my mind

 

Atheism, evangelism, outreach & persuasion: How Not to Debate an Atheist

“When you combine the powder keg of Christians proselytizing about Christ and atheists proselytizing about secularism on the Internet, you get an explosion of arguments … Here are some ways I’ve seen these conversations go wrong as a former atheist.”

Capital punishment, death penalty, ethics, faith & Jesus: Albert Mohler Has No Use For Jesus [required reading]

“… obviously there are some things Jesus didn’t talk about…but the death penalty isn’t one. … You see, the challenge all of us face along with Mohler is straightforward: If we talk about Jesus all the time, but when we claim we’re taking a Christian position Christ is nowhere to be found, then there’s nothing actually particularly Christian about our position.”

C.S. Lewis, perspective & progress: Why We Need ‘Dinosaurs’ Like C. S. Lewis

“When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.”

Evil, Satan, wickedness & the world: Our Beautiful, Nightmarish World

“I honestly don’t see how it is possible to explain how an all-good God could create a cosmos that is this screwed up without accepting that he’s opposed by forces of evil that operate on a cosmic scale. Appealing to human free will alone simply doesn’t cut it.”

Future & technology: A Vision of the Future From Those Likely to Invent It

“Almost two-thirds of Americans think technological change will lead to a better future, while about one-third think people’s lives will be worse as a result, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. Regardless, expect more change. In a series of interviews, which have been condensed and edited, seven people who are driving this transformation provided a glimpse into the not-too-distant future.”

Television: Television and the Glamorization of Anything It Desires [required reading]

“Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

American exceptionalism & military intervention: Is Vladimir Putin Right?

“… Putin does have this to say in response to American exceptionalism: ‘There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.’

Desensitization, evil, forgiveness, labeling & violence: Good and Evil: Wearing Hitler [required reading]

“We think we have corralled evil to somewhere else, somewhere where “they” live, but then we hear evidence that suggests that if someone just puts on a white coat and pretends to be in charge we will push whatever button they tell us to.”

Government, nonviolence & pacifism: * Responding to Critics of a Pacifist View of the Syrian Crisis (parts 1 & 2) * Can Christians Ever Use Violence? A Discussion with Preston Sprinkle (Part 1); * Can Christians Ever Fight for Peace? A Discussion with Preston Sprinkle (Part 2) [all four of these entries are essential reading]

* “…  to say “God uses the sword-wielding authorities to punish wrongdoers” entails that every time authorities use their sword, God is using them. In logic, this is called a non sequitur – viz. ‘it does not follow.’ If I say, ‘Uncle Joe uses cow dung to fertilize his field,’ it doesn’t mean that every time Uncle Joe’s cows crap they’re fertilizing his field! This is why I stated that God doesn’t approve of the violence of governments: he simply uses them, as much as possible, as he finds them.”

* “Our call is to put on display an alternative to all the kingdoms of this world by refusing all violence and laying down our lives for others – even, and especially, those who identify themselves as our enemies.”

* “… before we ask the question, ‘Can a Christian be president,’ we need to first ask the question, ‘Does the Bible, especially the New Testament, allow Christians to use or command others to use violence to confront evil?’ Put more broadly: ‘Is there anything in the New Testament that encourages believers to put aside their Christian ethic for the sake of their vocation?'”

* “What if America killed all the bad guys, defended its borders, and exported democracy to every nation on earth? What would this accomplish? Would this further the kingdom of God? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it would steer everyone’s gaze away from Jesus as the only true source of peace and toward America as the world’s savior—pax Americana. Rome almost did this in the first century: robbers were nearly stamped out, the Parthians were kept at bay, and Barbarians to the north posed little threat for hundreds of years. Pax Romana. And in Revelation 12 and 13, John said that they were empowered by Satan.”

this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, historicity of Christianity & scholarship: Epiphany – Five Reflections from a Life Time by Paul Barnett [required reading]

“Theology to be true depends on what happened historically.  If the Word did not actually become flesh in Bethlehem in the latter years of Herod, then the theology stated in John 1:14 is just empty words, akin to myth.”

Church guests, first impressions & welcome: The Other Side of Evangelism: The Importance of Receiving Those God Sends Our Way by Matt Dabbs

“We can go out and reach out to people all day but if we don’t receive them well then we may never gain access to getting into any deeper conversation with them than whatever they hear on their first visit, because they may never come back.”

Christianity & politics: Louie Giglio and Inauguration Day Prayer by Scot McKnight

“Louie Giglio did the right thing when he chose to back out of offering the Inauguration Day Prayer. He could have done the right-er thing by never accepting such an invitation. …

“Christian leaders and pastors need to be at the Prayer Breakfast or the Easter Breakfast, but not on the Inauguration Day platform — unless they line up with that platform’s agendas, and the most political ones and the most vocal ones and the most inflammatory ones are the ones that will determine suitability. Louie, you didn’t belong there. May all of us learn the lesson that Caesar is Caesar and Jesus is not Caesar.”

DiscipleshipHow To to Measure Discipleship by Geoff Surratt

“How do we measure discipleship? It is relatively easy to measure church attendance, giving, or small group participation, but how do we measure church members becoming more like Christ? … I think there are six vital areas that point to a growing disciple … Separate studies by the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway on discipleship came to the same conclusion; the single biggest factor in growing as a disciple is reading the Bible every day. It’s the magic pill of discipleship.”

Economy, education & food stamps: More Ph.D.s Needing Food Stamps

“While more than 293,000 master’s recipients needed public assistance in 2010, up from 102,000 in 2007, nearly 34,000 doctorate recipients used food stamps and other assistance programs. That’s a sizable increase from the 9,800 doctorate holders who needed support back in 2007…

“… one in six Americans received food stamps in 2011. That’s about 52.5 million people …”

Evil & hope: When the Children Cry by Paula Harrington

“Our hope isn’t in the United States nor is it in better or worse gun laws. Our hope is in the Christ.”

Grace: Grace, Electricity, and Sex by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“I grew up in a church that believed in God’s grace. We believed in it just like we believed in electricity. We believed it existed and we needed it. We were thankful for it. We knew we depended on it and would be in deep trouble without it. We didn’t want to give it up or live in a world without it. But, we didn’t understand how it worked and felt obliged to restrict its distribution to safe outlets so as to prevent its abuse, which would be our undoing. Grace was like sex. We liked it, but we didn’t talk about it freely because it was more than a little embarrassing. It made us feel exposed and vulnerable. Like with sex, people who got obsessed with grace could go overboard, losing both necessary discipline and holiness.”

this went thru my mind

 

Change & Churches of Christ: A Major Change in the Church Among Us by Terry Rush [required reading]

“Such fruit … prompted a significant number among us to approach the eleventh hour with great fear that I haven’t done enough. How many times I have been called out in the night to hear this verse. The cure for it is found in two things: (1) praising God, and (2) making Jesus more prominent.”

Children, fathers & parenthood: Fathers Disappear from Households Across America: Big Increase in Single Mothers

“Though income is the primary predictor, the lack of live-in fathers also is overwhelmingly a black problem, regardless of poverty status, census data show. Among blacks, nearly 5 million children, or 54 percent, live with only their mother. Twelve percent of black families below the poverty line have two parents present, compared with 41 percent of impoverished Hispanic families and 32 percent of poor white families. … In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents. In every state, 7 in 10 white children do. In all states but Rhode Island and Massachusetts, most Hispanic children do.”

Church: Three Reasons They Don’t Like The Church (And What to Do About It) by Chris Altrock

“Some do not value the institution of church because the church doesn’t seem to add anything of practical substance to the culture–socially, morally or spiritually. … Some do not value the institution of the church because they are skeptical of any institution claiming to have a corner on absolute Truth. … Some do not value the institution of the church because they’ve been hurt by church-goers.  Or they’ve seen too many hypocritical church-goers.”

Computing: Who Owns Your Online Content? by Kim Komando

“As I’ve told you before, Facebook’s terms of service grants it the full rights to your profile picture and name to use in ads. By using Facebook with the default settings, you let Facebook use your content for just about anything it wants.”

Cross-bearing, discipleship, Mark 8-10 & self-denial: The Most Remarkable Sequence in the Bible by Richard Beck

“… Jesus has to clarify–for the third time–what following him to the cross entails …”

Disasters, God, pain & suffering: Stuff Happens: Rain on the Just and Unjust by Mark Love

“… we are given no explanation of causation. Stuff happens.”

Grit & lifeKyrsten Sinema: A Success Story Like Nobody Else’s; * Former NFL QB Jon Kitna Finds ‘Gold Mine’ at His Troubled Old High School

* “For more than two years — starting when she was in third grade — they squatted in an abandoned gas station outside the town of Defuniak Springs on the Florida Panhandle …”

* “Before he left the Dallas Cowboys to come home again, Jon Kitna had one request of the two principals who run Lincoln High School: Give me your worst students.”

Holocaust, hope, humanity, identity, love & meaning: Lipstick Love by Joshua Graves

“In 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Gonin led a group of British soldiers in liberating a large concentration camp. In his journal, he gives an account of the dehumanization they’d encountered.”

Openness: Openness by Ted Gossard

“Being open I think involves not being hard and fast on issues, or holding them in quite the same way we hold on to the gospel. At the same time, neither does it mean we have to vacillate on them. We may be just as firm on some of those issues as on the gospel, as long as we don’t hold such as having the first importance the gospel has.”

this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, C.S. Lewis & witness: Why ‘Mere Christianity’ Should Have Bombed by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

“Sixty years ago, London publisher Geoffrey Bles first released a revision of three sets of radio talks by an Oxford literature don. The book was called Mere Christianity, and there was nothing ‘mere’ about it. A somewhat disjointed set of C. S. Lewis’s views on a wide range of theological, philosophical, and ethical matters, the book became the most important and effective defense of the Christian faith in its century. As Mere Christianity (henceforth “MC”) goes into its seventh decade of publishing success, rivaled still by no other apologetic, it’s worth taking a look at its unlikely success.”

Benevolence & violence: The Bad Samaritan by James McGrath [required reading]

“… what ought we to say about those in our time who claim to be followers of Jesus, and yet sound more like the Samaritan in the image above than the one in the original story?”

Bible interpretation: Pete Enns: “Hey, Get Away from My Bible!“–Christian Appropriation of a Jewish Bible

“We trust the first Christians in their interpretation of the OT, not so much because of how they interpreted it but because of the one whom they were proclaiming in their interpretation. That may not make much sense. It may even sound a bit odd, so let me try to explain.”

Church & ministry: Lies We’ve Been Told But Have Bought Anyway by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“If you work really hard you can grow your church. … Great preaching and great music will bring great growth. … Mission statements are really important. … Outreach events result in church growth. … If a church isn’t growing there must be something wrong. … All healthy things grow and reproduce. ..”

Computing, hacking, & security: Anonymous: ‘Expect Us’ in 2013

“Along with a statement released over the weekend, which stated that the world should ‘Expect us 2013,’ the hackers issued a video boasting of cyberattacks which took place last year — including temporarily shutting down the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and attacks against the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) web site in protest at the closure of file-hosting website MegaUpload.”

Critics, criticism, leadership & ministry: Death, Taxes & Criticism by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“Nothing is more ubiquitous than criticism including death and taxes. No matter what you do you will be criticized. If you don’t do anything you will be criticized. If you take criticism to heart and respond with explanations you are defensive. If you give into criticism you are indecisive and unprincipled. If you ignore criticism you are out of touch, inflexible, or pig-headed. If you listen but don’t response as desired, you are insincere. You can’t avoid criticism. You can only decide from whom you want it to come and for what reasons you want to receive it. But, come it will. Anyone in leadership learns this in time.”

Evil, God, pain, suffering & violence: “Why, God?” Asked the American People, and Would Not Stay for an Answer by John Stackhouse

“We certainly don’t want to look any harder than easy, quick, simple solutions …”

Gossip & slander: The Most Ignored Sin by Jon Zens

“Bob Mumford once said, ‘The Christian army is the only one that shoots its wounded.’ Regrettably, I have observed his statement to be all too true.”

Leadership: Behavior Lessons for Leadership and Teamwork by Deborah Gruenfeld [required reading]

“Before a critical meeting with your boss, an important customer, or your teenage son or daughter, do you spend time mentally roughing out and revising what you are going to say? If so, social psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld has a message for you: You are misdirecting your energy. Spend time instead practicing how to walk, stand, sit, and quickly grasp how other people are moving their bodies.”

Murder, respect, violence & words: Jesus on Murder

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:21-22) … As Christ’s church we are called to believe this seeming stretch of a connection between insult (which we routinely accept and sometimes proudly practice) and murder (which we roundly condemn and mourn).”

Non-violence & peace(Dis)Arming the Disciples by Drew Strait

“For Jesus, the evil of Rome would be defeated not through personal armament but through a revolution of God’s love displayed on a Roman cross.”