links: this went thru my mind

 

Capital punishment & the death penalty: Secret Drugs, Agonizing Deaths

“In the name of security, states are now withholding vital information about their death penalty procedures — from death row prisoners’ lawyers and from judges, whose stamp of approval they need to impose the ultimate sanction, as well as from the public, in whose name the sentence is carried out.”

Children, compassion, morality & parenting: Raising a Moral Child [essential reading]

“Despite the significance that it holds in our lives, teaching children to care about others is no simple task.”

Church: * The Church as a Hospice for the Dying [essential reading]; * What the Church May Need is What the Church Does Not Want

* “It seems to me that it’s better to think of the Church as a hospice, rather than as a hospital. … The Church as hospice makes good, Gospel sense. And, there are very practical implications in this metaphor as well. When people tell the pastor that they are leaving the church because their ‘needs’ aren’t being met, all the pastor has to do is remind them of what the Church is, and point out that their ‘needs’ are indeed being met: They’re being given an opportunity to die to their ‘needs’ in order to experience more of the resurrection life of Christ. So, the church really is meeting their needs; they just don’t know it.”

* “… I wonder if the Christian element in America has grown fat and sassy.  Have we fallen into a dangerous religion of indifferent slumber? Persecution may not be at our doorstep; but I do think it is traipsing up the sidewalk. This will never be the thing we want.  Yet, it may be the very thing needed to move us from our glut of mediocre indifference.”

Crucifixion: Roman Crucifixion Methods Reveal the History of Crucifixion

“… Hershel Shanks looks at evidence of Roman crucifixion methods as analyzed from the remains found in Jerusalem of a young man crucified in the first century A.D.”

Faith & science: 9 Groundbreaking Scientists Who Happened to Be Christians

“There’s a general sense that science and religion are two camps, and the two can never meet without fighting or, at the very least, stepping mighty carefully around each other’s views. There might be a very little bit of truth to that—a few noisy emissaries from both sides have been known to go out of their way to discredit the other. However, what is frequently lost in all this is that the history of science is rich with believing Christians, for whom the process of discovery did not jeopardize their faith, but enforced it.”

Fear: Do Not Let Fear be the CEO of the Church

“How many times have we said or at least heard, I’m afraid of what this might lead to?”

Passover: Passover as Jesus Knew It

“It was a joyous, celebratory occasion: work was temporarily stopped, families were reunited, food and wine were plentiful, and hopes and dreams were in the air. At the heart of the festival was a story: an account of a chosen people liberated from slavery centuries before through God’s gracious deliverance. But there was also a tragic irony: Israel was no longer free. This time the oppressors were not the Egyptians, but Rome. Together, these ideas created a lethal cocktail of deep religious yearnings, nationalism and resentment. ‘It is on these festive occasions that sedition is most likely to break out’ noted the historian Josephus wryly (War 1.88), and most of the riots recorded in his works seem to have occurred at Passover in particular.”

Prayer: Did Jesus Send a Mixed Message About Repetition in His Teaching About Prayer?

“… Jesus is talking about different things in these two teachings.”

keep calm & carry on (Hebrews 11.1-12.3)

 

Keep-Calm-Carry-OnFollowing are the discussion questions I’ll use in connection with Hebrews 11.1-12.3 in the class I’ll lead tomorrow morning at MoSt Church, the 20/20 class. Let me encourage you to read and re-read this wonderful passage, slowly and thoughtfully, prayerfully and reflectively, as you prepare for our conversation.

1. Circle every occurrence of the word “faith” in this section (11.1-12.3). In all but two instances in vs. 3-40, the word “faith” is stressed in the original Greek text. Would you say that “faith” is something that is emphatic and clear in your life? Why or why not?

2. Contrary what is commonly said, 11.1 is not actually a comprehensive definition of faith, but a description of its connection with hope. How so?

3. How is faith “the proof of what we don’t see” (11.1b)? What exactly is meant by “what we don’t see?”

4. Hebrews 11.3-40 is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” It starts and stops with reference to us (“we”). What does it do for you to know that your name is included along with names like Abraham and Moses, Sarah and Rahab?

5. The life lived out in faith is a journey or pilgrimage of faith. Of the people named in vs.3-40, which one makes it most clear to you that faith and hope are, in essence, one? Explain.

6. On a scale of 0-100, score your current “longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” (vs. 16) What can a person of faith do to stoke the fires of their yearning for their heavenly home?

7. Sometimes faith is rewarded with deliverance in the here and now (vs. 33-35a) and sometimes it is not (vs. 35b-40). What are we to make of this?

8. What does faith actually do? Itemize and discuss each of the specific application points the author gives us in 12.1-3.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bias, criticism, open-mindedness & thinking: Why We Confuse The Onion for the News [essential reading]

“… we all have biases, and our efforts to rid ourselves of them through education and self-awareness don’t actually ‘fix’ the problem.”

Cell phones & etiquette: Cell Phone Funeral Etiquette

“Cell phones often go off when we least want them to. In church. In school. During sex. And at a funeral. As other funeral directors can attest, the oddest thing about a cell phone ringing during funerals is how many people will actually answer.”

Church attendance, faith, millennials, peace & unity: The Millennials Are Rejecting Fighting Churches and Christians [essential reading]

“… many of them are walking away from our churches, and more of them are not attending at all, when they witness or hear about negativity and divisiveness in those churches. They want to see unity among Christians, and they are often disappointed.”

Health: * Aging Well: Keeping Blood Sugar Low May Protect Memory; * Depression: Could Be Almost Depressed?

* “… even modest increases in blood sugar among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s can have a negative influence on memory.”

* “Research suggests that as many as 12 million people in the United States may be suffering from low-grade depression symptoms that are not severe enough to warrant clinical treatment. … In fact, on some of these measures, people who are almost depressed report feeling worse off than people who actually fall into the clinically depressed range. … There is also another more serious problem: Research indicates about 75% of cases of low-grade depression will devolve into full-blown major depression if they are not recognized and arrested.”

Grandparenting, parenting & prayer: How to Pray for Your Children & Grandchildren [required reading]

“Because there are 12 prayers in this list, you could concentrate on one prayer per month to concentrate on. Within a year you will have consistently prayed the entire list.”

Holy Spirit: The Kingdom’s Second Major Death

“Why has this gone on?  Why has the Holy Spirit been quenched in our circles? Control.  Man is obsessed with control; even in religion’s court. … The Kingdom’s second major death, after Jesus’ upon the cross, is that of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of men.  We have killed Him off and buried Him in our tombs of organization and control.”

Leisure, online & time management: What You Would Be Doing If You Spent Less Time Online

“More time online means less time socializing, studying, and sleeping.”

Faith & President Obama: * The President’s Devotional: What Obama ‘Did In Secret’ In Newtown; * The Man Behind the President’s Devotional

* “The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom. And what happened next I’ll never forget. … It must have been one of the defining moments of his presidency, quiet hours in solemn classrooms, extending as much healing as was in his power to extend. But he kept it to himself—never seeking to teach a lesson based on those mournful conversations, or opening them up to public view.”

* “Dubois has been sending devotionals to Obama every morning since the 2008 presidential campaign. A collection of these spiritual messages to the president has now been published Dubois’ new book, The President’s Devotional. Dubois started working for Obama shortly after he became a senator. A public policy and economics student at Princeton University, he was also ordained at a small Pentecostal church where he served as an associate pastor. It was this combination of skills that led him to become Obama’s faith outreach coordinator during his first presidential campaign and, later, to be appointed as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the president’s first term.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible interpretation & Romans 8.28: Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: It’s All About Me [essential reading]

“It’s not uncommon in an American Christian Bible  study for this verse to be  interpreted to mean that God will make it all turn out okay for me – so that there really is no  cause for sadness or disappointment. God has a plan. … But we read our desires and self-importance into the text.”

Christian outreach, evangelism, influence, insensitivity, politics, witness & words: Politics, Social Media, and More Important Things [essential reading]

“All those political rants may be hindering your Christian witness. … Christians are often unnecessarily burning bridges on the altar of political partisanship. … You can complain on Facebook about who shut down the government but you might just shut down a more important conversation. … “

Culture & society: Barbarians at the Gates? [required reading]

“The recent government shutdown, frustrating as it is, should not really come as all that big of a surprise. In Western culture – and particularly in the United States – we have been cultivating habits for many decades that are dissolving our capacity to talk civilly and live peaceably with our neighbors, and especially our neighbors who differ from us in prominent ways: politics, economic status, race, sexual identity, etc.”

Faith & Malcom Gladwell: Malcolm Gladwell on His Return to Faith While Writing ‘David and Goliath’

“Author Malcolm Gladwell may not be known for writing on religion.”

Homeless: Homelessness, a Personal Response …

“When it comes to relating to and moving alongside a person or persons who are homeless, what can be done practically?”

Marriage: Five Ways a Marriage Can Become Stuck

“As married people who walk with Christ, we have resources that will help us as we share our lives together.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Acappella singing, instrumental music & public worship gatherings: The Argument against Musical Instruments in Worship

“Some, not many, church groups do not believe in the use of musical instruments in public worship. The major example is the Churches of Christ. No less than one of their foremost scholars, Everett Ferguson, takes up his case against the use of instruments in public worship (The Early Church and Today, vol. 1). What are the arguments against the use of instruments?”

Benevolence: Care for the Socially Vulnerable in the Early Church—Aristides (2nd century)

“When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful, as he has been called to be joyful like themselves.”

Children, multi-generational church & senior adults: Why Should a Pastor Take His Children to Visit the Elderly in His Church? [replace the word "pastor" with "Christian" it's applicable to all; great article]

“My burden grows that the multi-generational local church is fading into the past. This should not be. The best way for us to fight against it is to do the things that cause young and old to grow in Christian love and affection for each other.”

Faith: Uzzah was Only Trying to Help!

“…  in the kingdom, we must leave the God-matters to God.”

Racism: American Idols: 3 False Beliefs That Can Blind White Men To Their Privilege

“The problem is, for many of us, our world view is based on the mistaken belief that these three things are already part of reality.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Busyness & God: 5 Ways to Remember God in Your Busy Life

“Unaware as it happens, we can allow our busy lives to crowd out our devotion to God. We enjoy our families, our homes, our food, our salvation—all of God’s blessings to us. But before we know it, we replace a devotion to the Lord with a devotion to His blessings. And in a sad, twisted irony, those blessings become our focus instead of the God who gave them. You’re going to stay busy. I get it. So let me share with you 5 ways you can remember God in your busy life.”

Change, church, repentance & transformation: Learning from a Lesbian Visitor to Your Church

“So many of us think of the lesbian caller and unknowingly respond like the Pharisee going to the temple to pray: “I thank you, God, that I’m not like that.” Meanwhile, we cling tenaciously to the sinful attitudes and actions that characterize our lives. And then we go home unjustified… and unchanged.”

Christians, faith & pride: Can You Really Tell the Difference Between Christians and Non-Christians?

“Instead of putting ourselves on a pedestal, we need to realize that everyone is created in God’s image, and that God loves all of creation — everyone. The point is to have a relationship with Christ. Are we working on knowing Jesus better, or simply working on trying to visibly act like we do?”

Debt ceiling, government shutdown & politics: * Debt ceiling: 8 Things You Need to Know but Wish You Didn’t; * The Captain Ahabs of the House; * Government Shutdown: Get Up to Speed in 20 Questions

* “… shutting the government down would be aggravating and a waste of time — and could reduce economic growth if it goes on too long. But that’s nothing compared to the risks posed if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling soon. So what happens if Congress doesn’t raise it in time? No one knows for sure because that’s never happened before. But the going assumption is that no good will come of it.”

* “How many more times must the economic neck of the nation have a knife pressed against it by Republicans demanding a ransom?”

* “Here’s a quick Q&A to get you caught up on what happened over the weekend and what to look forward to Monday.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, brotherly love, dehumanization, illegals, immigration & respect: I Don’t Know What an “Illegal” is … [required reading]

“In our culture, the way these folks are framed (‘named’) is by calling them ‘illegals.’ I am very convicted about this. … I feel I should say ‘I do not know what an illegal is. I know only humans.’”

Bible reading, lectio divina, reflection, Sermon on the Mount & transformation: Ten Minute Transformation: Ten Minutes of Lectio Divina That Can Revolutionize Your Life (Matt. 5) [required reading]

“It’s a good question. If the Christian faith is only about going to heaven, then why do we stay here on earth?”

Bible study, college & faith: Open Letter to New Testament Students

” … if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.”

Busyness, culture, stress & the United States: 8 Things You May Not Know about Busyness in America [infographic]

“…  eight things that we should all keep in mind about our ‘busy’ lives.”

Brotherly love, humility, others, patience, understanding & sincerity: The Thing I’d Love to Forget About the People I Disagree With [essential reading]

“…  it’s a bit disconcerting to confront the reality that it’s possible to wrestle with the same God and walk with the same limp and yet reach different conclusions. Perhaps it is in the wrestling itself that we can find some common ground.”

Discipleship, knowledge, questionnaires, spiritual formation & transformation: Christianity: Has Education Replaced Transformation

“American Christianity is turning into a massive question-and-answer quiz, and I’m probably going to fail. The Bible isn’t a textbook — but people treat it that way, and “Christianity” is becoming a pass-or-fail test. … “

Sin: Have We Grown to Overlook Sin?

“…  we tend to elevate the sin of another which is different than ours.”