links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to six articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading:

Affirming, communication, freedom, respect, tolerance, welcoming & words: Slippery Words— Tolerance, Respect, Welcoming, Affirming, Freedom

“What of course has happened in our American society is that as the culture has changed, the semantic range of a whole series of words has changed as well.”

American Sniper, cinema, discernment, film, movies, military service, perspective & war: I Was An American Sniper, and Chris Kyle’s War Was Not My War

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking the hit movie captures the truth of the Iraq conflict. I should know. I lived it. … If you really want to be a patriotic American, keep both eyes open and maintain 360 degrees of awareness. Don’t simply watch American Sniper. Read other sources, watch other films about the conflict. Talk to as many veterans as you can, get a full perspective on the war experience and the consequences. Ensure the perceived enemy in your vision is what it seems.”

Bible interpretation, misappropriation, misunderstanding & promises: 2 Ways We Misinterpret God’s Promises [essential reading]

“Over my years of ministry, I’ve discerned a tendency among conservative Christians to assume that anything in Scripture that looks like a promise is in fact something that God promises them.”

Church decline, culture & religion, history, perceptions, time & United States: Religious Decline in America? The Answer Depends on Your Timeframe

“Did the twentieth century see a rise and fall of religiosity within a larger pattern of stability? Or does the late 20th-century religious decline shrink to insignificance when compared with the religious rise since the founding of the nation?”

Church life, generation & peace: 3 Ways to Encourage Peace Between Generations in Denominations

“The fact is, each member within a family has a tendency to find their own style and way in life. But as each individual develops their own unique identity, they should not develop a spirit of pride over the others in the family.”

Choices, consequences, corporate worship & legacy: 15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

“Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines. … Eliminating choral expressions in worship. … Worship leader ageism. … Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper. … Making worship and music exclusively synonymous. … Trying to recreate worship with each new generation. … Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar. … Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal. … Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs. … Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship. … Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God. … Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship. … Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle. … Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty. … Worship services at the expense of worship service.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children, crisis & grief: * Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT To Say And Five Things To Say In A Trauma Involving Children by Emily C. Heath; * How to Help Children After a Crisis by Delia Halverson; * Helping Children Cope With Violence by LeeDell Stickler

* “Unless you are God, don’t use this line.”

* “… during a crisis, we are often so preoccupied with news of the event that we don’t realize how overpowering our conversations and the continuing media coverage can be for a child.”

* “How can you help the children in your church cope with violence such as this?”

Forgiveness & work: The Five Stages of Forgiveness in the Workplace by J.B. Wood

“It’s not until you’ve been royally screwed over by someone at work that you realize how impossible it is to forgive. … if we really want to follow Jesus, we must … face the act of forgiving head-on.”

Faith, freedom, gun control, the U.S.A. & violence:* Freedom Bites Back by Scot McKnight [required reading]; * Guns and God and the U.S.A. by Patrick Mitchel; * The Freedom of an Armed Society by Firmin Debrabander [required reading]; * Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? by Nicholas Kristof [actually, all four of these article are “required reading,” but read those by McKnight and Debrabander if you can read only two]

* “What does the church have to say about freedom? What does the gospel say about freedom? about violence? These are questions for Christians to ponder. We look to Jesus, not to laws about freedom.”

* “What I struggle to understand is the enthusiastic and active involvement in this gun culture by so many American Christians (and I know many others are as baffled by this as I am). By gun culture I mean a culture that puts trust in violence to solve problems and bring ‘peace’. That blithely seems to assume that I, the individual, am righteous enough not only to use violence for ‘just’ ends, but also that I am beyond making fatal mistakes and beyond the corruption that the power over life and death brings. Which leads, in some places, to numerous Christians turning up at church armed and where churches employ armed guards? How can Christians (of all people), with a supposedly developed and realistic sense of human sin, be so unself-critical? My theory – is this the dark side of American optimism about human nature? And the church (or part of it) has bought into it without a second thought?”

* “An armed society is the opposite of a civil society. … Liberty entails precisely the freedom to offend. A gun in every pocket would stifle that. … Such is the effect of guns on speech — and assembly. Like it or not, they transform the bearer, and end the conversation in some fundamental way. They announce that the conversation is not completely unbounded, unfettered and free; there is or can be a limit to negotiation and debate — definitively.”

* “Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?”

God & tragedy: Where is God When Tragedy Strikes? by Terry Rush

“So where was God during these recent tragedies?  He was covering for the innocent and the guilty some 2000 years back for precisely such times as these.  Where was God?  He was spending His ideal and perfect Jesus in payment for both heartache and break of all mankind for all time.”

Marriage: Winning Back Your Wife’s Heart by Ron Edmonson

” … what is a man to do if he feels his wife’s heart is injured? How do you heal a broken heart?”

Mental illness, mental disabilities, & tragedy: Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown by Priscilla Gilman

“This country needs to develop a better understanding of the complexities of various conditions and respect for the profound individuality of its children. We need to emphasize that being introverted doesn’t mean one has a developmental disorder, that a developmental disorder is not the same thing as a mental illness, and that most mental illnesses do not increase a person’s tendency toward outward-directed violence.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, discipleship, evangelism & salvation: Saving Souls is More Than Counting Baptisms by Terry Rush

“Be about soul winning this week.  If any should be at the waters of baptism, praise God.  But, too, if any happen to be over a cup of coffee or in a waiting room and you seek to inspire someone back to greatness….this too would be winning of the soul.”

Bible interpretation: My Take: The Danger of Calling Behavior ‘Biblical’ by Rachel Held Evans

“… the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own. When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.”

Military service, pacifism & the early church: What Can We Learn From the Early Church? – Living Like the First Christians

“There can be no question but that Christians of the earliest period were overwhelmingly pacifist. I would say, until the year 200 pacifism was the norm for Christians. That began to change slightly from 200 to the Constantinian Edict in 313. Tertullian (160-225) was very strong in arguing that Christians could not participate in war, and he went so far as to say that those who were already soldiers must quit the military when they became followers of Jesus.  There are cases during this early period where Christians chose to be martyred rather than to serve in the military.”

Movies & politics: Why We Love Politics by David Brooks

“… ‘Lincoln,’ directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner. … portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.”

Reading: Four Reasons Men Don’t Read Books (with a Practical Suggestion) by Tony Reinke

“… many Christian men do struggle with reading. Here are four reasons why: Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin. … Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing. … Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time. … Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline.”

Special needs: 4 Ways the Church Can Support Families with Special Needs Children by Chad Nall

“A parent of a special-needs child shared with several of us in a seminar four things the church can do to support families. They include …”

this went thru my mind

 

Equality & freedom: A Black Intellectual Writes to Thomas Jefferson by Bobby Valentine

On July 4, 1776 explosive words from Thomas Jefferson captured the hearts of men and women, white and black, in the British Colonies in America.  Those words read, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ … The letter of Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson on August 19, 1791 was laden with potential to renew the promise of the American Revolution. … Perhaps Banneker should be in the Canon of American Saints as much – perhaps more – than Thomas Jefferson.”

Faith & politics: The Real ‘Evangelical Disaster’ by Rachel Held Evans

“The great evangelical disaster is that evangelicalism has become synonymous with Republicanism rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. This happened long before the 2012 presidential election. It happened when we turned the Bible into a conservative position paper and Jesus into a flag pin. “

Generosity: Family Christian Stores Buys Itself, Pledges to Give 100% of Profits to Widows and Orphans

“Under the new ownership, Family Christian’s pledge is to contribute 100% of its profits to Christian causes and, specifically, ministries serving widows and orphans both in the USA and abroad.”

Thanksgiving: * An American Thanksgiving from a Global Perspective by Dan Bouchelle; * Tips for Teaching Your Children Thanksgiving! by Mark Woodward

* “I have traveled to all six populated continents and preached for churches in each place. I spend a lot of time listening to church leaders and disciple-makers describe the realities they face in their countries with all the joys and struggles that entails. I also have gotten to witness first hand the living conditions, social realities, political climates, and spiritual environments of many different parts of the globe. With that as the backdrop to my current life, I enter into this Thanksgiving season differently than I once did.”

* “If you want your children to be thankful—grateful—adults, you have a great opportunity to work on them during Thanksgiving.  This holiday can be so much more than Indians and pilgrims or eating and football!  We Christians have a great opportunity to re-capture the holiday from the secularists and materialists and instill in our children a grateful spirit rather than an entitled one!”

this went thru my mind

 

Abortion: Why Abortion Should Not Be Politically Decisive for Christians by Craig M. Watts

“Unfortunately, the abortion issue has allowed many Christians – and conservatives as a whole – to claim to be working to defend the most vulnerable when in fact they are turning attention and national resources away from those who are most desperately in need. The good that actually could be done to protect life isn’t done because pro-life Christians lend their support to politicians who are most likely to block funding for programs for children and families of the weakest and most impoverished. The abortion issue ends up serving as a smokescreen behind which certain politicians work in the interests of those who are the most rich and powerful.”

Action: The Simple Power of One a Day by Seth Godin

“There are at least 200 working days a year. If you commit to doing a simple … item just once each day, at the end of the year you’ve built a mountain.”

Conversion, culture, men & singing: American Men Don’t Sing by Alistair Begg [required viewing]

“… you can really tell that American male has really been converted when he begins to sing during worship.”

Disconnection & youth: The Tragic Geography of Disconnected Youth

“More than one in seven young Americans are ‘disconnected’ from work and from school, according to a report released Thursday …”

Freedom, politics & speech: Freedom for What? by K. Rex Butts

“Everyday my Facebook feed is inundated with political stumps. … My problem is with the vitriolic nature and dishonesty many of these stumps carry forth.”

iO6: Everything You Need to Know About iOS 6

“Here’s everything you need to know, from how to update your device(s) to getting started with Apple’s latest OS upgrade.”

Slavery: How Many Slaves Work for You? [take the survey]

“What? Slaves work for me?”

Small groupsWhy I’m a Fan of Small Groups…Now; * A Better Way to Care for the Hurting [required reading]

* “The truth is, I used to not like small groups very much. … Over time, I’ve become a raving fanatic for small groups … Here are four things that changed my opinion over time. Notice I said, over time. It’s hard to change one’s opinion on this instantly. The only way I know to do so is to be part of a good one.”

* “… small groups. It’s the primary means by which our church does pastoral care …”