links: this went thru my mind


Bible interpretation: My Problem With the Bible [essential reading]

“I have a problem with the Bible, but all is not lost. I just need to read it standing on my head. I need to change my perspective. If I can accept that the Bible is trying to lift up those who are unlike me, then perhaps I can read the Bible right.”

Church, language, race & worship: 5 Reasons People Avoid Visiting A Bilingual Service

“I still have people tell me: ‘I would visit the bilingual service, but I’m not bilingual.’ Explanations about how one only needs to know either one of the two languages used seem to fall on deaf ears.”

Discipleship, generosity, giving, minimalist, possessions & selflessness: 5 Practices Toward A More Radical Christian Life [essential reading]

“The older I get the more convinced I become that as rich Americans, you and I are at a tremendous disadvantage to experiencing the depths of the Kingdom Jesus came to inaugurate. … While I’ve traveled to more than 40 countries and spent nearly 8 years living outside the US, it has been my time in India (and more specifically my time in the slums and brothel areas) that has most motivated me to rid myself of American materialism so that I’m free to embrace the Kingdom Jesus spoke of.”

Free will & God: Open Theism Simplified

“Why would Open Theists think that God knows the future as partly composed of possibilities, and not only a future of settled facts in the mind of God?”

Immigration, love & racism: If People Excluded “Illegal Immigrants”, We Wouldn’t Have Jesus

“Under God’s law, Ruth was an ‘illegal’ and to be excluded– but thankfully, she was not. A man named Boaz comes along and becomes the hero of the story by ignoring a law that was ultimately unloving. Boaz marries Ruth, and they have a family. Like Jesus demonstrated by healing on the Sabbath, Boaz realized that it’s better to love than to obey the law. … We only have Jesus because someone loved an ‘illegal’ immigrant.”

Means & provision: If God Will Provide, Why Are My Means So Meager?

“Without a trust that God will provide, it will seem we work harder and get less.”

Tithing: * There’s More to Tithing Than 10%; * Tithing for New Covenant Believers–Yes or No?; * Why I Tithe – Part 1

* “Even if you give 10 percent faithfully, it doesn’t mean you’ll come away with the right perspective about the other 90 percent.”

* “God is pleased when our giving reflects our love for Him regardless of the percentage or amount.”

* “While I respect and understand differing perspectives. I believe the Bible teaches we are to offer God the first-fruits of our income. Gross, not net.”

this went thru my mind


God & prayer: If God Knows The Future, Why Pray? by Derek Ouellette

“‘If God knows the future, why bother praying for something? Isn’t it already settled?’ It’s a good question, but it’s one that makes a philosophical assumption. The question assumes that God knows the future.”

Holocaust: Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel on His Fear of Being the Last Holocaust Witness

“Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel … talks to Rob Verger about the fear of being the last one to bear witness to the crimes of the Nazis, and why the world still hasn’t learned the lessons of the past.”

Humility: 22 Ways to Humble Ourselves by Mark Altrogge

“Christians should be the most humble people on earth.”

Job & Satan: Tremper Longman on the Identity of “Satan” in Job and the ‘Patience of Job’

“It is much more likely that this figure [in Job 1] is one of God’s angelic associates, who takes the position of a devil’s advocate, so to speak, but not Satan himself. True, Satan gets his name from the fact that he is the ultimate accuser, the ultimate adversary, but that does not make all accusers Satan. Nor is all accusation evil. This accuser is about to challenge Job’s authenticity as a God-fearer, and at this point it is not yet clear whether he is making an accurate accusation. Thus the accuser is a member of the heavenly court, an agent of Yahweh, who is reporting on his patrolling through the earth. The human analogy would be a spy’s reporting to his commander what he has discovered during his latest mission.”

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


Amazon: 9 Astonishing Facts About Amazon

American history: Lincoln and the Mormons by Ted Widmer

Church & the future: Snapshot: The Next 10 Years in the American Church by Mike Breen

Consumerism: Reflections on Black Friday by Roger E. Olson

Drinking: Making Choices About Alcohol by Michael Harbour

Evolution: Misconceptions About Evolution parts one and two.

Feedback: There’s No Such Thing as Constructive Criticism by Tony Schwartz

Gospel: * The Problem with Our Gospel #1: The Self-Centered Gospel by Marc Cortez and * The Problem With our Gospel # 2: The Individualistic Gospel by Marc Cortez

Homelessness: * Homeless children and youth. . .our response??? by Larry James and * On Shopping Carts, Thanksgiving, and Homelessness

Humor: The Ninja Nod-off by Jon Acuff

Insecurity: Kathy Escobar: Insecure Christians

Movie illustrations & reviews: * Wisdom, Stories, & “No Country for Old Men” by Tim Gombis * An Egalitarian Examination of “Courageous” the Movie

Phariseeism: As Perfect as I Supposed Myself (a quote from Alexander Campbell)

Thankfulness: Practicing the Attitude of Gratitude by Michael Hyatt

you have seen what the Lord has accomplished

Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11 CEB)

Question. How many centuries separate Job’s experiences and James’ audience?

Answer. Quite a few.

And yet, James says his audience has “seen what the Lord has accomplished” in Job’s life.

Yes, from James’ perspective, their “hearing of” Job, that is their hearing the testimony of ancient Scripture, is the same as “seeing” something today in terms of God’s purpose. We can see what God is like today by hearing what God did way back when. The past informs the present, indeed, it is the present, for all practical purposes.

Does that sound like a stretch? It shouldn’t. It’s the same lesson we teach our children in song today.

“Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”

The Bible may be a very old book, but it’s as fresh to us as if the ink was yet to dry. How is that? Because God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And the race of enduring faith we’re running today? We don’t run alone, but rather, run in the midst of an audience of a great cloud of witnesses who train us and cheer us on.

Note how we pay tribute to practitioners of endurance. You’ve heard of Job’s endurance and you’ve seen God’s purpose in it all. And what were you to learn from it all? That the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11 DSV)

Eternal Father, how refreshing it is to see things from your perspective, standing in, and above, time! You bring the saints from the past to live with me and you call me to finish well in the future with you. This is your doing and it is good for my heart to hear and to see. Through Christ Jesus I thank you for giving me a glimpse beyond the constraints of time. Amen.

the right thing to do

“It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it.” (James 4:17 CEB)

It’s no secret that many Scriptures are daily uprooted from their context and pressed into service for which they were never intended. When such abuse is obvious to me, I groan three times: once for the misuse of God’s word, once for the one so using the word, and once more for the fact I know I am surely often guilty of the same. Ironically, I also give thanks to God, for if the misappropriation is obvious to me then I know it is less likely I will be misled by, no doubt well-intended, but nevertheless misguided, teaching.

One of my “got to” commentators on Scripture is Scot McKnight. His blog is a part of my daily reading. Scot is ever careful to be fair and judicious in his exploration of the range of possibilities of understanding a passage. He has a way of stating things so that even the complex becomes clear. His way of wording things speaks to me. But I especially enjoy reading his writing because he never fails to give evidence that he has relentlessly wrestled with a text in its context. And so, with that last thought particularly in mind, let me reproduce his comments on James 4:17 from his recent, outstanding commentary on James in the NICNT series (pp.378-379). I’ll do so without further comment, except to pray.

“The emphasis in this verse is on the person who knows what is right. One thinks of this in many connections … Wide nets have their place, especially moral ones, but this is not that place. James is fishing here for one kind of person and one kind of sin: his concern is the merchant and the sin is arrogant presumption. The opposite is trust in God and humility before God, especially with regard to one’s orientation to business planning. That is the ‘good’ on James’s mind, and this good the merchants know.

“The supposed action of the merchants, inferred as it is from their behaviors in 4:13, comes next: ‘and fails to do it.’ More narrowly, then, James is speaking of the merchant who knows God’s providence and care, his own finitude, and his need to trust in God, but does not act on the basis of that knowledge. For such a person, that disregard of God in financial planning is sinful. James speaks of sin emerging from desire (1:15), of sin as partiality (2:9), and of sins being confessed and forgiven (5:15-16,20). But here he envisions the sin of presumption and of knowledge and culpable disregard of God in business pursuits.”

Holy Father, for all of my kin in Christ who are in business today, I pray. As they go about earning their income, may their efforts always include you. As they think of what they’ll do in the coming days, may they not forget you, the Ancient of Days. As they frame the time and efforts of others today with a vision to the future, may they do so humbly and gratefully, ever aware of you, Father, and your involvement and rule. This I pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

“If anyone knows what’s right and doesn’t do it, they sin.” (James 4:17 DSV)