links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Art, Christians, cinema, film, movie & the movie Noah: Will Evangelicals Miss the Boat on Noah?

“Not much has changed since the late Francis Schaeffer wrote in Art and the Bible, ‘I am afraid that as evangelicals, we think that a work of art only has value if we reduce it to a tract.’”

Brain, exercise, health & regulation: * The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains; * The Only 8 Moves You Need to Be Fit

* “… the real issue was not this particular group of 12 chemicals. Most of them are already being heavily restricted. This dozen is meant to illuminate something bigger: a broken system that allows industrial chemicals to be used without any significant testing for safety. The greater concern lies in what we’re exposed to and don’t yet know to be toxic.”

* “Human movement can be reduced to three basic categories: pushing, pulling, and hip extension (squatting, jumping, running, and even riding a bike). Functional fitness begins with learning good form for this essential repertoire and then gradually adding weight and difficulty to build stability and strength. Doing these exercises correctly with five pounds, in other words, is better than doing them poorly with 100.”

Church & discipleship: Deep Before Wide: A Vision for Returning Discipleship to the Church

“Discipleship is laboring in the lives of a few to give away your life and the gospel.”

Confession, Lent, repentance & sin: No Needy Among Us?

“This is one of the best arguments for seasons of confession like Lent. Without it, church starts becoming a place for ‘fine’ people to get together. We show up on the weekend with all our junk in order, and if we can’t at least look like that, chances are we just won’t go at all. We learn to stuff down this sense that all is not right in the world and all is not right with us.”

Critical thinking  & statistics: 3 Ways to Recognize Bad Stats

“We need to be shrewd when it comes to statistics and reality: things are not always as they seem.”

Forgiveness, Fred Phelps, grace & hate: * Hate and How to Overcome It: How Should We Respond to the Tragic Death of Fred Phelps?; * The Problem of Fred Phelps; * Fred Phelps: Life of Fear

* “… since a hateful man has died after distorting a message of Jesus’ love, I suggest that we consider three ways to respond …”

* “… to celebrate a death, especially one of such a tragic life, feels like we are starting to be on the wrong side of good.”

* “I pray when Phelps looked into the face of God, he saw a God he didn’t recognize. The God of all Creation, the One True God that casts out all fear. The God who loves us all enough.”

Payday loans: Garland Adopts Strong Payday Lending Regs

“An ordinance with real reforms to these predatory products …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Attitude, church & cynicism: The Most Damaging Attitude in Our Churches [required reading]

“Subtly, without even realizing it, we had become cynics. … cynicism doesn’t always present itself in the sweeping, broad negativity we see on TV. In the day-to-day, it looks more like quick, unwarranted, ‘constructive’ criticism. I’m not talking about the critical thinking required for success as an adult. I’m referring to the way we constantly evaluate and critique people and what they do.”

Computers, privacy & rights: Judge: Feds Can Snatch Your Laptop – for No Reason

“Meet New York federal Judge Edward Korman. On New Year’s Eve, he ruled that if you’re at the U.S. border, the federal government can confiscate your laptop, smartphone or tablet for any reason. No probable cause is needed.

“‘Well,’ you might say, ‘that’s worrying, but I don’t travel outside the U.S. so it isn’t my problem.’ You’ll want to keep reading anyway, because “border” in this ruling doesn’t mean what you think it does.

“In fact, the so-called ‘border exemption’ extends 100 miles inland from the actual border. That includes everyone on the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast, the Gulf or the Great Lakes.”

Creation & evolution: What We Learned From the Ken Ham/Bill Nye Debate

“Whatever value there might be in a public debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, there’s a lot more value in Christians loving their neighbors, whatever their beliefs about life’s origins.”

Marriage: * 7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife Without Even Knowing It; * 7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband Without Even Knowing It

* “You can’t address what you do not know.”

* “She’s a precious gift, guys. Let’s treat her well.”

Miracles: Wait, No Miracles … Wright On!

“… when people say can we believe in miracles I say no, because the word miracle gives us this sense of a normally absent God sometimes reaching in, that’s not the God of the Bible. … the thing about what we call the miracles, is not … wow! there seem to be radical abnormalities within the old world. No. The point is that these are the things that are starting to be normal in the new world which we see close up and personal with Jesus and then which, through the ministry of the gospel thereafter, start to happen in different ways in the wider world. It’s about the launching of new creation not about an invasion into the old creation.”

Parenting: How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home [essential reading]

“Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Thoughts on Christ

“The idea that a young person could be sane, generous, intelligent and Christian held out great appeal for him.”

Racism: What Does Racism Have to Do With Gridlock?: In Atlanta, Everything

“The way forward is complicated, to say the least—but it’s hard to know where you’re going without a clear idea of where you’ve been. Southerners are notoriously poor at understanding our own history—there’s so much of it, and so much is painful—but here, today, is a really good place to start.”

Reading Scripture: Cultivating the Practice of Reading Scripture [required reading]

“This is a journey in which we discover that the work of scriptural reading is not about transforming an ancient message into a modern application but the transformation of our lives though Scripture. The Bible does not present us with texts to be mastered, then, but with a Word intent on shaping our lives, on mastering us.”

on giving thanks; a very brief sermon

 

Give thanks.

This is good. Very good. May we only grow in the practice of it.

But, let us always remember that giving thanks is not an end in itself.

Our giving thanks to God is meant to move us toward giving grace to others.

For while God does not need our thanks (he is not “in need” of anything), he does desire his creation to be good to the rest of creation.

To live in harmony, peace, and blessing.

To love as he loves.

And so today, if you are thankful you have …

* food … then pray for the hungry and seek to feed others;

* clothing … then petition God for those who are without and clothe others;

* a place out of the elements … intercede for those who are homeless and support low-cost housing;

* a legal and ethical means of making a living … pray for the unemployed and the wrongly employed, work hard at your job, and assist others as you can;

* family and friends … talk with God for the lonely and abandoned, caring for them with your time and attention.

* freedom to worship without persecution … plead with God for the persecuted and love your enemies.

Give thanks. This is good. May such grow daily all the more in us.

In terms of expression, and not only emotion. In ways of action, and not merely intention. In means of care, not just concern.

For our God is good.

And so, let us be good to all.

All the time.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger, culture, morality, outrage & thinking: Addicted to Outrage

“I fear that outrage has become an addiction for many people of faith. I’m caused to wonder if certain endorphins are released when we feel anger over a just cause; an emotional, pseudo-spiritual ‘rush’ that just keeps us coming back for more. In order for us to feel ‘righteous,’ has it become essential that ‘indignation’ be an inseparable companion? ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers… twerkers.’ Reread the context of Luke 18:9-14 to be reminded of why Jesus told this parable.” The more I am consumed by moral outrage, the less time I have to dwell on those things that are ‘true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute; things that are excellent and worthy of praise,’ (Philippians 4:8).”

Community, generosity, greed, poverty, stinginess & wealth: As We Become Richer, Do We Become Stingier?

“…  the effects that wealth has on people: ‘We become more individualistic, less family and community oriented.’ … Greenfield’s findings and theories dovetail with a variety of other studies and research projects, including Robert Putnam’s 2000 book, Bowling Alone, which explores the decline in community relationships in the U.S.”

Faith, grace, law, OT, NT & works: Law and Grace, Faith and Works

“When we think that what Jesus did was substitute one written code for another, we fall into the trap that Paul condemned in the Galatian letter. When we depend on law, any kind of law, then we are no longer depending on grace.”

Fasting, peace, prayer this Saturday & Syria: A Fast for Peace September 7th [count me in, too; how about you?]

“… a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

Food stamps, poverty & the poor: On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps [required reading]

“No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires. Yet as lawmakers cast the fight in terms of spending, nonpartisan budget analysts and hunger relief advocates warn of a spike in ‘food insecurity’ among Americans who … ‘look like we are fine,’ but live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and rationing food.”

Jesus, sin & sinners: * He Looked Like a Sinner; * Jesus is Not Mr. Rogers

* “Jesus didn’t look like a saint. Jesus didn’t look holy. He hung out with prostitutes and drank too much wine. He was a convicted criminal. He was given the death penalty. And he died under God’s curse. Jesus looked like a sinner.”

* “Jesus wasn’t always the nicest guy.”

Leadership, momentum & morale: 16 Practices that Reignite Momentum

“Working on positives more than negatives. Avoid taking the wind out of people’s sails.”

Singing: Love the Lord with All Your Voice

“Singing is a forgotten—but essential—spiritual discipline. … We might ask … why we could not simply speak the words of Scripture as if they were our own. What is gained by singing them? Just this: In song, we learn not just the content of the spiritual life, but something of its posture, inflection, and emotional disposition.”

Restoration Heritage & the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian History Magazine Puts a Focus on Stone-Campbell Movement

“Restoration scholars Richard Hughes and Doug Foster served as advisers on the project and ‘provided a fair amount of content, along with other well-known authors/scholars in the movement’ … Download the full issue for free.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible classes, children & Sunday School: I Wonder If Sunday School Is Destroying Our Kids

“Here is how we destroy the gospel message. Look at almost any Sunday school curriculum. You’ll find …”

Church membership: I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer

“I will be a functioning church member: The church is a unified body made up of many parts. All parts must function in their role or the church becomes weak. I will be a unifying church member: Unity is every church members’ responsibility. Gossip and unforgiveness break down unity. I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires: Church membership is about servanthood. I will pray for my church leaders: Without ongoing prayer for leaders by church members, our churches will not be healthy. I will lead my family to be healthy church members: Show your children and spouse how to love the church unconditionally. I will treasure church membership as a gift: When we view membership as a gift, our sense of entitlement fades.”

Culture & society: How the Last Decade Changed American Life

“One of the greatest self-perception changes over the past decade is in how Americans see themselves in relation to others. For all the technological advances in the past decade, the desire for human connectedness remains. Ten years ago, slightly over one out of 10 Americans self-identified as lonely. Today, that number has doubled—a paradoxical reality in the full swing of the social media age.”

Israel & Palestine: What God May Be Up to In the Land of the Bible

“Regarding day-to-day life in Israel and the West Bank …”

Ministry: Ministry Fence Posts (parts 1 & 2)

“Without properly set and upheld boundaries, individuals will more likely experience exhaustion of both body and spirit.”

LIFE group guide: make every effort

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (June 30). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from Luke 13.23-30. This sermon’s title is “Make Every Effort” and is another sermon in the Jesus Christ: Master & Commander series. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below, unless otherwise noted,  are from the CEB.

Aim

To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.

Word

Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it. (Matthew 7.13-14)

Jesus traveled through cities and villages, teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

Jesus said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate. Many, I tell you, will try to enter and won’t be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ He will respond, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from. Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in God’s kingdom, but you yourselves will be thrown out. People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom. Look! Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last. (Luke 13.22-30)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Are you easy to surprise or startle? What would those who truly know you well say?

2. Tell us about something you’ve made a real effort to work hard at for a long time.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Compare and contrast the text in Matthew (7.13-14) with that in Luke (13.23-30).

2. How does the context in Matthew (7.7-12,15-20) provide commentary on vs.13-14?

3. The question asked of Jesus in Luke concerned quantity (vs.23). How does Jesus’ reply vs.24-30 not answer that question?

4. God’s grace doesn’t rule out human effort. What other Scriptures stress our doing?

5. What specifically does Luke 13.29-30 teach as to who will reside in God’s kingdom?

6. Notice how personal Jesus makes things in Luke 13.25-28 with the repetitive use of the word “you.” Why do you suppose he worded it so and what does this do to you?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. Does God decide who does and doesn’t enter his kingdom or (2) does God acknowledges who has entered his kingdom and who has refused? Why?

2. You either “make every effort” (Luke 13.24a) or you’re an “evildoer” (13.27b)? Fair?

3. How do you sometimes resemble those who don’t enter the narrow gate (13.24b-28)?

4. What does making every effort look like? Or, what sort of habits might you expect a person bent on entering by the narrow gate to have in their life?

5. What does God’s kingdom being portrayed as a banquet (Luke 13.29b) say to you?

6. It’s not enough to be around Jesus (Luke 13.26); you must be about Jesus. As a group, pray that this “aboutness” is a daily, ongoing reality in every group member’s life.