links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Afterlife, deception, fraud, heaven & lies: Say It All Together Now: The ‘Proof of Heaven’ Author Made Everything Up

“If he’s willing to fabricate the details, isn’t it at least possible that he’s making up the major points, too?”

Church, parenting & youth: 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

“What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.”

Funerals: Do Funeral Homes Charge Too Much for Their Services?

“The following are ten observations that are a combination of experience in the funeral industry and my heart felt intention to meet the needs of the people I serve – needs that often include an economical funeral.”

Gossip: Ways to Stop Gossip

“I have never found gossip to be helpful to the people involved or to the Kingdom of God. I have literally become a hater of gossip because I have seen it destroy so many people! Gossip hurts innocent people who are caught in the middle, it exaggerates the situation, and it keeps the one who did wrong loaded with guilt and frustration, and from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace.”

Healthcare: Diagnosis: Insufficient Outrage

” We could make the system better. We could ensure that everyone has access to the same set of prices, like the Medicare fee schedule. We could end the “fee for service” positive feedback loop — in which doctors and hospitals earn more for every procedure they do, which leads to overtreating patients — and instead have a flat fee. But the incentives will never be perfect. Ultimately, society needs individuals to be guided by ethical standards. And in medical care, those standards are getting pretty darn low.

“Too many of us have passively accepted the situation as being beyond our control. Medical care in America could use a dose of moral outrage. It would be best for all if it was self-administered.”

Islam, Jesus, Koran, Muslim & Qur’an: Jesus in the Qur’an: Christology Outside Theology

“Here are some things I learned about the Jesus of the Qur’an … Qur’an affirms Jesus identity as a servant, but in doing so it disqualifies him as being “Son of God” because the nature of a servant’s status is unfit for the divine. Jesus could never be the Son, because he is the servant. … Jesus’ death is denied. His death was only apparent. It is believed to be a false story created by the disciples. …  Jesus is a messenger and teacher who prepares the way for Muhammad, he announces the coming of Muhammad. … Jesus’ spirituality is “other worldly” and eschatological. As such it is seen as incomplete or insufficient. Muhammad provides the realism.”

this went thru my mind

 

Criticism: It’s So Much Easier To Criticize! by Stephen Altrogge

* “… if our relationships are lacking encouragement, it doesn’t matter how much we speak the truth, it won’t be received.”

Depression: Treating Depression With Psychiatry and Faith

“… many people think depression is nothing more than an intense episode of ‘the blues.’ Why are they wrong?”

Facebook & privacy: Get Total Facebook App Privacy With One Setting

“… what if I told you that changing one simple setting can radically improve your privacy on Facebook? It sounds like a ‘too good to be true’ claim, but it’s true.”

Fear & security: Everyday Idolatry: Security by Jonathan Stormented

“… the real risk of security is that you might be worshipping a god who is no god at all.”

Gossip: Addressing Gossip in the Church by Ron Edmonson [sermon; 27 min. video; essential viewing]

“Have you ever been the spreader of gossip? … Gossip is one those sins that no one admits to.”

Grief: Why You May Never Heal by Caleb Wilde

“The assumption to both Freud and Kubler-Ross’ model is that the end of the grief process (healing, acceptance) is a form of detachment from the deceased. But, I think they’re wrong. … Instead of saying that the end of the grief process is detachment and healing, I think we should say that the healthy end of the grief process is adjustment. It’s adjusting to the fact that your loved one is no longer here to share life experiences with you. It’s adjusting to the loss of the future, but there’s never a detachment from the past.”

Heaven: Heaven is for Real: A Book Review by Wayne Stiles [required reading]

“If this book’s story is real, Jesus needs to get His stories straight.”

Hope: How Hope Can Help You Heal

“Groopman’s research showed that during the course of illness, belief and expectation — two mental states associated with hope — have an impact on the nervous system which, in turn, sets off a chain reaction that makes improvement and recovery more likely.”

Illness & sickness: For a Sick Friend: First, Do No Harm

“Conversing with the ill can be awkward, but keeping a few simple commandments makes a huge difference.”

Jackie Robinson: Jackie Robinson and the Pattern of Jesus by David Mathis

“… if you are against him, you’re against all of us.”

Leadership & ministry: * Ministry Inside.115 by Jim Martin; * Something I’ve Learned as a Senior Leader

* “How do you stay sane when there is so much craziness that surrounds ministry? Good question. Craziness is everywhere.”

* “Not everyone will understand all the decisions a leader makes unless they sat where the leader sits.”

Listening, preaching & teaching: Exegetes at Church by Tim Gombis

“…  there’s a world of difference between a critical mind and a critical spirit.”

Parenting: Helping Your Teen Read the Bible by Chad Nall

“Let’s be honest, the Bible isn’t as easy to read as we would like it to be.”

Young adults: The Church and Young Adults by Joshua Graves

“In Robert Wuthnow’s After the Baby Boomers, three critical (in my estimation) observations are offered. … I will summarize Wuthnow’s observations and add additional reflection.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible & trustworthiness: The Reliability of the Gospels and the Telephone Game [5 min. video clip; interview of Darrel Bock]

“Darrel Bock explains why “The Telephone Game” is a terrible way of explaining the oral transmission of the Gospels. Oral cultures were much better at passing information reliable than we tend to think.”

Debt, income, middle class, money & The American Dream: Debt and Income Inequality by Richard Beck

“In short, there is a moral asymmetry in how we view debt. … As incomes fell or leveled off since the 70′s, households have held onto to middle class lifestyles by going into debt. Either credit card debt or mortgage debt (those second loans on houses that fueled the housing crisis). And one could argue that the political and economic ‘powers that be’ were more than happy to extend this line of credit to Americans because it masked the real erosion of income that was taking place. Debt kept the middle class docile, feeling like the American Dream was still a reality while it was fading rapidly away. The facade of the middle class was being propped up with debt. It was a house of cards waiting to collapse.”

Heaven & hell: The Most Important Thing People Need To Know About Hell (And Heaven Too …) by Jonathan Morrow

“… the most important thing we need to know about heaven and hell is this: The essence of heaven and hell is relational because heaven (i.e., eternal life) is primarily defined as life with God and hell as life without God.”

Marriage: 7 Ways to Keep Respect as a Husband by Ron Edmonson

“You need respect. It’s a man’s greatest need. I’m convinced. … then it makes sense that if you ever received it you’d want to do your best to keep it.”

Militarism: Old Testament, Militarism, and Idolatry by Preston Sprinkle

“It’s common for Bible believing military personnel to use the Old Testament to support a certain warfare policy. But what would happen if they went all the way and took God as His full word? America’s military, for example, would be by volunteer only and would not be funded by taxation. America would not stock pile superior weapons … and it would make sure its victories were determined by God’s miraculous intervention, not by military might. Rather than outnumbering our enemy, we would deliberately fight out manned and under gunned … There would be no training, no boot camp, no preparation, other than fasting, praying, and singing worship songs (2 Chron. 20). If America really was the ‘new Israel,’ God’s holy nation (as some believe; I don’t) or the nearest equivalent, then we need to take our queue from God and his inspired manual for military tactics. But as it stands, many Christians will be content to cut and paste selected verses that align with America’s worldview to give our military some religious backing. Some call this bad hermeneutics, others call it syncretism. The Israelite prophets called it idolatry.”

this went thru my mind

 

Afterlife, heaven & near-death experiences: Proof of Heaven? by Roger Olson

“This is folk religion, not Christian belief. Churches need to pay attention to Christians’ tendency to base their beliefs on popular culture, stories of private experiences, rumors, urban legends (‘evangelegends’), novels, etc. And they need to counter this tendency with strong biblical and theological teaching about what the Bible and Christian tradition really say about, for example, life after death.”

Bible application & interpretation: If My People [2 Chronicles 7.14] by Brad Morrow [required reading]

“… we can’t hijack the verse and use it as a promise of spiritual revival for America or wherever Christians reside; that would misuse the verse.”

Climate change & global warming: Katharine Hayhoe: Evangelical Christian, Climate Scientist [3 brief video clips; less than 7 minutes total]

“Katharine Hayhoe is a highly-respected expert on climate change. An associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, her focus is developing new ways to quantify the potential impacts of human activities at the regional scale. … As an evangelical scientist, Katharine Hayhoe is already a member of a rare breed. As a climate change researcher who is also married to an evangelical Christian pastor, she is nearly one of a kind. In these three videos, Hayhoe divulges her beliefs about God, climate change, and the difficulties of believing in both those things.”

Clutter, possessions & stuff: 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home by Joshua Becker

“The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. … Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home.”

Evangelism: Evangelism: What is It and How It Would Look? by Terry Rush [required reading]

“Evangelism: it isn’t a one-way for all. It is all-ways to win one.”

Holy Spirit: 5 Misunderstandings About the Holy Spirit by Jack Levison

“Let’s look at some of the most common misconceptions.”

Militarism: Are American Evangelicals Seduced by Militarism? by Preston Sprinkle

“… America is becoming more and more militarized. I would also argue … that America’s recent militarism is an aberration of its original ideals. … God does not think too highly of military might. In fact, He condemns it as idolatry.”

Ministry, pain & shepherding: * From the Shepherd’s Nook: Pain by John Frye; * My Top 10 Youth Ministry Fails by Brandon Baker

* “For whatever convoluted reasons, I avoided conflict for many years in ministry. I liked to think of myself as a “peacemaker,” but what I was really was a pain-avoider. Later in ministry I got some very wise counsel about my jitters regarding conflict. I avoided conflict because it kept me distant (safe) from my own personal pain.”

* “These certainly are not the only mistakes I’ve made and my psyche has probably blocked out some of the worst ones.”

this went thru my mind

 

Change: How the Tech Parade Passed Sony By by Hiroko Tabuchi

“… Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life. In fact, it is in a fight for its life …”

Church: How Your Small Rural Church Can Do Something Big by Whitney Hopler

“… your church’s small size doesn’t have to limit its potential to impact the world in big ways.”

Church problems: * There’s The Door: Dealing with Conflictual Christians by K. Rex Butts; * Remaining Patient: Dealing with Sinful Behavior Among the Church by K. Rex Butts

* “… there comes a time when certain church members must be told ‘There’s the door’ and then told to leave.”

* “While we never want to approve of any sinful behavior, not all sinful behavior has the same consequences upon the local church, its mission and spiritual health.”

Conversion: The New Conversion: Why We ‘Become Christians’ Differently Today by Gordon T. Smith

“It is not be an overstatement to say that evangelicals are experiencing a ‘sea change’—a paradigm shift—in their understanding of conversion and redemption, a shift that includes the way in which they think about the salvation of God, the nature and mission of the church, and the character of religious experience. Although there is no one word to capture where evangelicals are going in this regard, there is a word that captures what they are leaving behind: revivalism.”

Faith: The Maximum Faith series: The Importance of Brokenness by George Barna

“The data indicate that very few people – barely one out of ten adults in the United States – could be considered to have been broken by their understanding of and distaste for their offenses against God. And a huge majority of Christians believes that you can be saved without experiencing such brokenness. Sadly, they are wrong. There is no salvation without brokenness.”

Feeding the hungry: Cuts to SNAP Will Hurt Texas Families Struggling to Afford Food by Larry James

“A cut of this magnitude would affect over 300,000 Texas families who will struggle to put food on the table without the support SNAP provides.”

Gated communities: The Injustice of Gated Communities by David Greusel

“… more than 10 million American households exist sheltered behind walls. While that’s just under 10 percent of U.S. households, it represents a sizeable minority hunkered down in fortified bunkers. … One question to ask about gated communities is, how real is the threat they purport to avoid?”

Pets: Do Pets Go to Heaven?

“An author, a professor, and an animal advocate weigh in.”

Politics: The Impermanent Republican Majority by Timothy Egan

“For those who believe that demography is destiny, there was no more jaw-dropping figure from the 2004 presidential election than this finding from the nation’s far-flung metropolitan frontier: George W. Bush carried 97 of the nation’s 100 fastest growing counties.”

Poverty: David Lipscomb on the Poor (parts 3 & 4)

“Lipscomb encourages a private, daily sharing of resources instead of a public, occasional large gift. The former arises out of a lifestyle but the latter arises out of a desire for reward. The former is the daily life of a Christian but the latter is more tuned to the formal religion with its love of a holy place that is “worldly.” The former practices the gospel in sharing with the poor but the latter practices the religion of building and forms.”

Preaching: The Sermon That Makes Them Mad by Joe McKeever

“… ministers are not sent to make the church happy. They are sent by God to make Him happy, and to make you the members holy and healthy.”

heaven

After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They wore white robes and held palm branches in their hands. They cried out with a loud voice: “Victory belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” …

Then one of the elders said to me, “Who are these people wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”

I said to him, “Sir, you know.”

Then he said to me, “These people have come out of great hardship. They have washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. This is the reason they are before God’s throne. They worship him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. They won’t hunger or thirst anymore. No sun or scorching heat will beat down on them, because the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-10,13-17 CEB)

Let me ask us all some questions.

  • What would be heaven to you?
  • What would be heaven to you if your life had been great hardship?
  • What would be heaven to you if your life had been great hardship because you believed the Lord?

What would you want heaven to be?

  • Would it be to wear a white robe?
  • Would it be to wear a white robe and never know hunger or thirst?
  • Would it be to wear a white robe and never know hunger or thirst and never be at the mercy of the elements again?

Or in light of this passage, should the questions more nearly be:

  • Would heaven to you be simply to be in the presence of the Lamb?
  • Would heaven to you be simply to be in the presence of the Lamb who shelters you and shepherds you?
  • Would heaven to you be simply to be in the presence of the Lamb who shelters you and shepherds you and to sing his praise day and night, ever worshiping him?

You see, the question is not, “What do you want heaven to be?” The question is, “Who do you think heaven is about?

  • Heaven isn’t about us and our receiving great blessing, but heaven is about God and our blessing him.
  • Heaven isn’t about our finally being served, but about our finally being privileged to serve him without hindrance.
  • Heaven isn’t about enjoying good things for ourselves that we were denied on earth, but about God being our complete enjoyment so that things no longer have any real existence to us.

The business of heaven is about worshiping God and those who will experience heaven are those who worship God here and now, be it through hardship or ease, want or sufficiency, trouble or comfort. These are the ones who will experience heaven and enjoy God fully and forever.

For to worship him is why we were made. Those who get that, get it. There can be nothing greater and we must not settle for anything less. Here and now. Until we can take it up an octave in heaven.

Our Father who is our heaven, holy is your name. Bring us into your kingdom and let us do your will. May you be our bread. Forgive us when we forget this and bring us back to our rightful mind. Deliver us from anything less for you are the King, the glory and the power forever. Amen.