this went thru my mind

 

Following are six links to some posts I’ve found helpful in light of this week’s Supreme Court ruling regarding DOMA, same-sex marriage, etc.

High Court Strikes Down DOMA but Leaves Fate of Proposition 8 Uncertain

“According to combined data from two 2013 Pew Research Center polls, 50% of Americans now support same-sex marriage and 43% are opposed.”

I Believe It is Time – Division of STATE Licensing of Marriage (Civil Ceremony) and a SPIRITUAL Blessing of Marriage

“I believe it is time to separate the civil and ‘religious’ ceremonies of marriage. …  I don’t think there was ever an expectation within the biblical story that the faith community would be in agreement with cultural norms.  In fact, there are very clear perspectives throughout holy writ that imply that there will be a differentiation with culture.  So, I think it is time to do this with marriage.”

Prop 8, DOMA, and the Christian Response

“If we are going to reach the world—including those who believe same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue—we must learn to love them. All of them. Not just the ones who look like us, dress like us, worship like us, believe what we do, or share our cultural traditions. If we are going to reach the world, we must learn to love them. All of them.

“So, don’t rant on Facebook. Don’t lose your temper on Twitter. Don’t rage to your neighbor or coworkers.

“We can address religious liberty concerns as they come with firm resolve and Christ-like humility. Even though the playing field may have changed, the mission of God has not. We are not here to protect our ways and traditions. We exist to show the world the love of Christ and share with the world His good news.”

Sex Without Bodies

“Is there an easy way out of the current battles over sexuality? No. But there is a way through. A remnant, perhaps small and perhaps substantial, will continue to teach that we are created male and female, to bless the marriages that reunite those two broken halves, and to remind all, married and unmarried, that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage”—that ultimately our earthly eros only reflects the reunion promised between the Creator and his image bearers. Along the way, we all will be queer, groaning as we await the redemption of our bodies. To the LGBTQIA alliance, add an H—for this is what it is to be fully, incompletely, expectantly Human.”

What’s Next After the Same-Sex Marriage Rulings?

“Here are some of the biggest questions facing same-sex couples now.”

Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church

“… witness may be leaner in numbers in coming years, but the upside is that the witness may be even more potent. The gospel of God’s love in Christ is no less powerful in 21st century America than in 1st century Rome. So, let’s love God, love our neighbors (even those with whom we respectfully disagree), and remember the good news that in God’s lawcourt, all who repent and believe in Christ have the verdict of “justified” pronounced over them. And there’s no court on earth that can overturn that.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible, discovery, education & learning: Evangelicals & the Bible by Tim Gombis (parts 1, 2 & 3) [required reading]

“… about three weeks into every semester, a student would raise his or her hand and say, ‘I’ve never heard this stuff before.’

“I began to respond by saying, ‘you’re welcome!  You or your parents are paying me thousands of dollars to tell you things that you don’t know.  This is what we call “education” and it sounds like I’m doing my job.’”

“It began to dawn on me, however, that there was something about evangelical culture that was making these students assume that if something was unfamiliar, it was unbiblical. …

“What strikes me as odd is that the very thing I have come to associate with studying the Bible—the excitement of discovery—is the very thing that somehow frustrates the evangelicals I’ve been teaching.

“Like I said, I think this indicates that there’s something warped about how evangelicals regard the Bible. …

“… we please God when we are diligent students, which implies that we are always learning and that it’s okay (and normal) that there are things we don’t know!’ …

“My advice is to get to know the Bible over time—like, over decades. There aren’t five easy steps to Bible knowledge. I’ve told students in the past to measure their knowledge of the Bible in 5-year increments. And when I’ve said that, I could hear sighs of relief.

“Remember that the aim of getting to know Scripture is not to be equipped to get out there and have ‘impact.’

“The purpose of knowing the Bible is to develop Scripture-shaped minds so that we get to know and love God more faithfully, being transformed so that we love and serve others more creatively. The goal of Bible knowledge is the cultivation of virtue. And this is something that only happens over time.

“And the learning process itself transforms us, so we shouldn’t think that at some point we’ll be finished, “fully equipped” to get out there and put our knowledge to effective use.”

Bible & translation: Fifteen More Myths About Bible Translation by Daniel Wallace

“Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind.”

Certainty: The Lust for Certainty by Ben Witherington

“… we have to live on the basis of faith every day, not on the basis of some certainty or an ironclad guarantee.”

Churches: The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States

“The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches assembles various data on churches and denominations across North America. I recently gleaned the top 15 denominations by membership in the United States from their reports.”

Contentment: Five Steps to Peace in a Really Bad Situation

“… how can we get peace if we’re headed into or in the midst of a crisis? God tells us how to do just that in Phil. 4:4-9.”

Grief & words: Seven Questions Mourners Need to Ask Before Replying to Hurtful Statements

“…  the question of how to reply to hurtful statements is that each mourner must make up his or her own mind in each situation as to what would be the wisest method or statement to make. If you do decide to immediately reply to a painful statement from a well-intentioned, goodhearted, but ignorant comforter, you might want to consider the following questions first …”

Holy Week: 9 Things You Should Know About Holy Week

“Holy Week is the week before Easter, a period which includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Here’s what you should know about the days that commemorate the Passion of Christ.”

Internet, maturity, & social media: * Social Media Becoming Integral Part of Churches; * NT Wright on Blogging & Social Media [3 1/2 min. video]; * Shortcut for Blocking Games on Facebook; * The Internet: It’s Like Never Leaving Junior High [essential reading]

* “From websites to blogs, podcasts and Twitter, church leaders are embracing social media as a way to spread the word of God, to share information and to woo new members.”

* “I have one big worry about that, which is the isolationism of sitting in front of a screen. Even if there’s lots of other voices there. it’s only a screen.”

* “That’s all there is to it. If you get a notification from an app in your notifications menu that comes from an app you just don’t want to ever see again, a few clicks and you’ll never be bugged again. Nice.”

* “If life is just like high school, then the Internet might be an age group lower. Much of our digital world means never having to leave junior high school behind. … Janet Sternberg, a communications professor at Fordham University in New York who’s written a great deal about online civility, sees a reverse of a pattern created by television. If, as cultural critic Neil Postman asserted, TV ended childhood — the medium provided an impetus for young people to act older, which created hand-wringing about generations growing up too quickly — the Internet has done the opposite, she says. ‘The Internet and digital media have produced this “Peter Pan effect” where we never grow up, we’re perpetual children, we never have to be responsible for anything — we keep this juvenile mentality,’ she says.”

Note-taking: The Lost Art of Note-Taking by Michael Hyatt

“I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even college. Nor did I learn it on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own. Maybe this is why so few people bother to take notes during meetings or presentations. No one has ever told them why it is important or how to do it. In this episode, I do both.”

Same-sex marriage: If the Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, What Next?

“The biblical ideal of self-sacrificing, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is already countercultural. … If we have placed our trust in the God who does not change, we need not fear shifts in culture or law. … No plan A will skirt the issue that we are all sinners in need of a savior. We are on a level playing field with gays and lesbians who, in my experience, can detect condescension and hypocrisy a mile away.”

Television: 5 Reasons TV is Dead by Scott Elliott

“The mediums which we use to entertain ourselves or receive information come and go, but art is here to stay.”

The Bible mini-series: The Bible Series — Drama and Historical Context

“One of the aspects that I appreciate in the New Testament episodes of The Bible series is the attention paid to historical context. … This is not, of course, to suggest that attempts to provide historical context trump the drama.”

this went thru my mind

 

Discipleship: Did We Just Discover Discipleship? by Dan Bouchelle

“The informal models of discipleship that happened naturally in smaller, more rural communities, and within small family-based churches, did not require the kind of structural programing we just assume is mandatory today.”

Evangelism & outreach: The Dangers of Evangelism by Christian Piatt [required reading]

“Sometimes our zeal for sharing something that’s important to us blinds us to the havoc we can be wreaking in the process.”

Income inequality: How Income Inequality Is Damaging the U.S. by Frederick E. Allen [note]

“New research indicates that growing income inequality isn’t just unpleasant; it is seriously hurting the U.S. economy. And economists are figuring out just how the damage is done … The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that between 1979 and 2007 the top 1% of households doubled their share of pretax income while the share of the bottom 80% fell.”

Ministry: * Lessons from the Joshua Tree by Bert Crabbe; * Growing Problems … Old Wineskins by K. Rex Butts

* “Our team learned early on that if we didn’t establish clear boundaries to protect family life and personal health, the church would swallow every waking minute.”

* “To try and live out the good news in our old ways rather than following Jesus in his new ways is to sew a new patch on an old garment…to pour new wine into old wineskins.  This just will not work and ultimately it is a failure to follow Jesus in his new ways.”

Sexual orientation: Sexual Orientation: It’s Not a Sin by Kathy Vestal [required reading]

” … I am saying that sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is not a sin. What is done with that orientation is indeed a choice and can certainly lead to sin, for both homosexual and heterosexual people. Promiscuity. Adultery. But not mere orientation.”

this went thru my mind

 

Churches of Christ & LGBTQ: * All God’s Children: Loving our LGBTQ Friends As We Love Ourselves by Sean Palmer; * Mid-South Newspaper Ad Attacking Homosexuality Stirs Controversy

* “I love gay people. For many, it’s surprising to hear a Christian minister say that …”

* “Churches of Christ, and other Christian congregations in the U. S., have the perception of being repressive, exclusive and intolerant.  Young people are leaving institutional Christianity by droves.  There’s not an ad, no matter the author, that can adequately address these concerns.  And, by the way, if I were going to take a page out in the Commercial Appeal, I’d probably speak of the transforming love of Jesus for all.”

Faith, fear, forgiveness, meanness & politics: * Ain’t Skeered by Alan Stanglin; * The Kingdom of God and the Politics of Christianity by Doug Bursch; Putting Down the Hatchet by Ben Irwin

* “Isn’t it good to know that we Christians are immune to the scare tactics? Isn’t it comforting to know that we serve an almighty and loving King and that we belong to an eternal Kingdom that can never fall? Isn’t it a wonderful truth that we aren’t afraid of anything?”

* “My God is not the God of partisan politics, Facebook rants, and slanderous email forwards. My God does not take pleasure in tearing the other side apart. There are only two categories in my faith: those who have received the grace of God and those who are still rejecting that grace. It is not my job to defeat the enemies of God, it is my job to bring them the same love and grace that set me free. I don’t desire to be right, I desire to reconcile people to a God that will set them free.”

* “May we stand up and speak out for the causes that are dear to us. But may we always remember that on the other side of every issue, every debate, every election is a human being made in God’s image and loved just as dearly as we are.”

If only: Note From a Leader in the Military

“On October 1, 2001, President George W. Bush did not give the following speech to a special session of Congress.”

Learning: Ministry Inside.98 by Jim Martin

“Far too many people shut down long before they die.  Long ago they quit growing, stretching, and learning. In many instances, they have lost the joy in their lives. Your life doesn’t have to be like this.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: Church Steps: How People Move Through the Steps by Matt Dabbs [required reading]

“…  thinking in steps, not in programs. … All of us should be thinking … ‘how can I help someone get to the next step?’”

Church, discipleship & the missional movement: Problems With Missional by Matt Dabbs

“There have been some posts addressing the problems with the missional movement. Here are a few you may want to read.”

Church unity: The Dangerous Center Aisle of a Church by Ron Edmonson

“Would you join a church that couldn’t get along with itself?”

Football: A Conversation With James Franklin

“James Franklin … is the starting quarterback for the University of Missouri … He is the fourth child of Willie and Pam Franklin. His father, a well-known minister in the Dallas area, was once a standout receiver for the University of Oklahoma and played in the NFL for the Baltimore Colts. … “

Free will: Free Will as a Reflection of God by Neal Whitlow

“… what if our free will wasn’t just a curious experiment during God’s creative process? What if there was no highly debated executive decision on the part of the Trinity who decided to breathe life into a man who had the freedom of choice to defy the perfect and holy Creator of the Universe and go his own way? What if our free will was actually the result of being made in the image of God?”

Islam: Survey of Islam by Dr. Timothy Tennent

Legalism & Phariseeism: 6 Warning Signs We’re Becoming Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne [required reading]

“I’ve found that becoming a modern-day, accidental Pharisee is a lot like eating at Denny’s. No one wants to go there. We just end up there.”

Patience: Jesus as Oprah by Richard Beck

“No worries. Jack’s a Christian. His Lord commands him to be patient.”

Privacy, porn & social networking: Parasite’ Porn Websites Stealing Images and Videos Posted by Young People

“A study by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) reveals that 88% of self-made sexual or suggestive images and videos posted by young people, often on social networking sites, are taken from their original online location and uploaded on to other websites.”

Same-sex issues: Let’s Face It by Carole Lattin

“… “the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. It’s holiness … the goal is to lay down the lesser love of homosexuality and embrace the greater love of Christ’s atonement.”

this went thru my mind

 

Character & image: How to Pay More Attention to Character than Image by Jim Martin

“Image … is not a substitute for character.”

Church attendance & spiritual development: What Counts: Part 2 by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“Here are some common bad consequences of churches with truncated understandings of our mission …”

College-bound: Five Suggestions for That College Care Package by Maureen Herring

“Five intangibles that I believe we need to send in these packages are faith, independence, acceptance, challenge and hope.”

Culture: Welcome to America, Please Be On Time: What Guide Books Tell Foreign Visitors to the U.S.

“Flipping through a few of the many English-language tourist guides provides a fascinating, if non-scientific and narrow, window into how people from the outside world perceive America, Americans, and the surprises and pitfalls of spending time here. Of the many pieces of advice proffered, four of the most common are: eat with your fingers (sometimes), arrive on time (always), don’t drink and drive (they take it seriously here!), and be careful about talking politics (unless you’ve got some time to spare).”

Disagreement: Why You’re Wrong and I’m Right by Dan Rockwell

“I never intentionally think stupid ideas or chose wrong options. Do you? I always choose what I think is right. Research indicates that the act of choosing strengthens my opinion that my choice is right. Even if I’m wrong, I’m right, or at least it feels that way.”

Grief & comfort: Why You May Never Heal by Caleb Wilde

“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.”

Health: CDC Recommends Hepatitis C Testing For All Boomers

“The agency decided to target people born from 1945 through 1965 because they are five times more likely than other adults to carry the hepatitis C virus. About 1 in 30 boomers is infected and thousands die each year of cirrhosis and liver cancer.”

Hiking: World’s Best Hikes: Epic Trails

“… 20 hikes … the holy grails of trails across the world.”

Houston-to-Dallas high-speed rail: Full Speed Ahead for 205 MPH Bullet Train Between Houston and Dallas? 2020 Set As Target Date

“Tracks would ‘go over, under or around car and pedestrian traffic’ to take advantage of the bullet train’s 205-mile-per-hour capabilities, and would stop in College Station — and perhaps a few other locations between Houston and North Texas — for minimal interruptions. Although no timeline has been announced for phase one … a second phase of the project would link Austin and San Antonio to the system along the I-35 corridor.”

Morality & the national budget: Grandpa’s Using Your Credit Card: Why the National Budget is a Moral Issue by Ron Sider

“…  basic economic facts underline the importance of a governmental role in combating poverty. Tens of thousands of private programs provide important food assistance each month.  But altogether they only provide 6 % of the total monthly food assistance; government provides 94% each month. There are five major federal government poverty-fighting programs. If the 325,000 religious congregations nationwide decided to take over these five programs, each congregation would need to increase their annual budget by $1.5 million.”

Oil & the Keystone XL pipeline: When This Oil Spills, It’s ‘A Whole New Monster’

“‘I learned that this is a whole new monster than what folks in Texas are used to dealing with. … This is not a regular crude oil pipeline. This is something completely different. It’s not being treated differently.’”

Perspective: Celebrating Our Somersaults by Rachel Held Evans [required reading]

“The Olympics reminded me that sometimes we just gotta step back for a minute, catch a glimpse of the big picture, and celebrate one another’s somersaults.”

Sharing faith: * New Research: Churchgoers Believe in Sharing Faith, But Most Never Do by Ed Stetzer; * Three Reasons We Should NOT Share the Gospel by Chad Hall

* “… 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.”

* “I believe there are positive and poor motivations for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  In this post, I want to focus on three poor reasons that might stir us to share our faith. … Insecurity … Arrogance … [and] Narcissism …”

Speech & action: There Are Consequences to Demonizing Those You Do Not Like: Reflections on the Family Research Council Shooting by Ed Stetzer

” … if the left calls everyone who disagrees with them on homosexuality ‘haters’ … the loss of credibility is substantial. … [And] if those who support a traditional view of marriage remain silent as gay teenagers are bullied into suicide or suffer physical violence and act as if nothing is happening, they should not expect to be taken seriously when they decry violence against one of their own.”

this went thru my mind

 

Art: Lego-Brücke

“[Pictured] here [is the result of a] four week transformation [of] a 250 square meter [area of a] bridge with … ​​Lego bricks.”

Bible translation: C.S. Lewis on the Nature of Scripture

“The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant-woman’s breast, and later an arrested field-preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that He should be preached in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language. If you can stomach the one, you can stomach the other. The Incarnation is in that sense an irreverent doctrine: Christianity, in that sense, an incurably irreverent religion. When we expect that it should have come before the World in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorised Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly King. The real sanctity, the real beauty and sublimity of the New Testament (as of Christ’s life) are of a different sort: miles deeper or further in.”

Chik-Fil-A, LGBT & the culture wars: * Christian Resources for Thinking About Homosexuality; * What Exactly Did Dan Cathy Say to Land Chic-fil-a in Hot Water?; * Five Reasons the Church Failed Yesterday; * Learning to Speak: Chick-fil-A & our Inability to Dialogue; * Do Corporations Have Souls?

* “My basic question is ‘What attitude should Christians adopt as we consider our interaction with the LGBT community?’”

* “‘We don’t claim to be a Christian business,’ Cathy told the Biblical Recorder in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, ‘There is no such thing as a Christian business.’ ‘That got my attention,’ Cathy said. Roach went on to say, ‘Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me.’ ‘In that spirit … [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are,’ Cathy added.”

* “Yesterday’s campaign, while I don’t think it should be considered or called ‘hate,’ neither can it be called love. … People felt hate and we ignored that. … By rallying behind CFA, Christians put an issue above people. … Once again, the mass actions of Christians built another wall of distrust between the Church and the GLBTQ communities. … Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people.”

* “The issue is not homosexuality. We do the same with Muslims and Hindus, with Atheists and Agnostics. We do it with Christians that think differently regarding heaven and hell, baptism or remarriage, or those who get a little too charismatic when their favorite worship song is played. We do it with anyone who we view as ‘the Other.’ The real issue is us. We struggle to ‘put skin’ on the words and message of Christ with anyone who thinks differently than us. Too often, we demand conformity prior to connection.”

* “In light of the Chick-Fil-A ‘Appreciation Day’ I’m wondering, ‘When did corporations become moral guardians for our society?’”

Communication, ministry & relationships: Conversations Skills that Transform by Kevin A. Miller

“… they have scores of digital ‘friends,’ but what’s missing is analog—a slow, listening, face-to-face presence.”

Death & the hereafter: Immediately after Death, What Happens?

“Following a sermon one day a person waited around until everyone had left and he asked me this: ‘My father was a Christian; he died last week; we buried him Monday. Where is he now?’ And pastor after pastor has told me this is a very common — monthly — question they get from the grieving. Matthew Levering … explores how three representative scholars — N.T. Wright, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Aquinas — explain the so-called intermediate state.”

Drugs: Houston Area ‘Major Player’ in Synthetic Drug Market

“… the Houston area is the No. 1 spot in Texas when it comes to people getting poisoned by synthetic compounds designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and methamphetamines.”

Illegal alines & immigration: Immigration: Justice, Mercy, and the Great Commission by J. Lance Conklin

“…  are those entering the U.S. illegally breaking into a house to steal a T.V., or are they stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family?”

Introverts: Eight Things to Help You Understand Introverts by Thom Rainer

“I am an introvert. … I hope these eight statements will help you understand us a little bit better.”

Knife-sharpening: * Testing a Knife’s Sharpness;  * Stoning Your Knife;  * Honing Your Knife

Three brief videos by Bob Kramer, master bladesmith.

Olympics: Eric Liddell – A True Champion

“Eric Liddell is best known as ‘the man from Chariots of Fire’ (cue slow running) but there was much more to him than that!”

Parenting & texting: Control Your Kids’ Texting

“My kids are glued to their smartphones. … Is there a way I can turn off texting on their phones during a certain time?”

Politics & faith: A Third Party Candidate by Scott Elliott

“… many Christians have fallen into [a] … political trap. They ‘treat their religion as a kind of politics and their politics as a kind of religion.’ Politics becomes an idol, and hope rises or falls based on the outcome of the coming election. Christians on both sides of the aisle are guilty of bowing to an elephant or a donkey, thinking they have the answers to their problems. The truth is neither the Republicans nor the Democrats possess the solutions to that which plagues humanity, but there is a third option.”

Preaching: * Preaching: Raiding or Reading?; * It’s Not About You – Or Is It?

* “Bible Raiding. This sort goes to the Bible to find support for an already-decided-upon idea, to get answers from the Bible on the basis of a surface reading of the Bible … and lets what the preacher wants to say and what the preacher believes establish what is to be preached. … Bible Reading. This sort goes to the Bible to see what it says and what it says shapes what the preacher preaches and teaches. …”

* “Whether we like it or not, therefore, it is ‘about us’ – which raises all the more intensely the question of how we can also be certain that it is not only and primarily about us, but ultimately about the God we worship in and through Jesus Christ.”

Self-righteousness: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

“The really insidious part about this condition is that the more I go on as a Christian: the more I grow in knowledge, the more I become integrated into the Christian community, the more my lifestyle conforms to the expectations of my particular Christian group, the more separated I get from “the world” and its ways, the more I learn to act, speak, dress, and think like a Christian, the more my capacity for self-righteousness increases.”

Taxes & demographics: Study: Romney Tax Plan Would Shift Burden Toward Poor

“Mitt Romney’s tax plan would provide large tax cuts to the very wealthy, while increasing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes, according to a study … produced by researchers at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center …”

United States: Is America a Secular Nation? by Ben Witherington

“It would be nearer the truth to say that America is a narcissistic ‘who cares’ society when it comes to politics than to say it is a secular society.”