links: this went thru my mind

Following are links to five articles on repentance that I’ve found to be of special interest and helpfulness.

Ash Wednesday – Applied Every Day

“So what’s the point of wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday? The cinder residue is reminiscent of the biblical act of repenting in dust and ashes’ (Job 42:6). … Many Christians have no connection with Ash Wednesday’s tradition. But we all have need of what it represents. Every day. Ash Wednesday represents our need to repent.”

Not Your Typical Ash Wednesday [essential reading]

“My name is Josh Patrick. I’m a 36-year-old pastor in the Nashville area. I’m married to a beautiful strawberry-blonde haired girl named Joni, and we have three daughters, ages 8, 5, and 2. Today is unlike any Ash Wednesday I’ve ever experienced. … 4 weeks ago today … it was determined that I had stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to my liver. And just like that, our little world was turned upside down.”

Lent: Because Sometimes Rich Christians Simply Need to Starve a Little [required reading]

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

An Ash Wednesday Prayer

“I’m sorry God, I truly am … I’m sorry that I have not loved you with all of my being.”

Litany of Penitence

“Have mercy on us, Lord. … Accept our repentance, Lord. … Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I have found to be interesting and helpful reading.

American history, corruption, fear, hate, hysteria, intimidation, lynchings, racism, revenge, rumors, social memory, suspicion, terrorism & violence: Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror [essential reading]

“Between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States. Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism.”

Bible study, humility & reading: How to Make the Most of Your Bible Study [essential reading]

“We are pulled in many directions: work, family, ministry, fitness and many other activities tug at our schedules. The more we are tugged, the more we have to work to guard the time we give to personal study of our Bibles. When we are at last able to sit down to read, we want every precious minute to count. Whether we have 15 minutes or two hours, we want our efforts to yield the most benefit possible. But how can we make the most of the time we have to read and study?”

Community & forgiveness: The Act of Rigorous Forgiving

“There’s something sad in Brian Williams’s need to puff up his Iraq adventures and something barbaric in the public response. … the larger question is how we build community in the face of scandal. Do we exile the offender or heal the relationship? Would you rather become the sort of person who excludes, or one who offers tough but healing love?”

God, non-violence, violence & witness: Why NO Violence in Jesus’ Name is Justified

“The character of God is manifested when instead of employing violence against enemies to crush them, Jesus loves his enemies in order to redeem them. The kingdom is revealed when instead of protecting himself, Jesus allows himself to be murdered. God’s love is marvelously put on display when instead of clinging to his perfect holiness, Jesus puts himself in the place of sinners. And the nature of the rule of God shines radiantly in Jesus’ final prayer for the forgiveness of those who moments earlier mocked him, spit on him, whipped him, and crucified him (Luke 23:34).

“This is simply who God is and what God is up to in the world, and so living consistent with God’s character, reflected by the cross and the teachings of Jesus, is simply what it means to submit to God’s reign. In sharp contrast to the kingdom-of-the-world thinking, therefore, disciples of Jesus aren’t to act first and foremost on the basis of what seems practical or effective at securing a good outcome. We are to act on the basis of what is faithful to the character and reign of God, trusting that, however things may appear in the short term, in the long run God will redeem the world with such acts of faithfulness.”

Judging, judgment & love: Judgment: Isn’t Judging Others Healthy?

“Isn’t it time to for us to ruthlessly cut out judgment of one another from our sermons, conversations and mindsets? Isn’t it time for us to address personal and social change with long suffering love and when that doesn’t work—doesn’t transform ourselves and those we ought to care for—shouldn’t we try long-suffering love again?”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Achievement, expectations, humility, service, success & the will of God: God’s Not Looking for Heroes

“We don’t all need to be heroes. Jesus is the Hero. The Hero came 2000 years ago. So He’s already the Hero. He’s not looking for heroes, He’s looking for co-laborers. The challenge is, most people want to be co-stars, not co-laborers. If you actually understood what it was to be a co-laborer, you could labor wherever you are.”

America, culture, individualism, materialism, nationalism, patriotism, values & war: American Values Are Not Necessarily Christian Values

“… [there can be] no excuse for conflating country and church. We can appreciate and even respect the nation in which we reside, but we must not forget that our status is as foreigner and exiles. (1 Peter 2:11)”

American Sniper, cinema, deception, distortion, evil, film, movies & payback: Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, and the American Messiah [essential reading]

“This is the problem with the white-hat black-hat narrative of Hollywood: when ‘they’ do what ‘we’ do (though ‘they,’ of course, poor saps, are just not as efficient in their killing as ‘we’ are) it is evil, but when Americans do it, it is heroic. Eastwood’s Kyle insists he is doing what he does because he does not want terrorists in our neighborhoods here. Yet he participates in the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11; a country who was headed by, no doubt, a despot but a despot who had furthered his hold on power by the support of our own country; and when those people fight back because they don’t want foreign invaders in their streets, it’s ‘evil’ like Eastwood’s Kyle has never yet imagined.”

Anger, bitterness, forgiveness, hatred & resentment: A Holocaust Survivor, Spared From Gas Chamber By Twist Of Fate

“Anger doesn’t get you anyplace. Hate doesn’t get you anyplace.”

Attention span, authority, church, commitment, Facebook & social media: 5 Ways Facebook May be Harming Your Church

“What effect does ‘social media’ technology have on the way we view church? What effect does it have on the way we conceive of life in the body of Christ?”

LIFE group discussion guide: serve!

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 25) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To declare our need to spend our lives actively serving God, and to urge us to do so.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … servants of the word … (Luke 1.2 CEB)

• … Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1.38 CEB)

• He has granted that we would be rescued … so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1.73-75 CEB)

• You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. … You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 4.8; 16.13 CEB)

• … do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act … (Luke 6.35 CEB)

• That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. (Luke 12.47 CEB)

• … when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.” (Luke 17.10 CEB)

• … the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. (Luke 22.26 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Think employment and job roles. Which ones strike you as “servant-type” jobs?

2. What is the biggest hurdle to your seeing yourself as truly a “servant of God?”

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Find and count every occurrence of some form of the word “serve” in Luke’s Gospel.

2. Read Luke 6.35 above. Reflect on it. Then read its context (vs.27-38). Thoughts?

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. How does the word “servant” hit you? Positive or negative? Respectable or humble?

2. Would it truly be best to live tomorrow like it was literally your last day to live?

3. “The good is the enemy of the best.” Is this true? Does this sound like Jesus?

4. We’re saved by God’s mercy thru Christ on his cross. What role do our works play?

5. Which matters most in the long run in serving God: “big things” or “little” ones?”

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Discipline and exercise yourself in a “I expect nothing in return” attitude and air.

2. Habitually give words and actions of appreciation to any you see “doing good.”

links: this went thru my mind

Archaeology, Assyrians, Iraq, Isis, Ninevah & terrorism: ISIS Threatens to Blow Up the Historical Walls of Nineveh

“Residents of the Bab Nergal area of Mosul said ISIS has informed them that it will blow up the walls of Nineveh with the start of operations to liberate Mosul by the Iraqi army. In the last month ISIS has seized the content of the cultural museum in Mosul as well as destroyed Assyrian monuments in the city, which ISIS claims “distort Islam.”

Blessings, communication, humility & witness: The One Things Christians Should Stop Saying [required reading]

“I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the ‘amen’ at the end of a prayer.”

Christianity, faith, government, kingdom & politics: 12 Reasons for Keeping the Kingdom of God Separate from Politics (parts 1 & 2) [essential reading]

“Jesus came to establish a kingdom that was not of this world.”

Evangelism, humility, listening, missions & outreach: Reverse Evangelism

“I really do believe that the Gospel is good news for everyone.  I just don’t think we know how good the news is until we do the hard work of listening and learning about what people’s hopes and dreams are.  And I have noticed that whenever I enter another culture, and understand it, even (or especially) when they don’t believe what I believe, that the Gospel just gets bigger for me.”

Marriage: Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married

“Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.

“It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, like mid-life crises.”