links: this went thru my mind

 

Beggars, the poor & the marginalized: Beggars in Mark

“The stories that end this chapter are about beggars, people who in desperate need. They are angry with life or with Satan, but not with Jesus. Life has not followed the rules with them—it has treated them and those they love unfairly—and they are not particularly concerned that Jesus doesn’t always color within the lines. In fact, they are quite hopeful that (with those they love) Jesus can stretch outside of normal boundaries and accomplish something beyond the ordinary.”

Bible reading: How the World’s Top 10 Countries Search the Bible Differently

“Two of the four ‘implications of the search for truth’ noted in the study: Are pastors and missionaries preaching too much from Paul? Too little from the Old Testament?”

Idolatry: If Daniel 3 Were Written Today

“Beloved countrymen, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can sustain us in the event we are being marginalized, cast aside, and silenced, and He can rescue us from craving approval from the rest of our society. But even if He does not protect us from your penalties and fines, we want you as a society to know that we will not serve your gods or celebrate the gold statue you set up.”

Ministry: Just What Does a Minister Do Anyway?

“I don’t suppose there is an easier target for criticism or maybe jokestering than that of a minister.”

Parenting: 7 Ways Parents Injure a Child — Without Even Knowing It

“… looking back, I can see some of these we were guilty of doing — and I remain thankful for God’s grace in spite of me.”

Racism & reconciliation: Ok, White Folks, Here’s How You Can Really Help! [required reading]

“Young man we appreciate your support and energy but really the best thing you can do for our movement is to go back to your churches, families, communities and friends and share the truth you have heard today.  It is the education of your own race, which will be the biggest catalyst for change in reconciling all races and bringing the kingdom value of racial unity and harmony into existence.”

my special reading & study in 2014

 

In recent years I’ve adopted the habit of annually identifying a specific subject to which I’ll devote myself in some special study. As I read on the matter, I do so with two questions foremost in my mind: (1) what does Scripture have to say about this? and (2) what perspectives and actions ought a Christian take in light of what Scripture says? It’s been a very good habit for me; I wish I had started such many years ago. I commend such a habit to everyone.

The topic I selected this year was violence. Perhaps you’ve noticed my posts on Saturdays of links to some of my reading each week on such. This coming Saturday’s post of links on violence will be the last in that series this year. As to books, through the course of this year I’ve found some by Justin Bronson Barringer, Lee Camp, Shane Claiborne, Stanley Hauerwas, Philip Jenkins, Preston Sprinkle, Craig M. Watts, John Howard Yoder, and Tripp York to be particularly helpful. If I was limited to only one book on this subject to own and read, I would choose A Faith Not Worth Fighting For edited by Tripp York and Justin Bronson Barringer. If I was looking for a book to give to someone as a gift, I’d choose either York and Barringer’s work, or Lee Camp’s challenging piece Who is My Enemy? I consider both of these books to be simply superb. Would that every Christian would read them both!

In the coming year, I’m going to change things up quite a bit, primarily by focusing on three subjects for nine months of the year (I’ll take a month off in the summer, as well November and December). As to subjects, I’ll study (1) worship & idolatry [Jan.-Mar.], (2) the environment & ecology [Apr.-June], and (3) preaching & ministry [Aug.-Oct].

And where shall I begin my reading in regard to worship and idolatry? I’ve decided my first steps will be reading Ron Highfield’s book entitled Great is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God and G.K. Beale’s work entitled We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Act, health care system & medicine: Obamacare: The Rest of the Story

“This is the 90 percent of the story that doesn’t make the headlines. … they are transforming medicine from the treatment of disease to the treatment of patients — and ultimately the treatment of populations.”

Attitude, mind clutter & thinking: The Single Principle You Need to Clean Out the Mind Clutter for Good [required reading]

“We should start choosing our thoughts like we choose our clothes for the day. … We have chosen to give away the physical clutter that piles up in our spaces in exchange for serenity, for simplicity, and for a richer life. But what about non-physical clutter that fills up our minds and fogs our vision every day, every second even? Why can’t we apply the same principle to our thoughts, which could benefit a thousand fold from a little clean-up in their dusty attic?”

Calvin & Calvinism: Where Calvin Went Wrong

“… Calvin’s view of sovereignty so overwhelmed his theology that he ends up denying the capacity of humans to choose to believe.”

Christian college education & crisis of faith: The Christian College and the Crisis of Faith–and Why That Might be a Good Thing

“Many young people have an immature faith. Schools do not do them a service by helping them embrace this faith via dubious apologetics. Examination should always precede entrenchment.”

Church, God, idolatry & worship: Am I Just Now Beginning to Worship God? [required reading]

“When first converted I thought true worship was because of two facts: we did church right and we didn’t do it wrong.  That seemed to be both the message and the conclusion. … Our worship has failed to reach God for so many moments because we have stopped to worship the created rather than the Creator.”

Churches of Christ & the Restoration Movement: Why the Restoration Movement Needs a Gospel Revival [required reading]

“… biblically speaking, gospel is largely about us. It’s public. It’s as much about the restoration of the world as it is about the restoration of my soul.”

Facebook & privacy: How to Stay Private Now That Anyone Can Find You on Facebook

“You can control the audience of your updates, photos, or bio information if you don’t want strangers seeing your information.”

Generosity & giving: Generosity Is Its Own Reward

“… the relation between generous spending and happiness holds around the world, even in countries as impoverished as India and Uganda.”

Marriage: Things My Wife Does I Take for Granted

“How many things does she do that I take for granted? … Men, what do you take for granted that your wife does?”

Parenting: Random Bedtimes Breed Bad Behavior In Kids

“Parents learn the hard way that late bedtimes make for cranky kids the next day. But inconsistent bedtimes may have a greater effect on children’s behavior, a study says.”

Tipping & wages: Why You Should Tip 25%

“The shameful state of the salaries of restaurant workers, who often earn a poverty-level $2.13 an hour before gratuities, is a topic … But while politicians argue about the minimum wage and lobbyists push to keep workers’ salaries artificially low, I have an unconventional recipe for righting this obvious wrong: Tip more.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger & grief: How to Best Handle Your Anger in Grief

“In order to get a handle on anger in your grief journey, you may want to remember the following facts …”

Christians, persecution, & Syria: The Coptic Church in Peril

“It looks like the Coptic church may well go the route of the Assyrian church which was also expelled from the middle east by persecution.”

Church, mental health, & mental illness: Mental Illness and the Church: New Research on Mental Health from LifeWay Research

“Medicine is not the answer to everything, and we live in an over-medicated world, but we need to treat character problems like character problems—and illnesses like illness. I wish more Christians saw that.”

Consumerism, employment, idolatry, money, simplicity & work: * Pope Attacks Global Economics for ‘worshipping ‘god of money’; * 10 Common Objections to Minimalism

* “‘The world has become an idolator of this god called money,’ he said. … Francis … ended his improvised speech with a prayer asking God to ‘give us work and teach us to fight for work.’”

* “… what’s holding you back from exploring what minimalism has to offer?”

Internet & privacy: 9 Tips for Keeping Your Internet Usage Private [infographic]

“… follow these nine tips for keeping your Internet usage private …”

this went thru my mind

 

Baytown & Mont Belvieu: Chambers Town Center

A look at the plan for the the construction of Chambers Town Center near the intersection of I-10 & Hwy. 146 in Baytown, TX.

Church, idolatry & ministry: When Church Becomes an Idol

“… what does this look like when church itself is the ‘idol’ a pastor is venerating?”

Criticism, listening, preaching, respect, selective hearing & sermons: Sick of Sermons [required reading]

“Chronic critique of sermons is an illness. …  Some sufferers have lived with this condition for so long that they have found ways to manage it: committing to ministries that pull them out of the sermon … venting … or using the sermon-time for completely unrelated spiritual exercises. The long-term prognosis is grave: spiritual malnourishment. The table that God sets for us has two parts, Word and Sacrament, and Christ is the bread of both. But we only get what we’re willing to receive. How can we fight this illness that has us always excusing ourselves from the table during the first course and frequently ruining the appetite of others? I recommend aggressive treatment.”

Discouragement, faith, humility, passion, perseverance, & zeal: Maintaining a Holy Fire When You Feel More Like an Unholy Fizzle

“… because we live in Christ we must wait for him to do the work. This is nearly a mockery to the flesh-driven personality. God, through the Spirit, opens doors and closes others. My exhilaration is when He opens them. My frustration is when none open and I impatiently knock harder.

“How do we maintain a holy fire when some days feel more like an unholy fizzle? Believe God works…and then wait on Him.”

Holiness, OMG, speech, respect & words: Is It OK for a Christian to Drop OMG’s?

“Remember, it is the trademark for the unbeliever to take God’s name in vain …”

Inspiration & interpretation: The Inspiration of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

“In short, I tend not to read 2 Tim 3:16a as an assertion about scripture, but as an identification of which writings the author is talking about.”

Modesty: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

“And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Parenting: Dear Parents With Young Children [essential reading]

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.”

Reading: * Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina); * Americans’ Reading Habits Over Time

* “I’ve benefited from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefited immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information. …

“It goes like this: * 1. Read: What does the passage say? 2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word) 3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying? 4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?”

* “… the percentage of Americans who read a printed book in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population in 2011 to 67% in 2012.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceChristianity, guns, idolatry & power: * The Weakness of the Pentagon and the Power of the Cross; * A Meditation on the 10 Commandments (#3)

* “Christians are people who know that the Word is mightier than the sword. Our weapons are not worldly, but powerful: the preaching of the Word who has made peace and the celebrating of the Word embodied in broken flesh and poured-out blood.”

* “What are some of our graven images today? A gun is an idol. It is an idol of the false god of power. It can also be an idol of the false god of safety and security. If I trust in the killing power of cold steel and lifeless wood, I am rejecting the power of the life-giving and life protecting God.”

Gun control & the media: Gun Control and the Media

“In the four months since the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, the tone of the conversation about gun control on Twitter has shifted sharply several times in apparent response to ongoing events, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of nearly 21 million tweets from December 18 through April 21.”

Gun control & the public: Mixed Reactions to Senate Gun Vote

“Overall, 15% say they are angry this legislation was voted down and 32% say they are disappointed. On the other side, 20% say are very happy the legislation was blocked, while 19% say they are relieved. … States with two senators voting no: AL, AK, AR, GA, ID, KS, KY, MS, NE, ND, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WY.”

Violence: “God is pissed off and so am I”: Pastor Phil Jackson on Gun Violence

“If you have never held a mother, father, or crying child who has had to bury a family member because of gun violence, you might not understand the need to make the tough changes. If you have never seen the eyes of a student looking to you for hope as life seeps from their body or sat with a mother asking God why her child is gone — why her child had to die — I doubt you will understand the pain and the effect of what guns are doing on the streets of Chicago. If you have never had these experiences, you might not understand my sense of urgency when I say that I want to see the end of cheap and plentiful guns in my neighborhood. … My thoughts about the protection of constitutional rights are always accompanied by my thoughts of protecting the young people in my neighborhood.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: The Problem with “Safe, Legal” Abortion

“This absolutely horrifying story from The Atlantic about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, now standing trial for murder in Philadelphia, gives the lie to the traditional argument that making and keeping abortion legal ensures that it will be done safely and with concern for the health and well being of the mother. … I encourage you to go and read the entire article, if you can stomach it. It is a true American horror story. It also reveals issues of racism, mistreatment of the poor, the exploitation of women, and the failures of government and journalistic institutions.”

Ancient warfare & horses: Iron Age Weapons—From Cold Metal to Warm-Blooded Animals

“Advanced ‘martial arts’ schools for horses and riders developed war horses trained in special athletic movements designed to inflict maximum damage with their hooves in battle. It has developed over the centuries into what we now refer to as modern dressage, a sport in the Olympics since 1900.”

Churches of Christ, military service, pacifism, prayer, & war: A Prayer by J.N. Armstrong

“J.N. Armstrong was the first president of Harding University and the son-in-law of James A. Harding. He believed that Christians were not to participate in war.”

Fear, hope, idolatry, power, & security: North Korea May Bomb the Hell Out of Us and Blow Us to Smithereens, Yet We Will Cling to the Instability of Hope by Kurt Willems

“‘Peace through strength’ is good for us all, or so many believe. … Too often, the Christian hope is co-opted by the hope of Caesar … We followers of Jesus in the empire of America have a choice. We can put our trust in empty sloganeering. We can trust in the horses and chariots of the military. Or, we can place our lives in the midst of reality, the unstable yet sure hope we have in Christ Jesus.”

Forgiveness & violence: Warren Forgives Seller of Gun in Son’s Suicide

“Pastor Rick Warren has shared some of his thoughts via Twitter during the past week as he and his wife Kay grieve the loss of their youngest son, tweeting Thursday (April 11) that he has forgiven the person who sold Matthew the gun used in his suicide.”

Gun control, gun lobby, NRA & politics: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip by Gabrielle Giffords [required reading; and I say, "Amen!"]

“On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies … Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.”