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.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

American history & the Fourth of July: Debunking the Fourth: Top 10 Unsightly Facts about the American Revolution

“The majority of the Founding Fathers weren’t Christians, but deists.”

Annihilationism, conditionalism & hell: Ask a Conditionalist (Annihilationist) … Edward Fudge Responds

“Conditionalists begin with the premise that only God is inherently immortal. For humans, immortality is God’s conditional gift, bestowed at the resurrection but only to the redeemed. Those who reject God’s grace throughout life do not live forever. When John 3:16 says the options are eternal life or perish, conditionalists say that means just what it seems to say.

According to conditionalism, at the end of the world, the good and bad alike are raised to face judgment. The righteous enjoy eternal life with God; the lost are sentenced to hell. But God does not keep billions of them alive forever to torment them without end. Instead, those in hell suffer such precise pains as divine justice may require, in a destructive process that ends in extinction. This is the second death, the wages of sin. Eternal punishment is eternal destruction, eternal capital punishment.”

Christianity, civil religion, nationalism, & nominalism, & the United States: 7 Marks of A Stereotypical American Christian

“Obviously, many Christians are more complex and inspiring than the attributes listed above, but we need to start realizing the influence American culture has on our faith. Unfortunately, many of these stereotypes are still perpetuated by American Christians who have strayed away from Christ’s example of sacrificial love and are using religion to serve their own misguided agendas. Nobody is perfect, but we need to start emulating Christ instead of subtly allowing our social surroundings to dictate our spiritual priorities.”

Climate change: Bill Nye The Science Guy Explains The Basics Of Something You Should Really Know [4 min., 34 sec. video]

“If you know anyone who’s having trouble wrapping their head around climate change as a human-driven crisis, this video could really come in handy.”

Culture, evangelism & outreach: Christians and Cultural Engagement

“… Jesus established a relationship in which he could speak and have it heard as a word of grace rather than a ‘I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong’ word of condemnation.”

Children, fatherhood, parenting & singles: The Rise of Single Fathers: A Ninefold Increase Since 1960

“In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960.”

Communication, credibility, gossip, lies, slander, speech & words: Don’t Believe Everything You Read or Hear

“Slander is a serious sin, and according to Paul, slanderers will be barred from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).”

Divorce & marriage: Jesus Never Moves On

“…  he has chosen me, he has set his love on me, and nothing will cause him to abandon me. He will never give up.”

Doctors, health & medicine: Common End-of-Life Medical Terms

“Here are some terms likely to be used in such situations as defined by Dr. Darlene Nelson, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic.”

Head coverings, interpretation & women: Head Coverings in Worship: Why Female Hair is a Testicle (parts 1 & 2)

“Recently, my colleague Trevor Thompson, who is a New Testament scholar here at ACU, shared with me some of the work of another NT scholar, Troy Martin, who is a friend of Trevor’s. One of Martin’s areas of expertise is using ancient medical texts to illuminate NT passages, particularly passages that seem confusing to us. In various studies Martin makes the observation that some of these confusions stem from the fact that we don’t share the same medical understandings of the NT writers and their audiences. When ancient medical terms or ideas are used we often miss the meaning. A good example of this comes from 1 Corinthians 11.2-16.”

Ministry & preaching: * I Am a Preacher; * 10 Things You May Not Know About Senior Pastors

* “I offer this in tribute to all the brave men and women of God who bear up under the weight of our call. I hope it articulates some of the ambiguity, beauty and tension wrapped up in saying ‘yes’ when God summons you to the pulpit.”

* “… I know this is a representative list for many.”

Poverty: Greg Kaufmann on the Truth About American Poverty

“Greg Kaufmann, poverty correspondent for The Nation, says the poor in America are stereotyped and demonized in an effort to justify huge cuts in food stamps and other crucial programs for low-income Americans.”

Tipping: Tipping: To Ban or Not?

“If I had my way, we’d take this idea to its logical conclusion and get rid of the practice of tipping altogether. Just outlaw it …”

Worship: Ready to Worship

“As we prepare ourselves for worship each week here are three things we should keep in mind.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (4)

 

Every few days I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) once more. Enjoy.

One is better than a thousand, and it’s better to die childless than to have ungodly children. (Sirach 16.3b)

A person’s acts of charity are like a seal with him [God], and he will treasure a person’s generosity like the apple of his eye. (Sirach 17.22)

… whoever neglects the little things will fail little by little. (Sirach 19.1)

Have you heard some word? Let it perish along with you. Have courage! It won’t make you burst. (Sirach 19.10)

“A thief is preferable to someone who continuously lies, but both will inherit destruction.” (Sirach 20.25)

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAustralia & gun control: I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too. by John Howard

“… nothing trumps easy access to a gun. It is easier to kill 10 people with a gun than with a knife.”

Children, culture, guns, heroes, power & violence: Giving Up Chuck and the Daisy Red Ryder [required reading]

“My heroes have always been powerful. Heroes are and should be powerful, but how you define power… that makes all the difference. … The American definition of “power that solves problems” is intertwined with the cultural mystique of guns and violence. Once my definition of power changed, a few years ago, my heroes did as well …”

Christ’s cross, discipleship & violence: A Meditation on the Cross by Paul Smith [required reading]

“I’ll say it again. If you are nailed to a cross you cannot hold a gun. If your hand is wrapped around an instrument of death you cannot grasp the hand that was pierced with an instrument of death.”

Deception, fake quotations, & lies: Did Jefferson Really Say That? Why Bogus Quotations Matter in Gun Debate

* “‘The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.’ … staff ‘have not found any evidence that Thomas Jefferson said or wrote’ those words.”

Drone strikes: The Guilty Conscience of a Drone Pilot Who Killed a Child

“The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported last August that in Pakistan’s tribal areas alone, there are at least 168 credible reports of children being killed in drone strikes.”

Faith & guns: If I Can’t Take My Gun, I’m Not Going by Neal Whitlow

“Modern weapons and an individual’s right to possess them are not dealt with in scripture. All the texts dealing with warfare don’t seem to apply. However, there a few principles from the New Testament that inform my thinking on the subject.

“It is not the responsibility of God’s people to overwhelm the darkness by force of arms. We use other tools to fulfill our mission. Our weapons are truth, faith, patience, love, forgiveness, and hope. … God’s people defend the defenseless. …  Jesus calls us to abandon our compulsions of power and control. Let’s face it. A big part of the reason that Americans can’t let go of our guns is we are enamored with the feelings of power and invincibility they give us.”

Faith & nonviolence: Jesus’ Way Doesn’t Work by Tim Archer [required reading]

“The church heard Jesus’ message. They didn’t run away. They didn’t fight. They endured patiently. For more than two hundred years. They suffered. They died. They loved their enemies and prayed for them. They turned the other cheek. And they were killed for it.

“Because Jesus’ way doesn’t work. It doesn’t protect your from suffering. It doesn’t protect you from death. (well, not immediately) It doesn’t bring your enemies to their knees. It doesn’t protect the weak nor avenge the innocent. In the eyes of the world, Jesus’ way is a complete failure.

“If you’re looking for something that works, don’t look to Jesus’ teachings. But remember one thing: if you choose what makes sense to men, you’re choosing something that God despises.”

Gun control & President Obama’s plan: * The President’s Plan to Reduce Gun Violence [required reading; download the .pdf file]; * Joe Biden Addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Jan. 17 [55 min. video; skip to 10 min., 20 sec. to begin]

* “Download the full text of the President’s plan.”

* Scroll down to the Opening Plenary Luncheon to find this video.

Gun control & public opinion: In Gun Control Debate, Several Options Draw Majority Support

“Fully 85% of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support from Republicans, Democrats and independents. Similarly, 80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support across party lines. But this bipartisan consensus breaks down when it comes to other proposals.”

Gun control & the states: * Gun Laws in the US, State by State – Interactive [very interesting & helpful]; * The Gun Challenge

* “… the majority of gun legislation in the US is enacted at the state level. That has brought broad variations across the country, with states taking different approaches to issues ranging from sales, permits, licensing, self-defence and carry laws.”

* “Inevitably, a bill like Wyoming’s has been filed in Texas.”

Guns & self-defense: * How Often Do We Use Guns in Self-Defense?

“We don’t know exactly how frequently defensive gun use occurs.”

Guns & the escalation of danger: Lessons From Guns and a Goose by Nicholas D. Kristof

“… that episode … underscores the role that guns too often play in our society: an instrument not of protection but of escalation. … One study, reported in Southern Medical Journal in 2010, found that a gun is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member or guest than in the death of an intruder. Another study in 1993 found that gun ownership creates nearly a threefold risk of a homicide in the owner’s household.”

Gun ownership: Why I Don’t Own a Gun by Brian Zahand

“I don’t own a gun because I don’t need one and I don’t want one. And that is perfectly acceptable. Please try to be at peace with this. As I said, I don’t own golf clubs either, and that’s bound to upset some people too.”

Gun violence & statistics:* Lack Of Up-To-Date Research Complicates Gun Debate by Carrie Johnson; * How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? [interactive map]

* “Public health research dried up more than a decade ago after Congress restricted the use of some federal money to pay for those studies.”

* “The answer to the simple question in that headline is surprisingly hard to come by. So Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths are collecting data for our crowdsourced interactive. This data is necessarily incomplete. But the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be. You can help us draw a more complete picture of gun violence in America. If you know about a gun death in your community that isn’t represented here, please tweet @GunDeaths with a citation. (If you’re not on Twitter, you can email slatedata@gmail.com.)”

Military & prayer: How Do We Pray for the Troops? by Craig M. Watts [required reading]

“The language of public prayer should express a reality shaped by the creative and redemptive activity of God, not simply one that can be read from the pages of the newspapers or heard from the mouths of either marketers or politicians. …

“So when I stand to pray in worship I never pray that God protect our troops for the simple fact that we don’t have any troops. We do not gather as Americans who plead on behalf of national interests or partisan favor before either God or the world. We are the church. Who we are has been determined by whose we are. We are people of God. We gather as the body of Christ united with Christ’s body throughout the world. Yet I do pray for the protection of soldiers and civilians alike. I pray indiscriminately, without regard to borders because all people are creatures made by the hand of God and are so loved by God that God sent God’s only begotten Son on their behalf. May they be preserved from danger and be restored to circumstances where they can live without the threat of violence either to them or from them.”

this went thru my mind

 

Competition: More Than a Sabbath: My Fast from Competing by Tyler Charles

“Personal success isn’t the goal, ultimately. Faithfulness is.”

Culture wars: God, I Thank You I’m Not Like Those Others: The Meta-Sin of Culture Wars by Kurt Willems

“… in light of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector recorded in Luke 18:9-14 there is no righteous high ground for those slugging it out in the in the muddy trenches of the recent culture wars.”

Demeanor & manner: 4 Questions to Ask Regarding Your Manner by Jim Martin

“What does my manner say about me?”

History: Publisher Pulls Controversial Thomas Jefferson Book, Citing Loss Of Confidence

“Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that ‘basic truths just were not there.’ … In it, Barton calls Jefferson a ‘conventional Christian,’ claims the founding father started church services at the Capitol, and even though he owned more than 200 slaves, says Jefferson was a civil rights visionary.

“‘Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,’ Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. ‘The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right. The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.’”

Leadership & mission: Why “Leaders” Are Not the Church’s Greatest Need

“…  in the context of a business or an organization that is defined by a mission, these are appropriate and salutary principles. … Fine for business, but it is at this very point that we run into a problem when we talk about the church. Why? Because the church is not defined by her mission. Now it is right to say that the church has a mission, that the church is missional, that mission is a central component of what she does. It is not right, however, to define the church as a mission and subsume one’s entire ecclesiology under that rubric.”

Memory: To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes

“… evidence that a few minutes of wakeful rest may have an effect even on long-term memory consolidation.”

Ministry & results: Give Up On Results by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“… do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the righteousness, the truth of the work itself.”

Newcomers: 10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church by Ben Reed

“I’ve visited a lot of churches. … It’s one thing to get people in the door once. But to get someone to visit again, and begin to call your church their home? Much tougher. … there are a few things we’ve learned that will guarantee someone won’t come back.”

Nigeria: Five Things to Know About Religious Violence in Nigeria by Lauren Markoe

“While Muslims and Christians are attacking each other, the combatants also divide along ethnic and cultural lines, and grievances often have little to do with religion.”

Options: 7 Steps to Finding a Better, Third Option by Michael Hyatt

“We are a culture that is accustomed to thinking in terms of two options. … When two sides disagree, here are seven steps to help you find the third option …”

Passive-aggressive behavior: Passive-Aggressive Postures & Evangelical Culture by Tim Gombis

“I naturally share my culture’s destructive and manipulative tendencies and subtle grasping after power and leverage in relationships.  Exposing these tendencies through critical self-reflection can help us discern how to cultivate fruitful and life-giving relational dynamics.”

Spiritual deafness: For Lack of Ears by Dan Bouchelle

“We are limited in our time and energy and, like Jesus, we would be wiser to invest our time with those who have ears.”

Violence: * Batman, Neo-Nazis and the Good News of Jesus by Lee C. Camp [required reading]; * The Myth That Redemptive Violence is a Myth: Part 1 and Part 2 by Matt Dabbs [read the comments, too]

* “The non-violent, suffering love of Jesus was a direct challenge to the myth of redemptive violence. One of the dirty secrets of the early church is the fact that for the first three centuries of Christian history, the leaders of the church insisted that Christians do not kill — including in so-called justifiable war. This consistent and insistent teaching of the early church is so ignored by so-called conservative Christians as to be laughable, if it were not so tragic.”

* “Violence, as I understand it, is the ultimate idolatry in that we are putting ourselves into the place of God. We decide who is innocent. We decide whose life is most important. We decide who gets to live and who gets to die. It’s my opinion, that that is not our place.”

Water: Here’s Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

“The map itself isn’t hard to grasp. The colored areas show the world’s largest aquifers — areas which hold deposits of groundwater. The blue ones are doing fine; more rainfall is flowing into them than is being pumped out of them for homes or irrigating fields. … The aquifers that are painted red, orange, or yellow, meanwhile, are being drained rapidly. … See those large grey shapes, below the map? Each one is a magnified reflection of an over-exploited aquifer.”

this went thru my mind

 

Anti-intellectualism: The Role of Education and Authority In the Church by Paul Smith

“… every time we tear down someone because they have a greater education than we do we tear down that part of the body of Christ. Not only that, but we tear down our future. We guarantee that our sons and daughters will choose fields of expertise other than Bible and theology, because everyone knows you can’t be a good Christian and be smart at the same time. Can somebody help me here? What is it about ignorance that is so appealing?”

Archaeology: A Sumerian Temple at Ur by Claude Mariottini

“… archaeologists have found a Sumerian temple in the ancient city of Ur, the traditional place of Abraham’s birth. According to the archaeologists, the temple is dated to 2500 B.C.”

Bible: Wishing the Bible was a Self-Help Book by John Acuff

“The Bible makes a pretty horrible self help book. Sometimes, that’s what I want it to be. … Perfection is my secret goal, not a deeper relationship with God. But unfortunately, the Bible is refusing to cooperate.”

Church: Church, Jesus, Faith, and the Institution by Patrick Mead

“… we are only institutionalized as much as we want to be. When men grab too much power, the bunnies and snowflakes move along. But faith doesn’t cease and neither does kingdom work. If you are in a church that is in conflict or is over controlled, you have options. You can leave or you can stay quietly or you can stay and work on changing things. But you don’t have the option of leaving the larger fellowship of believers and you don’t have the option to be a “loner Christian” when Christ called us to community. So whichever decision you make – stay with the group, snowflake.”

Communication: 5 Strategies for Becoming a Better Conversationalist by Michael Hyatt

“… conversations should be like a game of ping pong. You wait for the ball to come over the net, then you hit it back to the person on the other side. Then you do it all over again—and on it goes. In a good conversation, there is both give and take. This is something we have intentionally tried to pass on to our own children.”

Community: The Wisdom of Stability by J.R. Daniel Kirk

“Stability in Christ is always stability in community.”

Forgiveness: Broken Trust in God’s Country

“‘A hundred years from now, what will be the difference about how much money we had here?’ asked Emery E. Miller, a village resident and a proponent of the alternative plan, at the first creditors meeting. ‘But a hundred years from now, there will be a difference in how we responded to this from our moral being, from a moral level — the choices we made to forgive or not to forgive.’”

Google & your privacyHow to Opt Out of Google’s New Privacy Policy (Sort Of)

“Google’s new privacy policy will take effect on March 1. It consolidates Google’s 70 or so privacy policies across its products – from Gmail to YouTube to Blogger – down to one, and will pull data from users logged in to Google.”

Kind words: Don’t Wait for a Funeral to Give a Eulogy by Michael Hyatt

“We should start eulogizing those who mean the most to us before they leave us.”

Lies, damned lies & statistics: Santorum, Stats, and Dropout Rates of Religious College Students by Ed Stetzer

“This past Thursday (February 23), Rick Santorum told talk show host Glenn Beck that ’62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.’ … Long story short: There are dropouts (and returns), but there is no statistical difference that the dropout rate among those who attended college than those that did not attend college.”

Ministry: 10 Things About Pastors You Need to Know by Joe McKeever

“He is a flawed, fallible human like the rest of us, and not some saintly somebody unacquainted with temptation and failings.”

Singles: An Unmarried Boomer

“As Baby Boomers age, their propensity for divorce—even in later age—is creating a generation of middle-aged unmarrieds. Now, as the first Boomers are turning 65, this ‘singlehood’ trend could have implications for the quality of life of these older Americans.”

Tradition & traditionalism: Pelikan on Tradition & Traditionalism

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.”