this went thru my mind

 

Atonement: What DID Jesus Do? The Atonement Symposium Videos Now Online

[Videos featuring Scot McKnight, J. Daniel Kirk, Leanne Van Dyk, and Vincent Bacote]

Christian faith, idolatry, nationalism, patriotism & the United States: * Are You Anti-American? by Greg Boyd [essential viewing; 2 1/2 min. video]; * Nationalism: The Nationalistic Corruption of Worship in America by Craig M. Watts

* “I am not anti-American. … What I am is, I want to be kingdom. And that means I want to be trans-national in my perspective. … What I’m impassioned about is that followers of Jesus don’t become co-opted by the nationalism of a country, or by any other political or national agenda. And the history of the church is that going on, and on, and on. … It’s so important; I think it’s so, so, so so important that we understand the kingdom of God looks like Jesus, dying on the cross for the people who are putting him there … The kingdoms of this world look other than that. They look like America, or China, or Russia. They’re always some version of Caesar. … In America, precisely because it gives us more freedoms than most other countries, we have to guard against the temptation that identify it as anything more than a good country that gives us some good rights and some good privileges.”

* “… if there has been little serious conflict in the United States between Christian devotion and American allegiance it is not due to some Christian nature of America that some people imagine exists. Instead this is an indication of the extent that the church has been conformed to American ideals, interests and identity. No clear distinction between being American and being Christian is even a possibility because the two have become one in the hearts of many. The God being worshiped is the American God and the nation they love is in some fashion God’s nation. Consequently, many Christians find it incomprehensible that incorporating the rituals of America into the worship of the church could be anything other than a positive, edifying practice.”

Church & generations: How to Connect Different Age Groups Within the Congregation by Matt Dabbs

“LIFE Groups – the vast majority of our LIFE groups are inter-generational. … it is good to have a mix of different types of groups in small group ministry and inter-generational is a big part of that.”

Contribution, electronic giving & worship: I Need Your Ideas by Ed Stetzer

” Does your church offer online giving and, if so, how do you incorporate it into worship?”

Gospel & kingdom: * Paul’s “Gospel” Ministry in Romans by Tim Gombis [required reading]; * The Ugly Beauty of the Kingdom of God by Kurt Willems

* “Paul’s conception of the gospel … is not merely the tidy presentation that gets one into the Christian faith. According to Paul’s gospel conception, God is at work to restore creation.”

* “The cross is ugly, but the wonder of the kingdom is that God takes on ugliness and uses it as the ultimate example of beauty.”

Evangelism, Hispanics, immigration Latinos & outreach: It’s Time to Reach Out to Immigrants by Tim Archer

“… let me encourage churches to get ahead of the curve. Those churches that reached out to immigrants during Reagan’s amnesty program are the ones that today are making important inroads into the Latino community. Lay aside your political feelings and think about the ministry possibilities. This could well be the critical time.”

Learning & understanding: Questions vs. Assertions by James McGrath

“Confident assertions often weigh us down and tie us to ways of thinking that often are not as well founded as we initially assumed. Questions raise us up to discover new things that we could never have if we refused to ask them. Even if the questioning leads us to conclude that what we thought initially was correct, we are better for having asked.”

Les Misérables: * The Miserable by Casey Picker; * On Forgiveness and Escaping the Past by John Byron

* “True love isn’t a butterfly feeling, but an action with skin and bones. And it’s not just something we do for people we are attracted to or who are lovable to us, it’s something we extend to all who are around us. It means having eyes to see the broken and the hurting around us, a heart that feels compassion for them, and hands that are willing to give them the grace that they need.”

* “… what caught my attention this time was the struggle between being forgiven and escaping the past.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible translation: Famous Bible Translation Mistakes Throughout History by C. Michael Patton

“Here are some of the more infamous and fun mistakes that translators and printers have made throughout the years.”

Cancer: Cancer in the U.S.A. [infographic]

“One in four people will die from some form of cancer in the United States.”

Community & meals: Meals Matter to the Mission by Tim Chester

“… the meals of Jesus represent something bigger. They represent a new world, a new kingdom, a new outlook. But they give that new reality substance. Jesus’ meals are not just symbols; they’re also applications. They’re not just pictures; they’re the real thing in miniature. Food is stuff. It’s not ideas. It’s not theories. It’s, well, it’s food, and you put it in your mouth, taste it, and eat it. And meals are more than food. They’re social occasions. They represent friendship, community, and welcome.”

Criminal justice, forgiveness, justice, prison, punishment & reconciliation: Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?

“… Andy felt her say, ‘Forgive him.’ His response was immediate. ‘No,’ he said out loud. ‘No way. It’s impossible.’ But Andy kept hearing his daughter’s voice: ‘Forgive him. Forgive him.'”

Fear: Fear: This is a Heart Issue (Part I) by John T. Willis [required reading]

“Fear is a character of the heart which is necessary for human life. Therefore, fear is a gift of God. Fear is absolutely essential for all human beings to be who God created us to be. But, all human beings can abuse God’s gifts. In this and the next blog or blogs, we will discuss briefly what the Bible teaches about fear.”

Government assistance: Don’t Force Us to Obey the Bible! by James McGrath

“Time and again, I have heard conservatives say that taxing the rich to care for the poor is antithetical to Biblical teaching because it is essentially forcing people “at gunpoint” to give, rather than allowing them to be charitable of their own free will. Typically, those same people want to see other aspects of their religious values, from marriage to prayer, enforced through legislation.”

Guns: If You Choose to Own a Gun by Tim Archer [required reading]

“… some suggestions for Christians who choose to own guns …”

Just for fun: Real Life Hobbit House

“This is so awesome, it almost hurts.”

Les Misérables, mercy & politics: The Political Theology of Les Misérables by Richard Beck

“Two candlesticks–one act of mercy–saved them all. And in contrast to Javert and Enjolras I wonder if those two candlesticks isn’t the political theology we are all called to embrace.”

Ministry, spiritual formation & writing: * The Writing Pastor: An Essay on Spiritual Formation by Peter R. Schemm Jr.; Out of the Cave by Peter J. Leithart

* “None of us will likely have the influence of Augustine or Luther or Bonhoeffer. But our writing still matters. It matters because it can help us to make progress in our own hearts and minds. So as an exercise in pastoral ministry, we will explore some benefits that come to the soul of a pastor through the discipline of writing. These apply particularly to pastors but are not limited to the vocation of pastor. Each benefit is personal and formative: (1) depth of mind, (2) clarity of thought, (3) pace of life, (4) quiet and solitude, (5) the ministry of words, and (6) a life of prayer.”

* “A writer has control in the cave he never has outside.”

Romans: Romans by Douglas Moo [links to 53 lectures & discussions]

“Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.”

imagine you, on food stamps (5)

 

Note: The following is not an account of any one conversation I’ve had with any one person regarding the Imagine You, On Food Stamps project, but is a composite derived from a number of conversations.

Oh, the conversations this project is generating!

“David, aren’t you afraid?”

“Afraid of what?”

“Of what eating like that for a month could do to your health, that’s what!”

“No, not really. Should I be?”

“Yes! That stuff can’t possibly be good for anyone!”

“That ‘stuff’?”

“You know what I mean. I mean the food you’d have to live on that can be bought for $4.00 a day.”

“Oh, you mean the ‘stuff’ we’re content for other folks to live on as long as we don’t have to live on it ourselves, don’t you?”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean those people who receive that kind of food are only getting what they deserve. You don’t deserve that.”

“I’m not sure I understand your point. Help me here.”

“They’re in the fix they’re in because they wanted it that way. They made some bad choices and now they have to experience the consequences. If that’s all they have to eat, let them eat it. Perhaps they’ll learn from the experience!”

“Really? ‘All’ of ‘them?’ How do you know the situations of all of the lives of all of these people? I doubt either one of us would say, after a little reflection, that every person who is poor – or even the majority of the poor – chose to be poor or want to remain in need. And even if what you’re saying is true – and I don’t believe for a minute that it is – what does that have to do with eating on $4.00 per day for a little while?”

“Okay, we both know there are surely some exceptions, but you and I both know most of the money going out for food stamps is just a waste.”

“No, actually I don’t know that … and I don’t believe you do, either. I only know a great many people don’t eat nearly as well as either of us and I think we both would do well to remember that often. Doing so would surely change the way we think of and live with the people around us.”

“So you’re telling me people who make their own bed shouldn’t have to sleep in it? I don’t feel bad for bums who won’t work. It’s in the Bible for crying out loud!”

“I’m saying none of us knows what all went on to get anyone to the point they’d cry out for help with putting food on the table. We mustn’t presume we know what they’ll do with any or all of the help that’s offered to them, either. If they do happen to misuse some, or all, of that help, that’s on them, not us, and it’s between them and the Lord. It’s no excuse or reason for us to not be merciful. Besides, no small number of the ‘them’ you’re talking about are little children, people who have absolutely no say in their circumstances or their sustenance, but who like the rest of us, need to eat every day. There are more than a few words about mercy and about leaving all judgment to the Lord in the Bible, too.”

“I don’t think I’m being ‘merciful’ to them if I see them driving a newer car than I drive!”

“Again, we don’t know all the circumstances of their lives, do we? And, I must say with all kindness, but with forthrightness, I find the way you’re lumping and labeling all sorts of individuals together under the word ‘them’ and as people of suspicious character as degrading and dehumanizing, both of which lead to being judgmental.”

“So you’re saying I’m judgmental! Who do you think you are? I have eyes to see how some of them live.”

“I thin I’m someone inviting you to join me in eating the same thing other people eat for a little while just to see what that must be like.”

“Well, you can count me out because I don’t want anything to do with those folks!”

“I think you’ve established that quite clearly. And that’s the real issue, isn’t it? Not your fears for my health, but your own insecurities over who receives help and how that doing such might draw you closer to some you have little care for … and that’s very uncomfortable for you.” Right?”

[Long pause] Maybe.”

“Then let’s pray. Let’s pray right now on what we both must surely agree.”

“Father in heaven, by your goodness and mercy and in the name of Jesus Christ, we pray that neither one us ever gets to such a point of need or want that we’re ever tempted – much less frequently tempted – to cheat, lie, or steal.

“Because only you are the Most Holy One, we pray you would ever deliver us from setting ourselves up as judges of others. May we both be always content to leave all of that up to you.

“Because you are the Creator of all, we pray that our fear of others would melt away. What can man do to us?

“Because you are the source of all that is true strength, we pray that our fears based on our own frailties and weaknesses would recede through growing faith in you. May that faith lead us daily to where we know by faith you would have us always go: doing good to all as we have opportunity.

“Open our eyes to truly see every person we meet. Deliver us from seeing ‘around’ people. Open our minds to discern what you would have us to be them. Help us to think the way our Lord and Savior thinks. Open our hearts daily so that we love others – all others – with the love you have for them. May we be channels of your blessings, not filters. And may you open our hands so that we are genuinely giving people, seeing as how you are so generous to us in so very many ways every day. Amen.”

[Long pause] “Perhaps I was a bit … hasty. I’m not saying I’ll do this! I am saying ‘I’ll think about it.'”

“Thinking is good and an all too rare commodity these days. Let’s continue to think – and pray – about these things together.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading & lectio divina: Lectio Divina: A Critical and Religious Reading of the Bible by Daniel Harrington

“… lectio divina (“sacred reading”) … has four steps: reading, meditation, prayer, and action. (1) Reading. Here the question is, What does the text say? … (2) Meditation. Here the question is, What does the text say to me? … (3) Prayer. Here the question is, What do I want to say to God on the basis of this text? … (4) Contemplation/Action. Those who pray with Scripture often find the exercise so engaging that they want to stay with the text, further relish its details, and integrate it into their piety. This is contemplation. Still others find that their engagement with the text may prompt them to take action.”

Capital punishment, love, mercy, murder & rape: My Most Difficult Choice: Sharing God’s Love with a Condemned Child Rapist and Murderer by Al Maxey

“… when God calls us to make choices in life, He doesn’t promise they will be easy ones. What He does promise is to give us the power and strength to meet the responsibilities and challenges of those choices.”

Change: Overcoming the Reason People Resist Change by Dan Rockwell

“Change becomes real when we have to change our own attitudes and behaviors, not until.”

Mental illness: Mental Illness, Violence and a Call for the Church by Amy Simpson

“Did you know that people with mental illness are generally no more violent than the general population? Statistically, it’s true. … Yet with our sensational media coverage and quick stereotypes, people tend to believe that their neighbors with mental illness are ticking time bombs, violent criminals just waiting for the right time to attack. The media’s emphasis on a person’s history of mental illness is meaningless. A full 25 percent of the U. S. population has a history of diagnosable mental illness. And many more of us have a history of treatment for mental health, considering all our visits to counselors. It’s not unusual in any way to have a history of treatment for mental health, yet its emphasis reinforces fear of mental illness in society and in the church itself. Such an ungenerous view of people is unbecoming for followers of Christ.”

Ministry: Lashed to the Mast: John Frye

“We are going to ordain you to this ministry, and we want your vow to stick to it. This is not a temporary job assignment but a way of life that we need lived out in our community. … Promise right now you want give in to what we demand of you. You are not the minister of our changing desires, our time-conditioned understanding of our needs, our secularized hopes for something better. With these vows we are lashing you to the mast of Word and sacrament so you will be unable to respond to our siren voices.”

Politics: Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne: A Dialogue on Politics

“The work of community, love, reconciliation, restoration is the work we cannot leave up to politicians. This is the work we are all called to do. We can’t wait on politicians to change the world. We can’t wait on governments to legislate love. And we don’t let policies define how we treat people; how we treat people shapes our policies.”

Religion & spirituality: Someone Says, “I’m Spiritual but Not Religious,” What Could Be Wrong With That?

“… one can’t afford to view spirituality as a substitute for religion. A spirituality that is disconnected from religious tradition is bereft of both community and history; it has no recourse to the benefits of a larger body of discourse and practice, and it lacks accountability. Such spirituality quickly becomes privatized and rootless, something directly opposite to the Christian understanding of ‘life in the Spirit.”

word for the weak: week twenty

 

The theme for this week’s reading in the Uncommon Truth for Common People project at MoSt Church is grace. Here’s the schedule for this week:

• Mon., May 14 – John 1.1-18; 3.16-21
• Tues., May 15 – Ephesians 2.1-10; Acts 15.1-19
• Wed., May 16 – Romans 6.1-23; Galatians 2.15-21; Psalm 51
• Thur., May 17 – Romans 5.1-11; 1 Timothy 1.12-17
• Fri., May 18 – Colossians 1.3-14; Matthew 18.21-35; Luke 6.27-36

This week’s memory verse is: “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith.” (Ephesians 2.8a CEB)