links: this went thru my mind

Church attendance, commitment, culture, time & trends: The Most Important Trend of Church Trends in 2015 and What to Do About It [essential reading]

“Specifically, in the last 2 years, I have see one common thread become a common rope. It’s presence is now ubiquitous; every church I talk with mentions this problem when we discuss the Local Predicament in our Kingdom Concept work. (challenges and opportunities expressed in the local culture). I have never seen a problem discussed this commonly amidst a diversity of church sizes and denominational affiliations. What is the one trend? Your Most Committed People Will Attend Worship Services Less Frequently than Ever in 2015.”

Caricature, hatred, Islam, Muslims & stereotyping: How Not to Kill a Muslim [essential reading]

“The chief issue of Muslim-Christian tension in the United States is lack of relationship. Because many white middle/upper-middle class Christian citizens do not have meaningful relationships with a single Muslim, we are left to fill in the gaps of experience with stereo-types, caricature, and exaggeration.”

Cinema, Exodus, film & movies: Three Takeaways from ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

“Whatever one might think about the explicit divergences from the biblical story (e.g., the conversation at the burning bush is too limited in the movie, the omission of the opening confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh, absence of Pharaoh-Moses interaction about the plagues, etc.), the story is told to make a point(s) for contemporary audiences. I heard several points, but here are my major takeaways. 1. Israel wrestles with God. … 2. Jewish Holocaust Relived. … 3. Not by Israel’s sword, but by the Lord’s right hand.”

Conversion, conviction, discipleship, gospel, kingdom & transformation: Have You Taken a Gospel Immunization Shot? [essential reading]

“Why does being ‘Christian’ in America make so little difference in so many people’s lives, when the kingdom movement revealed in the New Testament revolutionized people’s lives? … people give their mental assent to certain beliefs and are thereby ushered into a ‘kingdom’ that looks almost identical to the earthly kingdom they were supposed to be called out of. They can keep all their cultural assumptions, and, apart from avoiding certain behaviors that are singled out as the deal-breaker sins, their lives can continue on just as before. “All who are invested in the kingdom Jesus inaugurated in this world must find all of this deeply disturbing. … It’s as if they are a husband or wife who has security in their marital pledge rather than in the quality of the relationship he or she pledged to have. Many people today resist the need to cultivate an actual marriage-like relationship with Christ because they find their security in their past pledge.”

Desensitization, humanity, killing, military, violence & war: The Images Used to Teach Soldiers to Kill

“In my project Targets I look at the present day. I visited 30 countries to document the appearance of the targets with which soldiers today are conditioned to shoot, or as one trainer said: ‘They are supposed to learn to hit, not shoot.’ Another said, ‘It sounds cruel, but you have to learn to kill automatically in order to function.’ “How is he represented today – the enemy that soldiers are later expected to kill? Is he an abstract figure? Does he have a face, and if so, what kind? Has the image of the enemy changed?”

Ministry: Joe’s 10 Iron-clad Rules for Success in Ministry (some of which need more ironing than others)

“So, you’re new in the ministry?  And you want to get this right, of course. You have definitely come to the right place, friend.  Pull up a chair and get ready to take notes.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceC.S. Lewis, military, United States & war: The Lion, the Witch and the War

“‘Nothing clears a room faster than questioning the righteousness of our military.’ … One of the biggest stumbling blocks in following the teachings of Jesus is our tendency to do whatever we want, and to then convince ourselves that Jesus supports our agenda. This is especially true when it comes to His peace teachings.”

Loving your enemies: Is It Harmful to Tell People to Love Their Enemies If You Never Teach Them How?

“While the commandment to love is often proclaimed from Christian pulpits, seldom is it explained how we might cultivate such genuine compassion. With the absence of practical guidance we hear this commandment as a near impossible ideal and become burdened with shame and guilt at our inevitable failures. Our angers and fears, drives and repulsions erupt with primal power; we feel grossly unchristian for having these feelings in the first place, yet inadequate in our incapacity to free ourselves from their grip.”

Martyrdom: Perpetua’s Father

“… Vibius, the father of the martyr Perpetua of Carthage. Perpetua is perhaps the most endearing and disturbing of all the early Christian saints, a young mother who kept a prison diary while being held before her execution in the Roman arena in AD 203. (The charge against her seems to have been her refusal to sacrifice to the gods of Rome, which was a form of treason.).”

Perception & violence: Turns Out Cities are Safest Places to Live

“The risk of injury death is more than 20% higher in the country than it is in urban areas. … Most Americans believe that the nation’s crime rate is getting worse. … You’re much less likely to die from a gunshot wound than you are in a simple accident.”

Self-defense, stand your ground laws & statistics: Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? [a 43 page Texas A & M study]

“Results … indicate that expansions to castle doctrine do not deter crime. … More significantly, results indicate that castle doctrine laws increase total homicides by around 8 percent.”

Violence in the OT: Violence in the OT (parts 1 & 2) [two video clips, 8 min. & 10 min. respectively; essential viewing; simply outstanding!]

“My colleague Lawson Stone has two excellent posts on violence in the OT. See what you think.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceCapital punishment & the death penalty: * The Heresy of Capital Punishment [required reading];  Some Responses to Critics Regarding Capital Punishment

* “”It is my considered opinion that belief that capital punishment, at least as it is known and practiced in the U.S. today, is a heresy when espoused by Christians. It manifests an embrace of the myth of redemptive violence by humans and flies in the face of the ethic of Jesus which forbids violent retribution. It is absolutely, incontrovertibly contrary to love. And it is, as practiced in the U.S. today, manifestly unjust.”

* “… if we’re going to appeal to the authority of the God of the Old Testament to support capital punishment, then … to those of you who use Romans 13 to argue that Christians should support capital punishment: Do you then … And, to those of you who demand proof texts before I oppose capital punishment (or call it a heresy): What do you say about … to those of you who refer to the OT’s commands to execute certain people: Do you then … And, finally, to those who like to think of Jesus as a warrior …”

Gun control: How Could We Blow This One?

“More Americans die of falling televisions and other appliances than from terrorism. Twice as many Americans die of bee or wasp stings annually. And 15 times as many die by falling off ladders.

“Most striking, more than 30,000 people die annually from firearms injuries, including suicides, murders and accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American children are 13 times as likely to be killed by guns as in other industrialized countries.

“Doesn’t it seem odd that we’re willing to spend trillions of dollars, and intercept metadata from just about every phone call in the country, to deal with a threat that, for now, kills but a few Americans annually — while we’re too paralyzed to introduce a rudimentary step like universal background checks to reduce gun violence that kills tens of thousands?”

Military & special forces: The Future of U.S. Special Operations Forces

“U.S. special operations forces are doing more things in more places than ever before. They are now active in some seventy countries and, since 2001, have seen their combined budget nearly quintuple—a trend that seems likely to continue.”

Non-violence & pacifism: It’s Easy to be Pacifist in Indiana. Try Gaza! [essential reading]

“If the early church was pacifist, or close to it, would that impact your views for today?”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceApologies, reconciliation & torture: Britain Apologizes For Colonial-Era Torture Of Kenyan Rebels

“A 60-year-old wound in Kenya has finally found its recompense. Last week, the British government finalized an out-of-court settlement with thousands of Kenyans who were tortured in detention camps during the end of the British colonial reign. The historic apology — and the unprecedented settlement — has been years in the making.”

Bible, children & violence: Is the Bible Too Violent for Kids?

“How did you balance the need to convey the Biblical message and keep it age appropriate? How do you respond to the modern desire to keep children from being exposed to the violence in the Bible?”

Christians, hypocrisy, prayer & the military: The Hypocrisy of a Warring Christian

“Just stop and think about it for a minute. Every Sunday, if not every single day, thousands, if not millions, of prayers are offered up in the name of the Prince of Peace begging the God of all reconciliation to please end all wars and ‘bring the boys home safely.’ We pray for our leaders to make wise decisions about the use of our tax dollars. We pray for love and charity to overwhelm the powers of hate and evil.

“And we scream like a bunch of scalded dogs when the military suggests that we no longer need the base down the street. …

“Christian brothers and sisters – can we not stop and think about this for a moment? Of what earthly or heavenly good does it do to pray for peace, of what earthly or heavenly good does it do for us to pray that God end all wars if we proudly and stubbornly refuse to turn our swords into plows? And why, among all peoples, are disciples of Christ among the most vociferous defenders of our killing machines?”

Drones: “I felt like a sociopath” – Drone Operator Says He Is Haunted By The 1,600 He Killed

“[Brandon] Bryant, now 27, served as a drone sensor operator from 2006 to 2011, at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and in Iraq, guiding unmanned drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. Though he didn’t fire missiles himself he took part in missions that he was told led to the deaths of an estimated 1,626 individuals. In an interview with NBC News, he provided a rare first-person glimpse into what it’s like to control the controversial machines that have become central to the U.S. effort to kill terrorists.”

Gun control: Democrats Quietly Renew Push for Gun Measures

“Americans remain broadly supportive of legislation that expands background checks on gun purchases but are skeptical that such a bill will pass.”

Gun sales: Smith & Wesson Booked Record Sales as Gun Debate Raged

“The past 12 months have been bad for gun violence, but good for Smith & Wesson. The gun maker reported preliminary results Thursday showing that sales for the fiscal year ended April 30 hit a record $588 million, a 43% increase versus the year prior.”

Military expenditures: F-35 Fighter Jet Struggles to Take Off

“After a decade of administrative problems, cost overruns and technical glitches, the F-35 is still not ready for action. … The GAO estimated the program would cost an unprecedented $12.6 billion a year on average through 2037 — that’s an average of about $1.4 million an hour for the next two and a half decades. The per-plane cost estimates have climbed to $161 million today from $81 million in 2001, the GAO said.”

this went thru my mind: on violence

 

V-for-violenceAmerican Civil War: The Great Civil War Lie

“Civil War buffs have long speculated about how different the war might have been if only the Confederacy had won formal recognition from Britain. But few recognize how close that came to happening — and how much pro-Southern sympathy in Britain was built on a lie.”

Americans & the military: Americans and Their Military, Drifting Apart

“… the greatest challenge to our military is not from a foreign enemy — it’s the widening gap between the American people and their armed forces. Three developments in recent decades have widened this chasm.”

Guns & suicide: Which Combination of God and Guns Produces the Fewest Suicides?

“Back-and-forth columns prompt one analyst to do the (hypothetical) math.”

Turkey: Turkey: What to Know and How to Pray

“I’m praying: * That the protests geared toward the government will lead the people away from increased Islamization and to greater religious freedom. * For the safety of ‘workers’ serving there right now. * For the safety of Turks and for a just end to the violence. * That Turks in Turkey (and the 75 million Turks around the world) will turn to Christ in the midst of the tumult.”