links: this went thru my mind

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

Aggression, American Sniper, Chris Kyle, cinema, distortion, film, miscommunication, myth, nationalism, patriotism & war: Why I Refuse to See ‘American Sniper’ [essential reading]

“When you have experienced firsthand the multitude of ways war wreaks havoc on families, you have little tolerance for the mythmaking that war always seems to invoke. Not to mention the patriotic, almost nationalistic fervor that accompanies a flag-draped coffin.”

Alexander the Great, Amphipolis, archaeology & Greece: Amphipolis Excavation: Discoveries in Alexander the Great-Era Tomb Dazzle the World

“… since August 2014 … the Ministry of Culture has been gradually releasing to the public the incredible archaeological finds that have been uncovered in what is the largest tomb ever found in Greece. … It has been popularly speculated that the Amphipolis Tomb was built for one of Alexander’s generals or family members—perhaps his mother, Olympias, or his wife, Roxanne. After Alexander’s death, his generals fought over control of the Macedonian Empire, which stretched from the Balkans to what’s now Pakistan and northwest India. Alexander’s mother, wife, son and half-brother were murdered during this time—most near Amphipolis. It’s still not clear for whom the magnificent tomb was built and why the five individuals were buried in the tomb.”

Disabilities & Social Security: Social Security’s Christmas Present: Benefit Cuts for Millions of Disabled Workers

“The fact that benefits need to be cut or taxes raised, or both, to keep Social Security solvent does not justify treating the disabled like second class citizens.”

God, free will & the hardening of hearts: God Hardens Hearts – What Does That Mean?

“God justly responds to people’s wickedness by strengthening their resolve against him. In every instance where Scripture speaks of God hardening someone, it’s an act of judgment in response to decisions these people had already made. God simply ensures that these rebels will do what their own evil hearts desire and not alter course for ulterior motives. But it’s altogether unwarranted to suppose that God unilaterally hardens people’s hearts against himself in the first place—all the while pretending to offer them the hope of salvation! When God decides to harden someone’s heart, we can be assured that God wishes it didn’t have to be that way.”

Leisure, technology, time & work: Speed Kills: Has Technology Destroyed Leisure

“… the fact that we welcome progress, increased convenience and the sheer excitement of speed in different forms—are so deeply entangled with detrimental effects (the stress and feelings of disaffection that come with living a mediated life, the actual physical danger of speed in some cases) that the phenomenon is interesting to analyze but difficult to address.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Capitalism, economy, income inequality & politics: Inequality Is Not Inevitable

“Our current brand of capitalism is an ersatz capitalism.”

Faith: The Ridiculous World of Sheer Faith

“What is it that allows men and women and children to dare to tackle the unthinkable, the impossible, the unimaginable and encounter successful results? Faith is it.”

Fireworks & photography: 4th of July: Step by Step How to Photograph Fireworks Tonight

“There are four main categories of guidelines to understand in order to take fireworks photos that aren’t all black or out of focus.”

Independence Day, nationalism, patriotism and the United States: * Lighten Up: America is Not the Kingdom of God; * God Does Not Love America [essential reading]

* “And now for one of the most ridiculous examples of confusing the Kingdom of God with America.”

* “God does not love America. He loves the people of America.”

Predestination: Predestination: What Does It Mean?

“From the start God’s heart was set on humanity being incorporated ‘in Christ.’ God committed himself to making sure – predestining – that all who would be in Christ would be called, made holy and blameless, justified, and eventually ‘conformed to the image of Christ’ (cf. Rom. 8:29-30). But God didn’t predetermine which individuals would and would not belong to this ‘in-Christ’ class of people. God wants everybody to be in Christ and Jesus died for everybody to end up being in him (Jn 2:2). But since God is not a coercive God, and since love must necessarily be chosen, people have the ability to resist God’s will and the pulling of the Spirit, if they so choose.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, church decline, leadership, ministry, morale & vision: * How Churches Became Cruise Ships (part 2); * Six Subtle Signs Your Church is Dying [essential reading]

* “Eventually we will learn that no matter how much money, effort, or innovation the church possesses, it will never be as cool as the culture. Relevance is a race it cannot win, but in our misguided attempts to compete with the culture we risk losing sight of the only thing of value the church can offer the world–Jesus Christ.”

* “There is more talk of the past than of the future. … More effort goes into keeping people than winning people. … There is no budget for evangelism, outreach, missions, or advertising. … Everyone wants to know everyone in the ‘church family.’ … The church is mono-generational (relating to one single generation). … No new leaders are being trained.”

Corporate worship, nationalism & patriotism: Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy in a Patriotic Service [required reading]

“The church transcends the state, a truth that should be proclaimed clearly in a worship setting.”

Cynicism, happiness & joy: The Giant Hole in Cynicism

“[There is] a radical difference between cynicism and joy. Cynics seek darkness wherever they go. They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes. They call trust naive, care romantic, and forgiveness sentimental…They consider themselves realists who see reality for what it truly is and who are not deceived by “escapist emotions.” But in belittling God’s joy, their darkness only calls forth more darkness. [Henri Nouwen]”

Divorce & remarriage: Divorce & Remarriage

“‘A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.’ (I Cor. 7:39)

Holy Spirit & intercession: Weakness, Groaning, and the Holy Spirit

“The Spirit does not simply know our suffering in some mere cognitive sense. Rather, the Spirit is present within us and experiences our suffering as a sympathetic friend, and thus the Spirit groans as well. The Spirit groans with us and for us, and this groaning becomes part of the experience of the Triune God. God is for us not only in the intercession of the Son, but also in the intercession of the Spirit.”

Prayer: A New Way to Pray

“… rather than have one ‘quiet time’ a day … pray for at least 15 minutes four times daily.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

American history, church, civil rights, culture, discrimination, government, legislation, politics, religious rights, state & violence: * The Origin of “Separation of Church and State” in America; * A Deeper Look at the Politicians Who Passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964; * Five Takeaways From the Hobby Lobby Case

* “… I called the place Providence, I desired it might be a shelter for persons distressed for conscience.”

* “… the passage of the bill required the political machinations of an assortment of Republicans, Democrats, Northerners and Southerners, congressmen, senators, presidents and activists. … The debate over the Civil Rights Act is still, to this day, the longest debate in Senate history.”

* “Also unclear, legal experts say, is how this decision is going to affect religious non-profits and religiously affiliated schools and hospitals that want the same sort of exemption the justices awarded to Hobby Lobby.”

Christianity, civility, courtesy, culture, humility, influence, respect, speech, wisdom & witness: Civil Religion: Seeing Neighbors [required reading]

“In a pluralistic society, one of the greatest gifts the Church can give the world is to keep humanizing people and reminding the world that no one is exempt from being made in the image of God. From Donald Sterling to Jesse Jackson, from Rush Limbaugh to Hillary Clinton.”

Christianity, nationalism, patriotism & the United States: Christians and July 4th: Celebrate with Kingdom Lenses – Not Americanized Ones

“… how much the story of Christianity has been prostituted to the story of Empire. … At the same time, I think there is much about this country to celebrate. … So, let’s celebrate together on July 4th, but let’s do so with Kingdom lenses on. Enjoy the lights in the sky and the wonderful food. Enjoy the wonderful people of America. But, for those who follow Jesus, how can we subvert tendencies like the idolatry of flag pledges with humility? This, and many other questions that this day raises, will need to be handled with generous love towards those who disagree with us, while not compromising our true Kingdom allegiance.”

Facebook: Five Easy Ways to Customize Your Facebook News Feed

“If you’re tired of trying to find the things you want in your news feed, try these five customization options. They’re extremely easy to setup and you just might fall in love with your Facebook news feed again.”

Gossip, listening, slander, speech & words: When in the Company of Gossips

“When you find yourself in the company of gossips, Solomon says the best thing to do is get away!”

Parenting, role models, Super heroes, Wonder Woman & youth: 11 Reasons Wonder Woman Is a Good Role Model for Christian Girls

“Like Wonder Woman, we have a belt of truth, our best defense against the deceptions of the dark one and of everyone else, including ourselves.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Age, Boomers, faith, mid-life, & generations: Aged Out of Church [required reading]

“… Boomers are leaving the church in numbers that we usually think of when we talk about the exodus of the Millennial generation: “‘…during the past 20 years the percentage of unchurched Boomers has risen dramatically, jumping up 18 points! At 41 percent, they are now the generation most likely to be unchurched, surpassing the 39 percent level among Busters.'”

Attitude, complaining & grumbling: Grumbling & Complaining

“My heart has been a grumbling one recently. I could give you a few reasons I think why my grumbling is necessary or warranted, but the truth is that even talking about those situations would invite more grumbling. People talk about it being necessary to say how we feel, but I usually think there is more merit to say less about how we feel, and more about who God is in spite of our feelings.”

Bible, literacy, Millenials & reading: American Bible Society Report: The Bible in America, 2014

“Now there are just as many Americans skeptical of the Bible as there are engaged with the Bible. According to the fourth annual State of the Bible survey, 19 percent said that they were skeptical of the Bible. This number is up from 10 percent in 2011. This trend is even more pronounced among the Millennial generation (who range in age from 18-29).”

Children, courtesy, manners & parenting: Ten Forgotten Ways to Teach Politeness to Children

“Not every day is going to be a rip roaring success when trying to teach our children politeness, but if we are consistent, we will eventually see them get it right more than they get it wrong.  And, when they have successful and pleasant encounters with others, we are setting them up to be more successful in life.  These ten skills will serve them well all through adulthood, too.”

Culture & sin: 5 Overlooked Cultural Sins Threatening the Church [essential reading]

“What if the biggest threats to the church weren’t the things we thought they were? What if the very foundation of our country’s culture actually resembles the culture of our churches? We may find that we’ve been blind to more subtle and subversive influences that are having a greater impact on the church than the issues that consume us. Here are just five overlooked cultural norms that are contrary to the Kingdom and are sinful within the Kingdom, unknowingly supported by many of us. …  Competition … Celebrity … Patriotism … Fear … Individuality.”

Gospel, moralism & preaching: Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think it Is) [required reading]

“… one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.”

Marriage, relationships, technology & Twitter: Frequent Twitter Users Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses, Get Divorced: Study

“Comparing his two studies, Clayton was surprised to find that the length of time a couple had been together did not affect whether they would be negatively affected by one partner’s Twitter activity.”