links: this went thru my mind

 

Capital punishment & the death penalty: Secret Drugs, Agonizing Deaths

“In the name of security, states are now withholding vital information about their death penalty procedures — from death row prisoners’ lawyers and from judges, whose stamp of approval they need to impose the ultimate sanction, as well as from the public, in whose name the sentence is carried out.”

Children, compassion, morality & parenting: Raising a Moral Child [essential reading]

“Despite the significance that it holds in our lives, teaching children to care about others is no simple task.”

Church: * The Church as a Hospice for the Dying [essential reading]; * What the Church May Need is What the Church Does Not Want

* “It seems to me that it’s better to think of the Church as a hospice, rather than as a hospital. … The Church as hospice makes good, Gospel sense. And, there are very practical implications in this metaphor as well. When people tell the pastor that they are leaving the church because their ‘needs’ aren’t being met, all the pastor has to do is remind them of what the Church is, and point out that their ‘needs’ are indeed being met: They’re being given an opportunity to die to their ‘needs’ in order to experience more of the resurrection life of Christ. So, the church really is meeting their needs; they just don’t know it.”

* “… I wonder if the Christian element in America has grown fat and sassy.  Have we fallen into a dangerous religion of indifferent slumber? Persecution may not be at our doorstep; but I do think it is traipsing up the sidewalk. This will never be the thing we want.  Yet, it may be the very thing needed to move us from our glut of mediocre indifference.”

Crucifixion: Roman Crucifixion Methods Reveal the History of Crucifixion

“… Hershel Shanks looks at evidence of Roman crucifixion methods as analyzed from the remains found in Jerusalem of a young man crucified in the first century A.D.”

Faith & science: 9 Groundbreaking Scientists Who Happened to Be Christians

“There’s a general sense that science and religion are two camps, and the two can never meet without fighting or, at the very least, stepping mighty carefully around each other’s views. There might be a very little bit of truth to that—a few noisy emissaries from both sides have been known to go out of their way to discredit the other. However, what is frequently lost in all this is that the history of science is rich with believing Christians, for whom the process of discovery did not jeopardize their faith, but enforced it.”

Fear: Do Not Let Fear be the CEO of the Church

“How many times have we said or at least heard, I’m afraid of what this might lead to?”

Passover: Passover as Jesus Knew It

“It was a joyous, celebratory occasion: work was temporarily stopped, families were reunited, food and wine were plentiful, and hopes and dreams were in the air. At the heart of the festival was a story: an account of a chosen people liberated from slavery centuries before through God’s gracious deliverance. But there was also a tragic irony: Israel was no longer free. This time the oppressors were not the Egyptians, but Rome. Together, these ideas created a lethal cocktail of deep religious yearnings, nationalism and resentment. ‘It is on these festive occasions that sedition is most likely to break out’ noted the historian Josephus wryly (War 1.88), and most of the riots recorded in his works seem to have occurred at Passover in particular.”

Prayer: Did Jesus Send a Mixed Message About Repetition in His Teaching About Prayer?

“… Jesus is talking about different things in these two teachings.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible, credibility & historical reliability: Is the Bible Reliable?

“Today some critics complain that we are biased if we heed works such as the gospels. Yet few critics would so readily dismiss the information in ancient biographies about other persons. One must wonder, then, in which direction is the bias really working?”

Greeting, guests, visitors & welcome: Smiling is Not Enough: The Top Ten Mistakes Your Volunteers Make Welcoming Guests at Church

“Here are the top ten mistakes I see when volunteers are helping me as a first time guest.”

Minimum wage & poverty: Highest Minimum-Wage State Washington Beats U.S. in Job Creation

“When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out. In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued … above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.”

Persecution: When Persecution Is Persecution

“We really know nothing of real persecution. … Our right to assemble is guaranteed, our freedom to worship together is protected, and we live in the most Christianized nations on earth. And while we may be surrounded by people who are hostile to the Christian faith, we know nothing of the fearful plight of the persecuted church. … It’s hard for me to use the word “persecution” to describe the social pressure or personal rejection I may occasionally experience here when Christians are being tortured and murdered for their faith around the world. And if I’m fearful of rejection or insults, criticism or prejudice here, then I thank God I don’t live in countries where I might be tortured or killed for my faith for I would too quickly deny my Lord. The persecuted church knows something about faith. They know something about hope. They know something about endurance.”

Syria: Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Put Syria in Free Fall

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. … Analysts say that 42 percent of all Syrians .. have fled their homes. … The Syrian refugee crisis, meanwhile, has not peaked. Unicef says 5.5 million children need aid, a number that has more than doubled in a year. Child refugees quintupled to 1.2 million, 425,000 of them younger than 5 …”

War: The Unlikely Road to War

“Yes, the Great War, the end of empires and the old order, was triggered by a teenager. … The unthinkable is thinkable. Indeed, it must be thought. Otherwise it may occur — soldiers reduced … to ‘fodder locked in the same murderous morass, sharing the same attrition of bullet and barrage, disease and deprivation, torment and terror.’”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Atrocities: A Photographer Captures the Violence in the Streets of the Central African Republic

“I think that you know, all the ghosts of Rwanda are waking up. … It’s very, very difficult to bear sometimes.”

Christian persecution: ‘Largest Massacre of Christians in Syria’ Ignored

“In late October, the U.S-supported ‘opposition’ invaded and occupied Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the nation’s military. Among other atrocities, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; Sadat’s 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for “subhuman” Christians).”

Economic violence on the poor: Good Poor, Bad Poor [required reading]

“On Sundays, this time of year, my parents would pack a gaggle of us kids into the station wagon for a tour of two Christmas worlds. First, we’d go to the wealthy neighborhoods on a hill — grand Tudor houses glowing with the seasonal incandescence of good fortune. Faces pressed against the car windows, we wondered why their Santa was a better toy-maker than ours.

“Then, down to the valley, where sketchy-looking people lived in vans by the river, in plywood shacks with rusted appliances on the front lawn, their laundry frozen stiff on wire lines. The rich, my mother explained, were lucky. The poor were unfortunate.”

Forgiveness & murder: Widow of American Teacher Forgives Attackers Who Killed Her Husband in Libya [essential reading]

“To the attackers, she wrote: ‘I love you and I forgive you.’ …

“‘I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie’s death, but that’s not what Ronnie would want,’ Smith wrote of her husband. ‘I want all of you — all of the people of Libya — to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie’s blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God.’”

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 (on violence)

 

Christian martyrdom & persecution: Counting the Cost (Accurately)

“The number 100,000 is a well-meant but gross exaggeration …”

Duncan, OK & murder [my hometown]: * Police: Australian Baseball Player Killed by Oklahoma Teens — Just Because; * Fund for Slain Australian Player Tops $100,00; * The Fear Upon Us

* “Christopher Lane, who was from Australia, was gunned down in Duncan, Oklahoma, while he was out jogging last week. The motive? Three teens who had nothing better to do, according to police.”

* “… Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, where Lane’s girlfriend is a student.”

* “The real issue is that these young men, just like all of us, are the direct result of a broken world. They are broken just like I am. My brokenness manifests itself in other, less formidable ways, but it’s the same brokenness. And it’s not just here in Duncan, Oklahoma. It’s everywhere. That’s why God sent His Son to die in our place. He loved us to much to leave us broken and hopeless in a world that is decaying before our eyes.”

Jesus, Nazareth & war: Nazareth—Jesus’ Hometown with a View to the Past and the Future

“From this one location, many battles have marked the pages of Scripture.”

Loving your enemy & non-violence: Love Your Enemies

“Turn the other cheek. Ok, I’ll try it, but I’m keeping my gun close in case you try anything. … Jesus takes this a step further. He does not want us to respond with violence at all.”

Non-violent response: * Antoinette Tuff Hailed as ‘True Hero’ for Handling Georgia School Gunman [essential reading];* School Clerk In Georgia Persuaded Gunman To Lay Down Weapons [essential reading]; * CNN Exclusive: A Hug, Then ‘We made it!’ as School Bookkeeper, Dispatcher Reunite [essential reading]

* “A man slips behind someone else into a packed elementary school with an AK-47-type weapon. He goes into the office and shoots at the ground, then darts between there and outside to fire at approaching police.

“So what do you do?

“If you’re Antoinette Tuff, who works in the front office at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy just outside Atlanta, you don’t run. You talk. You divulge your personal struggles to the gunman, you tell him you love him, you even proactively offer to walk outside with him to surrender so police won’t shoot.

“And then the nightmare ends with the suspect, later identified as Michael Brandon Hill, taken into custody and no one inside or outside the Decatur school even hurt, despite the gunfire. …

“That day, for everyone at that school, everything did turn out OK. Shots were fired, but no one got hurt. The gunman never made it to the classroom area, deciding instead to give up and lay down.”

* “‘I just started praying for him,’ Antoinette Tuff . ‘I just started talking to him … and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then [I] let him know that he could just give himself up. … I told him to put [the guns] on the table, empty his pockets. He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry, too. But I told them, ‘He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms.’ … I give it all to God, I’m not the hero. I was terrified.’”

* “God has a way of showing you what’s really in you.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceCapital punishment: Death Row Diary Offers a Rare Glimpse into a Morbid World

“His last words were, ‘Set me free!’ and his soul is indeed free now.”

Corporal punishment: Put Down the Paddle

” … in my experience, corporal punishment in the school shapes neither character nor conduct. It’s administered by someone with whom the student likely has no heart-to-heart relationship. It thus lacks the emotional component which might compel a student to better living out of respect for or love for the one with the paddle. The only power the paddle possesses at school is its capacity for physical harm. … Perhaps most importantly, corporal punishment in school is the easy way out. It requires no skill and no creativity. It demands no attention to the uniqueness of the student and the specifics of the circumstances prompting the disciplinary action.”

Military service & suicide: At A Texas Base, Battling Army’s Top Threat: Suicide

“Suicide killed more American troops last year than combat in Afghanistan, and that is likely to be the case again this year. According to the Pentagon, there were in 2012, compared with in the same period. Historically, the suicide rate in the military has hovered around half the civilian rate. But in 2004 that changed: the rate doubled, and now it’s on track to overtake the civilian rate.”

Pacifism: In [Muhammad] Ali’s Voice From the Past, a Stand for the Ages

“Ali’s actions changed my standard of what constituted an athlete’s greatness. Possessing a killer jump shot or the ability to stop on a dime was no longer enough. What were you doing for the liberation of your people? What were you doing to help your country live up to the covenant of its founding principles?”

Persecution: The Persecution of Christians in Syria

“…  that which escapes the attention of many is that in Syria there is a massacre of the Christian population.”

War: Rand Paul: Jesus was Anti-War

“‘I can recall no utterance of Jesus in favor of war or any acts of aggression,’ Paul said at a kickoff luncheon for the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. ‘In fact, his message to his disciples was one of non-resistance.’”

this went thru my mind

 

Brotherly love: What Does It Mean To Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother? 1 John 3:16-18

“John tells us that, like Jesus, we ought to lay down our lives for others. No surprise there, but notice the example he gives of what this looks like. He doesn’t tell of a Christian dying for another Christian. John’s illustration of how to lay down your life for others is to help someone in need. The truth of the matter is, few of us will ever die for another person, while all of us have the opportunity to put others first on a daily basis.”

Christianity: The Shifting Global Church [infographic]

“* 4,300 people were leaving the church in Europe and North America while 16,500 people were coming in in Africa. * In a hundred years’ time, Africa has grown by 36x while Europe has only doubled. * China is currently the fastest region of growth at 16,500 new Christians a day, despite strong governmental resistance.”

Guidance & heart: Follow Your Heart – Why That’s a Bad Idea

“Obedience is that guide. Anything else is a bad idea.”

Ministry & success: Wanting vs Needing Your Church To Be Successful [essential reading]

“A definition of success that focuses solely on numbers (attendance, offerings) is unhealthy (for the pastor) and unrealistic. My experience in working with pastors and the churches they lead has shown time after time that a church can be healthy and not grow. I’ve also come to realize that a church can be unhealthy and grow. Strange as that may sound, it is true. I don’t think it’s necessary, or wise, to ignore attendance and offerings, but what is necessary is to find a definition of success that has very little to do with numbers.”

Persecution: Paper-Cut Persecution

“I have found myself coming across a lot of in the media and online from North American Christians referring to themselves as suffering for their faith or even being persecuted. Almost without exception, when I dig into their issues it most often is a situation where Christians have lost a place of privilege in our culture (one that we should perhaps not have had in the first place), but are responding to it as though they are being put to the rack.”

Repentance: How To Repent When You Want To But You Don’t Want To

“Repentance requires greater intimacy with God than with our sins! Intimacy with God is still out on the frontier for many who have been in the church for decades.  Closeness with God has been suffocated by sincere (yet often empty) intimacy with church attendance, brand of church attendance, projects to involve the church attenders, and the ever-famous “decent and in order” form of the church attenders.  Much of church has been everything but intimacy with God. But we are learning.”

Tradition: Tradition: How To Stick It to the Man

“‘Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.’ – Jaroslav Pelikan