links: this went thru my mind

 

Bias, criticism, open-mindedness & thinking: Why We Confuse The Onion for the News [essential reading]

“… we all have biases, and our efforts to rid ourselves of them through education and self-awareness don’t actually ‘fix’ the problem.”

Cell phones & etiquette: Cell Phone Funeral Etiquette

“Cell phones often go off when we least want them to. In church. In school. During sex. And at a funeral. As other funeral directors can attest, the oddest thing about a cell phone ringing during funerals is how many people will actually answer.”

Church attendance, faith, millennials, peace & unity: The Millennials Are Rejecting Fighting Churches and Christians [essential reading]

“… many of them are walking away from our churches, and more of them are not attending at all, when they witness or hear about negativity and divisiveness in those churches. They want to see unity among Christians, and they are often disappointed.”

Health: * Aging Well: Keeping Blood Sugar Low May Protect Memory; * Depression: Could Be Almost Depressed?

* “… even modest increases in blood sugar among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s can have a negative influence on memory.”

* “Research suggests that as many as 12 million people in the United States may be suffering from low-grade depression symptoms that are not severe enough to warrant clinical treatment. … In fact, on some of these measures, people who are almost depressed report feeling worse off than people who actually fall into the clinically depressed range. … There is also another more serious problem: Research indicates about 75% of cases of low-grade depression will devolve into full-blown major depression if they are not recognized and arrested.”

Grandparenting, parenting & prayer: How to Pray for Your Children & Grandchildren [required reading]

“Because there are 12 prayers in this list, you could concentrate on one prayer per month to concentrate on. Within a year you will have consistently prayed the entire list.”

Holy Spirit: The Kingdom’s Second Major Death

“Why has this gone on?  Why has the Holy Spirit been quenched in our circles? Control.  Man is obsessed with control; even in religion’s court. … The Kingdom’s second major death, after Jesus’ upon the cross, is that of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of men.  We have killed Him off and buried Him in our tombs of organization and control.”

Leisure, online & time management: What You Would Be Doing If You Spent Less Time Online

“More time online means less time socializing, studying, and sleeping.”

Faith & President Obama: * The President’s Devotional: What Obama ‘Did In Secret’ In Newtown; * The Man Behind the President’s Devotional

* “The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom. And what happened next I’ll never forget. … It must have been one of the defining moments of his presidency, quiet hours in solemn classrooms, extending as much healing as was in his power to extend. But he kept it to himself—never seeking to teach a lesson based on those mournful conversations, or opening them up to public view.”

* “Dubois has been sending devotionals to Obama every morning since the 2008 presidential campaign. A collection of these spiritual messages to the president has now been published Dubois’ new book, The President’s Devotional. Dubois started working for Obama shortly after he became a senator. A public policy and economics student at Princeton University, he was also ordained at a small Pentecostal church where he served as an associate pastor. It was this combination of skills that led him to become Obama’s faith outreach coordinator during his first presidential campaign and, later, to be appointed as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the president’s first term.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Acappella singing, instrumental music & public worship gatherings: The Argument against Musical Instruments in Worship

“Some, not many, church groups do not believe in the use of musical instruments in public worship. The major example is the Churches of Christ. No less than one of their foremost scholars, Everett Ferguson, takes up his case against the use of instruments in public worship (The Early Church and Today, vol. 1). What are the arguments against the use of instruments?”

Benevolence: Care for the Socially Vulnerable in the Early Church—Aristides (2nd century)

“When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful, as he has been called to be joyful like themselves.”

Children, multi-generational church & senior adults: Why Should a Pastor Take His Children to Visit the Elderly in His Church? [replace the word "pastor" with "Christian" it's applicable to all; great article]

“My burden grows that the multi-generational local church is fading into the past. This should not be. The best way for us to fight against it is to do the things that cause young and old to grow in Christian love and affection for each other.”

Faith: Uzzah was Only Trying to Help!

“…  in the kingdom, we must leave the God-matters to God.”

Racism: American Idols: 3 False Beliefs That Can Blind White Men To Their Privilege

“The problem is, for many of us, our world view is based on the mistaken belief that these three things are already part of reality.”

twin towers: what to remember?

 

Let me briefly tell you about two friends of mine from years gone by.

The first was in many ways a tall tower of a good man. He was a very hard worker. He was honest and trustworthy. He was often a man with great self-control. He was very good to his wife.

But, he hated and despised anyone who even remotely looked like they could have been from somewhere in Asia. Deeply so. As in the deepest bitterness I’ve ever seen in a man.

Why? He was a Navy veteran of WWII. He had served aboard a ship that was docked in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. His ship was one of the few that was able to get underway and make it out of the harbor during the attack. Following, he helped collect the bodies, and parts of bodies, burned and blown to bits, out of the water, off the deck, and off of his clothes.

He became an atheist that day. And forty years later, whenever we happened to be together and saw someone of Oriental descent or it was getting close to December, it was easy to see the anger, rage, and resentment that made his blood boil all day long. Some of his rants felt like fire; they seemed to melt all good away.

The second man was also a tall tower. In fact, he was one of the finest men I’ve ever known in life. Far more than hard-working, honest, trustworthy, self-controlled, and good to his wife, he was an obvious embodiment of the all that is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I saw him in a great many settings across the years, but never saw him express even a hint of anything less than genuine care and love for every person he ever met. Not once.

It wasn’t because he was an Army veteran of WWII. Since he had served in an elite special ops unit known as Merrill’s Marauders (aka: Unit Gallahad) he had seen and experienced, in ways far beyond what words can describe, some of the worst that war can bring to combatants and civilians. The horror of it all was so complete that he very rarely spoke of his experiences at all and when he did, he always did so briefly … trailing off in a broken voice with tear-filled eyes.

He had been a Christian before he became a soldier. And he would tell you, thanks be to God, that the horror and terror he endured, and inflicted, didn’t destroy his faith in God. But, it radically changed it. Anger and bitterness, hate and resentment: he was done with for good. He simply had no room for such in life anymore. He had experienced enough taking of life; he was determined now to give it and share it with all, no matter who you were.

Now I ask you: what made these men different?

Who, what, and how they chose to remember.

Period.

One remembered inhumanity and evil, and so, grew cold and hard, remembering only that. He sailed the rest of his life through in darkness. Another remembered savagery and suffering, but did not stop there, choosing rather to remember it all in light of a still present, ever good, holy, and generous God. He marched through the rest of his life in the army of God.

One, due to memory, chose a path of unforgiveness and so, chose a life of living dead. Another chose, due to memory, the way of forgiveness and so, chose life with, and of, God, here and now.

Neither of these two towers stand anymore in this world. But, their lives still stand in my mind as witnesses of, and monuments to, the choice we each make every day: to move on to love, forgive, and hope, or to cuddle up with anger, hate, and despair.

May God help us all to choose well. To choose God, to choose his ways, and to make him our tower, and strength, and shield. Daily. And nothing less. Lest more innocent and guilty alike die daily, a thousand deaths.

“… if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side. Think about the things above and not things on earth. You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. … put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth … set aside … anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. … Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people. … as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. … forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts …” (Colossians 3.1-3,5,8-15)

But a Muslim …

 

If anything, the Lord Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – was, and is …

Candid and clear. Good and gusty. Life-giving and loving. Open and outspoken. Real and relevant.

And so, if Jesus told us Christians here in southeast Texas one of our favorite Bible stories today - and I do mean right here and right now – it would not at all surprise me if he worded it this way …

A southeast Texas Christian stood up to test this one who called himself Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to be right with the Good Lord?”

Jesus replied, “What does it say in the Old Testament? How do you interpret it?”

He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you’ll have life with God.”

But the southeast Texas Christian had an agenda and wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is it exactly that is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man went down from new Mont Belvieu to the state streets in old Baytown. Along the way he got car-jacked. The crooks made him strip naked, beat him nearly to death, and then left him in shock beside the curb.

Now it just so happened that a church elder was also traveling that way just a minute after the man’s attackers had fled. He saw the injured man, but not wanting to get involved and fearing the attackers were still close-by, sped on, pretending not to notice. Likewise, a moment later, a Christian preacher drove by the man. He too saw the bleeding man, but he didn’t stop either due to the same fears. But a Muslim who was also going down that same street saw the man, was moved with compassion for him, immediately stopped his car and ran over to him. The Muslim bandaged the wounded man’s injuries with what he had on hand, placed the injured man in his own car, took him to the nearest hospital ER, and made sure he was cared for there. The next day, the Muslim went to the hospital’s billing department and gave them two full days’ worth of wages. As he did so he told the people in the billing department, ‘Take care of that man and know that I’m good for backing up whatever he gets billed.’ Now what do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered the assailants?”

Then the southeast Texas Christian said, “The one who showed the man mercy, giving him aid.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

May we not compartmentalize any part of our heart or mind, allowing anger, assumption, condemnation, gossip, hate, insinuation, judging, lies, prejudice, presumption, pride, slander, resentment, and/or suspicion to live and rule there.

May we never forget the scandal and offensiveness of the cross, the heart of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

May those of us who claim to know it best apply it to ourselves before we think of sharing it with others.

May we not blindly, unthinkingly imitate the ways of the world.

And may we ever love everyone Jesus does. No exceptions.

why I’ve come to dread June 19

 

Ashton-Villa-Galveston-TXI’ve come to dread the 19th of June. Certainly not because it’s Juneteenth, but because of what comes along with it. Here’s what happens.

Every year I’ve lived in South Texas – twenty years come next month – it’s the same thing. Every year at least several white, church-going, very involved, highly respected “Christians” will make sure they make some disparaging, insulting, mocking, or snickering remark about today being “Juneteenth.”

It makes me want to throw up. And here’s why.

Racism is from the devil. I hate it. And the worst form of racism is subtle.

Now you may disagree. You may say: “No David, the worst form of racism isn’t subtle at all. Racism at its worst is when you drag someone to death chained to the back of your pickup while you laugh about it.” Which still happens down here in South Texas.

I beg to differ. Now let me tell you why.

Think of dragging someone to death behind your pickup as the full grown tree of racism. Think of snickering slights and callous remarks as seeds. As long as there are seeds, there will be trees. And that’s why the worst forms of the practice of bigotry, prejudice, and racism are subtle. Very subtle. So subtle most folks usually don’t even pick up on them anymore, or if they do, they won’t say a thing about them.

And so the seeds continue to be planted. And the devil does his killing work. And does it through the lips of believers.

We can do better, my dear brothers and sister. And we must.

Reckon I can make it through today this year and not hear some Christian ridicule a good reason to rejoice? We’ll see. I can only pray. God have mercy on us all and set our hearts free from all that is not of you.

this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, civility, & humility: The Sorry State of the Apology by Dorothy Greco

“The apology seems to be at an all-time high, and simultaneously, an all-time low.”

Attitude, church, expectations, ministry & vision: 10 Dangerous Church Paradigms by Ron Edmonson

“I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience. I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm in simple terms, is a mindset; a way of thinking. In this case, a collective mindset of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture. If the church is unhealthy part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.”

Bible interpretation, hermeneutics, & humility: CENI – Having a Humble Hermeneutic by Matt Dabbs

“My goal in this post is to … to remind us that we must be humble in how we interpret scripture and what we bind or don’t bind on other people.”

Cell phones & privacy: Create a Temporary Number

“Burner gives you a free number that lasts for one day, five voice calls or 15 texts. If you need more, you can buy a new number or extend your current number for a few dollars. Calls and texts don’t count against your monthly limit. The app allows you to permanently delete – ‘burn’ – any number at any time. This takes it out of the service and permanently deletes it from your phone.”

Climate change, ecology, environment, global warming, & preachers: New Research on Protestant Pastors’ Views of the Environment

“When asked to respond to the statement ‘I believe global warming is real and man made’ …”

Culture, history, immigration, prejudice, & the United States: Why I’ve Stopped Saying ‘We are a Nation of Immigrantsby Kevin Miller

“As innocuous as it sounds, the ‘nation of immigrants’ line is an abbreviated version of the prevailing narrative of national origins that makes white people like me the norm while making others, well, ‘others.’ Without appearing to do so, it subtly shapes my thinking about
who is and isn’t a true or real American.”

Evolution & science: Biological Evolution: What Makes it Good Science? (parts 1 & 2)

“Is the contemporary theory of evolution an example of good science? The answer to this question completely depends on how you define ‘science,’ and what you think makes science ‘good.’ … In conclusion, when measured against the standards of a good scientific theory, modern evolutionary biology clearly qualifies as good science.  Ongoing debates within evolutionary biology exist about mechanism, rates, and causes, but not over whether evolution occurred.  Such a question has been largely settled by the last 150 years’ worth of research.”

Grandparenting: A Letter to the Grandkids On Baptism by Mark Woodward

“Grandad would just like to write this letter to all of you, those baptized already and those who will be.  These are just a few things I really want you to know about your baptism that I’ve been thinking about.”

Leadership: Leading From Psychological Brokenness

“The High Calling talked to four experts about how psychological pathologies impact leaders and their organizations. In a series of four articles, we’ll examine the topic. First, let’s explore what we mean by psychological pathology.”

Marriage: So What IS Marriage by Patrick Mead

“… if you think THIS is complicated, wait until you study a bit and see how complicated sexual identity is.”

this went thru my mind (bonus post)

 

Bible & hermeneutics: Sola Scriptura by Jonathan Storment

“… if the Ethopian Eunuch would have been a Protestant, when Philip would have come jogging along side of him, asking do you understand what you’re reading there. The Eunuch would have responded by saying ‘Of course, I’m literate. I have no problem understanding this.’ But he doesn’t. Instead he tells Phillip something I think is interesting. He says, ‘How can I? Unless someone explains it to me?’

“Worked into the Bible itself is the Bible pointing beyond itself. As if it’s incomplete, looking for a body. This is not to diminish the Bible. It’s to say what Jesus himself said in John 5, that Scripture points externally to the person of Jesus. Which just happens to be what Phillip does from there.”

Bigotry & prejudice: No Irish Need Apply: Group Prejudice in America by Chuck Warnock [required reading]

“It seems the dominant majority in America has always designated one or more groups as an inferior group in our society.”

China, Christian faith, oppression & persecution: How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches

“Government sponsored persecution rose 42 percent in 2012.”

Evangelism & outreach: Memphis and Markets

“A church has four markets:

“1. Members/Attendees: These are us, they’re part of us, we share faith and life with them.

“2. Associated: These are people who know us and probably come into our building.

“3. Served: These people live in our city and we connect with them through our service.

“4. Distant: These are people who live outside our normal life connections. The only way we touch them is through mission.

“What we’re finding is that most churches pay redemptive attention to only two of these markets: their Members and the Distant people. And even with their Members the redemptive attention is minimal. If we’re going to impact the people in our networks we’ve got to pay redemptive attention to our Associated and our Served markets.”

Facebook: Facebook Gets Unwelcome Look at Hackers’ Dark Side

“Intruders recently infiltrated the systems running the world’s largest online social network but did not steal any sensitive information about Facebook’s more than 1 billion users, according to a blog posting Friday by the company’s security team. The unsettling revelation is the latest breach to expose the digital cracks in a society and an economy that is storing an ever-growing volume of personal and business data online.”