links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to several posts that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Ancient world, archaeology, children & toys: Ancient Toys

“It is often easy to forget that the characters we read about in the Bible and in the history books were real people, and lived much like we do today.”

Bible, culture, faith & reading: * These Are the Most Godless Cities in America; * Actually, THESE Are the Most Godless Cities in America

* “The American Bible Society measures ‘Bible-mindedness’ by how strictly survey respondents read the book and believe in its accuracy. … The American Bible Society found that only 27% of Americans are Bible-minded. The data was based up on telephone and online interviews with 62,896 adults …”

* “In response to the ABS study, the popular Bible-searching website BibleGateway.com has released a study of its own with some striking findings. Based only on how often people in a given city use its Bible-searching software (and controlling for population size) … Bible Gateway’s different methodology—which, perhaps most significantly, does not take into account whether or not a reader considers the Bible to be literally true—yields some remarkable differences from the ABS study.”

Fear & idolatry: The Greatest False Idol of Modern Christianity [essential reading; spot-on!]

“Parroting the politicized talk show hosts and reposting the latest terrible news stories, we perpetuate the now comfortable, Evangelical Christian narrative of impending destruction, and we make it clear at every opportunity: The sky is falling.

“Though we will loudly, repeatedly and confidently proclaim Christ as Lord, in reality, many of us no longer practice faith in a God that has any real power, any true control or inherent God-ness. We seem to have little more than a neutered figurehead Deity, who doesn’t seem to be able to handle much at all anymore. He’s lost His Old Testament swagger.

“The truth is, Fear has become a false God, one too many of us worship with complete and undying devotion.

“Dig just beneath the sunny ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Bible covers, and the ‘God’s judgment is coming’ bullhorn warnings and you’ll find that much of America has imagined a powerless God who’s mostly just keeping Heaven tidy until all the Christians get there. In the meantime, we live in perpetually frightened freak-out mode.”

Fear, manhood, men & respect: The Problem with Men and Why We Ignore It/Them at Our Own Risk

“…  human males crave respect. For most males, boys and men, respect is somewhere near the top of their hierarchy of needs. I would go so far as to say that, if they were to be completely honest, when asked which they would prefer if they had to choose one over the other most males would take respect over love. And, perhaps unfortunately, part of that craving for respect is desiring to be respected for their maleness. …

“… “when boys and men conclude they will not gain respect they turn to fear. That is, for many, creating fear of them in others becomes a substitute for respect. Fear feels, to them, like respect or at least is an acceptable substitute. Boys and men who feel respected rarely turn to fear as a substitute. They are satisfied with respect (or the real prospect of it). However, boys and young men who believe respect is out of their reach often turn to implied violence if not real violence such as intimidation.

“Nothing I have said implies this is how things should be. However, I have concluded that this male habit of the heart is so deeply ingrained that it is unlikely to be changed by social engineering or anything else. We ignore it at our own cost as a society.”

God, providence & sports: Aaron Rodgers: God Probably Doesn’t Care Who Wins Football Games

“‘I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome,’ Rodgers [quarterback for the Green Bay Packers] said. ‘He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.’ …

“… [meanwhile,] Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson — an outspoken Christian — told reporter Peter King that a divine influence made Sunday’s barnburner so exciting. ‘That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,’ Wilson said, according to King.”

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five articles I believe to be interesting and helpful reading.

Bible interpretation & John 3.16: Red Letters in John 3:16?

“In John 3, where do the words of Jesus end and the words of the John begin?”

Correction, mistakes, proofreading & typos: What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

“The reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart …”

Dehumanization, labels, respect & stereotypes: The Convenience and Dehumanizing Nature of Labels

“There is a certain arrogance when it comes to labels because it assumes that you are not to be labeled but it is perfectly fine to do it to anyone else you please. It is hard to label and not simultaneously be disrespectful on some level…as we demand to be understood in full but refuse to give that honor to the other. Labels dehumanize, often very subtly.”

Santa Claus & St. Nicholas: What Ever Happened to St. Nicholas?

“St. Nicholas was born into a wealthy Christian family in the third century. His parents died in a plague, and having inherited the family fortune, he decided to obey the radical call of Christ and give it to the poor. So he became famous for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

“Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, and after his release, attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 where he famously lost his temper and slapped the heretic Arius in the face. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. Legends grew up about his generosity, and throughout the Middle Ages he became one of the most popular and wonder-working saints across Europe.

“Now ‘jolly old St. Nick,’ aka Santa Claus, is a secular figure used to promote godless good cheer and commercial consumerism. What happened?”

Spiritual gifts: Spiritual Gifts: 5 Fallacies

“If it is my spiritual gift, then it must be something I always find easy to do. … If it is my spiritual gift, its outworking should be inexplicable by natural reasoning. … If it is a spiritual gift, then it should not require other formal means of enhancement. … Since it is a spiritual gift, I should confine its use to the church or else it is misappropriated. … Spiritual gifts are about what we do.”

LIFE group guide: in every respect

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NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Nov. 9) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon (or sermon series).

To declare and celebrate the God-given gift and institution called “marriage.”

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2.24 NRSV)

• A wife of noble character who can find? … Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Prov. 31.10a,11-12 NIV)

• … at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Mark 10.6-9 NIV)

• … submit to each other out of respect for Christ. For example, wives should submit to their husbands as if to the Lord. A husband is the head of his wife like Christ is head of the church, that is, the Savior of the body. So wives submit to their husbands in everything like the church submits to Christ. As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. He did this to make her holy … He did this to present himself with a splendid church, one without any sort of stain or wrinkle on her clothes, but rather one that is holy and blameless. That’s how husbands ought to love their wives—in the same way as they do their own bodies. Anyone who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church because we are parts of his body. This is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two of them will be one body. … each one of you should love his wife as himself, and wives should respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5.18b,21b-26a,27-31,33 CEB)

• Marriage must be honored in every respect … (Hebrews 13.4a CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. When it comes to finding a solid marriage mate, opposites attract. True or false? Explain.

2. Briefly tell us about a marriage you knew much about that powerfully honored God.

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. What Old Testament texts does Jesus quote in Mark 10.6-9?

2. Compare the rendering of the first part of Heb. 13.4 in various English translations/versions.

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Marriage is a sacred thing. How so? What makes it so?

2. Why did God make marriage? That is, why marry? “What’s marriage got to do with it?”

3. Someone says, “Cohabitate. You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it.” Your response?

4. Brainstorm a list of advantages and blessings that come from being married (not cohabitation).

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Single. Married. Both are God-given gifts (1 Cor. 7.7). Pray for our church’s singles and married.

2. Grow the level of respect you give your mate. Strive especially to start and end each day well.

links: this went thru my mind

Benevolence, compassion, grace, judging & need: Wasted Grace [essential reading]

“How do you help healthy beggars on the road you cannot know?”

Existence of God: Is God a Hoax?

“Is God real? Or, is this a figment of man’s needy imagination?”

Gossip & prayer requests: Gossip & Prayer Requests [essential reading]

“At what point do those prayer requests become sinful gossip? … It’s complicated. … Here is a mental checklist that I have developed for managing prayer requests in a careful, godly manner. Before you pass on that request, make sure to check your facts, your role, your audience, and your heart.”

Human life, martyrdom, nationalism, pacifism & respect: Blood Trumps Everything: Why the Church Needs Her Martyrs

“My point in all this is that debates about things like nationalism or pacifism aren’t simply abstract theological discussions. These debates need to, but often fail to, take into consideration the sacred element of human blood. These debates need to reckon with the face that blood is the most sacred thing we know, more sacred, even, than God. Emotionally, where this argument will be won or lost, blood will trump theology. Always. And this is why the church needs her martyrs.”

Sexuality & virginity: When Guys Found Out I’m a Virgin

“When it comes to my decision to stay a virgin until marriage — to hold out for that one-time-only chance to fully connect with and know and love another person — I want to make sure it’s the right man. Until then, bring on the squirmy no-sex chat.”

links: this went thru my mind

Action, application, relevance, theology & thinking: 4 Ways Theology Is Practical for Everyday Life [required reading]

“Teach theology long enough and you’ll face countless forms of the same basic question: What does this have to do with real life? Will it affect the way we do ministry, how we share the gospel, or what we do every day? How is it relevant to the problems and challenges the average person faces? You know, is it practical? And the deep suspicion lying behind such questions is that most theology is rather impractical. “

Church attendance, corporate worship, duty, sacrament & worship: The Lord’s Day as a Sacrament [required reading]

“So here’s the crazy thing. I’ve found my way back to seeing the wisdom of church as duty. But less as a duty and more as a sacrament.”

Courtesy, etiquette, manners & respect: Church Conference Etiquette

“… here’s a rundown of some folks you’ll find at every conference and hopefully how not to become one.”

Income inequality, money, poverty & wealth: 40 Years Of Income Inequality In America, In Graphs

“Hover over each line to identify household income, and click through to see the percentage growth over the past 40 years.”

Ministry & the preacher’s wife: Behind the Smile: 6 Things Every Church Needs to Know About the Preacher’s Wife

“I want to love you. Please don’t make it harder. … I wish you saw the man I see.”