links: this went thru my mind

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Brain, health, mental disorders, mental health, & technology: NetBrain: Your Gadgets Could Be Giving You Psychological Problems

“The greatest factor in whether or not someone exhibits NetBrain/iDisorder symptoms is whether or not they own a smartphone.”

Brotherly love, love, Muslims, terror & violence: Loving our Neighbor in an Age of Terror [essential reading]

“I had an interesting conversation with my son last night about the terrible violence in Paris. Among other things we talked about the increase of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and here in the United States. Life will be increasingly difficult for average Muslims who are law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of France, other European countries, and the U. S. … There is much that should be said and done in response to this act of evil. Certainly those nearer to the horror are able to help those affected. But where I live, embodying loyalty to Jesus may involve being watchful of how such events can stir up emotions that confuse and perhaps diminish our fundamental loyalty to King Jesus and thus to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Church, kingdom & the Sermon on the Mount: God Promised Me a Kingdom and All I Got Was This Lousy Church

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a nation created in the midst of other nations. The other nations are under oppressive rule by illegitimate, even demonic powers. … The church is a colony of heaven on earth.”

Ecology & faith: The Old Testament Isn’t ‘Green’ … Or Is It? [required reading]

“Both radical ‘green’ and radical consumption narratives are at odds with the Old Testament view of the relationship between humans and God’s good creation. The fatalistic narrative that the earth is cursed and we must live with the curse is also at odds with the Old Testament. The people are always called to choose between obedience and blessing or disobedience and cursing. We can and should strive for righteousness and proper wise keeping of God’s creation. Wisdom is the key – always bearing in mind the role that human embrace of evil can play in our perceptions. What does it mean to fill the earth and subdue it? What is the mandate given to humans?”

Happiness & peace: Why “Having a Peace About It” is a Terrible Reason for a Christian to Make a Decision (parts 1 & 2) [essential reading]

“I can’t count the number of times a Christian has said to me that “they have a peace” about a certain decision and therefore plan to move forward. Sometimes they make this decision despite obvious signs that their decision is unwise and not in conformity with the guidance of Scripture. In these cases, a person tends to simply slap a kind of divine mandate on top of what they want to do anyway. When friends or family members try to refute their decision, they simply reply that there is to be no argument because ‘God told them’ or ‘God gave them a peace.’ One example of this kind of mindset can be found on popular Pentecostal writer and speaker Joyce Meyer’s website.”

links: this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

Christ’s cross & violence: Does Jesus’ Cross Inform a Christian View of Violence? [required reading]

“After reading a bit of Miroslav Volf, and some of his work on the cross of Christ and human violence, I am convicted by some of his conclusions regarding what the Cross says about violence. … Seeing Jesus’ death on the cross as Jesus’ challenge to violence itself, Volf suggests four considerations …”

Christian faith, Martin Luther, rationalization, the Sermon on the Mount & violence: Pacifism: A Place to Begin

“Some of the saddest lines I have ever read by a Christian, let alone one of Luther’s status, are these. … Utter nonsense.”

Cities & crime rate: 2012 Metropolitan Crime Rate Rankings

“Includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.”

Violence: A Brush with Violence [required reading]

“We need to be working alongside God and Jesus to redeem all that is wrong in the world. This means we must be working to end the violence that has overtaken our society. … Where do we begin? … We must do something. Here are a few suggestions.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, brotherly love, dehumanization, illegals, immigration & respect: I Don’t Know What an “Illegal” is … [required reading]

“In our culture, the way these folks are framed (‘named’) is by calling them ‘illegals.’ I am very convicted about this. … I feel I should say ‘I do not know what an illegal is. I know only humans.'”

Bible reading, lectio divina, reflection, Sermon on the Mount & transformation: Ten Minute Transformation: Ten Minutes of Lectio Divina That Can Revolutionize Your Life (Matt. 5) [required reading]

“It’s a good question. If the Christian faith is only about going to heaven, then why do we stay here on earth?”

Bible study, college & faith: Open Letter to New Testament Students

” … if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.”

Busyness, culture, stress & the United States: 8 Things You May Not Know about Busyness in America [infographic]

“…  eight things that we should all keep in mind about our ‘busy’ lives.”

Brotherly love, humility, others, patience, understanding & sincerity: The Thing I’d Love to Forget About the People I Disagree With [essential reading]

“…  it’s a bit disconcerting to confront the reality that it’s possible to wrestle with the same God and walk with the same limp and yet reach different conclusions. Perhaps it is in the wrestling itself that we can find some common ground.”

Discipleship, knowledge, questionnaires, spiritual formation & transformation: Christianity: Has Education Replaced Transformation

“American Christianity is turning into a massive question-and-answer quiz, and I’m probably going to fail. The Bible isn’t a textbook — but people treat it that way, and “Christianity” is becoming a pass-or-fail test. … “

Sin: Have We Grown to Overlook Sin?

“…  we tend to elevate the sin of another which is different than ours.”

what I’m doing during Lent this year

 

journalWith the vision that I should commit to doing something “out of the ordinary” over the course of the next forty days to deepen God’s tracks in my heart, I’ve decided to hand write out (not type) Jesus’ five blocks of speech in Matthew’s Gospel over the course of the next forty days. That is, I’ll put the words of Matthew 5-7,10,13,18,24-25 down on paper with a pen.

Just exactly how much material is that? That works out to eight chapters over the course of forty days (or a little under 200 words per day). Or to use last night’s State of the Union Address for comparison, President Obama’s address (as prepared for delivery) was 6,607 words in length while in the chapters enumerated above, Jesus speaks 7,227 words (in the CEB rendering). That’s enough material to be challenging without it being too much to digest in one day. Very doable.

Why do this? Because I want his words written on my heart.

What translation will I copy? Though I’d like to use the Common English Bible (CEB) – my default translation of choice – I’m going to deliberately use a different one for this project – N.T. Wright’s Kingdom New Testament (KNT), simply because it’s different from what I use most of the time.

One more question. Why do this now, starting the project on what some know as Ash Wednesday? Because I’ve found that by deliberately doing such project during a time period in which many others are also seeking growth in the Lord (such as during Lent or other times in the liturgical calendar) doors of conversation are opened to me with others that I know I would not otherwise experience.

Anyone care to join me?

this went thru my mind

 

Belief & doubt: How to Smartly Engage with the Young Doubters in Your Midst by Andrea Palpant Dilley

“Thirty-six percent of young people surveyed said they didn’t feel free ‘to ask [their] most pressing life questions in church.’ That’s a problem. Providing a space for open intellectual inquiry is essential for maintaining healthy conversation with people on the margins.”

Evangelism: Jesus 101 by Matt Dabbs

“This booklet is written to help guide you through the Gospel of Mark so that you can learn about Jesus, understand who He is, what He did, and find out what that means for you today.”

Memorial Day: Memorial Day by J. Daniel Kirk* ; * RE-Membering Memorial Day by Kurt Willems

* “This is Memorial Day in the United States. It’s a great day to be an American. And a dangerous day to be a Christian. … Let’s be careful how we remember today. Let’s be careful what we remember today. There is freedom that is bought with the price of precious blood. And it could never be gained by the swords, or guns, of war.”

* “Remember that violence always disrupts shalom. Jesus died, absorbing the violence of a military machine’s ultimate weapon for insurrectionists – the cross. This death unleashes the potential for shalom once again… something war can never bring.”

Pacifism: * Bonhoeffer Says; And a six-part series of posts by Paul Smith: * Pacifism and the Sermon on the Mount; * Reconsidering Pacifism – Definitions and Positions; * Reconsidering Pacifism – A Brief Old Testament Survey; * Reconsidering Pacifism – Gleanings from the New Testament; * Reconsidering Pacifism – A Personal Journey; * Reconsidering Pacifism – Final (and disjointed) Thoughts

* “I pray that God will give me the strength not to take up arms.” [Dietrich Bonhoeffer]

* “In the past several weeks I have been engaged with the related concepts of pacifism and discipleship in a number of ways. … As I have read, studied and mentally debated with these giants of my faith I have been forced to think, and to rethink, my understanding and my conclusions on this subject. Over the next few posts I will share with you my convictions, and the Scriptural and theological foundations which underlie those convictions.” [Paul Smith]

Parenting: Lament and Faith and Childhood: Why My Kid and I Read the Sad Psalms by Micha Boyett

“Faith is complicated for me. I didn’t want it to be complicated for my kids.”

Sermon on the Mount: The Sermon on the Mount: Study Guide by Richard Beck

“… a condensed but comprehensive moral inventory of the Sermon.”