this went thru my mind

 

Bible interpretation: * It’s Biblically Impossible to Be Biblical; * Beware of Thinking Biblically

* “While ‘biblical’ could technically mean ‘influenced by the Bible,’ it has become a code word for ‘possessing the one and only way to interpret the Bible on a particular issue.’ In our zeal to follow the teachings of scripture, we have sought a definitive, once and for all time way to read a book that has always been a work in progress. … There is no ‘biblical”’ way of doing things. There is only a biblically informed and Spirit-led way of doing things. And that information and leading may evolve and shift over time.”

* “… I’m very cautious about that phrase, about ‘thinking Biblically.’ Not of thinking Biblically, but of using that phrase to legitimatize teachings and opinions that are sometimes terribly wrong.”

Choices & decisions: Never Settle for Second Best with God by Wayne Stiles

“God’s best for us seldom comes immediately. But it’s always worth the wait. How often have we run ahead of the Lord instead of waiting for His best? A lonely believer marries an unbeliever. An eager couple makes a poor financial decision. A family joins a church for its location in spite of its doctrine. Many people fail to see God work in their lives because they fail to wait on Him to supply.”

Missions: Are We Only Interested in Low-Hanging Fruit? by Mark Woodward [required reading]

“… can we as a fellowship see beyond the low-hanging fruit? Can churches of Christ do the hard work in hard places for many, many years? Can we commit to sowing seeds that may not bear fruit for generations?”

Poverty & social justice: * Right to Lawyer Can Be Empty Promise for Poor; * The Good News on Poverty (Yes, There’s Good News) [13 1/2 min. TED talk by Bono]

“Today, many states and counties do not offer lawyers to the poor in major civil disputes, and in some criminal ones as well. Those states that do are finding that more people than ever are qualifying for such help, making it impossible to keep up with the need. The result is that even at a time when many law school graduates are without work, many Americans are without lawyers.”

“Bono ‘embraces his inner nerd’ and shares inspiring data that shows the end of poverty is in sight … if we can harness the momentum.”

The Bible mini-series: * Q: What Do Roma Downey and Writers of the Bible Have In Common? A: Neither Sticks to the Script. by Pete Enns; * The Bible—Part Three by Ben Witherington

* “… failure to stick with the biblical script is something we see a lot of in the Bible itself.”

* “The saddest part of all this is twofold: 1) millions were spent on this project filmed overseas with no little time and expense expended, but 2) it could have been soo much better. So much better. I do think they intended well. I have no problem with the selectivity and even with paraphrasing things to get at the spirit of this or that narrative. But they needed to do a better job of listening to whatever scholars were advising them. They have avoided irreverence but are flirting with irrelevance by not doing a better job.”

Values: Topsy-Turvy Values: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“Which is more important: To spend time with another person or to play games on a new gadget?”

make poverty personal (4)

 

 While renewal may have started with the Bible’s wild ones, it was only actualized when a partnership between the margins (the prophets) and the center (kings and priests) occurred. The center’s willingness to give up privileges and not only listen, but also give all they had, to the alternate visions named by the edges, created real change. Why are the margins so important to the renewal of societies? Put simply, the marginalized are the litmus test of whether the ideals and values of a society are working out. The center may at best see the overall picture and be ready to respond, but the margins live the failures of that picture. If Hebrew history offers anything today in our struggle today against stubborn poverty, perhaps it is that when the center does not listen to the margins, there is a spiraling and tragic decline of both the center-leaders and the nation as a whole. The requirement of solidarity between wild edges and the established center is something faith communities, organizations, and governments today need to hear again and again. It is especially important if we are to end oppression of the margins by the center. Freedom from oppression requires changes by the powerful center, not just the margins.

Make Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does by Ash Barker (Baker Books, 2009); pp. 84-85

making poverty personal (3)

 

I have noticed lately that the only places I hear Proverbs quoted is by prosperity preachers or in cute greeting cards. Few others seem to love or even know what to do with this collection of sayings attributed to King Solomon. Yet, what Proverbs has to say about poverty would please neither. …

Are we content to blame the poor for being slack and not being righteous enough, or assert that the rich are only rich because they are diligent? Some Christians are content to live their lives by such notions – but obviously only the ones who are not poor! … let’s look at a few other proverbs that would not make rich Christians feels so smug:

  • “The field of the poor may yield much fruit, but it is swept away through injustice.” (13.23)
  • “Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him.” (14.31)
  • “It is better to be of a lowly spirit among the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (16.19)
  • “Better the poor walking in integrity than one perverse of speech who is a fool.” (19.1)
  • “If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.” (21.13)

I don’t think these proverbs have ever been engraved on complimentary “golden eagles” given away to those who donate to televangelists’ ministries.

Making Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does by Ash Barker (Baker Books, 2009); pp. 72-73

make poverty personal (2)

 

Read Leviticus 25.8-55. What most strikes you about these laws?

To read these laws is to see what is possible for today’s world. …

It was one thing for the Hebrews to defeat an enemy and topple oppression; it was quite another to to develop a community able to be God’s people in the world, staying true to the liberation they had experienced. God, therefore, provided a whole range of laws and commandments, setting out a code to live by so that the oppressed did not quickly become the oppressors. …

The first concern was to ensure that the Hebrews stayed close to the living God … The second concern of these laws was to restrain the powerful and protect those who are weakest among them, so that all could live in health and peace …

The laws outlined in Leviticus 19 and their equivalents in Deuteronomy have a whole range of community laws that are about protecting the weakest in society and restraining the most powerful. Imagine if the spirit of these laws was evoked today. What would the world look like if each community was proactive in remembering the poor in daily life (Lev. 19.9-10; Deut. 24.19-22), wages for workers were paid fairly (Lev. 19.13; Deut. 24.14-15), justice for each person was upheld (Lev. 19.15; Deut. 16.18-20), care and responsibility was taken in the interest of others (Lev. 19.16-18; Deut. 19.15-20; 22.8), all people were treated equally (Lev. 19.33-34; Deut. 24.17-22), and no one was cheated (Lev. 19.35-36; Deut. 25.13-16)? This is not the UN’s declaration of human rights from the twentieth century, but laws that are over three thousand years old.

Making Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does by Ash Barker (Baker Books, 2009); pp. 51,52

make poverty personal (1)

 

 There are no less than nine main words for “oppression” weaved throughout the Old Testament. Because of the slavery of the Hebrews, and God’s concern for them, these words need deep reflection if we are to understand poverty:

* anah – … (See … Ex. 1.11; 2 Sam. 13.12; Ps. 119.75; Isa. 53.4). This word … has to do with the tyranny of the powerful, the degradation of people, and even the violent sexual exploitation of women.

* ashaq … (See … Lev. 19.13; Hos. 12.7). Because the people have no authority, their fields, savings, capital, and even homes are taken in violent and unjust ways without recourse.

* lachats … (See … 1 Kings 22.27; Jer. 30.19-21; Isa. 19.20; Amos 6.14). … This is about a lack of freedom from grinding injustice.

* nagas … (See … Ex. 5.6-14; 2 Kings 23.35; Job 39.7). This word is about forced labor, oppression, and exploitation.

* yanah … (See … Lev. 25.14; Ezk. 46.18; Zeph. 3.1). … this word is about oppression and violence against those who are not in a position to defend themselves.

* ratsats … (See … Isa. 58.6; Jer. 22.17). This is crushing, isolating, and despoiling the poor, including stripping them bare and taking their homes.

* dakka – Ps. 94.5-7 … killing the most vulnerable and falsely believing that God does not see. …

* dak … (See … Ps. 10.10). This word is about treading upon the heads of the poor and oppressing and putting down the needy.

* tok … (See … Ps. 55.11; 72.14). This word … is about the powerful causing painful injury to those who are helpless.

… a Hebrew understanding of poverty is much broader than simply destitution. It is about oppression and the life God intends for those being crushed, who are made in God’s image. … It is by nature a lack of ability to live as God intends. … Poverty … is about a lack of freedom to choose God’s shalom, to live a meaningful life.

Make Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does by Ash Barker (Baker Books, 2009); pp. 33-35

this went thru my mind

 

Lots of “required reading” here today …

BurmaObama to Praise Burma’s ‘Progress’ During Historic Visit

“… President Obama will make history Monday by becoming the first U.S. president to visit the long-isolated Southeast Asian nation.”

Elders, leadership, ministers, shepherds,spiritual gifts & teachers: An Alternative Polity: Gifts by Tim Woodroof [required reading]

“Lacking an effective theology of spiritual gifts, Churches of Christ have been vague about the role those gifts play in our congregations—particularly leadership gifts. Does the Spirit still gift people to lead God’s church or are leadership gifts now synonymous with natural competencies, developed skills, and accumulated experiences? Do different kinds of leaders have different kinds of gifts? Or should we expect every leader to have them all?”

Food, food stamps & gluttony: * Thanksgiving on Food Stamps [required reading]; * Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Have We Always Eaten Them? by Denise Winterman

* “For the last few years, I’ve spent the full week before Thanksgiving living on the same budget someone on food stamps would have, which is about $1.25 a meal. You can get a lot of peanut butter, bologna and pasta, but fresh fruits and veggies? Don’t count on it. That’s tough, to be sure, but the hardest part is psychological.”

* “Breakfast as we know it didn’t exist for large parts of history. The Romans didn’t really eat it, usually consuming only one meal a day around noon, says food historian Caroline Yeldham. In fact, breakfast was actively frowned upon. ‘The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day,’ she says. ‘They were obsessed with digestion and eating more than one meal was considered a form of gluttony. This thinking impacted on the way people ate for a very long time.’”

Liberation theology, poor & poverty: The Preferential Option for the Poor by Richard Beck

“The basic idea behind the preferential option for the poor is the observation that, within the biblical narrative, God sides with the poor against the rich.”

Militarism: Evangelicals, Militarism, and Romans 13 by Preston Sprinkle [required reading]

“If you miss this point, then you won’t understand what Paul is saying to citizens of God’s kingdom in Romans 13. When Paul says that God executes vengeance through Rome, it was to further prohibit, not encourage, Christians from doing so.”

Relationships: Two Preaching Giants and the ‘Betrayal’ That Tore Them Apart by John Blake [required reading]

“Andy [Stanley] didn’t know his parents’ marriage was in trouble until he was in the 10th grade. Before then, he never saw his father or his mother argue or even disagree. Charles and Anna Stanley seemed to have the perfect relationship.”

Social justice: What’s So Great About ‘The Common Good’? by Andy Crouch

“The common good can help us avoid two modern temptations—one on the left and one on the right.”

Thanksgiving: The First Thanksgiving – A Reason to Complain by Bob Russell

“Could you give thanks if you had prayed for a smooth journey and barely survived? Could you praise God for His goodness if half of your loved ones had died? Could you shout for joy if you were one of fifty people scraping to survive in a terrifying territory with no electricity, no cell phone, no television, no internet, no running water, no health insurance, no police protection and no guarantee you’d live through the next winter? They did.

“That made them so spiritually strong and mentally tough? They considered themselves stepping stones. With our consumer mentality we consider ourselves keystones. We assume we’re the center of the universe. It’s all about us – our needs, our comfort, our desires. But the pilgrims knew it wasn’t about them, it was about God’s will and it was about the welfare of their descendants.”

Women: 10 Lies the Church Tells Women by J. Lee Grady [required reading]

“For centuries, a patriarchal system of control has kept women in spiritual captivity through distortion of the Scriptures. It’s time to debunk the myths.”

this went thru my mind

 

Color: True Colors: What Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business

“Studies have shown that a products color influences 60 to 80 percent of a customer’s purchasing decision …”

Gun control: * The Aurora Debacle by Ben Witherington; * God, Guns, and Guts by Roger Olson; * Commenters Debate Guns, ‘What If’ by Todd Leopold; * Maintaining Sanity in an Insane World by Paul Smith

* “The typical arguments for lax gun control laws no longer hold any water at all. But let’s listen to them one more time.”

* “I have been told that up to half of all adults in some parts of the country carry concealed weapons (licensed or not). My question is whether it is time for Christians to speak out openly from pulpits and pages (of Christian publications) about our obviously increasing gun culture and culture of violence. Is this a subject for sermons? I think it is.”

* “If only there had been someone else with a gun there to stop him. Because nothing is safer than having multiple gunmen in a dark, crowded theater full of panicky people running around.”

“This should not be a debate over guns. What it needs to be is a discussion over morality and the depths of depravity to which our culture has sunk.”

Money, power, property & church: * Physical Churches: Do They Matter Anymore? by Jeremy John; * The Drain on Church Power by Terry Rush

* “Micah Bales asked a deep question. He suggests that the wealth in property we’ve inherited is hindering our work for social justice. … He asks, ‘What would happen if we put the movement of the Spirit ahead of property management?’”

* “The church is at its best relying on God’s grace-provision.  Each passing of the plate is to transfer cash into grace. Dependence is the issue at stake. … When money is the assumed strength of the church, God’s power is drained.”

Parenting: 5 Tips on Talking to Kids About Scary News by Sasha Emmons

“We talked to Dr. Paul Coleman, author of How to Say It to Your Child When Bad Things Happen, to find out the best ways to talk to kids about disturbing images and event.”

Preaching: Why Should a Pastor Preach Through Whole Books of the Bible? by Brian Croft

“Your people should be growing in their love and knowledge of God’s Word.  They should be learning how to better read their own Bibles.  As I experienced yesterday, they should be growing less afraid of the hard, difficult passages nobody would choose to preach. So are they?”

Reading & study: Pastors: Fight for the Time to Read! by Justin Taylor

“He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching for at least thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!”

World population: Beyond 7 Billion by Kenneth Weiss

“The world population is currently estimated to be: 7,028,146,971.”