links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to six articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading:

Affirming, communication, freedom, respect, tolerance, welcoming & words: Slippery Words— Tolerance, Respect, Welcoming, Affirming, Freedom

“What of course has happened in our American society is that as the culture has changed, the semantic range of a whole series of words has changed as well.”

American Sniper, cinema, discernment, film, movies, military service, perspective & war: I Was An American Sniper, and Chris Kyle’s War Was Not My War

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking the hit movie captures the truth of the Iraq conflict. I should know. I lived it. … If you really want to be a patriotic American, keep both eyes open and maintain 360 degrees of awareness. Don’t simply watch American Sniper. Read other sources, watch other films about the conflict. Talk to as many veterans as you can, get a full perspective on the war experience and the consequences. Ensure the perceived enemy in your vision is what it seems.”

Bible interpretation, misappropriation, misunderstanding & promises: 2 Ways We Misinterpret God’s Promises [essential reading]

“Over my years of ministry, I’ve discerned a tendency among conservative Christians to assume that anything in Scripture that looks like a promise is in fact something that God promises them.”

Church decline, culture & religion, history, perceptions, time & United States: Religious Decline in America? The Answer Depends on Your Timeframe

“Did the twentieth century see a rise and fall of religiosity within a larger pattern of stability? Or does the late 20th-century religious decline shrink to insignificance when compared with the religious rise since the founding of the nation?”

Church life, generation & peace: 3 Ways to Encourage Peace Between Generations in Denominations

“The fact is, each member within a family has a tendency to find their own style and way in life. But as each individual develops their own unique identity, they should not develop a spirit of pride over the others in the family.”

Choices, consequences, corporate worship & legacy: 15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

“Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines. … Eliminating choral expressions in worship. … Worship leader ageism. … Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper. … Making worship and music exclusively synonymous. … Trying to recreate worship with each new generation. … Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar. … Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal. … Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs. … Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship. … Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God. … Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship. … Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle. … Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty. … Worship services at the expense of worship service.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Benevolence, poor, poverty, prosperity & work: There’s No Such Thing as the Worthy Poor

“There is no such thing as the worthy poor. Don’t get me wrong. I see how the book of Proverbs is strewn with verses that trumpet the virtue of work and warn of the dangers of sloth. Hard work is indeed a virtue. And we should be leery of scams.  But the problem is that too many of us assume that because a person is poor, then that must mean he or she just isn’t working hard enough.”

Capital punishment & the death death penalty: The Biblical Case Against the Death Penalty, From a Former Supporter

“‘Capital punishment is against the best judgment of modern criminology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.’ (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)”

Divorce: Mourning the Destructiveness of Divorce

“One must have a heart of iron to pretend that all is fine, when children must suffer so badly for the selfishness of their parents; when children must be “grown up,” so that their parents can persist in behaving like self-willed children. The real harm, however, cannot be captured by numbers. No human thing can ever really be. What the divorce regime has done is to infect with transience what ought to be the most intimate and enduring of human bonds. It has eradicated from our minds the very idea of a complete and irrevocable self-donation.”

Genocide, martyrdom & persecution: Leader: ISIS is ‘Systematically Beheading Children’ in ‘Christian Genocide’

“‘They are systematically beheading children,'” Arabo repeated slowly. ‘And mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations. There’s actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick … this is crimes against humanity. They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of.'”

Turkey: The Pilgrimage: Turkey [a 22-part series by Ben Witherington about his recent trip to Turkey; part 1; part 22]

“Touring Turkey after touring Israel is like touring Texas after touring Rhode Island. The difference in size, scope, and amount of things to see is enormous. … I suggest you sit back in your easy chair with your laptop, get a good cup of coffee, and prepare to be surprised by what amazing things there are to see and do and be edified by in Turkey. Let ole Uncle Ben be your guide …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

American history, church, civil rights, culture, discrimination, government, legislation, politics, religious rights, state & violence: * The Origin of “Separation of Church and State” in America; * A Deeper Look at the Politicians Who Passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964; * Five Takeaways From the Hobby Lobby Case

* “… I called the place Providence, I desired it might be a shelter for persons distressed for conscience.”

* “… the passage of the bill required the political machinations of an assortment of Republicans, Democrats, Northerners and Southerners, congressmen, senators, presidents and activists. … The debate over the Civil Rights Act is still, to this day, the longest debate in Senate history.”

* “Also unclear, legal experts say, is how this decision is going to affect religious non-profits and religiously affiliated schools and hospitals that want the same sort of exemption the justices awarded to Hobby Lobby.”

Christianity, civility, courtesy, culture, humility, influence, respect, speech, wisdom & witness: Civil Religion: Seeing Neighbors [required reading]

“In a pluralistic society, one of the greatest gifts the Church can give the world is to keep humanizing people and reminding the world that no one is exempt from being made in the image of God. From Donald Sterling to Jesse Jackson, from Rush Limbaugh to Hillary Clinton.”

Christianity, nationalism, patriotism & the United States: Christians and July 4th: Celebrate with Kingdom Lenses – Not Americanized Ones

“… how much the story of Christianity has been prostituted to the story of Empire. … At the same time, I think there is much about this country to celebrate. … So, let’s celebrate together on July 4th, but let’s do so with Kingdom lenses on. Enjoy the lights in the sky and the wonderful food. Enjoy the wonderful people of America. But, for those who follow Jesus, how can we subvert tendencies like the idolatry of flag pledges with humility? This, and many other questions that this day raises, will need to be handled with generous love towards those who disagree with us, while not compromising our true Kingdom allegiance.”

Facebook: Five Easy Ways to Customize Your Facebook News Feed

“If you’re tired of trying to find the things you want in your news feed, try these five customization options. They’re extremely easy to setup and you just might fall in love with your Facebook news feed again.”

Gossip, listening, slander, speech & words: When in the Company of Gossips

“When you find yourself in the company of gossips, Solomon says the best thing to do is get away!”

Parenting, role models, Super heroes, Wonder Woman & youth: 11 Reasons Wonder Woman Is a Good Role Model for Christian Girls

“Like Wonder Woman, we have a belt of truth, our best defense against the deceptions of the dark one and of everyone else, including ourselves.”

guest post: when in the company of gossips

 

We’re doing a slow-read through the entire book of Proverbs this year during the months of January thru October this year in the church family of which I am a part. We call this project the Insight for Life project. With that project in mind, I invited several friends of mine to submit a brief article on any proverb (or group of proverbs) of their choosing for publication here on my blog. Dan Williams, Vice-President for Church Relations at Harding University, selected Proverbs 20.19 (one of today’s texts to read) as his Scripture to home in on. I commend his thoughts to you. Thank you, Dan, for the good stuff!
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Here’s a rule of life you should never forget:  If people will gossip with you, they will gossip about you.  In his bestselling book, The Speed of Trust, author Stephen M.R. Covey demonstrates that principle by relating the following experience:

Many years ago, I worked in a company where I would go to lunch almost daily with a group of about 12 coworkers. When they finished eating, a couple of people in the group would get up and leave, and the others would immediately start talking about them. When two or three more would leave, the group would talk about them. It got to where I didn’t dare leave the table because I knew the minute I left, they’d start talking about me!

I am sure Covey’s last comment is made in jest, because he must have realized that, short of staying alongside these gossips 24 hours a day, there was no way to avoid being the target of their tawdry tongues.

Rather than remaining in the company of those with loose lips, Solomon recommends an opposite strategy:

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” (Proverbs 20:19)

According to Solomon, once Covey saw the character of his lunch companions, his best strategy would have been to quickly – and permanently – change tables!  There is no guarantee that avoiding their company would have stopped them from gossiping about him, of course, but it would accomplish three things:

First, it would ensure that others would not interpret his continued association as indicating that he condoned or supported their gossiping.

Second, it would help him to avoid acquiring their bad habit.  Scripture warns us repeatedly that bad character is contagious (Proverbs 22:24-25; 1 Corinthians 5:6; 15:33)!

And third, it would prevent him from accidentally revealing any personal information that would provide ammunition for their tale bearing tongues.

An indiscreet person who blithely engages in the character assassination of others behind their backs has demonstrated that he or she cannot be trusted.  When you find yourself in the company of gossips, Solomon says the best thing to do is get away!

LIFE group guide: hearing to be healed & healed to hear

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 27) 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.

To call us to hear well, that we might serve and speak well, on behalf of Christ.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  Those who answer before they listen are foolish and disgraceful. (Proverbs 18.13)

•  Words spoken at the right time are like gold apples in a silver setting. Wise correction to an ear that listens is like a gold earring or jewelry of fine gold. (Proverbs 25.11-12)

•  The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. (Isaiah 50.4)

•  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (Romans 10.17)

•  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13.4-7)

•  You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger … (James 1.19)

Relation

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

1. “I feel ________ if someone isn’t listening when I’m talking.”

2. Tell us about something, anything, you have learned as a result of careful listening.

Research

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

1. Using the texts above, make two lists: (a) how, and (b) to what, a godly listener listens.

2. List some instances in the Gospels where Christ served others by listening to them.

Reflection

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

1. Which is more important: the ministry of listening or the ministry of speech? Explain.

2. How is listening a function, or aspect, of godly love? How is lacking such unloving?

3. Aside from the word “love,” complete this sentence: “To listen well requires _______.”

4. What benefits can come to a listener from their having truly listened to others?

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. Select a person with whom you will practice your listening skills the next two weeks.

2. Work at catching yourself when you tune someone out, and why you did it.