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!
_

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.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Afterlife, authority & heaven: Heaven Is For Real [essential viewing; a video 4:44 by David Platt)

“… our level of discernment in the church today on this topic is extremely low because the whole premise behind every single one of these books is contrary to everything God’s word says about heaven. … Not one person raised from the dead in the Old Testament or the New Testament ever wrote down what he or she experienced , including Lazarus, who had a lot of time in a grave for four days. … Paul sums it up in three verses. … Their visions are all fixated on the glory of God which defines heaven … Notably missing from all of the Biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominant every account of heaven on the best-seller lists. … Why … are we buying this stuff when we have the word of God?”

Anxiety, fear, stress & worry: This is You on Stress

” … There are things you can do to take the wind out of worry’s sails.”

Archaeology & the Western Wall: A Stonemason’s Chisel from the Second Temple

“Archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority found a stonemason’s chisel which is believed to have been used by the workers who built the Western Wall in Jerusalem. … Most scholars believe that the Western Wall was one of the many building projects Herod the Great initiated during his reign. Among these projects was the Temple in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the fort at Masada.

“However, based on the dates of the coins found under the Western Wall, Shukron and Reich believe that the Western Wall was not built by Herod. The dates of the coins indicate that the Western Wall was built after Herod’s reign, probably by one of his heirs.”

Bible & interpretation: How To Completely Misuse The Bible In 5 Easy Steps

“The Bible is a notoriously difficult book (collection of books, actually) to understand. We’ve been wrestling with the meaning and implication of various texts within the Bible nearly since the moment it was written. … However, even though studying the Bible with a heart for understanding the message is difficult, it is the most beautiful journey I’ve ever set out on. … On that same note however, with the Bible being so difficult to understand, it is also easy to completely misuse it. Such a misuse, even done unintentionally, distorts the beauty of what actually lies inside. We’ve all seen it. In fact, we’ve all done it.”

Churches & social media: Using Caution with Social Media

“Whether you are a full-time staff person or a volunteer that is just starting out, you are representing the ministry you are serving in. As a member of this church, you need to understand that there are rules that must be followed online that simply cannot be violated. To help protect my ministry team, whether the church technology ministry, youth group, or a Saturday morning men’s Bible study, I have all volunteers commit to our social media policy.”

Communication & love: I Say This in Love …

“Sometimes people seem to think they can say anything — in any form — without considering the consequences — as long as they begin with that phrase. … let’s make sure we display love all the way through our conversations. Not just with the first five words.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible reading: 3 Biggest Reasons Bible Reading is Down

“Bible reading is down because people read it in fragments, a-historically, and in isolation.”

Christianity, communication, disagreement, influence, love, relationships & words: Civil Religion Can We Talk? [essential reading]

“… we need to assume goodwill and generosity on the part of others, no matter how wrong we might thing they are. For the sake of having better conversations, and for the pursuit of truth, we have to be able to admit we don’t have it all, After all, if we want to be heard, we have to learn how to listen. So what do you say, Can we talk?”

Culture, history & the United States: I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again

* “In reality, Christianity in America may not have the same political, social, and corporate authority it did in the past, but Jesus never intended to spread the gospel message through political strength or domineering control. The problem with people claiming that America used to be a Christian nation is that, well, it never was.”

Creation, nature & stewardship: Stewardship: Being in and Working with Creation

“We use the world’s resources, but the trick is to use them wisely, and with a careful, conservative sense of balance. That’s the difficulty of stewardship. When we use up resources — the resources God gave us — with abandon and without care, the results aren’t pretty. We can never really grow it back. That’s the thing about nature; we can manage it well, but we can’t create it from scratch. Only God can do that. Stewardship is the balanced middle way — it’s not ‘use it up and move on to the next,’ but it’s also not untouched nature for nature’s sake.”

Discouragement, encouragement, ministry & support: 5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“As a pastor of a local church for over twenty-five years, I had my share of buildups and letdowns. Sometimes I recall the discouraging times more. I know that I was not supposed to get down because of people and circumstances, but it happens. I also know that the people who discouraged me did not always mean to do so. But it happened. The purpose of this post is to let you in on a few things to avoid (unless you want to discourage your pastor). If you are bent on discouraging him or her, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so.”

God, suffering, tests, and trials: God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. I Guarantee It. [essential reading]

“There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike. … ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ is the phrase I’m referring to.”

Parenting: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

“It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.”

Parenting & social media: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Social media: 5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous For Me [required reading]

“I went on an internet fast recently – I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.”