links: this went thru my mind

 

Application, Bible interpretation, preaching & teaching: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s

“Every word of the Bible was written at a certain time and in a certain context. Even the most recent of those times and the nearest of those contexts is at a great distance from us in time and space. Thus, when we read the Bible, we have to determine how those words apply to us today in our very different times and very different contexts. It is not always a simple task. We have all seen situations—and many of us have caused situations—where we have been sloppy in going from the text to today.”

Church, ministry & U.S. trends: MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider

“The next 20 years are going to be a challenge for convictional Christians and churches in many places. … 1. The Word “Christian” Will Become Less Used and More Clear. … 2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones. … 3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics. … 4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.”

Fulfillment, leadership, satisfaction & work: Why You Hate Work

“The way we’re working isn’t working.”

Leadership: 7 of the Hardest Paradigms I Had to Learn to be an Effective Leader

“I had to develop the ability to say no more than I get to say yes. … I have to live with sometimes being unpopular. … I have to move forward sometimes in uncertainty. … I had to get comfortable challenging mediocrity. … I had to lower my pride and admit I can often be wrong. … I had to come to a reality that I couldn’t be everywhere or do everything. … I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to put on my calendar is rest.”

Short term missions: 24 Things World Christians Wish North American Short-Term Missionaries Would Quit Doing …

“… Talk more than you listen. …”

Temptation & testing: A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?

“Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives. But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church & expectations: * Church and The “Jacob Syndrome”; * 7 Things Churches No Longer Do (But Should)

* “The burden is on all of us to be serious about our faith while also being patient with the shortcomings of ourselves and others. So before you are tempted to say you would be a part of a church only if the did X, Y and Z…take yourself out of the driver’s seat for a moment and pray that God would shape your choices and decisions because God often has a way of using imperfect people and situations to really shape us in significant ways.”

* “Participating in church now means attending weekly services — but rarely requires anything beyond that. What if churches required their congregations to go out into the world and be missionaries, sacrificially, humbly, and passionately loving others just as Jesus did — practicing what is actually being preached?”

Discipleship & influence: The Trouble With Being Salt and Light

“Who among us will be common for God’s sake?”

Dogs: How Dogs Read Our Moods: Emotion Detector Found In Fido’s Brain

“Dogs always seem to know when you’re upset and need extra love, even though they hardly understand a word of what you say. How can that be?”

Discontent, disgruntlement, offense & unhappiness: * Spirit Airlines Taps A Nation Of Hate Fliers; * It Is Our Duty To Never Be Offended [essential reading]

* “The hate flier is the guy who knows what he’s getting into, doesn’t like it, but flies Spirit anyway because it’s so cheap.” [This article makes me how many Christians are - unknown to themselves - actually 'hate members' (i.e. - they know what the church they're a part of is like, don't like it, but stay with it anyway because - equally sadly - it doesn't require much of them at all.)]

* “To be “offended” is an expression which should never be welcome in the Christian vernacular. There is no virtue in being indignant and we have no “right” to take offense. There is a lot progress the Church, and humanity as a whole, could make in understand each other if we stopped indulging in this petty and whiny reaction.”

Politics, power & temptation: The Seduction of Worldly Political Power [required reading]

“… why Christians ought to be wary of the seductions of earthly political power.”

Worship: The Risky Nature of Worship [essential reading]

“A world largely driven by consumerism, self-interest, and entertainment might just prefer worship services that have regularity, rhythm, and pleasantness. I am sure many would prefer worship that is relaxing, lovely, and safe. If necessary, one should be able to catch up on some sleep. But from the beginning, worship has not been so innocuous.”

imagine you, on food stamps (5)

 

Note: The following is not an account of any one conversation I’ve had with any one person regarding the Imagine You, On Food Stamps project, but is a composite derived from a number of conversations.

Oh, the conversations this project is generating!

“David, aren’t you afraid?”

“Afraid of what?”

“Of what eating like that for a month could do to your health, that’s what!”

“No, not really. Should I be?”

“Yes! That stuff can’t possibly be good for anyone!”

“That ‘stuff’?”

“You know what I mean. I mean the food you’d have to live on that can be bought for $4.00 a day.”

“Oh, you mean the ‘stuff’ we’re content for other folks to live on as long as we don’t have to live on it ourselves, don’t you?”

“No, that’s not what I mean. I mean those people who receive that kind of food are only getting what they deserve. You don’t deserve that.”

“I’m not sure I understand your point. Help me here.”

“They’re in the fix they’re in because they wanted it that way. They made some bad choices and now they have to experience the consequences. If that’s all they have to eat, let them eat it. Perhaps they’ll learn from the experience!”

“Really? ‘All’ of ‘them?’ How do you know the situations of all of the lives of all of these people? I doubt either one of us would say, after a little reflection, that every person who is poor – or even the majority of the poor – chose to be poor or want to remain in need. And even if what you’re saying is true – and I don’t believe for a minute that it is – what does that have to do with eating on $4.00 per day for a little while?”

“Okay, we both know there are surely some exceptions, but you and I both know most of the money going out for food stamps is just a waste.”

“No, actually I don’t know that … and I don’t believe you do, either. I only know a great many people don’t eat nearly as well as either of us and I think we both would do well to remember that often. Doing so would surely change the way we think of and live with the people around us.”

“So you’re telling me people who make their own bed shouldn’t have to sleep in it? I don’t feel bad for bums who won’t work. It’s in the Bible for crying out loud!”

“I’m saying none of us knows what all went on to get anyone to the point they’d cry out for help with putting food on the table. We mustn’t presume we know what they’ll do with any or all of the help that’s offered to them, either. If they do happen to misuse some, or all, of that help, that’s on them, not us, and it’s between them and the Lord. It’s no excuse or reason for us to not be merciful. Besides, no small number of the ‘them’ you’re talking about are little children, people who have absolutely no say in their circumstances or their sustenance, but who like the rest of us, need to eat every day. There are more than a few words about mercy and about leaving all judgment to the Lord in the Bible, too.”

“I don’t think I’m being ‘merciful’ to them if I see them driving a newer car than I drive!”

“Again, we don’t know all the circumstances of their lives, do we? And, I must say with all kindness, but with forthrightness, I find the way you’re lumping and labeling all sorts of individuals together under the word ‘them’ and as people of suspicious character as degrading and dehumanizing, both of which lead to being judgmental.”

“So you’re saying I’m judgmental! Who do you think you are? I have eyes to see how some of them live.”

“I thin I’m someone inviting you to join me in eating the same thing other people eat for a little while just to see what that must be like.”

“Well, you can count me out because I don’t want anything to do with those folks!”

“I think you’ve established that quite clearly. And that’s the real issue, isn’t it? Not your fears for my health, but your own insecurities over who receives help and how that doing such might draw you closer to some you have little care for … and that’s very uncomfortable for you.” Right?”

[Long pause] Maybe.”

“Then let’s pray. Let’s pray right now on what we both must surely agree.”

“Father in heaven, by your goodness and mercy and in the name of Jesus Christ, we pray that neither one us ever gets to such a point of need or want that we’re ever tempted – much less frequently tempted – to cheat, lie, or steal.

“Because only you are the Most Holy One, we pray you would ever deliver us from setting ourselves up as judges of others. May we both be always content to leave all of that up to you.

“Because you are the Creator of all, we pray that our fear of others would melt away. What can man do to us?

“Because you are the source of all that is true strength, we pray that our fears based on our own frailties and weaknesses would recede through growing faith in you. May that faith lead us daily to where we know by faith you would have us always go: doing good to all as we have opportunity.

“Open our eyes to truly see every person we meet. Deliver us from seeing ‘around’ people. Open our minds to discern what you would have us to be them. Help us to think the way our Lord and Savior thinks. Open our hearts daily so that we love others – all others – with the love you have for them. May we be channels of your blessings, not filters. And may you open our hands so that we are genuinely giving people, seeing as how you are so generous to us in so very many ways every day. Amen.”

[Long pause] “Perhaps I was a bit … hasty. I’m not saying I’ll do this! I am saying ‘I’ll think about it.'”

“Thinking is good and an all too rare commodity these days. Let’s continue to think – and pray – about these things together.”

this went thru my mind

 

Basic Christianity: Hope for Life

Christians, nationalism, patriotism & the Fourth of July: A collection of various links & views:

Happy Fifth of July! by Timothy Archer

“The truth is that apart from Christ, Americans are as enslaved to the principalities and powers as any other person or group. That is why freedom is only found in Christ.” (quoting K. Rex Butts)

What are Some Helpful Ways to Celebrate July 4th in the Church? by Brian Croft

“… I do believe there are some things we can do in our worship services that celebrate the freedoms we have in this country, but take a more gospel focus in doing so.  Here are 3 we have done in our church that I feel accomplish this.”

A Nuanced Allegiance to the United States by Brian LePort

“… I hope that as Christians we can be reminded that our truest citizenship is “in heaven” (as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3.20). When we live for the Kingdom the United States benefits as does the other nations of this world. The way of Christ is best.”

A Fourth of July Treatise – America and a National Religion by Paul Smith

“Why are we not a Christian nation? Because we never were a Christian nation. Our founding documents preclude our ability to be a Christian nation.”

God Does Not Love America by Karen Spears Zacharias

“God does not love America. If that offends you, you have a problem. God does not love Israel. Israel as a nation is a construct of the Truman Administration and some legal wrangling within the United Nations. I know we have been taught — truly indoctrinated — to think otherwise. I get it. It’s a hard truth to realize that as a nation God is no more devoted to us than he is to Afghanistan or Iraq, Iran or North Korea.  It’s like learning that your mama loves your brother as much as she loves you. It’s disappointing to not be the favorite. But when it comes to nation-building, God does not play favorites.”

Human rights: A Cruel and Unusual Record by Jimmy Carter

“The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.”

LifeWay Christian Bookstores: Christian Bookstores and Their Chokehold on the Industry

“… LifeWay Christian bookstores recently banned the movie ‘The Blind Side’ from their shelves due to language and objectionable content.”

Marital fidelity: 10 Keys to Avoiding the Tragedy of Infidelity by J. Carl Laney

“… my wife … and I … are taking precautions to make sure that … disaster does not take place with us. Over the years we have discovered ten keys that have helped us to avoid the tragedy of marital infidelity.”

Religion: How We Know What We Know – Does Religion Cause War & Pain? by Patrick Mead

“It seems John Lennon had it wrong. Imagining a world where there was no belief, no heaven, and no hell won’t bring paradise on earth, no matter how much Harris and Hitchens say so. It seems the data argues otherwise.”

Temptation: How to Resist Temptation Like Jesus by Wayne Stiles

“Jesus’ knowledge of the Word of God remains a model for us of faithfulness under fire.”

Vacations: Vacation Sabotage: Don’t Let It Happen to You! by Matt Richtel

“The secret to not killing your vacation revolves around understanding not just your motives, but also your brain and the role it plays in undoing your precious time off.”

this went thru my mind

 

Culture wars: The Cost of Waging the Culture War (part 1 & 2) by K. Rex Butts

* “I speak only for myself but if having a society where the laws reflect Christian beliefs and values means giving up the way of Christ, count me out. I believe in and follow Jesus, not a political movement that has hijacked the name ‘Christianity’ for its cause.”

* “What if instead of trying to force a vision of community based upon Christian values on the American society, what if Christians would simply love the American society regardless of what it becomes?”

Faith & works: Faith That Works: On the Meaning of “Works” by Jay Guin

“… is Romans almost entirely about an issue that no longer matters?”

History & the Mormons: The Mormons Sit Out the Civil War by John G. Turner

“A long war against the Confederacy, [Brigham] Young hoped, would distract the Union government from meddling in Utah affairs and finally leave the Mormons to govern themselves.”

Parenting: 10 Signs Your Kids Are Overscheduled

“We’ve all heard about the signs to look out for if your kid is using drugs—the glassy eyes, spending less time with friends and family, apathy towards everything—but what if the culprit isn’t pills but programming—and too much of it? … How do you know if your kid is too busy? Watch for these signs …”

Poverty: Defined as a Problem …

“… its really hard when you realize that you are regarded as ‘a problem’ by lots of people. It affects your self-understanding.”

Tests, temptations & trials: 3 “Weights” God Uses to Develop Spiritual Muscles by Ron Edmonson

“… my faith building has not always been that pleasant of an experience. As I’ve observed,God seems to use …”