this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five articles I’ve found to be interesting and helpful.

Ancient people, diet, food & the Roman Empire: Ancient Romans Ate Meals Most Americans Would Recognize [plug this info into your head as you read some of the NT texts that deal with meals such as 1 Cor. 8-11, etc.]

“… before and during the Roman Empire. Both the poor and the rich ate pig as the meat of choice, although the rich, like Piso, got better cuts, ate meat more often and likely in larger quantities. They had pork chops and a form of bacon. They even served sausages and prosciutto …

“Status in the upper class was declared with the presentation of the meal, the rare spices, the dinnerware … The wealthier you are the more you want to invest in display and advertising to your guests. Flash was perhaps more important than substance … Whole animals showed great wealth.”

Crusades, ISIS, medieval history, Obama, torture: Thank You Obama for Denouncing “Christian” Violence: It is Actually Far Worse Than ISIS

“… for followers of Jesus, the violence perpetrated by ‘Christians’ throughout history ought to be considered far worse than the violence perpetrated by ISIS or any other religious group throughout history, precisely because this violence was done in the name of Jesus.”

Faith, firearms, guns & self-defense: Should Christians Carry Guns?

“The Christians I know who consider Scripture and still make the argument for owning a gun typically lean on a notion of using a firearm as a means to resist wickedness, to protect innocent persons, and to maintain order in the face of evil and chaos. While these may be worthy ideals, I don’t see a lot of (any?) scriptural evidence for the use of violence, especially lethal violence, by those who strive to participate in God’s kingdom.

“My concern is that we too often equate God’s agenda with our own agenda and then we make decisions like owning a gun based on our personal values instead of a keen Christian ethic. If my value is to stay alive and protect what and whom I love, it’s not too difficult to project that value onto God and make weapon ownership a God-given right, if not command. The only problem is that these are not God’s values, at least not as I read Scripture.”

Information, priorities, relationships, stewardship & technology: If Jesus Had a Smartphone

“More than one-third of all adults (35%) and almost half of those under 40 (47%) admit their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people. Still, three in 10 Millennials (30%) say they love their phone. … Every revolution offers promises. Every revolution makes demands. How does the hyperlinked life jibe with the abundant life Jesus promised?

“All revolutions are meant to change the world, and the knowledge revolution has done that. Now we must work hard to live faithfully in this new world. We must begin by enlarging our definition of stewardship. We talk about stewarding time, treasure, and talent. Let’s add technology to that list.”

Situational awareness: How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne

“Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game. Mike plays a game with his kids called the ‘A-Game,’ or Awareness Game, to help them (and himself) strengthen their observational skills. To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like ‘How many workers were behind the counter?’ ‘Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?’ ‘What color was his/her shirt?’ ‘How many exits were there?’ It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.”

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are several links I found to be interesting and helpful.

Choices, decisions, discernment, intuition, morality, rationalization & thinking: Your Mind is a Spin Machine

“… usually, the rider is the servant to the elephant.”

Cinema, faith, film, forgiveness, hatred, movies, torture & war: The Power of Forgiveness [essential reading]

“How does a man forgive what is seemingly unforgivable? In search of the answer, I began a seven-year journey through his life, a journey that culminated in my book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.”

Feast of Dedication, Feast of Lights, Hanukkah, Jesus & Jerusalem: * Jesus Visited Jerusalem During Hanukkah; * Hanukkah: When Jesus Claimed to be God

* “The Gospel of John records more visits to Jerusalem by Jesus than any other of the Gospels. John is the only one to record the visit during the Feast of Dedication.”

* “Today, some say Jesus never claimed to be God. But His words during that Hanukkah left little doubt.”

Israel, roads, the ascent to Jerusalem & travel: New Video: The Modern Ascent to Jerusalem

“Bill Schlegel, author of the Satellite Bible Atlas, has just posted a video showing the ascent to Jerusalem from the Shephelah. The 6-minute video uses drone footage to show the modern highway’s route and the new construction. In antiquity, travelers followed the natural routes along the ridges. Today when we deviate from those ridges, we spend billions to destroy the landscape in the construction of passes, bridges, and tunnels.”

Prison system & teens: End Solitary Confinement for Teenagers

“That the practice is widespread remains a disturbing indicator of how poorly we treat the hundreds of thousands of minors arrested each year in the United States.”

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to some reading I consider interesting and helpful.

Church, ministry & obstacles: Ten Ways We Get in the Way of God Building His Church

“When things don’t go well at church, is it possible that we are getting in God’s way?”

Church growth & martyrdom: Sorry, Tertullian

“‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’ … early church theologian Tertullian argued … [However] church growth is ‘not strongly’ correlated with either governmental or societal persecution. However, Christianity ‘tends loosely’ to change more rapidly (grow or shrink) when governmental restriction is high, and stays relatively stable when such pressure is low.”

Cinema, film & movies: Do We Really Need Christian Film?

“What surprises me is that the church has all but ignored, and even villified, this art form. We sit around debating the usefulness of film, bemoaning the latest Hollywood faith-based effort, madly citing Marshall McLuhan with the worst of proof-texting, wondering why we don’t see the likes of Bach, Handel, John Bunyan or C. S. Lewis making powerful, intelligent films. Maybe in the next ten to twenty years a Christian filmmaker will come along and show us what powerful Christian film can be.”

Humanity, inhumanity & violence: Why are We So Mired in Violence?

“… we can’t relate to each other the way God intends unless we’re in relationship with God himself the way he intends.”

Faith & torture: * Christians & Torture; * You Cannot Be a Christian and Support Torture

* “Torture is the arrogance of the mighty. … The cross of Christ reveals what God thinks of torture: it is not the way of God. God turned torture into new life by resurrection and overcoming torture.”

* “… to be a Christian absolutely requires you to reject the use of torture. … Any thoughtful person, no matter their religion or non-religion, knows that you cannot support torturing people and still claim to be a follower of the one who commanded his disciples to love their enemies. The only way around this is to invent a false Jesus who supports the use of torture. (The Biblical term for this invented false Jesus is ‘antichrist.’)

“Those who argue for the use of torture do so because they are convinced it is pragmatic for national security. But Christians are not called to be pragmatists or even safe. Christians are called by Jesus to imitate a God who is kind and merciful to the wicked.”

torture is wrong

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While it’s the hot topic in politics and the news right now, the current, comparative silence on this subject in the Christian quarter of these United States is disturbing and deafening to me.

So, let me say it loud and clear right here: torture is wrong. It’s always wrong; torture is never right.

  • If torture is a tool, it is a tool of Satan, not of God our Father.
  • If torture is a law, it is not the law of our Lord.
  • If torture is an aid, it is not an aid of the Helper who is the Holy Spirit.

Have we so sanitized the message of the offensiveness of Christ and his cross that we have missed or forgotten this message? Everything about the Christ and his cross says torture is wrong.

  • So says the beating of the Christ. Hear the groans of the Suffering Servant as each blow lands.
  • So says the whipping of the Christ. Feel the splash of blood and the strike of pieces of flesh from the Incarnate One splattering across your body.
  • So says the crown of thorns on the Christ. Taste the endless rivulets of blood as they run down Jesus’ face as your own.
  • So says the cross of Christ. See your Sacrifice struggle, agonizing and writhing with every tormented breath.

The Christ himself so says with his measured and costly words while on the cross:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

He would not have prayed for his torturers’ forgiveness if their doings were not sin. And torture that leads to death is doubly sinful.

Since torture is wrong, we who are Christ’s disciples are called by God and expected of God to live out our lives as His Son lived out His own here in the flesh: expressive of the exact opposite of torture.

“… treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets”

Especially if/when you find yourself subjected to torture.

“If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well.”

Our Lord practices what he preaches and so, he teaches us over and over that torture is wrong, as powerfully with his ways as well as with his words. I ask you: just how many times did our Lord intervene on behalf of another whenever he encountered someone experiencing some – any – form of torture, be it verbal, mental, emotional, or physical?

Pause and let the people and his encounters with them come to mind. The list is rather long, isn’t it?

“If all of them were recorded, I imagine the world itself wouldn’t have enough room for the scrolls that would be written.”

And so:

  • Seek to grow a heart that is no longer numb or callous to torture, but appalled and revolted by it.
  • Seek to prioritize your citizenship in the eternal kingdom that is not a part of this world and its ways.
  • Seek right justice and not wrong revenge.
  • Seek to mature in a mindset that simply will not tolerate justifying the means so as to reach a desired end.
  • Seek to live in such a way that you add to the list of those on whose behalf you intervene and defend, not to the list of those who torment and torture others.

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five items I consider to be interesting and helpful.

Being wrong, fallibility, humility, mistakes & pride: On Being Wrong [18 min. TED talk video]

“Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? ‘Wrongologist’ Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.”

Birth of Christ & Christmas: The Nonsense of Christmas (parts 1, 2 & 3) by Ben Witherington

“Risking the possibility that I might be called Scrooge, I am going to muster up my courage and hope that it might be useful to do some demythologizing of Christmas.”

Deception, lies & torture: Senate Torture Report Faults C.I.A. for Brutality and Deceit

“In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. … The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.”

Morality & sin: Sin is Not a Moral Problem [essential reading]

“The habits of our culture are to think of sin in moral terms. It is simple, takes very little effort, and agrees with what everyone around you thinks. But it is theologically incorrect. … the capture of the Church’s theology by moralism is a true captivity and not an expression of the Orthodox mind.

“So how do we think of right and wrong, of spiritual growth, of salvation itself if sin is not a moral problem? We do not ignore our false choices and disordered passions (habits of behavior). But we see them as symptoms, as manifestations of a deeper process at work. The smell of a corpse is not the real problem and treating the smell is not at all the same thing as resurrection.

“The work of Christ is the work of resurrection. Our life in Christ is not a matter of moral improvement – it is life from the dead. We are buried into His death – and it is a real death – complete with all that death means. But His death was not unto corruption. He destroyed corruption. Our Baptism into Christ’s death is a Baptism into incorruption, the healing of the fundamental break in our communion with God.”

Unchurched & the United States: 10 Facts About America’s Churchless

“In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada. … The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church. … Unchurched adults are more likely to be white.”