links to 4 items worth your time

1. Waiting for God to Act

“We have been seduced by an idolatry that deceives us into thinking that God is mostly found in the big and loud, when in fact, God is almost never found in the big and loud. The ways of God are predominantly small and quiet. The ways of God are about as loud as seed falling on the ground or bread rising in an oven. The ways of God are almost never found in the shouts of the crowd; the ways of God are more often found in trickling tears and whispered prayers. We want God to do a big thing, while God is planning to do a small thing. We are impressed by the big and loud. God is not. We are in a hurry. God is not. We want God to act fast, but Godspeed is almost always slow.

“So we are waiting for God to act, but I would suggest that we are not so much waiting for God to act as we are waiting to become contemplative enough to discern what God is doing.”

2. A Nativity for Our Time

“What sorts of things should Christians really be upset by at Christmas?”

3. The Christus Victor View of the Atonement [essential reading]

“… the Christus Victor perspective inspires disciples to live counter-cultural lives that are persistently on-guard against the demonically seductive pull of nationalism, patriotism, culturally endorsed violence, greed, racism and a host of other structural evils that are part of the spiritually polluted air we all breath.”

4. 2,000-year-old ‘Pilate’ ring just might have belonged to notorious Jesus judge

“An intriguing 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring bearing the inscription ‘of Pilatus’ may be only the second artifact testifying to the historicity of the infamous Pontius Pilate. Unearthed 50 years ago, the ring was overlooked until recently, when it got a good scrub, and a second look. …

“While the name Pontius was common for Romans during the Second Temple, Pilate was not.”

quote: what Christ’s cross accomplishes

 

“I suggest that we see the achievement of the cross in three expressions: Jesus dies ‘with us’ – entering into our evil and our sin and our suffering to subvert it and create a new way; Jesus dies ‘instead of us’ – he enters into our sin, our wrath, and our death; and Jesus dies ‘for us’ – his death forgives our sin, ‘declares us right,’ absorbs the wrath of God against us, and creates new life where there was once only death.

“Not only is this death saving, this same death becomes the paradigm for an entirely new existence that is shaped … by the cross. A life shaped by the cross is a life bent on dying daily to self in order to love God, self, others, and the world. And a life shaped by the cross sees in the cross God becoming the victim, identifying with the victim, suffering injustice, and shaping a cruciform pattern of life for all who would follow Jesus. The cross reshapes all of life.”

Scot McKnight, A Community Called Atonement; p.69

links: this went thru my mind

Artifacts, history & Israel: Selected Artifacts from the Collections of the National Treasures

“The artifacts on the site are arranged both chronologically (according to archaeological periods) and typologically (according to the type of artifact), allowing either a gradual guided entry through the main title pages to the artifact’s information card, or directly to the artifact’s information card using an advanced search box.” [just type something in the search box; i.e. – lamp, seal, sword, etc.]

Atonement, Eastern Orthodoxy, morality, science, sin & transformation: Atonement: An Orthodox Perspective [14 min. video]

“… morality can become a heresy … a substitute for the inner transformation of the heart.”

Christian faith, influence & witness: Christians Should Give More Offense

“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Church & discouragement: Five Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“If you are bent on discouraging your pastor, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so …”

Football & injury: Brain Trauma to Affect One in Three Players, N.F.L. Agrees

“The National Football League, which for years disputed evidence that its players had a high rate of severe brain damage, has stated in federal court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at ‘notably younger ages’ than in the general population.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, hospitality & immigration: True Biblical Hospitality: Loving Immigrants, Strangers, and Enemies [required reading]

“… what does it actually mean to show hospitality? This is where things really get interesting: in English, we typically understand hospitality as a willingness to host, feed, and entertain a guest … something we all do and especially with our personal friends. However, what if the biblical term has a much deeper (and more difficult) meaning?”

Astronomy, awe, creation, earth & space: A Glimpse of Earth, Shining Brightly, From Very, Very Far Away

“[This] … picture … from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. On July 19, at a distance of 1.4 billion kilometers (900 million miles) from Earth, it took [this] … image. … Cassini was on the far side of Saturn, looking back toward the inner solar system.”

Atonement: At-One-Ment by Edward Fudge [required reading]

“We recently ended an assortment of twelve gracEmails, in which we explored the atonement made by Jesus Christ and the way American evangelicals have limited their conception of it almost exclusively to the penal substitutionary atonement theory to the neglect of other theories that are equally Bible-based. Now you can see all twelve of these in one location.”

Budget, economics, finances, income & money: Family Budget Calculator

“EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).

“As compared with official poverty thresholds such as the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.”

Competition: Should There Be Competition in Sunday School?

“When we ingrain a competitive spirit into faith – a culture of public shame and reward – is it any wonder we end up with some really faith damaged adults?”

Humility: In Humility Hold Others Above Yourself [essential reading]

“When it comes to humility I think a lot of Christians tend to work with the wrong idea. The idea that many seem to have is that humility involves thinking less about yourself, to have a negative or even morbid self-concept. … Humility is less about thinking other people are ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than you are. Humility isn’t about a morbid ego or a low self-esteem. Humility is, rather, a form of honoring and care-taking. Humility is lifting up (hyperecho) the concerns of others, placing them above and ahead of your own.”

Old Testament: And the Main Point of the Entire Old Testament is …

“I was taught in seminary and graduate school, as were many others of my generation and several before that, that the OT doesn’t have ‘a’ central point–there’s no central concept around which you can organize the OT. The OT is too diverse for that sort of thing. As soon as you find a theme that seems to work, it either doesn’t (e.g., covenant) or it’s too broad to be of much use (e.g., God).

“I agree, but some themes are right there in your face, more than others, and one of them is getting higher and higher on my top 10 list: land.

“That may sound off a bit boring–maybe even not terribly spiritual–but land is a major idea the Bible keeps on the front burner. Actually, I may even be understating things bit. The promise to receive land, getting it, how to hold on to it, losing it and getting it back, and how not to lost it again. I’ve just described the main storyline of the OT.”

Poverty: Epic Shanty Towns From Around the World

“… Addis has traveled and photographed squatter communities in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; Cairo; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

this went thru my mind

 

Atonement: What DID Jesus Do? The Atonement Symposium Videos Now Online

[Videos featuring Scot McKnight, J. Daniel Kirk, Leanne Van Dyk, and Vincent Bacote]

Christian faith, idolatry, nationalism, patriotism & the United States: * Are You Anti-American? by Greg Boyd [essential viewing; 2 1/2 min. video]; * Nationalism: The Nationalistic Corruption of Worship in America by Craig M. Watts

* “I am not anti-American. … What I am is, I want to be kingdom. And that means I want to be trans-national in my perspective. … What I’m impassioned about is that followers of Jesus don’t become co-opted by the nationalism of a country, or by any other political or national agenda. And the history of the church is that going on, and on, and on. … It’s so important; I think it’s so, so, so so important that we understand the kingdom of God looks like Jesus, dying on the cross for the people who are putting him there … The kingdoms of this world look other than that. They look like America, or China, or Russia. They’re always some version of Caesar. … In America, precisely because it gives us more freedoms than most other countries, we have to guard against the temptation that identify it as anything more than a good country that gives us some good rights and some good privileges.”

* “… if there has been little serious conflict in the United States between Christian devotion and American allegiance it is not due to some Christian nature of America that some people imagine exists. Instead this is an indication of the extent that the church has been conformed to American ideals, interests and identity. No clear distinction between being American and being Christian is even a possibility because the two have become one in the hearts of many. The God being worshiped is the American God and the nation they love is in some fashion God’s nation. Consequently, many Christians find it incomprehensible that incorporating the rituals of America into the worship of the church could be anything other than a positive, edifying practice.”

Church & generations: How to Connect Different Age Groups Within the Congregation by Matt Dabbs

“LIFE Groups – the vast majority of our LIFE groups are inter-generational. … it is good to have a mix of different types of groups in small group ministry and inter-generational is a big part of that.”

Contribution, electronic giving & worship: I Need Your Ideas by Ed Stetzer

” Does your church offer online giving and, if so, how do you incorporate it into worship?”

Gospel & kingdom: * Paul’s “Gospel” Ministry in Romans by Tim Gombis [required reading]; * The Ugly Beauty of the Kingdom of God by Kurt Willems

* “Paul’s conception of the gospel … is not merely the tidy presentation that gets one into the Christian faith. According to Paul’s gospel conception, God is at work to restore creation.”

* “The cross is ugly, but the wonder of the kingdom is that God takes on ugliness and uses it as the ultimate example of beauty.”

Evangelism, Hispanics, immigration Latinos & outreach: It’s Time to Reach Out to Immigrants by Tim Archer

“… let me encourage churches to get ahead of the curve. Those churches that reached out to immigrants during Reagan’s amnesty program are the ones that today are making important inroads into the Latino community. Lay aside your political feelings and think about the ministry possibilities. This could well be the critical time.”

Learning & understanding: Questions vs. Assertions by James McGrath

“Confident assertions often weigh us down and tie us to ways of thinking that often are not as well founded as we initially assumed. Questions raise us up to discover new things that we could never have if we refused to ask them. Even if the questioning leads us to conclude that what we thought initially was correct, we are better for having asked.”

Les Misérables: * The Miserable by Casey Picker; * On Forgiveness and Escaping the Past by John Byron

* “True love isn’t a butterfly feeling, but an action with skin and bones. And it’s not just something we do for people we are attracted to or who are lovable to us, it’s something we extend to all who are around us. It means having eyes to see the broken and the hurting around us, a heart that feels compassion for them, and hands that are willing to give them the grace that they need.”

* “… what caught my attention this time was the struggle between being forgiven and escaping the past.”

where the act of saving takes us

 

Michael Bird shared two quotes this morning from Darrell Bock that I simply must pass along as well. This is good stuff!

“In the church today we often present the gospel as if it were about forgiveness of sins alone. Jesus died for our sins, so believe and be saved. However, what this speech [Acts 2] highlights is not so much how Jesus saves us, but where that act of saving takes us. It takes us to God’s Spirit and a restored relationship with God rooted in enablement to respond to God. This parallels what is said about the new covenant in Jeremiah, where forgiveness and the Law of God on the heart are the benefits God promises will come to his people one day. In this way, gospel and covenantal promise come together. God’s having exalted Jesus makes all of this possible. This is the message of Acts 2.”

What is remarkable in our overview of these speeches is how little is said about how Jesus brings the forgiveness he offers. In fact, nothing is said about that at all. In these speeches there is no description of atonement, even though the scene of the Last Supper and the speech by Paul to the elders at Miletus indicates that that is precisely how this was accomplished. What is pursued is a personal link between the exalted one and the person who responds to his offer. More than that what is also presented is the opportunity for life that comes from that forgiveness, often summarized in the promise of the gift of life that comes with the Spirit Jesus bestows to his own.”

Taken from Darrell Bock’s essay entitled “The Gospel Before the Gospels: The Preached Core Narrative” in New Testament Theology in Light of the Church’s Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall, edited by Jon Laansma, Grant Osborne & Ray Van Neste

this went thru my mind

 

Atonement: Thoughts on Penal Substitution [don’t be put off by the title; this is “required reading” for all]

“I need God’s honor to be satisfied. I need the cross not only for the sake of my personal relationship with God but because I want to live in a world where the crucified are resurrected. Penal substitution is part of the rich mystery — just not in the oversimplified, canned version that has come to predominate our youth group-shaped church.”

Baptism: Why I Believe Baptism Actually Is ‘Essential’ by John Alan Turner

“Baptism isn’t the thing. Baptism is supposed to point to the thing. The thing is your faith in Jesus Christ. But sometimes people are like dogs. When you point to a ball, a dog usually just looks at your finger.”

Clutter: The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home by Joshua Becker

“Consider implementing the four steps found in this Simple Guide to Keeping Your Home Clutter-Free.”

Depression: 10 Lessons From Two Days of Filming by David Murray

“I’ve just finished two days of filming various Christian counselors for the HeadHeartHand Media documentary on Depression and the Christian. .. Here’s what I carried away from these interviews.”

Fear: Breaking the Peek-A-Boo Cycle by Ron Edmonson

“The deepest danger of fearful leaders is they create fear-driven cultures.”

Forgiveness: 9 Forgiveness Links by Chris Brauns

“Below are 9 forgiveness links …”

Imagery: Five Bible Images You Probably Misunderstand by Joel Hoffman

“… we get a better sense of the original beauty and intent of the Bible by moving past a naive understanding of the words to the metaphors that they represent.”

Jobs: Who Really Creates Jobs? by Nick Hanauer

“Business leader, Nick Hanauer, presented … [this] speech at the TED conference. … Hanauer, a very successful business owner/creator, argues that business owners don’t create jobs. … But, if not them, then who does create jobs in our nation?”

Kingdom: Subversive Kingdom: A Conversation with Ed Stetzer by Trevin Wax

“What are some ways Christians commonly misunderstand the nature of God’s kingdom? Why is it important that we get this right?”

Margin: * How to Create More Margin in Your Life by Michael Hyatt; * A Healthy Schedule by Joe Thorn [both of these posts are required reading]

* “Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin.”

* “I’ll skip the details and just say that it became evident that I was doing too much, resting too little, and had allowed boundaries between work and family to weaken. This made me less effective at work and at home. It wasn’t just that I was working too hard, but that I had also started listening to the devil’s lies.”

Meetings: Make Meetings Amazing by David Staal

“Consider four “pieces” to meetings that could bring about major changes in your church, community, or even the world.”

Small groups: * Five Obstacles Facing Small Groups by Thom Rainer; * The Five Deliverables of Small Groups by Thom Rainer

“… there are … challenges and obstacles that hinder transformation in and through small groups.”

“For a church to have transformational small groups, it must first recognize how its small groups will equip participants for the mission of God and the cause of Christ. Today I examine how the activity of community within the context of small groups results in transformed lives.”

Worldliness: “Worldliness” According to Paul by Tom Gombis

“It seems to me that the parallels between the “worldly” Corinthian community dynamics and contemporary American tribalized evangelicalism are endless.”