links to 7 items worth your time

1. Yes, You Can Be an Ethical Tech Consumer. Here’s How [essential reading]

“Products that we enjoy continue to create privacy, misinformation and workplace issues. We can do better at getting the industry to do better. … We are the buyers, users and supporters of the products and services that help Big Tech thrive. … So what do we do at this point to become more ethical consumers?”

2. In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books [required reading]

“Do not quit before you start. … Do the simple math. … Find the time. … Execute.”

3. How Cancer Changes Hope by Kate Bowler

“Much of Christian theology rests on the image of God as the ultimate reality beyond time and space, the creator of a past, present and future where all exists simultaneously in the Divine Mind. But where does that leave the bewildered believer who cannot see the future and whose lantern casts light only backward, onto the path she has already taken?”

4. The Virtual Commentary on Scripture

“The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) is a freely accessible online publication that provides theological commentary on the Bible in dialogue with works of art. It helps its users to (re)discover the Bible in new ways through the illuminating interaction of artworks, scriptural texts, and commissioned commentaries. The VCS combines three academic disciplines: theology, art history, and biblical scholarship. While the project’s main commitment is to theology, it is responsibly informed by the latter two disciplines.”

5. The Otherworldly Beauty of a Dying Sea

“The Dead Sea is falling by more than a meter a year, and paradoxically, its destruction is revealing an eerie, enchanting world below the waters.”

6. Let Winter Do Its Work

“Winter has important work to do. Let winter do its work.”

7. Bono’s Testimony [11 min. video; essential viewing]

“… he [Jesus] was the Son of God or he … was nuts. … I find it hard to accept that wholly millions and millions of lives, half the earth, for two thousand years, have been touched, have felt their lives touched, and inspired, by some nutter. I don’t believe it.”

links to 4 items worth your time

1. God, Creation, and Cancer: Wrestling With the Difficult Questions [required reading]

“… cancer is not evil. At least, not any more evil than the weather, with its potential for deadly blizzards and hurricanes. I see cancer as a messy, ugly, yet necessary byproduct of the ever-changing planet we find ourselves inhabiting. … That the very blueprints for life — that is, DNA — can and do change, and rather often, makes me immensely grateful to God for having the audacity to create this universe as he did. We live in a world not ruled by an iron fist, but guided by a gentle whisper.”

2. So What is a Good Parent to Do? by Jim Martin

“A few suggestions …”

3. Top 10 Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2018

“Some of the artifacts were made in previous years, but only announced in 2018.”

4. True Story

“For Christians the world is a different kind of mystery, one crackling with possibility and saturated with God’s goodness.”

links to 4 helpful articles

1. 5 Ways to Jump Start Your Day [essential reading]

“The following are five practices that have been helpful to me. I am not prescribing these to you. Rather, I am simply describing what has been helpful to me. Perhaps one or more of these might be helpful to you as well. … Start the day with what feeds your soul. … Start the day with prayer. … Start the day with mapping out the day. … Start the day before morning. … Start the day by choosing to be grateful.”

2. Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? The Craig-Ehrman Debate

“… I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.”

3. Calvinism and the Assurance of Salvation

“Ultimately, assurance of salvation is sought by examining what is properly the very foundation of salvation: God’s love.”

4. Should You Take Aspirin Every Day? Here’s What the Science Says

“Aspirin is best known as an over-the-counter painkiller. But acetylsalicylic acid, as it’s called chemically, has many other health benefits, as well as side effects, in the body that have only become clear in recent years.”

links: this went thru my mind

Following are links to five articles on repentance that I’ve found to be of special interest and helpfulness.

Ash Wednesday – Applied Every Day

“So what’s the point of wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday? The cinder residue is reminiscent of the biblical act of repenting in dust and ashes’ (Job 42:6). … Many Christians have no connection with Ash Wednesday’s tradition. But we all have need of what it represents. Every day. Ash Wednesday represents our need to repent.”

Not Your Typical Ash Wednesday [essential reading]

“My name is Josh Patrick. I’m a 36-year-old pastor in the Nashville area. I’m married to a beautiful strawberry-blonde haired girl named Joni, and we have three daughters, ages 8, 5, and 2. Today is unlike any Ash Wednesday I’ve ever experienced. … 4 weeks ago today … it was determined that I had stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to my liver. And just like that, our little world was turned upside down.”

Lent: Because Sometimes Rich Christians Simply Need to Starve a Little [required reading]

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

An Ash Wednesday Prayer

“I’m sorry God, I truly am … I’m sorry that I have not loved you with all of my being.”

Litany of Penitence

“Have mercy on us, Lord. … Accept our repentance, Lord. … Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.”

this went thru my mind

 

Cancer: I Hate Cancer

“… cancer isn’t a person. I don’t get any picture from scripture that there’s anything wrong with hating an evil thing. When I think about cancer, I can’t help but hate it. No apologies. I hate it.”

Church visitors & guests, civility & hospitality: Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members by Thom Rainer

“I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different churches. I have had a church consulting firm that did “guest” visits as part of our services. Sadly, many times I do not feel welcome as a guest when I visit churches. The Bible is replete with admonitions of hospitality and servanthood. I just wish our church members understood that the servant-like spirit should also be manifest when we gather to worship. Guests are often uncomfortable, if not intimated, when they visit a church. We are to be gracious and sacrificial servants to them. In response to this need for more guest-friendly church members, I have devised the ten greatest needs, at least from my perspective. I will reticently call them “commandments” and throw in a little King James English for effect.”

Family & marriage: * Ideal or Idol: Avoiding the Family Cult at Church by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]; * Marriage and Women in the Pagan World of Bible Times; * What About Gay Marriage? by Patrick Mead

* “… the Bible just doesn’t say that much about family–at least not the issues people seem to want most. This is especially true with regard to the family counseling questions most people ask today.”

* “The next time Christianity is charged as a repressive, unenlightened, and backward religion, the critic should reconsider how repressive, unenlightened, and backward the world would be today, without the Christian defense of marriage.”

* “Want to have fun? Go through the Bible and try to construct what a marriage ceremony should look like and at what point a person is married. There is no single system or ritual. Marriage was a private, family agreement that varied from tribe to tribe. No license, no tax benefits or punishments … just a private covenant made between two people with the agreement of their community. Today, marriage has over 1,300 ramifications when it comes to taxes, insurance, and a host of laws, rights, and open or closed doors.”

Just for fun: The Dragonfly: Nature’s Drone, Pretty and Deadly

“When setting off to feed on other flying insects, dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the fresh meat on the spur without bothering to alight.”

Ministry with the poor: Dallas Ministry Guru Larry James ‘a Rare, Talented Guy’

“The 63-year-old former Church of Christ preacher never imagined that he’d be an office-tower landlord, homebuilder, real estate developer, medical provider, caterer, food distributor and job trainer, much less the chief executive of a corporation with $15 million in revenue. But that’s what he’s become as president and CEO of CitySquare.”

Missions: * 6 Potential Problems With Supporting Native Preachers by Tim Archer; * 5 Ways To Improve Our Support Of Native Preachers

* “There are several growing trends in missions today. One is the … rejection of using American missionaries in favor of supporting local Christians. … Done correctly, this can be a highly effective use of limited church funds. Problem is, it’s much easier to do it wrong than it is to do it right. Here are some of the dangers that I think churches need to be aware of …”

* “Each situation needs to be analyzed on its own merit.”

Privacy & search engines: 7 Great Search Sites That Aren’t Google

“For a quick answer, Blekko is usually easier to use than Google. Instead of returning advertisers and other junk results first, it usually sends you links that actually answer your question. Blekko is more private than Google in normal mode. However, I recommend you use its “SuperPrivacy” mode for maximum privacy. This blocks ads and takes you to secure, encrypted sites by default. … Your number one concern when searching Google might be that it can return inappropriate content for innocent search terms. Yippy detects adult content and blocks it automatically.”

Social networking: 12 Simple Steps to Safer Social Networking

“For this article, I rounded up the three most important privacy settings you should be using, but probably aren’t, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. Five minutes of setup now could avert hours of social embarrassment and identity recovery down the road.”

The Bible mini-series: Getting Jesus Right: 2 Quick Comments on Week 4 of “The Bible” on the History Channel

* “It wasn’t written for the biblically knowledgable but for those whose biblical literacy minimal … One thing the last episode did very well was to get across something of theo-political tensions of 1st century Palestine.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible translation: Famous Bible Translation Mistakes Throughout History by C. Michael Patton

“Here are some of the more infamous and fun mistakes that translators and printers have made throughout the years.”

Cancer: Cancer in the U.S.A. [infographic]

“One in four people will die from some form of cancer in the United States.”

Community & meals: Meals Matter to the Mission by Tim Chester

“… the meals of Jesus represent something bigger. They represent a new world, a new kingdom, a new outlook. But they give that new reality substance. Jesus’ meals are not just symbols; they’re also applications. They’re not just pictures; they’re the real thing in miniature. Food is stuff. It’s not ideas. It’s not theories. It’s, well, it’s food, and you put it in your mouth, taste it, and eat it. And meals are more than food. They’re social occasions. They represent friendship, community, and welcome.”

Criminal justice, forgiveness, justice, prison, punishment & reconciliation: Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?

“… Andy felt her say, ‘Forgive him.’ His response was immediate. ‘No,’ he said out loud. ‘No way. It’s impossible.’ But Andy kept hearing his daughter’s voice: ‘Forgive him. Forgive him.'”

Fear: Fear: This is a Heart Issue (Part I) by John T. Willis [required reading]

“Fear is a character of the heart which is necessary for human life. Therefore, fear is a gift of God. Fear is absolutely essential for all human beings to be who God created us to be. But, all human beings can abuse God’s gifts. In this and the next blog or blogs, we will discuss briefly what the Bible teaches about fear.”

Government assistance: Don’t Force Us to Obey the Bible! by James McGrath

“Time and again, I have heard conservatives say that taxing the rich to care for the poor is antithetical to Biblical teaching because it is essentially forcing people “at gunpoint” to give, rather than allowing them to be charitable of their own free will. Typically, those same people want to see other aspects of their religious values, from marriage to prayer, enforced through legislation.”

Guns: If You Choose to Own a Gun by Tim Archer [required reading]

“… some suggestions for Christians who choose to own guns …”

Just for fun: Real Life Hobbit House

“This is so awesome, it almost hurts.”

Les Misérables, mercy & politics: The Political Theology of Les Misérables by Richard Beck

“Two candlesticks–one act of mercy–saved them all. And in contrast to Javert and Enjolras I wonder if those two candlesticks isn’t the political theology we are all called to embrace.”

Ministry, spiritual formation & writing: * The Writing Pastor: An Essay on Spiritual Formation by Peter R. Schemm Jr.; Out of the Cave by Peter J. Leithart

* “None of us will likely have the influence of Augustine or Luther or Bonhoeffer. But our writing still matters. It matters because it can help us to make progress in our own hearts and minds. So as an exercise in pastoral ministry, we will explore some benefits that come to the soul of a pastor through the discipline of writing. These apply particularly to pastors but are not limited to the vocation of pastor. Each benefit is personal and formative: (1) depth of mind, (2) clarity of thought, (3) pace of life, (4) quiet and solitude, (5) the ministry of words, and (6) a life of prayer.”

* “A writer has control in the cave he never has outside.”

Romans: Romans by Douglas Moo [links to 53 lectures & discussions]

“Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.”

this went thru my mind

 

Anger: Why are You So Angry? by Jim Martin

“James Houston … suggests that three kinds of anger are often seen in people. People who are angry with a controllable anger. … Pleasers who are angry. … Givers who are angry.”

Bible interpretation: Looping Arguments in Romans by Brian LePort

” I think Romans is best understood if interpreted in a series of loops.”

Critics & criticism: Seven Characteristics of an Effective Critic by Thom Rainer

“A few days ago I had a long conversation with a critic of me. Actually, it would be better to say that he is a critic of a decision I made. He would not want to describe himself as a critic of me in the general sense. Rare is the person who actually enjoys criticisms. I certainly would not be among that unique group. But this man made the criticism tolerable. And he certainly gained my respect by the way he handled it. Immediately after the conversation, I began to think through how he had approached me. I thought about his words, his body language, and even his preparation for criticizing me. I realized I had a case study on effective criticism. I also was able to note seven of the characteristics of this conversation where he criticized me.”

Emotions, music, singing & worship: Music, Singing, and Emotions: Exploring the Connections by Rob Smith

“Music, singing and emotions: what are the connections?”

Facebook: How Can I Block Facebook Game Invitations?

“Drives me crazy, every time I log in to Facebook I have a bunch of invites to join FB games from different friends. But I don’t want to play games on Facebook and I can’t figure out how to block the invitations. I mean, if I click on the “X” to get rid of the invite, I see a new one the very next day. Help!”

Happiness & joy: A Simple Way to Increase Your Joy by Tony Schwartz

“… the deceptively simple notion is that small choices we make can deliver big consequences.”

Health: The 2,000-Year-Old Wonder Drug

“In 2011, British researchers, analyzing data from some 25,000 patients in eight long-term studies, found that a small, 75-milligram dose of aspirin taken daily for at least five years reduced the risk of dying from common cancers by 21 percent.”

Just for fun: Pigeon Interruptus — A Fish That Hunts Pigeons On Land

“We are in southwestern France, along the river Tarn, where there’s a small hunk of gravel at the river’s edge where pigeons like to gather. What the pigeons don’t know is that right next to them, hiding in the water, is a European catfish. At extraordinary risk to themselves, these catfish will leap onto the beach, snatch a moving pigeon, and then, bearing the struggling bird, they roll or push themselves back into the water.”

Stress: 12 Ways to Thrive Under Stress by Dan Rockwell

“Over 50% of the workforce feels: Overwhelmed by workload. Too many tasks prevent them from completing tasks. There’s no time for self-reflection.”