The followers of Christ have been called to peace. … And they must not only have peace but also make it. To that end they renounce all violence and tumult. In the cause of Christ nothing is to be gained by such methods. … His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.
Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness.
We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.
Bible study, books, interpretation, preaching, reading & sermon preparation: A Cautionary Word to Pastors About Internet Resources [especially wise advice for all, and insightful for understanding the needs of ministers]
“… there is a reason a lot of the resources online that have to do with the Bible are free. There is some truth to the old dictum ‘you get what you pay for.’ Some of the resources are simply junk, some are so badly out of date and out of touch with the current ministry scene that they are hardly useful, and some of them are so arcane it requires scholarly help to make good use of them. And this brings me to the second point.
“There is a need for critical judgment to select useful online resources that may indeed help one’s ministry. Critical judgment about not only technical scholarly works, but about mid-level works can only be developed over time and with good guidance. … I would stress, for the good of your soul as well as the good of your ministry, that you need to read good books, and I mean read them at a depth level, not superficially cherry picking this quote or that quote …
“What feeds good teaching and good preaching is continuing to feed your head with good resources, and to study them in some depth. You need to set aside more than an hour or two a week for such study and preparation, and the main thing you should do during that time is just read—- not outline sermons or lessons, but read…… read….. read.”
Birth of Christ, genealogy of Jesus & the birth narratives: An Amazing Genealogy of Jesus Infographic (and What It Means for XMas)
“The infographic represents both Matthew and Luke’s genealogies, showing the legal emphasis (in Matthew) meant to prove Jesus’s royal Israelite bloodline, and the biological emphasis (in Luke) traditionally linked to the family genealogy in Mary’s home. The ‘big names’ are given larger placement, with often humorous bits of info. Just a quick scan reveals how diverse, even scandalous, this genealogy really is – including kings and killers, prophets and prostitutes.”
Collection, contribution, donations, electronic giving, mobile giving, money & offering: A Case for Church Mobile Donation
“We are coming close to the time whereby a church not being able to accept online donations would be as bad as a church not being able to accept a check.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, nonviolence & pacifism: No, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Didn’t Try To Kill Adolph Hitler
“… there is no evidence that [Bonhoeffer] was actively involved in planning or attempting to assassinate Hitler– a basic fact accepted by the academy but seemingly missing from common internet discussions on Bonhoeffer.”
Prayer: When We Talk With God
“Surely one of the grandest transfers God has made in my life would be that of prayer.”
Archaeology & the Bible: 50 People in the Bible Confirmed Archaeologically
“… at least 50 people mentioned in the Bible have been identified in the archaeological record. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified.”
Camels: The Mighty Mysterious Camel
“Some of the headlines are rather sensationalistic.”
* “I was reminded of this passage in Life Together in which Bonhoeffer reflects on the clash between our imagined ideal church experience and the actual communities we encounter …”
* “If we want a community that lacks cracks, we won’t find it. But the truth is, it is the cracks that make us beautiful because the cracks remind us that we are undergoing the pressure God has called us to endure. What some see as ugly and distasteful, I argue are the marks of authentic people in authentic community. So you can say the church isn’t meeting your needs or there isn’t anything there for you but make sure you aren’t taking the cheap way out in order to avoid cracks in your own clay because they are already there. Let’s just be honest about that too.”
Food stamps/SNAP benefits & hunger: Picturing Hunger in America [required reading]
“‘Hunger Through My Lens’ has a dual mission: to empower people who are living in poverty and to promote awareness about hunger issues. Sponsored by the non-profit group Hunger Free Colorado, the program gives digital cameras to food stamp recipients and asks them to chronicle what it’s like to be hungry in America. … the stories behind the photos tell about the complications and suffering that poverty brings.”
Johnny Cash: * The Theology of Johnny Cash: Part 1, I Walk the Line; * The Theology of Johnny Cash: Part 2, Sinner & Saint; * The Theology of Johnny Cash: Mark Love on the Outlaw, Sufferer and the Gospel; * The Theology of Johnny Cash: Part 3, The Man in Black [required reading; the series in progress is excellent!]
“A few months ago I read Robert Hilburn’s excellent new biography Johnny Cash: The Life. Highly recommended. Hilburn’s biography got me so into Johnny Cash that I’ve been listening to him almost constantly. So I thought I’d devote posts this week and next to the theology of Johnny Cash.”
Light bulbs: Guide To Changing Light Bulbs
“… the transition to energy-efficient lighting has changed that. Halogens, CFLs, LEDs, watts vs. lumens — the array of choices on the market today can make selecting the right a bulb an exercise in confusion. So here, we try to demystify the new light bulb landscape.”
Race & immigration: Race & Immigration
“By 2050, most Americans, in this country, will trace their lineage to Africa, Asia, or Latin America. … That is the elephant in the room.”