links to 5 helpful articles

1. Why Worship Services are So Boring by Mike Glenn [essential reading]

“They’re bored. I know that. Here’s what else I know – It’s not my fault. And why isn’t it my fault? Aren’t I the one who’s in charge of worship? No, I’m not.”

2. Refugee Politics and a Tale of Two Thanksgivings [essential reading; how quickly we forget … and how slowly we repent]

“One national Gallup poll conducted in May 1975, just one month after the fall of Saigon, found that only 36 per cent of Americans surveyed favored the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees; 54 per cent of Americans surveyed opposed it. … Even a full decade after the end of the Vietnam War, a plurality of Americans believed that the United States had accepted too many refugees.”

3. How religious groups voted in the midterm elections

“White evangelical or born-again Christians backed Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives at about the same rate they did in 2014.”

4. Let Your Internet Yes Be Your Real-Life Yes: The Problem with Online Persona

“The persona allows us to say and do whatever it is our desired audience desires, whatever it takes in fact to maintain the persona and — fingers crossed — turn the persona into a brand. Meanwhile, the person shrinks, and his or her soul along with it.”

5. Homelessness, Step by Step

“… homelessness step by step through the eyes of several families, over the final months of last year.”

links to 4 helpful articles

Note: if you vote today, let me encourage you to first carefully read all of all four of the following articles, in the order you see them here, and then pray. And for that matter, if you have already voted, do the same.

1. 6 Types of Misinformation to Beware Of on Election Day. (And What to Do if You Spot Them.)

“Be careful of rumors and hoaxes about the voting and polling places. Here are some tips for spotting and avoiding false information.”

2. A Voter’s Guide for Thinking Evangelicals

“Of course you will say, on the basis of these things, now I have no one to vote for! But in fact there is lesser and greater evil, and if you don’t choose the lesser of several evils, you end up permitting the greater evils. Which again, is why we have to vote. Take the car wreck over the train with many passengers wreck every time.”

3. The Calling of Crappy Citizenship

“… the all-important principle of Christian anarchism: rather than championing no government, Christian anarchists advocate a politics so odd, eccentric, and peculiar that it must be incommensurate with all other conventional forms of politics.”

4. What America Owes Frederick Douglass

“… the only weapons most of us have in this historical moment are those Douglass named: our voice, our pen and our vote.”

quote: on elections & temptations

Nine Election-Year Temptations

1. To try to use God as an instrument for achieving our own ends rather than humbly serving God as instruments for fulfilling his purposes.

2. To offer simplistic nostrums for problems that are extremely complex and for issues that are inescapably ambiguous.

3. To argue that only one position on a multifaceted matter is biblically-mandated, when actually there may be several viable approaches.

4. To equate personal piety with legislative and administrative competence, refusing to admit that spirituality is not the same as statecraft.

5. To identify our insights and programs with the truth and will of God – absolutizing the relative, dogmatically declaring, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ as if we knew exactly the divine mind – and refusing to admit that the policies we advocate for healing society’s ills are at best the fallible prescriptions of finite minds.

6. To refuse to compromise, even on matters that do not involve moral principles, forgetting that politics, as the art of doing the possible, requires give and take.

7. To forget that our country is not a covenant nation standing in a unique relationship to God, but a pluralistic, secular society where justice for all faiths must be maintained.

8. To fall back on sub-Christian means to achieve our ends: forsaking the claims of honesty, fairness, and courtesy; scathingly caricaturing an opponent; failing to state a rival policy position accurately and fully; stereotyping a person who disagrees with us; employing questionable fund-raising techniques.

9. To believe the siren of voices of demagogues and fanatics, not critically analyzing deceptive rhetoric.”

Vernon Grounds

speaking my mind on politics: a Q & A

 

This is a rare moment … I’m speaking my mind on elections, human politics, etc.

Q. David, where exactly are you in all of this political business these days?

A. I consider myself firmly apolitical.

Q. To which party do you belong?

A. Jesus Christ is my only “party.” Some of the words of a well-known hymn we still sing come to mind: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand. … His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood.” I mean those words when I sing them. Wholly. Especially in flood years, like election years. Jesus is Lord.

Q. I’ve heard you say you dread “election years.” Why?

A. Frankly, because anger, division, hate, rancor, and resentment grow like strong, abundant weeds in our society during those years and I consistently see those same things even increase among many Christians at the same time. Election years prove to be fertilizer for some of the worst of things with people’s attitude and behavior toward others, not the best. Such grieves me.

Q. Who will you be voting for?

A. You speak in the future tense. I do my voting in the present tense; daily. Such voting is called “prayer.”

Q. Who would you hope Christians would vote for in this Presidential race? Steer us a direction. Be specific; name names.

A. The last time I answered that question was when I was a very naive young man, a still new Christian, and an exceedingly green preacher. The year was 1980. I believe it was a mistake to answer that question then and I’ve not answered that question since. I plan to never answer it again.

Q. Don’t you think that the only reasonable candidate to vote for is _____ because they believe _____ [insert one specific issue here] is _____ [right or wrong]?

A. No. A single human life is far, far more complex than any single issue. A single life is such deep water that only God can fully fathom it. How much more so then when we’re talking about one life influencing and/or directing the lives of millions, or billions, of people on an ocean full of matters?

I will venture further. This question is usually put to me – usually, but not always – with abortion being the subject that fills in the blank. I will only say that while abortion is an extremely important matter, it is only one of a great many matters of life and death that a President decides daily that affects a multitude of lives. That is to say, there is much, much more to being truly “pro-life” than being “against abortion.”

Q. Is there some Scripture you can give me for guidance as to what a Christian needs to do in regard to elections, politics, etc. … and if you would, comment on it, please.

A. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.1-4 (NIV))

Many things could be said. I will offer three thoughts. First, I would observe just how much emphasis is placed in this passage on prayer. This is the whole point of the passage! And so, I would seriously ask: how do you engage the politics of this world with prayer? At all? Randomly or sporadically? When whipped into a frenzy on a certain matter by some persona in the media? Or is it quite deliberately, steadily, and with real faith in God as our only true Savior?

Second, it only seems reasonable then that those who would direct society toward the ends of peace and quiet are themselves to lead lives that exhibit peacefulness, quiet, godliness, and holiness. If not, how then could they lead others to such? These qualities are not private matters, rather, they are exceedingly public. They are qualities that are to be exhibited not merely before, but toward, all people. And, a leader’s ways are contagious. If you want a peaceful and quiet society then you need a peaceful and quiet leader who lives a life of godliness and holiness. Pray to that end.

Third, this Scripture prompts us to consider who it is that is inevitably trampled underfoot when lives are not at peace, not quiet, not godly, not holy. The answer? The weak and vulnerable, the marginalized and forgotten, the dehumanized and destitute. And so, such people must constantly be at the forefront of our mind when matters of human government are on the table. If they are not, we are only deceiving ourselves if we believe we are truly seeking the matters of peaceful, quiet, godly, and holy life.

for these I’ll vote today

I plan to vote today.

I will vote:

  • for all the people who are either too feeble of body or too troubled in mind to let their voice be heard today;
  • for the spirit and demeanor of all who cast ballots;
  • for every person who supervises today’s elections;
  • for all who are elected … and those who are not;
  • for all people alive today who will soon find their lives significantly affected by the views of those elected;
  • for those who live to rightfully regret the choices they made today, as well as for those who will rejoice;
  • for all in future generations who will have to live with the consequences of the choices we make for them today;
  • and in it all for God, that in all my doings today I might be used by him to usher in his kingdom a wee bit more.

For all of these, I will cast my lot today.

By means of prayer.

Do vote with me, won’t you?

links: this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s, communication, compassion, respect & sensitivity: 5 Things to Never Say to a Person With Alzheimer’s

“When relating to a person with Alzheimer’s, there are many guidelines to follow. I’m going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: (1) Don’t tell them they are wrong about something, (2) Don’t argue with them, (3) Don’t ask if they remember something, (4) Don’t remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and (5) Don’t bring up topics that may upset them.”

Attitude, admiration, behavior, character & emulation: Five People I Admire [required reading]

“1. I admire people who are respectful and gracious in their speech. … 2. I admire people who are quick to say ‘I’m sorry.’ … 3. I admire people who build up instead of destroy. … 4. I admire people who don’t have to be the center of attention. … 5. I admire people who spread joy instead of cynicism.”

Awkwardness, friendship, generations & vulnerability: The Silver Lining of Awkwardness [required reading]

“An opportunity is buried inside each of your awkward moments. … Awkwardness is an invitation to vulnerability. And vulnerability is where friendship is born.”

Hispanics & politics: Finding a Place: Hispanic Faith, Work and Identity

“It’s the middle of another election year. And while midterms historically draw a smaller crowd of voters, they bring to the forefront of political conversation a variety of issues intended to energize voter bases and solidify party candidates. Predictably, one of those issues is once again immigration.”

Maps: 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

“Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.”

Marriage & relationships: Eight Things Healthy Couples Don’t Do

“It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media. Here are eight things healthy couples don’t do …”

Reflection, silence & spiritual growth: Screwtape and Silence

“Why we need times of quiet reflection — and why the devil hates them.”

this went thru my mind

 

Consumerism: Committed to Unhappiness: Consumerism is the Enemy of the Church by Tony Campolo [required reading]

“The truth is that secular humanism is not the primary enemy of the Church.  Instead, the enemy of the Church is consumerism.  We have made an idol out of the things that are being sold.  We bow down and worship the commodities that are paraded before us on television.  We are enslaved to a mindset that tells us that we must possess more and more because we can never have enough.  These are the things that are dragging us away from Jesus. Our inability to enjoy life without a continual sense of craving consumer goods and being continuously satisfied with who we are and what we have is good news for economic growth and, after all, economic growth is what both political parties are preaching these days.”

Elections: * A Post-Election Reminder by Rubel Shelly [required reading]; * David Lipscomb on Voting by Richard Beck

* “If your candidate wins, can you assume that his every promise will be kept promptly and without fail? … If your candidate loses, will you be demoralized with the thought that all is lost? … You know better. The election of neither candidate will destroy the country, shatter the global economy, or make it impossible for godly people to seek the Kingdom of God. … A believer’s ultimate allegiance – and hope – is in the reign of God. Her hope is not in a human system, political party, or leader; it is in Jesus Christ.”

* “May the voice of David Lipscomb be recovered and increase in the Churches of Christ. Our churches need him.”

Hurricane Sandy relief efforts: New Jersey Congregation Brings Hope to Beach Town Hit Hard by Superstorm Sandy

“Among the New Jersey congregations heavily involved in the relief effort is the Gateway Church of Christ … Carl Williamson provides a first-person account of his family’s experience during the storm and shares details on the Gateway church’s relief work in hard-hit Union Beach, N.J.”

Jesus, our conception of & culture: Oh Constantine by Greg Boyd [required viewing; 5:45 min. clip]

“When you pick up the sword, you put down the cross.”

Marriage: Marriage With a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse by Brad Hambrick

“We are all married to a self-centered spouse. That is what it means for us to be fallen people who are bound to experience life from within our bodies. But there are cases where this ‘general self-centeredness’ becomes chronic — severe to a point that it either results in a marital environment of abuse or neglect.”

Meditation: What Did the Psalmist Mean by “Meditation”?

“… neither of the Hebrew words translated as ‘meditate’ or ‘meditation’ refers to silent activities. … we should probably imagine him singing or reciting the psalm from memory.”

Truth: Our Glaring Obsession With Truth by Terry Rush

“Jesus is the train wreck that must happen to any tribe.  He will not let us continue to do church our smug and small ways.  Yes, narrow is the way; but narrow isn’t that we don’t allow much.  Rather, narrow is defined by one singular Son of God named Jesus….as the author of salvation….and no one else.”

U.S. culture & religious diversity: Map of Religious Diversity in America

“This gets at how varied, or diverse, religious affiliation is in different regions of the country. As you can see, the areas with the most diversity also tend to have the lowest rates of adherence.”