links: this went thru my mind

Afghanistan, Iraq, ISIS, veterans & war: The Truth About the Wars

“If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I think we’re there.”

Church, expectations, inclusion, mission, perceptions & welcome: 3 Ways ‘All Are Welcome’ Is Hurting the Church

“Churches — like individuals — are called to know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and discern a clear and specific mission to where Jesus is calling them to act. Many times churches actually do have in mind a particular subset of people with whom they’d like repopulate their congregation. Many times this particular subset looks an awful lot like the current membership of the church, albeit 20-30 years ago. Often, though, neighborhoods and needs have changed. And a vital ministry — perhaps to immigrant workers, to retired folks, to single adults — is forgotten in light of chasing the ever-elusive ‘young families.'”

Corporate worship, hymns, music & singing: My Journey Away from Contemporary Worship Music

“I make this plea to my fellow ministers, do not neglect these milestones from ages past.”

Economics, income inequality & politics: A Change That Isn’t Coming

“…  until the two parties put forward lasting and structural fixes for these problems the pain and outrage are only going to intensify. And as the pain grows the American electorate will continue to lash out blindly and schizophrenically, alternately punishing the party in power and hoping for a change that isn’t coming.”

Joseph Smith, Latter-Day Saints, Mormons & polygamy: It’s Official: Mormon Founder Had Up to 40 Wives

“The biggest bombshell for some in the essays is that Smith married women who were already married, some to men who were Smith’s friends and followers.”

links: this went thru my mind

Accountability & responsibility: The Difference Between Accountability and Responsibility

“Accountability … making, keeping, and managing agreements and expectations. … Responsibility … the feeling of ownership.”

ADHD, children, medicine & public schools: Why So Many kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

“In the following post, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist … suggests … another reason more children are being diagnosed with ADHD, whether or not they really have it: the amount of time kids are forced to sit while they are in school.”

Community, inclusion, isolation, loneliness, relationships & violence: Sandy Hook Dad on What You Can Do Right Now to Help Prevent Violence

“… we should … do what we can to foster empathy; to create a world where no one feels invisible and ignored — least of all those who disproportionately fall victim to our collective failure to care enough to act.”

Discipleship, obedience & salvation: * Disciple; * Christ is Lord: What Does It Mean?

* “When Jesus describes discipleship, he does so in stunningly simple terms: teaching, obeying, and trusting.”

* “It’d be a pretty sick marriage if one spouse were to ask the other spouse, ‘What’s the minimal level I can be committed to my marriage vows without you divorcing me?’ Well, this is basically what we’re doing when we ask, ‘How submitted do I have to be to the Lord to be saved?'”

Evangelism & outreach: The Great Commission Means Sharing Christ’s Story, Not Yours

“We’re all about ‘sharing our testimonies’ and ‘telling our stories’ and recounting our ‘spiritual journey.’ … But there’s a subtle danger lurking here. Because of our emphasis on conversion stories and testimonies, we can unintentionally make people think that evangelism is the same thing as sharing your experience. We interpret The Great Commission’s ‘Go make disciples’ as ‘Go tell your story.’ They are not the same thing.”

Faith, military service, pacifism, unity & war: Christians Going to War

“The purpose of this blog is NOT to take a position, but to make a VERY IMPORTANT point. I have never heard a church to DIVIDE over the WAR ISSUE. Somehow we argue our points, and then continue to study and pray and work TOGETHER. But ironically we DIVIDE over many other questions. This does not make sense. At the very least, we need to be consistent. Through the centuries, the war issue has been important for some, and not for others. Human beings cannot agree on any issue. But Christians should love one another and love all people even when we disagree.”

Marriage: 5 Important Questions to Ask Before You Tie the Knot

“1. Does this person have integrity? … 2. Do I Respect This Person? … 3. Can I Continue to Respect and Love This Person if Their Most Annoying Habit or Significant Weakness Never Changes? … 4. Does This Person Deeply Love God? … 5. Does This Person Encourage Me in Word and in Action?”

Money & saving: 27 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

“Think you can’t save? Think again. Sure, it seems like there’s not much wiggle room in your budget, due to the rising costs of basic necessities — but that’s all the more reason to have a slush fund. Fortunately, there are plenty of painless ways to siphon cash from even a fixed income.”

imminent domain (3)

How then can the church better be a place where God’s Dominion is manifest? First it must seek to be a fellowship of the transformed. It must manifest the character of God within its own fellowship and in its dealings with the world. “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). In short, the church must be a place where kingdom qualities are in evidence. There can be no place for rivalry or racism, segregation or sexism, greed or graft in the church. Righteousness must be our garment, justice our goal, love the means to all such ends. …

When Jesus told stories about who would sit down at the messianic banquet when the Dominion of God fully came on earth, he reminded his followers that there would be some surprising people present. “I tell you that many will come from the East and the West and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Dominion of heaven while the heirs of the Dominion will be thrown into outer darkness” (Matt. 8:11; cf. Luke 13:28-29). The question such strong warnings raise for us is whether the church is a winsome place. Is it a place that the least, the last, and lost find inviting and helpful? Is it a place where the least, last, and the loss become the first, the most, and the found? Is the church, any church, a hospital for sick sinners or a museum for saints? Doing a better job of ministering to its community is one way a church can better manifest God’s Dominion.

Ben Witherington in Imminent Domain: The Story of the Kingdom of God and Its Celebration (pp.27-28)

to all who have faith

First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the news about your faithfulness is being spread throughout the whole world. I serve God in my spirit by preaching the good news about God’s Son, and God is my witness that I continually mention you in all my prayers. I’m always asking that somehow, by God’s will, I might succeed in visiting you at last. I really want to see you to pass along some spiritual gift to you so that you can be strengthened. What I mean is that we can mutually encourage each other while I am with you. We can be encouraged by the faithfulness we find in each other, both your faithfulness and mine.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I planned to visit you many times, although I have been prevented from coming until now. I want to harvest some fruit among you, just as I have done among the other Gentiles. I have a responsibility both to Greeks and to those who don’t speak Greek, both to the wise and to the foolish.

That’s why I’m ready to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness for faith, as it is written, The righteous person will live by faith. (Romans 1:8-17 CEB)

My being right with God isn’t predicated on my pedigree or possessions.

Your being rescued from the spiritual quicksand in which you find yourself isn’t qualified by your nationality or race.

Our salvation from Satan, sin, and ourselves isn’t hinged to our status or strength.

Such is the power of God. Such is the good news to be shouted from the rooftops. Such is the reason I’m encouraged, not ashamed, to be a Christian.

Praise God!

Father in heaven, because of you, I believe. Through Jesus, may my belief be continuous and contagious. Amen.

whoever

Who would you accept as your friend? Who would you open your home up to and take in as one of your own? Just anyone from anywhere? No matter their background or reputation, no matter their history or track record?

We serve a fantastically inclusive God. He stands ready to step into relationship with anyone – absolutely anyone – who respects him and lives accordingly.

Don’t move away from that thought too quickly; let that soak in a bit.

Nothing makes this point plainer than the way Jesus throws “whoever” statements out on the table. They’re found in abundance in all four Gospels, but in John’s Gospel, suddenly they double in number. Clearly, for whatever reason, John bends over backwards to get the message across that “whoever” wants to step into a real relationship with God can do so and the way they can do that is through submitting their life to Jesus.

Today’s reading in the Fresh Bread project is John 10-12. You’ll find nine “whoever” statements in this passage alone, nearly one fourth of all of the “whoever” statements in John’s Gospel. But to more fully appreciate the “whoeverness” of our God, consider the following collection of “whoever” statements from across John’s Gospel, a list which, I might add, is by no means comprehensive. Let the inclusiveness of God wash over you, and at the same time, heed the warnings against choosing to not be one of the “whoever.”

Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son. (3:18)

Whoever does the truth comes to the light so that it can be seen that their actions were done in God. (3:21)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever doesn’t believe in the Son won’t see life, but the angry judgment of God remains on them. (3:36)

… whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. (4:14)

Whoever doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father who sent him. I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life. (5:23-24)

Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (6:35)

I assure you, whoever believes has eternal life. (6:47)

Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. … Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. … Whoever eats this bread will live forever. (6:51,54,56,58)

Whoever wants to do God’s will can tell whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own. (7:17)

Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life. (8:12)

I assure you that whoever keeps my word will never die. (8:51)

I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. (10:9)

Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. (11:25)

Whoever serves me must follow me. … My Father will honor whoever serves me. (12:26)

Whoever believes in me doesn’t believe in me but in the one who sent me. Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. (12:44-45)

Whoever rejects me and doesn’t receive my words will be judged at the last day by the word I have spoken. (12:48)

I assure you that whoever receives someone I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. (13:20)

I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. (14:12)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. … Whoever loves me will keep my word. … Whoever doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. (John 14:21,23,24)

Whoever hates me also hates the Father. (15:23)

Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice. (18:37)

Prayer seems appropriate.

Heavenly Father, all praise be to you for your willingness to share all with your creation! Thank you for including all in your call to your Son’s kingdom. Include me in his kingdom. Deliver me from excluding myself. For I pray in his name. Amen.