links to 10 items worth your time

1. Can Israel and Jordan cooperate to save the dying Dead Sea

“… the Jordan River isn’t the only biblical-site-turned-environmental-disaster.”

2. America’s New Religions

“Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning.”

3. How N.T. Wright Stole Christmas

“As it turns out, Wright is no Grinch. He didn’t steal Christmas. What he stole was a false Christmas, a de-contextualized and apolitical Christmas. But we shouldn’t have bought that Christmas in the first place, and should have been embarrassed to display it so proudly on the mantle. Good riddance, and Bah humbug.”

4. Gun-shy About Committing to Church

“Surviving spiritual abuse means I’ve had to learn to balance my wariness (especially if I sense a leader is practicing those familiar old power games) with a commitment to remain vigilant about allowing bitterness to take root in my soul. I don’t try to silence my internal critic during a church service or gathering, as this voice serves an important role in helping me to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. However, I work to listen for the things that harmonize with that critic by seeking to worship God in community, be present with others he’s placed in my path, and serve without feeling the compulsion I once did to say ‘yes’ to every request.”

5. Becoming Poor and Finding Friendship on the Margins

“We assume God’s friendship is enough as we seek to make friends with God’s people: the poor, the suffering, the lonely, and all those who cry out from their hearts for mercy. This is how we live out Christ’s good news on the margins.”

6. Resilient Kids Come From Parents Who Do These 8 Things

“… resilience is a behavior learned through explicit lessons and examples, one that teaches kids how to, among other things, better handle stress, understand that rejection is not a comment on their entire existence, and view setbacks as things that don’t need to sideline them for good.”

7. ‘A Witness That They Were Here’: Los Angeles Honors 1,457 of Its Unclaimed Dead

“They are the forgotten people of Los Angeles — 1,457 people, to be exact. Old, poor, homeless, babies born premature and abandoned. They may have died alone, but they were buried together, in a mass grave, and were honored together this week in an interfaith ceremony that has been an annual ritual in Los Angeles for more than a century.”

8. Attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world

“… conceiving of attention as a resource misses the fact that attention is not just useful. It’s more fundamental than that: attention is what joins us with the outside world. ‘Instrumentally’ attending is important, sure. But we also have the capacity to attend in a more ‘exploratory’ way: to be truly open to whatever we find before us, without any particular agenda. …

“So, as well as attention-as-resource, it’s important that we retain a clear sense of attention-as-experience.”

9. Millennials experience work-disrupting anxiety at twice the US average rate

“Nearly one in five US workers are debilitated by anxiety or depression, and the rate only climbs when you zoom in on younger generations.”

10. How Modern Technology is Bringing Ancient Writings to Light

“Powerful imaging tools are enabling researchers to see inside scrolls too fragile to unroll and recover texts too faint to see, making thousands of illegible manuscripts readable again.”

quote: the enthronement of Christ

This is what it looks like, today, when Jesus is running the world. This is, after all, what he told us to expect. The poor in spirit will be making the kingdom of heaven happen. The meek will be taking over the earth, so gently that the powerful won’t notice until it’s too late. The peacemakers will be putting the arms manufacturers out of business. Those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice will be analyzing government policy and legal rulings and speaking up on behalf of those at the bottom of the pile. The merciful will be surprising everybody by showing that there is a different way to do human relations other than being judgmental, eager to put everyone else down. ‘You are the light of the world,’ said Jesus. ‘You are the salt of the earth.’ He was announcing a program yet to be completed. He was inviting his hearers, then and now, to join him in making it happen. This is, quite simply, what it looks like when Jesus is enthroned.

N.T. Wright

quote: N.T. Wright on the Psalms

“As you sing the Psalms, pray the Psalms, and ponder the Psalms, you will find yourself drawn into a world in which certain things make sense that would not otherwise do so. In particular, you will be drawn into a world where God and Jesus make sense in a way they would not otherwise do. … The Psalms are the steady, sustained sub-current of healthy Christian living. They shaped the praying and vocation of Jesus. They can and will do the same for us.” (N.T. Wright)

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be thought-provoking and helpful reading:

Alliances, Bible interpretation, Israel, politics & war: Why Evangelicals Should Think Twice about Equating Modern Israel with Israel of the Bible

“Ancient Israel was not supposed to have a standing army. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to fund a permanent military. Israel’s rulers were forbidden from amassing large numbers of horses (Deuteronomy 17:16-17)—which was about as close as you could get to an arms race in the ancient Near East. Israel’s king was not supposed to make foreign military alliances. God stipulated that Israel should remain militarily weak so they would learn to trust him for protection.”

Benevolence, community, evangelism, & outreach: Instead of a Coffee Shop How About a Laundromat?

“… what would be a good third space for a poor neighborhood like the one surrounding our church? A place that would serve the neighborhood but could also be a place where people would spend time talking and forming relationships? My idea has always been for our church to run laundromat.”

Faith & prayer: 11 Brother Lawrence Quotes that Will Challenge How You Practice Faith

“After a dramatic religious conversion, young soldier Nicholas Herman decided to devote his life to following God and learning more about Christ. He joined a monastery and took the name Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. There, he spent the rest of his life working in a kitchen and repairing his brothers’ sandals. But during his decades of doing seemingly menial jobs, Brother Lawrence discovered a profound truth about having a relationship with God: Experiencing His presence can—and should—happen everywhere.”

God’s character, justice & vengeance: Deconstructing the Bully God – N.T. Wright

“…  love, faced with rejection, overcomes it with yet more love.”

Non-violence & violence: Does the Bible Teach Total Non-Violence? [essential reading]

“If you honestly, carefully, and with an open mind study the following passages, I believe you’ll agree that the teaching against violence for Kingdom people is as clear as any teaching in the Bible could ever be. I’ll break this sampling of passages (the list isn’t at all exhaustive) into three categories, Old Testament, teachings of Jesus and teachings in the rest of the New Testament.”

links: this went thru my mind

Church & kingdom: Raising Stones at the Gateway of Heaven: The Kingdom of God as Event

“Kingdom of God is an event rather than an organization. Some time ago I described the relationship between the Kingdom and the church this way …”

Church dropouts, twenties & young adults: The Real Reasons Young Adults Drop Out of Church

“Young adults drop out of church because their faith isn’t their own.”

Eternal punishment, God’s character & hell: Hell & Eternal Punishment?

“How are we consistently to conceive of a God who loves and died for every human who ever existed preserving their existence forever for no other purpose than perpetual torment? Further, how are we to understand the redeemed enjoying untainted bliss in heaven if alongside of this kingdom billions of people and fallen angels will be experiencing excruciating, unending anguish? The problem is exceedingly difficult and extremely important.”

Fish, fishing & the Sea of Galilee: Fish of the Sea of Galilee

“… there are 18 species of indigenous fish in the Sea of Galilee, and that 10 of those are important commercially.”

God & the Old Testament: 10 Old Testament Passages That Shape How I Think About God [required reading]

“God is not impressed with what we call success but with what is deep within us, perhaps even deeper than we ourselves can see.”

Happiness, joy, politics & suffering: * What is the Difference Between Joy and Happiness? [required reading]; * The Political Significance of Joy [a 20 min. video of an interview of N.T. Wright by Miroslav Volf]

* “or the most part, segments of our life, often entire chunks of it, aren’t going well and much of it we don’t live well. Given that joy attaches to life going well and being led well, must joy be lost to us? It need not be. We can rejoice over the many small goods we experience, and for those of us who are religious, we can find joy in the One Good that is both the source and the goal of our existence. Though fragmentary, all small joys celebrate goods in our lives that are and remain wonderful, at times no more than tender plants in the cracks of our otherwise heavily cemented and gray lives. And in all true joys we yearn for, and perhaps also faintly experience, a world in which all things and all manner of things shall be well.”

* “… the suffering is a badge of the fact that we’re sharing the Messianic sufferings of Jesus. … suffering is hope-full.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Change, church, leadership & ministry: Your Three Options When Instituting Change

“Change is hard no matter where it happens, but it seems like it can be hardest in churches.”

Choices, decision-making, poverty & time: No Money, No Time

“When Mr. Shafir first began to study poverty, he came in with an overarching assumption: The poor made the same mistakes in judgment as everyone else, except theirs ended up being more costly. He soon learned he was wrong. ‘They were making mistakes that were different. They weren’t the typical decision errors. They were worse,’ he recalls. ‘When you don’t have enough, you focus on the little you have, and it leaves you with less attention.” And the “little you have,” he found, didn’t have to come from financial hardship.'”

Ecology, eschatology, future & hope: Jesus is Coming: Go Plant a Tree

“Yes, we need to be saved; Yes, we are saved by Christ; but Why? So we can bring glory to God as God’s Eikons ruling creation on God’s behalf.”

Intercession, prayer & public prayer: Praying for Others in Public

“Hope is at the core of prayer, and this means we need to be immersed in Scripture in order to see how God has acted so we can know how God will act. We need to name God’s faithfulness as the foundation for our intercession. We need to dare to be imperative before God the Father. The resurrection, the transfiguration and the incarnation form the core of our intercessions. We ask — we don’t hint or suggest or go all vague. Expect results, spell them out, express our hopes. Be the change or become the answer to the intercession. Pray for the church to become what God wants it to become.”

War: After All – On the Folly of War

“In my lifetime, we have not fought in one single war that was a declared war, or met the Geneva conventions for a justifiable war. Not one.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading: The Least Popular Books of the Bible

“Most of these aren’t terribly surprising, especially the fact that the list is dominated by the Minor Prophets. But besides the surprising inclusion of Jonah on the list, it’s too bad not to see more love for Zephaniah and Jude at least.”

Baptism, children & David Lipscomb: On Children, Baptism and David Lipscomb (1914)

“When those so nurtured want to be baptized, it is sufficient that they want to obey the Lord. … I think Lipscomb offers some godly advice for parents, ministers, and youth leaders.”

Forgiveness: Is it Biblical to Forgive and Forget?

“The fact is that the notion of ‘forgive and forget’ has been misused to the point that it has actually hindered relationships and reconciliation. On the surface it implies that to forgive is to say that the wrong inflicted was not that bad, it’s all ok and let’s just move on and forget about it.”

Renunciation & self-mortification: Renunciation

“Love involves the renunciation of sin in our lives. A renunciation of wickedness and the Devil. Ponder the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. … when we speak of ‘renouncing sin’ we … are thinking of self-discipline as a foundational capacity that allows the fruits of the Spirit to grow and flourish.”

New Perspective on Paul, N.T. Wright, salvation, and sin: More on “The Plight” from Wright

“Grasping this more robust and far-reaching Scriptural depiction of what is wrong leads to a greater appreciation for God’s manifold action in Christ, and to a greater understanding of how God’s people inhabit and embody the massive (and under-explored) reality called ‘salvation.'”