links: this went thru my mind


Church, relationships & the marginalized: What of the Marginalized Christians?

“When Jesus ministered to people in the margins, the majority of them were people who were in the margins of Judaism, the church. They were already a part of the faith.”

Computing: 8 Essential Browser Tips & Tricks

“The Web browser is a funny thing. It’s one of the most-used computer programs, but many people don’t really understand it. … Today, I’m helping you get the most out of your browser with a few simple tricks that you really need to know.”

Justice, penal system, prison, punishment & solitary confinement: Solitary Confinement: 29 Years in a Box

“Prisoners in solitary confinement tend to be restricted to cells of 80 square feet, not much larger than a king-size bed.”

Marriage: How Do I Get My Wife to Love Me Again?

“A man seldom understands (this man included) how different a woman is from a man.”

Ministry: Three Smooth Stones for Ministry

“Ministry is about the two most unpredictable forces in the world–the Spirit of God and human beings. There’s little predicting to be done, or little cause and effect logic to be implemented when these are the primary mediums involved in your work.”

Non-resistance, nonviolence, pacifism & violence: The Case for Non-Resistance– Part One [essential reading]

“The nations of this world employ physical weapons of offense and defense. When Jesus announced His new nation, He needed to clarify the character of His nation with respect to the use of force.”

this went thru my mind


Aging: Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer (part 1)

Calvinism: Links to parts 1, 2 & 3 of Scot McKnight’s series entitled Calvinism: My History.

Children & prayer: Teaching Children to Pray by L. Cecile Adams

Christmas: * The Visual History of Christmas Trees (infographic); * Would the Real Saint Nick Please Stand Up? by Michael Fletcher; * Blessed are the Entitled? by Rachael Held Evans

Cynicism: Why Cynicism Might Kill A Generation by Stephen Altrogge

Doubts: Doubts by Brian Mashburn

Dropouts: Why Do Christians Leave the Faith? (links to parts 1-4 of a projected 6-part series):
The Fundamental Importance of Apologetics (part 1)
Breaking-up with a God Who Failed Them (part 2)
The Problem of Responding Badly to Doubt (part 3)
The Relative Unimportance of Non-Christians (part 4)

Emergent: Did Youth Ministry Create the Emerging Church? (links to part 1 and part 2)

Facebook: How to Handle Unwanted Friend Requests

God: Links to parts one, two, and three of Roger E. Olson’s series entitled Is There Hierarchy in the Trinity?

Health: * Why Sitting is Killing You (infographic); * Occupational Knowledge International (OKI “works to build capacity in developing countries to identify, monitor, and mitigate environmental and occupational exposures to hazardous materials in order to protect public health and the environment.”) The work of these people, evident from their site, will make you think about the true, human cost of what you buy, use, and throw away.

Internet security: Everyone who is online needs to have some savvy and street-smarts to avoid being duped online. Test your savvy at identifying Internet dangers by taking OpenDNS’ Think You Can Outsmart Internet Scammers quick quiz. See if you can discern the difference between legitimate websites and phishing sites.

KJV: The Bible of King James by Adam Nicolson

Pacifism: Pacifism vs. Christology (links to parts 12 & 3 of a series)

People: * 5 Kinds of People You’ll Face in Ministry by Bev Hislop; * Leaders: Find the Devil in Pew Number Seven by Joe McKeever

Personal development: What Will You Be Like in the Next Ten Years? by Jim Martin

Philemon: Five Pastoral Insights From Philemon

Small groups: 6 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Leading Small Groups by Marc Cortez

Time: * Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time; * Online countdown timer

Wealth: The Global Rich List

you must be patient

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the coming of the Lord.” (James 5:7a CEB)

This verse will sneak up on you. It wears plain clothes, but it’s packing heat.

Keep this statement in its context and brand into your mind exactly what it is James is saying we Christians must avoid. The context is oppression (5:1-6) and what we’re called as Christians to avoid becoming in the face of oppression is impatience.

Now what do oppressed people tend to do when they become impatient with their situation? They take matters into their own hands. They cast off self-restraint and rise up to retaliate against their oppressors. Their impatience fuels aggression and violence. In short, they become like their oppressors.

This isn’t merely a hard teaching. It is nothing short of scandalous to many, many who also claim faith. James is bluntly laying down here the Lord’s expectations for his people who have it hard. And this is what he’s saying:

“We Christians are different and we must remain different in the most difficult of times. When some around us start to say, “Don’t tread on me or you’ll feel cold steel!,’ we look them in the eye and say, ‘Such are not the ways of the Prince of peace. Drop your weapon and leave it to the Lord to set things right when and how he will.’ When hotheads proclaim ‘We’re not going to take it anymore, it’s time to revolt!’, we respond by saying, ‘No, it’s time to be patient. The Lord Almighty sees and knows what’s going on.’ When the call goes out, ‘Take up arms!’, we respond, as did our Lord, ‘Enough of that!’ We will not become like those who abuse us. We will be different. We will belong to the Lord and we will be like him, come what may, and that means violence is not our way.”

As hard as it is to admit and say, say it we must. For many, many who claim to be Christians, faith is not the turnkey to living life as designed by God. No, for them, sadly, the supreme value is human freedom. No small amount of blood has been, and still is this hour, shed with that value as supreme in mind. “Give me liberty or give me death!” is the battle cry. But freedom must never reign supreme, rather faith in him who is supreme. And true faith, James says, expresses itself in patience, come what may, in him who has promised to come again. Faith that recognizes that we live not to be free in the flesh, but to live set free in God.

“Therefore, my kin in Christ, it is imperative that you patiently wait for the Lord to set things right at his return.” (James 5:7a DSV)

In the name of Jesus, Father, may I ever exercise the courage and conviction that patient waiting for you requires, no matter how hard or how long you call me to wait on you. Amen.

what would you do? (5)

Next to war, personal assault is one of the most terrifying experiences we encounter. Still, the faith question must be asked. What does it mean to live out my belief in Gospel-based non-violence when a man is standing in my bedroom? Ponder the Sermon on the Mount, the call to love enemies, and the centrality of reconciliation in the Christian ethic. Do these mean anything as I stand face-to-face with a burglar? A rapist? A man who may be a murderer? …

When defense is the issue, Westernized Christianity tends to define responsibility and right in terms of destroying whatever is experienced as threatening. In theological terms, we tend to see the destruction of evil as a necessary prelude to the coming of the kingdom of which Jesus spoke. Hence, if I kill or blind the rapist or render him sexually impaired, I have protected myself, bettered society, and furthered the coming of God’s reign. Even if not said so bluntly, that is the logic. Destruction of evil is seen as the way to promote the good. …

It is hard to find the basis for this logic in the Scriptures. Rather than destruction of enemies, the Christian ethic calls for their conversion and counts on enough love on my part to facilitate the process. Somehow the oppressed, the victim, has a role to play in the life of the person held by evil – whether the roots of the evil are economic, psychological, or the effects of our cultural racism and sexism. Yet what can this mean for a person confronted by dangerous, assaultive behavior? Not much, when there is no time for response in the interaction. With or without a gun, if you are clubbed on the head from behind, the chance for any defense is nil. But when the time sequence in an assault allows for defense, it allows for more than violence.

Jesus offered a different method of defense. He called it love for enemies, wanting wholeness, well-being, and life for those who may be broken, sick, and deadly (Matt. 5:44). Jesus meant this to be the cornerstone of an entirely new process of disarming evil, a response which would decrease evil instead of feeding it as violence does.

A quotation of Angie O’Gorman in Howard Yoder’s book What Would You Do? (Herald Press, 1992 expanded edition); pp.120-122

what would you do? (4)

In discussions two basic questions have been asked again and again as rebuttal to pacifism: “What would you do if someone attacked your wife and children?” and “What about the Russians?” Would you just sit back and let them take over?”

The assumed answer is that any man in his right mind would be ready to fight and, if necessary, kill to fend off such an attack on loved ones, and that if we must be ready to do that for the family, we must be ready to do that against enemies of the country. …

As a Christian I know that in any family attack situation, it would be wrong for me to move against the life and person of that attacker. To do so would be utterly contrary to the teaching and way of Christ. And I surely would not try to kill the wife and children of the attacker – which would be the analogy for much that is done in war. …

The crucial question here is whether Jesus is seen as Lord. Jesus gave the command: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28). He lived that teaching in the way he faced his enemies.

That ever-repeated question does have great emotional power: What would I do if someone was about to rape and kill my wife, or kill a child of mine? However, if I am a Christian, there is a prior and more determinative question: Do I see Jesus as Lord of my life also for such a situation? If I hold to this Lord, I cannot move against the life of the attacker. …

Perhaps a Christian says, “If my wife or child were about to be killed, I’d certainly try to kill the guy to prevent it.” That person is really saying, “I couldn’t have Jesus as Lord of my life in that situation; I couldn’t allow myself to be limited in such a way.” That would-be disciple is deciding beforehand to go opposite from the way of Christ and, in that manner of thinking, has already turned from Christ. If we look to Jesus as Lord, we cannot have guns in our homes with the idea of using them to protect ourselves and our loved ones. …

The church in local fellowships should be committed to this way of Jesus. Then members can stand together supporting each other in a stance that is so much in contrast to the violence of the world.

A quotation of Dale Aukerman in Howard Yoder’s book What Would You Do? (Herald Press, 1992 expanded edition); pp.78,79,80

what would you do? (3)

Jesus acted decisively to defend any under attack, but not by crushing the attackers. There is in the Gospels an incident somewhat comparable to the situation asked about in the ever-repeated question, “What would you do if somebody attacked your wife, mother, sister …?”

Jesus was on the scene when the life of a defenseless woman was about to be taken (Jn. 8:2-11). Stones were in those tensed hands ready for hurling at the terrified adulteress. Jesus did not stand by and do nothing. But neither did he call down fire from heaven or rally his disciples to grab up whatever defensive stones they could find lying around. He halted the drive to crush the life out of her. He met their lethal force with a far different kind of power. There was no crushing of the attackers.

True, his was a limited triumph that day. His initiative did not draw those men into fellowship, but it did hold them back from total negation of fellowship. Jesus stood between the woman and the attackers. In effect he took the brunt of their attack upon himself. The bitter madness which extinguished his life was in part the very madness which he had held back from that woman.

Similarly, Jesus in Gethsemane defended the disciples by drawing the attack to himself: “If you seek me, let these men go” (Jn. 18:8). He defended them by absorbing the evil that was pressing toward them all.

When defense is needed, Christians should look to Jesus as the model. In Jesus we are shown what it is to be the kind of person God wants. “He who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 Jn. 2:6) Would God ever expect from us a mode of defense which we do not at all see in Jesus?

A quotation of Dale Aukerman in Howard Yoder’s book What Would You Do? (Herald Press, 1992 expanded edition); pp.75-76

what would you do? (1)

Question: If war is wrong for the Christian, why did God himself in the Old Testament lead Israel into battle and into victory against their enemies?

Answer: The Jews were then living in the age of law and judgment: while we dwell in the dispensation of grace and mercy! Right here is where there is an appalling amount of thick ignorance among God’s own people, resulting in this everlasting muddling up of Old Testament and New Testament teaching of law and grace, of judgment and mercy, of war and peace, all through failing to ‘rightly divide the word of truth.” We find recorded in the 17th verse of the first chapter of John’s Gospel that “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” God ordered Israel to wipe out in direct judgment the morally rotten Canaanites: but find me in the New Testament where Christ ever sent his followers on such a mission? On the contrary, he sent them out to save men – not to butcher them like cattle. Again Jehovah openly declared himself on Israel’s side, by startling miracles, both at Jericho and with Gideon, as well as at many other times and places. What nation now in the bloody mess can produce such proofs of it being in the right, or of God being on its side?

From an article penned by S.H. Booth during the first World War and reproduced in What Would You Do?: A Serious Answer to a Standard Question by John Howard Yoder (Herald Press, 1992 expanded edition), pp.51-52