links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five items I consider to be interesting and helpful.

Being wrong, fallibility, humility, mistakes & pride: On Being Wrong [18 min. TED talk video]

“Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? ‘Wrongologist’ Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.”

Birth of Christ & Christmas: The Nonsense of Christmas (parts 1, 2 & 3) by Ben Witherington

“Risking the possibility that I might be called Scrooge, I am going to muster up my courage and hope that it might be useful to do some demythologizing of Christmas.”

Deception, lies & torture: Senate Torture Report Faults C.I.A. for Brutality and Deceit

“In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. … The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.”

Morality & sin: Sin is Not a Moral Problem [essential reading]

“The habits of our culture are to think of sin in moral terms. It is simple, takes very little effort, and agrees with what everyone around you thinks. But it is theologically incorrect. … the capture of the Church’s theology by moralism is a true captivity and not an expression of the Orthodox mind.

“So how do we think of right and wrong, of spiritual growth, of salvation itself if sin is not a moral problem? We do not ignore our false choices and disordered passions (habits of behavior). But we see them as symptoms, as manifestations of a deeper process at work. The smell of a corpse is not the real problem and treating the smell is not at all the same thing as resurrection.

“The work of Christ is the work of resurrection. Our life in Christ is not a matter of moral improvement – it is life from the dead. We are buried into His death – and it is a real death – complete with all that death means. But His death was not unto corruption. He destroyed corruption. Our Baptism into Christ’s death is a Baptism into incorruption, the healing of the fundamental break in our communion with God.”

Unchurched & the United States: 10 Facts About America’s Churchless

“In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada. … The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church. … Unchurched adults are more likely to be white.”

links: this went thru my mind

Divorce: The Divorce Surge is Over, But the Myth Lives On

“Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since. About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce …”

Economics, the middle class & wages: This is Why the Middle Class Can’t Get Ahead

“When’s the last time you worked overtime? How about the last time you worked overtime and got paid for it? If you’re in the middle class, probably not recently. Only Americans who make less than $23,660 a year are automatically eligible for time-and-a-half pay after working 40 hours a week. Today, that’s only 11 percent of salaried workers. It didn’t used to be this way …”

Noise, quiet & silence: We Need More Silence in Our Lives [essential reading]

“Face it. We are afraid of what will happen if we turn off all the noise.”

Pride, self & self-righteousness: Our Moral Compass Is Turned Toward Self-Righteousness [essential reading]

“…  what if we’re so used to seeing self-righteousness on the right that we’re blinded to the self-righteousness of the left? And what if we are so good at smelling self-righteousness in others that we miss the stench coming from ourselves?”

Youth ministry: Youth Ministry and Culture

“The Youth Ministry Initiative recently posted a series of videos from their Summer of Study program. The Center’s Skip Masback interviews participating scholars on the topic of culture and youth ministry.”

it’s a good day not to gloat

gloat (glōt); verb; to feel or express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction.

  • Did your guy or gal win in the elections yesterday?
  • Did you get your way with the results from yesterday’s voting?
  • Did that co-worker who has been talkin’ political smack for weeks get squashed by the stats last night?
  • Do you feel a hint of self-righteous vindication and self-satisfaction welling up?
  • Do you have a bit of an ache within you for the coming weeks to pass quickly so you can watch those you helped lift up get to work their will?

Then remember: this verse could very well be the passage of Scripture you need most today and could be the one most immediately relevant to your living life as God would have it:

“You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune … nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.” (Obadiah 12)

Go and see what this means. For it is certainly the way of our Lord for us.

“… you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7.12)

guest post: it is better that he say

 

The following is a guest post by a good friend and brother of mine, Brock Paulk, who serves as the preaching minister with the Heritage Church of Christ in Keller, TX. Enjoy!

These are also proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah: It is the glory of God to hide something and the glory of kings to discover something. Like the high heavens and the depths of the earth, so the mind of a king is unsearchable. Remove the dross from the silver, and a vessel will come out for the refiner. Remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king, or stand in the place of important people, because it is better that he say to you, “Come up here” than to be demoted before a ruler. (Proverbs 25.1-7)

Have you ever been asked to describe your most embarrassing moment? It’s not a question you’re likely eager to answer in front of people you don’t know well.

We’ve all had moments we wish we could take back. Maybe you had a wardrobe malfunction, or maybe one of your kids repeated something in public that you wish they hadn’t heard you say at home. When I was in college helping to produce a welcome-to-campus event for the incoming freshman class, I ungracefully tripped, running at full speed, in front of 1500 new students and many of my school friends. Some impression I made!

It’s embarrassing to think about how much effort most of us go through to avoid being embarrassed, isn’t it? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m overly-compulsive about double-checking my pants zipper before I go on stage at our church to preach or make an announcement. In our culture, a lot of energy and money is spent on primping, grooming, trimming, preparing, and concealing in order to avoid embarrassment.

So the wisdom presented in Proverbs 25:1-7 seems practical, even for those of us to don’t often find ourselves in the presence of “royalty.” The passage reminds us – kings are ordained leaders, tasked with seeking Godly wisdom to direct the affairs of the kingdom in righteousness. And when you appear before the king and choose where to stand in the royal court, remember the relative importance of your position and choose accordingly so that you won’t be embarrassed.

… it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,” than to be demoted before a ruler.

Demotion is embarrassing. Demotion takes the wind out of your sails…it makes you look around and see who’s watching in the hopes that nobody else noticed.

When the opinion that matters is that of the earthly king, whose glory is different than God’s (v.1), a servant can garner promotion simply by standing in a strategic place.

But honor looks different for a follower of Christ.

After reading Proverbs 25:1-7, it’s an easy jump to think about Jesus’ instruction from Luke 14:7-14. Jesus offers similar wisdom here – when you’re invited to a feast, remember your position and choose your seat accordingly so that you won’t be embarrassed.

… go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored …

Of course, the temptation is to use the advice from these two passages to try to work the system, intentionally and visibly demoting ourselves in an attempt to garner compliments and accolades.

But Jesus takes a longer view into the future. When he says, “those who humble themselves will be exalted,” he’s not just explaining how to get a better dinner seat. Jesus is concerned with teaching his servants not to pursue rewards from humans, but to pursue honor “at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14)

In God’s economy, it’s not the humble seat that deserves honor, but the humble heart. When the opinion that matters is that of our Heavenly Father, we please him by emptying ourselves, emptying ourselves and becoming obedient (Philippians 2:6-8), just like Jesus.

The question for us becomes, “Which king do we serve?” If it’s the honor of humans that we desire, we can manipulate our way to promotion. If it’s the honor of the Kings of kings, we must give our honor away.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Abuse, atonement & God: Atonement and Divine Child Abuse

“About a decade ago it became avant garde theology to contend the classical Christian theory of atonement was nothing less than divine child abuse. That is, the image of a Father punishing a Son, or exacting retribution at the expense of his own Son, or punishing a Son for the good of others — each of these became a way of deconstructing classical atonement theory. … this approach … abuses the Bible’s image.”

Boredom, happiness, technology & wonder: Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy [required reading]

“Simply put, we bore easily. Once, when giving a radio address (an older technology which once seemed like magic), Albert Einstein looked straight into the muzzle of our dilemma: ‘Everybody should be ashamed who uses the wonders of science and engineering without thinking and having mentally realized not more of it than a cow realizes of the botany of the plants which it eats with pleasure.'”

Behavior & habits: 36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits

“I’ve learned these lessons the hard way.”

Blessings, money, possession & prosperity: The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

“So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living. No. My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us. And for this blessing, may our response always be, ‘Use me.'”

Church, humility, pride, relationships & self-esteem: * Sean Palmer, the Church [essential reading]; * Civil Religion: Better Than You [essential reading]

* “Reconciliation is what it means to be church; to go “to church.” It’s what Jesus intended our gatherings to be and to produce. I can’t be reconciled alone. I can worship alone, but I can’t do and be church alone. And I can’t be reconciled with people who are already just like me. Church is more than a gathering of my friends. It’s the differences, the tensions, the partisanship, the space between that creates the opportunity for God to transform my heart from what it is not to what God created it to be.”

* “Christianity is not about being better than someone else, it is among many things, the recognition that we are better than no one else. This is not a rhetorical move, it is reality.”

Cinema: Casting the Devil Out of the Jesus Story

“Why the ‘Son of God’ film excludes Satan from the Christ story—and what’s at stake.”

Nationalism: Which Country Does God Really Love the Most?

“Sometimes we Americans think that God is an American and that He loves all the other countries, but just wishes they were like His special country!”

Parenting, technology & teens: Tips for Parenting Middle School Kids Using Texting and Social Media

“The biggest concern parents have is the undue influence texting and social media has on their children. The best way to counter undue influence is to provide quality attention and take an active interest in what is happening with your child (beyond sports and grades) and help them put the texting and social media apps in proper perspective for their lives.”

Politics & religious liberty: How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions

“… no matter what soundbites you hear this election year, remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority.”

LIFE group guide: be humble

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Dec. 8). This guide will enable your follow-up of the morning sermon.

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of the sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.

To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.

• Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18.12)

• The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23.11-12)

• “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this. An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22.21-27)

• … being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2.8)

• … all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5.4b-6)

Relation

These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all just start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.

1. Who is a humble cartoon character that comes to mind? A proud one?

2. How does it make you feel, or what is stirred within you, when you witness humility?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon.

1. Matthew (26.20-35) and Mark (14.17-31) conspicuously leave out of their accounts of the Last Supper two matters Luke includes at length (22.14-38). What two matters?

2. What specific age group did Peter have in view when he penned 1 Peter 5.4-6?

Reflection

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What does Christianity look like without humility?

2. Is it possible to be humble without living as a servant? Without humiliation? Explain.

3. How exactly does a Christian avoid becoming proud or living in prideful ways?

4. Like contentment, humility is learned. What can a believer do to learn humility?

5. Respect your limits, but do not devalue yourself/short-sell your abilities. Thoughts?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid you in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Live one day with this thought foremost in mind: “I am here to serve others.” Repeat.

2. Resurrect a servant-habit you’ve “retired” from. Serve in a way you never have before.