links: this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, dehumanization, NRA, politics & torture: * Is Waterboarding How We “Baptize Terrorists”? – Sarah Palin, Enemies, and Christian Anthropology; * Why Sarah Palin is Right About Baptism by Waterboarding

* “For anyone to confess Christ as their Savior and to compare one of the means of God’s grace to an act of torture is reprehensible. I hope members of Gov. Palin’s local church will explain to her why her remarks [“waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists”] denigrate the Christian faith. Such remarks bring shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world. Even more shameful, however, is the fact that so many Christians would cheer her support of torture (and yes, waterboarding is torture).”

* “It was simply an American baptism instead of a Christian one.”

China, Christianity & statistics: China On Course to Become ‘World’s Most Christian Nation’ Within 15 Years

“The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America.”

Christianity, communication, homosexuality & same-sex marriage: The Jars are Clay … Not Titanium

“The most perilous thing about asking the world to listen to you is …they actually might.”

Congregational singing: How to Get People to Sing in Worship (Why Repetition Matters)

“How many times have you been in a worship service and no one was singing? This is especially true in many contemporary services. … If we aren’t singing in worship… is it really worship? Local congregations need to tackle this problem headlong. … You have to make it repetitive. Plain and simple.”

Racism: The Church & Racism in America

“…  if the church in America is going to get better at manifesting the ‘one new humanity’ of the Kingdom, the on-going power and injustice of this pyramid has got to be acknowledged, especially by the one’s who are its benefactors: white people like me.”

this went thru my mind

 

Following are six links to some posts I’ve found helpful in light of this week’s Supreme Court ruling regarding DOMA, same-sex marriage, etc.

High Court Strikes Down DOMA but Leaves Fate of Proposition 8 Uncertain

“According to combined data from two 2013 Pew Research Center polls, 50% of Americans now support same-sex marriage and 43% are opposed.”

I Believe It is Time – Division of STATE Licensing of Marriage (Civil Ceremony) and a SPIRITUAL Blessing of Marriage

“I believe it is time to separate the civil and ‘religious’ ceremonies of marriage. …  I don’t think there was ever an expectation within the biblical story that the faith community would be in agreement with cultural norms.  In fact, there are very clear perspectives throughout holy writ that imply that there will be a differentiation with culture.  So, I think it is time to do this with marriage.”

Prop 8, DOMA, and the Christian Response

“If we are going to reach the world—including those who believe same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue—we must learn to love them. All of them. Not just the ones who look like us, dress like us, worship like us, believe what we do, or share our cultural traditions. If we are going to reach the world, we must learn to love them. All of them.

“So, don’t rant on Facebook. Don’t lose your temper on Twitter. Don’t rage to your neighbor or coworkers.

“We can address religious liberty concerns as they come with firm resolve and Christ-like humility. Even though the playing field may have changed, the mission of God has not. We are not here to protect our ways and traditions. We exist to show the world the love of Christ and share with the world His good news.”

Sex Without Bodies

“Is there an easy way out of the current battles over sexuality? No. But there is a way through. A remnant, perhaps small and perhaps substantial, will continue to teach that we are created male and female, to bless the marriages that reunite those two broken halves, and to remind all, married and unmarried, that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage”—that ultimately our earthly eros only reflects the reunion promised between the Creator and his image bearers. Along the way, we all will be queer, groaning as we await the redemption of our bodies. To the LGBTQIA alliance, add an H—for this is what it is to be fully, incompletely, expectantly Human.”

What’s Next After the Same-Sex Marriage Rulings?

“Here are some of the biggest questions facing same-sex couples now.”

Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church

“… witness may be leaner in numbers in coming years, but the upside is that the witness may be even more potent. The gospel of God’s love in Christ is no less powerful in 21st century America than in 1st century Rome. So, let’s love God, love our neighbors (even those with whom we respectfully disagree), and remember the good news that in God’s lawcourt, all who repent and believe in Christ have the verdict of “justified” pronounced over them. And there’s no court on earth that can overturn that.”

this went thru my mind

 

Faith & marriage: * Marrying Out of the Faith; * Interfaith Unions: A Mixed Blessing

* “Interfaith couples tend to marry without thinking through the practical implications of their religious differences. They assume that because they are decent and tolerant people … they will not encounter difficulties being married to someone of another faith.”

* “Before the 1960s, about 20 percent of married couples were in interfaith unions; of couples married in this century’s first decade, 45 percent were. … interfaith marriages often come with a heavy price. They are more likely than same-faith unions to be unhappy and, in some circumstances, to end in divorce. They also tend to diminish the strength of religious communities, as the devout are pulled away from bonds of tradition and orthodoxy by their nonmember spouses.”

Law, people, and righteousness: Four Kinds of People

“It is helpful to see that there are four kinds of people in the world … law-obeying, law-relying … law-disobeying, law-relying … law-disobeying, not law-relying [and] … law-disobeying, not law-relying.”

Same-sex marriage: * Nelson Lund: A Social Experiment Without Science Behind It; * How Different are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?

* “A significant number of organizations representing social and behavioral scientists have filed briefs promising the court that there is nothing to worry about. These assurances have no scientific foundation. Same-sex marriage is brand new, and child rearing by same-sex couples remains rare. Even if both phenomena were far more common, large amounts of data collected over decades would be required before any responsible researcher could make meaningful scientific estimates of the long-term effects of redefining marriage.

“The conclusions in the research literature typically amount at best to claims that a particular study found “no evidence” of bad effects from child rearing by same-sex couples. One could just as easily say that there is no reliable evidence that such child-rearing practices are beneficial or harmless. And that is the conclusion that should be relevant to the court.”

* “In this debut article of the NFSS, I compare how the young-adult children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship fare on 40 different social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types.”

Small groups: 9 Great Things Many Group Members Hate About Small Groups

“If a group leader is going to see transformation at a meaningful level in a group member’s life, the group leader cannot give the group member a pass on these expectations. Rather, the group leader must graciously and wisely move the group member into these seemingly dangerous places.”

this went thru my mind

 

Cancer: I Hate Cancer

“… cancer isn’t a person. I don’t get any picture from scripture that there’s anything wrong with hating an evil thing. When I think about cancer, I can’t help but hate it. No apologies. I hate it.”

Church visitors & guests, civility & hospitality: Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members by Thom Rainer

“I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different churches. I have had a church consulting firm that did “guest” visits as part of our services. Sadly, many times I do not feel welcome as a guest when I visit churches. The Bible is replete with admonitions of hospitality and servanthood. I just wish our church members understood that the servant-like spirit should also be manifest when we gather to worship. Guests are often uncomfortable, if not intimated, when they visit a church. We are to be gracious and sacrificial servants to them. In response to this need for more guest-friendly church members, I have devised the ten greatest needs, at least from my perspective. I will reticently call them “commandments” and throw in a little King James English for effect.”

Family & marriage: * Ideal or Idol: Avoiding the Family Cult at Church by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]; * Marriage and Women in the Pagan World of Bible Times; * What About Gay Marriage? by Patrick Mead

* “… the Bible just doesn’t say that much about family–at least not the issues people seem to want most. This is especially true with regard to the family counseling questions most people ask today.”

* “The next time Christianity is charged as a repressive, unenlightened, and backward religion, the critic should reconsider how repressive, unenlightened, and backward the world would be today, without the Christian defense of marriage.”

* “Want to have fun? Go through the Bible and try to construct what a marriage ceremony should look like and at what point a person is married. There is no single system or ritual. Marriage was a private, family agreement that varied from tribe to tribe. No license, no tax benefits or punishments … just a private covenant made between two people with the agreement of their community. Today, marriage has over 1,300 ramifications when it comes to taxes, insurance, and a host of laws, rights, and open or closed doors.”

Just for fun: The Dragonfly: Nature’s Drone, Pretty and Deadly

“When setting off to feed on other flying insects, dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the fresh meat on the spur without bothering to alight.”

Ministry with the poor: Dallas Ministry Guru Larry James ‘a Rare, Talented Guy’

“The 63-year-old former Church of Christ preacher never imagined that he’d be an office-tower landlord, homebuilder, real estate developer, medical provider, caterer, food distributor and job trainer, much less the chief executive of a corporation with $15 million in revenue. But that’s what he’s become as president and CEO of CitySquare.”

Missions: * 6 Potential Problems With Supporting Native Preachers by Tim Archer; * 5 Ways To Improve Our Support Of Native Preachers

* “There are several growing trends in missions today. One is the … rejection of using American missionaries in favor of supporting local Christians. … Done correctly, this can be a highly effective use of limited church funds. Problem is, it’s much easier to do it wrong than it is to do it right. Here are some of the dangers that I think churches need to be aware of …”

* “Each situation needs to be analyzed on its own merit.”

Privacy & search engines: 7 Great Search Sites That Aren’t Google

“For a quick answer, Blekko is usually easier to use than Google. Instead of returning advertisers and other junk results first, it usually sends you links that actually answer your question. Blekko is more private than Google in normal mode. However, I recommend you use its “SuperPrivacy” mode for maximum privacy. This blocks ads and takes you to secure, encrypted sites by default. … Your number one concern when searching Google might be that it can return inappropriate content for innocent search terms. Yippy detects adult content and blocks it automatically.”

Social networking: 12 Simple Steps to Safer Social Networking

“For this article, I rounded up the three most important privacy settings you should be using, but probably aren’t, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. Five minutes of setup now could avert hours of social embarrassment and identity recovery down the road.”

The Bible mini-series: Getting Jesus Right: 2 Quick Comments on Week 4 of “The Bible” on the History Channel

* “It wasn’t written for the biblically knowledgable but for those whose biblical literacy minimal … One thing the last episode did very well was to get across something of theo-political tensions of 1st century Palestine.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible, discovery, education & learning: Evangelicals & the Bible by Tim Gombis (parts 1, 2 & 3) [required reading]

“… about three weeks into every semester, a student would raise his or her hand and say, ‘I’ve never heard this stuff before.’

“I began to respond by saying, ‘you’re welcome!  You or your parents are paying me thousands of dollars to tell you things that you don’t know.  This is what we call “education” and it sounds like I’m doing my job.’”

“It began to dawn on me, however, that there was something about evangelical culture that was making these students assume that if something was unfamiliar, it was unbiblical. …

“What strikes me as odd is that the very thing I have come to associate with studying the Bible—the excitement of discovery—is the very thing that somehow frustrates the evangelicals I’ve been teaching.

“Like I said, I think this indicates that there’s something warped about how evangelicals regard the Bible. …

“… we please God when we are diligent students, which implies that we are always learning and that it’s okay (and normal) that there are things we don’t know!’ …

“My advice is to get to know the Bible over time—like, over decades. There aren’t five easy steps to Bible knowledge. I’ve told students in the past to measure their knowledge of the Bible in 5-year increments. And when I’ve said that, I could hear sighs of relief.

“Remember that the aim of getting to know Scripture is not to be equipped to get out there and have ‘impact.’

“The purpose of knowing the Bible is to develop Scripture-shaped minds so that we get to know and love God more faithfully, being transformed so that we love and serve others more creatively. The goal of Bible knowledge is the cultivation of virtue. And this is something that only happens over time.

“And the learning process itself transforms us, so we shouldn’t think that at some point we’ll be finished, “fully equipped” to get out there and put our knowledge to effective use.”

Bible & translation: Fifteen More Myths About Bible Translation by Daniel Wallace

“Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind.”

Certainty: The Lust for Certainty by Ben Witherington

“… we have to live on the basis of faith every day, not on the basis of some certainty or an ironclad guarantee.”

Churches: The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States

“The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches assembles various data on churches and denominations across North America. I recently gleaned the top 15 denominations by membership in the United States from their reports.”

Contentment: Five Steps to Peace in a Really Bad Situation

“… how can we get peace if we’re headed into or in the midst of a crisis? God tells us how to do just that in Phil. 4:4-9.”

Grief & words: Seven Questions Mourners Need to Ask Before Replying to Hurtful Statements

“…  the question of how to reply to hurtful statements is that each mourner must make up his or her own mind in each situation as to what would be the wisest method or statement to make. If you do decide to immediately reply to a painful statement from a well-intentioned, goodhearted, but ignorant comforter, you might want to consider the following questions first …”

Holy Week: 9 Things You Should Know About Holy Week

“Holy Week is the week before Easter, a period which includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Here’s what you should know about the days that commemorate the Passion of Christ.”

Internet, maturity, & social media: * Social Media Becoming Integral Part of Churches; * NT Wright on Blogging & Social Media [3 1/2 min. video]; * Shortcut for Blocking Games on Facebook; * The Internet: It’s Like Never Leaving Junior High [essential reading]

* “From websites to blogs, podcasts and Twitter, church leaders are embracing social media as a way to spread the word of God, to share information and to woo new members.”

* “I have one big worry about that, which is the isolationism of sitting in front of a screen. Even if there’s lots of other voices there. it’s only a screen.”

* “That’s all there is to it. If you get a notification from an app in your notifications menu that comes from an app you just don’t want to ever see again, a few clicks and you’ll never be bugged again. Nice.”

* “If life is just like high school, then the Internet might be an age group lower. Much of our digital world means never having to leave junior high school behind. … Janet Sternberg, a communications professor at Fordham University in New York who’s written a great deal about online civility, sees a reverse of a pattern created by television. If, as cultural critic Neil Postman asserted, TV ended childhood — the medium provided an impetus for young people to act older, which created hand-wringing about generations growing up too quickly — the Internet has done the opposite, she says. ‘The Internet and digital media have produced this “Peter Pan effect” where we never grow up, we’re perpetual children, we never have to be responsible for anything — we keep this juvenile mentality,’ she says.”

Note-taking: The Lost Art of Note-Taking by Michael Hyatt

“I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even college. Nor did I learn it on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own. Maybe this is why so few people bother to take notes during meetings or presentations. No one has ever told them why it is important or how to do it. In this episode, I do both.”

Same-sex marriage: If the Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, What Next?

“The biblical ideal of self-sacrificing, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is already countercultural. … If we have placed our trust in the God who does not change, we need not fear shifts in culture or law. … No plan A will skirt the issue that we are all sinners in need of a savior. We are on a level playing field with gays and lesbians who, in my experience, can detect condescension and hypocrisy a mile away.”

Television: 5 Reasons TV is Dead by Scott Elliott

“The mediums which we use to entertain ourselves or receive information come and go, but art is here to stay.”

The Bible mini-series: The Bible Series — Drama and Historical Context

“One of the aspects that I appreciate in the New Testament episodes of The Bible series is the attention paid to historical context. … This is not, of course, to suggest that attempts to provide historical context trump the drama.”

this went thru my mind

 

Angry Christians: D. A. Carson on Angry Christians and the Devil’s Tactics by David Rogers

“… at the end of the day, if you can’t do it with compassion, and gently, and leave the doors open for evangelism, boy, you destroy everything.”

Archaeology: Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols: Zodiac Mosaics in Ancient Synagogues by Walter Zanger

“It isn’t the synagogues themselves that are the problem; it is the decorations in them. What in heaven’s name were they doing? How could they be making pictures, especially in the synagogue? Didn’t they know the second commandment?”

Bible interpretation: Long, Long Ago, in a Land Far, Far Away…. (What I’m Saying is the Bible is Really, Really Old) by Peter Enns

“It seems many of us, myself included, can get a bit careless, even cavalier, about the Bible, thinking that we ‘get it’ because we happen to read it regularly in our native tongue. Perhaps we should regain a sense of respect for the distance this book has traveled to land on our coffee tables and work desks.”

Megachurches: Megachurch ‘High’ May Explain Their Success

“A University of Washington study posits that worship services at megachurches can trigger feelings of transcendence and changes in brain chemistry — a spiritual ‘high’ that keeps congregants coming back for more. … Researchers observed services and conducted 470 interviews and about 16,000 surveys at 12 megachurches for the University of Washington study.”

Mormonism: Polygamy, Brigham Young and His 55 Wives

“Brigham Young, Joseph Smith’s successor as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a tremendous number of wives. … The sheer variety of Brigham Young’s marriages makes it difficult to make sense of them. He married — was sealed to, in Mormon parlance — young … and old … single women and widows … his first two mothers-in-law … [and] women who were already married, some to Mormon men in good standing.”

Politics: Why Christians Should be Leery About Politics by Scott Elliott [required reading]

“Here are a few reasons why we should remain skeptical of politics in general: politics promotes unethical behavior … politics embraces the language of gloom and doom … it is a choice between the lesser of two evils … politics is divisive … [and] politics offers a false sense of salvation.”

Poverty, respect, slander & speech: Slandering the Poor: An Exercise in Self-Righteousness by Craig M. Watts [required reading]

“… the fact of the matter is that most of the adult poor and near poor do work. It is not because of a lack of effort that they are poor but because of a lack of decent income. And that lack of income is coupled with a lack of opportunity. …

“But none of this has stopped the negative attitudes and widespread slander of the poor. A study commissioned by the Salvation Army found that 49% of American believes that a strong work ethic is all that is required for someone to escape poverty and about three in 10 said poor people usually have lower moral values. Given these views it is not surprising that this same study found that 27% of Americans believe poor people are poor, not because of economic circumstances, but because they are lazy.”

Same-sex marriage: When and Unclean Touch by Mark Buchanan

“Recently, a young couple started coming to our church. They’re very likable. They married a few years ago on the other side of the country, then migrated west to our town, and visited several churches until they ended up in ours. Both take their faith seriously. Both are seeking a place where they can worship, serve, grow. They want a loving and Christ-centered environment in which to raise their daughters in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ Both are women. Linda and Rita are lesbians. … We didn’t know what to do with them.”

Time management: The Eisenhower Matrix

“Notice how The Eisenhower Matrix places the most positive emphasis on Quadrant I. That differs from the chart above that the late Stephen Covey promoted in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, where he numbered the boxes differently and said Quadrant II is where you want to spend most of your time for effective time management.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: Belonging: When I Didn’t Serve God in Church by Ed Cyzewski

” Along the way, I made a crucial mistake. I began to equate work in the church building with serving God.”

Churches of Christ: Why I’m (Still) Church of Christ by Joshua Graves

“Here are my [eleven] reasons I’m still in the Church of Christ.”

Computing: VirusTotal

“VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware.”

Drugs: Facing My Brother’s Addiction

“For at least the last decade and arguably several years longer, my baby brother has been an addict.”

Homosexuality: * Homosexuality: When Will the Church Really Have a Conversation? by John Byron; * Stanley Hauerwas Destroyed My Hermeneutical Paradigm by Brian LePort; * From Waging War to Washing Feet: How Do We Move Forward? by Rachel Held Evans; * A Plea to Christians About Our Response to Obama & Homosexual Marriage by Dan Bouchelle

* “I am reminded of what it was like growing up in the church when divorce was still taboo.”

* “It may be possible to affirm Christian military service while denying Christians being homosexual, but many of the arguments I hear are selective at best, disingenuous at worst. I wish more Christians would be smacked by someone like Stanley Hauerwas and forced to ask themselves, ‘What is my hermeneutical paradigm for saying biblical prohibition A no longer applies while biblical prohibition B does.'”

* “I’d never before realized the degree to which my own perceptions of same-sex attraction were influenced by misinformation, stereotypes, assumptions, and misplaced good intentions.”

* “I’m not sure what this says about me, but my first reaction to the news of Obama’s new position on gay marriage was fear this turn of events would end up giving the church just one more black eye as Christians respond in ways that sound like hate to our world.”

Ideas: 99% Conference 2012: Key Takeaways On Making Ideas Happen by Sarah Rapp & Jocelyn K. Glei

“Last week we brought together 400+ leading creatives and 18 visionary speakers in New York City for the fourth annual 99% Conference, presented by GE. For two days we devoted our full attention to exploring the inner-workings of idea execution.”

Philistines: Lecture with Sy Gitin: Ekron of the Philistines: From Sea Peoples to Olive Oil Industrialists

“The excavations of Ekron radically changed the traditional perception of the Philistines, a tribe of the Sea Peoples who migrated from the Aegean in the 12th century BCE. … The excavations also provided an answer to one of the enigmatic questions involving the Philistines, why they eventually disappeared from the pages of history.”

Photography: Major Announcement: New Photo Collection by Todd Bolen

“The winning combination is the availability of high-quality photos of biblical sites, scenes, and objects for pennies per photo.”

Preaching: Gospel Bullets: “Piety vs Pugilism” in Church of Christ Preaching by Bobby Valentine

“Preaching that stressed the love of God was frequently referred to as ‘sissyism.’ Rather than being ‘real men’ these preachers were weak and feminine — they were called ‘soft.'”

Sunday school & small groups: What is the Purpose of Small Groups and Sunday School? by Trevin Wax

“The way we analyze these models depends on what we think is most important to accomplish. I’m convinced that the purpose for breaking into smaller groups is one of the most neglected areas of discipleship. And when we don’t know what our purpose is, we’re certain not to fulfill it.”

Wall Street: Capitalists and Other Psychopaths by William Deresiewicz

“A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an ‘unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.’ (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.”

Walter Wink: Walter Wink: Presente!

“Walter Wink, 76, one of the most creative and influential scholars of our day, died peacefully at his home in Sandisfield in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts on May 10 … Wink’s breakthrough insights about the contemporary meaning of the principalities and powers, and Jesus’ third way of dealing with the enemy/oppressor – neither fight nor flight but nonviolent resistance – spoke powerfully to the struggle and transformation experienced in the self-giving love of Jesus.”

[In my opinion, one of Walter Wink’s short works, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, is one of the most eye-opening and challenging – if not convicting and convincing – books I dare say any Christian could ever read. I highly recommend it; it’s definitely required reading. I intend to post some brief excerpts from it next week.]

Worship (corporate): Handling Worship Distractions by Shane Raynor

“… I try to remember is that group worship is not my private prayer and worship time. I don’t get to have God all to myself. … Worshiping with a group means sometimes interacting with the group, not tuning them out so that it’s ‘just me and God.'”