links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to four articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Church, expectations & values: Is Your Church Okay With You? [essential reading]

“What if, when it’s all said and done, there’s nothing cool about your church? Would that be okay with you? … If not, maybe it’s not Jesus or his Church that you’re really in love with after all.”

Depression & emotions: Do You Ever Feel Down .. But Don’t Know Why?

“… working with God seems to be somewhat of a conflict. I must continually remind myself to believe in His ability; not in mine. Inadequacy has always been my strong suit so that part is most natural. The friction may be that I’m trying to constantly yield my inadequate self of me to the quite adequate Holy Spirit … within me. I don’t know if you all find this to be a snap. Me? Not so easy.”

Genocide & Holocaust: Photos: Children of Auschwitz Share Stories of Survival

“They are among the survivors of the Auschwitz death camp in southern Poland, which has come to symbolize the horrors of the Holocaust. Tuesday marks the 70th anniversary of that liberation day. These portraits capture 20 survivors, many of whom were children and teenagers during their time at the camp.”

Lust, manhood, objectification, parenting, purity, respect, sex & ‘the talk’: To My Preacher’s Kid, about Becoming a Man

“Brass tacks time, son: If you see a pretty girl, in real life or on Instagram, and from that point on that’s all you can see in them or that’s all you can think of them…that’s YOUR fault son NOT the girl’s fault. I hold you responsible and I’m damn sure your Mother will, too. … You can choose to objectify others or you can choose to treat your neighbors as your self.”

links: this went thru my mind

Church, culture, demographics & multi-racial: The Changing Face of the American Church

“If you ask, would you like to have a multiethnic church, everyone says, ‘that would be wonderful’ … When you ask, what are you doing to make that happen—that’s when you hear the crickets.”

Contentment, life, meaning, significance & stimulation: What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point?

“What we are called to do every day, right where God has placed us, is rich and rewarding. … Sometimes, the best way to change the world is to live extraordinarily in what looks like an ordinary existence—to radically love and serve those around us every day, no matter where we are.”

Pornography & repentance: * Men and Porn (a four-part series; parts 1, 2, 3 & 4)

“The tips and suggestions below are based on my research into cognitive psychology over the years as well as from reported experiences of men who have quit using porn. Again, there’s no silver bullet. What works for one man, may not work for you. You need to be ready to experiment and try different things.”

Water: Water is the New Oil: How Corporations Took Over a Basic Human Right

“Water has become a commodity …and the world’s poor are paying the price. … Twenty percent of the world right now does not have access to clean water. Twenty percent of the world also happens to live on less than a dollar a day. And it’s interesting to look at how much those two groups overlap.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church: * We’ve Seen Megachurch. But How About Micro-Church? [me like!]; * Slow Church (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5; this entire series is essential reading; read part 1 and you’ll understand why)

* “We’ve designed a space to direct people toward God, not by turning their eyes to a far-removed altar, but by turning instead to one another. The most dominant feature will be three ovular tables for ten. The bowed shape ensures that everyone at the table can make eye contact with everyone else. In addition, we’re crafting a space that intentionally invites people to participate. Open shelves holding plates and glasses encourage newcomers to jump in and set tables. It’s easy to see where everything is stored — easy to take part. Like a Montessori classroom, the design to encourages interaction with both materials and people.”

* “In their revelatory new book, Slow Church, Chris Smith and John Pattison reflect …”

Corporate worship, times of services & worship gatherings: 5 Reasons We Worship in the Afternoon

“I  had to struggle to close down evening services at the last two churches I served. Both were holdovers from a previous era, a time when people would go to church several times a week. These services had dwindled to a dozen or so older worshipers who faithfully sang the old hymns and turned out to hear a preacher, who was tired from two or three services earlier in the day, deliver a warmed-over homily. In winter, when earlier darkness prevented many of them from driving to church, attendance could be a mere handful. It was hard to end a ministry which had ceased to be productive long ago. So it’s amusing to me, now that I’m planting a new church, that our primary worship service is in the afternoon! We meet at 4:30 p.m.”

Food, shrimp & slavery: Revealed: Asian Slave Labour Producing Prawns for Supermarkets in US, UK

“Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers … including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.”

Sexuality & self-righteousness: * Why I Didn’t Wait; * Homosexuality: Have I Changed My View? [required reading]; * Sex, The Sinner, and Jesus

* “All this said, for those of us who walked that road of casual sex and now struggle to feel forgiven and pure, I write these things not to condemn you, but to remind you that you can choose differently now. You can remind yourself of the precious gift of sex, in the right way with the right person at the right time, that it truly is worth waiting for.”

* “… I (still) believe homosexual behavior is sin. The difference, though, is that now I know why. … Hopefully, now, my view is based on the Bible and not my upbringing or assumptions. So I haven’t changed my view. However, I have changed my posture. … Jesus stood against extortion, yet didn’t mention extortion when he encountered extortionists (Matt 9:9-13; Luke 19:1-10). Jesus stood against violence, but didn’t mention violence when he befriended a leader of a violent superpower (Matt 8:5-13). Jesus opposed adultery and even took a hyper-conservative view on sexual ethics (Matt 5:27-32), but he didn’t front sexual sin when he encountered people engaged in it (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus didn’t often lead with law; instead, he led with love and he loved people into holiness.”

* “I’m not trying to make light of sexual sin or any sin for that matter. But I do believe the grace of God is bigger than any of our sins. But when sexual sin is singled out or when we think we are on higher ground because sexual sin is not our sin, something is afoul.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, evangelism, Millenials, outreach & sex: Sex, Millennials, and the Church: Five Implications

“Most Millennials, including Christian Millennials, see nothing wrong with unmarried persons living together. … While the trend toward approval of homosexual marriage is growing in society at large, the positive view is pervasive among Millennials. … Millennials will exit quickly from churches whose members are shrill and unloving toward those with non-biblical views on sexuality. … Ironically, Millennials will not stick with churches that have no convictions. … The greater opportunity lies with those churches that are able to speak truth in love, and to demonstrate that love.”

Church, faith, parenting & youth: What Should I Do When My Kid Says, “I’m Not Going to Church”? [required reading]

“I remember having those feelings myself; in fact, I still have them from time to time.”

Church & racism: The Church and Racism

“Whenever I get frustrated with church, this is the story that brings me back. It is a story that reminds me of why I need the church, even when I don’t want her…maybe especially when I don’t want her.”

Contentment: Contentment

“One of the most difficult challenges in human life is to REALLY be CONTENT.”

Non-violence: Is Non-Violence a Key to Christian Discipleship?

“For the first three centuries of the church, Christians understood that forgoing the use of violence and expressing God’s self-sacrificial love was central to discipleship. However, this mindset changed after the Church acquired power in the fourth century. Entire theological systems have been developed to support the use of coercive power. However, contrary to that teaching, the New Testament is as clear as can be that Kingdom people are called to follow Jesus’ example of sacrificing himself for enemies rather than resorting to violence to resist or to conquer them.”

Youth ministry: Redefining the Youth Worker

“… For several decades, the church’s approach to youth has more or less looked the same; but student culture, educational systems, and families have changed significantly.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Accountability, awareness, Christian faith, knowledge, social injustice & violence: We Cannot Say We Did Not Know [essential reading]

“The sage in Proverbs 24:11-12 warns us to rescue those being led away to death: ‘If you say, “We did not know this” – does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?'”

Children, parenting & sex: 7 Suggestions for Talking to Children about Sex

“I recognized that helping my children live pure and healthy sexual lives would be a challenge in a culture that is often defined by sex. I wanted to be the primary influencer in their development as adults, because I knew no one had a stronger desire for them to make wise choices than me.”

Church membership: The 7 Commandments for Choosing a Church

“If you don’t like the church where you are, the problem is probably you (or at least partially you… but probably mostly you).”

Forgiveness, intercession, love & ministry: The Chaplain from Missouri Who Tried to Save the Black Souls of the Nazis at Nuremberg

“… he would ultimately minister 13 of 21 of Hitler’s most malevolent Nazi leaders on trial in Nuremberg after World War Two for their heinous war crimes.”

Guests, visitors & welcome: 7 Ways to Connect with Guests Beyond the First Greeting

“Your God is awesome. Your church is wonderful. Yet guests who visit your church don’t often return. No true connection was made. A parking lot greeter in our church expressed that concern: ‘We’ve got to figure out how to actually connect every guest with another person. Our flippant hellos or glad-you-cames just aren’t adequate.’ Why not challenge every member of your church to use these seven tips to connect with guests.”

Youth ministry: Tribal Youth Ministry (Part 1): The Necessity of Age Desegregation in Our Churches [essential reading]

“This article is by Duncan Campbell and is the first of three outlining his approach to transitioning youth ministry toward a more intergenerational approach. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest questions facing churches today as we are beginning to see the connections between our traditional approaches to youth ministry and the disconnect from parents and other adults being a part of the faith development of our children, and the mass exodus from church by young adults.”

devoted: keep it zipped!

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Dec. 2). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled Devoted: Keep It Zipped! The sermon will be taken exclusively from 1 Thes. 4.3-8. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To consider what it means to devote our private parts to God.

Word

Don’t be deceived. Those who are sexually immoral … adulterers, both participants in same-sex intercourse … won’t inherit God’s kingdom. That is what some of you used to be! But you were washed clean, you were made holy to God, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. … Flee immorality! (1 Cor. 6.9b-11,18a)

Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving. Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure, or greedy—which happens when things become gods—those persons won’t inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. (Eph. 5.3-5)

God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you. God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thes. 4.3-8)

… you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. (1 Pet. 1.15)

Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. (Heb. 13.4)

… Sodom and Gomorrah … practiced immoral sexual relations and pursued other sexual urges. By undergoing the punishment of eternal fire, they serve as a warning. (Jude 7)

Favored are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right of access to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. Outside are … those who commit sexual immorality … and all who love and practice deception. (Rev. 22.14-15)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Complete this sentence: “I feel like my privacy is being violated whenever __________.”

2. Zippers don’t always work like they’re supposed to work. Tell us of a funny (and of course, clean) broken or stuck zipper experience you’ve had.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose one.

1. Consider Eph. 5.3-5. How is it that loose living (vs. 3,5) often arises out of loose speech (vs. 4)?

2. Work through all of the preceding passages, compiling a list of other points of darkness with which sexual immorality often keeps company (i.e. – “deception” [Rev. 22.15b]).

Reflect

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

1. What evidence would you offer that sex is the “Lord” or “God” of many today?

2. Describe specific points of emotional anguish, mental pain, and relationship trauma that commonly follow immorality.

3. Brainstorm a list of the advantages and benefits that can be had from living a life of sexual purity.

4. What specific action steps would you offer a friend or your child to take to maintain sexual purity?

this went thru my mind

 

Christian symbolism: Get Your Crane Bumper Sticker? by Nijay K. Gupta

“The crane became a symbol of renewal and resurrection in early Christian iconography because its migratory flight announced the coming of spring. The crane is also a model of Christian vigilance.”

Church: * What Holds the Church Back from Success? by Terry Rush; * 5 Issues that Keep a Church from Growing by Ron Edmonson

* “Jesus believed and did many things not balanced; not safe. … He was executed because he refused to abide by the rule-of-thumb balance which is really spelled s-a-f-e-t-y.”

* “I am frequently asked, especially by pastors in declining churches, what keeps a church from growing … what causes a church to decline. … Here are 5 issues that can keep a church from growing.”

Elections, politics & voting: * Thou Shalt Follow These 10 Commandments of the Presidential Election by Eugene Cho; * Vote Like a Christian by Justin Simmons; * Why I’m Not Voting by Branson Parler

* “The Presidential election is only weeks away…and it’s getting ugly out there. I mean … really ugly. And before you think I’m just talking about the political process, the political parties, or the respective candidates, I was actually talking about you, me, us, and them…the people. And by people, I’m also especially talking about Christians.”

* “With no party having a monopoly on morality, how do I decide how to cast my vote in a way that reflects a commitment to my faith?”

* “First, I will not vote because the nature of the political system, especially surrounding presidential politics, is grounded on a different set of values than Scripture. … Second, I will not vote as a symbolic gesture regarding the relative importance of the political system. … the heresy of nationalism or civil religion is not a fringe position, but a standard creed of American Christians, whether Democrats or Republicans, mainline or evangelical.”

Lord’s Prayer & women: Can Patriarchalists Pray the Lord’s Prayer? by Richard Beck

“I expect that … a lot of the men (and women) who preach 1 Tim. 2.12 as normative for the church actually believe that Gal. 3.28 describes what heaven will look like. That is, I don’t think most patriarchalists, at my church at least, think that men will have authority over women in heaven. They believe that men only have authority over women now, on the earth. And if that’s the case I return to my question: Can patriarchalists pray the Lord’s Prayer? Can they pray ‘Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?’ and mean it?”

Marriage: 10 Things Wives Should Avoid Doing In Their Marriage by Trey Morgan

“I’ll have a list for the husbands later this week, but for now, wives … here are 10 things that wives tend to do that really hurt their marriage …”

War: Karl Menninger on War

“The whole war business is a horrible, irrational, despicable business, an archaic and traditional method of deciding a disputed point, whose survival is a disgrace to and refutation of civilization. … And the whole business is disguised in a cloak of romantic glory and sentiment which makes it palatable and even marketable, as fiction, drama, etc., and spoke of in terms of ‘pride’ and ‘glory.’”