links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles I believe to be interesting and helpful reading.

Bible interpretation & John 3.16: Red Letters in John 3:16?

“In John 3, where do the words of Jesus end and the words of the John begin?”

Correction, mistakes, proofreading & typos: What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

“The reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart …”

Dehumanization, labels, respect & stereotypes: The Convenience and Dehumanizing Nature of Labels

“There is a certain arrogance when it comes to labels because it assumes that you are not to be labeled but it is perfectly fine to do it to anyone else you please. It is hard to label and not simultaneously be disrespectful on some level…as we demand to be understood in full but refuse to give that honor to the other. Labels dehumanize, often very subtly.”

Santa Claus & St. Nicholas: What Ever Happened to St. Nicholas?

“St. Nicholas was born into a wealthy Christian family in the third century. His parents died in a plague, and having inherited the family fortune, he decided to obey the radical call of Christ and give it to the poor. So he became famous for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

“Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, and after his release, attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 where he famously lost his temper and slapped the heretic Arius in the face. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. Legends grew up about his generosity, and throughout the Middle Ages he became one of the most popular and wonder-working saints across Europe.

“Now ‘jolly old St. Nick,’ aka Santa Claus, is a secular figure used to promote godless good cheer and commercial consumerism. What happened?”

Spiritual gifts: Spiritual Gifts: 5 Fallacies

“If it is my spiritual gift, then it must be something I always find easy to do. … If it is my spiritual gift, its outworking should be inexplicable by natural reasoning. … If it is a spiritual gift, then it should not require other formal means of enhancement. … Since it is a spiritual gift, I should confine its use to the church or else it is misappropriated. … Spiritual gifts are about what we do.”

this went thru my mind


Climate change: Lebanon’s Cedar Trees Threatened by Climate Change

“King Solomon used them in the construction of the temple that would bear his name, the Phoenicians used them to build their merchant ships and the ancient Egyptians used their resin in the mummification process. But now Lebanon’s cedar trees (Cedrus libani), described in the Scriptures as ‘the glory of Lebanon’ … face a new threat in the form of climate change.”

Geography: Geography Strikes Back

“To understand today’s global conflicts, forget economics and technology and take a hard look at a map.”

Happiness: Happiness: The Secret by Richard Beck

“It is said that someone once asked St. Ignatius, ‘What would you do if you knew that the world was going to come to an end tomorrow?’ St. Ignatius replied,’I would go on doing what I’m doing now.’ I’ve always felt that this might be the secret to happiness.”

Hatred, Egypt, Islam & Libya: * Let’s Remember; * 12 Essential Points About the Offensive Film on the Prophet Muhammad, and the Subsequent Reactions in Libya & Egypt by Omid Safi

* “In light of the events in the last few days involving attacks on American diplomats in foreign countries (and the ensuing political conflict), let’s remember one thing: Our fight is not with flesh and blood. As Christians, our real enemy is not Libyans or Egyptians or Muslims or President Obama or Governor Romney. Our enemy is the one who infects our hearts with hatred and violence and seeks to distract us from the cross and divide us against one another by any means necessary. Let’s not play his game.”

* “Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. An award-winning teacher and speaker, his most recent book, “Memories of Muhammad,” looks at the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Politics: Why I’m a Political Atheist: Part 2 by Caleb Wilde

“There’s a reason Jesus was born into an oppressed people group, in one of the poorest towns, to one of the most poor and ostracized couples. … There’s a reason he wasn’t born into a royal Roman family where he could have inherited the throne.  There’s a reason he violently denied his disciples attempts to thrust him into a political position. … He too was a political atheist … something that his 12 disciples had a hard time understanding … something that his followers still have a hard time understanding. As a follower of Jesus, I’ve established my atheism on the life of Christ. It doesn’t mean I’ve disconnected myself from politics. It doesn’t mean that I forsake my civic duty. It just means I’ve stopped believing in the divine power of politics.”

Relationships: Who in Your Life Makes You a Better Person? by Jim Martin

“I have learned that I am better equipped … if I am deliberate about surrounding myself with five different kinds of people.”

Spiritual gifts: Understanding Spiritual Gifts by Peter Horne

“Our spiritual gifts are to serve, express love and unite us to each other.”

this went thru my mind


Opportunities, sharing faith & speech: Is That All They Can Talk About? by K. Rex Butts

“It makes me wonder…  Is Jesus looking upon us and asking himself, ‘Is that all they can talk about?'”

Repentance & sin: The Secret to Untying Your 6-Ton Elephant by Wayne Stiles

“An elephant is literally chained to a past memory, but that doesn’t have to be true of you. I urge you to begin thinking more like a Christian and less like an elephant. Here are a few steps that will help.”

Spiritual gifts: Spiritual Gifts by Peter Horne

“God gives gifts to empower service. … I highly recommend the website”

this went thru my mind


Americanism: Is Americanism the Fourth Biblical World Religion? (Partial Review of Peter Leithart’s ‘Between Babel and the Beast’) by Roger Olson

“America became an agent not of God’s kingdom but an instrument for the spread of American institutions and American culture, and there was a tendency to see America ‘basking in [God’s] permanent favor.’ … Throughout American history, orthodoxy has been strong enough to check the danger of deifying America itself—check, but not eliminate. But the intellectual structure is in place for Americanists to think those who worship America are offering service to God.”

Certainty: Leaving Certainty Behind by Ted Gossard

“… I want to live and work as one whose hands are open and raised up toward God. Ready to be uncomfortable and challenged to the core on things I hold dear, or true, if and when they are challenged. Committed to the one who alone is my certainty and God, in and through Jesus together with others for the world.”

Confession, forgiveness, judgment & sin: * The Scarlet Letter: Dropping the Stones by Mike Cope [3 min. video clip]; * A People of Maybe by Jonathan Storment; * The Confession of Sins by Richard Beck; * Judging Others … A Word of Caution by K. Rex Butts

* “… this piece shot by Matt Maxwell …”

* “What the world needs to see is a people who are able to lovingly and gently correct each other without hate or envy, and for the purposes of Restoration.”

* “… the confession of sins pushes back on the triumphalism and self-righteousness of the church. … Not that saying the confession is a panacea and fix-all. But it has to have a salutary spiritual effect to take a moment each week to corporately say ‘We’ve sinned.’ We’ve sinned, often grievously so, against our neighbors by not loving them as we love ourselves in both what we’ve done to them and what we’ve failed to do for them.”

* “We are better off having said nothing at all than having said a word of judgment only to be exposed as a hypocrite.  So while on occasion circumstances may force us to pass a certain measure of judgment, we out to be very cautious in doing so.  And if I must error on one side or the other, I would rather error on the side of being too quick to forgive, show mercy, and offer generosity than being too quick to judgment.”

God: Thinking About God Makes Me Just Want to Keep My Mouth Shut by Peter Enns [required reading]

“My calculator broke.”

Women: * The Amazing Speeches of Women in the Conventions Makes the Silence of Women in the Church That Much More Deafening by Eugene Cho; * A Letter for Highland on Women’s Roles by Richard Beck

* “Before you throw stones or want to endorse me as a candidate for the next President, just hear me out. … about the importance of having the voices of both women and men in our lives.”

* “I’ve been struggling for some time with how I should best stand up for gender justice in my local church context.”

this went thru my mind

Among the things I’ve read online this week, I’ve found the following to be especially worthwhile.

Church: Six Dramatic Trends Impacting Small Churches by Chuck Warnock.

“(1) Loosening denominational ties … (2) greater use of technology … (3) increasing informality in worship … (4) aging membership … (5) increasing member education and affluence … and (6) increasing growth and popularity of large churches.”

Guidance: Wondering If You Should Wait on God? by Jon Acuff.

“… I have discovered one tiny verse that’s challenged how I view the waiting dilemma. The verse is Mark 15:43, and it’s really simple. It’s such a fragment of a fragment of a much bigger story that it’s easy to overlook it.”

ImmigrationBiblical Principles Applied to Immigration Issues by Timothy Archer is good stuff.

“… I want to have a serious discussion on immigration issues. To get the thought process started, I wanted to … bring a number of different biblical principles into the discussion.”

Ministry: Pastors Feel Privileged and Positive, Though Discouragement Can Come.

“… the finding of a survey by LifeWay Research of 1,000 American Protestant pastors conducted Aug. 17-24, 2011.”

Oil: U.S. Oil Consumption Infographic.

“U.S. Oil Usage is an attempt to educate the average person about where U.S. oil comes from, how it is being used and how U.S. consumption compares with that of other major oil consumers. The information is both shocking and concerning!”

Parenting: Adam Marshall tipped me of to this excellent article by Jonathan McKee entitled ‘Dad, Can I Go to the Homecoming Dance?’

“WARNING: The following blog might offend some of you. The subject matter I’m talking about is pretty vile, and I’ve chosen to go ahead and just say it like it is. If you’re offended… GOOD. You should be. Because this is the crude reality most of our kids are facing right now, and parents need to open their eyes to it.”

Poverty: Two recent posts that will make you sit up and think are Could You Make It On Food Stamps? by Larry James and  Do Church Pantries Do More Harm Than Good? by Josef Kuhn.

“The USDA recently reported that 14.5 percent of Americans are food insecure. … “In June of this year, a staggering 45.2 million Americans filed to get food stamps because they either are facing or living in poverty. More than half of food stamp recipients are children and 8 percent are individuals over the age of 60.”

Q. You say churches and charities can harm those they propose to help. How? A: Typically, the giving is one-way: those of us with the resources give to those with a lack of resources. One-way giving tends to make the poor objects of pity, which harms their dignity. It also erodes their work ethic and produces a dependency that is unhealthy both for the giver and the recipient.”

Preaching & sermons: Adam S. McHugh’s post entitled Why You Can’t Express the Most Important Things just might be the most significant thing you read anytime soon regarding preaching and hearing sermons.

“… a person that can very clearly delineate the points of a sermon, may not have actually fully listened.”

Racism: Are You a Christian Racist? by Peter Scazzero. Take the eleven question quiz.

“… 21st-century racism is different from that of the past. Contemporary racism is not conscious, and it is not accompanied by dislike, so it gets expressed in indirect, subtle ways.”

Spiritual gifts: Matt Dabbs continues his series on spiritual gifts. Check out How to Determine Spiritual Gifts and Five Flaws With Some Spiritual Gifts Inventories.

“(1) I am not really certain they measure spiritual gifts given to you any more than they just confirm the things you enjoy doing. … (2) There are some things that I just may have never been exposed to that I have no idea I am gifted at unless I try. … (3) There may be things I am gifted at doing that don’t bring me enjoyment. … (4) An inventory is only as good at determining something as you are at accurately reporting it. … (5) They are impersonal. They don’t know you.”

Temptation: Quotes from C.S. Lewis make up this post entitled What to Remember When Fighting Temptation. Trey Morgan’s post entitled Overcoming Sexual Temptation is also full of good stuff.

“One of these days my funeral will come. I could care less if anyone mentions if I was a good minister or could preach a good sermon. I do not care if anyone mentions that I ever helped anyone. My only goal, as they stand over my dead body, is that they say,“He was faithful to God, his wife, and he was a good dad!”

Women: John Willis’ series on the role of women continues. Biblical Female Teachers, Deacons, Elders, Preachers (part 6).

“Biblically, both males and females fit the function of elders or shepherds.”

this went thru my mind

Appreciation: Top Ten Gifts to Give Your Pastor by Brad Whitt

Change: The Power of Incremental Change over Time by Michael Hyatt

Churches of Christ: Richard Beck is one of my favorite writers and his two posts Four Reasons I’m a Church of Christ and Churches of Christ and Evangelicalism: Five Contrasts are required reading. Read his post Saved By the Blood, too.

God: A Healthier Image of God by Rubel Shelly

Hell: The Biblical Doctrine of Hell by Claude Mariottini and Clark Pinnock’s Thoughts on Hell

Humor: Newer

Parenting: Stupid Things Parents Say by Trey Morgan

Prejudice, racism & speech: Say No to Negative Talk About Hispanic Americans by Samuel Rodriguez and Robert Gittelson

Politics & taxes: Attention Tea Party Advocates by Ben Witherington

Reading, writing & documentation: Will the E-Book Kill the Footnote? by Alexandra Horowitz

Relationships: The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People: It’s About You by Tony Schwartz

Spiritual gifts: Matt Dabbs is doing some fine writing on spiritual gifts right now. See his posts entitled Start With God, Not Spiritual Gifts Inventories and Dependence and Trust.

What ever happened to them? The 33 Chilean Miners, Then and Now