A Prayer for Friday (August 23, 2019)

Father in heaven,

Make me aware of the pain of others more than my own discomfort. Make me aware of the needs of others more than my own desires. Make me aware of the grief of others more than my own sadness.

Help me to see the world with Your eyes and Your heart. Fill me with compassion. Let me empty myself to be filled with Your Spirit.

Make me over in the image of Your Son.

In Jesus’ holy name,
Amen

Cuba… it’s complicated

The other day Matthew Stidham shared something on Facebook about the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Basically, this cognitive effect refers to people with little knowledge overestimating their competence in a certain area. The graphic accompanying the post showed a progression from no knowledge toward much knowledge, each stage accompanied by a quote. The quotes were:

“Huh?”
“I know everything.”
“There’s more to this than I thought.”
“I’m never going to understand this.”
“It’s starting to make sense.”
“Trust me. It’s complicated.”

That really fits my experience with Cuba. I often say that the person who has visited Cuba once is an expert on the topic… and it goes down from there. The best statement is the last one: Trust me. It’s complicated.

Cuba is complicated. Cuba will be complicated. End the U.S. blockade, and it would still be complicated. Replace the current government with a totally different system, and it would still be complicated. Open up all travel to Cuba, and it would still be complicated. Get in a time machine, go back 65 years, and it would still be complicated.

The economy? Complicated. Human rights? Complicated. Religious freedom? Complicated. The best way forward politically? Complicated.

I love the Cuban people. I consider my support for the church in Cuba to be a major part of my ministry. God is at work in Cuba. The church is growing. People are searching spiritually in a way I don’t see in many countries. So even if it’s complicated, I’m going to keep doing what I can for the Cuban people.

Is that simple enough?

Links To Go (August 21, 2019)

Babylon Bee’s Satire Gets Shared by People Who Think It’s Real

It’s no surprise that, depending on the headline, satire might be more likely to deceive members of one political party over another. Individuals’ political worldviews consistently color their perceptions of facts. Still, Americans’ inability to agree on what is true and what is false is a problem for democracy.


The US labor shortage, explained

But in the meantime, there’s no better time for working-class Americans to demand better wages, benefits, schedules, and work conditions. It also means immigration reform is more urgent than ever. In order to fill all the open jobs and keep the economy growing, Congress will need to allow more low-skilled immigrants to work — legally.


How to Make a Theological Argument

  • First, restate the meaning of a biblical text in its canonical context
  • Second, argue from revealed premises
  • Third, use reason
  • Fourth, throughout, be Spiritual

On Controversy and Rules of Persuasion

Ethos is an appeal to the ethical character of the person with whom we are debating. Logos is an appeal to the logic or reason of the arguments raised by the person with whom you are debating. Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of the people to whom you are appealing. So much debate that we witness in our day–or in which we are presently engaged–is built on differences about the propriety or measure of the ethos, logos or pathos with which we debate a matter.


The Sofa Salesperson Who Did Everything Wrong

It’s not that difficult, is it? Listen. Draw out. Empathize. Listen some more. Then take action or make recommendations only as I am equipped and in a way consistent with my vocation.


Make a habit/break a habit

If you can replace a bad habit with a good one, you’ll live with the benefits for decades. The challenge is to set up systems that are likely to create habits, not sprints that lead to failure.


Your Church Needs More Time for Personal Testimonies

As God’s people give public praise to God for his deeds, those far from God find compelling evidence to consider our claims. As we declare God’s marvelous works before a watching world, we bear witness to him. What he’s capable of doing for them is communicated by what has already been accomplished for us.


Links To Go (August 20, 2019)

Overcoming the Fear of Evangelism

Some of you don’t struggle with such things. That’s awesome. I’ve envied you before. But for those who like me have experienced butterflies in the stomach at times when you think about speaking the gospel to the lost, here are a few things that help me.


Putting the “Service” Back in Worship Service

So, look for ways you can serve during the sermon. Perhaps there’s a mother whose rambunctious toddler makes it difficult for her to focus. Offer to sit with her and help. Make eye contact with the preacher, turn to the passage in your Bible, and don’t be afraid to offer an “amen” or verbal affirmation. These habits will serve the preacher as he labors faithfully to serve you the Word.


I am a False Prophet

How many false predictions have I made to myself over my lifetime? Millions? Billions? How much adrenaline has been unnecessarily let loose in my body? How many hours of sleep have I lost just by worrying about how many hours of sleep I might lose? How much ibuprofen have I taken for headaches caused by catastrophic situations that never materialized?


The Power of Biblical Hospitality

What about you? Are you stuck on entertainment or zealous for genuine hospitality? You might think this to be some kind of superfluous add-on to the life of a kingdom-disciple, but a simple glimpse at the life of our Savior demonstrates that this was one of his primary means of ministry. All without a home of his own. Welcoming others. Eating with them. Listening to their story. Ministering to their pain. Holding out the invitation of the kingdom.


Ministering to International Students

There has never been an opportunity in the history of humanity where people who are far from Christ are now in such close proximity to those who follow him. To honor those who are risking their lives and the lives of those they love most in order to live and work in countries where many of these international students are coming from, we must join them in their mission to reach the unreached with the gospel.


Responsibility and the power of ‘could have’

And it continues with a simple tactic: Instead of defining the minimal legal requirement, outline the maximum possible action you could have taken.


What3words: The app that can save your life

What3words essentially points to a very specific location. Its developers divided the world into 57 trillion squares, each measuring 3m by 3m (10ft by 10ft) and each having a unique, randomly assigned three-word address.


F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever

An increase in expletives, says Bergen, shows that the swear words politicians are using are “more acceptable in public discourse than they were a decade or two ago. That’s a general change in the culture. We’ve seen media become democratized. There are fewer and fewer channels of communication that are censored. And as a result, there’s just more swearing around,” he says.


7th grader donates $15,000 earnings from county fair to St. Jude Children’s Hospital

A 7th grader in Ohio is getting praise from around the country for a recent act of kindness. Diesel Pippert donated all of his livestock premiums to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


Cultural artifact or divine revelation?

I believe that the Bible is a book that demonstrates its humanity, that reflects the cultures it was written in and the people who composed it.

But I also know that the Bible transcends that humanity. More than that, long before cultures shaped the Bible, the teachings of the Bible shaped those cultures. God’s revelation of Himself occurred before the Bible came into being, and the writers of the Bible were affected by that revelation and its effects.

Some believe that the Bible forbids the eating of pork because that was the practice of the Hebrew people. Others believe that the Hebrew people abstained from eating pork because God so instructed them; those instructions were later recorded in Scripture.

The first group sees the Bible as merely a cultural artifact, nothing more than a snapshot of how God’s people acted at a certain time. The second group sees the Bible as a divine revelation, inspired by God.

I’m firmly in the second camp. Even as I wrestle to understand how inspiration takes place and even to recognize how much of the Bible intentionally reflects a human viewpoint on things, I still believe that Bible is much more than a record of the beliefs of a given people at a certain time.

I have built my life around the belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As life goes on, that belief only gets deeper and more anchored in my being.