Links To Go (December 16, 2014)

Seven Things I Wish My Pastor Knew About My Homosexuality

May I make two requests? Continue to love me, but remember that you cannot be more merciful than God. It isn’t mercy to affirm same-sex acts as good. Practice compassion according to the root meaning of “compassion”: Suffer with me. Don’t compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.


2 Reasons NOT to ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’

  1. It doesn’t faithfully reflect the character of Jesus and the humility of his birth.
  2. Christmas is a significant date in the Church’s liturgical calendar, not society’s calendar.

Atheist’s Church Skipping Billboard

While we’re eager to celebrate Christmas and invite our neighbors to church this year, let’s remember that not everyone wants to celebrate Christmas. That’s OK. Someone wanting to skip Christmas or even saying “Happy Holidays” is not persecution.


Why are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches?

We have heard “If Mama Ain’t Happy, No One is Happy.” In fact, Barna Group indicates that 80% of the time, women make the decision on whether a family attends church.
This statistic is eerily familiar to the stat that makes this elusive consumer group so critical to product companies, too. She also controls 80% of the household spending, including charitable giving. If the woman doesn’t get up on Sunday morning and get out the door, the odds are they stay home. Once they stay home one week, it is easier to do so the next week.


Australians Just Showed the World Exactly How to Respond to Terrorism With #IllRideWithYou

This hashtag movement is powerful sign that Australians won’t get worked up into a Islamophobic rage because of the actions of a single madman. It’s also a lesson for countries like the U.S., where hate crimes against Muslims spike whenever there’s a criminal or terrorist incident involving Muslims, or even when something innocuous happens like debating the placement of a mosque in New York City. Australian social media users are showing Muslims they’re safe in their home and shouldn’t fear retaliation for an incident they’re not linked to.


Watch the 10 Most Popular YouTube Videos of the Year

Today the Google-owned video streaming service released its 2014 Rewind video, a mashup to showcase the YouTube videos that were given the most love this year. The top 10 trending videos by the site were also unveiled, and winners include soccer stars, bending iPhones, street harassment, and a dog dressed as a spider.


Links To Go (December 12, 2014)

Suggested reading for thought and discussion. No agreement nor endorsement implied. — Tim


You Cannot Be Christian and Support Torture

These evangelicals have reached a crisis of decision. They can choose security. They can choose to endorse torture in the name of security. But to do so is to renounce the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Torture-endorsing Christians either need to change their mind or they need to change their name.


Torture Is Wrong

Our Lord practices what he preaches and so, he teaches us over and over that torture is wrong, as powerfully with his ways as well as with his words. I ask you: just how many times did our Lord intervene on behalf of another whenever he encountered someone experiencing some – any – form of torture, be it verbal, mental, emotional, or physical?


What “American Exceptionalism” Means to Me

When we fail, we should expect someone to expose that failure and remind us of our high ideals. When we criticize them for doing so in the name of nationalism, “America is always right no matter what we do” or “ends justify means,” we fall from true American exceptionalism. True American exceptionalism is saying “We did wrong; we apologize and promise never to do it again.”


Why Sin Is Not A Moral Problem

This differs strikingly from the idea of sin as the breaking of moral rules. The breaking of a rule implies only an outward error, a merely legal or forensic infraction. Nothing of substance is changed. But the Scriptures treat sin far more profoundly – it is itself a change in substance, a decay of our very being.


The Gospel According to Peanuts

There was a standoff of sorts, but Schulz did not back down, and because of the tight production schedule and CBS’s prior promotion, the network executives aired the special as Schulz intended it. But they were certain they had a flop on their hands.
“They were freaking out about something so overtly religious in a Christmas special,” explained Melendez. “They basically wrote it off, like, hey, this is just isn’t going to be interesting to anyone, and it’s just going to be like a big tax write-off.”
Melendez himself was somewhat hesitant about the reading from Luke. “I was leery of the religion that came into it, and I was right away opposed to it. But Sparky just assumed what he had to say was important to somebody.”
Which is why Charles Schulz was Charles Schulz. He knew that the Luke reading by Linus was the heart and soul of the story.


Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family

Stacy talked with Dollar General, and they said they wouldn’t prosecute. So Stacy made an offer.
“He said, ‘If I give you these eggs, will you promise that you won’t shoplift anymore?'” Reno said. “He knew that she was telling the truth and that’s the reason he went in and bought the eggs.”
Stacy bought the eggs and gave them to her, Reno said. The woman then asked if she could give him a hug.


Links To Go (December 10, 2014)

What to Do When You Don’t Know a Family’s Immigration Status

  1. There is no legal obligation to report someone you suspect is in the U.S. illegally
  2. It is best not to assume a person’s immigration status
  3. All children are required to attend school, whatever their immigration status
  4. Teachers and school authorities are not allowed to ask about the immigration status of children or their families
  5. It is not against the law to welcome a family into your home or help them, even if they are undocumented

Did Early Christians Disagree Widely on Which Books Made it into the Canon?

In sum, there is impressive evidence for widespread agreement over the core canonical books from a very early time. Most of the disagreements dealt with only a handful of books—2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, Revelation. But even these disagreements should not be overplayed. We should not be too quick to assume that disagreements over a book are due to the fact that its canonical status is undecided. On the contrary, sometimes disagreements are not so much over what should be included in the canon, but are over which books are already in the canon. As David Trobisch observes, “The critical remarks of the church fathers can be better interpreted as a historical critical reaction to an existing publication.”


Kingdom: A Proposal

My proposal in Kingdom Conspiracy is that kingdom in the Bible has five core ideas and kingdom can be defined this way: a kingdom is a people ruled by a king. I break that definition into five elements:

  1. A kingdom has a king.
  2. A kingdom has a king who rules or who exercises redemptive power.
  3. A kingdom has a king who rules a people.
  4. Kings rule by way of a law.
  5. Kings establish their rule in a place (land).

Five questions follow:

  1. Who is the king?
  2. How is this redemptive power or rule exercised?
  3. Who is the king’s people?
  4. What is this king’s will?
  5. Where is the kingdom today?

The Centrality of the Word in Discipleship

I’ve recognized this in my own life lately. Over the last year, I have received formal therapy from a licensed counselor, informal counsel from my pastor, and much counsel from wise godly friends over meals or coffee. They have pointed me to books that have offered wise counsel as well. While all of those things have been deeply helpful, they help best as periphery support to the essential infrastructure of personal Bible reading. When I pursue those things without reading the Bible myself, there is a gulf in my heart they can not make up by themselves.


How a Teen from New Jersey Invented the Viral Video

In December 2004, Gary Brolsma, then 19 years old, posted a video of himself lip-syncing to a Romanian pop song called “Dragostea Din Tei,” just for the heck of it. What began as a lark turned into one of the most watched Internet videos of all time.
Even more remarkable, Brolsma’s video, titled “Numa Numa” after a line from the O-Zone tune, went viral without the help of YouTube, which didn’t debut until Feb. 14, 2005.


Dreaming

Message StonesI have a dream. I’m looking forward to the day when churches argue and fight about things that really matter. Okay, maybe I don’t really want the arguing and fighting part. Still, I’d love to see a large portion of our membership get passionate about things that happen outside of our church walls.

I long for the day when someone writing about feeding the hungry can generate as much attention as someone arguing about what women can and can’t do in the assembly. I’d love to see members competing to get more attention for their style of evangelism, rather than their style of music. Wouldn’t it be neat to hear someone say, “We liked that church, but they didn’t seem to be focused enough on missions, so we’re going elsewhere”?

I’d like churches to be measured not by the number of people in the pews on Sunday but the number of people on their knees on Monday. I’d love for faithfulness to be seen as growing to be more like Christ, not just attending church every time the doors are open. I dream of the day when we care less about who stands up front and more about who washes feet.

Yet, just as God told Elijah of the unknown thousands who weren’t worshipping Baal, I know that God has an army of people out there that aren’t writing blogs or speaking at lectureships or promoting the doctrine du jour. Those people are too busy going about their ministries, too busy serving, too busy changing this world to get bogged down in our silly squabbles. God bless them. May their tribe be increased.

Photo by Darren Hester on MorgueFile.com