Hither and yon

OK, so the blog has been neglected a bit. And may be neglected some more. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Last week was the campaign on Long Island for Hope For Life ministries (Herald of Truth). We had worked for quite a while organizing this campaign, motivating and training the churches to carry out an evangelistic effort. It was great to see the congregations working together in this concerted effort and to see them excited about reaching out.
  • I had to leave the campaign early. My mom fell a week ago Sunday and broke her hip. She’s now in a facility for physical rehabilitation.
  • Tomorrow, Carolina and I leave on a trip to the Holy Land. A generous, anonymous benefactor offered to pay my way, the Texas International Bible Institute (organizers of the trip) offered Carolina a partial scholarship, and we were able to use air miles and hotel points to defray the rest of the costs. There’s still some expense involved, but it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Special thanks to Hope For Life Ministries for letting me take the time off, to my sisters for coming to be with Mother, and to TIBI and the donor for making this possible.

I’ll definitely post some about the trip, though I’m not sure that will happen during the trip.

How do you like your links?

For several years now, I’ve been publishing “Links To Go” on a regular basis. This is where I link to things that I’ve found to be interesting reading. I often agree with the point being made, but not always. Sometimes it’s interesting to me because it’s a well-made argument that states the opposite of what I think.

I don’t have a set order for the links. I try to put things that I think are especially important near the top, particularly because that’s what Facebook users see when the post shows up there. (I’m always a bit amused when someone “Likes” the Links post. Does that mean they liked every article? Like the fact that I’m sharing articles? Or did they just read the first headline in the list and like it?) I favor religious articles over non-religious, but don’t hold to that strictly.

I try to put the more frivolous things near the bottom. Sports, humor, odd stories, videos… scroll down to find those.

Here’s some interesting things I’ve learned:

  • How easy it is to copy a link affects my decision to use it. I try to get past that, but the sites that insist on putting “Read more at www.timothyarcher.com/adsfpuiodsafpuio#” discourage my using their stuff.
  • Formatting can affect my choice. Another thing I try to get past, but people who regularly put their post titles in all caps make my job a bit more difficult. Slightly better are those who write them normally, but have them capitalized by the theme of their blog. I have workarounds for that. I also go through and pull out the rivers of white space created by multiple taps of the space bar. (Ben Witherington REALLY likes his space bar!)
  • I sometimes “reward” someone with a link to their site. I don’t really do this consciously, but I do recognize that in myself. This blogger has mentioned my stuff; I’ll be watching for something of theirs that I can share.
  • When I’m really busy, I don’t read as much, and don’t have links to share. So now you’ll read and say, “Aha! He’s not busy. He posted links.” It’s not just busy; it’s “busy that pulls me away from my computer.”
  • When I’m traveling, I don’t read as much, and don’t have links to share. I’m often busy when traveling as well.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the links. Oh, and yes… that was an intentional pun about “links” and “to go” since this is The Kitchen. That’s why I chose that title.

Links To Go (May 29, 2015)

Evangelicals and the Search for Credibility

…what we’re actually talking about are two societies that have beliefs about the basic nature of reality that are fundamentally antagonistic to one another. Note that they aren’t simply fundamentally different, but antagonistic. Set next to a difference of that nature, the attempts at finding superficial similarities look rather silly–which is precisely what they are.


Americans Vastly Overestimate Size of Gay and Lesbian Population

In fact, they think that 23 percent of Americans, or almost one in four, are are gays or lesbians, a Gallup survey released Thursday revealed. That’s way off: The polling organization most recently found that less than 4 percent self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
A third of people surveyed believed that lesbians and gays made up more than 25 percent of the population. Just 9 percent of those in the survey correctly stated that they thought the group made up less than 5 percent of the population.


18-year-old plans to marry her long-lost father

But one such unnamed couple living in the Great Lakes region is now making news after the teen daughter talked at length with the magazine about reuniting with her father — whom she hadn’t seen since she was about 5 — 12 years later and finding herself instantly attracted to him.
The daughter says they have been dating for nearly two years — since she lost her virginity to her father just days after reuniting with him — and that they plan to marry, if unofficially, and move to New Jersey, where she says adult incest is legal.


Where You Live Changes What You See When You Read the Bible

A great example of this phenomenon is found in Mark Allan Powell’s helpful little book What Do They Hear?: Bridging the Gap Between Pulpit and Pew. Powell recounts an experiment with 12 American seminary students assigned to read the parable of the prodigal son and then recount it from memory. Interestingly enough, not one of them mentioned the famine in Luke 15:14:

After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing.

Powell himself had considered Jesus’ reference to the famine as an insignificant detail, but he was surprised to see all of his students forget it.
Next, Powell organized a study with 100 American students of different genders, races, ages, economic statuses, and religions. Out of 100 students, only 6 mentioned the famine in their retelling of Jesus’ parable.
Perplexed, he went to St. Petersburg, Russia, and did the same experiment with 50 Russians. He was shocked when 42 of them remembered the famine. Only 6 out of 100 Americans, but 42 out of 50 Russians.


Most Christians Don’t Speak English

In this short but excellent video Russell Moore encourages mono-cultural churches to ask why they’re monocultural. But don’t look around a room and ask people like yourself. You need to go outside the church building, into the community and have those conversations with people of other races. Is there a reason that a Black, Hispanic, or Chinese family wouldn’t come to this church?
Is it possible that churches filled with white Americans have come to view ourselves as the definition of a Christian? That our standards should be universal standards? That our beliefs should be universal beliefs? That our “way” of doing church is the “right way”?


What Missionaries Aren’t Telling You (and What They Need From You)

We heard the stories of friends who lost support overnight because a church disagreed with an inconsequential decision. We hear the rumblings of, Aren’t national missionaries cheaper? More effective? More strategic? And we interpret it as One false move and you are disposable.
I realize that there is a delicate balance here, because I would agree that there are times when missionaries need to be exhorted, or confronted, or even encouraged to come home. Supporting churches do need to keep missionaries accountable. But missionaries need to have permission to struggle, to be confused, and even to fail.


What Should We Wear to Worship?

You see, when my family gathers for our evening devotional, my children are wearing pajamas. Sometimes while mowing the lawn, I will be praying in my grungy work clothes. When I’m driving down the road, I often sing songs of praise. And quite I often I will stop in the middle of my day to pray with someone who is hurting.
I’ve never once said during any of those times, “Oops, I can’t do that right now. I’m not wearing the right clothes to approach God.” And I don’t know any Christian who does.


Bill Russell’s Celtics Were Great. Tim Duncan’s Spurs Have Been Better.

The longest streak of above-average play belongs to the San Antonio Spurs. Their Elo rating rose above 1500 on Jan. 3, 1998, and hasn’t fallen below it since, a period that covers more than 17 years, or 1,644 games1 and counting. That’s impressive even compared to the Celtics, who had an above-average Elo rating from March 14, 1956 to Nov. 12, 1969. Insanely great — 13.5 years and 1,198 games — but not as great as the Spurs.


A letter to the UCC elders

I don’t like open letters, but I’m about to write one. Largely because I want to publicly thank and applaud the elders of the church I attend: University Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas

*****

Dear elders,

I know this is a bit impersonal, and I hope to speak with each of you personally. For now, let me publicly thank you for the statement you issued on Sunday about the participation of women in our Sunday assembly. It was a milestone on a long road, one that many of us had grown weary of. I’m sure that you especially have longed to reach a resting point in this discussion.

You’ve had my prayers, as always. I’ve prayed even harder as I’ve realized how especially difficult this process had begun. To be honest, I despaired of a solution that wouldn’t tear our congregation apart. You showed great wisdom, Spirit-filled discernment, in reaching a compromise.

No, I didn’t agree with every word in that statement. But I heartily agree with the expression of love and unity found in those pages.

We members have not behaved well. Many reacted without knowing the facts. Assumptions were made, conclusions drawn. You were attacked for moving too fast and for moving too slow. You were criticized for being too backwards and too progressive. Your motives were questioned.

Some chose to leave rather than work through the messiness that is church life; I pray they’ll be better prepared for disagreements that will come up in their new church home.

We’ve given lip service to Bible study while actually following our feelings and preferences. We’ve hard a hard time differentiating between “thus saith the Lord” and our own druthers. That’s hard to admit, but it’s true.

You’ve been publicly attacked and privately criticized. Too little grace has been extended your way.

Through it all, you’ve behaved like gentlemen. More than that, you’ve behaved like Spirit-led Christian shepherds. I’m proud to be part of your flock.

Thank you for your service.

 

Grace and peace,
Tim Archer

Links To Go (May 27, 2015)

A Prayer from a Pacifist on Memorial Day

God, we pledge our allegiance to Your kingdom as we seek to name evil and we discourage followers of Jesus from any vocation that might require violence. At the same time, we refuse to distance ourselves from those who have taken part in the way of Empire. God, help us to bring shalom to these people, Your children, as You have given peace to those of us who have never pulled the trigger. And prompt us to embrace the the families of the fallen, to deplore death, and celebrate life. May we mourn with those who mourn and trust that death has in fact been defeated by Love.


Another Pool of Blood In Which I Am Willing to Stand

Memorial Day was a national liturgy that shaped and directed our love toward that which is most sacred and holy in our lives. Our god will always be standing in a pool of blood. Because the pool of blood tells you what you’re willing to die for, to bleed for, where your ultimate allegiance is located.
Follow the blood, it tells you what you worship.


Fifty Shades of Khaki: Biblical Minimalism

A number of these secular sources pointed out that despite the appearance of voluntary simplicity in many cultures, religions, and philosophies in history, it is Christianity that can be credited with spreading the virtue of simple living throughout Europe and America. I was like, “Wait, what?” I thought secular observers would link Christianity with the craving for prosperity, à la Osteen, Jakes, Meyers, Hinn, and yes, Dollar. But the historically au fait minimalist community recognizes modern TBN-ism as being disloyal to, and in fact incompatible with, biblical Christianity.


The Wounds of Progressive Christians

One of the lessons Jana and I learned during that time is that it’s hard to build a church upon a foundation of anger, resentment and hurt. It’s hard to build a church around an identity that basically says, “We’re not like those other churches.


I’m Divorced: How Does God See Me Now?

Our relationships may be broken. Perhaps they are dead. But ours is a God of resurrection, and just as he overturned the curse of Jesus’ death, he can overturn the curse of a broken marriage. The empty tomb is the answer for a soul broken by divorce.


Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?


Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse Is So Important

But as we got better acquainted with him and his wife, we started noticing a disturbing trend in the way they related to one another. They would often make disparaging remarks about the other in public.
At first, it seemed cute. Their comments seemed playful and humorous. Everyone laughed. But over time, they became more and more pointed, thinly masking their frustration with one another.
We ultimately left that church. But several years later we learned they suffered an ugly divorce, both admitting to multiple affairs. They lost their family, and, of course, their ministry. To this day, it grieves me to think about it.