Links To Go (February 9, 2016)

What a Super Bowl Ad Reveals About Our Abortion Culture

The fact that the parents in this ad (it is telling that the abortion lobby’s Twitter feed referred to them as a “Mom” and a “Dad”) could recognize the “product of conception” on a sonogram as their child was problematic for NARAL. The abortion lobby didn’t want viewers to see on television what every expectant mother can see in a sonogram—that the child within her is a growing human being, not just a blob of dark matter. The ad didn’t “humanize” the “fetus,” God did.

Politics is Never Enough

While our social media feeds and news programs may be obsessed with the political now, our focus should remain on the more extensive cultural future and the more important Kingdom future.
This one vote will not save (or doom) our nation or our society. Believers must have a better understanding of politics’ scope and effectiveness.

Grain and Grape

This is where we discover the holy mystery that all labor necessary for human flourishing is sacred. A farmer plowing his field, a worker in a bakery, a trucker hauling goods, a grocer selling wares, all are engaged in work that is just as sacred as the priest or pastor serving Communion on Sunday. The Eucharist pulls back the curtain to reveal a sacramental world.

Table Fellowship

And L. called me when he returned from Turkey to invite my wife and I to a feast to celebrate the life of his grandfather. We were honored, and of course agreed, and so it was that we found ourselves in a fancy Turkish kitchen out in Brooklyn, at the mercy of a menu we could not read, surrounded by servers we could not communicate with, to honor the life of a man we did not know. This is not an unfamiliar situation in the life of a missionary in a global city. And I was struck, in this moment, by the power of table fellowship. It is no wonder that table is at the center of the gospel.

Facing the Sexual Revolution’s impact, even among ‘active’ members of red-pew flocks

In this week’s “On Religion” column, I focused quite a bit of attention on one particular question. So, how would active members of conservative Protestant churches respond if asked to react to this statement: “As long as it’s between consenting adults, any kind of sex is fine.”

If this were a conservative or nondenominational Protestant church, the active, “practicing” members would be sharply divided, according to a new Barna Group survey. Nearly half – 46 percent – would affirm this live-and-let-live approach to sex outside of marriage, while 40 percent would disagree “strongly” and 12 percent “somewhat.”

These are the active members, not the people who occasionally visit the pews.
Yes, we are talking about conservative churches. I asked, specifically, if this was the data niche that included Southern Baptist churches, nondenominational Protestant megachurches, the Assemblies of God, etc. Yes, it’s that crowd and it’s split pretty much 50-50 on that “anything goes” question.

Hudson, Heaven, and Being a Hope Griever…

We believe and because of that, we will see our babies, our sons and daughters, our children, again.
Until then, we cry, praise, and hang on to God and each other.
And wait for the Lord to take us home so we can all be together again.

Jesus Wept (John 11:35)

Jesus shows the way: anger, agitation, and sadness.

  • We might express a holy anger against humanity’s great enemy, death. Sometimes we are angry with ourselves, sometimes with the one who died, and sometimes with God. We lament and ask, “Why?” Anger is good.
  • We face the reality of death with a determination to live in its shadow. Lean into grief, walk through it, and head towards the light. It is good to “stir ourselves” to action.
  • We weep, grieved by the reality of death and how it affects humanity. Tears are good; they are cleansing. Let’em flow.

And….we believe: Jesus is the resurrection and the life!

The Revelation: Major Themes

Spend some time pondering each one of these. And notice how far removed Gorman’s thought is from the typical commentary or Bible class on the Apocalypse. I mean, in many churches, you’d get in trouble for just pointing these out as possibilities. (I speak from experience.)
Then again, I once taught a class pointing out the dangers of blind obedience to any civil authority — and noted that not all wars are just wars merely because the US decides to declare war. I’m no pacifist, but neither do I believe that the US is incapable of error. After the class, I was told that a visitor had just returned from fighting in Iraq — and I figured I’d really put my foot in my mouth (a very familiar flavor). But the soldier came up to me and thanked me for having the courage to speak the truth.

The Ultimate Unsolicited Redesign: How One 29-Year-Old Is Reimaging the Bible

The expected form of the Bible almost across the board for the last 200 years or so has not been conducive to appreciating biblical literature as literature. Rather, the Bible is designed to be an easily-navigated theological encyclopedia. There are all of these longstanding design traditions in type-setting, page layouts, and binding that the Bible seemed to somehow be exempt from. It’s not that a two-column Bible with chapter numbers, verse numbers, and cross references is a bad thing. It is certainly a useful thing. But it shouldn’t be the only way arguably the greatest book of literature in the western world is presented to its readers.

Yet Another Reason Why the Moon Landing Wasn’t Faked: Math

The main takeaway is an obvious one: The more people involved in a plot, the quicker it’ll get out. According to The Telegraph, “For a plot to last five years, the maximum number of plotters turned out to be 2521. To keep a scheme operating undetected for more than a decade, fewer than 1000 people could be involved, while a century-long deception had to include fewer than 125 collaborators.”
If NASA had indeed faked the moon landing, around 411,000 people would have had to keep tight-lipped about it, and as such, the secret would have gotten out in under four years, according to Grimes’s formula. A climate change conspiracy would require about 405,000 individuals plotting together and similarly would have been exposed long ago.

Wife crashes her own funeral, horrifying her husband, who had paid to have her killed

Finally, she spotted the man she’d been waiting for. She stepped out of her car, and her husband put his hands on his head in horror.
“Is it my eyes?” she recalled him saying. “Is it a ghost?”
“Surprise! I’m still alive!” she replied.
Far from being elated, the man looked terrified. Five days earlier, he had ordered a team of hit men to kill Rukundo, his partner of 10 years. And they did — well, they told him they did. They even got him to pay an extra few thousand dollars for carrying out the crime.

How to use the robot AI that is becoming the bane of telemarketers

Instead of just hanging up every time “Sharon, your local Google specialist” calls, one person decided to create an artificial intelligence that is as effective at wasting telemarketers’ time as telemarketers are at annoying you.
The Jolly Roger Telephone Co. was created by Roger Anderson, and it’s a robot that talks to telemarketers (or anyone you want) by starting with “hello?” and keeps the conversation going by responding during silent moments with affirmatives like “yeah,” “uh-huh,” and “right.”
The fun part is when the telemarketer starts to get suspicious or says something confusing to the robot and it responds with a few different things, like telling “honey” it’s on the phone right now and asking the telemarketer to repeat, or going into a short story about how it just woke up and needs some coffee. Anderson records these calls and puts them on his blog for your enjoyment.

Links To Go (February 3, 2016)

Is C.S. Lewis’s Liar-Lord-or-Lunatic Argument Unsound?

So Lewis thinks it implausible that monotheistic Jews would have invented an incarnate Messiah and he thinks that the genre of the gospels bears none of the typical marks of legends—based upon a lifetime of scholarly and leisure reading of ancient legends. Therefore, the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of history. And if this one Jesus were not Lord, he would be a liar or a lunatic. But he is truthful (not a liar) and sane (not a lunatic). Therefore he is Lord.

7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics

Rather than engage in the political process, Christians have a duty to elevate it. Like any other sin, we are called to stand above the partisan dissension and demonstrate a better way. Should we have an opinion? Yes. Should we care about our country? Yes. Should we vote? Yes. But it’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

10 predictions about the future Church and shifting attendance patterns

I think the change we’re seeing around us might one day be viewed on the same level as what happened to the church after Constantine’s conversion or after the invention of the printing press. Whatever the change looks like when it’s done, it will register as a seismic shift from what we’ve known.

What a Minister Can Learn from a Congregation

I think it is far more important that a minister simply live as a human being among a congregation. No need to prove that you are human with flaws, shortcomings, and sins. Many people will become aware of this all too soon.

Dear Aspiring Minister…

I understand English may not be your favorite class, and that you won’t “like” every assignment. Get over it, and learn to appreciate every piece—if not for its own merit, then for the way reading it can develop your work ethic and spiritual formation. Stop questioning whether these classes are useful for ministry when you’ve barely done ministry, and consider that your professors—most of whom have been in the trenches for decades—might know a bit more than you about what you need.

Everyone deserves a fair chance

The problem with prejudice is that it answers questions without information. Stereotyping is the laziest form of thought because it reduces people to formulas and it robs individuals of their humanity.

‘Christians’ Who Leave Fake $20 Tips For Servers Draw Epic Response From Restaurant Manager

For quite some time now, Christian fundamentalists have been angering waiters and waitresses by leaving religious messages disguised as $20 bills as the tip.
The notes say that they can have something more valuable than money, which they claim is a belief in Jesus.
But to the servers who receive such a tip, it’s nothing more than a dirty trick that angers them. They worked hard attending to their customers in an effort to receive a well-earned tip that will help them pay the bills and put food on the table. A plain piece of paper masquerading as a $20 bill doesn’t help at all. If anything, it makes religious people look like a bunch of jerks.

The Best Places To Retire In 2015

Abilene, Texas
PROS: Robust economy, cost of living 17% below national average, average home price $142,000 (national average: $209,000). Low rate of violent crime. High number of doctors per capita, high rank on Milken Institute of best cities for successful aging. Warm climate.
CON: Not very walkable. NOTED: Average tax climate and air quality. Population 120,000. On list last year. TRIVIA: Founded as a railroad shipping town for cattle.

Uniformed PCSO mistaken for stripogram at 50th birthday party

PCSO Mike Ober was on foot patrol in Bradford-on-Avon on Saturday when he spotted an open door at a social club.
Going in to investigate, he was greeted by a group of women who “went wild with excitement” thinking he was the male stripper they had ordered.
He said: “The party was about to get started and they thought I was early.”

Links To Go (February 1, 2016)

Ideas expressed belong to their original authors. No endorsement nor agreement implied… Tim

Trump and the Heresy of Christianism

There is almost nothing about Mr. Trump’s character, story, agenda, or candidacy that finds alignment with Scripture, the cross, the gospel, or personal/social transformation (Bebbington’s evangelical markers in simple terms). However, his “Make America Great Again” slogan, along with his maligning of women, immigrants, and all “losers” while triumphantly holding up a Bible, fits Christianism perfectly. Trump, unlike the increasingly unpopular voices of orthodox evangelicalism, is giving the people what they want—a gun wielding, aggressive, capitalist Jesus who builds walls and kills terrorists.

Closing The Book On Vengeance

To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God.
This is how Jesus read Isaiah 61:2 when he returned to Nazareth after beginning his ministry. Jesus edited Isaiah. Reading from this familiar passage in Isaiah, Jesus stopped midsentence and rolled up the scroll! It would be like someone singing the national anthem and ending with, O’er the land of the free. Everybody would be waiting for and the home of the brave. Jesus didn’t finish the line. Jesus omitted the bit about “the day of vengeance of our God.”
In announcing that God’s jubilee of liberation, amnesty, and pardon was arriving with what he was doing, Jesus omitted any reference to God exacting vengeance on Israel’s enemies. In claiming that Isaiah’s prophecy had been fulfilled in their hearing, Jesus is claiming to be Jubilee in person. But the scandalous suggestion is that this Jubilee is to be for everybody…even Israel’s enemies.

Why I Stopped Teaching the Five Steps of Salvation a Long Time Ago

But here is the thing that bothered me the most. We would tell someone that we were a people of the book and that we would only teach from the Bible. You would not find any denominational doctrine among us. Other groups would put forth their doctrine and try to support it with proof texts. but we would only use the Bible.
Then we put out what sure looked like Church of Christ doctrine backed up by our proof texts.
Hear, believe, confess, repent, and be baptized. And here are the proof texts.

Morocco Declaration: Muslim Nations Should Protect Christians from Persecution

This week, Roberts traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco, alongside more than 250 Muslim religious leaders, heads of state, and scholars, for a groundbreaking summit. On Wednesday, the Muslim leaders released the Marrakesh Declaration: a 750-word document calling for religious freedom for non-Muslims in majority-Muslim countries

In Sickness and in Health But Not in Debt

  • Guys: Investing between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate between $500 and $2,000.
  • For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding ups the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.
  • For the best odds, though, keep the festivities to less than $1,000.

Undefeated wrestler lets opponent with Down syndrome win

Norton High School co-captain Devin Schuko had a 27-0 record when he faced off against Andy Howland, a wrestler at neighboring Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School in Massachusetts, who has Down syndrome.
The match went quickly, with Howland forcing Schuko to the mat and pinning him for the win. They shook hands and Schuko went back to his bench, while Howland celebrated with his coaches and teammates.

Swedish sled dog wins gold medal despite poop stop just before finish line

Swedish sled dog was able to win a gold medal in the national championships despite taking time to relieve itself seconds before crossing the finish line.

Spiritual hunger in Cuba

tonyOne of the great things about working at Hope For Life / Herald of Truth is the fact that I get to work with some amazing people in other countries. One of them is Tony Fernández, who continues to inspire with stories of his work in Cuba. I’ve shared the following in several places, but wanted to share it here as well:

Neat story from Tony Fernandez in Cuba. He was coming back from Havana, and several other drivers warned him of a police control on an upcoming bridge. Sure enough, as Tony approached, the policeman was waving him over. Tony started getting his papers ready, but the policeman said, “Please, put your documents away. I just want to know if you can get me a Bible. That’s always been my dream, but I’ve never been able to get one.”
Tony didn’t have any with him, but told him where to hear the Herald of Truth radio program and gave him the post office box number so he could write in.
Reminds me that the thousands Herald of Truth raises every year for Bibles in Cuba are going to good use. And reminds me that we have faithful brethren around the world working hard to spread the message every day.

Links To Go (January 28, 2016)

Links provided don’t represent my words nor necessarily my beliefs… Tim

Why I’m Not Fond of the Phrase, “The 5 Steps of Salvation”

God provided a Savior – not a checklist – to save mankind from sin. And God did not provide a staircase for man to ascend; He provided a Savior, who descended to earth to lift mankind up.

Are You a Negaholic? 5 Ways Pessimism Is Ruining Your Life

It’s popular to promote counterintuitive reasons pessimism can be helpful to us. But here’s the truth. I’ve never met a single leader or entrepreneur who was both pessimistic and successful. Why? Negaholics just aren’t up for what it takes to win.

9 Things That Worked in the Church A Decade Ago That Don’t Today

And—these days especially—culture is changing faster than ever before.
As a result, the shelf life of ideas, assumptions and approaches is shorter than it has ever been.
What used to work, doesn’t. Not anymore.
The challenge is to know what’s stopped working and what hasn’t.

Prescribing Hospitality for Growth in the Christian Life

In others words, hospitality need not be elaborate, nor even financially costly. It doesn’t even have to revolve around a meal. But it does require discernment and a willingness to forego your comfort, your convenience, and possibly even your safety and reputation. For example: Jesus tells the Pharisees to host the socially outcast, not the popular people; Onesiphorus traveled far to tend to an imprisoned Paul; and David cared for a crippled man related to Saul, the very man who tried to kill him.

Dispatch from Sundance – ‘The Birth of a Nation’

Also remarkable—and sobering—is the film’s deep engagement with the Bible, which Parker spoke about as well, citing his own Christian faith. Scripture is quoted repeatedly throughout the film in many contexts; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film with more of the Bible in the screenplay, including “Christian” films.

“When I want your opinion…”

But often, people will show you something where facts and hypotheses aren’t really germane. “Should we paint the door of the building beige or red?” In moments like this, there are three ways to be helpful… All three of these approaches make it far more likely that your fact-based feedback and hypotheses are taken more seriously next time.

U.K. government misspells ‘language’ while announcing English tests for migrants

The fact that the word “language” had been misspelled in an announcement about the British government’s new language testing rules for family route migrants grabbed much attention online over the weekend.

Apple Update Now Available for Download [Satire]

First thing you have to do in order to download your new OS is make sure that you have enough space. 
Ha ha! That was a joke. Of course you don’t have enough space. Why? Take a look and you’ll see that your memory is dedicated as follows: music, ten per cent; photos, fifteen per cent; applications, ten per cent; and then sixty-five per cent is designated “other.”