Links To Go (February 11, 2016)

Thoughts and ideas are not mine, just food for thought… Tim

Please Keep This Between Us

There are some who are contractually obligated to keep secrets—lawyers, counselors, mobsters—but within the local church, “Just between you and me,” is bedfellows with its sister, Gossip. They seem at odds, but they are actually two sides of the same coin.
Gossip wants to control the narrative by embellishing it, the other wants to control the narrative by being the only one to talk about it. Gossip wants to make the story interesting, the other wants to make the story one-sided. Neither reflect the words and meditations of a heart pleasing to God.

The Most Neglected Spiritual Discipline

Fasting is a chance to be very intentional about how God’s truth is incorporated and affecting our lives. God, for some reason, has entrusted us with His kingdom (see Luke 12:32). We should make sure we’re not totally missing that amazing opportunity.

What Young Christians Are Trying to Do When They Question Tradition

Older Christians, the next time a young Christian is trying to change something talk with them about it and hear out their reasoning. Chances are good that they’re probably embracing some change that’s already come their way and trying to come up with something to reach their community better.

“You Won’t Be So Passionate When You’re 40″

I can confidently say that he was and remains dead wrong. Passion for the glory of Christ does not wane or wither with time when it is fueled and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Over the years I have found myself peering into more and more rooms in the mansion of Christology. Jesus remains infinitely lovely, compelling, and full of glory. The gospel is no less powerful. The church is no less worthy of my service. And this guys’ statement could not be more wrong.

15 Practical Steps to Racial Reconciliation

As I’ve argued elsewhere, there is not a direct correlation between the racial reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles to God, and to one another in the bible and the need for reconciliation in the evangelical movement. Yet, the bible’s teaching of reconciliation in Christ certainly applies to the racist past and present struggle with race relations in the evangelical movement.

Trend #2 for the Future of Church Planting—Bivocational Ministry

In the past, if a church planter was bivocational, oftentimes that meant that they lacked financial support. A standard section in any church planting proposal would include the church’s plan for financial self-sustainability, which included paying the church planter and maybe another staff member a salary with benefits. Many denominations would even support the church planter’s salary for at least three years while also providing seed money for their ministry. As a result, bivocational ministry was more of a last resort, than a first option. Interestingly, we are seeing a wholesale mindset change on the idea of bivocational ministry.

European Parliament recognizes ISIS killings of religious minorities as genocide

The insecurity faced by Christians in the Middle East has seen their population decrease drastically in recent years. As of July 2015, a third of Syria’s 600,000 Christians had fled; Lebanon’s Christian population share has shrunk from 78 percent to 34 percent over the previous century; and only a third of the 1.5 million Christians who lived in Iraq in 2003 remain today, according to the New York Times.

Why Obama’s mosque visit is criticized — in a way George W. Bush’s wasn’t

But the chart above shows, better than just about anything else, how much more polarized we are on this issue. Call it the Trump Effect. Call it a symptom of how Americans now consume their news and information. Call it a reaction to the rise of the Islamic State.
Whatever it is, it is much more pitched than it was even after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bush’s move at the time was seen as somewhat bold; in today’s Republican Party — and without the huge popularity Bush enjoyed in the days after 9/11 — it’s not a stretch to argue that it never would have happened.

How Easily Distracted Are You? Here, Distract Yourself With This Game to Find Out

But in the annoying, everyday scenarios, this can be a problem, for the obvious reasons. Sometimes you do have to filter out distractions. Alas, it’s not yet clear from the research whether it’s possible for a person to temporarily improve their latent inhibition. Instead of trying to train yourself to ignore distractions like email or texts, it may be better to avoid them completely, at least while you’re trying to get creative work done. Marcel Proust is said to have worked while wearing ear plugs; the 19th-century novelist Franz Kafka once said, “I need solitude for my writing; not ‘like a hermit’ — that wouldn’t be enough — but like a dead man.” Both men have a point.

Cat burglar enters Vermont family’s home, takes pet

Police said Frady was found in the family’s home Saturday and was asked to leave. The family said they have security camera footage of Frady taking Boots.
Police say Frady returned twice. The family says they chased Frady out of their basement after finding him watching TV, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

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.