Reminder: We’re not in charge of heaven

There was a time when we thought our job was to get people to heaven. Then we somehow became convinced that our job was to bring heaven to earth.

Wrong on both counts. We’re not in charge of heaven.

I’ll leave the debate about New Earth theology for another day. For now, when I’m talking about getting people to heaven, I’m using that to mean “get people saved.” I’m a strong proponent of evangelism. I think it’s central to the identity of the church. A church that isn’t sharing its faith isn’t imitating Christ.

That said, we were never in charge of salvation. Some of us would like to be, proclaiming this person saved and that person lost. But there’s only one Judge.

We can help people come to know Jesus, help people see how to respond to Him, help people grow in their relationship with Him. But we can’t save. And we can’t see other people’s hearts; God knows those that are His.

A reaction to an over-emphasis on man-defined salvation was to say that the church is supposed to be bringing heaven to earth. That comes from what Jesus prayed in the Model Prayer: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That part of the prayer is plucked out and made into a command for the church. You hear few people talking about how our main task is to obtain our daily bread. When we pray for forgiveness in the Model Prayer, we understand that we are seeking the forgiveness that only God can give. So why do we think we are supposed to bring heaven to earth?

We should live out the values of God’s Kingdom. We are to live as citizens of heaven even as we sojourn on earth. But only God can bring heaven to earth.

Where these two viewpoints hurt us is when they are set against one another, viewing our task as either evangelism or the promotion of justice. Both tasks are part of who we are as Christians. We try to live like Christ, we proclaim Christ, and we point others to Christ.

And God remains in charge of heaven.

Links To Go (April 18, 2018)

Creepy Chick-fil-A and New York(er) Values: The Shock (and Slander) are Getting Old

It’s easy to shake our fists at a culture that seems to at every turn want to make religious expression not easier, but harder for people of faith.
But, we must remember that our anger and frustration will never win hearts or change minds for Christ. Those emotions are a barrier to loving and caring for others well in Jesus’ name.
Just as we wish to be given the freedom to hold out views, so too should we give others the latitude to express theirs. Open discussion and debate about these issues can be helpful; in person screaming matches and comment wars on social media are not.


6 Reasons Many Pastors Don’t Need An Office Any More

  1. We’re More Mobile Now
  2. People Don’t Drop By As Much As They Used To
  3. Offices Cost Too Much
  4. An Office Can Reinforce A Punch-the-Clock Mentality
  5. An Office Can Stifle Creativity
  6. An Office Can Isolate Us

7 Ways To Grow Church Attendance By Increasing Engagement

  1. Challenge People To Serve
  2. Provide A Clear Path Toward Involvement
  3. Focus All Programs Around Your Mission
  4. Make It Uncomfortable To Stay Disengaged
  5. Preach Action, Not Knowledge
  6. Try Using Active Language
  7. Reward Progress

Set a Table-Full of Dis-Likes

Instead of xenophobia—a fear of those who are different than us—the church is to adopt philoxenos—a love of those who are different from us. We are to be hospitable to those who are different than us. We are to sit at table with the stranger.


Increasing Leadership By Decreasing Control

To decrease control by trusting that God awaits to take all of us into a new horizon of wonder and awe will, in effect, increase our leadership skills. When a few in America dared cross the mighty Mississippi and head for the West they had no concept of Rocky Mountains, Arizona Desert, nor the eventual downtown Los Angeles. So it is in the church. Each day we stand at the Mississippi of spiritual potential with a call from the Spirit to cross it.


Muslims in America: Immigrants and those born in U.S. see life differently in many ways

When Pew Research Center surveyed American Muslim adults in 2017, the findings revealed important similarities between foreign-born and U.S.-born Muslims. For example, immigrants and U.S.-born Muslims engage in religious practices at about the same levels. At the same time, there are also important differences. Immigrants tend to have secured a stronger socioeconomic foothold than U.S.-born Muslims, and they generally express more positive opinions about their place in America.


Generation X — not millennials — is changing the nature of work

The generation that is quickly occupying the majority of business leadership roles is one that’s grown up playing video games, spends the most time shopping online, and uses social media more habitually than any other generation.
If you were thinking it’s millennials, that’s probably because they’ve dominated the media’s focus for the past decade. But it’s actually Generation X, which covers those born between 1965 and 1981 by our definition.


Women Who Watched “The X-Files” Pursued More Careers In STEM

Women who watched The X-Files regularly were 50% more likely to work in STEM, and nearly two-thirds of the women surveyed who work in STEM said Scully served as a role model.


Google’s astounding new search tool will answer any question by reading thousands of books

Google now has a way to convene that kind of forum—in half a second. Speaking to TED curator Chris Anderson yesterday (April 13), legendary futurist Ray Kurzweil introduced “Talk to Books” a new way to find answers on the internet that should bring pleasure to researchers, bookworms and anyone seeking to expand their thinking on a range of topics.


Publishing links

For over 5 years now, I’ve been regularly publishing links on my blog. Most are recent; some are older, but relevant.

I mainly do this because I appreciate others who do the same. Many of the links that I give out come from others who compile such lists.

Do you find such links useful? Do you read other sources of articles that you find to be helpful?

Links To Go (April 16, 2018)

I Was A Disney Princess, I Had An Abortion, And It Almost Ruined My Life

We do not need a Disney princess written by authors scripting a manipulated story that aims to glorify killing children. This kind of strategic propaganda contributed to my own personal tragedy. Abortion doesn’t empower. It is a tragic tale rarely told because the abortion architects would need to admit the damage it has caused women like myself (and obviously their children).


When Hot-Button Issues Cry Out to Young Pastors

  1. In the mix of hot-button social issues, we young pastors should avoid thinking that we have mastered these issues.
  2. Amidst hot-button cultural issues, we ought to consider that, as younger pastors, we don’t have many great things to say.
  3. When hot-button social issues rage, the best thing is to keep Bible exposition the main thing.
  4. In the throes of hot-button issues, young pastors can care about hot-button issues more by devoting less time to them.
  5. Amidst cultural hot-button issues, younger pastors can benefit from deepening in a biblical understanding of anthropology and hamartiology.
  6. Amidst hot-button social issues, we ought to remind ourselves how greatly God desires our own personal sanctification.
  7. Amidst hot-button cultural issues, young pastors do well to humble themselves under older, seasoned men.
  8. Amidst hot-button social issues, young pastors should keep loving people.
  9. In the mix of hot-button issues, young pastors do well to read the Bible more.

It’s Time to End the Stupid about the End Times: Debunking Christian Numerology

Self-proclaimed Christian numerologist David Meade is at it again. This time, though, he’s saying that the world is going to end on April 23rd.
It’s on the front page of the USAToday and the Drudge Report right now.
Worse yet, he’s now brought international policy issues into the discussion (another subject area for which he has no academic credentials, like his “Christian numerology”). He’s now predicting that a nuclear conflict will also occur this month.
But before you panic and make an emergency trip to the grocery store or run to break out that apocalyptic survival gear, know that this isn’t Meade’s first rodeo. He’s predicted that the world would end not once, but twice already this year. Again, before getting into a tizzy and starting to think that maybe this could finally be the real deal, I want you to notice something: we’re all still here.


“Remember Me:” Worship, Stuff, and the Communion of Saints

Suddenly I became aware of the fact that this hymnal, the one in my hand, had been held by others from my own congregation who had also fallen asleep in the Lord. I gently felt the cover and moved my fingers across its pages as I stretched out my mind to remember—who had sat in the pew in which I was sitting? Who had taken this hymnal from the rack and opened it? With whom was I connected at that moment in grasping this book, this artifact of the church?


Two Doors Down, again

To my east two doors down is a family with a boat and a storm shelter. Two doors to my east is well I don’t know that we have met. Immediately to my east is the family who lost their father to cancer last year. He left behind two college age boys, an elementary daughter and his wife. Immediately to my west is a small family who father is a local police officer. Across the road from me lives another police officer with a different department.
At my house we celebrate that we have salvation through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are having a party – daily! What about my neighbors? Will I invite them to our party? Or will they think think of me like Dolly Pardon sang of her neighbors, ” . . . they’re not aware that I’m around!”


Zuckerberg Just Proved Once Again That Congress Doesn’t Understand The Internet

It’s true that technology can feel less important to mainstream American life than it does to life inside the tech bubble, but that’s changing. The internet has already transformed society, and technologies like AI and autonomous driving will continue to have huge effects on our economy and the way we live. How can members of Congress hope to successfully regulate these technologies if it doesn’t understand them?


Why You Should Always Have an Offline Version of Your Boarding Pass

You don’t necessarily want to put the fate of your entire trip in the hands of a potentially fickle smartphone. If you’re using a link to your mobile boarding pass that your airline has emailed you, take a screenshot of it, so you can still scan it when you get to security or your gate if you can’t load the page. Better yet, save an offline version to your Apple Wallet or PassWallet. When you save the ticket to your mobile passbook, you’ll get push notifications as the flight time draws near that give you easy access to the ticket from your notification screen.


Links To Go (April 12, 2018)

[Links from around the Internet… no agreement nor endoresement implied… Tim]


Jerry Falwell responds to Shane Claiborne’s invitation to pray with threat of year in jail and $2,500 fine

In a letter to Falwell two weeks ago Claiborne invited him to pray with him and students on Liberty’s campus.
However in response Claiborne received a letter threatening him with up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for trespassing if he entered Liberty University property.
‘I was very clear that what we have in mind is a prayer vigil not a protest – no signs, megaphones, banners or chants… just Bibles and candles. We had even hoped to do a communion service, inviting folks who disagree politically to come to the table together,’ Claiborne posted on Facebook.


Jerry Falwell Jr. Personally Killed a Campus Newspaper Story About Shane Claiborne’s Prayer Rally

Now, Religion News Service is reporting that Falwell personally killed a story that was going to run in the campus newspaper, The Liberty Champion, about the event. Erin Covey, an assistant news editor and Liberty student got approval from the paper’s faculty advisor and fellow editors, but when she reached out to Falwell for a comment, he reportedly replied instructing her to kill the story. Covey shared a screenshot of an email that she says is from Falwell that read: “No let’s not run any articles about the event. That’s all these folks are here for—publicity. Best to ignore them.”


Matt Chandler Says That When He Preaches About Race, White People Accuse Him of Being Liberal

He said, “If I preach the sermon out of the book of Isaiah on justice, my inbox would fill with their glee that I would broach the subject. But if I applied it to the subject of race, then all of a sudden I was a Marxist or I’ve been watching too much of the liberal media. If I spoke on abortion, I was applauded as courageous, as a ferocious man of God, and yet when I would tackle race I was being too political … If I quoted the great reformer Martin Luther … never did I get an email about his blatant anti-Semitism. But let me quote the great reformer Martin Luther King Jr., and watch my inbox fill with people asking me if I’m aware of his moral brokenness.”


A Post-Evangelism Church?

The progressive impulse toward tolerance and inclusion, along with a post-modern stance on truth, leaves progressive Christians in an awkward position in regards to evangelism, sharing the gospel with non-believers. Evangelism smacks of judgementalism, I’m right and you are wrong. Worse, evangelism can tend toward colonialism, the history of white missionaries being sent to save dark pagan savages.

A related issue here is that progressive Christians are burdened by so many doubts that they lack the necessary conviction to feel passionate about sharing the gospel with others. If you’re not sure you believe any of this stuff, how can you be expected to convince others to believe in it?


The Power of Our Criticism

  1. Criticism masquerades as insight.
  2. Criticism is contagious.
  3. Criticism causes others to stumble.
  4. Criticism slanders and kills.

What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Make?

The primary reasons for interpreting the wine as grape juice in John 2 stems from a false presupposition that Jesus couldn’t have created alcoholic wine. For the aforementioned reasons, there is simply no good biblical reason to understand John 2 as anything other than Jesus turning water into real alcoholic wine. Such a conclusion does not contradict Jesus’ character or any other passages found in Scripture.


What Is (and What Should Be) Expected of a Preacher’s Wife

All that said, one of the common struggles of these godly Christian women is that there are expectations placed upon them by a congregation that are simply not right. Sometimes, those expectations are spoken and overt, while at other times (I believe) people do not even realize what they are “saying” to the wife of the preacher simply by the way they interact with her.


Did a Typo Help End World War II?

The exact details are lost to history, but it became clear that someone had mistaken his job of cryptogamist for a cryptogramist—a codebreaker, which is exactly what men like Alan Turing were doing at Bletchley. The mistake led to a moss specialist being deposited into one of the most intense covert operations of the war.


Fort Blunder: The Fort That America Mistakenly Built in Canada

Construction of the fort began in 1816, and continued for two years when a survey conducted jointly by the United States and Great Britain discovered a problem—the fort was being built on the wrong side of the border. The actual border passed almost a mile south of the fort.