Links To Go (September 15, 2017)

God Didn’t Write a Book

Many of our fears about the future of the Bible are based on careless thought about its history. We assume that since we first encountered the Bible as a book, this is how it has always been and how it must always be.

Be careful how close you let Jesus get to real life

Christianity and the life of the church have become a lot of different things, but it seems that feathers always get ruffled when you actually start taking seriously the example and teachings of the guy supposedly at the center of it all.

The Overcommitted Church

  1. Our churches equate activity with value.
  2. Programs and ministries became ends instead of means.
  3. Failure of churches to have a clear purpose.
  4. Church leaders have failed to say “no.”
  5. Fear of eliminating.
  6. Church is often defined as an address.
  7. Churches often try to compete with culture rather than reach culture.

Mexican Views of the U.S. Turn Sharply Negative

More Mexicans view the United States unfavorably than at any time in the past decade and a half. Nearly two-thirds of Mexicans (65%) express a negative opinion of the U.S., more than double the share two years ago (29%). Mexicans’ opinions about the economic relationship with their country’s northern neighbor are also deteriorating, though less dramatically: 55% now say economic ties between Mexico and the U.S. are good for their country, down from 70% in 2013.

Impossible, unlikely or difficult?

Unlikely never feels quite the same as difficult, and sometimes it appears impossible. It’s neither. It’s something risky, and something without a map or a guarantee. We hesitate to do it precisely because it might not work, precisely because it’s more than difficult.

Science Says the Most Successful Kids Have Parents Who Do These 9 Things

  1. Don’t tell them they can be anything they want.
  2. Eat dinner as a family.
  3. Enforce no-screen time.
  4. Work outside the home.
  5. Make them work.
  6. Delay gratification.
  7. Read to them.
  8. Encourage them to travel.
  9. Let them fail.

Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise

There’s a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause, researchers said, based on a study of nearly 8,000 adults. As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death.
The positive news: People who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death.

Meet the Font Detectives Who Ferret Out Fakery

We can never know quite how many documents are forged. We might have missed a lot of fakes over the years—after all, it’s only when disputes air in court or the media that they receive enough expert attention to expose them.
But Haley suspects that despite improved technology, forgery might be on the decline. “People are more aware of typefaces and fonts now, and that there can be a history to them,” he says.

Making my personal agendas public

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

I’ve been trying to focus my “agendas” at church. There are lots that could be mentioned, but here are some I’m trying to focus on:

  • Have a church that is more like Jesus
  • Help people to get closer to God
  • Have a church that values unity over achieving personal goals

That’s a start. What points would you add to this “platform”?

Links To Go (September 13, 2017)

Links to provoke thought and entertainment. No agreement nor endorsement implied.

Pastors’ Spouses Experience Mixed Blessings

Being married to a pastor means a life filled with joy, purpose and a lot of headaches.
Most pastors’ spouses feel a call to ministry and enjoy their roles inside and outside their church.
Many also have few friends, think they yell at their kids too much, and worry about money.

Don’t Let the Sheep Lead the Flock

In a culture that’s increasingly difficult for Christian leaders, I encourage you to lead courageously, which may mean leading people where they have never gone before, don’t want to go, and are afraid to go. They may fight you. They may decide not to go with you. They may disembark and find a vehicle going in the direction they prefer. I encourage you to stay faithful to the Chief Shepherd who guides you. Hear his voice and follow him. His sheep will hear his voice and follow as well.

3 Things You Can Do Today to Reflect Christ in Your Workplace

  1. Reflect Christ in Your Thinking
  2. Reflect Christ in Your Talk
  3. Reflect Christ in Your Connections

What’s changed in Britain since same-sex marriage?

In a heartbreaking development and in spite of Britain’s ‘foster crisis’, aspiring foster parents who identify as religious, face interrogation. Those who are deemed unlikely to ‘celebrate’ homosexuality, have had their dreams of parenthood scuppered. This month, Britain’s High Court, ruled that a Pentecostal couple were ineligible parents. While the court recognised their successful and loving record of adoption, they decreed that above all else: ‘The equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence’. How has Great Britain become so twisted? Practicing Jews, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, who want to stay true to their religious teachings, can no longer adopt children.

The Equifax Breach Exposes America’s Identity Crisis

SSNs, which have been around since the 1930s, have only one intended purpose: to track US citizens’ earnings and contributions to the Social Security program. (In an uncanny twist, the Social Security Administration itself sometimes uses Equifax services to help verify a person’s identity during the process of setting up a “My Social Security” account, an SSA spokesperson told WIRED on Friday. But the Administration doesn’t share Social Security numbers with Equifax.) Other collection of SSNs is generally legal, but the Social Security Administration has no involvement in wider use of the numbers. “The card was never intended to serve as a personal identification document,” the Administration says on its website. “The universality of SSN ownership has in turn led to the SSN’s adoption by private industry as a unique identifier. Unfortunately, this universality has led to abuse.”

Giving every American $12,000 a year in free money could grow the economy by $2.5 trillion, study finds

Until those experiments begin giving people money and analyzing the resulting data, however, economists will be left to speculate as to how transformative a basic income could really be.

Links To Go (September 12, 2017)

Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA

In a disaster, churches don’t just hold bake sales to raise money or collect clothes to send to victims; faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each others’ way.

Ignore Spiritual “Get Rich Quick” Schemes: A Call for Patient Evangelism

The result is story after story of dramatic conversions and mass movements. Churches rarely celebrate slow, hard-slogging work that’s yet to see fruit. In doing so, we unintentionally create spiritual versions of get-rich-quick testimonials, showing how through only a little extra giving and a little extra prayer, you too can see an entire unreached people group saved in your lifetime.
In our efforts to quickly mobilize churches in missions, I fear we’re unintentionally undermining the church’s ability to patiently invest for the spiritual long-term. I fear we’re training churches who would’ve brought home William Carey or Adoniram Judson due to their evangelistic inefficiency in the first seven or eight years.

The Lord is Never Late

In my pained estimation in those dark days, the Lord was moving much too slowly, but I knew in that moment that he is not slow in keeping his promises (2 Pet. 3:9). He was holding me all along, and his reviving word came right on time. I pray I will remember this in dark days to come.
The Lord is never late.

Watch Kristen Bell Perform ‘Frozen’ Songs in a Florida Hurricane Shelter

Actress Kristen Bell was in Orlando this weekend to film a new movie, but found herself hunkered down as Hurricane Irma bared down on the region. But, instead of just hanging out in her hotel room, Bell—who voiced the character Anna in Frozen—decided to lift the spirits of evacuees taking shelter in a local school.

Recalling hardships after ’89 hurricane, Duncan sends help back home

“I want to make sure it’s not a one-ditch effort,” said Duncan, who lived his first 18 years on St. Croix before moving to North Carolina to attend college at Wake Forest.
“Just, ‘Oh yeah, we went down there and did this and it’s done.’ Because the recovery process is not going to be done. It’s going to take months and even years for everyone to recover to normal life.”

Creation and chaos

Yesterday morning, during our sermon, we talked about Creation and Chaos. The current spate of hurricanes and earthquakes and violence leave us wondering if God is really in control. It makes me think of the All Saints Day disaster in Lisbon in 1755, when several earthquakes provoked a tsunami that was followed by a fire. Thousands died as churches collapsed; the death total is estimated to be between 30 and 60 thousand. Voltaire expressed the thoughts of many:

“Are you then sure, the power which would create
The universe and fix the laws of fate,
Could not have found for man a proper place,
But earthquakes must destroy the human race?”
“Lisbon Earthquake Poem” (1755)

How can we believe in a God who will let disasters rock his creation and cause such suffering?

We looked at Genesis 1, as God brings order out of chaos. We then discussed the fall, how sin let chaos back into this ordered creation. Darkness fights against the light; death assaults life time and again. Romans 8 tells us:

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19–21)

Decay… chaos. The creation is frustrated from being what it was meant to be. It suffers decay because of the effects of sin. Climate change shouldn’t surprise us… it’s a natural expression of the decay of a fallen universe. But this will be reversed one day, and all of creation longs for that day. Even mankind longs for that day, though we don’t always recognize that longing. There is a great day coming:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5)

Chaos will be vanquished, expelled once again. No decay, no decline, no corruption.

That’s my anchor when times get troubling. Rabbi Simcha Bunim once said that every person should have two pockets and keep a piece of paper in each of those pockets. On one paper should be the words: “For my sake was 
the world created.” On the other paper should be the words: “I am but 
dust and ashes.” We need that balance in our daily lives, that remembrance of our place in creation. When we feel overwhelmed, we should remember that God placed us in a place above the rest of creation. When we think too much of ourselves, we must remember that we are dust and ashes.

One day, the dust and ashes will give way to the full image of God. We will have incorruptible bodies, resurrection bodies. And we will live in a world where chaos will never be found again.