Links To Go (November 24, 2015)

In nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain for ISIS

Recent attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have once again brought terrorism and Islamic extremism to the forefront of international relations. According to newly released data that the Pew Research Center collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia overwhelmingly expressed negative views of ISIS.

We are missing the real question about Christians and refugees

Here is what I want for Christians and refugees.
That faith will overcome fear. That if refugees come to your community (your world), that you will go among them to make disciples. It will be scary and might prove to be dangerous. And it will be what Jesus called you to do.
That actions will match rhetoric. That we will not just worry about what a government should or should not do, but that we will have an opportunity to put our faith into action. Making friends, serving in the name of Jesus, witness by our lives, testifying by teaching.

Welcoming Refugees

In his inimitable style, Stephen Colbert neatly summarizes the issue. He refers to Jeb Bush’s preference that we only welcome Christian refugees from Syria, though Jeb! wasn’t sure how refugees would prove their religion. Colbert provided the answer on The Late Show by saying:

“If you want to know if somebody is Christian, just ask them to complete this sentence: Jesus said, ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you. . . . And if they don’t say ‘welcomed me in,’ they are either a terrorist, or they are running for president.”

U.S. public seldom has welcomed refugees into country

A look back into the opinion-polling archives (courtesy of Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research) shows that American opposition to admitting large numbers of foreigners fleeing war and oppression has been pretty consistent, regardless of official government policy. We examined instances over the past eight decades where large groups of refugees from specific countries or regions were seeking admission, typically above and beyond the immigration rules in place at the time, and for which there was reliable polling data. Here’s what we found

More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.

More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.

If We Perish, We Perish. But Let’s Choose Love Over Fear

I don’t want to make a political statement here. I realize that the refugee situation is complicated and not easy to solve. However, I do want to make a Christian statement.
When our love of safety gets in the way of obeying God, we are wrong.
When our love of safety gets in the way of loving people, we are wrong.

When we see the dysfunctional neighbor, the unruly child, the refugee, the Muslim, we should see the face of Jesus. When we see the low-income neighborhood, the Arab country, the dilapidated house down the street, we should see places to which Jesus would have run.
Yes, we should be safe when we can be. But as Christians, for the sake of love, we should err on the side of risk.

Is the Church Ticking Off the Right People?

If you’re getting pats on the back for “telling the truth” to sinners or standing up to them because of your values, be careful. You might be aligning yourself against Jesus.

4 Ways Christians Need to Respond to Evil When It Occurs

When evil occurs Christians need to respond with love, prayer, kindness, and hope. Doing so could result in the salvation of many evil people and at the end of the day that’s the Christian mission.

The Original Terrorist

The Bible presents a real and present foe of our faith. His name is Satan. Some call him the devil. Others call him Beelzebub, Belial, the obstructor, the tempter, the evil one, the accuser, the prince of demons, the ruler of this world, or the prince of the power of the air. Whatever name you choose, he is the enemy, and he is real.
If I were the devil, I’d blame terrorism on a broken political system. A disenchanted people group. The Wicked Witch of the West. I’d want you to feel attacked by an indefinable, nebulous force. After all, if you can’t diagnose the source of your ills, how can you treat them? If I were the devil, I’d keep my name out of it.

The Pure Religion Commission

Some of us have the hearts for adoption but do not have the money. Some of us have the money, and a heart for giving, but do not know where to give. Let’s find these people, and through prayer, connect them with each other to glorify Christ Jesus by being the active movement we were called to be.
This is the Pure Religion Commission. Want people to see Christ in you? Get active, get out from behind your keyboards complaining about what is wrong with those “crazy Christians” (guilty) and show the world what is pure and right about Christ and his church. It’s time pure religion speaks louder than those who represent what it is not.

Thieves steal car with a boy inside and drop him off at school in Norfolk

Two men dropped a boy off at school Wednesday morning after finding him inside a car they stole.

Dad Accidentally Films Entire Las Vegas Trip With GoPro Aimed Backwards

Joseph Griffin was recently visiting Las Vegas and borrowed his son’s GoPro camera to capture some special memories.
Unfortunately for his plan (but fortunately for the Internet), he mistakenly pointed the camera the wrong way throughout the entire trip.
The result is a hilarious four-minute video titled “An Irishman in Vegas,” which was posted by his son, Evan Griffin.

Do you disagree?

Overlapping viewsYou should probably disagree on something. Something pretty big. Something of substance.

If you identify yourself with a certain political party, be it the Whigs or the Tories or the Green Party, there should be something that clashes with your Christian worldview.

If not, then it’s quite possible that your political views are shaping your views of Christianity more than your Christianity is shaping your politics.

Links To Go (November 17, 2015)

What is the Missional Church? (Part 5)—Forgetting Missions

Reasons Why Missional Churches Do Not Do Missions
First, in rediscovering God’s mission, many have discovered its personal dimensions only.
Second, in responding to God’s mission, many have made everything “mission.”
Next, in relating God’s mission, the message increasingly includes the hurting but less frequently includes the global lost.
Fourth, in refocusing on God’s mission, many are focusing on being good news rather than telling good news.
Last, in reiterating God’s mission, many lose the context of the church’s global mission and needed global presence.

Hating Queerness Without Hating the Queer

Mohler talks a lot about the rise of what he calls “the autonomous self”—the idea that people should be able to determine who they are and make their own choices about how and when they have sex. This is the basic premise of every gay-rights movement, but it’s fundamentally at odds with the way Mohler and certain other evangelicals see the world. “[People] want to know why biblically-minded Christians can’t buy into the modern concept of sexual orientation as it’s presented, or an understanding of gender as entirely socially constructed,” he said. “But the distinction is actually more fundamental: It’s whether or not we are autonomous selves who define our own identity, or whether we’re creatures who are defined by a creator.”

Why a friend is suing me: the Arlene’s Flowers story

I’ve never questioned Rob’s and Curt Freed’s right to live out their beliefs. And I wouldn’t have done anything to keep them from getting married, or even getting flowers. Even setting aside my warm feelings for them, I wouldn’t have deliberately taken actions that would mean the end of being able to do the work I love or risk my family’s home and savings.
I just couldn’t see a way clear in my heart to honor God with the talents He has given me by going against the word He has given us.

If Richard Dawkins Is Right

Matthew: Awesome. But Luke, can you just remind me, what’s the point of all this? I mean, what exactly do we get out of this?
Luke: Come on, Matt, it will be so much fun. We’ll watch people being brutally martyred, and we’ll know they’ve been deceived by our dishonest fiction! What’s not to like about that?
John: I agree with Luke. This is definitely worth years of effort on our part. Count me in.
Mark: Me too.

5 Ways the Bible Supports Open Theism

  1. The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances, or as a result of prayer.
  2. God sometimes expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—even occasionally over things that resulted from his own will.
  3. At other times God tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome.
  4. The Lord frequently tests his people to find out whether they’ll remain faithful to him.
  5. The Lord sometimes asks non-rhetorical questions about the future and speaks to people in terms of what may or may not happen.

When the Pope Ordered the Death of Adolf Hitler

The only person with the prestige and freedom to act was the pope, but asking the pontifex maximus for the go-ahead to put a bullet in someone’s brain was a tall order. Ultimately, not only did the pope say yes when approached, but he also established a robust intelligence apparatus and kept pushing parties to get on with it.

Most Americans believe in heaven … and hell

Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven — defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study.
But at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell — a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

7 Encouraging Trends in Global Christianity

With more conflict over religious liberty in the United States and high-profile martyrdoms around the world, it would seem Christianity is in global peril. But that’s not the case, according to a new report.
Published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, the findings of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary provide an optimistic picture of Christianity heading into the heart of the 21st century.

Seven Myths of Contextualization

Leading meetings in a way that people understand should be a priority for pastors and leaders. But let’s make sure contextualization never makes us look and act like something other than what Christ has redeemed us to be – blameless and innocent, shining as lights in the world as we hold fast to the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16).

Church, Stop Doing so Many Good Things

In most church situations you will do more by doing less. That is, once the strategy to walk more faithfully in line with the gospel at a given time in the life of a church is clear, those priorities should focus and reshape everything you do congregationally. All that you do should be consistently evaluated for how it is strategically leading toward the goal. The trauma of changing the focus of a congregation by removing ministries and tactics in which the church has previously engaged is lessened by clear vision and strategic focus, and it replaces the former with a new way to serve and contribute. The purpose of shrinking the number of things a congregation does is to expand that focus and excellence of what it chooses to pursue as a community of faith.

How to Make Sure the Church Stops Growing

If we want to see the church grow today like it did in the days of the apostles we must be sure we have the genuineness that comes from a life transformed in Christ, the relevance of a message presented in line with the culture’s advances, and a message of substance that comes when we emphasize the word of God.

Church attendance for the poor in health

Teaching on attendance should be rooted in devotion rather than doom. When attendance is organic, arising out of our love for the Lord, rather than our fear of hell, we find happier and more productive Christians.

Angry Christians

coffee pauseIt’s time for Christians to get angry!

  • We should be angry that there are millions of people living life on the brink of starvation.
  • We should be angry that there are billions of people with no Christian witness in their area.
  • We should be angry that Satan continues to ruin lives and destroy families around the world.
  • We should be angry that those aren’t the things that make us angry!

And we should be really angry that there are people angry over what’s printed or not printed on the cups that their overpriced coffee is served in… and these people claim that their anger has something to do with Christ!

Manuel Manrique

I shared this in a private group on Facebook yesterday:

A week ago, I stood at the bedside of a giant. Manuel Manrique is 90 years old. He was a preacher in Cuba before the Revolution and never wavered from that. He would go out on a bicycle with a sign saying “Only Christ Saves,” handing out Christian literature. Ruffians would regularly beat him up, tearing off the sign, saying “Let’s see Christ save you from this.” He would go home, make a new sign, and head out on his bicycle.Now Manrique is lying in bed with a broken hip. Inoperable. He’s in terrible pain, waiting for death. When Tony Fernandez and I walked into his bedroom, he got very excited. He spelled out for Tony exactly which Bible verses to put on his tombstone so that other people can continue to hear the Gospel after he’s gone.The next day we took a group of preachers to visit Manrique. We sang with him (sounding like a bunch of preachers!), and some of these younger preachers got to see a man that I hope will stay in their minds and hearts as an example.You’ll never see him on the lectureship circuits. Probably never hear of him again. But he’s a giant of the faith.