Links To Go (July 14, 2016)

Black Lives Matter Too!

Those using the phrase “Black Lives Matter” do so because they’re expressing their impression that many in society don’t think they matter. They feel neglected, so they remind each other and the world that they do matter. They do have value. Of course all lives matter, but there are many people made to feel as though they’re insignificant. Sometimes it’s individuals who feel as though no one notices them. Sometimes it’s whole communities.
Did you notice that little feeling of indignation you feel when you see #BlackLivesMatter and think that you’re being overlooked or devalued? That’s a sensation these people experience as a way of life.

What a Community Leader Said He Can’t Do That Only Churches Can Do Regarding Race

Yes, some churches are part of the problem. Some churches are filled with the same racist perspectives or power plays that got us here in the first place. And some churches are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good. Some churches assume racial reconciliation has nothing to do with the gospel and thus miss their opportunity to contribute something truly beautiful to a national conversation.
But other churches, those who’ve grasped the kind of Good News Jesus walked and talked, offer something to our country in this time of crisis that no police force, no protest movement, no legislative package can offer.

Thoughts on Last Week

Can we reflect the heart of God as we move forward and get close to our brokenhearted people, all of them, all of us? Cry with all of our people, cry out to God for change, for protection, for His sovereign hand to move our country to look more like Him in all things, and that we would treat each other as He would have us treat each other. Pray that we would reflect His character, that our lives would be evidence of the blood of Jesus.

Police are safer under Obama than they have been in decades

These statements are part of a broader narrative of a “war on cops” carried out by the Obama administration and/or the Black Lives Matter movement, depending on whom you ask. It’s certainly true that some shooters of police, such as the Dallas attacker, appear to be motivated by a hatred of white police officers or a twisted urge to seek revenge for police shootings of black Americans. But the simplistic and inflammatory notion of a “war on cops” is completely undercut by one fundamental data point: Intentional attacks on police officers are at historically low levels under President Obama.

Goodbye, firstborn children: This study shows how wordy terms of service hurt users

NameDrop’s second crazy clause should’ve stopped most users in their tracks—or at least clued them in that the service wasn’t real. The second clause said all users agree to give their “first-born child” to NameDrop. If the user didn’t have children yet, their first baby would still have to go to NameDrop until 2050.
In the end, the study says 74 percent of the participants skipped reading the privacy policy. Those who did read the privacy policy didn’t spend long than 73 seconds even though it should’ve taken around 30 minutes to read the whole thing.
The average reading time of the ToS, meanwhile, was 51 seconds when it should’ve been closer to 16 minutes.

Leisure Time and the History of the American Highway

In this period immediately following the Second World War, (we) were on the road, and we were on the road hard. These weren’t hour-and-a-half trips to the coast, they were — according to the Youngs’ book — an average of 600 miles in distance and ran from a week to two weeks on the road. “The greater the family’s affluence,” the Youngs write, “the further they chose to go.”
We were traveling with the benefit of range-extending cylinder deactivation technology, GPS, Bluetooth and dual-zone air conditioning. We traveled with carburetors, paper maps, maybe an AM radio and vent windows. We stayed at “motels,” specially designed to accommodate our cars, or we hauled smaller versions of our homes with us.

Boise homeowner finds child’s C-minus report card (from 1979) hiding under carpet

Last week, Boise homeowner Tara Curl, who lives near Overland and Five Mile, said she was pulling old carpet in her home when she found an old envelope near a vent, underneath the decades-old carpet pad.
“I just thought it had to be really old,” Curl said.
The student’s unsatisfactory report card, a C-minus, had four missing assignments in Social Studies. He also had not been organized with his studies, according to his teacher


Links To Go (July 12, 2016)

Will You Weep With Me?

There will be other days for critique and disagreements, fact-seeking and fault-finding. But can you do me a favor today and just weep with me? Weep with us. Weep with that man’s family. Weep with Baton Rouge.
We can and should work for justice. But what we need today is prophetic lament. Cry out against the murder of another image-bearer. Cry out against the injustice. Cry out to the Lord for healing, help, and hope.

How to Pray in Our Time of National Crisis

Laments may be occasioned by bereavement, personal trouble, national disaster, or the judgment of God. Throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms, we find lamentations that can serve as model for how we can respond in prayer in times of crisis.

The Bahamas’ new U.S. travel advisory: Use ‘extreme caution’ around police

But following deadly police shootings this week of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota — and an ambush of white officers in Texas — the island nation on Friday advised its residents to be extra careful if they choose to do travel here.

Texas Open-Carry Laws Blurred Lines Between Suspects and Marchers

Advocates have carried their rifles at the Alamo in San Antonio and outside mosques in the Dallas suburbs. But city and county leaders said the presence of armed protesters openly carrying rifles on Thursday through downtown Dallas had created confusion for the police as the attack unfolded, and in its immediate aftermath made it more difficult for officers to distinguish between suspects and marchers.

The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 3 (The Call of the Wild, Part 1)

Here are some quick and easy tests:

  • When your members have more tenure in your church, do they become more entitled and demanding or less?
  • Are your older members harder to please and appease than your younger members?
  • When your members are unhappy, do they voice their unhappiness by economic/power means (withholding money; threatening to leave) or as family (through conversation; persuasion)?
  • When a difficult change is suggested, do the members respond in terms of how this change will affect the members? Or how it will affect the people they plan to invite to church, have a Bible study with, or serve in the name of Jesus?

You Are Smart Enough to Study the Bible

Bible study is never about bare facts or ideas. We study the Bible to know Jesus and have eternal life, to love God and obey him. We aren’t cramming for a test; rather, we need God’s truth to sink deep into our souls. Instead of borrowing the work of others, we need to digest and rejoice over the Bible ourselves.

Biblical Mosaics Discovered in Ancient Synagogue in Israel

While earlier excavations revealed depictions of Samson and the foxes and Samson carrying the gates of Gaza, the latest, carried out this summer, revealed mosaics depicting the story of Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea.

Inmates break free from cell to help ill jailer

A Parker County jailer who had an apparent heart attack may very well be alive thanks to inmates who put themselves at risk to help him.

Spurs’ immortal Tim Duncan retires without a whimper

That sturdy, I’ve-got-everybody’s-back element is now gone from the Spurs, who were often (and rightly) held up as one of the sports world’s model franchises. But it’s gone from the game, too. It’s hard to imagine that the Duncan blueprint will be duplicated—a four-year college player who comes into the league with a skill set almost fully developed, never bows to free-agent seduction, wins consistently, doesn’t change on or off the court, and then almost tiptoes out the door, no doubt flashing a sly smile at how easily he escaped.

Links To Go (July 6, 2016)

The worst ISIS attack in days is the one the world probably cares least about

It’s unlikely that this attack, just the latest in an unending stream of tragedy to envelop the Iraqi capital, will generate the same panic in the West as the earlier two incidents. For years now, we have become almost numb to the violence in Baghdad: Deadly car bombings there conjure up no hashtags, no Facebook profile pictures with the Iraqi flag, and no Western newspaper front pages of the victims’ names and life stories, and they attract only muted global sympathy.

California’s state religion

For the record, I am neither a Christian, nor do I deny that climate change could pose a potential serious long-term threat to humanity. What worries me most is the idea that one must embrace official orthodoxy about how to combat this phenomenon, or question its priority over so many other pressing concerns, such as alleviating poverty, both here and abroad, protecting the oceans or a host of other issues. Similarly, I have always disagreed with holy rollers like Sen. Ted Cruz, who would seek to limit, for example, abortion or the rights of gay people to marry, or would allow school prayer.

Romans 4 and Galatians 3: defining faith or defending faith?

Taken together Romans 4 and Galatians 3 support the ideas that those who have placed their faith in Christ, that is those who have trusted in the Son of God, stand justified before God and are sons of Abram. As such, Paul did not outline the details regarding how to rely upon Christ. Paul simply defended the principle of faith.
However, what happens if we impose another function upon Paul’s use of Abram’s example? What if Abram’s example of just believing was used to define what constitutes a faith response toward Christ crucified? This leads to an entirely different teaching regarding faith. Faith becomes limited to belief.

An unsung evangelistic hero

There is an unsung hero when it comes to evangelism. Well, an almost unsung hero. It greatly assists the sharing of the gospel, but is not often found in talks, texts or training courses on the topic. What is this unsung hero? It is Christian community.

Generosity – More Than Money Can Buy

What people often take this to mean in practice, though, is that they should just write checks (the more the better) to their churches and charities. There’s nothing wrong with donating to churches and charitable organizations, but to define generosity so narrowly—as giving money alone—is a mistake. Every person has something of value to give, and we always have the opportunity to be generous to others, regardless of financial resources.

The False Heaven of a Successful Ministry

Don’t settle for the false heaven of a “successful ministry.” Because real success is faithfulness. Big church or small church, growing church or declining church, well-known church or obscure church—all churches are epic successes full of the eternal, invincible quality of the kingdom of God when they treasure Jesus’ gospel and follow him. Jesus did not give the keys of the kingdom with the ability to bind and loose on both sides of the veil only to those who’d reached a certain attendance benchmark. So do well, pursue excellence, and stay faithful. God will give you what you ought to have according to his wisdom and riches.

Who Needs Creeds When I’ve Got a Bible? – An Excerpt from What Christians Ought to Believe

I used to provide regular supply preaching for a warm and intimate fellowship of Christians in the Free Church tradition. I cheekily smiled to myself whenever I read their bulletin because it always had on it the words, “No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible.” The irony, of course, is that those words are not found in the Bible. This delightful group of saints had in fact turned their pious motto into a type of extrabiblical creed. Their genuine concern not to court controversy over creeds led to the formation of their own anticreedal creed as it were.

Acts of God

So all the bad things that could happen can be blamed on the church. If that doesn’t work within some narrow minds, they branch out and blame God. Isn’t it odd that these disgruntled people don’t ever ascribe the myriad good things to divine providence?

Cab driver returns $187,000 in cash left in the back seat

So when a homeless man abandoned his backpack on the back seat early Saturday afternoon, MacCausland, 72, headed over to the hotel where the man had said he was staying. At the front desk, he unzipped the bag in search of the owner’s name. Instead, spilling out of the top were three thick stacks of cash — the tip of a $187,786.75 iceberg.

Links To Go (July 4, 2016)

Patriotic Worship is Coming to a Church Near You

Few things elicit more emotion that love of country. For Christians, at least, love of God should surpass it. But, does it always?
Often as July fourth nears I wonder about how much patriotic emphasis in worship is too much? How much is too little? Should there be any? Are we mixing two kingdoms?

Victims in Istanbul Airport Attack Reflect City’s International Character

A majority of the victims appeared to be Muslims, either Turks or visitors from Muslim countries. If the bombings are confirmed to be the work of the Islamic State, it will show once again that the group, which portrays itself as defending Islam and fighting Western powers, kills far more Muslims than non-Muslims on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria or in terrorist attacks in the region.

Why I Am Not Egalitarian

As I have done all of this, I have become more and more persuaded by the complementarian position but also more and more concerned about those who misuse or full-out abuse it. In that way I have not only had to define myself as complementarian but to define what kind of complementarian I am.

Research: Unchurched Will Talk About Faith, Not Interested in Going to Church

Americans who don’t go to church are happy to talk about religion and often think about the meaning of life.
They’re open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to a church concert.
But only about a third say they’d go to a worship service, if invited by a friend. Few think about what happens after they die.

Vote for Pharaoh

This November, we are tasked with choosing a president between 1.) a man who is an unapologetic adulterer and is on record as saying he has never considered it necessary to ask God for forgiveness, and 2.) a woman who has proven hostile to the unborn, hostile to God’s definition of marriage, and hostile to religious freedom. As I see them, neither of these choices is ideal. But God will use either to gain glory for himself, just as he did with Pharaoh.

Evangelicals and refugees: Care first, conversion maybe later

“The government grants don’t prevent us from talking about our faith,” said Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., who said such funds can’t be used to build churches or distribute Christian literature.
“If a person says, ‘Why are you here and care?’ our staff can say, ‘We’re here because we are Christians. This is what we believe. We’re called to love our neighbors as ourselves.’ We can do that.”

The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb

Online it means we can be blindsided by the opinions of our friends or, more broadly, America. Over time, this morphs into a subconscious belief that we and our friends are the sane ones and that there’s a crazy “Other Side” that must be laughed at — an Other Side that just doesn’t “get it,” and is clearly not as intelligent as “us.” But this holier-than-thou social media behavior is counterproductive, it’s self-aggrandizement at the cost of actual nuanced discourse and if we want to consider online discourse productive, we need to move past this.

Issues in the Future of Evangelicalism

How might the church address the issues of the world? In other words, how might the church undergo this missional renaissance to embody the gospel in the post-Christendom West?
Three primary steps are needed: a rediscovery of the biblical mission, a reconsidering of the nature of the gospel, and a re-turning away from modernity.

We are all home schooled

Day after day, year after year, it’s the interactions we have at home that have the biggest impact on who we become.
Public school is an essential part of our culture. But the inputs and foundations that parents create are essential and they are truly difficult to outsource.

Links To Go (June 28, 2016)

Evangelical Christians are selling out faith for politics

Third, we are seeing a group focused on the rights and privileges of their own community, rather than the welfare of others — the poor, struggling and vulnerable. Many in that room do wonderful good works. But they have reduced Christian political involvement to a narrow, special interest — and a particularly angry and unattractive one. A powerful source of passion for social justice — a faith that once motivated abolitionism and various movements for civil and human rights — has been tamed and trivialized.

James Dobson Asserts: Donald Trump Is a ‘Baby Christian’ Who Needs to Be ‘Cut Some Slack’

“There are a lot of people ministering to him personally—a lot of ministers,” he stated in the recorded interview. “I mean, he did accept a relationship with Christ. I know the person who led him to Christ, and that’s fairly recent. I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long.”
“I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian,” Dobson contended. “We all need to be praying for him, especially if there is a possibility of him being our next chief executive officer.”

Partisanship in the U.S. isn’t just about politics, but how people see their neighbors

In an era of increasing polarization, Republicans and Democrats disagree over many things – and that extends even to the traits and habits they’d like or dislike in a new neighbor. Some of the widest gaps in how people of different parties see new neighbors are over new community members who own guns, don’t believe in God, regularly attend religious services or have served in the military.

Serving in Church: When Your Spiritual Gift Isn’t Changing Diapers

Love for the church means a heart that desires to give. There are weeks I’m tempted to go to church, sit back, and be served. Now, sometimes being served is necessary. If we’re always giving, but in pride refusing to receive, that’s not okay. There’s reciprocal joy in allowing others the chance to serve us.
At the same time, if we refuse to serve in the nursery because Sunday is our one chance to get away from kids, we’re thinking of church wrongly. The Bible speaks strongly about the church being our family, even more than our flesh and blood families. Sunday is not a chance to take a break from family—it’s a chance to serve our true family.

Why WOULD Anyone Sing in Church These Days?

We’ve minimized the congregation’s role.
We’ve changed our focus from disciplined, intentional music-making to creating emotional responses.
We’ve stopped training musicians.
We’ve chosen songs written for solo performance.
We’ve stopped giving the musicians among us the resources they need to apply their abilities.
We’ve chosen instrumentation that doesn’t support a congregation.
We’ve stopped leading and started performing.
So let’s stop asking why people aren’t singing anymore. It really shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’ve done nearly everything we can to kill congregational singing.

How an epidemic of grade inflation made A’s average

A recent study revealed that 42 percent of four-year college grades are A’s, and 77 percent are either A’s or B’s. According to Inside Higher Ed, “At four-year schools, awarding of A’s has been going up five to six percentage points per decade and A’s are now three times more common than they were in 1960.” At Yale, 62 percent of grades were in the A range in the spring of 2012. That figure was only 10 percent in 1963.

Tim Tebow helps airplane passengers during an on-flight medical emergency

The most recent installment comes from a Delta flight in which a passenger suffered a medical emergency while travelling from Atlanta to Phoenix. According to a Facebook post by Richard V. Gotti, passengers and crew members alike tended to the man until the plane landed.
One of the passengers who offered aid was none other than Tebow himself.
Tebow reportedly moved from his first class seat to the back of the plane to pray with the ill man’s wife and other passengers.

Parents brawl during kindergarten graduation ceremony

Up to six camera-toting parents posted up in a small space in the back of the auditorium at P.S./I.S. 178 in Crown Heights started shoving and yelling at each other over a photo opportunity around 10 a.m. as the young grads in light blue caps and gowns were handed their diplomas, witnesses said.