Links to Go (August 21, 2014)

Kent Brantly: Every Now and Then a Disciple Breaks Out

As soon as I heard the story of that decision, I had an immediate thought. I know that was a hard decision to make, to not take the medicine so that someone else could have it, but I’m pretty sure I knew how long it took him to make it.
You don’t make that kind of decision without years and years of practice, without years of watching the brothers and sisters around you make sacrifices, and without having the story of Jesus capture your imagination.
That’s why I believe so much in the local church, because every now and then a disciple breaks out, and a disciple still can capture the world’s imagination.


One hundred years ago today the dream of human progress died

The dream of lasting global peace lay tattered by this “Great War.”
It is a dream that despite all our best efforts since, few have seriously dared to hope for again.
And yet, WE do have a hope.
A time is coming, says the God of the Jews when,

. . .they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isaiah 2:4).


You Are More Than Your Resume

The Kingdom of God is not made up of people who can build giant spreadsheets, make expert stock picks or create the next big mobile app. The Kingdom of God is made up of people who are more than their resume, people who do not find their identity in their work (or their lack of it) but instead root their identity in Christ and the work of the Kingdom He calls all of us to in different ways.


Differences In How Americans Speak English Across The United States

Personally, I grew up in New Jersey, but I also lived in the Midwest for quite some time. Where language is concerned, I can attest to the vast differences within New Jersey, let alone the United States. While in the Midwest, people were surprised that I didn’t have a “New Jersey” accent.
Truth be told, Northern New Jerseyans do not have accents, but rather the Jersey accent is more commonly found in South Jersey. Currently, I reside in South Carolina, and over the years, I have adapted to the different dialects in each city I have resided in. However, this has not come without notice. I am cognizant that the way I speak the English language has changed. Some words have changed entirely, while others, I now pronounce differently than I did when I lived up North.


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A Facebook group that I’m part of, called Compadres, is having a blog tour. The general theme is The Glory of The Son and each of us will pick a story, event or teaching of Jesus that reflects His glory. Here are the posts so far:
June 3: Jeremy Schopper: Leaving the Noise Behind
June 5: Danny Holman: Jesus Challenge
June 10: Carl Jenkins: Give A Man A Fish
June 17: Jonathan Dobbs: Why Me, God?
June 19: Scott Elliott:The Beauty of the Gospel
June 24: Chris Hodges: The Glory of the Son
June 26: David Smith: then they can see my glory, which you gave me
July 1: Jeremy Hoover: Matthew and Mission
July 3: Allen Carr: The Glory in the Welcome
July 10: Daniel Burns: Not So With You
July 15: Rex Butts: A Place For Lepers
July 22: Jennifer Rundlett: A Vision of Harmony
July 24: Don Middleton: Come To The Table
July 29: Tim Archer: Do Not Be Afraid
August 5: Paula Harrington: When Doubt Met Divine
August 7: Holly Barrett: He knows me inside and out
August 12: Patrick Barber: Nothing But Leaves
August 14: Wade Tannehill: We Have Seen His Glory
August 19: Pita Horne: Walking The Racial Tightrope For Jesus

The events of Ferguson and the ensuing barrage of related articles have served to remind me how ill equipped I am for this ministry context in which I find myself. Yes, I have relevant training and life experience, but the issues revealed in Ferguson run so deep. Any steps toward solutions or reconciliation that I might propose seem so inadequate. I’ve preached for this church for 6 years and yet at a moment of crisis like this I question my credibility to speak meaningfully into the lives of those most touched by the death of Michael Brown.
But before I drown in my doubt and self-deprecation, I find hope in 2 Corinthians 12:9. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”


Links to Go (August 20, 2014)

Speaking of Michael Brown

In all of this, the fundamental problem is a failure to relate; to know and be known and embrace the Other. Yet this is the first thing Jesus does as His coming is announced in the gospel of John. Jesus leaves His home, comes to unwell and broken people, people who are wholly unlike Him in order to usher in healing and reconciliation. The Apostle Paul understand this, calling Christians to be ministers – not of doctrine, politics, rights, rightness, division, or anything else, but reconciliation.
When the church recaptures her message of reconciliation (not power, control, or domination), she will regain a hearing in the public square and become a avenue for healing. And when that happens, preachers, once again, will be able to preach.


The Sin of Racism Made Ferguson Escalate So Quickly

What would repentance look like in practice? Are you calling for church services with people on their knees or a call to action or something else?
It would look like a strike force of people ready to move in as soon as a racialized incident happens within a city. Just as there are trauma teams that can come in on the heels of terrorist activity or disasters, we need racial response teams to move in before we start killing and shooting and hating each other. Imagine every city having two leading white pastors, two leading black pastors, Hispanic pastors, making up a reconciliation force. That would be a way to show we take this seriously. We want to be reconciled. When this kind of thing happens we ask the questions together.


The Church’s Race Problem

Ninety percent of all American churches are 90 percent racially homogenous. That’s a number Michael Emerson and Christian Smith arrived at based on historical analysis, a national survey and hundreds of face-to-face interviews in their 2000 book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America.
It’s a number that still holds true more than a decade later, according to Christena Cleveland, a researcher, consultant and social psychologist who teaches at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn.
She says the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who referred to 11 a.m. Sunday morning as the most segregated hour in America, hold true, as well.


Why is President Obama still allowing covert operations in Cuba? [Actual title has an obscenity… Tim]

If President Obama’s goal is to help Cubans have a better future, then he should stop the silliness, pull back the spies, get the U.S. government out of the way, and let the American people — in business, academia, culture, even tourists — take the lead.


For the Girls Who Are Waiting

But, I want the unkissed girls out there to know something. I don’t regret a single non-kissed moment of my teen years. I don’t regret a single non-sexual moment. If you haven’t been kissed or haven’t had a boyfriend, good. Don’t worry about that. Focus on loving Christ with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Wait for God to do what He will do.
Despite what movies and magazines will tell you, the point of life is not to be paired up with another person. I don’t know what God has planned for you or your relationships. But, I can tell you, as a girl who wasn’t kissed until her second year of college, that you aren’t weird or out of step if you are waiting or haven’t had the opportunity.


You Might Be A Sectarian If…

Garrison had heard people in Disciples of Christ churches say that they were the only constitute members of the kingdom of God and there were no Christians in the denominations. Garrison could not understand how members of a unity movement could display such a sectarian attitude. He provided three marks to know if one was infected with the virus of sectarianism.

  1. You might be a sectarian if you are incapable of appreciating and rejoicing over all the good that is being done in the world outside the religious body with which you claim identification.
  2. You might be a sectarian if you have abandoned the quest for truth and are resting satisfied with what has been gained.
  3. You might be a sectarian if you cannot recognize the image of Christ in those who are not in your party.

New York Times defends Rick Perry

The New York Times’ editorial board is telling readers that they have plenty of reasons to be upset with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but the veto that led to his indictment is not one of them.


10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings

  1. Draw a Venn diagram
  2. Translate percentage metrics into fractions
  3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back”
  4. Nod continuously while pretending to take notes
  5. Repeat the last thing the engineer said, but very very slowly
  6. Ask “Will this scale?” no matter what it is
  7. Pace around the room
  8. Ask the presenter to go back a slide
  9. Step out for a phone call
  10. Make fun of yourself

Groom fakes his own death to get out of wedding

Apparently getting cold feet and unable to face the conversation himself, Tucker decided to fake his own death to get out of the engagement. Where it gets really sociopathic, however, is that he called Lanchester himself, assuming a fake voice and pretending to be his father, to tell his fiancee that he was dead.


Links To Go (August 19, 2014)

Why Retirement is a Dirty Word

This is a terrible and dehumanizing way to think of work. It assumes that workers have no real value beyond output. Once their productive years are over—however that’s determined—then we send them out to pasture.
The only way to get workers to play along is to convince them that the pasture is lush and relaxing. Suck it up now because it’s going to be wonderful in a few decades.
The effect is that we’ve now raised a few generations to look for fulfillment in the pasture, not their work. Satisfaction is a future thing, not a present possibility. Joy is for later. Meaning and significance comes from checking out down the road.


6 Things Every Strong Community Needs

And then, for the first time since the world has been created, God sees that something is not good. He says in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Again, Adam has everything. A perfect relationship with God. Plenty of food. A safe and beautiful environment. Everything is working how it was created to work. And yet, it’s not enough.
This scenario isn’t just about marriage. Jesus, who was the perfect man, the “second Adam,” was single. But this speaks to a larger need we all have: A need for relationships and for community. We weren’t meant to be alone. In fact God says, “it is not good.”


How To View The Struggles Of Your Day

In every situation, we can choose to think higher. We are not to live in denial of the rugged nor insulting terrain. Rather, we are to set our minds upon the many more elements that are going right. In every case (note: every), conditions could be much worse; but they are not.
I’ve encountered brutal take your breath away kinds of days. By His clear call, I have understood that even these could be worse. Leading my mind to think upon the many issues going well has allowed God the room to prove His above point. Peace that cannot be explained….arrives.


The Ways We’re the Same (Or, What Not to Do in an Awkward Social Situation)

It was several hours before I realized that I was just as guilty as she. Yes, she had wrongly judged my friends—but I in turn had wrongly judged her. She didn’t form those opinions in a vacuum. I could have used the time discovering what we had in common, rather than dwelling on the ways I thought she was wrong.


A Culturally Intelligent Way of Handling the Elephant in the Room

I’ve always been a fan of directly addressing the elephant in the room. I don’t enjoy conflict but I loathe avoiding it even more. In this way, I’m terminally a New Yorker. Don’t dance around the issues. Shoot straight with me and tell me what you think! Yet for most of the world, conflict is best addressed more subtly. Harmony and saving face are the driving values.
Direct versus indirect communication is one of the biggest challenges faced by multicultural teams. And the conflict is exacerbated when most of the communication takes place virtually. A blunt email, an obtuse response, or a silent team member can erode trust and productivity.


Shocking twist in Texas ‘she-cave’ heist as burglar contacts local paper to complain that $1M in jewels and designer goods stolen from socialite are FAKE

The dramatic heist of nearly $1million in designer bags, jewelry and furs from the 3,000-square-foot closet of a suburban Houston socialite has taken a strange media twist possibly involving a failed ransom plot.
A person claiming to be the housebreaker sent several of the stolen items to a weekly newspaper, claiming that they were fake and therefore worthless.


Links to Go (August 18, 2014)

Vatican, Air Strikes, Jesus

That is why I disagree with the Vatican. Jesus never ever said, “Kill the wicked to protect the innocent.” Never. Not once. He did say, however, to love the enemy and pray for him. He did say that He would be back, with the only justice that can be truly just. We are living between Pentecost and Parousia. God’s reign has been established on the cross. If Christ is our sovereign, really, then we may live among a world still in rebellion, with their war planes and bombs and assault rifles and their hatred, with the ability to inflict suffering, terrible suffering; but we are called to trust (radically!) in His promises, even to eschewing self-defense, and embody that holy reign for all to see.


The Only Way I Know How To Save the World

Yes, social media and Internet activism are wonderful things. Tweet and blog away my brothers and sisters.
But for my part, the only way I know how to save the world is by going to church.


Five Principles of the New Sexual Morality

Until we understand this new morality on its own terms, we’ll be unable to offer effective responses to it.
The following are some of the core principles of the new sexual and relational morality:

  • First, sexual acts don’t have intrinsic meanings or purposes.
  • Second, our sexuality is a subjective sense and intrinsic to our self-identity.
  • Third, sexual agents are autonomous, rights-bearing individuals.
  • Fourth, freely given consent is the watchword for sexual relations.
  • Fifth, beyond the prevention of harm, sexual relations should be freed from social policing and constraint, from norms and from stigmas.

Wait for the doctor who has Ebola to tell his own story

When Kent is well and has the strength, I am sure he and his wife will tell their story. Then we can all know exactly why they went to Liberia, why they stayed when Ebola turned their world upside down, how they felt as Kent’s condition deteriorated and how they have responded to becoming international celebrities, a status they never sought or wanted. There will be a time and a place to discuss their decisions; a time and a place to discuss the ethics of experimental serums and emergency evacuations and bringing home Americans infected with frightening viruses. Kent will, I believe, have a contribution to make to that debate.


Stop Being a Mouthpiece for Satan

The more clearly you grasp your identity in Christ, the more clearly you will see the destructive power of the tongue diminished as your words begin to align with your true self. And the more you come to see every person around you as a person created in the image of God, the harder and harder it will be to use your words to destroy what God has made.


15 Things We Did At School That Future Students Will Never Understand

  1. Copy notes from an overhead projector…
  2. …and secretly pass other handwritten notes in class.
  3. Write on a chalkboard with real live chalk.
  4. Make textbook covers out of paper grocery bags.
  5. Tear off the edges of dot matrix paper.
  6. Check out library books with the due date stamped in the back.
  7. Watch educational programming supported by viewers like us.
  8. Sharpen pencils the old-fashioned way — by hand.
  9. Carry around giant five-subject notebooks and binders.
  10. Sell magazines door to door for the annual school fundraiser.
  11. Beg Mom to buy Goosebumps and Animorphs at the book fair.
  12. Save our work onto 1.44 MB floppy disks.
  13. Learn to type from memorizing nonsensical mnemonics.
  14. Look up words on an electronic spell checker.
  15. And, finally, lose an ox while fording the river.

Links to Go (August 15, 2014)

What You Need to Know About What’s Happening in Iraq

There’s something in this conversation about removing the log in our own eye before removing the speck in our brother’s eye.
I think naturally we want to see what we can do to reach into Iraq in this moment. But the other side of it … a real prayer point is that we can be changed in this moment.
We can look at the suffering of Christians in Iraq and rather than blame it on Muslims, we can try—and it’ll take prayer, and it’ll take reflection, and it’ll take preaching and slow, methodical teaching in churches—to reconsider how we got to this place. How we voted for the things we voted for. How we did not listen to the voices that were warning us about these exact things.
We can hope, and we can train ourselves, and we can discipline ourselves so that 40 or 50 years from now, we’re not still having the same broken policy and posture.


10 Tips for
Christian Leaders Who Don’t Want To Become Self Promoting Jerks Online

Social Networking can be a fabulous tool for leaders to advance the kingdom. However like so many other things it can also lead us into dangerous territory if unexamined.
Below are some tips on how to use social networking well in our celebrity obsessed, image based culture without falling into the sin of pride. I have probably broken several at times, but hopefully they will be of help to you.


College Students: How To Stay A Christian During College

I read recently where 70% of college students quit Christianity during college … despite growing up in Christian homes. Ugh! Don’t buy into the lie that Satan feeds you, “This is the time you should be experiencing the world, drinking, partying!” Instead live for God … even when no one is watching.


God Does Not View Your Labors as ‘Filthy Rags’

This larger biblical context can provide the proper framework for understanding the intent of passages like Isaiah 64:6. The “filthy rags” in this passage does not refer to the Spirit-wrought works of the regenerate, but the outward religious grandstanding of the wicked (see Isaiah 58).


When Dad is Dying

You’ve just returned from the hospital. Your 86-year-old father has been diagnosed with cancer, and you’re trying to decide if he should undergo chemotherapy. He isn’t keen. He says he’s had a good life and wants to join his Savior. But he’s your dad. How do you decide what to do? How does the Bible guide us?


Where We Came From, State by State

The following charts document domestic migration since the turn of the last century, based on census data. For every state, we’ve broken down the population by resident’s state of birth. The ribbons are color-coded by region, and foreign-born residents are included at the bottom, in gray, to complete the picture for each state.


Colorado Hiker Sings Opera, Fends Off Mountain Lion Attack

“I don’t know why, I just started singing opera really loud,” Koestonsky told KUSA. “It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away. Then, it came around the bushes and came towards me again and crouched about 10 feet away.”
Althoug Kopenstonsky’s singing didn’t deter the big cat completely, it seems to have unsettled the feline long enough for the hiker to safely retreat.