Links to Go (August 1, 2014)

To the Christian Teacher in a Public School

But when I get completely worked up over laws and rights, I feel the gentle push of the Holy Spirit saying this to me: “When was the last time you were this sad over the fact that some kids never have clean clothes on? Were you this upset when the boy in time out over there didn’t come to school because no one got up to get him dressed and on the bus? Are you this passionate when the same child just doesn’t get it no matter how much you teach?”

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

Why join a church? (This generation of Christians wants to know.)

The culture which sees no point in “a piece of paper” to make a marriage official just as easily dismisses the notion of Christians actually joining a church.
Can we talk about that?
A husband and wife who were regular worshipers with my church, but never actually joined and became members, would sign their Christmas card, “Your common law members.”
A lot of churches are trying to build their ministries on “common law” members. These people attend, profess a love for Jesus, and say they believe His word, but they make no commitment to the body of believers and put themselves under the authority of no leaders. They are free to come and go without being accountable to anyone.
Dating churches is all the rage these days.

The secret to great presentations: it’s not about the software

I’ve sat through countless dull PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. And I’ll admit that some of my own have been snoozers, too. Based on my observations of presentations by others, and on feedback I’ve received about my own, I’d like to share one simple tip for making your presentations better: Don’t focus on your presentation software.
You read that right: In some of the most successful presentations I’ve seen, I barely noticed what was on the screen. If your audience leaves feeling informed, inspired, or entertained, you’ve done a better job than if they leave talking about your fancy 3D effects.

Sniffer dog warning sends Australian jet passengers on a rush to flush

Australian budget airline Jetstar apologized on Wednesday after a crew member told passengers on a flight from the Gold Coast tourist strip, including some returning from a popular music festival, to flush away “anything you shouldn’t have”.
The warning from the flight attendant that sniffer dogs and quarantine officers were on standby in Sydney prompted a rush to the plane’s toilets, News Ltd reported.

Links to Go (July 31, 2014)

God is NOT good!

I am sure he must have told me God was not good and God hates most everybody at other times, before this Sunday. But this was the Sunday I finally remembered what he said; and I believed him; probably because during the week before this particular Sunday, my father was so hateful and mean to my mother, and to me and to my brothers and sisters … again. And I felt scared and alone, and I finally despaired! I think something happened in my soul the day I started believing my father. And it happened because of the way little kid’s hearts are wired. For some reason children tie their view of God in with their view of their parents, sad to say. It occurs to me now that the day I believed God was not good was the day I realized my dad was not.

Why We Love the Amish

So I suppose the most fascinating thing of all about the Amish is that they still exist. When they first came to national attention in the early twentieth century, prognosticators gave them a generation or two before they were gone. They thrived. When they received close study in the middle of the century, sociologists and anthropologists once again decreed that they would soon surrender to the world around them. They grew. And as the technological distance between them and us deepens and widens, they seem to be thriving all the more. Their very existence is a marvel; their practices are a challenge. We love the Amish because, in some ways, we long to be the Amish.

The Parable of the Lawn Mower

Now: what have my actions preached to him? They have preached that Christians are people who do good things for their neighbour. They have preached that niceness, and kindness, and morally upright behaviour are what make you a Christian. In short, they have preached justification by works.

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

The Immigration Act of 1907 did indeed declare that unaccompanied children under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which unaccompanied children—many of whom were orphans—were kept in detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues, immigrant aid societies, and private citizens would often step in and offer to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.

Most Americans See Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids As Refugees, Poll Says

Across political leanings and religious backgrounds, most Americans believe the recent influx of immigrant children should be treated like refugees if authorities think they cannot be returned home safely rather than face immediate deportation, according to the poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Wikipedia’s Edit Wars — and the 8 Religious Pages People Can’t Stop Editing

Using Wikipedia’s rules, Carter says, religion can be difficult to independently verify, especially when there’s a range of opinions about what events took place and what they mean.
“No one has any real evidence that Jesus rose from the dead or not — how do you give the various opinions balanced coverage? And was he God, or a god, or something else?” Carter said. “Even nominal Christians disagree on those and several other significant topics.”

The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’

Buried in the data was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43%, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty-three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach — marriage licenses granted on a five-, seven-, 10- or 30-year ARM, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21% said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.

33 Pictures Taken At The Right Moment

The internet is abound with images shared by people who have captured images at just the right moment or from just the right perspective, so we wanted to share some more of them with you.
Anyone with a smart phone, point-and-click camera, DSLR or any other sort of camera can potentially capture such a moment – whether it’s staged or spontaneous.

Links to Go (July 30, 2014)

Why I’m a Member of the Churches of Christ

I am more interested in being a part of church that is engaging the Muslim, Baha’i, Buddhist, Jew, and Agnostic persons of a community than I am “patting ourselves on the back” because the Baptists, Methodists, and Church of Christ ministers had lunch together. It’s a new day. We need courage.

Lessons from the Churches of Christ

Part of the reason that these developments have been allowed to take place is that, much like with many customs and rules in Roman liturgical practice, the heart of the Church of Christ’s congregational orientation – a theology of community derived from the Acts of the Apostles – has been reduced in common practice to a mere legalism: “No musical instruments.” Once a theological proposition has been reduced to a legalism, there are two inevitable consequences: circumnavigation and abandonment. Circumnavigation happens when the question becomes, “How can we do whatever we wanted to do anyway, without ‘technically’ breaking the rules?” Abandonment happens when the pretense of technicality is dropped and the rule is simply ignored or removed.

15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals

  • Hymnals actually teach music
  • Hymnals set a performance standard
  • Hymnals integrate the music and text
  • Hymnals allow you to sing anywhere
  • Hymnals allow people to take possession of the music
  • Hymnals don’t screw things up
  • Hymnals are as helpful as the singer needs them to be
  • Hymnals are a theological textbook
  • Hymnals involve tactile action
  • Hymnals are not particularly distracting
  • Hymnals preserve the aesthetics of the Sanctuary
  • Hymnals confront us with “new” songs
  • Hymnals give validity to new hymns
  • Hymnals make songs less disposable
  • Hymnals give congregational singing back to the people

How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need?

What about people who claim to do just fine on just a few hours of sleep? It turns out that even though your cognitive abilities are on a steady decline, how tired you feel will eventually level off. Meaning, people who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation may have lost their ability to tell just how tired they really are.

Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror

While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just last year.
In news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165 million over the same period.

300 in brawl at New Jersey wedding; 2 arrested

Two off-duty police officers were working the reception as security when they were alerted to a fight. As the officers attempted to break up the fight, they say the crowd swelled to about 80 people. The were pushing and shoving each other while screaming and yelling.
The officers radioed for additional help to break up the crowd. As Middletown police officers attempted to gain control of the situation approximately 300 people became involved in the brawl.

Links to Go (July 29, 2014)

The William Stringfellow Project: Conscience and Obedience

In Chapter 3 Stringfellow turns to the issue of anarchy, law and order. Stringfellow wants to tackle the objection that, “Without [obedience to the state], it is said, there would be anarchy.”
Stringfellow’s answer to this question is to point out how sin is being limited in this objection to human agents. That is, human agents, because of sin, are agents of social chaos. The state, by contrast, is a virtuous, stabilizing and ordering agent. Metaphorically, citizens are rebellious children and the state is the wise parent.
The problem with this, according to Stringfellow, is that such a notion fails to grasp that the state is just as fallen and sinful as human persons. Specifically, more often than not the state, rather than human persons, is the cause of social disruption, chaos and instability. Citizens aren’t just getting agitated all on their own. They are often responding in anger and hurt to abuses inflicted upon them and their neighbors by the state.

50 Shades of Strange

My first reaction was, “This is 50 shades of hypocrisy!” Would they want their husbands to be bragging about the porn they were looking forward to watching together? Wouldn’t they be humiliated? Of course, it’s a double standard: it’s somehow sexy for women to watch porn. And if these husbands are counting on a movie to make their sex lives with their wives better, well, that’s a little humiliating too. And sad.

To the women of America: 4 reasons to hate 50 Shades of Grey

The problem with the sex portrayed in this movie, or in any trashy romance novel you find at the airport, or in many other films and TV shows, or in many actual relationships, is that it’s always self-seeking, never honest, never truthful, never trusting, and never protecting. There is no hope in it, no kindness, no sacrifice. It’s selfish and removed, which makes it stale, which is why people tire of it so quickly and become so bored with it all, which is why they consume so much porn and bounce between so many different one night stands.
Christians might wrestle with these temptations, but they shouldn’t try to make excuses or pretend that it’s OK in this case because they really enjoyed the book. That’s nonsense, a cop out, and they know better.

Quit Telling Children about Baptism!

Let’s quit talking to children about baptism and instead teach them to seek the Lord and pursue the knowledge of God. God overlooks the sins of children because they do not yet have the maturity to understand the idols of this world or know how to “forsake all that they have” in order to be his disciple. Those who seek God with all their heart and soul will obey baptism at the proper time.

Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given…We are the Bread

The radical difference between the way God works and the way the world works is that the world only uses 2 of the four. The world takes and breaks with no idea of how to bless and give. Praise God that we have a Father who knows us and loves us enough to give us exactly what we need and then turn right around and use us to be a blessing to others through the experiences we have walking with God…being taken by him, blessed by him, experiencing brokenness through him and with him and then being given for others.

What I Want My Daughters To Know About My Wedding

I just want you to spend more time praying than planning. I want you to sacrifice more than you spend. I want you to understand your commitment to the man of your dreams is more than a certificate—it’s a covenant to God.

Girl’s Galaxy S4 Smartphone Burns Under Her Pillow as She Sleeps

Last week, a 13-year-old North Texas girl plugged her Samsung Galaxy S4 in for its nightly juice-up before hitting the sack, only to be awoken by the smell of something burning hours later. When she got up and searched around for the source of the stench, she realized that she had wedged her charging phone under her pillow. And not only was the backside of the pillow scorched, but the phone was fried into an unrecognizable slab of plastic and melted components.

Links to Go (July 28, 2014)

Out of Hiding

And we continued to hide. On Sundays, we drove the 30 minutes to the big city and parked in the lot next to that building but only because my grandfather was the minister. It didn’t matter that mom had donned a wig to drive through the liquor store the night before. It didn’t matter that she allowed and encouraged her young children to also drink. All that mattered was that we were there. On a pew. Hiding in front of everyone.

10 Things I Love About the Churches of Christ

I deeply resonate with the metaphor employed by Leroy Garrett about his place in Churches of Christ: A Lover’s Quarrel.
He describes it this way:

“I love the Churches of Christ too much to leave, and too much to leave them alone.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The 10 Things I Try To Do To Be Sanctified By The 10 Things I Hate To Admit

Therefore while I would love to title this follow-up, “The 10 Solutions To The 10 Things Pastors Hate To Admit Publicly.” the reality is that only the Resurrection will accomplish that task. Now does that mean we just throw our hands in the air with an apathetic, “Well that sucks!”? We can, but it’s not a very fruitful way to move forward: for while we may never eradicate every insecurity in life, we can be sanctified through every situation of life.
So with a more personal perspective here are “The 10 Things I Try To Do To Be Sanctified By The 10 Things I Hate To Admit.”

Marijuana poses more risks than many realize

Doctors say they’re increasingly fielding questions about the safety of marijuana, as use of the drug rises and more communities consider legalizing it. Colorado and Washington state have legalized recreational marijuana, and medical use is allowed in 21 states and Washington, D.C.

Oklahoma woman allegedly calls police to complain that her meth was ‘laced’

The 54-year-old allegedly called police because she thought her “ice” was laced with something. When an officer arrived to check it out, Sampson reportedly said, “I’m glad you came.”
During the course of their interaction, Sampson allegedly showed the officer multiple areas where she had meth stashed. She also admitted to using the drug and was “hearing things and sweating profusely.”