Links to Go (September 26, 2014)

What Jesus Didn’t Say

In hindsight, this is probably not the best way to express myself. I’m sorry for anyone who was hurt by the whole “never enter the kingdom of heaven” bit. That’s just an figure of speech for “the best way to live!” And I apologize if the righteousness piece felt legalistic. When I talk about hungering after righteousness or pursuing righteousness I’m thinking more on a cosmic level, not so much about your personal holiness. The only righteousness I expect to see from you is being right enough to know you are wrong. Look, the last thing I want is for people to get uptight with the Bible and start freaking out about doing everything by the book.
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were super cool with his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had a realistic understanding of the Bible and helped the disciples feel better about themselves.

My “Aha” Moment and Those Who Don’t Get It

But I do think that the way the story is related in Mark 2 is at variance with what is presented in 1 Samuel 21. And that is where the major difference lies between me and some others. I am able to accept a Bible that doesn’t act the way I wish it did. I can accept a Bible that doesn’t always lineup with history or even itself. And when I encounter a difficulty like Mark 2:26 my impulse is not to conclude that it’s wrong. But I also don’t feel the need to explain it to fit my modern understanding of history. Sometimes I find a very reasonable explanation and other times I realize there isn’t one. At least not one that “fixes” the Bible to fit into the paradigm I have constructed.

On Piles of Sand and Eating Babies

But the difference is that I don’t feel condescended about these things. And yet I do feel that often there is quite an air of condescension that comes from those of us who might be called civilized about the practices of those who are uncivilized.
Ugh. Ouch. Amy, we don’t use words like civilized and uncivilized anymore. That was back in the days of imperialism. This is the 21st Century and we are enlightened.
Except, when I see that 13 million people are laughing at two African guys who are shoveling sand, it does make me wonder how enlightened we really are.
We must ask ourselves, Why do we assume these guys don’t have a reason for what they are doing? Why do we assume they are just being idiots?

The better way to 360-degree feedback

So on a retreat, we wrote a covenant together, and at every subsequent staff meeting we read a portion of the covenant and asked, “How are we doing?” In the covenant we explicitly said that we strive for excellence in ministry, that we desire to share a common vision and that we need to ask for and offer feedback, “in private when appropriate.”
The covenant acknowledged not only the need for honest feedback but also the need to give feedback at appropriate times and places and in appropriate ways.
With this framework in place, we no longer had to resort to the promise of anonymity or water-cooler conversations to learn the truth. Neither did we fear that feedback would be offered in ways that would wound the very relationships so central to working toward a shared vision.

Why You Need More Art in Your Life

But the truth is, art is indispensable. Art gives us meaning. There are things that cannot be understood with pure reason—like love and beauty, to name two. Art helps us understand our world.

Why We Keep Playing the Lottery

In the conceptual vacuum created by incomprehensible odds, people are likely to experience magical thinking or superstition, play a hunch, or simply throw reason out the window all together, says George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon. “Most of the weird stuff that you see with decision-making and risk happens with small probabilities,” he says.

Pennsylvania police’s pot plot: Ask owners to call

Police in Pennsylvania are asking the owners of marijuana plants discovered in a public area to come forward and “claim them” if they can “prove ownership.”
“These marijuana plants were harvested near Colonial Rd. If they are yours and you can prove ownership, please call,” the Northern York County Regional Police posted on Twitter.

Links to Go (September 19, 2014)

3 Questions No Victim of Domestic Violence Should Have to Answer

  1. What Did She Do to Provoke the Attack?
  2. Why Did She Defend Her Abuser?
  3. Why Did She Stay With Her Abuser?

How to Steward the Power of Marriage

Marriage is a good that many people in our culture do not and will not experience. For those of us who have been given the stability and power that comes with it, my hope and prayer is that we wield it well. That we use it not only for ourselves but for our neighbors, not only for our own comfort but for the comfort of our community, especially for those who are particularly vulnerable among us.

Dads: Plan for family time this fall

The point of planning the season ahead isn’t to pack your schedule with everything you could possibly do, but instead to redeem your time (Ephesians 5:15-16) and to lead your family as a good steward of the opportunities unique to fall before the days fly by and the next season is upon us.

Don’t Assume Anything

  1. Don’t assume I understand what you haven’t explained clearly.
  2. Don’t assume your adult son or daughter knows that you are “well pleased.”
  3. Don’t assume that people in your church understand why you do what you do.
  4. Don’t assume your minister is doing ok financially.

Thoughts on a Call to Worship

Finally, we come together for a specific purpose. After a week when we’ve been tempted to worship money, relationships, control, sensuality, and ourselves, a call to worship God wakes us up to the fact that we are sojourners and exiles in this world (1 Peter 2:11), that there is one true God, that he deserves to be exalted in our minds, hearts and wills, that he calls us together so that we might build each other up, and that that’s what we’ve gathered to do.

Guatemala government responds to news story before it is published

Guatemala’s government posted an online response to a newspaper article about the country’s vice president before it was published, provoking criticism the government was spying on the country’s media.
Pictures of the article, which linked a luxury property owned by Vice President Roxana Baldetti to businessmen who have benefited from government contracts, were put up on the government’s website, along with a written response.

How to park for free at the airport

The basic idea behind FlightCar is this: Instead of driving to an airport parking lot and paying to park your car, you drop it off at the nearby FlightCar lot instead. While you are away, FlightCar will try to rent your car to an inbound traveler. If it does, you’ll get paid. If it does not, you’ll get free parking and a free car wash! How does that sound?

Peyton Manning says legalized pot has been good for his pizza business

“There’s some different laws out here in Colorado,” Manning said. “Pizza business is pretty good out here, believe it or not, due to some recent law changes.”
Of course, Manning was referring to Colorado recently legalizing recreational marijuana.

Links to Go (September 17, 2014)

Why Climate Change Concerns Pro-Life Christians

Lately, because of political controversies and headline-grabbing court cases such as the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, the public’s view of evangelical reverence for life has been reduced mainly to fetuses and fertilized eggs. In truth, evangelicals are addressing myriad threats to life, from poverty and slavery to genocide. If the life movement can devote itself to fighting these, can’t it also confront the threat to our life-giving water — and compel the small- and large-scale actions that will conserve it for human beings today and tomorrow?

The Typecast Church

“The mentor’s role,” writes marketing and storytelling author Jonah Sachs, “is to make change irresistible but not mandatory.” That sounds to me like a great story for the church’s relationship with culture in the 21st century. This is the story in which we compel people toward our particular version of the good life, rather than coerce them into superficial, deistic moralism. The mentor never threatens, ensnares, or bullies. Instead, the mentor points, challenges, trains, and releases. To borrow from Antoine de Saint Exupéry, mentors teach protagonists to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

Social Media and the Panda Predicament

As we stood there, something happened: the glossy, perfect, unrealistic, airbrushed version was replaced with something way better. The longer we looked, the more amazing that real version became. Of course, they weren’t perfect. Of course, they were actually a little dirty and their fur a little soiled. We stood watching those pandas sit on their bums munching on snacks, and the more we saw, the more adorable they became.

Seat 21A

To see another human, to be allowed into their world, is an incredible privilege. In an age of convenience and obsessive consumption we rob ourselves of that opportunity. We trade long-term satisfaction and growth for comfort in the short-term. It’s vulnerable to look into the eyes of another —so we look at our phones and our screens instead.

The Jerry Jones Conundrum

How many entrepreneurs, owners and CEOs, like Jones, choose their egos over potential greatness? The list is depressingly long. One is reminded of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. In the early days Jobs was so ego-soaked that he’d steal credit for the inventions of others. He hired John Sculley as CEO and almost immediately tried to undermine him.
But then Steve Jobs did an amazing and rare thing: He outgrew his fatal flaws. He morphed from an immature egomaniac during the 1970s and 1980s into a superb team leader until his death, in 2011. What caused this transformation? His Apple ouster in 1985? The struggles of his successor company, NeXT? His purchase of Pixar, where he learned the power of a light-handed management style? Marriage and children? (By all accounts, Jobs was a devoted husband and father.) Whatever got Steve Jobs to trade in his ego for lasting greatness, it worked.

It’s Satanist vs. Satanist in Detroit’s newest political tug-of-war

But some of the loudest opposition to the Satanic Temple in metro Detroit has been from other Satanists. The Satanic underworld, like virtually all other religions, contains groups firmly in disagreement.
Even the Church of Satan, claiming thousands of members worldwide, is quick to distance itself from the Satanic Temple, despite agreement on atheism, individualism and affinity for pentagrams.

Funeral home offers drive-thru visitation

“When you enter the drive thru you’ll drop a memorial into the memorial box, sign the register book, drive forward and you’ll be able to sit in the privacy of your vehicle for three minutes,” Phillips said.
Paradise is providing the drive thru option to families at no additional charge. It’s designed to allow more people to see someone who has passed away, even if they can’t make the traditional visitation because of work, disability or other challenges.

Links to Go (September 16, 2014)

Sharing links for provoking thought and providing entertainment, not as a sign of approval nor endorsement… Tim

What the Bible teaches about spanking

There is much more that can and should be said about this, but these writers conclude that the Bible allows corporal punishment that is non-abusive and that does not cause bodily harm. If you are interested in reading more, I recommend the resources that Naselli provides at the end of his article.

Does Personal Bible Reading Destroy the Church?

The history of church division runs parallel to the proliferation of Bible translation. When leaders can individually interpret what the Bible really says, unity doesn’t stand a chance. The graph of church denominations and Bible translations illustrates this dynamic. More Bibles, more languages, and more literacy equal more denominations.

An Impatience with Biblical Exegesis

I share the temptation that many others of my generation face to believe that talking about the Bible won’t lead to any resolution and so we’re better off simply trying to understand one another’s hopes and fears and offer support where we can. Where the Bible is too divisive, sharing our Christian stories can be something that unites us.
But I am more and more unhappy with this mood or trend, and I’m determined to try to talk more about Scripture in future speaking engagements and debates that I participate in.

How I Kissed Evangelism Goodbye

What I came to discover is how much the world craves a listening ear. The biggest problem I have with evangelizing is that you enter into a relationship with a prescribed intention, and that stands in the way of listening well.
You can’t listen well when you are carrying an agenda.
You can’t listen well when you are looking for ways to fortify your own position.
You can’t listen well when you are searching for what is broken in your conversation partner, in order to introduce the solution.

Should We Kiss Evangelism Goodbye?

The fact is people often have really good reasons for not evangelizing. Some of those reasons include the evangelists. The popular impression of evangelism isn’t positive—impersonal and uncaring, preachy and self-righteous, bigoted and hateful. None of those impressions would stick with Jesus.
If we are going to experience a renaissance of evangelism, we must treat people less like projects and more like persons, distinguish evangelism from proselytizing, and value others’ perspectives instead of rejecting them out of hand.

Whatever Became of Church?

With jaw-dropping vigor, ignorance, and at times unblushing gall, increasing sectors of the evangelical world are abandoning two thousand years of ecclesiology; as if the church was some malleable human construct that can be shaped, altered, redefined or even disposed of as desired. This, coupled with a radical revisionism in terms of biblical interpretation and ecclesial history that would seem more in line with The Da Vinci Code than Christian theology, the doctrine of the church is being reformulated apart from biblical moorings, or simply dismissed as if not a part of biblical orthodoxy at all.

Church Branding Overwhelms the Cross

But I also beg to challenge this sentiment. Is this what is really happening as we elevate our brands into this marketplace of churches in the world today? Who is really getting attention when we glorify our brands before we glorify the cross? What would happen if people did not know the name of your church or even your tagline? What if people simply recognized the building in their neighborhood that was filled with people who lived differently, who loved when they were supposed to hate and gave when they were supposed to protect? What if our brand was non-existent and instead, the cross of Jesus was lifted high?

Foolish Words

We like to think these things are embarrassing because they are so uncharacteristic of us, but in reality, they reveal sides of us that we would prefer to keep hidden. I am more apt to embarrass myself when I’m trying too hard to be funny or clever, or trying to draw attention to myself. I don’t usually put my foot in my mouth when I’m trying to build others up. If I spend my time listening to other people, rather than thinking of the next thing to say, things go better.

Look and Live

You fight through the crowds and you stare a hole through that bronze serpent. And time stands still as you feel with every passing second the healing flow through your veins as you had felt the poison flow before.
Poison in veins. Bronze serpent raised.
Do you imagine anyone was bored that day?

Get Over It and End Cuban Embargo

Normalizing relations with Cuba would provide several benefits to both the U.S. and Cuba: Ending the crippling economic sanctions would allow an impoverished nation to raise the standard of living for its people. There are numerous U.S. companies in real estate development, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and tourism that would benefit from the end of the embargo. It would also allow the U.S. to take the diplomatic initiative in resolving a long festering problem.

McDonald’s USA Perks Up The Nation With Free Coffee

From Sept. 16 through 29, guests can get a free small McCafé coffee during breakfast hours at participating McDonald’s restaurants across the country.

Links to Go (September 15, 2014)

Josh Graves on Reading the Bible (and Being Read by the Bible)

Rather, in the long run, I think the progressive Churches are taking some time to consider all their options and find a direction that may not be that well trod. Maybe there’s a better approach that 30 years ago we could only glimpse. Maybe we have the chance to be far truer to the scriptures than we could have imagined when this all started.
After all, the goal is not to leave legalism but to come as close as possible to the heart of God. And surely God is best understood in light of the fullness of the entire Bible.

Dear Fundamentalist Trolls: You’re Not Helping Anyone (and I say this in love)

  • “Is my tone loving?”
  • “Am I judging someone I don’t even know?” (and if you are, DON’T POST THE COMMENT.)
  • “Would I make this comment, and make it the same way, if I were having a face to face conversation with this person?”
  • “Does this comment make the message of Jesus more attractive?”
  • “Is my comment edifying, helpful, or uplifting?”
  • Finally, read your comment and ask yourself “Does this sound like something Jesus would say?”

4 Habits of Punctual People

  1. They’re realistic thinkers
  2. The give themselves buffer
  3. They’re organized
  4. They’re comfortable with downtime

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

Children under 10 seem to be most susceptible to becoming addicted, so these parents draw the line at not allowing any gadgets during the week. On weekends, there are limits of 30 minutes to two hours on iPad and smartphone use. And 10- to 14-year-olds are allowed to use computers on school nights, but only for homework.