Links To Go (September 21, 2016)

When You’re Diagnosed With A Fatal Disease

This blog will be about how I live life now that I have ALS, how I deal with the obstacles, how I sometimes fail, and how I sometimes succeed. Mostly, though, it will be about how this experience is changing my perspectives and about how I hang on to my faith. Although I may not always pull it off, I’ll try to be personal, open, and real. And I’ll not be straying into the TMI zone. If you’re struggling too, which most of us are for one reason or another, I hope my posts encourage you. That’s really why I’m doing this.

Five quick points on the ESV’s rendering of Genesis 3:16

I happen to agree with Susan Foh’s interpretation of “desire,” which defines the term in connection with its appearance in Genesis 4:8. I think it is a compelling connection and of course would be consistent with the new ESV interpretation. Having said that, neither complementarianism nor egalitarianism stands or falls on the interpretation of this single verse. One can be an egalitarian and agree with the Foh interpretation of “desire.” One can be complementarian and believe that “desire” should be defined in connection with Song of Songs 7:10 (7:11 MT). The interpretation of this verse is a piece of the puzzle, not the whole puzzle.

Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2

Until your church sees multiplication 
as a personal conviction that they should embrace and enact, you will 
be facing an uphill battle. So work on communicating Jesus’ commitment to multiplication to the entire congregation through different means, like vision talks, sermon illustrations, state of the union addresses, print pieces, stories, and video.

10 Things You Should Know about Persecution

It’s the nature of news reporting to generalize and sensationalize, and Christian news sources aren’t much different than secular media in this regard. While the speed and reach of the internet can bring persecution incidents quickly to light, it can also result in the proliferation of poorly vetted stories that are then recycled for months—even years.

The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 2

The fact is that more than one-third of Americans are evangelical by self-identification. Furthermore, evangelicals attend church now more than ever. The 2014 GSS reported that in the last two years of the study, a greater percentage of evangelicals were attending church than any other time in the last four decades. Fifty-five percent of evangelicals attend church nearly every week. According to the Pew data, about half of American Christians claim to be evangelical or born again.

Less Redeeming Things and More Enjoying Them

Is it wrong to find the 8 gospel themes in The Revenant? Of course not. But it’s also okay to watch the movie simply for fun and to observe Leo’s bear skills. That too is a gift from God. An activity doesn’t need to be overtly “spiritual” for it to be deeply spiritual.

How Morality Changes in a Foreign Language

What then, is a multilingual person’s “true” moral self? Is it my moral memories, the reverberations of emotionally charged interactions that taught me what it means to be “good”? Or is it the reasoning I’m able to apply when free of such unconscious constraints? Or perhaps, this line of research simply illuminates what is true for all of us, regardless of how many languages we speak: that our moral compass is a combination of the earliest forces that have shaped us and the ways in which we escape them.

Texas College Transforms Football Field Into a Farm

All Paul Quinn students now work 150 hours on the farm to fulfill their work tuition, raising organic vegetables that are sold to area restaurants, as well as to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. The college also donates 10 percent of its produce to residents in need in the surrounding community, which is situated in an area of Dallas with few grocery stores and limited access to fresh food.

Links To Go (September 13, 2016)

Skip the Endorsements in Church, Say Most Americans

Eight in 10 (79 percent) say it is inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church. Three-quarters say churches should steer clear of endorsements.
Yet fewer than half want churches to be punished if they do endorse candidates.

The State of The Church in America: When Numbers Point To A New Reality, Part 1

Pew’s findings have led some to forecast the complete collapse of Christianity in the United States. The data, however, implies a more complex reality. Frankly, there is no credible research showing that Christianity is dying in America despite the flashy headlines we often see.
Instead, American religion is simultaneously growing and in decline. Fewer people claim to be Christians, but churchgoers—those who regularly attend services—are holding steady in some segments, and thriving in others.

Expatriate Patriotism

Although I live in the United States and even though both my paternal and maternal ancestry have branches going back to colonial days and one branch to the 1600’s, as well as some Native America ancestry (although it is just a trace), The United States is not my fatherland. My Fatherland is where my Father is. My citizenship is in Heaven and I am a resident of the Kingdom of Christ – His Church.

8 Hallmarks of Attractional and Gospel-Centered Churches

Went on a bit of a Twitter run yesterday with some thoughts on the essential defining characteristics of the church model I call attractional, followed by some constructive alternative hallmarks of gospel-centered churches. Hopefully they will bring more clarity to thinking through the relevant issues in evangelical ecclesiology.

Old Donkeys Needed!

We need people who will be the stabilisers to our youthful zeal.
We need people who will disciple our young couples.
We need people who will be mentors for young parents.
We need people who will model faithful perseverance.
We need people who will help us be a demonstration of a gospel family.
We need people who will exemplify servanthood until the very end.
We need people who will have time to invest in relationships.

Keep Your Mouth Shut!

Listening and asking good questions precedes giving gospel words. In a conversation with a either stranger or someone I know, I begin by listening to the person talk about his or her life and situation. Sometimes, I don’t even need to start the conversation—they may start it! God places us into people’s lives to represent Him in that moment. We are His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20). He makes His appeal through us, but in the context of a real person in a real moment (often in a time of need).

The Professional Mourners of Arlington Cemetery

Hoyt Vandenberg, Chief of Staff for the United States Air Force, was driving to his office in the Pentagon in 1948 when he noticed a funeral being conducted at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery. There was no sea of crisp uniforms or sobbing family members. Aside from the chaplain and the Honor Guard, there was no one there at all.
Vandenberg didn’t like it. Soldiers, he felt, deserved the presence of at least one civilian to bear witness to their burial. His wife, Gladys, agreed. She set about recruiting friends and wives of the enlisted to begin attending Air Force funerals, even though many of the deceased were complete strangers. They called themselves the Officers Wives Club and acted as both military representatives and as proxies for family members who might not be able to afford to travel to Arlington for services.

Hundreds miss seeing tallest structure ever demolished in UK being blown up – because they looked wrong way

Thousands of people watched one of Britain’s tallest structures come crashing down in a huge spectacle today.
But hundreds of others missed the incredible sight – all because they were looking the wrong way.

Links To Go (September 7, 2016)

And this is why we share our stories…

So there is a farmer in Rupert, Idaho named Luke who needed to hire a hand for his farm. One night he is reading about Todd and Christian and realizes he ought to pray that same prayer. So he asks God to help him hire someone he can share Jesus with.
The next Sunday at a church meal, he asked if anyone knew someone looking for agricultural work. Chris recommended Joe, recently released from jail. Luke hired Joe. Chris and Luke told Joe about Jesus. Joe believed and decided to follow Jesus. He was baptized into Christ about one month ago.

The Well Coffeehouse plans multi-store expansion

As a coffee shop, The Well represents a space for people of all walks of life to come together, Touchstone said. He hosts a Sunday church service inside the shop and the company supports artists of all genres with live music performances. The stores also have a “Wishing Well” wall where people can leave and/or take requests, from prayers to financial needs.
Since its founding, The Well has donated a total of approximately $48,000 and about $38,000 of that has funded wells in countries including Kenya, Togo, Congo and Senegal. The cost to build a well ranges from $1,000 up to $18,000 for more complicated projects.

When the church reaches out, but it doesn’t know where

We are called to go out on mission for God when we don’t have the capacity to foresee, foreknow, or fore-conclude. We. Don’t. Know. We simply go watching for His provision and supply. This, my friend, leaves us quite vulnerable day by day. We can’t measure how we are doing. We can’t even know where we are going. God knows. We want to make effort to follow. When it comes to Kingdom matters, calculation of the how is rarely the starting point.

Traveling Teaches Students in a Way Schools Can’t

Yet, unfortunately, most Americans have not prioritized these kinds of experiences. Unlike the U.K., where 75 percent of citizens have passports, in the U.S. the rate hovers around 45 percent, with some surveys showing that more than half of the population has never traveled outside of the country. When Americans do travel, the most popular destinations are in Europe or resort locations around the Caribbean—places that cater to a traveler’s sense of comfort and luxury. I can only imagine how American culture, business, and politics might change if more young people decided to forgo a comfortable vacation and instead pursue a genuine travel experience—not a short-lived, consumer-oriented “voluntourism” trip, where privileged visitors drop in casually without careful research or consideration of long-term needs—but a trip where people are driven to challenge what we accept as “normal” or “real.”

For many voters, it’s not which presidential candidate they’re for but which they’re against

But another dynamic in the 2016 presidential election is the significant share of voters who say their vote is based more on which candidate they are against rather than which one they are for.
This stands in contrast to recent elections in years without an incumbent presidential candidate. In both 2008 and 2000, half or more of each candidate’s supporters said their vote was more a vote for their candidate than a vote against the opposing party’s candidate.

Hurrah! The giant panda is no longer endangered

It’s true! Giant pandas are no longer endangered in China!
Following decades of hard work to save the species, the status of the creature today turned to ‘vulnerable’, officials have revealed.

This photo of an officer comforting a baby went viral. But there’s more to the story.

While she was sleeping, Brian Burton, who also is in law enforcement, posted the photo of his wife and the baby on Facebook early the next morning.
“Last night, my wife Michelle Burton told me she would be late getting off work because of call she was on where the parents of 4 small children had both overdosed,” Brian Burton wrote in his post. “She spent the rest of the night taking care of these babies. She got home at 4 this morning. I’ve never seen her more beautiful than in this picture. What an incredible woman.”

Links To Go (September 2, 2016)

Russell Moore warns politics has become a religion for evangelicals

Moore warned that politics had become a form of religion with people finding their primary source of identity in who is with them or opposed to them politically.
When that happens it is easy for the gospel “to be a tool to accommodate whatever political agenda is useful at the moment,” Moore added.

The Invisible Mother

The first time I held my son in my arms, he was already dead. My beautiful boy, Aero, lived 261 days — each one a blessing, each one infused with extraordinary promise. The fullness of the promise, I would go on to find out, will arrive at a future time. I will hold him again, my son. I am his mother.
But society doesn’t seem to see me this way.
A mother who outlives her son or daughter suffers terrible loss. But never the indignity of ceasing to be a mother. Never the social dishonor of not being considered a mother any longer. My husband and I, society tells us, are childless.

Discrimination That Is Necessary For A Civil Society: a Response to David Gushee

Dr. Gushee certainly is correct on the great transformation of American culture in attitudes about homosexuality and the socio-political climate of the day. Nevertheless, the view that traditional views on sexuality are fringe assumes a posture of cultural hegemony that is both historically and inter-culturally unaware.
Ironically, in failing to make a distinction between affirming equal rights socially and the affirmation of a set of beliefs, Dr. Gushee has participated in a reductionistic form of social fundamentalism that says in effect, “Your ‘intolerant’ beliefs in historic religious views on sexuality will not be tolerated.”

An open letter to members of the Churches of Christ

But here we have another choice. We can read the biblical text through the lens of American culture or we can read the culture through the lens of the biblical text.
Put another way, we can acknowledge that racism is a sin and behave accordingly, or we can act as if racism is only a minor problem or, even worse, participate in the racism that scars such large segments of this nation.

God has a name, and he’s given it to Jesus

There is only one name that is above every name, Yahweh, and Jesus has inherited it (cf. Heb 1:1-4). In our translations it sounds like the name Jesus has been given after his resurrection and ascension is Jesus, which makes no sense. But when we have the translation peculiarities of Yahweh in our minds, we see something else at work: an allusion back to Isaiah 45:23. Read in its context (several chapters affirming Yahweh’s uniqueness), this verse affirms Yahweh as the one alone to whom all shall bow down. And yet, according to Philippians, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord: Yahweh! The Father has given him the name above every name, and, rather than being blasphemous, it glorifies the Father.

Sex Negative

There was also a time when sexual intercourse was only considered legitimate between a man and woman committed to a lifelong partnership. It marked their exclusive relationship to each other. That too has been taken away. Sex is no longer the consummation of an exclusive bond. Now it is just a form of recreation. A bit like golf, but usually cheaper and generally without the plaid pants.

Why Do We Judge Parents For Putting Kids At Perceived — But Unreal — Risk?

Statistics from the National Crime Victimization Survey, for example, suggest that violent crime rates have decreased since the 1970s (and not only when it comes to children, whom one could argue are benefiting from the increased oversight).
The odds that a child will be abducted by a stranger — one of the fears that motivates constant supervision — are tiny in comparison with the odds that a child will be injured in a car accident. Yet parents aren’t under investigation for choosing to drive their kids to school.

Yes, Students Do Learn More From Attractive Teachers

Overall, the findings are consistent with a mountain of previous research about the effects of physical attractiveness. Earlier studies have found that good-looking people are considered more capable, intelligent, persuasive and socially skilled.
R. Shane Westfall, the lead author of the new paper, says that jurors are more likely to acquit accused murderers who are better looking. The benefits of good looks start early, he notes: Mothers pay more attention to good-looking babies (and babies pay more attention to better-looking adults). There is also evidence that more attractive people get paid better at work, have an edge in winning political campaigns and are more likely to be helped by others when in distress.

Florida State football player eats lunch with boy with autism sitting alone

For one day, a mother says she didn’t have to worry about her son eating lunch by himself after he was joined by Florida State University wide receiver Travis Rudolph.

Links To Go (August 30, 2016)

Links to articles that made me think or made me laugh… Tim

Why Man and Woman Are Not Equal

The New York Times’s Gail Collins told NPR unequivocally that the most important primary finding of her brilliant book America’s Women (which faithfully sits to the left behind Leslie Knope’s desk in every Parks and Recreation episode), is that the most powerful and important influence women have had on our nation’s founding, growth, and success is this: They make men behave. All their other important contributions are secondary.

Colin Kaepernick is American—and Right

Colin Kaepernick protesting during the anthem isn’t anti-American; it’s affirming the very freedom America represents and giving us a real-time example of how you leverage your influence to change things for the better. In an age where pro athletes are seen as petulant, aloof, selfish babies, he chose to use his visibility and his platform to actually give a damn and to actually say something about something of importance. Crucifying him for this is missing the point of this country spectacularly.

Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away

“When people type their notes, they have this tendency to try to take verbatim notes and write down as much of the lecture as they can,” Mueller tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.”

Saved by faith alone? yes! no!

My thoughts here are not so much focused upon delineating the nature of saving faith as they are upon emphasizing the need to be quick to listen and slow to speak. If, however, I were to venture a brief paragraph about faith, I find the first position self-defeating. For example, one of the proof texts for “belief alone,” Romans 10:9-10, prescribes going beyond mere belief to do something – namely confess Jesus is Lord with one’s lips. Thus, if such “belief alone” can encompass the saving action of confession, why not also the saving action ascribed to baptism within the New Testament?

“Is it Wrong?” Why There Are Other Questions You Need to Ask

Christian living is not about “rule-keeping.” There are more questions that need to be asked than just, “Is it against the rules?” Christian living is about walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), walking by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26), and walking in the light (1 John 1:7). Which means we are called to a higher standard and we have to ask more mature questions than just, “Is it wrong?” or, “Is it lawful?” or, “Is it against the rules?”

A Not Surprising Marriage Report

  • Couples spending $20,000 or more increase their odds of {divorce} 3.5% over couples spending $5,000 – 10,000.
  • Those that spend approximately $1,000 have the greatest odds for a longer marriage.
  • More the prospective grooms, spending $500 – 1,999 on an engagement rings decreases divorce rates by 1.3% over those spending $2,000 – $4,000.

A conclusion is that the more you spend on your wedding day you are increasing your chance for divorce.

Evangelism in Post-Christian Western Europe: Six Insights

  1. Migration is God’s gift to the Church.
  2. Culturally-relevant churches are harvest churches.
  3. “Fresh expressions” are an innovative means of outreach.
  4. The Church thrives where it is outward-focused.
  5. Denominations and networks are collaborating for a greater harvest.
  6. A new apologetic is emerging that is emotion-based.

Aging with grace

As I begin to count the few white hairs that are becoming manifest and debate about buying a box of hair color, not that hair dye is intrinsically bad, what is my motivation? Do I want to buy into what the world says is of value or what God values? Do I want to just age gracefully (aka looking younger than one’s stated age) or age with grace, taking joy in this time of life and not try to push back the clock, as if that were possible? Proverbs says Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised and Gray hair is a crown of glory. After all, isn’t my age part of God’s sovereign plan for my life? He decided the year of my birth. Not a decade before. Not a decade after. And if every hair is numbered, that includes the ones that are no longer black.

Angered over Sap, Man Cuts Down Tree, Sending It onto His Own Apartment House

A man in Luzerne County cut down his neighbor’s tree over the weekend because he thought it was ruining his car. The tree ended up hitting his own apartment house.