Links To Go (April 17, 2014)

Why the Cuba embargo is such a very bad idea

Sen. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who takes a heterodoxical position on the embargo, argues that current American policy only helps Cuba’s Communist rulers. “We could allow for the free movement of Americans to Cuba, who would bring with them books and newspapers and ideas and commerce,” Flake told me. “And if you really want to create headaches for them,” he continued, only half-jokingly, “let them deal with spring break.”


Do You Love the Immigrant?

I’m not talking about political policy. I’m not talking about legislation or health care or legal issues or any of that. I’m asking what I believe is the most important question of all. I don’t think we can even begin to hear God speak to us about this issue until we answer this at a heart level: Do we love the immigrant? What is our attitude towards the immigrants who live in our community? Fear, hatred, anger, disdain…or love?


I’m Thankful that I Became Blind

In her autobiographical book entitled Fanny Crosby’s Life-Story (1903), Crosby narrates the following account in which she expresses her thankfulness to God that, in His providence, she became blind. Crosby was not born blind. At six weeks old she had inflammation in her eyes. The physician, who tried to help her, mistakenly destroyed Crosby’s eyes. Consequently, she became blind for the rest of her life. However, she mentions in her book that if she could meet that physician, she would say, “Thank you, thank you—over and over again—for making me blind, if it was through your agency that it came about!”


When Marriage is Hard

Our marriage vows are a picture of the greater vow God makes to us, his Bride. We promise to be with our husband in sickness and in health. We commit to loving him for richer or poorer. We vow to stay with him until that final day when death separates us. Weddings are solemn ceremonies. While it seems romantic and idealistic on your wedding day to pledge your undying love and devotion to the man of your dreams, the truth is it is excruciating in real life.


Please Don’t Make My Funeral All About Me

What you must not do at my funeral is make it all about me. What I want most is that “Christ will be honored in [my] body, whether in life or in death” (Phil.1:20). Those gathered that day have no need for a sanitized, idealized rendition of who I was or what I accomplished. On that day, in fact on every day until that day, “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).


New Feature Coming to Wineskins – Old and New Testament Commentary

One of the things we are working on as a new feature to Wineskins is an index of posts by scripture from our Featured Authors (people like Jay Guin, John Mark Hicks, Patrick Mead and more).


Top 10 Ways to Win at the Internet

A step-by-step guide on how to be enraged on the internet all of the time


14 Dining-Related Taboos from Around the World

Visit different countries, and you’re bound to experience cultural differences—especially at the dinner table. Here are some things to help you mind your manners, wherever you’re traveling next.


Board Member Wants Dress Code For Parents Dropping Kids Off At High School

A Florida high school wants to set a dress code for parents.
Broward County School Board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood brought up the idea during a meeting after noticing parents dropping their kids off at Boyd Anderson High School while wearing saggy pants that exposes their underwear and curlers in their hair.


The baptism of Jesus: That voice from heaven

waterOne of the most famous elements in the story of the baptism of Jesus is the pronouncement from heaven: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

That’s how Matthew records it, and it’s the version I grew up with. (Though I hear the King James in my head: “This is my beloved son…”)

Mark records the voice as saying: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Same idea, but speaking directly to Jesus. Luke records it as Mark did. John mentions no voice, just the coming of the Spirit in the form of a dove.

Who was the voice for? It doesn’t really seem to have been for John. He doesn’t mention it when he is quoted as describing the event in the gospel of John, chapter 1. And he later comes to have real doubts as to Jesus’ identity. That seems strange for one who heard confirmation from heaven (though it’s surprising how often people doubt visions and voices in Scripture).

There’s no indication that anyone started following Jesus because of the voice. Either no one was around to hear it, no one understood it, or they were unmoved by the experience.

It almost seems to me that the voice was for Jesus. It reminds me of this incident from John 12:

“Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.” (John 12:28–29)

The crowd didn’t seem to hear what the voice said. They heard it as thunder or as an angel speaking to Jesus. No one seems to have heard the message.

Something similar happened at Saul’s conversion:

“My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.” (Acts 22:9)

What do you think? Was the voice from heaven there for Jesus’ sake? Was it for John? Or did it serve another purpose?

Links To Go (April 16, 2004)

Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon

  1. Don’t say Jesus died when he was 33 years old.
  2. Don’t explain the apparent absence of a lamb at the Last Supper by only saying Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb.
  3. Don’t say the same crowds worshiped Jesus on Palm Sunday and then cried out for his crucifixion on Good Friday.
  4. Don’t bypass the role of the women as witnesses of the resurrected Christ.
  5. Don’t focus on the suffering of Jesus to the extent that you neglect the glory of the Cross in and through the Resurrection.

My Top 7 Goals to Accomplish on Easter Sunday

In this post, I want to share what I actually hope we accomplish on Easter Sunday. Only 7 things. If we accomplish nothing else, and there are probably many other things we will accomplish Easter Sunday, I hope Immanuel Baptist does these 7 well.


Faith Involves Your Brain, Too

You see, the American church has done an excellent job of catering to a devotional or emotional style of spirituality—and that’s a good thing! But it’s also a bad thing, because it leaves a lot of us, the ones for whom “nothing happens” when we try to grow closer to God that way, out in the cold.


9 Groundbreaking Scientists Who Happened to Be Christians

However, what is frequently lost in all this is that the history of science is rich with believing Christians, for whom the process of discovery did not jeopardize their faith, but enforced it. These people are reminders that science is not a threat to be feared, but a journey we can embrace with confidence, knowing that all truth can only be revealed as God’s truth. In that spirit of exploration, here are just a few of the many scientists who have done groundbreaking work—and just so happened to be Christians.


Regarding the “Jesus Wife Fragment”

Many bloggers and commenters seem to be unaware that Professor King herself believes this fragment tells us nothing about the actual marital status of Jesus. In her view, the text presents a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. The five references to women (line one: “my mother, she has given me life;” line three: “Mary is worthy of it;” line 4: “my wife;” line 5: “she is able to be my disciple;” line 7: “I am with her”) provide evidence that Jesus regarded women, wives, and mothers as his true disciples. Those who are aware of the important role played by women in the ministries of Jesus and Paul may find this assertion a bit underwhelming, but King considers the fragment’s positive view of women as a counter-point to the asceticism and negative view of sexuality which came to be common in ancient Christian communities.


7 Reasons We Don’t Make Disciples

  1. We are ignorant of the Great Commission.
  2. We have not been discipled ourselves.
  3. We prefer programs over relationships.
  4. We are impressed with size.
  5. We lack patience for the process.
  6. Our personal brokenness prevents us from healing others.
  7. We want churchgoers to stay immature.

What The Church May Need Is What The Church Does Not Want

Persecution is a fretful matter. It is too big for me to give adequate emphasis. However, from the onset of the Jesus movement in Acts up to this moment in history, the persecuted nations are the places the church does what we wish it would do in the secure nations: explode.


Sometimes Getting Along Comes Down To How You Say ‘Gravy’

Cultural codes like these undergird all of our interactions, yet they remain almost impossible to see. They’re the air we breathe. But not only are those rules invisible — they change, as do the people to whom those rules might apply. That means we often don’t know when we’re violating them, and we’re often oblivious to the consequences of doing so.


Sad panda gets her own amusement park

Sijia became very lonely and sad after her friend was sent back to Shichuan so the zoo cheered her up with an amusement park containing a swing, parallel bars, and a television where she can watch other pandas. The zoo says her spirits have lifted and they hope they can introduce her to another panda so she can have a companion in her new home.


The baptism of Jesus: Why was he baptized?

waterWe talked last week about John the Baptist. Now we need to talk about Jesus’ baptism. Each of the gospels mention it, though the perspective changes from book to book. Mark is pretty sparse on details (as he often is), though he does mention that voice that proclaimed the identity of Jesus and the Father’s pleasure with what had been done. Luke’s account is very similar. Matthew adds the protests of John, where he said, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” We’ll talk more about Jesus’ reply to John.

John’s gospel doesn’t mention the baptism itself, but it does mention the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove. No mention of the voice from heaven, either.

So why was Jesus baptized? “To fulfill all righteousness” is the quick answer, quoting Jesus’ words from the gospel of Matthew. But it raises as many questions as it answers. Matthew often talks of fulfillment, yet it’s hard to see how this act fulfilled any prophecy. And he says this was about fulfilling righteousness, not Scripture.

Then you have the fact that John’s baptism was about repenting from sin and receiving forgiveness for that sin. Jesus had no sin. (It’s an interesting fact that Jesus began his ministry by being baptized for sins that he didn’t have and ended it by being crucified for sins that he didn’t have)

If you had to give a brief answer to the question “Why was Jesus baptized?”, what would you say?

Links To Go (April 15, 2014)

Oh, the Places You’ll Go: Basic Instructions for Exile

Sure, our passports and birth certificates tell us one thing, but Philippians 3:20 tells us another: our citizenship is in Heaven. And don’t get me wrong, every square inch of this world belongs to God and His Spirit dwells in us, but we are not yet fully home. Exile is the time in between. We see through a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:2).
A fully renewed Creation in the presence of God is our home. And he is not here like that, right now. But He will be. That’s ultimately what we were created for, complete and eternal union with Him. Until that day comes, we are strangers in a strange land. We live and die in exile, in the midst of calamity. We live and die in Babylon. Welcome “not home.”
This is an unnerving perspective. It should be an unnerving perspective, one of heart-ache and sorrow. It’s the type of perspective that led the Psalmist to lament, “How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?”


God’s Not Dead — Movie’s Not Fair

Also, nonbelievers can have redemptive character arcs, but believers don’t need character arcs. Here I can think of one exception, the believing wife of bullying Professor Radisson, who has to get over her “Cinderella complex” and break the spell of the charm we’re told Radisson has, even though we never see it. Can’t think of any other complications. No Christians struggle with sin, temptation or selfishness, let alone anything like doubt or disappointment with God. Nonbelievers also are generally unconflicted about their selfish, rotten behavior, until touched by grace.


Jesus’s Passover

Unfortunately there is very little from archaeology that broadens our perspective. Yet the picture is clear. Thousands of pilgrims, tens of thousands of sacrifices, hundreds of priests and Levites praying and singing and playing music. All this accompanied by shouts of exultation, more singing, and sounds of cooking, feasting, and laughing all with a view to remembering God’s mercy for the Israelites in Egypt. No one was prepared for the changes to Judaism that would come with the loss of Jerusalem and the Temple within a bit more than a generation.


Passover 2014, The Unleavened Basics: Dates, Facts And History Of Pesach

Today, Passover is used as an opportunity to reflect on the things that plague our world, to seek justice for the still-oppressed and even to bring together multi-faiths family and friends under the common banner of universal freedom.


Did readers actually read a story about reading?

The good folks at Chartbeat, which tracks how people read digital content, performed an analysis and found that 25 percent of readers stopped reading this story before they even reached the article text. A smaller percentage of other readers dropped off somewhere toward the middle. And 31 percent made it all the way through.


14 Food Reasons Argentines Are Better At Life

Epic meat eating isn’t the only thing that defines (and elevates) Argentine food culture from the rest of the world. Though, their day long asados — grill outs to us — are what dreams are made of. They’re also home to the rich wine region of Mendoza, which produces some of the best bottles of Malbec you can get your hands on. And pasta. So much pasta.
These few point alone already make the Argentines better at life than the rest of us when it comes to food.


KFC chicken corsage being sold just in time for prom season

As part of a partnership between KFC and Nanz and Kraft Florists, prom-goers who want to bring their date something special now have the chance to surprise them with a chicken corsage.