Links To Go (July 14, 2016)

Black Lives Matter Too!

Those using the phrase “Black Lives Matter” do so because they’re expressing their impression that many in society don’t think they matter. They feel neglected, so they remind each other and the world that they do matter. They do have value. Of course all lives matter, but there are many people made to feel as though they’re insignificant. Sometimes it’s individuals who feel as though no one notices them. Sometimes it’s whole communities.
Did you notice that little feeling of indignation you feel when you see #BlackLivesMatter and think that you’re being overlooked or devalued? That’s a sensation these people experience as a way of life.

What a Community Leader Said He Can’t Do That Only Churches Can Do Regarding Race

Yes, some churches are part of the problem. Some churches are filled with the same racist perspectives or power plays that got us here in the first place. And some churches are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good. Some churches assume racial reconciliation has nothing to do with the gospel and thus miss their opportunity to contribute something truly beautiful to a national conversation.
But other churches, those who’ve grasped the kind of Good News Jesus walked and talked, offer something to our country in this time of crisis that no police force, no protest movement, no legislative package can offer.

Thoughts on Last Week

Can we reflect the heart of God as we move forward and get close to our brokenhearted people, all of them, all of us? Cry with all of our people, cry out to God for change, for protection, for His sovereign hand to move our country to look more like Him in all things, and that we would treat each other as He would have us treat each other. Pray that we would reflect His character, that our lives would be evidence of the blood of Jesus.

Police are safer under Obama than they have been in decades

These statements are part of a broader narrative of a “war on cops” carried out by the Obama administration and/or the Black Lives Matter movement, depending on whom you ask. It’s certainly true that some shooters of police, such as the Dallas attacker, appear to be motivated by a hatred of white police officers or a twisted urge to seek revenge for police shootings of black Americans. But the simplistic and inflammatory notion of a “war on cops” is completely undercut by one fundamental data point: Intentional attacks on police officers are at historically low levels under President Obama.

Goodbye, firstborn children: This study shows how wordy terms of service hurt users

NameDrop’s second crazy clause should’ve stopped most users in their tracks—or at least clued them in that the service wasn’t real. The second clause said all users agree to give their “first-born child” to NameDrop. If the user didn’t have children yet, their first baby would still have to go to NameDrop until 2050.
In the end, the study says 74 percent of the participants skipped reading the privacy policy. Those who did read the privacy policy didn’t spend long than 73 seconds even though it should’ve taken around 30 minutes to read the whole thing.
The average reading time of the ToS, meanwhile, was 51 seconds when it should’ve been closer to 16 minutes.

Leisure Time and the History of the American Highway

In this period immediately following the Second World War, (we) were on the road, and we were on the road hard. These weren’t hour-and-a-half trips to the coast, they were — according to the Youngs’ book — an average of 600 miles in distance and ran from a week to two weeks on the road. “The greater the family’s affluence,” the Youngs write, “the further they chose to go.”
We were traveling with the benefit of range-extending cylinder deactivation technology, GPS, Bluetooth and dual-zone air conditioning. We traveled with carburetors, paper maps, maybe an AM radio and vent windows. We stayed at “motels,” specially designed to accommodate our cars, or we hauled smaller versions of our homes with us.

Boise homeowner finds child’s C-minus report card (from 1979) hiding under carpet

Last week, Boise homeowner Tara Curl, who lives near Overland and Five Mile, said she was pulling old carpet in her home when she found an old envelope near a vent, underneath the decades-old carpet pad.
“I just thought it had to be really old,” Curl said.
The student’s unsatisfactory report card, a C-minus, had four missing assignments in Social Studies. He also had not been organized with his studies, according to his teacher


Our focus determines our outlook

In yesterday’s Links To Go, I included a post from Jay Guin’s blog. He did an excellent series on the mission of the church, and this post was one of the conclusion articles. He made a point that I want to repeat. In talking about the lack of emphasis on personal transformation in our churches, Jay observes:

Here are some quick and easy tests:

  • When your members have more tenure in your church, do they become more entitled and demanding or less?
  • Are your older members harder to please and appease than your younger members?
  • When your members are unhappy, do they voice their unhappiness by economic/power means (withholding money; threatening to leave) or as family (through conversation; persuasion)?
  • When a difficult change is suggested, do the members respond in terms of how this change will affect the members? Or how it will affect the people they plan to invite to church, have a Bible study with, or serve in the name of Jesus?

Excellent point. I differ with Jay as to the misplaced emphasis. He’s says this happens because of the emphasis on personal salvation, which is seen as being achieved through membership and attendance. I would argue that it’s because we’ve reduced Christianity to a restoration of the early church, with a focus on practice. I do agree that what’s lacking is an emphasis on transformation into the image of Christ. Rather than encourage people to become more Christlike, we encourage them to be better rule keepers. Too many people in our churches know the five acts of worship better than they know the Beatitudes.

If we spend a lifetime focused on rule keeping, we’ll end up dominated by three things:

  1. A critical nature
  2. A contentious spirit
  3. Fear

If we spend a lifetime focused on becoming like Jesus, we’ll end up dominated by three things:

  1. Love
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Peace

I know which I prefer.

Our Problem: We Don’t See People Anymore

people“I see dead people” was the famous line from the movie The Sixth Sense. A young boy was sensitive enough to be able to see the unseen world of those who were no longer living.

We need a bit of that sensitivity today, not to see the dead, but to see the living. We look at people, and we see their race. We look at people and see their sexual orientation. We see their political views. We see their immigration status. We see their religion. We see their nationality. We see “them” or “us.”

And we don’t see human beings made in the image of God. We don’t see individuals that Jesus loved enough to die for.

That’s what’s wrong with the world.

Links To Go (July 12, 2016)

Will You Weep With Me?

There will be other days for critique and disagreements, fact-seeking and fault-finding. But can you do me a favor today and just weep with me? Weep with us. Weep with that man’s family. Weep with Baton Rouge.
We can and should work for justice. But what we need today is prophetic lament. Cry out against the murder of another image-bearer. Cry out against the injustice. Cry out to the Lord for healing, help, and hope.

How to Pray in Our Time of National Crisis

Laments may be occasioned by bereavement, personal trouble, national disaster, or the judgment of God. Throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms, we find lamentations that can serve as model for how we can respond in prayer in times of crisis.

The Bahamas’ new U.S. travel advisory: Use ‘extreme caution’ around police

But following deadly police shootings this week of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota — and an ambush of white officers in Texas — the island nation on Friday advised its residents to be extra careful if they choose to do travel here.

Texas Open-Carry Laws Blurred Lines Between Suspects and Marchers

Advocates have carried their rifles at the Alamo in San Antonio and outside mosques in the Dallas suburbs. But city and county leaders said the presence of armed protesters openly carrying rifles on Thursday through downtown Dallas had created confusion for the police as the attack unfolded, and in its immediate aftermath made it more difficult for officers to distinguish between suspects and marchers.

The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 3 (The Call of the Wild, Part 1)

Here are some quick and easy tests:

  • When your members have more tenure in your church, do they become more entitled and demanding or less?
  • Are your older members harder to please and appease than your younger members?
  • When your members are unhappy, do they voice their unhappiness by economic/power means (withholding money; threatening to leave) or as family (through conversation; persuasion)?
  • When a difficult change is suggested, do the members respond in terms of how this change will affect the members? Or how it will affect the people they plan to invite to church, have a Bible study with, or serve in the name of Jesus?

You Are Smart Enough to Study the Bible

Bible study is never about bare facts or ideas. We study the Bible to know Jesus and have eternal life, to love God and obey him. We aren’t cramming for a test; rather, we need God’s truth to sink deep into our souls. Instead of borrowing the work of others, we need to digest and rejoice over the Bible ourselves.

Biblical Mosaics Discovered in Ancient Synagogue in Israel

While earlier excavations revealed depictions of Samson and the foxes and Samson carrying the gates of Gaza, the latest, carried out this summer, revealed mosaics depicting the story of Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea.

Inmates break free from cell to help ill jailer

A Parker County jailer who had an apparent heart attack may very well be alive thanks to inmates who put themselves at risk to help him.

Spurs’ immortal Tim Duncan retires without a whimper

That sturdy, I’ve-got-everybody’s-back element is now gone from the Spurs, who were often (and rightly) held up as one of the sports world’s model franchises. But it’s gone from the game, too. It’s hard to imagine that the Duncan blueprint will be duplicated—a four-year college player who comes into the league with a skill set almost fully developed, never bows to free-agent seduction, wins consistently, doesn’t change on or off the court, and then almost tiptoes out the door, no doubt flashing a sly smile at how easily he escaped.

Inside Out Blog Tour by Peter Horne

13639689_10100670053310301_590207559_oOver the next couple of months Peter Horne has coordinated with a great group of church leaders and writers to explore some of the practical applications for individuals and churches of living Inside Out. We believe you’ll be blessed and challenged by their thoughts, so please make an effort to check back to this blog throughout July and August to join this Summer Blog Tour. Peter writes this first post:

We live in a consumeristic world. The engine of our capitalist economy is founded in the thought that more is better. Newer is better. Faster is better. And to the extent that you accept this thought and participate in this market, you are better. You are cooler. You are smarter. Your life is easier. And you will be happier.

Our culture repeatedly encourages us to “try this, taste that, buy these, go there, experience this, watch that, try these.” Whether we realize it or not, this worldview is oriented from the Outside to the Inside.

This philosophy of life begins with the perspective that goodness, joy, completeness, and purpose are “out there”, outside of ourselves. They exist for us to grasp, or at least to pursue with the hope to grasp.

As I write this, the Cleveland Cavaliers have just won the NBA Championship. It represents the team’s first ever championship and the city’s first professional sports championship in 52 years. I wonder how many fans longed and dreamed of this day. They pour into the streets to greet the players. They throw the team a parade. They feel on top of the world. Then in a few days, a week, perhaps a month they begin to wonder… “When will the Browns win the NFL championship?” or “When will the Indians bring home the MLB championship?” The euphoria subsides and life goes on.

Jesus taught us a different way of viewing the world. He introduced us to the worldview “Inside Out.”

In Mark 7 Jesus addresses a crowd of people who concerned themselves with ritual purity. In this particular instance the discussion revolved around washing hands before a meal. While our mother’s told us this for health reasons, these people believed it would help them maintain purity before God. God himself had earlier given Israel detailed instructions about clean and unclean foods and lifestyle practices. For the people accusing Jesus however, rather than pointing them to God, these instructions had become a goal of their own.

Jesus then makes this astonishing statement to this crowd, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” (7:15) At the end of this conversation Jesus provides a list of sinful behaviours and concludes “All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Jesus knew that the state of our hearts determines our outlook on life and our standing before God. Joy or grief. Hatred or love. Generosity or envy. These attitudes may be influenced by events outside of us, but ultimately the state of our hearts, our character, determines how we live our lives and how we respond to our circumstances. With this worldview in mind, as Jesus prepared for his death he comforted his followers with this promise,

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth… You know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will be IN his followers. From that point on we consciously live Inside Out. We can find all the peace we need in the Spirit within us. We can find all the joy we need in the Spirit within us. We can find all the courage and all the purpose we need in the Spirit within us. When we find ourselves seeking fulfillment in food, books, pornography, relationships, busyness, or the pursuit of wealth or security, we should recognise that we’re no longer living in the Spirit.

It’s great to have life goals that we pursue, but they don’t define us. Our identity and self-worth has been gifted to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we now travel through life from the Inside Out.

CIOTo promote the Summer Blog Tour, we’re also giving away one set of Church Inside Out, both book and workbook. Just leave a comment below then enter over HERE.

peterPeter Horne moved to the United States from Australia in 1999 to pursue training for ministry. Having filled the roles of children’s minister, youth minister, and college minister in various locations around the US and Australia, he now happily serves as the minister for the Lawson Rd Church of Christ in Rochester NY. You can find more of his writing on his blog: