Links to Go (February 13, 2018)

People Aren’t Yes-Or-No Answers

But more and more, I’m realizing that people aren’t yes-or-no questions. Behind every yes-or-no question is almost always a series of deeper questions, struggles, fears, and challenges.
When someone asks me whether abortion is wrong, there’s usually much more lying beneath the surface. The question is simply the tip of the iceberg.
If I quickly (and sometimes dismissively) answer their question without asking further questions, I’m missing the opportunity to both be like Christ AND answer their real questions.

Untwisting Scripture: “Be still and know that I am God” edition

The real good news of this psalm is that God is bent on bringing peace and justice to God’s creation, and all the people that dwell in it. In times of distress–wars, rumors of wars, genocide, political corruption, and unjust rulers–we shouldn’t be complacent or complicit with evil. But we can and should trust that God will not let those forces win. They will not harm and destroy forever. That’s the promise we should take refuge in.

He Made a Robot… then Married It

But it does raise some questions for Christians to think about.
If someone creates something, is it whatever he wants it to be?
Can you actually marry a robot? They had a ceremony and everything, so who decides what a marriage is anyway?
Does he love her/it? Does that make the difference?
What makes a robot a her anyway? Can she choose her gender? Or does he? Can it change?
Is it OK because it makes him happy?

Smartphone Detox: How To Power Down In A Wired World

Signs you might be experiencing problematic use, Lembke says, include these:

  • Interacting with the device keeps you up late or otherwise interferes with your sleep.
  • It reduces the time you have to be with friends or family.
  • It interferes with your ability to finish work or homework.
  • It causes you to be rude, even subconsciously. “For instance,” Lembke asks, “are you in the middle of having a conversation with someone and just dropping down and scrolling through your phone?” That’s a bad sign.
  • It’s squelching your creativity. “I think that’s really what people don’t realize with their smartphone usage,” Lembke says. “It can really deprive you of a kind of seamless flow of creative thought that generates from your own brain.”

Steve Jobs’s Advice on the Only 4 Times You Should Say ‘No’ Is Brilliant

  1. Say no to cluttering your mind.
  2. Say no to interruptions.
  3. Say no to time robbers and yes to time locking.
  4. Say no to your own unbelief.

‘The Bible Speaks Clearly’: Beth Moore, Max Lucado & 1,000 Evangelical Leaders Challenge Trump on Immigration

The group is united against the president’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) deadline and is advocating for a more welcoming immigration and refugee policy.
“As Christian leaders, we have a commitment to caring for the vulnerable in our churches while also supporting just, compassionate and welcoming policies toward refugees and other immigrants,” the letter reads.
“The Bible speaks clearly and repeatedly to God’s love and concern for the vulnerable and also challenges us to think beyond our nationality, ethnicity or religion when loving our neighbor,” it continues.

‘Black Panther’ Is A Superhero Story You Haven’t Seen Before — And It’s Thrilling

A key reason for Wonder Woman’s runaway success last summer was that moment she climbed out of that trench, revealed herself to the world, withstood an onslaught of machine-gun fire and proceeded to get Amazonian on some enemy soldiers. Male heroes have been doing something similar for decades, in and out of spandex, but now, women in the audience got the chance to feel the raw and blissfully uncomplicated power of representation and understand what the nerds in their life saw in this silly stuff. Black Panther is filled with similar moments: a pan-African cast getting hero moment after hero moment in a gorgeous Afro-futurist setting where the light is always golden, and the tech is always glowy.

When MAD Magazine Got in Trouble for Printing Counterfeit Money

At that time, these machines were not terribly sophisticated. And as a few enterprising types discovered, they didn’t have the technology to really tell Alfred E. Neuman’s face from George Washington’s. In Las Vegas and Texas, coin unit operators were dismayed to discover that people had been feeding the phony MAD bill into the slots and getting actual money in return.

Description, sketch led to arrest warrant for man accused of Central Market theft

Nguyen was positively identified by a witness as well as investigators and veteran officers who recognized his physical description and alleged motive, police said.
“While the sketch provided by the witness may have appeared amateurish and cartoonish, it, along with the distinctive physical descriptors, jogged the memory of at least one investigator to provide a potential suspect name,” Lancaster police said on the department’s Crime Watch page.

Let’s give Huldah her due… and just that

Woman with Bible

Huldah has become a new heroic figure to those promoting full egalitarianism. Frankly, I think that by overemphasizing this minor character from the Old Testament, they’re actually hurting their case.

I was in a couple of discussions lately where I saw this. One was where someone on Facebook asked what was some basic general Bible knowledge that we should expect of our adults; the other was a discussion of key points from the Old Testament that should be taught.

In both cases, Huldah was mentioned.

Huldah is an interesting case. If you aren’t familiar with her story, you can look in 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34. These are the accounts of the temple reforms under King Josiah. When those restoring the temple found the book of the Law, they weren’t sure what they had. So they took it to an expert. That expert was Huldah, the prophetess.

For those who say that God never uses women, that can be problematic. So Huldah’s story is definitely an interesting footnote in the Josiah story. The Josiah story is an important one in the Old Testament, so that gives Huldah’s participation some importance.

7 verses worth in 2 Kings. 7 verses in 2 Chronicles. While you can’t measure everything by the length of stories, there is some indication of significance there. Or lack of it.

At a time when God’s people were in disarray, where the Law had been lost among the leadership, a woman took a leading role. She speaks to canon, stating whether or not something is legitimately God’s Word; I think she’s the first person to do that.

She deserves a minor place in our telling of the Bible story. She shouldn’t be left out. She shouldn’t be pushed to the forefront. Unless, of course, you’re trying to push an agenda.

Which came first?

I think one important concept that each of us has to make a decision on is the relationship between Bible and culture. It’s sort of a chicken-and-the-egg situation. Which came first? Did the Jewish culture determine the basic viewpoints behind what’s written in the Bible or did the teachings that were encapsulated in the Bible shape the Jewish culture?

This question comes into play in many discussions, but it’s at the forefront of the discussion about gender. Does the Bible say what it says about male leadership because it was produced by a patriarchal society? Or did the Jewish culture become patriarchal based on what God instructed them?

I haven’t encountered anything that moves me away from the second position. I think we see enough queens and priestesses in the ancient world to know that Jewish society could have been much more gender inclusive than it was. I believe that they didn’t move in that direction because they were so instructed by God.

Don’t really mean to make this about gender. The principle has much wider application. Is the Bible nothing more than a reflection of the culture in which it was written? Or does the Bible present inspired teachings that helped shape the culture which first received it?

I think culture shaped how the thoughts of the Bible were presented, the language that was used, the specific examples that were given… but I believe the teachings originated with God.

Follow-up to comments on the New Testament writers.

To some people, it sounded like I was criticizing the New Testament writers yesterday. That wasn’t what I intended. My point is that they used the Old Testament in special ways that aren’t the normal way I think we should treat the text. I think they could do that because they had a level of inspiration that we don’t have.

Another concept that comes into play is that of double fulfillment of prophecy, as numerous prophecies in the Bible are applied more than once. I hold that out as a possibility for many New Testament prophecies, like those about the fall of Jerusalem or the apocalyptic visions of Revelation. Could some of those things also apply to end times? Quite possibly. But I don’t feel that I have the guidance from God to allow me to determine which prophecies fall into that category, the category of double fulfillment.

What are your thoughts?

Links To Go (February 7, 2018)

2 In 3 Support Legal Status For DREAMers; Majority Oppose Building A Wall
[Be sure and take the quiz!]

Sixty-five percent of Americans said they favor giving legal status to DREAMers, as a deadline set by President Trump quickly approaches for when temporary status will run out for hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients. That includes 81 percent of Democrats, 51 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents. (DACA, or Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals, is the executive order signed by former President Obama and rescinded by President Trump.)

Ex-Cuba prisoner Gross criticizes U.S. plan to foster internet on island

Gross noted Cuba had vastly expanded internet access of its own volition during his time in jail.
The U.S. government should discuss the issue of internet directly with Cuba, providing details for example of how it could boost economic growth, he said.
“There are so many things that could be happening in a positive and constructive way,” he said.

You Keep Using that Verse, But…

Everywhere I go, I hear Christians and Bible-minded people quoting passages of scripture or I see certain passages on signs, bumper stickers, or on personalized car plates (tags). At first glance these passages seem to be encouraging or seem to be full of promise. Yet, often, after a deeper look at the context of the passage, they do not say what the sign, sticker, or tag implies. I have selected three of the more popular of these scriptures from the Old Covenant to share and explore.

Discover the Pages of Your Better Life Story

The “abundant life” Jesus talks about is the kind of life that makes a great story. Jesus’ life is a great story and we can learn from it how to write a better story for our lives. Donald Miller writes about life stories in his book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” (Read the book. It will inspire you to work on your own story.) His premise is that there are certain tools storytellers use to write great stories. We can utilize those tools to write good stories for our lives too. If you believe you can write a better story than the one you are living now, here are the components you need for a great story.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles’s Post-Game Interview Is a Powerful Lesson in Leadership

But as Foles so beautifully demonstrated over the past several weeks, true leadership isn’t about position, or trying to get others to follow you.
Rather, true leadership is about action: It’s putting your head down, going to work, and trying to lift up those around you. That’s what inspires others to follow because they want to, not because they have to.

The Best Business Book You’ll Read All Year Will Be A Novel

There’s nothing wrong with reading novels to escape–after all, we can all use it from time to time in our digitally distracted world. But to get the full learning experience, you need to treat them with the same respect and patience you’d give to a “serious” nonfiction book.
Don’t just plow through fiction because it’s fiction. Think about it. Talk about the characters with a friend. Take some notes. You might just find some unexpected lessons that you’d never hear from a CEO.

Newly Deciphered Dead Sea Scroll Reveals 364-Day Calendar

For more than a year, the scholars diligently pieced together 62 Dead Sea Scroll fragments, on which there was writing in code. Ratson and Ben-Dov deciphered the code on the reconstructed scroll, called Scroll 4Q324d, and revealed that the scroll describes a 364-day calendar used by the Qumran community that lived in the Judean Desert. This Qumran calendar gives us insight into how the community organized the seasons and religious festivals, and it sheds light on scribal customs.