Links To Go (January 16, 2015)

4 Ways the Modern Church Looks Nothing Like the Early Church

I often hear Christians say that we should be more like the early church. And I must admit, I’ve been one of those Christians. But if we linger on how this would look, I wonder how many of us would rather stay put in our 21st century churches. After all, first century Christians clung to a set of values that differs quite radically from most Christians today.


Je ne suis pas Charlie!

I do not condone the violence done in Paris this week. No one should. It was evil. The people who were shot were human beings who were loved by God and us. We, as Christians, must love them and do. All of them.
This is the brutal end of our Gospel. It may cost us our very lives, but we even then we have nothing to fear. We are a people of love. Charlie Hebdo did not represent that. Neither did the terrorists. Neither do our drones. We must find a new way forward.


Selma, Solidarity, & Whether Christians Are Willing To Bleed

Now is the time to be just as concerned about the slaughter of 2,000 women and children in a distant village in Nigeria as we are about the 17 killed in the destination spot of Paris. Now is the time to lovingly call our Christian brothers and sisters who’ve unwittingly reduced the Bible to the paper thin idolatries of “family values” and “single-issue voting,” in order to serve a political agenda, to re-imagine the real nature of God’s kingdom. Now is the time to end the pointless creation vs evolution debates and remind ourselves that the focus of Genesis is that human beings are created in the image of God.


Millennials Must Not Be the Future of Your Church

Do not focus on reaching Millennials and catering to their every whim.
Focus on making disciples of your young people, your middle aged people, and your older people.
Disciples are the future of your church. Not Millennials. Not Gen-Zers.


When elders make disappointing decisions…

So here is what I can promise you as an elder. And I think this is true for all of my fellow elders. Actually, this is true for most of the elders I know well.
I am going to heaven. I am going to lead my family there. And I am giving my life to getting all my flock there. I am not perfect. But follow me — us — and I promise you will get home safely.


Church Communication Hero: Andraé Crouch

Crouch also engaged with real people, not just those within a Christian circle. Try to imagine the following headline for the obituary of a notable CCM artist like Chris Tomlin, David Crowder or even Michael W. Smith: “One of the greatest gospel singers of his generation, known for his choral work with Michael Jackson and Madonna.” I can’t do it. Yet, that was what The Guardian used for Crouch.


The Prayer Jesus Told Us to Pray that Too Few of Us Pray

I want to encourage you to pray this prayer on a regular basis…to “ask the Lord of the harvest…to send out workers into his harvest field.” Maybe that prayer would spark growth in our churches. Maybe it would result in a renewed desire for planting churches. Either way…Jesus told us to pray it and we should pray it.


Best Seat on the Plane: 7 Secrets I Learned Sitting Next to a Pilot on My Last Flight

  1. Pilots get sick of each other, just like the rest of us.
  2. Flying is so uncomfortable, even pilots have to use travel hacks.
  3. Pilots know interesting facts about planes, like why the windows are rounded.
  4. Pilots truly love looking out the window.
  5. Pilots hate flying with screaming children as much as we do.
  6. Pilots follow the flight attendants’ instructions (but don’t tattle on others who don’t if it’s not hurting anyone).
  7. Sitting next to pilot makes you feel pretty secure.

J.J. Watt did more than tweet about that kid who sent him a jersey

Watt sent seven-year-old Anthony Tarantelli his own autographed jersey, the cleats he wore during a three-sack performance in Jacksonville, and a video on which he said this:
“I love your confidence in yourself. I love that you believe in yourself, and I love that you’re willing to go out there and work to accomplish your goals and your dreams and make them a reality.”
Watt panned the video to show Anthony’s jersey hanging from a shelf amid helmets from Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, and Cameron Wake.


15 Things You Might Not Know About ‘Schoolhouse Rock’
15 Creative LEGO “Brickfilms”
[I’ve become a fan of Mental Floss. Here’s a couple of their latest offerings… Tim]

Links To Go (January 14, 2015)

Disparity in news coverage: As many as 2,000 dead in Nigeria, but France dominates front pages

Terror attacks in France carried out by militants claiming allegiance to al-Qaida and Islamic State extremists dominate the world’s front pages.
On the other hand, the Muslim militant group Boko Haram’s slaughter of as many as 2,000 Nigerians — its “deadliest act” yet, according to Amnesty International — generally settles for less-prime real estate inside newspapers.


Religious Liberty vs. Erotic Liberty — Religious Liberty is Losing

Furthermore, when the proponents of same-sex marriage and the new sexual revolution promise even to respect what goes on in a church, temple, or mosque, they evidently cannot keep their arguments straight. In the very same column, Bruni complains that religious congregations are given too much liberty to define their own ministry. He laments that “churches have been allowed to adopt broad, questionable interpretations of a ‘ministerial exception’ to anti-discrimination laws that allow them to hire and fire clergy as they wish.”


UnCool: More Than Cool

I’m worried that behind my pursuit of the next new way of talking about God is not just a relentless pursuit of the truth, when I get silent before God I’m starting to think what I’m really chasing after is a desire to be seen a certain way. In my more honest moments, I’m able to admit that what I really want to be seen as is cool.


The Virtue of Not Being Nice

Perhaps we could speak of this as the virtue of crankiness. Moral courage is more likely to be found in nonconformists who have a history of resisting the pressure of the dominant society. Those who are willing to defy authority and majority opinions and risk their popularity for the sake of the bullied, beleaguered or oppressed are the genuinely kind and compassionate people, not those who are nice.


One Indispensable Rule

As Christians, Christians who long to know and obey the Bible, we only really know God’s Word when we know it accurately. So before you make application, always ask the simple question: What did it mean for them then?


To All the Macho Christian Guys Who Make Fun of 30-Year Old Gamers…

So, all that to say: if you still insist on chest-beating against 30+ losers, at least consider that what you’re actually yelling about is the equivalent of “going to the movies” six decades ago. Or, “reading a novel” a couple of centuries ago.
Yell all you want – but 30 year old gaming is the way the world tells its stories.


The Psychology of Language: Which Words Matter the Most When We Talk

The one key question we ask ourselves is:

“How does this make you feel?”

The question might sound very obvious. And yet, it’s a very different question to say for example “Which message do you want to send?” or “What is the content of this announcement?” By always focusing on how it will make someone feel whenever we write even a single line, we immediately improved the amount of responses we got from our users.


Eminem Fulfills Teen Fan’s Dying Wish

The 42-year-old Detroit-based rapper fulfilled the last dying wish of Rochester High School student Gage Garmo over the weekend. While many people were watching the Golden Globes, Eminem surprising Gage in his family’s living room on Sunday evening and stayed for about an hour to talk hip hop and football.


Seattle dog’s rush hour ride: on the bus, by herself, weekly

Turns out the dog, Eclipse, doesn’t always ride the bus alone. She visits the dog park a few times a week, sometimes with her owner.
The duo lives right near the bus stop at 3 Ave. W. and W. Mercer Street. Eclipse’s solo rush hour ride happened one day when her owner took too long to finish a cigarette.
“We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Jeff Young, who owns the dog. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.”


Links To Go (January 13, 2015)

Loving the Lost

One of the common criticisms Jesus faced was that he spent too much time with sinners. How many of us could be accused of spending too much time with the unwelcomed and unappreciated?
It wasn’t that Jesus was waiting for Paul to write, “Bad company corrupts good morals” in 1 Corinthians. No one better understood the importance of spiritual maturity, scriptural knowledge, a robust prayer life and positive influences than Jesus.
But he also knew these things were not for his personal benefit, but need to be shared with the lost. The Christian life is not about safety and comfort, but rather about finding yourself in a dangerous place of vulnerable compassion.


Design Should Matter More to Christians

The Gospel of Jesus is much more than a few Scripture verses or a few ideas about God; it is a way of being in the world and living our everyday lives.
As creative Christians, we need to be especially attentive to all facets of our work: design, form, content, function. Does our work bear witness to the goodness of Jesus, and particularly to the sacrifice and humility He embodied for us?


Church construction at 20 year low — the boom & bust in three graphs

Construction on religious buildings in 2013 was the lowest in two decades of data. From 1994 to 2001, the value of religious construction nearly doubled. After remaining steady near $11 billion, religious construction has dropped steadily over the past decade to the current low of $3.7 billion.


See Your iPhone’s Screen on Your Mac

Here’s how to do it: Connect the iPhone or iPad (with its white USB cable) to the Mac. On the Mac, open QuickTime Player. From the File menu, choose New Movie Recording. And then, from the pop-up menu next to the Record button, choose the iPhone’s name (or the iPad’s). The phone/tablet’s image appears in the QuickTime Player window, nice and big.


Wife Shoots Husband Surprising Her With Breakfast

Police say that Zia Segule, 28, left their Fayetteville home about 10am yesterday, picked up some breakfast, and then returned. In doing so, he triggered the house alarm. When he got to the couple’s bedroom, wife Tiffany, 27, shot him through the closed door, reports the Fayetteville Observer. He was struck in the upper chest, but, luckily, escaped serious injury.


Cadbury Changes Its Creme Egg Recipe

“It’s no longer Dairy Milk. It’s similar, but not exactly Dairy Milk,” a Kraft representative told The Sun. “We tested the new one with consumers. It was found to be the best one for the Creme Egg, which is why we’ve used it this year.”
There are other changes afoot, too: There will now be five eggs in a pack instead of six (prices will remain the same).


The woman desiring her husband in Genesis 3… it might not mean what I thought

01_Ge_03_04_RGAs I was doing some work on Genesis 1-3 for an upcoming Bible class, I ran across an interesting group of articles on Genesis 3:16. (Naturally I run across this right after posting an article on the same over at Wineskins)

Not that it should matter, but I’ll mention that these articles happened to be written by women. And they take an interesting view, one which emphasizes context (thereby hitting one of my hot buttons).

One is a journal article by Susan Foh titled “What Is The Woman’s Desire?
The second is an article by Claire Smith called “A Sidebar Called Desire.” I should point out that this one is linked to a countering view: “Problems With A New Reading Of An Old Verse,” by Wendy Alsup.

The view espoused by Foh and Smith concerns the use of the word desire in Genesis 3:16—

“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

These women note that the Hebrew word translated “desire” is used three times in the Old Testament: here, in Genesis 4, and in the Song of Solomon. In the Song of Solomon, it appears to refer to sexual desire. But in Genesis 4, it means something very different:

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

I’ll confess, I’d never noticed the amazingly similar language between Genesis 4:7 and Genesis 3:16. Foh summarizes her study in this way:

Contrary to the usual interpretations of commentators, the desire of the woman in Genesis 3:16b does not make the wife (more) submissive to her husband so that he may rule over her. Her desire is to contend with him for leadership in their relationship. This desire is a result of and a just punishment for sin, but it is not God’s decretive will for the woman. Consequently, the man must actively seek to rule his wife.

I’m not completely ready to buy this, but the evidence from the text is powerful. I’m not looking for a debate about gender roles (nor will I participate in one), but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this interpretation of Genesis 3.

Image courtesy of Sweet Publishing

Links To Go (January 12, 2015)

The Bible is More Than Stories of Morality

The simple fact is the Bible is not just a collection of stories with morals for life application; the Bible is the story of God’s grace in redemption through Jesus Christ. There is a soul-endangering consequence in virtue-based Bible study material, centered on life principles or character qualities, and ripped away from the central focus of the Bible– Jesus Christ.


John Calvin on Condoning Theological Delusion

In Calvin’s judgment, there are times when it is not only permissible, but in fact necessary, to “condone” some degree of “delusion” on the part of others, even—or especially—with regard to theological subjects. Such is the cost of maintaining unity and fellowship with persons of genuine Christian faith. “All men,” he writes, “are beclouded with ignorance.” Translation: everyone gets it wrong on some point of doctrine/practice or another. “Either,” then, “we must leave no church remaining”—i.e., we must break fellowship with absolutely everyone—“or we must condone delusion in those matters which can go unknown [i.e., in those matters where ignorance/error can be tolerated] without harm to the sum of religion and without loss of salvation.”


A Sophisticated Way Of Denying The Gospel

Don’t miss this. It was for a particular practice that Peter stood condemned–not for a particular belief. I have no doubt that Peter could have aced a theology exam on the spot. But his knowledge of the Gospel was not all that was required to avoid the rebuke of another Apostle. Paul rightly believed that how a Christian acts can and will undermine what that Christian may confess to be true.


The View from the Ash Heap: Reflections from a Hospital Bedside

  • First, my eyes have been opened to the providence of pain.
  • Second, my eyes have been opened to the wonders of the human body.
  • Third, my eyes have been opened to the importance of family and community.
  • Fourth, my eyes have been opened to the common grace of God enabling human beings to function as his image.
  • Finally, my eyes have been opened to the gracious presence of God.

Equipping vs. Teaching

If you want information, teach information. If you want equipping make sure that you do more than ask questions about what could be done. Instead, get together with your group and plan something together. Work on it. Come back together and discuss what happened.


I’ve Pulled Comments from My Blog—Here’s Why

I’m grateful for the community we’ve cultivated here. You’ve been encouraging, inspiring, and challenging me for years. I’m counting on that continuing even if the comments section doesn’t. How?
I will continue to end my posts with a question, encouraging you to carry the conversation into your favorite social media channel. I will participate on Facebook page as I am able. Beyond that, I will be investing more in the Best Year Ever and Platform University communities.
Speaking of platform, this does not mean that I think bloggers and other sites should start yanking their comments sections. Christianity Today canceled comments on some of its content. Popular Science did it across the board, just like CopyBlogger. Meanwhile, Seth Godin has never featured comments.
It all depends on the behavior of your readers and what makes the most sense for your community. The stats tell me what’s right for my audience. What are they telling you?
The key thing to remember is that conversations matter. But that doesn’t mean comments sections are the best place to have them.


I Am Not Charlie Hebdo

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.
Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.