Links To Go (July 9, 2015)

As always, links are provided for information and entertainment; no endorsement nor agreement is implied

Responding to Obergefell v. Hodges: The Ruling and Its Implications for Religious Freedom

Now, in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution requires all states to recognize marriage equality, we’ve witnessed an outpouring of prophecies that the apocalypse for religious freedom is near. These prophets of doom are just wrong, except in one crucial respect.Virtually all of the publicly expressed predictions of the threat to religious freedom are either wrong or significantly overstated

Christian churches urged to fly U.S. flag below another

First it was one church. Then a second joined. Now there’s an online presence and a campaign for people of faith across the nation to recognize that God comes first, ahead of nation, and that means the Stars and Stripes will be accorded second place, behind the Christian flag.

Why the Average American May Be Worse Off Than Greece

  • Americans actually have more debt relative to income earned
  • Greece’s debt can be wiped out, but not yours
  • Greece can print money, but you can’t

Dear Programming Director For The Trinity Broadcasting Network

So I have a request. Before you air another episode of Benny Hinn asking for more money and delivering miracles through sleight of hand and theological smoke and mirrors, could you please make sure that Mr. HInn’s crusade is held in the parking lot that I was driving through on Tuesday morning?
If Mr. Hinn really does have the ability to perform supernatural miracles for a small fee, I saw a lot of people on Tuesday who could sure use one.
On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, you, Mr. Hinn and the other preachers on your network would cool it on the magic tricks if you actually had to look hurting people in the eye. Real hurting people. Not plants pretending to feel the anointing.

Ten Marks of a Kingdom-Shaped Church

  1. When the cruciform character of King Jesus shapes every major dimension of your local church.
  2. When your church perceives itself as a people redeemed and rescued from the world and evil by king Jesus.
  3. When your church knows it is governed by Lord Jesus.
  4. When your church challenges the lordless lords of our culture and country.
  5. When your church seeks to be a kingdom kind of community.
  6. When your church is known above all for loving one another and loving your neighbors.
  7. When your church establishes justice and peace within the local fellowship and then extends that justice and peace into the community.
  8. When your church cannot avoid being people of “good works” in the public sector.
  9. When your church becomes “sacred space” or “kingdom space” in your community.
  10. When your church’s spiritual disciplines foster these themes.

The God Who Redeems Your Regrets

We all have regrets but they don’t have to speak louder than God’s redemption. Flip through the Bible and you’ll meet several God followers who made disastrous choices. And you’ll see something else, every time they turned back to God; he took those regrets and exchanged them for something better.

Last Words…or Are They? Thoughts on Parenting College Students

You may have heard the frightening statistic that eighty-six percent of evangelical youth drop out of church after high school. While the dropout rate is biggest during this transitional time, it is not nearly that large. The reality is the vast majority of youth raised by evangelical parents are still evangelicals as adults. I want you to have hope and be encouraged.

6.5 Myths About Expat Life

Myth 1: Adventure
Myth 2: Living is the same as traveling
Myth 3: Feels like home
Myth 4: Expat life is always fulfilling and purposeful
Myth 5: Expat life is one of luxury, comfort, and ease
Myth 5.5: Expat life is one of suffering and deprivation
Myth 6: Expats are heroic

Ancient Ritual Bath Found Under Unsuspecting Family’s Floorboards

The discovered miqwe was carved out of rock and plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in the Halacha — a collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the written and oral Torah. The doors on the living room floor opened to a staircase leading down to the bath’s immersion pool. Traditionally, both men and women entered the immersion pool to purify themselves after various events, like intercourse, menstruation and eating meat from an animal that dies naturally, among others, according to the Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Hebrew Bible.


ZurichOur trip to Israel was made possible by a gift from an anonymous benefactor. They paid my way. The Texas International Bible Institute helped out with a portion of Carolina’s expenses. And we paid another part with hotel points and airline miles.

Because we were flying on miles, we had to get a bit creative with our itinerary. Flying directly from Abilene toIMG_3095 Tel Aviv would have cost too much, so I began looking for intermediate stops that were within our price range. We finally settled on Zurich. I had enough air miles to get us there, and the ticket from Zurich to Tel Aviv was much more reasonable.

One complication was the fact that we would have to leave two days earlier than the group. We quickly saw the advantage in that: we could spend a day in Zurich, arrive in Tel Aviv the night before the group, and be more rested than they when we Zurich lakemet up in Israel.

Carolina and I have been to Spain, but not to the rest of Europe. We were pleased to get to see Switzerland, even though we were warned that Zurich is the most expensive city in Europe.

If you ever go, look into purchasing a ZürichCARD. That’s especially true if you’re going to be there several days. The card pays for all municipal transportation (including a neat boat ride on the lake) and gives you discounts to many museumsZwingliplatz

We didn’t have enough time to do a lot. We walked through the old city, making sure to see the Grossmünster church where Zwingli led the Swiss Reformation (and where they don’t allow photos!), and did the half-hour bus tour. We also Grossmunsterdiscovered that U.S. dollars aren’t accepted anywhere, nor are Euros; be sure and get your Swiss francs! (And make sure your credit card will work… we got into a very awkward, embarrassing situation without acceptable currency and without a working credit card)

Unfortunately, it was cloudy when we were there, so we couldn’t really appreciate the mountains around Zurich. But if you ever get the chance to go, Zurich is worth your time.Zurich

Busy days

Class at LipscombIt’s been an eventful few weeks. The last day of May, I traveled to Long Island for a campaign sponsored by Hope For Life (Herald of Truth), the ministry I work for. We arrived on Saturday. On Sunday, I received word that my mother had fallen in Abilene and broken her hip. I cut short my participation in the campaign and returned to be with her. I got her settled into a physical rehabilitation center, spending two nights with her in the hospital, then two in the rehab place.

The next week, Carolina and I left for a long-planned trip to the Holy Land. My sisters graciously came to be with my mom to allow us to make the trip. I’ll tell you more about that trip in the coming days.

We returned late one Wednesday night, then I left on Saturday to speak at a church in Morro Bay, California, the following day. That Sunday night I took a redeye back home, before leaving on Wednesday for the Summer Celebration at Lipscomb University. Hope For Life hosts a breakfast every year, so I was there for that. I also got to teach a class with Steve Ridgell, as well as doing two classes in Spanish.

So yes, I did get confused more than once as to what time zone I was in. And I’m afraid I had to push this blog to the back burner. I’ll try and do better over the next few days.

What have you been up to?

Links To Go (July 7, 2015)

Amid gay pride marches, where is the ‘religious extremism’ many feared after Friday’s Supreme Court ruling?

Even as they express concern for the future of the United States, the nation’s so-called “extremists” have for the most part set an extremely good example of how to express profound disagreement with radical civility.
My hope is that the jubilant victors in the marriage debate will respond in kind.

Inequality: Where Right and Left Agree

The money affluent parents invest in their kids for summer camp, piano lessons, and trips to France has skyrocketed to nearly $7,000 per kid per year, while there’s no increase in the lower two-thirds of families. Putnam calls it the “summer camp gap.”
The amount of time parents spend reading to children has increased many multiples for middle- and upper-middle-class families, with huge implications for brain development. Meanwhile, activities for public school kids that 20 years ago were free, like football, band, and chorus, now carry a price tag.
A parent with an income of $200,000 has no problem with this arrangement. But if you have an income of $16,000, and you have two kids, two semesters can set you back $1,600, Putnam said. “Who in their right mind would pay 10 percent of their income for their kids to take part in athletics or band?”

How a Southern Baptist leader became surprising voice on Confederate flag

Moore, 43, preached his message through a 21st-century means, with a blog post, that he typed in half an hour.
“The cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire,” he wrote two days after nine black chuchgoers were fatally shot in an apparent hate crime in Charleston, S.C. “White Christians, let’s listen to our African-American brothers and sisters. Let’s care not just about our own history, but also about our shared history with them.”

Who Owns the Dead?

As Knox would attest, our love for the deceased does not stop the moment their heart stops beating, so why should our care for them? For the small but growing group of people who are embracing the home funeral, proximity to the dead is the only thing that allows for anything like the modern-day “Good Death.” These people want to grieve as they’ve lived—not in an antiseptic, flower-filled reception room, but in a familiar, love-filled home.

The Power of Telling a Story

Our lives give credibility to the story of Jesus. Our service gives opportunity to share that story. But you will not make followers of Jesus in your world until you tell them the good news of Jesus. Tell your story. Tell His story. And invite them to become part of the story.

I had a couple of links to articles by Jay Guin, but his site unfortunately is not working at present. Here are the links, should the site come up:
Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 2
The Future of the Churches of Christ: Direct Hit, Part 1

Hither and yon

OK, so the blog has been neglected a bit. And may be neglected some more. Here’s what’s going on:

  • Last week was the campaign on Long Island for Hope For Life ministries (Herald of Truth). We had worked for quite a while organizing this campaign, motivating and training the churches to carry out an evangelistic effort. It was great to see the congregations working together in this concerted effort and to see them excited about reaching out.
  • I had to leave the campaign early. My mom fell a week ago Sunday and broke her hip. She’s now in a facility for physical rehabilitation.
  • Tomorrow, Carolina and I leave on a trip to the Holy Land. A generous, anonymous benefactor offered to pay my way, the Texas International Bible Institute (organizers of the trip) offered Carolina a partial scholarship, and we were able to use air miles and hotel points to defray the rest of the costs. There’s still some expense involved, but it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Special thanks to Hope For Life Ministries for letting me take the time off, to my sisters for coming to be with Mother, and to TIBI and the donor for making this possible.

I’ll definitely post some about the trip, though I’m not sure that will happen during the trip.