Tuesday Picks ~ 8-2-2016

Picks Tuesday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

3 Ways to Hate Your FamilyJeanne Harrison
The world pretends love comes naturally, springing out of an unexpected kiss or a baby’s first smile. But if love is an iceberg, these things are just the tip. They’re the tiny parts we see, the snapshots we post online. Below the surface, true love is daunting.

It’s not the stuff of fairytales; it’s the stuff of war. True love is about bone-weary battles against our flesh, endless determination, and desperate cries to the General in the darkest nights. Love is many things, but “easy” is not one of them.

Now hatred, on the other hand, comes easily. It’s not pretty or socially acceptable, but it is easy.

It takes some severe language twisting to make the killing of an infant in the womb sound like a morally good thing…

Euphemisms abound in the Democratic platform on abortion
Trevin Wax
The president of NARAL-Pro-Choice America, Ilyse Hogue, gestures as she leaves the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Gary Cameron *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-WAX-OPED, originally transmitted on August 1, 2016.
As I read the Democratic Party platform on abortion, I couldn’t help but wonder what George Orwell would have said.

In 1946, Orwell wrote a famous essay, “Politics and the English Language,” that described political speech and writing as “largely the defense of the indefensible.”

“Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness,” he wrote. Politicians turn to strange phrases in order to “name things without calling up mental pictures of them.”

The 2016 Democratic platform contains a number of these euphemisms that hide abortion in a haze of abstraction…

You probably already know this, but it’s still a good reminder…

Yes, Christian, You Need the ChurchJosh Buice
Yes Christian, You Need the Church
We all need a healthy reminder from time-to-time that we need the church in all seasons and successes of life…

…The church is not an option for some Christians, it’s a mandate for all Christians.  To be a Christian involves participation in the local church.  Charles Spurgeon once remarked, “Nobody can do as much damage to the church of God as the man who is within its walls, but not within its life.”  As we pass through various seasons of life, we must avoid the arrogant and self-dependent ideology of spiritual autonomy.  It doesn’t end well.

Organ donor…
Click image for larger view. Pearls Before Swine

Deuteronomy 3:23-29

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 3:23-29
23 “And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, 24 ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? 25 Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ 26 But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan. 28 But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ 29 So we remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Do you think I was too harsh with Moses?
Do you think I loved him?
What about you?
Should I give you whatever you think you want?
Do you think I love you?

Monday Picks ~ 8-1-2016

Picks Monday

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I think that the sense of unity and fellowship in our churches could be vastly improved if people of every generation would do this one thing…

Corporate Worship Is a Call to LoveDavid Mathis
Corporate Worship Is a Call to LoveOur heart in corporate worship should not be to drown out the other worshipers from our consciousness with tightly shut eyes and a narrow focus on God, but to praise him as one of his people, from among his people, gladly part of a gathering. We widen our eyes of worship to include our neighbor, not as the object of our worship, but as joy-multiplying, praise-accenting partners in worship.

Have your “me and Jesus” moments at home. Come to corporate worship to sing praises as part of his body.

Where in the world do you think Christianity is growing the fastest? You might be surprised…

The Story of Iran’s Church in Two SentencesMark Howard
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/Iran_Baptisms_1200_200_c1_.JPGAll missionaries were kicked out, evangelism was outlawed, Bibles in Persian were banned and soon became scarce, and several pastors were killed… Many feared the small Iranian church would soon wither away and die.

But the exact opposite has happened. Despite continued hostility from the late 1970s until now, Iranians have become the Muslim people most open to the gospel in the Middle East.

…more Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran…

In fact, last year the mission research organization Operation World named Iran as having the fastest-growing evangelical church in the world. According to the same organization, the second-fastest growing church is in Afghanistan—and Afghanis are being reached in part by Iranians, since their languages are similar.

Meanwhile in China…

China’s Christian FutureYu Jie
https://d2ipgh48lxx565.cloudfront.net/uploads/article_5785373c25b1a.jpg?Expires=1470940509&Signature=FD24VfrUgpx-0lEkTN8s99FFAnOCxhoHvKuzEKLE5kXvdLIT0-fkl3B7HO8L8411j3mklf~qffqxvc61Yg95mIBbOItrV~NAULScXYo1sUkMlSyx9vUtS-yFrQuAJleH3MiDTEtdrF-59OaiBQLegPqS7fkRDDhe9yqhIK2bv5vyKjew1SRIUt4OJu90XAyebxCL4~jg9gn3CfaOXjGKsM8AZPoEfmNZqiN-slyeOdtBr9CID1I4r~SDJknj7c5OUh5VrP8ga6~mcPivK9wvN1toHWbxpGhn0RAsvLlmv3N49BhoVGzuD1sr4oNnENB58hkZ1NDjq3hVzUIED7XW9Q__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAIN7SVXNLPAOVDKZQAt the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the Communist party defeated the Nationalists and founded the People’s Republic of China, Christians in China numbered half a million. Yet almost seventy years later, under the Chinese government’s harsh suppression, that population has reached more than sixty million, according to Fenggang Yang, a sociologist at Purdue University. The number grows by several million each year, a phenomenon some have described as a gushing well or geyser. At this rate, by 2030, Christians in China will exceed 200 million, surpassing the United States and making China the country with the largest Christian population in the world.

Meanwhile in America…

The Exhausting Task of Finding Yourself and Your Best Life NowTrevin Wax
exhausted…most Americans believe that the purpose of life is enjoyment that comes from looking deep within to find your true self, while pursuing whatever brings you happiness. No wonder bestsellers like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now line our bookshelves.

Many churches see an opportunity to fulfill this felt need, and so they present Christianity as a way to discover yourself and find happiness. In this atmosphere, the Christian faith (or any other religion) becomes an avenue for one’s personal pursuit of happiness.

But what if Christians who repackage their faith as a tool for self-discovery are missing the opportunity to provide an antidote to people in these anxious times?

Meanwhile in the barber shop…

Deuteronomy 3:1-22

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Deuteronomy 3:1-22
“Then we turned and went up the way to Bashan. And Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not fear him, for I have given him and all his people and his land into your hand. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.’ So the Lord our God gave into our hand Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people, and we struck him down until he had no survivor left. And we took all his cities at that time—there was not a city that we did not take from them—sixty cities, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates, and bars, besides very many unwalled villages. And we devoted them to destruction,[a] as we did to Sihon the king of Heshbon, devoting to destruction every city, men, women, and children. But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as our plunder. So we took the land at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon (the Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, while the Amorites call it Senir), 10 all the cities of the tableland and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 11 (For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits[b] was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.[c])

12 “When we took possession of this land at that time, I gave to the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory beginning at Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and half the hill country of Gilead with its cities. 13 The rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, the kingdom of Og, that is, all the region of Argob, I gave to the half-tribe of Manasseh. (All that portion of Bashan is called the land of Rephaim. 14 Jair the Manassite took all the region of Argob, that is, Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and called the villages after his own name, Havvoth-jair, as it is to this day.) 15 To Machir I gave Gilead, 16 and to the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave the territory from Gilead as far as the Valley of the Arnon, with the middle of the valley as a border, as far over as the river Jabbok, the border of the Ammonites; 17 the Arabah also, with the Jordan as the border, from Chinnereth as far as the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, under the slopes of Pisgah on the east.

18 “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. 19 Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ 21 And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. 22 You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Did you notice that Og was a big dude?
Look at vs. 11 and remember that a cubit is about a foot and a half.
Do the math.
So, what are you afraid of?
Don’t you remember how I’ve fought for you in the past?
Why would you think I wouldn’t do it again?