Monday Picks ~ 10-31-2016

Picks Monday

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

The Crack Begins at the BottomTim Challies
The Cracks Begin at the Bottom
Great ruptures in the church often begin with just one member gossiping about another or just two quarreling members who have no desire to pursue reconciliation. Great division often begins with a clique that refuses to integrate with the rest of the congregation or with a small group of people who make a disputable matter into a matter of spiritual life and death. Sometimes it’s one person who asks questions meant to cause others to doubt the good intentions of the pastors…

But if that is true, so is the opposite. You have the ability to promote and maintain unity in your church. And your task as a member of a church is not only to avoid disunity, but to actively pursue unity…


This thought actually crossed my mind last night as I listened to the fans at Wrigley Field sing…

Unashamed to Sing: Lesson from a Cubs Fan
Matthew Westerholm
…imagine someone after a Cub’s victory turning to his neighbor and saying, “This song is corny and old-fashioned. It’s not my style.” A thoughtful neighbor would respond, “You’re missing the point. Our team just won!”

Perhaps that disconnect between the victory and its celebration is at the heart of some of the squabbles over preferences in our worship services.


3 Truths You Should Remember, No Matter What You Do in the Voting BoothTrevin Wax
LightstockI’ve heard some Christians claim that this election matters because America is the last great hope for Christianity. That’s silly. Surely it’s the other way around. It’s Christianity that is the last great hope for America. Christians believe that Jesus is King—His Court is higher than any Supreme Court and He will hold the world to account.

We are most certainly political. But we cannot put party over principle or partisanship over the proclamation of the gospel. Christians believe God is sovereign over all human powers and authorities. We answer to Him, not the party bosses, not the “establishment,” not the political pundits, not the populace, and certainly not the president.

That’s why, at our best, Christians ought to be those who can easily cross political dividing lines. For 2000 years, church leaders have gained a reputation for being the champions of the poor, for lifting up the marginalized, and for speaking on behalf of those with no voice. This year alone, we’ve seen evangelical Christians on the front lines in settling refugees, ministering to immigrants, and protesting the ongoing violence of abortion.

Right, left, middle, wherever—political parties always tend to turn away from people who are “inconvenient,” to ask “Who is my neighbor?” as a way of shirking our duty to others. Christians, however, are called to see the image of God in every human being, and to call all people everywhere to bow the knee to our King.


Nostalgia…
Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.

Deuteronomy 25:1-19

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 25:1-19
“If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.

“You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. And if the man does not wish to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him, and if he persists, saying, ‘I do not wish to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall go up to him in the presence of the elders and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. And she shall answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And the name of his house[a] shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal pulled off.’

11 “When men fight with one another and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, 12 then you shall cut off her hand. Your eye shall have no pity.

13 “You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15 A full and fair[b] weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 16 For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God.

17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, 18 how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
You should probably try to keep the culture of that time and place in mind when you read this stuff.
Pay particular attention to verse 3.
Do you think it’s possible to do this? To punish someone, and not degrade him in your sight?
Have you noticed that this respect for another is at the heart of every one of my instructions?
Who do you degrade? Why?
Once again, how would you describe the society I want to build?
If all you knew about me was found in these instructions, what kind of a God would you say I am?

No Place Like Home

http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/files/2012/07/dorothy1.jpg

When I am overwhelmed by never feeling at home in this world,
I find inexplicable comfort in the foretaste of heaven that is the church,
in the coming together around the common faith,
common baptism, and common bread that we share.
And when we begin to suffer together on the fringes of society,
I believe, we may come to experience again
the significance and joy of having all things common.

Elliot Clark

Weekend Picks ~ 10-28-2016

Picks Weekend

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

The Impossibility of the Apolitical ChurchAndrew T. Walker
Image result for church and politics
I have to be very clear about something: The church that insists on calling itself “apolitical” or relegates “the gospel” to a message of pious sanctimony unbothered by earthly affairs has a tragic misunderstanding of what “politics” really is, and how the church’s very essence is fervently political in nature...

The declaration “Jesus is Lord” is the political constitution of the church. That declaration orders our life together, as that is what politics is chiefly about. It sets the parameters of our obedience and dictates how the goals of the Kingdom become our concern.


Lewis had things to say about politics, but he didn’t say this…

What Screwtape Actually Said About PoliticsAaron Earlsfake Screwtape Letters election 2016C.S. LewisLewis said lots of important, insightful things about politics, including in The Screwtape Letters. There’s no need to create fake quotes. And there definitely isn’t any reason to share them.


I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I thought the highlights listed were interesting and noteworthy…

Church Compensation Trends
rainer-big-banner-new
Church compensation is always a hot topic of discussion, so on a recent trip through Nashville, William Vanderbloemen stopped in to discuss some new research and what he’s seeing right now in church search.


Christians in America have a lot to learn from Christians in other cultures…

How to Regain Cultural CapitalK.A. Ellis
How to Regain Cultural CapitalThough despised, biblical Christians in Muslim-majority cultures are often known for their compassion and care. Muslims, weary of the brutality of radical Islam, are turning to Christ in startling numbers, attracted by a community that has tangibly proven that the church is not an enemy but a friend. As a result, new communities grow even under hostility.

All this brings to light the potential power of such communities in America. Many believers have grown weary of a Christianity defined by abject loyalty to nation or politics; some would rather identify now as “Christians in America” than “American Christians.” They seek to reestablish their primary identity in Christ by shedding Western individualism and embracing genuine Christian community.


Which kind of filter do you use?

Two Kinds of FiltersSeth Godin
Image result for seth godin
There’s the filter bubble of the internet, in which we willingly surround ourselves only with information sources with which we agree, soon coming to the conclusion that everyone agrees with us.

The other kind is the filter we can choose to build to avoid falling into a rabbit hole of wasted time, misogyny and dissatisfaction. This is to avoid the endless clicking, the hateful comments, the mind-numbing noise of the net.

Here’s a hint: The first kind of filter is easy to build and satisfying in the short run. It’s reassuring to believe we’re right.

The second kind, the one that builds a foundation for us to do better work, is always under attack from within and without, and it’s tempting to stop using it. Tempting to give up, but ultimately worth the effort.

The easier the filter is to build, the less it’s worth.


Just in time for Halloween…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/horror-movie-plot-generator.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Deuteronomy 24:1-22

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 24:1-22
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife[a] whom he has taken.

“No one shall take a mill or an upper millstone in pledge, for that would be taking a life in pledge.

“If a man is found stealing one of his brothers of the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

“Take care, in a case of leprous[b] disease, to be very careful to do according to all that the Levitical priests shall direct you. As I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

10 “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to collect his pledge. 11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge. 13 You shall restore to him the pledge as the sun sets, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you. And it shall be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.

14 “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

16 “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

17 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, 18 but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.

19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
You should probably try to keep the culture of that time and place in mind when you read this stuff.
Forget the details for a moment…
What do you think is important to me?
How would you describe the society I want to build?
If all you knew about me was found in these instructions, what kind of a God would you say I am?

Thursday Picks ~ 10-27-2016

Picks Thursday

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

Good interview with Jen Hatmaker…

The politics of Jen Hatmaker: Trump, Black Lives Matter, gay marriage and moreJonathan Merritt
Image courtesy of Jen HatmakerShe has voiced strong political opinions on her Facebook page and took time during her multicity “Belong Tour” to criticize Donald Trump. Here, we discuss her political views, and Hatmaker does not hold back. The interview was edited for length and clarity…


No Such Thing As Prominent ServiceDarryl Dash
CC BY 2.0, LinkInstead of declining the prize, he has simply declined to acknowledge its existence. He hasn’t issued a statement or even returned the Swedish Academy’s phone calls…

I don’t know why Dylan has refused to acknowledge the prize. He has been, as the Times says, “hard to interpret, both as a person and as a lyricist.”

I do know, however, that his example does me good…

While it’s nice to be encouraged and recognized, it’s not essential, and it’s not a measure of success.


Here’s a great article on Yahoo News about Evan McMullin, why he’s running, and why it matters…

Is Evan McMullin’s presidential candidacy just a protest, or something bigger?Jon Ward
McMullin faced plenty of fears when considering late this past summer whether to launch a quixotic campaign for president. He felt strongly that conservatives had to have an alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He felt, as many #NeverTrump conservatives did, that Trump was unfit for the office. And he strongly opposed Clinton’s big-government liberalism. But the consequences of becoming a candidate himself seemed enormous.

“I’m not wealthy. It is income. It is future. It is reputational. It is all those things,” McMullin said. He left his job as a senior policy adviser on Capitol Hill to the fourth-ranking House Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

“It’s gone,” he said of his fledgling career in Republican politics, which was less than three years old. “I can’t go back to the Hill.”…

In the event that McMullin does win Utah, “We’re not going to just say we did a good job and move on,” Searby said. “There’s a very real possibility that a new party will be formed out of this effort. I think that’s the most important possibility that’s sitting on the table.”…

Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard’s founder, told me in an email that McMullin’s candidacy “could be harbinger of something big.”

“Or it could ‘just’ be a statement on behalf of principle and decency,” Kristol wrote. “Either way, it’s a good thing.”…

[Juleanna] Glover, the former Cheney aide, said that one of the reasons she’s been willing to lend an unofficial hand to McMullin’s campaign is because she is “in admiration of him for standing up to do this.”

“He’s doing it at no small personal cost. I find that type of bravery moving, and I’m glad to support it,” she said.


Sherlock: Series 4 – Coming in January!


It’s fun being the “Happy Winner”…
Alice Takes On More Work - Dilbert by Scott Adams
Dilbert -Click image for a larger view.

Deuteronomy 23:15-25

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 23:15-25
15 “You shall not give up to his master a slave[a] who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.

17 “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. 18 You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog[b] into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

21 “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. 23 You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.

24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
You should probably try to keep the culture of that time and place in mind when you read this stuff.
What does vs. 15&16 tell you about what I think of slavery?
Have you noticed that each and every one of these instructions describes a cultural ethos that is in stark contrast to the culture of the surrounding peoples of the time?
Is your ethos a stark contrast to the people around you?
Shouldn’t it be?

Deuteronomy 23:1-14

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 23:1-14
“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

“No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord.

“No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

“You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the Lord.

“When you are encamped against your enemies, then you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

10 “If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp, 11 but when evening comes, he shall bathe himself in water, and as the sun sets, he may come inside the camp.

12 “You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. 13 And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. 14 Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
You should probably try to keep the culture of that time and place in mind when you read this stuff.
Are there principles here that you should apply now, in 2016?
Most importantly, what do these instructions tell you about me?

Tuesday Picks ~ 10-25-2016

Picks Tuesday

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

I found this piece, and the photographs, to be sad, beautiful and insightful…

What I Have Learned From Photographing 400 Towns in Iowa Cody Weber
And that’s where you get the great divide that we are presently experiencing. Political, moral, whatever; it all boils down to a class of people on the rise and the broken backs of the others upon which they are standing...

It’s not that there are more bad apples in the small towns. There aren’t more racists or more xenophobes or violent hicks with trigger-happy impulses. Instead, we have an entire subset of society that remembers how things once were and are ashamed that they weren’t able to achieve the same things…

I sincerely implore you to speak with these people with open hearts and minds. Try to understand that the world in which they live looks a lot different than the one that you likely inhabit. It’s only when you understand the impulses of the few that you can optimistically have hope for the many.


The Christian Doesn’t Operate in the Realm of Desperation
Michael Kelley
woman-1246587_960_720These days seem increasingly to be days of desperation for many Christians. We feel our options are limited. And with circumstances closing in, we get that sense of desperation inside of us, and we feel like we absolutely, positively, must act in a certain way, not because it’s the right thing or the moral thing or the thing that’s consistent with the gospel, but because it’s the only thing we can do.

But it is certainly not. Not if eternity matters. Not if eternity is real.

Put away your sword of desperation, Christian.


This isn’t really about the election, it’s about the church…

5 Predictions About the US Presidential Election
Carey Nieuwhof
shutterstock_215450680Having a government that doesn’t fully embrace Christian values actually puts Christians in some great company—the company of the earliest followers of Jesus.

No Roman government ever embraced the teachings of Jesus or scripture.

And if you study it carefully, Jesus spent zero time asking the government to change during his ministry. In fact, people asked him to become the government, and he replied that his Kingdom is not of this world.

The Apostle Paul appeared before government officials regularly. Not once did he ask them to change the laws of the land.

He did, however, invite government officials to have Jesus personally change them. 

As Christendom continues to disappear in front of us, the gap between what Christians believe and what political parties endorse will continue to grow.

And ultimately, if God has all the same opinions your political party does anyway, you’re probably not worshipping God.


On being irritatedSeth Godin
Irritation is a privilege.

It’s the least useful emotion, one that we never seek out.

People in true distress are never irritated. Someone who is hungry or drowning or fleeing doesn’t become irritated.

And of course, irritation rarely helps us get what we need.

Irritation clouds our judgment, frustrates our relationships and gets our priorities all wrong.

Irritation tries to persuade us that it’s justified, but it merely pushes us away from what we actually need.

In order to be irritated, we need to believe we’re not getting something we deserve. But of course, that expectation is the cause of the irritation. We can choose the lose the expectation, embracing the fact that we’re lucky enough to feel it, and then get back to work doing something generous instead.

It turns out that irritation is a privilege and irritation is a choice.


You’ve got spunk. I hate spunk!
Bizarro