Tuesday Picks ~ 1-31-2017

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

Every kid and family is different, but he makes a valid point…

Why Our Son Doesn’t Have a SmartphoneTrevin Wax
lightstock_135026_medium_tgc…the real reason why our son doesn’t have a phone is because we think his middle-school years will be better spent without one. The answer I’ve given, over and over again, is this: I want you to be free from middle school drama when you’re at home.

Of course, our son thinks the phone represents a new rung on the ladder, the next step toward the freedom of adulthood. We think the phone, at his age, is a step down into slavery. It traps kids, just like it can trap adults, into the social game of likes and comments and never-ending comparisons.


If we didn’t do these things I think it would help a lot…

7 Ways to Do Political Punditry Wrong in a Polarized WorldKevin DeYoung
…it seems like the promise of “moving past this contentious election season,” is not going to materialize. No doubt, your Twitter feed and your Facebook page are as full as ever with political punditry–much of it well intentioned, only some of it well considered. What are we to do as Christians when there is so much we might want to say, and yet, we’d like to say it in a way that makes a difference instead of just making noise?

Perhaps a look at the negative will point us in a positive direction. Let’s briefly consider seven ways to do political punditry wrong in a polarized world…


The church needs you, and you need the church…

Where Are All The Skinny Jeans Pastors?Stephen McAlpine
Male legs in elegant skinny jeansA US report indicates only one in seven senior pastors is under the age of 40.   It’s a Barna Research piece so it’s got some cred.  You can read the Christianity Today report here.

The research lists nine reasons for the collapse in the younger pastor demographic,  which also shows the average age for a senior pastor is 54, compared to just 44 years of age in 1992…

Let me add a tenth to that – a theological reason – A Poor Ecclesiology.  And it’s this tenth one that could be allowing the other nine listed above to set the agenda… The church is no longer viewed as the locus of God’s work on earth…


My new word for today…

A Necessary CoinageAlan Jacobs

Drumpfengeworfenheit:
The condition of finding oneself “thrown” into Donald Trump’s America.


Software upgrade…
http://assets.amuniversal.com/bc209bd0bc0d013432bd005056a9545d
Dilbert – Click image for a larger view.

Mouth & Heart

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

If it were just a matter of the mouth,
I wouldn’t have so much trouble,

but it isn’t,

and I do.

 

Number twenty in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney



(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)

 

Luke 7:36-50

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.

Luke 7:36-50
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[a] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who are you most like, the Pharisee or the woman?
Would your friends and family agree with you?
Have you been forgiven much, or little?
Remember, I really do know who you are. (v. 39)
Could you ever see yourself doing what this woman did?
While others watched, and judged?
See if you can bring her attitude to church with you this Sunday.
How would your Sunday morning be different than usual if you did?


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Monday Picks ~ 1-30-2017

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

Joe Carter does a good job of objectively answering some important questions without partisan hyperbole…

The FAQs: President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigrants and RefugeesJoe Carter
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/passport_1200_700_c1_.jpg-Why was this executive order implemented?
-What policies does this executive order change?
-Does the executive order put a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.?
-Does the executive order ban lawful permanent residents (i.e., green-card holders)?
-Does the president have the authority to ban people from specific countries?
-Did President Obama implement a similar ban against Iraq in 2011?
-Is it legal for the President to prioritize religious minorities over other refugees?


A Sane Approach to the Refugee CrisisO. Alan Noble
A Sane Approach to the Refugee CrisisThis tension between the political left who support the refugees and the far right who see them as a threat is simply not conducive to accurate and unbiased reporting. On the contrary, both sides have reasons to silence parts of this event and broadcast others…

Although these [extreme] views are as vile as they are ignorant, one extreme does not justify the other, and denouncing Islamophobia of our neighbors does not excuse us from thinking wisely about what good immigration policies should look like—policies that bless both the refugees and the communities they move to. And this is really our task.


Christian Life Beyond the Quiet TimeJared C. Wilson
Most of us certainly make time for God when we feel we have the time. The problem is that God owns all of life, and worshiping God means we must revolve around him, not he us. So God shouldn’t be confined to his own compartment in our schedule. Jesus does not abide in his assigned timeslot; we abide in him…

…the activity of “being filled by the Spirit” is sort of like sailing. There are roughly sixty working parts on a sailboat. There’s plenty of work to do when sailing. You can break a sweat. You have to stay attentive. But there’s two things you can’t control and they make all the difference in the world. No amount of elbow grease will control the tide or bring the wind. You can hoist the sail, but only the wind can make a sailboat go.

There are plenty of approaches to spiritual formation that amount to teaching us how to row our own boat. Some put in us a sailboat, but have us blowing deep breaths into the sail. Consequently, many of us get really tired on the way to nowhere.


Don’t miss this one! It takes a little patience, but hang in there to the end, the point is powerful and challenging…

The Parable of the Good DeplorableJason Micheli
http://ubdavid.org/bible/know-your-bible2/graphics/18_title.jpg
The good news is that this parable isn’t the stale object lesson about serving the needy that we’ve made it out to be.

The bad news is that this parable is much worse than most of us ever realized…

As bored as we’ve become with this story, the irony is that we haven’t even cast ourselves correctly in it…


This is sort of how I recall feeling at the time…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDEvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwMTMwXzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Luke 7:18-35

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.

Luke 7:18-35
18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus[b] began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just,[c] having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
I know you have a lot of questions about this passage, but I have just a few for you:
Have you ever felt like John?
Have you ever asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”
What was my answer to John? (see vs. 22-23)
Now, what have you seen and heard?
Isn’t that enough?
Just one more question:
Did John’s doubt cause me to think less of him? (v. 28)


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Weekend Picks ~ 1-27-2017

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

Dear Fellow Christians: It’s Time to Speak Up for Refugees
Ed Stetzer
Dear Fellow Christians: It's Time to Speak Up for RefugeesIt is not wrong to be wise and cautious. And part of President Trump’s plan is, I think, wise. For example, his call for safe zones in affected areas is good policy. Yet I’m grieved by other parts of the policy.

You see, too much of the policy is driven by unfounded fear of refugees…

I deeply believe that this is a Kairos moment in which God is calling us to be the people He has called us to be in hard, but life-changing ways.

Banning is the Wrong Decision

If America bans refugees, it makes a statement to the world that we don’t want to make. It is the picture of someone who sits, arms crossed and turned away, with a raised eyebrow and a ready attack on the helpless, the homeless, the broken.

We must do better.


This is the Washington Post Column referenced in the above blog post…

Evangelicals, we cannot let alternative facts drive U.S. refugee policyEd Stetzer
As fear overcomes us, our ability to see facts clearly also dims. We need clear facts on the issue, not alternative erroneous ones, when it comes to refugees. “Alternative facts” can have incredibly harmful consequences for people made in the image of God who are seeking refuge from violence, oppression and poverty.

And, here’s an important fact: coming to the United States as a refugee would be one of the worst ways to try and get in our country if you wanted to do harm. There is simply no evidence that our refugee program has created a significant problem of terrorism. Anyone saying anything else is making up false facts.


I love this piece by Tim Fall

I am not enamored of perfectionTim Fallhttp://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2016/02/10/635906686103388841-366754148_perfection1.jpg

We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2.)

***

I am not enamored of perfection.

For me the off-centered, the imprecise, the slightly askew.

This is where people are found: among the stumbles, the trips and falls, the toe stubs and heel slips, the missed opportunities.

This is how life is lived, in the toe stubbing, heel slipping, stumbling trip and fall spaces that open up before you every day, the spaces where people give life a shot anyway. That’s where people live.

I am enamored of such people.

I am enamored of people who are off-centered, imprecise and slightly askew.

Which is everyone.

Me.

You.

We slightly askew.

I am enamored of you.

***


Shared reality, diverse opinionsSeth Godin
Image result for seth godinWe’re not having a lot of trouble with the “diverse opinions” part.

But they’re worthless without shared reality.

At a chess tournament, when the newcomer tries to move his rook diagonally, it’s not permitted. “Hey, that’s just your opinion,” is not a useful response. Because, after all, chess is defined by the rules of the game. If you want to play a different game, begin by getting people to agree to the new rules…


Make America Unified Again: 3 Social Divisions We Must OvercomeBruce Ashford & Michael Graham
Make America Unified Again: 3 Social Divisions We Must OvercomeCan “We the people” honestly deal with our deep divisions “in order to form a more perfect union?” We can, and we must. But before we talk about how to deal with those divisions, we must be willing to recognize them for what they are. Some of those divisions—such as ideological, racial, and economic—have been apparent for years now, but there are at least three significant divides that were “off the radar” for many Americans until the 2016 election cycle put them on full display:

Rural vs. Cosmopolitan

Nationalist vs. Globalist

Warrior vs. Cultivator

(Click through to see what he means by these.)


Remind you of anyone we know?
http://assets.amuniversal.com/dcc23280b8c401342e7b005056a9545d
Dilbert – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 7:11-17

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.

Luke 7:11-17
11 Soon afterward[c] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus[d] gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Think of the last funeral you attended.
How do you think the family would react if this had happened?
What would you react?
Can you imagine it?
Can you even come close to imagining it?
When it’s someone you love, it almost seems irreverent to think about, doesn’t it?
Who said I was reverent?
But I can raise the dead.
Don’t ever forget it.


Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thursday Picks ~ 1-26-2016

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

I’m saddened in several ways by this executive order…

Evangelical Experts Oppose Trump’s Plan to Ban RefugeesKate Shellnutt
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/75277.png?w=940Christian aid groups responsible for resettlement mourned and criticized the impending decision to stop accepting any refugees into the US for the next four months. A circulating draft of the order puts an indefinite ban on refugees coming from Syria, and a month-long pause on anyone entering America from a handful of Muslim-majority nations.

“Our concern is that this action really does further traumatize a group of people that have already borne so much tragedy,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief, one of nine agencies that partner with the federal government to resettle refugees. “The human toll is really crushing.”…

“We have never had an opportunity like we have right now to reach people who are coming to our shores, in many cases from places we have no access to,” said Arbeiter. “The risk that we have right now is that we are closing the doors to the very people that we say we want to share the gospel with.”


The Case for BoredomKevin DeYoung
I don’t get bored as much as I should. Chances are neither do you. And the chances are exceedingly good that your children aren’t as bored as they should be.


Abortion Over the AtlanticSamuel James
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55ee26e7e4b0c46828edb319/t/5609742fe4b0d12d957bea9b/1443460145054/
In many ways liberals have styled themselves the party of scientific literacy ever since the Scopes trial. Whether the cause celebre was removing creationist literature from public schools, lending platforms to overpopulation worries, or climate change, progressives have, for what feels like the last half-century, presented themselves as the political ideology that welcomes scientific consensus and expertise.

Except, that is, when it comes to abortion.


This is the last article in this series and I recommend them all.
These are my decisions for this part of my life…

Aging Brings Life-Shaping DecisionsTim Challies
What are the choices we will have to make as we age? What choices will lead us to age well? What decisions do we need to make right now?

-Choose Zeal Over Apathy
-Choose Discipline Over Complacency
-Choose Learning Over Stagnation
-Choose Involvement Over Isolation
-Choose Hope Over Despair


Fun with portmanteaus…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/more-fun-with-portmanteaus.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.