All posts by Lloyd Hamilton

Weekend Picks ~ 11-17-2017

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

Nobody Brags About Being MaryDanny Franks
It’s easy to brag about being Martha. We check things off the list and charge ahead with projects and get stuff done. Marthas generally feel accomplished all while feeling harried. Marthas can point to what they’re doing as a sign of how worthy they are…

While we understand the importance of sitting and resting, it’s hard to tell people that that’s what we’re focusing on. When people say “I had a really slow morning with a really long quiet time,” Marthas translate that into “I didn’t feel like getting out of bed and I have trouble managing my life.”


Is your church a movement, a monument, or a mausoleum?

Movement, Monument, MausoleumRay Ortlund
Image result for Movement, monument, mausoleum
The responsibility of a church’s leaders is to discern when their movement is starting to level off as a monument. It is at this crucial point that they must face themselves honestly and discover why they have lost their edge, go into repentance and return to the costly commitments that made them great to begin with. They may need to deconstruct much of what they have become, which is painful and embarrassing. But if the leaders will have the humility, clarity, and courage to do this, their church will go into renewal and re-launch as a movement once more. Jesus will become real again, people will be helped again, and those bold, humble leaders will never regret the price they paid.


This article gave me lots to think about…

Graphic Abortion Display Evokes Volatile Reactions, But God Is Always at Work Behind the ScenesRandy Alcorn
Display at Portland State UniversitySatan wants to discourage people from doing what’s right by convincing them it makes no difference. That’s simply not true, though often we can’t immediately see the results…

There’s no doubt that pictures of what abortion does are horrific, but they can be a powerful tool, similar to how the Holocaust was so evil that words alone couldn’t describe it. Descriptions of Nazi death camps had long been published in American newspapers, but when these papers started printing the pictures of slaughtered people, the public finally woke up. If not for the pictures, even today most of us wouldn’t understand or believe the Holocaust.

Was the solution to the Holocaust to ban the disgusting pictures? Or was the solution to end the killing?

Is the solution to abortion getting rid of pictures of dead babies? Or is it getting rid of what’s making the babies dead?


How Reading Makes Us More HumanKaren Swallow Prior
cassattban.jpgTaken together, their findings suggest that those “who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective.” It’s the kind of thing writer Joyce Carol Oates is talking about when she says, “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”


Color My World…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/rock-n-roll-crayon-colors.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Joshua 7:1-9

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.

Joshua 7:1-9
But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Why do you think the spies expected God to bless them?
Why do you?
Do you think Achan expected the victories to continue?
Obviously, at this point Joshua knows nothing about Achan’s sin.
What, exactly, was his sin?
Do you ever do anything like that?
Do you, like Achan, continue as if nothing had happened?
Do you think Joshua was really concerned about my reputation? (v.9)
Do you think I care about what people think of me?
Well, I do! Don’t you?
What kind of God do you think I am?


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

Thursday Picks ~ 11-16-2017

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

The Enduring Appeal of Creepy ChristianityDavid French
http://c2.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/cult-christian-celebrity-quest-certainty-damage-church.jpg?itok=CjN4CybMThe desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results…

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.

Read this book to discover how, by nursing, regulating their babies’ sleep patterns, and teaching their obedient young children how to silently express their desires through hand signals, you can help prepare them for happy, godly lives. Read that book to discover that if you control every aspect of your child’s education and dating lives, they’ll learn more, avoid sin, and launch into lifelong, happy marriages. Watch this sermon to discover the formula for health and wealth.


Feeling Disconnected? Here’s a Fix.Danny Franks
Whatever size church you attend, there will come a point where you feel left out. Unknown. Like you don’t have the friendships and relationships you’re craving.

Feeling connected isn’t correlated to size. It seems counterintuitive, but connection is not a size issue. You can be deeply known in a megachurch, and you can skate on the fringes in a rural country church where attendance runs double digits…

We’ve found that serving on a ministry team is a the #1 “connection factor” to help people feel engaged in the church and a be a part of the mission. Had you asked me this several years ago, I would have bet money on small groups. And while small groups are a close second, people who serve actually rank their felt engagement a bit higher.

“You can’t come in, sit down, be entertained by the band, get pumped up with a God pep-talk for the week ahead, and leave. If you don’t serve inside your church, you are not only missing out on being known by the people you regularly serve with, but you are depriving the rest of the church of your specific, God-given gifts and talents”


Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and LonelyTrevin Wax
Image result for Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and LonelyAt a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal last year, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, offered a purpose statement for his entertainment juggernaut: “Fundamentally, we’re about eliminating loneliness and boredom. . . . That’s what entertainment does.”

Eliminating boredom and loneliness. Chew on that for a while, and you’ll realize that only one of these issues is truly a problem, while the other is actually an opportunity…

Without boredom, how do we teach children how to behave in a restaurant, how to sing and pray and listen in church, or how to politely carry on a conversation that isn’t immediately interesting?

We shouldn’t treat boredom as a problem to be solved…

Is loneliness resolved when the members of a family all retreat to their own tablets or devices to watch the shows that have been tailored to their interests?…

Boredom and loneliness. The church has the opportunity to be countercultural…

Boredom and loneliness often go together. Our inability to embrace boredom keeps us from going deeper in our relationships. Then, shallow relationships boomerang back in the form of loneliness and more boredom.


What the God of Peace Will DoDarryl Dash
Romans 16:20“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

Every word in that verse matters. Every word encourages…

I used to read benedictions like “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” as throwaway lines. No longer. The longer I’ve been alive, the more I realize I need this present-day grace that’s available because of the past work of Jesus and the future, complete defeat of evil. I need this grace today.


Connecting the dots…
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Joshua 6:22-27

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.

Joshua 6:22-27
22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

26 Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
    lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
    shall he set up its gates.”

27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Think about what Rahab’s family might have been like.
Father, mother and brothers…and all her relatives. (v.23)
Do you think they approved of her lifestyle?
Did you notice where they were taken? Outside the camp of Israel.
But they “lived in Israel to this day.”
Do you think they were accepted?
Do you think she continued being a prostitute?
What if she did? Would it change the story at all?
Why do you think this information is omitted?
Would you have befriended her?
Would you have figured “once a prostitute, always a prostitute”?
Who do you “write off” as un-redeemable?


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

Joshua 6:15-21

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.

Joshua 6:15-21
15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.[b] Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What kind of God do you think I am?
Consider the marching, the 7 days, the horns, the shouting. (vs. 16-17)
-Consider the prostitute. (v. 17)
-Consider the destruction. (v. 17)
-Consider the personal restrictions. (v. 18)

Consider the silver, gold, bronze and iron. (v. 19)
-Consider the walls. (v. 20)
-Consider the bloodshed. (v. 21)
What do these things tell you about me?
Am I the kind of God you thought I was?
Am I the kind of God you wanted?
What kind of God do you think I am?


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

Tuesday Picks ~ 11-14-2017

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

If you think “thoughts and prayers” are powerless, you might be forgetting the cross…

Conflict, Comfort and the CrossAdam Parker
https://pjcockrell.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/cross_nail.jpgIt should be no secret in the Christian community that the world thinks that we’re foolish. We acknowledge it, but sometimes we see it in ugly ways.

Perhaps the most despicable reactions came from Actor Michael McKean, who mocked the dead on Twitter and attacked those who encouraged prayer for the people in the church: “They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else.” Wil Wheaton attacked one politician who expressed sympathy and prayers for those who had lost so much: “If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive.”…

The mockery of the unbelieving world assumes a few significant things. It assumes that God would never permit his people to die. It assumes that suffering isn’t part of God’s plan. It assumes that if prayer “worked” then God’s people would just keep on living. And most fundamentally it assumes that God builds his church on power and strength. There’s an entire worldview of assumptions that have to be true if their mockery could have any basis, but of course all of these assumptions miss the cross…


A view of American Evangelicalism from a Canadian pastor…

The State of Evangelicalism in America and all that Blah Blah BlahTim Challies
I have grown accustomed to hearing about the horrific state of evangelicalism in the United States of America. The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has seemed to add some new fuel to that fire, a fresh opportunity to bemoan the sorry state of the church today. It has apparently become almost a pastime among conservative Christians—and perhaps especially Calvinistic Christians—to lament what the church is, rather than what she ought to be.

I’ve come to think y’all are being a little too hard on yourselves…


We long-time Christians need to be reminded of this from time to time…

The Gospel Cuts the Knees Before It Lifts the Soul
Michael Kelley
No other world religion treats humanity with such pessimism. In all other schools of thought, we have something to bring to the table. We can strive toward God and meet Him, and in a sense, be congratulated when we do.

Not Christianity.

In Christianity, we bring nothing to the table. In fact, the only thing we bring to the salvation of equation is the sin we need to be rescued from…

This is how we are cut at the knees. And part of the reason the gospel, at times, ceases to lift our souls is because we have bypassed that cutting. That’s because the one character flaw that has, and will continue, to most keep people from Christ is not greed. It’s not lust. It’s not lying or stealing or killing.

It’s pride.

That’s the only thing there is no room for at the foot of the cross.


Science confirms what I have long suspected…

Science: Constant Christmas Music Has Some Extremely Negative Mental EffectsRelevant
You no longer have to feel like a Grinch just because you don’t like constant Christmas music blasting at you all of the time.

New research has found that constant holiday tunes can be wearing you down psychologically. Essentially, all of those songs—and their constant reminder of all-too perfect celebrations and never-ending too-do lists—can actually stress people out.


Dickensian Wheel of Misfortune…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/dickensian-wheel-of-misfortune.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Joshua 6:8-14

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.

Joshua 6:8-14
And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Six days. Every day the same thing.
Now, imagine you are one of the people walking around the city.
What are you thinking?
Do you get up early?
Are you one of the first to be lined up and ready to go?
Do you really believe something is going to happen?
Why do you think I did it this way?
Why do you think I didn’t just push the walls over right away?
Haven’t you noticed my flair for the dramatic?
What does that tell you about me?
What does that tell you about you?


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

Monday Picks ~ 11-13-2017

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

Make sure you watch the short video at the top of the article. Powerful…

Sutherland Springs Church the Week AfterJohn Moritz
Inside-Sutherland-Springs-church--10.jpg
Holding a Bible inside a giant tent where about 1,000 people of a variety of faiths came to show support, [Pastor] Pomeroy said no doubt has crept into his mind that in the end, human goodness will triumph.

“I know this,” he said, holding the Bible high with his left hand, “because I’ve read to the end of the book.”


Every worship leader’s (and other staffers’) dilemma…

How To Influence Culture & Lead [When You’re Not In Charge]David Santistevan
It’s true. You might be in a less-than-stellar environment. And you have a choice to either leave or to make it better. Because here’s the deal: you don’t have an option to hang on, gossip, check-out, disagree, not speak up, and coast through your job. That kind of life isn’t good for you, your team, or the people you lead.

Either LOVE your work or find something else to do.

Think about it. The grass is always greener somewhere else, but what if you approached where you were with total focus and “all in” attention? What would change?

I’ve had the privilege of being part of an incredible team. But I’ve had my fair share of temptation to just coast and show up for the job, not investing my best self.

That might be where you are right now. You might be looking for a new role. You might be praying for a change.

If you find yourself in a difficult situation, try this before You leave…


Meanwhile, in Hollywood…

‘Fear is everywhere’: a quiet paranoia haunts post-Weinstein HollywoodRory Carroll
Awards season is likely to be fraught as Hollywood comes to terms with a toxic culture. ‘Questions on the red carpet will not be who you’re wearing, but what you knew and when.’From afar it may seem Hollywood rings with denunciations. In reality, there is a hush…

“It’s fear – fear is everywhere.” It was fear of damaging your career – “if you want to survive in Hollywood you don’t want to be known as a troublemaker” – and fear of offending the internet outrage machine, said Asi. “Famous people have to measure every word. You can’t predict how the public or social media may react. Silence is the best protection, your best shield.”

There is fear even of acknowledging the fear. Several industry figures compared the climate to a witch-hunt, another called it Robespierre-style terror, but they declined to be named lest they be seen as insufficiently sympathetic to victims.


Odd Jobs…
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