All posts by Lloyd Hamilton

My Picks for Tuesday 11-24-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

In Defense of Christmas Cheer -Trevin Wax
Merry-Christmas-holiday-family-fun-time-lifepopper-food-magic-gathering-6“It seems that every year I come across blog posts chiding Christians for allowing the shopping season to overtake the church’s calendar. Or bemoaning the early encroachment of Christmas music (“It’s the most wonderful time of the” — NOT YET!). Or reminding us that the real reason for the season must remain front and center in a world of sentimental mush…

‘Joy and singing and big family dinners and giving and receiving and caring for the poor’ may not be what the original Christmas was all about, but it’s certainly part of Christianity as an atmosphere, is it not?”


Five Mistakes Pastors Make On Social Media -Marty Duren
Five Mistakes Pastors Make On Social Media“Social media is like a phone, car, newspaper, magazine, hammer, weed whacker, or skillet. It can be used constructively or destructively, but it has no inherent morality. Blaming social media for being misused is misguided.

For pastors, the potential good uses for social media far outweigh the bad ones. In our constantly interconnected world social media provides the opportunity to have influence far beyond our immediate circle of contacts. Pastors should avail themselves of the possibilities social media provides as a tool useful for the Kingdom.”


They Calmly Sang On -Ray Ortlund
capt-ship_storm_WIP_04“When the next 9/11 hits us, may we serve others in every way we can.  But through it all, and even right now, may we not yield to hysteria.  May we calmly sing on, because we have in Christ a hope that nothing in this world can destroy.  Our serenity will make an everlasting difference to others.”


A cheerful giver…
1ff79ec0324d013302c8005056a9545d
Click image for larger version

What we mean when we say, “Thank you.”

We say “Thank you” a lot.

A waitress refills our drink: “Thank you.”

Someone holds a door for us: “Thanks.”

The cashier at the check-out hands us our receipt: “Thanks so much.”

In some ways I think maybe it has become a throw-away phrase that we have gutted of all its meaning. I’m not saying we should stop using the phrase. It’s the generally accepted polite response in many situations, and I don’t want suggest that we increase our level of rudeness.

But it seems to me that we find it very easy to use in these trivial, every-day situations, when the meaning is very shallow, but we find it very difficult to use when deep, heartfelt gratitude is truly called for.

Thanksgiving has always been a time for expressing our gratitude to God for all His blessings throughout the year and throughout our lives. This is good and as it should be. It’s one of the reasons that Thanksgiving is possibly my favorite holiday.

Well, that and home-made stuffing and gravy.

However, I’ve been wondering if maybe we shouldn’t also include a secondary emphasis. What if we also made Thanksgiving a time for expressing sincere gratitude to other people who have blessed our lives in significant ways? Why is that often so difficult? Why do we reserve that kind of thing for retirement parties, funerals, and other special occasions?

Maybe it’s because the phrase really means something that we don’t usually like to admit. When we say, “Thank you,” we’re really saying, “I’m in your debt.” We’re admitting that someone has done something for us that we cannot repay. We’re admitting that we’re needy, and completely dependent on someone else for our well-being. It’s a very humbling thing to say.

But, it’s the truth. Isn’t it? We need one another. We’re in debt to one another. There are people without whom I would not be me, and you would not be you.

Now, I recognize that the people we owe the most to are often the ones we’re closest to. And because we’re so close we sort of assume that the gratitude is understood. Maybe it is. So what? That might even make the act of expressing it even more important.

I don’t mean that we make a big production of it and plaster our love and gratitude all over social media for the world to see. I’m certainly not against doing that, but we need to really consider our motives. Is it to bring attention to the person we appreciate, or so that everyone knows what a wonderful person I am for saying so?

But consider…

How would it make you feel if someone you cared about simply told you how they appreciate you, and how you have blessed them? Wouldn’t that be a powerful encouragement and an emotional uplift?

Maybe we should go first.

Maybe we should give that gift to someone else this Thanksgiving.

Lloyd

 

My Picks for Monday 11-23-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Possibly the best article I’ve read on the refugee crisis…

Building His Church in a Refugee Crisis-David Crabb
Building His Church in a Refugee Crisis“Do you see the enormity of the possibility here? We have spent years plotting and praying to get missionaries into some of the most difficult places in the world. Now, four million hurting and broken people from at least eighteen unreached people groups are coming to the West. ‘Is it safe?’ sounds like a question a government would ask. And it should ask; a government should seek to protect its people. But Christians ask, ‘What is God up to?'”


On a related note, it might be helpful to remember who some of these refugees really are. “Photojournalist Magnus Wennman traveled around Europe and the Middle East, capturing these children of war as they tried to find some rest in a frightening, uncertain world.” These are some beautiful and moving photos…

Syria’s Lost Children -Magnus Wennman
Where-the-children-sleep-refugees-09


7 Signs It’s Not Really A Team -Ron Edmondson
power meeting from above“Those are a few clues which tell me it’s really not a team. There are certainly others…You can call it what you want – could be a group, or an association, or even an organization. But it’s not a team…

It should be noted. There are times when we don’t need a team. We need a leader who will stand even if alone and lead people to places they can’t yet see but where they need to go. I have found those times to be rare when I have a healthy team. This post addresses teams – and we need them more often.”


Don’t get bogged down in this one. Just keep reading to the end.
Our God is an awesome God…

Why Fractals Are So Beautiful-Joel Bezaire
http://www.christianitytoday.com/images/64988.jpg?w=1600“…when I study the amount of complexity in a fractal—zooming in closer and closer, yet never losing any resolution or altering its appearance in any way—I am reminded that the same painstaking detail went into God’s plan for my life. I break out in praise. And then I want to zoom in a bit more.”


The “human whisperer”?

http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/bz-panel-11-17-15.jpg
Dan Piraro

 

 

Genesis 26:12-33

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.

Genesis 26:12-33
And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him,
13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. 15 (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

17 So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek,[a] because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah.[b] 22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth,[c] saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

26 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” 28 They said, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.” 30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. 32 That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 He called it Shibah;[d] therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Remember: I’ve chosen Isaac. He’s my guy.
Notice: He has no land. He lives in someone else’s land.
Remind you of anyone?
What can you learn from this?

A Hymn of Grateful Praise

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01552/sky2_1552774i.jpgFor the joy of ear and eye,

for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of human love,

brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.
For thy church, that evermore

lifteth holy hands above,
offering upon every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

DSC_0950For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

-Folliot S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

 

Genesis 26:1-11

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.

Genesis 26:1-11
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with[a] Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” 10 Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” 11 So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Like father, like son, right?
Did you notice that Isaac’s fear (and Abraham’s) never materialized?
Why do you think that is?
Do you think Isaac was amazed that these heathen men turned out to be more honorable than he expected?
Are you amazed at that?
Who do you profile like this?

Weekend Picks 11-20-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Eight Words from Jesus in a World with Refugees -D. Glenn
Eight Words from Jesus in a World with Refugees“Jesus calls us to follow him. Sometimes it is clear how we do this, and often it is not. In trying to grapple with what it means to follow Jesus as it relates to the current refugee crisis, it is worth rehearsing at least eight things Jesus expects from those who follow him. May he give us all wisdom in how best to apply them…”


This post by Richard Ostling (aka The Religion Guy) is from last February, but it is timely and informative…

Is Islam a “religion of peace”? -Richard Ostling
Capture“In this tangled discussion one point is obvious: This great world religion is embroiled in an increasingly dangerous internal conflict as an expanding faction of militant ‘Islamists’ or ‘jihadis’ works to abolish Muslim thinkers’ consensus across centuries about justifications for violence, the proper conduct of warfare, and who has the authority to decide such matters. John Esposito, a Georgetown University expert, calls it a ‘struggle for the soul of Islam.'”


It’s good to be reminded that when we’re talking about refugees we’re not just talking about an “issue” but about people’s lives. Take some time to read their stories…

Humans of New York Refugee Stories -Brandon Stanton
“For ten days in September, I travelled to Greece, Hungary, Croatia, and Austria to learn the stories of refugees traveling across Europe. These are some of the stories I learned…”


You may need to free yourself from other distractions for a few minutes while you are challenged by this next piece…

The Illusion of Respectability -Allen Guelzo
The Illusion of Respectability“In every example where the courts, the celebrities or the culture-makers have trampled heedlessly on biblical norms, there are some initially robust outbursts of resistance, then a nervous glancing around to see whether anyone has joined the resistance. When it develops that the resistance is unpopular, the objections trail away so that a respectable place in society can somehow be retained…

The real measure of the integrity of the Christian scholar is distance, not proximity, to respectability.”


How to Be a Christian in the Era of Cable News Fights
-Victoria Le Sweatman
“How many times have you heard or read any of the following words in the past few months? “Refuglican,” “libtard,” “teabagger,” “gun nut,” “fascidiot,” “feminazi.” How many times have you heard somebody refer to liberals, conservatives or some other group as being in general “stupid”? How many memes have you seen that address the opposite political faction in a way that belittles them?

And how many of the people you’ve observed using this kind of language called themselves Christians?”


Happy Holidays!

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Source: Wrong Hands

Genesis 25:19-34

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.

Genesis 25:19-34
19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?”[a] So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples from within you[b] shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
    the older shall serve the younger.”

24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.[d]) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Is there anyone in this passage who does everything right?
Isaac? Rebekah? Jacob? Esau?
Who is the hero of this story? (Hint: It’s not any of the humans.)
Why do you think I chose Jacob to be the father of my people?
Do you think I am able to use you, if I choose to?

My Picks for Thursday 11-19-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Before You Debate, You Have to Agree -Trevin Wax
theview
“…in a world of constantly-flowing, often-contradictory information, we rarely get to have a satisfying debate because we don’t agree on what the situation is. You can’t debate a “good” interpretation or discuss the “best way forward” if there’s no common ground of agreement…

The temptation for conservatives and liberals alike is to sideline the truth in advance of the cause. As Christians, we must resist such a practice. We are a people of truth. We should care about getting the facts right. We should be the least gullible people online and the first to challenge viral posts or Facebook videos that reinforce certain narratives with inaccurate information.”


What Refugees in Your Neighborhood Need from You
-Heather Evans
What Refugees in Your Neighborhood Need from You“Sitting in a bare apartment with people who speak a different language and come from a different culture is unglamorous and often awkward. It lacks the adventure and experience of traveling to a foreign land. It requires far more staying power than a two-week trip. But this presents Christians with a call to practice hospitality. God has called us to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), and this is the mission field coming to us. It is here in our midst and accessible.”


It would un-Jesus him -Ray Ortlund
Öèôðîâàÿ ðåïðîäóêöèÿ íàõîäèòñÿ â èíòåðíåò-ìóçåå Gallerix.ru“I tell you again that he cannot reject you.  That would be to alter his whole character and un-Christ himself.  To spurn a coming sinner would un-Jesus him and make him to be somebody else and not himself any longer.  ‘He cannot deny himself.’  Go and try him; go and try him.”  -Charles Spurgeon


https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/anatomy-of-generations1.jpg
Source: Wrong Hands