Thursday Picks ~ 6-22-2017

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

I Am the Center of the UniverseJared C. Wilson
greg-rakozy-76863I can only come to one of two conclusions about my frustration over this inevitable fact of life: either I am the center of the universe and you all don’t know, or — I am not the center of the universe and I am upset that you all know.

I wake up this way. I bet you do too. We wake up in self-sovereignty mode. Then we get frustrated because we keep running into people who think they’re the center of the universe. It’s frustrating.


This is an absorbing and inspirational story…

How One Deep South Church Left Segregation Behind
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/how-one-deep-south-church-left-segregation-behind-6.jpgElbert McGowan grew up five minutes from Trinity Presbyterian Church on the north side of Jackson, Mississippi. He passed by it daily. Never once did it cross his mind that one day he’d end up the pastor in that building. In fact, he never even considered entering the door.

That’s because the church was exclusively white, and McGowan is black…

One move, one church plant, and two pastors later, McGowan doesn’t just drive past anymore. He pulls open the church doors every day. He has an office and a desk with photos of his family. He runs the meetings; his kids run down the hallways.

And every week, he preaches to a congregation that’s one-third African American…

“What the Lord is doing in and through [this church] is nothing short of astonishing,” Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) chancellor Ligon Duncan wrote. “Only God could accomplish what has been done here.”


A Vision for AgingDarryl Dash
Flourishing old tree“The world’s ambition is to ‘stay young’; the Bible’s, to grow old fruitfully.”

When I was a student pastor, I met an aged pastor’s wife. Her late husband had been a legend in our circles. She was in her later years, and I was in my early twenties. After visiting her, I’d comment to Charlene that I thought she had a younger soul than I did.

Youth is more beauteous to the eye, says Charles Simeon, but age is more pleasant to the taste. That pleasantness is something to experience.


Coffee Evolution…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/large-coffee1.jpg
Wrong Hands

Luke 22:54-62

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 22:54-62
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
This culture is saying about you…
“This person was also with him.”
Your co-worker says to you…
“You are one of them.”
Your neighbors talk about you and say…
“Yes, he is definitely one of them. You can tell.”

What do you say when they do?

Don’t worry, Peter found forgiveness. So can you.


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


Luke 22:47-53

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 22:47-53
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[a] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who came for Jesus? (v. 52)
Don’t you think these men wanted to please me?
Do you think they thought they were doing the right thing?
Do you think they cared?
Do you think capturing someone at night with swords and clubs was typical for them?
Don’t you wonder if they’d ever, even once, done it before?
So why this time, do you think?
How does a person get so confused about right and wrong?
Have you ever rationalized an action that, if you were completely honest, you knew was wrong?
That’s what I thought.


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


Tuesday Picks ~ 6-20-2017

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

Don’t Take for Granted the Fragile Blessing of Civility
Trevin Wax
LightstockA civilized society uses persuasion and argument to make a case and will not tolerate those who engage in violence toward opponents on the other side of the political aisle.

But what if we are at the precipice of losing this hallmark of civility?

Recent developments should trouble the heart of anyone who loves liberty…

I would be the last to compare our recent political violence with Nazi fascism or Communist tyranny.

But I mention these examples because they took place in advanced, civilized nations where such violence would have, at one time, been considered unthinkable. Citizens overlooked the small but growing number of signs that led to these disasters. For this reason, we must recognize the seriousness of this present moment.

…There is no room for partisanship on this question; it is every American’s patriotic duty to oppose any justification for violence against one’s political opponent.


Why Refusing to Resolve Conflict Hinders Prayer


In case you’ve heard something from someone who wasn’t in the room where in happened…

Southern Baptists and the Alt-Right: On Being in the Room Where it HappenedNathan Finn
Because I was there, I’ve been disappointed at some of the musings, pontifications, and even insinuations of those who weren’t there, including both secular media and armchair quarterbacks who were offering misinformed assessments. At no point and in no way was the resolutions committee being “soft” on the Alt-Right or other forms of white supremacy. At no point were Southern Baptists debating whether or not we ought to denounce these demonic impulses. At no point did Steve Gaines or anyone else force Southern Baptists to do something they didn’t want to do. At no point were Southern Baptists wringing their hands over how we would look in the media if we didn’t do something. At no point were we trying not to offend Trump voters—or any other voters, for that matter. None of that happened, and folks who suggest it did are either speaking out of ignorance or out of malicious intent, period.


Ripple Effect…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDYvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNjE5XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Luke 22:39-46

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 22:39-46
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.[g] 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
“Father, if you are willing…”?
Jesus had to know I wasn’t willing, right?
“Not my will…”?
But he and I are One, right?
So, we have the same will, right?
Are you confused yet?
Twice he told them to “pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
Do you think they ever did?
Do you ever pray that?
Would you mean it if you did?
“Father, if you are willing…”
How would you finish that prayer right now?
“Not my will…”
Can you also pray that part of the prayer…and mean it?


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


Luke 22:35-38

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 22:35-38
35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What is going on here?
What is Jesus saying to his disciples?
Is he saying that at one point you didn’t need money, or provisions, or weapons because I would take care of you, but not anymore?
Does that make any sense?
Among them all, they had two swords and it was enough.
What do you have?
It is enough.


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


Understand?

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/potw1649a.jpg
“The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of more than 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of this cosmic community, NGC 4388, is captured in this image, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3.”

 

“If God were small enough to be understood,
He would not be big enough to be worshiped.”

Evelyn Underhill

Weekend Picks ~ 6-16-2017

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

This is big, isn’t it? …

A Resolution Condemning White Supremacy Causes Chaos at the Southern Baptist ConventionEmma Green
It affirmed that “there has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing.” It identified this “toxic menace” as white nationalism and the alt-right, and urged the denomination to oppose its “totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples.” It claimed that the origin of white supremacy in Christian communities is a once-popular theory known as the “curse of Ham,” which taught that “God through Noah ordained descendants of Africa to be subservient to Anglos” and was used as justification for slavery and segregation. The resolution called on the denomination to denounce nationalism and “reject the retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries of the so-called ‘alt-right’ that seek to subvert our government, destabilize society, and infect our political system.”


Twenty Relics of Church PastThom Rainer
The question I asked was basic: “What did you have or do in your church ten years ago that you don’t have or do today?”

The top twenty responses were, for me at least, a fascinating mix of the expected and the surprises. They are ranked in order of frequency…


This is excellent. It’s also harder and more important than it sounds…

Your Child Is Your NeighborJen Wilkin
If you asked me the single-most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people...

Recognizing my children as my neighbors has impacted the way I discipline them, the way I speak to them, the way I speak about them to others. It has required me to acknowledge how quick I am to treat those closest to me in ways I would never treat a friend or a co-worker. It has helped make my children objects of my compassion instead of my contempt. I am better able to celebrate their successes without taking credit for them, and to grieve their failures without seeing them as glaring evidence that I’m a terrible parent. Recognizing my children as my neighbors has freed me up to enjoy them as people rather than to resent them as laundry-generating, food-ingesting, mess-making, fit-throwing financial obligations.

Except for the days that it hasn’t. And on those days, I must be reminded again what Scripture teaches about loving my neighbor, confess that I haven’t loved my child that way, and begin again. And Scripture provides ample help. Here are just a few “unlikely” parenting verses that point me back to neighborliness on the days that don’t go as they should…


Carey uses a lot of this article examining our current culture and you will likely find yourself bemoaning its deterioration. Don’t stop there…

7 Ways To Live Out The Gospel in a Post-Truth, Post-Fact CultureCarey Nieuwhof
post-truthThe Gospel is perhaps the very best antidote we have to the current cultural turbulence…

The Gospel:

is anchored in the idea that truth (and even love) is objective and available to all.

calls us to die to ourselves so that others may live.

values all people.

calls us to confess, to repent, and to put something bigger than ourselves above ourselves.

If the church starts to mimic culture in this seismic shift we’re seeing, we will tear ourselves away from the very thing that will save us.


Assisted Miming for the Blind…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDYvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNjE2XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

 

Luke 22:31-34

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.

Luke 22:31-34
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter[b] said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus[c] said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Was Peter as strong as he supposed?
Are you?
Did Peter “strengthen his brothers”?
When? (vs. 32)
Why is it that Peter was better able to strengthen his brothers after his weakness was obvious and he had “turned again”?
Would you rather people see you strong, or weak?
Which is more helpful to others?


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