Tag Archives: Christianity

My Picks for Wednesday 12-23-2015

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

The Cost and Beauty of MarriageDarryl Dash

“There’s suffering in this thing called marriage, but there’s more joy than you can imagine. Somehow they exist together.”

 


As usual, even though we would prefer it otherwise, the answer to this question is too long for a bumper sticker. While you may or may not agree with everything he says in this article, John Piper does a good job of outlining several strands of thought on the question…

Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?
John Piper
Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?“The issue is not primarily about when and if a Christian may ever use force in self-defense, or the defense of one’s family or friends. There are significant situational ambiguities in the answer to that question. The issue is about the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life. Does it accord with the New Testament to encourage the attitude that says, “I have the power to kill you in my pocket, so don’t mess with me”? My answer is, No.

Here are nine considerations that lead me to this conclusion…”


Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?
Albert Mohler
“Hard times come with hard questions, and our cultural context exerts enormous pressure on Christians to affirm common ground at the expense of theological differences. But the cost of getting this question wrong is the loss of the Gospel. Christians affirm the image of God in every single human being and we must obey Christ as we love all people everywhere as our neighbor. Love of neighbor also demands that we tell our neighbor the truth concerning Christ as the only way to truly know the Father.

We must also understand that the most basic issue is the one Jesus answered with absolute clarity. One cannot deny the Son and truly worship the Father. There is no question that the Muslim is our neighbor, but there is no way to remain faithful to Scripture and the gospel and then claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”


And now a little something fun to lighten the mood…

When Christmas Carols Lead us AstrayBarnabas Piper
Christmas decorations
“Just because it’s cold outside does not give a man the right to ply a woman with drinks and force her to stay longer.”

 


An Instagram miracle…
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Source: Off the Mark

My Picks for Monday 12-21-2015

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

You may have already seen this piece about Eric Metaxas. It has been filling up my Twitter feed the past few days, and with good reason. If you haven’t read it, you really should…

The Death of God Is Greatly ExaggeratedKate Bachelder
“Part of my life’s thesis is that we live in a culture that has bought into the patently silly idea that there is a divide between the secular world and the faith world,” he says, the idea that religion can be walled off exclusively into private life or pitched altogether, particularly when 70% or so of U.S. residents identify as Christian. “Culture presents us with this false choice between channels that are exclusively faith-based” versus those that are “exclusively secular.” Yet “that’s not how most Americans process the world.”


 

The Word Became FleshMichael Kelly
DT709“In the days past, long ago, God spoke to us in different times and in different ways. But no longer. Now He has spoken to us by His Son.”


If you’re concerned about refugees coming to the U.S., perhaps you’ll find this infographic helpful…

Who is a refugee and what do they go through to get to the U.S.?
WR_refugeescreeningprocess


https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/star-wars-vs-toast.jpg
Source: Wrong Hands

Special Edition: My Picks for Tuesday 12-15-2015

Today’s Picks all center around one theme…

The combined issues of immigration, refugees, and terrorism seem to be on everyone’s mind to one degree or another. There seems to be a deep divide among us between the “open up our borders to all” people and the “ban all Muslims” people. I suppose this is another manifestation of the deep divide we already have on so many issues, and as usual, the extremes on either side don’t really listen, or even consider, the thinking of the other, preferring instead to simply shout slogans and demean the character of those who disagree.

I suggest we all take a moment to stop talking and try to understand.

In my own effort to do this I’ve come across several articles that I have found very helpful in my understanding of some things that, honestly, I’d never spent any time really thinking about.

I’m sharing these articles below in the hope that you find them as enlightening as I did. They will require some thought, and a willingness to understand another’s perspective.

Please understand that my focus here is not political. I have my thoughts on this, but on this blog I am not crusading for any particular governmental approach to these things. As I have said in my previous post on the subject, my main concern here is how we Christians respond and behave.


The first is an article I shared on Facebook a while back. I still think it’s one of the best things I’ve read on the subject.

What ISIS Really WantsGraeme Wood
http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/2015/02/17/ISIS_Web_feature2/1920.jpg?1440086852“The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”


This next is an excellent article by someone in a position to understand how the radical Islamist thinks. He draws the distinction between “Islamism” and Islam. As a Christian I understand that all Christians are not the same. In fact, there are some who are so far removed from the actual teaching of Jesus and the New Testament that I would like not even use the term “Christian” to refer to them.

It seems we have trouble understanding that Islam is just as fragmented as Christianity, and that what is true of the most extreme sects is not in any way true for all Muslims.

How to Beat Islamic StateMaajid Nawaz

“As a young Muslim growing up in the U.K., I spent more than a decade as one of the leaders of a global Islamist group that advocated the return of a caliphate, though not through terrorism. My activities eventually led me to Egypt, where at 24 I was jailed as a political prisoner and sentenced to five years in Mazra Tora prison.

Only in jail, after Amnesty International adopted my case, did I dedicate myself to rereading, reviewing and reappraising my every thought. As I deradicalized myself over the next five years, I eventually concluded that Islam, my faith, was being exploited for a totalitarian political project and must be reclaimed from the theocrats. I have spent the past eight years doing just that through a counterextremism organization that I co-founded.”


Finally, I offer this very personal piece from the perspective of a Christian pastor who is the son of a Muslim immigrant to the United States.

My Muslim ProblemOmar Rikabi
Mosque of Omar“I get the fear of terrorism. Part of my family’s story includes those living as refugees in foreign countries, mourning the memory of a loved one shot to death because of religious and ethnic extremism.

And I have fears, too. I fear what the rhetoric of “track and ban” could lead to, because history’s darkest ethnic atrocities started with this kind of talk. And I’m afraid, because of our current climate, that someone will hurt my wife or my girls because our name sounds like those terrorist names.

Yes, there are Muslims who commit horrible acts of violence. But violence is not unique to Islam. It is common to all humanity. In our fallen depravity, all of us are radicalized by sin.

This is not a Muslim problem.

This is a human problem.”


My Picks for Thursday 12-10-2015

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

Certainty, Openness and Theological Wisdom -Ray Ortlund
2012-MAY-Source-Liaohe-River-Delta-Marshland-300x214“Some Christians seem “all certainty.”  Maybe it makes them feel heroic.  But they see too few gray areas.  Everything is a federal case.  They have a fundamentalist mindset.

Other Christians seem “all openness.”  Maybe it makes them feel humble.  But they see too few black-and-white areas.  They have a liberal mindset — though they may demonstrate a surprising certainty against certainty…

…May we become more certain where we’ve been too open, and more open where we’ve been too certain, according to Scripture.”


The famous sixth-century Sinai Pantocrator (Christ Almighty) icon depicts one-half of Christ’s face as suffering servant and the other half as serene risen Lord.

Art in the Worship of the Church
-Paul Blowers
“Contrary to the old adage, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. True beauty lies in the richness and breadth of God’s revelation, which lays claim to all our senses—even some that we may not know we have! “Taste and See” is more than a lovely worship tune composed by James E. Moore in 1983. It should be a summons to all our senses to experience the boundless glory of God and to respond in kind, creatively and resourcefully.

Churches should be encouraged to use their imaginations and a wide array of arts (not just music but drama, ritual dance, photography, and iconography, etc.) to enhance their praise and worship.”


7 Situations Where Your Church Should Not Have Greeters
-Thom Rainer
“…there are a few occasions where I think it’s best for the church to have no greeters at all. Indeed, if one or a few of these situations exist, greeters in the worship services can do more harm than good... Here are seven such occasions…”


If Donald Trump Becomes President, It’s on You
-Melissa Schwartz
DONALD TRUMP“It’s not just his hate speech that should alarm you. We have had candidates for decades that have based their campaigns on arousing hate and fear. But they have not been frontrunners.

If elected President, Donald Trump has the power to enact policies by executive action to round up people of a specific race and take unilateral action against them. If elected President, Donald Trump really can spend your taxpayer dollars to build walls, tear families apart, and deny federal benefits and protections to people of a specific race.

For those who believe President Obama has overreached during his presidency, imagine those same powers in the hands of Donald Trump.”


You’d better watch out…

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My Picks for Tuesday 12-1-2015

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

This simple post resonated pretty deeply in me for some reason…

A Simple Rule That Can Make Life More Fun
John Richmond
Photo Credit: Loren Kerns, Creative Commons“Kids generally do not get in trouble for being silly—they get in trouble for being silly after an adult asked them to stop. It is often that last kid to stop that bears that brunt of the punishment.

This rule applies at every phase of life.

Knowing how to stop makes eating, drinking, investing, exercising, spending, skydiving, hang gliding, and everything else more enjoyable.

Interestingly, knowing how to stop is sometimes the best way to start.”


Following Rob Bell: The Edges of Faith and the Center of the Zeitgeist -Dustin Messer

“In a world where pastors wait with bended knees and clenched eyes for their heads to roll down the sandy slopes of a Libyan beach, the complacent, comfortable, Western church must reset her vision of bravery as it relates to the pastorate. There was a time—even in the West—where cultural capital was gained by being a Christian…

These days, the real adventurers are those who set sail for the risky land of Christian orthodoxy. The real brave men and women are those who consistently go to church, observe the sacraments, hear the word, and submit themselves to the discipline of the church. In an age of autonomy, it’s those who subject their thoughts, behaviors, and passions to an exclusive Sovereign that are the brave few. Those may not be the memoirs we’re interested in today, but they’ll be the ones that last tomorrow.”


Advocating for Life, After Colorado SpringsTrevin Wax

Colorado Springs Continues To Recover After Shooting“What does this do for “the cause?”

That is a question that presents itself to both pro-life and pro-choice people following last Friday’s rampage…

We should not be surprised to see pro-choice cheerleaders among the mainstream media and Planned Parenthood’s well-endowed politicians exploiting this tragedy, weaponizing the tragedy against the wider pro-life movement and painting all pro-life people as wild and zealous fanatics.

But our response should be different. We should grieve with those who grieve, mourn the loss of innocent life and consider the victims – the families who will pass through the weeks, months, and years ahead with a sense of loss and longing that will far surpass the volcano of words in our 24-hour news cycle.”


This is a beautiful little tribute to 20 years of Pixar animation…


Grandkid pic of the day:
Me and Oliver Lloyd work the HUB at WOCC Colerain
Capture

My Picks for Monday 11-30-2015

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

So far, I haven’t heard a definitive motive for the recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs. I’ve heard plenty of speculation, inferences and attempts to tie it to a “radical pro-life” agenda. There was at least one person involved in that day whose “radical pro-life” stance was on full display, but we haven’t heard very much about him…

Swasey’s Last Sermon-Jordan Standridge
garrett Swasey“Swasey was shot while saving people at a place he abhorred. He was an elder of a church that believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, and that abortion is evil.

Let that sink in.

A man who hated abortion and hated murder–who gave his life helping others–didn’t hesitate about going to Planned Parenthood to save lives.”


Church Growth:
Feeding the Flock In a Count-the-Sheep Culture
-Karl Vaters
Church Growth: Feeding the Flock In a Count-the-Sheep Culture“We want numbers to verify our successes.

There are two huge problems with that sentence – and they’re found in the words numbers and our.

First, not all successes have numbers to verify them.

Second, the successes of the church are not our successes.

We need to start getting comfortable, in the first instance, with Success Without Numbers and in the the second instance, with Success That’s Not Ours.”


The Christian Century No One Predicted  -Justin Taylor
9780801097461“No scholar—or as far as that goes, not even a madman—predicted that at the end of the twentieth century Christianity would not be recognized even as a cultural factor in Europe by the nations that today compose the European Union.

No prognosticator predicted that more Christians would be worshiping each Sunday in China than in Europe or North America.

And, what might be surprising to us today, even the greatest mission leaders at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910 had pretty much given up on Christianity in Africa. Most of the missionary leaders, even in their most optimistic moments, thought Islam had the upper hand and believed Africa would become a Muslim continent. Fast-forward and we find that the opposite is true, for there are more Christians than Muslims in Africa today.


What am I…?

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Source: Off the Mark

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

 

 

God Has Done Something

god-space_1 copy“God has spoken and acted in Jesus Christ.
He has said something. He has done something.

This means that Christianity is not just pious talk.
It is neither a collection of religious ideas nor a catalogue of rules.
It is a ‘gospel’ (i.e. good news) –
in the apostle Paul’s words ‘the gospel of God…
regarding his Son…Jesus Christ our Lord.’

It is not primarily an invitation for us to do anything;
it is supremely a declaration of what God has done in Christ
for human beings like ourselves.”

– John Stott, Basic Christianity