End of the Month Links

End of the Month Links: August 2017

 This all can’t be ‘fake news’ can it?

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Virtue signaling as self-justification

I posted about this a week ago, but the new-ish fad of virtue signaling is just same old living by the law when we should live by grace instead.

Excerpt: “Virtue signalers want to appear virtuous, to be considered good and to be affirmed as such by others.  But often they are signaling their virtues to people whom they do not consider virtuous.  Virtue signalers aren’t interested in gaining their approval.  But they are also trying to gain self-approval.  They need to think of themselves as virtuous. So why is this? It points to our primal need to be justified.  And our inability to justify ourselves.  We are actually not good because we fail to keep God’s Law.  So we make up our own laws that are easier to fulfill.  But we generally fail at those too. This is all evidence of our need for Christ to justify us.”

Beware (and Embrace) the Power of Story

Stories are powerful but we very rarely know their impact on other and ourselves. Today there is a new narrative: one that teaches virtue signaling and moralizing in the name of love that is not love.

Excerpt: “We tell such stories to encourage believers and to persuade unbelievers. Our stories serve as ministry to the saved and evangelism to the lost. They add flesh and experience to what may otherwise be mere theology, mere ideas. Ultimately, we hope these stories will lead others to investigate and accept the great story God is telling in and through his world. This new gospel is hijacking the power of story and Christian respect for story in order to achieve its goals. “I find stories are a lot more compelling than arguments,” says James Martin. “One of the stories I like to tell people is about a gay friend of mine named Mark. Mark was in a religious order and left. He ended up marrying his partner, with whom he’s been together for 20 years. One of the things he has done is care for his partner through a long-term serious illness. I often say to people, ‘Is this not a form of love?’ I just ask that question. So I think it’s less about argumentation than it is about stories, more about what Pope Francis calls a ‘culture of encounter.’”

Love Is Not Whatever You Want It to Be

The power of Lub is taking the place of what love it. We need to go back to what the Bible says about it.

Excerpt: “Love” is now a universal term for nothing in particular, which makes conversations about it difficult.Thinking ourselves wise, we made a bad deal. We’ve been snookered, sure that we were upgrading when in truth we were sold a clunker. But enough with the finger-pointing. Being right about others being wrong is useless unless we’re willing to correct ourselves by turning to God’s Word. Here are five things the Bible says about love.”

Fake Christian Emotions and Real Christian Affections

We need to make sure we are not mere sentimentalists or emotionless robots. Our emotions should not be on just the happy but on the good, pure, and holy.

Excerpt: “Why would we strive for holiness, or live sacrificially for Christ, if we are emotionally neutral regarding the truths of the gospel? But if we see ourselves, poignantly, as sinners rescued by his death on the cross, and if we rejoice in his triumph over sin and death in the resurrection, then we are prepared to act. That’s why we need the right kind of emotions, passions, and affections, which are typically stirred under exposure to the truth of the Word.”

How to NOT shelter your kids from ideas: Make a case for Christianity’s truth, goodness, and beauty

A 3rd part in a great series. This one gives the approach to talk about the beauty of the Gospel and not just the intellectual reasons for it.

Excerpt: “Where I am deeply compelled to believe is that, in addition to the intellectual case, I find the Christian thesis so very attractive. So as we make a case for Christianity to our kids, I think they need to know that it is the greatest story ever told. And the story of Christianity provides us with a story and a purpose. It should also profoundly motivate us to live as Jesus lived, full of grace and truth. He loved the unlovely and the humble, but called out arrogance and religiosity.”?

Swag Seminary

 

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End of the Month Links: July 2017

What I would give for sometime not Game of Thrones?

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Tolkien, Lewis, Disney? The Greatest Pre-Evangelists of Our Age

The stories that are told set the ground for worldview seeding.

Excerpt: “For all of the weariness we certainly feel from the worldly admixtures that fill these sorts of tales, where our efforts or our supposed innate goodness solves the problems of an imbalanced world—and the Disney franchises certainly are chief among these offenders—I was reminded that their breathtaking reach is a kind of pre-evangelism that we must mine for the sake of the Kingdom”

Entertainment and Worship

A warning not to be swayed by entertainment focused worship as those are an oxymoron of terms.

Excerpt: “One of the more dangerous drifts happening in our local churches today is within our corporate worship. In many churches there is a de-emphasis on the means of grace (Scripture, prayer, and the sacraments or ordinances), and a reliance on entertainment. Some try to balance the two in the name of reaching more people with the gospel, but there is an inescapable danger in overvaluing entertainment and implementing it in corporate worship.”

Students Love Answers More Than the Church Loves Answers

Speaking of entertainment, the youth at church hunger for answers and not mere experience. This is great news!

Excerpt: “Many of my youth pastor colleagues thought I was crazy to make “apologetics” the sole focus of my weekend meetings, but the students we prepared in this way were ready for life in the “real world”. I discovered something important: Students want the truth. Don’t let the pundits or cultural observers fool you into thinking students are more concerned about experience, entertainment or storytelling. Students want answers. In fact, I think young people want answers more than the Church knows or understands.

What Is a Worldview?

A good overview of what a Worldview is. This is a good basic primer on what every Christian needs to know as they confront the world.

Excerpt: “A person’s worldview represents his most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe he inhabits. It reflects how he would answer all the “big questions” of human existence: fundamental questions about who and what we are, where we came from, why we’re here, where (if anywhere) we’re headed, the meaning and purpose of life, the nature of the afterlife, and what counts as a good life here and now. Few people think through these issues in any depth, and fewer still have firm answers to such questions, but a person’s worldview will at least incline him toward certain kinds of answers and away from others.

Make Time To Be Bored

I wrote about this same idea here, but rest is one of those things that we see as a vice not a virtue.

Excerpt: “When we were children and teenagers, boredom seemed like a bad thing, because idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right? But boredom should not be confused with idleness. Idleness is laziness and indolence. It is refusing to do what needs to be done. But boredom is simple inactivity, a break from the hustle and bustle and busyness of life. Boredom is the pause between activities or the deliberate escape from activity altogether.”?

Top 10 Failed Doomsday Predictions

The end of the world is always being predicted, but we need to be careful as Christians to stop ending up with these false predictions. I have written about this before and we ought to learn our lesson and not be crazy as the world is with these.

End of the Month Links: June 2017

At least my TV loves me… right?

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

How Objective Beauty Fuels a Culture

Dr. Reynolds makes the case that this a proper belief in the existence of objective beauty fuels a culture and voluntary love will die as we lose our belief in objective beauty. [the whole lecture is at the end of the article as a video]

Excerpt: “When we believe in objectivity, we are free from the beholders…. If subjectivity is the only reality when it comes to beauty, and a girl goes to school and everyone says, “You’re fat and unattractive,” and she picks up magazine after magazine, and there’s not one woman of color in it, not one woman with her body shape, not one woman her mother’s age, then beauty being “in the eye of the beholder” is not liberating; it is the ultimate tyranny because the only reality is what those guys in high school say in judgment about you…. The reality becomes, ultimately, what a few people tell us…”

Love Needs an Education

Greg of Stand to Reason offers thoughts on what true, biblical love is versus the kind of love that simply makes people feel good.

 

Once upon a Time: The Enduring Appeal of Fairy Tales

The fairy tale is alive and strong in the world today. This is a very good thing and should give us hope. Stories are what Christ used to preach Truth, and stories teach us much more that mere propositions do.

Excerpt: “We respond so powerfully to fairy tales, Tolkien says, precisely because they resonate with truth at a level much deeper than we realize: “The Gospels contain a fairystory, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairystories.” Here is what C. S. Lewis called “myth made fact”: as Tolkien puts it, “This story has entered History and the primary world….The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. […] When we respond imaginatively to the happy ending of a fairy tale, we are, possibly without even realizing it, responding to the gospel, which has the same joy as that evoked in a fairy tale: “But,” Tolkien tells us, “this story is supreme; and it is true.” The happy ending of the fairy tale gives us, as Tolkien shows us, a foretaste of the Good News. For we are all Cinderella: the gospel is the story of the Prince who rescues us from the ashes and brings us to his wedding feast.”

7 Reasons Why the Medieval Sensibility Tends to Be More Biblically Grounded Than the Modern Aesthetic

Worldview matters, and the Aesthetics have been under attack from since the separation of Truth, Beauty, and the Just from it.

Excerpt: “As the Enlightenment progressed, education moved farther away from teaching the Liberal Arts (Trivium and Quadrivium). This change in emphasis skewed perspectives, ideologies, theology, culture, and the arts into new directions and trajectories that continue to inform how society thinks. In addition, the change in aesthetics from the medieval period to a modern sensibility reflects broader changes in how we view the cosmos and what we think about divine order..”

Children of the ‘80s Never Fear: Video Games Did Not Ruin Your Life

Some good news! and if this is true then the fear mongering of other things do not mean the end of the world.

Excerpt: “There is a particularly American tradition of becoming enthralled with new technologies of communication, identifying their promise of future prosperity and renewed community. It is matched by a related American tradition of freaking out about the same objects, which are also figured as threats to life as we know it”?

Changeover

Beware where we place our heart, we could love for the wrong reasons with consequences.

End of the Month Links: May

Silly TV, thinking is for other people

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

The Hottest Thing at Church Is Not Your Pastor or Worship Leader

This is good news! Despite a new wave of buzzwords like relational, relevant, and intentional, people who show up on Sundays are looking for the same thing that has long anchored most services: preaching centered on the Bible.

Excerpt: “The Gallup survey found that people in the pews care far more about what’s being preached than who’s preaching it. Only half of Protestants (53%) and Americans overall (54%) said they attend because of “dynamic religious leaders who are interesting and inspiring.” Even so-called seeker sensitive churches have discovered that theological depth appeals to lapsed Christians and non-believers. Last year, Ed Stetzer cited several examples of congregations (such as Oklahoma megachurch Life.Church) that shifted toward more rigorous teaching once they noticed interest from the unchurched: “In other words, those for whom sermons were being dumbed down aren’t dumb. They are interested in the truth or else they’d be out golfing.””

Beware of Broken Wolves

Being authentic may be a very dangerous disguise for heresy.

Excerpt: “These are the false teachers who use their own authenticity, pain, and brokenness to attract believers who are also suffering and broken—and then using their “brokenness” to lead the sheep to turn away from God’s Word and embrace sin. They blend into the flock because Christians are not—and should not be—suspicious of broken people. They appear “in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”

Ten Questions Christians Should Ask of Their Entertainment

I am so very tired of answering people’s questions on why X is bad for they to play or watch. As if discernment has a large burden of proof. Instead follow the advice of this article to ask is X good.

Excerpt: “Discerning media consumption needs more than a litmus test of saying we shouldn’t watch excessive violence and sexuality (which is true). We need to understand the complex and often subtle effects of media on our lives.

Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians

Just what do those people who say they are Christian (but who the majority do not attend church or have a Christian worldview) actually believe? Looks like a whole bunch of junk.

Excerpt: “In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Christians are more aware of (and influenced by) disparate views than ever. But just how much have other worldviews crept into Christians’ perspectives? Barna’s research shows that only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview1. So, if Christians are open to nonbiblical perspectives, what are they believing?

The Outraged Are Always Right

As Christians we need to avoid living in our own private bubble echo chamber. Don’t just be outranged to get attention like the world does. Instead be as Jesus said “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves”

Excerpt: “Polarization has become weaponized. Nobody wants to hear from people they disagree with. If I don’t like your Facebook posts, I’ll unfriend you. If I don’t like your column, I’ll boycott the paper until they fire you. I want to hear from good people who think and talk and live like me. That’s polarization. And polarization meets weaponization because many in our culture are willing to use whatever they have, whatever they can leverage, to make this polarization work for them–whether money, friends, jobs, hobbies, even sports. There are lots and lots of folks willing to blow up their lives to make sure there’s no presence of the people and ideas they hate.”

Afternoon Class

I’ve been there, yikes!

End of the Month Links: April

Pass the Popcorn!

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Episode 034: The Ethics of Modern Board and Card Games

A very interesting podcast episode from The Christian Research Institute about Board Games

For more reading (that I have written/posted on) check out these posts: Are There Good Christian Board Games? and Hidden Role Board Games and False Teachers

4 Ways Satan Uses Christian Generosity for Evil

When we are generous we need to be very careful that we are doing good and not harm.

Excerpt: “Whether it’s small-town churches scrapping funds together through bake sales and car washes for a short-term mission trip, or large foundations funding building projects around the world, Christians want to see their money used for good. Yet too often their donations have an unintended effect.”

The Particular Temptations of Young Men

Guarding the hearts and minds of Young Men is critical to the church. There is pressure on them from all sides to perform; “Even Jesus had no accomplishments—at least none that history has recorded—until he was in his thirties.”

Excerpt: “Young men have it tough. In so many ways, this world seems to have been custom-crafted to take advantage of their weaknesses, their flaws, their immaturities. Solomon lamented this in his day, telling of the seductresses and prostitutes who laid in wait for young men. He told as well of the immaturity and ungodliness of young men that made them especially prone to sadly blunder or joyfully sprint into the traps and snares laid for them. Today he might write about ever-present amusements, the proliferation of porn, the rise of sexting, the sense of meaninglessness that so often pervades the minds and spirits of young men.”

Why our churches need more gray hair

On the other side of the age spectrum, we need more mature men in the church.

Excerpt: “Churches desperately need their older men to exemplify being sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Churches need an army of laymen who believe well, love well, and suffer well. And churches need them because these older men are the pace-setters for the rest of the church.”

Canada is harvesting the organs of euthanasia patients

Speaking of Older people, the day of the horror in ‘Logan’s Run’ is quickly approaching.

Excerpt: “In Ontario, the first province to report data, 26 people who died by lethal injection decided to donate tissue or organs since the Medical Aid in Dying Act (MAID) came into effect last June, according to the National Post. A total of 388 people have chosen to die by lethal injection in Ontario, over half of the 744 total Canadians who have been euthanized. Proponents of linking organ harvesting to euthanasia point to the shortage of organ transplants readily available and the lower cost associated with euthanasia than with end-of-life care.

Hyper Jump

Ever can’t think of a thing to say… this is worse.

End of the Month Links: March

Still politics! The election ended months ago

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

What Tolkien Did So Well, What We Do So Poorly

When we neglect the past we do the opposite of the nobility Tolkien showed us.

Excerpt: “The characters in The Lord of the Rings know they are set within a wider drama that began ages prior and will continue ages hence. They are determined to act in ways that honor their forebears and leave a worthy example for their descendants. Their valor is motivated by their understanding that history has called them to this time, this place, and this set of circumstances. Their nobility is inseparable from their history. They speak and live as if every word of the mouth and every tap of the hammer will honor or dishonor those who have gone before and shame or bless those who will follow.

Is America’s Cult of Death and Free Sex on the Verge of Dying?

A good analysis of how science and truth are slowly wiping away any arguments left in the pocket of those who advocate cheap sex with no consequences.

Excerpt: “This is why the clerics of the cult are panicked, outraged, afraid. They dread seeing their god exposed to the harsh light of reality, its draperies of soothing rhetoric flung back to reveal a glaring, decaying creature of death. If the Supreme Court corrects, even partially, Roe v. Wade, access to abortion will become much less easy. That will require, at least among many younger men and women, greater sexual restraint. As they consider the consequences of their one-night mutual objectifications — babies — they will become not just more careful but more judicious in their conduct.

Christian Storytelling Should Be Both True and Beautiful

The Movie ‘The Shack’ came out recently. This older article is good because it reminds us that Christian storytelling ought to be true and not just emotional ear tickles. When we make true stories they also need to be beautiful.

Excerpt: “Art is indeed a powerful vehicle for expressing truth, but as Brian explains in the interview, when we use story merely as a tool to communicate a message, neglecting the beauty of the craft, we tend to end up with preachy propaganda.”

Sex, Lies, and Secularism

Just saying no does not work unless we teach a Christian worldview that gives reason for saying no.

Excerpt: “When even Christian young people are buying into the hookup culture, it’s clear that traditional ways of teaching biblical morality are no longer effective. “Just say no” is not enough. Young people don’t need simple rules; they need reasons to make sense of the rules. Which is to say, they need to be taught the worldview rationale for biblical morality. Otherwise it is possible for Christian young people to be sincere in their faith, yet thoroughly secular in their thoughts—and, consequently, in their behavior.”

Farewell, Jesus Junk? Christian Retail Finds a Deeper Purpose

I have mixed emotions about the closing of Family Christian Stores, but will not miss the inability to get the books I like while clambering over mints, toys, and Joel Osteen books.

Excerpt: “When America’s biggest Christian chain, Family Christian Stores, announced last month that it would be shutting its doors, a small number of Christian bookstore cynics brought up similar critiques over the shallower content its stores promoted alongside Bibles and Christian classics. The speculated silver lining: Did Family Christian’s closure mean consumers were turning away from the celebrity books, inspirational titles, and “Jesus junk”?

Lego Tape!

End of the Month Links: February

A bit late this month but, here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith

We need to change our approach in reaching children that are already believers. Pizza parties are not what they need.

Excerpt: “Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind..”

The West Began Its Decline When Artists Stopped Putting Halos on Jesus

Politics are downstream of culture, and art is a reflection of culture.

Excerpt: “Art has always been a harbinger of historical trends, especially in the West. As declining religion gave way to proxies—political religions, new-age kookery, myopic scientism, and sacralized hedonism—art heralded the way. If you’re surprised at how we ended up in the philosophical rabbit hole we live in today, you haven’t been paying attention to the licentious parade of agitprop, erotica, and narcissistic art populating the artistic imagination for the past 60 years. It’s not unrelated that an Impressionistic movement fuzzifying the borders of objective reality birthed a reaction 200 years later in Donald Trump’s beautiful wall.”

Credit Scores and Committed Relationships

Finances as a predictor of relationship success in this .pdf government report. Very interesting.

Excerpt: “Broadly speaking, our results point to a quantitatively large and significant role for credit scores in the formation and dissolution of committed relationships. Three sets of empirical results support this conclusion: First, credit scores are positively correlated with the likelihood of forming a committed relationship and its subsequent stability. Second, partners positively sort into committed relationships along the credit score dimension even after controlling for other similarities between the partners. Third, a positive correlation notwithstanding, within-couple differences in credit scores are apparent at the start of relationships. Notably, the initial match quality in credit scores is highly predictive of subsequent separations even when controlling for other factors, such as couples’ use of credit and the occurrence of financial distress.”

The Tolerance Jesus Will Not Tolerate

God is forgiving, but He is not tolerant. Look to Revelation and see what was written to the churches to see.

Excerpt: “Christians cannot be tolerant of all things because God is not tolerant of all things. We can respect differing opinions and try to understand them, but we cannot give our unqualified, unconditional affirmation to every belief and behavior. Because God doesn’t. We must love what God loves. That’s where Ephesus failed. But we must also hate what God hates. That’s where Thyatira failed.”

No, Christianity Should Not ‘Welcome’ or ‘Include’ Your Sinful Lifestyle

On the same note, we can show grace but there is right and wrong. Not pointing that out does not show the same love that Jesus showed.

Excerpt: “Tou need to stop reading with your emotions and read with your brain, man. Your emotions tell you that anyone who advocates virtue is automatically claiming to be virtuous, because it’s easier to dismiss a point based on the perceived motivations behind it rather than consider the point on its own merits. It’s like I’m saying two plus two equals four, and you’re countering that I’m not such a brilliant mathematician. Well, right, but I never said I was a brilliant mathematician. I just said two plus two equals four, because it does, and because even a stupid man can see that. It’s difficult to have grown-up conversations these days, because people like yourself see every mention of moral truth as either a personal attack or a statement of superiority. This is the real damage you cause in the Faith. It’s not that you’re sinful — we all are, to be sure — it’s that you want to be coddled. You want to shut down professions of Truth that are inconvenient or uncomfortable. You want to modify Christian teachings not because you tried them and found them wrong, but because, to paraphrase Chesterton, you found them difficult and don’t want to try them.”

Finally a video on Art and how we need standards: