End of the Month Links

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:

End of the Month Links: December

And yet I can’t find the Charlie Brown Christmas special anywhere

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:

5 Christian Clichés That Need to Die

In our rush to make others feel better we often run to unbiblical sayings.

Excerpt: “Sometimes, in our desire to simplify truth, we can trivialize and even obscure it. And to obscure the truth is to tell a lie. Here are five popular Christian clichés that aren’t biblical and therefore need a memorial service.”

How J.R.R. Tolkien Led C.S. Lewis toward Christianity

Preach it! This is one of the main reasons why I have started the Breathed Through Silver Site.

Excerpt: ” I’ve always been so impressed with how J.R.R. Tolkien led his atheist friend C.S. Lewis toward faith in Christianity,” begins Tim Keller in the video clip below. He says Tolkien explained to Lewis that the fulfillment of human longings (eternal love, triumph over evil, heroic sacrifice, life out of death) that we find in beautiful stories—the stories Lewis loved so much—can be found in reality:”

Trying to make Christianity entertaining makes people think that it’s fake

During this season that has the second most church attendance (Easter being the first), this is a hard truth to swallow. We must take this to heart.

Excerpt: “Knowing the truth about God comes before acting as if God is real and God has a specific character and will for us. From the existence of God, we move on to the accuracy of the Bible, and on to theology, and then and only then do we start the outward behaviors of a Christian. If you skip to the behaviors, that is unnatural – like acting a part of a doctor when you have never been to medical school. It’s morally wrong to try to pretend to be something you are not.”

Church Should Feel Uncomfortable

On the same note, church should not be something that just makes us feel good to suits our preferences.

Excerpt: “Talking about one’s “dream church” is—increasingly, I’ve come to think—an exercise in not only futility even but flat-out gospel denial. The church doesn’t exist to meet our every need and satisfy our various checklists of tastes and “comfort zone” preferences. If anything, it exists to destabilize such things. The church should draw us out of the dead-eye stupor of a culture of comfort-worship. It should jostle us awake to the reality that comfort is one of the greatest obstacles to growth.

Tim Keller Wants You to Stop Underestimating Christmas

An interview with Tim Keller about his Christmas book illustrates that we need to focus much more on the incarnation to understand the huge importance of Christmas.

Excerpt: “Christmas is familiar, but it isn’t tame. As Tim Keller puts it in his new book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (Viking), “Christmas is both more wondrous and more threatening than we imagine.” Working from the writings of Matthew, Luke, and John, he illumines the modern import of the ancient story. ”

Finally a video on the Unsatisfying things in life:

End of the Month Links: October

Where is the Peanuts Halloween special?

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 Today’s Christians Can Learn From Antiquity About Living In A Pagan World

When all we see is a pagan and secular “liberation from the tradition of old” we as Christians must go back to the strategy of “must articulate and exemplify an alternative vision of human flourishing”.

Excerpt: “A faithful Christian community would offer women all the advantages of education, career advancement, and self-determination enjoyed by pagan women without the negative consequences. A faithful Christian community will tend to the ill and the hopeless, as we saw during the Ebola crisis. A faithful Christian community will demand moral behavior from men every bit as much as women. A faithful Christian community will identify pagan practices as sinful, but welcome such sinners with love and compassion. A faithful Christian community will see the image of God in every human being, regardless of race, class, or national origin. Who wouldn’t be attracted to such a community? It may be the only hope left for a society that has gone so badly off the rails.

You Could’ve Been Something

There is a beauty in being ‘ordinary’. We often forget this when we look down the paths we did not take.

Excerpt: “Christ set me free from the pressure of becoming something. His death reminds me that it was never about me anyway. I was never the History maker — He is. I am not the world changer — He is. Fame, acclaim, and praise will destroy me. They will not destroy Him. Glory will devastate me. Glory will indeed make me somebody — a monster who is hiding a fragile ego that needs to be more than just a servant.”

Freedom From the Tyranny of Hyper-Spirituality

Sadly our wrong view of Christianity where religious experience trumps  all is harming a lot of people and is not Christian. It is burdensome to live on those terms – God offers us freedom from  things like that.

Excerpt: “The tyranny of hyper-spirituality our church culture had foisted on us set us up for disappointment because it held up religious experiences as the means of God’s grace, rather than the finished work of the cross. […] Hyper-spirituality is what happens when we (usually implicitly) think that obedience to God and giving glory to God is about payback.”

9 Traits of Truly Curious People

Curious people are people filled with wonder and excitement, this list shows also that it is a virtue as well.

Excerpt: “Curiosity pointed in any direction is marked by the same traits. Whether we are investing in a marriage, a co-worker, a project, a sermon, a mission trip, a friendship, or a crisis a truly curious person shares these.”

The Sexual Revolution and the Witness of the Church

We cannot use the same tired arguments as the battleground has shifted, but the need for the fight remains.

Excerpt: “The Christian church has always enjoyed the moral high ground; it has always been understood to be the guardian of what is right and righteous, at least in Western societies. But what we are seeing now is a fundamental change. Hobson is arguing that this moral revolution, having turned the tables of Christianity, now robs the Christian church of the moral high ground it had previously claimed. The situation is fundamentally reversed. For the first time in the history of Western civilization, Christianity appears to be on the underside of morality, and those who hold to biblical teachings concerning human sexuality are now “ousted” (to use Hobson’s word) from the position of high moral ground.”

Millennial International

 

 

End of the Month Links: September

Click, Click, Click… It’s what we like to do!

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:

William Wilberforce’s Relentless Battle to End Slavery

A reminder that “Sometimes carrying out a particular ministry that the Lord would have us to fulfill requires not just weeks or months of effort. Sometimes it demands many years or even several decades of unrelenting, determined endeavor.”

Excerpt: “With the renewed encouragement, strength and tenacity that God Himself provides, we can successfully fulfill even the longest-term tasks to which He calls us. William Wilberforce’s relentless efforts to bring an end to slavery in the British Empire are a sterling and instructive example of that.”

Decision Making & “I Have a Peace About It”

One of the most gnostic common sayings that the church gives about decision making is addressed and the correct way given.

Excerpt: “That process of making the decision usually goes something like this. I am facing a difficult issue in my life, requiring some wise decision-making. However, I approach the decision with a pre-existing bent towards my own comfort. Instead of an objective approach to the decision, I have a subjective bent towards getting my own way. I have some desire for God to weigh in on the decision. I may pray about it, look up a few verses, and ask a few friends, but I am hoping to discover some Christian key to unlock my wants. I likely run into counsel either from godly friends, leadership, or Scripture which hinders getting my way. I subsequently feel more drawn towards my decision. I find a few verses (which I do not rigorously study with a proper hermeneutic and help from church leadership) that, though taken out of context, seem to support what I already want. This fuels my existing idolatrous pursuit. I run across some friends and verses which assure me that God wants me to feel happy and joyful about what I do. Since it does not seem joyful to make the more difficult decision, I am further established in my own way. I run across some verses which discuss personal peace. I perceive a feeling of personal peace as I meditate on my pre-desired decision and the consequent ease it will bring in my life. Therefore, since I experience feelings of increasing pleasure, I conclude that I am at peace. Thus, since I presume that God wants me to be at peace, I conclude that my feeling of peace is God assuring me, “This is the decision you should make.” Finally, I declare, “I have a peace about making this decision. I have prayed about it. God is calling me to ____.” And I go through with the decision. But all is not well.”

Finding God’s Will for Your Life Is Easier than You Think

A “follow-up” from the previous article. Finding God’s will is actually super easy and does not rely on having a peace.

Excerpt: ” Why do so many believers get all stressed out about finding God’s will for their life? I believe it’s because most of us tend to overplay the importance of God’s specific will for our life, while underestimating the value of knowing and doing God’s universal will for all our lives. We often want to skip past the 90 percent (the Essentials) and jump straight to the 10 percent (the Specifics).”

Apologists, Catechists, Theologians: Wake Up!

A call to action to reclaim the heritage of intellect that somehow we have left on a shelf.

Excerpt: “Let me look just briefly at some of the chief reasons offered for walking away from Christianity. Many evidently felt that modern science somehow undermines the claims of the faith. One respondent said: “rational thought makes religion go out the window,” and another complained of the “lack of any sort of scientific evidence of a creator.” Well, I’m sure it would come as an enormous surprise to St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine, Blessed John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and Joseph Ratzinger—all among the most brilliant people Western culture has produced—that religion and reason are somehow incompatible.”

Against Eternal Youth

Using characters in older films compared to recent films shows that our culture has not only bowed to the idol of youth but has forsaken the virtue of maturity.

Excerpt: “Future historians will have to sort out our plight—how a whole generation could forget to grow up, while still attempting to raise a younger generation and lead the most powerful nation in the world through times of war and terror. The skills of adulthood are not ones we know how to use. Being kittenish, or obscene, or adorably perplexed—we can do that. But gathering the gravity and confidence that signals full maturity is beyond our capabilities. It’s not youth that passed us by, but adulthood. ”

Office Kingdom

I feel like this is my job sometimes…. if only that was true.