Nov 28

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

Go…I will show you. Go … I will tell you.

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

The Death of Narnia, Camelot, and The Brave New World: A Timeline of 11.22.63

Made for Another World Remembering C.S. Lewis

The Day C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley Died

I Am Not Abraham’s Mistake

Humanity is cosmically special. Here’s how we know.

Unjust, Unkind, Unfair, Un-humble?

Dying to Self in the Age of Self-love

If the U.S. had 100 people: Charting Americans’ religious affiliations

London Spectator Hails Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis as a “Best Book” of 2016

32 Reasons to Give Thanks

You Should Thank God That Your Kids Are Mediocre Athletes

How Christianity Flourishes

Does God Expect us to Change the World?

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith

Glennon Doyle Melton’s Gospel of Self-Fulfillment

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Michael Denton. Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis

Jon Tyson and Heather Grizzle. A Creative Minority: Influencing Culture Through Redemptive Participation

James K. A. Smith. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit

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Nov 21

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

God with us- the beginning and end of Matthew’s Gospel

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

How Do You Serve The Prodigals In Your Life?

Survey reports the social, cultural and spiritual life of college students from China

The Common Sin of Middle Age Believers

North Korean Defectors Say Over 75 Percent of Christians Do Not Survive Persecution

Unless God Works, We Work in Vain. How Grace Levels Laziness and Pride

Iran’s House Church Movement Witnessing ‘Astounding’ Growth; Hundreds Being Baptized

Rare Canaanite-era trove of gold and silver unearthed in central Israel

Pakistan Bans All 11 Christian TV Stations, Arrests Cable Operators in Crackdown

18 Prayers to Pray for Unbelievers

Iraqi Christians Reveal Untold Brutality of Living Under ISIS’ Rule

6 Top Value Counseling Master’s Degrees in Oregon

Transgender Conformity

An Oral History With Cliff Barrows (1923–2016)

650% Increase in Deadly Terrorist Attacks in Western Nations: Global Terrorism Index

Why Grace Is Hard for Me as an Asian American

The Challenge of Defending the Faith in the Inner City

Do You Have to Like God’s Commands?

4 Spiritual Disciplines for Christian Authors

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I did not start any books last week.

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Nov 18

What do you do when it’s hard to trust God?

Sometimes we know what we want and it’s a good thing but it just isn’t happening.

Sometimes totally unexpected things happen to us out of nowhere.

How do we live in a world like this?

The books of Samuel give two examples of people who faced these perplexing times of life.

The bookends of the books of Samuel

Authors often use bookends to reinforce important ideas.  Bookends are similar words, phrases, or longer sections that repeat key themes.

The books of Samuel were originally one book and there are two prayers, one near the beginning and one near the end, that emphasize key themes of the books of Samuel

One is Hannah’s prayer after the birth of Samuel and the other is David’s psalm before his died.

The Great Reversal

One of the great unifying themes of Scripture is the Great Reversal.  God is in charge and he doesn’t do things the way we do.

The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Proud people will be brought down.  Humble people will be exalted.

When God wanted to tell humble, smelly shepherds who lived with their animals about the birth of Messiah he sent angels that night.  When he wanted to tell the king, the priests, and the other leaders he sent Gentiles who took a few months to travel to Jerusalem.

God doesn’t do things the way we do.

Hannah’s story

Hannah lived a little over a 1000 years before Christ was born and about 900 years after Abraham

She wanted a child.

She was the wife of a Levite and they lived about a day’s walk from the Tabernacle at Shiloh.  They had been married a while and were childless so he took a second wife who bore him children.

She was taunted by the second wife and one time when they came to the Tabernacle for a feast she poured out her heart to God.  She was so consumed in her prayer that Eli, the High Priest, thought she was drunk.  When she told him her story he blessed her and prayed that God would grant her request.

They return home and she had a son.  Her son Samuel served in the Tabernacle as a child and was the leader of the Jewish people as an adult.  She later had three other sons and two daughters.

Hannah’s Prayer

Hannah’s prayer to God is preserved in First Samuel, chapter 2. She gives thanks to God as the one who answered her prayer, changed her life, and gave her a position of honor after years of humiliation.

David’s story and psalm

David did not aspire to be king. He was the youngest child in a large family in a small village.  When God sent Samuel to anoint a replacement for the failed King Saul, David was not invited to the feast.  He was watching the family’s sheep.

God raised him from those humble circumstances to a kingship he did not seek.  The path from anointing to reigning included years of being pursued, being outnumbered by his enemies, and being rejected by most of his countrymen.

When recognized as king he continued to face his country’s enemies and intrigue, rape, and murder in his own family.  He had great strengths and great failings.

As he neared the end of his life, he reflected in a song that praised God as the one who raised up the humble and brought down the proud.

What do these bookends mean?

Our world is bigger than we are.  It was here before we arrived and, if Jesus does not return, it will go on after we die.

We want things that we are convinced are good for us and don’t understand the delay.

Things happen that we don’t understand… good things and bad things.

Like Hannah and David, we live in a world beyond our control.

We can face the world with prayerful trust or control-freak frustration.

Questions for consideration:

When have you been humbled when you didn’t expect it?

When have you been highly regarded when it was a surprise?

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Nov 14

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

4 Lessons We Can Learn from the Book of Jonah

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

Lord, Keep Me from Wasting My Life

Kingdom Advance in the Arab World

6 Surprising Characteristics of Biblical Faith According to Hebrews 11

Does Christianity Make Life Harder?

Christians In Uzbetistan Punished For Having Religious Literature In Homes

Why does anyone become a Christian?

What Keeps You from Going? Three Myths About World Missions

Don’t Waste Your Ambition

10 Simple Ways to Help You Say No

Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads.

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Paul Copan. True for You, But Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Nov 07

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

Who is Jesus?

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

Unsealing of Christ’s Reputed Tomb Turns Up New Revelations

Lux in Tenebris: How God Is Moving on Secular Campuses

A rabbi’s warning to U.S. Christians

Abortion’s Miscarriage Problem

What It’s Really Like for China’s Urban Christians

The New Evangelical Moral Minority

Hacksaw Ridge: The Bloody, True Story of Faith in Action

Anti-Semitism Goes to Parliament

Diaspora Missions: People on the Move in the Borderless World

Evangelicals Across the Spectrum Are Clarifying Marriage as a Core Belief

Is evangelical Christianity becoming more open to gay marriage?

What’s Really Going On With Evangelicals And Same-Sex Marriage

5 Damning Inconsistencies In Transgender Dogma

Suffering Is Not A New Truth

8 Ways To Have More Time

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I did not start any books this week.

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Oct 31

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

No matter how bad it gets, Jesus does not give up on us

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

How Will We Live Now? Francis Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live” After 40 Years

The Burial Place of Jesus Exposed For the First Time In Centuries: An Interview on What It Originally Looked Like and How We Know This Is The Right Location

Roman fingerprints found in 2,000-year-old cream

Has Rome Really Changed Its Tune? The Catholic Church — 500 Years Later

19 Possible Motive-Triggers For Pornography

What Good Can Come from Suffering?

Signposts: How Should Christians Handle Disagreement Over Halloween?

It Happened to George Washington’s Church

4 Great Reasons to Read Romans

Papyrus offers nonbiblical mention of Judean kingdom in Jerusalem

Europe’s Backdoor for Drugs, Sex Trafficking, Jihadism—and the Gospel

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I did not start any books this week.

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Oct 28

We sing about 90% of the words…does it still count as a whole song?

Pleasant choruses

Choruses and hymns have been based on the uplifting words of the first paragraph of 1 John 3.

3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV) (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 John 3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

A difficult conclusion

However, the songs usually stop before the end of the paragraph and leave out the last sentence.

3:3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (ESV)

Because of what God has given us, including an eternal, sanctified future in his presence, we should live godly lives.  We should be unsatisfied with our failings.

We should be unsatisfied with our failings.

I don’t do prophecy

Teaching about prophecy has been very divisive in the Christian community. There have been failed predictions and bizarre strained interpretations of current events that have left many people weary and confused.  They have concluded that it is best to ignore any passage that points to the future.

I have heard people say “I don’t do prophecy.” “It will only hurt the Church.”

“It will only hurt the Church.”

“Prophecy will only confuse you.”

The New Testament writers did prophecy

The New Testament writers did not shy away from talking about the end times but they talked about it differently than many people do today.

Peter made the following bold statement:

“The end of all things is near.” (1 Peter 4:7)

He then told his reader what to do because the end was near:

Be self-controlled

Love one another

Show hospitality

Use their spiritual gifts.  (1 Peter 4:7-12)

Why do prophecy?

Many of Jesus’s parables were about judgment and accountability.  Christians will stand in front of Jesus and given account for their lives: their use of spiritual gifts, their use of the financial resources, influence, talents, and other blessings that God has entrusted to them.

Salvation by faith in Jesus is the gift upon which we build our lives. If we have truly seen Jesus, we will be transformed by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are saved but accountable

Secondly, because Jesus is coming back his followers can face their futures with hope. Those who believed in him will be vindicated. Those who have suffered for him will be commended.

Thirdly, we take comfort in a future when God will banish evil. This evil that burdens and torments us from without and within. We will finally see clearly

Also, we need to constantly be reminded that this world is not the final reality. It is a shadowland of the clarity to come.

We should live like our next breath is our last because it could be. We will remember for all eternity what we were doing when Jesus returns.

Prophecy should lead us to live more godly lives.

Questions for consideration:

What are you looking forward to most about the eternal kingdom? Seeing friends and family who died before you?  Being free from your physical and spiritual struggles?  Seeing Jesus clearly?  Comprehending truths that have been beyond your understanding?

Of all the things you do each day, what do you want to be doing when Jesus returns?

Of all the things you do each day, what would you rather not be doing when Jesus returns?

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Oct 24

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

Do we trust God even when it looks like we shouldn’t?

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

3 Ways to Respond When Slandered

Eliza Huie. Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World: Help for Christian Parents. I just finished reading this book and it is very good. Please read it and recommend it.

A great little book on transgenderism

Why Christians Love Books

Why the Local Church Really Matters

Archaeologists find battle site where Romans breached Jerusalem walls

3 Awful Features of Roman Sexual Morality

Dinosaur Tissue- A Biochemical Challenge to the Evolutionary Timescale

5 Truths About Minimalism I Remind Myself Often

When Sin Keeps You From Prayer

Why I Love the Apostle Paul

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Eliza Huie. Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World: Help for Christian Parents

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Oct 21

What three things saved Ruth and Naomi from their suffering?

A time of suffering

Ruth and Naomi lived centuries ago but faced the same suffering we see in the world today.

Individuals and societies have cycles of faith, decline, consequences, repentance, and blessing.

Choices have consequences.  We live in a world where we face the consequences of good choices and bad choices.  We face the consequences of our choices and choices of others.

It has been said that in times of faith and prosperity are the seeds of the next decline.  People forget the work and attitudes that brought them prosperity.  They become independent and lose their ties to God and each other.  And slowly things begin to change.  Crime rises.  People care less.  And eventually they begin to notice.  Then something grotesque happens and everyone is shaken.

Life among the Jews after Joshua died and before the kings reigned was like this.

It may go against our notion of independence but we are not in this world alone.  What we do and what others do affects us all.

The suffering of Naomi and Ruth

Naomi’s husband made the difficult choice to leave his homeland in a time of famine.  They live as strangers in Moab, a country that had previously been hostile to the Jews. (Ruth 1)

When he died and his sons died, his wife and their wives became widows.  The wife of one son stayed in her homeland but Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law.  Naomi made the decision to return home when she heard that the famine was over.  Ruth went with her.

Naomi had no community when she left her homeland.  Ruth left her community to go to Naomi’s home.

Faith in times of suffering

Ruth’s faith is obvious.  She leaves her homeland and declares that Naomi’s people will be her people and Naomi’s God will be her God.

Another faith is often overlooked.  Ruth made her decision because of what she saw in Naomi and her family.  This is how she saw the life of faith in the God of the Jews.  Naomi’s faith is often overlooked but it was very real.  She consistently saw God working in her life. (Ruth 1-4)

What three things saved Ruth and Naomi from their suffering?

Ruth and Naomi acted faithfully.

Secondly, the community in Bethlehem supported them.  Boaz, an affluent relative of Naomi’s dead husband, allowed the poor, including Ruth, to harvest from the grain left after his harvesters worked the fields.  When he heard of Ruth’s faith, he told her to stay at his fields and provided for her in ways beyond those required in the Law of Moses.  He also married Ruth following the provisions of the law for widows.

Finally, Naomi saw God’s provision in the way her needs were met. God worked through these circumstances.   As the narrator concluded the story he reminded us that from this family, on the brink of extinction, came King David. This is also the family of David’s descendant, Jesus, the Messiah. (Ruth 2-4)

People of faith can live in difficult times

The book of Judges records a depressing cycle of belief, unbelief, consequences, and rededication. Each cycle seems worse than the one before.

However, good people lived during these times.  People like Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz were good people.  They were not immobilized by their depressing world.

Faith without community is very difficult, often impossible. It is also usually not necessary

We often abandoned our communities of faith when we need them most.  We are ashamed of a failing or face a difficult problem that we believe we must face alone.  We often drift for a long time before we realize what we have lost.

In addition to the faithfulness of God, we find strength to face each day in our personal faith and in the faithful communities that support us.

Questions for consideration:

Have you ever stayed away from a supportive community during a time of hardship?

How do relationships like marriage, family, church, community, and nation, help and hurt us as we live each day?

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Oct 17

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

How good things turn bad

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

5 Ways Persecution in Iran Has Backfired

The Worst Country On Earth To Be a Christian

4 Reasons Spurgeon Died Poor

Lay Aside the Weight of Lust

12 Theses on a Christian Understanding of Economics

Race in America: Four Critical Reminders As We Move Towards Healing

6 Ways to Transform Your Reading of the Gospels

How to Restore Civility in the Public Square

Why It Matters that the Reformers Were Pastors

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

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