January 24, 2013

Random Links (1/24)

How Much Money Am I Supposed to Give Away
"It is a question every pastor faces on a regular basis. It is a question every conference speaker faces in panel discussions or Q&A sessions: How much of my money do I give to the church? How much should I give to the church?"

Why Wearing Clothes of Mixed Fabrics (Lev. 19:19) Was Wrong
"Unbelievers love to prove how unreasonable it is to believe in the Bible through bringing forth unreasonable commands, like Leviticus 19:19: “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material." It certainly seems odd, doesn't it?"

Marriage in the Cosmic Plan of God
"As men and women who live out God-given roles, we discover Christ’s cosmic work is reflected inside our homes. This God-honoring marriage then shines like a light in our neighborhoods to announce to the rulers and principalities the victory of Christ. Christ-honoring marriages are a living proof of the cosmic victory of Christ."

Three Important Tips on Reading
"I read. A lot. Well, it doesn’t feel like I read enough, but compared to normal people, yes, it’s a bit obsessive. (What can I say? I’m Reformed.) In any case, while there have been a number of pieces of advice on reading that I’ve found, received, or formulated over the years, but three in particular have shaped my reading habits and formed me, I think, for the better, as both a reader and a thinker."

The Acting Alone Fallacy
"The idea that you're "alone" unless you're being directed by the government strikes me as dehumanizing and almost abusive. So I resist this scare tactic of presenting the government as the alternative to being "alone.""

January 18, 2013

Random Links (1/18)

Top 5 innovations that will change the way you work in 5 years

"Each year for the last seven years, the scientists at IBM have released their list of five innovations that they feel have the greatest potential to change the way we work and live during the next five years. Here’s what they came up with this year..."

How Do We Know If God Is Disciplining Us?

"Hebrews 12:6-7 reads: "For those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?" Does this mean that hardships, sickness, disease, and the like happen because God is disciplining his children? (Moreover, what about hardships that happen to unbelievers? If this is not God's discipline in their lives, then why do these events happen? Is it God's punishment?) Does this mean every bad thing (or only some bad things) that happens to Christians, happens because God is disciplining us? If a Christian gets the flu, or a cold, or cancer, or gets in a car crash, or loses a job — should these hardships be seen as God's discipline? Of course God is sovereign over all things--but when bad things happen to Christians, should these happenings be seen as God's discipline, or God's soverign use of evil for our good, or results of sin and the Fall, or all of the above?"

Given Tablets But No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves

" With 100 million first-grade-aged children worldwide having no access to schooling, the One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages—simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens.The goal: to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs."

Against the Objectification of Females

"The movement to liberate women from the supposed shackles of male oppression in the U.S. celebrated the right of women to assert themselves, to use their feminine wiles to their lasting advantage. “If you have it, flaunt it,” was expressed by more than one approving feminist. But a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to, or perhaps as a result of liberation: objectification. One end of liberation has clearly been a loss of respect. Men have certainly lost respect for women, but women have also lost respect for themselves. When primary expressions of liberation include women making objects out of themselves someone needs to ask, “Is this all there is?”"

January 11, 2013

There is a higher throne

Ezra 3-10

It's comforting to read of the exiles in Persia being guided by God's providence to be able to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and the temple. In the midst of opposition, under the rule of a pagan king, not only are they permitted to complete the project but it is fully funded for them. When the Lord has promised something, he will bring it about and no one can stay his hand. As Christ builds his church on the earth, this is a great comfort because there is opposition on all sides, from spiritual oppression, to government intervention, to local antagonism, to lack of funding, and to internal disputes or disobedience among the people of God themselves. Knowing that the sovereign Lord works to bring about his purposes through and in spite of these circumstances gives us cause to rejoice.

We are the temple of the living God, being built by the Holy Spirit with Christ as the cornerstone. We do not rely on the edict of earthly kings but are under a King who has all authority in heaven and earth and neither Cyrus, nor Artaxerxes, nor Darius, no Caesar, nor the emperor, nor the Prime Minister, nor the Congress, nor the President can overrule his decree. Despite any attempts to the contrary, they will carry forward his plan and will. History ebbs and flows, with kingdoms and lords, ideologies and philosophies, armies and great powers rising and falling by the hand of enemies without and strife within. Yet through it all there is one Lord of history whose kingdom continues, without armies, without warfare, but with a powerful word and the love Christ, and it will one day contain people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on the earth.

The Lord said to his Son, "Ask of me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance." One day we will hear the angelic voices announcing that, "the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and he will reign forever and ever."

Come, Lord Jesus.

January 10, 2013

Our Great High Priest

Reading the account of Peter and Dorcus is Acts 9, I was struck when he said to her, "Tabitha, get up." This immediately brought to mind Jesus raising Jairus' daughter and saying to her, "Talitha, cume" or "Little girl, get up." Peter is continuing in the footsteps of his Lord Jesus, bringing life and healing. Christ ascendedto the right hand of God but continues his work in the Holy Spirit through his Church.

In that same chapter, Saul is stopped on the road by a vision of Jesus himself, who says, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?...I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." Paul's threats and murder against the church are threats and murder against Jesus. He takes us into himself, identifies with us, so that our life becomes his life. This is a great comfort and hope - Jesus, seated at the right hand of God the Father, and us seated with him. He forever intercedes with us, standing before God making his plea on our behalf - this is what Stephen saw, Jesus standing (not sitting), as Stephen made his faithful witness. Stephen confessed Jesus before men, and Jesus confessed Stephen before his Heavenly Father. Our great high priest, our savior.

So when I stand in the world, Christ stands with me. When I suffer in the world, Christ suffers with me. When I speak to the world, Christ speaks through me. When I stand in the world, I know that Christ stands before God on my behalf. When I suffer in the world, Christ has suffered on my behalf. When I testify of him to the world, Christ testifies of me to the Father of my behalf.

January 5, 2013

Random Links (1/5)

The Christian Introvert
"I believe that God made me introverted. It seems clear that some of us are naturally more outgoing while others are naturally inclined to be quiet. I am naturally quiet and this is part of God’s good design. Neither one is inherently wrong and neither one is intrinsically better than the other. But what Cain does not acknowledge, writing as she does from a secular perspective, is that we inhabit a world of sin where any trait or quality can be used for God-glorifying ends or for self-glorifying ends. Not only that, but God calls us to be always willing to deny our desires in order to serve others. Both introverts and extroverts will face particular temptations to sin. My temptation as an introvert is to run away from people instead of serve people. It is to be selfish instead of giving."

Hey Extraverts: Enough is Enough
"So, extraverts of the world, I invite you to make a New Year’s resolution: Refrain from organizing stuff. Don’t plan parties or outings or, God forbid, “team-building exercises.” Just don’t call meetings. (I would ask you to refrain from calling unnecessary meetings, but so many of you think almost all meetings necessary that it’s best you not call them at all.) Leave people alone and let them get their work done. Those who want to socialize can do it after work. I’ll not tell you you’ll enjoy it: you won’t. You’ll be miserable, at least at first, because you won’t be pulling others’ puppet-strings. But everyone will be more productive, and many people will be happier. Give it a try. Let go for a year. Just leave us alone."

The Pro-Life Cause is Winning
According to Time Magazine, the pro-life cause is winning (a reality which they lament). Russell Moore disagrees: Is the Pro-Life Cause Winning.

A Technology Consumption Resolution
"Even though I regularly write, think, and speak about faith and technology, that doesn’t mean I’m immune to the lure of “technology addiction.” Specifically, one area that I often struggle in properly disciplining is avoiding unnecessary email and social media checks when I’m home with my family. Sometimes when I pull out my phone “just to check the time,” I find myself wanting to check various apps and clear out unread items. That’s not to say I’m always on my phone. Judging by other dads around me who are often glued to their glowing rectangles, I think I do a pretty decent job of keeping my phone in my pocket. Yet, the battle seems tougher than it needs to be, and being a rather lazy soul, I wanted to find a way to make things easier on myself."

January 3, 2013

Random Links (1/3)

Chinese Worker Scrawls Plea For Help in a Product He Made
"An Oregon woman was surprised to find a handwritten letter stuck in some Halloween decorations she bought at Kmart. The note purported to be from a Chinese worker in a labor camp…"

Dying Regrets and New Year Reflections
"Earlier this year, The Guardian reported about Bonnie Ware, a palliative nurse, who had spent 12 years documenting the last words and dying regrets of those under her care (which eventually resulted in a book). Ware said that people at the end of their lives have “phenomenal clarity of vision,” and therefore we should consider what we might learn from their wisdom. Ware listed the top 5 regrets (most commonly mentioned) of those on their deathbed."

Maybe the US isn't as Violent as we think?
Surprising results when violent crime statistics are compared between nations.

Let's Give Up On the Constitution
A stunning editorial from no less than a University professor of constitutional law. If my children ever decide to study law, I think I will steer them away from Georgetown. "As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions." A response and critique found here: Let's Give Up On Professor Lewis Michael Seidman

Les Miserables and the Surprising Gospel of Grace
"Jean Valjean, the fugitive on the run, was nevertheless the one who knew the meaning of freedom; and even more so after he came out of hiding and gave himself up to Javert. He had discovered grace: the principle that doing good and being good are gifts from God, given to those who know they do not deserve them. He was simultaneously softened and strengthened by grace: strengthened to do what was right, with great courage and self-sacrifice; and softened to do it beautifully and well. In their final dramatic encounter Javert is forced to recognize that Valjean's virtue is truer and nobler than his own. The realization kills him. Law was kept in bondage until the very end. Grace prevailed. This is the way of the Gospel; it is the way of Christ."