Saturday, August 05, 2017

July Web Roundup

Photo Credit: Joanbrebo
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past several weeks:

A Checkpoint for Your Ambition by Michael Kelley (For the Gospel)
"Ambition is the strong desire to do something or achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work. Nothing wrong there; ambition, like so many other things, is neither good or bad. It is simply a desire that can either be redeemed or corrupted. Like most anything else involving desire – sex, power, eating – the question becomes how that desire is fulfilled. That fulfillment, though, is where things get complicated."
Six Reasons We Must Seek Solitude by Todd Gaddis (LifeWay)
"I recently wore out a set of tires prematurely due to an alignment problem. Likewise, we wear ourselves out and minister ineffectively when out of alignment. Solitude helps us recalibrate. Take Elijah for example. Fearful and exhausted, he fled into the wilderness, yearning to die. Thankfully, following a period of rejuvenation, he left the presence of the Lord with a renewed outlook and updated assignment (1 Kings 19:15-16). According to Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline, “goals are discovered, not made.” Our chances of making such a find increases exponentially in solitude. Early African converts to Christianity found time and eagerly participated in private devotions. It is said that each person had an isolated spot in the thicket where he/she would commune alone with God. In the course of time, their paths to these places became well worn. Consequently, if one grew lax in this discipline, it soon became apparent to others. They would then lovingly remind the negligent one, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”
It's Disadvantaged Groups That Suffer Most When Free Speech Is Curtailed on Campus by Musa Al-Gharbi & Jonathan Haidt (The Atlantic)
"In virtue of their heavy reliance on taxpayer funding and major donors, public colleges are much more receptive to calls from outside the university to punish faculty and staff for espousing controversial speech or ideas. Groups like Professor Watchlist, Campus Reform, or Campus Watch exploit this vulnerability, launching populist campaigns to get professors fired, or to prevent them from being hired, on the basis of something they said. The primary targets of these efforts end up being mostly women, people of color, and religious minorities (especially Muslims and the irreligious) when they too forcefully or bluntly condemn systems, institutions, policies, practices, and ideologies they view as corrupt, exploitative, oppressive, or otherwise intolerable."
Between Two Cultures: How Latina Christians Approach Leadership by Andrea Ramirez (Christianity Today)
"What is unique to Hispanic students is their home life. If parents are not assimilated to “American” culture, there is a great disconnect that occurs with their student. There is a lack of understanding of the pressures their children are facing at school, most of it peer pressure to belong. Ironically, what may have most provoked parents to move to the United States—an education—can become the cause of a slipping apart between parents and children. I can't stress enough how great a conflict this can cause. Teen years are turbulent, anyway. Add to it the pressure that students feel in an environment they may not completely understand, and the pressure from peers, teachers, and from home ... It can be very overwhelming."
Implicit Bias vs Explicit Bias (By Their Strange Fruit)
"Racial implicit bias manifests itself in everything from assumptions about sports prowess, to who we hire/fire, to who we are afraid of as we walk down the street. To combat our implicit biases, we must first become aware of their existence (try an IAT test!), so that we can consciously combat their effects on our thought processes and actions. Implicit bias can’t be fixed with colorblindness, in fact colorblindness makes it worse. While overt racism never really went away, over the years implicit bias was allowed to take root and fester, unexamined and unchecked. The result has been decades of accumulated disparity, often perpetuated by unwitting 'basically good' people. Resumes were overlooked, mortgages and leases were declined, school applications were denied--indeed innocent people were shot. All because largely well-meaning people, acted on their implicit biases, often without even realizing they are contributing to systemic racism in our society."
Reading Wars by Philip Yancey
"I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish.  Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines. As a writer in the age of social media, I host a Facebook page and a website and write an occasional blog.  Thirty years ago I got a lot of letters from readers, and they did not expect an answer for a week or more.  Now I get emails, and if they don’t hear back in two days they write again, “Did you get my email?”  The tyranny of the urgent crowds in around me."
50 Years Later: Remembering the Detroit Riots of 1967 by Candace Howze (Urban Faith)
"Much of the city was destroyed during the riots, leaving thousands without a place to work or live, and businesses that were unharmed shut down for safety purposes. Taylor and his brother worked for General Motors at the time and were told not to go into work because of the hostile atmosphere throughout the city, which included curfew violations, fights, and multiple fires. Looters continued to steal millions of dollars of merchandise, including a few of Taylor’s friends who stole TV sets from a local business. “It got so bad that they canceled our work because it was too dangerous to move. Black people were mad and white people were scared and everyone was kinda scared to go anywhere.”"
Hugh Freeze and the Peril of Public Faith by Cameron Cole (The Gospel Coalition)
"No matter the Christian—whether the non-drinking teenager, the stay-at-home mom, or the preacher—if he or she projects an air that righteousness comes from religious performance, he or she will be viewed as self-righteous. When that person demonstrates even a hint of moral failure, detractors will pile on the charge of hypocrisy. What non-Christians seem to hate most about believers is the perception of moral superiority. And when well-known Christians fall, some take opportunity to say, “See, you’re not any better than I am.” And they’re right. Absolutely right."
Little Girl Won't Let Her Mother Be Alone

I'm sure moms everywhere can relate to this little girl who just won't let her mom use the restroom in peace and quiet.



Saturday, July 01, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (7/1/17)

Photo Credit: Golden_Ribbon
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

Watch Your Mouth by Randy Nabors
"The consciousness of racial injustice and its attendant social, economic, psychic, emotional, and physical realities are like a punch in the gut.  We have no alternative but to spell them out, to both the ignorant and the resistant.  Yet, if we allowed hate to fill us, these truths could inflame our hearts and push us to be fiery-eyed zealots and avengers, we instead seek to speak the truth in love; as Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to do.  This is not always easy to do, to speak hard truths in love.  We cannot be flippant about what love means (claiming we love people but producing no demonstrable proof) in our communication, especially not in having read the James passage in how the “wisdom from above” is to be imparted.  In other words people who hear hard truths from us must also hear and feel the love as far as it may depend on us."
Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other Cultures by Amy Medina
"When we talk about church in America with our Tanzanian friends, it's their turn to be shocked.  Your church services are only an hour and fifteen minutes long?  And that's the only service you attend all week?  And you've never, ever done an all-night prayer vigil? Like, never?  Are there even any Christians in America? In America, your devotion to Christ is measured by the amount of personal time you spend in prayer and Bible study.  Am I right or am I right?  Well, in Tanzania, your devotion to Christ is measured by the amount of time you spend in prayer and worship with others. Of course, you might protest that measuring godliness sounds like legalism.  Which is true--but we still do it, don't we? If you are American, what would you say to a Christian who never did personal devotions, but spent many hours every week in church worship services? Would you even know where to put that person in your spiritual hierarchy?  And would you be able to back up your conclusion with Scripture? It's easy for us, as foreigners, to come to Tanzania and point out what they are doing wrong. Those deficiencies pop up to us broadly and clearly.  But I wonder, what if a Tanzanian Christian came to the States and was given a voice in the white American Church?  What deficiencies would be glaringly obvious to him?"
I preached about a gun rights advocate. He wasn't who I thought. by Amy Butler (USA Today)
"I sat there, startled briefly by the unlikely situation in which we found ourselves. We couldn’t be more different. But Todd and I share at least one fundamental belief: nobody is the stereotype we believe they are. We do ourselves and our world a fundamental disservice when we won’t summon the courage to listen to each other and try as hard as we can to find the things we share, small as they may be."
Poll shows a dramatic generational divide in white evangelical attitudes on gay marriage by Sarah Pulliam Bailey (The Washington Post)
"The question for many evangelicals has been whether LGBT issues are matters where they can agree to disagree and still work together, perhaps like the question of when children should be baptized or whether women can be ordained. When the issue came up for World Vision, one of the largest Christian nonprofits in the country, in 2012, the answer was a sharp no — it lost thousands of donors right away. And InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a major ministry, announced last fall that its employees must affirm its views that marriage is between a man and a woman. Some evangelicals believe there’s a difference between supporting gay marriage as a public policy matter and gay marriage as sanctioned by churches. A large majority of white evangelicals (including younger generations) continue to see homosexual relations as morally wrong, according to the General Social Survey. The 2016 survey found 75 percent of white evangelicals saying homosexual sexual relations are always or nearly always wrong. That number is down from 82 percent in 1996 and 90 percent in 1987. The survey does not show a large generational gap, however. In 2014-2016 surveys, 70 percent of Generation X/millennial white evangelicals said same-sex sexual relations are nearly always or always wrong, compared to 81 percent of baby boomers/older generations."
7 ways the iPhone has made life worse by Kara Alaimo (CNN)

I'm an iPhone user but I share the concerns listed in this article from Kara Alaimo. Here she lists seven ways that she feels our smartphones have made our lives worse:
1. They're bad for our brains.
2. While we're busy on our phones, we're ignoring the world around us.
3. We're also ignoring one other.
4. They're ruining our relationships.
5. They promote FOMO ("fear of missing out") syndrome.
6. We have come to need constant validation.
7. We're expected to be available for work 24-7.
Smartphones can be useful if we use them and they don't use us. But these concerns are worth considering.

My 3 Big Fears in Parenting Teenagers by Trevin Wax (The Gospel Coalition)
"As fathers and mothers, we model the love of God to our kids in different ways. I know that whenever my children think of their Heavenly Father, they will in some way associate Him with their earthly father. The responsibility of modeling the character of God to my children makes me feel so honored and so inadequate. My fear for the teenage years is that, in the midst of the drama, the mood swings, the debates and disagreements, and the inevitable growth of independence, I will respond in ways that push my kids away from God instead of toward Him. That I will consistently model something untrue about God. For this reason, I pray that God would give me a soft and repentant heart, a willingness to own up to my sins, so that our kids would see that leadership in the home is not opposed to admitting I'm wrong, or that I need forgiveness. I also pray that God will not allow my fear of making mistakes to make me passive and thus forfeit my leadership role through apathy. A good father needs to have a combination of grace and boldness, with strands of love and authority tied so tightly you can't untangle one without the other."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wisdom on Sorrow From Oswald Chambers

Photo Credit: MorkiRo
Taken from today's entry from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:
"As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour. 
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them. 
Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining. The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be this way is immaterial. The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. 
You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people."