Saturday, June 14, 2014

All Around the Web - June 14, 2014

National Review - The Cleansing of Iraq’s Christians Is Entering Its End Game
The government of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell overnight to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, also called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mosul’s panic-stricken Christians, along with many others, are now fleeing en masse to the rural Nineveh Plain, according to the Vatican publication. The border crossings into Kurdistan, too, are jammed with the cars of the estimated 150,000 desperate escapees.

The population, particularly its Christian community, has much to fear. The ruthlessness of ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaeda, has been legendary. Its beheadings, crucifixions, and other atrocities against Christians and everyone else who fails to conform to its vision of a caliphate have been on full display earlier this year, in Syria.

As Corner readers will remember, in February, it was the militants of this rebel group that, in the northern Syrian state of Raqqa, compelled Christian leaders to sign a 7th-century dhimmi contract. The document sets forth specific terms denying the Christians the basic civil rights of equality and religious freedom and committing them to pay protection money in exchange for their lives and the ability to keep their Christian identity.

First Things - N. T. Wright’s Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage

Thom Rainer - Ten Tips to Becoming a More Productive Pastor
  1. Be spiritually disciplined. Pastor, you cannot lead God’s people spiritually if you are spiritually depleted. Find a time to pray and to read God’s Word every day. Don’t let it become an afterthought. Pick a time of day and stick with it. For some of you, it’s first thing in the morning. For me, it’s the quiet of late evening.
  2. Pray for the day ahead. There is obvious overlap between the first two, but I want to remind pastors to pray about three specific things before you begin the day. First, pray for God’s wisdom for all the conversations and situations you will be facing. Second, pray for His grace. You will hear from critics and high maintenance people. It’s not always easy to be gracious to some. Third, pray for opportunities to show and share the love of Christ during the day. I am always amazed how He answers that prayer in my life.
  3. Be physically disciplined. As you set aside a time of the day for spiritual discipline, also set aside a time of day for physical discipline. You may think you don’t have time to do both. You can’t afford to neglect either. I love the advantages of technology. My iPad, headphones, and treadmill are daily companions.
  4. Make appointments for sermon preparation. How long does it take you to prepare a sermon? Take that time plus one hour and put it on your calendar each week. Don’t try to do sermon preparation in the margins of your life; it’s too important to minimize. You may not always get to keep those appointments, but you have a better chance if they are on your calendar.
  5. Determine one to three priorities you will accomplish for the day. If possible, don’t take on any other tasks until those items are completed.
  6. Get sufficient sleep. Hard workers often like to brag about how much they work and how little sleep they get. If their lack of sleep is a reality, they are becoming less productive and more unhealthy. Sleep is not a luxury; it is a gift of rest and recovery given directly from God.
  7. Make appointments on your calendar for strategic vision. Perhaps once a month, set aside a day to get away by yourself, pray, seek God’s face, and dream about the future of the church. Take notes that day, either electronically or on paper.
  8. Laugh and have fun. Sometimes I have a bad attitude about my work and ministry and say I have to do something. My attitude should be that, by the grace of God, I get to do His work. We who are in vocational ministry often need to lighten up and laugh more. Not all ministry could be described as “fun,” but much of it is if we have the right attitude.
  9. Have a right attitude. Speaking of attitudes, productive pastors rejoice more. They learn greater gratitude. They see setbacks as temporary and opportunities as never ending. They see themselves as co-laborers with God Himself.
  10. Work hard; rest intentionally. There are a few pastors who need to improve their work ethics. Are you truly laboring for God? But there are more pastors who need to rest and relax more. You are not omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.

Joe Carter - 25 Facts on the Importance of Fathers
Here are 25 facts from social science research on the effects of having a father in the home:
  1. Children living with fathers in the home tend to fare better on cognitive achievement and behavioral outcomes.
  2. Adolescents living in intact families tend to report closer relationships with their fathers.
  3. Among urban fathers, those who frequently attend religious services tend to be more engaged with their children.
  4. Close relationships between adolescents and their fathers are positively associated with adolescents’ psychological well-being.

John StonestreetFeed Your Family at the Dinner Table
As a parent, you want to protect your kids from drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex, and the whole host of crazy things going on out there. And studies say that one of the best things you can do is gather ‘round the dinner table.

It’s not only where we enjoy food and drink, it’s where we share our values, ask questions, and learn from each other. It’s a place of refuge.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teens who have dinner with their parents at least five times a week are less likely to drink, think about suicide, smoke, or say they will use drugs in the future. Another study on adolescent health says family dinners have a positive influence on kids’ choices.

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