Tuesday, June 3, 2014

All Around the Web - June 3, 2014

Russell Moore - Too Scared to Cry: Social Media Outrage and the Gospel
A friend of mine posted on Facebook about what he called a “parenting fail.” His son stubbed his toe, and squealed with tears. My friend wanted to toughen him up, and told him that only girls cried like that, not boys.

Later that day, this dad and his son were talking about another playground injury, and his son told him how he avoided crying. He said he held off tears by getting very angry and blaming the person standing closest to him.

“Nice work dad,” my friend wrote to himself, cringing at the unintended result.

At first glance, I identified with the story. I think all of us as parents wince when we think of how clumsy our parenting can be at times. But, beyond that, I thought this experience explained something we see all around us, including often in the church, a temptation I fight in myself almost daily.

Joe Carter - The Ethics of Prisoner of War Exchanges
This past weekend the lone American prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan, captured by insurgents nearly five years ago, was released to American forces in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The five detainees included two senior militant commanders said to be linked to operations that killed American and allied troops as well as implicated in murdering thousands of Shiites in Afghanistan.

As American Christians we should pray for the released Taliban leaders and be thankful this young soldier will be reunited with his family. But we can and should also use this incident to reflect on the ethics of prisoner of war exchanges.

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About John Calvin
1. From an early age, Calvin was a precocious student who excelled at Latin and philosophy. He was prepared to go to study of theology in Paris, when his father decided he should become a lawyer. Calvin spend half a decade at the University of Orleans studying law, a subject he did not love.

2. Calvin wrote his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, at the age of 27 (though he updated the work and published new editions throughout his life). The work was intended as an elementary manual for those who wanted to know something about the evangelical faith—"the whole sum of godliness and whatever it is necessary to know about saving doctrine."

3. Calvin initially had no interest in being a pastor. While headed to Strasbourg he made a detour in Geneva where he met the local church leader William Farel. Calvin said he was only staying one night, but Farel argued that it was God's will he remain in the city and become a pastor. When Calvin protested that he was a scholar, not a preacher, Farel swore a great oath that God would curse all Calvin's studies unless he stayed in Geneva. Calvin later said, ""I felt as if God from heaven had laid his mighty hand upon me to stop me in my course—and I was so terror stricken that I did not continue my journey."

Eric MetaxasFreedom Requires Virtue, Which Requires Faith
I noted the “unprecedented threat” to religious freedom we currently face. The threat isn’t only to religious believers and their institutions—it threatens all of our liberties.  You cannot redefine religious freedom and compromise this liberty without calling the entire idea of self-government into question.

To understand why, it helps to remember that when the Founders prohibited the establishment of religion by the national government, they were not being anti-religion.

On the contrary, they wished to protect religion from all state intervention. Government had no business picking winners in the sphere of religion. It must stand back and let the people decide—let the free market of ideas do its work.

Thom Rainer - Seven Habits of Outwardly Focused Churches
  1. The church takes time during each worship service to pray for the community. Prayer is powerful; and the church members become more focused about their communities.
  2. A volunteer or staff person is accountable for the outreach ministry of the church. If no one has leadership responsibility, it does not get done.
  3. A regular report is provided to church members about outreach and ministry efforts in the community. What gets reported gets done. Have you noticed most churches provide financial reports to the church members? That says the money is important. We need at least equal emphasis on the importance of outreach ministries.
  4. Churches have regular “mystery” guests come to the worship services. One church leader told me that his church asks someone in the community to be a mystery guest every quarter. Those guests are always first-time guests, and they share their experiences with leaders later that day or week. The church members thus get to see the worship services through the eyes of a community member.
  5. The church gives obsessive attention to their websites. A church website is the new front door for churches. It’s almost always the first place prospective guests go. These websites should be designed in a very guest friendly way.
  6. The churches are intentional about scheduling ministries, events, and activities for reaching the community. One pastor told me that his church always focuses on one key community outreach ministry per month. The church’s attendance is less than 80, but it was under 40 two years ago.
  7. Churches are intentional about connecting with their communities through social media. It is mindboggling that we have the most pervasive form of communication in history, but very few churches use it strategically. I know a pastor in a rural community who worked with a Millennial and asked her to lead the social media outreach. It has been a great success because someone is responsible for it.

The Village Church - The Cost of Kids in Competitive Sports
Ryan has excellent fundamentals. His fielding and throwing are flawless, and his swing mechanics are perfect. He’s an all-star player and has serious major league potential, which is the ultimate goal.

He didn’t master these top-notch skills overnight. His daily schedule is intense and revolves entirely around improving his game. On most weekdays, from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., he has one-on-one hitting lessons, followed by two hours of private fielding and throwing practice. After a quick dinner (eaten in the car), he finishes the day with two hours of practice under the lights of his select team’s practice field. He gets home around 8:30 p.m., and after nearly six hours of training and practice, there’s just enough time to do homework, finish chores and get ready for bed. Ryan’s a fifth grader, a mere 10 years old.

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