This and That 12-15-12

Broken Hearted and Tragic-Newtown, CT – Realize that “protectionism” will never be the answer.  I sat and saw how many people immediately responded with the thought:  “My kid will never leave my sight” or “My kids will never leave the house” or even, “Now I’m gonna homeschool my kids”.  These thoughts are great until the wind blows and the four corners of the house fall in. (Job 1:19)  God is still sovereign, and wasn’t surprised by the events of today.  Walking through the valley of death (Ps. 23) is assumed for those whom claim God as their Shepherd.  If He is your shepherd-fear no evil as you walk through the dark valleys of this sin-stricken world. – James Brabson

A Day of Hatred – There is no spin to put on a story like this. Yes, we will hear stories of heroism begin to emerge over the next hours, and they are stories we will need to hear. But there is no way to soften the blow.  Nor should we want to.  As a mother watching someone else’s horror play out on a screen, I want to feel this to the core of my being. I want it to inform my thoughts and actions in a way that leaves me changed. Because on days like today we learn just how broken sin has left us, just how bleak is our landscape without a Savior. – Jen Wilkin

The Newtown, Connecticut Murders: Links to Read Before Talking About Forgiveness – The evil murder of children and others in Newtown, Connecticut will inevitably raise questions about how the Christian view of forgiveness relates to such evil. One of the reasons that I wrote, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds, was because so much confusion surrounds the Christian response. And because it causes great damage when Christians issue unwarranted and inappropriate forgiveness. – Chris Brauns

How Does Jesus Come to Newtown? –  Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did. What kind of Savior do we need when our hearts are shredded by brutal loss?  We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.  And that is how he came. He knew what this world needed. Not a comedian. Not a sports hero. Not a movie star. Not a political genius. Not a doctor. Not even a pastor. The world needed what no mere man could be.  The world needed a suffering Sovereign. Mere suffering would not do. Mere sovereignty would not do. The one is not strong enough to save; the other is not weak enough to sympathize. – John Piper

On Stereotypes, Risks, and Jesus:  Driscoll Interviews Piper – Outrun your people and your colleagues in thinking. That is, stay ahead of them in thinking through biblical implications of what is being said or proposed. Make a practice of thinking before a meeting.  – John Piper

Instead of Reading the Entire Bible in 2013, Read the Gospels Deeply – It is about that time of the year when we are introduced to creative ways to read our Bible for the next calender year (did you do it this year?). This is my fifth year encouraging others to use my particular reading plan. I suggest you take each day of next year to read and reflect on a single unit in the gospels. Did you know there are conveniently about 365 units in the gospels? – Alan Kurschner

Glenn Beck Is Pro Gay Marriage – “Let me take the pro-gay marriage people and the religious people — I believe that there is a connecting dot there that nobody is looking at, and that’s the Constitution,” Beck said during a recent segment of his online talk show. ”The question is not whether gay people should be married or not. The question is why is the government involved in our marriage?” – Glenn Beck

What Makes a Church a Cult? – Ross points to a landmark 1981 Harvard study on cult formation, which suggests that all cults, destructive or not, share three elements: [1] an absolute authoritarian leader who defines the group; [2] a “thought program” that includes “control of the environment, control of information, and people subordinating themselves and their feelings to the demands of the leader”; and [3] a lack of accountability for the head of the group. Another common characteristic of cults, Ross says, is that [4] they use shame and some sort of exploitation–financial, spiritual, or sexual–to exercise control. Members of a Bible-based group for example are made to believe that “it’s a sin of pride for you to think for yourself,” he says. – Chicago Magazine

Notes from God – Throughout the 400 or so years of my Christian life, I have been astonished over and over at how many Christians imagine they have “a note from God.” Unlike my mother’s note, it isn’t visible, it isn’t readable by others, and it won’t stand inspection. The oomph it has is supplied by their own imagination, and a complex series of accompanying diversions and rationalizations.  This phantom note excuses them from having to do what every other Christian in every other age and every other location on the globe (other than their little 2X2 spot) has been morally obliged to do. – Dan Phillips

Joseph of Nazareth Meets Planned Parenthood – With full legal rights to abandon Mary and her unborn child — perhaps to a fate worse than death — Joseph obeyed the Father in becoming a father. When Herod — the Roman Empire’s precursor to “Planned Parenthood” — sought the destruction of the infants, Joseph shielded this child from the murderous rage of infanticide (Matthew 2:13-18). In his obedience, Joseph demonstrated what his other son would later call “pure and undefiled” religion, the kind that cares for the fatherless and the abandoned (James 1:27). – Russell Moore

Safeguarding Against Abuse In the Church – The discipleship culture of a church needs transparency and the welcome of grace. It must be a safe place to not be okay. This must be initiated and modeled by those in leadership. If a leader is insular and secretive and un-confessional, if he is not a gracious person or a listening person in the church, he sets a standard for a climate of distrust, secrecy, and fear. – Jared Wilson

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