A Morning Peacock of Links (4/23)

Humber Games: Christian Pitcher Is Perfect

CT Today article on Chicago White Sox Pitcher Phil Humber who pitched a perfect game on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. Good to see that Humber’s gratitude didn’t just come about after the perfect game.

The ‘Monsters’ Among Us: Child Sex Abusers in Our Midst

Even Christians instinctively feel that child abusers should “rot in jail” when they imagine a fellow Christian fondling a child or masturbating to such images. So when we begin preaching that such “monsters” are known and loved by Christ, it will horrify the watching world. And even us.

Yet if we let the gospel seep into our imaginations, we have no other choice. “Christ died for the murderer and the thief—did he not also die for the child molester?” asks Struthers. “Or am I going to create categories of people who are no longer able to be saved by the blood of Christ?”

Hear us rightly: Restoring molesters doesn’t mean full or automatic inclusion in community life. It certainly means jail time, psychological testing, and an intensive recovery program. It should mean complete barring from children’s ministry. But for the gospel-shaped community, it will, by God’s grace, also mean holding on to hope that the lives destroyed by the molester—among them his own—will be made new on the Final Day by the loving judgment of Jesus.

Don’t Tweet That Sermon!

Tim Challies on the use of twitter during sermons and 5 reasons why we should abstain from it. Personally, I bring my bible via Nook to church but at the end of the day, it won’t replace my leather-bound bible or my ESV study bible:

But what about using that same device to do more than read the Bible? What about using it to take notes? And what about sending out Twitter or Facebook updates during the sermon? This is something we often experience at conferences or political events. While people sit and listen to the speaker, they grab ahold of memorable phrases, type them down, and send them out to the world via social media. Is it a good idea to tweet during a sermon?

Introducing the Stranger

Following up on his previous post on why Christians should read Camus, Leland Ryken introduces the basics of The Stranger in this primer. Next week, starting with Chapter 1, Ryken/TGC will commence a weekly reading and discussion of The Stranger. Looking forward to it!

The Deep Limitations of Digital Church

Al Mohler discussing the blessings and, ultimately, the shortcomings of the use of digital advancements and social media for the church and its people:

That is a crucial issue. But the challenge should not be addressed only to churches. Research indicates that a significant number of Christians are tempted to allow these technologies to serve as a substitute for participation in a local church. This is deadly and dangerous for believers.

Christ clearly intends for his people to be gathered together into congregations. The fellowship if the saints is a vital means of grace for the disciple of Christ. We can be enriched by means of listening to sermons online and by delving deeply into the ocean of knowledge found within Christian Web sites, but these cannot replace the authenticity that comes only by means of the local church and its ministry.

Doubting Darwin

Marvin Olasky on the evolution debate and a controversial, new law in Tennessee which instructs teachers and administrators to:

…create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.

The only “problem” is that the concept of evolution is subject to the critiquing and analysis as spelled out above. This is why groups such as The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers have gotten up in arms in response to the new law. Here is Olasky’s succinct thoughts on their impassioned response and what it betrays about their motives:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, and many others have gone ape over the inclusion of evolution. They revere critical thinking and the freedom to explore, but not when it might produce irreverence toward their idol.

…Specific creation, of course, has the ultimate promise: God cares. Sadly, many look desperately for hope elsewhere, anywhere. Last month the New York Times editorial page editor, consistent with his predecessors, criticized critics of evolution who have “learned to manufacture doubt.” The Times, of course, daily manufactures doubt regarding God, but thunders, “Thou shalt not doubt” evolution. If other states follow Tennessee’s example, we’ll have a robust debate instead of more attempts to suppress it.

Don’t Overthink It: 5 Tips for Daily Decision-Making

5 tips that can transform the way we make daily decisions in life. A worthwhile read.

Passive, Boring Hope

This is Part 2 of Dr. Kelly Flanagan’s three-part series on hope. In a previous post of mine, I noted that in Part 1Dr. Kelly Flanagan talked about “cheap, crappy hope” and when disappointment and hopelessness is all we’re used to, we’ll suck in and consume the first “cheap hope” that shows up (tv, relationships, etc). In Part 2, Dr. Kelly Flanagan makes a critical distinction between hope as a verb vs. hope as a noun. In many ways, this distinction between (verb) hope & (noun) hope is parallel to the distinction between salvation by works & salvation by faith:

Ironically, when hope is a verb, it’s pretty impotent—it doesn’t change anything. The dictionary defines (verb)hope in this way: “To look forward to with reasonable desire or confidence.” (Verb)hope is all about waiting, anticipating, and being “reasonably confident” we will attain the object of our desire. As it turns out, (verb)hope is a pretty passive phenomenon. We hope the next chapter will bring something new and different, but the next chapter is not going to write itself. Portable video games don’t get purchased until we first master our desire for trinkets. Or we insist on hoping for things that simply aren’t going to be a part of our story—we can tantrum for nightly pasta until we are breathless, but it’s not going to happen. Yet, we write our stories with this kind of  hope, and before long the hope we have so recently discovered becomes a huge disappointment.

But hope is not only a verb.

Hope is also a noun. And (noun)hope can transform everything. When hope is a noun, when it is an experience that possesses us and defines us, it is devastatingly powerful. The dictionary defines (noun)hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had and that events will turn out for the best.” [Italicsnot mine—when the dictionary starts emphasizing words, you know they’re important.] Whereas (verb)hope focuses us on the future, waiting for a desired outcome, (noun)hope becomes transformational right here and now—it’s as if hope reaches backward from the future and begins to transform the present.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Somehow, (noun)hope reaches even further, into our past, assuring us the events that happened there don’t have to remain meaningless, showing us how those broken chapters will become an integral part of the beautiful, redemptive story we are telling with our lives. When it becomes more than just a way of anticipating the future, when it becomes something we possess and it begins to define us as people, hope becomes unhinged from time and starts to change everything: our expectations for the future, the way we relate to the present, and the way we understand the past. It changes all things, because it changes the only thing present in every scene of our story—(noun)hope changes us.

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