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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: December 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

Hello everyone. I hope you had a good Christmas. I took a blogging break, but it's good to be back.

One of the goals I have is to be more consistent in my reading of Scripture--just to let the Word wash over me. In light of that I came a cross a great post that outlines some great Bible reading plans for 2009.

Click here for the plans.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

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Friday, December 19, 2008

It All Goes Back in the Box

As we get close to the end of 2008, I wanted to share a book that has meant a lot to me this year. It is a book about true success, what really matters. And then once we have figured that out, how to begin (because this is a process of ups and downs) to arrange our life around that goal.

The goal? As John Ortberg puts it, "The object of life is, according to Jesus, is breathtakingly simple: "Be Rich Toward God" (Luke 12:21).

If you are looking for some holiday reading or something to begin 2009 with or a last minute gift - I would recommend When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Newsweek Article on Gay Marriage...Some Thoughts

If you have been in your local bookstore recently, you will have noticed that Newsweek is exploring why traditional Christians are against Gay marriage and also what the Bible really says on the issue.

Here is the article - Our Mutual Joy: Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.

A couple of things to notice at the outset along with a few disclaimers.
  1. The Christian view of sin involves everyone--not just a group of 'really bad' people. It is shockingly egalitarian in this regard. What this means is that God does not 'really dislike' homosexuality, but thinks that heterosexual adultery is a little better because it is at least 'normal.' All people are broken and in need of restoration--we just express our brokenness differently. That is why we need a savior and teacher named Jesus. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
  2. When interpreting the Bible, context is crucial. Unfortunately, the context of the passages cited in the Newsweek article were not developed. The Bible, largely narrative, describes many events and practices that God does not endorse. For example, Israel is not the ideal community if God could start from scratch without sin, dysfunction , rebellion, etc. Israel was a group of people who were broken, and God chose to start the work of restoration through them. So it is not surprising to see Abraham, a fallen broken person like the rest of us, blow it and have a lack of faith in God's promise to provide a son and thus sleep with a servant. The point is that God in his grace and mercy can even work through that ti bring about his purposes. So, in this conversation it is critical to understand the context of a passage, the cultural setting, and remember that God is working with a broken people whom he has give significant moral freedom to.
  3. Christians are not against gays. Followers of Christ are called to love all people in various states brokenness, because God loves them. It is not an us verses them. But love does not entail that we affirm our own or everyone Else's desires. Love is willing the other's highest good. And if Scripture is true, then in the area of sexuality, God designed it to flourish under certain conditions. Truth does not evaporate, but rather informs love.
  4. We need to have this conversation in a civil manner. How we have the conversation matters.
With that said, I want to highlight two blogs that are interacting with this issue in a good way.

The first is Darrell Bock's blog here and here.
also Stand to Reason, here. Listen to Podcast on it here.

from STR (below):

Interesting that the news weekly has gone into the theology business of biblical interpretation instead of simply reporting on what religious people believe and have done. In order to respond to the case Miller lays out, you have to first reconstruct the argument.

The argument in the story goes like this:

1. Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that we should follow the Bible’s definition of marriage.
2. But there is no clear biblical definition of marriage because variations abound in Scripture. Therefore, this argument fails.
3. The real reason religious conservatives are against same-sex marriage is they oppose homosexuality, a position they also think is biblical. But this is highly dubious. Biblical verses against homosexuality have probably been misunderstood or have been misapplied in our more modern, enlightened era.
4. However, there is an enduring principle in the Bible that can come to our aid to properly inform Bible believers on the right response to the question of same-sex marriage: the principle of love, inclusion, and community as family.
5. Therefore, the proper biblical response to same-sex marriage is to support it, because this would be consistent with love, inclusion, and expanding the definition of family to include more in our community.

There are three steps of critical thinking to evaluate the case Newsweek offers. Ask:
1. What do they want you to believe?

2. What are the reasons they offer in support of this idea they want you to believe?
3. Are the reasons good ones?

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Friday, December 12, 2008


“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).”—Matthew 1:23

What a wonderful, life-altering truth. The God of the universe desires to be with us. He takes broken people and offers them His presence, power, and new life (or as Jesus so often put it, the good news of the Kingdom of God).

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Survey: Teens sharing nude images online

From the article...Recent survey finds that s_x, tech and teens make bad bedfellows

"When it comes to sex, tech and teens don't make the best bedfellows. As tech-savvy teens become increasingly fluent with new technology, from social networking sites to tricked-out new cell phones, research finds the negative consequences stacking up." (click here to read the rest of the article)

Choices have consequences. It is important for parents and teens to understand the opportunities and pitfalls of technology...exploitation and experimentation are only a text away.

This does not bring may bring a laugh to some or a cheap thrill to others...but it does not lead to life. We must help our teens and students find a better way. Sexuality is a beautiful thing--God designed it to be enjoyed in the context of a committed, lifelong relationship. We live in a society that has confused lust for love and the consequences are painful and real.

One more sobering, though unsurprising insight from the article:

"Real life imitates life online. What teens and young adults are doing electronically seems to have an effect on what they do in real life: Nearly one-quarter of teens (22 percent) admit that technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive. More than one-third of teens (38 percent) say exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up with others more likely and nearly one-third of teens (29 percent) believe those exchanging sexy content are “expected” to date or hook up."

This article does offer some helpful suggestions to parents like...

"Consider limitations on electronic communication. The days of having to talk on the phone in the kitchen in front of the whole family are long gone, but you can still limit the time your kids spend online and on the phone. Consider, for example, telling your teen to leave the phone on the kitchen counter when they’re at home and to take the laptop out of their bedroom before they go to bed, so they won’t be tempted to log on or talk to friends at 2 a.m."

If a teenager or student has no boundaries on cell phone, texting or internet usage, then that is not good for their health, saftey, or ultimate hapiness. In many cases students are addicted to texting and online social networks...they literally can't go without it. Again, I am not agaisnt technology--I use facebook and have a blog and a website and send text messages--but we must learn to use technology isntead of being used by it or being consumed by it.

Also check out....5 tech secrets parents need to know " Love it or not, Mom and Dad, technology isn't going away. Here's how to keep up with what your kids are using it for."

I have tried to offer a positive vision of life for teenagers / students in Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Am I More Than My Brain?

Many today argue that physics and chemistry is all that exists (i.e., is real). That takes out minds, souls, free will, ethics, miracles, consciousness, joy, love etc.

But I want to draw your attention to the Mind / Brain issue. It is important for Christians to realize that humans are more than just a bag of chemical reactions (we are composed of body and soul / mind - material and immaterial). Take some time and read a fascinating article by Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor. It won't take too long, but this stuff is important to think about.

Click here for article

Let me know what you think...

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Will the real Jesus stand up?

“Students of Jesus today are faced with a multitude of options, ranging from the traditional Jesus who was Savior, Lord, and founder of the church, to a Jesus who was considerably different—a Jesus who was a sage, a religious genius or social revolutionary. These latter three portraits though clearly drawing their energies from live wires in the Gospels, leave us with a Jesus who is not big enough to explain his crucifixion, his following, or development of the Church. If we today are going to be honest about Jesus, we have to choose a Jesus who satisfies all the evidence historians have observed and who will also explain why it is that so many people have found him to be so wonderful that they attend churches every week to worship him.”—Scot McKnight

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Conspiracy Video

This is a challenging and hopeful 2 1/2 minutes about what Christmas could be and what it has become.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

The ESV Study Bible

There are some really good study Bible's out there. But the ESV Study Bible is really well done and has been created with the reader in mind. The notes and articles are very helpful. It is filled with maps and charts (in color). The layout is pleasing to the eye and top notch scholars contributed the articles. The overview of theology - how we know and love God, explaining the key teachings of Christianity- is excellent (written by Dr. Erik Thoennes of Biola University).

Maybe ask for this study Bible for Christmas and dig deeper into the Word of God.

Check out the ESV website to view the online study bible that comes with your purchase of the Bible - the online features and access to all the notes and articles and text is worth the price of the Bible and is very easy to navigate and use. You can even listen to the whole Bible online with this feature.

*Here is a good word on the search for the perfect Bible translation by New Testament scholar Darrell Bock.

Do you know a high school or college student, youth pastor / leader, or parent? Check out Welcome to College: a Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey

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