Thinking Out Loud

May 30, 2012

Wednesday Link List

They didn’t talk about this at seminary: A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft on the launch pad at the Russian leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket is set to head to the International Space Station on December 15, with US, Italian and Russian astronauts on board.

  • I don’t spend a lot of time tracking Roman Catholic theology or books, but I was intrigued the other day to see this title: 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura. Here’s how they introduce the subject.
  • Members of an Anglican Church in Virginia are paying a high price their convictions about same-sex marriage, but 90% of them decided they had to take a stand.
  • Meanwhile, in Canada, a group of breakaway Anglicans are launching their own college.
  • And speaking of higher education; if you flunked Biblical Greek in Bible College and failed Biblical Hebrew in seminary, you get one more chance: Two villages in Israel are trying to revive the Aramaic language, with help from a TV station in Sweden.
  • Be among the first to watch this 2.5 minute preview of the movie Hanged on A Twisted Cross, The Life, Convictions and Martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
  • Jamie the Very Worst Missionary is coming home from the field. “Aww;” my wife said, “Now what will she be the worst at?” Here’s her husband’s version of it, and here’s Jamie’s.
  • BDBO posts an announcement from Benny Hinn about the restoration of the relationship with his former wife; along with a link to an article suggesting some news may be premature.
  • A disturbing news story about a high school girl who couldn’t attend a state leadership event because the non-denominational service provided wasn’t up to the standard of her Roman Catholic mass, gets dissected at Get Religion by a Lutheran who admits her denomination would react the same way — all this on a blog that was established to confront bias in religious reporting. Sorry, but exclusivity is one of the primary marks of a cult.
  • One of the pastors at Cross Point gave an amazing sermon on Sunday, comparing listening to and obeying God with listening to your guide when you’re river rafting. Hope it’s available online soon.
  • John Dyer looks at the three major issues arising from the use of “Bible apps” on smartphones during worship services.
  • LGBT Discussion Link of the Week: A pastor shares a Twitter conversation with someone who wants to diminish his church’s orthodoxy on the basis of this one issue.
  • Monday night I watched an amazing lecture by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. Later that night, I discovered that the program I watched, Only One Race, is available at the ministry’s video on demand page.
  • Police in Indiana arrested a 55-year old Christian Reformed pastor who had placed cameras in the women’s restroom.
  • Meanwhile, a California pastor and his associates are facing a range of charges including assault, child abuse, kidnapping  and torture following a disciplinary action involving a 13-year old at a Bible study.
  • After a bad review from Tim Challies, Ann Voskamp takes the high road, leading TC to admit he sometimes lacks sensitivity, but One Thousand Gifts fails to earn the Challies seal of approval.
  • Just ’cause you’re talking about an individual, doesn’t mean it’s bad: Floyd and Sally McClung want encourage positive gossip.
  • 99.99% of everything at Lark News is fiction, but the story of the pastor whose Tweets destroyed his reputation is so totally believable.
  • if you want to avoid having your blog posts copied to other blogs, just have a blog where you write everything in lower case. most of us will keep our distance, except for a few type a people who will go through and capitalize where needed. mark oestreicher, this means you.
  • Okay, so if you’re part of ‘prayer cloth’ culture, today’s closing picture is a bit irreverent — and a bit dated — but…

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July 2, 2010

Why I Haven’t Been To Israel and Why You Should Go

If I were to meet you in Toronto, I could show you the hospital I was born in, the houses that I lived in, the church I was dedicated in, and the school I attended.    They’re all still standing, though I’m a bit fuzzy on the second house I lived in, because I know it as number 21, but the municipality switched to four-digit house numbers on that street for reasons I can’t begin to fathom.

My kids situation is quite different, despite their obviously younger age.   They were born in different cities; one hospital was completely razed to make room for a new one, while the other was renovated into a seniors’ complex.  The school my oldest attended for kindergarten was torn down last summer and a new school, with a new name, was built at the other end of the property.

Sometimes you can go back, and sometimes you can’t.

There was a time many years back when it seemed like everyone I knew was taking a trip to the Holy Land.   There is no end of ministry organizations willing to take you there — including some whose ministry would seem to have little interest in Biblical history — and if you miss one trip, there’s usually another one leaving a few weeks later.

At the time, I came to the conclusion that it was becoming the Evangelical equivalent of taking a pilgrimage to Mecca; something that you must do before you die.

Don’t get me wrong:  I want to learn the backstory to those Biblical passages.   I’m a huge fan of Ray VanderLaan and his “Faith Lessons” series, and in fact have taken many of his “virtual” trips to Israel via DVD.    I just don’t want to see it “added” to the things that as a Christian you “must” do.

On the other hand, thinking out loud about my kids and their birthplaces, there is a value in these five little words:

“This is the spot where…”

Now I know they may not have it exact.   It may not be the precise piece of geography where Jesus turned water into wine, or preached the Sermon on the Mount.   But it’s the idea; the concept that our scriptures are not just a book of stories, but that all these things actually happened.   You can go back and look and say, “It happened here.”

Maybe you don’t look at the maps in the back of your Bible, and maybe — like me several years ago — you suppress a yawn as people share their Holy Land tour pictures.  Maybe — also like me — history, political science and current events weren’t your longsuit growing up.   Perhaps you still struggle with news stories — or even shut them out — when you hear words like Palestine, Jerusalem, West Bank, or even Middle East. Your frame of reference may be that’s all just heat and sand and men wearing tunics.

But it’s good to know your roots.   It’s good to know you have roots.

As the book of Acts reminds us (26:26), all these things didn’t take place “in a corner,” or “a long time ago in a galaxy far away.”

Compared to eternity, it all happened yesterday. Shalom.

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