an outlet of encouragement, explanation, and exhortation

Category: References (Page 1 of 5)

Looking at something else.

Notes on Free Speech, Civil Disobedience, and Following Jesus

This post is written in support of the Long Beach Friends Church message of May 5, 2024 to provide links to associated material for further study. Listen to that message here.

David French wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that clarifies many of the concepts and legal issues related to free speech and civil disobedience.

This is the commitment card for the Birmingham Campaign that Martin Luther King, Jr. let. There is a brief comment on the commitment card here.

The Bible Project podcast on the Sermon on the Mount, episode 15, explaining “Turn the Other Cheek” discusses Martin Luther King’s approach to civil disobedience. Below is Martin Luther King Jr. as quoted in this podcast episode:

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It’s a sword that heals. The ultimate weakness of violent retaliation is that it’s a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar but you cannot murder the LIE nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate so it goes returning evil for evil ,multiplies evil, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. I love that darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.”

Five Reliable Online and Electronic Resources for Jesus Followers (2024)

Many Christians are making use of online resources to stay informed and grow their faith. There are many excellent resources online. I will offer five that I find I use the most often, aside from simple Bible software that I use to access Bible text and reference resources. (If you are curious, I use Logos and Bible Gateway – mostly I use Logos but Bible Gateway starts up faster for quick reference. Both of these have apps in addition to websites.) So, here are my five resources.

Bible Project – Everything they do is of the best quality, and free! Bible Project issues a weekly 20-30 minute playlist on a particular topic. In 2024, it is the Sermon on the Mount. It is available by email subscription or in their app. The app offers access to all of their material. Bible Project has a podcast with weekly episodes and many YouTube videos. If you know me you know that I recommend Bible Project highly – no reservations. I have listened to their podcast since its beginnings, and it is one of my most valued resources. Their videos are very useful in classes and even in Sunday messages.

Holy Post and Holy Post Plus – Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales, and Skye Jethani began Holy Post in 2012. It is in a sort of talk-show format to discuss current topics and conduct interesting interviews. The weekly show regularly includes Kaitlyn Schiess. Phil has moments of profundity in the midst of his general playfulness and humor. Skye is generally serious and has long experience as a Christian leader from which to comment. Kaitlyn is a good-spirited, quick, a serious scholar, and a well-informed commenter. And soon Esau McCauley will be part of the mix – one of my favorite Christian writers. The Holy Post has various videos, podcasts and educational material, some of it free and some available only to supporters.

Regent College Audio – There are several educational institutions with “Regent” in their name. I am recommending audio and other educational material from the one in Vancouver, B.C. This material is generally quite scholarly – not lightweight. The classroom audio they offer is top-notch. Some of it is free, particularly their chapel talks, which are more like short sermons by educators. They offer a podcast which is generally interviews of professors speaking on the topic of classes they are teaching.

Biologos – For the science-oriented Christian. Francis Collins founded Biologos and sets the tone for their material

Lectio 365 – This app offers a brief scripture-focused daily devotional, one in the morning to start the day and one for the evening. Many people have found this a great help in their devotional life. I use it most days.

On the cyclical nature human moral behavior(?)

I’m not sure that my choice of the term “moral behavior” does justice to this rather rancid topic. However, I wanted to point to Alan Jacobs rather excellent brief analysis of the cycle of human reaction to being offended and to having behavior and speech restricted by the moral police. A quote:

Paul is the greatest of psychologists: he knows that human beings perfectly well understand legalism, which they rename “justice,” and perfectly well understand antinomianism, which they rename “freedom.” What we can’t understand is the grace of God

Alan Jacobs

Check out Alan Jacob’s brief and excellent essay here.

You don’t know who Alan Jacobs is? Read about him here.

At last! A Good Overview of the Kinds of Policies we Need Regarding AI and Trust.

Bruce Schneier is a respected computer security expert who lectures at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Schneier is one of those rare humans with deep understanding and competence in several areas of mathematics and computer technology and recognized ability to analyze and recommend policies that make the world a safer and better place to live. I just finished reading an essay he wrote entitled AI and Trust in his latest newsletter. It is quite good at analyzing trust relationships and recommending policy that reduces the negative impacts that AI would otherwise have on society. It’s nearly 3500 words, but not overly technical.

Here’s an extremely important point from Schneier’s essay:

AIs are not people; they don’t have agency. They are built by, trained by, and controlled by people. Mostly for-profit corporations. Any AI regulations should place restrictions on those people and corporations… At the end of the day, there is always a human responsible for whatever the AI’s behavior is. And it’s the human who needs to be responsible for what they do—and what their companies do…. If we want trustworthy AI, we need to require trustworthy AI controllers.

The opening portion of the article is a discussion of the difference between what Schneier calls interpersonal trust and social trust. I found his discussion of trust illuminating and important. This is a well-reasoned, articulate article that I will be recommending to thoughtful people. It is accessible to those who do not have deep technical knowledge of AI. As far as I can tell there is no paywall.

Praying about the Violence in Palestine and Israel

I’ve been wondering how best to suggest we pray regarding the situation in Israel and Palestine. The topic is overloaded with politics and anger, which do not help. I want to avoid pouring any fuel on that fire!

Today I ran across a brief and helpful essay by Yohanna Katanacho, a Christian who teaches at Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary (yes, that Nazareth – the one Jesus grew up in!). Professor Katanacho, whose story of being born in Jerusalem and coming to follow Jesus is extraordinary, gives excellent biblically-based advice on how to pray in this essay. You can view his brief essay here. I highly, highly recommend it!

You can hear Professor Katanacho’s personal story briefly told in the October 15, 2023 replay of an interview with him on the Regent College Podcast.

If you’d like more introductory background on the the region of Israel and Palestine, its history, and how we might think of the conflicts in the area as Christians, I’d recommend recent episodes of the Regent College Podcast, particularly those released in October and November of 2023.

Notes on “Focusing on Jesus – It’s All a Gift” Message

In this message, I mention a few resources to which I will provide links below.

First, the books that I mentioned.

The first book is a book that has been tremendously helpful to me as I worked on the recent messages on communion with Christ.

The second and third books are books that are very helpful in teaching and developing the practices and habits that are often described as spiritual disciplines. These are practices that we can do to put ourselves in the position to come to know and love God more deeply, and be changed by Him.

Lastly, I mentioned the organization Renovaré. Renovaré is a great source of podcasts, articles, books, conferences, and other aids to spiritual growth. Quoting from their website, they are a Christian non-profit that “models, resources, and advocates fullness of life with God experienced, by grace, through the spiritual practices of Jesus and of the historical Church.” What a blessing Renovaré has been to God’s people!

Notes on the Communion Maintenance message, mostly related to Dallas Willard

There is a great website packed full of resources from and about Dallas Willard. Many of his articles are freely downloadable from this site. There are descriptions of and links to purchase his books and other materials that are not free. It is a gold mine. Most of the links I give below are to portions of this website.

For Dallas Willard’s discussion of the gospel, see The Divine Conspiracy, particularly chapters 2 and 3. Of course, I and thousands of others would recommend you read the entire book. It is quite profound. Some have found it difficult reading.

More accessible material from Dallas Willard is available from several sources. I recommend the book Life Without Lack. The teaching series from which this book was written is also available online. I’m using this book as I prepare the series of messages beginning with this one.

Another teaching available in several forms that I highly recommend is Living in Christ’s Presence. I’m also using this resource for this series of messages. It is available as a book, a DVD of the talks, and audio. The book was based on a series of talks Dallas Willard gave near the end of his life in which he summarizes the deeper teaching of his more formidable books in a series of talks. The DVD and audio recordings are those talks recorded. Willard’s portions of these talks are simply outstanding. Ortberg’s are fine, too, but….. Dallas Willard. Ortberg has been know to call this series “Dallas for Dummies.” There is some truth to it being an overview; however, making deep concepts easier to grasp is a more difficult task than being long and complicated.

The article from which I skimmed the story of Dallas Willard’s comment during Richard Foster’s sermon on Moses is available online. It’s quite interesting and encouraging.

Not long after Dallas Willard passed, Gary Moon wrote a biography of him entitled Becoming Dallas Willard. It is a fantastic read. I appreciated it a great deal and highly recommend it.

Here are the two Dallas Willard quotes from my message:

“Psalm 23 covers the whole of the spiritual life in God’s kingdom. It’s all there — except for the essential understanding of the historical Jesus.”

“When you pray Psalm 23 you find that Someone is there waiting for you to greet you and guide you.”

Note for Hot Topics – Christian Nationalism

These are notes that may be of interest to those who have heard my message on Christian Nationalism, which I identify as a heresy.

For a brief introduction to the concepts and problems of Christian Nationalism, I refer those interested to an article by Paul D. Miller at the Christianity Today website. Miller provides a good introduction to Christian Nationalism in the 21st century from a sound Christian perspective.

I mentioned an article by Brian Zahnd that I read while preparing this message. It is entitled Thinking Tikkun Olam in Istanbul. I’ve saved in my Evernote files a classic quote from this meditation: the means are the end in the process of becoming. Ponder that for a while!

I would also recommend Zahnd’s book Postcards from Babylon: The Church In American Exile. He also recently made a video with the same title that includes interviews and comments from various Christian scholars. You can see a trailer here, or purchase the full version here. This video is also available to stream online from Amazon, from Google Play, and from iTunes – and even from Vudu! The lowest rental fee I saw recently was $2.99.

The Holy Post recently did a podcast episode that features Christian Nationalism that may be of interest to some. This podcast considers the historic roots of Christian Nationalism, which are quite, er… disheartening?

Notes for Hot Topics – Sex and Gender

These are notes that may be of interest to those who have heard my message for June 4, 2023 in the hot topics series. In this message I address the topics of biological sex, gender identity, and sexuality. I referred to several resources in the message and will link to them here.

I have read, referred to, and been influences by several works by Mark Yarhouse in this portion of the Hot Topics series. The books I found helpful include Homosexuality and the Christian and Emerging Gender Identities which Yarhouse co-wrote with Julia Sadusky. Yarhouse leads the Wheaton College Sexual and Gender Identity Institute which provides other resources that may prove useful.

I showed a picture of Franklin Roosevelt as a young boy to illustrate changing notions of femininity and masculinity. There is a Smithsonian Magazine article entitled When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? It discusses notions of masculinity and femininity across the generations.

The study of how people categorized the fruit of the spirit from Galatians 5.22-23 is on page 32 of the book My Brother’s Keeper: What the Social Sciences Do (and Don’t) Tell Us About Masculinity by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen. I read about it in Debra Hirsh’s book Redeeming Sex.

I highly recommend several talks by Sarah Williams, Research Professor of Church History at Regent College. These include:

  • Sex in the Post Modern Story – I have linked to Sarah Williams’ three-part talks at Corban University in the past. They are really terrific and relatively easy to follow in spite of tackling big issues. In the first, she shares some powerful personal experiences. In the second she addresses not only issues of sex, gender, and sexuality but a vision for what it means to be the body of Christ! These are available on SoundCloud.
  • A Sexual Reformation? Marriage and Sexuality in the Contemporary Paradigm – This is a very accessible one hour talk on the invention of “sex” as something apart from covenant or producing children. It was given as part of the Christian Thought and Culture class at Regent College.
  • Marriage, Sex, and Family in Historical Perspective – This is a 16 hour class from 2019 given at Regent College considering cultural understandings of gender, sexuality, marriage, and family from the early church to the present day. It’s one of the most helpful classes I’ve ever worked through.
  • Sexuality in the Modern Paradigm – This is a two-hour evening public lecture at Regent College on how private moral decisions have important public implications.
  • Mapping Gender is an 18-hour course taught in 2010 at Regent College around questions of identity, gender, sexuality, and theology. It is massively informative and helpful.

This is the 1930 Lambeth Conference, Article 15 pronouncement by the Church of England.

The National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness offers a downloadable PDF entitled LGBTQ2S Terms and Definitions. The LGBTQ2S Learning Community also offers a number of related training resources.

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