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Best Links of the Week

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The End of Church Planting?  Interesting article that isn’t as provocative as the title.  Definitely worth a read and a place at the table for missiological theory of church planting, challenging the dominant paradigm of the entrepreneurial paid pastor/planter.

How to use rewards/frequent-flyer credit cards to create a self-fulfilling profit loop (buy certain gold coins, get rewards/miles, deposit gold in bank, pay off credit card with gold deposited into bank).

Third Millennium Ministries has its own iPhone and Android apps.  The content of ThirdMill is truly top shelf.  I am of the opinion that Third Mill is probably one of the most important ministries of our time and all on a shoestring budget.  If you care at all about the Gospel and the future of the church you ought to donate to them.  I am thankful that there are actually some forward thinking strategists that are creating excellent scalable content capable of penetrating that glaring lack of theological training of pastors worldwide.

The Decline of the Nuclear Family.  Some pretty staggering statistics and commentary on the status of family in the U.S.

Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Amy Farrah Fowler) of Big Bang Theory is actually a PhD and published in Neuroscience (HT: BL)

Mortgage companies are still ‘robo-signing’

Centrist Tom Coburn has an interesting debt proposal – I was definitely not expecting a proposal from one of the ‘Gang of Six’

77 year old Congressman confronts gun wielding intruder

An interesting piece giving some provocative thoughts regarding the Cosmological Argument

There are several layers of awesome to this Pepsi ad (coming from a staunch Coca-Cola fan):

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Best Links of the Week

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Best Links of the Week

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Click picture for higher resolution image (HT: JT)

Parents, Don’t Dress Your Daughters Like Tramps

Front Porch Hack – Brilliant idea about turning your garage into your front porch for the purpose of creating intentional Gospel inroads into your neighborhood (HT:  JT)

Tax compliance costs $.30 on every taxpayer $1

In order to balance our current budget we would have to tax at the following rates:  Corporate 88%, Highest Income 88%, Middle Bracket 63%, and Lowest 25%.  Some of our precious entitlements have to go, this is insanity.  The sad part is that this would only balance the budget for this year and not even touch the $14,000,000,000,000.00 debt and trillion in compounding annual interest.

S+P says 33% chance they will downgrade U.S. debt from AAA

Mubarak has a heart attack during questioning

Wisconsin man finds live bomb in the wall of his own home

Best University ROI – Glad to see University of Florida yielded a 14.6% ROI.

U.S. Navy tests laser weapon on boat

iPhone keeps log of everywhere you go

You couldn’t pay me enough to do this job:

RC Car powered by soda can rings:

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

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I wanted to re-post something that Chuck DeGroat wrote earlier this week on his blog, The New Exodus.  I think this is a pretty important discussion that needs to happen amongst the New Calvinism.  Reductionism is dangerous and it hurts people.  Legalism is dangerous and it enslaves people.

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

Maybe you’re like the many men and women who I’ve talked to.  Having been through Sonship (a fairly well-known discipleship program in conservative Reformed circles) or having digested the writings of Keller or Powlison or Tripp, your still struggling.  Or, maybe your version of “believing the Gospel” came from a preacher who told you that the answer to your lifetime of guilt was greater “Gospel depth” or deeper “Gospel transformation.”  And so, you searched high and low for that newer and better way, the Gospel way, only to try to believe better and repent better and be less guilty.  And that, too, didn’t amount to much.

Just recently, I was talking to yet another person whose digested all the writings and listened to all the sermons and read all the tweets, and ‘Gospel repenting and believing’ isn’t working.  He went through Sonship.  And each time he talked to his Gospel phone coach, he’d confess his latest idol.  “I’m justifying myself through my attempts to repent better, and repentance is now my idol.  So, I’m repenting of my repentance, but I’m still neck deep in feelings of guilt.  What’s wrong with me?”

“Gospel Tweeting” is the latest phenomenon.  The answer to all our problems is this:  Just believe the Gospel!  If it was that easy. This seems to me to be the newest quick fix, the most recent Christian cliche, and I’m growing weary of it.  I’ve counseled people who’ve done the full Sonship workout only to be more racked with guilt than ever.  They are repenting of their failed repenting and repenting of their failed attempt to confess their failed repenting.  They’re more twisted in guilt than ever.  And the ‘Gospel Twittersphere’ isn’t helping.

This is oversimplified Calvinism.  Period.  It doesn’t take the complexity of sin seriously enough, though it claims to in every way.  It doesn’t take it seriously because it oversimplifies the remedy, leaving troubled and struggling people feeling even worse.  Gospel counselors tell people that their troubles amount to a failure to believe the Gospel.  Freedom is available, we’re told.  Just repent and believe! Over and over, preachers are trying to boil this down to 140 characters on Twitter.  And I think it’s Gospel arrogance.

The problem is that we’re far more complex and psychologically broken that we’re often aware of.  It’s not just “unbelief” that bears down on us.  It’s a whole host of things – neural pathways grooved by years of living a certain way, a “divided heart” that thrives on its habitual polarities, weakness of will, and the extraordinary brokenness manifesting in the systems we inhabit, whether in our families or workplaces or churches.  And if I’m not being pessimistic enough, consider John Calvin’s words:

“But no one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength to press on with due eagerness, and weakness so weighs down the greater number that, with wavering and limping and even creeping along the ground, they move at a feeble rate. Let each one of us, then, proceed according to the measure of his puny capacity and set out upon the journey we have begun. No one shall set out so inauspiciously as not daily to make some headway, though it be slight. Therefore, let us not cease so to act that we may make some unceasing progress in the way of the Lord. And let us not despair at the slightness of our success; for even though attainment may not correspond to desire, when today outstrips yesterday the effort is not lost. Only let us look toward our mark with sincere simplicity and aspire to our goal; not fondly flattering ourselves, nor excusing our own evil deeds, but with continuous effort striving toward this end: that we may surpass ourselves in goodness until we attain to goodness itself. It is this, indeed, which through the whole course of life we seek and follow. But we shall attain it only when we have cast off the weakness of the body, and are received into full fellowship with him” (Institutes, 3.6.5 or pp. 1:689)

But the problem extends beyond understanding the complexity.  It’s the cure that is far more difficult.  Having counseled too many men and women who beat themselves up for not growing fast enough by repenting and believing, I’m convinced we do many people a disservice (and harm!) by oversimplifying both the problem and the cure.  Those fearful of modern psychology need to begin listening at this point, because what we’ve found is that growth and maturity isn’t found in a method or a discipline or a repentance exercise.  In fact, growth is harder, longer, more painful, and more puzzling than many of us care to admit.  People who we serve in the church would like microwavable strategies, but the fact is that growth and maturity isn’t microwavable.  It defies programs and methods.  It frustrates the most competent pastor or therapist or spiritual director.  And, it can’t be captured in a tweet, even a well-formed Gospel tweet.

I admire the hearts of my friends out there who attempt to tweet Gospel cures.  They mean well.  Most are pastors, and you know who you are.  And I really do like you a lot.  But, hear me when I say that people are suckers for your 140 word fixes.  Why do you think you get re-tweeted so much?  We’re suckers for remedies and methods.  We love a sound byte.  But I’m asking you to step back and consider the complexity.  Do you really see people growing that quickly in your churches?  Do you really see ‘Gospel transformation’ happening in a “repent and believe” moment?  I’m prone to think that this is where we need a good dose of those old stories, like Pilgrim’s Progress, that highlight the long and difficult journey.  Because most people I know don’t find that the methods work.  Most people I talk to struggle day to day just to believe, just to utter a one word prayer, just to avoid another outburst of anger or another deluge of cynicism. Most people find that it takes a lifetime to believe that they are the prodigal who is lavished with a Father’s prodigious love.

Gospel tweeters:  Relax.  You are far more screwed up than you think.  And your cure is far too simplistic to help.  This journey requires more than a 140 characters of Gospel happy juice.  A big and good God requires a long and difficult Exodus journey for real change to happen.

Best Links of the Week

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Provocative piece entitled, “Artists Build the Church.”  Aesthetics without a doubt have been marginalized in the church.  Another work that should be brought into this discussion is Hans Urs von Balthasaar’s Trilogy on “The Glory of the Lord.”  Shame on Protestants for letting a Catholic write probably the best treatment of aesthetics (alongside Wolsterstorff’s work).   God’s holiness and God’s glory are at the core of God’s character.  Hence, art and aesthetics are at the very center of our Christian faith.

4th Amendment Underclothes – metallic print protest clothing.  For those of you unaware the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Department of Homeland Security commandeering domain names.

It takes Iran over 30 years to notice Star of David placed on roof of their national airline’s (Iran Air) headquarters.  The building was designed by Israeli architects.

Which Cashback credit cards to use at which retailers/websites.  This was rather helpful.

A number of top shelf scientists publish a cautionary letter regarding the new X-ray machines that has some good scientific concerns that dispel a lot of the misinformation regarding the safety of the new machines.   I think some more substantial science is in order here particularly for the elderly, children, pregnant, and those prone to various cancers on or close to skin (testicular, breast…).

If you haven’t heard yet, there were more WikiLeaks documents released of roughly a quarter million wires principally between emabassies.  Of interest is a large amount of security intel, policy, military strategy, and embarassing details about world government figures.  Of interest, it seems that North Korea did in fact provide Iran with the missile vehicles to launch nuclear warheads.  This is very disconcerting as it means that North Korea likely has the nuclear bomb and rockets to launch them in.

Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens debate whether Religion is good for the world or not.  I am inclined to think that religion, in the conventional sense of the word, is not good for the world.  I am also unsure what is meant by the word, “good” as well.  I would argue from different angles and presuppositions than Hitchens but likely arrive at similar conclusions.  I would be very happy if every religion based on human self-righteousness would permanently cease.  I don’t think anything is “good” apart from Christ, hence I think that all non-Christocentric religion is bunk.

Flexible, Disposable E-readers?

Should MIT Teach Poetry?”  I have already ranted on here about the affects of removing the Christian worldview on higher education (see post on UCF scandal).   The point is that our Universities have become trade schools.  Further, these trade schools are increasingly more expensive (astronomically expensive compared to inflation rates) while becoming less effective at producing marketable laborers.  For many employers experience is > or = to education.  If one’s education were limited to such a narrow sub-field of a field within a faculty within a college within a University… there is no foundation for the knowledge/building to stand.  Of course MIT should teach poetry.

Congressman Mike Coffman (Rep. Colorado) writes a cogent piece on why not to raise taxes during a recession. (HT: SB)

Best Links of the Week

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Chuck DeGroat has one of the best pieces I have read in a long long time called, “What’s Wrong With Your Pastor?”  Orthodoxy without orthopathos is orthoworthless.

Tim Tebow writing a memoir about ‘faith, family, and football’ entitled Through My Eyes, and can be pre-ordered in hardcover and Kindle.

Marvin Olasky is resuming full-time duties at World Magazine.

Kansas State nutrition professor loses 27 pounds over two months while eating a diet of Twinkies and Nutty Buddy Bars, while lowering bad cholesterol by 20% and raising good cholesterol by 20%.

Company creating an app and cell phone plug-in device to test for STDs.  I am not sure if this is exceedingly strange or a good idea… or both.

iPhone app of the week:  MileBug – creates IRS compliant travel logs simply and easily and you can email yourself the reports in both Word or Excel formats.  If you don’t want to pay the $2.99 they have a Lite version that allows you to create 10 trip reports before having to email yourself.  Also, it allows you to take notes and add parking, toll, or food expenses to each mileage report.

Pretty crazy trick play in a Middle School football game:

Women solves Wheel of Fortune puzzle with just one letter:

Best Links of the Week

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Some cogent thoughts on church planting by Ed Stetzer (see video above)

Tim Tebow Documentary coming out soon:  Trailer Here

Excellent piece in Vanity Fair by Michael Lewis entitled, “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

WSJ article on Obama pushing for a tax cut and a tax hike?

Further Seems Forever reuniting with Chris Carabba.  I am hope that the new music is substantive and layered.

HDR video using two Canon 5D Mark ii‘s

Very-well written piece utterly dissecting Lady Gaga (and by corollary the generation that has made her famous) in an article entitled, “Lady Gaga and the Death of Sex.”

Interesting debate in Israel over daylight savings time and theology.

Tennessee Volunteer football coach has to coach up players on how to take a shower properly after a series of staph infections amongst players.

Popular Science gallery on 30 Awesome College Labs (classes).

Stanford creating seriously peer-reviewed rival to Wikipedia.

Infographic on who is in the blogosphere. (HT: Challies)

How to block abusive or unfriendly email on Gmail

Fidel Castro reportedly saying publicly that Cuban model of government and economics does not work… then states he misspoke and meant to say “capitalism doesn’t work.”

Really strange soccer goal (HT: Uri)

Why the Chinese economy is expanding – efficient production.  Note – the video has not been sped up

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