Sky Links, 3-31-18

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0
The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.
-Ephesians 4:10

Who Did Jesus Die For?
-Wayne Jacobsen

I grew up believing that Jesus died to satisfy God’s need for justice. God was so offended at the sin of humanity that to save us he had to exact our punishment on the most innocent human being who had ever lived. By tormenting his own Son to death, he was relieved of his anger and offense for our sins. If that saves us from the punishment we deserve, that’s still a good story, but it leaves us with a distorted view of God. It paints him as a Deity only sated by bloodlust. That’s how many teach it, but honestly it so distorts what Scripture says and what God did.

That view has Jesus dying for God, when Scripture is clear that Jesus died for us. Those who teach appeasement, do so from Old Testament passages that see the Suffering Servant in incomplete terms. A fuller view of the cross can be seen in the New Testament by those who have been transformed by it and saw that it wasn’t truly about punishment, but curing humanity from the destructiveness of sin. They saw the cross as the basis of forgiveness, reconciliation, and opening the door to a relaxed relationship with the God who has always loved us.

Our relationship with God was not broken from his side. It was broken from ours. We’re the ones who sinned and fled into the darkness afraid of what God might do to us. But from the beginning he was at work from his side to restore the friendship he had lost and redeem us from the devastating effects of sin. As the deceived Creation we were estranged from God by our sin and shame. Jesus’ sacrifice was to reverse all of that. by becoming sin itself (2 Cor. 5:21) he was able to hold our sin before God as his consuming love “condemned sin in the likeness of sinful flesh.” (Romans 8:4)

Jesus didn’t die to satisfy God’s need to punish sin; he died so that sin might be destroyed in him. Then, we could be restored to the relationship God had always wanted with us. The cross was about reconciliation not punishment. Sin needed to be destroyed, not humanity punished.

9 Reasons It’s Hard To Attend A Church Once You’ve Been Involved In Leading One
-By Carey Nieuwhof

Kind of a strange to even say it, isn’t it?

Why on earth would pastors and church leaders have a hard time attending church of all things?

After all, wouldn’t leaders who have led churches be the most anxious to attend them?

Strangely, not always. You can talk to thousands of people who used to volunteer or lead at a church who will tell you they no longer attend. Or maybe they attend, but it’s just ‘not the same’.


That’s a great question.

I want to offer up some reasons I think pastors and church leaders struggle to attend a local church once they’ve led in ministry...

...Not attending a church after you've led in church is actually quite a widespread

Don’t Title People “Pastor” If They Aren’t An Elder
-J.A. Medders

Ministry titles abound in the church today.

Student Pastor. Children’s Pastor. Creative Environment Pastor (No idea). Senior Pastor and Worship Pastor are pretty standard fair on the leadership page of a church’s site. And what is also becoming standard is the willy-nilly way people use the word pastor.

I don’t think we should put Pastor on people just because they are on a church staff. A pastor isn’t someone who gets a paycheck from a church and is responsible for running events for certain age groups while holding a Bible.

A pastor is an elder. An elder is a pastor. Same same.

We need to collate the unnecessary stacks between the titles of pastor and elder. They are one office, one title, that is expressed with three Greek words—more on that in a minute. Elders/pastors have one summary task, shepherding the flock of God.

How to be Married to your Soul Mate :: Tolkien’s Letters
-Steven Dilla

No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial. Too few are told that—even those brought up ‘in the Church.’

When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along. And of course they are, as a rule, quite right: they did make a mistake.

Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to.  
(Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 51-52)

7 Ways To Pray For The Women of the 10/40 Window
-Amy Rhodes

Who are the women of the 10/40 window? They are daughters, they are businesswomen, they are widows, they are beggars, they are teachers, they are farmers, they are mothers; they live in cities, they live in remote villages, they live in brothels, they live in high-rises. They are beautiful, each with her own story. And we fully believe that God wants to encounter each one with His unconditional love and exciting purposes. We believe He wants to use them in bringing His glory and Gospel to the nations. 

Why so many are 'taking the red pill' (and discovering the truth about the mainstream media)
-John Stossel

In the movie “The Matrix,” swallowing a red pill reveals the truth, while downing a blue pill leaves you trapped in illusion.

Today, in the parlance of some political activists, “taking the red pill” means seeing the lies of mainstream media -- and learning the truth.

“People don't care to watch CNN anymore: People pay attention to YouTubers,” says Candace Owens. Owens is a young black woman who created a YouTube site she calls Red Pill Black. “My second video went trending worldwide with 80 million views.”

Replant Revival

Calvary Church in Denver was down to just a handful of people and in danger of having to close their doors for good. Then God did what God does.

Replant Revival from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.

Where Are The Left's Modern Muckrackers?
-Victor Davis Hanson

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was an epic fight of so-called muckrakers — journalists and novelists such as Frank Norris, Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and Ida Tarbell, along with trust-busting politicians like Teddy Roosevelt — against rail, steel, and oil monopolies. Whatever one thought of their sensationalism and often hard-left socialist agendas, they at least brought public attention to price fixing, product liabilities, monopolies, and the buying of politicians.

No such progressive zealotry exists today in Silicon Valley and its affiliated tech spin-offs. And the result is a Roman gladiatorial spectacle with no laws in the arena.
In the last two elections, Facebook has sold its user data to Democratic and, apparently more controversially, Republican campaign affiliates. Google, Twitter, and Facebook have often been accused of censoring users’ expression according to their own political tastes. Civil libertarians have accused social-media and Internet giants of violating rights of privacy, by monitoring the shopping, travel, eating, and entertainment habits of their customers to the extent that they know where and when Americans travel or communicate with one another.

Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook are the world’s five largest companies in terms of stock value. Together they have market capitalization of about 3 trillion dollars, about the net worth of the entire country of Switzerland.

Until the rise of high-tech companies in the 1980s, there were, for better or worse, certain understood rules that governed the behavior of large corporations. Services deemed essential for the public — power, sewage, water, railroad, radio, and television — were deemed public utilities and regulated by the state.

-Jason Fung

Most doctors, dietitians and diabetes specialists claim that type 2 diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. The American Diabetes Association, for example, almost proudly proclaims this on its website. Once you get the diagnosis, you feel it’s a life sentence. That’s a great big lie. Type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible, which is ridiculously easy to prove. This is great news for the more than 50 percent of American adults who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Most people instinctively recognize that this is true. Suppose your friend is diagnosed as diabetic, then works hard to lose 50 pounds. He takes himself off all his medications and his blood sugars are now normal. What would you say to him? Probably something like, “Great job. You’re really taking care of yourself. Keep it up!” What you wouldn’t say is something like, “You’re such a dirty, filthy liar. My doctor says this is a chronic and progressive disease, so you must be lying to me.” It seems perfectly obvious that diabetes reversed because your friend lost all that weight. And that’s the point. The disease is reversible.
Medications Won’t Help

We’ve known this all along. But only diet and lifestyle changes will reverse it. Not medications. The most important thing, of course, is to lose weight. But diabetes medications don’t help with this. Quite the contrary. Insulin, for example, is notorious for causing weight gain. Patients intuitively sense that they are heading down the wrong path.

They would often say to me, “Doctor, you’ve always said that weight loss is the key to reversing diabetes. Yet you prescribed me a drug that made me gain 25 pounds. How is that good?” I never had a good answer, because none existed. The key to reversing diabetes is weight loss. So if insulin contributes to weight gain, logically it does not reverse the disease, but worsens it.

The most important key to reversing type 2 diabetes is to lose weight. But diabetes medications don’t help with this. Insulin, for example, is notorious for causing weight gain.

Other medications such as metformin or the DPP4 drug class are weight neutral. While these won’t make things worse, they won’t make things better, since, again, weight loss is the key to reversing type 2 diabetes. Medications make blood sugars better, but not the diabetes. That’s the reason most doctors think type 2 diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. We’ve been using the wrong treatment. We’ve been prescribing drugs for a dietary disease. No wonder it doesn’t work.

So, how can you reverse your diabetes?

A suspicious Facebook message from Liberia sparks an unlikely partnership
-CBS News

When Ben Taylor got a message from a man in Liberia asking for financial assistance, he decided to reply with "How can I help?" That started a journey he never could have imagined. Steve Hartman has his story "On the Road."

Scholarship Informer
-Gabrielle McCormick

Scholarship Informer is a resource run by me, Gabrielle McCormick, to teach you how I earned over $150,000 in college scholarships and graduated from college DEBT-FREE. The same strategies I used for my undergraduate degree were used for my MBA, and now my doctorate degree.

This information comes from my own personal experience which includes my work with students from across the country. Our students have attended a few notable colleges such as Texas A&M University, Arizona State University, Seton Hall University, and Penn State University. There’s not a degree plan we haven’t seen; but most importantly, they’ve earned scholarships ranging from $500 to a “full ride”.

Mindfulness: Stealth Buddhist Strategy for Mainstreaming Meditation?
-Candy Gunther Brown

Mindfulness has become mainstream. Hospitals and prisons offer “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,” public schools teach students to put their “MindUP,” and Google trains employees to “Search Inside Yourself.”

Right mindfulness is the seventh aspect of the eightfold path of Buddhist awakening. Implicit in “secularized” mindfulness is the assumption that meditating on one’s breath or present-moment bodily sensations, while cultivating non-judgmental awareness of passing thoughts and emotions, trains the mind to perceive experiences — and even the notion of a “self” — as transient. This alleviates suffering by detaching the mind from pursuing desires or avoiding displeasures. Recognizing that every apparently unique “self” is really part of the same universal process of becoming develops moral and ethical virtues such as compassion and generosity. Ultimately, this process leads to freedom from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth, and entrance into a transcendent state of enlightenment or nirvana.

Promoters of “secular” mindfulness avoid using the loaded words “Buddhism” or “religion,” and may even steer clear of mentioning “spirituality” or “meditation.” But the practice is essentially similar to that taught in many Buddhist basics classes. And the hope, expressed by certain key leaders in the secular mindfulness movement, is that introductory classes alleviate suffering for all practitioners, while providing at least some of them with a doorway into deeper, explicitly Buddhist meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings
-Candy Gunther Brown

Since the 1960s, the United States Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional for public schools to teach religious practices such as prayer. But today, mindfulness meditation—a Buddhist religious practice similar to prayer—is promoted by schools nationwide. Why aren’t the courts intervening? Because promoters assert, as the Associated Press did recently, that “Western culture has secularized” this “centuries-old” religious practice.

But what does it mean to “secularize” mindfulness? It boils down to a simple change of vocabulary. Promoters drop the terms “Buddhism” and “meditation” and add the terms “neuroscience” and “scientific research.” Meanwhile, the same practice is taught in both public schools and Buddhist basics classes.

Indeed, the Associated Press notes that the Portland, Oregon high-school mindfulness program it features, Peace in Schools, is the “brainchild” of European-American Caverly Morgan, who “trained at a Zen Buddhist monastery for eight years,” and who, according to Morgan’s personal website, remains committed to “Zen Awareness Practice” and “maintains her own spiritual practice while offering the gift of practice to others.” Peace in Schools boasts being the “first for-credit mindfulness course in a U.S. public high school.”

Trudy Goodman, founder of Insight LA, California, confesses in an interview with Vincent and Emily Horn of that what she advertises as “secular” mindfulness for public schools is really, in her words, “stealth Buddhism.” Although the “secular” classes use a “different vocabulary,” getting children to engage in the same practice of mindfulness that is taught in Buddhist classes transforms students “whether they want it or not,” and many go on to enroll in explicitly Buddhist classes. The podcast interview records Goodman and the Horns laughing while discussing this intentional deception.

“We worked the most on language,” admits Marilyn Neagley, director of the Talk About Wellness initiative in Vermont public schools: “When we say ‘mindfulness,’ we feel it’s safer than saying ‘meditation.’”

Actress Goldie Hawn actually refers to her internationally disseminated MindUP curriculum as a “script.” She explains her tactic to a group of Buddhist insiders at the 2013 Heart-Mind conference at The Dalai Lama Center for Peace-Education: “We have to be able to bring contemplative practice into the classroom under a different name because obviously people that say ‘oh meditation’ they think oh this is ‘Buddhist.’” So she instead uses the terms “Core Practice” and “brain breaks” as euphemisms for Buddhist meditation.

Hawn started The Hawn Foundation in 2005 and recruited educators, neuroscientists, and psychologists to work with Buddhist meditators in writing the MindUP Curriculum, published in partnership with Scholastic Books in 2011. When speaking to Buddhist coreligionists, Hawn says MindUP “all started” with “His Holiness” (who gave Hawn her own personal mantra) and with the Dalai Lama Center. But, in presenting her program to the public, Hawn drops all references to Buddhism or meditation and claims that she is simply teaching children how the brain works.

-J. Carl Laney

Joseph of Arimathea is a relatively minor figure in the New Testament. We don’t think much about him except around Easter when believers remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Yet Joseph’s importance is evident by the fact that he is mentioned in all four gospels (Mt. 27:57, Mk 15:43, Lk. 23:51, Jn. 19:38). And much can be learned from his example.

A Simple Rhythm for a Profound Spiritual Life
-Sheridan Voysey

Life is complicated. Spiritual life is complicated. And Christian life is complicated too. So it’s a relief to find Christ himself calling us to a rhythm of life that, while not easy in its implications, is simple in its approach.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve – calling them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3:13-15)

‘That they might be with him.’ ‘That he might send them.’ Being with. Being sent. With-ness. Sent-ness. The call of Jesus is a call to a two-beat rhythm of life:

Being with him in prayer and devotion.

Being sent from him into the world in action.

Being with him provides space in our lives for prayer, solitude, contemplation on Scripture, rest. Being sent from him gives us a mission in life through daily tasks of love. In being with him we love God. In being sent we love our neighbour.

Being with, being sent – that’s Jesus’ rhythm of life.

-Jenn Ganneman

1. INFJs are more analytical, whereas INFPs are more artistic.

2. INFJs are more aware of other people’s feelings, whereas INFPs are more aware of their own.

3. INFJs seek insight, whereas INFPs explore the human experience.

4. INFJs have no problem making bold assertions, whereas INFPs may seem less sure.

5. INFJs crave outer control, whereas INFPs seek inner control.

Lament in Lent: an antidote to individualism
-Mike Long
LAMENT is rarely a feature of public activity or worship in Christian circles. Walter Brueggemann argues that, as our culture has become more self-confident and has increasingly prized self-reliance, the part played by lament has almost vanished.

Yet, as we acknowledge our fragility and dependence on our journey through Holy Week to Good Friday, we are drawn closer to the heart of God. As Jesus was being led through the streets of Jerusalem to be crucified, he called out to the women whose wails of lament rose above the clamour of the crowd. Do not weep for me, he said, but weep for yourselves and for your children. This was surely a lament for their country and for all who cannot see signs of God’s activity.