links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible & humor: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!

“As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.”

Congregational singing: Lessons from the Churches of Christ

“I am deeply concerned about the long-term viability of the musical heritage of the Church of Christ tradition, and I also think there are lessons to learn about the preservation of musical culture.”

Food & medicine: When Do Chefs And Doctors Buy Generic?

“Pharmacists and doctors are more likely than the general public to buy generic medicine … And chefs are more likely than the general public to buy generic food.”

Gaza, Hamas & Israel: A Letter to Friends Who Want to Understand What is Happening in Gaza [essential reading]

“I want to say a few words to my friends who are not particularly biased one way or the other (and perhaps somewhat uninformed) about what is happening in Gaza. … My heart breaks for the suffering of the Palestinian people. I pray that they get their state soon, and will live peaceably alongside Israel. There will be lots of wounds to mend in this process on both sides. But I don’t blame Israel for the civilian suffering of Palestinians that you see. It is a deliberate tactic of war intended to make you feel exactly what you are feeling: sympathy. I feel sympathy as well, but I know who has the responsibility for this suffering: Hamas.”

Immigration & migrant children: * Q&A: Children at the Border [required reading]; * Most Migrant Children Entering U.S. Are Now With Relatives, Data Show

* “Where are the migrant children coming from? … When did the surge start? … What caused the sudden increase in unaccompanied minors? … Why are the children not deported immediately? … Where are the children crossing the border? … How old are they? Are they mostly boys or girls? … What happens to the children after they are caught? … Where are the shelters? … Where have children been placed after leaving a shelter? … What is being done to address the problem?”

* “Children who are not able to find qualified sponsors are placed in long-term shelters or in foster care. Roughly 10 percent of the unaccompanied minors who have been taken into custody this year have been placed in such care.”

Peace Corp: Peace Corps Volunteers in Their Own Words

“Contrary to popular belief, Peace Corps is less a development organization and more a training ground for cultural sensitivity — global EQ, if you will. I can’t speak with 100 percent certainty that any projects that I undertook changed lives. But I am 100 percent certain that my Peace Corps service shaped me into a better global citizen. It equipped me with the important ability to approach a different culture with humility and respect, to listen, and to understand.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Blessing, kingdom living & love: The Kingdom of God While Mowing the Lawn [essential reading]

“… the first task Jesus gave this disciples when he sent them out to serve and evangelize the world was to bless every house they came upon (Luke 10). This, he suggested, is our first and most basic act of loving service to the world. We are to be a people who simply express God’s love by blessing people. We are to agree with God that each and every person we see was worth Jesus dying for. And we express this first and foremost by blessing them.”

Brain, dementia, health & mental health: Brain Games that Could Pay Off in Retirement

“While the scientific community has more to learn, for now it’d be hard to go wrong finding a progressively challenging hobby that you enjoy, and that won’t break the bank. Park and her research team decided to focus on quilting and photography, but other activities they considered studying were learning a second language, learning a musical instrument, dancing and bridge.

“Physical exercise is also essential. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise improves memory and brain function, in party by increasing blood flow to the brain. Also, remember to shake things up every once in a while: Vary your workout, learn something new, visit new places. Said Small, ‘The brain loves novelty.'”

God, forgiveness, suffering & time: Is God Inside or Outside of Time?

“… does this mean that God can simultaneously view all moments in time and know what is going to happen in the future without infringing on human free will?”

Grief: 1 Things Pastors Should Never Say to the Grieving

“Immediately after he passed away, a nurse came in and made an empty attempt at comfort, ‘He’s in a better place’ she said. As soon as the words were uttered they seemed to bounce around the room with nowhere to comfortably land.”

Roads, Roman Empire, & travel in the ancient world: Roman Roads and Milestones in Judaea/Palaestina

“… a systematic survey of all the extant remains related to roads, in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the Roman road network in Israel.”

picture Bible commentary

Tree-cross-2014-07-15

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—because it is written, Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. He redeemed us so that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, and that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3.13-14 CEB)

LIFE group guide: unity visualized (aka: body imaging)

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (July 20) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To consider the heart of our role in maintaining the unity we experience in Christ Jesus.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12.12-27 NIV)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. How has your physical body changed through the years?

2. There’s plenty of humor in the text above. What other Biblical texts do you find humorous?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Examine 1 Cor. 12.12-27. What specifically is the Spirit depicted as doing? God the Father?

2. In the text above, where does the sin of pride make an appearance? Disdain? Scorn? Shame?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. This text got penned because some church members were putting other members down. So?

2. Christ’s church is an interdependent organism and its diversity is a God-given essential. How?

3. How is diversity without unity a bad thing? Similarly, unity without diversity?

4. MoSt Church is Christ’s body (a part of it, that is). As a member of it, what body part are you?

5. “… parts should have equal concern for each other.” When achieved, what does that look like?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Thoughtfully assess what you have to offer to the good, benefit, and strengthening of MoSt.

2. Rein in your speech, and your thoughts, as to how you view and speak of other members.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, culture, faith & immigration: God’s Immigrants [essential reading]

“The total global diaspora numbers about 859 million from 327 distinct people groups. A larger number of those peoples settle in the US than in any other host country, making about 11% of the US population foreign born. … Let us see if we can’t … reclaim the deep resonances and reverence scripture caries for the immigrant.”

Busyness, Christianity, church, faith, over-stimulation, United States: Why It’s Hard to Be Christian in America [essential reading]

“What we need is a community of people who agree to live by a different ethic and rhythm. The Bible has a word for that community. It’s called church. So, let the church be the church.”

Burnout, discouragement, leadership & ministry: * Ten Things Pastors Hate to Admit Publicly [essential reading]; * A Cure for Ministerial Burnout: Contemplative Prayer; * Don’t Make Your Pastor a Statistic?

* “My intention is precisely the opposite. I hope that from this: Churches will pray all the more for their pastors because they understand the challenges; Churches will be doubly grateful for the fact that so many pastors stay in the saddle despite their fears, hurts and frustrations; People in churches will think twice before engaging in things that sink deep into the soul of their leaders.”

* “If, each day, time had been set aside for the spiritual renewal that contemplative praying can provide, there probably would have been the kind of revitalization of mind and spirit that could have maintained their enthusiasm and commitment to ministry.”

* “Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute …”

Church, church attendance & expectations: * #1 Reason Why Church Attendance is Down – Really? [required reading]; * Disillusionment With the Church [essential reading]

* “Take me for example, for a number of reasons, I am very close to burnout.  When I hear words like ‘active’, ‘committed’, ‘involvement’, and ‘monitor attendance’, it is going to produce the opposite of the intended effect in me.  If I hear these words from the pulpit on a Sunday morning, I am going to be less likely, not more likely,  to attend the following week.  I am burnt out and you want a larger commitment from me?!?

“Seven years ago, when we searching for a new pastor, our church surveyed our community.  When asked the number one reason why they didn’t attend church, the top two responses could be summarized as:  ‘Too tired’, and ‘not enough time.'”

* “I would contend that many of our disillusions with the church are based upon a wrong ethic. We misunderstand the true nature of fellowship in the gospel community. And therefore, we wrongly apply the ethic of other communities to the church.

“The foundation of our fellowship is not the feelings we have for one another, as important as they may be. Neither is the foundation of our fellowship based upon the fact that we live in the same geographic place, educate our children in the same way, hold similar political views, or are the same ethnicity. No. It is the gospel that is the foundation of our fellowship. Nothing else.”

Israel: * The Pilgrimage: Israel (a 25-part series by Ben Witherington; superb); * Gaza is in the News Again

* “I was fortunate enough to lead a tour to Israel and Turkey for two weeks in May with 29 hearty souls on pilgrimage, and we had a blessed time and a blast as well. It was all good. In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the pictures and experiences from this trip and we will be talking about.”

* “Gaza is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Here is a summary of these references.”

Listening, preaching & sermons: How to Get More from a Sermon [essential reading]

“Let’s talk about people who do not get full value from the sermons they hear.

“These people may be taking SERMON-BLOCKERS. When the pastor gets up to preach, they … nitpick him … plan the week ahead … shift into neutral and become passive. … send their mind off on a mini-vacation. … listen with their ears but not their hearts … do not bring faith to what they are hearing.

“These people may hear thousands of sermons, but they do not benefit from them because they are resisting them, not listening to them, and not believing them. Such people are literally wasting their time by coming to church.”

Learning, online & reading: Being a Better Online Reader

“… we don’t read the same way online as we do on paper.”

Population density & the United States: Half of the United States Lives in These Counties

“… half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.”