links: this went thru my mind

 

Afterlife, authority & heaven: Heaven Is For Real [essential viewing; a video 4:44 by David Platt)

“… our level of discernment in the church today on this topic is extremely low because the whole premise behind every single one of these books is contrary to everything God’s word says about heaven. … Not one person raised from the dead in the Old Testament or the New Testament ever wrote down what he or she experienced , including Lazarus, who had a lot of time in a grave for four days. … Paul sums it up in three verses. … Their visions are all fixated on the glory of God which defines heaven … Notably missing from all of the Biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominant every account of heaven on the best-seller lists. … Why … are we buying this stuff when we have the word of God?”

Anxiety, fear, stress & worry: This is You on Stress

” … There are things you can do to take the wind out of worry’s sails.”

Archaeology & the Western Wall: A Stonemason’s Chisel from the Second Temple

“Archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority found a stonemason’s chisel which is believed to have been used by the workers who built the Western Wall in Jerusalem. … Most scholars believe that the Western Wall was one of the many building projects Herod the Great initiated during his reign. Among these projects was the Temple in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the fort at Masada.

“However, based on the dates of the coins found under the Western Wall, Shukron and Reich believe that the Western Wall was not built by Herod. The dates of the coins indicate that the Western Wall was built after Herod’s reign, probably by one of his heirs.”

Bible & interpretation: How To Completely Misuse The Bible In 5 Easy Steps

“The Bible is a notoriously difficult book (collection of books, actually) to understand. We’ve been wrestling with the meaning and implication of various texts within the Bible nearly since the moment it was written. … However, even though studying the Bible with a heart for understanding the message is difficult, it is the most beautiful journey I’ve ever set out on. … On that same note however, with the Bible being so difficult to understand, it is also easy to completely misuse it. Such a misuse, even done unintentionally, distorts the beauty of what actually lies inside. We’ve all seen it. In fact, we’ve all done it.”

Churches & social media: Using Caution with Social Media

“Whether you are a full-time staff person or a volunteer that is just starting out, you are representing the ministry you are serving in. As a member of this church, you need to understand that there are rules that must be followed online that simply cannot be violated. To help protect my ministry team, whether the church technology ministry, youth group, or a Saturday morning men’s Bible study, I have all volunteers commit to our social media policy.”

Communication & love: I Say This in Love …

“Sometimes people seem to think they can say anything — in any form — without considering the consequences — as long as they begin with that phrase. … let’s make sure we display love all the way through our conversations. Not just with the first five words.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Authority & personal experience: Sola Experienca is For Real. [essential reading]

“There was a time when experience saluted Scripture.”

Belonging, change, church membership, expectations & transformation: * Performance Anxiety; * Corporate vs. Individual Christian Identity [essential reading]

* “Choosing a church (or non-church) where we ‘fit,’ may be the strongest guarantee that we will never be asked to change. This, I suspect, is why we do it. In church, as in the rest of life, we don’t want transformation as much as we say we do. We’d rather have comfort. The best thing many of us could do is envisage church as an opportunity to embrace that which is outside of us, that which does not – at least on the surface – appeal to what we already are.

* “The documents of the NT, with a few exceptions, are addressed to communities and not to individuals.  Many of us know this and it may not be too shocking, but the significances of this reality must continue to transform how we envision Christian identity.”

Commitment, endurance, faithfulness, love, selflessness & vision: Father-Son Duo, Team Hoyt, Celebrates 37 Years of Inspiring Teamwork With One Last Boston Marathon

“In 1962, Dick and Judy Hoyt welcomed their son, Rick, into an unsuspecting world — a world that would forever be changed by their presence and sacrifice. Because of complications with his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. … Dick remembers the advice of the doctors who suggested that his son would essentially be non-functioning, and that he should place him in an institution. Dick refused.”

Gossip: Gossip is a Spiritual Issue

“Whether it’s cloaked in a prayer request, ‘concern’ for another or simply news from the grapevine, Christians have a problem with gossip. I have yet to find a place where gossip isn’t present on some level or another.”

Hearing, listening, preaching, responsibility & sermons: When Hearing Fails

“We can control what we preach, but we cannot control how the message is heard. This is frustrating, but it is also something we need to come to grips with. We have no power or control over how another person hears our words.”

Jesus, sacrifice, & suicide: Did Jesus Commit Suicide?

“So Jesus did not kill himself, but he did act in such a way so as to bring about his death.  In some extraordinary way he seemed to control those final hours and what ultimately happened to him.”

Marriage: Letter to Our Grandsons on Choosing a Wife [essential reading]

“The typical thinking has always been that the main issue for marriage is ‘do we love each other?’ It isn’t.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Body language: Body Language: An Amazing Infographic

“… your body language tells the world all about you.”

Church, communication, first impressions, guests, signage & welcome: Welcome to “No Church” – 4 Steps To Reversing Your Negative Church Messaging

“Negative messaging narrows your thought activity and focuses on actions related to the message. Positive messages on the other hand, broaden your thinking and create openness. … So the big question is what kind of brain patterns do you want to create for people as they enter your church an prepare to worship the all-powerful and all-present living God and creator of the universe? Let’s play this out for a guest coming to your church. What happens when they hit a cascade of messages like these …”

Creation, rest & sabbath: Sabbath and Wendell Berry

“By Sara Barton, chaplain at Pepperdine University and author A Woman Called.”

Faith, religion & spirituality: Bad Religion’s Alternative: No Religion or Good Religion?

“… a growing number of Americans are starving for an alternative to negative, closed-minded, judgmental, partisan, antiwomen, antiscience religion. Instead, they are searching for a positive, grace-filled, open-minded, gender-equal faith option.” Where are they finding this? Can they find this?”

Simplicity: 10 Images to Help Inspire Simplicity in Your Life

“If you are not content today, there is nothing you can buy this weekend to change that.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s, communication, compassion, respect & sensitivity: 5 Things to Never Say to a Person With Alzheimer’s

“When relating to a person with Alzheimer’s, there are many guidelines to follow. I’m going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: (1) Don’t tell them they are wrong about something, (2) Don’t argue with them, (3) Don’t ask if they remember something, (4) Don’t remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and (5) Don’t bring up topics that may upset them.”

Attitude, admiration, behavior, character & emulation: Five People I Admire [required reading]

“1. I admire people who are respectful and gracious in their speech. … 2. I admire people who are quick to say ‘I’m sorry.’ … 3. I admire people who build up instead of destroy. … 4. I admire people who don’t have to be the center of attention. … 5. I admire people who spread joy instead of cynicism.”

Awkwardness, friendship, generations & vulnerability: The Silver Lining of Awkwardness [required reading]

“An opportunity is buried inside each of your awkward moments. … Awkwardness is an invitation to vulnerability. And vulnerability is where friendship is born.”

Hispanics & politics: Finding a Place: Hispanic Faith, Work and Identity

“It’s the middle of another election year. And while midterms historically draw a smaller crowd of voters, they bring to the forefront of political conversation a variety of issues intended to energize voter bases and solidify party candidates. Predictably, one of those issues is once again immigration.”

Maps: 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

“Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.”

Marriage & relationships: Eight Things Healthy Couples Don’t Do

“It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media. Here are eight things healthy couples don’t do …”

Reflection, silence & spiritual growth: Screwtape and Silence

“Why we need times of quiet reflection — and why the devil hates them.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Capital punishment & the death penalty: Secret Drugs, Agonizing Deaths

“In the name of security, states are now withholding vital information about their death penalty procedures — from death row prisoners’ lawyers and from judges, whose stamp of approval they need to impose the ultimate sanction, as well as from the public, in whose name the sentence is carried out.”

Children, compassion, morality & parenting: Raising a Moral Child [essential reading]

“Despite the significance that it holds in our lives, teaching children to care about others is no simple task.”

Church: * The Church as a Hospice for the Dying [essential reading]; * What the Church May Need is What the Church Does Not Want

* “It seems to me that it’s better to think of the Church as a hospice, rather than as a hospital. … The Church as hospice makes good, Gospel sense. And, there are very practical implications in this metaphor as well. When people tell the pastor that they are leaving the church because their ‘needs’ aren’t being met, all the pastor has to do is remind them of what the Church is, and point out that their ‘needs’ are indeed being met: They’re being given an opportunity to die to their ‘needs’ in order to experience more of the resurrection life of Christ. So, the church really is meeting their needs; they just don’t know it.”

* “… I wonder if the Christian element in America has grown fat and sassy.  Have we fallen into a dangerous religion of indifferent slumber? Persecution may not be at our doorstep; but I do think it is traipsing up the sidewalk. This will never be the thing we want.  Yet, it may be the very thing needed to move us from our glut of mediocre indifference.”

Crucifixion: Roman Crucifixion Methods Reveal the History of Crucifixion

“… Hershel Shanks looks at evidence of Roman crucifixion methods as analyzed from the remains found in Jerusalem of a young man crucified in the first century A.D.”

Faith & science: 9 Groundbreaking Scientists Who Happened to Be Christians

“There’s a general sense that science and religion are two camps, and the two can never meet without fighting or, at the very least, stepping mighty carefully around each other’s views. There might be a very little bit of truth to that—a few noisy emissaries from both sides have been known to go out of their way to discredit the other. However, what is frequently lost in all this is that the history of science is rich with believing Christians, for whom the process of discovery did not jeopardize their faith, but enforced it.”

Fear: Do Not Let Fear be the CEO of the Church

“How many times have we said or at least heard, I’m afraid of what this might lead to?”

Passover: Passover as Jesus Knew It

“It was a joyous, celebratory occasion: work was temporarily stopped, families were reunited, food and wine were plentiful, and hopes and dreams were in the air. At the heart of the festival was a story: an account of a chosen people liberated from slavery centuries before through God’s gracious deliverance. But there was also a tragic irony: Israel was no longer free. This time the oppressors were not the Egyptians, but Rome. Together, these ideas created a lethal cocktail of deep religious yearnings, nationalism and resentment. ‘It is on these festive occasions that sedition is most likely to break out’ noted the historian Josephus wryly (War 1.88), and most of the riots recorded in his works seem to have occurred at Passover in particular.”

Prayer: Did Jesus Send a Mixed Message About Repetition in His Teaching About Prayer?

“… Jesus is talking about different things in these two teachings.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Age, Boomers, faith, mid-life, & generations: Aged Out of Church [required reading]

“… Boomers are leaving the church in numbers that we usually think of when we talk about the exodus of the Millennial generation: “‘…during the past 20 years the percentage of unchurched Boomers has risen dramatically, jumping up 18 points! At 41 percent, they are now the generation most likely to be unchurched, surpassing the 39 percent level among Busters.’”

Attitude, complaining & grumbling: Grumbling & Complaining

“My heart has been a grumbling one recently. I could give you a few reasons I think why my grumbling is necessary or warranted, but the truth is that even talking about those situations would invite more grumbling. People talk about it being necessary to say how we feel, but I usually think there is more merit to say less about how we feel, and more about who God is in spite of our feelings.”

Bible, literacy, Millenials & reading: American Bible Society Report: The Bible in America, 2014

“Now there are just as many Americans skeptical of the Bible as there are engaged with the Bible. According to the fourth annual State of the Bible survey, 19 percent said that they were skeptical of the Bible. This number is up from 10 percent in 2011. This trend is even more pronounced among the Millennial generation (who range in age from 18-29).”

Children, courtesy, manners & parenting: Ten Forgotten Ways to Teach Politeness to Children

“Not every day is going to be a rip roaring success when trying to teach our children politeness, but if we are consistent, we will eventually see them get it right more than they get it wrong.  And, when they have successful and pleasant encounters with others, we are setting them up to be more successful in life.  These ten skills will serve them well all through adulthood, too.”

Culture & sin: 5 Overlooked Cultural Sins Threatening the Church [essential reading]

“What if the biggest threats to the church weren’t the things we thought they were? What if the very foundation of our country’s culture actually resembles the culture of our churches? We may find that we’ve been blind to more subtle and subversive influences that are having a greater impact on the church than the issues that consume us. Here are just five overlooked cultural norms that are contrary to the Kingdom and are sinful within the Kingdom, unknowingly supported by many of us. …  Competition … Celebrity … Patriotism … Fear … Individuality.”

Gospel, moralism & preaching: Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think it Is) [required reading]

“… one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.”

Marriage, relationships, technology & Twitter: Frequent Twitter Users Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses, Get Divorced: Study

“Comparing his two studies, Clayton was surprised to find that the length of time a couple had been together did not affect whether they would be negatively affected by one partner’s Twitter activity.”