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.”

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.”

links: this went thru my mind

Accountability & responsibility: The Difference Between Accountability and Responsibility

“Accountability … making, keeping, and managing agreements and expectations. … Responsibility … the feeling of ownership.”

ADHD, children, medicine & public schools: Why So Many kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

“In the following post, Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist … suggests … another reason more children are being diagnosed with ADHD, whether or not they really have it: the amount of time kids are forced to sit while they are in school.”

Community, inclusion, isolation, loneliness, relationships & violence: Sandy Hook Dad on What You Can Do Right Now to Help Prevent Violence

“… we should … do what we can to foster empathy; to create a world where no one feels invisible and ignored — least of all those who disproportionately fall victim to our collective failure to care enough to act.”

Discipleship, obedience & salvation: * Disciple; * Christ is Lord: What Does It Mean?

* “When Jesus describes discipleship, he does so in stunningly simple terms: teaching, obeying, and trusting.”

* “It’d be a pretty sick marriage if one spouse were to ask the other spouse, ‘What’s the minimal level I can be committed to my marriage vows without you divorcing me?’ Well, this is basically what we’re doing when we ask, ‘How submitted do I have to be to the Lord to be saved?’”

Evangelism & outreach: The Great Commission Means Sharing Christ’s Story, Not Yours

“We’re all about ‘sharing our testimonies’ and ‘telling our stories’ and recounting our ‘spiritual journey.’ … But there’s a subtle danger lurking here. Because of our emphasis on conversion stories and testimonies, we can unintentionally make people think that evangelism is the same thing as sharing your experience. We interpret The Great Commission’s ‘Go make disciples’ as ‘Go tell your story.’ They are not the same thing.”

Faith, military service, pacifism, unity & war: Christians Going to War

“The purpose of this blog is NOT to take a position, but to make a VERY IMPORTANT point. I have never heard a church to DIVIDE over the WAR ISSUE. Somehow we argue our points, and then continue to study and pray and work TOGETHER. But ironically we DIVIDE over many other questions. This does not make sense. At the very least, we need to be consistent. Through the centuries, the war issue has been important for some, and not for others. Human beings cannot agree on any issue. But Christians should love one another and love all people even when we disagree.”

Marriage: 5 Important Questions to Ask Before You Tie the Knot

“1. Does this person have integrity? … 2. Do I Respect This Person? … 3. Can I Continue to Respect and Love This Person if Their Most Annoying Habit or Significant Weakness Never Changes? … 4. Does This Person Deeply Love God? … 5. Does This Person Encourage Me in Word and in Action?”

Money & saving: 27 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

“Think you can’t save? Think again. Sure, it seems like there’s not much wiggle room in your budget, due to the rising costs of basic necessities — but that’s all the more reason to have a slush fund. Fortunately, there are plenty of painless ways to siphon cash from even a fixed income.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: A Basic Eye Exam Could Catch Alzheimer’s Sooner

“Two different research groups have found techniques that might be able to catch Alzheimer’s early using routine eye exams. This is great news because many doctors believe that finding the disease early is a key to treating it.”

Benevolence, clothing, deception & scams: Fake Clothing Drop Bins Use Your “Charity” Donations To Make a Profit

“… a proliferation of fake clothing donation bins.”

Bible reading: Living for God Without Reading Your Bible? Don’t Even Try It!

“The Christian life should come with a warning label. ‘Try this without the Scriptures as your constant guide and you will fail.’”

Poor & poverty: * This is What Happened When I Drove My Mercedes to Pick Up Food Stamps; * Changes in Areas With Concentrated
Poverty: 2000 to 2010

* “In just two months, we’d gone from making a combined $120,000 a year to making just $25,000 and leeching out funds to a mortgage we couldn’t afford. Our savings dwindled, then disappeared. So I did what I had to do. I signed up for Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. It’s not easy. …”

“The stares, the faux concern, the pity, the outrage — I hated it. … That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. That was especially true about my husband’s Mercedes. Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.”

* “In 2010, approximately 14.9 percent of the total U.S. population lived in poverty. … Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of people living in poverty areas fell from 20.0 percent to 18.1 percent. This trend was reversed in the past decade. Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of people living in poverty areas grew from 18.1 percent to 25.7 percent. While the overall population grew by 10 per – cent over the decade, the number of people living in poverty areas grew by about 56 percent.”