links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Addiction, brain, children, communication, health, parenting, reasoning, teens & youth ministry: Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains [essential reading]

“‘The last place to be connected — to be fully myelinated — is the front of your brain,” [Dr. Frances] Jensen [who is a neurologist] says. ‘And what’s in the front? Your prefrontal cortex and your frontal cortex. These are areas where we have insight, empathy, these executive functions such as impulse control, risk-taking behavior.’ This research also explains why teenagers can be especially susceptible to addictions — including drugs, alcohol, smoking and digital devices. …

“‘Just like learning a fact is more efficient, sadly, addiction is more efficient in the adolescent brain. That is an important fact for an adolescent to know about themselves — that they can get addicted faster. It also is a way to debunk the myth, by the way, that, “Oh, teens are resilient, they’ll be fine. He can just go off and drink or do this or that. They’ll bounce back.” Actually, it’s quite the contrary. The effects of substances are more permanent on the teen brain. They have more deleterious effects and can be more toxic to the teen than the adult.'”

Attitude, expectations, helpfulness, ministry, preaching & teaching: Fighting Blue Monday: Be Helpful, Not Great

“In preaching and teaching, aim to be helpful. Do not waste any time attempting to be great.”

Bible study, Google Earth, teaching & preaching: Google Earth Pro is Now Free!

“I have frequently blogged about the value of Google Earth (a free program) for exploring and understanding the biblical lands. Somewhat amazingly, Google has now released Google Earth Pro for free. (It used to be a $399 upgrade.)”

Church decline & church health: 10 Behavior Patterns of Inwardly-Focused Churches

“In our survey [of 557 churches] we found ten dominant behavior patterns of members in these churches.” They are …”

Exercise, health, jogging, running & working out: When Exercise Does More Harm Than Good

“… those with the lowest risk of dying during the study period were people who ran less than three times a week for one to 2.4 hours, at a slow to moderate pace. … too little running and too much running are linked to higher rates of death … [the] sweet spot is closer to the ‘less’ side of the curve than the ‘more’ side. That dovetails with the mounting research that so-called micro-workouts—high intensity but brief workouts that could be as short at 1 minute, according to another recent paper—may be better for the body than long and continuous workouts.”

this went thru my mind

 

Charitable giving & money: * Faith and Giving; * Study Reveals The Geography of Charitable Giving; * How America Gives [interactive; very interesting!]; * How America Gives [article]

* “Donors in Southern states, for instance, give roughly 5.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity—both to religious and to secular groups—compared with donors in the Northeast, who give 4.0 percent. … But the generosity ranking changes when religion is taken out of the picture. People in the Northeast give the most …”

* “Households with incomes of $50,000-$75,000 donate on average 7.6 percent of their discretionary income. That’s compared with about 4 percent for those with incomes of $200,000 or more. … The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become. … it’s not that rich people aren’t generous. They’re often just isolated. They don’t see a lot of poor people in their daily lives. [As you read this quote, recall Houston’s ranking as #1 in the state in terms of economic segregation.] Simply reminding wealthy people of the diversity of needs that are out there is going to go a long way toward restoring the empathy or compassion deficit that we otherwise see.”

* Texas ranks #14 out of the 50 states & the District of Columbia in terms of percentage of annual income given to charity (5.1%) by those who have an annual income of between $50,000-99,999. Harris County, for this same salary bracket, ranks #1,383 out of 3,115 counties at 6.0%. Chambers County, for this same bracket, ranks #1,793 out of 3,115 counties at 5.3%.

* “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities.”

Civility: Civility in Argument by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse [required reading]

“Democracy’s success depends upon our ability as a citizenry to reliably make the distinction between argument and sophistry.”

Journaling: 6 Ways to Make Journaling Work by Rachelle Dawson

“Journaling is usually used as a way to chart your spiritual growth. But there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Nigeria, persecution & terrorism: Fifty Christians Burned Alive in Pastor’s Home in Nigeria

“… 50 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the village of Maseh were burned alive after they took refuge in their pastor’s house following a terrorist raid.”

Worship gatherings & mountain-top-experiences: When Worship is Wrong by Skye Jethani

“The problem with these mountaintop experiences, whether legitimate … or fabricated, is that the transformation does not last. … This pursuit of transformation by consuming external experiences creates worship junkies who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that will not fade. … The New Testament emphasizes a different model of transformation.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church welcome: I Wish Every Church Said What This Church Says in Their Bulletin by Jon Acuff [required reading]

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

“We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

“We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

“If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

“We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!”

Forgiveness: Forgiveness

“Here are two videos on forgiveness that I found helpful. Lewis Smedes and Miroslav Volf …”

Grace & legalism: * Max Lucado Goes Overboard on Grace an interview by Mark Galli [required reading]; * The Attraction to Legalism by Matthew Olson

* “… [let me speak regarding] this tendency we have to fall back into legalism though we have been saved by grace. There are a few reasons for this. First, everything else in the world is based on legalism. If I have to pay money to buy bread, then surely at some point I have to pay for my eternal bread with some type of work. Second, down deep within us, we believe grace is too good to be true, and we feel better if we make some kind of contribution. Third, teachers fear what people will do with grace: ‘If I really teach grace, is that couple in the fourth pew who are living together—are they really going to get out of that relationship and get married?'”

* “Why is legalism so attractive? It is attractive because it feeds the sinful flesh. … The problem is that we can’t see it. … What makes our own legalism hard to see is that on the surface we can be doing a lot of things right.”

Humility: 7 Ways To Put On Humility by Mark Altrogge

“We must put humility on. This doesn’t mean we fake it, but that we begin to do it, even though it takes effort. Putting on humility isn’t easy. After all, it’s not easy to be humble when we’re as great as we are.  But it can be done.”

Internet addiction: * Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device by Matt Richtel; * What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Michael Hyatt

* “Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down.”

* “On average, Americans stare at some type of computer screen for eight hours a day.”

Lord’s Supper: A Lord’s Supper Home Meal — A Method by John Mark Hicks

“On many different occasions, and some recently, I have been asked about how I conceive or conduct the Lord’s supper as a home meal. … In my small group, several of my classes and other occasions I have led or participated in group meals as the ‘Lord’s supper.'”

Leadership: * 4 Words of Advice for a Newbie Leader by Ron Edmonson; * How I Coach People into True Missional Leadership by Hugh Halter

* “Learn the people first … Go slow to change … Think intentionally in all you do … Pace your leadership for the long-term.”

* “I am giving you four key aspects of a leaders life that must be coached for a true missionally incarnational leader must be:
Deep in Character, Clear in Calling, Culturally Savvy, and Able to Lead Inclusive Community.”

Parenting: If You Are Not Praying for Your Children by Jim Martin

“If you as a parent are not praying for your children, then who is?”

Skype & privacy: Can Skype ‘Wiretap’ Video Calls? by John Sutter

“The video calling service Skype recently made a change to how it routes calls. Yawn, right? But here’s where it get a little juicier … the changes, which push some of the video calling process onto Skype’s own computers instead of onto random machines on the Internet, could help the app spy on users’ calls, presumably at the request of a court or government.”

Texting while driving: Driving While Intexticated [infographic]

“In the 5 seconds you read a text at 55 mph, you travel the length of a football field.”

Violence: * The Myth of Redemptive Violence by Shane Claiborne [required reading]; * Gleanings in Pacifism by J. Daniel Kirk; * Gun Laws, None Dare Call it Time by Sandy Levinson; * Assault Deaths within the United States; * Mark 15:1-20 – The Crowd Chooses Violent Revolution Rather than Jesus by John Mark Hicks [required reading]

* “I had a veteran friend once tell me, ‘The biggest lie I have ever been told is that violence is evil, except in war.’ He went on, ‘My government told me that. My church told me that. My family told me that … I came back from war and told them the truth – ‘Violence is not evil, except in war… Violence is evil – period’.”

* “… Christians must actively work for peace: blessed are the peacemakers. That should typify kingdom people.”

* “The GOP is in bed with the NRA; the Dems learned from Al Gore’s opposition to gun laws, which many Dems supported, that they can’t win elections with that platform. So today no party is willing to re-examine our gun laws.”

* “… it’s well-known that there are strong regional differences in the assault death rate in the U.S. by state and region. Here’s what the patterns look like by state from 1999 to 2009. … As is well known, the South is more violent than the rest of the country, by some distance. … Despite their large differences, all of the U.S. regions have higher average rates of death from assault than any of the 24 OECD countries we looked at previously.”

* “The crowd chose violent revolution rather than the nonviolent revolution of Jesus. … What do we choose?”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: Belonging: When I Didn’t Serve God in Church by Ed Cyzewski

” Along the way, I made a crucial mistake. I began to equate work in the church building with serving God.”

Churches of Christ: Why I’m (Still) Church of Christ by Joshua Graves

“Here are my [eleven] reasons I’m still in the Church of Christ.”

Computing: VirusTotal

“VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware.”

Drugs: Facing My Brother’s Addiction

“For at least the last decade and arguably several years longer, my baby brother has been an addict.”

Homosexuality: * Homosexuality: When Will the Church Really Have a Conversation? by John Byron; * Stanley Hauerwas Destroyed My Hermeneutical Paradigm by Brian LePort; * From Waging War to Washing Feet: How Do We Move Forward? by Rachel Held Evans; * A Plea to Christians About Our Response to Obama & Homosexual Marriage by Dan Bouchelle

* “I am reminded of what it was like growing up in the church when divorce was still taboo.”

* “It may be possible to affirm Christian military service while denying Christians being homosexual, but many of the arguments I hear are selective at best, disingenuous at worst. I wish more Christians would be smacked by someone like Stanley Hauerwas and forced to ask themselves, ‘What is my hermeneutical paradigm for saying biblical prohibition A no longer applies while biblical prohibition B does.'”

* “I’d never before realized the degree to which my own perceptions of same-sex attraction were influenced by misinformation, stereotypes, assumptions, and misplaced good intentions.”

* “I’m not sure what this says about me, but my first reaction to the news of Obama’s new position on gay marriage was fear this turn of events would end up giving the church just one more black eye as Christians respond in ways that sound like hate to our world.”

Ideas: 99% Conference 2012: Key Takeaways On Making Ideas Happen by Sarah Rapp & Jocelyn K. Glei

“Last week we brought together 400+ leading creatives and 18 visionary speakers in New York City for the fourth annual 99% Conference, presented by GE. For two days we devoted our full attention to exploring the inner-workings of idea execution.”

Philistines: Lecture with Sy Gitin: Ekron of the Philistines: From Sea Peoples to Olive Oil Industrialists

“The excavations of Ekron radically changed the traditional perception of the Philistines, a tribe of the Sea Peoples who migrated from the Aegean in the 12th century BCE. … The excavations also provided an answer to one of the enigmatic questions involving the Philistines, why they eventually disappeared from the pages of history.”

Photography: Major Announcement: New Photo Collection by Todd Bolen

“The winning combination is the availability of high-quality photos of biblical sites, scenes, and objects for pennies per photo.”

Preaching: Gospel Bullets: “Piety vs Pugilism” in Church of Christ Preaching by Bobby Valentine

“Preaching that stressed the love of God was frequently referred to as ‘sissyism.’ Rather than being ‘real men’ these preachers were weak and feminine — they were called ‘soft.'”

Sunday school & small groups: What is the Purpose of Small Groups and Sunday School? by Trevin Wax

“The way we analyze these models depends on what we think is most important to accomplish. I’m convinced that the purpose for breaking into smaller groups is one of the most neglected areas of discipleship. And when we don’t know what our purpose is, we’re certain not to fulfill it.”

Wall Street: Capitalists and Other Psychopaths by William Deresiewicz

“A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an ‘unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.’ (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.”

Walter Wink: Walter Wink: Presente!

“Walter Wink, 76, one of the most creative and influential scholars of our day, died peacefully at his home in Sandisfield in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts on May 10 … Wink’s breakthrough insights about the contemporary meaning of the principalities and powers, and Jesus’ third way of dealing with the enemy/oppressor – neither fight nor flight but nonviolent resistance – spoke powerfully to the struggle and transformation experienced in the self-giving love of Jesus.”

[In my opinion, one of Walter Wink’s short works, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, is one of the most eye-opening and challenging – if not convicting and convincing – books I dare say any Christian could ever read. I highly recommend it; it’s definitely required reading. I intend to post some brief excerpts from it next week.]

Worship (corporate): Handling Worship Distractions by Shane Raynor

“… I try to remember is that group worship is not my private prayer and worship time. I don’t get to have God all to myself. … Worshiping with a group means sometimes interacting with the group, not tuning them out so that it’s ‘just me and God.'”

this went thru my mind

 

Addiction, alcoholism, bitterness & forgiveness: Rodney King Looks Back Without Anger by Jim Kavanagh

“Yes, I’ve forgiven them, because I’ve been forgiven many times.”

Anonymous comments: Why I Never Read Anonymous Letters, Comments, Emails, or Notes In The Offering by Brian Jones

“I have a simple rule: whenever I receive anonymous letters, notes, emails, or blog comments they go straight into the trash. I never read a single word. Ever. Why?”

Ants: SCLQ – Ants by John Acuff

“… [in] this [3 min.] video … scientists pour 10 tons of cement down an abandoned ant colony structure underground. After the cement is dry they excavate the entire colony and study the structure, which is amazing.”

Birds: Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field by James Gorman

“… two researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman, have solved a central part of that puzzle, identifying cells in a pigeon’s brain that record detailed information on the earth’s magnetic field, a kind of biological compass.”

Blogging: 11 Life Skills Learned Blogging by Joshua Becker

“… the discipline of blogging was forcing me to learn new life skills – life skills that are highly transferable to other endeavors.”

Cell phones: More People Have Mobile Phones Than Electricity Or Drinking Water [infographic]

“How big is mobile? Really big. This slide from analyst Chetan Sharma shows that mobile is the most pervasive technology ever invented.”

Depression & faith: Depression ≠ No Faith by Leanne Penny

“It’s not always easy to be a Christian with depression, because there are still some people in the church that really don’t understand.”

Enemy: “Who Is My Enemy?”A Reflection from Lee C. Camp

“If the light of Christ has overcome the darkness through suffering love, if at the cross of Christ the justice of God was satisfied, and if we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus, what then? Could it be that the killing of Osama bin Laden is but a continuation of bin Laden’s ways, which in the end can only be overcome in the longsuffering love of Christ? These are neither trivial nor flippant questions, and I raise them with much trepidation.”

George Harrison: The Passion of George Harrison by Dave Urbanski

“More than a few interviewees note Harrison’s determined, at times defiant, nature, most notably when it came to his main spiritual thrust: The ultimate goal of seeing his body, possessions, and the earth itself pass away to make room for whatever was next.”

Government assistance: Myths and Facts: Poverty and the Federal Budget by Amelia Kegan

“Most Christians agree that helping poor and hungry people is an important part of Christian discipleship. But not all agree on what the government’s role should be in this effort. Research … suggests that government programs play an essential role in helping low-income families.”

Handwriting & your brain: How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas by Gwendolyn Bounds

“… researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development.”

iPhone app: Prayer Notes

“If you don’t have a prayer app on your mobile device, yet, you may want to consider installing Prayer Notes. … We check Twitter. We check Facebook. We check email. … How about checking Prayer Notes?”

Journaling: Why I Don’t Journal: The Danger of Words by Dan Bouchelle

“I do not journal. … I know it is a helpful spiritual discipline for many. … What I need most is not to speak (or write) but to listen.”

Life lessons: Turning 60: The Twelve Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned So Far by Tony Schwartz

“For several weeks now, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned during the past six decades that really matters. Here’s a first pass …”

Non-violence: Nonviolent Resurrected Jesus by William Willimon

“… we have many instances in the New Testament of people violating and killing the followers of Jesus. But we have not one single instance of any of his followers defending themselves against violence, except for Peter’s inept, rebuked attempt at sword play. This consistent, right to-the-end, to-the-point of-death nonviolence of Jesus has been that which Jesus’ followers have most attempted to modify. … You can argue that violence is sometimes effective, or justified by the circumstances, or a possible means to some better end, or practiced by every nation on the face of the earth—but you can’t drag Jesus into the argument with you. … Sorry, Jesus just won’t cooperate.”