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.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: 17 Signs Your Church Might Be Dying by Trey Morgan

“Just a few days ago I visited with a man that was very concerned about the church where he was attending. … He and I got to talking about some of the signs they were seeing that pointed to their church dying out. We made quite a list, and of course a few were tongue-in-cheek. I thought I might share a few with you today.”

Criticism: Handling the Unknown Critic by Patrick Mead

“Elders are not doing their job when they just listen or when they just disregard. They weren’t called to take it – they were called to lead, and that means you might need to have a stern, firm talk with someone who was convinced they were the only one right… and that they were right because their fathers and forefathers were right. Do not allow those who claim to defend the faith cause it to shipwreck. And, while you’re thinking of it, write your minister and elders a love letter. Pray for them daily and tell them you are doing so. Lift up their hands so that they do not become weary and the battle swing against us.”

Doubt: Real Christians Don’t Have Doubts … Do They? by Tim Keller

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.”

Drugs: My Life With Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Addiction by Gary Stromberg

“My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine. The house rules were ‘help yourself if you’re here on business — but no take-outs!’ We were regularly visited by our clients, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steppenwolf. As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place.”

Gambling: A Christian Understanding of Gambling by Albert Mohler

“The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis. … According to some estimates, as much as one-third of the nation’s money supply now moves through the gambling industry each year … The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s Word.”

Google: How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google’s New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

“On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google’s other products.”

Humor: HTTP 404 Error: Wall Not Found

Leadership: 4 Ways to Become a Leader Want to Follow by Michael Hyatt

“… what separates the leaders we want to follow from the leaders we have to follow?”

Marriage: Keep Your Marriage Out of the Ditch by Jim Martin

“As I write this particular post, I am thinking about couples in their 20s. Perhaps you’ve been married for a few years. You may even have a small child or two (but not necessarily).”

Parenting: Why Take Your Children to Church? by Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp

“Nothing matters as much as the souls of our children. If we can help them know God, have faith and live a selfless life to help them to heaven is there truly anything that should hold us back from that goal?”

Photography: The Praying Otter

“This ‘once in a lifetime’ photograph taken by photographer Marac Andrev Kolodzinski, waited patently in freezing cold weather at the Whipsnade Zoo in England.”

Saturday night services: Should We Start a Saturday Night Service? by Brian Jones

“I surveyed pastors for one full year about Sat. night services and decided to launch one … We killed it … four months later.”

Shepherding: 2 Things to Avoid in Shepherding by Bev Hislop

“Active listening is not a physiological ability, it is a learned skill.”

Sleep deprivation: What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Spirit by Lynn Casteel Harper

“I am talking to the segment of society with a measure of privilege (which includes me) that has a choice — whether we admit it — between adequate and inadequate sleep.”

Solomon’s temple: What Did Solomon’s Temple Look Like? Answers from Ain Dara

“The exact design of the Solomonic Temple as described in 1 Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3 has been illuminated by an important excavation at Ain Dara in northwestern Syria.”

Syria: Syrian Christians Ask for Prayer

“Syrian Christians say their greatest need right now is prayer, according to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians and religious freedom around the world.”

Thankfulness: I Begin Every Day Telling God About Him by Terry Rush

“Each day begins the same. As soon as I awaken, I begin telling Him thank you. There is so much for which I am naturally thankful. We are instructed to tell Him so. We are to live so.”

Thinking: Don’t Attempt Serious Thinking On the Run: How to Think Seriously by Dave Jacobs

“Certain things are necessary for serious thinking to occur, they are …”

Worship, leading: Multiple Intelligences in Worship by Anne Perry

“Many personalities and levels of spiritual experience comprise a worshiping audience. What inspires some may be dullsville for others. The fact is that multiple intelligences make up each congregation.”