links: this went thru my mind

 

20′s, choices, decisions & wisdom: 10 Ways to Ruin Your Life in Your 20s [essential reading; spot-on]

“No one ever plans to ruin their life. … but it does happen. It happens far too often. And it happens because of the choices we make, even though that is not a result that anyone would ever willingly choose. Most of those choices take place when people are relatively young—old enough to be making important decisions about their life, but young enough for those decisions to snowball and grow to have disastrous consequences. … How can we avoid making such mistakes? Below are 10 things people can do to ruin their lives while still in their 20s. It is a list of what not to do, or things to stop doing immediately if you don’t want to suffer the results.”

Beauty: The Race We’re All Losing

“If beauty is fleeting, why do we chase it? … Our clay will never turn into the beautiful clear glass we are wanting because it is meant to clay.”

Change, development, spiritual growth & spiritual maturity: Bearing Fruit in Old Age

“If I am the same person today I was ten years ago, I have stagnated.”

Church & spiritual health: * Pain, Relationships, and the Body of Christ [essential reading]; * 5 Church-Types to Probably Avoid

* “It’s easy to say that I’d like to start a new church that will ‘do things right.’ Or choose to withdraw from the gathered body all together, focusing on my relationship with God outside the confines of organized religion. So here are some tempering thoughts, presented in no particular order …”

* “With all of those caveats aside, I want to share 5 different sorts of churches that I personally would avoid if I were moving to a new city and were not a pastor of a church.”

Doubt & outreach: 3 Things to Remember in Discussion with Doubters

“Saying your church is a safe place for doubters doesn’t make it so. … Doubting is never just intellectual. … Strengthened faith should lead to the strengthening of other people.”

God, perception, understanding & worship: The Myth of Worshipping an Identical God

“… we worship our individual projection of God, not a perfectly identical God. And this projection is formed by hundreds, if not thousands, of individual experiences, lessons, traditions, people, and revelations we each have had. In a sense, our personal view of God is like a thumbprint. It’s that unique.”

Nonviolence: At Gunpoint

“Daniel told us he’d kill anyone who tried to come in and take his family away from him.”

Parenting: Teen Spirit

“Helicopter parenting has crippled American teenagers. Here’s how to fix it.”

Oral interpretation & Philemon: David Rhoads Performing Philemon [5 min. video; outstanding!]

“David Rhoads performing Philemon at SBL 2103 in Baltimore, MD.”

Teachers & teaching: What Can You Do?

“Do at least one thing really well, and that will mean doing at least a few other things barely adequately. As the saying goes, ‘If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly,’ and a lot of duties imposed upon many of us nowadays are worth doing … but just barely.

“If, instead, we try to do everything asked of us reasonably well–say, at a ‘B-’ level–we’ll feel ‘B-’ about it all. And exhausted in the process. And that’s a lousy way to live.

“Work at something, at least one thing, at an ‘A’ level. It might be small. It might not even be noticed by others. But you’ll know you did a great job of it, and the feeling of excellence you draw from that task will inspire you in the rest of what you do.

“Meanwhile, practice ‘prudent neglect’ of the stuff that doesn’t matter much.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (3)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus). Here’s the next installment. Enjoy.

Don’t praise people for their beautiful looks, and don’t despise people for their appearance. (Sirach 11.2)

Don’t find fault before you investigate … Don’t answer before you listen … (Sirach 11.7a,8a)

… don’t be busy with many things; if you multiply pursuits, you won’t be held guiltless. (Sirach 11.10)

There is nothing good for those who continue to do evil or for those who don’t freely offer charity. (Sirach 12.3)

Rich people inflict injury, but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged; the poor suffer injury, but they’re the ones who must apologize. (Sirach 13.3)

golden nuggets from Sirach (2)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the next installment. Read and consider.

Let those who are at peace with you be many, but let only one in a thousand be your advisor. (Sirach 6.6)

“Don’t seek political power from the Lord or a seat of honor from the king.” (Sirach 7.4)

“Don’t be timid in your prayer, and don’t neglect caring for those in need.” (Sirach 7.10)

“Don’t make fun of the uneducated, or your ancestors might be insulted.” (Sirach 8.4)

“Turn your eye away from a shapely woman, and don’t stare at beauty belonging to someone else.” (Sirach 9.8a)

this went thru my mind

 

Alone & community: Being Alone, Being Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. … But the reverse is also true. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone. You are called into the community of faith; the call was not meant for you alone.”

Christian faith & the world: Global Facts and Figures

“Largest Christian populations … countries with the highest Christian population (% total pop) … countries with the lowest Christian population (% total pop).”

Domestic drones: The Dawning of Domestic Drones

“The unmanned aircraft that most people associate with hunting terrorists and striking targets in Pakistan are on the brink of evolving into a big domestic industry. It is not a question of whether drones will appear in the skies above the United States but how soon.”

Evangelism, outreach & witnessing: Why “Just Telling Your Story” Is NOT the Best Way to Share the Gospel

“He is agreeing that what matters most is personal experience, not truth.”

Evil, God, pain & suffering: * Why God? [required reading]; * If I’m Suffering, Is God Punishing Me?

* “We need one another to be God’s presence.”

* “… suffering in general is a result of the brokenness of the world, that which finds its root cause in human sin (see Genesis 3). But this does not mean that every instance of personal suffering is a direct consequence of one’s own sin. Often, our pain comes from the mere fact that we live in a world that is not what God had intended.”

Parenting: My Daughter’s Beauty

“How do I raise my daughter to know the true definition of beauty in a culture such as ours? How do I cultivate an image in her that is rooted in the beauty of Jesus and not the allure of a distorted sexuality?”

devoted: with your neck on the line

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, Oct. 14. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled Devoted: With Your Neck on the Line. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture quotations below are from the Common English Bible (CEB).

Aim

To introduce and to explore what it means to bare our neck to God in devotion to him.

Word

The Lord said: … Every first offspring is mine. That includes all your male livestock, the oldest offspring of cows and sheep. But a donkey’s oldest offspring you may ransom with a sheep. Or if you don’t ransom it, you must break its neck. You should ransom all of your oldest sons. No one should appear before me empty-handed. (Exodus 34.19-20)

… they wear arrogance like a necklace, why violence covers them like clothes. (Psalm 73.6)

My son, don’t forget my instruction. Let your heart guard my commands, because they will help you live a long time and provide you with well-being. Don’t let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Bind them on your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and approval in the eyes of God and humanity. (Proverbs 3.1-4)

My son, keep your father’s command; don’t abandon your mother’s instruction. Bind them on your heart for all time; fasten them around your neck. When you walk around, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will protect you; when you awake, they will occupy your attention. (Proverbs 6.20-22)

You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride! You have captured my heart with one glance from your eyes, with one strand of your necklace. (Song of Solomon 4.9)

On that day, God will remove the burden from your shoulder and destroy the yoke on your neck. (Isaiah 10.27)

… I know that you are stubborn, your neck is made of iron, and your forehead is bronze. (Isaiah 48.4)

As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and to be thrown into the lake. (Mark 9.42)

Say hello to Prisca and Aquila, my coworkers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. I’m not the only one who thanks God for them, but all the churches of the Gentiles do the same. (Romans 16.3-4)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. What is a word you think describes the physical appearance of your neck?

2. Tell us of some big risk you once took solely to benefit someone else.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Select one word that describes the context or theme of each of the nine Scriptures given above.

2. Consider Proverbs 3.1-4 and 6.20-22. Count and name the blessings enumerated in these texts.

3. Read the surrounding context of Jesus’ statement in Mark 9.42. Who are “these little ones?”

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What is some good wisdom or strong spiritual instruction you “wear around your neck.”

2. What are some of the greatest burdens or yokes in life you’ve had placed on your neck?

3. What would you would say you might be a stiff-neck or hard-head about these days (cf. Isaiah 48.4)?

4. Where would you draw the line as to for whom you would lay down your life? Why?

5. What good, or harm, have you seen come from your willingness, or your unwillingness, to stick your neck out for Christ? Explain.