links: this went thru my mind

 

Abuse, atonement & God: Atonement and Divine Child Abuse

“About a decade ago it became avant garde theology to contend the classical Christian theory of atonement was nothing less than divine child abuse. That is, the image of a Father punishing a Son, or exacting retribution at the expense of his own Son, or punishing a Son for the good of others — each of these became a way of deconstructing classical atonement theory. … this approach … abuses the Bible’s image.”

Boredom, happiness, technology & wonder: Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy [required reading]

“Simply put, we bore easily. Once, when giving a radio address (an older technology which once seemed like magic), Albert Einstein looked straight into the muzzle of our dilemma: ‘Everybody should be ashamed who uses the wonders of science and engineering without thinking and having mentally realized not more of it than a cow realizes of the botany of the plants which it eats with pleasure.’”

Behavior & habits: 36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits

“I’ve learned these lessons the hard way.”

Blessings, money, possession & prosperity: The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

“So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living. No. My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us. And for this blessing, may our response always be, ‘Use me.’”

Church, humility, pride, relationships & self-esteem: * Sean Palmer, the Church [essential reading]; * Civil Religion: Better Than You [essential reading]

* “Reconciliation is what it means to be church; to go “to church.” It’s what Jesus intended our gatherings to be and to produce. I can’t be reconciled alone. I can worship alone, but I can’t do and be church alone. And I can’t be reconciled with people who are already just like me. Church is more than a gathering of my friends. It’s the differences, the tensions, the partisanship, the space between that creates the opportunity for God to transform my heart from what it is not to what God created it to be.”

* “Christianity is not about being better than someone else, it is among many things, the recognition that we are better than no one else. This is not a rhetorical move, it is reality.”

Cinema: Casting the Devil Out of the Jesus Story

“Why the ‘Son of God’ film excludes Satan from the Christ story—and what’s at stake.”

Nationalism: Which Country Does God Really Love the Most?

“Sometimes we Americans think that God is an American and that He loves all the other countries, but just wishes they were like His special country!”

Parenting, technology & teens: Tips for Parenting Middle School Kids Using Texting and Social Media

“The biggest concern parents have is the undue influence texting and social media has on their children. The best way to counter undue influence is to provide quality attention and take an active interest in what is happening with your child (beyond sports and grades) and help them put the texting and social media apps in proper perspective for their lives.”

Politics & religious liberty: How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions

“… no matter what soundbites you hear this election year, remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger, Christians, culture, fear, indignation: Angry Christians [essential reading]

“This is not the way to be Jesus to the world.”

Apartheid, Mandela & racism: Dreaming of Mandela

“A friend of the family let slip a sentiment widely felt but seldom articulated: ‘Thank God for the blacks. If not for them it would be us.’”

Applause & clapping: The Science Of How Applause Spreads In An Audience

“When people clap at a performance, they’re not really driven by how much they enjoyed what they saw, according to a new study. Instead, they decide how long to applaud based on the applause they hear around them.”

Bible translation: Finding the Right Words for God’s Word

“… Bible translators never achieve strict, word-for-word accuracy–even when they promise it.”

Boredom, church & worship: Our Fear of Boredom is Simply a Fear of Coming Face to Face with Ourselves [required reading]

“The Sunday morning hour, like the therapeutic hour, is a place to contemplate our capacity to deal with the fear of emptiness.”

Church: Go Big or Go Home? [essential reading]

“When our churches are big, and getting bigger, we take that as a sign that we must be doing something right, because surely, bigger is always better. Our culture teaches us to chase big, and we’re quick learners.

“But all this obsession with big creates problems for today’s followers of Jesus, because so much of what Jesus teaches and shows us is concerned about what happens on a smaller scale: attitudes of the heart, how we handle our possessions, learning to forgive, getting free of our addictions and idolatries, the nature of our trust and commitments, and so on. Jesus had big ideas and big dreams, to be sure—as big as his Father’s purposes to redeem the cosmos. But he went about his mission in surprisingly small ways, gathering small groups, touching the little people, focusing on deep problems in areas that might seem small-scale, such as how we treat one another, tending to a sick or needy individual, and working on personal speech habits. Big seems powerful, and sometimes it is. But when the basic unit of Christian community is so large that you can’t even see it all at once without going a mile up into outer space, the impressive view from a distance can lead us to lose sight of the fact that the Lord’s main work is meant to happen on the small scale, in up-close and personal ways. Big churches are not necessarily in a better situation to do that work, and they are often less adept at it.”

Children & parenting: 7 Tips For Surviving The Terrible Threes Of Parenting

“As with so many others (most it seems), it’s not the ‘terrible twos’ that is a problem … it’s the ‘terrible threes’.”

Evangelicals: 6 Evangelicals You Don’t Know … But Might Want To

“Meet six “new evangelical” leaders who embody aspects of the change under way in evangelical America, and whose work is clearing out a larger space for the common good.”

Fidelity & marriage: 7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry From an Affair

“When the mind begins to wander in a lustful direction, it is very hard to control. The failure, I believe, comes more in not protecting the heart and mind. I know that I must personally work to protect myself, my wife, my boys and my church from the scandal and embarrassment of an affair. There are a few rules I have in place that serve to protect my heart.”

Jesus: Jesus in Non-Christian Sources

“These 7 points are nicely summarized by Paul Barnett in his volume Is the New Testament Reliable? (IVP Academic, 2003 [second ed.], p. 34).  Notably, each fact corroborates the record of the New Testament. …”

Motivation: Are You Doing It Because You Love It Or for the Reward That Follows? [essential reading]

“Psychologists believe there are two reasons people choose their behavior: They are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically.

“Intrinsic Motivation: This means a person chooses a behavior simply because of interest or enjoyment. The act of doing the behavior is itself the reward. One researcher defined intrinsic motivation in terms of what people will do without external inducement. When you do behaviors because of intrinsic motivation, you feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement. …

“Extrinsic Motivation: This means you do something because of factors outside yourself. For instance, you want your parent’s approval, a trophy, or a treat. Or perhaps you want to avoid the disapproval of others. The reason for the behavior comes not from the love of the activity, but from the reward that follows the activity. …

“Being intrinsically motivated correlates with maturity, and having a strong sense of self.”

Prayer& work: How Micro-Prayers Can Get You Through the Work Day

“To deal with the constant rash of self-centered and negative mind-chatter, I have taken to saying tiny micro-prayers at various points throughout the day: prior to walking into a difficult meeting; in the midst of same meeting; before presenting a Big Idea to the Big Cheese; while staring blankly into my computer; or just about any time when I suspect there might be head-butting and ego-clashing coming down the hall.

“The idea is to detach, to unlatch my ego-driven agenda from the situation, to make it more about the possibilities of God’s presence, or opportunities for the spirit to shine rather than about me getting my way.”

Salvation: Salvation is Bigger than Forgiveness

“In the journey toward the Beautiful One we become beautiful through transforming grace. God is beautiful and defines what Beauty is. Knowing God in love is to be drawn into the glorious beauty of God, and this drawing is a transformative drawing. Fear of God does not transform; the beauty of God does transform.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: * Mazotos Wreck Could Shed Light on Ancient Shipbuilding; * Video Interview with Tell es-Safi/Gath’s Aren Maeir [4 1/2 min. video]

* “ATEST underwater excavations on the 2,350-year-old Mazotos shipwreck have established that the keel, and at least 15 metres of the ancient vessel’s planking has been preserved. … The Mazotos shipwreck, some 14 nautical miles southwest of Larnaca, is possibly the largest ancient commercial shipwreck located in open Cypriot waters. It sank in 350 BC en route from the Greek island of Chios carrying around 1,000 urns filled with wine said to have been the most expensive Greek wine of the Classical period. Today the wreck is buried 45 metres below sea level and is the oldest shipwreck found off the coast of the island to date.”

* “Professor Maeir gives an interesting overview of the site [Goliath's hometown] along with an introduction to the modern archaeological toolkit.”

Boredom & marriage: 3 Suggestions for Breaking Through a Boring Marriage by Jim Martin

“The most important issue in marriage for a Christ-follower is how we allow God to shape and form us as we relate to our spouse.  This is true whether we have been married four years or forty years. Unless we are committed to our growth and development, we will likely become dull, stagnant, and passive.  If we are not being shaped by God, our marriages may be shaped more by our own selfish desires than what God wants to do through us as a couple.”

Culture: Most And Least Christian Cities In America by Jahnabi Barooah

Houston shows up in 13th place.

this went thru my mind

 

Boredom & contemplation: A Boredom Revolution

“[James] Alison is making the argument that the world tends to function as a Nuremberg rally where everything around us–from political discourse to advertising to social media–is trying to whip us up into a frenzy. A frenzy that, more often than not, is directed against others. Cable news, talk radio and political blogging are basically a Nuremberg rally, an attempt to anger us and excite us with propaganda. In the face of all this excitement and frenzy Christian worship, according to Alison, should function as a sort of counter-propaganda, a place where we can become unexcited. Where others are whipped into an anxious or angry frenzy Christians should be bored.”

Church hopping: Church Hopping

“What’s driving this? For some, it’s simply the consumer mindset of our culture at work. .. For some, it’s insecurity. … For some, it’s spiritual gluttony. … For some, it’s refusing accountability. … For some, it’s avoiding stewardship. … For some, it’s emotional immaturity. … In truth, there can be times to not simply hop, but leap. … But for the typical hopper, it’s not time for self-justification, but loving admonishment.”

Gun control: The Waiting is Over

“What we need is a balance between the right to bear arms and the right to live in safety.”

Hatred & violence: Violence, the Bible, and the Sikh Temple

“We instinctually know violent murder is wrong, but besides our instincts, there is a real reason: if we violate the image of God we are violating God. Human identity comes from being made in the image of God. Human dignity is an unalterable truth because we are made in the image of God. Reverence for God compels us to respect our fellow human beings. Reverence and respect. Those two principles keep us on track in life. And respect for people because they are made in the image of God not only makes murder wrong, but hatred of every kind.”

Passion: The Untapped Secret of Creating Passion

“Just imagine possibilities.”

Productivity: Stop Beating Yourself Up; You Can Be Productive Without Feeling Guilty

” … no productivity system should be set in stone. Don’t feel so bad about not getting enough stuff done. Eat well, sleep well, say NO more often and try your best. Remember you can always make a small change in your system and try again tomorrow.”

Space exploration: * Should Christians Care About Space Exploration?; * Thank You, Space! How NASA Tech Makes Life Better on Earth; *Why Mars Matters

“… if our purpose is to love and serve the Lord, what need do we have of space exploration? Why bother sending rovers to Mars when there are children to be fed, diseases to be fought, and souls to be saved right here on Earth?”

“What do US citizens get from our space agency, NASA? The short answer is: quite a lot. Let’s take a look at where NASA funding–at present, less than 0.5% of the US federal budget–shows up in our daily lives, and beyond.”

Words: * Passive-Aggressive Postures & the American Middle Class by Tim Gombis [required reading]; * Do Evangelicals Pray Passive-Aggressively? * Words: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Signature … No Way [required reading]; * How To Speak The Truth in Love

* ” … the dominant mode of communication for middle class people is indirect speech.  We cannot bring ourselves to speak plainly and directly about relationships, what we would like, what we want, or how we’re feeling. … Speaking this way is subtly manipulative and often leads to disappointment and anger when things don’t work out the way we’d like.  Further, indirect speech frustrates other people who are in the position of never quite knowing whether they’ve done what is expected. … American evangelicalism, which is largely made up of white middle-class suburbanites, is part of this middle-class culture, and in evangelical churches, this seemingly polite mode of discourse predominates.”

* “Do evangelical Christians pray passive-aggressively? It certainly seems that we sometimes pray manipulatively, use hedging speech, and say things we don’t really mean, but do passive-aggressive relational strategies ever manifest themselves when we pray?  If so, how?”

* “Anonymous comments have almost no value and almost no place in a free society. … we are responsible for our words. We are challenged to take responsibility for the powerful words that fall from our lips and keyboards.”

* “… if our motivations are truly loving, shouldn’t it seem like love? Shouldn’t an impartial observer be able to look at our actions, hear our words, and easily discern that what we’ve done is loving?”

this went thru my mind

 

Boredom & youth: Engaged in the Fascinating by Terry Rush

“… as a kid I wanted nothing to do with churches when I got older because of one thing; superficially boring. What has changed my perspective?”

Facebook: Facebook May Let Kids Under 13 Join With Parent’s Help by Ruger Yu

“Facebook is really going after the youth market.”

Frisbee: Frisbee – God’s Favorite Sport by Jon Acuff

“You’ve had that same thought too right? I’m not the only one am I?”

Preaching: If I Could Just Preach What I Really Believe … by Dan Bouchelle

“One of the secret dreams of many preachers and missionaries is having the freedom to preach exactly what they believe about every subject. Because few of us started a work from scratch, almost all of us find ourselves in a community of faith with some deeply ingrained beliefs and practices with which we disagree.”

Productivity: Five Ways to Cope With the Productivity Squeeze by Glynn Young

“The reality is that virtually all of us work jobs that used to be done by at least two or three people.”

Resurrection of Jesus: Things Which Ought to Be Better Known about the Resurrection (video)

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the central tenets of Christian faith. Yet Dr. Peter Williams is concerned that there are some important details the average Christian doesn’t understand very well. So, in this video lecture, he walks us through some of those issues.”

Sermons: 3 Questions to Ask When You Hear a Sermon by Wayne Stiles

“Even Jesus had listeners who missed it.”

Standing desks: * Best Standing Desks by Mark Lukach; * Ernest Hemingway’s Standing Desk [I use the exact same arrangement as Hemingway; now if I could only write like him]

* “… why would I want to buy a standing desk at all?”

* “Other famous users of standing desks included Winston Churchill, Lewis Carroll, Donald Rumsfeld, Charles Dickens, Otto von Bismarck, Henry Clay, Thomas Jefferson, John Dos Passos, and Virginia Woolf.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible interpretation: On Not Harmonizing by J. Daniel Kirk

Boredom: The Arrogance of Boredom by Dan Bouchelle

Church, comfort, learning & maturity: The Church is Not Trained to Be Disturbed by Terry Rush is so very, sadly true.

Civil religion: Why it’s unbiblical to affirm ‘In God We Trust’ by Bethany Keeley-Jonker

Coffee: 17 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Morning Coffee by Lindsey Savino

Comfort, encouragement, speech & words: What to Say When Someone is In Pain by Bev Hislop

Death & life: * If Only by Ben Witherington. Wow. * Richard Beck’s ongoing series on The Slavery of Death is required reading. Here is a link to part one and the most recent post, part thirteen. Read two posts a day and catch up.

Discipline: 5 Steps to Developing More Discipline by Michael Hyatt

Evangelism, gospel & preaching: Critical Concerns With Gospel Presentations is a three-part series by Peter Mead. Here are links to parts one, two, and three.

Facebook: The Unfaced Book World is telling.

Forgiveness: If Rwandans Can Forgive Killings, We Can Forgive the Waitress by Jeremy Cowart

Justification: New/Old Perspective on Justification is a series by Scot McKnight. Here are links to part one, two, three, four, and five.

Leadership & Joe Paterno: Leadership Lessons From Happy Valley by Tim Spivey

Meetings: 18 Rules for Creative Meetings by Brad Lomenick

Perspective: Study links regular religious service attendance, outlook on life

Reading: If you’re not reading, you’re missing out. This could be the most helpful post you’ve read in a long time – Michael Hyatt’s spot-on post entitled 5 Ways to Make More Time to Read.

Sexual abuse: * Remind Your Staff About Handling Abuse Properly by Brandon Cox * The Problem With Pederasty and the Penn State Scandal by Ben Witherington * Discounted Prices on Background Checks Through LifeWay by Erin Freshwater * Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network * The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673

Spiritual maturity: 5 Signs of Spiritual Maturity by Clint Archer

signs of attrition

Screwtape advises Wordwood on using time to wear down a soul:

The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations. But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful love and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it – all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition. If, on the other hand, the middle year prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it,” while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (as recorded in A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings From His Classic Works, p.121)