this went thru my mind

 

Baytown & Mont Belvieu: Chambers Town Center

A look at the plan for the the construction of Chambers Town Center near the intersection of I-10 & Hwy. 146 in Baytown, TX.

Church, idolatry & ministry: When Church Becomes an Idol

“… what does this look like when church itself is the ‘idol’ a pastor is venerating?”

Criticism, listening, preaching, respect, selective hearing & sermons: Sick of Sermons [required reading]

“Chronic critique of sermons is an illness. …  Some sufferers have lived with this condition for so long that they have found ways to manage it: committing to ministries that pull them out of the sermon … venting … or using the sermon-time for completely unrelated spiritual exercises. The long-term prognosis is grave: spiritual malnourishment. The table that God sets for us has two parts, Word and Sacrament, and Christ is the bread of both. But we only get what we’re willing to receive. How can we fight this illness that has us always excusing ourselves from the table during the first course and frequently ruining the appetite of others? I recommend aggressive treatment.”

Discouragement, faith, humility, passion, perseverance, & zeal: Maintaining a Holy Fire When You Feel More Like an Unholy Fizzle

“… because we live in Christ we must wait for him to do the work. This is nearly a mockery to the flesh-driven personality. God, through the Spirit, opens doors and closes others. My exhilaration is when He opens them. My frustration is when none open and I impatiently knock harder.

“How do we maintain a holy fire when some days feel more like an unholy fizzle? Believe God works…and then wait on Him.”

Holiness, OMG, speech, respect & words: Is It OK for a Christian to Drop OMG’s?

“Remember, it is the trademark for the unbeliever to take God’s name in vain …”

Inspiration & interpretation: The Inspiration of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

“In short, I tend not to read 2 Tim 3:16a as an assertion about scripture, but as an identification of which writings the author is talking about.”

Modesty: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

“And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Parenting: Dear Parents With Young Children [essential reading]

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.”

Reading: * Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina); * Americans’ Reading Habits Over Time

* “I’ve benefited from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefited immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information. …

“It goes like this: * 1. Read: What does the passage say? 2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word) 3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying? 4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?”

* “… the percentage of Americans who read a printed book in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population in 2011 to 67% in 2012.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism: N.T. Wright on the Meaning of Baptism [5 min. video; required viewing]

“… Wright lays out a narrative of baptism starting in Exodus and weaving it into Romans. He explains how the act of baptism is rooted in Exodus, which creates a depth in understanding.”

Bible study: 7 Ways to Do a Bad Word Study

“Here are some bad ways to do a word study, courtesy of Dr. Jennings of Gordon Conwell and Dr. Grant Osborne of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.”

Church: “I’m Not Getting Anything Out of Church” by Terry Rush

“A person who gets nothing out of church is also a person who has drawn nothing from God and puts nothing into people.”

Excellence, fear, failure & success: Good Enough by Richard Beck

“You are a failure. And that means you are good enough.”

Weariness: Moving Past Weariness by Jim Martin

“The following are a few realities I try to keep in mind during such times: (1) I have absolutely no control over so much of what happens in life. … (2) I need to trust in God. … (3) I need to be proactive instead of passive.”

Women: First Timothy 2.8-15 & the Silencing of Women in Worship by Bobby Valentine

“A text that is used, or misused, most frequently is 1 Timothy 2.8-15.”

this went thru my mind

 

Christianity: Christians First by K. Rex Butts

“… for Christians, our national/ethnic identity belongs to the old self that has been crucified with Christ in the waters of baptism. We may need to refer to our national/ethnic identities for legal and business proceedings in this world, but they should never be the identity we live out of. … it is no longer our national or ethnic identities that determine what we say and do. … Once we realize this, a world of missions opens up right in our very own neighborhood.”

Church: * Church: Institution for Overactive Consciences?; * My Church is Too Small by Marc Cortez

* “… church is a movement and not an institution …”

* “My problem … was with my vision of the church. I saw the church as a means to an end, and that end was my own spiritual growth.”

Church membership: 40 Reasons to be Part of a Local Church by Jesse Johnson

“At the bare minimum, there are forty different commands in the New Testament to live life in some sense with other believers. While certainly it is possible to do some of these with Christians in general, the weight of this list should convince you of the necessity of having on going relationships with other believers.”

Speech & words: An Open Letter to Ann Coulter by John Franklin Stephens [required reading]

“Come on Ms. Coulter … why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?”

This is cool: Google’s Street View Goes Into The Wild by Steve Henn

“Google’s Street View maps are headed into the backcountry.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: Archaeology & the Bible [required viewing; 6:30 min. video; if time is short, view 3:16-6:00 regarding King David]

“[Archaeology] gets people past the great barrier. And what’s our great barrier between us and the Biblical text? Us and them. … What it does is it informs us of everyday details on people’s lives.”

Baby dedications: The ‘Worship Service’ and Baby Dedications by Patrick Mead

“Attempts to limit our worship and hallow a special hour or two during the week are really attempts to drag Jesus back into the Temple. He died to free us from those rules and regulations and we’ve returned the favor by trying to get him back in the Temple for the last 2000 years.”

Burnout: Why Burnout? by Dan Bouchelle

“… burnout is not caused by working too hard. Rather, it is caused by working without sufficient meaning or a sense of reward.”

Interruptions & distraction: The Social Media Interruption Monster [infographic]

“28% of the day is spent on interruptions and recovery time and the average time it takes to get back to the assigned task is 23 minutes.”

Women: Women and Ministry from Scripture and History by Ben Witherington [7 min. video]

“So, when you’re looking at the New Testament and what it says about women and their roles in the family, what you need to look for is not primarily of affirmations that women were a part of a man’s world only in a secondary set of roles, what you need to look for are trajectories of change and difference.”

this went thru my mind

 

Blessing: The Blindest of Blind Spots by Tim Spivey

“Are we blessable right now?”

Burnout: Pastor Burnout

infographic

Delaying judgment/present bias: Beyond the Blink by Frank Partnoy

“E-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines, a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace — and that lead us to make mistaken split-second decisions. Economists label the problem ‘present bias’: we are vulnerable to fast, salient stimulation. Fortunately, there is an antidote: the conscious pause.”

Feelings: Burying Those Feelings Never Works by Jim Martin

“When you feel something, no matter how good or bad it is, feel it as deeply as you can. And remember it. Write it down.”

Grief: How Do You Encourage a Widow Whose Husband Has Been Gone for Many Years? by Brian Croft

“The best way to care for a widow of many years, is not to forget the loss they felt a long time ago is still real today.  The pain never goes away.”

Higgs-Boson particle: A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe by Lawrence Krauss

“It is natural for those not deeply involved in the half-century quest for the Higgs to ask why they should care about this seemingly esoteric discovery. There are three reasons.”

Humor, with teeth in it: “Jesus Take the Wheel” Day

“Someone has created a Facebook event that seems to be aimed at ridding the world of those Christians who are anti-intellectual, illogical and gullible …”

Jesus: Jesus Existed by Craig S. Keener

“What movement would make up a recent leader, executed by a Roman governor for treason, and then declare, ‘We’re his followers’? If they wanted to commit suicide, there were simpler ways to do it.”

Missional: What Kind of Church Would Meet in a Casino? by Tim Stevens

“A church that is more interested in reaching the not-yet-convinced than the religious. … A church that believes the telling of Jesus hanging with drunks, prostitutes and thieves wasn’t just a nice story. … A church that has stated, ‘We will exist for the unique transformation and elevation of the neighborhood, city, village or region where we are located.’”

Parenting & Internet privacy & safety: Yahoo! Digital Safety Kit

“The new Yahoo! Digital Safety Kit makes it easy to share information about guiding children and families in safe, responsible and ethical digital behavior.”

Teacher discounts: The Complete List of 66 Teacher Discounts

“While eligibility changes based on where you purchase, most offers are redeemable by kindergarten teachers and college professors alike.”

Words: Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use by Christian Piatt

“We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. … So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness …”

this went thru my mind

 

Atonement: Thoughts on Penal Substitution [don't be put off by the title; this is "required reading" for all]

“I need God’s honor to be satisfied. I need the cross not only for the sake of my personal relationship with God but because I want to live in a world where the crucified are resurrected. Penal substitution is part of the rich mystery — just not in the oversimplified, canned version that has come to predominate our youth group-shaped church.”

Baptism: Why I Believe Baptism Actually Is ‘Essential’ by John Alan Turner

“Baptism isn’t the thing. Baptism is supposed to point to the thing. The thing is your faith in Jesus Christ. But sometimes people are like dogs. When you point to a ball, a dog usually just looks at your finger.”

Clutter: The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home by Joshua Becker

“Consider implementing the four steps found in this Simple Guide to Keeping Your Home Clutter-Free.”

Depression: 10 Lessons From Two Days of Filming by David Murray

“I’ve just finished two days of filming various Christian counselors for the HeadHeartHand Media documentary on Depression and the Christian. .. Here’s what I carried away from these interviews.”

Fear: Breaking the Peek-A-Boo Cycle by Ron Edmonson

“The deepest danger of fearful leaders is they create fear-driven cultures.”

Forgiveness: 9 Forgiveness Links by Chris Brauns

“Below are 9 forgiveness links …”

Imagery: Five Bible Images You Probably Misunderstand by Joel Hoffman

“… we get a better sense of the original beauty and intent of the Bible by moving past a naive understanding of the words to the metaphors that they represent.”

Jobs: Who Really Creates Jobs? by Nick Hanauer

“Business leader, Nick Hanauer, presented … [this] speech at the TED conference. … Hanauer, a very successful business owner/creator, argues that business owners don’t create jobs. … But, if not them, then who does create jobs in our nation?”

Kingdom: Subversive Kingdom: A Conversation with Ed Stetzer by Trevin Wax

“What are some ways Christians commonly misunderstand the nature of God’s kingdom? Why is it important that we get this right?”

Margin: * How to Create More Margin in Your Life by Michael Hyatt; * A Healthy Schedule by Joe Thorn [both of these posts are required reading]

* “Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin.”

* “I’ll skip the details and just say that it became evident that I was doing too much, resting too little, and had allowed boundaries between work and family to weaken. This made me less effective at work and at home. It wasn’t just that I was working too hard, but that I had also started listening to the devil’s lies.”

Meetings: Make Meetings Amazing by David Staal

“Consider four “pieces” to meetings that could bring about major changes in your church, community, or even the world.”

Small groups: * Five Obstacles Facing Small Groups by Thom Rainer; * The Five Deliverables of Small Groups by Thom Rainer

“… there are … challenges and obstacles that hinder transformation in and through small groups.”

“For a church to have transformational small groups, it must first recognize how its small groups will equip participants for the mission of God and the cause of Christ. Today I examine how the activity of community within the context of small groups results in transformed lives.”

Worldliness: “Worldliness” According to Paul by Tom Gombis

“It seems to me that the parallels between the “worldly” Corinthian community dynamics and contemporary American tribalized evangelicalism are endless.”

this went thru my mind

 

Aging & spiritual maturity: Moving in to Elderhood by Brian Mashburn

“… should there not be another growing up? Should there not be a move from adulthood to, let’s say, elderhood?”

Archaeology: * Ancient Shard Offers Archaeology’s First Mention of Bethlehem; * A New Seal that Does Not Refer to Bethlehem

* “Archaeologist Eli Shukron said the inscription was significant for being the first archaeological evidence that Bethlehem existed as a city at that time, generally referred to by biblical archaeologists as the First Temple period.”

* “… it seems that we have an Israeli archaeologist jumping to inordinate conclusions that simply do not reflect the actual evidence …”

Backsliding: How to Backslide in 9 Easy Steps by Tim Challies

“… I’ve now drawn from Pilgrim’s Progress instruction on the how. In each case I’ve given my short summary followed by Bunyan’s own words. Here is how to backslide in nine easy steps …”

Bible interpretation: One Verse Heresies

“… the fountainhead of all false biblical interpretation and of all heresy is invariably the isolation and the absolutising of one single passage.” [Oscar Cullmann]

Christianity, nationalism, and war: * Christianity, nationalism and violence (part 1 & 2); * War and the American Difference by Stanley Hauerwas

* “… how captive is the American church to the idolatry of nationalism (where religion serves the nation as a chaplain to the tribe rather than offering prophetic critique)?”

* “… calling on all Christians to view violence as a morally illegitimate option for a disciple of Jesus, the Prince of Peace rather than swallowing the myth that violence can be a redemptive good.”

* “If I am close to being right about the place of war for sustaining the American difference I find that as a Christian I wish America as a nation was more “secular” and the Christianity of America was less American.”

Church: Why I Stay in Church by Sean Palmer

“This is why I stay.”

Ephesians 5 & family: Gordon Fee on Ephesians 5:18-33 [12:25 min. video]

“… excellent study by Gordon Fee about the cultural background and context of the “household” teachings of Ephesians 5:18-33.”

Facebook & marriage: * Does Facebook Wreck Marriages? by Quentin Fottrell; *Can Facebook Cause Marriage Problems by Trey Morgan

* “More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook …”

* “Maybe you need a refresher on a few guidelines for married couples. I’ll call them the ’10 Commandments for Facebook and Marriage.’”

Leadership & stress: Stop Stressing by Tim Spivey

“The position that is most dangerous to a leader’s health is what I call the “togetherness position,” in which the leader feels responsible for keeping a system together. … Church leaders often live in the ‘togetherness’ position.”

Ministry: So You’re a Minister … Leaves from a Journal Spanning 20 Years by Bobby Valentine

“What the minister needs to do is develop not so much as a philosophy of ministry as he needs to develop a theological understanding of who he is and what God has called him to do within the body.”

Mission statements: The 140-Character Mission Statement by Michael Hyatt

“… defining the mission statement for your business (or your business idea) in 140 characters or less.”

Parenting: * How To Raise Justice-Minded Kids by Joshua Becker; * Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence by Walter Wink

* “Our choices steer our childrens’ lives. How then do we guide them towards a concern for others and a desire for justice in our world? How do we raise children to stand up against unfair practices, give to those in need, speak for the voiceless, defend the innocent, and not blame the victim?”

* “Once children have been indoctrinated into the expectations of a dominator society, they may never outgrow the need to locate all evil outside themselves. Even as adults they tend to scapegoat others for all that is wrong in the world. They continue to depend on group identification and the upholding of social norms for a sense of well-being. In a period when attendance at Christian Sunday schools is dwindling, the myth of redemptive violence has won children’s voluntary acquiescence to a regimen of indoctrination more extensive and effective than any in the history of religion.”

Politics: Was Jesus Political?

“Was Jesus political? Yes, according to N. T. Wright, ‘he was anything but apolitical.’ Excerpts from his book, Simply Jesus follows …”

Poverty: * Lipscomb on the Poor VII; * Churches and Poverty by Larry James

* “The poor fail to attend religious worship, especially in the cities, not because they are less disposed to be religious than the rich, but because the pomp, dress, parade, equipages and style of these services declare plainly to them, they are not for you. The spirit of the church must be changed–radically changed in this respect, before it can be truly the Church of Christ. The thousands of the poor in the cities and in the country, must be sought out –preached to–must have congregations whose dress, style, manners and associations will draw them, rather than repel them from them, and these congregations, so conforming themselves to the true spirit of the Gospel, and adapting their habits to the necessities of the poor, will alone constitute the Church of Christ.”

* “… what can churches do to enter the battle, the war on poverty? Here are a few beginning ideas/suggestions …”

Universal reconciliation: Holiness in Heaven: The Need for Purgation by Richard Beck

“… Protestants are more interested in being saved than in being good. The results of this emphasis, if you look around, are pretty obvious.”