this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: Cyrus Cylinder Begins American Tour

“Since its discovery more than 130 years ago, the Cyrus Cylinder has been a striking example of an archaeological artifact that independently confirms a Biblical account. … Visitors to five U.S. museums will have the rare opportunity to see this fascinating artifact firsthand in The Cyrus Cylinder in Ancient Persia, on tour this year. The cylinder is usually on display at the British Museum in London. … May 3–June 14, 2013 – The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Houston, Texas – www.mfah.org

Communion: A Hearty Eucharist [very interesting; read this with my sermon last Sunday morning in mind]

“… there is something to be said for going back, insofar as possible, to a practice that more closely resembles the early church or Jesus’ last meal with his disciples itself. How can we reclaim, for our congregations and our worship services, a sense of how the early church both commemorated the last supper and ate together? How can we, in our communion practices, strive to (in the most literal sense) be more Christ-like?”

Depression: How Can the Church Help People Struggling with Depression?

“How can the church do a better job of helping people struggling with depression and mental illness?”

Entitlement: What I Deserve

“I deserve better. I’m entitled to certain things. I have my rights. My forefathers worked hard so that I could live a certain way. I’ve worked like a dog so that I could live like a king. Said any of those things? Thought any of those things?”

Grief & miscarriage: How Does a Pastor Care for a Couple Who Just Experienced a Miscarriage?

“Here are a few tips for those interested in knowing helpful ways to care for a couple who have just experienced this loss.”

Hospital visitation: Five Things I Learned in the Hospital

“With my almost 3-week hospital stay behind me, I realized there are several things I learned from the experience. Here are five of them.”

Marriage & ministry: * Is Ministry Killing your Marriage?; * 10 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Preacher’s Wife

* “Pastors reflect on building a harmonious relationship between their ministries and families.”

* “I don’t think preacher’s wives are understood by most people. … Here are some things I presume most preacher’s wives wish someone had told them before they became such.”

Speech, suffering & words: How Not to Say the Wrong Thing [required reading]

“… you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.”

Suicide: 7 Questions About Suicide and Christians

“… to address seven of the questions that arise in our minds at times like this.”

this went thru my mind

 

ALS, life, death, & meaning: I Am So Honored by Tim Stevens

“At some point, in the last few months, my focus has shifted. And I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. I have a front-row seat to watching a man praise God until his dying breath. He is a prisoner in his own wheelchair, yet does not curse God. He endures humiliating processes with the hospice nurse, yet he still smiles. He can’t walk, scratch his nose, shoo a fly away, hold a pen or say a word. And yet he still praises God.”

Children & ministry: Craig Groeschel on Children’s Ministry (parts 1, 2, & 3)

“The key elements of an excellent children’s ministry are solid safety procedures, an environment that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to a child, great curriculum that teaches biblical truth and how to apply it and most importantly, an amazing team of volunteer leaders who understand the vision of your ministry. … The responsibility of leading children to become fully devoted followers of Christ is one of the most daunting tasks you can face. It’s an intimidating challenge for even the most spiritually grounded. Here’s what we believe (because it’s scriptural): God has placed that task squarely on the shoulders of parents. So our role is to offer them a support system.”

Fear: Fear! Fear! Fear! by Mark Woodward [required reading]

“So how does a Christian respond to a world driven by drama and conflict …? Christians do not need an addiction to conflict. … If you are one who writes or speaks or provokes others to think or to do, be careful about manipulating artificial conflict or dramatic words to create fear. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Scripture is full of God’s messengers saying, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do not be afraid!’ Fear is not a harmless emotion.”

Funerals & grief: What to Say (and Not to Say) at a Funeral by Caleb Wilde

“Here’s the text of an article written by Gloria Horsley that can help you know what to say and what not to say.”

God, judgment & wrath: The Judgment Boomerang by Gred Boyd

“… sin has natural consequences that boomerang back to us. While God’s wrath has serious consequences for us, we need to understand how God uses his wrath. In the clip, Greg talks about the mistaken picture of God that allows for the fear of God, but does not make it possible to really love God.”

this went thru my mind

 

Acts 5, Ananias, God, Sapphira & violence: How Do You Explain the Violent Judgment of Ananias and Sapphira? by Greg Boyd

“Knowing that God’s true character looks like Jesus voluntarily dying on the cross for his enemies, we will always know that something else is going on if God appears to act in ways that are contrary to this enemy-loving, non-violent character.”

Bragging, jealousy & rejoicing: Solving Your ‘You Problem’ by Sean Palmer

“I would only feel as if  they were bragging, if I felt something else first: JEALOUS!”

Church & faith: Together by William Willimon [21 min. sermon video clip; required viewing]

“Where the heck did you get the notion we wanted you to be comfortable? … The way of Jesus Christ is just too difficult to attempt it by yourself. …. the only way that you can be saved is by bringing all of us along with you. It’s together.”

Church & generations: A Head, Heart, or Hands Church? by Dan Bouchelle [truly required reading; as in "if you read only one thing this month"]

“I grew up in a church designed for the head. That is not a criticism. It is just a description. We did not trust emotions because they were easily manipulated and clouded thinking. Actions were important and we believed ‘good works’ were essential to faithfulness, but what really mattered was getting your theology straight. … The church of my heritage lost many of the boomer generation who walked away looking for a church with a heart. … Ironically, now that boomers make up the majority of leaders and have the most control in our churches, the emerging adult generation has shifted the criteria for validity again. Young adults today, and the culture in general, are not looking for a powerful experience of God or ballast for a head-heavy church. … What this generation longs for is not more heart but something to do with their hands. … While the young adult generation is not anti-logic or emotionless, they just aren’t impressed with their church options. They may show up for the show and agree with most of the teaching, but they will give their time and money to something that changes lives in tangible ways.”

Church & phones: The Cold, Hard Truth About Phones in Church by Jon Acuff

[I won't spoil it for you here. Go look at it. There's a powerful parable here, not just a smile.]

Leadership & worry: 7 Encouragements for Leaders Who Worry by Ron Edmonson

“Having a strong faith is no guarantee your emotions won’t play tricks on you at times.”

this went thru my mind

 

Books: Why Do Old Books Smell? by AbeBooks [2 min. video]

“Walk into a used bookshop and you will encounter the unique aroma of aging books. The smell is loved by some, disliked by others, but where does it come from?”

Benevolence: Early Christian Charity [9 min., 30 sec. video clip of speaker, Dr. John Dickson]

“… an overview from the time of the New Testament up to Constantine.”

Comfort: How Not to Minister to the Hurting by Joe McKeever

“You will not believe what some people say to a bereaved parent or the family member of someone tragically injured.”

Elders meetings: A Noble Task by Tim Woodroof

“We don’t expect much of elders’ meetings anymore. We do not attend with the anticipation that God’s Spirit will show up or lives will be transformed or the gates of hell might quiver and fall because we meet. … To be fair, we come by this lack of imagination honestly. We’ve learned to be modest in our hopes.”

Faith & politics: “Hide It Under a Bushel? Yes!” by Bryan Dyer

“… American Christians should keep faith hidden in the public sphere in order to preserve that identity’s integrity. If Christian identity is just another brand loyalty, then it is pointless.”

Graciousness: Graciousness: Daring to Live a Graceful Life by Jim Martin

“… the final act of grace is graciousness.”

Groups: Six Tips for Keeping New Small Groups Healthy by Brett Eastman

“Here are six tips for keeping new small groups healthy so they can make the impact God wants …”

Ignorance: Amazing Grace: Is Ignorance of God’s Will an Excuse? by Jay Guin

“… all my life, Church of Christ preachers have argued that ignorance of the law is no excuse. I’m a lawyer. And ignorance is not an excuse – in civil court. But when we begin applying American legal principles to Christianity, well, we just might be legalists.”

Internet: Why One in Five U.S. Adults Doesn’t Use the Internet by Amy Gahran

“… one in five U.S. adults still does not use the Internet at all …”

Meetings: A Problem-Free Meeting by Dan Bouchelle

“I think every church should periodically have a problem-free meeting where we simply assess our gifts and strengths and then use the results as a basis to inform our ministry plans. What has God given us? What are we able to do well? How do we steward these strengths well in our context? We would doubtlessly be more effective in our service if we focused on these matter rather than spend all our time trying to shore up our weaknesses. Let’s change the self-talk of our churches by focusing on God’s power in us rather than our weaknesses.”

Poverty: “David Lipscomb and the Poor” (parts 1 & 2)

* “The sealing testimony in behalf of Jesus Christ being the Son of God is his own estimation, as divine to the disciples of John, was, ‘The poor have the gospel preached to them.” The world to-day needs this same sealing testimony, that it may believe that, Jesus is the Son of God. Every preacher that pretendedly, in the name of Jesus Christ, seeks the rich and the learned and the fashionable to preach to, instead of the poor and simple-hearted and unpretending, by that course nullifies the power of the great truth, that Jesus is the anointed one that was to come into the world to save the world. Such a preacher is no co-laborer with God; no true minister of Christ, but a servant of the wicked one in the livery of Heaven.”

* “Do we create spaces, relationships and opportunities where the poor feel welcome? Given our upper middle class buildings and fashionable dress and expensive stuff, it is little wonder that the poor are generally uncomfortable.”

Unchurched Christians: Better Conversations Between Churched and Un-churched Christians by Rachel Held-Evans

“While too many among the ‘churched’ seem unwilling to change, too many among the ‘un-churched’ seem unwilling to compromise.”

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