links: this went thru my mind

 

Culture, George Zimmerman, justice, racism & Trayvon Martin: * Trayvon and George: A Take of Two Americas; * Dear White Folks: Black People are Sensitive to Race [essential reading]

* “Emerging America doesn’t love Trayvon and hate George, or love George and hate Trayvon. Emerging America owns both Trayvon and George as their beloved sons, their Cain and Abel, their Jacob and Esau, their older and younger sons in Jesus’ most famous (but often worst-interpreted) parable. That’s why Emerging America is heartbroken about the recent verdict. But we will not let our hearts break apart in sharp and dangerous shards of resentment and shrapnel of fear. With God’s help, we will let the pain of love break our hearts open in renewed hunger and thirst for true justice and peace … for all people, equal and indivisible.”

* ” I’m a Black woman in my late 30s who grew up in mostly White, solidly middle-class neighborhood in Raleigh, NC.I was raised by parents who valued education. Both had Master’s degrees. My father was a chemistry teacher and served in the Army. My mother was a nurse and retired as a full-bird Colonel in the Air National Guard. I was an enviably good student, who was president of my high school Service Club, a member of the National Honor Society, an officer on the Student Council and a Varsity soccer player. I had a good childhood. And yet my childhood is stained – like so many other African-Americans’ – by a string of indignities that might seem slight to many. For the most part, I’m not talking about blatant, in-your-face ‘N word’ confrontations. I’m talking cowardly, ingrained, without-a-thought and possibly subconscious behaviors which tacitly and overtly tell a person they’re valued less by society than those with White skin.”

Disaster relief: UN Designs Giant LEGO Bricks for Disaster Relief

“When enlarged to human scale, the unique design of  this giant LEGO brick allows it to function as both a way to transport food, and a building block for constructing real-life buildings.”

Discernment, discipleship & spiritual maturity: Advice to New Christians [required reading]

“I wish someone told me the following things when I was walking on the clouds of the newfound joy of my salvation at age 16.”

Evangelism & outreach: The Art of Spiritual Conversation in a Changing Culture [required reading]

“The majority of Christians and non-Christians alike can agree on one thing: They are uncomfortable with the “E” word — evangelism. It’s one of the highest church values, and the least practiced. Perhaps there is a different “E” word that fills the need in this secular culture and lays essential groundwork for the Gospel — engagement.”

this went thru my mind

 

Art: Isn’t That King David? Nope, It’s Just Dave

“I know that putting modern clothes on classical sculptures isn’t a new idea. Michelangelo’s David has had modern clothes for years. But the skirts, T-shirts and shorts in these images look so comfortable and fit so well, these ancients torque suddenly into moderns. It’s like these two French artists have developed a new way to time travel.”

Atheism & community: In the Bible Belt, Offering Atheists a Spiritual Home

“With Sunday’s service — marking the start of Community Mission Chapel in Lake Charles, which Mr. [Jerry] DeWitt called a full-fledged atheist “church” — he wanted to bring some of the things that he had learned from his years as a religious leader to atheists in southern Louisiana.”

Choices, discernment, ethics, & guidance: The Jesus Compass

“The acrostic stands for: * Jesus – Are any of Jesus’ sayings or actions relevant to the question? * Church – What are the teachings of different Christian churches / denominations? * Obey Conscience – What might an individual Christian’s conscience tell them to do? * Ministers & priests – How might a minister or priest advise a Christian to act? * Prayer – How might praying help a Christian to make moral decisions? * Agape – What is the most loving thing to do? * Saints – How might the lives of famous Christians inspire others to behave? * Scripture – What Biblical quotations or teachings are relevant?”

Communication, diversity, getting along, relationships & unity: 8 Ways Those From More Liberal-Progressive and Conservative-Evangelical Persuasions Can Better Love Each Other

“1.  remember first, that other person is a child of God, made in God’s image. … 2. respect each other’s biblical conclusions. … 3. lay down our ‘if they would justs…’ … 4. never pull the ‘but God says’ or ‘but it’s clear in the Bible’ card. … 5. acknowledge our own blind spots. … 6. celebrate what we do agree on. … 7. always put relationships above our positions. …  8. trust that God is big enough for our differences.”

Education, humanities & writing: The Decline and Fall of the English Major

“In 1991, 165 students graduated from Yale with a B.A. in English literature. By 2012, that number was 62. In 1991, the top two majors at Yale were history and English. In 2013, they were economics and political science. At Pomona this year, they were economics and mathematics. …

“What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.

“Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. Whenever I teach older students, whether they’re undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.”

Love: Are You Agapephobic

“When you have a problem, ask this: How does love solve this? Every answer you find is another step toward God.”

this went thru my mind

 

Affliction, faith, loss, pain, & suffering: There Really Is A Reason – 12 Benefits Of Afflictions

“God doesn’t afflict us or allow us to be afflicted for no reason. … in God’s plan, afflictions have great benefit to us, as painful as they are at times.  If we keep these benefits in mind when we suffer, they can help us endure joyfully.”

Archaeology: Roads of Arabia Exhibition: Update

“Here is the schedule for upcoming shows of the exhibition … The Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, TX – December 22, 2013 – March 9, 2014.”

Busyness & leadership: Busy is Killing Leadership

“If you’re not careful busyness will quietly take over your life without you even being aware of it.”

Children & Uganda: Launching Reunite Uganda in the US! [essential reading; the work of one of MoSt Church's own: Darby Priest]

“Help us get Ugandan children out of orphanages and back to their families.”

Church, fear, ministry & the work of God: Francis Chan: Are You ‘Protecting’ Your Church from a Movement of God?  [10 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… it blew my mind that an older man would come alongside of me and believe in me.”

Church & intergenerational ministry: Congregations as Families of Faith: Beyond Age-Level Ministries

“…  research has continued to show that intergenerational relationships are like glue that makes faith sticky for young people. Age-level ministries are still important to create a community of peers for children, youth, and adults to belong to. But if we hope to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world, then we must develop intergenerational ministries that model the faith for our children and youth, and support our families as they seek to follow Christ. The research tells us that we need to be doing church differently.”

Communication, culture, demographics, social media, & society: Just Who Uses Social Media? A Demographic Breakdown

“You think you know social? How about who uses it? Well, you might not know it as well as you would have guessed. A new study from the Pew Research Center and Docstoc shed some light on just who uses social and on what platforms. Some of the findings seem in line with what you would probably guess, but others were surprising.”

Distribution of wealth: A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%

“During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.”

Employment, faith, jobs, & work: Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

“‘I hate my job. It’s not just like I don’t have a lot of power—I really can’t stand what I have to do every day.’ How would you pastor someone in that situation?”

Expectations & introverts: 7 False Assumptions Made About Introverts by Ron Edmonson

“There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted. Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert …”

Church finances, collection, contribution, electronic giving, & offering: What the Decline in Check Writing Will Mean for Your Church

“If we do not change our process for collecting the offering we will see our offerings decline. The reason is simple. The harder we make it for people to give the less likely they will give.”

Ego, Facebook, photography, pride, & vanity: Snap Judgments: Our Societal Obsession With Taking Pictures [required reading]

“Each day, we upload more than 5.2 million photos to Instragram and 100 million to Facebook, with no signs of slowing down our snapping and sharing. … In a sense, this is totally natural. Photographs speak to the age-old custom of physically marking spaces and moments in thanksgiving and remembrance. … The danger of using photos as markers is that images appeal to our vanity. We become quickly obsessed with accumulating experiences, capturing them in photos, and publicly displaying our photos as trophies. If we aren’t careful, our Facebook pages and blogs can become trophy cases of our own accomplishments: Me, on a church mission trip, lumped in with a group of smiling ethnic children.”

Grace: God at Work: Common Grace by Jonathan Storment [required reading]

“The bad guy in the Christian story isn’t someone, it’s the broken reality that Jesus calls sin. And because of common grace we can see God working through people outside of our tribe, our immediate community, or our faith. We can see the image of God in everyone.”

Hope, immigration, mercy, North Korea, pain, & suffering: Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea [12 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… one day, in 1995, my Mom brought home a letter from a coworker’s sister. It read, ‘When you read this, all five family members will not exist in this world, because we haven’t eaten in the past two weeks. We are lying on the floor together, and our bodies are so week, we are ready to die.’”

Ministry, relationships, & time management: How Does a Pastor Interact With Those Who Seek to Monopolize His Time on Sunday?

“It is one of the great dilemmas every Sunday for the pastor.  Who do I speak with and for how long?  Most pastors stand at a doorway after the morning service to greet those who are leaving.  Others stay down front inviting folks to come and speak with the pastor to ask questions about the sermon.  It is a constant juggling match that most pastors feel they fail at most of the time. What adds to the madness is the person who aggressively hunts the pastor down after the service and feels entitled to his undivided attention for a long time.”

Worship: Your Worship Service is B-O-R-I-N-G!

“There’s a reason your church isn’t more creative. … most churches are boring because of The Olive Garden Problem.”

Americanism, culture, & politics: A Political Rant Born From a Deeper Theological Conviction than “Americanism”

“I’ve seen several posts on social media advocating a picture as a “way forward” in terms of political policy. It looks like this … What I want to do is interact with these ideas as a Christian who takes Scripture seriously and who is more committed to the kingdom of God than to a specific country/government. I intend to provide a ‘play by play’ through each of the statements …”

 

this went thru my mind

 

Boston, suffering, & tragedy: MIT Chaplain on the Boston Tragedy: Making Sense of Nonsense

“Robert Randolph, longtime minister for the Brookline Church of Christ in the heart of Boston and chaplain for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote a guest piece for the Huffington Post during that city’s lockdown Friday. Among his insights …”

Busyness: Is Busy-ness a Drug? by Donald Miller

“Busy is both my drug and my defense. By that I mean that I use busy-ness to make me feel numb and safe, the way you use a drug, and I use busy-ness as a way of explaining all the things I dropped, didn’t do well, couldn’t pull together, as a defense. And I;m telling you this because I want to stop.”

Church communication: Your Congregation Stinks at Communicating: Why I’m Right About This by Mark Love [required reading]

“I seldom find a congregation that has planned, dependable, and open opportunities for feedback. This does not mean that leaders don’t get feedback. They do. But because there are few systematic attempts to listen to the congregation, that feedback tends to be negative. I am not a fan of congregational business meetings. Nor am I a fan of congregational “open mic” nights where the shrill voices tend to dominate. I am a fan of regular congregational conversations that are planned in such a way so that everyone shares (typically at small table) around a determined topic in an attempt to get a sense of the room.”

Disconnect & technology: What Happens When You Really Disconnect by Tony Schwartz [required reading]

“… I became increasingly aware that the relentless diet of information I ordinarily consume leaves me feeling the same way I do after eating a couple of slices of pizza or a hot dog and French fries — poorly nourished and still hungry.”

Doubt, faith, & grief: When Grief Kills Your Faith: Some Practical Advice [required reading]

“Goodness is sucked away in grief; and many of us base our faith off the presumed goodness of God.  When that goodness is sucked into the darkness of grief, the foundation of God’s goodness begins to shake; our faith trembles and sometimes it shatters. Faithquake.”

FearWhat Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

“Every time we answer the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” we come into contact with important information about ourselves. We can look beneath our answers to find our deepest truths. We can also confront our fears, and assess whether they are worth heeding, or if we should charge ahead right through the fear.”

Prayer: Ten Simple Strategies for Prayer by Chuck Lawless

“…  build your prayer life one step at a time. Here are some simple strategies for increasing your prayer …”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible, change, growth, learning & openmindedness: Afraid of the Bible by Dan Bouchelle [essential reading]

“Here is the stark reality: churches are resistant to open Bible study because we fear new insights from scripture. … What does this say? I think is says at least four things: 1. We over estimate our understanding of scripture and have largely closed off our ability to hear fresh wisdom from God through his primary means of communicating to us. … 2. We fail to understand the role of the Holy Spirit working upon a community as it encounters God in his Word. We can’t control the Spirit or explain him and we fear what we don’t understand and control. … 3. We are still modern thinkers who believe … Scripture may describe what God did once, but it won’t help us much with methods for what we should do. 4. Since we know we can’t reconcile seeing something new in scripture and discounting it, as we can easily do with human writers, it is just safer to avoid seeking to learn anything new from the Bible. Who wants to be responsible for making changes if we did learn better?”

Catholicism: * Would You Pray for the New Pope? by Mark Woodward; * Virtual Reality Sistine Chapel; * It Is Better To Have People Think You Are A Fool Than To Write A Blog And Remove All Doubt ; * 5 Things to Know About the New Pope

* “The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. said that Anti-Catholicism is ‘the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people’ (Gibson, The Coming Catholic Church, HarperCollins 2004). That’s a very strong statement in the face of both our racial biases and our economic and political biases.”

* The inside of the Sistine Chapel in virtual reality.

* “… I do not want Roman Catholic readers to judge me by some of the hate filled, ignorant posts written by some of my non-Catholic counterparts.”

* “He’s the first Jesuit and the first Latin American in modern times to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.”

Church: Pope Francis Calls Out the Church

“We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church. It’s true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that’s sick because it’s self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former.”

Communication, listening, relationships & words: Barriers to Conversation by Scott Elliott [required reading]

“Here are a few common barriers to conversation.”

Controlling: Are You in a Controlling Environment?

“Ask yourself: Do ideas determine systems? or Do systems control ideas?”

Just for fun: The Greatest Homes Made from Shipping Containers Around the World

“The relatively cheap shipping container is a good foundation for a strong, mobile, and post-apocalyptic home. In the last two decades, architects have been incorporating shipping containers into everything from schools to houses — for aesthetic reasons, but also out of economic necessity. Here are some of their most eye-catching creations.”

Logic, reasoning & thinking: How Not to Argue Like an Idiot … The 15 Most Common Logical Fallacies

“… I’ve used and heard plenty of bad reasoning from Christians. The following list is composed of some of the most common logical fallacies; I’ve chosen to limit it to only those I’ve actually heard in the last couple years.”

 ; * 5 Things to Know About the New Pope

this went thru my mind

 

Bibles & translation: Lost in Translation: A Surprising Gain in English Translations by John Byron

“… while we are only getting about 80% of the meaning of the text, it is taking us anywhere from 33% to 65% more to get to that 80%.”

Church: 10 Hard Questions Every Planter Needs to Ask by Tim Stevens

“Every current poll I’ve seen indicates the American church is in decline. Yes, the number of large churches is increasing, but overall church attendance continues to go down. The way we do church—the model of Christendom that has been followed for the past 1,700 years—is working with fewer people all the time. Most people reading this are the product of the type of church that is, as a whole, becoming less and less effective. Just about every church in America can be described by three words: ‘Come to us.’ That is it.”

Communication, speech, words & writing: Why Clarence Thomas Uses Simple Words in His Opinions

“… there are simple ways to put important things in language that’s accessible. … the beauty, the genius is not to write a 5 cent idea in a ten dollar sentence. It’s to put a ten dollar idea in a 5 cent sentence.”

Evangelism & outreach: Evangelism & the Church by Tim Gombis

“In various settings over the years, I’ve heard evangelical leaders and pastors claim that the church’s main task is evangelism.  All sorts of evangelism initiatives have been kicked into gear based on this assumed obvious fact regarding the purpose of the church.  Many people raised in evangelical churches can tell tales of guilt-motivated canvassing efforts involving humiliating encounters with complete strangers or forced “gospel presentations” to friends and relatives. But is it obvious that evangelism is the main task of the church, or even a task of the church?”

Humor: Grumpy Cat Meets the Funeral Industry by Caleb Wilde

“I was channeling my inner grumpy cat and this is what I came up with. Yes, some are extremely cheesy, others in bad taste, others are for those inside the industry, but maybe there’s one that makes you laugh.”

Noise & quiet: Exercising Sans Noise by Joshua Becker

“… eventually, after a long period of trial and error, I turned off noise altogether during my workouts. I immediately fell in love with the refreshing workout environment of silence. It was peaceful. It was calming. And I began taking note of the numerous benefits.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bibliolatry: Harm in Holy Things

“Many Christians are much more at ease with studying the Bible than coming to Jesus. Reading a Book is safer, more comfortable than relating to a Person, especially an enigmatic, revolutionary Person like Jesus.  Insidious pride lurks in our hearts when we presume to know the Book, possess it, revere it and then misuse it to fence off undesirable types of people from our tidy lives. People, well-intentioned, begin to substitute finding something new and refreshing in the Bible without ever relating to the holy, very present God.”

Communication, courtesy, relationships, respect, smartphones & technology: How Smart Phones Lower CQ [required reading]

“Technology is not the enemy. And cold turkey approaches are unrealistic. … But we can reclaim control over our technology, rather than merely being seduced by its pings. A few simple ways to begin, when you travel and when you’re home.”

Faith, politics & prayer: * What President Obama SHOULD Have Said About Louie Giglio by Michael Lukaszewski; * Four Myths about Louie Giglio’s Inauguration Prayer (Or Lack Thereof) by Rachel Held Evans

* “As the President of the United States, I ask for the prayers of all Americans, those who share the beliefs of this administration and those who do not.”

* “We also have to be careful of using the word “bully” to describe what happened with Giglio, especially when we are dialoguing with folks whose experience with ‘bullying’ may very well have included physical violence, decades of merciless taunts, hateful slurs, and mistreatment at the hands of Christians.”

Food stamps & welfare: Spike That Email About Welfare And Work; Fact Checkers Say It’s Not True by Mark Memmott

“If you’ve gotten the “Death Spiral” email that’s apparently been arriving in many inboxes, here’s the verdict from two major, nonpartisan fact checkers: It is NOT true, as the email claims, that in 11 states there are more people on welfare than there are working.”

Humility: Well Done Dr. Neller by Jonathan Storment

“… each of us have a canon within a canon. That is, everyone who reads the Bible, privileges certain verses over others, and it’s important to acknowledge which passages we lean into. Because, he said, this will affect the way you do ministry and the way you view God.”

Investigation, learning, questioning, teachability & tradition: When Cute Little Bunnies Talk Theology [required reading]

“Of course, the point of this bunny dialogue is applicable not just to creationism but to other issues of theological disagreement where the familiarity and safety of an ‘authoritative tradition’ collides with thoughtful and needed exploration that challenges that authority.”