links: this went thru my mind

 

Bibles: Countries That Are Bad for Christians Are Good for Distributing Bibles

“Where did demand for Scripture surge last year? Try Syria, Iraq, and Laos, for starters.”

Christian faith: * Seven Lies About About Christianity Which Christians Believe; * The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer

* “Here are the most common stereotypes that Christians have about Christianity that are wrong …”

* “I used to think that their error was so blatantly obvious that they could just be ignored. I was wrong. They are massively growing in popularity in the evangelical world and are seen as credible and helpful. Before I’m inundated with questioning emails I want to share why I distrust these two and think you should as well. So, don’t shoot me — at least not yet.”

Church decline: 7 Suggestions NOT To Do When the Church is in Decline

“The hardest lesson a church needs to learn in a period of decline, however, is not what they should do…but what they shouldn’t.”

Church leadership, church life, ministry & shepherding: Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years [required reading]

“… in thirty years pastoring has changed in ways we likely would have never predicted or imagined.”

Climate change, ecology, environment, global warming & pollution: Panel Says Global Warming Carries Risk of Deep Changes

“‘The reality is that the climate is changing,’ said James W. C. White, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who headed the committee on abrupt impacts of climate change. ‘It’s going to continue to happen, and it’s going to be part of everyday life for centuries to come — perhaps longer than that.’”

Consumerism, culture & Christmas: * The ‘War on Christmas’: On Ethnocentrism and Blasphemy; * Do Not Judge the Christmas Shopper

* “The worry about this trend, among some Christians, is that Christ–the Reason for the Season–is being removed from Christmas and the American consciousness. This is taken to be a sign of the increasing secularization of America and indicative of moral and spiritual decline. But this is nonsense.”

* “… while I think we need to push back–hard–on consumerism in our culture, we need to be very careful in judging the motives of any given shopper.”

Hatred & violence: The Science of Hatred

“What makes humans capable of horrific violence? Why do we deny atrocities in the face of overwhelming evidence?”

Justice, money, poor & poverty: * What Dave Ramsey Gets Wrong About Poverty by Rachel Held Evans [essential reading]; * Speaking of the Poor — It’s Not Their Fault!; * This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense [essential reading]; * My Journey Through Food Stamps

* “… while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical. … People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.”

* “For Christians, the issues of poverty should have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. Poverty is a justice issue! The prophet Isaiah implores the people of God saying, ‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ (Isa 1:17) Part of doing right and seeking justice for the poor, is speaking correctly about the struggles and obstacles they face.”

* “…  often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.”

* “…  I did what everyone else on food stamps does — I made the food stretch each month and found other ways to keep us eating.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger & grief: How to Best Handle Your Anger in Grief

“In order to get a handle on anger in your grief journey, you may want to remember the following facts …”

Christians, persecution, & Syria: The Coptic Church in Peril

“It looks like the Coptic church may well go the route of the Assyrian church which was also expelled from the middle east by persecution.”

Church, mental health, & mental illness: Mental Illness and the Church: New Research on Mental Health from LifeWay Research

“Medicine is not the answer to everything, and we live in an over-medicated world, but we need to treat character problems like character problems—and illnesses like illness. I wish more Christians saw that.”

Consumerism, employment, idolatry, money, simplicity & work: * Pope Attacks Global Economics for ‘worshipping ‘god of money’; * 10 Common Objections to Minimalism

* “‘The world has become an idolator of this god called money,’ he said. … Francis … ended his improvised speech with a prayer asking God to ‘give us work and teach us to fight for work.’”

* “… what’s holding you back from exploring what minimalism has to offer?”

Internet & privacy: 9 Tips for Keeping Your Internet Usage Private [infographic]

“… follow these nine tips for keeping your Internet usage private …”

this went thru my mind

 

Annihilationism, conditionalism & hell: The Legacy of Edward Fudge & the Future of Conditionalism

“The inaugural Rethinking Hell conference will be held on July 11th-12th, 2014, at the beautiful Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas. This will be an historic occasion for the movement of Evangelical Conditionalism/Annihilationism, representing the first gathering of its kind.”

Anxiety, fear & worry: The Dark Doctrine All Churches Hold Dear [required reading]

“How do we become obedient to God’s stark call to refrain from worry?  Stop it.  It is a choice; not a circumstance.  It is obedience; not a mood. To ignore this strong Word from God is indeed to hold a very dark doctrine of rebellion.”

Change & conflict: The Reality of Change and Conflict

“Change invites conflict. You can’t escape that fact. But … avoiding change stifles growth. Which eventually leads to conflict. (Ever been a part of a declining organization…or church?) And … avoiding conflict allows tension to build. Which in the end creates more conflict. (Ever seen what happens when someone is silently angry with you long enough?) Therefore … In my opinion… avoiding conflict or change is impossible.”

Church & witness: Why the Church Can’t Seem to Get Traction in Society

“The reason the church cannot seem to gain traction in this mega-troubled society is we have joined the masses in trying to escape.  Ours is not the call to dodge incoming arrows of rejection; but rather for staying put in pain upon the cross that the hurting may find perfect and ultimate healing.”

Cicadas: The Return of the Cicadas [7 1/2 min. video]

“I’ve been working an a 1-hour documentary on cicadas since 2007 …”

Consumerism & minimalism: Living With Less. A Lot Less.

“Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago. Apparently our supersize homes don’t provide space enough for all our possessions, as is evidenced by our country’s $22 billion personal storage industry.”

Dignity, modesty, respect & swimwear: Jessica Rey – The Evolution of the Swim Suit [9 1/2 min. video; required viewing]

“… he had to hire a stripper to wear it.”

Meaning, significance, and work: God at Work: Not in Vain

“The things we do with our life will find their way, through the resurrecting power of God, into forever. Your work is important, not just because you can contribute to church, but because you get to partner with God! The resurrection of the world means that some of the best ministries, don’t have the word ministry in them!”

Ministry: The Pastor’s Job Description

“Three pastoral acts are so basic, so critical, that they determine the shape of everything else. The acts are praying, reading Scripture, and giving spiritual direction. Besides being basic, these three acts are quiet. They do not call attention to themselves and so are often not attended to. In the clamorous world of pastoral work nobody yells at us to engage in these acts. It is possible to do pastoral work to the satisfaction of the people who judge our competence and pay our salaries without being either diligent or skilled in them. Since almost never does anyone notice whether we do these things or not, and only occasionally does someone ask that we do them, these three acts of ministry suffer widespread neglect.”

this went thru my mind

 

Budget & food: On A Budget? 9 Cheap Ways To Eat Healthier

“I’ve compiled the tips you need to get on your way to a week of eating beautifully for $36. … Buy in bulk … plan ahead … buy generic … go dried when you’re using herbs … sign up for a store card  … go green … forgo convenience … make more …” [BTW - that $36 figure is over one-fourth more per week than is allotted for food stamps in Texas.]

Castoffs, giving & your stuff: Are You Done With That? Photographing The Results Of Your Good Will

“Consider the stuff of our everyday lives — the clothes, the sheets, the toys and, eventually, it all gets trashed — or donated. And that donation process can seem a bit like magic. We drop off our used stuff, and the items disappear — or so we think. But what truly becomes of it? Where does it go? And what does it look like? Freelance photographer Wesley Law wanted to know. … It took him nine months. … Law says he has some more investigating to do to — and for now, he’s still searching for the final resting place of all our good will.”

Consumerism: Consumed by Consumerism

“… 91% of emerging adults [age 18-23]— 91% are more or less happy with our current levels of consumerism. Only 9% register serious concerns about consumer choice.”

Jesus is Lord: What Does It Mean to Preach Jesus is Lord? by Ed Stetzer

“… when the early Christians chose to say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ as their declaration, they were literally choosing to align everything with Jesus, even their own lives. Their words were not trite statements. They were downright treasonous. They echoed a subversive rebellion against the establishment that clearly resonated their allegiances and alliances. Those three words changed everything …

“As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we do kingdom work right here and now?’ We establish embassies of sorts, representing God in an alien land. The most significant work that we do will not be in huge, stadium-filled ways, but in small, primarily unnoticed ways. Simple. Sincere. Subversive …”

Parenting & technology: Apps for Children Fall Short on Disclosure to Parents, Report Says

“The apps often transmit the phone number, precise location or unique serial code of a mobile device to app developers, advertising networks or other companies, according to the report by the Federal Trade Commission, released Monday. … The agency reviewed 400 of the most popular children’s apps available on Google and Apple platforms, and reported that only 20 percent disclosed their data collection practices.”

Politics: Think Congressional Gridlock Is Bad? If Reid Changes Filibuster Rules, Look Out

“… rare is the honest-to-goodness filibuster anymore, made famous in the 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where senators actually either talked a bill to death or its supporters into making enough changes to end the filibuster. … The ease with which such modern-day filibuster threats can freeze the Senate helps explain why they are being made at a record pace.”

this went thru my mind

 

Age of the earth & time: I Just Realized: My Age x 100,000,000 = the Age of the Earth, Which is Ridiculous by Peter Enns

“If 4.6 billion years is scaled to one mile, my life span is .00005 feet, or .0006 inches. That’s 6/10,000 of an inch. You can’t see that with the naked eye.”

Depression: How to Win Over Depression by Terry Rush

“Never will it be what others do for us that will defeat depression.”

Discipleship: Alan Hirsch on Making Disciples [2 min., 53 sec. video clip; required viewing]

“Everyone’s a disciple and no one ever stops being a disciple. … If we don’t disciple, the culture surely will.”

Hanukkah: The True Meaning of Hanukkah

“Hanukkah is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays in America. But unlike Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover (or even the lesser-known Sukkot and Shavuot), all of which are explicitly mentioned in the Torah, Hanukkah gets only a brief, sketchy reference in the Talmud, the voluminous collection of Jewish oral law and tradition written down hundreds of years after the Maccabees’ revolt.”

Hell: Questions About Hell

“What does hell mean to Jesus?”

Jesus: Jesus, the King of Israel by Ted Gossard

“Jesus as Lord is to be king over the whole earth, but his rule starts over God’s people. And that rule extends beyond God’s people through conversion, never at the point of a gun, or the tip of a sword, but by the way of the cross. “Jesus and him crucified” is the message people need to hear. This king reigns on a cross and by way of a cross.”

Maturity, selflessness & service: Selflessness Leads to Spiritual Maturity by Jay Guin

“… on average only about 50% of those surveyed claim to be engaged in any meaningful service to others. (And I’m skeptical that the real numbers are even that high.) Therefore, at least 50% of our members do not sacrificially give or serve others. Just what kind of gospel are we teaching?”

Persuasion & words: The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language

“… you might be surprised just how effective these deceptively simple words can be.”

Poverty: Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy by Nicholas D. Kristof

“… the bottom line is that we shouldn’t try to fight poverty with a program that sometimes perpetuates it.”

this went thru my mind

 

Consumerism: Committed to Unhappiness: Consumerism is the Enemy of the Church by Tony Campolo [required reading]

“The truth is that secular humanism is not the primary enemy of the Church.  Instead, the enemy of the Church is consumerism.  We have made an idol out of the things that are being sold.  We bow down and worship the commodities that are paraded before us on television.  We are enslaved to a mindset that tells us that we must possess more and more because we can never have enough.  These are the things that are dragging us away from Jesus. Our inability to enjoy life without a continual sense of craving consumer goods and being continuously satisfied with who we are and what we have is good news for economic growth and, after all, economic growth is what both political parties are preaching these days.”

Elections: * A Post-Election Reminder by Rubel Shelly [required reading]; * David Lipscomb on Voting by Richard Beck

* “If your candidate wins, can you assume that his every promise will be kept promptly and without fail? … If your candidate loses, will you be demoralized with the thought that all is lost? … You know better. The election of neither candidate will destroy the country, shatter the global economy, or make it impossible for godly people to seek the Kingdom of God. … A believer’s ultimate allegiance – and hope – is in the reign of God. Her hope is not in a human system, political party, or leader; it is in Jesus Christ.”

* “May the voice of David Lipscomb be recovered and increase in the Churches of Christ. Our churches need him.”

Hurricane Sandy relief efforts: New Jersey Congregation Brings Hope to Beach Town Hit Hard by Superstorm Sandy

“Among the New Jersey congregations heavily involved in the relief effort is the Gateway Church of Christ … Carl Williamson provides a first-person account of his family’s experience during the storm and shares details on the Gateway church’s relief work in hard-hit Union Beach, N.J.”

Jesus, our conception of & culture: Oh Constantine by Greg Boyd [required viewing; 5:45 min. clip]

“When you pick up the sword, you put down the cross.”

Marriage: Marriage With a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse by Brad Hambrick

“We are all married to a self-centered spouse. That is what it means for us to be fallen people who are bound to experience life from within our bodies. But there are cases where this ‘general self-centeredness’ becomes chronic — severe to a point that it either results in a marital environment of abuse or neglect.”

Meditation: What Did the Psalmist Mean by “Meditation”?

“… neither of the Hebrew words translated as ‘meditate’ or ‘meditation’ refers to silent activities. … we should probably imagine him singing or reciting the psalm from memory.”

Truth: Our Glaring Obsession With Truth by Terry Rush

“Jesus is the train wreck that must happen to any tribe.  He will not let us continue to do church our smug and small ways.  Yes, narrow is the way; but narrow isn’t that we don’t allow much.  Rather, narrow is defined by one singular Son of God named Jesus….as the author of salvation….and no one else.”

U.S. culture & religious diversity: Map of Religious Diversity in America

“This gets at how varied, or diverse, religious affiliation is in different regions of the country. As you can see, the areas with the most diversity also tend to have the lowest rates of adherence.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading: New Research: How American Adults Read the Bible by Ed Stetzer

“After compiling the research though, we can unfortunately conclude that among American Bible readers, owning multiple Bibles is much more prevalent than regularly investing time in reading it.”

Church problems: Three Tough Church Situations by Joe McKeever

“… here are three ‘case studies’ or problem scenarios that occur with alarming frequency in our churches. And my suggestions on what the leadership should do in handling them.”

Consumerism: Rescuing Our Churches from Consumerism by John Johnson

“It looks something like this–worship is reduced to excellence on stage, with passive observers expecting something more next week; fellowship gets reduced to giving units; obedience gets reduced to legalism; sacrament gets reduced to an efficient prefilled communion cup with wafer; and the Bible gets reduced to a sermon extracted from its metanarrative–e.g. “7 tips to Marital Happiness”).”

Corruption: 50 States and No Winners by Caitlin Ginley

“State officials make lofty promises when it comes to ethics in government. They tout the transparency of legislative processes, accessibility of records, and the openness of public meetings. But these efforts often fall short of providing any real transparency or legitimate hope of rooting out corruption. That’s the depressing bottom line that emerges from the State Integrity Investigation, a first-of-its-kind, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states. Not a single state — not one — earned an A grade from the months-long probe.”

Divorce: Divorce Advice by Russell Moore

“My wife and I are at an impasse. There’s been no abandonment, no sexual immorality, and no abuse. We just don’t get along. We shouldn’t have married. We should have known we are incompatible. I know God hates divorce but I don’t have any other option. My pastor and some Christian counselors have told me that while God hates divorce, this is the lesser of two evils because God doesn’t want me to be miserable. What do you think?”

Giving: Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money

“… pursue the question of why American Christians donate relatively small amounts of money. This issue can be perplexing to church leaders, given that most churches teach Christians to “give generously for the work of God’s kingdom.”

Happiness: 7 Steps to Becoming a Happy Person Others Want to Be Around by Michael Hyatt

“… I realized how destructive complaining about others is.”

Moral decline?: Our Great Moral Decline

“When considering America’s moral decline, my first instinct was to …”

Numbers & success: * Should a Pastor Evaluate His Ministry by Numbers? by Brian Croft * It’s All About the Numbers: Changing How We Measure Success in the Church by Kurt Willems

* “There is an epidemic in the American Church. It is an obsession with basing fruitfulness in ministry on a numbers game. The American way is bigger and better and I am troubled that the church in many ways has bought into this method of evaluation, and continues to do so.”

* “Instead of measuring success by numbers and quotas, what if we measure success by stories of how God is at work through various signs of the kingdom that we see in our context? In other words, in ministry and in any church function, what is our primary goal?”

Self-righteousness: Pastoral Idolatry: 10 Common Forms of False Righteousness in Ministry by Eric McKiddie

“If Calvin was right when he said that our hearts are idol factories, and he was, then pastors are no exception. Which insufficient form of righteousness are you guilty of seeking from ministry? Or – if you are like me – which one are you not guilty of seeking?”

Small groups: The Difference Between Huddles and Small Groups…and Why Many Churches Use Both by Doug Paul

“Most of the churches we have seen be very successful at discipling people well and who are missional sending centers for Missional Communities and other missional vehicles tend to have small groups (and/or other discipling vehicles).”