this went thru my mind

 

Bible, discovery, education & learning: Evangelicals & the Bible by Tim Gombis (parts 1, 2 & 3) [required reading]

“… about three weeks into every semester, a student would raise his or her hand and say, ‘I’ve never heard this stuff before.’

“I began to respond by saying, ‘you’re welcome!  You or your parents are paying me thousands of dollars to tell you things that you don’t know.  This is what we call “education” and it sounds like I’m doing my job.’”

“It began to dawn on me, however, that there was something about evangelical culture that was making these students assume that if something was unfamiliar, it was unbiblical. …

“What strikes me as odd is that the very thing I have come to associate with studying the Bible—the excitement of discovery—is the very thing that somehow frustrates the evangelicals I’ve been teaching.

“Like I said, I think this indicates that there’s something warped about how evangelicals regard the Bible. …

“… we please God when we are diligent students, which implies that we are always learning and that it’s okay (and normal) that there are things we don’t know!’ …

“My advice is to get to know the Bible over time—like, over decades. There aren’t five easy steps to Bible knowledge. I’ve told students in the past to measure their knowledge of the Bible in 5-year increments. And when I’ve said that, I could hear sighs of relief.

“Remember that the aim of getting to know Scripture is not to be equipped to get out there and have ‘impact.’

“The purpose of knowing the Bible is to develop Scripture-shaped minds so that we get to know and love God more faithfully, being transformed so that we love and serve others more creatively. The goal of Bible knowledge is the cultivation of virtue. And this is something that only happens over time.

“And the learning process itself transforms us, so we shouldn’t think that at some point we’ll be finished, “fully equipped” to get out there and put our knowledge to effective use.”

Bible & translation: Fifteen More Myths About Bible Translation by Daniel Wallace

“Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind.”

Certainty: The Lust for Certainty by Ben Witherington

“… we have to live on the basis of faith every day, not on the basis of some certainty or an ironclad guarantee.”

Churches: The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States

“The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches assembles various data on churches and denominations across North America. I recently gleaned the top 15 denominations by membership in the United States from their reports.”

Contentment: Five Steps to Peace in a Really Bad Situation

“… how can we get peace if we’re headed into or in the midst of a crisis? God tells us how to do just that in Phil. 4:4-9.”

Grief & words: Seven Questions Mourners Need to Ask Before Replying to Hurtful Statements

“…  the question of how to reply to hurtful statements is that each mourner must make up his or her own mind in each situation as to what would be the wisest method or statement to make. If you do decide to immediately reply to a painful statement from a well-intentioned, goodhearted, but ignorant comforter, you might want to consider the following questions first …”

Holy Week: 9 Things You Should Know About Holy Week

“Holy Week is the week before Easter, a period which includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Here’s what you should know about the days that commemorate the Passion of Christ.”

Internet, maturity, & social media: * Social Media Becoming Integral Part of Churches; * NT Wright on Blogging & Social Media [3 1/2 min. video]; * Shortcut for Blocking Games on Facebook; * The Internet: It’s Like Never Leaving Junior High [essential reading]

* “From websites to blogs, podcasts and Twitter, church leaders are embracing social media as a way to spread the word of God, to share information and to woo new members.”

* “I have one big worry about that, which is the isolationism of sitting in front of a screen. Even if there’s lots of other voices there. it’s only a screen.”

* “That’s all there is to it. If you get a notification from an app in your notifications menu that comes from an app you just don’t want to ever see again, a few clicks and you’ll never be bugged again. Nice.”

* “If life is just like high school, then the Internet might be an age group lower. Much of our digital world means never having to leave junior high school behind. … Janet Sternberg, a communications professor at Fordham University in New York who’s written a great deal about online civility, sees a reverse of a pattern created by television. If, as cultural critic Neil Postman asserted, TV ended childhood — the medium provided an impetus for young people to act older, which created hand-wringing about generations growing up too quickly — the Internet has done the opposite, she says. ‘The Internet and digital media have produced this “Peter Pan effect” where we never grow up, we’re perpetual children, we never have to be responsible for anything — we keep this juvenile mentality,’ she says.”

Note-taking: The Lost Art of Note-Taking by Michael Hyatt

“I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even college. Nor did I learn it on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own. Maybe this is why so few people bother to take notes during meetings or presentations. No one has ever told them why it is important or how to do it. In this episode, I do both.”

Same-sex marriage: If the Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, What Next?

“The biblical ideal of self-sacrificing, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is already countercultural. … If we have placed our trust in the God who does not change, we need not fear shifts in culture or law. … No plan A will skirt the issue that we are all sinners in need of a savior. We are on a level playing field with gays and lesbians who, in my experience, can detect condescension and hypocrisy a mile away.”

Television: 5 Reasons TV is Dead by Scott Elliott

“The mediums which we use to entertain ourselves or receive information come and go, but art is here to stay.”

The Bible mini-series: The Bible Series — Drama and Historical Context

“One of the aspects that I appreciate in the New Testament episodes of The Bible series is the attention paid to historical context. … This is not, of course, to suggest that attempts to provide historical context trump the drama.”

this went thru my mind

 

Contentment, happiness & work: 5 Ways to Find Joy in a Job You Don’t Love

“… what do you do when you get stuck in a job you don’t love? … Is it possible to keep getting up day after day and actually have joy in your work?”

Kingdom: Video: James K.A. Smith on Imagining the Kingdom

“To see all six videos from James K.A. Smith, click on the links at the end of each video.”

Learning & teaching: Briefly Noted: “Is the Lecture Dead?”

“The lecture remains one of our most precious educational resources, and it ought not be sent to the pedagogical morgue on account of its most boring and tedious practitioners. May teachers everywhere, and especially professors of theology, lecture as if their hair were on fire. May they tell the Great Story passionately, personally, and reflectively, and in so doing inform, energize, and inspire their students.”

Parenting & prayer: Seven Things to Pray for Your Children

“1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming. … 2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus’s faithful, persistent call. … 3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments. … 4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage. … 5. That their thoughts will be pure. … 6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work. … 7. That when the time is right, they will GO!”

Time management: Beware: 10 Time Management Rules That You Are Breaking

“Break these 10 time management rules at your own risk.”

Wind: Wind Map [a live, interactive map of wind across the lower 48 states of the U.S.]

“Surface wind data comes from the National Digital Forecast Database. These are near-term forecasts, revised once per hour. So what you’re seeing is a living portrait.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children & parenting: Why Most Parenting Advice is Worthless by Dan Bouchelle

“… there are a few things we learned about parenting along the way.”

Happiness & unhappiness: Where is the Happiest City in the USA? [required notice]

“How happy is the city you live in?”

[In the words of Mr. Spock: "Fascinating!" This study attempted to determine the overall state of happiness (or the lack thereof) in 373 U.S. cities (in the lower 48 states). Remember that number: 373. The study concluded that right at the bottom of the heap (i.e. - where most of the unhappy people are found) are the cities in the region in which I live. Example? Dead last is Beaumont, TX (#373), located one hour east of me. Texas City, TX - forty-five minutes south of me - comes in at #371. Port Arthur, TX - situated an hour east of me - is ranked #361. And Houston, TX - and live I on its outskirts! - is #352. Take a good, long look at this map and you'll notice that it's the Old South/Bible Belt that has by far the highest concentration of unhappy folks. This map makes for an interesting comparison with a red state/blue state map, too. http://bit.ly/KXuxsJ Hmmm. Me not surprised.]

Happiness, idolatry & self: Are You Worshiping the Idol of ‘Open Options’? by Barry Cooper

“The irony … is that this apparently limitless choice doesn’t actually make us happy. The number of choices available to us becomes overwhelming, and actually makes it difficult for us to ever have the joy of fully committing to anything or anyone. Even if we do commit, our culture then makes us feel dissatisfied with the choice we’ve made.”

Happiness, productivity & time: How to Become a Morning Person by Michael Hyatt

“‘Morning people’ tend to make more money, be more productive, be healthier and live longer, and be more happy and satisfied in their lives. But how do you actually become a morning person if you aren’t one now? Here are nine steps you can take starting today.”

Houston: America’s Most Literate Cities

The America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. Houston ranked #53 in 2005 and now ranks #60.5 (2012). To put that in perspective, New Orleans and Detroit are ranked much higher (#25 & #46 respectively).

Preaching: Preachers Should Be Like Naughty Kids by Tullian Tchividjian [required reading]

“I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills…and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross–and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. But preachers can’t be that naughty or brave unless they’re free from their own need for the dope of acceptance. And they wont be free of their need until they can trust the God who has already accepted them, in advance and dead as door-nails, in Jesus. Ergo, the absolute indispensability of trust in Jesus’ passion. Unless the faith of preachers is in that alone–and not in any other person, ecclesiastical institution, theological system, moral prescription, or master recipe for human loveliness–they will be of very little use in the pulpit.” (quoting Robert Capon)

Women: Women on the Family Tree: What Does the Bible Say Women DID? by Bobby Valentine

“It seems the moment one offers any opinion on the subject of women in the church that some one will brand you as a heretic and as an unbeliever in the Bible and its authority. Those who hold what might be called a ‘traditional’ view accuse those who harbor a non-Traditional view as loose postmodern deconstructionists. Those who hold a non-Traditional view accuse those cherish the Traditional view as canonizing not Scripture but culture and highly selective reading. It is getting to the point where these groups cannot even talk to each other.

“Is it possible to go to the Scriptures and just see what women did there? Can one be ‘un’ biblical if he or she says women can do exactly what God let them do in the ‘Bible days?’ So what if we simply ask this question: ‘What do we see women actually doing in the Scripture?’ Isn’t this the place to start? Is this what a Bible believer should do?”

how to think about life 101

“My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy.” (James 1:2 CEB)

“Why this? Why me? Why now?”

Those are the questions that possess us at the moment. We’re muttering to heaven and to ourself, “It’s just not supposed to be this way.” Life’s not a beach anymore. We want a clear, rational explanation for all of this that has thrown us off the road to happiness and we’d like to have that answer right now, thank you very much.

That’s when coming down the same road, James happens to see us down off in a deep ditch. Stopping to throw us a line to winch us out, he offers us a whole new perspective on things.

It’s not about getting an answer to those questions. We’ll die before we get complete answers to them. Life wasn’t meant to be about forever pondering your problems and thinking about your happiness. It’s about trusting that God has your best interest at heart no matter the situation you’re in. Our life here isn’t meant to be free of things that test our faith. Rather, our loving Father regularly allows our trust in him to be tested by what comes our way. Those tests help us answer the questions we do better to ask.

Who do I trust? How long will I last? Who and what is my life ultimately about?

James certainly has a challenging word for us, doesn’t he? It’s not an answer to all of the questions we ask, but it is the complete answer to the one question we must have answered.

“What do I do now?”

Trust God, not your feelings. Hold onto the line he throws you, not the pain of your problems. Set your mind on climbing up the slope to him, instead of squatting down and swearing over your troubles. For life with him is the beach.

My brothers and sisters, regard whatever tests you run into in life as opportunities for peace of mind flowing from trust in God (James 1:2 DSV)

Heavenly Father, your goodness is what gets me through this life. Help me to not lose sight of you or that truth. Come what may, may I be found on the way of genuine, ongoing reliance on you. In the name of your Son, my Lord and Savior, I pray. Amen.

what follows you?

And I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Favored are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their labors, because their deeds follow them.” (Revelation 14:13 CEB)

What fills your mind when you stop to consider God’s awareness of all that you do? Is it the questions you have? How you rarely think of such? That you try not to think about it?

What grips your heart when you pause and reflect on the fact that someday your life will be assessed by God in light of all that you do? Is it uneasiness? Shame? Fear? Terror?

What wells up in your spirit when you pause over these words of God’s Spirit for yourself: “their deeds follow them?” A sense of regret over things you’ve done? Have left undone? How you wish you could do more?

Now read this passage again slowly and ask yourself exactly what it is the writer, John, intended to convey to us by hearing these words.

“Favored are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their labors, because their deeds follow them.” (Revelation 14:13 CEB)

Who is being spoken of? Those who “die in the Lord.” How are we to view their condition? As “favored,” that is, “well off in the eyes of God.” What do they experience? “… rest from their labors …”

Now thus far, to say this is “good” is an understatement, no? Without a doubt! Now ask this passage, and yourself, one more question.
On what basis is it that this text says those who die in the Lord are well off in God’s eyes and experience rest?

Answer: “… because their deeds follow them.”

Clearly John is not holding out to us uneasiness or fear, regret or shame, uncertainties or questions. He is deliberately extending to those who labor in the Lord the great assurance, comfort, confidence, peace, security, and serenity that can, and does, come directly from the Spirit of God.

In other words, what you do matters. It matters for good. It matters here and now. It matters forever. It matters for others. And it matters for you.

Your good, no matter how large or small, is remembered by God. The power of your good work in the name of Christ is not dependent on its remembrance by others or even on your own memory. The good you do simply because you are in the Lord and you let him come out through you, as it were, go with you beyond the grave into God’s presence with you. And our awareness of that reality, made known to us by revelation, is a gift to God to us to encourage and spur us on to never cease doing good.

We will do good and not even realize it. We will do good and forget we even did it. We will do good and others will not even know it, remember it, or care. But God cares and remembers perfectly. God does not forget and will do good to those who live their lives expressive of his goodness, being “in him” and “for him” in life.

In this, let your mind find peace, your heart have rest, your spirit take comfort, and your hands, busyness to do good until the day you die. For what you do always matters.

Father God in heaven, remember me for good and help me to remember you in all things, that I might live well by you in Christ’s name. Amen.

this went thru my mind

Church attendance & being visitor-friendly: (1) There Once Was a World by Peter L. Steinke and (2) It’s In the Details: 8 Surprising Reasons Why People Aren’t Coming Back by Greg Atkinson.

Contentment: Transparency: U.S. of Unhappy Campers (infographic) is enough to make you a bit unhappy.

Expectations: Tony Schwartz’s article entitled “We’re In a New Energy Crisis. This One is Personal” in the Harvard Business Review is required reading.

Inspiring: People Are Awesome: Fifth Grader Donates $300 Life Savings to Stop Teacher Layoffs.

Modesty: “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?” appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Prayer: (1) On prayer: fourteen theses and (2) Why Do Muslims Pray Five Times Daily?

Theodicy: (1) N.T. Wright on tsunamis and problem of evil (1 hour video, worth every minute), (2) Adam Hamilton’s Japan’s Earthquake and the Will of God, and (3) Shane Raynor’s post entitled Is Adam Hamilton Right About God and Japan?

Writing: How to Write 1,000 Words by Scott Berkun: the essay and the 5 min. time-lapse video.