links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”

this went thru my mind

 

Anarchy, civility, control, leadership, power, relationships & spiritual warfare: CSC Paper: “It Should Not Be So Among You” (Previously “On Anarchism and Assholes”)

“In 2004 [Dr. Bob] Sutton proposed and wrote up what he called the “No Asshole Rule” as a “Breakthrough Idea” in the annual edition on that topic for The Harvard Business Review. Basically, the “No Asshole Rule” states that a company would do well to attend to and address the behavior of mean, nasty, selfish, egomanical, and rude persons in the workplace. After publishing his idea in the Review Sutton was overwhelmed with feedback from people around the globe telling him stories of the toll assholes exact in the workplace. He also received confirmation that companies who had implemented a version of the “No Asshole Rule” had experienced not only a boost in their corporate culture but to their bottom line as well.”

Anger, frustration, listening & worry: How to Listen When Someone Is Venting [essential reading]

“The way to listen when someone is venting is to ask them the following three questions …”

Change, church, ministry, evangelism, outreach & tradition: * 3 Things Churches Love That Kill Outreach [essential reading]; * Why Small Churches Are the Next Big Thing

* “1. Too many churches love past culture more than their current context. … 2. Too many churches love their comfort more than their mission. … 3. Too many churches love their traditions more than their children.”

* “”There’s no shortage of studies bemoaning the next generation’s exodus from the Church. Yet while some have written off Millennials’ spiritually, this is a mistake—for the Church and for the Millennials. In the face of this reality, a new opportunity is emerging. … Why? Because, as the first generation with a majority born and raised outside traditional marriage, genuine relationships and intimate worship—what small churches do best—will matter more to them than it did to their parents. But this opportunity comes with one, big condition: Millennials won’t give up quality to gain intimacy. And they shouldn’t have to.”

Culture: Lego Faces are Getting More Pissed Off, Study Says

“The study leaves us with an open question about what sort of impact the growth in conflict-based Lego characters might have on children’s play. The authors also acknowledge that this trend might be necessary for the toy company to maintain its place in the market and meet customer demand. The children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces,” reads the conclusion. It does recommend that toy designers take care in creating expressions and test the effect of the designs on children. What do you think? Are Lego toys becoming too negative?”

Discipleship & politics: 10 Political Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus

“…  this is not a complete list but it’s a pretty good place to start.”

Elders & leadershipThe Problem With Elders (parts 1 & 2)

“I have listened to literally thousands of members, hundreds of elders, and hundreds of ministers in the last ten years and many of them have the same complaints/issues … Perhaps it’s time we talked about elders. The problem is … where to start?”

Grief & healing: * 5 Signs That Your Grief is Healthy; * Megan’s Hands

* “When do we know we are grieving well?  And when do we know our grief is becoming potentially destructive?  Walking through grief is a balancing act between allowing yourself to mourn in healthy ways and not allowing grief to take over your life making you unhealthy in mind, body and spirit.  But the question is “How do you know when your grief is being constructive and healing and not destructive and causing you further trauma?” Here are some suggestions on when you know grief is good and when you know grief might be causing you problems …”

* “… the dam broke and I was close to drowning from the depression, the doubt, and the grief. Fast forward many years to today.”

Love & Islam: Hard Teaching: Amid Fear and Division, What Does it Mean to Love Our Muslim Neighbors? [essential reading]

“I don’t call Amir Arain my brother in the faith, but that doesn’t make him any less my neighbor. According to Jesus, everyone is a neighbor, and there’s no one who’s not my neighbor. Yes, I disagree with Amir on the precise meaning of Jesus’ life. Because of this — not in spite of — I believe that the real test of my disagreement with Amir is in the depth of my commitment to love Amir as Jesus has loved both of us. It’s easy for me to love my brothers and sisters in the faith. Jesus wants to know if I know how to love my neighbors.”

Ministry: * 7 Most Frustrating Things Pastors Experience; * 7 Most Exciting Things a Pastor Experiences

* “What do you think are some of the most frustrating things that pastors experience?”

* “Here are 7 most exciting things pastors experience …”

N.T. Wright: Ask N.T. Wright …(response)

“Wright is the author of over 100 books, including the popular Surprised by Hope and Simply Christian. [He] … is currently Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews in Scotland.”

Singing, songs & corporate worship: Ten Questions to Ask of a Song’s Lyrics

“… here are ten questions to ask about the words of any song that you’re considering including in corporate worship.”

this went thru my mind

 

Books, ministry, reading & thinking: Why Pastors Should Read Over Their Heads by Kevin DeYoung

“Very, very, very (did I say “very”) few pastors are called to engage in the highest levels of scholarship at the same time as pastoring a congregation. It’s just not possible, at least not for very long. But most pastors should still make it a point to jump into the deep end of the pool and get in over their heads once in awhile. Let me give you a few reasons why.”

Children, families, health & parenting: How ‘Crunch Time’ Between School And Sleep Shapes Kids’ Health

“‘It’s hard enough to get dinner on the table while trying to help them with homework,’ says Paige Pavlik of Raleigh, N.C. ‘Once we do everything, there is absolutely no time to go outside and take a walk or get any exercise. It’s simply come in, eat, sit down, do homework, go to bed.’ The relentlessness of it makes her emotional. Pavlik starts to cry as she talked about her family’s daily crunch time. ‘It’s really hard,’ she says. ‘This isn’t how I thought family life was going to be.'”

Churches of Christ: Churches of Christ and the Myth of Excellence

“Let’s certainly look for ways to do things in our communal life better. But let’s not forget that the Gospel is not a call to improvement and proficiency but to suffering, obedience, humility, and sacrifice for the sake of the world. And when those things become the primary focus of our life together, the desire for success in the way that much of evangelicalism has pursued it will simply cease to be a concern.”

Congregational singing: A Personal Manifesto for Congregational Singing by Rob Hewell [required reading]

“When given the opportunity, I’ll speak to these issues; otherwise I will hold myself, and no one else, accountable for these standards.”

Control & relationships: Controlling Other People: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis [essential reading]

“A major problem in human life has always been the desire of people to attempt to control other people. This problem is pervasive in all aspects of life. …  For all who wish to be true Christians, Philippians 2:3-4 is very important. Put this on YOUR fridge and read it every day.”

Children, genetics & poverty: To Spot Kids Who Will Overcome Poverty, Look At Babies [very interesting]

“… while there’s always a difference between how much the heart beats when a person inhales and when he or she exhales, everyone has a different set point. Sometimes there’s a big difference, and sometimes it’s small. And in very young babies, researchers have noticed that there are different temperaments associated with these different set points.

“When there’s a big difference and the set point is high, babies tend to have great attention and can focus for long periods of time on the things in their environment. ‘When you’re presenting them with a new toy, they’re going to really look at it and inspect it,’ says Conradt. ‘But they also may be more irritable and fussy when parts of their environment are changing.’

“In contrast, babies with a low set point ‘might lose interest after a couple minutes, but they’re also not going to be as fussy or irritable,’ she says.

“Babies with a high set point seem to have a more sensitive nervous system, which makes them more sensitive to their environment, in both good and bad ways. Babies with a low set point seem to have a less sensitive nervous system, which makes them less sensitive to their environment.

“Conradt and her colleagues wondered if this simple measure could be used to predict how children in poverty would fare as they aged.”

PowerPoint: Better Powerpoint: What We Remember from PowerPoint Presentations, Part 2

“Participants in the study tended to remember the same slides even though those slides did not contain pictures. This may be because the text was highly visual, in the sense that it generated mental pictures. … high-imagery words are remembered a lot better than low-imagery or abstract words. … Dare to insert text-based slides in your presentation, with the condition that people can “picture” that text without much mental effort. … Slides with tight links are remembered more than slides with weak links. … if you want a presentation to attract attention, find out what your audience would consider novel. … Repetition was another trait shared by the four most recalled slides. … Another characteristic of the four popular slides is that they contained negative information …  Slides that reported a high recall in the study were slides that offered advice that made the viewers ‘look good.'”

Privacy & technology: Why Life Through Google Glass Should Be for Our Eyes Only

“… there’s something particularly troubling about Google Glass. When we put on these surveillance devices, we all become spies, or scrooglers, of everything and everyone around us. By getting us to wear their all seeing digital eyeglasses, Google are metamorphosing us into human versions of those Street View vans — now thankfully banned in Germany — which crawl, like giant cockroaches, around our cities documenting our homes. Neither Orwell nor Hitchcock at their most terrifyingly dystopian could have dreamt up Google Glass. According to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, quoted by tech website Mashable, ‘Glass will also have an automatic picture-taking mode, snapping pics at a preset intervals (such as every 5 seconds).’ Pics every 5 seconds! Gulp. So where will all that intimate data go?”

golden nuggets from Sirach (6)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have stood out to me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the latest batch of gleanings.

Many have sinned because of money, and whoever seeks to get more will turn a blind eye. A stake is driven between cracks in stones, and sin will be wedged between selling and buying. (Sirach 27.1)

Limit the time you spend with unintelligent people, but linger with the thoughtful. (Sirach 27.12)

A fire burns in proportion to its fuel, and conflict increases the longer it continues. The more powerful individuals are, the stronger their anger will be; and the wealthier they are, the more their wrath will increase. (Sirach 28.10)

… be patient with those in humble circumstances, and don’t make them wait for assistance. Help the needy for the commandment’s sake,     and in proportion to their need don’t turn them away empty-handed. (Sirach 29.8-9)

A parent who spoils children now will end up tending to their wounds, and will experience heartache at every outcry. A horse that is unbroken turns out stubborn, and a child, when given free rein, turns out reckless. (Sirach 30.7-8)

this went thru my mind

 

Bible maps & Israel: Touring Israel in Google Street View [very cool!]

“Google has rolled out a rather substantial Street View update this morning, covering hundreds of towns in Israel and updating various other cities across the world. Some of the highlights include the Sea of Galilee, the Western Wall …”

Capitalism, government, Jesus & socialism: Jesus, Socialism, and Capitalism by James F. McGrath

“… Jesus said nothing about implementing any Christian principles in government, unless one includes the future Kingdom of God he envisaged as involving ‘government.'”

Confession, pride, repentance & sin: Four Things Christians Can Learn from the Lance Armstrong Debacle by Ed Stetzer

“The rise and fall of Lance Armstrong should serve as a reminder for us all as to how easy it is for us to allow sin to destroy all that we have. The patterns evident in this story are not new.”

E-mail forwards: 3 Steps to Polite, Secure Email by Kim Komando

“I love my sister to death, but not when it comes to email. Every day when she gets off of work, I know I’m going to see a few dozen messages sent to me and everyone else she knows about some scam or some weird picture of a dog. Plus, my email address is visible to people I don’t even know. I hate to be mean to her, but I’d really like her to stop sending so many and so publicly! How should I break it to her?”

Gambling: I’m Losing Money. So Why Do I Feel So Good? by Randall Stross

“… Jon E. Grant, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago, says … ‘The gambling problems of the people who are coming in for treatment, or who we see in our research, appear to be more severe than they were 10 or 15 years ago’ … and the popularity of multi-line slot machines is one reason. Addiction specialists are concerned that the near-wins and false wins served up by digital gambling technology set off the same reward mechanism in the brain that is activated by actually winning a game.”

God, love & power: God is Love, Not Control by Mark Love [required reading]

“… when we say that God is in control, I think what that should mean to us is that there is nothing that can happen to us outside of God’s love for us. Neither famine, or nakedness, or sword. Not even death itself can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. And this love is not just God’s good feelings toward us. It is not primarily sentiment, but power. God puts this love to work in us, pouring it into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, so that no matter what our life’s circumstances are,we find our condition changed, our life transformed, our world more hospitable.

“And this allows us, I think, to picture God more faithfully when disaster does strike. Our picture of God in these moments should be less as the cause and more as the one who grieves with us, the one who bears our suffering, the one who will not let us go no matter what. This we can speak of confidently.”

Gold: A Rumble in the Jungle

“It is estimated that up to a fourth of global gold production now originates not from licensed, regulated and monitored mines, but from often illegal, unregulated artisanal, or informal, mines … “

Marriage & missionaries: Cinderella Lied by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“‘And they lived happily-ever-after.’ I don’t know whether to say ‘aaaawwww’ or throw up. Depends on how much pain I’ve been listening to lately. So, here is the true end of Cinderella …”

Spiritual growth & maturity: Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 4, What are the Instruments of Good Works? by Richard Beck

“What does spiritual growth and maturity look like? What’s on the syllabus of this spiritual education?”