links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I have found to be interesting and helpful reading.

American history, corruption, fear, hate, hysteria, intimidation, lynchings, racism, revenge, rumors, social memory, suspicion, terrorism & violence: Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror [essential reading]

“Between the Civil War and World War II, thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United States. Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. These lynchings were terrorism.”

Bible study, humility & reading: How to Make the Most of Your Bible Study [essential reading]

“We are pulled in many directions: work, family, ministry, fitness and many other activities tug at our schedules. The more we are tugged, the more we have to work to guard the time we give to personal study of our Bibles. When we are at last able to sit down to read, we want every precious minute to count. Whether we have 15 minutes or two hours, we want our efforts to yield the most benefit possible. But how can we make the most of the time we have to read and study?”

Community & forgiveness: The Act of Rigorous Forgiving

“There’s something sad in Brian Williams’s need to puff up his Iraq adventures and something barbaric in the public response. … the larger question is how we build community in the face of scandal. Do we exile the offender or heal the relationship? Would you rather become the sort of person who excludes, or one who offers tough but healing love?”

God, non-violence, violence & witness: Why NO Violence in Jesus’ Name is Justified

“The character of God is manifested when instead of employing violence against enemies to crush them, Jesus loves his enemies in order to redeem them. The kingdom is revealed when instead of protecting himself, Jesus allows himself to be murdered. God’s love is marvelously put on display when instead of clinging to his perfect holiness, Jesus puts himself in the place of sinners. And the nature of the rule of God shines radiantly in Jesus’ final prayer for the forgiveness of those who moments earlier mocked him, spit on him, whipped him, and crucified him (Luke 23:34).

“This is simply who God is and what God is up to in the world, and so living consistent with God’s character, reflected by the cross and the teachings of Jesus, is simply what it means to submit to God’s reign. In sharp contrast to the kingdom-of-the-world thinking, therefore, disciples of Jesus aren’t to act first and foremost on the basis of what seems practical or effective at securing a good outcome. We are to act on the basis of what is faithful to the character and reign of God, trusting that, however things may appear in the short term, in the long run God will redeem the world with such acts of faithfulness.”

Judging, judgment & love: Judgment: Isn’t Judging Others Healthy?

“Isn’t it time to for us to ruthlessly cut out judgment of one another from our sermons, conversations and mindsets? Isn’t it time for us to address personal and social change with long suffering love and when that doesn’t work—doesn’t transform ourselves and those we ought to care for—shouldn’t we try long-suffering love again?”

picture Bible commentary


Faithful ones have perished from the land; there is no righteous one among humanity. All of them lie in wait for bloodshed; they hunt each other with nets. Their hands are skilled at doing evil. Official and judge alike ask for a bribe; the powerful speak however they like; this is how they conspire. (Micah 7.2-3)

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).”