this went thru my mind

 

Church life: How and Why I Stay in the Dysfunctional Family of God by Donald Miller

” … I understood these true but harsh facts, I was able to turn around and see it for what it was, a flawed, beautiful collection of people who are stuck with each other. And as cynical and judgmental as this post may seem, it was important for me to draw a very clear line between how God saw the church and the man-made construct that is so repellent to so many. These paradigm shifts, and many more, have kept me in the family of God. I consider them truths God gave me to, in part, keep me around.”

Complaining: If Jesus Complained Like Us by Dan Bouchelle

“Is this how you sound to him?”

Creativity: The Most Important Part of the Creative Life by Jeff Goins

“There are three types of space every creative must consider …”

Grace & holiness: Do American Christians Need the Message of Grace or a Call to Holiness?

“Grace is more than some benign, sweet syrup poured over us by a God who only says, “I love you just as you are; promise me you won’t change a thing.” Holiness of heart and life demonstrates to the world that Christ is able to not only love us as we are but also change us into what he would have us be. Holiness is Christ not only forgiving our sin but also redeeming us and utilizing us for his work in the world. In other words, holiness is God’s grace in action, enlisting us to work for God’s will in the world.”

Leadership: 5 Reasons Some Leaders Finish Poorly by Ed Stetzer

“I think there are some common factors shared by those who don’t end well. Here are my five observations: 1. They did not trust the very people they developed for succession. … 2. They fought over things which were just not that important. … 3. Their identities were too connected to their movement. … 4. They grew angrier as they grew older. … 5. They could not hand over what they helped create.”

Marriage & ministry: How Much Should a Pastor Tell His Wife?

“So how much does a pastor share with his wife? Should a pastor keep some things from his wife? Let me turn for a balanced perspective to my wife—a pastor’s wife.”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind

 

Chick-Fil-A: In the Basement by Jen Hatmaker; * Some Words for Christians On Both Sides of the Chick-fil-A War by Rachel Held Evans

* “This is precisely how I feel about the Chick-Fil-A debacle and all the other accouterments of the culture wars. I am so over it. I’m so over the fear mongering and hate propaganda. I’m over the political posturing and power plays. I’m over the finger pointing and name-calling. The storms are raging overhead, and let me tell you something: I’m going to the basement.”

* “Just some thoughts from a retired veteran of the culture wars …”

Christianity in China: Listening to Chinese Christians

“There is much we can learn by listening to Chinese Christians.”

Churches of Christ: * Homeless: An Essay on the Ecclesial Lives of Young Adults from the Churches of Christ by James McCarty; * JamesMcCarty’s Thoughts on Why Young People Are Leaving Churches of Christ by Matt Dabbs

* “I have met dozens of young adults (20-35 years old) over the last several years who grew up in the churches of Christ but no longer attend one. I’ve met dozens of others who still attend a church of Christ, at least somewhat regularly, who feel that such a church is no longer the ideal place for them but know of nowhere else to go. I am primarily concerned in this essay with the latter though I will make some reference to the former. These still-attending-but-uncomfortable CoCers are uncomfortable in the churches of their youth for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are …”

* “This is not a unique list for churches of Christ. I am not certain that his five points get to the heart of what is really happening here. I think this is more of a symptom checklist of some deeper issues that have to be uncovered if we are going to move forward. You could “fix” all five of his points and still have young people leaving the church.”

Creativity: Tips on How to Be More Creative by John Cleese

“… we can benefit greatly from being even more creative. So how to do that? One way to start is to listen to the legendary John Cleese below and incorporate his tips into your daily work and life where possible. This speech is from 1991 and is as relevant as ever. … In case you don’t have 30 minutes to watch this video,  I have summarized Cleese’s thoughts here. “

Disappointment: 10 Tips for Recovering from Major Disappointments by Ron Edmonson

“Sometimes life throws curves at us that take the wind from our sail. If we aren’t careful we can allow the injury to haunt us for life; never regaining what we have lost. … What steps should you take to get back on track and succeed again after a major disappointment?”

Evangelism: An Evangelism Secret by Terry Rush

“Pay attention.”

Ministry & writing: Paul and the Pastoral Practice of Writing

“It’s easy to underestimate the value of letter writing for pastoral ministry in the electronic age.  But when a pastor takes time to write a letter (even if via email) to a person under their care it creates a connection. I asked a pastor friend of mine, now retired, to share his thoughts/experiences of writing letters as a pastor. Here’s what he said.”

Photography & the Middle East: NASA’s View of the Middle East by Seth M. Rodriquez

“NASA has a website called ‘Visible Earth’ where they post pictures taken by astronauts and ‘sensors’ they have in orbit.  Within this large collection of pictures, there are several that are focused in on Israel and the Middle East. Here’s a taste of what you can find there …”

Poverty: Poverty – Understanding Scale [required reading]

“The poverty level as defined by the federal government in 2010 was $11,139 for an individual and $22,314 for a family of four. Could you take care of a family of four on less than $2000 a month? … The following are 40 facts about poverty in America that will blow your mind …”

Priorities: * Erase “I Don’t Have Time” from Your Vocabulary by Melanie Pinola; * Could a Checklist Empower Your Ministry?

* “Whenever you find yourself thinking ‘I don’t have time’ change it to ‘It’s not a priority.’ Watch how quickly your perspective shifts when looking at life’s challenges this way.”

* “It worked for the airlines, the surgeons, and maybe it will work for the ministry.”

Stillness: The Practice of Stillness by Michael Hyatt

“… you must do nothing for at least fifteen minutes a day. … I have … practiced this discipline for twenty-two days in a row. Honestly, this has been one of the most transformational things I have ever done.”

Taxes: Taxation, Charity, and Robbery by James F. McGrath

“I’ve heard the argument made that the government taxing the wealthy and redistributing that wealth to those less fortunate than them is not taxation, but robbery. I wonder how many of those who say such things are Christians or Jews , and would also think Deuteronomy 26:12 was robbery?”

The Blind Side & Lifeway: Hollywood’s Blind Side by Mark Joseph

“Various writers are publicly kvetching about the decision by a Baptist-owned bookstore chain called Lifeway to stop carrying The Blind Side DVD because, according to the Southern Baptist Convention it contains “explicit profanity,” takes ‘God’s name in vain’ and contains a ‘racial slur.’ … But are the Baptists really at fault here? Aren’t they entitled to carry whatever product they want for whatever reason they want? And who are we as non-Baptists to castigate them for what they decide to stock in their stores, especially those products which offend their deepest religious sensitivities?”

Vision: The 5 Major Obstacles to Personal Vision by Will Mancini

“It’s very important to diagnose your life concerning the common obstacles that keep you from things like setting goals, defining your personal vision or achieving our life dreams. I believe there are five primary blockades to consider.”

Warfare: A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away

“When he was deployed in Iraq, ‘you land and there’s no more weapons on your F-16, people have an idea of what you were just involved with.’ Now he steps out of a dark room of video screens, his adrenaline still surging after squeezing the trigger, and commutes home past fast-food restaurants and convenience stores to help with homework — but always alone with what he has done.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: 12 Signs you Attend Church in the Suburbs by John Acuff

“After almost six years of worshiping at a city church in Southern California, I got used to difficult parking, homeless people wandering into service, and members from all different backgrounds and ethnicities doing life together. A little over a year ago, I was dropped into the deep end of the Bible Belt. (Just to clarify: By “dropped into” I mean, “voluntarily moved to.”) I now live and worship at a church in the suburbs of North Texas and have noticed some distinct traits in suburban churches. If you’ve been wondering whether or not you attend church in the suburbs, allow me to help. You might you attend church in the suburbs if …”

Collaboration: Collaborate or Die by Dan Bouchelle

“The days of every organization trying to be self-sufficient, have a department and staff for everything, and live independent of each other is over.”

Listening: Learning to Listen Well by Ted Gossard

“This is what I want my posture to be more and more the rest of my life.”

Thinking: How Geniuses Think by Michael Michalko

“Creative geniuses are geniuses because they know ‘how’ to think, instead of ‘what’ to think.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: Belonging: When I Didn’t Serve God in Church by Ed Cyzewski

” Along the way, I made a crucial mistake. I began to equate work in the church building with serving God.”

Churches of Christ: Why I’m (Still) Church of Christ by Joshua Graves

“Here are my [eleven] reasons I’m still in the Church of Christ.”

Computing: VirusTotal

“VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware.”

Drugs: Facing My Brother’s Addiction

“For at least the last decade and arguably several years longer, my baby brother has been an addict.”

Homosexuality: * Homosexuality: When Will the Church Really Have a Conversation? by John Byron; * Stanley Hauerwas Destroyed My Hermeneutical Paradigm by Brian LePort; * From Waging War to Washing Feet: How Do We Move Forward? by Rachel Held Evans; * A Plea to Christians About Our Response to Obama & Homosexual Marriage by Dan Bouchelle

* “I am reminded of what it was like growing up in the church when divorce was still taboo.”

* “It may be possible to affirm Christian military service while denying Christians being homosexual, but many of the arguments I hear are selective at best, disingenuous at worst. I wish more Christians would be smacked by someone like Stanley Hauerwas and forced to ask themselves, ‘What is my hermeneutical paradigm for saying biblical prohibition A no longer applies while biblical prohibition B does.’”

* “I’d never before realized the degree to which my own perceptions of same-sex attraction were influenced by misinformation, stereotypes, assumptions, and misplaced good intentions.”

* “I’m not sure what this says about me, but my first reaction to the news of Obama’s new position on gay marriage was fear this turn of events would end up giving the church just one more black eye as Christians respond in ways that sound like hate to our world.”

Ideas: 99% Conference 2012: Key Takeaways On Making Ideas Happen by Sarah Rapp & Jocelyn K. Glei

“Last week we brought together 400+ leading creatives and 18 visionary speakers in New York City for the fourth annual 99% Conference, presented by GE. For two days we devoted our full attention to exploring the inner-workings of idea execution.”

Philistines: Lecture with Sy Gitin: Ekron of the Philistines: From Sea Peoples to Olive Oil Industrialists

“The excavations of Ekron radically changed the traditional perception of the Philistines, a tribe of the Sea Peoples who migrated from the Aegean in the 12th century BCE. … The excavations also provided an answer to one of the enigmatic questions involving the Philistines, why they eventually disappeared from the pages of history.”

Photography: Major Announcement: New Photo Collection by Todd Bolen

“The winning combination is the availability of high-quality photos of biblical sites, scenes, and objects for pennies per photo.”

Preaching: Gospel Bullets: “Piety vs Pugilism” in Church of Christ Preaching by Bobby Valentine

“Preaching that stressed the love of God was frequently referred to as ‘sissyism.’ Rather than being ‘real men’ these preachers were weak and feminine — they were called ‘soft.’”

Sunday school & small groups: What is the Purpose of Small Groups and Sunday School? by Trevin Wax

“The way we analyze these models depends on what we think is most important to accomplish. I’m convinced that the purpose for breaking into smaller groups is one of the most neglected areas of discipleship. And when we don’t know what our purpose is, we’re certain not to fulfill it.”

Wall Street: Capitalists and Other Psychopaths by William Deresiewicz

“A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an ‘unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.’ (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.”

Walter Wink: Walter Wink: Presente!

“Walter Wink, 76, one of the most creative and influential scholars of our day, died peacefully at his home in Sandisfield in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts on May 10 … Wink’s breakthrough insights about the contemporary meaning of the principalities and powers, and Jesus’ third way of dealing with the enemy/oppressor – neither fight nor flight but nonviolent resistance – spoke powerfully to the struggle and transformation experienced in the self-giving love of Jesus.”

[In my opinion, one of Walter Wink's short works, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way, is one of the most eye-opening and challenging - if not convicting and convincing - books I dare say any Christian could ever read. I highly recommend it; it's definitely required reading. I intend to post some brief excerpts from it next week.]

Worship (corporate): Handling Worship Distractions by Shane Raynor

“… I try to remember is that group worship is not my private prayer and worship time. I don’t get to have God all to myself. … Worshiping with a group means sometimes interacting with the group, not tuning them out so that it’s ‘just me and God.’”