this went thru my mind

 

Baytown & Mont Belvieu: Chambers Town Center

A look at the plan for the the construction of Chambers Town Center near the intersection of I-10 & Hwy. 146 in Baytown, TX.

Church, idolatry & ministry: When Church Becomes an Idol

“… what does this look like when church itself is the ‘idol’ a pastor is venerating?”

Criticism, listening, preaching, respect, selective hearing & sermons: Sick of Sermons [required reading]

“Chronic critique of sermons is an illness. …  Some sufferers have lived with this condition for so long that they have found ways to manage it: committing to ministries that pull them out of the sermon … venting … or using the sermon-time for completely unrelated spiritual exercises. The long-term prognosis is grave: spiritual malnourishment. The table that God sets for us has two parts, Word and Sacrament, and Christ is the bread of both. But we only get what we’re willing to receive. How can we fight this illness that has us always excusing ourselves from the table during the first course and frequently ruining the appetite of others? I recommend aggressive treatment.”

Discouragement, faith, humility, passion, perseverance, & zeal: Maintaining a Holy Fire When You Feel More Like an Unholy Fizzle

“… because we live in Christ we must wait for him to do the work. This is nearly a mockery to the flesh-driven personality. God, through the Spirit, opens doors and closes others. My exhilaration is when He opens them. My frustration is when none open and I impatiently knock harder.

“How do we maintain a holy fire when some days feel more like an unholy fizzle? Believe God works…and then wait on Him.”

Holiness, OMG, speech, respect & words: Is It OK for a Christian to Drop OMG’s?

“Remember, it is the trademark for the unbeliever to take God’s name in vain …”

Inspiration & interpretation: The Inspiration of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

“In short, I tend not to read 2 Tim 3:16a as an assertion about scripture, but as an identification of which writings the author is talking about.”

Modesty: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

“And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Parenting: Dear Parents With Young Children [essential reading]

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.”

Reading: * Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina); * Americans’ Reading Habits Over Time

* “I’ve benefited from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefited immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information. …

“It goes like this: * 1. Read: What does the passage say? 2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word) 3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying? 4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?”

* “… the percentage of Americans who read a printed book in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population in 2011 to 67% in 2012.”

this went thru my mind

 

Critics, criticism, leadership & ministry: Something I’ve Learned about Pastors and Leaders by Ron Edmonson

“We often let the few negatives overshadow the many positives. … the critic can destroy your perception of reality. That’s why, as leaders, it’s important that we keep our mind on the bigger picture of what God is doing, rather than the voices of the negative minority.”

Just for fun: The History of Doctor Who Companions [infographic]

“The History of Doctor Who Companions infographic … gives us a guide to all the companions that Doctor Who has travelled with and a sneak peak on the newest one. Along with the names and photos come statistics of gender, species, and who is the worst and the best companions.”

Justice: What is Justice? by Christopher Smith [required reading]

“One of the misfortunes in the long history of the church is that we have mistakenly separated love of God from love of neighbor, and always they are held together in prophetic poetry. Covenant members who practice justice and righteousness are to be active advocates for the vulnerable and the marginal and the people without resources, and that then becomes the way to act out and exhibit one’s love of God. So, love of God gets translated into love of vulnerable neighbor.  The doing of justice is the prophetic invitation to do what needs to be done to enable the poor and the disadvantaged and the neglected to participate in the wealth and resources of the community. Injustice is the outcome of having skewed neighborly processes so that some are put at an unbearable disadvantage. And the Gospel invitation is that people intervene in that to correct those mistaken arrangements.” [quoting Walter Brueggemann]

Mission statements & vision: Wasting Time on Mission and Vision by Dan Rockwell

“I think there’s so much time and effort wasted on setting forth mission statements and vision statements … If the mission or vision doesn’t directly effect how [front-line people] are doing their work then it’s … pointless.”

Short-term missions: Before You Plan That International Mission Trip …

“People who go on mission trips want to help or serve in some way. We often think in terms of a work project—something concrete where we can see the result. We would suggest that a more useful way to help and serve the people is to learn from them: about their culture, their reality, their history, the history of our country in relation to theirs, how their country was impoverished, and the unjust systems that continue to impoverish it.”

Texas: How Texas Laws are Made

“Texas Co-Op Power brings us the How Texas Laws Are Made infographic outlining the process bills go through in the state legislature to become the law of the land.”

Zealotry: Zealotry Today by Scot McKnight

“Zealotry is conscious zeal to be radically committed, so radically committed that one goes beyond the Bible to defend things that are not in the Bible.”

this went thru my mind

 

Aging & attitude: 10 Signs You’re Getting Old by Caleb Wilde

“Here are ten characteristics I’ve noticed that define the ‘old outlook’ on life.”

Critics, preaching & teaching: For the One Person Who Didn’t Get the Joke by Seth Godin

“… the ability to say, ‘It’s not for you,’ is the foundation for creating something brave and important. You can’t do your best work if you’re always trying to touch the untouchable, or entertain those that refuse to be entertained.”

Fear: How Couchsurfing and Les Misérables Challenge our Culture of Fear by Liuan Huska [required reading]

“Let us be transformed in Christ before we conform to our culture of fear.”

Joy & negativity: Who Cheers for You? by Dan Rockwell

“I’m never more vulnerable than when I’m celebrating. Someone comes along and lets me know that I’m not quite there, yet. Ouch!”

this went thru my mind

 

Anger: Why are You So Angry? by Jim Martin

“James Houston … suggests that three kinds of anger are often seen in people. People who are angry with a controllable anger. … Pleasers who are angry. … Givers who are angry.”

Bible interpretation: Looping Arguments in Romans by Brian LePort

” I think Romans is best understood if interpreted in a series of loops.”

Critics & criticism: Seven Characteristics of an Effective Critic by Thom Rainer

“A few days ago I had a long conversation with a critic of me. Actually, it would be better to say that he is a critic of a decision I made. He would not want to describe himself as a critic of me in the general sense. Rare is the person who actually enjoys criticisms. I certainly would not be among that unique group. But this man made the criticism tolerable. And he certainly gained my respect by the way he handled it. Immediately after the conversation, I began to think through how he had approached me. I thought about his words, his body language, and even his preparation for criticizing me. I realized I had a case study on effective criticism. I also was able to note seven of the characteristics of this conversation where he criticized me.”

Emotions, music, singing & worship: Music, Singing, and Emotions: Exploring the Connections by Rob Smith

“Music, singing and emotions: what are the connections?”

Facebook: How Can I Block Facebook Game Invitations?

“Drives me crazy, every time I log in to Facebook I have a bunch of invites to join FB games from different friends. But I don’t want to play games on Facebook and I can’t figure out how to block the invitations. I mean, if I click on the “X” to get rid of the invite, I see a new one the very next day. Help!”

Happiness & joy: A Simple Way to Increase Your Joy by Tony Schwartz

“… the deceptively simple notion is that small choices we make can deliver big consequences.”

Health: The 2,000-Year-Old Wonder Drug

“In 2011, British researchers, analyzing data from some 25,000 patients in eight long-term studies, found that a small, 75-milligram dose of aspirin taken daily for at least five years reduced the risk of dying from common cancers by 21 percent.”

Just for fun: Pigeon Interruptus — A Fish That Hunts Pigeons On Land

“We are in southwestern France, along the river Tarn, where there’s a small hunk of gravel at the river’s edge where pigeons like to gather. What the pigeons don’t know is that right next to them, hiding in the water, is a European catfish. At extraordinary risk to themselves, these catfish will leap onto the beach, snatch a moving pigeon, and then, bearing the struggling bird, they roll or push themselves back into the water.”

Stress: 12 Ways to Thrive Under Stress by Dan Rockwell

“Over 50% of the workforce feels: Overwhelmed by workload. Too many tasks prevent them from completing tasks. There’s no time for self-reflection.”

this went thru my mind

 

Attack ads, critics & hate: Jesus and Paul Under Fire & The 2012 USA Presidential Election by Frank Viola [required reading]

“… why do politicians spend obscene amounts of money on ads which attack their opponents – most often falsely? Because they work. In general, people are gullible and will believe whatever they hear or read without checking the facts or going to the sources themselves. … his got me thinking. What’s happening in the political world right now in the USA has been going on in the “religious” world for over 2,000 years. Consider the misrepresentations and false accusations leveled at Jesus during His earthly days, thousands of years before the Internet and cable news …”

Evangelicals, history & politics: Pro-Life, Pro-Left ‘Moral Minority’ by David R. Swartz [a book review]

“So why did the evangelical left seem to dissolve into irrelevance? Swartz argues that evangelicals’ mass enlistment in the conservative Republicanism of the “culture wars” was not the inevitable consequence of doctrine or history: Jesus did not leave behind a clear party platform. But while members of the Christian right set aside doctrinal differences to rally around a shared cultural agenda, the left fell victim to internal identity politics and theological disputes.”

Logic, discussion & reasoning: Making An Argument the “Christian” Way? by Kurt Willems [required reading]

“… if we want to discover more truth. Here are my suggestion of arguing styles to be wary of.”

Migration & US population: American Migration [very interesting!]

“Close to 40 million Americans move from one home to another every year. Click anywhere on the map below: blue counties send more migrants to the selected county than they take; red counties take more than they send.”

Movies: Hollywood’s New Bible Stories

“The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Bible—the best-selling book in history—certainly has. And like the comic-book superheroes that movie companies have relied on for the past decade, biblical stories are easily recognizable to both domestic and the all-important foreign audiences. What’s more, they’re free: Studios don’t need to pay expensive licensing fees to adapt stories and characters already in the public domain.”

Non-Christians & perceptions: Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make About Christians by Thom Rainer

“Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians. In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian.”

this went thru my mind

 

Criticism & complaining: Before You Criticize Your Pastor by Josh Reich

“Here are some questions you should ask yourself before criticizing your pastor (or anyone) …”

Gossip, gossips & gossiping: Are Gossips in Heaven? by Bill Mounce [required reading]

“… I believe gossip is the native tongue of the church. It rips and shreds. The church should be the safest place of all, and yet most have found that it is one of the most dangerous.”

Healthcare: Healthcare in Early Christianity by Michael Bird

“… Christians really pioneered organized community healthcare, both for the church and for those external to it …”

Humor: Christian Denominations Are Like … NFL Teams by Ben Howard

“In honor of the beginning of the NFL season and because I have a bizarre need to compare things that are in no way similar to each other. I give you a list of Christian denominations and their corresponding NFL team.”

Ministry: Pastors are Hurting by Thom Rainer

“LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. … One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. … When we conducted our survey, over one-half again (coincidentally the same number, 55%, as noted above) said they were lonely.”

Prayer: Parent Prayer Closets by Jon Acuff [required reading]

“If you’ve got kids, here are four ways to find time to pray …”

Preaching: The Myth of the Relevant Sermon

“It is not the responsibility of the preacher to make the Bible relevant. Instead, it is the responsibility of the preacher to show his congregation that the Bible is relevant. John MacArthur states it quite bluntly when he argues: “Preachers are not chefs. They don’t cook the meal. Instead they are waiters who deliver the meal to the table without messing it up!”

Smartphone usage [infographic]:

“Could you live without your smartphone?”

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: New Research Offers Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

“The ravages of the disease … not only affect the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s but also the 15 million-plus unpaid men and women who care for them.”

Difficult people: * Dealing With Difficult People by Sean Palmer; * Tackling Armchair Quarterbacks by Dan Rockwell

“The Reflexively Oppositional will always be with us …”

“Receiving criticism indicates you’re doing something. Get used to it. … In some cases, you invited their criticism by excluding them. You didn’t invite their input or participation. Worse yet, they felt ignored when they spoke. … In other cases, you invited their input but they rejected the direction you’re leading. In all cases, armchair quarterbacks wrongly believe they have deep insights.”

Distractions: What to Do When People Ignore You for Their iPhone by Jon Acuff

“I’m going to stop talking. Wait until they realize I have. And then hold up a small sign that says, ‘Are you still listening?’ You with me?”

Fluorescent bulbs (CFL bulbs): Stony Brook Study Reveals Harmful Effects of CFL Bulbs to Skin

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation. … incandescent light of the same intensity had no effect on healthy skin cells …”

Food stamps: More Texas Seniors Receiving Food Stamps

“The fastest-growing group of Texans receiving food stamps is the 60-64 age bracket. In the past six years, those residents receiving food assistance – now issued in the form of a benefit debit card – has jumped by 106 percent …”

Immigration: * More Exploding Immigration Myths by Tim Archer; * The American Way of Eating by Matthew Soerens

“Sadly, some of these myths reside in my mind or at least in my feelings. Others are commonly held misconceptions about immigration, ones that may or may not affect how we deal with the issue.”

“If you want to get rid of illegal immigrants,” says Alabama sweet potato farmer Keith Smith, “quit eating.”

Israel: Israel to Revive Jordan River by Todd Bolen

“… the Jordan River has shrunk over the years but a new plan will bring the stream back to life.”

Just war: Is Christian Just War Just Like Jihad? by Lee Camp

“… we come to a doubly troubling possibility: First, that the mainstream Christian Just War tradition may, in fact, be closer to the teaching of Muhammad than that of Jesus. Second, that we American Christians have too often failed to live up even to the ethic of the Just War tradition: we seem pleased with its logic that war may be justified, but ignore the limits it imposes upon the ways we fight.”

Medicaid: More on Medicaid Refusal: Questions for Governor Perry

“Expanding Medicaid is a great deal for Texas and refusing to do so is not something the Governor should decide by himself before Texans have had a full and thoughtful conversation about what’s at stake for our state, and then the Legislature needs to decide on a course of action. Our state has an opportunity to help millions of Texans xget the quality, affordable health care they need, and we should not pass it up.”

Mental health: Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders

“Researchers at the University of Gothenburg recently studied more than 4,100 Swedish men and women between the ages of 20 and 24 for a year and found that a majority of them who constantly use a computer and mobile phones can develop stress, sleeping disorders and depression. Sara Thomee, lead author of the study, said there was a ‘central link’ between computers and mental disorders.”

Politics: * President Obama and Common Grace by K. Rex Butts; * ISideWith

* “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

* “Take the presidential election quiz and see which candidate you side with.”

Theodicy: Where Is God When I’m Hurting? by Kathy Vestal

“Why does God not heal all the sick, raise all the dead, stop all the earthquakes, and right all the injustices of the world?”