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.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Christianity: The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity is Growing the Fastest

“Are you surprised to see that 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa? Did you notice 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries? Did you catch that not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list?”

Civility, hate, Obama, President, racism & respect: Hating President Obama [required reading]

“I know many people who not only hate President Obama, but are proud of doing so.”

Corporal punishment, parenting & spanking: Random Thoughts on Spanking or not Spanking as a Parent

“To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting. Parents ask me frequently for my opinion on the issue. It is an important, but seldom talked about by those who teach on parenting.”

Culture, death, funerals, grief & mourning: * How Culture Stops Mourners From Healing; * How to Plan for Death

* “Our death denying culture continues to send the message to mourners that the healthiness of an individual’s grief is to be measured by how quickly and proficiently the mourner ‘gets over’ the loss and moves into a productive life. … The problem is that our society considers talk about death and grief as morbid and taboo. Living in an atmosphere where grief emotions and mourning are stifled we mourners sometimes feel forced to carry unexpressed grief and unresolved issues concerning a loss throughout our lives.”

* “As most people know, your death doesn’t only affect you; it affects everyone that you surround yourself with, and it’s important that you leave this world on good terms. There are many ways to make amends with your loved ones before passing, but of these things are a few that stand out above the rest.”

Demographics, Hispanics/Latinos: Mapping the Latino Population, By State, County and City

“Today, the 100 largest counties by Hispanic population contain 71% of all Hispanics. … But the share of all Hispanics who live in these same counties has fallen from 75% in 2000 and 78% in 1990 … reflecting Hispanic population growth outside of these 100 counties. … Half (52%) of those counties are in three states—California, Texas and Florida. Along with Arizona, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, these eight states contain three-quarters (74%) of the nation’s Latino population.”

Denominations: Denominational Diversity in North America: Why Are There So Many Denominations? [required reading]

“Why do denominations form? Why are there so many of them? These are complex questions with even more complex answers. Every denomination has its own unique mix of factors that influenced its origins. At the risk of over-simplifying, we can identify several of these factors that led to many denominations …”

Earth & geography: Another ‘Grand Canyon’ Discovered Beneath Greenland’s Ice

“Scientists reported Thursday that they’ve discovered a vast canyon, twice as long as the Grand Canyon. It carves a deep scar from the center of the world’s largest island out to the coast. And, oh … it’s buried beneath as much as two miles of ice. Yes, we’re talking about icy Greenland.”

God: Thinking about God Makes Me Just Want to Keep My Mouth Shut [required reading]

“I think this is what God laughing at us looks like.”

Grace: Max Lucado Goes Overboard on Grace

“The apostle Paul never seemed to exhaust the topic of grace—what makes us think we can? He just kept coming at it and coming at it from another angle. That’s the thing about grace. It’s like springtime. You can’t put it in a single sentence definition, and you can’t exhaust it. No other philosophy or religion has anything quite like this idea that God takes the initiative and comes after us—not just to save us, but also to sustain us.”

Income tax & poverty: 43% Pay No Federal Income Taxes

“The majority this year — nearly 67% — have incomes below $30,000. … A misconception about those who end up owing no federal income taxes — especially those with low incomes — is that they pay no taxes at all. In fact, most pay payroll taxes to support Medicare and Social Security as well as sales taxes and state and local taxes.”

Prayer: 6 Ways to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

“Use it as a model. … Pray the prayer word for word. … Set aside certain times to pray the prayer. … Pray it with others. … Pray it in private. … Designate a certain part of the prayer to pray each day.”

Tradition: * Tradition: Chronological Snobbery [required reading]; * Restoring The Future

* “I’m part of a movement called Churches of Christ, and if you think back on the history of Churches of Christ or the Restoration Movement, you will see we effectively married ourselves to the Spirit of the age, only we were unaware of it at the time. This is why churches that are planted in different parts of the country and the world look so very similar to a 1970′s Texas or Oklahoma Church of Christ…even if they are in California in 2013. We tied our theology to our methodology, and kept answering the questions that people were asking back in 1970, even if no one was asking those same questions today. And this is mostly because we didn’t allow any Church Tradition to guide us.”

* “Some get stuck in the past. Others get stuck in the present. Paul wants his friend in Philippi to keep looking ahead.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: Cyrus Cylinder Begins American Tour

“Since its discovery more than 130 years ago, the Cyrus Cylinder has been a striking example of an archaeological artifact that independently confirms a Biblical account. … Visitors to five U.S. museums will have the rare opportunity to see this fascinating artifact firsthand in The Cyrus Cylinder in Ancient Persia, on tour this year. The cylinder is usually on display at the British Museum in London. … May 3–June 14, 2013 – The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Houston, Texas – www.mfah.org

Communion: A Hearty Eucharist [very interesting; read this with my sermon last Sunday morning in mind]

“… there is something to be said for going back, insofar as possible, to a practice that more closely resembles the early church or Jesus’ last meal with his disciples itself. How can we reclaim, for our congregations and our worship services, a sense of how the early church both commemorated the last supper and ate together? How can we, in our communion practices, strive to (in the most literal sense) be more Christ-like?”

Depression: How Can the Church Help People Struggling with Depression?

“How can the church do a better job of helping people struggling with depression and mental illness?”

Entitlement: What I Deserve

“I deserve better. I’m entitled to certain things. I have my rights. My forefathers worked hard so that I could live a certain way. I’ve worked like a dog so that I could live like a king. Said any of those things? Thought any of those things?”

Grief & miscarriage: How Does a Pastor Care for a Couple Who Just Experienced a Miscarriage?

“Here are a few tips for those interested in knowing helpful ways to care for a couple who have just experienced this loss.”

Hospital visitation: Five Things I Learned in the Hospital

“With my almost 3-week hospital stay behind me, I realized there are several things I learned from the experience. Here are five of them.”

Marriage & ministry: * Is Ministry Killing your Marriage?; * 10 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Preacher’s Wife

* “Pastors reflect on building a harmonious relationship between their ministries and families.”

* “I don’t think preacher’s wives are understood by most people. … Here are some things I presume most preacher’s wives wish someone had told them before they became such.”

Speech, suffering & words: How Not to Say the Wrong Thing [required reading]

“… you can say whatever you want if you just wait until you’re talking to someone in a larger ring than yours.”

Suicide: 7 Questions About Suicide and Christians

“… to address seven of the questions that arise in our minds at times like this.”

this went thru my mind

 

Caregiving & stealing: 5 Signs a Caregiver Is Stealing From You

“Be careful, proactive, and alert. Here, some of the key warning signs that a caregiver is on the take.”

Children & death: Talking to Your Children about Death by Caleb Wilde

“The implications of this study suggest that, despite all of the challenges involved in talking to a child about death and even in the very demanding circumstances of a child facing his or her imminent death, it is most often better to go ahead with such conversations.”

Church: Are Churches Any Better Than Nightclubs? by Pete Enns

“… it’s hard to be real in church because the whole system seems to work better if you’re not. Which is not good. The problem, though, is what to do about it.”

Church, dropouts, & younger folks: Why Are Young Adults Leaving Church? A Comprehensive Answer by Matt Dabbs [required reading]

“There has been a mass exodus of young adults from Christian churches (including but not limited to Churches of Christ) over the last few decades. … There are a variety of reasons young adults leave the church in their early 20s. They are not all leaving for the same reasons and not every reason is the church’s fault (which tends to be the chorus out there … the church is fully to blame. Not really). I believe there are four categories that all work together into a devastating mix that have resulted in this movement.”

Giving: Atlas of Giving Predicts Gloomy Year for Churches

“Atlas of Giving, a Texas based firm that specializes in forecasting financial trends for non-profit organizations, is predicting that 2013 will be a ‘gloomy’ year for the religious community.”

Just for fun: Barn Owls at Church

“Three young barn owls looking out of the quatrefoil of a church in North Norfolk, England.”

Small groups: * How Do Groups Fit into the Overall Strategy of Your Church? by Eric Geiger; Friendship in Small Groups by Scott Boren

* “Church leaders must know how their groups (classes, Bible fellowships, etc.) fit into their overall discipleship strategy/process, and many don’t. They simply have groups. Once leaders know how groups fit into their overall church discipleship plan, they must harmonize their group leaders, training, and content with the overall discipleship plan.”

* “It is easy to idolize the success of the organization of the church to such a degree that we sacrifice the core of the Gospel, loving people to the point of living in friendship with them. This is a subtle trap where the organization takes priority over the people.”

this went thru my mind

 

Awareness, focus, inattentional blindness, & thinking: Why Even Radiologists Can Miss A Gorilla Hiding In Plain Sight [required reading]

“… what we’re thinking about — what we’re focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see.”

Books & bookstores: Buying is a Hard Thing for Bookstores to Do Effectively, and That Becomes an Increasingly Important Reality for Publishers

“As the shelf space for books being managed by retailers that accept the high cost of managing book inventory and commit to doing it effectively continues to decline, publishers need to understand that it will be really hard for non-book retailers to replace them.”

Churches of Christ: “Why Churches of Christ are Shrinking” Blog – More Thoughts by Joshua Tucker

“Lord, help us not to be bound by personal preference, but by an overwhelming desire to please You and see Your Church grow. Help all of us to be selfless, full of Your Love, and the ability to judge things objectively.”

Civil War & Les Miserables: In Camp, Reading ‘Les Miserables’

“Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” was published in 1862 and English translations of the five parts that constitute the novel began to appear in America by year’s end. … While Hugo may not have had the Civil War in mind, American reviewers certainly did and many viewed the novel through the prism of the war.”

Death & fear: America’s Culture of Death by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“When a culture replaces the value of everlasting life, with the value of this life extended as far as possible, the culture has become totally myopic, unable to see beyond the immediate, the tangible, the empirical. And oddly enough when the lie that ‘this life is all there is’ is believed, it makes it much easier to allow death to rule one’s mind, one’s fears, one’s behavior. Death simply becomes the price of doing business, or surviving. A culture becomes fear based and makes decisions on the basis of fear, rather than faith and a belief in the life to come.”

Millenials: FactChecker: Are Millennials More Self-Sacrificing and Community-Minded Than Previous Generations?

“For those who pay attention to the different opinions and declarations on how the various generations are different than the ones that came before, you have no doubt heard that while Generation X was the slacker generation, Gen Y, or the Millennials, are very different, the most community service-minded, action-oriented, let’s change-the-world-generation alive today, perhaps in the history of our nation. Generation We. It’s taken as a nearly uncontested reality. Except it’s not true. The best research on this topic, relying on nationally representative research by the leading scholars on the issue comes to essentially the very opposite conclusion.”

Small groups: Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt

Parts one [introverts], two [guys] & three [anyone].

Submission: The Most Offensive Word in America [required reading]

“The most offensive word to Americans is a simple, two-syllable word that insults our beliefs and violates our value system: submit. We inherently believe no one has the right to tell us how to live, where to go or what to do. We are our own masters.”