links: this went thru my mind

 

Criticism & critics: How to Receive Criticism: 3 Ways to Avoid Feeling Attacked by Criticism

“You’re bound to face criticism of some form. The question is: how will you deal with it?”

Christianity, Democrats, identity in Christ, kingdom, nationalism, partisan politics, political parties & Republicans: * In Christ: Neither Democrat Nor Republican [essential reading]; * The Politics of Worship: Who Do You Serve?

* “… Christians would do much better to identify themselves from the point of their baptism rather than some political reality that belongs to the old dying world (or anything else belonging to this dying world).”

* “American Christians thus assume that capitalism, democracy, individualism, wealth, freedom and opportunity are Christian virtues passed down by Jesus himself. But the Gospel of Christ refuses this marriage of empire and Kingdom, realizing the Christian ‘we’ and the American ‘we’ are not synonymous.”

Contribution, giving, offering & money: Five Reasons to Keep Bringing Up Money

“… some reasons why the church should talk about money and ask for it consistently.”

Ministry: Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew

“What if we just asked our pastor’s wife to candidly, honestly, even anonymously share some of their secrets? What if we invited them to share their hearts and tell us what they wished the church knew?”

Poor & poverty: Who are the Poor?

“What follows is not to be read as a listing of stereotypes.  Rather, these descriptions get at characteristics that various low-income persons exhibit.  I’ve encountered thousands of people over the last two decades here in Dallas who come to mind as I lay out this list.”

Rape & violence: The Bible’s Attitude to Rape [77 min. video]

“To give away the plot, Athas argues that: Rape is not condoned. Rape is equated with murder. The perpetrator is held responsible. The victim should not be blamed. The welfare of the victim is of the utmost importance. … this is one of the best OT presentations I’ve seen.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aging: 7 Keys to Aging Well

“No one wants to be that grumpy old man who is always complaining and no one wants to talk to. We want to age well. We want to age gracefully. Aging well is not something that just happens. It is something we must commit to, preferably at a young age.”

Bible interpretation & the OT: Dividing The Word

“We definitely need to know how to correctly handle the Word of God. … But we don’t need to divide the Word, not if it means neglecting inspired words of God.”

Culture, Miley Cyrus, MTV, sexuality & the VMAs: * What We Should Be Talking About When We Talk About Miley Cyrus; * Jesus Loves Miley Cyrus; * Sorry, Miley; * Miley Cyrus, the VMAs, Sex, and Moral Outrage

* “Don’t just stand there pointing out sin, obvious, and dangerous. Get involved. Fight. Help.”

* ” Part of me hates even acknowledging this event by writing about it—we’re giving MTV and Miley exactly what they want. But when people are talking, they’re also listening, and it’s important to think through what our response communicates about who we are. As Christians, when confronted with something offensive, we often condemn it on instinct. We want to make sure everyone knows how strongly we disagree, how completely we disapprove, how far we want to distance ourselves from such behavior. … but if all we do is shame Miley—a 20-year-old girl who grew up extremely privileged, extremely sheltered, and extremely publicly and is now in the process of discovering her adult identity—for her behavior, and bemoan one more nail in the coffin of this world, what are we communicating about a God who loves sinners and offers hope not just from them but to them?”

* “Adults are supposed to protect young people. Adults are supposed to refuse to treat young people like little gods, put them on pedestals, and parade them on stages. But adults do it, anyway, and our culture is just dumb, and just numb, enough to act like it’s perfectly normal. Turns out, as we’ve always known, celebrity messes with people’s heads, particularly the young. … Kids don’t need more kids. They know plenty of them. Kids need adults, actual adults, adults adult enough to reject a culture that is so bored, so dead, that it can only feel alive if given one more jolt, one more shock. And it’s hard to shock, anymore, but Miley hit that mark.”

* “If we are honest, we will admit that Miley isn’t much different than the rest of us. Whether positive or negative, we all crave attention, which is exactly what Miley is getting from us right now. Here we see that scandals are always relational and we are each responsible for our role in them: They create a co-dependent relationship between the offender and the offended. Miley needs our attention and we need her scandals to feel morally superior. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. I hope that Miley and Robin will take responsibility for their actions, but we all need to take responsibility for a culture that breeds these kinds of scandals.”

Culture, demographics, race & segregation: Racial Segregation in America

“The map displays the population distribution, using the 2010 census data, of every person in America broken down by ethnicity. The map has 308,745,538 dots, each representing a single person. Caucasians are blue dots, African-Americans are green dots, Hispanics are orange dots, Asians are red dots, and other groups are brown dots. From a bird’s eye view this is what America looks like …”

Gossip: The End of Gossip [required reading]

“Leadership is relational. Plans and programs shrivel compared to the relationships you create, nurture, or tolerate. Organizations are only as strong as the relationships that hold them together. Gossip weakens and destroys relationships. Gossip is about power. Those without power, gossip to get power. Manipulation, twisting truths, and speculation are symptoms of feeling powerless.”

I Have a Dream, March on Washington, MLK, politics & racism: * Has Dr. King’s Dream Come True?; * Something Was Missing From The March On Washington Anniversary [required reading]

* “For many, Dr. King’s dream has come true. Unfortunately for many more, the dream has not come true. …  May we be a people who rise up and carry on Dr. King’s dream and make those crooked places straight for the glory of the Lord and the good of His people. All His people.”

* “…  the absence of any prominent past or present Republican official in a speaking role at the commemoration …

“So instead of a bipartisan celebration of one of the 20th century’s greatest speeches and one of the most significant demonstrations in U.S. history, the event sometimes took on the feel of a Democratic National Convention. It seemed like just one more stop on the polarization express.”

Gospel, justice & mercy: A Better Story: How Our Understanding of Justice is Radically Re-defined by the Gospel [essential reading]

“The tragic irony is that inflicting violence and harm in the name of justice does not in fact stop violence at all; it perpetuates it.”

Introverts: 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert [apparently someone took a long stroll around the inside of my head, took a lot of pictures along the way, and then, summarizing their observations, wrote this article about me, because except for #11 and #17, they ID'ed me perfectly]

“Think you can spot an introvert in a crowd? Think again. … ‘Introversion is a basic temperament, so the social aspect — which is what people focus on — is really a small part of being an introvert,’ Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of The Introvert Advantage, said in a Mensa discussion. ‘It affects everything in your life.'”

Narcissism & self: Being True to Yourself is Living a Lie [essential reading]

“Disney doctrine can be summed up in a simple phrase: Be true to yourself. If you live according to this maxim, all your dreams will come true. … Now, I’m not a Disney hater, and I enjoy watching good movies with my kids and passing on these memorable stories. Still, there are two assumptions behind the Disney formula that we ought to be aware of: * You are what you feel. * Embrace what you feel no matter what others say. …

“Here’s where Christianity opposes the ‘follow your heart’ mentality of much of the Western world. … The truly courageous are those who crucify the self the world tells us to be true to. And then we are raised with Christ to become the person God always intended us to be.”

this went thru my mind

 

Aleppo: * Travelogue of the Aleppo Codex; * Brief History of Aleppo: A Great World City Now in the Grip of War; * A High Holy Whodunit

* “The Aleppo Codex has a history that is almost as dramatic as the Biblical events that it recounts. One of the most important ancient Biblical manuscripts, the Aleppo codex was … written … around 930 A.D. It became the version of the Hebrew Bible that was ultimately considered the most authoritative text in Judaism. … By the second half of the 15th century, the codex had somehow made it to Aleppo, Syria—the community that gave the codex its name. …  It remained in Aleppo for about 600 years. … In 1957, more than ten years after it was nearly destroyed in a riot, remnants of the king of ancient Biblical manuscripts were smuggled out of Syria by way of Turkey and brought to Jerusalem, where they remain today.”

* “In the city’s outskirts, sits the Church of St. Simeon, a 5th century Byzantine ruin built around the supposed site where Simeon, an ascetic Christian saint, perched himself atop a pillar for 37 years, choosing, as the 18th century British historian Edward Gibbon put it, ‘the celestial life.'”

“In Aleppo, Syria, where the codex was safeguarded for six centuries, it was believed to possess magical properties.”

Change: Change? Who? Me? by Karen Vestal

“We all want to change others, but is it even possible to think about changing ourselves?  Are we set and immovable, especially in those toughest areas?”

Church: * Is Your Church a Bad Hospital? by Tim Spivey [required reading]; * Do You Really Want to Be Part of a Second Chance Church? by Steve Ridgell; * Is Your Church Sound? by Chris Altrock

* “While no church wants to lose people, it’s a reality if you are healthy—not just unhealthy. If you don’t lose certain kinds of people, you will still lose people—just the healthy members of your church. You’ll be left with a bad hospital–lots of patients and no doctors. God will not bless such a hospital, for when the scarcity mindset trumps biblical instruction to correct, rebuke, etc., God’s Word is taking a backseat to feelings and fear.”

* “…  there are some conditions on accepting those sinners needing second chances.”

* “We can have correct creeds. We may perform worship wonderfully. Our rituals may be the best of any religion. Yet even with these we can be unsound. Even with these we can be unwell. The wealth of the church is one of the largest threats to the health of the church.”

Complaining & gratitude: Building Habits of ‘Simple’ Gratitude in a Consumer Culture by Patrick Mitchel

“So why is it that I moan so much? Why is it that I tend to focus on what I don’t have, or on what’s wrong (or might go wrong) rather than what’s right? Why am I so thankless?”

Culture & politics: Poll: Most Americans Would Vote Atheist for President

“The latest survey, from June, found that 54 percent of those asked said they would vote a ‘well-qualified’ atheist into the Oval Office—the highest percentage since Gallup began asking the question in 1958, when only 18 percent said they would back a nonbeliever.”

Disability: Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S., Census Bureau Reports

“About 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population — had a disability in 2010, according to a broad definition of disability, with more than half of them reporting the disability was severe, according to a comprehensive report on this population released … by the U.S. Census Bureau.”

Gun control: I Carried a Gun, and It Was Heavy by Michael A. Black

“I spent over 30 years as a police officer in the Chicago area, and I was required to carry a weapon both on and off duty. … I’ve faced people with guns many times and arrested violent, armed offenders for such crimes as robbery and homicide. … The suddenness and confusion of that moment [the last shooting incident in which I was involved] points out the folly of the politician’s belief that an armed civilian could have easily taken out James Holmes.”

Humility: A Pencil in the Hand of God by Joshua Graves

“What is God’s greatest gift to you? … The poor people. … How are they a gift? … I have an opportunity to be with Jesus 24 hours a day.”

Olympics: * Religion At 2012 Olympics: From Ancient Greece To London; * Legally Blind Archer Sets World Record At London 2012 Games

* “The combination of Greek sport and worship led the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, to ban the Olympics in 393 A.D.”

* “His vision [Im Dong-hyun of South Korea] is now rated at … 20/100 in his right eye, and 20/200 in his left eye. … Olympic archers shoot at their target from a distance of nearly 230 feet — or, 70 meters, to be exact. The target has two center rings, which are 4.8 and 2.4 inches in diameter.”

Politics of every kind: Strip Clubs in Tampa Are Ready to Cash In on G.O.P. Convention

“Angelina Spencer, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives, which serves as a trade association for strip clubs, said an informal survey of convention business in New York and Denver had determined that Republicans dropped more money at clubs, by far. ‘Hands down, it was Republicans,’ she said. ‘The average was $150 for Republicans and $50 for Democrats.’ …

“As further evidence of the clubs’ nonpartisan appeal, Don Kleinhans, the owner of the 2001 Odyssey, said when the Promise Keepers, a male evangelical group, came to town years ago, business was rollicking. ‘We had phenomenal numbers all weekend, and they walked in wearing badges and name tags and weren’t shy at all,’ he said.”

Social networking: Guest Post: The Illusionary Nature of Online Friendships via Facebook & Other Social Media by Stephanie Bennett

“We may become adept at managing our hyper-organized lives, but none of it helps to nourish healthy, long-lasting relationships.  This may be particularly so when it comes to finding fellowship on Facebook and other computer networks that allow for social exchange.”

this went thru my mind

 

Change: How the Tech Parade Passed Sony By by Hiroko Tabuchi

“… Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life. In fact, it is in a fight for its life …”

Church: How Your Small Rural Church Can Do Something Big by Whitney Hopler

“… your church’s small size doesn’t have to limit its potential to impact the world in big ways.”

Church problems: * There’s The Door: Dealing with Conflictual Christians by K. Rex Butts; * Remaining Patient: Dealing with Sinful Behavior Among the Church by K. Rex Butts

* “… there comes a time when certain church members must be told ‘There’s the door’ and then told to leave.”

* “While we never want to approve of any sinful behavior, not all sinful behavior has the same consequences upon the local church, its mission and spiritual health.”

Conversion: The New Conversion: Why We ‘Become Christians’ Differently Today by Gordon T. Smith

“It is not be an overstatement to say that evangelicals are experiencing a ‘sea change’—a paradigm shift—in their understanding of conversion and redemption, a shift that includes the way in which they think about the salvation of God, the nature and mission of the church, and the character of religious experience. Although there is no one word to capture where evangelicals are going in this regard, there is a word that captures what they are leaving behind: revivalism.”

Faith: The Maximum Faith series: The Importance of Brokenness by George Barna

“The data indicate that very few people – barely one out of ten adults in the United States – could be considered to have been broken by their understanding of and distaste for their offenses against God. And a huge majority of Christians believes that you can be saved without experiencing such brokenness. Sadly, they are wrong. There is no salvation without brokenness.”

Feeding the hungry: Cuts to SNAP Will Hurt Texas Families Struggling to Afford Food by Larry James

“A cut of this magnitude would affect over 300,000 Texas families who will struggle to put food on the table without the support SNAP provides.”

Gated communities: The Injustice of Gated Communities by David Greusel

“… more than 10 million American households exist sheltered behind walls. While that’s just under 10 percent of U.S. households, it represents a sizeable minority hunkered down in fortified bunkers. … One question to ask about gated communities is, how real is the threat they purport to avoid?”

Pets: Do Pets Go to Heaven?

“An author, a professor, and an animal advocate weigh in.”

Politics: The Impermanent Republican Majority by Timothy Egan

“For those who believe that demography is destiny, there was no more jaw-dropping figure from the 2004 presidential election than this finding from the nation’s far-flung metropolitan frontier: George W. Bush carried 97 of the nation’s 100 fastest growing counties.”

Poverty: David Lipscomb on the Poor (parts 3 & 4)

“Lipscomb encourages a private, daily sharing of resources instead of a public, occasional large gift. The former arises out of a lifestyle but the latter arises out of a desire for reward. The former is the daily life of a Christian but the latter is more tuned to the formal religion with its love of a holy place that is “worldly.” The former practices the gospel in sharing with the poor but the latter practices the religion of building and forms.”

Preaching: The Sermon That Makes Them Mad by Joe McKeever

“… ministers are not sent to make the church happy. They are sent by God to make Him happy, and to make you the members holy and healthy.”

this went thru my mind, too

 

Discipleship: We Need Boring Christians

“Regardless of our location, abroad or at home, all ministry is inescapably local. Every worker in a global context must embrace the monotonous minutiae of a new daily grind after the plane lands—figuring out the postal service, dealing with the cell phone company, conjugating verbs in the slow and tedious study of the language.”

Evangelism: * Talking About Jesus * Answering Questions People Actually Ask

“The doc smiles, then asks in apparent good faith. ‘How does someone avoid missing heaven by eighteen inches?’ I ask what he means. He repeats the question with some explanation. ‘Suppose a person almost makes it into heaven but comes up just short of what is required. Is there some way to make sure that does not happen?'”

Facebook: * The Reboot: Deleting Your Facebook Profile Every Year as a Spiritual Exercise * Facebook is Making Us Miserable

“First, it’s creating a den of comparison. Since our Facebook profiles are self-curated, users have a strong bias toward sharing positive milestones and avoid mentioning the more humdrum, negative parts of their lives. … Second, it’s fragmenting our time … the issue with this constant “tabbing” between real-life tasks and Facebook is what economists and psychologists call “switching costs,” the loss in productivity associated with changing from one task to another. … Last, there’s a decline of close relationships. Gone are the days where Facebook merely complemented our real-life relationships. Now, Facebook is actually winning share of our core, off-line interactions.”

Government, Mennonites, politics, and voting: Lipscomb on the Mennonites

“I think no greater evil can befall the churches of Jesus Christ than for them to enter the field of politics, drink into the spirit of the civil powers, and look to them for help in enforcing morality and in carrying out the law and the righteousness of the Bible. The more widely the church and the State can be kept apart in their operations, the better for both. The reason of this is, they are diverse in nature and character, and must be run on different and antagonistic principles.”

Pacifism: Introducing Christian Nonviolence – Two Resources for the Interested and Skeptical

“In North America, the idea of Christian nonviolence or Pacifism (meaning to “pacify” not inactive passivism) is largely unaccepted by evangelical Christianity. This is odd considering that the peace teachings of Jesus and the early church are basic to New Testament teaching and theology. I want to offer two resources to give a basic introduction into this subject. I realize that many of my readers will disagree, but if you are willing to wrestle with the following resources, I promise that you will at least come to appreciate this perspective (and who knows, maybe you will embrace it!).”

Politics: The Damage of 2011

“… major reductions in the vital category known as nondefense discretionary spending, which faces cuts of around $800 billion over a decade. That category includes education, housing assistance, transportation, public health, veterans benefits, law enforcement and courts, environmental protection and many other crucial programs.

“This spending category has been the main focus of Republican pressure for decades. In the 1970s, nondefense discretionary spending represented about 5 percent of the gross domestic product; that is now down to about 2.5 percent. Over the next decade, once the new cuts go into effect, it will decline to less than 2 percent. This year’s spending bill, signed into law a few days ago, is roughly 10 percent lower than last year’s, cutting Pell grants, environmental programs and aid to desperate states. Low-income heating assistance was cut by 25 percent.

“As the economist Jared Bernstein has noted, this is the category of spending that helps people move up the income ladder, providing nutritious food, improving early education and job training and putting people to work.”

Virginal conception of Jesus: Suspending Skepticism: history and the virgin birth by N.T. Wright

“If the first two chapters of Matthew and the first two of Luke had never existed, I do not suppose that my own Christian faith, or that of the church to which I belong, would have been very different. But since they do, and since for quite other reasons I have come to believe that the God of Israel, the world’s creator, was personally and fully revealed in and as Jesus of Nazareth, I hold open my historical judgment and say: If that’s what God deemed appropriate, who am I to object?”

Young-earth creationists: A Nice Argument for the Age of the Earth

“I am regularly approached by young Earth creationists… If I have the time I try to engage them on the age of Earth, since Earth is something whose existence them and I agree upon. They will tell me that Earth is somewhere between 6,000 – 10,000 years old, and, when prompted, that the rest of the universe is the same age as well. I have taken the approach of responding to this assertion by pulling out a print of the far side of the Moon.”