this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, listening & outreach: Apologetics and the Importance of Listening: A Conversation with Mary Jo Sharp

“Listening to the person right in front of you helps you to discover how to effectively serve that person. … Listening is also vital in avoidance of creating straw men of other views. … We should delight in the truth, even in the truthful representation of another’s beliefs. But we must listen with the intent to do so.”

Bible: The Bible OutLoud: Your Voice Needed [creative & cool!]

“We need your help. This project depends on hundreds of people getting together to memorize Scripture. It only takes a few minutes to upload a video with a few verses. We are challenging everyone to pick up the bible and memorize a passage.”

Benevolence & charitable giving: Pure Charity: An Interview With Mike Rusch

“Mike Rusch is the COO for Pure Charity. Pure Charity, a non-profit organization, makes it possible to leverage everyday spending, allowing you to support causes and organizations that matter most to you.”

Church, leadership, ministry & vision: * Inspi(re)ality: Leading By Vision by Jonathan Storment [required reading]; * Seven Deadly Thoughts of Leader by Thom Rainer [required reading]; * 10 Reflections on a Decade of Church Consulting by Thom Rainer [required reading]

* “If you have a church of a hundred different people, chances are you have at least 100 different expectations about what church should be about, what your services should look like, what kind of sermon you should preach, etc. And there are two ways to going about how to minister through these differences. 1) is to turn internally, and help them see that they are a part of a community, and each time they gather they must submit their individual needs and preferences to the community. That’s a good response. But alone, I think it fails. 2) Cast a vision larger than your organization.”

* “I’ve had the opportunity through the years to listen to leaders talk about their biggest victories and their greatest failures. When the latter takes place, these leaders reflect that, most of the time, the failure took place in a deadly thought pattern. They lament they didn’t recognize these deadly thoughts for the warnings that they were. Here are the seven most significant warning thoughts I’ve heard.”

* “For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year. If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end.  I think you’ll find hope there.”

Computing, privacy & smartphones: * Get Notified When a Site’s Terms of Service Change; * Facebook Is Said to Create Mobile Location-Tracking App [reason # 47 why I don't have Facebook on my smartphone]

* “Try the Docracy Terms of Service Tracker. True to its name, this site monitors the TOS agreements and privacy policies for nearly a thousand Web services.”

* “Facebook Inc. (FB) is developing a smartphone application that will track the location of users, two people with knowledge of the matter said, bolstering efforts to benefit from growing use of social media on mobile computers. The app, scheduled for release by mid-March, is designed to help users find nearby friends and would run even when the program isn’t open on a handset, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. … The tracking app could help Facebook sell ads based on users’ whereabouts and daily habits.”

this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, historicity of Christianity & scholarship: Epiphany – Five Reflections from a Life Time by Paul Barnett [required reading]

“Theology to be true depends on what happened historically.  If the Word did not actually become flesh in Bethlehem in the latter years of Herod, then the theology stated in John 1:14 is just empty words, akin to myth.”

Church guests, first impressions & welcome: The Other Side of Evangelism: The Importance of Receiving Those God Sends Our Way by Matt Dabbs

“We can go out and reach out to people all day but if we don’t receive them well then we may never gain access to getting into any deeper conversation with them than whatever they hear on their first visit, because they may never come back.”

Christianity & politics: Louie Giglio and Inauguration Day Prayer by Scot McKnight

“Louie Giglio did the right thing when he chose to back out of offering the Inauguration Day Prayer. He could have done the right-er thing by never accepting such an invitation. …

“Christian leaders and pastors need to be at the Prayer Breakfast or the Easter Breakfast, but not on the Inauguration Day platform — unless they line up with that platform’s agendas, and the most political ones and the most vocal ones and the most inflammatory ones are the ones that will determine suitability. Louie, you didn’t belong there. May all of us learn the lesson that Caesar is Caesar and Jesus is not Caesar.”

DiscipleshipHow To to Measure Discipleship by Geoff Surratt

“How do we measure discipleship? It is relatively easy to measure church attendance, giving, or small group participation, but how do we measure church members becoming more like Christ? … I think there are six vital areas that point to a growing disciple … Separate studies by the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway on discipleship came to the same conclusion; the single biggest factor in growing as a disciple is reading the Bible every day. It’s the magic pill of discipleship.”

Economy, education & food stamps: More Ph.D.s Needing Food Stamps

“While more than 293,000 master’s recipients needed public assistance in 2010, up from 102,000 in 2007, nearly 34,000 doctorate recipients used food stamps and other assistance programs. That’s a sizable increase from the 9,800 doctorate holders who needed support back in 2007…

“… one in six Americans received food stamps in 2011. That’s about 52.5 million people …”

Evil & hope: When the Children Cry by Paula Harrington

“Our hope isn’t in the United States nor is it in better or worse gun laws. Our hope is in the Christ.”

Grace: Grace, Electricity, and Sex by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“I grew up in a church that believed in God’s grace. We believed in it just like we believed in electricity. We believed it existed and we needed it. We were thankful for it. We knew we depended on it and would be in deep trouble without it. We didn’t want to give it up or live in a world without it. But, we didn’t understand how it worked and felt obliged to restrict its distribution to safe outlets so as to prevent its abuse, which would be our undoing. Grace was like sex. We liked it, but we didn’t talk about it freely because it was more than a little embarrassing. It made us feel exposed and vulnerable. Like with sex, people who got obsessed with grace could go overboard, losing both necessary discipline and holiness.”

this went thru my mind

 

Atonement: What DID Jesus Do? The Atonement Symposium Videos Now Online

[Videos featuring Scot McKnight, J. Daniel Kirk, Leanne Van Dyk, and Vincent Bacote]

Christian faith, idolatry, nationalism, patriotism & the United States: * Are You Anti-American? by Greg Boyd [essential viewing; 2 1/2 min. video]; * Nationalism: The Nationalistic Corruption of Worship in America by Craig M. Watts

* “I am not anti-American. … What I am is, I want to be kingdom. And that means I want to be trans-national in my perspective. … What I’m impassioned about is that followers of Jesus don’t become co-opted by the nationalism of a country, or by any other political or national agenda. And the history of the church is that going on, and on, and on. … It’s so important; I think it’s so, so, so so important that we understand the kingdom of God looks like Jesus, dying on the cross for the people who are putting him there … The kingdoms of this world look other than that. They look like America, or China, or Russia. They’re always some version of Caesar. … In America, precisely because it gives us more freedoms than most other countries, we have to guard against the temptation that identify it as anything more than a good country that gives us some good rights and some good privileges.”

* “… if there has been little serious conflict in the United States between Christian devotion and American allegiance it is not due to some Christian nature of America that some people imagine exists. Instead this is an indication of the extent that the church has been conformed to American ideals, interests and identity. No clear distinction between being American and being Christian is even a possibility because the two have become one in the hearts of many. The God being worshiped is the American God and the nation they love is in some fashion God’s nation. Consequently, many Christians find it incomprehensible that incorporating the rituals of America into the worship of the church could be anything other than a positive, edifying practice.”

Church & generations: How to Connect Different Age Groups Within the Congregation by Matt Dabbs

“LIFE Groups – the vast majority of our LIFE groups are inter-generational. … it is good to have a mix of different types of groups in small group ministry and inter-generational is a big part of that.”

Contribution, electronic giving & worship: I Need Your Ideas by Ed Stetzer

” Does your church offer online giving and, if so, how do you incorporate it into worship?”

Gospel & kingdom: * Paul’s “Gospel” Ministry in Romans by Tim Gombis [required reading]; * The Ugly Beauty of the Kingdom of God by Kurt Willems

* “Paul’s conception of the gospel … is not merely the tidy presentation that gets one into the Christian faith. According to Paul’s gospel conception, God is at work to restore creation.”

* “The cross is ugly, but the wonder of the kingdom is that God takes on ugliness and uses it as the ultimate example of beauty.”

Evangelism, Hispanics, immigration Latinos & outreach: It’s Time to Reach Out to Immigrants by Tim Archer

“… let me encourage churches to get ahead of the curve. Those churches that reached out to immigrants during Reagan’s amnesty program are the ones that today are making important inroads into the Latino community. Lay aside your political feelings and think about the ministry possibilities. This could well be the critical time.”

Learning & understanding: Questions vs. Assertions by James McGrath

“Confident assertions often weigh us down and tie us to ways of thinking that often are not as well founded as we initially assumed. Questions raise us up to discover new things that we could never have if we refused to ask them. Even if the questioning leads us to conclude that what we thought initially was correct, we are better for having asked.”

Les Misérables: * The Miserable by Casey Picker; * On Forgiveness and Escaping the Past by John Byron

* “True love isn’t a butterfly feeling, but an action with skin and bones. And it’s not just something we do for people we are attracted to or who are lovable to us, it’s something we extend to all who are around us. It means having eyes to see the broken and the hurting around us, a heart that feels compassion for them, and hands that are willing to give them the grace that they need.”

* “… what caught my attention this time was the struggle between being forgiven and escaping the past.”

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

 

Alone & community: Being Alone, Being Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. … But the reverse is also true. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone. You are called into the community of faith; the call was not meant for you alone.”

Christian faith & the world: Global Facts and Figures

“Largest Christian populations … countries with the highest Christian population (% total pop) … countries with the lowest Christian population (% total pop).”

Domestic drones: The Dawning of Domestic Drones

“The unmanned aircraft that most people associate with hunting terrorists and striking targets in Pakistan are on the brink of evolving into a big domestic industry. It is not a question of whether drones will appear in the skies above the United States but how soon.”

Evangelism, outreach & witnessing: Why “Just Telling Your Story” Is NOT the Best Way to Share the Gospel

“He is agreeing that what matters most is personal experience, not truth.”

Evil, God, pain & suffering: * Why God? [required reading]; * If I’m Suffering, Is God Punishing Me?

* “We need one another to be God’s presence.”

* “… suffering in general is a result of the brokenness of the world, that which finds its root cause in human sin (see Genesis 3). But this does not mean that every instance of personal suffering is a direct consequence of one’s own sin. Often, our pain comes from the mere fact that we live in a world that is not what God had intended.”

Parenting: My Daughter’s Beauty

“How do I raise my daughter to know the true definition of beauty in a culture such as ours? How do I cultivate an image in her that is rooted in the beauty of Jesus and not the allure of a distorted sexuality?”

word for the weak: week forty-nine

 

The theme connecting this week’s Scripture reading in MoSt Church‘s Uncommon Truth for Common People project is evangelism. Following is this week’s reading schedule:

• Mon., Dec. 3 – Luke 2.1-20
• Tues., Dec. 4 – Luke 7.11-17
• Wed., Dec. 5 – Luke 8.26-39
• Thur., Dec. 6 – Luke 18.35-43
• Fri., Dec. 7 – Psalm 19.1-14; Romans 1.18-20

Memorize Luke 2.14: “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

this went thru my mind

 

Discipleship: Did We Just Discover Discipleship? by Dan Bouchelle

“The informal models of discipleship that happened naturally in smaller, more rural communities, and within small family-based churches, did not require the kind of structural programing we just assume is mandatory today.”

Evangelism & outreach: The Dangers of Evangelism by Christian Piatt [required reading]

“Sometimes our zeal for sharing something that’s important to us blinds us to the havoc we can be wreaking in the process.”

Income inequality: How Income Inequality Is Damaging the U.S. by Frederick E. Allen [note]

“New research indicates that growing income inequality isn’t just unpleasant; it is seriously hurting the U.S. economy. And economists are figuring out just how the damage is done … The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that between 1979 and 2007 the top 1% of households doubled their share of pretax income while the share of the bottom 80% fell.”

Ministry: * Lessons from the Joshua Tree by Bert Crabbe; * Growing Problems … Old Wineskins by K. Rex Butts

* “Our team learned early on that if we didn’t establish clear boundaries to protect family life and personal health, the church would swallow every waking minute.”

* “To try and live out the good news in our old ways rather than following Jesus in his new ways is to sew a new patch on an old garment…to pour new wine into old wineskins.  This just will not work and ultimately it is a failure to follow Jesus in his new ways.”

Sexual orientation: Sexual Orientation: It’s Not a Sin by Kathy Vestal [required reading]

” … I am saying that sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is not a sin. What is done with that orientation is indeed a choice and can certainly lead to sin, for both homosexual and heterosexual people. Promiscuity. Adultery. But not mere orientation.”