links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible reading: 3 Biggest Reasons Bible Reading is Down

“Bible reading is down because people read it in fragments, a-historically, and in isolation.”

Christianity, communication, disagreement, influence, love, relationships & words: Civil Religion Can We Talk? [essential reading]

“… we need to assume goodwill and generosity on the part of others, no matter how wrong we might thing they are. For the sake of having better conversations, and for the pursuit of truth, we have to be able to admit we don’t have it all, After all, if we want to be heard, we have to learn how to listen. So what do you say, Can we talk?”

Culture, history & the United States: I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again

* “In reality, Christianity in America may not have the same political, social, and corporate authority it did in the past, but Jesus never intended to spread the gospel message through political strength or domineering control. The problem with people claiming that America used to be a Christian nation is that, well, it never was.”

Creation, nature & stewardship: Stewardship: Being in and Working with Creation

“We use the world’s resources, but the trick is to use them wisely, and with a careful, conservative sense of balance. That’s the difficulty of stewardship. When we use up resources — the resources God gave us — with abandon and without care, the results aren’t pretty. We can never really grow it back. That’s the thing about nature; we can manage it well, but we can’t create it from scratch. Only God can do that. Stewardship is the balanced middle way — it’s not ‘use it up and move on to the next,’ but it’s also not untouched nature for nature’s sake.”

Discouragement, encouragement, ministry & support: 5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“As a pastor of a local church for over twenty-five years, I had my share of buildups and letdowns. Sometimes I recall the discouraging times more. I know that I was not supposed to get down because of people and circumstances, but it happens. I also know that the people who discouraged me did not always mean to do so. But it happened. The purpose of this post is to let you in on a few things to avoid (unless you want to discourage your pastor). If you are bent on discouraging him or her, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so.”

God, suffering, tests, and trials: God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. I Guarantee It. [essential reading]

“There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike. … ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ is the phrase I’m referring to.”

Parenting: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

“It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.”

Parenting & social media: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Social media: 5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous For Me [required reading]

“I went on an internet fast recently – I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.”

links: this went thru my head

 

Apps, books, reading & technology: Oyster: The Netflix Of Books

“Oyster … is already being called the ‘Netflix for books.’ That’s a lofty moniker, but the app may just live up to the hype – it offers access to over 100,000 books for $9.95 a month!”

Conspiracy theories, culture, fear, paranoia & suspicion: Suspicious? In ‘United States Of Paranoia,’ It’s Not Just You

“… polls show a great deal of Americans — in some cases a majority of Americans — believing in secret cabals.”

Facebook: * How to See What Your Facebook Profile Looks Like to Others; * We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online [required reading]

* “After all, you might not want the entire world to know of your woe-filled past relationships.”

* “The problem is that Facebook is only one site. With every status update, YouTube video, and birthday blog post, Kate’s parents are preventing her from any hope of future anonymity.”

Faith, finances, money & security: Give Us This Day Our Lifetime Supply of Bread? [essential reading]

“I’m only trusting in God if I pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ and then thank Him that I have had bread to eat at the end of that day.”

Gossip: 5 Alternatives to Gossip [required reading]

“One of the chief reasons why it’s hard to resist gossip is that we often can’t see any alternatives.”

Health insurance: Uninsured in Texas and Florida

“Low-income residents of Texas … desperately need health insurance, as shown by the Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates for 2011, which were issued last week. The report found that more than 25 percent of the population in Texas under age 65 (5.7 million people) was uninsured, the highest rate in the nation.”

Leadership & listening: Seven Secrets to Listening When Time is Short

“The need to feel important closes ears and open’s mouths. Listening is both humble and humbling. Talking makes you feel important. Listening to others makes them feel important.”

Suffering: The Value of Suffering

“But does that change all the many times when suffering leaves us with no seeming benefit at all, and only a resentment of those who tell us to look on the bright side and count our blessings and recall that time heals all wounds (when we know it doesn’t)?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Attention, focus, health, noise, stress & thinking: I’m Thinking. Please. Be Quiet.

“… there is no physiological habituation to noise. The stress of audible assault affects us psychologically even when we don’t consciously register noise.”

Health care, health insurance & Obamacare: What You’ll Actually Pay for Obamacare

“Millions of Americans won’t have to pay full price for their Obamacare health insurance next year. But just how much they’ll have to fork over depends on a couple different things.”

Injustice, racism & white privilege: Cracking the Codes: Joy DeGruy, A Trip to the Grocery Store [4 min. video; essential viewing]

“… she used her white privilege to educate and to make right a situation that was wrong. That’s what you can do, every single day.”

Maps: World Maps That Make You Go, “Hmm.”

[The world's major religions ... more than half the world's population live inside this circle ... where Google Street View is available ... global internet usage based on time of day ... map of contiguous United States overlaid on the moon ... worldwide annual coffee consumption per capita ... and more.]

Parenting, safety & social networking: Your Kids Can Be Social, But They Need to Stay Safe [infographic]

“Here are the five rules … * Ask your child to show you the sites they use. * Ask your child to set profile settings to private. * Ask your child about their online friends. * Ask your child to only share photos that wouldn’t mind showing you first. * Ask your child to tell you if they are worried about something online.”

Weddings: Weddings: Too Expensive?

“On March 7, 2013, XO Group Inc. released results of their annual Real Weddings Study … This report surveyed over 17,000 brides to find out how much they spent on their weddings. Here are some highlights …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anxiety, fear & worry: How Fear Makes You Dumb [required reading]

1. How much of my fear is based on ignorance? … 2. How much of my fear is a lack of faith in my ability, versus a lack of faith in the environment? … 3. How much of my fear is rooted in a concern about being uncomfortable?”

Charitable giving & philanthropy: The Charitable-Industrial Complex

“Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine. It’s an old story; we really need a new one.”

Church attendance & spiritual maturity: Attendance Does Not Measure Spirituality

“It is the spirituality of walking, talking, and serving Jesus that is the litmus test. … The rock-bottom issue is the Rock; Jesus. Do we know him?”

Facebook: Step-by-Step Guide to Lock Down Your Facebook Profile

“I’m going to walk you through the big privacy settings on Facebook, step by step. If you haven’t checked in on your Facebook settings in a month or more, make sure you follow each step.”

Gospels: Gospels as the Archway into the Canon

“… analogize the four-fold Gospel as the keystone in the archway into the canon of Holy Scripture … The keystone of an archway fits in such a way that it holds both sides of the structure in place, thereby enabling an entryway. On the one side of the keystone are the Old Testament Scriptures; on the other side are the rest of the New Testament writings. It is the Gospels that uniquely are shaped, formed and placed to hold together these two major sections of the canon. On one side, the Gospels present themselves as the completion and consummation of the whole story of God’s work from creation through the exile of Israel; on the other side, the Gospels, as we have seen above, serve as the foundational source documents for the Epistles which take up the true accounts and teachings of Jesus and apply to pastoral situations.”

Gossip: ‘Gossip is the Devil’s Radio’– Gospel is the Savior’s Radio

“Consider for a moment the opposite of gossip— namely Gospel. Sharing the Gospel is about telling the Good News, telling the truth, not merely a rumor, about someone who now resides in heaven— Jesus. Suppose every time you were tempted to gossip instead you gospeled. Imagine how much more healthy and helpful that could be. If you are so keen about spreading supposed news about an absent person, why not spread some good news about the Person that people actually need and deserve to know the most about?”

Health & vitamins: The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements

“Nutrition experts contend that all we need is what’s typically found in a routine diet. Industry representatives, backed by a fascinating history, argue that foods don’t contain enough, and we need supplements. Fortunately, many excellent studies have now resolved the issue.”

Millenials: Why Millennials are Leaving the Church [essential reading]

“What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.”

Poverty: Hunger Makes People Work Harder, and Other Stupid Things We Used to Believe About Poverty

“As recently as 1820, researchers have calculated that 84 percent of the world’s population lived in ‘extreme poverty’ (on less than the 1985 equivalent of a U.S. dollar a day).”

Weddings: The Gospel According to Our Wedding

“The ceremony shares the gospel … when the doors are flung open and the bride and groom are finally brought together, we see echoes of the long-awaited joining-together of heaven and earth; the consummation. The two who were separate now become one, as they were meant to be. This powerful symbol is yet another extension of the gospel message, delivered through the medium of wedding ceremony. The beautiful thing is, the guests at the wedding all respond to this message of creation, fall, redemption and consummation the same way Jesus says we will in Revelation: with a feast!”

this went thru my mind

 

Church & leadership: The Church is Not a Democracy [required reading]

“… understanding the church as a democracy makes us think of the church as being all about the people (democracy literally means ‘rule of the people’), whereas we must always remember that the church belongs to God and owes him, and him only, absolute obedience.”

Facebook: What are Facebook ‘Shadow Profiles’?

“Facebook was in the news recently after it admitted to a year-long data breach. At first it said the breach affected only 6 million people, so it wasn’t big news. Remember that Facebook has a billion users. However, the breach did reveal something that should worry every Facebook user. I’m talking about shadow profiles.”

Forgiveness: * Why Forgiving Someone is Hard and How to Do It; * Judaism 101: Sin and Forgiveness

* “The problem with forgiving is that the debt is real.”

* “Growing up as an evangelical Christian … I was always taught that Christianity was based upon the foundation of Jewish beliefs, which is why I find this week’s installment of Judaism 101, in which the panelists discuss the Jewish view of forgiveness—which is completely unlike the Christian view—so very interesting.”

Payday loans: Why I Care About Payday Lending [required reading]

“… payday lending is one of those silent killers … It is trapping people in debt where they have little hope of escape.”

Prayer: What If Prayer Lists Were Work Lists? [essential reading]

“… why are we just making prayer lists? When we say ‘pray for Tom who is sick’ or ‘pray for Fred who lost his job’ what are we actually asking God to do? Are we asking God to fix it? Are we asking for God to give us just what we wish would happen? What if we actually paused during ‘prayer request’ time and asked ourselves, ‘What should we be praying for?’”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian living: * The High Calling of Everyday Ordinary Living; * The Spiritual Formation of Things Not Going Our Way

* “Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional,’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matthew 22:36-40).”

* “My Facebook feed is less populated by baby pictures and shots of other people’s food (yay!) and more a place to argue over the issues (sigh).”

Culture & vision: Where Will You Be in 2073?

“Who in 1953 was thinking that in 2013 our world would be as different as it is today? … So what will life in the USA be like in 2073?”

Facebook: What Really Happens When You Like

“The only reason scammers go to such lengths to create this kind of approach is simple. There’s a lot of money to be made. There are several ways to exploit your quick response to liking things.”

God: Tom Wright Skewers the New Marcionism

“Marcion, of course, was a second century bishop who taught that the Old Testament God, a jealous and retributive tribal deity, was incompatible with the God revealed in and through Jesus, who is an entirely benevolent God of love and compassion.”

Parenting: It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad

“Let me be clear about this: PARENTS DON’T BABY-SIT! PARENTS PARENT!”

Perceptions: Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings?

“Do students give low ratings to teachers who instill deep learning?”

Preaching: Does Preaching Have a Future?: Technological and Sociological Trends in Preaching

“As a homiletics professor, I usually spend the last class of each semester peering into my crystal ball and imagining what the future of preaching holds. Not being a prophet, I am only making assumptions so please read the following with a discerning mind. Also, I don’t make these statements to be critical of anyone in particular or any church. I am simply making observations and doing a little forward thinking. So here are 14 statements about current trends and guesses as to the future of preaching.”

toward a Christian community covenant for Facebook

 

I’m currently leading a Bible class on the subject of civility in all aspects of life, our digital/online life included. Having always been impressed with the Comment Community Covenant on the Sojourners website*, I’ve shamelessly robbed the wording of most of it, added a bit to it, and converted it into a rough draft of a covenant for Christian involvement with Facebook.

This covenant has seven points and currently reads as follows:

1. I will make it a point to look for what is truly excellent and admirable on Facebook, focusing my attention on whatever is true, holy, just, pure, lovely, and/or worthy of praise in the eyes of God. I will not contribute anger, filthy language, lust, malice, pride, or, rage to this online community.

2. I will remind myself often that I need not post on Facebook just anything or everything that comes to my mind. When I do post, I will do so with the Golden Rule in mind, mindful that my perspectives, pictures, and words can profoundly affect others. I will do no drama.

3. I will not pay close attention to the number of friends I have on Facebook nor will I continually court the acquisition of new friends on Facebook, as if counting coup. All is vanity.

4. I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Facebook community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them.

5. I will not cause my heart needless trouble by continuing to allow an obnoxious friend’s overbearing Facebook status updates to appear in my news feed. When it is best for my own peace of mind, I will unhesitatingly hide their posts from appearing in my news feed. If necessary, I will make use of block, delete, or unfriend.

6. If after due consideration I feel I simply must express my disagreement with an idea or view of another Facebook member, I will do so without without insulting, mocking, heckling, belittling, or slandering them.

7. I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes when conversing publicly or privately with others via Facebook. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt, assuming the best.

Facebook can be a remarkable tool … for both good and evil. It’s all in how you use it. May it always be with civility.

Tell me, what would you change or add to the preceding seven covenant points?

* You can see an example of the Sojourners’ Comment Community Covenant at the bottom of this page on their site.