links: this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s, communication, compassion, respect & sensitivity: 5 Things to Never Say to a Person With Alzheimer’s

“When relating to a person with Alzheimer’s, there are many guidelines to follow. I’m going to discuss five of the most basic ones here: (1) Don’t tell them they are wrong about something, (2) Don’t argue with them, (3) Don’t ask if they remember something, (4) Don’t remind them that their spouse, parent or other loved one is dead, and (5) Don’t bring up topics that may upset them.”

Attitude, admiration, behavior, character & emulation: Five People I Admire [required reading]

“1. I admire people who are respectful and gracious in their speech. … 2. I admire people who are quick to say ‘I’m sorry.’ … 3. I admire people who build up instead of destroy. … 4. I admire people who don’t have to be the center of attention. … 5. I admire people who spread joy instead of cynicism.”

Awkwardness, friendship, generations & vulnerability: The Silver Lining of Awkwardness [required reading]

“An opportunity is buried inside each of your awkward moments. … Awkwardness is an invitation to vulnerability. And vulnerability is where friendship is born.”

Hispanics & politics: Finding a Place: Hispanic Faith, Work and Identity

“It’s the middle of another election year. And while midterms historically draw a smaller crowd of voters, they bring to the forefront of political conversation a variety of issues intended to energize voter bases and solidify party candidates. Predictably, one of those issues is once again immigration.”

Maps: 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

“Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.”

Marriage & relationships: Eight Things Healthy Couples Don’t Do

“It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media. Here are eight things healthy couples don’t do …”

Reflection, silence & spiritual growth: Screwtape and Silence

“Why we need times of quiet reflection — and why the devil hates them.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Application & moralizing: Moralizing Scripture…the Rush to Application and Misappropriating the Text

“…  let us be careful when we moralize scripture and rush to application that we don’t, in the process, undermine the text and the power of God to do greater things than make us nicer people.”

Capital punishment & death penalty5 Death Penalty Myths Debunked

“In advance of the release of our 2014 Global Death Penalty Report tomorrow, here are 5 of the most common misconceptions about the death penalty.”

Children, church & parenting: Let the Children Come to Me…Unless They’re Too Loud, Distracting, or Difficult

“The church in America has raised a whole generation that has never really been spiritually formed by the larger church gathering.”

Cinema, film, movies & Noah: * To See or Not to See the Movie Noah? [required reading]; * What’s Really Behind Christians’ Rejection of Noah?

* “Art often needs to speak honestly about evil, and I hope we don’t sanitize the Bible to the point where we forget just how well it does that. I get the pushback about Noah going off script, and being concerned about disinformation. But I think our real problem is that, unlike Christians of earlier centuries, we no longer understand what art does or how it works.”

* “This week Christians will have the chance to see Noah. And in an ironic twist, Paramount Pictures and the director find themselves defending their film against strong criticism from Christians, the audience they assumed would be the first in line to see this biblically epic story. In what has become a reversal of roles, Hollywood has heard the cry of Christians for bible based films (and the allure of their money, no doubt) and produced an epic picture and now Christians are the ones rejecting it. And in this case, it’s Christians who may not be completely honest about their reasons for rejecting it as we’ve formerly accused Hollywood of being in rejecting bible based films in the past. And the only public leg we have to stand on is the presence of biblical errors in the movie.”

Friendship, Jesus & sinners: Setting the Record Straight on Jesus, ‘the Friend of Sinners’ [essential reading]

“… does it matter that we correctly understand Jesus’ social habits? It does actually. Because Christians believe they must “live as Jesus did.” If the faithful only build relational bridges with those who are open to converting, they will find it increasingly difficult to exist in a pluralistic, post-Christian culture.”

Ministry: * Dear Churchgoers …; * The Friendless Pastor

* “Now I understand you might think I should know all the things that are happening with you. I really do want to. Most of my fellow pastors would agree. We love to know the things that are going on in your life. We want to hear all about it. But there’s a good chance that we won’t know if you never tell us.”

* “It’s ironic that pastors, who talk the most about the need for community, experience it the least. … We have too many relationships and too few friends.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (6)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have stood out to me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the latest batch of gleanings.

Many have sinned because of money, and whoever seeks to get more will turn a blind eye. A stake is driven between cracks in stones, and sin will be wedged between selling and buying. (Sirach 27.1)

Limit the time you spend with unintelligent people, but linger with the thoughtful. (Sirach 27.12)

A fire burns in proportion to its fuel, and conflict increases the longer it continues. The more powerful individuals are, the stronger their anger will be; and the wealthier they are, the more their wrath will increase. (Sirach 28.10)

… be patient with those in humble circumstances, and don’t make them wait for assistance. Help the needy for the commandment’s sake,     and in proportion to their need don’t turn them away empty-handed. (Sirach 29.8-9)

A parent who spoils children now will end up tending to their wounds, and will experience heartache at every outcry. A horse that is unbroken turns out stubborn, and a child, when given free rein, turns out reckless. (Sirach 30.7-8)

golden nuggets from Sirach (2)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the next installment. Read and consider.

Let those who are at peace with you be many, but let only one in a thousand be your advisor. (Sirach 6.6)

“Don’t seek political power from the Lord or a seat of honor from the king.” (Sirach 7.4)

“Don’t be timid in your prayer, and don’t neglect caring for those in need.” (Sirach 7.10)

“Don’t make fun of the uneducated, or your ancestors might be insulted.” (Sirach 8.4)

“Turn your eye away from a shapely woman, and don’t stare at beauty belonging to someone else.” (Sirach 9.8a)

7 things you can do to bless the poor in your community

 

Don’t lump everyone into one pile. That is, don’t allow your mind to become darkened toward those in need. Yes, some people are merely scam artists (who may actually be poor, too), but a great many are genuinely in need. Consequently, when you deal with someone who claims to be in need, don’t act like you have all the pieces to the puzzle or even the picture on the puzzle box to work with, for you don’t. You simply don’t know all that is regarding the person with whom you’re dealing. Truly, even what you think you do know about them can be only partially true, for appearances can be deceiving. So why not default toward the merciful, not the judgmental. Bless the needy by refusing to judge.

Don’t make degrading remarks about those in poverty or laugh at the jokes made by others regarding them. Go further: grow to consider the “subtle” slights or insinuations as the most vile of things. After all, how would you want people to see you if you were in their shoes? Try this: when you encounter the poor, consider that you’re meeting Jesus. Our Lord had nowhere to lay his head and had no change of clothes. Truly, the way you treat the poor says everything about the way you respect the God of rich and poor alike. Give the poor you encounter your respect, whether they’re present at the moment or not.

Don’t believe everything you hear and question what you think you know. When it comes to the world of misinformation, misunderstanding of poverty and the poor surely comes near the top of the list. Mistaken impressions, false assumptions, and outright lies abound. And such commonly pops up not merely in everyday conversation, but in “official” sources such as the news media, politicians, etc., too. Help change a bit of that by wielding some healthy skepticism not toward the poor, but toward what you commonly hear or read about them. Few are more poorly understood than the poor so deliberately go the second (and third and fourth) mile in seeking improved understanding, not settling for superficial thought or merely swallowing whatever you hear said about them by others. Bless those who have not by thinking critically of them, but by using your critical thinking for them.

Empower them completely with whatever you give them. Picture this. You’re stopped at the traffic light and someone on the median beside you is holding a sign that reads: “Hungry. God bless you.” What do you do? Curse the light that you didn’t get through? Avoid eye contact and pretend to be oblivious to them due to your looking for, or at, something? Root out a a couple of one dollar bills and silently hand them to the person, all the while thinking, “They’ll probably just go blow it on beer or a lottery ticket?” How about considering another option instead? Carry some gift cards to fast food joints in the area with you at all times. The next time you’re at the light, hand the person one of those cards, tell them, “I know this isn’t much, but it’s supper. May God bless you!” And mean it. Then, as you drive away, pray for that person (see # 6 below). They can’t blow the gift card on a beer or lottery ticket and they just might be amazed that someone actually respected them enough to acknowledge their existence and speak to them. Such is all too rare. Bless the poor by maximizing what you do give them.

Understand, and respect the fact, that the values of the have nots are not the values of those who have. If you were underemployed and/or underpaid for your employment, what would be your sense of priorities? Keeping the job you have would be supreme, no? And jobs that don’t pay a wage on which a person can live without assistance from others typically demand far more than jobs which many others hold (i.e. – more drive time, longer and odder hours, etc.). So transportation becomes even more important a value to one so employed, right? After all, if you’re poor, you don’t have a second car to fall back on and your friends may not have transportation at all and so, look to you for such for themselves. If you can’t get to work, you can’t keep that all-important job. Being in the situation you are, you can’t scrap up the money for a decent place to live and your life is work, so there’s no real time or money for leisure activities. So, if you were in that situation, what you put your money into that was beyond what was needed to eat and survive? Reliable transportation, of course! Now remember that the next time you see someone who says they’re need driving a newer model car than your own. Odds are, that car has twice the mileage your car has on it, too, even though it appears to be in good shape. Bless the oppressed by refusing to measure them by your own set of priorities.

Petition God on their behalf. Some of them have never known God. Pray for them. Some of them who have known him have stopped praying to him because their situation has caused them to lose faith that he hears them. Pray for them. Some have gotten themselves into dark ways because their having little (if anything) surrounds them with temptations that have no real attraction to the rest of us (cf. Prov. 30.7-9). Pray for them. Bless the burdened with your intercession with God for them.

Get to know them. Do whatever it takes to deliberately place yourself in a position where you will no longer be insulated from interacting with them. Bless the poor by befriending, not distancing yourself from, them. By doing so, you just might be befriending an angel, unaware.

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

 

Age of the earth: * The Questions Update: The Age of the Earth by Deborah Haarsma; * How Do We Know the Earth is Old?

* “Thus, the solar system, including the Earth, is about 4,560,000,000 years old.”

Friendship & ministry: Ministry Inside.84 by Jim Martin

“In some churches, a kind of uneasiness exists between ministers and elders. Or, sometimes the uneasiness exists among the ministry staff or within the elder group. In far too many instances, the relationship between these leaders has been reduced to an awkward superficial coexistence. I am not talking about situations where there is open conflict and quarreling. Rather, I am thinking about congregations where the relational investment by leaders into one another’s lives seems to be at a minimum.”

Healthcare: Christians and Healthcare by K. Rex Butts

“… I would like to make a few suggestions about the way Christians engage in the ongoing conversation, should we choose to do so.”

Justice: Speaking Up When It’s Too Late by Timothy Archer

“What would it take to get us to say ‘No’ to wrongs committed against those without power in our society? Or will we do content ourselves to let future generations lament our mistakes?”

Leadership: Four Secrets to Connecting with Old Leaders by Dan Rockwell

“Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all.”

Learning: 4 Reasons They Don’t Want to Learn … and 5 Suggestions by Ron Edmonson

“You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.”

Ministry: * 67 Year Old Parish Priest Gives Advice Gained From More Than 40 Years Of Pastoral Ministry; * My Interview With a 92 Year Old Pastor by Ron Edmonson, parts 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Ministry & shepherding: Calm Your Storm by Tim Spivey

“The two most important things any pastor can give their church is to stay close to the Lord Jesus and to seek personal emotional health.”

Note-taking: How to Take Notes [infographic]

Same-sex couples: God Bless You vs. God Blessed You – Blessing Same-Sex Couples by Chris Altrock

“While a committed and monogamous relationship is a good step in the right direction (away from sexual relationships with multiple partners). What the church should unleash unreservedly might be called the ‘God Blessed You’ blessing.”

Spiritual abuse: Spiritual Abuse by Roger Olson

“… spiritual abuse is the control of people by manipulation of their religious needs or sensitivities by means of shame.”

Time: Jesus’ Invitation to the Discipline of “Wasting Time?” by John Huckins

“You have to listen. Drop your agendas and allow the stories of the inhabitants of the neighborhood to inform how you engage and participate. Simply be present.”