links: this went thru my mind

 

Accountability, awareness, Christian faith, knowledge, social injustice & violence: We Cannot Say We Did Not Know [essential reading]

“The sage in Proverbs 24:11-12 warns us to rescue those being led away to death: ‘If you say, “We did not know this” – does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?’”

Children, parenting & sex: 7 Suggestions for Talking to Children about Sex

“I recognized that helping my children live pure and healthy sexual lives would be a challenge in a culture that is often defined by sex. I wanted to be the primary influencer in their development as adults, because I knew no one had a stronger desire for them to make wise choices than me.”

Church membership: The 7 Commandments for Choosing a Church

“If you don’t like the church where you are, the problem is probably you (or at least partially you… but probably mostly you).”

Forgiveness, intercession, love & ministry: The Chaplain from Missouri Who Tried to Save the Black Souls of the Nazis at Nuremberg

“… he would ultimately minister 13 of 21 of Hitler’s most malevolent Nazi leaders on trial in Nuremberg after World War Two for their heinous war crimes.”

Guests, visitors & welcome: 7 Ways to Connect with Guests Beyond the First Greeting

“Your God is awesome. Your church is wonderful. Yet guests who visit your church don’t often return. No true connection was made. A parking lot greeter in our church expressed that concern: ‘We’ve got to figure out how to actually connect every guest with another person. Our flippant hellos or glad-you-cames just aren’t adequate.’ Why not challenge every member of your church to use these seven tips to connect with guests.”

Youth ministry: Tribal Youth Ministry (Part 1): The Necessity of Age Desegregation in Our Churches [essential reading]

“This article is by Duncan Campbell and is the first of three outlining his approach to transitioning youth ministry toward a more intergenerational approach. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest questions facing churches today as we are beginning to see the connections between our traditional approaches to youth ministry and the disconnect from parents and other adults being a part of the faith development of our children, and the mass exodus from church by young adults.”

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

 

Children, parenting & smartphones: Mother Gives Son an iPhone for Christmas Along With 18-point Contract

“I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.”

Church & generations: The Church’s Generational Log Jam is Making Everybody Cranky by Keith Anderson [required reading]

“Church programming ministry tends to follow the traditional old three generation model. Our programs needs to be more tribal, offering learning, fellowship, and service opportunities to small, specific groups. We also need to bring these tribes together in inter-generational activities to build understanding and community.”

Guns & Texas: TX Representative Proposes Concealed Handgun License Changes

“Right now, to get a Texas concealed handgun license you must go through a ten hour class, that teaches things like gun safety and Texas law. To renew that license, you must go through a four hour class. State Representative Dan Flynn wants to change those requirements completely. House Bill 47 would cut the ten hour CHL class requirement down to four hours. If you want to renew your CHL, under House Bill 48 you would no longer need a four hour refresher course, you could just renew online.”

Homelessness: Hardest of the Hard! by Larry James

“‘Yeah, I know you’re tough … but on the outside only,’ I went on. ‘I bet you’re not hard on the inside where it really counts.’”

Negativity: The Trap of Negativity by Joseph Lalonde

“No one enjoys being around a negative person.”

Non-violence and self-defense: Non-Violence and Self-Defense by Nick Gill

“…  do you believe that Christians have the right of self-defense? The classic question is whether you have the right to defend your family from someone who breaks into your home?”

Self-denial & service: Becoming the Exploited Ones? by Christopher Smith

“I was struck by the painful and ugly truth of the theology of Berry’s point here, that it is us, as churches, that are called to bear the labor and the suffering of our places — not in some individualistic/heroic act of martyrdom, but as a vocation that we discern and enter into together. I have no delusions that we as white Westerners will be able to give up our privilege, but  we must move in this direction as “deny ourselves” and follow Christ. We cannot and should not be afraid of good hard work, of the risks we take upon our bodies and our souls, even upon our aspirations to success.  We must not be afraid to take on the work that no one else wants to do.”

this went thru my mind

 

Age & generations: Your Twenties Matter

“What if we – especially the church – recognized the value and importance of young adults in their twenties and put together a process to help them maximize the opportunities you  have in your twenties (and never have again in your life)?”

Archaeology: Have the Tombs of the Kings of Judah Been Found?: A Response An Answer to Hershel Shanks’s Question by Fr. Riccardo Lufrani

“In a 1987 issue of BAR, Hershel Shanks presented a summary of Amos Kloner’s 1986 article … ‘Have the Tombs of the Kings of Judah Been Found?’ … I hope to answer his question.”

Church attendance: Five Reasons Why You Need To Attend Church (Hebrews 10:22-25) by Bob Russell

“Why should followers of Christ participate in weekly worship services?”

Church leadership: Polity Model Comparison by Tim Woodroof

“Our traditional model of elder-led churches fails the “sniff test” for effective church leadership not because there is something wrong with elders. I love elders. I appreciate their work and dedication. I believe in their leadership. Their loving, careful, prayerful guidance of churches is necessary. May their tribe increase. What’s flawed is the polity model itself. Any polity model that asserts only elders derive spiritual authority from Christ, draws elders away from the maturing goal that is the raison d’être of church leadership, prevents shared leadership responsibilities among a variety of roles, ignores the need for different gifts and capabilities for effective leadership, and lacks any mechanism for meaningful accountability of leaders is—at the least—a different polity model than is suggested by Ephesians 4:11ff and what is known of the early church.”

Communication: How to Pitch Anything in 15 Seconds

“A message map is the visual display of your idea on one page. It is a powerful and tool that should be a part of your communication arsenal. Building a message map can help you pitch anything (a product, service, company, or idea) in as little as 15 seconds. Here is the three-step process to using a message map to build a winning pitch.”

Culture & faith: Shopping in the Walmart of Belief  by Richard Beck

“What we see around us isn’t a binary choice between faith and unfaith. Rather, we face choices amongst faiths, unbelief being one choice amongst these. What characterizes modernity is the radical range of choices now in front of us, a marketplace of beliefs and ideologies.”

Preachers: Pastors Who Didn’t Make the Cut by Ron Edmonson

“Pastors, just so you are reminded, most (actually all…but for my self-righteous friends I’ll say most) of us wouldn’t qualify for any position in the church if it weren’t for grace!”

this went thru my mind

 

Confession: Coming Clean by Max Lucado

“Trust God’s ability to receive your confession more than your ability to make it.”

Discipleship: The New Monk Warriors by Greg Taylor [required reading]

“We want the fearlessness of warriors and the discipline of monks. As warriors our weapons are not guns and swords but love and prayer.”

Evangelism/outreach: Why Traditional Outreach Doesn’t Connect with Young Leaders by Brian Barela

“Successful outreaches in the future (or present) will focus their resources on influencing and mobilizing small groups of friends with content that they are already interested in and are talking about, instead of using resources to push people towards content that is unfamiliar.”

Politics: Is This the Nastiest Election Ever? by Peter Manseau

“Compared to the elections of 1796 and 1800, this contest has all the inter-religious animosity of a Lutheran versus Methodist slow pitch softball game. In the earliest of the nation’s two-party elections, the match-up of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson gave voters a choice, according to Adams supporters, between ‘God and a religious president, or Jefferson and no God!’”

President Obama: Obama’s Way [required reading]

“Hanging around Barack Obama for six months, in the White House, aboard Air Force One, and on the basketball court, Michael Lewis learns the reality of the Nobel Peace Prize winner …”

Speech/words: Learn to Say What is Appropriate by Jim Martin

“People who wish to speak and act in appropriate ways are willing to learn.”

this went thru my mind

 

Acts 5, Ananias, God, Sapphira & violence: How Do You Explain the Violent Judgment of Ananias and Sapphira? by Greg Boyd

“Knowing that God’s true character looks like Jesus voluntarily dying on the cross for his enemies, we will always know that something else is going on if God appears to act in ways that are contrary to this enemy-loving, non-violent character.”

Bragging, jealousy & rejoicing: Solving Your ‘You Problem’ by Sean Palmer

“I would only feel as if  they were bragging, if I felt something else first: JEALOUS!”

Church & faith: Together by William Willimon [21 min. sermon video clip; required viewing]

“Where the heck did you get the notion we wanted you to be comfortable? … The way of Jesus Christ is just too difficult to attempt it by yourself. …. the only way that you can be saved is by bringing all of us along with you. It’s together.”

Church & generations: A Head, Heart, or Hands Church? by Dan Bouchelle [truly required reading; as in "if you read only one thing this month"]

“I grew up in a church designed for the head. That is not a criticism. It is just a description. We did not trust emotions because they were easily manipulated and clouded thinking. Actions were important and we believed ‘good works’ were essential to faithfulness, but what really mattered was getting your theology straight. … The church of my heritage lost many of the boomer generation who walked away looking for a church with a heart. … Ironically, now that boomers make up the majority of leaders and have the most control in our churches, the emerging adult generation has shifted the criteria for validity again. Young adults today, and the culture in general, are not looking for a powerful experience of God or ballast for a head-heavy church. … What this generation longs for is not more heart but something to do with their hands. … While the young adult generation is not anti-logic or emotionless, they just aren’t impressed with their church options. They may show up for the show and agree with most of the teaching, but they will give their time and money to something that changes lives in tangible ways.”

Church & phones: The Cold, Hard Truth About Phones in Church by Jon Acuff

[I won't spoil it for you here. Go look at it. There's a powerful parable here, not just a smile.]

Leadership & worry: 7 Encouragements for Leaders Who Worry by Ron Edmonson

“Having a strong faith is no guarantee your emotions won’t play tricks on you at times.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church, faith & religion: Cargo Cult Churchianity by Patrick Mead

“A lot of people leave worship each week feeling like they did everything right but it ‘just isn’t working for me.’ They have fallen into the Cargo Cult error and are shoving bits of cracker and juice around, standing and sitting, and even saying/singing the words at the right time… and leave emotionally untouched and unchanged because they are not dancing, walking, singing, talking, and living with God the rest of the week. They replaced relationship with ritual and their ship just isn’t going to come in.”

Courtesy, Facebook & politics: Four Questions to Ask Before Posting Your Views on Facebook or Twitter

“I’m sure you’ve noticed that as we are coming closer and closer to election day, the Facebook and Twitter worlds are increasingly filling up with political viewpoints. Too often, I find myself cringing when I read what my fellow believers write. I don’t think I am alone. Maybe you cringe, too. I do believe it’s good for God’s people to express viewpoints based on their understanding of scriptural truth. But God’s truth needs to be expressed God’s way.”

Culture & generations: The Mindset List 2016

“The mindset list for the [college graduating] class of 2016.”

Faith, Obama & Romney: Obama, Romney Share Their Favorite Bible Verses

“In an interview published by the Washington National Cathedral, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answered new questions about their personal faiths, favorite Scripture passages, and religious diversity in public life.”

Flying: Ten Commandments for Flying by Thom S. Rainer

“I have flown over two million miles, and I have witnessed so many weird, dumb, and rude things while flying. But I have also witnessed many good and noble things. … So with the perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly, I have devised my own ten commandments for flying.”

Food stamps: Planning for Poverty: The Snap Challenge

“‘SNAP’ stands for ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,’ which is the new name for food stamps. Basically, families receive $4 a day per family member to cover food costs, so the SNAP challenge is pretty simple (in theory, at least): Live on the same amount with your family for a week. … there are a few ground rules: (1) You can’t raid your existing food in the fridge or cupboard without counting that toward your weekly total. Condiments and spices are an exception, though use them sparingly to be fair. (2) If you go out to eat, the whole ticket amount counts, including tax and tip. (3) If someone brings you a meal or buys you a meal, you have to count the full cost of it as if you had bought it yourself. …  I encourage you to consider what you would normally spend in a week of food (dining out, fast food and ordering in all included) and to donate the difference for that week to a local shelter or food pantry.”

Freshness & prayer: It’s Never Been Done Before by Terry Rush

“My prayers often include, Father, show me things of truth that no one has seen before; that no one ever thought to think about. Surprise me. Let me see what you wish we would see but no one is asking.”

God’s will: Does God Always Get His Way? by Roger Olson

“Recently I introduced a group of students to my saying that ‘God is in charge but not in control.’ … My conviction is that ‘God is in control’ is a cliché that has taken on a life of its own among Christians and is inevitably conveys the impression that God plans and renders certain everything that happens without exception. That is, God always gets his way in everything. … That is a problem, however, in light of Scripture and history (including contemporary events in persons’ lives). Many Scriptures more than imply that God was not getting his way in certain situation.”

Hospital visitation: 7 Essentials of a Healthy Hospital Visit

“Several years ago my own surgery taught me a few things about how to visit a friend in the hospital. … a call that truly ministers aims to help heal the patient’s soul. Here are seven elements of soul care in a hospital setting.”

Tipping: Why You Shouldn’t Tip Restaurant Servers On Your Credit Card

“When you charge a meal on a credit card, if you want the servers to be assured of their fair share, you should leave the tip in cash, more than one server has told me. … Here’s why.”