links: this went thru my mind

 

Body language: Body Language: An Amazing Infographic

“… your body language tells the world all about you.”

Church, communication, first impressions, guests, signage & welcome: Welcome to “No Church” – 4 Steps To Reversing Your Negative Church Messaging

“Negative messaging narrows your thought activity and focuses on actions related to the message. Positive messages on the other hand, broaden your thinking and create openness. … So the big question is what kind of brain patterns do you want to create for people as they enter your church an prepare to worship the all-powerful and all-present living God and creator of the universe? Let’s play this out for a guest coming to your church. What happens when they hit a cascade of messages like these …”

Creation, rest & sabbath: Sabbath and Wendell Berry

“By Sara Barton, chaplain at Pepperdine University and author A Woman Called.”

Faith, religion & spirituality: Bad Religion’s Alternative: No Religion or Good Religion?

“… a growing number of Americans are starving for an alternative to negative, closed-minded, judgmental, partisan, antiwomen, antiscience religion. Instead, they are searching for a positive, grace-filled, open-minded, gender-equal faith option.” Where are they finding this? Can they find this?”

Simplicity: 10 Images to Help Inspire Simplicity in Your Life

“If you are not content today, there is nothing you can buy this weekend to change that.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible, credibility & historical reliability: Is the Bible Reliable?

“Today some critics complain that we are biased if we heed works such as the gospels. Yet few critics would so readily dismiss the information in ancient biographies about other persons. One must wonder, then, in which direction is the bias really working?”

Greeting, guests, visitors & welcome: Smiling is Not Enough: The Top Ten Mistakes Your Volunteers Make Welcoming Guests at Church

“Here are the top ten mistakes I see when volunteers are helping me as a first time guest.”

Minimum wage & poverty: Highest Minimum-Wage State Washington Beats U.S. in Job Creation

“When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out. In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued … above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.”

Persecution: When Persecution Is Persecution

“We really know nothing of real persecution. … Our right to assemble is guaranteed, our freedom to worship together is protected, and we live in the most Christianized nations on earth. And while we may be surrounded by people who are hostile to the Christian faith, we know nothing of the fearful plight of the persecuted church. … It’s hard for me to use the word “persecution” to describe the social pressure or personal rejection I may occasionally experience here when Christians are being tortured and murdered for their faith around the world. And if I’m fearful of rejection or insults, criticism or prejudice here, then I thank God I don’t live in countries where I might be tortured or killed for my faith for I would too quickly deny my Lord. The persecuted church knows something about faith. They know something about hope. They know something about endurance.”

Syria: Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Put Syria in Free Fall

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. … Analysts say that 42 percent of all Syrians .. have fled their homes. … The Syrian refugee crisis, meanwhile, has not peaked. Unicef says 5.5 million children need aid, a number that has more than doubled in a year. Child refugees quintupled to 1.2 million, 425,000 of them younger than 5 …”

War: The Unlikely Road to War

“Yes, the Great War, the end of empires and the old order, was triggered by a teenager. … The unthinkable is thinkable. Indeed, it must be thought. Otherwise it may occur — soldiers reduced … to ‘fodder locked in the same murderous morass, sharing the same attrition of bullet and barrage, disease and deprivation, torment and terror.’”

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.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Boys, children, introverts, masculinity, parenting, sexuality & socialization: * We’ve Preached Modesty to the Girls. Now, Let’s Talk to the Boys [required reading]; * In the Whirled: Socializing our Kids to Death

* “I think it’s high time — perhaps past time — that we talk to the boys. …  there are three myths of masculinity that permeate our society. I’ve been conditioned by them, and I’ve mistakenly conditioned you by some of them too.”

* “We live in a day and age when working with others has never been more valued. We send kids to school at younger and younger ages so they can properly socialize. We encourage involvement in activities, lots of activities, for the same reason. … And yet, for roughly one-third of the population, solitude is just what they need.”

Betting, casinos, gambling, lotteries & wagers: 9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

“This week the Council on Casinos, a group dedicated to fighting the spread of gambling in America, released a report on “Why Casinos Matter.” Here are nine things from the report on casinos and gambling that you should know.”

Church problems, leadership, ministry, power groups & relationships: Eight Types of Power Groups in Churches [required reading]

“The very thought of the presence of power groups seems contrary to the spirit and grace of the gospel. But power groups are very real in churches. … While a church may have more than one kind of group, only one of the groups will be the dominant power in the church.”

Churches, guests, greeting, hospitality & visitors: Welcome Visitors Tentatively Entering Your Church Doors

“Walking into a room where you know no one is not easy for many of us. … My hope is that the person, no matter the reason for coming, would find a gracious Christian community that is hospitable and lives and tells the story of God’s grace in Jesus Christ so people can experience the transformative story of the Gospel. Will you look for the unfamiliar person who is longing to be connected to our God?”

Funeral etiquette & manners: 10 Things You Should and Should Not Do at a Funeral

“…  some things should be non-negotiable when attending a funeral service …”

this went thru my mind

 

Cancer: I Hate Cancer

“… cancer isn’t a person. I don’t get any picture from scripture that there’s anything wrong with hating an evil thing. When I think about cancer, I can’t help but hate it. No apologies. I hate it.”

Church visitors & guests, civility & hospitality: Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members by Thom Rainer

“I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different churches. I have had a church consulting firm that did “guest” visits as part of our services. Sadly, many times I do not feel welcome as a guest when I visit churches. The Bible is replete with admonitions of hospitality and servanthood. I just wish our church members understood that the servant-like spirit should also be manifest when we gather to worship. Guests are often uncomfortable, if not intimated, when they visit a church. We are to be gracious and sacrificial servants to them. In response to this need for more guest-friendly church members, I have devised the ten greatest needs, at least from my perspective. I will reticently call them “commandments” and throw in a little King James English for effect.”

Family & marriage: * Ideal or Idol: Avoiding the Family Cult at Church by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]; * Marriage and Women in the Pagan World of Bible Times; * What About Gay Marriage? by Patrick Mead

* “… the Bible just doesn’t say that much about family–at least not the issues people seem to want most. This is especially true with regard to the family counseling questions most people ask today.”

* “The next time Christianity is charged as a repressive, unenlightened, and backward religion, the critic should reconsider how repressive, unenlightened, and backward the world would be today, without the Christian defense of marriage.”

* “Want to have fun? Go through the Bible and try to construct what a marriage ceremony should look like and at what point a person is married. There is no single system or ritual. Marriage was a private, family agreement that varied from tribe to tribe. No license, no tax benefits or punishments … just a private covenant made between two people with the agreement of their community. Today, marriage has over 1,300 ramifications when it comes to taxes, insurance, and a host of laws, rights, and open or closed doors.”

Just for fun: The Dragonfly: Nature’s Drone, Pretty and Deadly

“When setting off to feed on other flying insects, dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the fresh meat on the spur without bothering to alight.”

Ministry with the poor: Dallas Ministry Guru Larry James ‘a Rare, Talented Guy’

“The 63-year-old former Church of Christ preacher never imagined that he’d be an office-tower landlord, homebuilder, real estate developer, medical provider, caterer, food distributor and job trainer, much less the chief executive of a corporation with $15 million in revenue. But that’s what he’s become as president and CEO of CitySquare.”

Missions: * 6 Potential Problems With Supporting Native Preachers by Tim Archer; * 5 Ways To Improve Our Support Of Native Preachers

* “There are several growing trends in missions today. One is the … rejection of using American missionaries in favor of supporting local Christians. … Done correctly, this can be a highly effective use of limited church funds. Problem is, it’s much easier to do it wrong than it is to do it right. Here are some of the dangers that I think churches need to be aware of …”

* “Each situation needs to be analyzed on its own merit.”

Privacy & search engines: 7 Great Search Sites That Aren’t Google

“For a quick answer, Blekko is usually easier to use than Google. Instead of returning advertisers and other junk results first, it usually sends you links that actually answer your question. Blekko is more private than Google in normal mode. However, I recommend you use its “SuperPrivacy” mode for maximum privacy. This blocks ads and takes you to secure, encrypted sites by default. … Your number one concern when searching Google might be that it can return inappropriate content for innocent search terms. Yippy detects adult content and blocks it automatically.”

Social networking: 12 Simple Steps to Safer Social Networking

“For this article, I rounded up the three most important privacy settings you should be using, but probably aren’t, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. Five minutes of setup now could avert hours of social embarrassment and identity recovery down the road.”

The Bible mini-series: Getting Jesus Right: 2 Quick Comments on Week 4 of “The Bible” on the History Channel

* “It wasn’t written for the biblically knowledgable but for those whose biblical literacy minimal … One thing the last episode did very well was to get across something of theo-political tensions of 1st century Palestine.”

this went thru my mind

 

Daily risks, health, life expectancy & situational awareness: That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer by Jared Diamond

“The other morning, I escaped unscathed from a dangerous situation. No, an armed robber didn’t break into my house, nor did I find myself face to face with a mountain lion during my bird walk. What I survived was my daily shower. … This calculation illustrates the biggest single lesson that I’ve learned from 50 years of field work on the island of New Guinea: the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently.”

False teaching & heresy: 7 Steps to Becoming a Heretic by Mike Leake

“Heretics usually start by staring in the mirror and saying, ‘Today, thou shalt be a difference maker.’”

God & suffering: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? [93 min. video link]

“… a Veritas Forum discussion held at MIT in 2011. This presentation features four MIT professors, two Christian and two non-Christian. The forum begins with a ten minute presentation by each person presenting their world view or their story.  The last half of the video is a question answer panel session.”

God & politics: Divine Rhetoric: God In The Inaugural Address by Scott Neuman

“President Obama mentioned him five times in Monday’s inaugural address — God, that is. In modern times, religion has become so intertwined in our political rhetoric that the failure of any president to invoke God in a speech as important as the inaugural could hardly escape notice. … But the inaugural references to a Supreme Being have evolved over time.”

Guests, greeting & welcoming: Making Visitors Feel Welcome (Part 1): The Greeters by Sarah Bowler

“How can we make the people in our church feel welcomed?”

Immigration & injustice: The Truth About Immigrant Detention Facilities by Matthew Soerens

“Last week, I read the following passage in Amos, speaking of God’s judgment on the people (and, in particular, the rulers) of Israel: ‘They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed (Amos 2:6-7). … Because their profits increase the more people that they detain, companies like GEO have a strong incentive to encourage the federal government to detain more people.”

Short-term missions: Musings on Missions and Evangelism: Are Short-Term Missions For Us or Them?

” …  I have begun to change my feelings about who STMs are about.”

Work: God at Work: The Priesthood of Burger-Flippers by Jonathan Storment

“On average, most of us will work 100,000 hours in our lives, the majority of our lives will be spent doing our job. And if the only thing you ever hear from church is about how you should work/serve/volunteer more inside the building, there’s a chance that you might miss out on how important God thinks your job is.”

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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.”