links: this went thru my mind

 

Busyness & the speed of life: What Slowing Down Teaches You That Rushing Never Will

“The mother of a child with Down syndrome joins her daughter’s rebellion against hurried living.”

Christianity, culture & society: A Shocking Conclusion About American Christianity [required reading]

“The only way someone can think most of what goes on in American churches is authentically Christian is not to read the Bible, the church fathers, the reformers, and the great thinkers and evangelists of all denominations. … I am afraid that it is becoming increasingly harder to find the gospel in America. It is either wrapped so tightly in the flag as to be virtually invisible or relegated to a footnote to messages about ‘success in living,’ being nice and including everyone. … How like New Testament and historic Christianity is ours? What have we lost?”

Community & complaining: The Monday Rule [essential reading]

“…  the Monday rule … might be stated this way: ‘If you have concerns or the feel the need to complain, do it Monday (or another day of your choice). Please don’t do it Sunday–or when the church is gathered for worship.’ … One of the greatest services leadership can provide the church is the effective handling of the church’s concerns, which includes the timing of such dealings—not just making sure they are heard. Implementing the Monday rule will do more for your church’s weekend assemblies than nearly anything. … A couple of assumptions can be made reasonably about people who complain chronically on Sundays. First, they lack a sense of the impact of their comments on others—especially staff or those whose spiritual frame of heart impacts others that day. Two, they lack spiritual focus during times that are unique in the practice of the church—and their complaining will spread this across the Body if not checked. Three, they likely do this because of proximity. They want to get it dealt with right then—because it could consume their time and energy to do it another time. So, they’d prefer to use yours on their terms rather than deal with the problem another way.”

Compassion, difficult people, ministry & relationships: People are Such Absolute Jerks (and So Can You)

“I’m convinced that we’ve got to put the oxygen masks on ourselves before we help others.”

Gospel, heaven & salvation: The Gospel Isn’t About Heaven [essential reading]

“The gospel is as much about earth as it is heaven. As much about before death as it is after death. It is the message that Jesus, the one true King, is expanding his reign onto earth. This, after all, is what Jesus called gospel: ‘Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” (Mark 1:14-15)

Gratitude, humility, mindfulness & the ordinary: Cherish the Ordinary

“We become bugged by ten things in our day that didn’t pan out as we had wished without noticing we were able, still, to swallow our food, drive our cars, read the paper, hear the radio, and go to the bathroom. … Decide to cherish the ordinary.  Men, women, and children are suffering from a terrible (yet acceptable and unnoticed by the masses) disease called ingratitude for the simplest of gigantic blessings.  Stop complaining, whining, and/or sighing. Treasure right now.”

Honesty, nationalism & the pledge of Allegiance: Why Christians Might Want To Abstain From Reciting “The Pledge Of Allegiance”

“… I think we’re having the wrong discussion on this issue entirely. Instead of a constant cultural debate over the wording of the pledge, I think a better question is: ‘Should a Christian recite the pledge of allegiance at all?'”

Preaching, relevance & teaching: Why So Many Churches Hear So Little of the Bible

“‘It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.’ That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God. …  the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible.”

the church Jesus goes to

 

I know where Jesus goes to church. Without a doubt. He goes to the church that lives deliberately, boldly, and consistently …

pursuing peace and reconciliation. Though it lives in a world saturated with anger, disrespect, snarkiness, and insult, with a will it refuses to go there. It’s done with living by rage, choosing righteousness instead. It’s not defined by its own insecurities and its ability to utter barbed wit in retort to those who mock it, but by its humble confidence in its Christ and its dependence on the provision of God’s Spirit in every situation, no matter how dark or difficult. Imagine: a church made distinctive to all by not being abrasive and hard to live with.

unruled by its wants. Though surrounded on every side by people chasing after every kind of lust and sanctifying all sorts of unfaithfulness in every relationship, it isn’t seduced to do the same. It doesn’t seek its own will, but whatever God’s will is for it. Instead of searching for meaning in whatever it perceives as sexy (not just sex itself, by whatever is “sexy”), it finds its meaning in its Lord and Savior, for he is enough, and more. Picture this: a church known to the world for its contentment and reliability.

by its words of honesty. Though the culture in which is resides is given over to dishonesty and deception, it quietly walks its talk. It practices what it preaches, not merely what’s “practical” in the moment. Its ways aren’t determined by always choosing what works out for its own best interest, but by going after the truth that true love can truly rejoice in always. Capture this vision: a church perceived as genuine and true by all who care to truly engage it.

extending mercy generously. Though its world is largely driven by retaliation and payback, fueled by fear and the never ending yearning for hard justice, it walks by faith on higher ground. It thrives on the Spirit of compassion, not the spirit of competition. Its life map is not of doing whatever would instill fear in others of it, but to do whatever would help install faith in others in the God it follows. Draw it in your head like this: a church characterized by selfless giving and costly care.

loving the unlovable. Though seemingly all of society continually calls it to elicit indifference, ill will, hate, or anything and everything else that dehumanizes, it chooses to love with the love of the divine instead. By so doing, it traffics in forgiveness, not fierceness or fighting. This is because it seeks its definition not in its enemies, but in him who allowed his enemies to spike him to a tree. Place this before your eyes: a church that will mount the cross with its Lord, and die with him. Daily.

After all, what else could a person honestly conclude after reading what Jesus candidly said in Matthew 5.21-26,27-32,33-37,38-42,43-48?

And so, I have to ask: what might a church become if it understood and made these matters its chief means of worshiping and following Jesus Christ? In a week? A month? A few years? Over the course of a lifetime? Or after several generations?

Would it not become more and more like the One it worshiped? And wouldn’t that be what both the Lord, and they, wanted most of all?

Let’s find out. Let’s go to church with Jesus!

this went thru my mind

 

Facebook: Wash Your Facebook Page

“Facebook gives you an unfiltered platform to say whatever you want. That sort of freedom opens you up to posting things you might want to forget later. That’s not even mentioning the bizarre things your friends might post. Wiping those from your Facebook page takes plenty of time and effort. Facewash can do the work for you, though. It combs your Facebook page for questionable posts and status updates and then deletes them with one click.”

Honesty, integrity & justice: Ivan Fernandez Anaya, Spanish Runner, Intentionally Loses Race So Opponent Can Win

“I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”

Small groups: Are Churches Overcomplicating Small Groups?

“… you have too much stuff going on at one time. … the longer you have been a church, the harder it is to take it back to square one.”

Vision: Presidential Inauguration Prayer Service

[Listen to Adam Hamilton's sermon. It starts at 53:45 and runs thru 70:10.]

golden nuggets from Sirach (4)

 

Every few days I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) once more. Enjoy.

One is better than a thousand, and it’s better to die childless than to have ungodly children. (Sirach 16.3b)

A person’s acts of charity are like a seal with him [God], and he will treasure a person’s generosity like the apple of his eye. (Sirach 17.22)

… whoever neglects the little things will fail little by little. (Sirach 19.1)

Have you heard some word? Let it perish along with you. Have courage! It won’t make you burst. (Sirach 19.10)

“A thief is preferable to someone who continuously lies, but both will inherit destruction.” (Sirach 20.25)

this went thru my mind

 

Atheism & morality: Good Minus God

“I gather that many people believe that atheism implies nihilism — that rejecting God means rejecting morality. A person who denies God, they reason, must be, if not actively evil, at least indifferent to considerations of right and wrong. After all, doesn’t the dictionary list ‘wicked’ as a synonym for ‘godless?’ And isn’t it true, as Dostoevsky said, that ‘if God is dead, everything is permitted’? Well, actually — no, it’s not. (And for the record, Dostoevsky never said it was.) Atheism does not entail that anything goes.”

Benevolence: The Gleaners: Giving More Than Food to the Working Poor

“‘We’re a hand-up, not a handout,’ … ‘It’s 90 percent about the people and only 10 percent about the food.'”

Birth of Jesus: When a Poor Baby in a Manger Overthrows an Empire: The First Christmas

“May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ‘empires.'”

Christianity & militarism: The Christian Industrial Complex

“I went into a Christian bookstore the other day and was surprised to see some of the most prominent display space given over to military flags for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. These flags, and a vast assortment of Americana merchandise, were on sale for the holidays.

“A part of me ached because I know how difficult it must be to run a little Christian bookstore these days. But I winced as I heard the manager fatalistically confess that he resorted to selling military merchandise to ‘make it.’ It is a sad day when we sell our military banners next to Jesus’ enemy-loving cross to make it in a financial recession. (Before long we’ll be pushing posters of scantily-clad women accompanied by a verse from Song of Solomon).”

Bible interpretation & creation: If God had explained the origin of the universe to Moses in technical language it may have looked like this

“… God’s inspiration is not divorced from the language and concepts of the humans authors.”

Culture: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville

It’s a Wonderful Life is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief. Jesus Christ said that his followers were to be like “salt”; that is, a people whose presence is felt for the good that they do. As a man or woman’s evil nature is gentled and restrained by the grace of God, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society.”

Generations: Connecting 20 Somethings to Older Generations by Matt Dabbs

“20s and 30s have a deep need for relationships. Once you start a ministry to this group one of the things that happens is they tend to become isolated from the rest of the congregation because they develop such close bonds with each other. That is not all bad and is really to be expected. However, I think it is important to be intentional about getting them to form relationships with older Christians as well.”

Civility, gossip & politics: A Serial Husband: New(t)s or Gossip?

“President Obama may be more of a plodder than a doer when it comes to his leadership style, but you have to hand it to him, Obama is no gossip-monger.”

Handicaps & deformities: Augustine on the Monsters Among Us

“No matter how different in appearance, a being that descends from humans is human. And no matter how great the deformity, in their uniqueness and peculiarity, that person contributes to ‘the beauty of the whole.'”

Parenting & faith: Honesty in the Journey (or On the Raising of Young Heretics)

“We construct many reasons for maintaining a posture of dishonesty. For many, the failure to utter before God where we really are and what we are real think reflects a lifetime of corrupt spiritual teaching: God went through a lot of effort to save you, so the least you can do us have your act together so as not to disappoint him.”

Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas): * In Search of the Historical Santa * Real St. Nicholas: Persecuted, Jailed Christian

“Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra in Lycia (Turkey). From an early age he devoted himself to the Christian faith. As a Bishop he was famous for his work amongst the poor and needy. There are stories of him raiding the church’s kitty so that he could leave coins in the shoes of those who were struggling. His acts of generosity were legendary. However, of all the stories known about him perhaps the most reliable and best known is the gift he gave to a father which saved the man’s three daughters from being sold into prostitution.”

Persecution & self-defense: Church Leaders Debate Self-Defense

“Church leaders in Nigeria are sharply divided over how to react to a surge in violent attacks against Christians and churches in the country’s Muslim-majority north. Hundreds of Christians have been killed and churches burnt in regular attacks launched this year by Fulani herdsmen in Jos and members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect in Kaduna, Borno, and Niger states.”

Trends: Barna Reveals Top Trends for 2011

“Every December, a tradition at Barna Group is to compile some of the most important trends of the year. We invite you to check out the six major trends that our team explored in 2011.”