links: this went thru my mind

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Bible literacy & reading:*  Biblical Illiteracy by the Numbers Part 1: The Challenge [required reading]; * 9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible [essential reading]

* “Study after study in the last quarter-century has revealed that American Christians increasingly don’t read their Bibles, don’t engage their Bibles, and don’t know their Bibles. It’s obvious: We are living in a post-biblically literate culture. Just as critical is the second word of the Bible literacy problem: literacy. Pew Research tells us that 23 percent of us didn’t read a single book in the last year. That’s three times the number who didn’t read a book in 1978.”

* Read ‘King’ when you see ‘Christ.’ … read ‘you’ differently … if you see a ‘therefore,’ find out what it’s there for … realize that not all ‘if’ statements are the same … recognize that lamenting is OK … realize that prophecy is more often forth-telling than fore-telling … become familiar with the idioms of your King … remember what you learned in English class … read to study, but also, read to refresh your heart.”

College funding: A College Financial Aid Guide for Families Who Have Saved Nothing

“In just a generation or two, we’ve gone from students working their way through college without too much trouble, to many parents still being able to write checks to cover tuition out of current income, to sticker prices being so high that two decades of savings may not be enough to cover two children from relatively affluent families.”

Government, Houston, law suits, litigation & sermons: Victory Through Defeat

“As a matter of normal legal practice, I doubt that Mayor Parker, David Feldman, or anyone at the City of Houston read the subpoenas before they were sent, much less specifically ordered the discovery and confiscation of sermon notes and other communications involving homosexuality and gender identity. Typically in litigation lawyers will throw a bunch of jello at a wall and see what sticks, so to speak. Or, to put it another way, they’ll fill up the kitchen sink and see what takes. In other words, the lawyer drafting the discovery requests and subpoenas probably tried to think of every conceivable thing that could possibly be related to this lawsuit and asked for it. You don’t get it if you never ask, and litigation is all about being aggressive and taking anything that the other side will give you. Again, these are just requests (issued by a lawyer), and the judge can quash the subpoenas or issue a protective order for the pastors. …

“… the reality is that we are merely dealing with an overbroad discovery request from a zealous trial lawyer employed by the City. So the sky is not falling. This is not a government-wide ‘approval’ system of pulpit messages. The pastors aren’t being threatened with punishment merely for the contents of their sermons. But this is harassment, and the small things add up. A government that tries to intimidate pastors who would seek to employ the democratic process to repeal a morally questionable piece of legislation is no friend of liberty, religious or otherwise. The government answers to the people; the people do not answer to the government. Remember that. The subpoena is only step one in their 12-step program.”

Prayer: 5 Triggers to Grow Your Prayer Life

“For years, when I thought about prayer, I mostly felt guilty for my lack of a robust prayer life. Reading stories of great saints praying for two hours a day or more left me with a gnawing sense of defeat. I would often resolve to pray more. But the resolves didn’t last.”

Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd – Psalm 23

“All of this comes from Yahweh’s ‘goodness and mercy.'”

this went thru my mind

 

Affliction, faith, loss, pain, & suffering: There Really Is A Reason – 12 Benefits Of Afflictions

“God doesn’t afflict us or allow us to be afflicted for no reason. … in God’s plan, afflictions have great benefit to us, as painful as they are at times.  If we keep these benefits in mind when we suffer, they can help us endure joyfully.”

Archaeology: Roads of Arabia Exhibition: Update

“Here is the schedule for upcoming shows of the exhibition … The Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, TX – December 22, 2013 – March 9, 2014.”

Busyness & leadership: Busy is Killing Leadership

“If you’re not careful busyness will quietly take over your life without you even being aware of it.”

Children & Uganda: Launching Reunite Uganda in the US! [essential reading; the work of one of MoSt Church’s own: Darby Priest]

“Help us get Ugandan children out of orphanages and back to their families.”

Church, fear, ministry & the work of God: Francis Chan: Are You ‘Protecting’ Your Church from a Movement of God?  [10 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… it blew my mind that an older man would come alongside of me and believe in me.”

Church & intergenerational ministry: Congregations as Families of Faith: Beyond Age-Level Ministries

“…  research has continued to show that intergenerational relationships are like glue that makes faith sticky for young people. Age-level ministries are still important to create a community of peers for children, youth, and adults to belong to. But if we hope to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world, then we must develop intergenerational ministries that model the faith for our children and youth, and support our families as they seek to follow Christ. The research tells us that we need to be doing church differently.”

Communication, culture, demographics, social media, & society: Just Who Uses Social Media? A Demographic Breakdown

“You think you know social? How about who uses it? Well, you might not know it as well as you would have guessed. A new study from the Pew Research Center and Docstoc shed some light on just who uses social and on what platforms. Some of the findings seem in line with what you would probably guess, but others were surprising.”

Distribution of wealth: A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%

“During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.”

Employment, faith, jobs, & work: Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

“‘I hate my job. It’s not just like I don’t have a lot of power—I really can’t stand what I have to do every day.’ How would you pastor someone in that situation?”

Expectations & introverts: 7 False Assumptions Made About Introverts by Ron Edmonson

“There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted. Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert …”

Church finances, collection, contribution, electronic giving, & offering: What the Decline in Check Writing Will Mean for Your Church

“If we do not change our process for collecting the offering we will see our offerings decline. The reason is simple. The harder we make it for people to give the less likely they will give.”

Ego, Facebook, photography, pride, & vanity: Snap Judgments: Our Societal Obsession With Taking Pictures [required reading]

“Each day, we upload more than 5.2 million photos to Instragram and 100 million to Facebook, with no signs of slowing down our snapping and sharing. … In a sense, this is totally natural. Photographs speak to the age-old custom of physically marking spaces and moments in thanksgiving and remembrance. … The danger of using photos as markers is that images appeal to our vanity. We become quickly obsessed with accumulating experiences, capturing them in photos, and publicly displaying our photos as trophies. If we aren’t careful, our Facebook pages and blogs can become trophy cases of our own accomplishments: Me, on a church mission trip, lumped in with a group of smiling ethnic children.”

Grace: God at Work: Common Grace by Jonathan Storment [required reading]

“The bad guy in the Christian story isn’t someone, it’s the broken reality that Jesus calls sin. And because of common grace we can see God working through people outside of our tribe, our immediate community, or our faith. We can see the image of God in everyone.”

Hope, immigration, mercy, North Korea, pain, & suffering: Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea [12 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… one day, in 1995, my Mom brought home a letter from a coworker’s sister. It read, ‘When you read this, all five family members will not exist in this world, because we haven’t eaten in the past two weeks. We are lying on the floor together, and our bodies are so week, we are ready to die.'”

Ministry, relationships, & time management: How Does a Pastor Interact With Those Who Seek to Monopolize His Time on Sunday?

“It is one of the great dilemmas every Sunday for the pastor.  Who do I speak with and for how long?  Most pastors stand at a doorway after the morning service to greet those who are leaving.  Others stay down front inviting folks to come and speak with the pastor to ask questions about the sermon.  It is a constant juggling match that most pastors feel they fail at most of the time. What adds to the madness is the person who aggressively hunts the pastor down after the service and feels entitled to his undivided attention for a long time.”

Worship: Your Worship Service is B-O-R-I-N-G!

“There’s a reason your church isn’t more creative. … most churches are boring because of The Olive Garden Problem.”

Americanism, culture, & politics: A Political Rant Born From a Deeper Theological Conviction than “Americanism”

“I’ve seen several posts on social media advocating a picture as a “way forward” in terms of political policy. It looks like this … What I want to do is interact with these ideas as a Christian who takes Scripture seriously and who is more committed to the kingdom of God than to a specific country/government. I intend to provide a ‘play by play’ through each of the statements …”

 

this went thru my mind

 

Children & parenting: Why Most Parenting Advice is Worthless by Dan Bouchelle

“… there are a few things we learned about parenting along the way.”

Happiness & unhappiness: Where is the Happiest City in the USA? [required notice]

“How happy is the city you live in?”

[In the words of Mr. Spock: “Fascinating!” This study attempted to determine the overall state of happiness (or the lack thereof) in 373 U.S. cities (in the lower 48 states). Remember that number: 373. The study concluded that right at the bottom of the heap (i.e. – where most of the unhappy people are found) are the cities in the region in which I live. Example? Dead last is Beaumont, TX (#373), located one hour east of me. Texas City, TX – forty-five minutes south of me – comes in at #371. Port Arthur, TX – situated an hour east of me – is ranked #361. And Houston, TX – and live I on its outskirts! – is #352. Take a good, long look at this map and you’ll notice that it’s the Old South/Bible Belt that has by far the highest concentration of unhappy folks. This map makes for an interesting comparison with a red state/blue state map, too. http://bit.ly/KXuxsJ Hmmm. Me not surprised.]

Happiness, idolatry & self: Are You Worshiping the Idol of ‘Open Options’? by Barry Cooper

“The irony … is that this apparently limitless choice doesn’t actually make us happy. The number of choices available to us becomes overwhelming, and actually makes it difficult for us to ever have the joy of fully committing to anything or anyone. Even if we do commit, our culture then makes us feel dissatisfied with the choice we’ve made.”

Happiness, productivity & time: How to Become a Morning Person by Michael Hyatt

“‘Morning people’ tend to make more money, be more productive, be healthier and live longer, and be more happy and satisfied in their lives. But how do you actually become a morning person if you aren’t one now? Here are nine steps you can take starting today.”

Houston: America’s Most Literate Cities

The America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. Houston ranked #53 in 2005 and now ranks #60.5 (2012). To put that in perspective, New Orleans and Detroit are ranked much higher (#25 & #46 respectively).

Preaching: Preachers Should Be Like Naughty Kids by Tullian Tchividjian [required reading]

“I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills…and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross–and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. But preachers can’t be that naughty or brave unless they’re free from their own need for the dope of acceptance. And they wont be free of their need until they can trust the God who has already accepted them, in advance and dead as door-nails, in Jesus. Ergo, the absolute indispensability of trust in Jesus’ passion. Unless the faith of preachers is in that alone–and not in any other person, ecclesiastical institution, theological system, moral prescription, or master recipe for human loveliness–they will be of very little use in the pulpit.” (quoting Robert Capon)

Women: Women on the Family Tree: What Does the Bible Say Women DID? by Bobby Valentine

“It seems the moment one offers any opinion on the subject of women in the church that some one will brand you as a heretic and as an unbeliever in the Bible and its authority. Those who hold what might be called a ‘traditional’ view accuse those who harbor a non-Traditional view as loose postmodern deconstructionists. Those who hold a non-Traditional view accuse those cherish the Traditional view as canonizing not Scripture but culture and highly selective reading. It is getting to the point where these groups cannot even talk to each other.

“Is it possible to go to the Scriptures and just see what women did there? Can one be ‘un’ biblical if he or she says women can do exactly what God let them do in the ‘Bible days?’ So what if we simply ask this question: ‘What do we see women actually doing in the Scripture?’ Isn’t this the place to start? Is this what a Bible believer should do?”

this went thru my mind

 

Climate change & global warming: Not in 27 Years

“If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average.”

Health & sanitation: Raise a Stink About Global Sanitation by Florence Davey-Attlee

“We each spend an average of three years of our lives sitting on them … and 2.5 billion people still do not have access to one.”

Houston: Kinder Houston Area Survey [downloadable .pdf files]

“The annual Kinder Houston Area Survey has measured this region’s remarkable economic and demographic transformations and recorded the way area residents are responding to them.  No other metropolitan area in America has been the focus of a research program of this scope.  None more clearly exemplifies the trends that are rapidly refashioning the social and political landscape of urban America. … The 2012 Kinder Houston Area Survey findings are now available.”

Israel, Palestine, peace & war: War Does Not Work in Israel/Palestine by Bob Roberts

“As one Palestinian scholar told me – the biggest problem is they are both ‘victim’ cultures. The Jewish statement ‘never again’ causes overreach on the part of the Jews in how they can be heavy handed with the Palestinians. The displacement of millions of Palestinians having been driven from their homeland after centuries and millennia prevents them from thinking about moving forward with where things are versus what they wish they could go back to.”

Just for fun: The Difference Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England

“Are Great Britain, the UK and England the same thing? Is Ireland part of the UK? What’s Wales!? To help explain things, I put together this infographic to define the parts that make up the UK and how it came about.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: * Mazotos Wreck Could Shed Light on Ancient Shipbuilding; * Video Interview with Tell es-Safi/Gath’s Aren Maeir [4 1/2 min. video]

* “ATEST underwater excavations on the 2,350-year-old Mazotos shipwreck have established that the keel, and at least 15 metres of the ancient vessel’s planking has been preserved. … The Mazotos shipwreck, some 14 nautical miles southwest of Larnaca, is possibly the largest ancient commercial shipwreck located in open Cypriot waters. It sank in 350 BC en route from the Greek island of Chios carrying around 1,000 urns filled with wine said to have been the most expensive Greek wine of the Classical period. Today the wreck is buried 45 metres below sea level and is the oldest shipwreck found off the coast of the island to date.”

* “Professor Maeir gives an interesting overview of the site [Goliath’s hometown] along with an introduction to the modern archaeological toolkit.”

Boredom & marriage: 3 Suggestions for Breaking Through a Boring Marriage by Jim Martin

“The most important issue in marriage for a Christ-follower is how we allow God to shape and form us as we relate to our spouse.  This is true whether we have been married four years or forty years. Unless we are committed to our growth and development, we will likely become dull, stagnant, and passive.  If we are not being shaped by God, our marriages may be shaped more by our own selfish desires than what God wants to do through us as a couple.”

Culture: Most And Least Christian Cities In America by Jahnabi Barooah

Houston shows up in 13th place.