links: this went thru my mind

Change & habits: How to Form a Habit, a Scientific Approach

“… habits are reinforced by a three-part loop: trigger, behavior, and reward. The trigger tells you—consciously or unconsciously—to start the behavior, the behavior is the habit or action, and the reward is the benefit that you get from that action. You can see the loop: That coveted reward teaches us to continue the behavior, over and over again, until it turns into a habit.”

Christ, Ephesians 4, Psalm 68 & nonviolence: A Christological Reading of Psalm 68 [required reading]

“… what is startling about this imagery is how Jesus wins his victory over his enemies non-violently. On the cross Jesus is disarming and defeating his enemies–sin, death and the Devil–and taking them as captives in war.”

Churches of Christ, humility, leadership & the Spirit of God: Fix Me, Jesus: Jesus’ Plans for the Churches of Christ

“If God answered the prayer, ‘Fix me, Jesus,’ at the congregational level, what would a congregation under repair look like? what stories might we be able to tell?”

History, Middle East, politics, President Obama & Vietnam: Will Syria Be Obama’s Vietnam?

“War has a forward motion of its own. Most of Johnson’s major steps in the escalation in Vietnam were in response to unforeseen obstacles, setbacks and shortcomings. There’s no reason the same dynamic couldn’t repeat itself in 2014.”

Learning & study: Better Ways to Learn

“‘Most of us study and hope we are doing it right,’ Mr. Carey says. ‘But we tend to have a static and narrow notion of how learning should happen.’ … The first step toward better learning is to simply change your study environment from time to time. … “

links: this went thru my mind

Bible translation: The Politics of Bible Translation

“… all translations are on a spectrum of more or less formal and more or less dynamic. Now one more complication: each translation will vary for individual words or phrases or clauses. Each of these Bibles is good. Let’s use them all, and rejoice that we have such wonderful access to the Bible.”

Discipleship, small groups, spiritual development, & transformation: Small Groups & the Transformed Life

“What do transformational small groups look like, and how do we make our groups more effective?”

Humility, learning & legalism: The Philosopher [required reading]

“The great apostle Paul once worried that he might have been wrong. It’s a sobering thought.”

Prayer: What Americans Pray For and Against (Per Max Lucado’s LifeWay Survey)

“Who prays? Men are less likely to talk to God than women: one in five say they never pray (22 percent), vs. 1 in 10 women (11 percent). Roughly 20 percent of whites (19 percent) and Hispanics (20 percent) say they never pray; in contrast, only five percent of African Americans say the same.”

Singles: To the Church, about Singlehood [essential reading]

“Not all members of the body of Christ are called to marriage, but all are called to be part of the body of Christ. We are complete in him alone and we are all adopted into one family no matter our place in society or our relationship status. We have to create a culture that celebrates, embraces and encourages individuals whether married or not.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, discipleship, small groups & transformation: * The Surprising Truth About Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines; * Is Church Too Easy? [essential reading]

* “… groups play an important role in the spiritual lives of the people in our churches. What will surprise you is just how important that impact is.”

 

* “If our goal is to ‘teach people to obey’ all that Jesus commanded, then we may want to rethink our commitment to comfort on Sundays.”

Churches of Christ & humility: Eating in the Church Building

“Bottom line. The Church of Christ has done and is doing some great things. At the same time, we have done many wrong-headed, incorrect, ungodly things. We need to recognize this fact, and admit to ourselves and the world that we are as fallible as any church ever.”

Jesus, nonviolence & pacifism: The Pacifism of Jesus: Reclaiming Christianity’s Challenge [essential reading]

“It may seem odd, even totally counter-intuitive, but following the words of Jesus should be hard. If it is a ticket to earthly dominance, to preservation of the status quo, we have to ask, ‘Is this really the gospel?'”

Independence, others, self & unity: Forgive Us For Our ‘Go-It-Alone’ Attitude

“Enable us to know great joy as forgiven people, united as followers of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, communication, deception, forgiveness, manipulation & relationships: How to Spot a Fake Apology [required reading]

“Of all the keys to healthy relationships—whether with friends, family or significant others—perhaps the most important is knowing when and how to ask for forgiveness.”

Culture & faith: Why Christians Must Give Up the Fight

“Some churches and Christians feel so attacked by the non-Christian culture that their natural response is to fight. They fight Hollywood because of its movies. They fight Nashville because of its music. They fight Washington because of its laws. The hope is for the church to regain power. They respond in way that says, ‘I will fight against you.'”

Denominations, division & tribes: 5 Dangers of Tribalism

“There’s an ever-growing number of tribes in the church. Denominations, coalitions, and networks all serve as tribes within the Tribe of Christian faith. These tribes we participate in each play a vital role in connecting us to one another and catalyzing us for mission. Despite their many benefits, our tribalism is not without inherent dangers.”

Hell: 5 Reasons Why More Christians Are Rejecting The Traditional View of Hell

“As more and more Christians return home to a radical faith centered squarely on Jesus, we will continue to see a growing number of bible believing, soundly orthodox Christians, reject the evangelical concept of ‘eternal, conscious torment.’ This should be viewed as a beautiful thing, not a travesty, as we rediscover that God actually is altogether wonderful, altogether lovely, and altogether like Jesus.”

Humility & time: The PaleoClock

“We’d have to live for hundreds of thousands of years to detect any movement at all.”

Israel & Palestinians: Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes [32 min. video; required listening]

“In his latest book, Faith in the Face of Empire, Mitri Raheb, presents a new reading of the Bible from the perspective of the people of Palestine.’ In light of the current geo-political turmoil, after the hopes of the Arab Spring, and in the face of the latest round of US shuttle diplomacy, Raheb asks, ‘Can we imagine another Middle East? Can there be a different future?'”

Marriage: Making Your Marriage More Important Than Your Kids

“… to keep your marriage happy and healthy, you’re going to have to be willing to invest time in it.”

guest post: it is better that he say

 

The following is a guest post by a good friend and brother of mine, Brock Paulk, who serves as the preaching minister with the Heritage Church of Christ in Keller, TX. Enjoy!

These are also proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah: It is the glory of God to hide something and the glory of kings to discover something. Like the high heavens and the depths of the earth, so the mind of a king is unsearchable. Remove the dross from the silver, and a vessel will come out for the refiner. Remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king, or stand in the place of important people, because it is better that he say to you, “Come up here” than to be demoted before a ruler. (Proverbs 25.1-7)

Have you ever been asked to describe your most embarrassing moment? It’s not a question you’re likely eager to answer in front of people you don’t know well.

We’ve all had moments we wish we could take back. Maybe you had a wardrobe malfunction, or maybe one of your kids repeated something in public that you wish they hadn’t heard you say at home. When I was in college helping to produce a welcome-to-campus event for the incoming freshman class, I ungracefully tripped, running at full speed, in front of 1500 new students and many of my school friends. Some impression I made!

It’s embarrassing to think about how much effort most of us go through to avoid being embarrassed, isn’t it? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m overly-compulsive about double-checking my pants zipper before I go on stage at our church to preach or make an announcement. In our culture, a lot of energy and money is spent on primping, grooming, trimming, preparing, and concealing in order to avoid embarrassment.

So the wisdom presented in Proverbs 25:1-7 seems practical, even for those of us to don’t often find ourselves in the presence of “royalty.” The passage reminds us – kings are ordained leaders, tasked with seeking Godly wisdom to direct the affairs of the kingdom in righteousness. And when you appear before the king and choose where to stand in the royal court, remember the relative importance of your position and choose accordingly so that you won’t be embarrassed.

… it is better that he say to you, “Come up here,” than to be demoted before a ruler.

Demotion is embarrassing. Demotion takes the wind out of your sails…it makes you look around and see who’s watching in the hopes that nobody else noticed.

When the opinion that matters is that of the earthly king, whose glory is different than God’s (v.1), a servant can garner promotion simply by standing in a strategic place.

But honor looks different for a follower of Christ.

After reading Proverbs 25:1-7, it’s an easy jump to think about Jesus’ instruction from Luke 14:7-14. Jesus offers similar wisdom here – when you’re invited to a feast, remember your position and choose your seat accordingly so that you won’t be embarrassed.

… go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored …

Of course, the temptation is to use the advice from these two passages to try to work the system, intentionally and visibly demoting ourselves in an attempt to garner compliments and accolades.

But Jesus takes a longer view into the future. When he says, “those who humble themselves will be exalted,” he’s not just explaining how to get a better dinner seat. Jesus is concerned with teaching his servants not to pursue rewards from humans, but to pursue honor “at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:14)

In God’s economy, it’s not the humble seat that deserves honor, but the humble heart. When the opinion that matters is that of our Heavenly Father, we please him by emptying ourselves, emptying ourselves and becoming obedient (Philippians 2:6-8), just like Jesus.

The question for us becomes, “Which king do we serve?” If it’s the honor of humans that we desire, we can manipulate our way to promotion. If it’s the honor of the Kings of kings, we must give our honor away.