links: this went thru my mind

 

Aging & maturity: Maturing vs. Growing Older [required reading]

“Crotchety and complaining or positive and adoring? Grumpy or cheerful? Age; natural age takes us one direction and spiritual age leads us into the marvel of another way. One spreads death; the other … life.”

Church attendance: The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It

“… church membership is becoming less and less meaningful in many churches. As membership becomes less meaningful, commitment naturally wanes.”

Dental care, expectations, Jesus, perception & toothbrushes: Did Jesus Have All His Teeth?

“I’m wondering whether Jesus had all his teeth when he left behind his private life in Nazareth for the more public life of an itinerant preacher and healer.  According to Luke, he was ‘about 30′ at the time.”

Digital Bibles & preaching: * Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church; * Dear Presbyter, Bring Your Scroll to Church

* “… I am not against pastors using a tablet in the pulpit for, say, sermon notes. Rather, I’m concerned about replacing the physical Bible with a tablet in the pulpit. As the pastor enters the pulpit to bring the Word of God to the people of God, no hard copy of the Bible is to be found in his hand, gracing the top of the podium, visible to the entire congregation as the book at the center of attention. Instead, the congregation sees a tablet. While this may seem harmless enough, I believe there are several potential dangers this subtle shift generates.”

* “… we discovered an as yet unpublished letter from a certain Roman Presbyter “Maximus the Cantankerous”  to “St. Callistus I”  dated ca. 220 AD. In this fragmentary letter, Maximus complains to Callistus about the introduction of codices in churches to the exclusion of the scrolls. What follows is based on my own translation of the Latin.”

Giving thanks: The Serious Business of Giving Thanks [required reading]

“… for Paul giving thanks is nearly revolutionary. It’s quite subversive in the first century. Rather than naming all the parts of one’s life as good gifts provided by the Roman gods, early Christians named the various aspects of their lives as good gifts from God who is the Father of Jesus Christ, the one who gave up everything that God’s people might have everything.

“In this sense, giving thanks is strategic truth-speaking. When we give thanks, we regard the world rightly, reckoning it as God’s world, and reckoning ourselves as recipients of God’s overpowering goodness.

“Further, giving thanks reckons rightly with how we live and move and have our being in God’s presence and in God’s hands. …

“Beyond this, giving thanks to others helps us remember that we carry each other in our hands. We belong to each other, we are in one another’s hands to do good and to receive good gifts from one another.”

Humor in the Bible: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!

“As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.”

Old Testament: Paul and the Unquestioned Authority of the “Old Testament” [required reading]

“… the sad fact remains for most in Churches of Christ the Old Testament is simply irrelevant to their faith. Outside of the sermons I have personally preached or lessons I have taught I know of only a handful of sermons in my life from the first 76% of the Bible. …

“Growing up, I had no idea how absolutely, and completely, contrary to the apostolic example of Paul our contemporary practice was regarding the ‘Scripture’ (Paul never uses the phrase ‘Old Testament’). Paul’s entire framework for understanding God, Christ, the Gospel, redemption, faith, and yes even the church/people of God comes from the ‘Old Testament.’”

this went thru my mind

 

Church, ministry & the younger generation: The “Oh-Crap” Calling by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“… 81% of students in seminary do not intend to work for existing churches. I hear the same thing from every Christian university where I visit. …  this is a problem on a large scale. It crosses all fellowships. The church in the United States has serious issues with the emerging adult population.”

Church dropouts & evangelicals: Walking Away from Church by Patrick Mitchel

“Displaced followers: frustrated, angry, hurt rejection of the church. Reflective Exiles: wrestling with questions of faith in general. Transitional Explorers: open to new spiritualities, dissatisfied with previous experience. Integrated Wayfinders: have arrived at a new understanding of the Christian faith.”

Humor: The Top 13 Demotivators® Posters Of All Time

“After we finished our perusal of the Top 10 Iconic Motivational Posters (and we put away our sick bags), we decided it deserved a reply, and who better than us to write it? And so, after much deliberation and debate, we’ve created our own list- The Top 13 Demotivators® Posters of All Time, using sales data, social sharing, frequency of inclusion in Build-Your-Own-Calendars, and other semi-scientific analytic tools to compile it.”

Lord’s Prayer: What Does ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ Mean?

* “The phrase ‘hallowed be thy name’ … means something like ‘Let your name be sanctified” or ‘Please sanctify your name.’ It’s the first of three petitions that mean roughly the same thing … Let your name be sanctified; Let your Kingdom come; Let your will be done, as in heaven also on earth.”

Slander: Slander: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“Let us all pray for slanderers and groups of slanderers.”

Wealth inequality: Americans Nearly Unanimous on ‘Ideal’ Wealth Distribution, But Unaware of Real Levels of Inequality [required viewing; 6 min., 24 sec. video]

“There’s a chart … I can’t get out of my head. … the reality in this country is not at all what we think it is.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bibles & translation: Lost in Translation: A Surprising Gain in English Translations by John Byron

“… while we are only getting about 80% of the meaning of the text, it is taking us anywhere from 33% to 65% more to get to that 80%.”

Church: 10 Hard Questions Every Planter Needs to Ask by Tim Stevens

“Every current poll I’ve seen indicates the American church is in decline. Yes, the number of large churches is increasing, but overall church attendance continues to go down. The way we do church—the model of Christendom that has been followed for the past 1,700 years—is working with fewer people all the time. Most people reading this are the product of the type of church that is, as a whole, becoming less and less effective. Just about every church in America can be described by three words: ‘Come to us.’ That is it.”

Communication, speech, words & writing: Why Clarence Thomas Uses Simple Words in His Opinions

“… there are simple ways to put important things in language that’s accessible. … the beauty, the genius is not to write a 5 cent idea in a ten dollar sentence. It’s to put a ten dollar idea in a 5 cent sentence.”

Evangelism & outreach: Evangelism & the Church by Tim Gombis

“In various settings over the years, I’ve heard evangelical leaders and pastors claim that the church’s main task is evangelism.  All sorts of evangelism initiatives have been kicked into gear based on this assumed obvious fact regarding the purpose of the church.  Many people raised in evangelical churches can tell tales of guilt-motivated canvassing efforts involving humiliating encounters with complete strangers or forced “gospel presentations” to friends and relatives. But is it obvious that evangelism is the main task of the church, or even a task of the church?”

Humor: Grumpy Cat Meets the Funeral Industry by Caleb Wilde

“I was channeling my inner grumpy cat and this is what I came up with. Yes, some are extremely cheesy, others in bad taste, others are for those inside the industry, but maybe there’s one that makes you laugh.”

Noise & quiet: Exercising Sans Noise by Joshua Becker

“… eventually, after a long period of trial and error, I turned off noise altogether during my workouts. I immediately fell in love with the refreshing workout environment of silence. It was peaceful. It was calming. And I began taking note of the numerous benefits.”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind

 

ChristmasChristmas Carols as Resistance Literature by Richard Beck [required reading]

O Holy NightCantique de Noël in the original French–was composed in 1847 by Adolphe Adam. … O Holy Night, it turns out, was a song of political resistance and protest. Imagine Americans singing in the years leading up to the Civil War the lyrics ‘Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease.’ O Holy Night as political protest. A Christmas carol as resistance literature. This is as it should be. Consider the words of Mary’s Song, the Magnificat.”

Dead Sea Scrolls: The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

“The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library … preserves thousands of scroll fragments, including the oldest known copies of the biblical texts, now accessible to the public for the first time.”

Faith, fear, guns & violence: Conservative Christian Priorities by Bob Cargill [required reading]

“Conservative Christians have spent more time defending their right to assault weapons this week than I ever recall having seen them defend the hungry, the poor, the sick (except to oppose their proposed healthcare), or the imprisoned. (Cf. Matt. 25:31-45) Priorities are very telling.”

Guns & politics: Party Identity in a Gun Cabinet by Nate Silver

“Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics. … Gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years — but almost all of the decrease has come from Democrats.”

Holidays & loneliness: Dealing With Lonely Holidays by Wayne Stiles

“For many people, the holidays draw up painful memories.”

Humor: 8 Funniest Verses in Bible by Ron Edmonson

“Here are 7 of the funniest verses I have read in Scripture.”

Memory: Ready. Set. Memorize!

“…  this year’s World Memory Championships … Nelson Dellis, the U.S. memory champion, says that in practice, he can memorize a deck of cards in about 32 seconds. Dellis is ranked 24th in the world.”

Parenting: 5 Ways to Play With Your Kids This Christmas by Trevin Wax

“During the holiday season, we’re tempted to spend too much time on our iPhones, on the computer, or watching television. Following our example, our kids isolate themselves too. We’re together physically, but no one is having fun. No wonder by New Year’s everyone is ready to get back into the normal routine. Can I challenge you, parents? Don’t let this holiday season go by without spending time just having fun with your kids. No agenda. Just fun.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, children & parenting: Baptism – When are Kids Ready? by Brandon Baker

“Every kid is different and I don’t believe there is a magic baptism age. But I think this is a good starting point for children in the church even if they aren’t asking about baptism.”

Bible interpretation: The Superman Verse – Phil. 4.13 and What It Does Not Mean by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“Here is a rendering of the verse in context. ‘I know a humbled state, and I know also surplus. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of how to be satisfied, even if hungry and being able also to do without. I am able/strong enough [to endure] all things in Him who empowers me.’ What Paul is saying is that no matter what his circumstances, God has given him the strength or ability to endure and be satisfied, even when he must do without, even when he must go hungry.”

Church & the Lord’s Supper: Picture of the Week: Pompeii, House of Sallust, Atrium by Seth M. Rodriquez [required reading]

“In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul describes an extremely dysfunctional church event. When the church gathered to observe the Lord’s Supper, there were divisions and factions (v. 18-19) due to the fact that people were not sharing food with those who were hungry and were eating before the others arrived (vv. 21, 33-34). What could have possessed them to act in such an unloving way during one of the holiest events in the life of their church?”

Facebook: Scary Facebook Setting You Have to Change Now! by Kim Komando

“All the person has to do is search for any mobile number using the site’s mobile search function. If you have your number on Facebook – or have the Facebook app on your phone – your name will pop up. … When the security researcher went public with this information, Facebook said it’s a feature, not a bug. That means it probably won’t be fixed.”

Humor: Fellowship Triage by Larry Carter

“I love this time when we roam around the auditorium looking for everyone we haven’t seen for a few days. We greet and grin, shake and howdy, and otherwise say ‘Hi’ to a whole bunch of people. There are some rules, though, some stages of the fellowship time. I call it triage. I determine, based on certain criteria, exactly how I’m going to approach each person during this sacred time [fellowship time].”

Money, personal finances & savings: The Conversation You’re Not Having, But Should Probably Start by Joshua Becker

“* 50% of Americans have less than one month of savings saved for emergencies. * One in four Americans has no savings at all. * More than 30% of households earning over $100K still live paycheck to paycheck. * Among indebted households, the average amount of credit card debt tops $15,000. * The average U.S. household debt is 136 percent of household income. * 57% of households do not have a budget. * Almost half of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets. * In one survey, money more than sex, children or in-laws—was the most common conflict for American couples.”

Preaching: When You Preach a Lousy Sermon by Justin Buzzard

“… we must always remember that God doesn’t need a good sermon to do his work. I felt my sermon was terrible, not at all up to my standards, but I still preached the text/the gospel, I still got on base. And, God still used the sermon. That’s always amazing to me, to hear that people were still deeply helped by my lousy sermon.”

Work: “All-Consuming” Work, parts 1 & 2

“God says to us you don’t need more time to serve and worship me – you just need to realise that all time is for serving and worshipping me.”

this went thru my mind

 

Blessing: The Blindest of Blind Spots by Tim Spivey

“Are we blessable right now?”

Burnout: Pastor Burnout

infographic

Delaying judgment/present bias: Beyond the Blink by Frank Partnoy

“E-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines, a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace — and that lead us to make mistaken split-second decisions. Economists label the problem ‘present bias’: we are vulnerable to fast, salient stimulation. Fortunately, there is an antidote: the conscious pause.”

Feelings: Burying Those Feelings Never Works by Jim Martin

“When you feel something, no matter how good or bad it is, feel it as deeply as you can. And remember it. Write it down.”

Grief: How Do You Encourage a Widow Whose Husband Has Been Gone for Many Years? by Brian Croft

“The best way to care for a widow of many years, is not to forget the loss they felt a long time ago is still real today.  The pain never goes away.”

Higgs-Boson particle: A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe by Lawrence Krauss

“It is natural for those not deeply involved in the half-century quest for the Higgs to ask why they should care about this seemingly esoteric discovery. There are three reasons.”

Humor, with teeth in it: “Jesus Take the Wheel” Day

“Someone has created a Facebook event that seems to be aimed at ridding the world of those Christians who are anti-intellectual, illogical and gullible …”

Jesus: Jesus Existed by Craig S. Keener

“What movement would make up a recent leader, executed by a Roman governor for treason, and then declare, ‘We’re his followers’? If they wanted to commit suicide, there were simpler ways to do it.”

Missional: What Kind of Church Would Meet in a Casino? by Tim Stevens

“A church that is more interested in reaching the not-yet-convinced than the religious. … A church that believes the telling of Jesus hanging with drunks, prostitutes and thieves wasn’t just a nice story. … A church that has stated, ‘We will exist for the unique transformation and elevation of the neighborhood, city, village or region where we are located.’”

Parenting & Internet privacy & safety: Yahoo! Digital Safety Kit

“The new Yahoo! Digital Safety Kit makes it easy to share information about guiding children and families in safe, responsible and ethical digital behavior.”

Teacher discounts: The Complete List of 66 Teacher Discounts

“While eligibility changes based on where you purchase, most offers are redeemable by kindergarten teachers and college professors alike.”

Words: Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use by Christian Piatt

“We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. … So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness …”