links: this went thru my mind

 

Contribution, generosity, giving, offering & tips: * Why We Give (or Don’t) [required reading]; * Is It Stealing From God to Split Your Tithe Between the Church and Other Charities?

* “Why do we give to others? Why do we choose not to? New research seeking answers to these questions has important implications for Christians. For example, not all of our giving is altruistic.”

* “Three views on what it means to give faithfully.”

Education, income, social injustice, wages & work: What’s Wrong With This Picture? [infographic]

“Low-wage-workers are far more educated than they were in 1968 … but we’re paying them less.”

Nonviolence: She Survived a Standoff with a Gunman — Could You? [essential reading]

“Now she is the only one standing between the gunman and 800 children at an elementary school just outside Atlanta. Tuff began her day by reading Psalms 23: ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’”

Stress: * How Couples Can Cope with Professional Stress; * When a Vacation Reduces Stress — And When It Doesn’t; * The Best Way to Defuse Your Stress; * What to Do When You Can’t Control Your Stress

* “Each couple will have to find their own solutions, but learning to cope with stress together is a fundamental skill for thriving at work and at home.”

* “Poorly planned and stressful vacations eliminate the positive benefit of time away.”

* “Think of stress as a monster, who lives in your body and feeds on uncertainty. The monster’s most satisfying meal starts with the sentence: ‘What will happen if … ?’”

* “When your anxious thoughts come at you, rather than grappling with them, you let them just be. Observe them.  Notice them. And simply direct your attention to something other than your thoughts, such as your breath. This may not be easy at first, but if you are having one of those days, it is likely to be much more successful before any meeting that provokes anxiety in anticipation of it. Also, practice makes perfect. If you practice this method often, you are likely to get better at it over time.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, heart, ministry, myths, numbness, service & spiritual emptiness: 7 Beliefs That Can Burn the Bridge Between the Heart and Hand of a Church

“Here are seven beliefs that can contributed to church paralysis.”

Complaining: How to Complain Less [essential reading]

“How then, might we begin to overcome the habit of complaining? First, admit lifestyle changes can take time. And then, consider adopting some of these helpful steps …”

Faith, fear, hell & salvation: When Hell is Scared Out of People in Church

“When hell is scared out of people in church, and that is the basic call of their belief system, this leaves one merely in neutral.  Empty and prideful, these move throughout their spiritual journey just wishing and hoping they don’t do anything wrong.  And…they feel sure most others are doing many things wrong.”

Income, money, poverty, upward mobility & wealth: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

“A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities … The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas … Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest …

“Income mobility was also higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.”

Online security: Study: Millennials Indifferent to Online Risks

“Cybercrime is an increasing problem, especially for Millennials.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, hospitality & immigration: True Biblical Hospitality: Loving Immigrants, Strangers, and Enemies [required reading]

“… what does it actually mean to show hospitality? This is where things really get interesting: in English, we typically understand hospitality as a willingness to host, feed, and entertain a guest … something we all do and especially with our personal friends. However, what if the biblical term has a much deeper (and more difficult) meaning?”

Astronomy, awe, creation, earth & space: A Glimpse of Earth, Shining Brightly, From Very, Very Far Away

“[This] … picture … from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. On July 19, at a distance of 1.4 billion kilometers (900 million miles) from Earth, it took [this] … image. … Cassini was on the far side of Saturn, looking back toward the inner solar system.”

Atonement: At-One-Ment by Edward Fudge [required reading]

“We recently ended an assortment of twelve gracEmails, in which we explored the atonement made by Jesus Christ and the way American evangelicals have limited their conception of it almost exclusively to the penal substitutionary atonement theory to the neglect of other theories that are equally Bible-based. Now you can see all twelve of these in one location.”

Budget, economics, finances, income & money: Family Budget Calculator

“EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).

“As compared with official poverty thresholds such as the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.”

Competition: Should There Be Competition in Sunday School?

“When we ingrain a competitive spirit into faith – a culture of public shame and reward – is it any wonder we end up with some really faith damaged adults?”

Humility: In Humility Hold Others Above Yourself [essential reading]

“When it comes to humility I think a lot of Christians tend to work with the wrong idea. The idea that many seem to have is that humility involves thinking less about yourself, to have a negative or even morbid self-concept. … Humility is less about thinking other people are ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than you are. Humility isn’t about a morbid ego or a low self-esteem. Humility is, rather, a form of honoring and care-taking. Humility is lifting up (hyperecho) the concerns of others, placing them above and ahead of your own.”

Old Testament: And the Main Point of the Entire Old Testament is …

“I was taught in seminary and graduate school, as were many others of my generation and several before that, that the OT doesn’t have ‘a’ central point–there’s no central concept around which you can organize the OT. The OT is too diverse for that sort of thing. As soon as you find a theme that seems to work, it either doesn’t (e.g., covenant) or it’s too broad to be of much use (e.g., God).

“I agree, but some themes are right there in your face, more than others, and one of them is getting higher and higher on my top 10 list: land.

“That may sound off a bit boring–maybe even not terribly spiritual–but land is a major idea the Bible keeps on the front burner. Actually, I may even be understating things bit. The promise to receive land, getting it, how to hold on to it, losing it and getting it back, and how not to lost it again. I’ve just described the main storyline of the OT.”

Poverty: Epic Shanty Towns From Around the World

“… Addis has traveled and photographed squatter communities in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; Cairo; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible & trustworthiness: The Reliability of the Gospels and the Telephone Game [5 min. video clip; interview of Darrel Bock]

“Darrel Bock explains why “The Telephone Game” is a terrible way of explaining the oral transmission of the Gospels. Oral cultures were much better at passing information reliable than we tend to think.”

Debt, income, middle class, money & The American Dream: Debt and Income Inequality by Richard Beck

“In short, there is a moral asymmetry in how we view debt. … As incomes fell or leveled off since the 70′s, households have held onto to middle class lifestyles by going into debt. Either credit card debt or mortgage debt (those second loans on houses that fueled the housing crisis). And one could argue that the political and economic ‘powers that be’ were more than happy to extend this line of credit to Americans because it masked the real erosion of income that was taking place. Debt kept the middle class docile, feeling like the American Dream was still a reality while it was fading rapidly away. The facade of the middle class was being propped up with debt. It was a house of cards waiting to collapse.”

Heaven & hell: The Most Important Thing People Need To Know About Hell (And Heaven Too …) by Jonathan Morrow

“… the most important thing we need to know about heaven and hell is this: The essence of heaven and hell is relational because heaven (i.e., eternal life) is primarily defined as life with God and hell as life without God.”

Marriage: 7 Ways to Keep Respect as a Husband by Ron Edmonson

“You need respect. It’s a man’s greatest need. I’m convinced. … then it makes sense that if you ever received it you’d want to do your best to keep it.”

Militarism: Old Testament, Militarism, and Idolatry by Preston Sprinkle

“It’s common for Bible believing military personnel to use the Old Testament to support a certain warfare policy. But what would happen if they went all the way and took God as His full word? America’s military, for example, would be by volunteer only and would not be funded by taxation. America would not stock pile superior weapons … and it would make sure its victories were determined by God’s miraculous intervention, not by military might. Rather than outnumbering our enemy, we would deliberately fight out manned and under gunned … There would be no training, no boot camp, no preparation, other than fasting, praying, and singing worship songs (2 Chron. 20). If America really was the ‘new Israel,’ God’s holy nation (as some believe; I don’t) or the nearest equivalent, then we need to take our queue from God and his inspired manual for military tactics. But as it stands, many Christians will be content to cut and paste selected verses that align with America’s worldview to give our military some religious backing. Some call this bad hermeneutics, others call it syncretism. The Israelite prophets called it idolatry.”

this went thru my mind

College: An Open Letter to a College Freshman by Timothy Dalrymple.

God, humanity & legalism: Dust & Grace by Richard Beck.

Gospels: You’re away of what is commonly known as “The Synoptic Problem,” but have you ever wished you could see a graphic depiction of how much the Synoptic gospels do, and do not, have in common? Now you can. Relationships Between the Synoptic Gospels.

Income, insurance & poverty: U.S. Census Bureau: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.

Job: John Mark Hicks is sharing his in-depth notes on the book of Job. If you’ve ever wanted to understand this book and wrestle with the issues it raises, this is definitely a series to follow. Here’s a link to the first post in the series on his site. Reading Job: A Structural Guide by John Mark Hicks.

Judging: 20 New Ways to Judge Others by Joshua Becker is not sarcastic, but serious.

Mercy: Family of alleged hate-killing opposes death penalty in case.

Torture: This tragic story deserves much more press than it is receiving and should give us all pause. The Soldier Who Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture.

Violence: On the Moral Example of Jack Sparrow by Richard Beck.

Women: John T. Willis’ carefully reasoned, Biblically-grounded, ongoing series on the role of women in ministry continues. Biblical Female Teachers, Deacons, Elders, Preachers (part 3) by John T. Willis.