links: this went thru my mind

Artifacts, history & Israel: Selected Artifacts from the Collections of the National Treasures

“The artifacts on the site are arranged both chronologically (according to archaeological periods) and typologically (according to the type of artifact), allowing either a gradual guided entry through the main title pages to the artifact’s information card, or directly to the artifact’s information card using an advanced search box.” [just type something in the search box; i.e. - lamp, seal, sword, etc.]

Atonement, Eastern Orthodoxy, morality, science, sin & transformation: Atonement: An Orthodox Perspective [14 min. video]

“… morality can become a heresy … a substitute for the inner transformation of the heart.”

Christian faith, influence & witness: Christians Should Give More Offense

“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Church & discouragement: Five Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“If you are bent on discouraging your pastor, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so …”

Football & injury: Brain Trauma to Affect One in Three Players, N.F.L. Agrees

“The National Football League, which for years disputed evidence that its players had a high rate of severe brain damage, has stated in federal court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at ‘notably younger ages’ than in the general population.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church history: In Church Attics, Clues to the Private Life of Early America

“The historians are racing against inexorable church closings, occasional fires, and a more mundane but not uncommon peril: the actual loss of documents, which most often occurs when a church elder dies and no one can remember the whereabouts of historical papers.”

Cohabitation, marriage & Millenials: The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’

“… almost half of millennials (43%, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty-three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the ‘real estate’ approach — marriage licenses granted on a five-, seven-, 10- or 30-year ARM, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21% said they’d give the ‘presidential’ method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.”

Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Palestinians & war: What’s Really Going on in Israel?

“… why it matters and what we can do about it.”

Hurry, life & spiritual formation: * Don’t Fight the Road; * A Prayer for Sunday; * Less Activity, More Passivity

* “Following the speed limit is FUN. This is counter-intuitive on every level.”

* “Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights thee most,
To value what is precious in thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to thee.
Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,
Nor to pass sentence according
…..to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men;
But to discern with a true judgment
…..between things visible and spiritual,
And above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of thy will.”

* “The Bible calls for two things: We face the future waiting and praying.”

Manhood & masculinity: What is Biblical Masculinity?

“As I read the Scriptures I have a difficult time discerning what exactly the Bible says about ‘masculinity.’”

People: First Bible on the Moon Still Sparks Controversy

“There’s no doubt Texas has its own real life Lone Star ‘Forrest Gump’ – a man with humble roots, unexpected achievements and an extraordinary life that changed the world and embedded him in the annals of football, aerospace and religious history.

“Take a former Texas Aggie football player who was a ballistic missile experimenter, who became a Presbyterian missionary and college professor, put him in the wilds of Brazil, liberally add earth satellites and horseback treks among uncivilized Indians, then flavor the whole thing with two American Presidents and the first Bible to land on the moon, and you have the makings of a story on which any fiction writer would love to get his or her hands.

“But the Rev. John Maxwell Stout will tell you it’s all true.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible & humor: 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.”

Congregational singing: Lessons from the Churches of Christ

“I am deeply concerned about the long-term viability of the musical heritage of the Church of Christ tradition, and I also think there are lessons to learn about the preservation of musical culture.”

Food & medicine: When Do Chefs And Doctors Buy Generic?

“Pharmacists and doctors are more likely than the general public to buy generic medicine … And chefs are more likely than the general public to buy generic food.”

Gaza, Hamas & Israel: A Letter to Friends Who Want to Understand What is Happening in Gaza [essential reading]

“I want to say a few words to my friends who are not particularly biased one way or the other (and perhaps somewhat uninformed) about what is happening in Gaza. … My heart breaks for the suffering of the Palestinian people. I pray that they get their state soon, and will live peaceably alongside Israel. There will be lots of wounds to mend in this process on both sides. But I don’t blame Israel for the civilian suffering of Palestinians that you see. It is a deliberate tactic of war intended to make you feel exactly what you are feeling: sympathy. I feel sympathy as well, but I know who has the responsibility for this suffering: Hamas.”

Immigration & migrant children: * Q&A: Children at the Border [required reading]; * Most Migrant Children Entering U.S. Are Now With Relatives, Data Show

* “Where are the migrant children coming from? … When did the surge start? … What caused the sudden increase in unaccompanied minors? … Why are the children not deported immediately? … Where are the children crossing the border? … How old are they? Are they mostly boys or girls? … What happens to the children after they are caught? … Where are the shelters? … Where have children been placed after leaving a shelter? … What is being done to address the problem?”

* “Children who are not able to find qualified sponsors are placed in long-term shelters or in foster care. Roughly 10 percent of the unaccompanied minors who have been taken into custody this year have been placed in such care.”

Peace Corp: Peace Corps Volunteers in Their Own Words

“Contrary to popular belief, Peace Corps is less a development organization and more a training ground for cultural sensitivity — global EQ, if you will. I can’t speak with 100 percent certainty that any projects that I undertook changed lives. But I am 100 percent certain that my Peace Corps service shaped me into a better global citizen. It equipped me with the important ability to approach a different culture with humility and respect, to listen, and to understand.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, culture, faith & immigration: God’s Immigrants [essential reading]

“The total global diaspora numbers about 859 million from 327 distinct people groups. A larger number of those peoples settle in the US than in any other host country, making about 11% of the US population foreign born. … Let us see if we can’t … reclaim the deep resonances and reverence scripture caries for the immigrant.”

Busyness, Christianity, church, faith, over-stimulation, United States: Why It’s Hard to Be Christian in America [essential reading]

“What we need is a community of people who agree to live by a different ethic and rhythm. The Bible has a word for that community. It’s called church. So, let the church be the church.”

Burnout, discouragement, leadership & ministry: * Ten Things Pastors Hate to Admit Publicly [essential reading]; * A Cure for Ministerial Burnout: Contemplative Prayer; * Don’t Make Your Pastor a Statistic?

* “My intention is precisely the opposite. I hope that from this: Churches will pray all the more for their pastors because they understand the challenges; Churches will be doubly grateful for the fact that so many pastors stay in the saddle despite their fears, hurts and frustrations; People in churches will think twice before engaging in things that sink deep into the soul of their leaders.”

* “If, each day, time had been set aside for the spiritual renewal that contemplative praying can provide, there probably would have been the kind of revitalization of mind and spirit that could have maintained their enthusiasm and commitment to ministry.”

* “Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute …”

Church, church attendance & expectations: * #1 Reason Why Church Attendance is Down – Really? [required reading]; * Disillusionment With the Church [essential reading]

* “Take me for example, for a number of reasons, I am very close to burnout.  When I hear words like ‘active’, ‘committed’, ‘involvement’, and ‘monitor attendance’, it is going to produce the opposite of the intended effect in me.  If I hear these words from the pulpit on a Sunday morning, I am going to be less likely, not more likely,  to attend the following week.  I am burnt out and you want a larger commitment from me?!?

“Seven years ago, when we searching for a new pastor, our church surveyed our community.  When asked the number one reason why they didn’t attend church, the top two responses could be summarized as:  ‘Too tired’, and ‘not enough time.’”

* “I would contend that many of our disillusions with the church are based upon a wrong ethic. We misunderstand the true nature of fellowship in the gospel community. And therefore, we wrongly apply the ethic of other communities to the church.

“The foundation of our fellowship is not the feelings we have for one another, as important as they may be. Neither is the foundation of our fellowship based upon the fact that we live in the same geographic place, educate our children in the same way, hold similar political views, or are the same ethnicity. No. It is the gospel that is the foundation of our fellowship. Nothing else.”

Israel: * The Pilgrimage: Israel (a 25-part series by Ben Witherington; superb); * Gaza is in the News Again

* “I was fortunate enough to lead a tour to Israel and Turkey for two weeks in May with 29 hearty souls on pilgrimage, and we had a blessed time and a blast as well. It was all good. In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the pictures and experiences from this trip and we will be talking about.”

* “Gaza is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Here is a summary of these references.”

Listening, preaching & sermons: How to Get More from a Sermon [essential reading]

“Let’s talk about people who do not get full value from the sermons they hear.

“These people may be taking SERMON-BLOCKERS. When the pastor gets up to preach, they … nitpick him … plan the week ahead … shift into neutral and become passive. … send their mind off on a mini-vacation. … listen with their ears but not their hearts … do not bring faith to what they are hearing.

“These people may hear thousands of sermons, but they do not benefit from them because they are resisting them, not listening to them, and not believing them. Such people are literally wasting their time by coming to church.”

Learning, online & reading: Being a Better Online Reader

“… we don’t read the same way online as we do on paper.”

Population density & the United States: Half of the United States Lives in These Counties

“… half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.”