links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible, credibility & historical reliability: Is the Bible Reliable?

“Today some critics complain that we are biased if we heed works such as the gospels. Yet few critics would so readily dismiss the information in ancient biographies about other persons. One must wonder, then, in which direction is the bias really working?”

Greeting, guests, visitors & welcome: Smiling is Not Enough: The Top Ten Mistakes Your Volunteers Make Welcoming Guests at Church

“Here are the top ten mistakes I see when volunteers are helping me as a first time guest.”

Minimum wage & poverty: Highest Minimum-Wage State Washington Beats U.S. in Job Creation

“When Washington residents voted in 1998 to raise the state’s minimum wage and link it to the cost of living, opponents warned the measure would be a job-killer. The prediction hasn’t been borne out. In the 15 years that followed, the state’s minimum wage climbed to $9.32 — the highest in the country. Meanwhile job growth continued … above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington’s restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years.”

Persecution: When Persecution Is Persecution

“We really know nothing of real persecution. … Our right to assemble is guaranteed, our freedom to worship together is protected, and we live in the most Christianized nations on earth. And while we may be surrounded by people who are hostile to the Christian faith, we know nothing of the fearful plight of the persecuted church. … It’s hard for me to use the word “persecution” to describe the social pressure or personal rejection I may occasionally experience here when Christians are being tortured and murdered for their faith around the world. And if I’m fearful of rejection or insults, criticism or prejudice here, then I thank God I don’t live in countries where I might be tortured or killed for my faith for I would too quickly deny my Lord. The persecuted church knows something about faith. They know something about hope. They know something about endurance.”

Syria: Three Years of Strife and Cruelty Put Syria in Free Fall

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. … Analysts say that 42 percent of all Syrians .. have fled their homes. … The Syrian refugee crisis, meanwhile, has not peaked. Unicef says 5.5 million children need aid, a number that has more than doubled in a year. Child refugees quintupled to 1.2 million, 425,000 of them younger than 5 …”

War: The Unlikely Road to War

“Yes, the Great War, the end of empires and the old order, was triggered by a teenager. … The unthinkable is thinkable. Indeed, it must be thought. Otherwise it may occur — soldiers reduced … to ‘fodder locked in the same murderous morass, sharing the same attrition of bullet and barrage, disease and deprivation, torment and terror.’”

this went thru my mind

 

Aging, hearing & dementia: Straining to Heard and Fend Off Dementia

“Dr. Frank Lin, an otolaryngologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, describes this phenomenon as ‘cognitive load.’ Cognitive overload is the way it feels. Essentially, the brain is so preoccupied with translating the sounds into words that it seems to have no processing power left to search through the storerooms of memory for a response. … Compared to individuals with normal hearing, those individuals with a mild, moderate, and severe hearing loss, respectively, had a 2-, 3- and 5-fold increased risk of developing dementia over the course of the study.”

Anxiety & stress: Anxiety, You’re Not the Boss of Me

“I will conquer because I will not allow anxiety and panic to kill another day of my life. It’s my life, and anxiety can’t have it anymore.”

Ash Wednesday & Lent: * Ash Wednesday: Beginning of the Lenten Journey; * Ash Wednesday: When Darkness Reigns by Jonathan Storment; * Homily for Ash Wednesday by Tim Gombis

* “Lent has also been understood as a time of preparation for the renewal of our baptismal covenant. In the early church, candidates for baptism spent as long as three years preparing to be baptized. The last 40 days were known as the “scrutinies,” when candidates examined themselves and church leaders determined whether they were ready to be baptized. Later, Lent became that time when all Christians were invited to consider their need for spiritual renewal. This was common practice by the time of the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.”

* “… Ash Wednesday was going on long before Protestants and Catholics ever split. It’s an annual reminder that Christians have observed every year, for thousands of years It’s when we remember that from dust we came and to dust we will return.  It is profoundly ancient and biblical.”

* “A homily given on Ash Wednesday at Midtown Christian Community, Feb. 17, 2010.”

Children, parenting, relationships & technology: Raising Personable Children, Even If They’re Glued To Phones

“The biggest limitations that we talk about all the time is just making sure that our kids still interact with each other, and [are] articulate in conversation with adults … And with our oldest son interviewing for jobs and things like that, we wanted to make sure that they had good eye contact.”

Church dropouts & youth: Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church [required reading]

“We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then… they graduate from High School and they leave church. What happened? … The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.”

Depression, Millenials & stress: * Who’s Feeling Stressed? Young Adults, New Survey Shows; * 7 Habits of Highly Miserable Twenty-Somethings

“Millennials [ages 18-33] are … more likely to be told they have depression or an anxiety disorder.”

“… here’s what I believe are the seven habits of highly miserable twenty-somethings, and then how we cure each one.”

E-mail & iPhone: Is ‘Mailbox’ for iOS Worth the Wait?

“Whether you’re a seasoned GTD ninja or daily drown in a deluge of email I think you will find Mailbox a breath of fresh air.”

Faith & science: The MIT Survey on Science, Religion and Origins: the Belief Gap [very interesting]

“We present a detailed survey of how different US faith communities view origins science, particularly evolution and Big Bang cosmology. We find a striking gap between people’s personal beliefs and the official views of the faiths to which they belong. … the main divide in the origins debate is not between science and religion, but between a small fundamentalist minority and mainstream religious communities who embrace science.”

Focus & solutions: The Silver Bullet by Tim Archer

“We need to decide to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.”

Minimum wage & poverty: The Impact of a $9 Minimum Wage

“The federal minimum wage has lost 30% of its purchasing power in recent decades, according to the law project. If the minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living since 1968, it would now equal $10.56. The White House says that raising the wage to $9 restores its inflation-adjusted value to where it was in 1981.”

Sexualization: Sexualization and Christianity: How Should We Respond? by Jennifer W. Shewmaker [required reading]

“Sexualization is treating other people and/or oneself as an object of desire, with value primarily coming from sex appeal and physical attractiveness … Churches should be fighting against these messages of sexualization and objectification with all that we have. … And yet, if you take a hard look at some of the messages that are being sent to girls and women through church curriculum, Christian books on girl and womanhood, and mega-church sermons, I’m afraid that you will find many of the same messages. … What can Christians and church bodies do to stand against sexualization? How do we send a countercultural message? Here are some practical ideas …”

Silence: What Your Silence Tells Others

“For extroverts, finding silence during a week is very important even though silence is not their natural leaning. For introverts, finding silence is easy since they prefer less stimulation on any given day. For both groups, silence speaks volumes.”

this went thru my mind

 

Climate change & global warming: How High Could the Tide Go?

“‘I wish I could take people that question the significance of sea level rise out in the field with me,’ Dr. Raymo said. ‘Because you just walk them up 30 or 40 feet in elevation above today’s sea level and show them a fossil beach, with shells the size of a fist eroding out, and they can look at it with their own eyes and say, ‘Wow, you didn’t just make that up.’”

Fear: Quit Asking Fear for Permission by Jon Acuff

“Quit asking fear for permission. Fear will never tell you it’s time to do the thing you’re afraid to do.”

Hell: * What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?; * Hell: From James to John

* “The traditional view of hell rests on four pillars: that the OT says nothing; that the Jewish view at the time of Jesus was one of eternal conscious punishment; that Jesus’ view was thoroughly Jewish; and that the NT authors follow Jesus. Edward Fudge, in Hell: A Final Word , subjects each of these to examination in a readable, accessible format. The first pillar is wobbly; the OT does speak about the “end” of the wicked and the idea is one of a “consuming” fire (not tormenting fire). The second? Wobblier. There were three views: a consuming fire, a purifying fire, and a tormenting fire. Third? Today we sketch Fudge’s short chapters on what Jesus taught, and I shall sketch his sketch.”

* “The Book of Acts does not motivate by fear.”

Pro-life: A Dialogue on What it Means to be Pro-Life by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo

“Our ideologies come with responsibility. In my neighborhood, to be against abortion means we have to figure out what to do when a fourteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. If we are really pro-life, we had better have some foster kids and teen moms living with us to prove it. I don’t want to just be an anti-abortion or anti-death person. I want to be pro-life.”

Relationships & work: What If You Could Truly Be Yourself at Work? by Tony Schwartz

“Each of us is far less likely to succeed by forever pushing to stand out from the pack than by building communities of care and trust committed to raising the bar for everyone.”

Retirement & work: God at Work: Mission Work by Jonathan Storment

“The Greek view of work was that it was a necessary evil. … But Genesis, starts off radically differently. It involves a God who intentionally works and creates the world with care. In fact, the word that Genesis uses for God’s creative word is just the Hebrew word for everyday work. The Bible starts off with God working. And then he creates Adam and Eve and immediately puts them to work And that’s important, because before the fall, there was work. God didn’t finish creation, he started it and then joins in a partnership with them as they create culture, name animals and pioneer… well basically everything. …

“It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t have [an] … idea of retirement. Instead the Bible has the idea of Sabbath. That is you don’t just work yourself to death until you turn 65. You work with the pace of someone who knows they aren’t the Savior and creator of the world. You rest for a season and then work for a season. But you never just decide to not work again.

“In fact, the closest thing in the Bible that would resemble what we call retirement is death.”

Social security: To Save Social Security, Raise the Minimum Wage

“… we have to do something that will top up benefit levels twenty years from now, not something to stave a complete collapse tomorrow. One thing we could do is simply make up the projected 27 percent shortfall in Social Security benefits through general government spending. At today’s prices, that would cost about $200 billion per year, or about 6 percent of the federal budget. That’s a lot, but not an unmanageable sum of money for the federal government. It could be done. Another thing we would do is just raise the minimum wage.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church attendance: How to Become a Regular Church Attender by Ron Edmonson

“Recently someone asked a great question, ‘How can I get my family back in the habit of church again?’ Great question. I’m so glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions.”

Church decline: Established Churches & Inward Drift by Thom S. Rainer [required reading]

“All organizations tend to lose their focus and forget their original purposes over time. I call this almost imperceptible movement “inward drift.” The attitude becomes one of protecting the way we’ve always done it rather than looking back to the original purposes and reasons for existence. … The primary dangers with inward drift are twofold. First and foremost, the organization can forget the very reason it was created. Second, the drift is often imperceptible. Many organizations don’t realize there is a problem until it’s too late.”

Climate change & global warming: Climate Change: Pictures of a Warming World

“Dawn strikes the mountains rising above St. Mary’s Lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park. When the park was created in 1910, it had 150 glaciers. Now it has 30 glaciers, significantly reduced in size.”

Commuting & devotional time: Don’t Undersell Your Commute by Jonathan Parnell

“These stories are amazing. And a common element in each one is the normalcy in which these experiences occurred. Riding a horse or walking or going about business in New York, this was the stuff of an ordinary day to these men. It was as plain as the four hours I spend alone each week on the road — as plain as that 15–30-minute window so many of us will find ourselves in every day as we travel between work and home, or from one errand to the next.”

Elders: Elders: A Question About Eligibility for Office by Jay Guin

“… is a plurality of elders required? and what about the widower elder?”

Liturgical calendar: Another Look: Church Year Spirituality

“Tomorrow is [that is, Yesterday was] the first Lord’s Day in the Church’s Liturgical Year. On [this past] Sunday, Christians who follow this calendar will begin a new year of living in the Gospel with the commencement of Advent. The diagram on the right gives an overview of the annual Church calendar. … I don’t know why so many Christian groups think they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to ‘discipleship programs.’ This time-tested annual pattern for the life of individual believers and the Church together that is focused on Christ, organized around the Gospel, and grounded in God’s grace, is sheer genius.”

Offerings: Offerings in Leviticus—What They Were and Why They Mattered by Wayne Stiles

“For most Christians, the book of Leviticus is as untraveled as the wilderness in which Moses wrote it. It’s not hard to understand why. I mean, who cares about sacrifices no longer needed or diet codes no longer in effect? Can they teach us anything today? In a word: plenty.”

St. Nicholas: St. Nicholas: What Can I Say, He was a Beast by Pete Enns

“Nicholas was born in the 3rd century in Asia Minor. He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. … Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from execution, provided grain in a famine and rescued a kidnapped boy.”

Texas: Lines Blur as Texas Gives Industries a Bonanza by Louise Story

“Along with the huge job growth, the state has the third-highest proportion of hourly jobs paying at or below minimum wage. And despite its low level of unemployment, Texas has the 11th-highest poverty rate among states. … To help balance its budget last year, Texas cut public education spending by $5.4 billion — a significant decrease considering that it already ranked 11th from the bottom among all states in per-pupil financing, according to recent data from the Census Bureau.”