links: this went thru my mind

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Church, church attendance, churchlessness & secularization: Secularism Grows as More Christians Turn Churchless

“There are tens of millions of active believers in America today. But the wall between the churched and the churchless is growing higher and more impenetrable as more people have no muscle memory of what it means to be a regular attender at a house of worship. How these people think, pray and use their time is shifting away from a faith-based perspective. As a result, a churchless or secular worldview ‘is becoming its own social force.'”

Ebola, faith, fear, hysteria & panic: How Christians Should Respond to Ebola in the United States [required reading]

“Never did I expect or think that my mom would contract the disease, be airlifted to Emory University Hospital or undergo the ordeal she did. We are exceedingly thankful for God’s mercy and kindness towards us in all the ways he provided to secure mom’s recovery and health. In recent days we’ve heard and seen more news of other American contracting the virus and even here in the United States. Unfortunately there is a high degree of panic about this virus, even among Christians. But this isn’t the way it should be, especially for those of us who follow and trust Christ. For Christian’s this ‘panic’ about Ebola isn’t warranted. Let me explain …”

Ministry, mission & outreach: Competency Three: Find and Cultivate New Partners in Mission

“The first work of conversion for us to have a credible witness in the world will be our own. And here is our salvation: to believe with everything we have that God’s power and significance in the world can be fully expressed in the form of a servant.”

Ministry & preaching: The Metric of a Prophet [required reading]

“‘How will the prophet measure success? In a world where the church is increasingly taken with corporate metrics of growth and success what is the metric of the prophet? … It’s found in [Ezekiel] 2.4-5: “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.’ … They may listen. They may not listen. But the one thing they will know is this: A prophet lived among them. … This … is the only thing you can control. That when people look back at their lives they remember your words and life. They remember, perhaps from a long time ago, that they once knew a person who spoke truth to them. In a world full of thorns and scorpions they once knew a child of God. A man or a woman who spoke words of judgment and words of grace. They remember a prophet once lived among them.”

Spiritual formation & worship: When Worship Becomes Formative

“… worship is designed to accomplish four things: First, worship redefines our identity. Second, worship reorders our affections. Third, worship repatterns our imagination. Finally, worship reorients our life in the world. How does this all happen? What is going on in the worship that leads to these four elements? What are we doing in worship? What are we to be doing when we gather for worship?”

links: this went thru my mind

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Following are links to five articles I found good for thought. Perhaps you will, too.

Antiquities, archeology, looting & theft: The Causes of Destruction of Antiquities

“Archaeological sites are in danger around the Ancient Near East. While there are antiquities laws in place throughout the region, they rarely suffice to deter the destruction. Once the crime is committed, the data is irretrievably lost, or at best, it is devalued.”

Faith & grace: Beyond “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone)

“Unlike Paul of the Bible and the saints of old, our Christian faith and practice in the 21st century is characteristically … too much of the head (heady) and less about the heart (hearty) … too formulaic and less mystical in articulation … too programmatic and less  … spontaneity in worship in action … too rationalistic and less relational in belief and practice … too purpose-driven and less  … passion-driven in design … too self-centered and less God-centered in focus … too gravy-loaded and less grace-saturated in emphasis … too this-worldly and less other-worldly in perspective … too pragmatic and less transcendent in orientation.”

Ministry & women: How Does a Pastor Use Wisdom to Shepherd Women in His Church?

“… the first thing to establish in a pastor wisely thinking through caring for women in the church is the need for balance.”

Parenting & sports: The Biggest Lie Parents Believe [required reading]

“Parents, stop believing the lie that sports build character! Sports don’t build character, they reveal it.” A guy named John Wooden made that statement.”

Prayer: Unanswered Prayer [required reading]

“Who said that disappointment in prayer is a bad thing?”

links: this went thru my mind

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Faith & sports: Why Do Preachers and Worship Leaders Talk So Much About Sports These Days?

“Sports is one of the greatest idols of contemporary American culture and we need to be very discerning about its presence and influence.”

God, judging others, love, nonviolence & vengeance: The Cross & the Tree [sermon by Greg Boyd; essential listening; 33 min. video]

“Unless we’re feasting on the love of God that’s revealed on the cross … we’ll find ourselves inexorably and invariably feeding off of others. … To the degree that we are not feeding on the love of God, we are feeding on others. We will become religious parasites. … When we judge we are playing God. … Instead of confessing we are the worst of sinners … we act as though we’re the least of sinners. … The kingdom of God is about a group of people saying we, ‘We opt out of this evaluation game. We opt out of the judgment game. We opt out of the retaliation game. We opt out of the violence game. We opt out of the hatred game. And rather we put all of our eggs in this one basket: We trust God to be the source of our life, even if we die. And we trust God to be the Judge of the world even if it costs us our life. And therefore we are the people who will respond to evil with good. We will respond to evil by loving our enemies. … We’ll be a people who live like, look like, love like, serve like Jesus Christ when he gives up his life for his enemies on the cross.’ … That folks is the kingdom of God. … It’s God’s way of overcoming evil. The only we’ll do it is by trusting all judgment to God.”

Involvement & volunteers: 5 Reasons People Aren’t Volunteering at Your Church

“I’ve never met a church that said, ‘You know … when it comes to volunteers, we’re good. We’ve got plenty. In fact, there’s a waiting list for the nursery.’ Churches everywhere need to mobilize more volunteers to get ministry done. But before you start signing people up and filling slots, it might be helpful to take a look at why people are not volunteering.”

Ministry: 10 Dangerous Distractions for a Pastor

“… I can’t address everything that gets in the way of a healthy pastor. I can only list some that are more common in my experience.”

links: this went thru my mind

Action, application, relevance, theology & thinking: 4 Ways Theology Is Practical for Everyday Life [required reading]

“Teach theology long enough and you’ll face countless forms of the same basic question: What does this have to do with real life? Will it affect the way we do ministry, how we share the gospel, or what we do every day? How is it relevant to the problems and challenges the average person faces? You know, is it practical? And the deep suspicion lying behind such questions is that most theology is rather impractical. “

Church attendance, corporate worship, duty, sacrament & worship: The Lord’s Day as a Sacrament [required reading]

“So here’s the crazy thing. I’ve found my way back to seeing the wisdom of church as duty. But less as a duty and more as a sacrament.”

Courtesy, etiquette, manners & respect: Church Conference Etiquette

“… here’s a rundown of some folks you’ll find at every conference and hopefully how not to become one.”

Income inequality, money, poverty & wealth: 40 Years Of Income Inequality In America, In Graphs

“Hover over each line to identify household income, and click through to see the percentage growth over the past 40 years.”

Ministry & the preacher’s wife: Behind the Smile: 6 Things Every Church Needs to Know About the Preacher’s Wife

“I want to love you. Please don’t make it harder. … I wish you saw the man I see.”

links: this went thru my mind

Art & happiness: Why You Need More Art in Your Life (and 5 Ways to Get It) [required reading]

“If you want to find more creativity, satisfaction, and happiness, the single best solution I know is adding more art to your life.”

Christian movies, end times, Left Behind, rapture & second coming: Why ‘Left Behind’ Should Be … Left Behind

“… while Left Behind may prove itself to be a mediocre box office success, it represents a severe misinterpretation of what the Bible actually says about the topic. To put it bluntly, and perhaps to the chagrin of some readers, the idea of a ‘rapture’ is simply not biblically based (and that’s where I’ve lost a third of you!) It represents, instead, a theology based on escapism and in the process does damage to what the Bible really does say about ‘the last days.'”

Death, euthanasia, hospice & quality of life: Doctors Wanted to Extend Life. Instead They Extended Death.

“If you look at people who want euthanasia it’s not who we think it is. It’s not people writhing in pain. It’s not people who can’t breathe because of emphysema. It’s people who are depressed and hopeless and don’t see meaning in life. I don’t think the right answer to that question is, ‘let’s give them some pills to knock them off.’ They need meaning back in their life. They need therapy or medication. Euthanasia, I think the research shows, is much more like suicide than it is like a medical treatment.”

Discernment, moral blindness & power: How Can It Happen? [essential reading]

“… ‘every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with’ moral blindness. That is, as power increases moral blindness increases. Without it the power could not increase; without it the moral blindness would not increase. Instead of acting, the morally blind person is filled with stupor and quiescence.”

Introverts, ministry, preaching & relationships: The Introvert Behind the Pulpit

“For these preachers, devotion to ministry requires balancing need for solitude with passion for sharing God’s word.”