links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible class, children, church & Sunday School: Sunday Schooling Our Kids Out of Church

“… churches creating Sunday School experiences for kids that ran concurrently with their parents’ worship service.  In other words, kids and parents were separated from each other, having different Sunday experiences. … But there was (and is) one huge unintended consequence:  We have raised the largest unchurched generation in the history of our country.”

Churches of Christ & religious debates: Debates

“No person and no church will ever agree on all topics. It is good to discuss many biblical and religious concepts, but all in love and in full fellowship with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all godly people through Jesus Christ.”

Encouragement, grief, mourning & respectTo Mourn, or Not to Mourn [required reading]

“When someone dies our first response should not be to condemn the life that has been lost or those who are mourning. The world needs to see compassion from us. They need to know we care. There are people struggling with depression and drug addiction all around us and to dismiss these diseases is to show a lack of compassion. The way of Jesus is not to condemn people who are hurting, but to come alongside them and to help them in their time of trouble. To help, show compassion, or mourn the effects of drug addiction or depression is not to approve of them. When we do these things we are showing empathy. We are trying to understand and help people escape the darkness they feel encompassed by. To fail to act in this way is to turn our backs on people who desperately need help.”

Generations & Gen Z: Coming Soon to a Workplace Near You: Generation Z

“… the most common definition of Gen Zers as being born after 1996 …”

Ministry: * The Two Times the Pastor is Most Vulnerable; * Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy

* “The minister is most vulnerable at two times: in the few minutes before the morning service begins and in the half hour after it ends.”

* “There is certainly a growing trend towards bi-vocational ministry in both mainline and evangelical churches … This trend dovetails with other recent developments that are troubling to many religious communities. Not only is church attendance in long-term decline, but financial giving by church members is at Depression-era lows. Meanwhile, seminary students are taking on ballooning debt for a career that may not exist by the time they graduate. This trend began before the Great Recession, and has only worsened since then.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible, discovery, education & learning: Evangelicals & the Bible by Tim Gombis (parts 1, 2 & 3) [required reading]

“… about three weeks into every semester, a student would raise his or her hand and say, ‘I’ve never heard this stuff before.’

“I began to respond by saying, ‘you’re welcome!  You or your parents are paying me thousands of dollars to tell you things that you don’t know.  This is what we call “education” and it sounds like I’m doing my job.’”

“It began to dawn on me, however, that there was something about evangelical culture that was making these students assume that if something was unfamiliar, it was unbiblical. …

“What strikes me as odd is that the very thing I have come to associate with studying the Bible—the excitement of discovery—is the very thing that somehow frustrates the evangelicals I’ve been teaching.

“Like I said, I think this indicates that there’s something warped about how evangelicals regard the Bible. …

“… we please God when we are diligent students, which implies that we are always learning and that it’s okay (and normal) that there are things we don’t know!’ …

“My advice is to get to know the Bible over time—like, over decades. There aren’t five easy steps to Bible knowledge. I’ve told students in the past to measure their knowledge of the Bible in 5-year increments. And when I’ve said that, I could hear sighs of relief.

“Remember that the aim of getting to know Scripture is not to be equipped to get out there and have ‘impact.’

“The purpose of knowing the Bible is to develop Scripture-shaped minds so that we get to know and love God more faithfully, being transformed so that we love and serve others more creatively. The goal of Bible knowledge is the cultivation of virtue. And this is something that only happens over time.

“And the learning process itself transforms us, so we shouldn’t think that at some point we’ll be finished, “fully equipped” to get out there and put our knowledge to effective use.”

Bible & translation: Fifteen More Myths About Bible Translation by Daniel Wallace

“Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind.”

Certainty: The Lust for Certainty by Ben Witherington

“… we have to live on the basis of faith every day, not on the basis of some certainty or an ironclad guarantee.”

Churches: The 15 Largest Protestant Denominations in the United States

“The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches assembles various data on churches and denominations across North America. I recently gleaned the top 15 denominations by membership in the United States from their reports.”

Contentment: Five Steps to Peace in a Really Bad Situation

“… how can we get peace if we’re headed into or in the midst of a crisis? God tells us how to do just that in Phil. 4:4-9.”

Grief & words: Seven Questions Mourners Need to Ask Before Replying to Hurtful Statements

“…  the question of how to reply to hurtful statements is that each mourner must make up his or her own mind in each situation as to what would be the wisest method or statement to make. If you do decide to immediately reply to a painful statement from a well-intentioned, goodhearted, but ignorant comforter, you might want to consider the following questions first …”

Holy Week: 9 Things You Should Know About Holy Week

“Holy Week is the week before Easter, a period which includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Here’s what you should know about the days that commemorate the Passion of Christ.”

Internet, maturity, & social media: * Social Media Becoming Integral Part of Churches; * NT Wright on Blogging & Social Media [3 1/2 min. video]; * Shortcut for Blocking Games on Facebook; * The Internet: It’s Like Never Leaving Junior High [essential reading]

* “From websites to blogs, podcasts and Twitter, church leaders are embracing social media as a way to spread the word of God, to share information and to woo new members.”

* “I have one big worry about that, which is the isolationism of sitting in front of a screen. Even if there’s lots of other voices there. it’s only a screen.”

* “That’s all there is to it. If you get a notification from an app in your notifications menu that comes from an app you just don’t want to ever see again, a few clicks and you’ll never be bugged again. Nice.”

* “If life is just like high school, then the Internet might be an age group lower. Much of our digital world means never having to leave junior high school behind. … Janet Sternberg, a communications professor at Fordham University in New York who’s written a great deal about online civility, sees a reverse of a pattern created by television. If, as cultural critic Neil Postman asserted, TV ended childhood — the medium provided an impetus for young people to act older, which created hand-wringing about generations growing up too quickly — the Internet has done the opposite, she says. ‘The Internet and digital media have produced this “Peter Pan effect” where we never grow up, we’re perpetual children, we never have to be responsible for anything — we keep this juvenile mentality,’ she says.”

Note-taking: The Lost Art of Note-Taking by Michael Hyatt

“I don’t recall anyone ever teaching me how to take notes. I didn’t learn it in school—not even college. Nor did I learn it on the job. It was something I had to pick up on my own. Maybe this is why so few people bother to take notes during meetings or presentations. No one has ever told them why it is important or how to do it. In this episode, I do both.”

Same-sex marriage: If the Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, What Next?

“The biblical ideal of self-sacrificing, lifelong, heterosexual marriage is already countercultural. … If we have placed our trust in the God who does not change, we need not fear shifts in culture or law. … No plan A will skirt the issue that we are all sinners in need of a savior. We are on a level playing field with gays and lesbians who, in my experience, can detect condescension and hypocrisy a mile away.”

Television: 5 Reasons TV is Dead by Scott Elliott

“The mediums which we use to entertain ourselves or receive information come and go, but art is here to stay.”

The Bible mini-series: The Bible Series — Drama and Historical Context

“One of the aspects that I appreciate in the New Testament episodes of The Bible series is the attention paid to historical context. … This is not, of course, to suggest that attempts to provide historical context trump the drama.”

this went thru my mind

 

Caregiving & stealing: 5 Signs a Caregiver Is Stealing From You

“Be careful, proactive, and alert. Here, some of the key warning signs that a caregiver is on the take.”

Children & death: Talking to Your Children about Death by Caleb Wilde

“The implications of this study suggest that, despite all of the challenges involved in talking to a child about death and even in the very demanding circumstances of a child facing his or her imminent death, it is most often better to go ahead with such conversations.”

Church: Are Churches Any Better Than Nightclubs? by Pete Enns

“… it’s hard to be real in church because the whole system seems to work better if you’re not. Which is not good. The problem, though, is what to do about it.”

Church, dropouts, & younger folks: Why Are Young Adults Leaving Church? A Comprehensive Answer by Matt Dabbs [required reading]

“There has been a mass exodus of young adults from Christian churches (including but not limited to Churches of Christ) over the last few decades. … There are a variety of reasons young adults leave the church in their early 20s. They are not all leaving for the same reasons and not every reason is the church’s fault (which tends to be the chorus out there … the church is fully to blame. Not really). I believe there are four categories that all work together into a devastating mix that have resulted in this movement.”

Giving: Atlas of Giving Predicts Gloomy Year for Churches

“Atlas of Giving, a Texas based firm that specializes in forecasting financial trends for non-profit organizations, is predicting that 2013 will be a ‘gloomy’ year for the religious community.”

Just for fun: Barn Owls at Church

“Three young barn owls looking out of the quatrefoil of a church in North Norfolk, England.”

Small groups: * How Do Groups Fit into the Overall Strategy of Your Church? by Eric Geiger; Friendship in Small Groups by Scott Boren

* “Church leaders must know how their groups (classes, Bible fellowships, etc.) fit into their overall discipleship strategy/process, and many don’t. They simply have groups. Once leaders know how groups fit into their overall church discipleship plan, they must harmonize their group leaders, training, and content with the overall discipleship plan.”

* “It is easy to idolize the success of the organization of the church to such a degree that we sacrifice the core of the Gospel, loving people to the point of living in friendship with them. This is a subtle trap where the organization takes priority over the people.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (8)

 

Here are five passages that especially caught my eye this go around in my reading of Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus).

Don’t come into the Lord’s presence empty-handed, since fulfilling the commandments means making offerings. … Every time you give, have a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe gladly. Give to the Most High as he has given, and give with generosity from what you have, because the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you seven times over. (Sirach 35.6-7,11-13)

Whoever acquires a wife takes his first step toward success. She will be a fit helper for him and a pillar of rest. (Sirach 36.29)

At times a person’s intuition keeps them informed better than seven sentries sitting high up on a lookout. But above everything else, pray to the Most High, so that he may make your path straight in truth. (Sirach 37.14-15)

When the dead are at rest, put their memory to rest, and be comforted for them when their spirit has left. (Sirach 38.23)

The scribe’s wisdom depends on the opportunity for leisure, and whoever lacks busyness will become wise. … But those who devote themselves and think about the Law of the Most High are the exception (Sirach 38.24,34)

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: Road Found at Bethsaida from Time of Jesus by Todd Bolen

“We uncovered a paved street from the time of Jesus’s disciples, which runs westward through the residential area from the corner of the Fisherman’s House down toward the Jordan valley. … I tell people that Andrew, Peter and Phillip almost certainly walked on it because they would have had to have gone out of their way to avoid it!”

Grief & mourning: When We Don’t Give a Pause: Javon Belcher and the NFL by Caleb Wilde

“We’re too busy with school to give a pause.  Too busy with work to give a pause.  Too busy with our Facebook feed to give a pause.  Too busy with OUR lives that we forget about the lives of others.”

Hope & hopelessness: Salvation By Port-A-Potty by Wade Hodges

“My favorite scene from the movie Castaway … [is] is the pivotal scene after Tom Hanks’s character has acclimated to life on the island. He’s given up trying escape. He’s tried to kill himself and failed. He has no hope of being rescued. His life has come to a dead end. He’s exhausted all of his options. Then one day he wakes up and finds a surprise on the beach. A piece of a port-a-potty has washed ashore.”

Jesus: 7 Things You May Not Know About Jesus by Frank Viola

“Jesus envelops time. … Jesus sung on the cross. … Jesus’ twelve disciples were teenagers. … Jesus was fragrant when He rose from the dead. … Jesus had a keen sense of humor. Jesus completed and replayed the story of Israel. … Jesus was regarded as a political figure.”

Politics, terrorism & war: Stop Supporting the “War” on Terrorism by Tim Archer

“There is no defined end to this war. … There is no clear definition of who the opponents are. … Christians who believe in just war need to stop supporting the so-called war on terrorism. There is nothing just about it. It’s just war, plain and simple.”

Racism: Racism and American Politics by Roger E. Olson [required reading]

“…  I believe I have detected an underlying current of racism at work in MUCH of the hateful criticism aimed at Obama personally.”