links: this went thru my mind

 

Church & expectations: * Church and The “Jacob Syndrome”; * 7 Things Churches No Longer Do (But Should)

* “The burden is on all of us to be serious about our faith while also being patient with the shortcomings of ourselves and others. So before you are tempted to say you would be a part of a church only if the did X, Y and Z…take yourself out of the driver’s seat for a moment and pray that God would shape your choices and decisions because God often has a way of using imperfect people and situations to really shape us in significant ways.”

* “Participating in church now means attending weekly services — but rarely requires anything beyond that. What if churches required their congregations to go out into the world and be missionaries, sacrificially, humbly, and passionately loving others just as Jesus did — practicing what is actually being preached?”

Discipleship & influence: The Trouble With Being Salt and Light

“Who among us will be common for God’s sake?”

Dogs: How Dogs Read Our Moods: Emotion Detector Found In Fido’s Brain

“Dogs always seem to know when you’re upset and need extra love, even though they hardly understand a word of what you say. How can that be?”

Discontent, disgruntlement, offense & unhappiness: * Spirit Airlines Taps A Nation Of Hate Fliers; * It Is Our Duty To Never Be Offended [essential reading]

* “The hate flier is the guy who knows what he’s getting into, doesn’t like it, but flies Spirit anyway because it’s so cheap.” [This article makes me how many Christians are - unknown to themselves - actually 'hate members' (i.e. - they know what the church they're a part of is like, don't like it, but stay with it anyway because - equally sadly - it doesn't require much of them at all.)]

* “To be “offended” is an expression which should never be welcome in the Christian vernacular. There is no virtue in being indignant and we have no “right” to take offense. There is a lot progress the Church, and humanity as a whole, could make in understand each other if we stopped indulging in this petty and whiny reaction.”

Politics, power & temptation: The Seduction of Worldly Political Power [required reading]

“… why Christians ought to be wary of the seductions of earthly political power.”

Worship: The Risky Nature of Worship [essential reading]

“A world largely driven by consumerism, self-interest, and entertainment might just prefer worship services that have regularity, rhythm, and pleasantness. I am sure many would prefer worship that is relaxing, lovely, and safe. If necessary, one should be able to catch up on some sleep. But from the beginning, worship has not been so innocuous.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Books & reading: Books to Have and to Hold

“This may seem like a trivial difference, but that’s not how it feels.”

Brokenness, healing, trauma & understanding: Understanding Trauma – How We Treat the Broken Among Us

“To be broken means that we lack the strength or capacity to manage our circumstances. It means we are truly helpless in the light of the challenges we face. All of us experience this state at one time or another, but the traumatized and mentally ill face it every day.”

Empathy, leadership & power: When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart [required reading]

“Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.”

End of an era: A Farewell, and Thanks

“It gives me no pleasure to write this, but I am no longer going to be publishing the e-zine New Wineskins. As both a print magazine and later an online e-zine, New Wineskins has had a colorful history over the last 20+ years, but I can no longer continue to publish it.”

Expectations & people: You Get What You Expect [essential reading]

“If we expect something good, it has a way of showing up. If we expect something bad, it too has a way of showing up.”

Grammar & writing: En Dash, Em Dash: What Are They and How To Use Them [really?; we need three different kinds of dashes?]

“What are these dashes you speak of?”

Preaching & sermons: * Sermons are Not for Liking [essential reading]; * Clarification on My Comments About Preaching and Change

* “Sermons are not for liking. There are at least two reasons for this: it dishonors preaching and it dishonors the preacher.”

* “… change in shared practices, involves more than changing our minds about things. This requires deeper, cultural change.”

this went thru my mind

 

Anarchy, civility, control, leadership, power, relationships & spiritual warfare: CSC Paper: “It Should Not Be So Among You” (Previously “On Anarchism and Assholes”)

“In 2004 [Dr. Bob] Sutton proposed and wrote up what he called the “No Asshole Rule” as a “Breakthrough Idea” in the annual edition on that topic for The Harvard Business Review. Basically, the “No Asshole Rule” states that a company would do well to attend to and address the behavior of mean, nasty, selfish, egomanical, and rude persons in the workplace. After publishing his idea in the Review Sutton was overwhelmed with feedback from people around the globe telling him stories of the toll assholes exact in the workplace. He also received confirmation that companies who had implemented a version of the “No Asshole Rule” had experienced not only a boost in their corporate culture but to their bottom line as well.”

Anger, frustration, listening & worry: How to Listen When Someone Is Venting [essential reading]

“The way to listen when someone is venting is to ask them the following three questions …”

Change, church, ministry, evangelism, outreach & tradition: * 3 Things Churches Love That Kill Outreach [essential reading]; * Why Small Churches Are the Next Big Thing

* “1. Too many churches love past culture more than their current context. … 2. Too many churches love their comfort more than their mission. … 3. Too many churches love their traditions more than their children.”

* “”There’s no shortage of studies bemoaning the next generation’s exodus from the Church. Yet while some have written off Millennials’ spiritually, this is a mistake—for the Church and for the Millennials. In the face of this reality, a new opportunity is emerging. … Why? Because, as the first generation with a majority born and raised outside traditional marriage, genuine relationships and intimate worship—what small churches do best—will matter more to them than it did to their parents. But this opportunity comes with one, big condition: Millennials won’t give up quality to gain intimacy. And they shouldn’t have to.”

Culture: Lego Faces are Getting More Pissed Off, Study Says

“The study leaves us with an open question about what sort of impact the growth in conflict-based Lego characters might have on children’s play. The authors also acknowledge that this trend might be necessary for the toy company to maintain its place in the market and meet customer demand. The children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces,” reads the conclusion. It does recommend that toy designers take care in creating expressions and test the effect of the designs on children. What do you think? Are Lego toys becoming too negative?”

Discipleship & politics: 10 Political Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus

“…  this is not a complete list but it’s a pretty good place to start.”

Elders & leadershipThe Problem With Elders (parts 1 & 2)

“I have listened to literally thousands of members, hundreds of elders, and hundreds of ministers in the last ten years and many of them have the same complaints/issues … Perhaps it’s time we talked about elders. The problem is … where to start?”

Grief & healing: * 5 Signs That Your Grief is Healthy; * Megan’s Hands

* “When do we know we are grieving well?  And when do we know our grief is becoming potentially destructive?  Walking through grief is a balancing act between allowing yourself to mourn in healthy ways and not allowing grief to take over your life making you unhealthy in mind, body and spirit.  But the question is “How do you know when your grief is being constructive and healing and not destructive and causing you further trauma?” Here are some suggestions on when you know grief is good and when you know grief might be causing you problems …”

* “… the dam broke and I was close to drowning from the depression, the doubt, and the grief. Fast forward many years to today.”

Love & Islam: Hard Teaching: Amid Fear and Division, What Does it Mean to Love Our Muslim Neighbors? [essential reading]

“I don’t call Amir Arain my brother in the faith, but that doesn’t make him any less my neighbor. According to Jesus, everyone is a neighbor, and there’s no one who’s not my neighbor. Yes, I disagree with Amir on the precise meaning of Jesus’ life. Because of this — not in spite of — I believe that the real test of my disagreement with Amir is in the depth of my commitment to love Amir as Jesus has loved both of us. It’s easy for me to love my brothers and sisters in the faith. Jesus wants to know if I know how to love my neighbors.”

Ministry: * 7 Most Frustrating Things Pastors Experience; * 7 Most Exciting Things a Pastor Experiences

* “What do you think are some of the most frustrating things that pastors experience?”

* “Here are 7 most exciting things pastors experience …”

N.T. Wright: Ask N.T. Wright …(response)

“Wright is the author of over 100 books, including the popular Surprised by Hope and Simply Christian. [He] … is currently Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews in Scotland.”

Singing, songs & corporate worship: Ten Questions to Ask of a Song’s Lyrics

“… here are ten questions to ask about the words of any song that you’re considering including in corporate worship.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceChristianity, guns, idolatry & power: * The Weakness of the Pentagon and the Power of the Cross; * A Meditation on the 10 Commandments (#3)

* “Christians are people who know that the Word is mightier than the sword. Our weapons are not worldly, but powerful: the preaching of the Word who has made peace and the celebrating of the Word embodied in broken flesh and poured-out blood.”

* “What are some of our graven images today? A gun is an idol. It is an idol of the false god of power. It can also be an idol of the false god of safety and security. If I trust in the killing power of cold steel and lifeless wood, I am rejecting the power of the life-giving and life protecting God.”

Gun control & the media: Gun Control and the Media

“In the four months since the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, the tone of the conversation about gun control on Twitter has shifted sharply several times in apparent response to ongoing events, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of nearly 21 million tweets from December 18 through April 21.”

Gun control & the public: Mixed Reactions to Senate Gun Vote

“Overall, 15% say they are angry this legislation was voted down and 32% say they are disappointed. On the other side, 20% say are very happy the legislation was blocked, while 19% say they are relieved. … States with two senators voting no: AL, AK, AR, GA, ID, KS, KY, MS, NE, ND, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, WY.”

Violence: “God is pissed off and so am I”: Pastor Phil Jackson on Gun Violence

“If you have never held a mother, father, or crying child who has had to bury a family member because of gun violence, you might not understand the need to make the tough changes. If you have never seen the eyes of a student looking to you for hope as life seeps from their body or sat with a mother asking God why her child is gone — why her child had to die — I doubt you will understand the pain and the effect of what guns are doing on the streets of Chicago. If you have never had these experiences, you might not understand my sense of urgency when I say that I want to see the end of cheap and plentiful guns in my neighborhood. … My thoughts about the protection of constitutional rights are always accompanied by my thoughts of protecting the young people in my neighborhood.”

this went thru my mind (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceAbortion: The Problem with “Safe, Legal” Abortion

“This absolutely horrifying story from The Atlantic about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, now standing trial for murder in Philadelphia, gives the lie to the traditional argument that making and keeping abortion legal ensures that it will be done safely and with concern for the health and well being of the mother. … I encourage you to go and read the entire article, if you can stomach it. It is a true American horror story. It also reveals issues of racism, mistreatment of the poor, the exploitation of women, and the failures of government and journalistic institutions.”

Ancient warfare & horses: Iron Age Weapons—From Cold Metal to Warm-Blooded Animals

“Advanced ‘martial arts’ schools for horses and riders developed war horses trained in special athletic movements designed to inflict maximum damage with their hooves in battle. It has developed over the centuries into what we now refer to as modern dressage, a sport in the Olympics since 1900.”

Churches of Christ, military service, pacifism, prayer, & war: A Prayer by J.N. Armstrong

“J.N. Armstrong was the first president of Harding University and the son-in-law of James A. Harding. He believed that Christians were not to participate in war.”

Fear, hope, idolatry, power, & security: North Korea May Bomb the Hell Out of Us and Blow Us to Smithereens, Yet We Will Cling to the Instability of Hope by Kurt Willems

“‘Peace through strength’ is good for us all, or so many believe. … Too often, the Christian hope is co-opted by the hope of Caesar … We followers of Jesus in the empire of America have a choice. We can put our trust in empty sloganeering. We can trust in the horses and chariots of the military. Or, we can place our lives in the midst of reality, the unstable yet sure hope we have in Christ Jesus.”

Forgiveness & violence: Warren Forgives Seller of Gun in Son’s Suicide

“Pastor Rick Warren has shared some of his thoughts via Twitter during the past week as he and his wife Kay grieve the loss of their youngest son, tweeting Thursday (April 11) that he has forgiven the person who sold Matthew the gun used in his suicide.”

Gun control, gun lobby, NRA & politics: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip by Gabrielle Giffords [required reading; and I say, "Amen!"]

“On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies … Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (6)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have stood out to me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the latest batch of gleanings.

Many have sinned because of money, and whoever seeks to get more will turn a blind eye. A stake is driven between cracks in stones, and sin will be wedged between selling and buying. (Sirach 27.1)

Limit the time you spend with unintelligent people, but linger with the thoughtful. (Sirach 27.12)

A fire burns in proportion to its fuel, and conflict increases the longer it continues. The more powerful individuals are, the stronger their anger will be; and the wealthier they are, the more their wrath will increase. (Sirach 28.10)

… be patient with those in humble circumstances, and don’t make them wait for assistance. Help the needy for the commandment’s sake,     and in proportion to their need don’t turn them away empty-handed. (Sirach 29.8-9)

A parent who spoils children now will end up tending to their wounds, and will experience heartache at every outcry. A horse that is unbroken turns out stubborn, and a child, when given free rein, turns out reckless. (Sirach 30.7-8)