this went thru my mind

 

Apocrypha, Bible, & canon: The Second Canon

“Just how Protestants came to lose these books is a curious story. Reformation-era debates over the Bible naturally focused on issues of canon.”

Complaining, criticism, leadership, ministry, self-pity & whining: * No Whining; * How To Respond to Rejection and Unjust Criticism

* “Just about the worst thing a leader can nurture in his heart is self-pity. And just about the worst thing a leader can do in front of his people is murmur and complain. I understand there is an appropriate place for lament. I know it is not always wise for leaders to quietly endure injustice. I’m not encouraging leaders to be stoic and indifferent to pain. What I am saying—and rather forcefully I hope—is that leaders must not be whiners.”

* “Many Christians cannot get over rejection, let alone misunderstanding. And that is why there is no resurrection in their lives. In our own natural power, we are incapable of responding to pain the way Jesus did. But the good news of the gospel is that He lives inside of us, giving us both the power and the will to do His good pleasure. The secret is in letting go.”

Culture and the U.S.: A ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ Map Of America

“The idea here is to show America not as 50 states, but as regions where people do stuff together. In other words, a ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ map.”

Discipleship: Five Reasons We Don’t Disciple (links to parts 1, 2, & 3)

“Seven years ago Christianity Today magazine asked John Stott to assess the growth of the evangelical church. This was his reply: ‘The answer is “growth without depth.” None of us wants to dispute the extraordinary growth of the church. But it has been largely numerical and statistical growth. And there has not been sufficient growth in discipleship that is comparable to the growth in numbers.’ Sadly, seven years on, that assessment still rings true. Although our growth has been wide as the ocean, it’s often about as deep as a puddle. Why is that?”

Faith & grief: One Month by Keith Brenton

“Will I choose to continue believing, go on trusting?”

God, church, power & self: How Shall We Keep Going On? by Terry Rush [required reading]

“In actuality, if it is to be it is up to Him. Why do we need this reminder? When we think church is up to us, we become overwhelmed and inwardly overwrought with exasperation because WE CAN’T DO IT.  Frustration, guilt, and bummerism subdue the spirit of each servant.”

Preaching: * 5 Strategies to Get More Out of the Sermon by Sean Palmer; * When Your Sermon is Only a Single by Philip Nation

* “You have a role to play in helping your preacher preach better.”

* “Each week, we hope that our sermon will be a homerun. However, I’ve hit a lot more singles and doubles than triples. I’ve hit even fewer homeruns. In all honesty, there are many Sundays my sermon feels like a poorly executed bunt that I have to hustle out to first base. So what are you to do when you just hit a single?”

Productivity: How I Improved My Workflow, 90-Minutes at a Time

“Timing is everything, as they say, and your workflow is no different. The human body is hard-wired to pulse. To operate at our best, we need to renew our energy at 90-minute intervals — not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.”

this went thru my mind

 

Attention, complaints & leadership: Ministry Inside.113

“Church leaders, sometimes, give far too much attention to people who are demanding our attention in some way, often in the form of a complaint. I want to encourage us to take notice of the following people …”

Church decline, evangelism, mission & outreach: Why “Insiders” Are Killing Your Church

“Almost everybody who follows Christ, and almost every gathering of those Christ followers constituting a church, says the same thing: ‘We want to reach the world for Christ.’ Yet, most don’t. So where’s the breakdown?”

Church politics: Church Politics: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“One of the most pervasive problems ravaging and destroying the church is church politics. This has always been a major portion of the wiles of the devil. The church does not fall because of external opposition, but because of internal strife and division. This always has to do with personal preferences, self-centered goals, and arrogant behavior. The Bible presents numerous examples of this. Here are only a very few.”

Easter, fear & Mark’s Gospel: Easter Shouldn’t Be Good News by Richard Beck [required reading]

“The oldest gospel we have, the gospel of Mark, ends in the most curious of ways …”

Minister’s wife: Lies Ministry Wives Believe

“As a pastor’s wife, I find myself fighting the same old internal battles that have plagued me from year one, only now I recognize them more quickly and have tools to combat them. Do you think or believe these lies, too? … 1. My identity is that of a ministry wife. … 2. I am not called to ministry. … 3. As a ministry wife, I’m playing a specific, scripted role. … 4. My husband is important to the work of the church, but I am not. … 5. My job as a ministry wife is to serve people. … 6. I have to be available to everyone at all times. … 7. I can’t ask for help or reveal my weaknesses and struggles.”

Morale, productivity & time management: * Urgent, Please Read ASAP; * Why, ‘Do More With Less,’ is Stupid

* “The problem, of course, is that the queue of urgent never ends, it merely changes its volume as it gets longer.”

* “‘Do more with less,’ demotivates employees. It’s code for work harder. If they’re already working hard, they think, ‘The more I give the more they want. I’m giving less.’ ‘Do more with less,’ disengages and demotivates those giving most. Those hurt most by, ‘Do more with less,’ are the ones doing most.”

The Bible mini-series: A Celebration of Mary Magdelene [required reading]

“In this post I would like to turn to a feature of the series that has so far gone without comment in other reviews, the depiction of Mary Magdalene.  I will not hide from the reader just how thrilled I am with the way that Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah, left) is played.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church decline, Churches of Christ & mission: Future Church

“… I want to talk about the way forward … at least where it begins because I don’t believe in waiting around for the bells to finally toll.”

Discipleship & Jesus: What If Jesus Was Serious?

“What if Jesus was serious when he said: Love and pray for your enemies, do not judge others, give to the poor, and don’t worry about your life?”

Gospel: The Gospel: Far More Than a Key to the Front Door

“… the gospel isn’t something we need only to become a Christian.”

Legalism: Legalism: Old and New Perspectives [essential reading]

“Legalism is any practice or belief that is added to the gospel that compromises the sufficiency of Christ as Savior and jeopardizes the adequacy of the Spirit in moral guidance. Secondarily, then, legalism demands that one adopt a group’s special markers in order to be fully acceptable to God.”

Mental health & religion: Religion is a Powerful Resource for Good in Mental Health

“Dr. Harold Koenig is one of the world’s most prolific scientists in psychiatry and medicine. … Within the period of 1878 to 2010, he found over 3,000 empirical studies in the literature across these three centuries. Amazingly, nearly 2,000 of them have been published in the last decade—from 2000 to 2010, pointing to a significant interest in the mental health field about the role of spirituality in health. Koenig found that nearly 75%—three cases of every four—showed a positive relationship between spirituality and physical or mental health. A deep and active faith, in other words, translates to robust health, good mental health, and a long and satisfying life.”

Ministry: Losing a Game We Deny We are Playing

“One result of the toxic brew of Kingdom and American values in our churches is a high degree of confusion and anger among ministers. Many are profoundly worried there is something wrong with themselves while they long for the kind of affirmation they know to be bad for them.”

Morale, productivity, respect & trust: Want Productive Employees? Treat Them Like Adults

“Distrust begets distrust in return. It kills motivation rather than sparking it. Treat employees like children and you increase the odds they’ll act like children. You reap what you sow — for better and for worse.”

Poverty & taxes: In the South and West, a Tax on Being Poor

“When it comes to state and local taxation, we are not one nation under God. In 2008, the difference between a working mother in Mississippi and one in Vermont — each with two dependent children, poverty-level wages and identical spending patterns — was $2,300. … These regional disparities go back to Reconstruction …”

this went thru my mind

 

Contentment, happiness & work: 5 Ways to Find Joy in a Job You Don’t Love

“… what do you do when you get stuck in a job you don’t love? … Is it possible to keep getting up day after day and actually have joy in your work?”

Kingdom: Video: James K.A. Smith on Imagining the Kingdom

“To see all six videos from James K.A. Smith, click on the links at the end of each video.”

Learning & teaching: Briefly Noted: “Is the Lecture Dead?”

“The lecture remains one of our most precious educational resources, and it ought not be sent to the pedagogical morgue on account of its most boring and tedious practitioners. May teachers everywhere, and especially professors of theology, lecture as if their hair were on fire. May they tell the Great Story passionately, personally, and reflectively, and in so doing inform, energize, and inspire their students.”

Parenting & prayer: Seven Things to Pray for Your Children

“1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming. … 2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus’s faithful, persistent call. … 3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments. … 4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage. … 5. That their thoughts will be pure. … 6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work. … 7. That when the time is right, they will GO!”

Time management: Beware: 10 Time Management Rules That You Are Breaking

“Break these 10 time management rules at your own risk.”

Wind: Wind Map [a live, interactive map of wind across the lower 48 states of the U.S.]

“Surface wind data comes from the National Digital Forecast Database. These are near-term forecasts, revised once per hour. So what you’re seeing is a living portrait.”

this went thru my mind

 

Atheism: Reflections on the New Atheism by Alister McGrath

“For Christianity, faith is about going beyond reason, not against it. Faith transcends the limits of reason, allowing us to embrace what we know really is there, even if we cannot prove this by logic. Faith is a relational idea, pointing to the capacity of God to captivate our imaginations, to excite us, to transform us, and to accompany us on the journey of life. Faith goes beyond what is logically demonstrable, yet is nevertheless capable of rational motivation and foundation.”

Church, Jesus, ministry & spirituality: * Ending the Search for the Holy Grail by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]; * DIY Spirituality

* “This is precisely my problem. I love the idea of church, but the reality is something else entirely. … But, serving a real church in the trenches, beyond this safe enclave of preparation for ministry—living in it every day with its unchangeable weakness in your face—that grows hard to accept over time when it doesn’t go away despite all your supposedly excellent theological training and skill.”

* “… DIY spirituality promises freedom but delivers futility. … This is not a blanket defense of religion or all traditions. Not all institutional expressions of the faith are equal. It’s to some people’s credit that they leave some churches. But that only underscores the importance of finding a spiritual home where flourishing is possible.”

Immigration: The ‘Line’ For Legal Immigration Is Already About 4 Million People Long

“… it will be awhile longer before applicants from 1997 are eligible.”

Leadership: 11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader by Dave Kerpen

“Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader.”

PowerPoint: Better PowerPoint: What We REALLY Remember From PowerPoint Presentations

“1,540 subjects participated in the study, where I started with a very basic question applied to a very basic on-demand presentation: How many slides does a viewer remember, on average, from a text-only, standalone online PowerPoint presentation containing 20 slides? … Participants remembered an average of 4 slides from a 20-slide, standalone, text-only PowerPoint presentation.”

Time & productivity: Top 10 Time Killers (and how to fight back!) [infographic]

“… we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Time Killers, based on the percentage of people spending time between 1-2 hours a day on each non-productive activity.”

Women: A Culture of Duality by Deana Nall [required reading]

“Based on what women have shared with me about this, I’ve identified a few recurring situations that can make women feel slighted in church settings.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children & parenting: Why Most Parenting Advice is Worthless by Dan Bouchelle

“… there are a few things we learned about parenting along the way.”

Happiness & unhappiness: Where is the Happiest City in the USA? [required notice]

“How happy is the city you live in?”

[In the words of Mr. Spock: "Fascinating!" This study attempted to determine the overall state of happiness (or the lack thereof) in 373 U.S. cities (in the lower 48 states). Remember that number: 373. The study concluded that right at the bottom of the heap (i.e. - where most of the unhappy people are found) are the cities in the region in which I live. Example? Dead last is Beaumont, TX (#373), located one hour east of me. Texas City, TX - forty-five minutes south of me - comes in at #371. Port Arthur, TX - situated an hour east of me - is ranked #361. And Houston, TX - and live I on its outskirts! - is #352. Take a good, long look at this map and you'll notice that it's the Old South/Bible Belt that has by far the highest concentration of unhappy folks. This map makes for an interesting comparison with a red state/blue state map, too. http://bit.ly/KXuxsJ Hmmm. Me not surprised.]

Happiness, idolatry & self: Are You Worshiping the Idol of ‘Open Options’? by Barry Cooper

“The irony … is that this apparently limitless choice doesn’t actually make us happy. The number of choices available to us becomes overwhelming, and actually makes it difficult for us to ever have the joy of fully committing to anything or anyone. Even if we do commit, our culture then makes us feel dissatisfied with the choice we’ve made.”

Happiness, productivity & time: How to Become a Morning Person by Michael Hyatt

“‘Morning people’ tend to make more money, be more productive, be healthier and live longer, and be more happy and satisfied in their lives. But how do you actually become a morning person if you aren’t one now? Here are nine steps you can take starting today.”

Houston: America’s Most Literate Cities

The America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. Houston ranked #53 in 2005 and now ranks #60.5 (2012). To put that in perspective, New Orleans and Detroit are ranked much higher (#25 & #46 respectively).

Preaching: Preachers Should Be Like Naughty Kids by Tullian Tchividjian [required reading]

“I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills…and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross–and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. But preachers can’t be that naughty or brave unless they’re free from their own need for the dope of acceptance. And they wont be free of their need until they can trust the God who has already accepted them, in advance and dead as door-nails, in Jesus. Ergo, the absolute indispensability of trust in Jesus’ passion. Unless the faith of preachers is in that alone–and not in any other person, ecclesiastical institution, theological system, moral prescription, or master recipe for human loveliness–they will be of very little use in the pulpit.” (quoting Robert Capon)

Women: Women on the Family Tree: What Does the Bible Say Women DID? by Bobby Valentine

“It seems the moment one offers any opinion on the subject of women in the church that some one will brand you as a heretic and as an unbeliever in the Bible and its authority. Those who hold what might be called a ‘traditional’ view accuse those who harbor a non-Traditional view as loose postmodern deconstructionists. Those who hold a non-Traditional view accuse those cherish the Traditional view as canonizing not Scripture but culture and highly selective reading. It is getting to the point where these groups cannot even talk to each other.

“Is it possible to go to the Scriptures and just see what women did there? Can one be ‘un’ biblical if he or she says women can do exactly what God let them do in the ‘Bible days?’ So what if we simply ask this question: ‘What do we see women actually doing in the Scripture?’ Isn’t this the place to start? Is this what a Bible believer should do?”

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer’s by Nancy Shute

“The latest evidence from the bilingualism-is-good-for-you crew comes from Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington.”

Bible manuscripts: Cambridge Digital Library

Codex Bezae

Christians, guns, self defense & violence: * An Unexpected Topic–But Just In Case: How to Respond to an Active Shooter [required reading]; * Swords into Ploughshares: Voluntary Disarmament in the Kingdom by Caleb Coy [essential reading]; * Youth Fires Shotgun at 2 High School Students, Hits One; Suspect in Custody

* “An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. … If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a survival strategy.”

* “…  rather than being on the front lines of peace and laying down of earthly weapons, contemporary American Christians often put themselves on the front lines of stocking up on weapons in fear of the next big revolution.  Why do we do this?  I have no answer other than to point to our love for our nation and it’s 2nd amendment exceeding our love for the kingdom and it’s greatest commandment. If we look to the first century, we will find a different story.  We see a people willing to be martyred before their enemies as witnesses to their faith, a people with a tendency to refuse to become soldiers, or attend public executions (unless it was their own people). …

“As a Christian I will try to demonstrate how to treat potential threats and enemies as I believe Christ would have us do.  ”Do good to those who hate you”. “Pray for those who persecute you.” “Resist not the evil-doer.”  Jesus wasn’t just talking about the guy down the street that gets on our nerves, as if his kingdom were some kind of sitcom. He meant something very earth-shaking. He was preparing us to be ready for martyrdom in any generation, in any land.”

* “The gunman was in custody Thursday after he was talked into dropping the firearm by his teacher and another school staff member, said authorities …”

Fear: Fear: This is a Heart Issue [Part 2] by John T. Willis

“Fear is a powerful motivation in personal, church, and national life. Sometimes this is positive, sometimes this is negative. Here are some motivations which affect our lives.”

Life: * Take Back Your Life in Ten Steps by Tony Schwartz; * Moving Forward by Scott Elliott

* “You’re smart, hard-working and good at what you do, but the truth is you also too often feel your life is just a relentless set of demands you have to meet, and too rarely a source of satisfaction. You long to feel more in control of your days, but the reality is you’re frequently racing just to keep up. This is the story I hear over and over at every level in organizations, from first line managers all the way up to CEOs in large companies. I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be this way, and that the solution has to do with deeply embedding a series of simple practices into your life. … The suggestions are in order from the most basic and fundamental, to the highest level.”

* “… let me offer you several practical things you can do in 2013 to alter the direction of your life.”