links: this went thru my mind

 

Benevolence, charity, generosity, money, poor, poverty & Texas: * Boom Meets Bust in Texas: Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In [required reading]; * Let Them Eat Cash

* “One-third of Texas’ $48 billion in tax revenue last year came directly or indirectly from the oil and gas industry … but very little of it is spent on social services and programs to assist the poor, although some helps finance public schools and universities. So, despite the boom, Texas has some of the highest rates of poverty in the nation and ranks first in the percentage of residents without health insurance.”

* “… he was worried that people might spend the handout on drugs or alcohol. This pessimism (and paternalism) is common and understandable. But evidence from other countries suggests we should be more optimistic.”

Church & complaining: How Complaining Keeps the Church from God’s Mission

“If you want to be a part of a church that makes a difference, if you want your small group to make a difference, refrain from wasting your energy on easy targets. It’s not worth your time. Stop ranting on social media about all kinds of things that are wrong from your point of view. We all have concerns. We all know that life is not as it is supposed to be. Instead focus your energy on what you do have influence. Spend your energy on serving your family today. Invest in a co-worker who needs a listening ear. Pray for your neighbor. You can change the world if you focus on your circle of influence.”

Discipleship: Four Marks of Biblical Discipleship

“The question isn’t merely about the mission; it’s about how disciple-making should be defined. Is disciple-making broad or narrow?”

Efficiency, productivity & work: 5 Unusual Ways to Start Working Smarter, Not Harder

“… it’s easy to fall into a pattern of “always working,” rather than working smart …”

Intercession & public prayer: Using “We” in Public Prayers [essential reading]

“… we need to be very careful about how we use the word ‘we.’ … five groups, for whom the ‘we’ in the congregation/church/service might not apply: (1.) Our troops: what if foreigners are present? (2.) Our country: same. (3.) Our young people (or our older people): what of visitors? or those who have no children? (4.) Our children’s children: same (5.) Our environment, our world: is the world ours? or God’s?”

Marriage: Eight Things We’ve Done Right in Our Marriage

“The most important thing we’ve done right is we’ve never given up on our relationship … no matter how hard things got.”

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.”