links: this went thru my mind

 

Fiction & reading: Why Do We Read Fiction?

“I often hear people say that they struggle to appreciate fiction. Life is short, and they’d rather spend their time on books that are more informative or useful. … fiction allows us to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”

Government, hunger, politics & poverty: Why Hasn’t Any President Since Lyndon B. Johnson Made Ending Hunger and Poverty a National Priority?

“Truth is charity–all charity–amounts to only about 5 percent of the food we distribute to folks in need here in the U.S. The federal government’s nutrition programs, such as school lunches, the WIC program or SNAP – formerly known as food stamps –makes up the other 95 percent. Just to put that into context, that’s $96.9 billion from the government compared to $4.1 billion of food distributed by all charities in 2011. That is a huge gap that charities wouldn’t be able to fill if Congress cuts vital programs.  But the best tool to fight hunger is job security with fare wages.”

Judgmentalism: The Subtle Sin of Judgmentalism and How It Works [essential reading; would that every Christian would reflect on this piece!]

“If you are prone to criticism and judging others, chances are you will be the last to know it.”

Noah & The Great Flood: The Flood Story: Test Your Knowledge

“With the showing of the movie “Noah” in our country and around the world, people are talking about the flood and whether it really happened. In the process, many people who have a meager knowledge of the Bible are writing about Noah and the flood and in the process, they are introducing mistakes into their discussion of the flood.”

Stress: * 3 Ways To Stop Being So Stressed Out; * Indifference is Ideal

* “The key to overcoming stress is not to work harder but to get perspective.”

* “…  in caring less, I grew to care more.”

Violence: Let There Be Violence?

“Many Christians today are critical of the violence they see in other religions — especially Islam — but there’s an inescapable cognitive dissonance if you are appalled by the violence done in the name of one religion but not by the violence done in the name of your own.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Attitude, church & cynicism: The Most Damaging Attitude in Our Churches [required reading]

“Subtly, without even realizing it, we had become cynics. … cynicism doesn’t always present itself in the sweeping, broad negativity we see on TV. In the day-to-day, it looks more like quick, unwarranted, ‘constructive’ criticism. I’m not talking about the critical thinking required for success as an adult. I’m referring to the way we constantly evaluate and critique people and what they do.”

Computers, privacy & rights: Judge: Feds Can Snatch Your Laptop – for No Reason

“Meet New York federal Judge Edward Korman. On New Year’s Eve, he ruled that if you’re at the U.S. border, the federal government can confiscate your laptop, smartphone or tablet for any reason. No probable cause is needed.

“‘Well,’ you might say, ‘that’s worrying, but I don’t travel outside the U.S. so it isn’t my problem.’ You’ll want to keep reading anyway, because “border” in this ruling doesn’t mean what you think it does.

“In fact, the so-called ‘border exemption’ extends 100 miles inland from the actual border. That includes everyone on the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast, the Gulf or the Great Lakes.”

Creation & evolution: What We Learned From the Ken Ham/Bill Nye Debate

“Whatever value there might be in a public debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, there’s a lot more value in Christians loving their neighbors, whatever their beliefs about life’s origins.”

Marriage: * 7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife Without Even Knowing It; * 7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband Without Even Knowing It

* “You can’t address what you do not know.”

* “She’s a precious gift, guys. Let’s treat her well.”

Miracles: Wait, No Miracles … Wright On!

“… when people say can we believe in miracles I say no, because the word miracle gives us this sense of a normally absent God sometimes reaching in, that’s not the God of the Bible. … the thing about what we call the miracles, is not … wow! there seem to be radical abnormalities within the old world. No. The point is that these are the things that are starting to be normal in the new world which we see close up and personal with Jesus and then which, through the ministry of the gospel thereafter, start to happen in different ways in the wider world. It’s about the launching of new creation not about an invasion into the old creation.”

Parenting: How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home [essential reading]

“Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Thoughts on Christ

“The idea that a young person could be sane, generous, intelligent and Christian held out great appeal for him.”

Racism: What Does Racism Have to Do With Gridlock?: In Atlanta, Everything

“The way forward is complicated, to say the least—but it’s hard to know where you’re going without a clear idea of where you’ve been. Southerners are notoriously poor at understanding our own history—there’s so much of it, and so much is painful—but here, today, is a really good place to start.”

Reading Scripture: Cultivating the Practice of Reading Scripture [required reading]

“This is a journey in which we discover that the work of scriptural reading is not about transforming an ancient message into a modern application but the transformation of our lives though Scripture. The Bible does not present us with texts to be mastered, then, but with a Word intent on shaping our lives, on mastering us.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baytown & Mont Belvieu: Chambers Town Center

A look at the plan for the the construction of Chambers Town Center near the intersection of I-10 & Hwy. 146 in Baytown, TX.

Church, idolatry & ministry: When Church Becomes an Idol

“… what does this look like when church itself is the ‘idol’ a pastor is venerating?”

Criticism, listening, preaching, respect, selective hearing & sermons: Sick of Sermons [required reading]

“Chronic critique of sermons is an illness. …  Some sufferers have lived with this condition for so long that they have found ways to manage it: committing to ministries that pull them out of the sermon … venting … or using the sermon-time for completely unrelated spiritual exercises. The long-term prognosis is grave: spiritual malnourishment. The table that God sets for us has two parts, Word and Sacrament, and Christ is the bread of both. But we only get what we’re willing to receive. How can we fight this illness that has us always excusing ourselves from the table during the first course and frequently ruining the appetite of others? I recommend aggressive treatment.”

Discouragement, faith, humility, passion, perseverance, & zeal: Maintaining a Holy Fire When You Feel More Like an Unholy Fizzle

“… because we live in Christ we must wait for him to do the work. This is nearly a mockery to the flesh-driven personality. God, through the Spirit, opens doors and closes others. My exhilaration is when He opens them. My frustration is when none open and I impatiently knock harder.

“How do we maintain a holy fire when some days feel more like an unholy fizzle? Believe God works…and then wait on Him.”

Holiness, OMG, speech, respect & words: Is It OK for a Christian to Drop OMG’s?

“Remember, it is the trademark for the unbeliever to take God’s name in vain …”

Inspiration & interpretation: The Inspiration of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

“In short, I tend not to read 2 Tim 3:16a as an assertion about scripture, but as an identification of which writings the author is talking about.”

Modesty: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

“And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Parenting: Dear Parents With Young Children [essential reading]

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.”

Reading: * Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina); * Americans’ Reading Habits Over Time

* “I’ve benefited from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefited immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information. …

“It goes like this: * 1. Read: What does the passage say? 2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word) 3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying? 4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?”

* “… the percentage of Americans who read a printed book in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population in 2011 to 67% in 2012.”

this went thru my mind

 

Books, ministry, reading & thinking: Why Pastors Should Read Over Their Heads by Kevin DeYoung

“Very, very, very (did I say “very”) few pastors are called to engage in the highest levels of scholarship at the same time as pastoring a congregation. It’s just not possible, at least not for very long. But most pastors should still make it a point to jump into the deep end of the pool and get in over their heads once in awhile. Let me give you a few reasons why.”

Children, families, health & parenting: How ‘Crunch Time’ Between School And Sleep Shapes Kids’ Health

“‘It’s hard enough to get dinner on the table while trying to help them with homework,’ says Paige Pavlik of Raleigh, N.C. ‘Once we do everything, there is absolutely no time to go outside and take a walk or get any exercise. It’s simply come in, eat, sit down, do homework, go to bed.’ The relentlessness of it makes her emotional. Pavlik starts to cry as she talked about her family’s daily crunch time. ‘It’s really hard,’ she says. ‘This isn’t how I thought family life was going to be.’”

Churches of Christ: Churches of Christ and the Myth of Excellence

“Let’s certainly look for ways to do things in our communal life better. But let’s not forget that the Gospel is not a call to improvement and proficiency but to suffering, obedience, humility, and sacrifice for the sake of the world. And when those things become the primary focus of our life together, the desire for success in the way that much of evangelicalism has pursued it will simply cease to be a concern.”

Congregational singing: A Personal Manifesto for Congregational Singing by Rob Hewell [required reading]

“When given the opportunity, I’ll speak to these issues; otherwise I will hold myself, and no one else, accountable for these standards.”

Control & relationships: Controlling Other People: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis [essential reading]

“A major problem in human life has always been the desire of people to attempt to control other people. This problem is pervasive in all aspects of life. …  For all who wish to be true Christians, Philippians 2:3-4 is very important. Put this on YOUR fridge and read it every day.”

Children, genetics & poverty: To Spot Kids Who Will Overcome Poverty, Look At Babies [very interesting]

“… while there’s always a difference between how much the heart beats when a person inhales and when he or she exhales, everyone has a different set point. Sometimes there’s a big difference, and sometimes it’s small. And in very young babies, researchers have noticed that there are different temperaments associated with these different set points.

“When there’s a big difference and the set point is high, babies tend to have great attention and can focus for long periods of time on the things in their environment. ‘When you’re presenting them with a new toy, they’re going to really look at it and inspect it,’ says Conradt. ‘But they also may be more irritable and fussy when parts of their environment are changing.’

“In contrast, babies with a low set point ‘might lose interest after a couple minutes, but they’re also not going to be as fussy or irritable,’ she says.

“Babies with a high set point seem to have a more sensitive nervous system, which makes them more sensitive to their environment, in both good and bad ways. Babies with a low set point seem to have a less sensitive nervous system, which makes them less sensitive to their environment.

“Conradt and her colleagues wondered if this simple measure could be used to predict how children in poverty would fare as they aged.”

PowerPoint: Better Powerpoint: What We Remember from PowerPoint Presentations, Part 2

“Participants in the study tended to remember the same slides even though those slides did not contain pictures. This may be because the text was highly visual, in the sense that it generated mental pictures. … high-imagery words are remembered a lot better than low-imagery or abstract words. … Dare to insert text-based slides in your presentation, with the condition that people can “picture” that text without much mental effort. … Slides with tight links are remembered more than slides with weak links. … if you want a presentation to attract attention, find out what your audience would consider novel. … Repetition was another trait shared by the four most recalled slides. … Another characteristic of the four popular slides is that they contained negative information …  Slides that reported a high recall in the study were slides that offered advice that made the viewers ‘look good.’”

Privacy & technology: Why Life Through Google Glass Should Be for Our Eyes Only

“… there’s something particularly troubling about Google Glass. When we put on these surveillance devices, we all become spies, or scrooglers, of everything and everyone around us. By getting us to wear their all seeing digital eyeglasses, Google are metamorphosing us into human versions of those Street View vans — now thankfully banned in Germany — which crawl, like giant cockroaches, around our cities documenting our homes. Neither Orwell nor Hitchcock at their most terrifyingly dystopian could have dreamt up Google Glass. According to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, quoted by tech website Mashable, ‘Glass will also have an automatic picture-taking mode, snapping pics at a preset intervals (such as every 5 seconds).’ Pics every 5 seconds! Gulp. So where will all that intimate data go?”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible study: Serious Bible Study on the Web by David Instone-Brewer

“The Internet is still full of rubbish … Google’s ‘ranking’ is based largely on linkages – if lots of people refer to a site, then lots of people thought it worth recommending. But they do not realize the value of a lot of things out there. The following essay will identify the best recommendations.”

Books & reading: Practical Tips for How to Make More Time for Reading

“Reduce your intake of social media and replace it with a book. … Shake up your routine. …  Go audio. … Turn off the TV. … Set a family goal. … Find a new reading spot. … Join a book club.”

Civil disobedience, faith, Martin Luther King, Jr. & racism: * Letter from Birmingham Jail [required reading]; * Loving the Dream by Jonathan Storment; * Martin Luther King, Jr. at Southern Seminary; * Are We There Yet? by Keith Brenton

* “There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.

“Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”

* “I read a survey a few years ago, that said 6% of white people in America, think that racism is still a problem. To help put that in perspective, consider this: 12% of people think Elvis may or may not be dead. But 93% of African American people think that racism is still a problem. And, at least in the world that I grew up in, and know today, they are right.”

* “”This podcast contains a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 19, 1961. The speech is more remarkable considering the context. Southern Baptists were not unified in their posture toward the Civil Rights movement and in 1961 the outcome was far from certain.”

* “We may have made strides in our battle against racism, but in many ways, we have simply traded black and white for red and blue.”

Discipline & suffering: How Do We Know if God is Disciplining Us? by D.A. Carson

“… when we face suffering of any kind, we should use the occasion for self-examination. … the remedy is always the same: flee to the Cross, and trust our good and gracious and holy God. And it’s not inconceivable that we may conclude, with Job, that this suffering cannot be God’s punishment for specific sins in our lives. We sometimes observe that hard cases make bad theology. But easy, formulaic answers to questions of suffering are invariably reductionistic — and they make bad theology, too.”

Facebook: Search Option From Facebook Is a Privacy Test

“This week, Facebook unveiled its search tool, which it calls graph search, a reference to the network of friends its users have created. The company’s algorithms will filter search results for each person, ranking the friends and brands that it thinks a user would trust the most. At first, it will mine users’ interests, photos, check-ins and ‘likes,’ but later it will search through other information, including status updates.”

this went thru my mind

 

Facebook: How Do I Fine Tune My Facebook Privacy Settings? by Dave Taylor

“… Facebook constantly tweaks and fiddles with things, and there’s nothing more susceptible to these changes than the privacy settings.”

Population & the U.S.: USA Population Tops 315 Million Today

“The US Census Bureau projects that on Jan. 1, 2013, the total United States population will be 315,091,138. … In January 2013, 1 birth is expected to occur every 8 seconds in the United States and 1 death every 12 seconds.”

Prayer: 9 Prayer Tips for 2013 by Jon Acuff

“… do this.”

Productivity: Purposeful Abandonment: The Art of Letting Go by Dan Rockwell

“‘Not to-do list’ … Make one. “

Reading: How to Read by Ross Douthat [required reading]

” … let your mind rove more widely and freely …”

the Christ House project: Jan. & Feb. reading schedule

 

The-Christ-HouseAll MoSt Church members are urged to reading the New Testament completely through this coming year at the rate of one chapter per day. Along with our reading, we’re all encouraged to memorize one verse that focuses on Jesus as the Christ from each book of the NT. A listing of the year’s “Christ verses” appeared in a post here yesterday.

Each day of The Christ House (TCH) reading project you’ll find a link to each day’s reading here on my site; however, for your convenience of preview, the reading schedule for January and February follows. Our reading during these two months will focus on the writings of Luke, both his Gospel and the book of Acts.

May the Christ bless the reading of, and reflection on the words of the Spirit. Amen.

The Gospel according to Luke

Jan. 1 – Luke 1
Jan. 2 – Luke 2
Jan. 3 – Luke 3
Jan. 4 – Luke 4
Jan. 5 – Luke 5
Jan. 6 – Luke 6
Jan. 7 – Luke 7
Jan. 8 – Luke 8
Jan. 9 – Luke 9
Jan. 10 – Luke 10
Jan. 11 – Luke 11
Jan. 12 – Luke 12
Jan. 13 – Luke 13
Jan. 14 – Luke 14
Jan. 15 – Luke 15
Jan. 16 – Luke 16
Jan. 17 – Luke 17
Jan. 18 – Luke 18
Jan. 19 – Luke 19
Jan. 20 – Luke 20
Jan. 21 – Luke 21
Jan. 22 – Luke 22
Jan. 23 – Luke 23
Jan. 24 – Luke 24
Jan. 25-31 – days of reflection

The Book of Acts

Feb. 1 – Acts 1
Feb. 2 – Acts 2
Feb. 3 – Acts 3
Feb. 4 – Acts 4
Feb. 5 – Acts 5
Feb. 6 – Acts 6
Feb. 7 – Acts 7
Feb. 8 – Acts 8
Feb. 9 – Acts 9
Feb. 10 – Acts 10
Feb. 11 – Acts 11
Feb. 12 – Acts 12
Feb. 13 – Acts 13
Feb. 14 – Acts 14
Feb. 15 – Acts 15
Feb. 16 – Acts 16
Feb. 17 – Acts 17
Feb. 18 – Acts 18
Feb. 19 – Acts 19
Feb. 20 – Acts 20
Feb. 21 – Acts 21
Feb. 22 – Acts 22
Feb. 23 – Acts 23
Feb. 24 – Acts 24
Feb. 25 – Acts 25
Feb. 26 – Acts 26
Feb. 27 – Acts 27
Feb. 28 – Acts 28

Do remember, a copy (.pdf) of the year’s reading schedule and Christ verses (memory verses) is always available from the “downloads” section of MoSt Church‘s site.