this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, listening & outreach: Apologetics and the Importance of Listening: A Conversation with Mary Jo Sharp

“Listening to the person right in front of you helps you to discover how to effectively serve that person. … Listening is also vital in avoidance of creating straw men of other views. … We should delight in the truth, even in the truthful representation of another’s beliefs. But we must listen with the intent to do so.”

Bible: The Bible OutLoud: Your Voice Needed [creative & cool!]

“We need your help. This project depends on hundreds of people getting together to memorize Scripture. It only takes a few minutes to upload a video with a few verses. We are challenging everyone to pick up the bible and memorize a passage.”

Benevolence & charitable giving: Pure Charity: An Interview With Mike Rusch

“Mike Rusch is the COO for Pure Charity. Pure Charity, a non-profit organization, makes it possible to leverage everyday spending, allowing you to support causes and organizations that matter most to you.”

Church, leadership, ministry & vision: * Inspi(re)ality: Leading By Vision by Jonathan Storment [required reading]; * Seven Deadly Thoughts of Leader by Thom Rainer [required reading]; * 10 Reflections on a Decade of Church Consulting by Thom Rainer [required reading]

* “If you have a church of a hundred different people, chances are you have at least 100 different expectations about what church should be about, what your services should look like, what kind of sermon you should preach, etc. And there are two ways to going about how to minister through these differences. 1) is to turn internally, and help them see that they are a part of a community, and each time they gather they must submit their individual needs and preferences to the community. That’s a good response. But alone, I think it fails. 2) Cast a vision larger than your organization.”

* “I’ve had the opportunity through the years to listen to leaders talk about their biggest victories and their greatest failures. When the latter takes place, these leaders reflect that, most of the time, the failure took place in a deadly thought pattern. They lament they didn’t recognize these deadly thoughts for the warnings that they were. Here are the seven most significant warning thoughts I’ve heard.”

* “For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year. If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end.  I think you’ll find hope there.”

Computing, privacy & smartphones: * Get Notified When a Site’s Terms of Service Change; * Facebook Is Said to Create Mobile Location-Tracking App [reason # 47 why I don't have Facebook on my smartphone]

* “Try the Docracy Terms of Service Tracker. True to its name, this site monitors the TOS agreements and privacy policies for nearly a thousand Web services.”

* “Facebook Inc. (FB) is developing a smartphone application that will track the location of users, two people with knowledge of the matter said, bolstering efforts to benefit from growing use of social media on mobile computers. The app, scheduled for release by mid-March, is designed to help users find nearby friends and would run even when the program isn’t open on a handset, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. … The tracking app could help Facebook sell ads based on users’ whereabouts and daily habits.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church: Connoisseurs Of Fine Churches by Brian Jones [required reading]

“In the New Testament there are dozens and dozens of things Christians are told to do. Leaving one another is not one of them. In fact, we’re told to do the exact opposite.

“Is there someone at your church you can’t stand? First John 3:11 tells us to ‘Love one another.’ Did the pastor at your fellowship hurt your feelings? Colossians 3:13 says, ‘Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.’  Do the attitudes of the people in your church family need to change? James 5:16 says, ‘Pray for each other.’

“In other words, roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of building community where you are. Don’t go spiritually AWOL. Stick it out, through exciting times and boring times. Pray, serve, love, forgive, sacrifice, and resolve like authentic followers of Jesus. Christian community isn’t something that happens instantaneously. Real community is forged on the anvils of time and struggle. If you jump ship when things get tough, you’ll condemn yourself to one long journey of spiritual superficiality.”

Computing & smartphones: Evernote Hello 2.0 for iPhone is Here: Remember Everything About the People You Meet

“We’ve all felt that twinge of envy towards people with the uncanny ability to remember people. They’re the ones that can instantly recall a name or an event years after it’s happened. Most of us simply aren’t wired to be able to do this. That’s why we created Evernote Hello, our app that’s designed to give you that same supernatural ability to easily remember everything about the people that you meet.”

Encouragement, ministry & support: 7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday by Ron Edmonson

“I … know most people who love their church…and love their pastor…want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. That’s what this post is about. Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday.”

Homelessness: The Catholic Agitator [I like it!]

“… the City of LA was cracking down on the homeless by confiscating the shopping carts they used to hold and transport their belongings. The City found these carts to be an eyesore so, to preserve appearances, they started taking the carts away. How could they legally do this? The City claimed that the shopping carts were stolen property, taken from local grocery stores.

“Of course that wasn’t the real reason for taking the carts away. The real reason had to do with the fact that the shopping carts made the homeless visible. That was the real crime of the homeless. Being seen. And taking away the carts would help vanish the poor on the streets of LA. Without shopping carts people could drive around the city and not see poor people. Shopping carts broke the illusion by making the homeless visible.

“Knowing what was going on the LACW decided to help their friends. They bought their friends their own personal shopping carts. No longer stolen property the City couldn’t take the carts away. But that didn’t stop them from trying. What ensued was The Shopping Cart War between the City of LA and the LA Catholic Worker.”

Parenting: Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail

“The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.”

7 iPhone apps you might want to know about

 

I use my iPhone all day long and I’m always looking for ways to to be able to do more with it. Following are seven apps I’ve found to be truly helpful and I don’t hesitate to recommend for your consideration.

Delicious. For archiving and researching information I’ve found online, my go-to online bookmarking service of choice is Diigo. However, I like having my bookmarks available to me on my iPhone and Diigo currently doesn’t offer a quality mobile app to make them available. But, that’s no problem because Delicious, another bookmarking service, has a great mobile app. Diigo can be linked with Delicious so as to simultaneously bookmark both services at once. Consequently, I now have the best of both worlds available to me in a single step: I mark things in the browser on my laptop in Diigo and then they’re all constantly available for me on my iPhone via Delicious. Nice.

Downcast. Do you listen to podcasts on your iPhone? Or would you consider such if you only knew what app does a consistently good job of rendering them? Downcast makes it all happen reliably. And that’s all I have to say about that.

EPA AIRNow. Being sensitive to air quality, it helps for me to know ahead of time what the air quality index is like outdoors in any given place, be it in regard to ozone, pollution, etc. The AIRNow app tells me precisely what I need to know, quickly and easily, namely the latest air quality index for any zip code at any given time at a glance. It also offers a forecast. Very handy.

HoustonCams. I live in Baytown, the eastern edge of the greater Houston area. With 3.8 million other people living here, traffic snarls aren’t uncommon, can be uber-ugly, and can make a royal shamble of your plans. Consequently, knowing ahead of time exactly what the road and traffic conditions are like in the area can make all the difference between going with the flow and cooling your heels in a shut down. That’s why the HoustonCams app stays on my phone and usually gets checked whenever I need to make a trip into the heart of, or a journey across, our fair city.

Lose It! While there are plenty of diet, exercise, food, and weight loss apps out there, I dare say none are more intuitive and helpful than Lose It! Do you want to scan a can with a barcode reader to enter your data? Check. Do you need to easily count the calories on foods available in a great many fast food places and restaurants? Check. Do you care to just get your exercise info entered, have it factored into your plan, and get on to the next thing? Check. Lose It! will do all of that for you – and much more – and best of all, you’ll already know how to use it as soon as you install it.

My TSA. If you travel by plane you’ll want My TSA, the official app of the Transportation Security Administration, on your phone. It can tell you about just about anything you might be curious about in terms of air travel and security here in the U.S. How long is the current wait times at any given airport in the States? What can you bring, and what can you not bring, through a security checkpoint? What’s the best type of clothing for you to wear to expedite your trip through security? What’s the best way to pack your things to expedite the whole process? And so and so on. Check it out.

Textweek. If you teach or preach, I suspect you’d appreciate having lists of, and links to, some available resources on every part of Scripture, be it anything from articles to artwork, ideas for illustrations from movies to the lectionary readings for the week, all in one place. Textweek does that for you.

this went thru my mind

 

Bibliolatry: Harm in Holy Things

“Many Christians are much more at ease with studying the Bible than coming to Jesus. Reading a Book is safer, more comfortable than relating to a Person, especially an enigmatic, revolutionary Person like Jesus.  Insidious pride lurks in our hearts when we presume to know the Book, possess it, revere it and then misuse it to fence off undesirable types of people from our tidy lives. People, well-intentioned, begin to substitute finding something new and refreshing in the Bible without ever relating to the holy, very present God.”

Communication, courtesy, relationships, respect, smartphones & technology: How Smart Phones Lower CQ [required reading]

“Technology is not the enemy. And cold turkey approaches are unrealistic. … But we can reclaim control over our technology, rather than merely being seduced by its pings. A few simple ways to begin, when you travel and when you’re home.”

Faith, politics & prayer: * What President Obama SHOULD Have Said About Louie Giglio by Michael Lukaszewski; * Four Myths about Louie Giglio’s Inauguration Prayer (Or Lack Thereof) by Rachel Held Evans

* “As the President of the United States, I ask for the prayers of all Americans, those who share the beliefs of this administration and those who do not.”

* “We also have to be careful of using the word “bully” to describe what happened with Giglio, especially when we are dialoguing with folks whose experience with ‘bullying’ may very well have included physical violence, decades of merciless taunts, hateful slurs, and mistreatment at the hands of Christians.”

Food stamps & welfare: Spike That Email About Welfare And Work; Fact Checkers Say It’s Not True by Mark Memmott

“If you’ve gotten the “Death Spiral” email that’s apparently been arriving in many inboxes, here’s the verdict from two major, nonpartisan fact checkers: It is NOT true, as the email claims, that in 11 states there are more people on welfare than there are working.”

Humility: Well Done Dr. Neller by Jonathan Storment

“… each of us have a canon within a canon. That is, everyone who reads the Bible, privileges certain verses over others, and it’s important to acknowledge which passages we lean into. Because, he said, this will affect the way you do ministry and the way you view God.”

Investigation, learning, questioning, teachability & tradition: When Cute Little Bunnies Talk Theology [required reading]

“Of course, the point of this bunny dialogue is applicable not just to creationism but to other issues of theological disagreement where the familiarity and safety of an ‘authoritative tradition’ collides with thoughtful and needed exploration that challenges that authority.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children, parenting & smartphones: Mother Gives Son an iPhone for Christmas Along With 18-point Contract

“I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.”

Church & generations: The Church’s Generational Log Jam is Making Everybody Cranky by Keith Anderson [required reading]

“Church programming ministry tends to follow the traditional old three generation model. Our programs needs to be more tribal, offering learning, fellowship, and service opportunities to small, specific groups. We also need to bring these tribes together in inter-generational activities to build understanding and community.”

Guns & Texas: TX Representative Proposes Concealed Handgun License Changes

“Right now, to get a Texas concealed handgun license you must go through a ten hour class, that teaches things like gun safety and Texas law. To renew that license, you must go through a four hour class. State Representative Dan Flynn wants to change those requirements completely. House Bill 47 would cut the ten hour CHL class requirement down to four hours. If you want to renew your CHL, under House Bill 48 you would no longer need a four hour refresher course, you could just renew online.”

Homelessness: Hardest of the Hard! by Larry James

“‘Yeah, I know you’re tough … but on the outside only,’ I went on. ‘I bet you’re not hard on the inside where it really counts.’”

Negativity: The Trap of Negativity by Joseph Lalonde

“No one enjoys being around a negative person.”

Non-violence and self-defense: Non-Violence and Self-Defense by Nick Gill

“…  do you believe that Christians have the right of self-defense? The classic question is whether you have the right to defend your family from someone who breaks into your home?”

Self-denial & service: Becoming the Exploited Ones? by Christopher Smith

“I was struck by the painful and ugly truth of the theology of Berry’s point here, that it is us, as churches, that are called to bear the labor and the suffering of our places — not in some individualistic/heroic act of martyrdom, but as a vocation that we discern and enter into together. I have no delusions that we as white Westerners will be able to give up our privilege, but  we must move in this direction as “deny ourselves” and follow Christ. We cannot and should not be afraid of good hard work, of the risks we take upon our bodies and our souls, even upon our aspirations to success.  We must not be afraid to take on the work that no one else wants to do.”

top 2 posts here thus far

 

I never cease to be amazed at the number of folks who continue to look up two particular posts here. In fact, it’s a rare day someone doesn’t take a look at least one of them, making them this site’s two most frequently viewed posts of all time.

Are you curious as to what they’re about? Check ‘em out! In order, number one and then number two, they are:

Five Reasons to Use Your Bound Bible & Not Your Smartphone in Church

When You Feel Spiritually Drained

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes? by Mark Bittman

“The idea that Alzheimer’s might be Type 3 diabetes has been around since 2005, but the connection between poor diet and Alzheimer’s is becoming more convincing … The studies are increasingly persuasive, and unsurprising when you understand the role of insulin in the body.”

Awe & creation: Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky? by Robert Krulwich

“If you took 10 drops of water (not extra-big drops, just regular drops, I’m presuming) and counted the number of H2O molecules in those drops, you’d get a number equal to all the stars in the universe.”

Christianity & culture: When Christianity is at its Greatest

“Sometimes the priorities and perspectives of American Christians who are striving to bring America back to its alleged Christian roots end up being against the gospel. An examination of the Christian faith before it was legal helps us to put things in proper perspective.”

Divorce & statistics: Curing Pastoral Stats Abuse: How Not to Be a Stats Abuser or Confuser by Ed Stetzer

“It is a mistake of category to take census Christians (those who identify as Christians on a survey form), and use statistical quotes as if they are representative of born-again genuine followers of Jesus Christ (in other words, not all who identify as “Christian” fit the description of a genuine believer).”

Ministry: Willingly Walking into a World of Pain by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“This is what congregational ministry is really like.”

Politics & poverty: VIDEO: Obama, Romney Answer Faith Leaders’ Call to Address Poverty in Election [required viewing]

“Christian leaders asked, and the presidential nominees answered. The poverty rate in America is still at a staggering 15 percent and 46.2 million Americans remain in poverty — what is your plan to address the problem? The Circle of Protection, composed of Christian leaders from across the religious spectrum, released President Barack Obama’s and GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s video responses today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.”

Smartphones: 10 Smartphone Habits You Should Avoid

“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. … This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked.

“This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.”

Suffering: Suffering, Tragedy and Doubt: 5 Mistakes Christians Make by Derek Flood

“Here are five things we Christians often get wrong, and what we can do to fix them …”

Time management: * Ministry Inside.94 by Jim Martin; * How to Avoid Procrastinating When You Feel Overwhelmed by Lucille Zimmerman

* “I have found the following practices to be helpful as I attempt to manage my time …”

* “Here are some tips we can all use in order to avoid procrastination …”

Vocation: 7 Tips for Finding Your Vocation by Brad Jersak

“A vocation is a ‘calling’ that can span over many careers.”