this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles I’ve found to be interesting and helpful.

Ancient people, diet, food & the Roman Empire: Ancient Romans Ate Meals Most Americans Would Recognize [plug this info into your head as you read some of the NT texts that deal with meals such as 1 Cor. 8-11, etc.]

“… before and during the Roman Empire. Both the poor and the rich ate pig as the meat of choice, although the rich, like Piso, got better cuts, ate meat more often and likely in larger quantities. They had pork chops and a form of bacon. They even served sausages and prosciutto …

“Status in the upper class was declared with the presentation of the meal, the rare spices, the dinnerware … The wealthier you are the more you want to invest in display and advertising to your guests. Flash was perhaps more important than substance … Whole animals showed great wealth.”

Crusades, ISIS, medieval history, Obama, torture: Thank You Obama for Denouncing “Christian” Violence: It is Actually Far Worse Than ISIS

“… for followers of Jesus, the violence perpetrated by ‘Christians’ throughout history ought to be considered far worse than the violence perpetrated by ISIS or any other religious group throughout history, precisely because this violence was done in the name of Jesus.”

Faith, firearms, guns & self-defense: Should Christians Carry Guns?

“The Christians I know who consider Scripture and still make the argument for owning a gun typically lean on a notion of using a firearm as a means to resist wickedness, to protect innocent persons, and to maintain order in the face of evil and chaos. While these may be worthy ideals, I don’t see a lot of (any?) scriptural evidence for the use of violence, especially lethal violence, by those who strive to participate in God’s kingdom.

“My concern is that we too often equate God’s agenda with our own agenda and then we make decisions like owning a gun based on our personal values instead of a keen Christian ethic. If my value is to stay alive and protect what and whom I love, it’s not too difficult to project that value onto God and make weapon ownership a God-given right, if not command. The only problem is that these are not God’s values, at least not as I read Scripture.”

Information, priorities, relationships, stewardship & technology: If Jesus Had a Smartphone

“More than one-third of all adults (35%) and almost half of those under 40 (47%) admit their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people. Still, three in 10 Millennials (30%) say they love their phone. … Every revolution offers promises. Every revolution makes demands. How does the hyperlinked life jibe with the abundant life Jesus promised?

“All revolutions are meant to change the world, and the knowledge revolution has done that. Now we must work hard to live faithfully in this new world. We must begin by enlarging our definition of stewardship. We talk about stewarding time, treasure, and talent. Let’s add technology to that list.”

Situational awareness: How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne

“Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game. Mike plays a game with his kids called the ‘A-Game,’ or Awareness Game, to help them (and himself) strengthen their observational skills. To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like ‘How many workers were behind the counter?’ ‘Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?’ ‘What color was his/her shirt?’ ‘How many exits were there?’ It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.”

links: this went thru my mind

Brain, health, mental disorders, mental health, & technology: NetBrain: Your Gadgets Could Be Giving You Psychological Problems

“The greatest factor in whether or not someone exhibits NetBrain/iDisorder symptoms is whether or not they own a smartphone.”

Brotherly love, love, Muslims, terror & violence: Loving our Neighbor in an Age of Terror [essential reading]

“I had an interesting conversation with my son last night about the terrible violence in Paris. Among other things we talked about the increase of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and here in the United States. Life will be increasingly difficult for average Muslims who are law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of France, other European countries, and the U. S. … There is much that should be said and done in response to this act of evil. Certainly those nearer to the horror are able to help those affected. But where I live, embodying loyalty to Jesus may involve being watchful of how such events can stir up emotions that confuse and perhaps diminish our fundamental loyalty to King Jesus and thus to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Church, kingdom & the Sermon on the Mount: God Promised Me a Kingdom and All I Got Was This Lousy Church

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a nation created in the midst of other nations. The other nations are under oppressive rule by illegitimate, even demonic powers. … The church is a colony of heaven on earth.”

Ecology & faith: The Old Testament Isn’t ‘Green’ … Or Is It? [required reading]

“Both radical ‘green’ and radical consumption narratives are at odds with the Old Testament view of the relationship between humans and God’s good creation. The fatalistic narrative that the earth is cursed and we must live with the curse is also at odds with the Old Testament. The people are always called to choose between obedience and blessing or disobedience and cursing. We can and should strive for righteousness and proper wise keeping of God’s creation. Wisdom is the key – always bearing in mind the role that human embrace of evil can play in our perceptions. What does it mean to fill the earth and subdue it? What is the mandate given to humans?”

Happiness & peace: Why “Having a Peace About It” is a Terrible Reason for a Christian to Make a Decision (parts 1 & 2) [essential reading]

“I can’t count the number of times a Christian has said to me that “they have a peace” about a certain decision and therefore plan to move forward. Sometimes they make this decision despite obvious signs that their decision is unwise and not in conformity with the guidance of Scripture. In these cases, a person tends to simply slap a kind of divine mandate on top of what they want to do anyway. When friends or family members try to refute their decision, they simply reply that there is to be no argument because ‘God told them’ or ‘God gave them a peace.’ One example of this kind of mindset can be found on popular Pentecostal writer and speaker Joyce Meyer’s website.”

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.