links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible reading: 3 Biggest Reasons Bible Reading is Down

“Bible reading is down because people read it in fragments, a-historically, and in isolation.”

Christianity, communication, disagreement, influence, love, relationships & words: Civil Religion Can We Talk? [essential reading]

“… we need to assume goodwill and generosity on the part of others, no matter how wrong we might thing they are. For the sake of having better conversations, and for the pursuit of truth, we have to be able to admit we don’t have it all, After all, if we want to be heard, we have to learn how to listen. So what do you say, Can we talk?”

Culture, history & the United States: I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again

* “In reality, Christianity in America may not have the same political, social, and corporate authority it did in the past, but Jesus never intended to spread the gospel message through political strength or domineering control. The problem with people claiming that America used to be a Christian nation is that, well, it never was.”

Creation, nature & stewardship: Stewardship: Being in and Working with Creation

“We use the world’s resources, but the trick is to use them wisely, and with a careful, conservative sense of balance. That’s the difficulty of stewardship. When we use up resources — the resources God gave us — with abandon and without care, the results aren’t pretty. We can never really grow it back. That’s the thing about nature; we can manage it well, but we can’t create it from scratch. Only God can do that. Stewardship is the balanced middle way — it’s not ‘use it up and move on to the next,’ but it’s also not untouched nature for nature’s sake.”

Discouragement, encouragement, ministry & support: 5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“As a pastor of a local church for over twenty-five years, I had my share of buildups and letdowns. Sometimes I recall the discouraging times more. I know that I was not supposed to get down because of people and circumstances, but it happens. I also know that the people who discouraged me did not always mean to do so. But it happened. The purpose of this post is to let you in on a few things to avoid (unless you want to discourage your pastor). If you are bent on discouraging him or her, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so.”

God, suffering, tests, and trials: God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. I Guarantee It. [essential reading]

“There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike. … ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ is the phrase I’m referring to.”

Parenting: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

“It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.”

Parenting & social media: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Social media: 5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous For Me [required reading]

“I went on an internet fast recently – I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Cats, language, learning & Spanish: I Can Haz Spanish Lessons: Cat Pictures Now Have A Purpose

“It’s no secret cats rule the Internet. Now, just flipping through cat pictures can be an educational experience. A new iOS app called teaches 1,000 basic phrases by showing you flash cards of cute cats. ‘It’s the most ridiculously silly, but yet ruthlessly effective way of learning conversational Spanish,’ says , founder of , the group behind Cat Spanish. For example, when learning the phrase ‘I need help,’ the app shows a cat tangled in a tree. Users memorize the phrases through repeated tests.”

Children & parenting: To The Mamas of Littles During the Holidays

“Lower your expectations for what is humanly possible in one day. Now think about how many toddlers you have and lower them again.”

Civility, disability, respect, sensitivity, speech & words: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who Uses a Wheelchair

“Most people definitely mean well, but some sentiments aren’t received the way many able bodied people might expect. In the disabled community, it’s not uncommon for us to joke with each other about some of our interesting conversations with family, friends and strangers that often involve some off putting statements.”

Culture & family: The Changing American Family

“American households have never been more diverse, more surprising, more baffling. In this special issue of Science Times, Natalie Angier takes stock of our changing definition of family.”

Pope Francis: * Ten Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Read Pope Francis; * Evangelii Gaudium [essential reading]

* “While evangelicals and Catholics will continue to have their theological differences — differences that stem back 500 years or more — we just might find some common ground in the words of Francis.”

* “The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”

Self-deprecation: The Trouble With Self-Deprecation [essential reading]

“… all of us are good at something and lousy at something. And if we could only get that through our skulls, we would be freed once and for all to speak comfortably of our strengths and faults, and those of our brothers.”

Thanksgiving: * Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So; * When I Had Beans for Thanksgiving; * Thanksgiving By the Numbers [infographic]

* “The Lord is good. His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations. So, let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

* “Am I really thankful? Can I be thankful even for what I don’t have? Can I be thankful even when it’s not what I asked for? Can I be thankful in all circumstances, as the Apostle Paul commanded us?”

* “What was the menu for the first Thanksgiving? How many turkeys are consumed each year at Thanksgiving?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Christmas, culture & devotion: The Real War on Christmas

“The so-called war on Christmas rages on. … When Jesus is primarily just ‘the reason for the season,’ he’s just like that box of Christmas ornaments I keep in my attic. When the season starts, I pull him out, dust him off, and display him loudly and proudly. While the season progresses, I attend to him daily. But when the season is over, I can pack him back up and put him away someplace removed from my daily life. He goes from the middle of my life to the margin of my life relatively quickly.”

Communication: 5 Don’ts of Healthy Communication

“We are all guilty or some of these at times.”

Early Christianity: Social Description of Early Christians/Christianity

“… although this will hardly be news to anyone familiar with scholarly work of the last several decades, I thought it perhaps helpful to point to this work for others.  Essentially, a continuing line of studies has shown from various types of evidence that early Christian circles were comprised of people of a variety of social levels.  To be sure, we have indications that some were very poor and some were slaves.  So, the old stereotype was not totally wrong, just a stereotype, and so wrong.”

Marriage: Marriage Isn’t for You [essential reading]

“Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me. Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.”

Money, oppression & payday loans: I Applied For An Online Payday Loan. Here’s What Happened Next

“Payday lenders made about $49 billion in high-interest loans last year. More than a third of those loans were made online. I wondered what happens when you apply for such a loan, so I decided to find out.”

Parenting: Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children [essential reading]

“I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences. Parents tell a child two or three times to sit or stop and come or go, and after the third disobedience, they laughingly bribe the child. This may or may not get the behavior desired.”

Rest: Are There Any Christians Who Take a Day of Rest Anymore? [required reading]

“There is perhaps no single thing that could better help us recover Jesus’ lordship in our frantic, power-hungry world than to allow him to be Lord of our rest as well as our work. The challenge is disarmingly simple: one day a week, not to do anything that we know to be work.”

Short-term missions: Doing Short-Term Missions Well (parts 1 & 2)

“… how can we do STM in a way that provides a worthwhile blessing to those we serve without creating a problem?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

American history & the Fourth of July: Debunking the Fourth: Top 10 Unsightly Facts about the American Revolution

“The majority of the Founding Fathers weren’t Christians, but deists.”

Annihilationism, conditionalism & hell: Ask a Conditionalist (Annihilationist) … Edward Fudge Responds

“Conditionalists begin with the premise that only God is inherently immortal. For humans, immortality is God’s conditional gift, bestowed at the resurrection but only to the redeemed. Those who reject God’s grace throughout life do not live forever. When John 3:16 says the options are eternal life or perish, conditionalists say that means just what it seems to say.

According to conditionalism, at the end of the world, the good and bad alike are raised to face judgment. The righteous enjoy eternal life with God; the lost are sentenced to hell. But God does not keep billions of them alive forever to torment them without end. Instead, those in hell suffer such precise pains as divine justice may require, in a destructive process that ends in extinction. This is the second death, the wages of sin. Eternal punishment is eternal destruction, eternal capital punishment.”

Christianity, civil religion, nationalism, & nominalism, & the United States: 7 Marks of A Stereotypical American Christian

“Obviously, many Christians are more complex and inspiring than the attributes listed above, but we need to start realizing the influence American culture has on our faith. Unfortunately, many of these stereotypes are still perpetuated by American Christians who have strayed away from Christ’s example of sacrificial love and are using religion to serve their own misguided agendas. Nobody is perfect, but we need to start emulating Christ instead of subtly allowing our social surroundings to dictate our spiritual priorities.”

Climate change: Bill Nye The Science Guy Explains The Basics Of Something You Should Really Know [4 min., 34 sec. video]

“If you know anyone who’s having trouble wrapping their head around climate change as a human-driven crisis, this video could really come in handy.”

Culture, evangelism & outreach: Christians and Cultural Engagement

“… Jesus established a relationship in which he could speak and have it heard as a word of grace rather than a ‘I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong’ word of condemnation.”

Children, fatherhood, parenting & singles: The Rise of Single Fathers: A Ninefold Increase Since 1960

“In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960.”

Communication, credibility, gossip, lies, slander, speech & words: Don’t Believe Everything You Read or Hear

“Slander is a serious sin, and according to Paul, slanderers will be barred from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).”

Divorce & marriage: Jesus Never Moves On

“…  he has chosen me, he has set his love on me, and nothing will cause him to abandon me. He will never give up.”

Doctors, health & medicine: Common End-of-Life Medical Terms

“Here are some terms likely to be used in such situations as defined by Dr. Darlene Nelson, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic.”

Head coverings, interpretation & women: Head Coverings in Worship: Why Female Hair is a Testicle (parts 1 & 2)

“Recently, my colleague Trevor Thompson, who is a New Testament scholar here at ACU, shared with me some of the work of another NT scholar, Troy Martin, who is a friend of Trevor’s. One of Martin’s areas of expertise is using ancient medical texts to illuminate NT passages, particularly passages that seem confusing to us. In various studies Martin makes the observation that some of these confusions stem from the fact that we don’t share the same medical understandings of the NT writers and their audiences. When ancient medical terms or ideas are used we often miss the meaning. A good example of this comes from 1 Corinthians 11.2-16.”

Ministry & preaching: * I Am a Preacher; * 10 Things You May Not Know About Senior Pastors

* “I offer this in tribute to all the brave men and women of God who bear up under the weight of our call. I hope it articulates some of the ambiguity, beauty and tension wrapped up in saying ‘yes’ when God summons you to the pulpit.”

* “… I know this is a representative list for many.”

Poverty: Greg Kaufmann on the Truth About American Poverty

“Greg Kaufmann, poverty correspondent for The Nation, says the poor in America are stereotyped and demonized in an effort to justify huge cuts in food stamps and other crucial programs for low-income Americans.”

Tipping: Tipping: To Ban or Not?

“If I had my way, we’d take this idea to its logical conclusion and get rid of the practice of tipping altogether. Just outlaw it …”

Worship: Ready to Worship

“As we prepare ourselves for worship each week here are three things we should keep in mind.”

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 (on violence)

 

V-for-violenceChurch, pride, Scripture, violence & words: Mental Mass Murder by Dan Bouchelle [essential reading]

“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:15)”

Gun control & legislation: * More Than 3,300 Gun Deaths Since Newtown by Jim Wallis; * What Gun Lovers Think by Joe Nocera

* “Today, on the National Mall, I stood with fellow faith leaders, including clergy from Newtown, to remember lives lost at Sandy Hook elementary school and the 3,364 gun deaths that have happened since. … There are many law abiding and responsible gun owners in this country. And I understand that those who play by the rules might feel like they are being punished for the wrongdoing of others. But no legislation being considered would end gun ownership as we know it. What it would do is begin to make owning a gun look a little more like owning a car. In that process we can make it more expensive and more legally punishing for criminals to get guns and make our streets and our schools safer for all. The gun laws on the table are just common sense; they bring us back to the common good.”

* “… why don’t “responsible gun owners” — and I know there are a lot — why don’t they support such laws? … There is no tree for them to gather under. And this is a big problem. Because they don’t feel represented by the N.R.A.”

Guilt, grief, stress & war: On Scripture: Repairing Our Grief by Greg Carey

“I believe I was the first to hear of the time when he called in the coordinates for an intersection across which a significant body of Germans was crossing. For 30 minutes, he said, he watched the effects of the barrage he had targeted. And now, 40 years later, his hands wouldn’t come clean.”

History, Native Americans, & violence: Save Wounded Knee by Joseph Brings Plenty [required reading]

“Wounded Knee was the so-called final battle of America’s war on its Native peoples. But what happened was hardly a battle. It was a massacre. … Now, our heritage is in danger of becoming a real-estate transaction, another parcel of what once was our land auctioned off to the highest bidder. The cries of our murdered people still echo off the barren hills — the cries we remember in our hearts every day of our lives. But they may finally be drowned out by bulldozers and the ka-ching of commerce.”

Insensitivity & violence: Don’t Smoke, Drink, Dance, and Chew or Date Girls Who Do by Richard Oster

“… a Roman Stoic philosopher named Seneca, living during the reign of Nero, was candid enough to discuss the impact on his own life of exposure to excessive violence. … This pagan Roman philosopher seems to have had more introspection and ethical integrity in this regard than some followers of Christ I have known (FYI, Seneca was the brother of the Roman politician Gallio, proconsul of Achaia, and defender of Paul, Acts 18:12-17).”

Jesus & violence: Put Your Guns Away by Patrick Anderson [required reading]

“…  imagine the arrest of Jesus taking place in American society today … I cannot picture Jesus carrying a gun — even, or most especially, for self-protection. I am not sure how Peter managed to strap on a sword on the night of the arrest or whether any other followers of Jesus were similarly armed. But I do hear the words of Jesus when the weaponry was drawn. And I think those words can also help us sort out and give context to the “Right to Bear Arms” in 21st Century America.”