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 head

 

Apps, books, reading & technology: Oyster: The Netflix Of Books

“Oyster … is already being called the ‘Netflix for books.’ That’s a lofty moniker, but the app may just live up to the hype – it offers access to over 100,000 books for $9.95 a month!”

Conspiracy theories, culture, fear, paranoia & suspicion: Suspicious? In ‘United States Of Paranoia,’ It’s Not Just You

“… polls show a great deal of Americans — in some cases a majority of Americans — believing in secret cabals.”

Facebook: * How to See What Your Facebook Profile Looks Like to Others; * We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online [required reading]

* “After all, you might not want the entire world to know of your woe-filled past relationships.”

* “The problem is that Facebook is only one site. With every status update, YouTube video, and birthday blog post, Kate’s parents are preventing her from any hope of future anonymity.”

Faith, finances, money & security: Give Us This Day Our Lifetime Supply of Bread? [essential reading]

“I’m only trusting in God if I pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ and then thank Him that I have had bread to eat at the end of that day.”

Gossip: 5 Alternatives to Gossip [required reading]

“One of the chief reasons why it’s hard to resist gossip is that we often can’t see any alternatives.”

Health insurance: Uninsured in Texas and Florida

“Low-income residents of Texas … desperately need health insurance, as shown by the Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates for 2011, which were issued last week. The report found that more than 25 percent of the population in Texas under age 65 (5.7 million people) was uninsured, the highest rate in the nation.”

Leadership & listening: Seven Secrets to Listening When Time is Short

“The need to feel important closes ears and open’s mouths. Listening is both humble and humbling. Talking makes you feel important. Listening to others makes them feel important.”

Suffering: The Value of Suffering

“But does that change all the many times when suffering leaves us with no seeming benefit at all, and only a resentment of those who tell us to look on the bright side and count our blessings and recall that time heals all wounds (when we know it doesn’t)?”

this went thru my mind

 

Affliction, faith, loss, pain, & suffering: There Really Is A Reason – 12 Benefits Of Afflictions

“God doesn’t afflict us or allow us to be afflicted for no reason. … in God’s plan, afflictions have great benefit to us, as painful as they are at times.  If we keep these benefits in mind when we suffer, they can help us endure joyfully.”

Archaeology: Roads of Arabia Exhibition: Update

“Here is the schedule for upcoming shows of the exhibition … The Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, TX – December 22, 2013 – March 9, 2014.”

Busyness & leadership: Busy is Killing Leadership

“If you’re not careful busyness will quietly take over your life without you even being aware of it.”

Children & Uganda: Launching Reunite Uganda in the US! [essential reading; the work of one of MoSt Church's own: Darby Priest]

“Help us get Ugandan children out of orphanages and back to their families.”

Church, fear, ministry & the work of God: Francis Chan: Are You ‘Protecting’ Your Church from a Movement of God?  [10 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… it blew my mind that an older man would come alongside of me and believe in me.”

Church & intergenerational ministry: Congregations as Families of Faith: Beyond Age-Level Ministries

“…  research has continued to show that intergenerational relationships are like glue that makes faith sticky for young people. Age-level ministries are still important to create a community of peers for children, youth, and adults to belong to. But if we hope to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world, then we must develop intergenerational ministries that model the faith for our children and youth, and support our families as they seek to follow Christ. The research tells us that we need to be doing church differently.”

Communication, culture, demographics, social media, & society: Just Who Uses Social Media? A Demographic Breakdown

“You think you know social? How about who uses it? Well, you might not know it as well as you would have guessed. A new study from the Pew Research Center and Docstoc shed some light on just who uses social and on what platforms. Some of the findings seem in line with what you would probably guess, but others were surprising.”

Distribution of wealth: A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%

“During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.”

Employment, faith, jobs, & work: Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

“‘I hate my job. It’s not just like I don’t have a lot of power—I really can’t stand what I have to do every day.’ How would you pastor someone in that situation?”

Expectations & introverts: 7 False Assumptions Made About Introverts by Ron Edmonson

“There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted. Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert …”

Church finances, collection, contribution, electronic giving, & offering: What the Decline in Check Writing Will Mean for Your Church

“If we do not change our process for collecting the offering we will see our offerings decline. The reason is simple. The harder we make it for people to give the less likely they will give.”

Ego, Facebook, photography, pride, & vanity: Snap Judgments: Our Societal Obsession With Taking Pictures [required reading]

“Each day, we upload more than 5.2 million photos to Instragram and 100 million to Facebook, with no signs of slowing down our snapping and sharing. … In a sense, this is totally natural. Photographs speak to the age-old custom of physically marking spaces and moments in thanksgiving and remembrance. … The danger of using photos as markers is that images appeal to our vanity. We become quickly obsessed with accumulating experiences, capturing them in photos, and publicly displaying our photos as trophies. If we aren’t careful, our Facebook pages and blogs can become trophy cases of our own accomplishments: Me, on a church mission trip, lumped in with a group of smiling ethnic children.”

Grace: God at Work: Common Grace by Jonathan Storment [required reading]

“The bad guy in the Christian story isn’t someone, it’s the broken reality that Jesus calls sin. And because of common grace we can see God working through people outside of our tribe, our immediate community, or our faith. We can see the image of God in everyone.”

Hope, immigration, mercy, North Korea, pain, & suffering: Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea [12 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… one day, in 1995, my Mom brought home a letter from a coworker’s sister. It read, ‘When you read this, all five family members will not exist in this world, because we haven’t eaten in the past two weeks. We are lying on the floor together, and our bodies are so week, we are ready to die.’”

Ministry, relationships, & time management: How Does a Pastor Interact With Those Who Seek to Monopolize His Time on Sunday?

“It is one of the great dilemmas every Sunday for the pastor.  Who do I speak with and for how long?  Most pastors stand at a doorway after the morning service to greet those who are leaving.  Others stay down front inviting folks to come and speak with the pastor to ask questions about the sermon.  It is a constant juggling match that most pastors feel they fail at most of the time. What adds to the madness is the person who aggressively hunts the pastor down after the service and feels entitled to his undivided attention for a long time.”

Worship: Your Worship Service is B-O-R-I-N-G!

“There’s a reason your church isn’t more creative. … most churches are boring because of The Olive Garden Problem.”

Americanism, culture, & politics: A Political Rant Born From a Deeper Theological Conviction than “Americanism”

“I’ve seen several posts on social media advocating a picture as a “way forward” in terms of political policy. It looks like this … What I want to do is interact with these ideas as a Christian who takes Scripture seriously and who is more committed to the kingdom of God than to a specific country/government. I intend to provide a ‘play by play’ through each of the statements …”

 

this went thru my mind

 

Boston, suffering, & tragedy: MIT Chaplain on the Boston Tragedy: Making Sense of Nonsense

“Robert Randolph, longtime minister for the Brookline Church of Christ in the heart of Boston and chaplain for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote a guest piece for the Huffington Post during that city’s lockdown Friday. Among his insights …”

Busyness: Is Busy-ness a Drug? by Donald Miller

“Busy is both my drug and my defense. By that I mean that I use busy-ness to make me feel numb and safe, the way you use a drug, and I use busy-ness as a way of explaining all the things I dropped, didn’t do well, couldn’t pull together, as a defense. And I;m telling you this because I want to stop.”

Church communication: Your Congregation Stinks at Communicating: Why I’m Right About This by Mark Love [required reading]

“I seldom find a congregation that has planned, dependable, and open opportunities for feedback. This does not mean that leaders don’t get feedback. They do. But because there are few systematic attempts to listen to the congregation, that feedback tends to be negative. I am not a fan of congregational business meetings. Nor am I a fan of congregational “open mic” nights where the shrill voices tend to dominate. I am a fan of regular congregational conversations that are planned in such a way so that everyone shares (typically at small table) around a determined topic in an attempt to get a sense of the room.”

Disconnect & technology: What Happens When You Really Disconnect by Tony Schwartz [required reading]

“… I became increasingly aware that the relentless diet of information I ordinarily consume leaves me feeling the same way I do after eating a couple of slices of pizza or a hot dog and French fries — poorly nourished and still hungry.”

Doubt, faith, & grief: When Grief Kills Your Faith: Some Practical Advice [required reading]

“Goodness is sucked away in grief; and many of us base our faith off the presumed goodness of God.  When that goodness is sucked into the darkness of grief, the foundation of God’s goodness begins to shake; our faith trembles and sometimes it shatters. Faithquake.”

FearWhat Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

“Every time we answer the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” we come into contact with important information about ourselves. We can look beneath our answers to find our deepest truths. We can also confront our fears, and assess whether they are worth heeding, or if we should charge ahead right through the fear.”

Prayer: Ten Simple Strategies for Prayer by Chuck Lawless

“…  build your prayer life one step at a time. Here are some simple strategies for increasing your prayer …”

LIFE group guide: the forgotten verse

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (April 14). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from Philippians 3.8-11: The Forgotten Verse. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To examine familiar Scripture more closely, so as to correct common misunderstandings.

Word

… I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3.8b-11)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Complete this sentence: “If someone went through my garbage bags each week, they’d likely be surprised as to just how much ________ I throw away.”

2. Tell us about one of your great “glory” moments in life, or, if you prefer, one of your experiences of profound “humiliation.” Be silly or serious, either one.

3. Tell us of some “good trade” you’ve made in life; a time you truly “traded up.”

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Compare different English translations of the phrase “sewer trash” (vs. 8). What other renderings do you find used?

2. What is a Christian’s righteousness, or if you please, where does it come from?

3. What does it mean to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection (vs. 10)?

4. What does it mean to participate in Christ’s sufferings (vs. 10)?

5. From this text, make a list of everything Paul experiences, or wants to experience, in Christ (vs. 8-11).

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What has following Christ cost you, that upon looking back, you’re glad you lost?

2. What does it mean to you to know that as a Christian, your righteousness is not really your own, but that of another, given to you?

3. Paul said he had a righteousness “that does not come from the Law” (vs. 9). In what ways have you attempted (or seen other Christians attempt) to “get your righteousness” from sources other than Christ himself?

4. Do you face anything that tempts you on a continual basis to renounce the superior value of Christ? That is, is there anything you sense tugging at you all the time to leave Christ and live life with it, and without him?

5. You’re talking with someone who is yet to believe and they say to you: “I often hear Christians talk about ‘knowing God’ or ‘knowing Christ.’ What does it mean to ‘know Jesus?’” How would you reply?

6. What consistently underscores in your mind the superior value of knowing Christ?

this went thru my mind

 

Daily risks, health, life expectancy & situational awareness: That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer by Jared Diamond

“The other morning, I escaped unscathed from a dangerous situation. No, an armed robber didn’t break into my house, nor did I find myself face to face with a mountain lion during my bird walk. What I survived was my daily shower. … This calculation illustrates the biggest single lesson that I’ve learned from 50 years of field work on the island of New Guinea: the importance of being attentive to hazards that carry a low risk each time but are encountered frequently.”

False teaching & heresy: 7 Steps to Becoming a Heretic by Mike Leake

“Heretics usually start by staring in the mirror and saying, ‘Today, thou shalt be a difference maker.’”

God & suffering: How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? [93 min. video link]

“… a Veritas Forum discussion held at MIT in 2011. This presentation features four MIT professors, two Christian and two non-Christian. The forum begins with a ten minute presentation by each person presenting their world view or their story.  The last half of the video is a question answer panel session.”

God & politics: Divine Rhetoric: God In The Inaugural Address by Scott Neuman

“President Obama mentioned him five times in Monday’s inaugural address — God, that is. In modern times, religion has become so intertwined in our political rhetoric that the failure of any president to invoke God in a speech as important as the inaugural could hardly escape notice. … But the inaugural references to a Supreme Being have evolved over time.”

Guests, greeting & welcoming: Making Visitors Feel Welcome (Part 1): The Greeters by Sarah Bowler

“How can we make the people in our church feel welcomed?”

Immigration & injustice: The Truth About Immigrant Detention Facilities by Matthew Soerens

“Last week, I read the following passage in Amos, speaking of God’s judgment on the people (and, in particular, the rulers) of Israel: ‘They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed (Amos 2:6-7). … Because their profits increase the more people that they detain, companies like GEO have a strong incentive to encourage the federal government to detain more people.”

Short-term missions: Musings on Missions and Evangelism: Are Short-Term Missions For Us or Them?

” …  I have begun to change my feelings about who STMs are about.”

Work: God at Work: The Priesthood of Burger-Flippers by Jonathan Storment

“On average, most of us will work 100,000 hours in our lives, the majority of our lives will be spent doing our job. And if the only thing you ever hear from church is about how you should work/serve/volunteer more inside the building, there’s a chance that you might miss out on how important God thinks your job is.”

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.”