this went thru my mind

 

Church decline, Churches of Christ & mission: Future Church

“… I want to talk about the way forward … at least where it begins because I don’t believe in waiting around for the bells to finally toll.”

Discipleship & Jesus: What If Jesus Was Serious?

“What if Jesus was serious when he said: Love and pray for your enemies, do not judge others, give to the poor, and don’t worry about your life?”

Gospel: The Gospel: Far More Than a Key to the Front Door

“… the gospel isn’t something we need only to become a Christian.”

Legalism: Legalism: Old and New Perspectives [essential reading]

“Legalism is any practice or belief that is added to the gospel that compromises the sufficiency of Christ as Savior and jeopardizes the adequacy of the Spirit in moral guidance. Secondarily, then, legalism demands that one adopt a group’s special markers in order to be fully acceptable to God.”

Mental health & religion: Religion is a Powerful Resource for Good in Mental Health

“Dr. Harold Koenig is one of the world’s most prolific scientists in psychiatry and medicine. … Within the period of 1878 to 2010, he found over 3,000 empirical studies in the literature across these three centuries. Amazingly, nearly 2,000 of them have been published in the last decade—from 2000 to 2010, pointing to a significant interest in the mental health field about the role of spirituality in health. Koenig found that nearly 75%—three cases of every four—showed a positive relationship between spirituality and physical or mental health. A deep and active faith, in other words, translates to robust health, good mental health, and a long and satisfying life.”

Ministry: Losing a Game We Deny We are Playing

“One result of the toxic brew of Kingdom and American values in our churches is a high degree of confusion and anger among ministers. Many are profoundly worried there is something wrong with themselves while they long for the kind of affirmation they know to be bad for them.”

Morale, productivity, respect & trust: Want Productive Employees? Treat Them Like Adults

“Distrust begets distrust in return. It kills motivation rather than sparking it. Treat employees like children and you increase the odds they’ll act like children. You reap what you sow — for better and for worse.”

Poverty & taxes: In the South and West, a Tax on Being Poor

“When it comes to state and local taxation, we are not one nation under God. In 2008, the difference between a working mother in Mississippi and one in Vermont — each with two dependent children, poverty-level wages and identical spending patterns — was $2,300. … These regional disparities go back to Reconstruction …”

this went thru my mind

 

Belonging, connection, self-worth & vulnerability: The Power of Vulnerability [20 min. TED Talk by Brené Brown]

“… the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees.”

Church dropouts, evangelism, outreach & restoration: An Open Letter to the Church: How to Love the Cynics [required reading]

“We left for a hundred different reasons, none less real or important than the other.”

Film: The Bible Series from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey- A Sneak Peak

“… brand new epic Bible Series … starts this Sunday evening on the History Channel (channel 269 on Directv).”

Homeless & homelessness: 10 Ideas For Helping Homeless People

“There is no template, one-size-fits-all plan that works for what we think of as ‘giving a cup of cold water’ to our friends on the street.”

Nationalism: Is the Pledge Good for Our Kids?

“Please stop and consider how we evangelicals have been conditioned not to see any conflict with nationalism and Christian discipleship. Will we allow another generation of our children to be taught that America is the hope of the world, or will we tell them the truth about a King whose Kingdom is not of this world, but is for this world?”

Quotes: Knowing Christ with Dallas Willard and John Ortberg

“In our world, relationships are based on attack and withdrawal. In the love of God, we don’t attack people. We don’t withdraw from them. We accept them.”

Sequester & tax cuts: * Today’s 3 ‘Should-Read’ Stories About The Sequester; * Impact of March 1st Cuts on Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security: Texas [wow!]

“… get ready for “the sequester” — the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts in federal spending that would begin to kick in that day if lawmakers don’t strike some sort of deal before then.”

“If sequestration were to take effect, some examples of the impacts on Texas this year alone are …”

this went thru my mind

 

Faith/faithfulness: The Faithfulness of Jesus, or Faith in Jesus?

“It is Jesus’ faithfulness I can rest in, and not my own sometimes weak, wavering, and even battered faith. It’s not that I am excused not to hold on to faith, or keep the faith. But I can better do so by realizing that it’s because of the faithfulness of Jesus that I can continue in that stance of faith, and nothing more nor less. Of course the Spirit is at work in God’s grace in Jesus to help us, all part of what comes out of the faithfulness of Jesus.”

Firearms, gun ownership & violence: Why This Christian Will Never Own a Gun by Bruce Reyes-Chow

“When I say that I will never own a gun because of my Christian faith, that does not mean that I am saying that you are not a Christian if you do.”

Gospel: The Gospel … A Family Story by K. Rex Butts

“If we were to ask a hundred Christians what the goal or aim of the gospel of Jesus Christ is, I’m guessing a good bit of that number would provide an individualistic salvation answer. They would say something like, ‘to save me from my sins so that I can live eternally with God.’ … However, the aim of the gospel is reconciliation of people back to God and each other into “one body” so that we all are one community, the ‘household of God’ (Eph. 2:14-22).”

Government & taxes: Render to Caesar What is Caesar’s by Scott Elliott

“N.T. Wright has correctly said, ‘If Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not.’ First century Christians understood that professing Jesus as Lord could ultimately mean death because of its political implications. Becoming a Christian means that Jesus is our Lord and we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We cannot serve two masters. Our sole allegiance is to God and His Kingdom.”

Growth: * The Myth of Endless Growth by Larry Osborne [required reading]; * Reflections on a Red God by Dan Bouchelle

* “I’ve always been told that if a business or church isn’t growing, something must be terribly wrong. After all, healthy things always multiply and grow. But frankly, that’s hogwash. It’s based on idealistic and wishful thinking. It’s a leadership urban legend. And a dangerous one at that.”

* “Perhaps our models of church have hindered the growth of the church as much as aided it. Perhaps the Christian faith grows best when it travels light. … The more I read … the more I’m convinced that we need to be doing what God is blessing instead of asking him to bless what we are doing. The mission is his. He is in the lead.”

Holiness, humility & respect: Committed to Holiness But Not Holier Than Thou [required reading]

“We hold to our convictions, firmly believing that we are right. Yet we can do so without judging others and without believing that our stance somehow makes us better than others. I will try to convince others of my position and hope they will try to convince me of theirs. That’s how we grow as Christians. Yet it must always be done with an air of acceptance and respect.”

Joy: Four Simple Things Stealing Your Joy (And What to do About Them) by Chris Altrock

“Richard Foster writes about four obstacles that keep us from joy. The first obstacle is inattention. … A second obstacle is the wrong kind of attention. … A third obstacle is greed. … The final hindrance is conceit.”

Politics: The Attack Ad, Pompeii-Style

“A.D. 79 was a rough year for Marcus Cerrinius Vatia. … Since tradition in Pompeii kept ads from being blatantly defamatory, a favorite trick of local politicians was to plaster the tombs and walls of the town with fake endorsements for their opponents from unsuitable supporters — runaway slaves, gamblers and prostitutes. In Roman politics, where the appearance of honor and dignity was all important, even obviously false endorsements could bring shame and defeat to a struggling candidate. The almost 3,000 political inscriptions that survive from Pompeii tell us more about Roman elections …”

Prayer: Pray Continually: Thoughts on Praying with the Church by John Byron

“The exhortation to “pray continually” is common to Paul’s writing and his life (Rom. 12:12; Eph 6:18; Col. 4:2; 2 Tim 1:3). … When we pray, whether alone or corporately and whether we realize it or not, we pray together with all the people of God.”

Silence: Only In Silence, The Word

“… when you are alone with just yourself and God, you find out how noisy your interior world is …”

this went thru my mind

 

Art: Lego-Brücke

“[Pictured] here [is the result of a] four week transformation [of] a 250 square meter [area of a] bridge with … ​​Lego bricks.”

Bible translation: C.S. Lewis on the Nature of Scripture

“The same divine humility which decreed that God should become a baby at a peasant-woman’s breast, and later an arrested field-preacher in the hands of the Roman police, decreed also that He should be preached in a vulgar, prosaic and unliterary language. If you can stomach the one, you can stomach the other. The Incarnation is in that sense an irreverent doctrine: Christianity, in that sense, an incurably irreverent religion. When we expect that it should have come before the World in all the beauty that we now feel in the Authorised Version we are as wide of the mark as the Jews were in expecting that the Messiah would come as a great earthly King. The real sanctity, the real beauty and sublimity of the New Testament (as of Christ’s life) are of a different sort: miles deeper or further in.”

Chik-Fil-A, LGBT & the culture wars: * Christian Resources for Thinking About Homosexuality; * What Exactly Did Dan Cathy Say to Land Chic-fil-a in Hot Water?; * Five Reasons the Church Failed Yesterday; * Learning to Speak: Chick-fil-A & our Inability to Dialogue; * Do Corporations Have Souls?

* “My basic question is ‘What attitude should Christians adopt as we consider our interaction with the LGBT community?’”

* “‘We don’t claim to be a Christian business,’ Cathy told the Biblical Recorder in a recent visit to North Carolina. He attended a business leadership conference many years ago where he heard Christian businessman Fred Roach say, ‘There is no such thing as a Christian business.’ ‘That got my attention,’ Cathy said. Roach went on to say, ‘Christ never died for a corporation. He died for you and me.’ ‘In that spirit … [Christianity] is about a personal relationship. Companies are not lost or saved, but certainly individuals are,’ Cathy added.”

* “Yesterday’s campaign, while I don’t think it should be considered or called ‘hate,’ neither can it be called love. … People felt hate and we ignored that. … By rallying behind CFA, Christians put an issue above people. … Once again, the mass actions of Christians built another wall of distrust between the Church and the GLBTQ communities. … Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people.”

* “The issue is not homosexuality. We do the same with Muslims and Hindus, with Atheists and Agnostics. We do it with Christians that think differently regarding heaven and hell, baptism or remarriage, or those who get a little too charismatic when their favorite worship song is played. We do it with anyone who we view as ‘the Other.’ The real issue is us. We struggle to ‘put skin’ on the words and message of Christ with anyone who thinks differently than us. Too often, we demand conformity prior to connection.”

* “In light of the Chick-Fil-A ‘Appreciation Day’ I’m wondering, ‘When did corporations become moral guardians for our society?’”

Communication, ministry & relationships: Conversations Skills that Transform by Kevin A. Miller

“… they have scores of digital ‘friends,’ but what’s missing is analog—a slow, listening, face-to-face presence.”

Death & the hereafter: Immediately after Death, What Happens?

“Following a sermon one day a person waited around until everyone had left and he asked me this: ‘My father was a Christian; he died last week; we buried him Monday. Where is he now?’ And pastor after pastor has told me this is a very common — monthly — question they get from the grieving. Matthew Levering … explores how three representative scholars — N.T. Wright, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Aquinas — explain the so-called intermediate state.”

Drugs: Houston Area ‘Major Player’ in Synthetic Drug Market

“… the Houston area is the No. 1 spot in Texas when it comes to people getting poisoned by synthetic compounds designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and methamphetamines.”

Illegal alines & immigration: Immigration: Justice, Mercy, and the Great Commission by J. Lance Conklin

“…  are those entering the U.S. illegally breaking into a house to steal a T.V., or are they stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family?”

Introverts: Eight Things to Help You Understand Introverts by Thom Rainer

“I am an introvert. … I hope these eight statements will help you understand us a little bit better.”

Knife-sharpening: * Testing a Knife’s Sharpness;  * Stoning Your Knife;  * Honing Your Knife

Three brief videos by Bob Kramer, master bladesmith.

Olympics: Eric Liddell – A True Champion

“Eric Liddell is best known as ‘the man from Chariots of Fire’ (cue slow running) but there was much more to him than that!”

Parenting & texting: Control Your Kids’ Texting

“My kids are glued to their smartphones. … Is there a way I can turn off texting on their phones during a certain time?”

Politics & faith: A Third Party Candidate by Scott Elliott

“… many Christians have fallen into [a] … political trap. They ‘treat their religion as a kind of politics and their politics as a kind of religion.’ Politics becomes an idol, and hope rises or falls based on the outcome of the coming election. Christians on both sides of the aisle are guilty of bowing to an elephant or a donkey, thinking they have the answers to their problems. The truth is neither the Republicans nor the Democrats possess the solutions to that which plagues humanity, but there is a third option.”

Preaching: * Preaching: Raiding or Reading?; * It’s Not About You – Or Is It?

* “Bible Raiding. This sort goes to the Bible to find support for an already-decided-upon idea, to get answers from the Bible on the basis of a surface reading of the Bible … and lets what the preacher wants to say and what the preacher believes establish what is to be preached. … Bible Reading. This sort goes to the Bible to see what it says and what it says shapes what the preacher preaches and teaches. …”

* “Whether we like it or not, therefore, it is ‘about us’ – which raises all the more intensely the question of how we can also be certain that it is not only and primarily about us, but ultimately about the God we worship in and through Jesus Christ.”

Self-righteousness: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

“The really insidious part about this condition is that the more I go on as a Christian: the more I grow in knowledge, the more I become integrated into the Christian community, the more my lifestyle conforms to the expectations of my particular Christian group, the more separated I get from “the world” and its ways, the more I learn to act, speak, dress, and think like a Christian, the more my capacity for self-righteousness increases.”

Taxes & demographics: Study: Romney Tax Plan Would Shift Burden Toward Poor

“Mitt Romney’s tax plan would provide large tax cuts to the very wealthy, while increasing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes, according to a study … produced by researchers at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center …”

United States: Is America a Secular Nation? by Ben Witherington

“It would be nearer the truth to say that America is a narcissistic ‘who cares’ society when it comes to politics than to say it is a secular society.”

this went thru my mind

 

Chick-Fil-A: In the Basement by Jen Hatmaker; * Some Words for Christians On Both Sides of the Chick-fil-A War by Rachel Held Evans

* “This is precisely how I feel about the Chick-Fil-A debacle and all the other accouterments of the culture wars. I am so over it. I’m so over the fear mongering and hate propaganda. I’m over the political posturing and power plays. I’m over the finger pointing and name-calling. The storms are raging overhead, and let me tell you something: I’m going to the basement.”

* “Just some thoughts from a retired veteran of the culture wars …”

Christianity in China: Listening to Chinese Christians

“There is much we can learn by listening to Chinese Christians.”

Churches of Christ: * Homeless: An Essay on the Ecclesial Lives of Young Adults from the Churches of Christ by James McCarty; * JamesMcCarty’s Thoughts on Why Young People Are Leaving Churches of Christ by Matt Dabbs

* “I have met dozens of young adults (20-35 years old) over the last several years who grew up in the churches of Christ but no longer attend one. I’ve met dozens of others who still attend a church of Christ, at least somewhat regularly, who feel that such a church is no longer the ideal place for them but know of nowhere else to go. I am primarily concerned in this essay with the latter though I will make some reference to the former. These still-attending-but-uncomfortable CoCers are uncomfortable in the churches of their youth for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are …”

* “This is not a unique list for churches of Christ. I am not certain that his five points get to the heart of what is really happening here. I think this is more of a symptom checklist of some deeper issues that have to be uncovered if we are going to move forward. You could “fix” all five of his points and still have young people leaving the church.”

Creativity: Tips on How to Be More Creative by John Cleese

“… we can benefit greatly from being even more creative. So how to do that? One way to start is to listen to the legendary John Cleese below and incorporate his tips into your daily work and life where possible. This speech is from 1991 and is as relevant as ever. … In case you don’t have 30 minutes to watch this video,  I have summarized Cleese’s thoughts here. “

Disappointment: 10 Tips for Recovering from Major Disappointments by Ron Edmonson

“Sometimes life throws curves at us that take the wind from our sail. If we aren’t careful we can allow the injury to haunt us for life; never regaining what we have lost. … What steps should you take to get back on track and succeed again after a major disappointment?”

Evangelism: An Evangelism Secret by Terry Rush

“Pay attention.”

Ministry & writing: Paul and the Pastoral Practice of Writing

“It’s easy to underestimate the value of letter writing for pastoral ministry in the electronic age.  But when a pastor takes time to write a letter (even if via email) to a person under their care it creates a connection. I asked a pastor friend of mine, now retired, to share his thoughts/experiences of writing letters as a pastor. Here’s what he said.”

Photography & the Middle East: NASA’s View of the Middle East by Seth M. Rodriquez

“NASA has a website called ‘Visible Earth’ where they post pictures taken by astronauts and ‘sensors’ they have in orbit.  Within this large collection of pictures, there are several that are focused in on Israel and the Middle East. Here’s a taste of what you can find there …”

Poverty: Poverty – Understanding Scale [required reading]

“The poverty level as defined by the federal government in 2010 was $11,139 for an individual and $22,314 for a family of four. Could you take care of a family of four on less than $2000 a month? … The following are 40 facts about poverty in America that will blow your mind …”

Priorities: * Erase “I Don’t Have Time” from Your Vocabulary by Melanie Pinola; * Could a Checklist Empower Your Ministry?

* “Whenever you find yourself thinking ‘I don’t have time’ change it to ‘It’s not a priority.’ Watch how quickly your perspective shifts when looking at life’s challenges this way.”

* “It worked for the airlines, the surgeons, and maybe it will work for the ministry.”

Stillness: The Practice of Stillness by Michael Hyatt

“… you must do nothing for at least fifteen minutes a day. … I have … practiced this discipline for twenty-two days in a row. Honestly, this has been one of the most transformational things I have ever done.”

Taxes: Taxation, Charity, and Robbery by James F. McGrath

“I’ve heard the argument made that the government taxing the wealthy and redistributing that wealth to those less fortunate than them is not taxation, but robbery. I wonder how many of those who say such things are Christians or Jews , and would also think Deuteronomy 26:12 was robbery?”

The Blind Side & Lifeway: Hollywood’s Blind Side by Mark Joseph

“Various writers are publicly kvetching about the decision by a Baptist-owned bookstore chain called Lifeway to stop carrying The Blind Side DVD because, according to the Southern Baptist Convention it contains “explicit profanity,” takes ‘God’s name in vain’ and contains a ‘racial slur.’ … But are the Baptists really at fault here? Aren’t they entitled to carry whatever product they want for whatever reason they want? And who are we as non-Baptists to castigate them for what they decide to stock in their stores, especially those products which offend their deepest religious sensitivities?”

Vision: The 5 Major Obstacles to Personal Vision by Will Mancini

“It’s very important to diagnose your life concerning the common obstacles that keep you from things like setting goals, defining your personal vision or achieving our life dreams. I believe there are five primary blockades to consider.”

Warfare: A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away

“When he was deployed in Iraq, ‘you land and there’s no more weapons on your F-16, people have an idea of what you were just involved with.’ Now he steps out of a dark room of video screens, his adrenaline still surging after squeezing the trigger, and commutes home past fast-food restaurants and convenience stores to help with homework — but always alone with what he has done.”