links: this went thru my mind

 

Age, Boomers, faith, mid-life, & generations: Aged Out of Church [required reading]

“… Boomers are leaving the church in numbers that we usually think of when we talk about the exodus of the Millennial generation: “‘…during the past 20 years the percentage of unchurched Boomers has risen dramatically, jumping up 18 points! At 41 percent, they are now the generation most likely to be unchurched, surpassing the 39 percent level among Busters.’”

Attitude, complaining & grumbling: Grumbling & Complaining

“My heart has been a grumbling one recently. I could give you a few reasons I think why my grumbling is necessary or warranted, but the truth is that even talking about those situations would invite more grumbling. People talk about it being necessary to say how we feel, but I usually think there is more merit to say less about how we feel, and more about who God is in spite of our feelings.”

Bible, literacy, Millenials & reading: American Bible Society Report: The Bible in America, 2014

“Now there are just as many Americans skeptical of the Bible as there are engaged with the Bible. According to the fourth annual State of the Bible survey, 19 percent said that they were skeptical of the Bible. This number is up from 10 percent in 2011. This trend is even more pronounced among the Millennial generation (who range in age from 18-29).”

Children, courtesy, manners & parenting: Ten Forgotten Ways to Teach Politeness to Children

“Not every day is going to be a rip roaring success when trying to teach our children politeness, but if we are consistent, we will eventually see them get it right more than they get it wrong.  And, when they have successful and pleasant encounters with others, we are setting them up to be more successful in life.  These ten skills will serve them well all through adulthood, too.”

Culture & sin: 5 Overlooked Cultural Sins Threatening the Church [essential reading]

“What if the biggest threats to the church weren’t the things we thought they were? What if the very foundation of our country’s culture actually resembles the culture of our churches? We may find that we’ve been blind to more subtle and subversive influences that are having a greater impact on the church than the issues that consume us. Here are just five overlooked cultural norms that are contrary to the Kingdom and are sinful within the Kingdom, unknowingly supported by many of us. …  Competition … Celebrity … Patriotism … Fear … Individuality.”

Gospel, moralism & preaching: Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think it Is) [required reading]

“… one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.”

Marriage, relationships, technology & Twitter: Frequent Twitter Users Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses, Get Divorced: Study

“Comparing his two studies, Clayton was surprised to find that the length of time a couple had been together did not affect whether they would be negatively affected by one partner’s Twitter activity.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Abuse, atonement & God: Atonement and Divine Child Abuse

“About a decade ago it became avant garde theology to contend the classical Christian theory of atonement was nothing less than divine child abuse. That is, the image of a Father punishing a Son, or exacting retribution at the expense of his own Son, or punishing a Son for the good of others — each of these became a way of deconstructing classical atonement theory. … this approach … abuses the Bible’s image.”

Boredom, happiness, technology & wonder: Everything’s Amazing And Nobody’s Happy [required reading]

“Simply put, we bore easily. Once, when giving a radio address (an older technology which once seemed like magic), Albert Einstein looked straight into the muzzle of our dilemma: ‘Everybody should be ashamed who uses the wonders of science and engineering without thinking and having mentally realized not more of it than a cow realizes of the botany of the plants which it eats with pleasure.’”

Behavior & habits: 36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits

“I’ve learned these lessons the hard way.”

Blessings, money, possession & prosperity: The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

“So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living. No. My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us. And for this blessing, may our response always be, ‘Use me.’”

Church, humility, pride, relationships & self-esteem: * Sean Palmer, the Church [essential reading]; * Civil Religion: Better Than You [essential reading]

* “Reconciliation is what it means to be church; to go “to church.” It’s what Jesus intended our gatherings to be and to produce. I can’t be reconciled alone. I can worship alone, but I can’t do and be church alone. And I can’t be reconciled with people who are already just like me. Church is more than a gathering of my friends. It’s the differences, the tensions, the partisanship, the space between that creates the opportunity for God to transform my heart from what it is not to what God created it to be.”

* “Christianity is not about being better than someone else, it is among many things, the recognition that we are better than no one else. This is not a rhetorical move, it is reality.”

Cinema: Casting the Devil Out of the Jesus Story

“Why the ‘Son of God’ film excludes Satan from the Christ story—and what’s at stake.”

Nationalism: Which Country Does God Really Love the Most?

“Sometimes we Americans think that God is an American and that He loves all the other countries, but just wishes they were like His special country!”

Parenting, technology & teens: Tips for Parenting Middle School Kids Using Texting and Social Media

“The biggest concern parents have is the undue influence texting and social media has on their children. The best way to counter undue influence is to provide quality attention and take an active interest in what is happening with your child (beyond sports and grades) and help them put the texting and social media apps in proper perspective for their lives.”

Politics & religious liberty: How to Determine If Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions

“… no matter what soundbites you hear this election year, remember this: Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children, parenting & technology: * The Bible App for Kids [essential notice; by the Makers of YouVersion]; * 10 Social Networks You Didn’t Know Kids are Using

* “Help your kids fall in love with God’s word.”

* “Hats off to you for paying attention to what your kids are doing online and on their phones …”

Culture & the U.S.: Forget The 50 States; The U.S. Is Really 11 Nations, Author Says

“… Colin Woodard … has studied American voting patterns, demographics and public opinion polls going back to the days of the first settlers, and says that his research shows America is really made up of 11 different nations.”

Gifts & giving: The Gift of Not Giving a Thing [required reading]

“What if nobody gave my boys presents anymore? What if we only gave GIFTS.”

Healthcare: Some Thoughts About the Affordable Care Act

“There is a huge–HUGE–gap in our safety net because health insurance is tied to full-time employment. Too many employers can game the system by hiring people just under full-time, making American workers work two jobs without getting insurance (or related benefits) from either employer. To say nothing of those who aren’t employed or who would like to get private insurance but have preexisting conditions. The fact that you have to go through insurance companies to get healthcare in American is hugely problematic. Too many people are left out of the system. It needs to get fixed.”

Marriage: Are These Enemies of Marriage in Your House?

“Run from these enemies.”

Ministry & parenting: Prodigal Pastor Kids: Fact or Fiction?

“… where does this stereotype of the prodigal pastor kid come from?”

Preaching: * The Weekly Emotional Process of Sermon Preparation … [Amen!]; * When Good Pastors Preach Boring Sermons

* “It goes something like this …”

* “Instead of becoming dissatisfied with our churches and forsaking them to listen to podcasts of our favorite “celebrity” preachers, I would like to suggest a couple of thoughts to consider.”

Simplicity: Simple Living. The Earlier, the Better. [required reading]

“When I was 33 years old, we began giving away all the possessions in our lives that were not absolutely essential to our purpose and goals. Eventually, our family removed over 60% of our earthly possessions. And we couldn’t be happier. We found more time, money, and energy to pursue the things in life most valuable to us: faith, family, and friends. We discovered far greater fulfillment in life pursuing our passions than we had ever discovered pursuing possessions. And now, my only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner—that we wasted so much time, so many years, and so many resources.”

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

 

Bible literacy & reading: What People Quote vs. What They Read

“… people read the Bible primarily as a loosely organized collection of inspiring quotes surrounded by confusing babble … this way of reading the Bible is a rejection of the flow and structure of the canon.”

Children, parenting & technology: Resisting the Siren Call of the Screen [required reading]

“The message we communicate to our kids, she writes, is: ‘Everybody else matters more than you.’ Children, she declares, ‘are tired of being the ‘call waiting’ in their parents’ lives.’”

Church, community, discipleship, faith & fellowship: Passing on the Faith in a Makeshift Choir Stall

“It’s hard to pass on the faith … when people of different age groups don’t engage each other intimately.”

Faith & youth: On Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as U.S. Teenagers’ Actual, Tacit, De Facto Religious Faith [essential reading]

“Here we summarize our observations in venturing a general thesis about teenage religion and spirituality in the United States. … The creed of this religion, as codified from what emerged from our interviews with U.S. teenagers, sounds something like this …”

Tradition: Breaking Tradition [essential reading]

“… every tradition, at one point, was a break with the status quo. Every tradition started off with trying to do something new and fresh and compelling. And over time, what was once revolutionary becomes static and codified. We stop paying attention to what the tradition was trying to do, and only focus on what it did.”

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 …”

this went thru my mind

 

Change: Five Secret Objections to Change by Ron Edmonson

“Show me an objection to legitimate, needed change and you’re almost guaranteed to find one of these hidden in the crowd somewhere. Probably multiples of them.”

Children, Easter & parenting: Preparing Your Children For Easter Without Rabbits! [required reading]

“For our children, Easter has become more about baby chickens, bunny rabbits, and egg hunts and hardly anything about Jesus! Part of the reason is that the story is sad, brutal, and gory. We have sanitized the lives of our children to the point that the real Easter story just doesn’t work. We need a Disney version for our young children. On the other hand, my 8-year-old, 7-year-old, and 5-year-old grandsons have all seen Star Wars, and some of them have seen at least the first episode of Lord of the Rings. They have all seen the Narnia movies—and they have all been to funerals. I think they can handle the basics of the passion story. I’d like to just suggest to you today a schedule of possible readings and activities to do with your young children.”

Church: Seven Ways to Kill a Church by Scott Elliott; * Bullies in the Church; * And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak by Jen Hatmaker [required reading]

* “Be immature – Gripe, complain, nitpick, and criticize others. … Fail to get people involved. Don’t ask people to do anything. … Ignore the youth. Refuse to teach them anything meaningful about the Christian faith. … Pretend like worship isn’t important. Show up late and leave early. … Forget about feeding the flock. Give the congregation upbeat and entertaining messages with little or no substance. Never move beyond the basics of Christianity. … Convince people that leadership does not matter. Choose leaders who are biblically ignorant and spiritually immature. … Never look beyond the church building. Forget there is a world full of people who need help. Do not feed the hungry.”

* “There are books on school bullying—and more than enough data to support techniques for dealing with the problem. But when it comes to the church—there’s very little information. Nevertheless, there can be bullies in the church.  And most don’t fit the bully stereotype. Consider, for example, a few of the bully personalities that are more commonly found in the church …”

* “The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be ‘disengaged’ by the time they are 29. 80 percent. Gone. … 73 percent of Nones came from religious homes; 66 percent were described by the study as ‘de-converts.’ … [But] as far as I can tell, Jesus is still the easiest sell on earth, because if you don’t love a guy who healed lepers and pulled children onto His lap and silenced the religious elite and ate and drank with sinners, then you just don’t know Him.”

Happiness: One Thing You Must Stop Doing to Be Happy

“The quickest route to happiness is to stop the pursuit of finding happiness and start the process of being happiness.”

Connectivity, technology & the Internet: * This is the World You Live (and Lead) in Now; * Danny Hillis: The Internet Could Crash. We Need a Plan B. [121/2 min. TED Talk video]

* “Mobile technology and digital social networks have changed our habits, rhythms of life, the way we connect, and get news and information. … They are not just tools. They are ways of being in the world. They have become an integrated part of our culture, our lives, and, indeed, the practice of faith.”

* “Internet pioneer Danny Hillis argues that the Internet wasn’t designed for this kind of scale, and sounds a clarion call for us to develop a Plan B: a parallel system to fall back on if — or when — the Internet crashes.”

Evangelism, outreach & questions: What Gives??

“Good answer!”

Poverty & social mobility: Why Social Mobility In The United States Is A Total Myth

“… 44%, of American adults who are in the bottom 20% in income were born to parents who were also in the bottom 20%; nearly half, 45%, of adults in the top 20% had parents who were also in the top 20%. Most Americans who were born in the middle 60% had parents who were also born in the middle 60%.”

Presence: Do You Have Time to Be Present? by Jim Martin

“Life is about being fully present in the one life that I am living — to the honor of God. What are your greatest challenges to being fully present with others?”