links: this went thru my mind

 

Benevolence, charity, generosity, money, poor, poverty & Texas: * Boom Meets Bust in Texas: Atop Sea of Oil, Poverty Digs In [required reading]; * Let Them Eat Cash

* “One-third of Texas’ $48 billion in tax revenue last year came directly or indirectly from the oil and gas industry … but very little of it is spent on social services and programs to assist the poor, although some helps finance public schools and universities. So, despite the boom, Texas has some of the highest rates of poverty in the nation and ranks first in the percentage of residents without health insurance.”

* “… he was worried that people might spend the handout on drugs or alcohol. This pessimism (and paternalism) is common and understandable. But evidence from other countries suggests we should be more optimistic.”

Church & complaining: How Complaining Keeps the Church from God’s Mission

“If you want to be a part of a church that makes a difference, if you want your small group to make a difference, refrain from wasting your energy on easy targets. It’s not worth your time. Stop ranting on social media about all kinds of things that are wrong from your point of view. We all have concerns. We all know that life is not as it is supposed to be. Instead focus your energy on what you do have influence. Spend your energy on serving your family today. Invest in a co-worker who needs a listening ear. Pray for your neighbor. You can change the world if you focus on your circle of influence.”

Discipleship: Four Marks of Biblical Discipleship

“The question isn’t merely about the mission; it’s about how disciple-making should be defined. Is disciple-making broad or narrow?”

Efficiency, productivity & work: 5 Unusual Ways to Start Working Smarter, Not Harder

“… it’s easy to fall into a pattern of “always working,” rather than working smart …”

Intercession & public prayer: Using “We” in Public Prayers [essential reading]

“… we need to be very careful about how we use the word ‘we.’ … five groups, for whom the ‘we’ in the congregation/church/service might not apply: (1.) Our troops: what if foreigners are present? (2.) Our country: same. (3.) Our young people (or our older people): what of visitors? or those who have no children? (4.) Our children’s children: same (5.) Our environment, our world: is the world ours? or God’s?”

Marriage: Eight Things We’ve Done Right in Our Marriage

“The most important thing we’ve done right is we’ve never given up on our relationship … no matter how hard things got.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”

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

 

Critics, criticism, leadership & ministry: Something I’ve Learned about Pastors and Leaders by Ron Edmonson

“We often let the few negatives overshadow the many positives. … the critic can destroy your perception of reality. That’s why, as leaders, it’s important that we keep our mind on the bigger picture of what God is doing, rather than the voices of the negative minority.”

Just for fun: The History of Doctor Who Companions [infographic]

“The History of Doctor Who Companions infographic … gives us a guide to all the companions that Doctor Who has travelled with and a sneak peak on the newest one. Along with the names and photos come statistics of gender, species, and who is the worst and the best companions.”

Justice: What is Justice? by Christopher Smith [required reading]

“One of the misfortunes in the long history of the church is that we have mistakenly separated love of God from love of neighbor, and always they are held together in prophetic poetry. Covenant members who practice justice and righteousness are to be active advocates for the vulnerable and the marginal and the people without resources, and that then becomes the way to act out and exhibit one’s love of God. So, love of God gets translated into love of vulnerable neighbor.  The doing of justice is the prophetic invitation to do what needs to be done to enable the poor and the disadvantaged and the neglected to participate in the wealth and resources of the community. Injustice is the outcome of having skewed neighborly processes so that some are put at an unbearable disadvantage. And the Gospel invitation is that people intervene in that to correct those mistaken arrangements.” [quoting Walter Brueggemann]

Mission statements & vision: Wasting Time on Mission and Vision by Dan Rockwell

“I think there’s so much time and effort wasted on setting forth mission statements and vision statements … If the mission or vision doesn’t directly effect how [front-line people] are doing their work then it’s … pointless.”

Short-term missions: Before You Plan That International Mission Trip …

“People who go on mission trips want to help or serve in some way. We often think in terms of a work project—something concrete where we can see the result. We would suggest that a more useful way to help and serve the people is to learn from them: about their culture, their reality, their history, the history of our country in relation to theirs, how their country was impoverished, and the unjust systems that continue to impoverish it.”

Texas: How Texas Laws are Made

“Texas Co-Op Power brings us the How Texas Laws Are Made infographic outlining the process bills go through in the state legislature to become the law of the land.”

Zealotry: Zealotry Today by Scot McKnight

“Zealotry is conscious zeal to be radically committed, so radically committed that one goes beyond the Bible to defend things that are not in the Bible.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children, parenting & smartphones: Mother Gives Son an iPhone for Christmas Along With 18-point Contract

“I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.”

Church & generations: The Church’s Generational Log Jam is Making Everybody Cranky by Keith Anderson [required reading]

“Church programming ministry tends to follow the traditional old three generation model. Our programs needs to be more tribal, offering learning, fellowship, and service opportunities to small, specific groups. We also need to bring these tribes together in inter-generational activities to build understanding and community.”

Guns & Texas: TX Representative Proposes Concealed Handgun License Changes

“Right now, to get a Texas concealed handgun license you must go through a ten hour class, that teaches things like gun safety and Texas law. To renew that license, you must go through a four hour class. State Representative Dan Flynn wants to change those requirements completely. House Bill 47 would cut the ten hour CHL class requirement down to four hours. If you want to renew your CHL, under House Bill 48 you would no longer need a four hour refresher course, you could just renew online.”

Homelessness: Hardest of the Hard! by Larry James

“‘Yeah, I know you’re tough … but on the outside only,’ I went on. ‘I bet you’re not hard on the inside where it really counts.’”

Negativity: The Trap of Negativity by Joseph Lalonde

“No one enjoys being around a negative person.”

Non-violence and self-defense: Non-Violence and Self-Defense by Nick Gill

“…  do you believe that Christians have the right of self-defense? The classic question is whether you have the right to defend your family from someone who breaks into your home?”

Self-denial & service: Becoming the Exploited Ones? by Christopher Smith

“I was struck by the painful and ugly truth of the theology of Berry’s point here, that it is us, as churches, that are called to bear the labor and the suffering of our places — not in some individualistic/heroic act of martyrdom, but as a vocation that we discern and enter into together. I have no delusions that we as white Westerners will be able to give up our privilege, but  we must move in this direction as “deny ourselves” and follow Christ. We cannot and should not be afraid of good hard work, of the risks we take upon our bodies and our souls, even upon our aspirations to success.  We must not be afraid to take on the work that no one else wants to do.”