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.”

Twitter is my ministry friend


TwitterWhen Twitter first appeared on the scene, I didn’t really appreciate it because I couldn’t see much use for it. My reasoning was that whatever Twitter could do, Facebook could do better.

What a mistake! Now Twitter is my friend; my very good friend.

For example, most of the news I encounter through NPR during the course of the day I receive via Twitter.

No small number of the fine blog posts and articles I read I’m first made aware of via Twitter.

I can do some shameless self-promotion of my own blog posts thanks to Twitter.

And I can keep up with some of what’s happening in the lives of some of my friends by scanning their tweets.

But perhaps the biggest plus for me in the use of Twitter is the never-ending stream of great quotes that appear there. Ever since my college days I’ve been a quoteaholic and Twitter feeds my need. Stimulating quotes often spark further thought and sometimes they even grow into entire lessons or sermons. If you’re a teacher or preacher, this fact alone will make Twitter worth your while.

Take for example this sampling of just seven of the quotes I’ve gleaned from my Twitter feed over the course of just the past twenty-four hours.

“Sometimes it’s hard for me to see God, but we’ve done life together long enough that I don’t wonder if He sees me.” – Rick Atchley  (@RickAtchley)

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” – John Green (via Ian Morgan Cron; @iancron)

“Hey youth guy, when you’re 80 that cool tattoo will look like a chocolate bunny left in hot car.” – The Surly Deacon (@TheSurlyDeacon)

“Life is best lived under the weight of the cross.” – Leonard Sweet (@lensweet)

“Sin is always a matter of the heart, so the grace of redemption is the work of the rescue and renewal of the heart.” – Paul David Tripp (@PaulTripp)

“You cannot get tomorrow’s strength until tomorrow. Why then try to carry tomorrow’s burden today?” – Leslie Weatherhead (via Max Lucado (@MaxLucado)

“The enemy has got NOTHING on us–except what we give him by being afraid that he’s got something on us!” – Greg Boyd (@greg_boyd) (via Kurt Willems @KurtWillems)

Whether you use the standard Twitter client or use something like Tweetbot (like I do), if you’re in ministry and you’ve yet to try Twitter, you’re missing out. I urge you: repent.

this went thru my mind


Discernment & the Holy Spirit: The Church as a Community of Discernment

“…  I wonder what conditions are necessary to say, ‘it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.’ I wonder if most congregations have orchestrated their life together so that this is a possibility. And if it isn’t–if the church isn’t conceived of to express its life as a matter of faith–then what do we imagine the church is, and how do we imagine that God is related to it? Is it really a church?”

Facebook: Protect Your Privacy From Facebook’s Newest Feature

“The feature in question here is Facebook’s Graph Search.”

Finances, generations & responsibilities: The Sandwich Generation: Rising Financial Burdens for Middle-Aged Americans

“Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.”

Hell: Hell is for Real by Jason Micheli

“During the course of my ministry, I’ve met far too many people who’ve been hurt by Christians who spoke callously or cavalierly about Hell.”

Journaling: The 7 Benefits of Keeping A Journal by Michael Hyatt [podcast]

“If I had to sum it up, I would say journaling has afforded me seven benefits. 1. Process previous events. 2. Clarify my thinking. 3. Understand the context. 4. Notice my feelings. 5. Connect with my heart. 6. Record significant lessons. 7. Ask important questions.”

Lent: Why Lent? by Kai Nilsen

“‘Lent? What’s that? Are you talking about the fuzzy stuff I often find in my belly button?’ (Lint!)”

Security: More Than A Dozen Brands Of Security Camera Systems Vulnerable To Hacker Hijacking

“Eighteen brands of security camera digital video recorders (DVRs) are vulnerable to an attack that would allow a hacker to remotely gain control of the devices to watch, copy, delete or alter video streams at will, as well as to use the machines as jumping-off points to access other computers behind a company’s firewall, according to tests by two security researchers.”

Twitter & Vine: Twitter’s New Vine App – Opportunities for the Ministry by Ben Lichtenwalner

“How can we use this new medium for the ministry? Below are some thoughts to get us started.”

this went thru my mind


Church & expectations: Not As You Envisioned It by Timothy Archer [essential reading]

“Church is never going to be exactly the way you envision it. And that’s a good thing.”

Generosity: How Generous are You? by Jim Martin

“…  Christian leaders would do well to be generous.  In fact, I believe there is nothing to be lost by being generous.  The result is that you get to participate in adding value to others’ lives. Four suggestions. 1. Be generous with your friends. … 2. Be generous with your resources. 3. Be generous with your praise and affirmation. 4. Be generous with your attention.”

Healthcare: The Future of Healthcare [infographic]

“…  the convergence of personal medical data and technology …”

Les Misérables: Les Misérables: Valjean or Javert? by Katelin Hansen

“Both Javert and Valjean are Christian men, acting in the name of God. But as Morgan Guyton notes, they represent two different Christianities and ‘Javert’s Christianity is winning big time in today’s America.’”

Obedience: Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 5, Obedience by Richard Beck

“… I find value in Benedict’s directives about obedience. … If we aren’t practicing monastic obedience, and I’m not suggesting that you should, where are we getting some equivalent formation? Where are we learning to mortify our will today?”

Twitter: Vine: A New Way to Share Video

“… we’re introducing Vine: a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos.”

this went thru my mind


Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind


Chaplaincy: The Rise of the Corporate Chaplain

“Workplace chaplains … can be found at more than 1,000 companies in the U.S. and Canada.”

Church planting: Three Good Reasons to Start a Church by Chad Hall

“Why would we start new churches when so many of our established churches have declining members? … Why should anyone consider planting a church?  Here are three good reasons, followed by three poor reasons.”

Facebook: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Your Next Facebook Update by J.R. Briggs

“Is this honoring? Am I dishonoring others …?”

Greek: Greek and Hebrew Textual Study Tools Big List by Matt Dabbs

“There are all kinds of great tools on the web for studying the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament (the text, textual variants/criticism, etc). I thought it might be nice to start a list of them so that when anyone needs them you can get them all in one spot.”

Idolatry & patriotism: When Does Patriotism Become Idolatrous? by Tim Archer [required reading]

“Countries beg to be worshipped. They couch things in religious terms.”

Twitter: TwitBlock

“Fan or spam? Find out how many of your followers are junk, and block the twerps!”

Women: Junia’s Friends by Scot McKnight

“The women who are mentioned in the New Testament … are often scratches on the surface of a deeper story. Patient reading of such texts often yields considerable information, and I have made the case that there’s much to see in Paul’s mentioning of Junia in Romans 16:7 (see Junia is Not Alone). Two more women, whom I am calling Junia’s friends since they join her in being ignored in Christian churches, are Philippi’s Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3). Here are Paul’s words, and I’ll offer a few brief observations.”

this went thru my mind


Evangelism: Creating a Positive Method of Evangelism by Paul Smith

“… in my estimation we have far too many methods of evangelism that are primarily negative in the focus and the goal. … The problem with this method of evangelism is that it is so unbiblical.”

Gaming: The Neurology of Gaming [infographic]

“Some are against video games and thing there use should be limited. Others say there is nothing wrong with playing video games and recommend jumping in with both feet. After reading the info below, I think we find, once again, balance wins out.”

Hospitality: Society, Hospitality, and the Kingdom by J. Daniel Kirk

“The Kingdom of God which comes and announces glorification to the humble is supposed to be reflected on earth.”

Individualism: Not an Individualistic Gospel by Ted Gossard

“If we speak of the gospel only in individualistic terms, then it will be supposed, and we may even think the same, that the gospel has nothing to do with anything other than individuals’ relationship with God. … But we need the gospel as it’s presented. A gospel that is for and applicable to all of life.”

Marriage: Why the Real Challenge to Marriage is Heterosexual by John Seel

“… the case of traditional marriage. It does not face a homosexual crisis as much as a heterosexual one. Don’t place the blame on politics, Hollywood or a beleaguered minority. The problem lies with the vast number of Christians who fill church pews week to week. Their views on the pattern and power for marriage are no different from the surrounding culture. Their reality of failure is also no different.”

Ministry: Five Secrets Pastors Refuse to Tell by Thom Rainer

“… most people don’t realize pastors have their own secrets. These spiritual leaders refuse to share their thoughts or pains for fear that their own ministries will be damaged. So they keep the secrets. And they hold the pain to themselves. As I have spoken to pastors across the land, many have confided in me their hurts and secrets. I don’t think they would mind that I share these secrets with you, as long as I don’t identify them with any one pastor by name.”

Productivity: 37 Tech Shortcuts From the Experts

“Fly through your daily tasks with these 37 proven productivity boosters.”

Satan: Having the Devil of a Time by Ben Witherington

“Satan is no de-clawed cat or paper tiger in the NT. Indeed, 1 Peter 5.8 says he is a roving, roaring lion looking for someone to devour. … On the other hand, 1 John 2.13-14 says Satan can be overcome by believers, and that he flees when he is resisted if one turns to God.”

Twitter: Twitter Dynamos, Offering Word of God’s Love by Amy O’Leary

“… proverbs are powerful draws on Twitter.”