links: this went thru my mind

 

Accountability, awareness, Christian faith, knowledge, social injustice & violence: We Cannot Say We Did Not Know [essential reading]

“The sage in Proverbs 24:11-12 warns us to rescue those being led away to death: ‘If you say, “We did not know this” – does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?’”

Children, parenting & sex: 7 Suggestions for Talking to Children about Sex

“I recognized that helping my children live pure and healthy sexual lives would be a challenge in a culture that is often defined by sex. I wanted to be the primary influencer in their development as adults, because I knew no one had a stronger desire for them to make wise choices than me.”

Church membership: The 7 Commandments for Choosing a Church

“If you don’t like the church where you are, the problem is probably you (or at least partially you… but probably mostly you).”

Forgiveness, intercession, love & ministry: The Chaplain from Missouri Who Tried to Save the Black Souls of the Nazis at Nuremberg

“… he would ultimately minister 13 of 21 of Hitler’s most malevolent Nazi leaders on trial in Nuremberg after World War Two for their heinous war crimes.”

Guests, visitors & welcome: 7 Ways to Connect with Guests Beyond the First Greeting

“Your God is awesome. Your church is wonderful. Yet guests who visit your church don’t often return. No true connection was made. A parking lot greeter in our church expressed that concern: ‘We’ve got to figure out how to actually connect every guest with another person. Our flippant hellos or glad-you-cames just aren’t adequate.’ Why not challenge every member of your church to use these seven tips to connect with guests.”

Youth ministry: Tribal Youth Ministry (Part 1): The Necessity of Age Desegregation in Our Churches [essential reading]

“This article is by Duncan Campbell and is the first of three outlining his approach to transitioning youth ministry toward a more intergenerational approach. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest questions facing churches today as we are beginning to see the connections between our traditional approaches to youth ministry and the disconnect from parents and other adults being a part of the faith development of our children, and the mass exodus from church by young adults.”

this went thru my mind

 

Cancer: I Hate Cancer

“… cancer isn’t a person. I don’t get any picture from scripture that there’s anything wrong with hating an evil thing. When I think about cancer, I can’t help but hate it. No apologies. I hate it.”

Church visitors & guests, civility & hospitality: Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Church Members by Thom Rainer

“I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different churches. I have had a church consulting firm that did “guest” visits as part of our services. Sadly, many times I do not feel welcome as a guest when I visit churches. The Bible is replete with admonitions of hospitality and servanthood. I just wish our church members understood that the servant-like spirit should also be manifest when we gather to worship. Guests are often uncomfortable, if not intimated, when they visit a church. We are to be gracious and sacrificial servants to them. In response to this need for more guest-friendly church members, I have devised the ten greatest needs, at least from my perspective. I will reticently call them “commandments” and throw in a little King James English for effect.”

Family & marriage: * Ideal or Idol: Avoiding the Family Cult at Church by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]; * Marriage and Women in the Pagan World of Bible Times; * What About Gay Marriage? by Patrick Mead

* “… the Bible just doesn’t say that much about family–at least not the issues people seem to want most. This is especially true with regard to the family counseling questions most people ask today.”

* “The next time Christianity is charged as a repressive, unenlightened, and backward religion, the critic should reconsider how repressive, unenlightened, and backward the world would be today, without the Christian defense of marriage.”

* “Want to have fun? Go through the Bible and try to construct what a marriage ceremony should look like and at what point a person is married. There is no single system or ritual. Marriage was a private, family agreement that varied from tribe to tribe. No license, no tax benefits or punishments … just a private covenant made between two people with the agreement of their community. Today, marriage has over 1,300 ramifications when it comes to taxes, insurance, and a host of laws, rights, and open or closed doors.”

Just for fun: The Dragonfly: Nature’s Drone, Pretty and Deadly

“When setting off to feed on other flying insects, dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the fresh meat on the spur without bothering to alight.”

Ministry with the poor: Dallas Ministry Guru Larry James ‘a Rare, Talented Guy’

“The 63-year-old former Church of Christ preacher never imagined that he’d be an office-tower landlord, homebuilder, real estate developer, medical provider, caterer, food distributor and job trainer, much less the chief executive of a corporation with $15 million in revenue. But that’s what he’s become as president and CEO of CitySquare.”

Missions: * 6 Potential Problems With Supporting Native Preachers by Tim Archer; * 5 Ways To Improve Our Support Of Native Preachers

* “There are several growing trends in missions today. One is the … rejection of using American missionaries in favor of supporting local Christians. … Done correctly, this can be a highly effective use of limited church funds. Problem is, it’s much easier to do it wrong than it is to do it right. Here are some of the dangers that I think churches need to be aware of …”

* “Each situation needs to be analyzed on its own merit.”

Privacy & search engines: 7 Great Search Sites That Aren’t Google

“For a quick answer, Blekko is usually easier to use than Google. Instead of returning advertisers and other junk results first, it usually sends you links that actually answer your question. Blekko is more private than Google in normal mode. However, I recommend you use its “SuperPrivacy” mode for maximum privacy. This blocks ads and takes you to secure, encrypted sites by default. … Your number one concern when searching Google might be that it can return inappropriate content for innocent search terms. Yippy detects adult content and blocks it automatically.”

Social networking: 12 Simple Steps to Safer Social Networking

“For this article, I rounded up the three most important privacy settings you should be using, but probably aren’t, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. Five minutes of setup now could avert hours of social embarrassment and identity recovery down the road.”

The Bible mini-series: Getting Jesus Right: 2 Quick Comments on Week 4 of “The Bible” on the History Channel

* “It wasn’t written for the biblically knowledgable but for those whose biblical literacy minimal … One thing the last episode did very well was to get across something of theo-political tensions of 1st century Palestine.”

this went thru my mind

 

Boasting & bragging: Are We All Braggarts Now?

“‘We’ve become so accustomed to boasting that we don’t even realize what we’re doing. And it’s harmful to our relationships because it turns people off.’ So why keep it up? ‘We brag because we can,’ says Julie Hanks, a licensed clinical social worker who has a therapy clinic in Salt Lake City. ‘And a lot more people are listening.’”

Church attendance & spiritual development: What Counts: Part 1 by Dan Bouchelle

“I think we should measure our members instead of just count them.”

Depression & technology: Turn Off the Computer or Turn On the Lights to Avoid Late-Night Depression

“… while there’s still research to be done, the preliminary response … to dim, unnatural light at night reflected previously observed changes in human behavior, and closely mimicked symptoms of depression … For the rest of us, the solution is simple: keep the lights on as long as the computers are on, or keep your computing to daylight hours.”

Listening, leadership & discernment: One Critical Leadership Error by Ron Edmonson

“Assuming what you’re hearing is all that’s being said.”

Violence: How Do We Stop the Violence? by Scott Elliott

“How can the Christian community help to prevent further acts of violence? How should Christians respond when violence grips our nation? I do not pretend to have all the answers, but here are a few suggestions.”

Welcoming guests & newcomers: Nine Questions Church Visitors Aren’t Asking (… but Churches are Still Trying to Answer)

“#8. I need more paperwork! Can you give me a folder filled with glossy pamphlets, old newsletters and denominational statements of belief?”

this went thru my mind

 

Competition: More Than a Sabbath: My Fast from Competing by Tyler Charles

“Personal success isn’t the goal, ultimately. Faithfulness is.”

Culture wars: God, I Thank You I’m Not Like Those Others: The Meta-Sin of Culture Wars by Kurt Willems

“… in light of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector recorded in Luke 18:9-14 there is no righteous high ground for those slugging it out in the in the muddy trenches of the recent culture wars.”

Demeanor & manner: 4 Questions to Ask Regarding Your Manner by Jim Martin

“What does my manner say about me?”

History: Publisher Pulls Controversial Thomas Jefferson Book, Citing Loss Of Confidence

“Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that ‘basic truths just were not there.’ … In it, Barton calls Jefferson a ‘conventional Christian,’ claims the founding father started church services at the Capitol, and even though he owned more than 200 slaves, says Jefferson was a civil rights visionary.

“‘Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,’ Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. ‘The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right. The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.’”

Leadership & mission: Why “Leaders” Are Not the Church’s Greatest Need

“…  in the context of a business or an organization that is defined by a mission, these are appropriate and salutary principles. … Fine for business, but it is at this very point that we run into a problem when we talk about the church. Why? Because the church is not defined by her mission. Now it is right to say that the church has a mission, that the church is missional, that mission is a central component of what she does. It is not right, however, to define the church as a mission and subsume one’s entire ecclesiology under that rubric.”

Memory: To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes

“… evidence that a few minutes of wakeful rest may have an effect even on long-term memory consolidation.”

Ministry & results: Give Up On Results by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“… do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the righteousness, the truth of the work itself.”

Newcomers: 10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church by Ben Reed

“I’ve visited a lot of churches. … It’s one thing to get people in the door once. But to get someone to visit again, and begin to call your church their home? Much tougher. … there are a few things we’ve learned that will guarantee someone won’t come back.”

Nigeria: Five Things to Know About Religious Violence in Nigeria by Lauren Markoe

“While Muslims and Christians are attacking each other, the combatants also divide along ethnic and cultural lines, and grievances often have little to do with religion.”

Options: 7 Steps to Finding a Better, Third Option by Michael Hyatt

“We are a culture that is accustomed to thinking in terms of two options. … When two sides disagree, here are seven steps to help you find the third option …”

Passive-aggressive behavior: Passive-Aggressive Postures & Evangelical Culture by Tim Gombis

“I naturally share my culture’s destructive and manipulative tendencies and subtle grasping after power and leverage in relationships.  Exposing these tendencies through critical self-reflection can help us discern how to cultivate fruitful and life-giving relational dynamics.”

Spiritual deafness: For Lack of Ears by Dan Bouchelle

“We are limited in our time and energy and, like Jesus, we would be wiser to invest our time with those who have ears.”

Violence: * Batman, Neo-Nazis and the Good News of Jesus by Lee C. Camp [required reading]; * The Myth That Redemptive Violence is a Myth: Part 1 and Part 2 by Matt Dabbs [read the comments, too]

* “The non-violent, suffering love of Jesus was a direct challenge to the myth of redemptive violence. One of the dirty secrets of the early church is the fact that for the first three centuries of Christian history, the leaders of the church insisted that Christians do not kill — including in so-called justifiable war. This consistent and insistent teaching of the early church is so ignored by so-called conservative Christians as to be laughable, if it were not so tragic.”

* “Violence, as I understand it, is the ultimate idolatry in that we are putting ourselves into the place of God. We decide who is innocent. We decide whose life is most important. We decide who gets to live and who gets to die. It’s my opinion, that that is not our place.”

Water: Here’s Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

“The map itself isn’t hard to grasp. The colored areas show the world’s largest aquifers — areas which hold deposits of groundwater. The blue ones are doing fine; more rainfall is flowing into them than is being pumped out of them for homes or irrigating fields. … The aquifers that are painted red, orange, or yellow, meanwhile, are being drained rapidly. … See those large grey shapes, below the map? Each one is a magnified reflection of an over-exploited aquifer.”

this went thru my mind

 

Advice: Best Advice I Ever Got

“… we asked a host of influential leaders to share with us the wise words that changed their lives forever.”

Bible reading: Reading the Bible for Understanding and Not Just Information [quote]

“One enemy of good reading is confusion about which mode of attention is appropriate to a given book. I am certain that this very confusion makes it almost impossible for anyone to read—genuinely to read—the Bible. In both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, narrative and other more-or-less literary forms are dominant, which seems to call for a strategy of reading for understanding similar to what one might use in an encounter with, say, Homer; but these books’ status as sacred text suggests, to many modern readers anyway, that their purpose is to provide information about God and God’s relation to human beings. “Strip-mining” the Psalms, or the Song of Solomon, or even the more elevated discourses of the Gospel of John, “for relevant content” might not seem like a promising strategy, but many generations of pastors have pushed it pretty hard, as though the Bible were no more than an awkwardly coded advice manual.” (Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, p.99)

Churches of Christ: * 102,000 fewer people in the pews since ’03: Churches of Christ in decline * Why Should I Stay?

* “Another striking number: 708 fewer Churches of Christ in the U.S. in the last nine years. The nation’s 12,447 congregations represent a 5.4 percent decline since 2003.”

* “… this is an important question for any Christian Fellowship to answer: ‘why should I stay?”

Compassion: Seeing Her by Richard Beck

“Two weeks ago I was asked by our Psychology Club to share a few thoughts for their Club chapel. The theme for the chapel this semester is to share about characters in the Bible who have affected or inspired your spiritual walk. I selected the unnamed concubine from Judges 19. Judges 19 is, perhaps, the most horrific episode in the Bible. I expect this may be the first, last and only time the students hear a message from this text. I started by reading the whole chapter. When I ended it was pretty quiet in the room.”

Criticism: A Passing Thought on Receiving Criticism by Dane Ortlund

“Seems to me there are two wrong ways to receive criticism and one right way.”

Garbage/trash: What’s In Your Trash? [infographic]

“The average family of four throws out 880 pounds of food a year; that’s about the weight of an adult cow.”

Immaturity: “I’m Not Being Fed” (and other stupid things Christians say) by Brian Jones

“Show me someone who keeps whining about not singing enough worship songs, or “being fed,” or doesn’t want the church to focus on evangelism, or missions, or feeding the poor, or singing secular music on Sunday, and I’ll show you a freakishly immature Christian. The sad, and sometimes scary thing, is that 99 times out of 100 they simply don’t realize it.”

Men & women: On Jesus’ Choosing Twelve Males by J. Daniel Kirk

“According to the economy of the world, with its measures of greatness, to be the twelve is to be exemplary, in the place to lead, to exclude others from leadership, to stand close to Jesus and guard the gates of who else can draw near. And to the extent that we look to Jesus’ selection of them, and the apparent marginalization of the women, as paradigmatic for male leadership in the church, we show ourselves to be people whose minds have not yet been transformed by the very story to which we are appealing.”

Politics & race: Race, Politics, and Christianity in the American South by Richard Beck

“… sociologist Bradley Wright cites statistics that show evangelical Christians to be one of the most racist groups in America. To be sure, only a minority of evangelicals fall into this category, but relative to other Christian groups as well as to non-Christians evangelical Christians are the most likely to hold a candidate’s race against them in a political election. And as most people know, evangelicals tend to vote Republican and are plentiful across the American South. This racist strain in southern Christianity greatly disturbs me as I encounter it frequently where I live. So what changed in the South? … The American Civil Rights Movement.”

Prayer: Six Ways to Help People Pray by Michael McKinley

“Pray big prayers. Think beyond the hospital visitation list. Pray prayers that reflect God’s sovereignty over the whole world. Pray for the spread of the gospel in foreign nations; pray for an end to human trafficking worldwide; pray for religious freedoms to spring up in oppressive regimes.”

Singing: Singing in Worship – Cause or Response? by Paul Smith

“You see, we teach that our songs and prayers and sermons and fellowship are all “worship.” We go to extravagant lengths to make the “worship” meaningful. But, if we have not prepared the gift long before we arrive, all we are doing is manipulating our fickle human emotions with gimmicks, whether we use instruments, praise teams or simple acappella singing.”

Singles: One’s a Crowd by Eric Klineberg

“More people live alone now than at any other time in history. In prosperous American cities — Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis — 40 percent or more of all households contain a single occupant.”

Visitors: 6 Reasons Why I Do Not Attend Your Congregation by Chris Gallagher

“This is written from the perspective of a visitor. Last year, my family and I took the entire month of February away from local ministry and traveled to various congregations, both near and far, and enjoyed some time visiting. We learned much about the attitudes of congregations towards visitors and it is reflected in the words below.”