links: this went thru my mind

 

Anti-Semitism & Jesus: Jesus was a Jew (and I am not)

“Jesus taught like a Jew. Dressed like a Jew. Thought like a Jew. Ate like a Jew. Sabbathed like a Jew. Spoke like a Jew. Jesus taught, dressed, thought, ate, talked, and got his sabbath on like a Jew because–are you ready for it?–Jesus was a Jew. He came from Jewish parents. He was raised in a tiny Jewish town. Probably grew up learning Torah, the primary sacred text for Jewish children.”

Blessing, repentance & war: The Chaplain Who Blessed the Hiroshima Bombers, Repents

“Sixty-nine years ago, as a Catholic Air Force chaplain, Father George Zabelka blessed the men who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the next twenty years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing. Zabelka, who died in 1992, gave this speech on the 40th anniversary of the bombings. He left this message for the world.”

Childishness, cooperation, division, harmony, intolerance, partisanship & unityThe Headlong Retreat into Childhood Partisanship

“We are witnessing today a headlong retreat into the not-knowing and simplistic partisanship of childhood. Ideas that make people uncomfortable are banished. Science that calls faith into question is shouted down. Politics isn’t just hardball, it’s dumb-ball: I must win, at any cost, and you must lose. I am right, and you are wrong. My tribe is the only tribe that has value and rights. …

What is the way beyond partisan thinking? First, other points of view need to insist on being heard. … Second, rituals of compromise need to be maintained. …

“Extremist partisans are children out of control. They need “grownups” in the room to remind everyone that poison in the air kills all who breathe it.”

Guests, visitors & welcome: * 11 Church Hospitality Tips to Serve Guests; * 7 Easy Ways to Put a Not Welcome Sign on Your Church

* “… a list of 11 small things your church can do to make your guests feel more welcome.”

* “From personal experience — here are some ways you can place a closed sign to visitors on your church.”

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.”