this went thru my mind


Children & faith: The Real Reason Kids Abandon Faith by Daniel Darling

“As a child of the church, I believe this is less a matter of having the right curriculum or perfect ministry. I think perhaps there is something in the DNA of a generational believer that isn’t present in those who freshly come to faith as an adult.”

Clothing & corporate worship assemblies: Worship: Dressing for the Assembly by Alexander Campbell

“… let him change his apparel, sell his finery and gold to those who can afford no higher honors, no brighter glories — give the proceeds to the poor, and dress himself according to the Christian mirror, in the plainest and most unassuming garb …”

Death: How We Die (In One Chart) by Sarah Kliff

“The first thing to notice here is how much our mortality rate has dropped over the course of a century, largely due to big reductions in infectious diseases like tuberculosis and influenza.”

Evidence, theories & truth: Evidence, Theories, and Truth by Marc Cortez

“Here’s a great illustration for introducing the relationship between evidence, theories, and truth. It does a nice job of showing how evidence should lead us to refine our theories such that they come closer to the truth, even while remaining somewhat imperfect.”

Fellowship: Fellowship: No “I” in “Christian” by Brad Morrow

“The reason that individualism is not a good thing (one might say “evil”) is because this is precisely the tool that Satan uses against God’s Church in attempt to render it/us ineffectual.”

Health care: * Why Christians Should Be OK with the Supreme Court’s Health-Care Call by Julia Stronks; * A Few Thoughts On the Affordable Care Act Decision and Health Care in the US and the follow-up article);For Uninsured in Texas, Supreme Court Ruling Adds to Uncertainty; * Evangelicals & Health Care by Michael Bird

* “We should resist the temptation to make this the lynchpin on which we base our upcoming election decisions.”

* “I’m no expert, I’m not an overtly political person, and I think about 90% of political debate is bluster and posturing. But I am on the front lines when it comes to health care, and I thought I should share some thoughts on yesterday’s historic decision by the Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka ‘health care reform’).”

* “When you don’t have insurance, nobody listens to you … In Texas — where 25 percent of the population lacks health insurance, the highest uninsured rate of any state, according to the Texas Medical Association …”

* “… the question is why the opposition to universal healthcare and why is the conservative evangelical constituency among the most vocal in opposition to it?”

Hunger in America: Children At Risk Of Hunger In Every County

“Select a year and your state in our interactive map below and start learning more about the residents struggling with hunger in your community and the food banks that serve them.”

Nationalism & patriotism: * Flags in Church? by Chad Hall; * Idolatrous Worship by K. Rex Butts

* “… does nationalism belong in church? I think not. When we strike patriotic tones in worship, we dishonor God, disobey scripture, and misunderstand the relationship between God and country.”

* “I get the patriotism, I really do. I understand why Americans are proud to be so. I am an American too and there are many great things about living in America. But …”

Sea of Galilee: Kinneret Invaded – by Leeches

“Leeches have invaded Lake Kinneret’s shores – for the second time in seven years. Standing in the water for as little as two minutes will cause your legs to be covered in hundreds of leeches. These particular types are not blood-suckers, making them relatively easy to remove once one is out of the water.”

Unhealthy organizations: Considering (and Surviving) Unhealthy Christian Organizations by Ed Stetzer, parts 12 & 3

“… how does an organization move from unhealthy to healthy? Well, it is not simply something we can “will” into existence. Instead, it is a process.”

Bruner on John 14.23


“The geography of God in believers’ lives is still a puzzle to me. I believe we are to think of the Father as living in heaven above; that is where Jesus prayed to him [see 11.14 and 17.1], even though Jesus spoke earlier in our chapter of ‘the Father who makes his home in me is doing his works,’ 14.10; and heavenward is where he told his disciples to pray to the Father when Jesus gave us our prayer: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven,’ Matt. 6.9. Since the word ‘heaven’ is the Lord’s Prayer is actually the plural ‘heavens’ or ‘skies’ [the dative-plural ouranois], I translate Jesus’ phrase ‘all the skies’ in order to catch the plurality or universality of the Father’s address. I think of the Father in ever sky, above every single head below. Then I believe we are to think of Jesus, the Father’s Son, as reigning at the Father’s right hand in heaven, immediately above us, too. And I believe, finally, that we are to think of the Holy Spirit as hovering just above us as well, like the Dove in Jesus’ baptismal scenes, Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1. But all three Persons of the Divinity are also ‘in‘ or ‘beside‘ us, from above, in their ability to reach to and into us with their love and directional presence, just as invisible satellites communicate messages into our electronic devices and cell phones and heads and hearts all day long and just as spouses are ‘in one another’ all day long in their love for one another, no matter how far they may be from one another spatially.

“The exact location of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in our daily lives is not clear to me except that they are, in some miraculous way, near us – perhaps in an unseen ‘fifth’ dimension! – making their homes, from above, with and beside and even in us, and beside and in all of God’s people all over the world.”

Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), pp.843-844

this went thru my mind


Charitable giving: Giving is Up, But Not for the Church

“Giving USA, the leading authority on charitable giving, has just released its findings for 2011. Giving as a whole rose by roughly 4% to 298 billion dollars. This is about a 1% increase when inflation is factored in. … Giving to health, education, human services, arts, international affairs, environment, and animal organizations were all up. However; giving to religion decreased by nearly 2% and is now down to 32% of the whole, its lowest level on record.”

Church programming: * A Simple Exercise to Help Your Church; * Inconvenient Truth No. 1: Nothing Works by Dan Bouchelle [both posts are required reading]

* “Nothing works. At least in ministry and missions (which are one and the same), there is no magic formula, no methodological messiah, no fool-proof program, no golden tablet or holy grail. … The search for a surefire method is really a violation of our core beliefs as Christians anyway. It is a rejection of the spiritual, personal, and incarnate nature of the world God has made. … God did not send a method to save the world. He sent his son. He did not send a formula for evangelism or church planting. He sent his Holy Spirit. God did not give us a systematic theology or ecclesiology. He gave us a library of stories, songs, poems, wise observations, letters, and visions about the myriad ways he has worked throughout time to reclaim and restore his reign over humanity.”

* “Every church can learn a lot about the way it does ministry by doing this simple exercise: Take your church calendar and ask, ‘If someone or a family of four participated in everything our church offers, what would their day planner look like, and how much would it cost financially?'”

Facebook: * Facebook Just Switched Your Default E-mail Address; * Facebook Quietly Unveils ‘Stalking App”

* “Whether you’ve noticed or not, you have a new primary e-mail address listed as your Facebook contact, and most likely it’s an address you’ve never used.”

* “Facebook on Monday appeared to have quietly unveiled a new feature designed to let people see which Facebook users are nearby at any given time. By Tuesday, however, the feature seemed to have been pulled from the Internet.”

Grammar: This Embarrasses You and I* by Sue Shellenbarger

“Twenty-five years ago it was impossible to put your hands on something that hadn’t been professionally copy-edited. … Today, it is actually hard to put your hands on something that has been professionally copy-edited.”

Holy Spirit & the Christian: More Like Fruit that Grows than Fire that Falls

“… the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is made evident in our lives not primarily through extraordinary divine manifestations but through the grace and strength of a Spirit-soaked inner character, which manifests Christ to others when we lay down our lives in love for their well being.”

Nonviolence & pacifism: A Faith Not Worth Fighting For: Common Questions about Christian Nonviolence by Kurt Willems

“I believe that the New Testament clearly teaches that kingdom people ought to refuse violence in all its forms. … anyone on the spectrum between absolute pacifism and pro-militarism asks questions about how Christian nonviolence could actually make sense in situations that might arise. Common questions include: what about Hitler and what about defending the innocent?”

Parenting: Tools to Control a Child’s Technology by Somini Sengupta

“How you handle technology in a child’s life depends entirely on how you parent.”

Prayer: K. Rex Butts’ mini-series on the church and prayer is good stuff. Here are links: * Are We a Praying Church; * A Praying Church; * Becoming A Praying Church

* “… as heirs of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, we in the Churches of Christ have claimed to be patterned after the church we read about in scripture. Yet the church we read about in scripture was a church in which prayer was one of their four main practices (Acts 2:42).”

* “… these disciples went to God in prayer because they believed in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen them in the face of danger. It’s pretty simple. They prayed because they believed in God, not themselves. So this begs another question: When our churches are faced with challenges, is prayer the response? This is an important question because how that question is answered says a bunch about our faith and theology. … ministry that does not emerge out of prayer is an act of unbelief.”

* “So how do we become a praying church? … I would like to make a few suggestions.”

Rest: 7 Ways I Protect My Sabbath by Ron Edmonson

“… many pastors I know who would teach their church to observe the Sabbath, seldom do so personally. This fact alone is one of the leading causes of pastoral burnout, in my opinion.”

Senior adults: How To Tell The Senior Adult is Still Alive by Joe McKeever

“Here are my top five ways to keep yourself mentally alive long past the age when most people have stopped growing and begun vegetating.”

Silence: Of Sin and Salvation: Why I Went to the Cemetery During Five Days of Silence by Chris Altrock

“To deepen this experience, I decided to visit a nearby cemetery while practicing this somber exercise.”

Southern Baptists & United Methodists: Baptists Chasing Methodists

“This marks the fifth straight year the SBC has lost members. … the denomination is not only experiencing decline but an acceleration of decline. ‘Based on the trend of annual percent change in SBC total membership, we are catching up with the Methodists, and will match their decline rate consistently by 2018,’ said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, in his blog. ‘This trend points to a future of more and faster decline …'”

this went thru my mind


Atonement: Thoughts on Penal Substitution [don’t be put off by the title; this is “required reading” for all]

“I need God’s honor to be satisfied. I need the cross not only for the sake of my personal relationship with God but because I want to live in a world where the crucified are resurrected. Penal substitution is part of the rich mystery — just not in the oversimplified, canned version that has come to predominate our youth group-shaped church.”

Baptism: Why I Believe Baptism Actually Is ‘Essential’ by John Alan Turner

“Baptism isn’t the thing. Baptism is supposed to point to the thing. The thing is your faith in Jesus Christ. But sometimes people are like dogs. When you point to a ball, a dog usually just looks at your finger.”

Clutter: The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home by Joshua Becker

“Consider implementing the four steps found in this Simple Guide to Keeping Your Home Clutter-Free.”

Depression: 10 Lessons From Two Days of Filming by David Murray

“I’ve just finished two days of filming various Christian counselors for the HeadHeartHand Media documentary on Depression and the Christian. .. Here’s what I carried away from these interviews.”

Fear: Breaking the Peek-A-Boo Cycle by Ron Edmonson

“The deepest danger of fearful leaders is they create fear-driven cultures.”

Forgiveness: 9 Forgiveness Links by Chris Brauns

“Below are 9 forgiveness links …”

Imagery: Five Bible Images You Probably Misunderstand by Joel Hoffman

“… we get a better sense of the original beauty and intent of the Bible by moving past a naive understanding of the words to the metaphors that they represent.”

Jobs: Who Really Creates Jobs? by Nick Hanauer

“Business leader, Nick Hanauer, presented … [this] speech at the TED conference. … Hanauer, a very successful business owner/creator, argues that business owners don’t create jobs. … But, if not them, then who does create jobs in our nation?”

Kingdom: Subversive Kingdom: A Conversation with Ed Stetzer by Trevin Wax

“What are some ways Christians commonly misunderstand the nature of God’s kingdom? Why is it important that we get this right?”

Margin: * How to Create More Margin in Your Life by Michael Hyatt; * A Healthy Schedule by Joe Thorn [both of these posts are required reading]

* “Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin.”

* “I’ll skip the details and just say that it became evident that I was doing too much, resting too little, and had allowed boundaries between work and family to weaken. This made me less effective at work and at home. It wasn’t just that I was working too hard, but that I had also started listening to the devil’s lies.”

Meetings: Make Meetings Amazing by David Staal

“Consider four “pieces” to meetings that could bring about major changes in your church, community, or even the world.”

Small groups: * Five Obstacles Facing Small Groups by Thom Rainer; * The Five Deliverables of Small Groups by Thom Rainer

“… there are … challenges and obstacles that hinder transformation in and through small groups.”

“For a church to have transformational small groups, it must first recognize how its small groups will equip participants for the mission of God and the cause of Christ. Today I examine how the activity of community within the context of small groups results in transformed lives.”

Worldliness: “Worldliness” According to Paul by Tom Gombis

“It seems to me that the parallels between the “worldly” Corinthian community dynamics and contemporary American tribalized evangelicalism are endless.”

word for the week: week twenty-six


This week’s theme in MoSt Church‘s 2012 Bible reading project – the Uncommon Truth for Common People project – is healing. The week’s readings are:

• Mon., June 25 – Mark 2.1-12; 10.46-52
• Tues., June 26 – John 5.1-15
• Wed., June 27 – Mark 5.21-43
• Thur., June 28 – Acts 3.1-19
• Fri., June 29 – Psalm 103.1-6; Luke 17.11-19

This week’s memory verse is: “… your faith has healed you.” (Mark 10.52)

Bruner on John 13.8


“The Footwashing [John 13] is the classic parable of how – almost ‘incredibly’ – Jesus wants to relate perpetually to hid disciples: namely, to be at our service. (But aren’t we at his service? He is Lord. Yet he apparently wishes to live much of his Lordship in the service of his people. This is hard ever to grasp. It must be preached and taught again and again, and believed again and again.) For some mysterious reason we mortals – and not least, we disciples – resist divinity’s free grace, its totally unmerited service of us, its way of saving or ‘salvaging’ us human beings. This story illustrates the Gospel’s truth unforgettably. Moral: Let us let ourselves be loved by the Lord. Let Jesus be our Servant-Lord, not our conscience (in relation to the Lord, that is to say; ethically conscience is, under Christ’s Lordship, often a good guide). Give in. Be washed, simply because Jesus wants to wash us and not because we think or feel we deserve to be washed.”

F.D. Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), pp.765-766