links to 5 helpful articles

1. Seven Ways to Teach Civil Discourse to Students

“… young people need to learn how to respectfully disagree.”

2. Tiny Books Fit in One Hand. Will They Change the Way We Read?

“The tiny editions are the size of a cellphone and no thicker than your thumb, with paper as thin as onion skin. They can be read with one hand — the text flows horizontally, and you can flip the pages upward, like swiping a smartphone.”

3. Your Kid’s Apps are Crammed with Ads

“A few years ago to suggest limiting tech for kids would have sounded alarmist, and now that’s changing.”

4. More Than 90% of Generation Z Is Stressed Out. And Gun Violence Is Partly To Blame

“Members of Gen Z — people ages 15 to 21 — reported the worst mental health of any generation included in the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report, which was based on almost 3,500 interviews with people ages 18 and older, plus 300 interviews with teenagers ages 15 to 17.”

5. The FDA’s updated nutrition labels could improve your health—if you know how to read them

“Nutrition labels may have a difficult time getting 350 million people to shift their diets, but if you decide you’re going to start paying attention, think of the positive impact you could have on your own life. All it takes is turning that package around and reading the label. It’s now easier than ever.”

links: this went thru my mind

Apps, archaeology & children: Free App “Dig Quest: Israel” Teaches Children about Archaeology in Israel

“The app is in English and is available for download at the iTunes Store for iPhones and iPads. An Android version will be made available soon. The app features two simulated dig sites.  One is based on the site of a Roman period mosaic at Lod and the other on the site associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran.”

Beauty, creation, earth, environment, goodness & wonder: Creation Is a Many-Splendored Thing: Delighting in Creation’s Goodness

“… the psalmist praises God and relishes the vastness, complexity, and beneficence of God’s creation and the astonishing creatures who find a home there …”

Bible reading: Five Practices to Refresh Your Bible Reading [essential reading]

“1. Retell the passage from the perspective of the different characters. … 2. Interview each of the characters. … 3. Read the passage five times with each of the five senses in mind. … 4. Find the good news in the passage. … 5. Read the passage out loud.”

Discrimination, prejudice & racism: * The New Threat: ‘Racism without Racists’ [required reading]; * America the Beautiful, America the Violent

* “…  racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game.”

* “We remained either quiescent or ambivalent on race and violence, and then somehow manage to look at the images in Ferguson with shock and dismay.”

Food & recipes: Amazing Recipes from Chefs Who Feed the Homeless

“… here are a collection of holiday recipes we’ve culled from restaurants, shelters and churches that serve those in need, but also value nutrition and fine cooking.”

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)?”

links to the land


Augmented reality & archaeology: * Seeing Things as They Were — There’s an Israeli App for That; * Visit Ancient Sites with an Augmented Reality App

* “… Architip, a new app created by a team of image and archaeology professionals, takes a decidedly high-tech approach to the issue. Using augmented reality (AR) technology, the app lets users see what sites actually looked like long ago, bringing to virtual life a view of the ancient world.”

* “‘For example, you might look at an ancient mosaic on the floor of a synagogue or church, and barely see the decorations on it because of the fading,’ said Yaron Benvenisti, CEO of Architip, which is located in Jerusalem and has been operating for about six months. ‘With Architip, you would see the mosaic in full color, with all its drawings intact.'”

Ashkelon: * Calf and Sanctuary Found at Ashkelon; * Ashkelon Excavation Underway

* “The discoveries of archaeology often shed light on biblical accounts and help us to see the reality of them.”

* “‘Tis the season for archaeological digs. At Ashkelon, the Leon Levy Expedition runs from June 8 – July 19 this year. It is sponsored by Harvard’s Semitic Museum, Boston College, Wheaton College, and Troy University.”

Bethlehem: Bethlehem

“Bethlehem is a city in the Palestinian Authority with a population of 21,947 and another about 25,000 in the neighboring towns of Beit Sahour and Beit Jalla. The majority (72%) in the district are Muslim; today. Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population (Fifty years ago, Christians made up more than 70% of the population).”

Dalmanutha: Possible Discovery of Dalmanutha

“… I am very interested in his claim to have discovered a “very large, but previously-unrecognised, Late Hellenistic, Roman-period, and later, settlement” between Magdala and Kibbutz Ginosar. He suggests that the site may be the Dalmanutha of Mark 8:10.”

Jerusalem: * Jerusalem 3D Virtual Tours; * Jerusalem 360

* Brief online 3D virtual tours of the Cardo Maximus, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dome of the Rock, Garden Tomb, Gethsemane, Jewish Temple, Mount Zion, Nativity Church, and the Western Wall are available at this link.

* Interactive panorama views of much of Jerusalem are available for viewing online at this site.

Valley of Elah: The Valley of Elah—How Your Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

“Like the other valleys in Israel’s Judean foothills today, the Valley of Elah appears so commonplace. Very ordinary. But back up 3000 years and the Valley of Elah offers one of the most strategic battlefields in Israel. It was here David killed Goliath.”

Valley of Harod: The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

“The Harod Valley—the shaft of the Jezreel Valley’s arrow.”

Wheat: Wheat in Israel

“In Israel, the wheat is usually harvested in late May or June.”

this went thru my mind


Church: Connoisseurs Of Fine Churches by Brian Jones [required reading]

“In the New Testament there are dozens and dozens of things Christians are told to do. Leaving one another is not one of them. In fact, we’re told to do the exact opposite.

“Is there someone at your church you can’t stand? First John 3:11 tells us to ‘Love one another.’ Did the pastor at your fellowship hurt your feelings? Colossians 3:13 says, ‘Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.’  Do the attitudes of the people in your church family need to change? James 5:16 says, ‘Pray for each other.’

“In other words, roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of building community where you are. Don’t go spiritually AWOL. Stick it out, through exciting times and boring times. Pray, serve, love, forgive, sacrifice, and resolve like authentic followers of Jesus. Christian community isn’t something that happens instantaneously. Real community is forged on the anvils of time and struggle. If you jump ship when things get tough, you’ll condemn yourself to one long journey of spiritual superficiality.”

Computing & smartphones: Evernote Hello 2.0 for iPhone is Here: Remember Everything About the People You Meet

“We’ve all felt that twinge of envy towards people with the uncanny ability to remember people. They’re the ones that can instantly recall a name or an event years after it’s happened. Most of us simply aren’t wired to be able to do this. That’s why we created Evernote Hello, our app that’s designed to give you that same supernatural ability to easily remember everything about the people that you meet.”

Encouragement, ministry & support: 7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday by Ron Edmonson

“I … know most people who love their church…and love their pastor…want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. That’s what this post is about. Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday.”

Homelessness: The Catholic Agitator [I like it!]

“… the City of LA was cracking down on the homeless by confiscating the shopping carts they used to hold and transport their belongings. The City found these carts to be an eyesore so, to preserve appearances, they started taking the carts away. How could they legally do this? The City claimed that the shopping carts were stolen property, taken from local grocery stores.

“Of course that wasn’t the real reason for taking the carts away. The real reason had to do with the fact that the shopping carts made the homeless visible. That was the real crime of the homeless. Being seen. And taking away the carts would help vanish the poor on the streets of LA. Without shopping carts people could drive around the city and not see poor people. Shopping carts broke the illusion by making the homeless visible.

“Knowing what was going on the LACW decided to help their friends. They bought their friends their own personal shopping carts. No longer stolen property the City couldn’t take the carts away. But that didn’t stop them from trying. What ensued was The Shopping Cart War between the City of LA and the LA Catholic Worker.”

Parenting: Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail

“The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.”

7 iPhone apps you might want to know about


I use my iPhone all day long and I’m always looking for ways to to be able to do more with it. Following are seven apps I’ve found to be truly helpful and I don’t hesitate to recommend for your consideration.

Delicious. For archiving and researching information I’ve found online, my go-to online bookmarking service of choice is Diigo. However, I like having my bookmarks available to me on my iPhone and Diigo currently doesn’t offer a quality mobile app to make them available. But, that’s no problem because Delicious, another bookmarking service, has a great mobile app. Diigo can be linked with Delicious so as to simultaneously bookmark both services at once. Consequently, I now have the best of both worlds available to me in a single step: I mark things in the browser on my laptop in Diigo and then they’re all constantly available for me on my iPhone via Delicious. Nice.

Downcast. Do you listen to podcasts on your iPhone? Or would you consider such if you only knew what app does a consistently good job of rendering them? Downcast makes it all happen reliably. And that’s all I have to say about that.

EPA AIRNow. Being sensitive to air quality, it helps for me to know ahead of time what the air quality index is like outdoors in any given place, be it in regard to ozone, pollution, etc. The AIRNow app tells me precisely what I need to know, quickly and easily, namely the latest air quality index for any zip code at any given time at a glance. It also offers a forecast. Very handy.

HoustonCams. I live in Baytown, the eastern edge of the greater Houston area. With 3.8 million other people living here, traffic snarls aren’t uncommon, can be uber-ugly, and can make a royal shamble of your plans. Consequently, knowing ahead of time exactly what the road and traffic conditions are like in the area can make all the difference between going with the flow and cooling your heels in a shut down. That’s why the HoustonCams app stays on my phone and usually gets checked whenever I need to make a trip into the heart of, or a journey across, our fair city.

Lose It! While there are plenty of diet, exercise, food, and weight loss apps out there, I dare say none are more intuitive and helpful than Lose It! Do you want to scan a can with a barcode reader to enter your data? Check. Do you need to easily count the calories on foods available in a great many fast food places and restaurants? Check. Do you care to just get your exercise info entered, have it factored into your plan, and get on to the next thing? Check. Lose It! will do all of that for you – and much more – and best of all, you’ll already know how to use it as soon as you install it.

My TSA. If you travel by plane you’ll want My TSA, the official app of the Transportation Security Administration, on your phone. It can tell you about just about anything you might be curious about in terms of air travel and security here in the U.S. How long is the current wait times at any given airport in the States? What can you bring, and what can you not bring, through a security checkpoint? What’s the best type of clothing for you to wear to expedite your trip through security? What’s the best way to pack your things to expedite the whole process? And so and so on. Check it out.

Textweek. If you teach or preach, I suspect you’d appreciate having lists of, and links to, some available resources on every part of Scripture, be it anything from articles to artwork, ideas for illustrations from movies to the lectionary readings for the week, all in one place. Textweek does that for you.

this went thru my mind


Budget & food: On A Budget? 9 Cheap Ways To Eat Healthier

“I’ve compiled the tips you need to get on your way to a week of eating beautifully for $36. … Buy in bulk … plan ahead … buy generic … go dried when you’re using herbs … sign up for a store card  … go green … forgo convenience … make more …” [BTW – that $36 figure is over one-fourth more per week than is allotted for food stamps in Texas.]

Castoffs, giving & your stuff: Are You Done With That? Photographing The Results Of Your Good Will

“Consider the stuff of our everyday lives — the clothes, the sheets, the toys and, eventually, it all gets trashed — or donated. And that donation process can seem a bit like magic. We drop off our used stuff, and the items disappear — or so we think. But what truly becomes of it? Where does it go? And what does it look like? Freelance photographer Wesley Law wanted to know. … It took him nine months. … Law says he has some more investigating to do to — and for now, he’s still searching for the final resting place of all our good will.”

Consumerism: Consumed by Consumerism

“… 91% of emerging adults [age 18-23]— 91% are more or less happy with our current levels of consumerism. Only 9% register serious concerns about consumer choice.”

Jesus is Lord: What Does It Mean to Preach Jesus is Lord? by Ed Stetzer

“… when the early Christians chose to say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ as their declaration, they were literally choosing to align everything with Jesus, even their own lives. Their words were not trite statements. They were downright treasonous. They echoed a subversive rebellion against the establishment that clearly resonated their allegiances and alliances. Those three words changed everything …

“As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we do kingdom work right here and now?’ We establish embassies of sorts, representing God in an alien land. The most significant work that we do will not be in huge, stadium-filled ways, but in small, primarily unnoticed ways. Simple. Sincere. Subversive …”

Parenting & technology: Apps for Children Fall Short on Disclosure to Parents, Report Says

“The apps often transmit the phone number, precise location or unique serial code of a mobile device to app developers, advertising networks or other companies, according to the report by the Federal Trade Commission, released Monday. … The agency reviewed 400 of the most popular children’s apps available on Google and Apple platforms, and reported that only 20 percent disclosed their data collection practices.”

Politics: Think Congressional Gridlock Is Bad? If Reid Changes Filibuster Rules, Look Out

“… rare is the honest-to-goodness filibuster anymore, made famous in the 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where senators actually either talked a bill to death or its supporters into making enough changes to end the filibuster. … The ease with which such modern-day filibuster threats can freeze the Senate helps explain why they are being made at a record pace.”