When you come, bring along the coat I left with Carpus in Troas. Also bring the scrolls and especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4.13 CEB)
When you come, bring along the coat I left with Carpus in Troas. Also bring the scrolls and especially the parchments. (2 Timothy 4.13 CEB)
Attention, busyness, communication, connection, distraction, listening & relationships: 3 Ways We Lose When We Don’t Connect with Others
“… sometimes the failure to be fully present with others is more than a momentary occurrence. Some people are just not emotionally present regardless of the circumstances. This is just the way they function. In other words, they live each day not really present in the moment they have right now. What do we lose when we are not fully present?”
* “The recent kidnapping of 300 girls in northern Nigeria has rightly ignited a fresh firestorm of concern about Boko Haram. We must be grateful that the world’s attention has turned to this crisis. … Although Boko Haram itself may date to 2002, similar violence was occurring in northern Nigeria in the 1990’s.”
* “… it is important for the world to know that these events have been building for a long time. Those in Nigeria working for peace and restoration (including help for the girls) need our prayers.”
Church, conformity, culture & Millenials: It’s Not About Conforming to the World
“These so-called ‘progressive evangelicals’ believe the Church must conform to the world or die. They tell us millennials will leave if we don’t get with the program and imitate the culture when it comes to gender, sexuality, and science. But we must remain faithful to the Gospel and to God’s Word in the face of this pressure or else risk losing our identity. We can’t just give in to the world because of pressure to be cool.”
“I hear some version of this argument at least once a week … and I believe it is common enough (and reasonable enough) to warrant a brief response here, extended with nothing but grace, peace, and goodwill for my brothers and sisters in Christ with whom I respectfully disagree.”
* “Depression is a buried mind-field warfare and we must be careful not to step on them. We can blame others; yet I believe such charges are weak excuses. We are the ones who decide whether to let circumstances and comments take us down. We have the choice to resist. I was notoriously weak at resistance. For one, I didn’t know how. However, Philippians 4:4-9 urged me to practice thinking about the many things going right, with the promise that if I would, then the peace of God would persist. When I began to obey this divine charge, a new and surprising life arose. I’d never seen this side of the thought terrain.”
* “I know I’m hard to love when I’m depressed, but if you are the rare friend who is committed to staying with me through the pain, consider these seven ways you can help me.”
God, grace, mercy & Scripture: The Bible Wasn’t Written to Tell God What He Has to Do [essential reading]
“… God will have mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy.”
Attention, focus, health, noise, stress & thinking: I’m Thinking. Please. Be Quiet.
“… there is no physiological habituation to noise. The stress of audible assault affects us psychologically even when we don’t consciously register noise.”
Health care, health insurance & Obamacare: What You’ll Actually Pay for Obamacare
“Millions of Americans won’t have to pay full price for their Obamacare health insurance next year. But just how much they’ll have to fork over depends on a couple different things.”
Injustice, racism & white privilege: Cracking the Codes: Joy DeGruy, A Trip to the Grocery Store [4 min. video; essential viewing]
“… she used her white privilege to educate and to make right a situation that was wrong. That’s what you can do, every single day.”
[The world’s major religions … more than half the world’s population live inside this circle … where Google Street View is available … global internet usage based on time of day … map of contiguous United States overlaid on the moon … worldwide annual coffee consumption per capita … and more.]
Parenting, safety & social networking: Your Kids Can Be Social, But They Need to Stay Safe [infographic]
“Here are the five rules … * Ask your child to show you the sites they use. * Ask your child to set profile settings to private. * Ask your child about their online friends. * Ask your child to only share photos that wouldn’t mind showing you first. * Ask your child to tell you if they are worried about something online.”
Weddings: Weddings: Too Expensive?
“On March 7, 2013, XO Group Inc. released results of their annual Real Weddings Study … This report surveyed over 17,000 brides to find out how much they spent on their weddings. Here are some highlights …”
Attention, complaints & leadership: Ministry Inside.113
“Church leaders, sometimes, give far too much attention to people who are demanding our attention in some way, often in the form of a complaint. I want to encourage us to take notice of the following people …”
Church decline, evangelism, mission & outreach: Why “Insiders” Are Killing Your Church
“Almost everybody who follows Christ, and almost every gathering of those Christ followers constituting a church, says the same thing: ‘We want to reach the world for Christ.’ Yet, most don’t. So where’s the breakdown?”
Church politics: Church Politics: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis
“One of the most pervasive problems ravaging and destroying the church is church politics. This has always been a major portion of the wiles of the devil. The church does not fall because of external opposition, but because of internal strife and division. This always has to do with personal preferences, self-centered goals, and arrogant behavior. The Bible presents numerous examples of this. Here are only a very few.”
Easter, fear & Mark’s Gospel: Easter Shouldn’t Be Good News by Richard Beck [required reading]
“The oldest gospel we have, the gospel of Mark, ends in the most curious of ways …”
Minister’s wife: Lies Ministry Wives Believe
“As a pastor’s wife, I find myself fighting the same old internal battles that have plagued me from year one, only now I recognize them more quickly and have tools to combat them. Do you think or believe these lies, too? … 1. My identity is that of a ministry wife. … 2. I am not called to ministry. … 3. As a ministry wife, I’m playing a specific, scripted role. … 4. My husband is important to the work of the church, but I am not. … 5. My job as a ministry wife is to serve people. … 6. I have to be available to everyone at all times. … 7. I can’t ask for help or reveal my weaknesses and struggles.”
* “The problem, of course, is that the queue of urgent never ends, it merely changes its volume as it gets longer.”
* “‘Do more with less,’ demotivates employees. It’s code for work harder. If they’re already working hard, they think, ‘The more I give the more they want. I’m giving less.’ ‘Do more with less,’ disengages and demotivates those giving most. Those hurt most by, ‘Do more with less,’ are the ones doing most.”
The Bible mini-series: A Celebration of Mary Magdelene [required reading]
“In this post I would like to turn to a feature of the series that has so far gone without comment in other reviews, the depiction of Mary Magdalene. I will not hide from the reader just how thrilled I am with the way that Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah, left) is played.”
Awareness, focus, inattentional blindness, & thinking: Why Even Radiologists Can Miss A Gorilla Hiding In Plain Sight [required reading]
“… what we’re thinking about — what we’re focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see.”
“As the shelf space for books being managed by retailers that accept the high cost of managing book inventory and commit to doing it effectively continues to decline, publishers need to understand that it will be really hard for non-book retailers to replace them.”
Churches of Christ: “Why Churches of Christ are Shrinking” Blog – More Thoughts by Joshua Tucker
“Lord, help us not to be bound by personal preference, but by an overwhelming desire to please You and see Your Church grow. Help all of us to be selfless, full of Your Love, and the ability to judge things objectively.”
Civil War & Les Miserables: In Camp, Reading ‘Les Miserables’
“Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” was published in 1862 and English translations of the five parts that constitute the novel began to appear in America by year’s end. … While Hugo may not have had the Civil War in mind, American reviewers certainly did and many viewed the novel through the prism of the war.”
Death & fear: America’s Culture of Death by Ben Witherington [required reading]
“When a culture replaces the value of everlasting life, with the value of this life extended as far as possible, the culture has become totally myopic, unable to see beyond the immediate, the tangible, the empirical. And oddly enough when the lie that ‘this life is all there is’ is believed, it makes it much easier to allow death to rule one’s mind, one’s fears, one’s behavior. Death simply becomes the price of doing business, or surviving. A culture becomes fear based and makes decisions on the basis of fear, rather than faith and a belief in the life to come.”
“For those who pay attention to the different opinions and declarations on how the various generations are different than the ones that came before, you have no doubt heard that while Generation X was the slacker generation, Gen Y, or the Millennials, are very different, the most community service-minded, action-oriented, let’s change-the-world-generation alive today, perhaps in the history of our nation. Generation We. It’s taken as a nearly uncontested reality. Except it’s not true. The best research on this topic, relying on nationally representative research by the leading scholars on the issue comes to essentially the very opposite conclusion.”
Small groups: Small Groups for the Rest of Us by Chris Surratt
Submission: The Most Offensive Word in America [required reading]
“The most offensive word to Americans is a simple, two-syllable word that insults our beliefs and violates our value system: submit. We inherently believe no one has the right to tell us how to live, where to go or what to do. We are our own masters.”
NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Dec. 9). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning entitled Devoted: Get Your Rear in Gear. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.
To consider what it means to devote our back side to God.
• The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful. Instead of doing those things, these persons love the Lord’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night! (Psalm 1.1-2)
• Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up a mountain. He sat down and his disciples came to him. He taught them, saying: “Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. …” (Matthew 5.1-3)
• … Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.” The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” (Luke 10.38-42)
• … God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2.4b-7)
• As for those who emerge victorious, I will allow them to sit with me on my throne, just as I emerged victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3.21)
Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.
1. How do you spend most of your waking hours: sitting or standing?
2. Tell us about your favorite chair. What makes it your favorite?
3. If an alien from outer space came and closely observed your life, and reported what you seem to most consistently enjoy doing every day when you’re sitting down, what would the report say?
These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.
1. Consider the contrast of Mary and Martha in Luke 10.38-42. What is the main point of this story?
2. Notice the tense in Ephesians 2.4-7b. The saved are seated in the heavens with Christ. The point?
3. Look at all of the preceding texts. Can you see that all of the references to “sitting” have this in common: sitting says something about our “identity” and our “identification with others?” Explain.
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.
1. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in just trying to sit quietly before the Lord?
2. We all are susceptible to influence by those with whom we choose to “sit.” How has your experiences of “sitting with the disrespectful” affected you, to your detriment (Ps. 1.1)?
3. Have you ever thought of our experience in heaven as “sitting?” What does Christ’s promise that “those who emerge victorious” will sit with him on his throne do for your spirit (Rev. 3.21)?
4. A fellow Christian asks you for your help in developing within them “a spirit that sits with the Lord.” What practical advice might you share with them?
# 24. Don’t shift responsibility and blame. We are all familiar with the drill: Somebody at fault will try to minimise his or her responsibility by blaming someone else – quite often the wronged party. Thus the main characteristics of this exercise in rudeness are obfuscation and unfairness. …
… I simply cannot conceive of any circumstances in our own daily lives when it would be appropriate or advantageous to be rude or boorish. The powerful combination of self-respect and respect for others should make it almost impossible for us to choose incivility, if we manage to remain clearheaded even in challenging situations.
But what if we are dealing with somebody whom we don’t respect or who says or does something we believe to be wrong? The answer is simple: let’s not lose sight of our own standards of behavior, of our own rules of engagement. It is possible to be civil and true to one’s beliefs at the same time.
Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 152,157