The desert and the dry land will be glad … will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing. They will receive the glory of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the Lord’s glory, the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35.1-2 CEB)
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.”
* “… 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.”
20’s, choices, decisions & wisdom: 10 Ways to Ruin Your Life in Your 20s [essential reading; spot-on]
“No one ever plans to ruin their life. … but it does happen. It happens far too often. And it happens because of the choices we make, even though that is not a result that anyone would ever willingly choose. Most of those choices take place when people are relatively young—old enough to be making important decisions about their life, but young enough for those decisions to snowball and grow to have disastrous consequences. … How can we avoid making such mistakes? Below are 10 things people can do to ruin their lives while still in their 20s. It is a list of what not to do, or things to stop doing immediately if you don’t want to suffer the results.”
Beauty: The Race We’re All Losing
“If beauty is fleeting, why do we chase it? … Our clay will never turn into the beautiful clear glass we are wanting because it is meant to clay.”
Change, development, spiritual growth & spiritual maturity: Bearing Fruit in Old Age
“If I am the same person today I was ten years ago, I have stagnated.”
* “It’s easy to say that I’d like to start a new church that will ‘do things right.’ Or choose to withdraw from the gathered body all together, focusing on my relationship with God outside the confines of organized religion. So here are some tempering thoughts, presented in no particular order …”
* “With all of those caveats aside, I want to share 5 different sorts of churches that I personally would avoid if I were moving to a new city and were not a pastor of a church.”
Doubt & outreach: 3 Things to Remember in Discussion with Doubters
“Saying your church is a safe place for doubters doesn’t make it so. … Doubting is never just intellectual. … Strengthened faith should lead to the strengthening of other people.”
God, perception, understanding & worship: The Myth of Worshipping an Identical God
“… we worship our individual projection of God, not a perfectly identical God. And this projection is formed by hundreds, if not thousands, of individual experiences, lessons, traditions, people, and revelations we each have had. In a sense, our personal view of God is like a thumbprint. It’s that unique.”
Nonviolence: At Gunpoint
“Daniel told us he’d kill anyone who tried to come in and take his family away from him.”
Parenting: Teen Spirit
“Helicopter parenting has crippled American teenagers. Here’s how to fix it.”
Oral interpretation & Philemon: David Rhoads Performing Philemon [5 min. video; outstanding!]
“David Rhoads performing Philemon at SBL 2103 in Baltimore, MD.”
Teachers & teaching: What Can You Do?
“Do at least one thing really well, and that will mean doing at least a few other things barely adequately. As the saying goes, ‘If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly,’ and a lot of duties imposed upon many of us nowadays are worth doing … but just barely.
“If, instead, we try to do everything asked of us reasonably well–say, at a ‘B-‘ level–we’ll feel ‘B-‘ about it all. And exhausted in the process. And that’s a lousy way to live.
“Work at something, at least one thing, at an ‘A’ level. It might be small. It might not even be noticed by others. But you’ll know you did a great job of it, and the feeling of excellence you draw from that task will inspire you in the rest of what you do.
“Meanwhile, practice ‘prudent neglect’ of the stuff that doesn’t matter much.”
Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus). Here’s the next installment. Enjoy.
Don’t praise people for their beautiful looks, and don’t despise people for their appearance. (Sirach 11.2)
Don’t find fault before you investigate … Don’t answer before you listen … (Sirach 11.7a,8a)
… don’t be busy with many things; if you multiply pursuits, you won’t be held guiltless. (Sirach 11.10)
There is nothing good for those who continue to do evil or for those who don’t freely offer charity. (Sirach 12.3)
Rich people inflict injury, but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged; the poor suffer injury, but they’re the ones who must apologize. (Sirach 13.3)