links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, culture, faith & immigration: God’s Immigrants [essential reading]

“The total global diaspora numbers about 859 million from 327 distinct people groups. A larger number of those peoples settle in the US than in any other host country, making about 11% of the US population foreign born. … Let us see if we can’t … reclaim the deep resonances and reverence scripture caries for the immigrant.”

Busyness, Christianity, church, faith, over-stimulation, United States: Why It’s Hard to Be Christian in America [essential reading]

“What we need is a community of people who agree to live by a different ethic and rhythm. The Bible has a word for that community. It’s called church. So, let the church be the church.”

Burnout, discouragement, leadership & ministry: * Ten Things Pastors Hate to Admit Publicly [essential reading]; * A Cure for Ministerial Burnout: Contemplative Prayer; * Don’t Make Your Pastor a Statistic?

* “My intention is precisely the opposite. I hope that from this: Churches will pray all the more for their pastors because they understand the challenges; Churches will be doubly grateful for the fact that so many pastors stay in the saddle despite their fears, hurts and frustrations; People in churches will think twice before engaging in things that sink deep into the soul of their leaders.”

* “If, each day, time had been set aside for the spiritual renewal that contemplative praying can provide, there probably would have been the kind of revitalization of mind and spirit that could have maintained their enthusiasm and commitment to ministry.”

* “Consider these figures compiled by the Schaeffer Institute …”

Church, church attendance & expectations: * #1 Reason Why Church Attendance is Down – Really? [required reading]; * Disillusionment With the Church [essential reading]

* “Take me for example, for a number of reasons, I am very close to burnout.  When I hear words like ‘active’, ‘committed’, ‘involvement’, and ‘monitor attendance’, it is going to produce the opposite of the intended effect in me.  If I hear these words from the pulpit on a Sunday morning, I am going to be less likely, not more likely,  to attend the following week.  I am burnt out and you want a larger commitment from me?!?

“Seven years ago, when we searching for a new pastor, our church surveyed our community.  When asked the number one reason why they didn’t attend church, the top two responses could be summarized as:  ‘Too tired’, and ‘not enough time.'”

* “I would contend that many of our disillusions with the church are based upon a wrong ethic. We misunderstand the true nature of fellowship in the gospel community. And therefore, we wrongly apply the ethic of other communities to the church.

“The foundation of our fellowship is not the feelings we have for one another, as important as they may be. Neither is the foundation of our fellowship based upon the fact that we live in the same geographic place, educate our children in the same way, hold similar political views, or are the same ethnicity. No. It is the gospel that is the foundation of our fellowship. Nothing else.”

Israel: * The Pilgrimage: Israel (a 25-part series by Ben Witherington; superb); * Gaza is in the News Again

* “I was fortunate enough to lead a tour to Israel and Turkey for two weeks in May with 29 hearty souls on pilgrimage, and we had a blessed time and a blast as well. It was all good. In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the pictures and experiences from this trip and we will be talking about.”

* “Gaza is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Here is a summary of these references.”

Listening, preaching & sermons: How to Get More from a Sermon [essential reading]

“Let’s talk about people who do not get full value from the sermons they hear.

“These people may be taking SERMON-BLOCKERS. When the pastor gets up to preach, they … nitpick him … plan the week ahead … shift into neutral and become passive. … send their mind off on a mini-vacation. … listen with their ears but not their hearts … do not bring faith to what they are hearing.

“These people may hear thousands of sermons, but they do not benefit from them because they are resisting them, not listening to them, and not believing them. Such people are literally wasting their time by coming to church.”

Learning, online & reading: Being a Better Online Reader

“… we don’t read the same way online as we do on paper.”

Population density & the United States: Half of the United States Lives in These Counties

“… half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baytown & Mont Belvieu: Chambers Town Center

A look at the plan for the the construction of Chambers Town Center near the intersection of I-10 & Hwy. 146 in Baytown, TX.

Church, idolatry & ministry: When Church Becomes an Idol

“… what does this look like when church itself is the ‘idol’ a pastor is venerating?”

Criticism, listening, preaching, respect, selective hearing & sermons: Sick of Sermons [required reading]

“Chronic critique of sermons is an illness. …  Some sufferers have lived with this condition for so long that they have found ways to manage it: committing to ministries that pull them out of the sermon … venting … or using the sermon-time for completely unrelated spiritual exercises. The long-term prognosis is grave: spiritual malnourishment. The table that God sets for us has two parts, Word and Sacrament, and Christ is the bread of both. But we only get what we’re willing to receive. How can we fight this illness that has us always excusing ourselves from the table during the first course and frequently ruining the appetite of others? I recommend aggressive treatment.”

Discouragement, faith, humility, passion, perseverance, & zeal: Maintaining a Holy Fire When You Feel More Like an Unholy Fizzle

“… because we live in Christ we must wait for him to do the work. This is nearly a mockery to the flesh-driven personality. God, through the Spirit, opens doors and closes others. My exhilaration is when He opens them. My frustration is when none open and I impatiently knock harder.

“How do we maintain a holy fire when some days feel more like an unholy fizzle? Believe God works…and then wait on Him.”

Holiness, OMG, speech, respect & words: Is It OK for a Christian to Drop OMG’s?

“Remember, it is the trademark for the unbeliever to take God’s name in vain …”

Inspiration & interpretation: The Inspiration of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

“In short, I tend not to read 2 Tim 3:16a as an assertion about scripture, but as an identification of which writings the author is talking about.”

Modesty: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

“And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Parenting: Dear Parents With Young Children [essential reading]

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.”

Reading: * Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina); * Americans’ Reading Habits Over Time

* “I’ve benefited from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefited immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information. …

“It goes like this: * 1. Read: What does the passage say? 2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word) 3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying? 4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?”

* “… the percentage of Americans who read a printed book in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population in 2011 to 67% in 2012.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism: N.T. Wright on the Meaning of Baptism [5 min. video; required viewing]

“… Wright lays out a narrative of baptism starting in Exodus and weaving it into Romans. He explains how the act of baptism is rooted in Exodus, which creates a depth in understanding.”

Bible study: 7 Ways to Do a Bad Word Study

“Here are some bad ways to do a word study, courtesy of Dr. Jennings of Gordon Conwell and Dr. Grant Osborne of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.”

Church: “I’m Not Getting Anything Out of Church” by Terry Rush

“A person who gets nothing out of church is also a person who has drawn nothing from God and puts nothing into people.”

Excellence, fear, failure & success: Good Enough by Richard Beck

“You are a failure. And that means you are good enough.”

Weariness: Moving Past Weariness by Jim Martin

“The following are a few realities I try to keep in mind during such times: (1) I have absolutely no control over so much of what happens in life. … (2) I need to trust in God. … (3) I need to be proactive instead of passive.”

Women: First Timothy 2.8-15 & the Silencing of Women in Worship by Bobby Valentine

“A text that is used, or misused, most frequently is 1 Timothy 2.8-15.”

this went thru my mind

 

Christianity: Christians First by K. Rex Butts

“… for Christians, our national/ethnic identity belongs to the old self that has been crucified with Christ in the waters of baptism. We may need to refer to our national/ethnic identities for legal and business proceedings in this world, but they should never be the identity we live out of. … it is no longer our national or ethnic identities that determine what we say and do. … Once we realize this, a world of missions opens up right in our very own neighborhood.”

Church: * Church: Institution for Overactive Consciences?; * My Church is Too Small by Marc Cortez

* “… church is a movement and not an institution …”

* “My problem … was with my vision of the church. I saw the church as a means to an end, and that end was my own spiritual growth.”

Church membership: 40 Reasons to be Part of a Local Church by Jesse Johnson

“At the bare minimum, there are forty different commands in the New Testament to live life in some sense with other believers. While certainly it is possible to do some of these with Christians in general, the weight of this list should convince you of the necessity of having on going relationships with other believers.”

Speech & words: An Open Letter to Ann Coulter by John Franklin Stephens [required reading]

“Come on Ms. Coulter … why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?”

This is cool: Google’s Street View Goes Into The Wild by Steve Henn

“Google’s Street View maps are headed into the backcountry.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: Archaeology & the Bible [required viewing; 6:30 min. video; if time is short, view 3:16-6:00 regarding King David]

“[Archaeology] gets people past the great barrier. And what’s our great barrier between us and the Biblical text? Us and them. … What it does is it informs us of everyday details on people’s lives.”

Baby dedications: The ‘Worship Service’ and Baby Dedications by Patrick Mead

“Attempts to limit our worship and hallow a special hour or two during the week are really attempts to drag Jesus back into the Temple. He died to free us from those rules and regulations and we’ve returned the favor by trying to get him back in the Temple for the last 2000 years.”

Burnout: Why Burnout? by Dan Bouchelle

“… burnout is not caused by working too hard. Rather, it is caused by working without sufficient meaning or a sense of reward.”

Interruptions & distraction: The Social Media Interruption Monster [infographic]

“28% of the day is spent on interruptions and recovery time and the average time it takes to get back to the assigned task is 23 minutes.”

Women: Women and Ministry from Scripture and History by Ben Witherington [7 min. video]

“So, when you’re looking at the New Testament and what it says about women and their roles in the family, what you need to look for is not primarily of affirmations that women were a part of a man’s world only in a secondary set of roles, what you need to look for are trajectories of change and difference.”

this went thru my mind

 

Blessing: The Blindest of Blind Spots by Tim Spivey

“Are we blessable right now?”

Burnout: Pastor Burnout

infographic

Delaying judgment/present bias: Beyond the Blink by Frank Partnoy

“E-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines, a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace — and that lead us to make mistaken split-second decisions. Economists label the problem ‘present bias’: we are vulnerable to fast, salient stimulation. Fortunately, there is an antidote: the conscious pause.”

Feelings: Burying Those Feelings Never Works by Jim Martin

“When you feel something, no matter how good or bad it is, feel it as deeply as you can. And remember it. Write it down.”

Grief: How Do You Encourage a Widow Whose Husband Has Been Gone for Many Years? by Brian Croft

“The best way to care for a widow of many years, is not to forget the loss they felt a long time ago is still real today.  The pain never goes away.”

Higgs-Boson particle: A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe by Lawrence Krauss

“It is natural for those not deeply involved in the half-century quest for the Higgs to ask why they should care about this seemingly esoteric discovery. There are three reasons.”

Humor, with teeth in it: “Jesus Take the Wheel” Day

“Someone has created a Facebook event that seems to be aimed at ridding the world of those Christians who are anti-intellectual, illogical and gullible …”

Jesus: Jesus Existed by Craig S. Keener

“What movement would make up a recent leader, executed by a Roman governor for treason, and then declare, ‘We’re his followers’? If they wanted to commit suicide, there were simpler ways to do it.”

Missional: What Kind of Church Would Meet in a Casino? by Tim Stevens

“A church that is more interested in reaching the not-yet-convinced than the religious. … A church that believes the telling of Jesus hanging with drunks, prostitutes and thieves wasn’t just a nice story. … A church that has stated, ‘We will exist for the unique transformation and elevation of the neighborhood, city, village or region where we are located.'”

Parenting & Internet privacy & safety: Yahoo! Digital Safety Kit

“The new Yahoo! Digital Safety Kit makes it easy to share information about guiding children and families in safe, responsible and ethical digital behavior.”

Teacher discounts: The Complete List of 66 Teacher Discounts

“While eligibility changes based on where you purchase, most offers are redeemable by kindergarten teachers and college professors alike.”

Words: Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use by Christian Piatt

“We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. … So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness …”

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.”