links: this went thru my mind

Age & habits: 15 Things to Start Doing By the Time You’re 30

“… everything on this list is worth doing in your twenties …”

Books, faith & reading: Why Christians Must Be Readers

“Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way.”

China & Christianity: Risen Again: China’s Underground Churches

“The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is wary of organized religion, and has alternately tried to crush, discourage, or co-opt Christian groups. But having survived the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, the faith is now flourishing: a 2010 study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated there are 23 million Christians in China. In 2011, Pew Research put the figure closer to 67 million, or 5% of the population.”

Church, marriage & singles: The Bible’s Special Word About Singleness

“The church can be a difficult environment for single people to navigate. Theologies that emphasize Christian fulfillment through marriage and parenting have caused marriage and the nuclear family to be so elevated that many singles feel like there is no place for them in Christian community.”

Doctrine: The Job of Doctrine

“[T]he job of doctrine is to hold us still before Jesus. When that slips out of view, we begin instead to use this language to defend ourselves, to denigrate others, to control and correct–and then it becomes a problem.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, dehumanization, NRA, politics & torture: * Is Waterboarding How We “Baptize Terrorists”? – Sarah Palin, Enemies, and Christian Anthropology; * Why Sarah Palin is Right About Baptism by Waterboarding

* “For anyone to confess Christ as their Savior and to compare one of the means of God’s grace to an act of torture is reprehensible. I hope members of Gov. Palin’s local church will explain to her why her remarks [“waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists”] denigrate the Christian faith. Such remarks bring shame on the Body of Christ and to our witness in the world. Even more shameful, however, is the fact that so many Christians would cheer her support of torture (and yes, waterboarding is torture).”

* “It was simply an American baptism instead of a Christian one.”

China, Christianity & statistics: China On Course to Become ‘World’s Most Christian Nation’ Within 15 Years

“The number of Christians in Communist China is growing so steadily that it by 2030 it could have more churchgoers than America.”

Christianity, communication, homosexuality & same-sex marriage: The Jars are Clay … Not Titanium

“The most perilous thing about asking the world to listen to you is …they actually might.”

Congregational singing: How to Get People to Sing in Worship (Why Repetition Matters)

“How many times have you been in a worship service and no one was singing? This is especially true in many contemporary services. … If we aren’t singing in worship… is it really worship? Local congregations need to tackle this problem headlong. … You have to make it repetitive. Plain and simple.”

Racism: The Church & Racism in America

“…  if the church in America is going to get better at manifesting the ‘one new humanity’ of the Kingdom, the on-going power and injustice of this pyramid has got to be acknowledged, especially by the one’s who are its benefactors: white people like me.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Adultery: The United States of Adultery

[This is an interactive map. Houston is #2 in the country, beat out only by three-time winner Washington D.C.]

Birth of Jesus & Christmas: * Baby Jesus Meek and Mild, Overthrew an Empire – Wild!; * Is There A Dragon In Your Nativity Set?

* “May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ’empires.’ Merry Christmas.”

* “Every nativity set needs a red dragon. If you don’t remember that part of the story, you might want to read chapter 12 of Revelation.”

China, Christianity & persecution: China’s Hardship-Hardened Church

“Vibrant amid persecution, it seeks faithfulness over freedom.”

Contribution, generosity, giving, possessions, sacrifice, stewardship & wealth: The Scary Truth About Christian Giving

“Over the past 40 years, self-identified evangelicals have given between 2 and 3 percent of their incomes to churches and Christian organizations. Stewardship is a crucial part of the Christian life, and according to these figures, it is sadly lacking.”

Criticism, hatred & humility: Haters

“Never criticize what God is blessing.”

Firearms & guns: Gun Country

“They bring families together and they tear them apart. They kill innocent people and protect them. The United States continues to love and revile its hundreds of millions of firearms. Here is a look at that complicated  relationship, told through the personal stories of Americans.”

Insurance & the uninsured: Mapping Uninsured Americans

“Census data released Dec. 17 show where the uninsured live.”

Love & truth: 3 John: When Love is Abused

“He abused his power; he abused the love entrusted to him.”

Poor & poverty: In the War on Poverty, a Dogged Adversary [required reading]

“Without the panoply of government benefits — like food stamps, subsidized school lunches and the earned-income tax credit, which provides extra money to household heads earning low wages — the nation’s poverty rate last year would have reached almost 31 percent, up from 25 percent in 1967, according to the research at Columbia.”

Warfare: The Great War’s Ominous Echoes

“… the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far-off, it is similar to ours — often unsettlingly so — in many ways.”

this went thru my mind (bonus post)

 

Bible & hermeneutics: Sola Scriptura by Jonathan Storment

“… if the Ethopian Eunuch would have been a Protestant, when Philip would have come jogging along side of him, asking do you understand what you’re reading there. The Eunuch would have responded by saying ‘Of course, I’m literate. I have no problem understanding this.’ But he doesn’t. Instead he tells Phillip something I think is interesting. He says, ‘How can I? Unless someone explains it to me?’

“Worked into the Bible itself is the Bible pointing beyond itself. As if it’s incomplete, looking for a body. This is not to diminish the Bible. It’s to say what Jesus himself said in John 5, that Scripture points externally to the person of Jesus. Which just happens to be what Phillip does from there.”

Bigotry & prejudice: No Irish Need Apply: Group Prejudice in America by Chuck Warnock [required reading]

“It seems the dominant majority in America has always designated one or more groups as an inferior group in our society.”

China, Christian faith, oppression & persecution: How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches

“Government sponsored persecution rose 42 percent in 2012.”

Evangelism & outreach: Memphis and Markets

“A church has four markets:

“1. Members/Attendees: These are us, they’re part of us, we share faith and life with them.

“2. Associated: These are people who know us and probably come into our building.

“3. Served: These people live in our city and we connect with them through our service.

“4. Distant: These are people who live outside our normal life connections. The only way we touch them is through mission.

“What we’re finding is that most churches pay redemptive attention to only two of these markets: their Members and the Distant people. And even with their Members the redemptive attention is minimal. If we’re going to impact the people in our networks we’ve got to pay redemptive attention to our Associated and our Served markets.”

Facebook: Facebook Gets Unwelcome Look at Hackers’ Dark Side

“Intruders recently infiltrated the systems running the world’s largest online social network but did not steal any sensitive information about Facebook’s more than 1 billion users, according to a blog posting Friday by the company’s security team. The unsettling revelation is the latest breach to expose the digital cracks in a society and an economy that is storing an ever-growing volume of personal and business data online.”

this went thru my mind

 

Abortion: Q&A: What is Your Stance on Abortion? by Greg Boyd

“The unique Kingdom approach to abortion doesn’t focus on figuring out the ‘right’ political solution, getting ‘the right’ candidates into office or getting the ‘right’ bills passed. As with everything else about the Kingdom, it rather focuses on manifesting the self-sacrificial love of God towards women with unwanted pregnancies and towards their unborn children.”

China, faith & persecution: The Greatest Revival

“The worst they can do is kill us, but all that means is we will be promoted to the glorious presence of our Lord for all eternity!”

Facebook & parenting: 5 Facebook Tips Pastors Should Share with Parents by Jeremy Smith

“Print off this article, share it, or save it to a PDF to email it. I don’t care the medium it gets transmitted, just get this into the hands of parents.”

Idolatry: How to Turn From Your Idols by Eric McKiddie

“View idols for what they really are. … Diagnose the idol. … Identify the purpose for the idol. … Transfer your trust in the idol to trust in the Lord.”

Learning: Some Leaders Never Stop Learning by Jim Martin

“The leader who is a lifelong learner will bless his/her church or organization.  Think of your learning as an investment in your mind, your family, and in those whom you have the opportunity to serve.”

Prayer: How Do I Start Praying? by Bill Mounce

“These two ideas provide the balance we need in prayer, the mix of familiarity and reverence.”

this went thru my mind

 

Faith/faithfulness: The Faithfulness of Jesus, or Faith in Jesus?

“It is Jesus’ faithfulness I can rest in, and not my own sometimes weak, wavering, and even battered faith. It’s not that I am excused not to hold on to faith, or keep the faith. But I can better do so by realizing that it’s because of the faithfulness of Jesus that I can continue in that stance of faith, and nothing more nor less. Of course the Spirit is at work in God’s grace in Jesus to help us, all part of what comes out of the faithfulness of Jesus.”

Firearms, gun ownership & violence: Why This Christian Will Never Own a Gun by Bruce Reyes-Chow

“When I say that I will never own a gun because of my Christian faith, that does not mean that I am saying that you are not a Christian if you do.”

Gospel: The Gospel … A Family Story by K. Rex Butts

“If we were to ask a hundred Christians what the goal or aim of the gospel of Jesus Christ is, I’m guessing a good bit of that number would provide an individualistic salvation answer. They would say something like, ‘to save me from my sins so that I can live eternally with God.’ … However, the aim of the gospel is reconciliation of people back to God and each other into “one body” so that we all are one community, the ‘household of God’ (Eph. 2:14-22).”

Government & taxes: Render to Caesar What is Caesar’s by Scott Elliott

“N.T. Wright has correctly said, ‘If Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not.’ First century Christians understood that professing Jesus as Lord could ultimately mean death because of its political implications. Becoming a Christian means that Jesus is our Lord and we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We cannot serve two masters. Our sole allegiance is to God and His Kingdom.”

Growth: * The Myth of Endless Growth by Larry Osborne [required reading]; * Reflections on a Red God by Dan Bouchelle

* “I’ve always been told that if a business or church isn’t growing, something must be terribly wrong. After all, healthy things always multiply and grow. But frankly, that’s hogwash. It’s based on idealistic and wishful thinking. It’s a leadership urban legend. And a dangerous one at that.”

* “Perhaps our models of church have hindered the growth of the church as much as aided it. Perhaps the Christian faith grows best when it travels light. … The more I read … the more I’m convinced that we need to be doing what God is blessing instead of asking him to bless what we are doing. The mission is his. He is in the lead.”

Holiness, humility & respect: Committed to Holiness But Not Holier Than Thou [required reading]

“We hold to our convictions, firmly believing that we are right. Yet we can do so without judging others and without believing that our stance somehow makes us better than others. I will try to convince others of my position and hope they will try to convince me of theirs. That’s how we grow as Christians. Yet it must always be done with an air of acceptance and respect.”

Joy: Four Simple Things Stealing Your Joy (And What to do About Them) by Chris Altrock

“Richard Foster writes about four obstacles that keep us from joy. The first obstacle is inattention. … A second obstacle is the wrong kind of attention. … A third obstacle is greed. … The final hindrance is conceit.”

Politics: The Attack Ad, Pompeii-Style

“A.D. 79 was a rough year for Marcus Cerrinius Vatia. … Since tradition in Pompeii kept ads from being blatantly defamatory, a favorite trick of local politicians was to plaster the tombs and walls of the town with fake endorsements for their opponents from unsuitable supporters — runaway slaves, gamblers and prostitutes. In Roman politics, where the appearance of honor and dignity was all important, even obviously false endorsements could bring shame and defeat to a struggling candidate. The almost 3,000 political inscriptions that survive from Pompeii tell us more about Roman elections …”

Prayer: Pray Continually: Thoughts on Praying with the Church by John Byron

“The exhortation to “pray continually” is common to Paul’s writing and his life (Rom. 12:12; Eph 6:18; Col. 4:2; 2 Tim 1:3). … When we pray, whether alone or corporately and whether we realize it or not, we pray together with all the people of God.”

Silence: Only In Silence, The Word

“… when you are alone with just yourself and God, you find out how noisy your interior world is …”

this went thru my mind

 

Chick-Fil-A: In the Basement by Jen Hatmaker; * Some Words for Christians On Both Sides of the Chick-fil-A War by Rachel Held Evans

* “This is precisely how I feel about the Chick-Fil-A debacle and all the other accouterments of the culture wars. I am so over it. I’m so over the fear mongering and hate propaganda. I’m over the political posturing and power plays. I’m over the finger pointing and name-calling. The storms are raging overhead, and let me tell you something: I’m going to the basement.”

* “Just some thoughts from a retired veteran of the culture wars …”

Christianity in China: Listening to Chinese Christians

“There is much we can learn by listening to Chinese Christians.”

Churches of Christ: * Homeless: An Essay on the Ecclesial Lives of Young Adults from the Churches of Christ by James McCarty; * JamesMcCarty’s Thoughts on Why Young People Are Leaving Churches of Christ by Matt Dabbs

* “I have met dozens of young adults (20-35 years old) over the last several years who grew up in the churches of Christ but no longer attend one. I’ve met dozens of others who still attend a church of Christ, at least somewhat regularly, who feel that such a church is no longer the ideal place for them but know of nowhere else to go. I am primarily concerned in this essay with the latter though I will make some reference to the former. These still-attending-but-uncomfortable CoCers are uncomfortable in the churches of their youth for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are …”

* “This is not a unique list for churches of Christ. I am not certain that his five points get to the heart of what is really happening here. I think this is more of a symptom checklist of some deeper issues that have to be uncovered if we are going to move forward. You could “fix” all five of his points and still have young people leaving the church.”

Creativity: Tips on How to Be More Creative by John Cleese

“… we can benefit greatly from being even more creative. So how to do that? One way to start is to listen to the legendary John Cleese below and incorporate his tips into your daily work and life where possible. This speech is from 1991 and is as relevant as ever. … In case you don’t have 30 minutes to watch this video,  I have summarized Cleese’s thoughts here. “

Disappointment: 10 Tips for Recovering from Major Disappointments by Ron Edmonson

“Sometimes life throws curves at us that take the wind from our sail. If we aren’t careful we can allow the injury to haunt us for life; never regaining what we have lost. … What steps should you take to get back on track and succeed again after a major disappointment?”

Evangelism: An Evangelism Secret by Terry Rush

“Pay attention.”

Ministry & writing: Paul and the Pastoral Practice of Writing

“It’s easy to underestimate the value of letter writing for pastoral ministry in the electronic age.  But when a pastor takes time to write a letter (even if via email) to a person under their care it creates a connection. I asked a pastor friend of mine, now retired, to share his thoughts/experiences of writing letters as a pastor. Here’s what he said.”

Photography & the Middle East: NASA’s View of the Middle East by Seth M. Rodriquez

“NASA has a website called ‘Visible Earth’ where they post pictures taken by astronauts and ‘sensors’ they have in orbit.  Within this large collection of pictures, there are several that are focused in on Israel and the Middle East. Here’s a taste of what you can find there …”

Poverty: Poverty – Understanding Scale [required reading]

“The poverty level as defined by the federal government in 2010 was $11,139 for an individual and $22,314 for a family of four. Could you take care of a family of four on less than $2000 a month? … The following are 40 facts about poverty in America that will blow your mind …”

Priorities: * Erase “I Don’t Have Time” from Your Vocabulary by Melanie Pinola; * Could a Checklist Empower Your Ministry?

* “Whenever you find yourself thinking ‘I don’t have time’ change it to ‘It’s not a priority.’ Watch how quickly your perspective shifts when looking at life’s challenges this way.”

* “It worked for the airlines, the surgeons, and maybe it will work for the ministry.”

Stillness: The Practice of Stillness by Michael Hyatt

“… you must do nothing for at least fifteen minutes a day. … I have … practiced this discipline for twenty-two days in a row. Honestly, this has been one of the most transformational things I have ever done.”

Taxes: Taxation, Charity, and Robbery by James F. McGrath

“I’ve heard the argument made that the government taxing the wealthy and redistributing that wealth to those less fortunate than them is not taxation, but robbery. I wonder how many of those who say such things are Christians or Jews , and would also think Deuteronomy 26:12 was robbery?”

The Blind Side & Lifeway: Hollywood’s Blind Side by Mark Joseph

“Various writers are publicly kvetching about the decision by a Baptist-owned bookstore chain called Lifeway to stop carrying The Blind Side DVD because, according to the Southern Baptist Convention it contains “explicit profanity,” takes ‘God’s name in vain’ and contains a ‘racial slur.’ … But are the Baptists really at fault here? Aren’t they entitled to carry whatever product they want for whatever reason they want? And who are we as non-Baptists to castigate them for what they decide to stock in their stores, especially those products which offend their deepest religious sensitivities?”

Vision: The 5 Major Obstacles to Personal Vision by Will Mancini

“It’s very important to diagnose your life concerning the common obstacles that keep you from things like setting goals, defining your personal vision or achieving our life dreams. I believe there are five primary blockades to consider.”

Warfare: A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away

“When he was deployed in Iraq, ‘you land and there’s no more weapons on your F-16, people have an idea of what you were just involved with.’ Now he steps out of a dark room of video screens, his adrenaline still surging after squeezing the trigger, and commutes home past fast-food restaurants and convenience stores to help with homework — but always alone with what he has done.”