links to 10 items worth your time

1. The Humble Origins of ‘Silent Night’ [required reading]

“One of the world’s most famous Christmas carols, ‘Silent Night,’ celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.”

2. Christians Sing Together

“From the very beginning of the church singing was important to the fellowship. Though many have unbounded confidence in their theories of what happened in local church gatherings, it is wiser to say ‘we don’t know precisely what happened, but we do are pretty sure about some things.’ One of the elements we are sure of is singing.”

3. The Strange Journey of Christian Rock and Roll

“… Christian rock has had a strange and circuitous journey back to the center of American culture.”

4. Compliments and Criticism – The Difference May Surprise You

“… in the end, only God changes people.”

5. Our Obsession with Imitating the Early Church and Another Way Forward

“… the early church wasn’t trying to be the early church. They were trying to be Jesus.”

6. A Tale of Two Mennonite Pastors and How to Disagree

“Theological (or political) disagreements matter, but need not be toxic to relationships. There are stronger ties that bind us together. … how George II and Ruth chose to relate to each other still proves instructive. As we spend this holiday season among family and friends with whom we might disagree, it’s helpful to remember that, though we maintain legitimate differences, there are things that matter more.”

7. A Different Kind of Christmas Story (for Kids)

“The book is entitled, ‘The Third Gift,’ by Linda Sue Park (Boston: Clarion, 2011).”

8. Church is Hard

“I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.”

9. Max Lucado Reveals Past Sexual Abuse at Evangelical #MeToo Summit

“Now is the time for across-the-coffee-table conversations that begin with the words, ‘Help me to understand what it’s like to be a female in this day and age,’ he said. ‘Help me to understand what it’s like to never go on a jog without carrying a canister of mace. Help me to know what it’s like to overhear guys chuckling about weight or bust size. Help me to understand what it’s like to always be outnumbered in the boardroom. Help me to understand what it’s like to be hugged chest to chest, unable to break free. Help me to understand what it’s like to fear filing a workplace complaint because my supervisors are all male. Help me to understand what it’s like to be the brunt of catcalls, whistles, and dirty jokes. Help me to understand.’”

10. Christianity Today’s 2019 Book Awards

“During book awards season, at least, the answer to ‘Do I need more books?’ is always yes. That applies whether you’re someone who likes to read a reasonable amount — or someone who also likes to read a reasonable amount, but more.”

links to 4 items worth your time

1. Friendly, Caring, and Carrying Churches

“Carrying is thought of as a familial function. But in the New Testament, carrying is a congregational function. It can and should be the reality of our congregations today, too.”

2. Kh. Qeiyafa and Kh. al–Ra’i — Yosef Garfinkel Lecture [72 min. video]

“Searching for the Historical King David … The lecture is a very convenient summary of some very important material that will be useful for students of the Bible and armchair archaeologists. … Besides all of the great content, here are two trivia that I found interesting: (1) It takes about 5 days to restore one broken pot, and costs about $1,000/pot! (2) He estimates that there are about 30,000 archaeological sites in Israel and about 1,000 have been excavated.”

3. He Says He Got Away With 90 Murders. Now He’s Confessing to Them All.

“… Sergeant LeBlanc said she asked about Mr. Little’s religious beliefs. They spoke about the nature of sin. He told her he had no need to fear God.”

4. Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees: Which Is the Greener Choice

“… which is better for the environment? Here’s a look at some of the central claims — and the common misconceptions — in that debate.”

quote: on church life & thankfulness

Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

links to 5 helpful articles

1. A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley [essential reading]

“For longtime tech leaders, watching how the tools they built affect their children has felt like a reckoning on their life and work.”

2. The Hidden Reasons Why Alzheimer’s Caregivers Are So Stressed

“… a recent study estimated that Alzheimer’s diagnoses will more than double over the next four decades as the U.S. population ages.”

3. The Church is Not a Restaurant

“In a consumer-oriented society, the default orientation for church attenders is to see their local congregation as a dispenser of religious goods and services.”

4. Five Myths the Church Often Believes About Domestic Violence

“Statistically, victims will return to the destructive relationship seven times before they leave for good.”

5. Book of Revelation: What Most Evangelicals Entirely Miss

“Revelation is about the reality of evil, the war with evil, and the defeat of evil, and the eradication of evil.”

links to 5 helpful articles

1. If we can worship anywhere, why go to church?

“It doesn’t just matter that we worship Jesus. It matters that we worship him with other people.”

2. Forget millennials, Gen Alpha is here (mostly)

“Generation Alpha, also known as the ‘children of millennials,’ is the first generation born entirely within the 21st century. … Gen alphas have birth dates starting in 2010.”

3. More solar panels mean more waste and there’s no easy solution

“Usually, panels are warrantied for 25 to 30 years and can last even longer. But as the solar industry has grown, the market has been flooded with cheaply made Chinese panels that can break down in as few as five years … Solar panels are just one part of the problem of old electronics, which is now the fastest-growing category of waste.”

4. A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy

“The Trump administration has promised vast changes to U.S. science and environmental policy—and we’re tracking them here as they happen.”

5. How to Kick Your Bad Habits (And Why That’s More Important Than You Think)

“Pretty much everybody thinks they have integrity. … And then you turn around five or ten years later and your habits aren’t lining up with the type of person that you thought you were.”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Achievement, expectations, humility, service, success & the will of God: God’s Not Looking for Heroes

“We don’t all need to be heroes. Jesus is the Hero. The Hero came 2000 years ago. So He’s already the Hero. He’s not looking for heroes, He’s looking for co-laborers. The challenge is, most people want to be co-stars, not co-laborers. If you actually understood what it was to be a co-laborer, you could labor wherever you are.”

America, culture, individualism, materialism, nationalism, patriotism, values & war: American Values Are Not Necessarily Christian Values

“… [there can be] no excuse for conflating country and church. We can appreciate and even respect the nation in which we reside, but we must not forget that our status is as foreigner and exiles. (1 Peter 2:11)”

American Sniper, cinema, deception, distortion, evil, film, movies & payback: Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, and the American Messiah [essential reading]

“This is the problem with the white-hat black-hat narrative of Hollywood: when ‘they’ do what ‘we’ do (though ‘they,’ of course, poor saps, are just not as efficient in their killing as ‘we’ are) it is evil, but when Americans do it, it is heroic. Eastwood’s Kyle insists he is doing what he does because he does not want terrorists in our neighborhoods here. Yet he participates in the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11; a country who was headed by, no doubt, a despot but a despot who had furthered his hold on power by the support of our own country; and when those people fight back because they don’t want foreign invaders in their streets, it’s ‘evil’ like Eastwood’s Kyle has never yet imagined.”

Anger, bitterness, forgiveness, hatred & resentment: A Holocaust Survivor, Spared From Gas Chamber By Twist Of Fate

“Anger doesn’t get you anyplace. Hate doesn’t get you anyplace.”

Attention span, authority, church, commitment, Facebook & social media: 5 Ways Facebook May be Harming Your Church

“What effect does ‘social media’ technology have on the way we view church? What effect does it have on the way we conceive of life in the body of Christ?”