links: this went thru my mind


Aliens, brotherly love, dehumanization, illegals, immigration & respect: I Don’t Know What an “Illegal” is … [required reading]

“In our culture, the way these folks are framed (‘named’) is by calling them ‘illegals.’ I am very convicted about this. … I feel I should say ‘I do not know what an illegal is. I know only humans.'”

Bible reading, lectio divina, reflection, Sermon on the Mount & transformation: Ten Minute Transformation: Ten Minutes of Lectio Divina That Can Revolutionize Your Life (Matt. 5) [required reading]

“It’s a good question. If the Christian faith is only about going to heaven, then why do we stay here on earth?”

Bible study, college & faith: Open Letter to New Testament Students

” … if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.”

Busyness, culture, stress & the United States: 8 Things You May Not Know about Busyness in America [infographic]

“…  eight things that we should all keep in mind about our ‘busy’ lives.”

Brotherly love, humility, others, patience, understanding & sincerity: The Thing I’d Love to Forget About the People I Disagree With [essential reading]

“…  it’s a bit disconcerting to confront the reality that it’s possible to wrestle with the same God and walk with the same limp and yet reach different conclusions. Perhaps it is in the wrestling itself that we can find some common ground.”

Discipleship, knowledge, questionnaires, spiritual formation & transformation: Christianity: Has Education Replaced Transformation

“American Christianity is turning into a massive question-and-answer quiz, and I’m probably going to fail. The Bible isn’t a textbook — but people treat it that way, and “Christianity” is becoming a pass-or-fail test. … “

Sin: Have We Grown to Overlook Sin?

“…  we tend to elevate the sin of another which is different than ours.”

this went thru my mind


Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind


Church decline: One Observation of Declining Churches by Ron Edmonson

“I’ve worked with a number of churches in decline. One thing I’ve noticed that is fairly consistent among declining churches is what they do once they realize they are in decline. … They dig their heels into the tradition that got them where they are today. They go back to what’s comfortable. They resist any changes in what they’ve done before, hoping to avert future decline.”

College: The Rising Cost of Higher Education [infographic]

“The College Board forecasts that in 15 years, the cost of a four-year college education at a private college will top $400,000 (at the current rate of increases).”

Deacons & deaconesses: #359 – Deacons, Ministers, or …? by Patrick Mead [required reading]

“Rather than use made up words like ‘deacon’ and made up words formed from made up words (!) like ‘deaconesses’ it would seem to make more sense to use the Biblical concept and call both of them ‘ministers’ or ‘servants.'”

Doubt: What Christians Can Learn From A Bible-Belt Pastor Who Became An Atheist Leader

“The problem of personal evil and suffering was a huge factor in his de-conversion.”

Food: 40% of U.S. Food Wasted, Report Says

“The report points out waste in all areas of the U.S. food supply chain, from field to plate, from farms to warehouses, from buffets to school cafeterias.”

Learning: Ministry Inside.90 by Jim Martin

“The following are five suggestions for learning from ‘masters.'”

Productivity: What Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day

“…  many successful people schedule themselves a kind of grown-up home room every day. You should too. The first hour of the workday goes a bit differently …”

Sharing faith: Ten Questions to Diagnose the Evangelistic Health of Your Church by Thom Rainer

“In my work with churches across America, I often ask a series of questions that help me assist the church to become more evangelistically focused. Recently, I took time to write down the questions I ask most often. Look at these ten questions to get at least some hints of the evangelistic health of your own church.”

The Pledge of Allegiance: A Restless Patriotism by Richard Beck [required reading]

“I’m a mess when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes I say it. Sometimes I don’t. Social context generally determines what I do, with the main criterion being not wanting to embarrass anyone or make anyone feel uncomfortable. I also struggle with not saying the Pledge as I don’t want to be taken as being ungrateful or dismissive of those who have made sacrifices for everything I enjoy in America. So I’m trying to walk this line between being socially appropriate, respectful to others (particularly to those who have lost loved ones in war), deeply grateful, and yet holding onto the belief that the Pledge of Allegiance is inherently idolatrous. That’s a tough line to walk and I don’t walk it well or very consistently.”

this went thru my mind


Character & image: How to Pay More Attention to Character than Image by Jim Martin

“Image … is not a substitute for character.”

Church attendance & spiritual development: What Counts: Part 2 by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“Here are some common bad consequences of churches with truncated understandings of our mission …”

College-bound: Five Suggestions for That College Care Package by Maureen Herring

“Five intangibles that I believe we need to send in these packages are faith, independence, acceptance, challenge and hope.”

Culture: Welcome to America, Please Be On Time: What Guide Books Tell Foreign Visitors to the U.S.

“Flipping through a few of the many English-language tourist guides provides a fascinating, if non-scientific and narrow, window into how people from the outside world perceive America, Americans, and the surprises and pitfalls of spending time here. Of the many pieces of advice proffered, four of the most common are: eat with your fingers (sometimes), arrive on time (always), don’t drink and drive (they take it seriously here!), and be careful about talking politics (unless you’ve got some time to spare).”

Disagreement: Why You’re Wrong and I’m Right by Dan Rockwell

“I never intentionally think stupid ideas or chose wrong options. Do you? I always choose what I think is right. Research indicates that the act of choosing strengthens my opinion that my choice is right. Even if I’m wrong, I’m right, or at least it feels that way.”

Grief & comfort: Why You May Never Heal by Caleb Wilde

“Instead of saying that the end of the grief process is detachment and healing, I think we should say that the healthy end of the grief process is adjustment. It’s adjusting to the fact that your loved one is no longer here to share life experiences with you. It’s adjusting to the loss of the future, but there’s never a detachment from the past.”

Health: CDC Recommends Hepatitis C Testing For All Boomers

“The agency decided to target people born from 1945 through 1965 because they are five times more likely than other adults to carry the hepatitis C virus. About 1 in 30 boomers is infected and thousands die each year of cirrhosis and liver cancer.”

Hiking: World’s Best Hikes: Epic Trails

“… 20 hikes … the holy grails of trails across the world.”

Houston-to-Dallas high-speed rail: Full Speed Ahead for 205 MPH Bullet Train Between Houston and Dallas? 2020 Set As Target Date

“Tracks would ‘go over, under or around car and pedestrian traffic’ to take advantage of the bullet train’s 205-mile-per-hour capabilities, and would stop in College Station — and perhaps a few other locations between Houston and North Texas — for minimal interruptions. Although no timeline has been announced for phase one … a second phase of the project would link Austin and San Antonio to the system along the I-35 corridor.”

Morality & the national budget: Grandpa’s Using Your Credit Card: Why the National Budget is a Moral Issue by Ron Sider

“…  basic economic facts underline the importance of a governmental role in combating poverty. Tens of thousands of private programs provide important food assistance each month.  But altogether they only provide 6 % of the total monthly food assistance; government provides 94% each month. There are five major federal government poverty-fighting programs. If the 325,000 religious congregations nationwide decided to take over these five programs, each congregation would need to increase their annual budget by $1.5 million.”

Oil & the Keystone XL pipeline: When This Oil Spills, It’s ‘A Whole New Monster’

“‘I learned that this is a whole new monster than what folks in Texas are used to dealing with. … This is not a regular crude oil pipeline. This is something completely different. It’s not being treated differently.'”

Perspective: Celebrating Our Somersaults by Rachel Held Evans [required reading]

“The Olympics reminded me that sometimes we just gotta step back for a minute, catch a glimpse of the big picture, and celebrate one another’s somersaults.”

Sharing faith: * New Research: Churchgoers Believe in Sharing Faith, But Most Never Do by Ed Stetzer; * Three Reasons We Should NOT Share the Gospel by Chad Hall

* “… 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.”

* “I believe there are positive and poor motivations for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  In this post, I want to focus on three poor reasons that might stir us to share our faith. … Insecurity … Arrogance … [and] Narcissism …”

Speech & action: There Are Consequences to Demonizing Those You Do Not Like: Reflections on the Family Research Council Shooting by Ed Stetzer

” … if the left calls everyone who disagrees with them on homosexuality ‘haters’ … the loss of credibility is substantial. … [And] if those who support a traditional view of marriage remain silent as gay teenagers are bullied into suicide or suffer physical violence and act as if nothing is happening, they should not expect to be taken seriously when they decry violence against one of their own.”

this went thru my mind


Aging & purpose: Why You Aren’t Dead Yet by Michael Hyatt

“If the most important part of your life is ahead of you, then even during the worst times, one can be assured that there is more laughter ahead, more success to look forward to, more children to teach and help, more friends to touch and influence. There is proof of hope . . . for more.”

American Christianity: When Are We Going to Grow Up? The Juvenilization of American Christianity by Thomas E. Bergler

“Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.”

Attitude, church, change & relevance: How to Turn a Church Around: Jesus Creed Style by Trevor Lee

“… part of the reason this approach has worked is the spirit of the elderly people here.”

Christian faith & church dropouts: A Lifeless Shadow of Historic Christianity? by K. Rex Butts

“… I think Kinnaman is on to something. There already seems to be a widening gap today between the church and Jesus.”

College & parenting: When Your Child Goes Off to College, They Need You by Syler Thomas

“If you are a parent who is sending a child off to college for the first time, you have a significant role to play. … If you’re a student, all I can say is that college was when my faith exploded. It breaks my heart to see so many students putting their faith on hold at a time when it could be growing. College is about self-discovery, and can be about extraordinary God-discovery as well.”

Endurance: When Things Get Really Rough by Tim Spivey

“… there are some things the wise commit themselves to. Call these spiritual disciplines for a life-storm …”

Hunger for God & learning: A Beautiful Quote

“The soul that wishes to live according to the will of Christ should either learn faithfully what it does not yet know, or teach openly what it does know. But if, when it can, it desires to do neither of these things, it is afflicted with madness. For the first step away from God is a distaste for learning, and lack of appetite for those things for which the soul hungers when it seeks God.” – Abbot Palladius

Marriage: Marriage Among the Homeless by Richard Beck

“So what to do?”

Sexting: Alarming College Student Sexting Statistics [infographic]

“I’ve always known that sexting occurred, but I never knew the numbers where so high. Not only that, but the statistics in the infographic below, points-out that sexting doesn’t always stay between two people. … If you’re involved in any kind of college or campus based ministry, you should know this …”

Politics & voting: Why I Voted for Jesus Instead of Obama in the Primary by Kurt Willems

“Because, Jesus is the only president (King) worth voting for, not just in a ballot box, but every day of my life.”

Women: The entire series published last week by Rachel Held Evans (One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality) is truly full of food for thought. If you’ve ever wanted to know where to start in trying to understand something of the ongoing discussion and debate in western Christendom regarding women and their role in church, this is a good place to start. Here are links to some of the posts in that series: Week of Mutuality: How It Will Work, Definition of TermsAsk an Egalitarian … (Response)Let’s Start at the Beginning, Shall We?Four Common Misconceptions About EgalitarianismSubmission in Context: Christ and the Greco-Roman Household CodesWho’s Who Among Biblical Women Leaders, and For the Sake of the Gospel, Let Women Speak. Want even more? Check out the listings The Mutuality 2012 Synchroblog and Want to Learn More About Mutuality? A List of Resources.

this went thru my mind

College: An Open Letter to a College Freshman by Timothy Dalrymple.

God, humanity & legalism: Dust & Grace by Richard Beck.

Gospels: You’re away of what is commonly known as “The Synoptic Problem,” but have you ever wished you could see a graphic depiction of how much the Synoptic gospels do, and do not, have in common? Now you can. Relationships Between the Synoptic Gospels.

Income, insurance & poverty: U.S. Census Bureau: Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.

Job: John Mark Hicks is sharing his in-depth notes on the book of Job. If you’ve ever wanted to understand this book and wrestle with the issues it raises, this is definitely a series to follow. Here’s a link to the first post in the series on his site. Reading Job: A Structural Guide by John Mark Hicks.

Judging: 20 New Ways to Judge Others by Joshua Becker is not sarcastic, but serious.

Mercy: Family of alleged hate-killing opposes death penalty in case.

Torture: This tragic story deserves much more press than it is receiving and should give us all pause. The Soldier Who Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture.

Violence: On the Moral Example of Jack Sparrow by Richard Beck.

Women: John T. Willis’ carefully reasoned, Biblically-grounded, ongoing series on the role of women in ministry continues. Biblical Female Teachers, Deacons, Elders, Preachers (part 3) by John T. Willis.