links: this went thru my mind

 

Age, Boomers, faith, mid-life, & generations: Aged Out of Church [required reading]

“… Boomers are leaving the church in numbers that we usually think of when we talk about the exodus of the Millennial generation: “‘…during the past 20 years the percentage of unchurched Boomers has risen dramatically, jumping up 18 points! At 41 percent, they are now the generation most likely to be unchurched, surpassing the 39 percent level among Busters.'”

Attitude, complaining & grumbling: Grumbling & Complaining

“My heart has been a grumbling one recently. I could give you a few reasons I think why my grumbling is necessary or warranted, but the truth is that even talking about those situations would invite more grumbling. People talk about it being necessary to say how we feel, but I usually think there is more merit to say less about how we feel, and more about who God is in spite of our feelings.”

Bible, literacy, Millenials & reading: American Bible Society Report: The Bible in America, 2014

“Now there are just as many Americans skeptical of the Bible as there are engaged with the Bible. According to the fourth annual State of the Bible survey, 19 percent said that they were skeptical of the Bible. This number is up from 10 percent in 2011. This trend is even more pronounced among the Millennial generation (who range in age from 18-29).”

Children, courtesy, manners & parenting: Ten Forgotten Ways to Teach Politeness to Children

“Not every day is going to be a rip roaring success when trying to teach our children politeness, but if we are consistent, we will eventually see them get it right more than they get it wrong.  And, when they have successful and pleasant encounters with others, we are setting them up to be more successful in life.  These ten skills will serve them well all through adulthood, too.”

Culture & sin: 5 Overlooked Cultural Sins Threatening the Church [essential reading]

“What if the biggest threats to the church weren’t the things we thought they were? What if the very foundation of our country’s culture actually resembles the culture of our churches? We may find that we’ve been blind to more subtle and subversive influences that are having a greater impact on the church than the issues that consume us. Here are just five overlooked cultural norms that are contrary to the Kingdom and are sinful within the Kingdom, unknowingly supported by many of us. …  Competition … Celebrity … Patriotism … Fear … Individuality.”

Gospel, moralism & preaching: Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think it Is) [required reading]

“… one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.”

Marriage, relationships, technology & Twitter: Frequent Twitter Users Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses, Get Divorced: Study

“Comparing his two studies, Clayton was surprised to find that the length of time a couple had been together did not affect whether they would be negatively affected by one partner’s Twitter activity.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, hospitality & immigration: True Biblical Hospitality: Loving Immigrants, Strangers, and Enemies [required reading]

“… what does it actually mean to show hospitality? This is where things really get interesting: in English, we typically understand hospitality as a willingness to host, feed, and entertain a guest … something we all do and especially with our personal friends. However, what if the biblical term has a much deeper (and more difficult) meaning?”

Astronomy, awe, creation, earth & space: A Glimpse of Earth, Shining Brightly, From Very, Very Far Away

“[This] … picture … from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. On July 19, at a distance of 1.4 billion kilometers (900 million miles) from Earth, it took [this] … image. … Cassini was on the far side of Saturn, looking back toward the inner solar system.”

Atonement: At-One-Ment by Edward Fudge [required reading]

“We recently ended an assortment of twelve gracEmails, in which we explored the atonement made by Jesus Christ and the way American evangelicals have limited their conception of it almost exclusively to the penal substitutionary atonement theory to the neglect of other theories that are equally Bible-based. Now you can see all twelve of these in one location.”

Budget, economics, finances, income & money: Family Budget Calculator

“EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).

“As compared with official poverty thresholds such as the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.”

Competition: Should There Be Competition in Sunday School?

“When we ingrain a competitive spirit into faith – a culture of public shame and reward – is it any wonder we end up with some really faith damaged adults?”

Humility: In Humility Hold Others Above Yourself [essential reading]

“When it comes to humility I think a lot of Christians tend to work with the wrong idea. The idea that many seem to have is that humility involves thinking less about yourself, to have a negative or even morbid self-concept. … Humility is less about thinking other people are ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than you are. Humility isn’t about a morbid ego or a low self-esteem. Humility is, rather, a form of honoring and care-taking. Humility is lifting up (hyperecho) the concerns of others, placing them above and ahead of your own.”

Old Testament: And the Main Point of the Entire Old Testament is …

“I was taught in seminary and graduate school, as were many others of my generation and several before that, that the OT doesn’t have ‘a’ central point–there’s no central concept around which you can organize the OT. The OT is too diverse for that sort of thing. As soon as you find a theme that seems to work, it either doesn’t (e.g., covenant) or it’s too broad to be of much use (e.g., God).

“I agree, but some themes are right there in your face, more than others, and one of them is getting higher and higher on my top 10 list: land.

“That may sound off a bit boring–maybe even not terribly spiritual–but land is a major idea the Bible keeps on the front burner. Actually, I may even be understating things bit. The promise to receive land, getting it, how to hold on to it, losing it and getting it back, and how not to lost it again. I’ve just described the main storyline of the OT.”

Poverty: Epic Shanty Towns From Around the World

“… Addis has traveled and photographed squatter communities in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; Cairo; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

this went thru my mind

 

Alternative energy, ecology, gas & oil: Life After Oil and Gas

“You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it. … how much we really “need” fossil fuels is worth pondering.”

Ambition, competition & envy: Envy: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“… competition is huge in American society and throughout the world. Everyone yearns to SUCCEED and to EXCEL. This is why we have the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, etc. All of this is interesting and attracting. But spiritually, under God through Jesus Christ there is an entirely different way of thinking and living.”

Children, church & ministry: What If the Kids Don’t Want Our Church?

“… you could complain about the fact that these kids just don’t appreciate what you’ve done for them. Or, you could suck it up and bless them on their next wild adventure.”

Ecology & environment: Overfished and Under-Protected: Oceans on the Brink of Catastrophic Collapse

“The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing. … The ocean has become 30% more acidic since the start of The Industrial Revolution in the 18th century and is predicted to be 150% more acidic by the end of this century, according to a UNESCO report published last year. … The Census of Marine Life reported that phytoplankton, the microscopic plants producing most of the oxygen from the oceans, have been declining by around 1% a year since 1900. … ‘There’s a real lack of public and political awareness of these issues,’ says Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at the UK’s Oxford University.”

Faith, Millenials, Nones, religion & relationships: Relationships are the New Religion for Many

“Relationships have replaced religion for many Millennials … In 2009, LifeWay asked 1,200 people ages 18-29, to name those things that were “really important” to them in life. Over 60% mentioned family, 25% mentioned friends, but only 13% mentioned spirituality or religion.”

The Bible mini-series: Understanding Caiaphas — The Bible Series

“The character of Caiaphas presents one of the greatest challenges for any Jesus film or Passion play, and many have failed the test, making Caiaphas a cartoon, caricature baddie who makes no historical sense and who is offensive to boot.”

this went thru my mind

 

Competition: More Than a Sabbath: My Fast from Competing by Tyler Charles

“Personal success isn’t the goal, ultimately. Faithfulness is.”

Culture wars: God, I Thank You I’m Not Like Those Others: The Meta-Sin of Culture Wars by Kurt Willems

“… in light of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector recorded in Luke 18:9-14 there is no righteous high ground for those slugging it out in the in the muddy trenches of the recent culture wars.”

Demeanor & manner: 4 Questions to Ask Regarding Your Manner by Jim Martin

“What does my manner say about me?”

History: Publisher Pulls Controversial Thomas Jefferson Book, Citing Loss Of Confidence

“Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that ‘basic truths just were not there.’ … In it, Barton calls Jefferson a ‘conventional Christian,’ claims the founding father started church services at the Capitol, and even though he owned more than 200 slaves, says Jefferson was a civil rights visionary.

“‘Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,’ Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. ‘The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right. The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.'”

Leadership & mission: Why “Leaders” Are Not the Church’s Greatest Need

“…  in the context of a business or an organization that is defined by a mission, these are appropriate and salutary principles. … Fine for business, but it is at this very point that we run into a problem when we talk about the church. Why? Because the church is not defined by her mission. Now it is right to say that the church has a mission, that the church is missional, that mission is a central component of what she does. It is not right, however, to define the church as a mission and subsume one’s entire ecclesiology under that rubric.”

Memory: To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes

“… evidence that a few minutes of wakeful rest may have an effect even on long-term memory consolidation.”

Ministry & results: Give Up On Results by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“… do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the righteousness, the truth of the work itself.”

Newcomers: 10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church by Ben Reed

“I’ve visited a lot of churches. … It’s one thing to get people in the door once. But to get someone to visit again, and begin to call your church their home? Much tougher. … there are a few things we’ve learned that will guarantee someone won’t come back.”

Nigeria: Five Things to Know About Religious Violence in Nigeria by Lauren Markoe

“While Muslims and Christians are attacking each other, the combatants also divide along ethnic and cultural lines, and grievances often have little to do with religion.”

Options: 7 Steps to Finding a Better, Third Option by Michael Hyatt

“We are a culture that is accustomed to thinking in terms of two options. … When two sides disagree, here are seven steps to help you find the third option …”

Passive-aggressive behavior: Passive-Aggressive Postures & Evangelical Culture by Tim Gombis

“I naturally share my culture’s destructive and manipulative tendencies and subtle grasping after power and leverage in relationships.  Exposing these tendencies through critical self-reflection can help us discern how to cultivate fruitful and life-giving relational dynamics.”

Spiritual deafness: For Lack of Ears by Dan Bouchelle

“We are limited in our time and energy and, like Jesus, we would be wiser to invest our time with those who have ears.”

Violence: * Batman, Neo-Nazis and the Good News of Jesus by Lee C. Camp [required reading]; * The Myth That Redemptive Violence is a Myth: Part 1 and Part 2 by Matt Dabbs [read the comments, too]

* “The non-violent, suffering love of Jesus was a direct challenge to the myth of redemptive violence. One of the dirty secrets of the early church is the fact that for the first three centuries of Christian history, the leaders of the church insisted that Christians do not kill — including in so-called justifiable war. This consistent and insistent teaching of the early church is so ignored by so-called conservative Christians as to be laughable, if it were not so tragic.”

* “Violence, as I understand it, is the ultimate idolatry in that we are putting ourselves into the place of God. We decide who is innocent. We decide whose life is most important. We decide who gets to live and who gets to die. It’s my opinion, that that is not our place.”

Water: Here’s Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

“The map itself isn’t hard to grasp. The colored areas show the world’s largest aquifers — areas which hold deposits of groundwater. The blue ones are doing fine; more rainfall is flowing into them than is being pumped out of them for homes or irrigating fields. … The aquifers that are painted red, orange, or yellow, meanwhile, are being drained rapidly. … See those large grey shapes, below the map? Each one is a magnified reflection of an over-exploited aquifer.”