links: this went thru my mind


Church, church decline, leadership, ministry, morale & vision: * How Churches Became Cruise Ships (part 2); * Six Subtle Signs Your Church is Dying [essential reading]

* “Eventually we will learn that no matter how much money, effort, or innovation the church possesses, it will never be as cool as the culture. Relevance is a race it cannot win, but in our misguided attempts to compete with the culture we risk losing sight of the only thing of value the church can offer the world–Jesus Christ.”

* “There is more talk of the past than of the future. … More effort goes into keeping people than winning people. … There is no budget for evangelism, outreach, missions, or advertising. … Everyone wants to know everyone in the ‘church family.’ … The church is mono-generational (relating to one single generation). … No new leaders are being trained.”

Corporate worship, nationalism & patriotism: Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy in a Patriotic Service [required reading]

“The church transcends the state, a truth that should be proclaimed clearly in a worship setting.”

Cynicism, happiness & joy: The Giant Hole in Cynicism

“[There is] a radical difference between cynicism and joy. Cynics seek darkness wherever they go. They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes. They call trust naive, care romantic, and forgiveness sentimental…They consider themselves realists who see reality for what it truly is and who are not deceived by “escapist emotions.” But in belittling God’s joy, their darkness only calls forth more darkness. [Henri Nouwen]”

Divorce & remarriage: Divorce & Remarriage

“‘A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.’ (I Cor. 7:39)

Holy Spirit & intercession: Weakness, Groaning, and the Holy Spirit

“The Spirit does not simply know our suffering in some mere cognitive sense. Rather, the Spirit is present within us and experiences our suffering as a sympathetic friend, and thus the Spirit groans as well. The Spirit groans with us and for us, and this groaning becomes part of the experience of the Triune God. God is for us not only in the intercession of the Son, but also in the intercession of the Spirit.”

Prayer: A New Way to Pray

“… rather than have one ‘quiet time’ a day … pray for at least 15 minutes four times daily.”

links: this went thru my mind


Attitude, church & cynicism: The Most Damaging Attitude in Our Churches [required reading]

“Subtly, without even realizing it, we had become cynics. … cynicism doesn’t always present itself in the sweeping, broad negativity we see on TV. In the day-to-day, it looks more like quick, unwarranted, ‘constructive’ criticism. I’m not talking about the critical thinking required for success as an adult. I’m referring to the way we constantly evaluate and critique people and what they do.”

Computers, privacy & rights: Judge: Feds Can Snatch Your Laptop – for No Reason

“Meet New York federal Judge Edward Korman. On New Year’s Eve, he ruled that if you’re at the U.S. border, the federal government can confiscate your laptop, smartphone or tablet for any reason. No probable cause is needed.

“‘Well,’ you might say, ‘that’s worrying, but I don’t travel outside the U.S. so it isn’t my problem.’ You’ll want to keep reading anyway, because “border” in this ruling doesn’t mean what you think it does.

“In fact, the so-called ‘border exemption’ extends 100 miles inland from the actual border. That includes everyone on the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast, the Gulf or the Great Lakes.”

Creation & evolution: What We Learned From the Ken Ham/Bill Nye Debate

“Whatever value there might be in a public debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, there’s a lot more value in Christians loving their neighbors, whatever their beliefs about life’s origins.”

Marriage: * 7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife Without Even Knowing It; * 7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband Without Even Knowing It

* “You can’t address what you do not know.”

* “She’s a precious gift, guys. Let’s treat her well.”

Miracles: Wait, No Miracles … Wright On!

“… when people say can we believe in miracles I say no, because the word miracle gives us this sense of a normally absent God sometimes reaching in, that’s not the God of the Bible. … the thing about what we call the miracles, is not … wow! there seem to be radical abnormalities within the old world. No. The point is that these are the things that are starting to be normal in the new world which we see close up and personal with Jesus and then which, through the ministry of the gospel thereafter, start to happen in different ways in the wider world. It’s about the launching of new creation not about an invasion into the old creation.”

Parenting: How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home [essential reading]

“Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Thoughts on Christ

“The idea that a young person could be sane, generous, intelligent and Christian held out great appeal for him.”

Racism: What Does Racism Have to Do With Gridlock?: In Atlanta, Everything

“The way forward is complicated, to say the least—but it’s hard to know where you’re going without a clear idea of where you’ve been. Southerners are notoriously poor at understanding our own history—there’s so much of it, and so much is painful—but here, today, is a really good place to start.”

Reading Scripture: Cultivating the Practice of Reading Scripture [required reading]

“This is a journey in which we discover that the work of scriptural reading is not about transforming an ancient message into a modern application but the transformation of our lives though Scripture. The Bible does not present us with texts to be mastered, then, but with a Word intent on shaping our lives, on mastering us.”

this went thru my mind


Archaeology: The James Ossuary verdict. Does it matter? by Ferrell Jenkins

“Does it matter? If the inscription is authentic, it is another of the many archaeological confirmations of Biblical characters. We already know of Caiaphas, Pilate, Erastus, et al. It is another example of the historicity of the New Testament. It provides the earliest inscriptional evidence of Jesus. If the inscription is not authentic then it is just an ordinary limestone bone box, but one that has caused multitudes to discuss Jesus and the New Testament. Let us use it as an opportunity to discuss Jesus with those who do not know Him.”

Cynicism/skepticism: Faith amidst Cynicism and Skepticism by Joel Willitts

“… having faith is superior to cynicism and skepticism. Here are six reasons.”

Generations: The Boomerang Generation (Pew Research)

“More than three-quarters of young adults ages 25 to 34 who have moved back home with their families during the Great Recession and the troubled economic years that followed say they’re satisfied with their living arrangements and upbeat about their future finances.”

God: As If There is No God by Caleb Wilde

“What part of your god must die?”

Impatience: Is the Internet Making Us Impatient? (infographic)

“One in four people abandon a web page that takes more than four seconds to load.”

Judgmental: 11 Questions to Discern a Judgmental Heart by Trevin Wax

“Our pastor, Mike Lee, is currently preaching through the Gospel of Matthew. This past Sunday, he preached on Matthew 7 and Jesus’ command to ‘judge not.’ At the end of his sermon, Mike shared these 11 questions designed to help us discern a judgmental and critical spirit.”

Self-care: Steve Jobs on Self-Care: Keep Your Passion Kindled by Keith Anderson

“The thing is: ministry is hard. Really hard. Incredibly hard. That’s just the way it is and no amount of self-care is going to change that. And so, instead of inventing self-care strategies that try to avoid this reality, we need ones that can actually help us get through it.”

Technology: “A Prayer of Blessing to all Those Hands That Put Together the iPad That We’re About to Enjoy” by Eugene Cho

“God … As we enjoy our gadgets and our stuff, we say a prayer of blessing to the many hands that have put together these iPads and gadgets. While they are unseen and unnamed, we acknowledge that they, too, are your beloved. They are loved and seen by You. …”

this went thru my mind


Aging: Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer (part 1)

Calvinism: Links to parts 1, 2 & 3 of Scot McKnight’s series entitled Calvinism: My History.

Children & prayer: Teaching Children to Pray by L. Cecile Adams

Christmas: * The Visual History of Christmas Trees (infographic); * Would the Real Saint Nick Please Stand Up? by Michael Fletcher; * Blessed are the Entitled? by Rachael Held Evans

Cynicism: Why Cynicism Might Kill A Generation by Stephen Altrogge

Doubts: Doubts by Brian Mashburn

Dropouts: Why Do Christians Leave the Faith? (links to parts 1-4 of a projected 6-part series):
The Fundamental Importance of Apologetics (part 1)
Breaking-up with a God Who Failed Them (part 2)
The Problem of Responding Badly to Doubt (part 3)
The Relative Unimportance of Non-Christians (part 4)

Emergent: Did Youth Ministry Create the Emerging Church? (links to part 1 and part 2)

Facebook: How to Handle Unwanted Friend Requests

God: Links to parts one, two, and three of Roger E. Olson’s series entitled Is There Hierarchy in the Trinity?

Health: * Why Sitting is Killing You (infographic); * Occupational Knowledge International (OKI “works to build capacity in developing countries to identify, monitor, and mitigate environmental and occupational exposures to hazardous materials in order to protect public health and the environment.”) The work of these people, evident from their site, will make you think about the true, human cost of what you buy, use, and throw away.

Internet security: Everyone who is online needs to have some savvy and street-smarts to avoid being duped online. Test your savvy at identifying Internet dangers by taking OpenDNS’ Think You Can Outsmart Internet Scammers quick quiz. See if you can discern the difference between legitimate websites and phishing sites.

KJV: The Bible of King James by Adam Nicolson

Pacifism: Pacifism vs. Christology (links to parts 12 & 3 of a series)

People: * 5 Kinds of People You’ll Face in Ministry by Bev Hislop; * Leaders: Find the Devil in Pew Number Seven by Joe McKeever

Personal development: What Will You Be Like in the Next Ten Years? by Jim Martin

Philemon: Five Pastoral Insights From Philemon

Small groups: 6 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Leading Small Groups by Marc Cortez

Time: * Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time; * Online countdown timer

Wealth: The Global Rich List

this went thru my mind

Among the things I read online this week, the following you too might like to read …

Cancer: 7 Things I’ve Learned From Cancer by Trey Morgan is required reading.

Church, technology, preaching & worship: When Chuck Swindoll speaks, I (can’t help but) listen. An interview with Swindoll entitled The Problem With Pizzazz can be found right here. Read Chaplain Mike’s take on this interview while you’re at it.

Cynicism: We all should bookmark Jim Martin’s Experiencing Life Without Becoming Cynical and read it once a month for life.

Evernote: Are you an Evernote user? Then Michael Hyatt’s post How to Organize Evernote for Maximum Efficiency will definitely be on your “to read” list.

Giving: (a) I don’t know, but I strongly suspect Tim Spivey’s post entitled Are Christians Generous? The Rule of 1/3 is spot-on. (b) Now having read Spivey’s post, read Eugene Cho’s powerful reporting entitled homeless man donates thousands. Wow!

Lord’s Supper: So if we exchanged grape juice for wine in communion, why didn’t we trade unleavened bread for leavened? If you’ve ever wondered such, Bobby Valentine’s post entitled The Bread on the Table is enlightening.

Persecution: View this ten minute view on Christian persecuted in Romania under Ceausescu years ago and you’ll surely be humbled and convicted of many things. It makes me realize just how far up the shallow-end of the pool of Christian faith I’m swimming when I hear these kinds of stories come out of the mouths of persecuted believers. With Every Blow You Give, I Pray for Your Forgiveness by Trevin Wax.

Reading: Every minister needs to love to read, but how to read well, ah, that’s the question. Trevin Wax steers us in his post D.A. Carson on Different Ways to Read.

Student-bullying: Here’s an eye-opening infographic on student bullying.

Youth: The suggestion at the end of The Red Bull Gospel by Drew Dyck has real potential.

how did he say it?

Jesus answered, “… I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37b-38 CEB)

It was just his way of ending the conversation, but you have to wonder: how did Pilate mean it and how did he say it?

What is truth?

Was he cynically mocking Jesus, jesting with him. “Truth? Come off it! There is no ‘truth’ and you and I both know it.” Spoken, as it were, by a man who has seen too much and who has allowed his heart to become hard.

Or did Pilate say it with a far away look in his eye and a wistful tone in his voice as if to say, “I remember what it was like to believe a person could know ‘truth’ … and I wish I could believe that again.” Words from the lips of a man living a life of quiet desperation.

Of course, in the end I suppose, it matters not which way he meant it, for Satan is just as content to corrupt our spirit with melancholy as he is with cynicism.

But still, I wonder, for there are many who still ask the same question today, in both ways, and I, at times, am one of them.

My Father in heaven, in Christ’s name I thank you for not leaving me in this dark world with no light at all. Thank you for stepping into the middle of my wondering and giving me grounding. Thank you for continually delivering me from pining for the past and the equally great darkness of feeling helpless due to hopelessness. Amen.