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 5 helpful articles

1. Seven Ways to Teach Civil Discourse to Students

“… young people need to learn how to respectfully disagree.”

2. Tiny Books Fit in One Hand. Will They Change the Way We Read?

“The tiny editions are the size of a cellphone and no thicker than your thumb, with paper as thin as onion skin. They can be read with one hand — the text flows horizontally, and you can flip the pages upward, like swiping a smartphone.”

3. Your Kid’s Apps are Crammed with Ads

“A few years ago to suggest limiting tech for kids would have sounded alarmist, and now that’s changing.”

4. More Than 90% of Generation Z Is Stressed Out. And Gun Violence Is Partly To Blame

“Members of Gen Z — people ages 15 to 21 — reported the worst mental health of any generation included in the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report, which was based on almost 3,500 interviews with people ages 18 and older, plus 300 interviews with teenagers ages 15 to 17.”

5. The FDA’s updated nutrition labels could improve your health—if you know how to read them

“Nutrition labels may have a difficult time getting 350 million people to shift their diets, but if you decide you’re going to start paying attention, think of the positive impact you could have on your own life. All it takes is turning that package around and reading the label. It’s now easier than ever.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Appreciation, encouragement, gratitude & thankfulness: 25 People You Should Say Thank You To Today [required reading]

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little world that we forget to thank the people who have helped us the most.”

Church announcements, communication corporate worship, worship gatherings: Why Your Church Needs More (Often) Announcements in Worship

“Historically, the church began worship services by announcing all member-related deaths. Nothing screams ‘Let’s worship!’ like announcing Aunt Geraldine’s funeral.”

Communication, disagreement, discussion, listening, unity & words: The Art of Having Conciliatory Theological Discussions – Suggestions

“It has taken me a while to figure a few things out when it comes to discussing a disagreement with someone. Here are a few observations I have made over the last few years that set a positive tone for a healthy conversation.”

Fathers, parenting & words: When Daddy is Silent

“A daddy’s silence can be deadly. Far too many men are silent at all the wrong times.  A father’s silence can communicate volumes. The absence of his voice can leave a boy or girl feeling emotionally alone.”

Humility, knowledge, leadership, ministry, missions, others, perception & understanding: What People in Other Countries Need (And What We Think They Need) [required reading]

“… keep in mind … the principle of relative deprivation. It’s the idea of wanting something because others have it.”

Ministry & prayer: What is the Most Common Ministry Priority that a Pastor Neglects?

“… week after week, I saw the things I was supposed to be doing getting squeezed out of my schedule because there were urgent demands on my time. Above all else, the one task that seemed to get squeezed out most was prayer. … Unfortunately, prayer doesn’t demand your attention. In the midst of people wanting your time and urgent tasks to complete, spending time in prayer is easy to neglect.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading & the OT: The Old Testament – Why Bother? by John Alan Turner [required reading]

“I sometimes hear people say this: ‘We are a New Testament church producing New Testament Christians.’ … Here’s the problem with that statement: You can’t really be ‘New Testament” anything without being ‘Old Testament’, too.”

Charitable giving: The ‘Second Disaster’: Making Well-Intentioned Donations Useful by Pam Fessler

“Disaster relief groups call this the ‘second disaster’: the flood of unwanted donations, despite repeated requests for cash.”

Churches of Christ: * It’s Time to Fly by K. Rex Butts;* A Call for Less Orthodoxy by Chris Altrock

* “For many churches within the restoration heritage, the attempt to fly has been to try and reduplicate the pattern of the first-century church.  This assumed first that one single pattern existed and that such pattern could be mined from the New Testament. That assumption reduced the New Testament to a flat text which was read like a set of by-laws on church polity rather than a dynamic collection of Christian writings which both reveal and shape true living faith in Christ. Secondly it assumed that by such reduplication — restoring churches to that assumed single pattern within the New Testament — that contemporary churches would function as the conduits of God’s mission as they are called to be. Rarely has anyone considered that, as followers of Jesus, God is asking his people to pursue an innovative vision that only God can bring about among the church.  I believe it is time for an innovative dream to be pursued!”

* “Let’s put our best foot forward.  And right now, that’s either orthopraxy or orthopathy.”

Christianity & the perception of others: Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another by Frank Viola [required reading]

“Here are 7 points to consider the next time you think you have a possible disagreement with another Christian …”

it’s time to be civil (19)

 

# 10. Respect others’ opinions. … follow good protocols of disagreement. If possible and appropriate:

* Save the core of someone else’s opinion even as you qualify your acceptance: “Yes, I agree that what you say may be true in general, but there are circumstances when …”

* Recognize that although you don’t agree, what you hear is not unreasonable. “Indeed, that idea can be appealing; however …”

* Allow that if you knew more, your opinion might change: “I don;t know, it doesn’t seem right, but perhaps there is more here than meets the eye.”

* Make generous use of the metaphor of perspective. “Yes, but if you look at it from a different point of view …”

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); p. 78

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.”