golden nuggets from Sirach (5)


Every few days I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus).

Run away from sin like you would from a snake: If you go near it, it will bite you. Its teeth are lion’s teeth, destroying a person’s life. (Sirach 21.2)

People who are afraid to act are like clumps of cow manure; those who pick it up will shake off their hand. (Sirach 22.2)

Don’t grow accustomed to saying coarse things because to do so is to engage in sinful speech. (Sirach 23.13)

How beautiful is sound judgment in gray-haired women and finding good advice in elderly men! (Sirach 25.4)

The husband of a good wife is favored, and the length of his life will be doubled. A courageous wife will make her husband happy, and he will complete his years in peace. … A loudmouthed and talkative wife is like a battle trumpet sounding an attack. The spirit of the man who lives under such conditions lives perpetually in the chaos of the battlefield. (Sirach 26.1-2,27)

this went thru my mind


Aging & scams: Why It’s Easier To Scam The Elderly by Patti Neighmond

“The older adults rated the trustworthy faces and the neutral faces exactly the same as the younger adults did, but when it got to the cues of untrustworthiness they didn’t process those cues as well,” she says. “They rated those people as much more trustworthy than the younger adults did. In a small follow-up study using brain imaging, Taylor’s findings suggest older adults may have less activity in the very area of the brain that processes risk and subtle danger.”

Archaeology & ancient peoples: Did Moses Know the Alphabet? Was There Writing in Ancient Israel? A Lecture with Dr. Alan Millard at Lanier Theological Library [55 min. video; there’s a great, brief bit of humor regarding graffiti from 16:54-17:18]

“… there is the question of how early in their history the Israelites could write their records, rather than relying on oral tradition. This lecture will explain how discoveries in the Holy Land are helping to answer these questions and consider if it matters whether Moses could write, or not.”

Bethlehem: Bethlehem: Then & Now by Mitrib Raheb

“At the time of Jesus, Bethlehem was a little town of 300-1,000 inhabitants. What people might not know is that the city of Bethlehem today is not in Israel but in Palestine, and that it is a bustling city with 28,000 people. One third of them are Palestinian Christians.”

Culture, ethics & trust: Gallup’s Ethics by Profession by Ed Stetzer

“Gallup releases their listing of professions and the public’s perception of their ethics. Sadly, “clergy” are about in the middle of the pack. But, be thankful you are not a car salesman.”

Loving your enemies: Can Israel Love Its Enemies in Gaza and Keep Its People Safe? by Morgan Guyton

“Many of my fellow Christians see Jesus’ command to “love our enemies” as an impossible moral standard that we are exempted from fulfilling by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. What’s even more ludicrous to many is to claim that Jesus’ teachings are relevant not only in private life but in the most complex geopolitical situations. I am convinced that loving your enemies is not only a moral standard but could be a very successful foreign policy strategy, even though it gets laughed out of the room by the same people who claim to advocate “Biblical” values in our government. What would loving your enemies look like in the greatest foreign policy crisis in the world now? What would it look like for Israel to love Gaza?”

Poverty: Poverty Pictured by Larry James

“Mental … spiritual … social … physical.”

this went thru my mind


Aging: * 30 Life Lessons by Ron Edmonson * The Secret to Happiness as You Get Older by Michael Hyatt

* “Some of these you have to learn the hard way.”

* “Have you ever noticed that people become more of who they are as they get older? Over the years adversity chips away the exterior facade, leaving our true selves exposed.”

Millenials: Millennials Infographic [required reading]

Thinking skills: 6 Short Videos for Teaching Critical Thinking by Marc Cortez

“Everyone knows how to think. Not everyone knows how to think well. That can be rather frustrating. Fortunately, thinking is a skill. And, like any skill, you can improve thinking through instruction and practice. Here are some excellent, short videos introducing different aspects of critical thinking.”

Whitney Houston’s death: Why Do So Many Great Talents Die Young? by Trevin Wax

“… yes, the early death of so many talented individuals does expose the emptiness of riches and success. But there is another lesson to be learned here, and it has to do with common grace. You see, the Evil One is not content with keeping people from hearing of God’s saving grace; he also wants to steal from the world those unusual gifts of common grace.”

Women: How to Empower the Women in Your Church by Sharon Hodde Miller

“It is remarkable and troubling that a stereotype can be so powerful. Fortunately, researchers have also looked into the best methods for breaking the power of stereotype threat, and they have discovered two primary options …”

this went thru my mind


American history & religion: The Faith (and Doubts) of Our Fathers

“Academic historians are bemused at times by the inquiries they get from people with no previous interest in the nation’s beginnings: what did America’s creators really believe? Jill Lepore, a Harvard professor who deconstructs the uses and abuses of the past, is wary of would-be historians with an agenda. For her, the founders’ genius lay in their willingness to cast doubt on fixed ways of thinking inherited from the past. So to make them final arbiters is to traduce their spirit. Nor, indeed, were the fathers of one mind. They did not spend their time producing pearls of unanimously agreed wisdom. They quarrelled bitterly. Indeed, if something about this period still resonates in modern politics, it may be the fathers’ disputes, and the subtle points each side brought to bear.”

Benevolence: How Charity Can Be Toxic, Just in Time for Christmas (how to avoid destroying dignity). This is required reading.

“Dignity is given to us by our creator. We hold a whole theology of community and mutual supportedness, bearing one another’s burdens and concerns. One-way giving creates toxic relationships where one has the resources, the other has the need. Do recipients at clothes closets and food pantries become a part of your church? Often, they’re not participants in our community. How do we create respectful, honest, caring, and mutually supportive relationships?”

Christmas season: The Immigrant Days of Christmas

“I noticed this Christmas season, for the first time, that not only were Mary and Joseph forced to migrate under Rome’s census; not only was the Incarnate God born into a humiliating space — but, as they fled to Egypt, they never registered in Bethlehem with the census. A dream, an angel, told the migrant father to gather his family and run from the authorities. Unaccounted for in the empire, baby Jesus’ first movement in this world was a government-evading trek through the desert by night.”

Church: Learning to Read the Gospel Again: How to address our anxiety about losing the next generation

“”So what do we do? Perhaps the answer is much simpler, and more ‘old-fashioned,’ than we think: Maybe we ought to be teaching churchgoers to read the gospel. The first thing Muslim children learn about Christians is one of the last things Christians learn about themselves: we are a ‘people of the Book.’ Perhaps we ought to ask how to make this observation from the Qur’an true, once more, among those who fellowship around the Bible. How can we form ourselves as a people of the Book?”

Coffee With Jesus: If you’re not reading Coffee With Jesus, you’re missing out.

Compassion: Why Christians Shoot Their Wounded

“You’d think our individual brokenness would cause us, especially those of us who call ourselves christians, to heed the question of Jesus when he asks, ‘Who among us can cast the first stone?’ or in the context of this post, ‘take the first shot.’ “But the desire to attribute people’s behavior to innate character rather than to local context runs deep. In fact, psychologists have a name for this behavior: It’s called ‘the fundamental attribution error.'”

Contribution: How to Fill the Offering Plate

“Nurturing cheerful givers is more challenging than ever during an economic downturn. New research provides important insights that could boost the financial and spiritual health of congregations. Take our quiz to test your knowledge of church giving trends.”

Facebook: Facebook Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook

“… expert analysis on the latest Facebook developments, helpful tips, tricks and how-tos, and the latest updates on privacy, Facebook apps and more.”

Gifts for children: Great Christmas Gifts For Your Kids

“Still trying to decide what to get your kids this year for Christmas? How about getting them something that will last a lifetime?”

Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

“The number of Christians around the world has more than tripled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).”

Iraq: In Iraq, Abandoning Our Friends

“And so our policy in the final weeks of this war is as simple as it is shameful: submit your paperwork and wait. If you can survive the next 18 months, maybe we’ll let you in.”

Leadership: How to Create the Kind of Team Unity That Drives Results

“… it is up to you, as the leader, to create this alignment. It doesn’t just happen.”

Peacemakers: 10 Things to Say to Keep the Peace

“The holidays, with all their extended-family gatherings, can be a verbal minefield. You’re either dodging nosy questions from some tactless relative over dinner (‘Still dieting then?’) or taking out the stress of all that extra cooking and shopping on those dearest to you (‘Do I have to do everything around here?’). It doesn’t have to be that bad. Use these 10 go-to phrases to defuse potentially volatile conversations and help you get through the coming weeks―and the months and years to follow―in harmony.”

Poverty: Map of the Day: America’s Poverty Belt

“Immediately apparent is a broad ‘Poverty Belt’ – states where more than three in ten people live in high poverty areas – stretching from West Virginia through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.”

Senior adults: A Senior Moment

“Contrary to rosy propaganda, 85 is not the new 65. The elder population boom will affect everyone, and the church has an important role to play. In understanding the situation and what areas need improvement, congregations learn that they too benefit when they are involved in supporting the frail elderly.”

Social networking: How to Think about Social Networking in Churches

“Social networking reminds us of our intrinsic sociality, but constantly moves us closer to the point where sociality no longer requires our bodies to be fully human.”