links to 5 helpful articles

1. If we can worship anywhere, why go to church?

“It doesn’t just matter that we worship Jesus. It matters that we worship him with other people.”

2. Forget millennials, Gen Alpha is here (mostly)

“Generation Alpha, also known as the ‘children of millennials,’ is the first generation born entirely within the 21st century. … Gen alphas have birth dates starting in 2010.”

3. More solar panels mean more waste and there’s no easy solution

“Usually, panels are warrantied for 25 to 30 years and can last even longer. But as the solar industry has grown, the market has been flooded with cheaply made Chinese panels that can break down in as few as five years … Solar panels are just one part of the problem of old electronics, which is now the fastest-growing category of waste.”

4. A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy

“The Trump administration has promised vast changes to U.S. science and environmental policy—and we’re tracking them here as they happen.”

5. How to Kick Your Bad Habits (And Why That’s More Important Than You Think)

“Pretty much everybody thinks they have integrity. … And then you turn around five or ten years later and your habits aren’t lining up with the type of person that you thought you were.”

links: this went thru my mind

Apps, archaeology & children: Free App “Dig Quest: Israel” Teaches Children about Archaeology in Israel

“The app is in English and is available for download at the iTunes Store for iPhones and iPads. An Android version will be made available soon. The app features two simulated dig sites.  One is based on the site of a Roman period mosaic at Lod and the other on the site associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran.”

Beauty, creation, earth, environment, goodness & wonder: Creation Is a Many-Splendored Thing: Delighting in Creation’s Goodness

“… the psalmist praises God and relishes the vastness, complexity, and beneficence of God’s creation and the astonishing creatures who find a home there …”

Bible reading: Five Practices to Refresh Your Bible Reading [essential reading]

“1. Retell the passage from the perspective of the different characters. … 2. Interview each of the characters. … 3. Read the passage five times with each of the five senses in mind. … 4. Find the good news in the passage. … 5. Read the passage out loud.”

Discrimination, prejudice & racism: * The New Threat: ‘Racism without Racists’ [required reading]; * America the Beautiful, America the Violent

* “…  racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game.”

* “We remained either quiescent or ambivalent on race and violence, and then somehow manage to look at the images in Ferguson with shock and dismay.”

Food & recipes: Amazing Recipes from Chefs Who Feed the Homeless

“… here are a collection of holiday recipes we’ve culled from restaurants, shelters and churches that serve those in need, but also value nutrition and fine cooking.”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are five links to some thoughtful reading.

American history & Native Americans: The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More

“The opening of a national historic site in Colorado helps restore to public memory one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated on Native Americans.”

Children & parenting: Giving Your Kids the Gift of Discouragement

“… let’s distinguish “discouragement” from being a downer or jerk or disheartening your children. A certain kind of discouragement is designed to make folks feel badly about themselves and their abilities. That’s not what we’re after. To discourage someone is simply to persuade them against an action. Encouragement, then, is to give support or confidence for an action. Parents cannot be one-note. We have to both encourage and discourage, lest our children be ill-equipped to face the world, deal with reality, and run amok. Discouragement allows the people we love to focus more intently on God’s gifting in them.”

Climate change, environment, perception, pollution, persuasion & public opinion: Why Doesn’t Everyone Believe Humans Are Causing Climate Change?

“Only 40% of Americans attribute global warming to human activity, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. This, despite decades of scientific evidence and the fact that Americans generally trust climate scientists. … while the scientific community had converged on a consensus, the general public had not, at least not in the U.S. … Whatever we can do now will be heroic for our great-grandchildren, and whatever we do not do will be infamous.”

Marriage, perseverance & promises: When Marriage is No Longer Exciting

“How might a worldview that exalts the sweeping, passionate adventure shape our expectations of a covenant promise that remains, even in the dullest years?”

Remarriage: Four-in-Ten Couples are Saying “I Do,” Again

“In 2013, fully four-in-ten new marriages included at least one partner who had been married before, and two-in-ten new marriages were between people who had both previously stepped down the aisle …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, comfort, evangelism, familiarity, Millenials  & outreach: Don’t Let Your Comfort Zone Kill Your Church

“… are you willfully blind toward the needs of the young people in your church or toward reaching young people in general?”

Death: When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

“Dying space is sacred space.”

Discussion, social media & the spiral of silence: How Social Media Silences Debate

“The researchers set out to investigate the effect of the Internet on the so-called spiral of silence, a theory that people are less likely to express their views if they believe they differ from those of their friends, family and colleagues. The Internet, many people thought, would do away with that notion because it connects more heterogeneous people and gives even minority voices a bullhorn.

“Instead, the researchers found, the Internet reflects the offline world, where people have always gravitated toward like-minded friends and shied away from expressing divergent opinions. (There is a reason for the old rule to avoid religion or politics at the dinner table.)

“And in some ways, the Internet has deepened that divide. It makes it easy for people to read only news and opinions from people they agree with. In many cases, people don’t even make that choice for themselves.”

Ecology, environment & pollution: Choking the Oceans With Plastic

“I have just returned with a team of scientists from six weeks at sea conducting research in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans north and south of the Equator at the latitude of our great terrestrial deserts. Although it was my 10th voyage to the area, I was utterly shocked to see the enormous increase in the quantity of plastic waste since my last trip in 2009.”

Exodus & the movies: Exodus: Gods, Kings, and Evangelical Headcanon

“This Christmas we’re getting another Bible epic film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale as Moses.”

Modesty: To the Girls In the Pew Ahead of Me

“Thank you for reflecting Christ in the simplest of ways.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

 

Bible reading: 3 Biggest Reasons Bible Reading is Down

“Bible reading is down because people read it in fragments, a-historically, and in isolation.”

Christianity, communication, disagreement, influence, love, relationships & words: Civil Religion Can We Talk? [essential reading]

“… we need to assume goodwill and generosity on the part of others, no matter how wrong we might thing they are. For the sake of having better conversations, and for the pursuit of truth, we have to be able to admit we don’t have it all, After all, if we want to be heard, we have to learn how to listen. So what do you say, Can we talk?”

Culture, history & the United States: I Hope We Never Become a ‘Christian Nation’ Again

* “In reality, Christianity in America may not have the same political, social, and corporate authority it did in the past, but Jesus never intended to spread the gospel message through political strength or domineering control. The problem with people claiming that America used to be a Christian nation is that, well, it never was.”

Creation, nature & stewardship: Stewardship: Being in and Working with Creation

“We use the world’s resources, but the trick is to use them wisely, and with a careful, conservative sense of balance. That’s the difficulty of stewardship. When we use up resources — the resources God gave us — with abandon and without care, the results aren’t pretty. We can never really grow it back. That’s the thing about nature; we can manage it well, but we can’t create it from scratch. Only God can do that. Stewardship is the balanced middle way — it’s not ‘use it up and move on to the next,’ but it’s also not untouched nature for nature’s sake.”

Discouragement, encouragement, ministry & support: 5 Ways to Discourage Your Pastor

“As a pastor of a local church for over twenty-five years, I had my share of buildups and letdowns. Sometimes I recall the discouraging times more. I know that I was not supposed to get down because of people and circumstances, but it happens. I also know that the people who discouraged me did not always mean to do so. But it happened. The purpose of this post is to let you in on a few things to avoid (unless you want to discourage your pastor). If you are bent on discouraging him or her, here are 5 surefire ways of doing so.”

God, suffering, tests, and trials: God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. I Guarantee It. [essential reading]

“There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike. … ‘God will never give you more than you can handle’ is the phrase I’m referring to.”

Parenting: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

“It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while.”

Parenting & social media: Destroying Your Child’s Heart – One FB Picture At A Time

“Public shaming is awful and is nothing less than societally sanctioned parental bullying. Especially harmful to the young people against whom it is used as a weapon, the ramifications will resonate throughout their lives. They aren’t as tough as we pretend we are.”

Social media: 5 Reasons Social Media is Dangerous For Me [required reading]

“I went on an internet fast recently – I spent 40 days without logging on to anything. Here is what I learned about how I had allowed social media to change me over the years.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Animals & creation care: * Animal Welfare [17 min. video; essential viewing]; * Should Christians Care about Animal Welfare?

* “Should cruelty to animals matter to the church? … Animals live not for us alone.”

* “… my daughter Jaclyn says I need to think more on this. Her favorite verse is Proverbs 12:10, ‘A righteous man cares about his animal’s health.'”

Bible reading & verse-sharing: Sorry, John 3:16: The Top 10 Bible Verses YouVersion Shared Most in 2013

“The Bible verse that was ‘bookmarked, highlighted, and shared … more than any other verse” in 2013’ Philippians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Rounding out the top five: Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 6:13, Joshua 1:9, and Philippians 4:6. By comparison, the Bible’s most-read chapter was Romans 8—’read 4 times per second in 2013,’ notes YouVersion. The other top chapters were Romans 12, Matthew 5, 1 John 4, and Hebrews 12.”

Brains, birds & memory: What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

“They grow more brain when they need to remember things; then shrink that brain when the ‘remembering’ season ends. … ‘If you count the cells in a chickadee brain before the fall, and then count them after … the number of neurons definitely goes up in the hippocampus, and a number of us have confirmed that (including my lab).'”

Bullying, children & parenting: Responding to Bullies [7 1/2 min. video]

“Greg [Boyd] answers a question from parents as to how their child should respond to a bully.”

Conservation, creation care, environment & pollution: Rivers’ garbageman named CNN Hero of the Year

“I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, cars, trucks and tops of school buses. … I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bibles: Countries That Are Bad for Christians Are Good for Distributing Bibles

“Where did demand for Scripture surge last year? Try Syria, Iraq, and Laos, for starters.”

Christian faith: * Seven Lies About About Christianity Which Christians Believe; * The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer

* “Here are the most common stereotypes that Christians have about Christianity that are wrong …”

* “I used to think that their error was so blatantly obvious that they could just be ignored. I was wrong. They are massively growing in popularity in the evangelical world and are seen as credible and helpful. Before I’m inundated with questioning emails I want to share why I distrust these two and think you should as well. So, don’t shoot me — at least not yet.”

Church decline: 7 Suggestions NOT To Do When the Church is in Decline

“The hardest lesson a church needs to learn in a period of decline, however, is not what they should do…but what they shouldn’t.”

Church leadership, church life, ministry & shepherding: Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years [required reading]

“… in thirty years pastoring has changed in ways we likely would have never predicted or imagined.”

Climate change, ecology, environment, global warming & pollution: Panel Says Global Warming Carries Risk of Deep Changes

“‘The reality is that the climate is changing,’ said James W. C. White, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who headed the committee on abrupt impacts of climate change. ‘It’s going to continue to happen, and it’s going to be part of everyday life for centuries to come — perhaps longer than that.'”

Consumerism, culture & Christmas: * The ‘War on Christmas’: On Ethnocentrism and Blasphemy; * Do Not Judge the Christmas Shopper

* “The worry about this trend, among some Christians, is that Christ–the Reason for the Season–is being removed from Christmas and the American consciousness. This is taken to be a sign of the increasing secularization of America and indicative of moral and spiritual decline. But this is nonsense.”

* “… while I think we need to push back–hard–on consumerism in our culture, we need to be very careful in judging the motives of any given shopper.”

Hatred & violence: The Science of Hatred

“What makes humans capable of horrific violence? Why do we deny atrocities in the face of overwhelming evidence?”

Justice, money, poor & poverty: * What Dave Ramsey Gets Wrong About Poverty by Rachel Held Evans [essential reading]; * Speaking of the Poor — It’s Not Their Fault!; * This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense [essential reading]; * My Journey Through Food Stamps

* “… while Ramsey may be a fine source of information on how to eliminate debt, his views on poverty are neither informed nor biblical. … People are poor for a lot of reasons, and choice is certainly a factor, but categorically blaming poverty on lack of faith or lack of initiative is not only uninformed, it’s unbiblical.”

* “For Christians, the issues of poverty should have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. Poverty is a justice issue! The prophet Isaiah implores the people of God saying, ‘Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’ (Isa 1:17) Part of doing right and seeking justice for the poor, is speaking correctly about the struggles and obstacles they face.”

* “…  often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it’s rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.”

* “…  I did what everyone else on food stamps does — I made the food stretch each month and found other ways to keep us eating.”