this went thru my mind


Change & Churches of Christ: A Major Change in the Church Among Us by Terry Rush [required reading]

“Such fruit … prompted a significant number among us to approach the eleventh hour with great fear that I haven’t done enough. How many times I have been called out in the night to hear this verse. The cure for it is found in two things: (1) praising God, and (2) making Jesus more prominent.”

Children, fathers & parenthood: Fathers Disappear from Households Across America: Big Increase in Single Mothers

“Though income is the primary predictor, the lack of live-in fathers also is overwhelmingly a black problem, regardless of poverty status, census data show. Among blacks, nearly 5 million children, or 54 percent, live with only their mother. Twelve percent of black families below the poverty line have two parents present, compared with 41 percent of impoverished Hispanic families and 32 percent of poor white families. … In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents. In every state, 7 in 10 white children do. In all states but Rhode Island and Massachusetts, most Hispanic children do.”

Church: Three Reasons They Don’t Like The Church (And What to Do About It) by Chris Altrock

“Some do not value the institution of church because the church doesn’t seem to add anything of practical substance to the culture–socially, morally or spiritually. … Some do not value the institution of the church because they are skeptical of any institution claiming to have a corner on absolute Truth. … Some do not value the institution of the church because they’ve been hurt by church-goers.  Or they’ve seen too many hypocritical church-goers.”

Computing: Who Owns Your Online Content? by Kim Komando

“As I’ve told you before, Facebook’s terms of service grants it the full rights to your profile picture and name to use in ads. By using Facebook with the default settings, you let Facebook use your content for just about anything it wants.”

Cross-bearing, discipleship, Mark 8-10 & self-denial: The Most Remarkable Sequence in the Bible by Richard Beck

“… Jesus has to clarify–for the third time–what following him to the cross entails …”

Disasters, God, pain & suffering: Stuff Happens: Rain on the Just and Unjust by Mark Love

“… we are given no explanation of causation. Stuff happens.”

Grit & lifeKyrsten Sinema: A Success Story Like Nobody Else’s; * Former NFL QB Jon Kitna Finds ‘Gold Mine’ at His Troubled Old High School

* “For more than two years — starting when she was in third grade — they squatted in an abandoned gas station outside the town of Defuniak Springs on the Florida Panhandle …”

* “Before he left the Dallas Cowboys to come home again, Jon Kitna had one request of the two principals who run Lincoln High School: Give me your worst students.”

Holocaust, hope, humanity, identity, love & meaning: Lipstick Love by Joshua Graves

“In 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Gonin led a group of British soldiers in liberating a large concentration camp. In his journal, he gives an account of the dehumanization they’d encountered.”

Openness: Openness by Ted Gossard

“Being open I think involves not being hard and fast on issues, or holding them in quite the same way we hold on to the gospel. At the same time, neither does it mean we have to vacillate on them. We may be just as firm on some of those issues as on the gospel, as long as we don’t hold such as having the first importance the gospel has.”

this went thru my mind


Apologetics, C.S. Lewis & witness: Why ‘Mere Christianity’ Should Have Bombed by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

“Sixty years ago, London publisher Geoffrey Bles first released a revision of three sets of radio talks by an Oxford literature don. The book was called Mere Christianity, and there was nothing ‘mere’ about it. A somewhat disjointed set of C. S. Lewis’s views on a wide range of theological, philosophical, and ethical matters, the book became the most important and effective defense of the Christian faith in its century. As Mere Christianity (henceforth “MC”) goes into its seventh decade of publishing success, rivaled still by no other apologetic, it’s worth taking a look at its unlikely success.”

Benevolence & violence: The Bad Samaritan by James McGrath [required reading]

“… what ought we to say about those in our time who claim to be followers of Jesus, and yet sound more like the Samaritan in the image above than the one in the original story?”

Bible interpretation: Pete Enns: “Hey, Get Away from My Bible!“–Christian Appropriation of a Jewish Bible

“We trust the first Christians in their interpretation of the OT, not so much because of how they interpreted it but because of the one whom they were proclaiming in their interpretation. That may not make much sense. It may even sound a bit odd, so let me try to explain.”

Church & ministry: Lies We’ve Been Told But Have Bought Anyway by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“If you work really hard you can grow your church. … Great preaching and great music will bring great growth. … Mission statements are really important. … Outreach events result in church growth. … If a church isn’t growing there must be something wrong. … All healthy things grow and reproduce. ..”

Computing, hacking, & security: Anonymous: ‘Expect Us’ in 2013

“Along with a statement released over the weekend, which stated that the world should ‘Expect us 2013,’ the hackers issued a video boasting of cyberattacks which took place last year — including temporarily shutting down the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and attacks against the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) web site in protest at the closure of file-hosting website MegaUpload.”

Critics, criticism, leadership & ministry: Death, Taxes & Criticism by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“Nothing is more ubiquitous than criticism including death and taxes. No matter what you do you will be criticized. If you don’t do anything you will be criticized. If you take criticism to heart and respond with explanations you are defensive. If you give into criticism you are indecisive and unprincipled. If you ignore criticism you are out of touch, inflexible, or pig-headed. If you listen but don’t response as desired, you are insincere. You can’t avoid criticism. You can only decide from whom you want it to come and for what reasons you want to receive it. But, come it will. Anyone in leadership learns this in time.”

Evil, God, pain, suffering & violence: “Why, God?” Asked the American People, and Would Not Stay for an Answer by John Stackhouse

“We certainly don’t want to look any harder than easy, quick, simple solutions …”

Gossip & slander: The Most Ignored Sin by Jon Zens

“Bob Mumford once said, ‘The Christian army is the only one that shoots its wounded.’ Regrettably, I have observed his statement to be all too true.”

Leadership: Behavior Lessons for Leadership and Teamwork by Deborah Gruenfeld [required reading]

“Before a critical meeting with your boss, an important customer, or your teenage son or daughter, do you spend time mentally roughing out and revising what you are going to say? If so, social psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld has a message for you: You are misdirecting your energy. Spend time instead practicing how to walk, stand, sit, and quickly grasp how other people are moving their bodies.”

Murder, respect, violence & words: Jesus on Murder

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:21-22) … As Christ’s church we are called to believe this seeming stretch of a connection between insult (which we routinely accept and sometimes proudly practice) and murder (which we roundly condemn and mourn).”

Non-violence & peace(Dis)Arming the Disciples by Drew Strait

“For Jesus, the evil of Rome would be defeated not through personal armament but through a revolution of God’s love displayed on a Roman cross.”

this went thru my mind


Christians, faith, gun control & idolatry: * A New American Idol – The Second Amendment by Paul Smith [required reading]; * Christianity & Guns 1; * Pray and Put Up a (Nonviolent) Fight by Rachel Stone

* “Ever since the massacre of the school children in Newtown, CT, I have been bombarded with evidence that America has fallen completely in love with another idol, and this one will destroy us just as surely as the golden calves caused the destruction of Northern Israel. The idol is the United States Constitution, and nowhere is it more directly visible than in our repulsive adoration of the second amendment. …

“The murders in Newtown changed me forever. … The cataracts over my eyes were ripped off in horrific fashion. …

“I really do not think you can be a follower of Jesus the Christ and still support the 2nd Amendment as it is so devoutly defended by the NRA. And I truly do not think your Christianity amounts to a thimble of water if you are a member of the NRA – if you defend their most diabolical pronouncements. …

“I want the freedom that is in Christ – the freedom that comes from surrendering my rights – and that means my so called 2nd Amendment right to own a gun designed to kill another human being.”

* “It is not God’s will that 82 to 84 people die every day as a result of gun violence. The nonsense of the Gun Empire is that guns don’t kill people and that the answer to gun violence is more guns.”

* “Ever since Constantine had his soldiers put a cross on their shields, Christians have been divided on something that Jesus was shockingly unambiguous about: violence perpetuates violence perpetuates violence perpetuates violence perpetually–and you don’t get to wield or excuse or perpetuate violence in Jesus’ name. That’s blasphemy.

“But in many quarters, it seems, to break ranks with conservative American values and say ‘enough with the guns that have no purpose except to kill people’ is a greater blasphemy.

“If the name of Jesus is on you–and if you call yourself Christian, it is–then for someone to perpetuate violence in your name is blasphemy. And so I say to lawmakers who won’t stand up to the NRA, who won’t require insurance companies to provide adequate coverage for mental health care, who wage undeclared wars, who criminalize those who should be hospitalized: not in my name.

“Yes, this is a time to pray. To pray, and to put up a (nonviolent) fight.”

Evil, heart & murder: Murder: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“All of us are deeply disturbed by the 28 murders recently committed at a grade school in Newtown, Connecticut. The murderer was identified as Adam Lanza, age 20. He murdered his mother, six teachers, and 20 small students. In all cases, people want to know, WHY did this happen? And out of this come numerous questions which face all of us. Why didn’t God intervene and prevent this from happening? Why didn’t Adam’s mother raise him as a good citizen? Why didn’t counselors detect Adam’s problems? People pounce on this kind of issue, and declare that Adam had psychological problems or suffered from paternal abuse or was wired as an evil person at birth, and the theories go on an on. Let’s be honest. The REAL issue is the HEART. “

Human trafficking & slavery: Slavery’s Global Comeback by J.J. Gould

“There are now twice as many people enslaved in the world as there were in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade. … The leading demographic accounts of contemporary slavery project a global slave population of between 20 million and 30 million people.”

this went thru my mind


Evil, gun control, mental illness & violence: * Violence: The Issue We Must Face by K. Rex Butts; * I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother by Liza Long; * [required reading]; * The Slaughtering of the Innocents—- Again by Ben Witherington

“… I’m angry because violence has in many ways become our way of life.  What I want to know is why are we so violent?  Yet this seems to be a question that people want to evade.”

“I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.”

“I was watching an interview this week after the massacre in Newtown and the inevitable question was asked— ‘What could we do to prevent this from happening again?’ The candid answer given by a former head of various FBI operations was as follows— ‘absolutely nothing unless we are prepared to significantly change our gun laws and also change what we do with the mentally ill’. But even that would not be enough because some mass murderers are not technically deranged, they are simply wicked. There is a difference.”

Ministry, preaching & tragedy: * Tim Keller on the Connecticut School Shooting…Final Thoughts before Preaching Today; * Christmas in Connecticut: Touching the Pain of the World; * President Obama’s Homily in Newtown— 2 Cor. 4.7-18 [required viewing; 18 min. video clip]

“As a minister, of course, I’ve spent countless hours with people who are struggling and wrestling with the biggest question – the WHY question in the face of relentless tragedies and injustices. And like all ministers or any spiritual guides of any sort, I scramble to try to say something to respond and I always come away feeling inadequate and that’s not going to be any different today. But we can’t shrink from the task of responding to that question.”

“Christmas is touching the pain of the world, experiencing it as real…and then choosing to have hope.”

“It is indeed a rare thing to see a President offer a homily on national TV broadcast to the whole nation. Here is the 18 minute eulogy and homily he offered in Newtown …”

picture Bible commentary

By trusting in emptiness and speaking deceit, they conceive harm and give birth to malice. They … weave spiderwebs. … Their webs can’t serve as clothing; they can’t cover themselves with their deeds. Their deeds are deeds of malice, and the work of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil; they rush to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are thoughts of malice; desolation and destruction litter their highways. They don’t know the way of peace; there’s no justice in their paths. They make their roads crooked; no one who walks in them knows peace. (Isaiah 59.4-8)

this went thru my mind


Choices, evil & good: The Banality of Goodness by Richard Beck [required reading]

“Evil is ordinary people thoughtlessly making a million small choices.”

Death & dying: Five Reasons We Fear Dying by Caleb Wilde

“Here are five reasons we fear dying.”

Facebook: Require Approval for All Facebook Photo or Comment Tags by Dave Taylor

“Facebook … makes it really easy to tag people in pictures and status updates, even without that person giving approval … You can always untag yourself from Facebook photos or comments, but that’s after the fact. What most people don’t realize is that there’s a way you can set up your privacy settings so that you have to explicitly approve all tags before they show up on Facebook.”

Family: Family First!— Not a Biblical Viewpoint by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“… the Bible, and especially the NT, does not encourage us to put the physical family first. … Frankly, this is entirely false and a bad theology, especially a bad theology of calling.”

Hospice: All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Hospice by David Calhoun

“Forgiveness is best not left to the death bed.”

Jesus/wife manuscript: Update on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife (from Craig A. Evans)

“Is the Coptic papyrus, in which Jesus speaks of his ‘wife,’ a fake? Probably. We are far from a ‘consensus,’ but one scholar after another and one Coptologist after another has weighed in pointing out serious problems with the paleography, the syntax, and the very troubling fact that almost all of the text has been extracted from the Gospel of Thomas (principally from logia 30, 101, and 114).”

Leadership: 16 Things Successful Leaders Never Do by Dan Rockwell

“Never create the future by recreating the past.”

Ministry & people: * One Question Every Church Leader Should Ask by Jim Martin; * Stop Trying to Fix People’s Problems by Sam S. Rainer

* “What is it like to be someone else in your church?”

* “Stop trying to fix people’s problems. Lower the expectations of your ability to solve the problem. Raise the expectations to see Christ as the answer.”

Women: Jesus and Women in the Gospels by Joshua Graves

“I know what Paul said in I Timothy 2 and I Cor. 11. But before you tell me what Paul said, can you first tell me what Jesus did?”