links: this went thru my head

 

Apps, books, reading & technology: Oyster: The Netflix Of Books

“Oyster … is already being called the ‘Netflix for books.’ That’s a lofty moniker, but the app may just live up to the hype – it offers access to over 100,000 books for $9.95 a month!”

Conspiracy theories, culture, fear, paranoia & suspicion: Suspicious? In ‘United States Of Paranoia,’ It’s Not Just You

“… polls show a great deal of Americans — in some cases a majority of Americans — believing in secret cabals.”

Facebook: * How to See What Your Facebook Profile Looks Like to Others; * We Post Nothing About Our Daughter Online [required reading]

* “After all, you might not want the entire world to know of your woe-filled past relationships.”

* “The problem is that Facebook is only one site. With every status update, YouTube video, and birthday blog post, Kate’s parents are preventing her from any hope of future anonymity.”

Faith, finances, money & security: Give Us This Day Our Lifetime Supply of Bread? [essential reading]

“I’m only trusting in God if I pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ and then thank Him that I have had bread to eat at the end of that day.”

Gossip: 5 Alternatives to Gossip [required reading]

“One of the chief reasons why it’s hard to resist gossip is that we often can’t see any alternatives.”

Health insurance: Uninsured in Texas and Florida

“Low-income residents of Texas … desperately need health insurance, as shown by the Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates for 2011, which were issued last week. The report found that more than 25 percent of the population in Texas under age 65 (5.7 million people) was uninsured, the highest rate in the nation.”

Leadership & listening: Seven Secrets to Listening When Time is Short

“The need to feel important closes ears and open’s mouths. Listening is both humble and humbling. Talking makes you feel important. Listening to others makes them feel important.”

Suffering: The Value of Suffering

“But does that change all the many times when suffering leaves us with no seeming benefit at all, and only a resentment of those who tell us to look on the bright side and count our blessings and recall that time heals all wounds (when we know it doesn’t)?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Attention, focus, health, noise, stress & thinking: I’m Thinking. Please. Be Quiet.

“… there is no physiological habituation to noise. The stress of audible assault affects us psychologically even when we don’t consciously register noise.”

Health care, health insurance & Obamacare: What You’ll Actually Pay for Obamacare

“Millions of Americans won’t have to pay full price for their Obamacare health insurance next year. But just how much they’ll have to fork over depends on a couple different things.”

Injustice, racism & white privilege: Cracking the Codes: Joy DeGruy, A Trip to the Grocery Store [4 min. video; essential viewing]

“… she used her white privilege to educate and to make right a situation that was wrong. That’s what you can do, every single day.”

Maps: World Maps That Make You Go, “Hmm.”

[The world’s major religions … more than half the world’s population live inside this circle … where Google Street View is available … global internet usage based on time of day … map of contiguous United States overlaid on the moon … worldwide annual coffee consumption per capita … and more.]

Parenting, safety & social networking: Your Kids Can Be Social, But They Need to Stay Safe [infographic]

“Here are the five rules … * Ask your child to show you the sites they use. * Ask your child to set profile settings to private. * Ask your child about their online friends. * Ask your child to only share photos that wouldn’t mind showing you first. * Ask your child to tell you if they are worried about something online.”

Weddings: Weddings: Too Expensive?

“On March 7, 2013, XO Group Inc. released results of their annual Real Weddings Study … This report surveyed over 17,000 brides to find out how much they spent on their weddings. Here are some highlights …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anxiety, fear & worry: How Fear Makes You Dumb [required reading]

1. How much of my fear is based on ignorance? … 2. How much of my fear is a lack of faith in my ability, versus a lack of faith in the environment? … 3. How much of my fear is rooted in a concern about being uncomfortable?”

Charitable giving & philanthropy: The Charitable-Industrial Complex

“Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine. It’s an old story; we really need a new one.”

Church attendance & spiritual maturity: Attendance Does Not Measure Spirituality

“It is the spirituality of walking, talking, and serving Jesus that is the litmus test. … The rock-bottom issue is the Rock; Jesus. Do we know him?”

Facebook: Step-by-Step Guide to Lock Down Your Facebook Profile

“I’m going to walk you through the big privacy settings on Facebook, step by step. If you haven’t checked in on your Facebook settings in a month or more, make sure you follow each step.”

Gospels: Gospels as the Archway into the Canon

“… analogize the four-fold Gospel as the keystone in the archway into the canon of Holy Scripture … The keystone of an archway fits in such a way that it holds both sides of the structure in place, thereby enabling an entryway. On the one side of the keystone are the Old Testament Scriptures; on the other side are the rest of the New Testament writings. It is the Gospels that uniquely are shaped, formed and placed to hold together these two major sections of the canon. On one side, the Gospels present themselves as the completion and consummation of the whole story of God’s work from creation through the exile of Israel; on the other side, the Gospels, as we have seen above, serve as the foundational source documents for the Epistles which take up the true accounts and teachings of Jesus and apply to pastoral situations.”

Gossip: ‘Gossip is the Devil’s Radio’– Gospel is the Savior’s Radio

“Consider for a moment the opposite of gossip— namely Gospel. Sharing the Gospel is about telling the Good News, telling the truth, not merely a rumor, about someone who now resides in heaven— Jesus. Suppose every time you were tempted to gossip instead you gospeled. Imagine how much more healthy and helpful that could be. If you are so keen about spreading supposed news about an absent person, why not spread some good news about the Person that people actually need and deserve to know the most about?”

Health & vitamins: The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements

“Nutrition experts contend that all we need is what’s typically found in a routine diet. Industry representatives, backed by a fascinating history, argue that foods don’t contain enough, and we need supplements. Fortunately, many excellent studies have now resolved the issue.”

Millenials: Why Millennials are Leaving the Church [essential reading]

“What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.”

Poverty: Hunger Makes People Work Harder, and Other Stupid Things We Used to Believe About Poverty

“As recently as 1820, researchers have calculated that 84 percent of the world’s population lived in ‘extreme poverty’ (on less than the 1985 equivalent of a U.S. dollar a day).”

Weddings: The Gospel According to Our Wedding

“The ceremony shares the gospel … when the doors are flung open and the bride and groom are finally brought together, we see echoes of the long-awaited joining-together of heaven and earth; the consummation. The two who were separate now become one, as they were meant to be. This powerful symbol is yet another extension of the gospel message, delivered through the medium of wedding ceremony. The beautiful thing is, the guests at the wedding all respond to this message of creation, fall, redemption and consummation the same way Jesus says we will in Revelation: with a feast!”

this went thru my mind

 

Church & leadership: The Church is Not a Democracy [required reading]

“… understanding the church as a democracy makes us think of the church as being all about the people (democracy literally means ‘rule of the people’), whereas we must always remember that the church belongs to God and owes him, and him only, absolute obedience.”

Facebook: What are Facebook ‘Shadow Profiles’?

“Facebook was in the news recently after it admitted to a year-long data breach. At first it said the breach affected only 6 million people, so it wasn’t big news. Remember that Facebook has a billion users. However, the breach did reveal something that should worry every Facebook user. I’m talking about shadow profiles.”

Forgiveness: * Why Forgiving Someone is Hard and How to Do It; * Judaism 101: Sin and Forgiveness

* “The problem with forgiving is that the debt is real.”

* “Growing up as an evangelical Christian … I was always taught that Christianity was based upon the foundation of Jewish beliefs, which is why I find this week’s installment of Judaism 101, in which the panelists discuss the Jewish view of forgiveness—which is completely unlike the Christian view—so very interesting.”

Payday loans: Why I Care About Payday Lending [required reading]

“… payday lending is one of those silent killers … It is trapping people in debt where they have little hope of escape.”

Prayer: What If Prayer Lists Were Work Lists? [essential reading]

“… why are we just making prayer lists? When we say ‘pray for Tom who is sick’ or ‘pray for Fred who lost his job’ what are we actually asking God to do? Are we asking God to fix it? Are we asking for God to give us just what we wish would happen? What if we actually paused during ‘prayer request’ time and asked ourselves, ‘What should we be praying for?'”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian living: * The High Calling of Everyday Ordinary Living; * The Spiritual Formation of Things Not Going Our Way

* “Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional,’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matthew 22:36-40).”

* “My Facebook feed is less populated by baby pictures and shots of other people’s food (yay!) and more a place to argue over the issues (sigh).”

Culture & vision: Where Will You Be in 2073?

“Who in 1953 was thinking that in 2013 our world would be as different as it is today? … So what will life in the USA be like in 2073?”

Facebook: What Really Happens When You Like

“The only reason scammers go to such lengths to create this kind of approach is simple. There’s a lot of money to be made. There are several ways to exploit your quick response to liking things.”

God: Tom Wright Skewers the New Marcionism

“Marcion, of course, was a second century bishop who taught that the Old Testament God, a jealous and retributive tribal deity, was incompatible with the God revealed in and through Jesus, who is an entirely benevolent God of love and compassion.”

Parenting: It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad

“Let me be clear about this: PARENTS DON’T BABY-SIT! PARENTS PARENT!”

Perceptions: Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings?

“Do students give low ratings to teachers who instill deep learning?”

Preaching: Does Preaching Have a Future?: Technological and Sociological Trends in Preaching

“As a homiletics professor, I usually spend the last class of each semester peering into my crystal ball and imagining what the future of preaching holds. Not being a prophet, I am only making assumptions so please read the following with a discerning mind. Also, I don’t make these statements to be critical of anyone in particular or any church. I am simply making observations and doing a little forward thinking. So here are 14 statements about current trends and guesses as to the future of preaching.”

toward a Christian community covenant for Facebook

 

I’m currently leading a Bible class on the subject of civility in all aspects of life, our digital/online life included. Having always been impressed with the Comment Community Covenant on the Sojourners website*, I’ve shamelessly robbed the wording of most of it, added a bit to it, and converted it into a rough draft of a covenant for Christian involvement with Facebook.

This covenant has seven points and currently reads as follows:

1. I will make it a point to look for what is truly excellent and admirable on Facebook, focusing my attention on whatever is true, holy, just, pure, lovely, and/or worthy of praise in the eyes of God. I will not contribute anger, filthy language, lust, malice, pride, or, rage to this online community.

2. I will remind myself often that I need not post on Facebook just anything or everything that comes to my mind. When I do post, I will do so with the Golden Rule in mind, mindful that my perspectives, pictures, and words can profoundly affect others. I will do no drama.

3. I will not pay close attention to the number of friends I have on Facebook nor will I continually court the acquisition of new friends on Facebook, as if counting coup. All is vanity.

4. I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Facebook community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them.

5. I will not cause my heart needless trouble by continuing to allow an obnoxious friend’s overbearing Facebook status updates to appear in my news feed. When it is best for my own peace of mind, I will unhesitatingly hide their posts from appearing in my news feed. If necessary, I will make use of block, delete, or unfriend.

6. If after due consideration I feel I simply must express my disagreement with an idea or view of another Facebook member, I will do so without without insulting, mocking, heckling, belittling, or slandering them.

7. I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes when conversing publicly or privately with others via Facebook. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt, assuming the best.

Facebook can be a remarkable tool … for both good and evil. It’s all in how you use it. May it always be with civility.

Tell me, what would you change or add to the preceding seven covenant points?

* You can see an example of the Sojourners’ Comment Community Covenant at the bottom of this page on their site.

this went thru my mind

 

Affliction, faith, loss, pain, & suffering: There Really Is A Reason – 12 Benefits Of Afflictions

“God doesn’t afflict us or allow us to be afflicted for no reason. … in God’s plan, afflictions have great benefit to us, as painful as they are at times.  If we keep these benefits in mind when we suffer, they can help us endure joyfully.”

Archaeology: Roads of Arabia Exhibition: Update

“Here is the schedule for upcoming shows of the exhibition … The Museum of Fine Arts – Houston, TX – December 22, 2013 – March 9, 2014.”

Busyness & leadership: Busy is Killing Leadership

“If you’re not careful busyness will quietly take over your life without you even being aware of it.”

Children & Uganda: Launching Reunite Uganda in the US! [essential reading; the work of one of MoSt Church’s own: Darby Priest]

“Help us get Ugandan children out of orphanages and back to their families.”

Church, fear, ministry & the work of God: Francis Chan: Are You ‘Protecting’ Your Church from a Movement of God?  [10 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… it blew my mind that an older man would come alongside of me and believe in me.”

Church & intergenerational ministry: Congregations as Families of Faith: Beyond Age-Level Ministries

“…  research has continued to show that intergenerational relationships are like glue that makes faith sticky for young people. Age-level ministries are still important to create a community of peers for children, youth, and adults to belong to. But if we hope to make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world, then we must develop intergenerational ministries that model the faith for our children and youth, and support our families as they seek to follow Christ. The research tells us that we need to be doing church differently.”

Communication, culture, demographics, social media, & society: Just Who Uses Social Media? A Demographic Breakdown

“You think you know social? How about who uses it? Well, you might not know it as well as you would have guessed. A new study from the Pew Research Center and Docstoc shed some light on just who uses social and on what platforms. Some of the findings seem in line with what you would probably guess, but others were surprising.”

Distribution of wealth: A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%

“During the first two years of the nation’s economic recovery, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly released Census Bureau data.”

Employment, faith, jobs, & work: Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

“‘I hate my job. It’s not just like I don’t have a lot of power—I really can’t stand what I have to do every day.’ How would you pastor someone in that situation?”

Expectations & introverts: 7 False Assumptions Made About Introverts by Ron Edmonson

“There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted. Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert …”

Church finances, collection, contribution, electronic giving, & offering: What the Decline in Check Writing Will Mean for Your Church

“If we do not change our process for collecting the offering we will see our offerings decline. The reason is simple. The harder we make it for people to give the less likely they will give.”

Ego, Facebook, photography, pride, & vanity: Snap Judgments: Our Societal Obsession With Taking Pictures [required reading]

“Each day, we upload more than 5.2 million photos to Instragram and 100 million to Facebook, with no signs of slowing down our snapping and sharing. … In a sense, this is totally natural. Photographs speak to the age-old custom of physically marking spaces and moments in thanksgiving and remembrance. … The danger of using photos as markers is that images appeal to our vanity. We become quickly obsessed with accumulating experiences, capturing them in photos, and publicly displaying our photos as trophies. If we aren’t careful, our Facebook pages and blogs can become trophy cases of our own accomplishments: Me, on a church mission trip, lumped in with a group of smiling ethnic children.”

Grace: God at Work: Common Grace by Jonathan Storment [required reading]

“The bad guy in the Christian story isn’t someone, it’s the broken reality that Jesus calls sin. And because of common grace we can see God working through people outside of our tribe, our immediate community, or our faith. We can see the image of God in everyone.”

Hope, immigration, mercy, North Korea, pain, & suffering: Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea [12 min. video clip; required viewing]

“… one day, in 1995, my Mom brought home a letter from a coworker’s sister. It read, ‘When you read this, all five family members will not exist in this world, because we haven’t eaten in the past two weeks. We are lying on the floor together, and our bodies are so week, we are ready to die.'”

Ministry, relationships, & time management: How Does a Pastor Interact With Those Who Seek to Monopolize His Time on Sunday?

“It is one of the great dilemmas every Sunday for the pastor.  Who do I speak with and for how long?  Most pastors stand at a doorway after the morning service to greet those who are leaving.  Others stay down front inviting folks to come and speak with the pastor to ask questions about the sermon.  It is a constant juggling match that most pastors feel they fail at most of the time. What adds to the madness is the person who aggressively hunts the pastor down after the service and feels entitled to his undivided attention for a long time.”

Worship: Your Worship Service is B-O-R-I-N-G!

“There’s a reason your church isn’t more creative. … most churches are boring because of The Olive Garden Problem.”

Americanism, culture, & politics: A Political Rant Born From a Deeper Theological Conviction than “Americanism”

“I’ve seen several posts on social media advocating a picture as a “way forward” in terms of political policy. It looks like this … What I want to do is interact with these ideas as a Christian who takes Scripture seriously and who is more committed to the kingdom of God than to a specific country/government. I intend to provide a ‘play by play’ through each of the statements …”