links to 5 helpful posts

1. It’s Getting Harder to Talk About God by Jonathan Merritt

“A paltry 7 percent of Americans say they talk about spiritual matters regularly. But, here’s the real shocker: Practicing Christians who attend church regularly aren’t faring much better. A mere 13 percent had a spiritual conversation around once a week.”

2. American’s Spend $70 Billion on Pets, and That Money Could Do More Good

“This year alone, pet spending in the U.S. is estimated to exceed $72 billion, which is more than the combined GDP of the 39 poorest countries in the world.”

3. The Point of the Book of Job by Greg Boyd

“… our original job description – a job description God is yet calling on us to fulfill – involves very little knowing but a great deal of loving. Our limited domain of responsibility is primarily to love God and others as we are ourselves filled with God’s love. Hence the Bible repeatedly calls on us to love and refrain from judgment (Mt 7:1-5; Rom 2:1-5; Jame 4:11-12).”

4. Eugene Peterson Enters Hospice Care

“… Peterson is a ‘shepherd’s shepherd’ …”

5. A First Glimpse of Our Magnificent Earth, Seen from the Moon [30 min. video]

“The first people to view our planet from the moon were transformed by the experience. In this film, they tell their story.”

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 …”

 

this went thru my mind

 

Contentment, happiness & work: 5 Ways to Find Joy in a Job You Don’t Love

“… what do you do when you get stuck in a job you don’t love? … Is it possible to keep getting up day after day and actually have joy in your work?”

Kingdom: Video: James K.A. Smith on Imagining the Kingdom

“To see all six videos from James K.A. Smith, click on the links at the end of each video.”

Learning & teaching: Briefly Noted: “Is the Lecture Dead?”

“The lecture remains one of our most precious educational resources, and it ought not be sent to the pedagogical morgue on account of its most boring and tedious practitioners. May teachers everywhere, and especially professors of theology, lecture as if their hair were on fire. May they tell the Great Story passionately, personally, and reflectively, and in so doing inform, energize, and inspire their students.”

Parenting & prayer: Seven Things to Pray for Your Children

“1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming. … 2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus’s faithful, persistent call. … 3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments. … 4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage. … 5. That their thoughts will be pure. … 6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord’s work. … 7. That when the time is right, they will GO!”

Time management: Beware: 10 Time Management Rules That You Are Breaking

“Break these 10 time management rules at your own risk.”

Wind: Wind Map [a live, interactive map of wind across the lower 48 states of the U.S.]

“Surface wind data comes from the National Digital Forecast Database. These are near-term forecasts, revised once per hour. So what you’re seeing is a living portrait.”

this went thru my mind

 

Busyness & hurry: The Perils of the Quickaholic by Pete Wilson

“Margin is essential for the unexpected!”

Catholicism: How to Elect a Pope

Infographic

Expectations, jobs, stress, work & workload: Dealing With a Crushing Workload

“The workload isn’t going away. This isn’t just a temporary artifact of a struggling economy, it’s mass-scale experimentation with a new way to do business in the connected economy. To thrive moving forward, you and I need to develop some tools to deal with the pressure.”

Gambling: Tech Industry Sets Its Sights on Gambling

“Look out Las Vegas, here comes FarmVille. Silicon Valley is betting that online gambling is its next billion-dollar business, with developers across the industry turning casual games into occasions for adults to wager. At the moment these games are aimed overseas, where attitudes toward gambling are more relaxed and online betting is generally legal, and extremely lucrative. But game companies, from small teams to Facebook and Zynga, have their eye on the ultimate prize: the rich American market, where most types of real-money online wagers have been cleared by the Justice Department.”

Hispanics: Hispanic Population Trends

“Pew Research has compiled key findings from a new analysis of the Hispanic population …”

Immigration & immigrants: A Portrait of U.S. Immigrants

“… a new analysis of the nation’s foreign-born population …”

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes? by Mark Bittman

“The idea that Alzheimer’s might be Type 3 diabetes has been around since 2005, but the connection between poor diet and Alzheimer’s is becoming more convincing … The studies are increasingly persuasive, and unsurprising when you understand the role of insulin in the body.”

Awe & creation: Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky? by Robert Krulwich

“If you took 10 drops of water (not extra-big drops, just regular drops, I’m presuming) and counted the number of H2O molecules in those drops, you’d get a number equal to all the stars in the universe.”

Christianity & culture: When Christianity is at its Greatest

“Sometimes the priorities and perspectives of American Christians who are striving to bring America back to its alleged Christian roots end up being against the gospel. An examination of the Christian faith before it was legal helps us to put things in proper perspective.”

Divorce & statistics: Curing Pastoral Stats Abuse: How Not to Be a Stats Abuser or Confuser by Ed Stetzer

“It is a mistake of category to take census Christians (those who identify as Christians on a survey form), and use statistical quotes as if they are representative of born-again genuine followers of Jesus Christ (in other words, not all who identify as “Christian” fit the description of a genuine believer).”

Ministry: Willingly Walking into a World of Pain by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“This is what congregational ministry is really like.”

Politics & poverty: VIDEO: Obama, Romney Answer Faith Leaders’ Call to Address Poverty in Election [required viewing]

“Christian leaders asked, and the presidential nominees answered. The poverty rate in America is still at a staggering 15 percent and 46.2 million Americans remain in poverty — what is your plan to address the problem? The Circle of Protection, composed of Christian leaders from across the religious spectrum, released President Barack Obama’s and GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s video responses today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.”

Smartphones: 10 Smartphone Habits You Should Avoid

“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. … This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked.

“This feeling has become a rarity, and rarer every day now that we have reached a hastier and more superficial rhythm, now that we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us. The dangerous time when mechanical voices, radios, telephones, take the place of human intimacies, and the concept of being in touch with millions brings a greater and greater poverty in intimacy and human vision.”

Suffering: Suffering, Tragedy and Doubt: 5 Mistakes Christians Make by Derek Flood

“Here are five things we Christians often get wrong, and what we can do to fix them …”

Time management: * Ministry Inside.94 by Jim Martin; * How to Avoid Procrastinating When You Feel Overwhelmed by Lucille Zimmerman

* “I have found the following practices to be helpful as I attempt to manage my time …”

* “Here are some tips we can all use in order to avoid procrastination …”

Vocation: 7 Tips for Finding Your Vocation by Brad Jersak

“A vocation is a ‘calling’ that can span over many careers.”

this went thru my mind

 

God & prayer: If God Knows The Future, Why Pray? by Derek Ouellette

“‘If God knows the future, why bother praying for something? Isn’t it already settled?’ It’s a good question, but it’s one that makes a philosophical assumption. The question assumes that God knows the future.”

Holocaust: Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel on His Fear of Being the Last Holocaust Witness

“Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel … talks to Rob Verger about the fear of being the last one to bear witness to the crimes of the Nazis, and why the world still hasn’t learned the lessons of the past.”

Humility: 22 Ways to Humble Ourselves by Mark Altrogge

“Christians should be the most humble people on earth.”

Job & Satan: Tremper Longman on the Identity of “Satan” in Job and the ‘Patience of Job’

“It is much more likely that this figure [in Job 1] is one of God’s angelic associates, who takes the position of a devil’s advocate, so to speak, but not Satan himself. True, Satan gets his name from the fact that he is the ultimate accuser, the ultimate adversary, but that does not make all accusers Satan. Nor is all accusation evil. This accuser is about to challenge Job’s authenticity as a God-fearer, and at this point it is not yet clear whether he is making an accurate accusation. Thus the accuser is a member of the heavenly court, an agent of Yahweh, who is reporting on his patrolling through the earth. The human analogy would be a spy’s reporting to his commander what he has discovered during his latest mission.”

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: That’s not a sling stone… THIS is a sling stone

“Excavated a couple of days ago at Khirbet Qeiyafa …”

Church & Jesus: Churches Converted to Jesus by Terry Rush

“We in the Church of Christ have lost our way along with any other group who has elevated stance and status over Jesus.”

Culture: Unwrapping Our Imaginations From The American Dream

“American preachers have a task more difficult, perhaps, than those faced by us under South Africa’s apartheid, or Christians under Communism. We had obvious evils to engage; you have to unwrap your culture from years of red, white and blue myth. You have to expose, and confront, the great disconnection between the kindness, compassion and caring of most American -people, and the ruthless way American power is experienced, directly and indirectly, by the poor of the earth. You have to help good -people see how they have let their institutions do their sinning for them. This is not easy among people who really believe that their country does nothing but good, but it is necessary, not only for their future, but for us all.”

Employment, happiness & ministry: The Ten Happiest Jobs

“#1. Clergy:  The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all.”

Global warming: * The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic; * Global Warming, a New Study

“Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

“A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that ‘essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.'”

iPad/iPhone apps: Aesop for Children by the Library Of Congress

“The Aesop for Children interactive book is designed to be enjoyed by readers of any age. The book contains over 140 classic fables, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and interactive animations. The Aesop for Children interactive book is designed to be enjoyed by readers of any age. The book contains over 140 classic fables, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and interactive animations.”

Knowledge: The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge by Maria Popova

“In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical.”

Lust: * Lust: A Topic We Just Don’t Talk About…and Are Dying Because of It by Matt Dabbs; * Hey Married People: Quit Checking Out People You’re Not Married To by Trey Morgan; * Can Porn be Used Responsibly? by Kurt Willems

* “The only thing I can really remember really being taught about lust in church  growing up (aside from the above story) was that it was the phrase, ‘It is okay to let a bird land on your head but don’t let it build a nest.’ In other words, seeing someone and thinking they are attractive is one thing but taking that a step further in your mind was a sin. The next logical question in the mind of a teenage boy is this, ‘at exactly what point does the bird’s nest building begin?'”

* “Whoever you’re married to, is what you should be ‘into.'”

* “… porn always removes God from the center replacing the Divine with lustful desires. Porn never glorifies God or embodies what St. Irenaeus proclaimed: ‘The glory of God is humanity fully alive.’ Porn distorts God’s image-bearers, thus misrepresenting our perception of God’s glory.”

Politics & morality: Parting the Red (and Blue) Sea by Cameron Nations

“The Church remains its strongest and purest when it holds a ‘from the margins” mindset.'”

Relationships: 21 Ways to Upgrade Your Relationships by Jim Martin, parts one, two, three & four.

“What are some practical ways to invest in the relationships that really matter?”

Small groups: Create a Caring Church by Brett Eastman

“If you want to create a church community that really cares for one another, the best way to do it is through small groups. When small groups become the vehicle for care-giving, the whole church gets involved in sharing one another’s burdens—a much more personal approach than relegating the task to a committee. The whole congregation should be making hospital visits, taking meals to people when they’re sick or something’s happened, doing childcare when someone’s in crisis and giving money when somebody’s lost a job. The best way to make this happen is to get everyone in groups where they love and care about each other.”

The Christian objective: Who Moved the Goalpost? by Dan Bouchelle

“… somehow, the goal of becoming fully formed in Christ got reduced to ‘going to heaven.'”

Violence: And Brief (and let’s hope final, but If I know me probably not) Comment on God’s Violence in the Old Testament by Peter Enns

“I am taking the time to talk about God’s violence in the Old Testament because it is a window onto a large and perennially central theological topic that can be expressed as follows: What is the Bible, anyway, and what are we supposed to do with it? To put it another way, What do we have a right to expect of the Bible as the Word of God? Or yet another way, Does the Bible give us unerring, brute factual information, or are we seeing something more complex and subtle there?”