links: this went thru my mind

Brain, health, mental disorders, mental health, & technology: NetBrain: Your Gadgets Could Be Giving You Psychological Problems

“The greatest factor in whether or not someone exhibits NetBrain/iDisorder symptoms is whether or not they own a smartphone.”

Brotherly love, love, Muslims, terror & violence: Loving our Neighbor in an Age of Terror [essential reading]

“I had an interesting conversation with my son last night about the terrible violence in Paris. Among other things we talked about the increase of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and here in the United States. Life will be increasingly difficult for average Muslims who are law-abiding and peace-loving citizens of France, other European countries, and the U. S. … There is much that should be said and done in response to this act of evil. Certainly those nearer to the horror are able to help those affected. But where I live, embodying loyalty to Jesus may involve being watchful of how such events can stir up emotions that confuse and perhaps diminish our fundamental loyalty to King Jesus and thus to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Church, kingdom & the Sermon on the Mount: God Promised Me a Kingdom and All I Got Was This Lousy Church

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a nation created in the midst of other nations. The other nations are under oppressive rule by illegitimate, even demonic powers. … The church is a colony of heaven on earth.”

Ecology & faith: The Old Testament Isn’t ‘Green’ … Or Is It? [required reading]

“Both radical ‘green’ and radical consumption narratives are at odds with the Old Testament view of the relationship between humans and God’s good creation. The fatalistic narrative that the earth is cursed and we must live with the curse is also at odds with the Old Testament. The people are always called to choose between obedience and blessing or disobedience and cursing. We can and should strive for righteousness and proper wise keeping of God’s creation. Wisdom is the key – always bearing in mind the role that human embrace of evil can play in our perceptions. What does it mean to fill the earth and subdue it? What is the mandate given to humans?”

Happiness & peace: Why “Having a Peace About It” is a Terrible Reason for a Christian to Make a Decision (parts 1 & 2) [essential reading]

“I can’t count the number of times a Christian has said to me that “they have a peace” about a certain decision and therefore plan to move forward. Sometimes they make this decision despite obvious signs that their decision is unwise and not in conformity with the guidance of Scripture. In these cases, a person tends to simply slap a kind of divine mandate on top of what they want to do anyway. When friends or family members try to refute their decision, they simply reply that there is to be no argument because ‘God told them’ or ‘God gave them a peace.’ One example of this kind of mindset can be found on popular Pentecostal writer and speaker Joyce Meyer’s website.”

links: this went thru my mind

Choices, depression, happiness, mental health & thankfulness: What Are the Three Ways to Train Your Brain to Be Happy? [think Philippians 4.8]

“You can train your mind to be unhappy and you can train it to be happy. … Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”). Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?””

Culture, grace & post-Christendom: Vanishing Grace

“Frankly, Christian faith is losing traction in society. It has lost traction in Europe and Canada where far fewer than half find religion a positive influence. And it will likely continue to lose traction in the US.”

Early Christianity, ingratitude, nonviolence, pacifism, perception & the state: Pacifism & Holy Ingratitude [essential reading; spot-on!]

“… the Romans considered the early Christians to be an ungrateful group of people. … Specifically, the Romans believed that Roman citizens owed a certain amount of gratitude toward the state. Romans lived in a great, prosperous and generally peaceful empire. Thus, Roman citizens owed the state gratitude. But the Christians seemed to differ. Confessing Jesus as ‘Lord of all’ and directing their gratitude toward God rather than toward the state the Christians busted up the cycles of gratitude that had kept Roman citizens bound to the state. One way that Christians expressed this holy ingratitude was in their refusal to kill for the state. This refusal struck the Romans as hugely ungrateful. Christians benefited as Roman citizens. Yet they refuse to participate in the fighting that created and maintained all those benefits. Non-violent Christians in their refusal to participate in the Roman military were non-patriotic slackers and free-riders.”

God & sovereignty: Does the “Sovereignty of God” Mean That God is Responsible for Everything That Happens?

“… some of what we encounter in life may be simple chance.”

Intimidation, involvement, lukewarmness & spiritual maturity: The Institutionalization of Lukewarmness

“What causes mediocrity in the church members? You take a stab with your best guess. Mine is cowardice. We want peace which interpreted can mean, ‘Leave me alone to serve where I want. Do not press me else I will bolt.’ Intimidation often rules.  This is why so many don’t sing. They don’t want to be heard. Others don’t serve. They don’t want to be seen. Yet, others sneak in and sneak out.  They don’t want to be in contact. Living in the kingdom is a scary, threatening, and risky walk. Institutionalization, however, has declared immunity to the timid. Following Jesus demands we take up our crosses; not sneaking about in dark alleys at night going undetected, but bravely moving about in the public square destined for ridicule and persecution.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Attitude, life, outlook & perspective: How to View the Struggles of Your Day

“In every situation, we can choose to think higher. We are not to live in denial of the rugged nor insulting terrain. Rather, we are to set our minds upon the many more elements that are going right.  In every case (note: every), conditions could be much worse; but they are not. I’ve encountered brutal take your breath away kinds of days. By His clear call, I have understood that even these could be worse.  Leading my mind to think upon the many issues going well has allowed God the room to prove His above point. Peace that cannot be explained … arrives.”

Change, fear, generations & the Holy Spirit: Why are We So Afraid of Change?

“Fear isn’t to be the church gauge. Trust in the Spirit is. Change is an ever-present trait of the Holy Spirit of God. Each generation needs to remember this as we strive to move forward in the most exciting kingdom ever!”

Communication, leadership, problems & relationships: A Culturally Intelligent Way of Handling the Elephant in the Room

“I’ve always been a fan of directly addressing the elephant in the room. I don’t enjoy conflict but I loathe avoiding it even more.”

Depression & mental illness: * Five Common Myths About Depression; * Mental Illness & The Church: An Interview with Amy Simpson

* “1. Depression is synonymous with sadness. … 2. Depression is a sign of mental weakness. … 3. Depression is always situational. … 4. Depression symptoms are all in your head. … 5. If you are diagnosed with depression, you’ll be on antidepressants the rest of your life.”

* “One of the most painful elements of mental illness is that it’s marked by isolation, which is exactly the opposite of what people need. Everybody needs community and loving friendship and a place where they belong. And one of the things people with mental illness most need is for this kind of loving community to tighten around them, not to loosen. This is one of the things the church can provide.”

Discipleship & faith: Kent Brantley: Every Now and Then a Disciple Breaks Outs

“Who says that kind of thing in that moment?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Blessing, kingdom living & love: The Kingdom of God While Mowing the Lawn [essential reading]

“… the first task Jesus gave this disciples when he sent them out to serve and evangelize the world was to bless every house they came upon (Luke 10). This, he suggested, is our first and most basic act of loving service to the world. We are to be a people who simply express God’s love by blessing people. We are to agree with God that each and every person we see was worth Jesus dying for. And we express this first and foremost by blessing them.”

Brain, dementia, health & mental health: Brain Games that Could Pay Off in Retirement

“While the scientific community has more to learn, for now it’d be hard to go wrong finding a progressively challenging hobby that you enjoy, and that won’t break the bank. Park and her research team decided to focus on quilting and photography, but other activities they considered studying were learning a second language, learning a musical instrument, dancing and bridge.

“Physical exercise is also essential. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise improves memory and brain function, in party by increasing blood flow to the brain. Also, remember to shake things up every once in a while: Vary your workout, learn something new, visit new places. Said Small, ‘The brain loves novelty.'”

God, forgiveness, suffering & time: Is God Inside or Outside of Time?

“… does this mean that God can simultaneously view all moments in time and know what is going to happen in the future without infringing on human free will?”

Grief: 1 Things Pastors Should Never Say to the Grieving

“Immediately after he passed away, a nurse came in and made an empty attempt at comfort, ‘He’s in a better place’ she said. As soon as the words were uttered they seemed to bounce around the room with nowhere to comfortably land.”

Roads, Roman Empire, & travel in the ancient world: Roman Roads and Milestones in Judaea/Palaestina

“… a systematic survey of all the extant remains related to roads, in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the Roman road network in Israel.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger & grief: How to Best Handle Your Anger in Grief

“In order to get a handle on anger in your grief journey, you may want to remember the following facts …”

Christians, persecution, & Syria: The Coptic Church in Peril

“It looks like the Coptic church may well go the route of the Assyrian church which was also expelled from the middle east by persecution.”

Church, mental health, & mental illness: Mental Illness and the Church: New Research on Mental Health from LifeWay Research

“Medicine is not the answer to everything, and we live in an over-medicated world, but we need to treat character problems like character problems—and illnesses like illness. I wish more Christians saw that.”

Consumerism, employment, idolatry, money, simplicity & work: * Pope Attacks Global Economics for ‘worshipping ‘god of money’; * 10 Common Objections to Minimalism

* “‘The world has become an idolator of this god called money,’ he said. … Francis … ended his improvised speech with a prayer asking God to ‘give us work and teach us to fight for work.'”

* “… what’s holding you back from exploring what minimalism has to offer?”

Internet & privacy: 9 Tips for Keeping Your Internet Usage Private [infographic]

“… follow these nine tips for keeping your Internet usage private …”

this went thru my mind

 

Church decline, Churches of Christ & mission: Future Church

“… I want to talk about the way forward … at least where it begins because I don’t believe in waiting around for the bells to finally toll.”

Discipleship & Jesus: What If Jesus Was Serious?

“What if Jesus was serious when he said: Love and pray for your enemies, do not judge others, give to the poor, and don’t worry about your life?”

Gospel: The Gospel: Far More Than a Key to the Front Door

“… the gospel isn’t something we need only to become a Christian.”

Legalism: Legalism: Old and New Perspectives [essential reading]

“Legalism is any practice or belief that is added to the gospel that compromises the sufficiency of Christ as Savior and jeopardizes the adequacy of the Spirit in moral guidance. Secondarily, then, legalism demands that one adopt a group’s special markers in order to be fully acceptable to God.”

Mental health & religion: Religion is a Powerful Resource for Good in Mental Health

“Dr. Harold Koenig is one of the world’s most prolific scientists in psychiatry and medicine. … Within the period of 1878 to 2010, he found over 3,000 empirical studies in the literature across these three centuries. Amazingly, nearly 2,000 of them have been published in the last decade—from 2000 to 2010, pointing to a significant interest in the mental health field about the role of spirituality in health. Koenig found that nearly 75%—three cases of every four—showed a positive relationship between spirituality and physical or mental health. A deep and active faith, in other words, translates to robust health, good mental health, and a long and satisfying life.”

Ministry: Losing a Game We Deny We are Playing

“One result of the toxic brew of Kingdom and American values in our churches is a high degree of confusion and anger among ministers. Many are profoundly worried there is something wrong with themselves while they long for the kind of affirmation they know to be bad for them.”

Morale, productivity, respect & trust: Want Productive Employees? Treat Them Like Adults

“Distrust begets distrust in return. It kills motivation rather than sparking it. Treat employees like children and you increase the odds they’ll act like children. You reap what you sow — for better and for worse.”

Poverty & taxes: In the South and West, a Tax on Being Poor

“When it comes to state and local taxation, we are not one nation under God. In 2008, the difference between a working mother in Mississippi and one in Vermont — each with two dependent children, poverty-level wages and identical spending patterns — was $2,300. … These regional disparities go back to Reconstruction …”

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: New Research Offers Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

“The ravages of the disease … not only affect the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s but also the 15 million-plus unpaid men and women who care for them.”

Difficult people: * Dealing With Difficult People by Sean Palmer; * Tackling Armchair Quarterbacks by Dan Rockwell

“The Reflexively Oppositional will always be with us …”

“Receiving criticism indicates you’re doing something. Get used to it. … In some cases, you invited their criticism by excluding them. You didn’t invite their input or participation. Worse yet, they felt ignored when they spoke. … In other cases, you invited their input but they rejected the direction you’re leading. In all cases, armchair quarterbacks wrongly believe they have deep insights.”

Distractions: What to Do When People Ignore You for Their iPhone by Jon Acuff

“I’m going to stop talking. Wait until they realize I have. And then hold up a small sign that says, ‘Are you still listening?’ You with me?”

Fluorescent bulbs (CFL bulbs): Stony Brook Study Reveals Harmful Effects of CFL Bulbs to Skin

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation. … incandescent light of the same intensity had no effect on healthy skin cells …”

Food stamps: More Texas Seniors Receiving Food Stamps

“The fastest-growing group of Texans receiving food stamps is the 60-64 age bracket. In the past six years, those residents receiving food assistance – now issued in the form of a benefit debit card – has jumped by 106 percent …”

Immigration: * More Exploding Immigration Myths by Tim Archer; * The American Way of Eating by Matthew Soerens

“Sadly, some of these myths reside in my mind or at least in my feelings. Others are commonly held misconceptions about immigration, ones that may or may not affect how we deal with the issue.”

“If you want to get rid of illegal immigrants,” says Alabama sweet potato farmer Keith Smith, “quit eating.”

Israel: Israel to Revive Jordan River by Todd Bolen

“… the Jordan River has shrunk over the years but a new plan will bring the stream back to life.”

Just war: Is Christian Just War Just Like Jihad? by Lee Camp

“… we come to a doubly troubling possibility: First, that the mainstream Christian Just War tradition may, in fact, be closer to the teaching of Muhammad than that of Jesus. Second, that we American Christians have too often failed to live up even to the ethic of the Just War tradition: we seem pleased with its logic that war may be justified, but ignore the limits it imposes upon the ways we fight.”

Medicaid: More on Medicaid Refusal: Questions for Governor Perry

“Expanding Medicaid is a great deal for Texas and refusing to do so is not something the Governor should decide by himself before Texans have had a full and thoughtful conversation about what’s at stake for our state, and then the Legislature needs to decide on a course of action. Our state has an opportunity to help millions of Texans xget the quality, affordable health care they need, and we should not pass it up.”

Mental health: Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders

“Researchers at the University of Gothenburg recently studied more than 4,100 Swedish men and women between the ages of 20 and 24 for a year and found that a majority of them who constantly use a computer and mobile phones can develop stress, sleeping disorders and depression. Sara Thomee, lead author of the study, said there was a ‘central link’ between computers and mental disorders.”

Politics: * President Obama and Common Grace by K. Rex Butts; * ISideWith

* “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

* “Take the presidential election quiz and see which candidate you side with.”

Theodicy: Where Is God When I’m Hurting? by Kathy Vestal

“Why does God not heal all the sick, raise all the dead, stop all the earthquakes, and right all the injustices of the world?”