links: this went thru my mind

 

Corporate worship gatherings & Sunday night services: * Whatever Happened to Sunday Evening Services?; * The Sunday Night Service – Where Did it Come From?

* “Let’s look at six possible reasons for its decline or demise.”

* “If Christian worship did begin this way as an evening celebration on the first day of the week, it might well be asked how and why the morning eventually came to predominate as the appointed hour for worship. … A reasonable guess would be that the shift began to take place when evening gatherings of Christians were proscribed by the Roman imperial authorities sometime in the second century A.D.”

Missionaries & missions: * New Challenges in Foreign Missions (part 1) [essential reading]; * Why Foreign Missions Are Going To Become Even More Challenging! (part 2) [essential reading]

* “We only have the stamina for harvesting, not for planting and nurturing. … We believe we should be able to work everywhere else in the world cheaper than in the U.S. … Our mission work is dependent on how many self-motivated missionaries surface in our fellowship as opposed to a strategic global vision. … We are not by nature collaborative. … Our missionaries tend to be ‘lone rangers!'”

* “Churches of Christ are represented in a little over 90 of the 196 independent countries of the world with probably around 1000 American workers outside of the United States. We have a lot of work to do—and the challenge of world evangelism is growing. Let me outline why I say that … Americans are less well-liked in the world. … The world is now urban and becoming increasingly more so! … Poorer countries are getting wealthier.”

Public prayer: A Case Against Ceremonial Prayer

“Jesus said when you pray, you should pray something like this: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But that’s not how ceremonial prayer functions in the U.S. Most opening prayers are merely part of the great compartmentalization of life in the Western world. We want a slice of spirituality with important public events. But once we’re done with it, like an appetizer, we move on to the main course–the real reason we gathered. And more often than not, the main course has nothing to do with the appetizer. … Prayer works when it’s an expression of a whole life devoted to God. What’s best for our society is for God to not just have the opening prayer. But the entire meeting. The whole game. And everything that happens afterwards.”

Violence: Why the World is Becoming More Violent

“Much of what has been written about terrorism and the Middle East simply isn’t true. There was the recent, widely publicized claim of 100,000 Christians a year dying for their faith. That’s pretty stunning. When I found out how that 100,000 number was calculated, I realized it was absurd. More likely, the number was less than 7,000 a year. …

“It’s important for Americans to realize we are spoiled. We have a pretty good situation. But this is all very recent and very precarious. Hitler came to power in a democratic Germany; Mussolini was elected. Democracy has never ensured tolerance.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible maps & Israel: Touring Israel in Google Street View [very cool!]

“Google has rolled out a rather substantial Street View update this morning, covering hundreds of towns in Israel and updating various other cities across the world. Some of the highlights include the Sea of Galilee, the Western Wall …”

Capitalism, government, Jesus & socialism: Jesus, Socialism, and Capitalism by James F. McGrath

“… Jesus said nothing about implementing any Christian principles in government, unless one includes the future Kingdom of God he envisaged as involving ‘government.'”

Confession, pride, repentance & sin: Four Things Christians Can Learn from the Lance Armstrong Debacle by Ed Stetzer

“The rise and fall of Lance Armstrong should serve as a reminder for us all as to how easy it is for us to allow sin to destroy all that we have. The patterns evident in this story are not new.”

E-mail forwards: 3 Steps to Polite, Secure Email by Kim Komando

“I love my sister to death, but not when it comes to email. Every day when she gets off of work, I know I’m going to see a few dozen messages sent to me and everyone else she knows about some scam or some weird picture of a dog. Plus, my email address is visible to people I don’t even know. I hate to be mean to her, but I’d really like her to stop sending so many and so publicly! How should I break it to her?”

Gambling: I’m Losing Money. So Why Do I Feel So Good? by Randall Stross

“… Jon E. Grant, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago, says … ‘The gambling problems of the people who are coming in for treatment, or who we see in our research, appear to be more severe than they were 10 or 15 years ago’ … and the popularity of multi-line slot machines is one reason. Addiction specialists are concerned that the near-wins and false wins served up by digital gambling technology set off the same reward mechanism in the brain that is activated by actually winning a game.”

God, love & power: God is Love, Not Control by Mark Love [required reading]

“… when we say that God is in control, I think what that should mean to us is that there is nothing that can happen to us outside of God’s love for us. Neither famine, or nakedness, or sword. Not even death itself can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. And this love is not just God’s good feelings toward us. It is not primarily sentiment, but power. God puts this love to work in us, pouring it into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, so that no matter what our life’s circumstances are,we find our condition changed, our life transformed, our world more hospitable.

“And this allows us, I think, to picture God more faithfully when disaster does strike. Our picture of God in these moments should be less as the cause and more as the one who grieves with us, the one who bears our suffering, the one who will not let us go no matter what. This we can speak of confidently.”

Gold: A Rumble in the Jungle

“It is estimated that up to a fourth of global gold production now originates not from licensed, regulated and monitored mines, but from often illegal, unregulated artisanal, or informal, mines … “

Marriage & missionaries: Cinderella Lied by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“‘And they lived happily-ever-after.’ I don’t know whether to say ‘aaaawwww’ or throw up. Depends on how much pain I’ve been listening to lately. So, here is the true end of Cinderella …”

Spiritual growth & maturity: Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 4, What are the Instruments of Good Works? by Richard Beck

“What does spiritual growth and maturity look like? What’s on the syllabus of this spiritual education?”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible interpretation: The Purpose of the First Testament by Chaplain Mike

“After 35 years in pastoral ministry and Biblical study, I’m convinced that many if not most Christians have a simplistic view of ‘The Bible’ and how it came to us (if they even think about that question at all).”

Communication & relationships: Communicating With Men Tips by Ron Edmonson

“My counseling background and years of experience working with couples has given me insight into some of the barriers men and women face when communicating. I realize not all men are alike, but there are some generalities that can perhaps help a woman better understand a man and improve communication.”

Control, gender roles, men & women: Control over Races and Women: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“Throughout human history, various cultures have adopted the idea and practice that men are superior to women. The Bible itself reflects this view. But this is not a truth of God as presented in the Bible–Old or New Testament!!!”

Foreign missions & missionaries: Do You Really Support Our Troops! by Mark Woodward

“When the nation is tired of foreign entanglements, the church becomes tired of them as well.”

Gossip: Stopping Gossip in 7 Ways by Ron Edmonson [required reading]

“…  I’m listing 7 suggestions for how to stop, or at least slow, the spread of gossip. Will you consider each and take them personal? If the shoe fits will you wear it. Together, perhaps we can help stop the deadly spread of this harmful virus!”

Les Miserables: * A Pastor’s Take on the New Les Miserables by John Frye; * Jesus Himself Would Have Bought a Ticket and Waited on a Half Hour Line to See ‘Les Miserables’ by Peter Enns [required reading]

* “Anyone who knows the storyline of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (Les Mis) knows that any cinematic rendition will push strongly against the most common USAmerican movie theme: revenge. … If you’re not the church going kind of person, or if you were but left because Christians are fake and self-absorbed, or if your main exposure to Christianity has been TV evangelists or the Tea party, you ought to see this movie.”

* “Les Mis will help you see what the Bible means, and what the church at its best has meant, by ‘good news.'”

this went thru my mind

 

Confession & sin: Confession – The Church’s Tragic Silence by Paul Smith

“Could it be that there is no forgiveness of sins in the church today because there is no confession of sin?”

Discipleship: Discipling Doesn’t Happen Very Well in Age Specific Groups Alone by Matt Dabbs

“We also need to foster relationships that integrate/interconnect the generations where those more mature in their faith can mentor and disciple those who are far younger and less mature. This is going to take some guts and creativity and great communication of our purpose in doing this. I am afraid we are dying from isolation because we only know how to do half the process well to the exclusion of the other.”

God, genocide, holiness & Joshua: Exterminate Them Without Mercy: The Problem of Joshua, Genocide, and the Character of God by Kurt Willems [required reading]

“For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:20 ‘Exterminating them without mercy.’ How does this fit with the God of love we see revealed throughout the whole of the Bible and particularly in Jesus Christ?”

Gospels & Jesus: Did We Get Jesus Right? Simon Gathercole Looks at the Apocryphal the Gospels [49 min. video]

“In the following video Simon looks at the New Testament gospels and the apocryphal gospels.”

Jordan River: Saving the Jordan River by Noah Wiener

“The Jordan River is the setting of some of the Bible’s most iconic scenes. A visit to the river, however, reveals a different landscape from the Biblical depictions. Agricultural waste and runoff from nearby communities pollute the water, and dams on the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers have reduced the water flow to four percent of its volume in the early 20th century. On Tuesday, the Israeli paper Haaretz announced that the ‘Environmental Protection Ministry and the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee are expected within weeks to submit a plan to the cabinet to allocate NIS 99 million’ to clean the Jordan river.”

Missions & missionaries: Answering 7 Common Objections to Long-Term Missions by Ben Stevens

“I cannot escape the conclusion that a major change in the tides has come … regarding missions. Time and time again I encountered intelligent people, both laymen and pastors, who argued passionately that long-term, cross-cultural work is ‘no longer the way God does things.’ …  So let me briefly introduce the most popular objections and offer an alternative way of looking at each of them.”

Pacifism: The Long Journey of a Christian Pacifist by Ben Witherington [required reading]

“Killing leaves blood on your hands, whether it’s manslaughter or pre-meditated murder or vehicular homicide. Killing is forever. If I ever did that, even by accident, or even while just intending to protect someone else’s life, I’d still have to do some serious repenting afterwards. All human life is sacred, and I have no right to take someone else’s life away. Ever. And BTW, the Bible says leave vengeance entirely in the hands of the Lord, he will repay.”

Tools: Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 by Jane Hart

“The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 as voted for by 500+ learning professionals worldwide.”