links: this went thru my mind

Archaeology, Assyrians, Iraq, Isis, Ninevah & terrorism: ISIS Threatens to Blow Up the Historical Walls of Nineveh

“Residents of the Bab Nergal area of Mosul said ISIS has informed them that it will blow up the walls of Nineveh with the start of operations to liberate Mosul by the Iraqi army. In the last month ISIS has seized the content of the cultural museum in Mosul as well as destroyed Assyrian monuments in the city, which ISIS claims “distort Islam.”

Blessings, communication, humility & witness: The One Things Christians Should Stop Saying [required reading]

“I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the ‘amen’ at the end of a prayer.”

Christianity, faith, government, kingdom & politics: 12 Reasons for Keeping the Kingdom of God Separate from Politics (parts 1 & 2) [essential reading]

“Jesus came to establish a kingdom that was not of this world.”

Evangelism, humility, listening, missions & outreach: Reverse Evangelism

“I really do believe that the Gospel is good news for everyone.  I just don’t think we know how good the news is until we do the hard work of listening and learning about what people’s hopes and dreams are.  And I have noticed that whenever I enter another culture, and understand it, even (or especially) when they don’t believe what I believe, that the Gospel just gets bigger for me.”

Marriage: Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married

“Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.

“It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, like mid-life crises.”

links: this went thru my mind

Cinema, film & movies: The Uneven ‘Inspiration’ of Unbroken

Unbroken‘s Zamperini is brave, kind, stoic and tremendously longsuffering, but without his complex relationship with God, these are just words ripped from a motivational poster; pretty melodies with no real rhythm. … The phrase ‘the inspiring true story’ was made for just such a tale as Unbroken, and the film deserves to be seen. But it deserves a fuller, richer conversation as well. Few Americans have ever lived such an inspiring tale, from beginning to end. It’s just a shame that biopic glosses over the latter.”

Cuba & missions: Cuban Ministry

“Although no one knows at this point how the new relationship will work out, there is optimism among the ordinary citizens, [Tim] Archer said, based on conversations with people in Cuba. ‘They’re just out of their minds happy,’ said Archer, who is coordinator of Spanish-speaking ministries for the Herald of Truth. … Archer has made 18 trips to Cuba since 2006, the year he started work for the Herald of Truth, an evangelistic radio ministry started in 1952 by Church of Christ congregations in Abilene.”

Depression, discouragement & self-pity: How to Break the Bondage of Self-Pity

“The way to break the bondage of self-pity is to quit measuring how self is being treated.”

Google, Internet & search: 11 Google Tricks That Will Change the Way You Search

“Use quotes to search for an exact phrase. … Use an asterisk within quotes to specify unknown or variable words. … Use the minus sign to eliminate results containing certain words. … Search websites for keywords. … Search news archives going back to the mid-1880s. … Compare foods using vs.’ … Filter search results for recipes. … Use ‘DEFINE:’ to learn the meaning of words—slang included. … Tilt your screen by searching ’tilt.’ … Play Atari Breakout by searching it on Google Images. … Search images using images. … Press the mic icon on Google’s search bar, and say ‘flip a coin’ or ‘heads or tails’. … Press the mic icon on Google’s search bar, and say ‘give me a love quote’ or ‘I love you.’ …”

Greed, income inequality, money & wealth: What the 1% Don’t Want You to Know [essential reading]

“We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Application, Bible interpretation, preaching & teaching: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s

“Every word of the Bible was written at a certain time and in a certain context. Even the most recent of those times and the nearest of those contexts is at a great distance from us in time and space. Thus, when we read the Bible, we have to determine how those words apply to us today in our very different times and very different contexts. It is not always a simple task. We have all seen situations—and many of us have caused situations—where we have been sloppy in going from the text to today.”

Church, ministry & U.S. trends: MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider

“The next 20 years are going to be a challenge for convictional Christians and churches in many places. … 1. The Word “Christian” Will Become Less Used and More Clear. … 2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones. … 3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics. … 4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.”

Fulfillment, leadership, satisfaction & work: Why You Hate Work

“The way we’re working isn’t working.”

Leadership: 7 of the Hardest Paradigms I Had to Learn to be an Effective Leader

“I had to develop the ability to say no more than I get to say yes. … I have to live with sometimes being unpopular. … I have to move forward sometimes in uncertainty. … I had to get comfortable challenging mediocrity. … I had to lower my pride and admit I can often be wrong. … I had to come to a reality that I couldn’t be everywhere or do everything. … I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to put on my calendar is rest.”

Short term missions: 24 Things World Christians Wish North American Short-Term Missionaries Would Quit Doing …

“… Talk more than you listen. …”

Temptation & testing: A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?

“Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives. But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?”

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 interpretation: * It’s Biblically Impossible to Be Biblical; * Beware of Thinking Biblically

* “While ‘biblical’ could technically mean ‘influenced by the Bible,’ it has become a code word for ‘possessing the one and only way to interpret the Bible on a particular issue.’ In our zeal to follow the teachings of scripture, we have sought a definitive, once and for all time way to read a book that has always been a work in progress. … There is no ‘biblical”’ way of doing things. There is only a biblically informed and Spirit-led way of doing things. And that information and leading may evolve and shift over time.”

* “… I’m very cautious about that phrase, about ‘thinking Biblically.’ Not of thinking Biblically, but of using that phrase to legitimatize teachings and opinions that are sometimes terribly wrong.”

Choices & decisions: Never Settle for Second Best with God by Wayne Stiles

“God’s best for us seldom comes immediately. But it’s always worth the wait. How often have we run ahead of the Lord instead of waiting for His best? A lonely believer marries an unbeliever. An eager couple makes a poor financial decision. A family joins a church for its location in spite of its doctrine. Many people fail to see God work in their lives because they fail to wait on Him to supply.”

Missions: Are We Only Interested in Low-Hanging Fruit? by Mark Woodward [required reading]

“… can we as a fellowship see beyond the low-hanging fruit? Can churches of Christ do the hard work in hard places for many, many years? Can we commit to sowing seeds that may not bear fruit for generations?”

Poverty & social justice: * Right to Lawyer Can Be Empty Promise for Poor; * The Good News on Poverty (Yes, There’s Good News) [13 1/2 min. TED talk by Bono]

“Today, many states and counties do not offer lawyers to the poor in major civil disputes, and in some criminal ones as well. Those states that do are finding that more people than ever are qualifying for such help, making it impossible to keep up with the need. The result is that even at a time when many law school graduates are without work, many Americans are without lawyers.”

“Bono ’embraces his inner nerd’ and shares inspiring data that shows the end of poverty is in sight … if we can harness the momentum.”

The Bible mini-series: * Q: What Do Roma Downey and Writers of the Bible Have In Common? A: Neither Sticks to the Script. by Pete Enns; * The Bible—Part Three by Ben Witherington

* “… failure to stick with the biblical script is something we see a lot of in the Bible itself.”

* “The saddest part of all this is twofold: 1) millions were spent on this project filmed overseas with no little time and expense expended, but 2) it could have been soo much better. So much better. I do think they intended well. I have no problem with the selectivity and even with paraphrasing things to get at the spirit of this or that narrative. But they needed to do a better job of listening to whatever scholars were advising them. They have avoided irreverence but are flirting with irrelevance by not doing a better job.”

Values: Topsy-Turvy Values: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“Which is more important: To spend time with another person or to play games on a new gadget?”

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

 

Acknowledgement, appreciation & influence: Want to Change the World in 3.2 Seconds? by Jon Acuff

“Want to reinvent the way people think about Christians? Want to start changing the reason people think Christians are jerks? It’s not that complicated. “

Christianity & politics: Christianity’s Mistress by K. Rex Butts

“… why are so many Christians focused on earthly things? Particularly, the earthly things I am speaking about is American politics.”

Doubt: The Gifts and Benefits of Doubt by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… here are some of the benefits and gifts of doubt for the church …”

Gospel: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: How MTD Destroys Christians, Part 1 by Jay Guinn [this is a portion of an on-going series; this whole series is/will be required reading]

“MTD teaches that God does not so much compel us to live a certain way as provide a means for us to live well. God gives us self-esteem. God gives us emotional health. God gives us good marriages. God gives us friends and happy relationships. God gives us congregations filled with good people who want to help us be better people. … Where did this view of religion come from? Well, largely from preachers. And Sunday school teachers. And youth ministers. And dumbed down Sunday school curriculum. Indeed, it all results from an Americanized, market-based, consumeristic approach to selling Christianity.”

Missions: The Gospel for Headhunters and Cannibals by David Burnette

“From headhunters and cannibals to 85 percent of the tribe identifying itself as Christian, the Sawi of New Guinea have undergone significant cultural transformation in the 50 years since the first missionaries arrived in the tribe’s isolated jungle
village.”

Marriage, men & women: Plutarch and Paul on Husbands and Wives by Marg Mowczko

“I recently submitted a research essay for a course I’m studying where I compare Plutarch’s Advice to the Bride and Groom with Paul’s advice to men and women in First Corinthians.  Plutarch, who wasn’t a Christian (in fact at one time he was a priest in the cult of Apollo), wrote his Advice in a letter around A.D. 90-100. … As I was reading and comparing Advice with First Corinthians it struck me how different Plutarch’s and Paul’s views were about the relationship between husbands and wives.  It also struck me that many Christians sound much more like Plutarch, rather than Paul, in what they think and say about marriage and women.”