links: this went thru my mind

I consider all five of today’s links here to be “required reading” or “required watching.” Lots of good stuff!

Assumptions, nonviolence & violence: Does Nonviolence Work?

“We are blinded by the pervasive, long-standing assumption that violence is both ‘normal’ and ‘necessary’ to promote good and minimize evil. … Kingdom people are called to walk in obedience to the example and teaching of Jesus even when it seems to make no sense to do so. We’re called to be faithful to Jesus, not effective at protecting our lives or ridding the world of evil.

“To the world’s ‘normal’ way of thinking, Jesus’ radical posture is indeed ludicrous, impractical, unpatriotic, irresponsible, and even immoral. And it may, in the short run, look like our refusal to participate in the merry-go-round of violence allows evil to win.

“We need to remember that this is exactly how matters looked on Good Friday, when the omnipotent God suffered at the hands of evil rather than use coercive force to extinguish it. But under the reign of the sovereign God, Good Friday never has the last word.”

Christianity, discipleship, faith, holiness & the status quo: The Gospel of Mark – Antonia Fortress – Am I Leading a Rebellion? [4 min. video]

“He’s leading a rebellion, it’s called the Kingdom of God and you can’t vote that in, but everyone can be a part of it.”

Death, euthanasia, judging, physician-assisted suicide & suicide: Brittany Maynard Didn’t Commit Suicide (What We Can Learn From 9-11′s “Falling Man”)

“It seems disingenuous to force someone to choose between two ways of dying and then turn on them in judgment for picking the least painful of the two options.”

Giving thanks and gratitude: The World is Made Holy Through Thanks

“… when life is treated as a possession that can be taken from us, damaged or lost our lives become infused with fear causing us to cling, protect, hoard, defend and aggress. The antidote to this fear is gratitude, viewing life–the whole of life–not as a possession to be defended but as a gift to be shared.”

Parenting & teens: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents Make

“Expecting your teen to have a devotion to God that you are not cultivating within yourself. … Not expressing genuine love and like to your teen. … Outsourcing your teen’s spiritual formation. … Not prioritizing youth group/church involvement. … Holding low expectations for your teen. … Trying to be your teen’s best friend. … Permissive parenting. … Spoiling your teen. … Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family. … Not spending time with your teen.”

links: this went thru my mind

Faith & sports: Why Do Preachers and Worship Leaders Talk So Much About Sports These Days?

“Sports is one of the greatest idols of contemporary American culture and we need to be very discerning about its presence and influence.”

God, judging others, love, nonviolence & vengeance: The Cross & the Tree [sermon by Greg Boyd; essential listening; 33 min. video]

“Unless we’re feasting on the love of God that’s revealed on the cross … we’ll find ourselves inexorably and invariably feeding off of others. … To the degree that we are not feeding on the love of God, we are feeding on others. We will become religious parasites. … When we judge we are playing God. … Instead of confessing we are the worst of sinners … we act as though we’re the least of sinners. … The kingdom of God is about a group of people saying we, ‘We opt out of this evaluation game. We opt out of the judgment game. We opt out of the retaliation game. We opt out of the violence game. We opt out of the hatred game. And rather we put all of our eggs in this one basket: We trust God to be the source of our life, even if we die. And we trust God to be the Judge of the world even if it costs us our life. And therefore we are the people who will respond to evil with good. We will respond to evil by loving our enemies. … We’ll be a people who live like, look like, love like, serve like Jesus Christ when he gives up his life for his enemies on the cross.’ … That folks is the kingdom of God. … It’s God’s way of overcoming evil. The only we’ll do it is by trusting all judgment to God.”

Involvement & volunteers: 5 Reasons People Aren’t Volunteering at Your Church

“I’ve never met a church that said, ‘You know … when it comes to volunteers, we’re good. We’ve got plenty. In fact, there’s a waiting list for the nursery.’ Churches everywhere need to mobilize more volunteers to get ministry done. But before you start signing people up and filling slots, it might be helpful to take a look at why people are not volunteering.”

Ministry: 10 Dangerous Distractions for a Pastor

“… I can’t address everything that gets in the way of a healthy pastor. I can only list some that are more common in my experience.”

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

Change & habits: How to Form a Habit, a Scientific Approach

“… habits are reinforced by a three-part loop: trigger, behavior, and reward. The trigger tells you—consciously or unconsciously—to start the behavior, the behavior is the habit or action, and the reward is the benefit that you get from that action. You can see the loop: That coveted reward teaches us to continue the behavior, over and over again, until it turns into a habit.”

Christ, Ephesians 4, Psalm 68 & nonviolence: A Christological Reading of Psalm 68 [required reading]

“… what is startling about this imagery is how Jesus wins his victory over his enemies non-violently. On the cross Jesus is disarming and defeating his enemies–sin, death and the Devil–and taking them as captives in war.”

Churches of Christ, humility, leadership & the Spirit of God: Fix Me, Jesus: Jesus’ Plans for the Churches of Christ

“If God answered the prayer, ‘Fix me, Jesus,’ at the congregational level, what would a congregation under repair look like? what stories might we be able to tell?”

History, Middle East, politics, President Obama & Vietnam: Will Syria Be Obama’s Vietnam?

“War has a forward motion of its own. Most of Johnson’s major steps in the escalation in Vietnam were in response to unforeseen obstacles, setbacks and shortcomings. There’s no reason the same dynamic couldn’t repeat itself in 2014.”

Learning & study: Better Ways to Learn

“‘Most of us study and hope we are doing it right,’ Mr. Carey says. ‘But we tend to have a static and narrow notion of how learning should happen.’ … The first step toward better learning is to simply change your study environment from time to time. … “

links: this went thru my mind

Christian faith, ISIS, nonviolence, violence & war: A Christian Response to ISIS [essential reading]

“…  as Christians, we should be more concerned about faithfulness not effectiveness; we need to take our marching orders from the King of Kings and Prince of Peace, and we should not be blinded to think that a destruction of our enemies through violence will actually conquer evil. And I’m certainly glad that Jesus didn’t destroy me—even though I was His enemy.”

Faith, extra-terrestrial life & religion: Are the World’s Religions Ready for E.T.?

“In 1930, Albert Einstein was … asked whether science and religion conflict. ‘Not really, though it depends, of course, on your religious views.'”

God, pain & suffering: Is Suffering Part of God’s Secret Plan?

“…  in light of God’s revelation in Christ, our assumption should be that their suffering is something we should oppose in the name of God rather than accepting it as coming from God. Hence, the only relevant question disciples of Jesus should consider is, What can we do to bring God’s redemptive will into the situation, to alleviate suffering and to glorify God? How can we respond in such a way that God’s will is further accomplished ‘on earth as it is in heaven’? Instead of asking ‘Who sinned?’ we should ask, ‘How can we bring glory to God in this situation?’ (John 9:1-3).”

Koch Industries, politics & pollution: * Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire; * Response to Rolling Stone Story; * Koch Industries Responds to Rolling Stone – And We Answer Back

“The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House.”

Parenting, privacy, social media, social networking & youth: 5 Social Networks You Don’t Know the Kids are Using

“The ones I’m going to talk about are ones the kids in your life probably know. However, they aren’t that kid-friendly, which means you need to know about them, too. You especially need to know the last one because you don’t want kids using it at all.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading: Reading the Bible and the Bible Reading You

“At some point, being a Jesus person means you gotta read the Bible.”

Charities, giving & non-profit organizations: ALS, Navigating Charities, and Changing Lives

“Have you ever considered what an organization looks like where 100% of your money goes to the cause with nothing going to the organization? Have you ever wondered how the organization supports itself? How the leaders get paid? How the word even gets out that this organization exists and why its causes are worthy of your support? Most often we don’t because we are stuck with the ‘we want nonprofits with low overheads where all of our money goes to the cause’ with little thought to the capacity of the organization or its ability to actually solve problems, change lives, and make lasting change.”

Church, measurements & statistics: Nickels and Noses – What Do We Value and Measure in the Parish?

“… are the people growing? Isn’t that the real question?”

Violence: Violence in God’s Name: Our Greatest Sin

“Paul’s great sin, as he saw it, was the sin of violence committed in the name of God.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church, discipleship, small groups & transformation: * The Surprising Truth About Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines; * Is Church Too Easy? [essential reading]

* “… groups play an important role in the spiritual lives of the people in our churches. What will surprise you is just how important that impact is.”

 

* “If our goal is to ‘teach people to obey’ all that Jesus commanded, then we may want to rethink our commitment to comfort on Sundays.”

Churches of Christ & humility: Eating in the Church Building

“Bottom line. The Church of Christ has done and is doing some great things. At the same time, we have done many wrong-headed, incorrect, ungodly things. We need to recognize this fact, and admit to ourselves and the world that we are as fallible as any church ever.”

Jesus, nonviolence & pacifism: The Pacifism of Jesus: Reclaiming Christianity’s Challenge [essential reading]

“It may seem odd, even totally counter-intuitive, but following the words of Jesus should be hard. If it is a ticket to earthly dominance, to preservation of the status quo, we have to ask, ‘Is this really the gospel?'”

Independence, others, self & unity: Forgive Us For Our ‘Go-It-Alone’ Attitude

“Enable us to know great joy as forgiven people, united as followers of Jesus Christ. Amen.”