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

 

Christianity: The Top 20 Countries Where Christianity is Growing the Fastest

“Are you surprised to see that 19 of the countries in the top 20 are in Asia and Africa? Did you notice 11 countries on the top 20 list are Muslim majority countries? Did you catch that not a single country from Europe, Northern America or Latin America makes the top 20 list?”

Civility, hate, Obama, President, racism & respect: Hating President Obama [required reading]

“I know many people who not only hate President Obama, but are proud of doing so.”

Corporal punishment, parenting & spanking: Random Thoughts on Spanking or not Spanking as a Parent

“To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting. Parents ask me frequently for my opinion on the issue. It is an important, but seldom talked about by those who teach on parenting.”

Culture, death, funerals, grief & mourning: * How Culture Stops Mourners From Healing; * How to Plan for Death

* “Our death denying culture continues to send the message to mourners that the healthiness of an individual’s grief is to be measured by how quickly and proficiently the mourner ‘gets over’ the loss and moves into a productive life. … The problem is that our society considers talk about death and grief as morbid and taboo. Living in an atmosphere where grief emotions and mourning are stifled we mourners sometimes feel forced to carry unexpressed grief and unresolved issues concerning a loss throughout our lives.”

* “As most people know, your death doesn’t only affect you; it affects everyone that you surround yourself with, and it’s important that you leave this world on good terms. There are many ways to make amends with your loved ones before passing, but of these things are a few that stand out above the rest.”

Demographics, Hispanics/Latinos: Mapping the Latino Population, By State, County and City

“Today, the 100 largest counties by Hispanic population contain 71% of all Hispanics. … But the share of all Hispanics who live in these same counties has fallen from 75% in 2000 and 78% in 1990 … reflecting Hispanic population growth outside of these 100 counties. … Half (52%) of those counties are in three states—California, Texas and Florida. Along with Arizona, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, these eight states contain three-quarters (74%) of the nation’s Latino population.”

Denominations: Denominational Diversity in North America: Why Are There So Many Denominations? [required reading]

“Why do denominations form? Why are there so many of them? These are complex questions with even more complex answers. Every denomination has its own unique mix of factors that influenced its origins. At the risk of over-simplifying, we can identify several of these factors that led to many denominations …”

Earth & geography: Another ‘Grand Canyon’ Discovered Beneath Greenland’s Ice

“Scientists reported Thursday that they’ve discovered a vast canyon, twice as long as the Grand Canyon. It carves a deep scar from the center of the world’s largest island out to the coast. And, oh … it’s buried beneath as much as two miles of ice. Yes, we’re talking about icy Greenland.”

God: Thinking about God Makes Me Just Want to Keep My Mouth Shut [required reading]

“I think this is what God laughing at us looks like.”

Grace: Max Lucado Goes Overboard on Grace

“The apostle Paul never seemed to exhaust the topic of grace—what makes us think we can? He just kept coming at it and coming at it from another angle. That’s the thing about grace. It’s like springtime. You can’t put it in a single sentence definition, and you can’t exhaust it. No other philosophy or religion has anything quite like this idea that God takes the initiative and comes after us—not just to save us, but also to sustain us.”

Income tax & poverty: 43% Pay No Federal Income Taxes

“The majority this year — nearly 67% — have incomes below $30,000. … A misconception about those who end up owing no federal income taxes — especially those with low incomes — is that they pay no taxes at all. In fact, most pay payroll taxes to support Medicare and Social Security as well as sales taxes and state and local taxes.”

Prayer: 6 Ways to Pray the Lord’s Prayer

“Use it as a model. … Pray the prayer word for word. … Set aside certain times to pray the prayer. … Pray it with others. … Pray it in private. … Designate a certain part of the prayer to pray each day.”

Tradition: * Tradition: Chronological Snobbery [required reading]; * Restoring The Future

* “I’m part of a movement called Churches of Christ, and if you think back on the history of Churches of Christ or the Restoration Movement, you will see we effectively married ourselves to the Spirit of the age, only we were unaware of it at the time. This is why churches that are planted in different parts of the country and the world look so very similar to a 1970′s Texas or Oklahoma Church of Christ…even if they are in California in 2013. We tied our theology to our methodology, and kept answering the questions that people were asking back in 1970, even if no one was asking those same questions today. And this is mostly because we didn’t allow any Church Tradition to guide us.”

* “Some get stuck in the past. Others get stuck in the present. Paul wants his friend in Philippi to keep looking ahead.”

this went thru my mind

 

Anger, elections, fears, politicians & politics: * Identity Theft: When Politicians Hijack Jesus’ Name by Christian Piatt; * Is Obama the ‘Wrong’ Kind of Christian? by John Blake [required reading]; Dear Christian: If the Thought of Either Romney or Obama Getting Elected Makes You Fearful, Angry, or Depressed, You Have What we Call a Theological Problem by Peter Enns [required reading]

* “It’s time to STOP … condescending to other Christians if they don’t vote the same way you do.”

* “Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.”

* “I am saying that if you get so worked up about it that you become really angry, or you actually ‘fear for our country,’ or are thinking of moving to Greenland or freezing yourself if “that guy” gets elected, you may need to step back and think about what’s happening inside of you.”

Forgiveness: Forgiveness by Peter Enns

“Forgiveness does not mean that we make believe the injustice never happened, or make light of it. It does not mean we leave ourselves open to abuse. It means we cease harboring ill against the other. We let it go.”

God: God in a Horse by Dan Bouchelle

“I cannot force God to respond to me as I will. He is always present, but he does not snuggle up to me and give me the feelings I want as or when I wish. I seek out time with him, but at times he seems to keep his distance. He is much more powerful than me and can crush me at any instant and yet he almost acts shy toward me—as if I might hurt him with my clumsy ways or bad intentions. I have to stand very still and make no sudden moves before I can sense him slowly drawing near. At times he seems to seek my approach. At others he seem to ignore me. One thing is certain, our relationship is not mine to command. I cannot manufacture an encounter.”

this went thru my mind

 

Brain, depression & stress: Brain Scientists Uncover New Links Between Stress And Depression

“… stress caused by everything from battlefield trauma to bullying can alter brain circuitry in ways that have long-term effects on mental health.”

Church, evangelism, outreach & unchurched: Why You’re Not Reaching the Unchurched by James Emery White

“How can it be that so many are still operating with a 1980s/1990s approach when it is 2012? Here’s the essence of the mistake: ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Or in the case of this mailer and scores of others like it I’ve received: ‘If you offer it, they will come.’ Meaning that if you spruce church up a bit, musically and stylistically, the unchurched will suddenly stream in your doors and fill your seats. No, they won’t.”

Claustrophobia: How Claustrophobia Nearly Grounded Supersonic Skydiver Felix Baumgartner

“He’d never worn a pressurized space suit before, and he felt the claustrophobia — which … was so severe it brought on panic attacks — threatened to bring the mission to a screeching halt.”

Complaining & complainers: Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain by Minda Zetlin

“… being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity–including viewing such material on TV–actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus. ‘That’s the part of your brain you need for problem solving,’ he says. ‘Basically, it turns your brain to mush.'”

Evolution: Animated Crash Course in Evolution [10 min., 48 sec. video]

“There are many reasons it’s important to understand evolution …”

Facebook: The Church of Foreigners by K. Rex Butts [required reading]

“Does our social persona depict us as foreigners among the world? … Will people get the sense that there is something very different about us or would we appear to mirror one of the many nations and tribes of this world, or one of the many sub-cultures within the world? … Are we the church of foreigners?”

Focus: What are You For? by Rachel Stone

“In the (sometimes-exhausting) world of social media and blogging–especially in an election season!–it can seem like everyone is always talking about what they are against: what they fear will happen if the other party wins, why the other side is so wrong, why parenting/worshiping/eating/living in a particular way is destructive and bad and so on. Without trying too hard, I can think of a number of bloggers and authors and TV and radio personalities who have made names for themselves largely by asserting what they are against. …  Truth is, there are plenty of ideas that a person may be justified in being ‘against.’ But I tire of writing like this, and also of reading writing that is relentlessly anti-. What seems to center and ground me, instead, is to focus on what I’m for–what do I want to lift up as good, as true, as right, as exemplary, as worthy of attention and praise?”

History: * Google Brings History to Life With Online Exhibitions; * F.D.R.’s Message to B.H.O.

* “Today you can discover 42 new online historical exhibitions telling the stories behind major events of the last century, including Apartheid, D-Day and the Holocaust. The stories have been put together by 17 partners including museums and cultural foundations who have drawn on their archives of letters, manuscripts, first-hand video testimonials and much more. Much of the material is very moving—and some is on the Internet for the first time.”

* “In 1936, Franklin Roosevelt was faced with a vicious re-election campaign. He was vilified for the New Deal reforms. The word ‘boondoggle’ was popularized in the U.S. the year before to describe alleged abuses of the New Deal. Opposition politicians and critics compared F.D.R. to Lenin. … What Roosevelt had going for himself was a real set of policies and the capacity to speak on their behalf—a willed capacity to state things plainly, forcefully, and effectively. Never more so than on September 29, 1936, at the New York Democratic State Convention, in Syracuse. … F.D.R. sounds as if he is sending a message in a bottle (a YouTube bottle) to Barack Obama as he prepares for the second debate with Mitt Romney on Tuesday.”

this went thru my mind

 

Church, faith & religion: Cargo Cult Churchianity by Patrick Mead

“A lot of people leave worship each week feeling like they did everything right but it ‘just isn’t working for me.’ They have fallen into the Cargo Cult error and are shoving bits of cracker and juice around, standing and sitting, and even saying/singing the words at the right time… and leave emotionally untouched and unchanged because they are not dancing, walking, singing, talking, and living with God the rest of the week. They replaced relationship with ritual and their ship just isn’t going to come in.”

Courtesy, Facebook & politics: Four Questions to Ask Before Posting Your Views on Facebook or Twitter

“I’m sure you’ve noticed that as we are coming closer and closer to election day, the Facebook and Twitter worlds are increasingly filling up with political viewpoints. Too often, I find myself cringing when I read what my fellow believers write. I don’t think I am alone. Maybe you cringe, too. I do believe it’s good for God’s people to express viewpoints based on their understanding of scriptural truth. But God’s truth needs to be expressed God’s way.”

Culture & generations: The Mindset List 2016

“The mindset list for the [college graduating] class of 2016.”

Faith, Obama & Romney: Obama, Romney Share Their Favorite Bible Verses

“In an interview published by the Washington National Cathedral, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answered new questions about their personal faiths, favorite Scripture passages, and religious diversity in public life.”

Flying: Ten Commandments for Flying by Thom S. Rainer

“I have flown over two million miles, and I have witnessed so many weird, dumb, and rude things while flying. But I have also witnessed many good and noble things. … So with the perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly, I have devised my own ten commandments for flying.”

Food stamps: Planning for Poverty: The Snap Challenge

“‘SNAP’ stands for ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,’ which is the new name for food stamps. Basically, families receive $4 a day per family member to cover food costs, so the SNAP challenge is pretty simple (in theory, at least): Live on the same amount with your family for a week. … there are a few ground rules: (1) You can’t raid your existing food in the fridge or cupboard without counting that toward your weekly total. Condiments and spices are an exception, though use them sparingly to be fair. (2) If you go out to eat, the whole ticket amount counts, including tax and tip. (3) If someone brings you a meal or buys you a meal, you have to count the full cost of it as if you had bought it yourself. …  I encourage you to consider what you would normally spend in a week of food (dining out, fast food and ordering in all included) and to donate the difference for that week to a local shelter or food pantry.”

Freshness & prayer: It’s Never Been Done Before by Terry Rush

“My prayers often include, Father, show me things of truth that no one has seen before; that no one ever thought to think about. Surprise me. Let me see what you wish we would see but no one is asking.”

God’s will: Does God Always Get His Way? by Roger Olson

“Recently I introduced a group of students to my saying that ‘God is in charge but not in control.’ … My conviction is that ‘God is in control’ is a cliché that has taken on a life of its own among Christians and is inevitably conveys the impression that God plans and renders certain everything that happens without exception. That is, God always gets his way in everything. … That is a problem, however, in light of Scripture and history (including contemporary events in persons’ lives). Many Scriptures more than imply that God was not getting his way in certain situation.”

Hospital visitation: 7 Essentials of a Healthy Hospital Visit

“Several years ago my own surgery taught me a few things about how to visit a friend in the hospital. … a call that truly ministers aims to help heal the patient’s soul. Here are seven elements of soul care in a hospital setting.”

Tipping: Why You Shouldn’t Tip Restaurant Servers On Your Credit Card

“When you charge a meal on a credit card, if you want the servers to be assured of their fair share, you should leave the tip in cash, more than one server has told me. … Here’s why.”

this went thru my mind

 

Atheism & morality: Good Minus God

“I gather that many people believe that atheism implies nihilism — that rejecting God means rejecting morality. A person who denies God, they reason, must be, if not actively evil, at least indifferent to considerations of right and wrong. After all, doesn’t the dictionary list ‘wicked’ as a synonym for ‘godless?’ And isn’t it true, as Dostoevsky said, that ‘if God is dead, everything is permitted’? Well, actually — no, it’s not. (And for the record, Dostoevsky never said it was.) Atheism does not entail that anything goes.”

Benevolence: The Gleaners: Giving More Than Food to the Working Poor

“‘We’re a hand-up, not a handout,’ … ‘It’s 90 percent about the people and only 10 percent about the food.'”

Birth of Jesus: When a Poor Baby in a Manger Overthrows an Empire: The First Christmas

“May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ’empires.'”

Christianity & militarism: The Christian Industrial Complex

“I went into a Christian bookstore the other day and was surprised to see some of the most prominent display space given over to military flags for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. These flags, and a vast assortment of Americana merchandise, were on sale for the holidays.

“A part of me ached because I know how difficult it must be to run a little Christian bookstore these days. But I winced as I heard the manager fatalistically confess that he resorted to selling military merchandise to ‘make it.’ It is a sad day when we sell our military banners next to Jesus’ enemy-loving cross to make it in a financial recession. (Before long we’ll be pushing posters of scantily-clad women accompanied by a verse from Song of Solomon).”

Bible interpretation & creation: If God had explained the origin of the universe to Moses in technical language it may have looked like this

“… God’s inspiration is not divorced from the language and concepts of the humans authors.”

Culture: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville

It’s a Wonderful Life is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief. Jesus Christ said that his followers were to be like “salt”; that is, a people whose presence is felt for the good that they do. As a man or woman’s evil nature is gentled and restrained by the grace of God, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society.”

Generations: Connecting 20 Somethings to Older Generations by Matt Dabbs

“20s and 30s have a deep need for relationships. Once you start a ministry to this group one of the things that happens is they tend to become isolated from the rest of the congregation because they develop such close bonds with each other. That is not all bad and is really to be expected. However, I think it is important to be intentional about getting them to form relationships with older Christians as well.”

Civility, gossip & politics: A Serial Husband: New(t)s or Gossip?

“President Obama may be more of a plodder than a doer when it comes to his leadership style, but you have to hand it to him, Obama is no gossip-monger.”

Handicaps & deformities: Augustine on the Monsters Among Us

“No matter how different in appearance, a being that descends from humans is human. And no matter how great the deformity, in their uniqueness and peculiarity, that person contributes to ‘the beauty of the whole.'”

Parenting & faith: Honesty in the Journey (or On the Raising of Young Heretics)

“We construct many reasons for maintaining a posture of dishonesty. For many, the failure to utter before God where we really are and what we are real think reflects a lifetime of corrupt spiritual teaching: God went through a lot of effort to save you, so the least you can do us have your act together so as not to disappoint him.”

Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas): * In Search of the Historical Santa * Real St. Nicholas: Persecuted, Jailed Christian

“Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra in Lycia (Turkey). From an early age he devoted himself to the Christian faith. As a Bishop he was famous for his work amongst the poor and needy. There are stories of him raiding the church’s kitty so that he could leave coins in the shoes of those who were struggling. His acts of generosity were legendary. However, of all the stories known about him perhaps the most reliable and best known is the gift he gave to a father which saved the man’s three daughters from being sold into prostitution.”

Persecution & self-defense: Church Leaders Debate Self-Defense

“Church leaders in Nigeria are sharply divided over how to react to a surge in violent attacks against Christians and churches in the country’s Muslim-majority north. Hundreds of Christians have been killed and churches burnt in regular attacks launched this year by Fulani herdsmen in Jos and members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect in Kaduna, Borno, and Niger states.”

Trends: Barna Reveals Top Trends for 2011

“Every December, a tradition at Barna Group is to compile some of the most important trends of the year. We invite you to check out the six major trends that our team explored in 2011.”

this went thru my mind

 

Attitude: 7 Mental Mistakes That Stop You From Living a Life of Freedom and Peace by Henri Junttila

Biblical interpretation: Meaning: The Thin or Thick of It by Mark Love

Charitable giving: Remembering Those Who Truly Need a Holiday Gift by Joshua Becker

Children & technology: The Emergence of Digital Childhood — Is This Really Wise? by Albert Mohler

Church: Why Corporate Church Won’t Work by Mike Breen

Encouragement: After They Said “Brain Tumor” by Robert Ratcliff

Facebook: 12 Things You Didn’t Know Facebook Could Do by Paul Boutin

Failure: How to Compost Your Failures by Michael Hyatt

Gambling: What Do You Think About Gambling? by Michael Harbour

Gratitude: A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day by John Tierney

Homelessness in America: Hard Times Generation: Families Living in Cars

Just for fun: Find Out What Flights Are Overhead With Wolfram Alpha. Several dozen planes fly over our neighborhood every day. I’ve often wondered, “Where did that one come from?” or “Where is that one going?” Now I can know and it couldn’t be more simple. Amazing.

Leadership: A Leader of Uncommon Strength by John Johnson (on Teddy Roosevelt)

Money: The Money Chart (an infographic). Wow!

Of left and right: Moving Right is Never Wrong by Scot McKnight is “required reading.”

Politics: How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich by Tim Dickinson

Productivity: 27 Productivity Killers: Why Nothing Ever Gets Done!

President Obama: Obama Delivers Very Christian Message at Christmas Tree Lighting

Twitter: The Beginners Guide to Twitter by Michael Hyatt