links: this went thru my mind

Bible reading, Churches of Christ, interpretation & open-mindedness: Reading the Bible in Churches of Christ

“The Bible is a finger pointing to Jesus. I love the Bible but I love Whom it points to even more.”

Church, generations, leadership, Millennials, ministry & mission: Five Reasons Why Millennials Do Not Want to Be Pastors or Staff in Established Churches

“My plea to Millennials is not to abandon established churches. Not all of them are as bad as many think. Consider yourself to be a part of the solution. Above all, look at these churches as mission fields just as you would a ministry in a distant continent. We need Millennials in established churches. Your present and future leadership is vital. Granted, church revitalization is messy and not easy. It is often slow, methodical, and frustrating. But God loves the members of established churches just as He loves the members of new works.”

Church dropouts: The Rise of the Dones

“… the Dones … these de-churched … [are] among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best. … The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.”

Gun control, right-to-carry laws & violent crime: Right to Carry Increases Crime

“… extending the data yet another decade (1999-2010) provides the most convincing evidence to date that right-to-carry laws are associated with an increase in violent crime. … The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates of aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder.”

Jesus & offense: Give Me the Doubly Offensive Jesus, Please

“The Jesus of the Gospels is offensive because of how inclusive He is. The Jesus of the Gospels is offensive because of how exclusive He is. The church is offended by His inclusivity, and the world is offended by His exclusivity. Thus we are inclined to weaken the offense, either by minimizing His inclusive call or by downplaying His exclusive claims. Unfortunately, whenever we lop off one side or the other, we wind up with a Jesus in our own image. Instead, we should celebrate both Jesus’ inclusiveness and His exclusivity, for this is the polarity that makes Jesus so irresistibly compelling.”

links: this went thru my mind


Bias, criticism, open-mindedness & thinking: Why We Confuse The Onion for the News [essential reading]

“… we all have biases, and our efforts to rid ourselves of them through education and self-awareness don’t actually ‘fix’ the problem.”

Cell phones & etiquette: Cell Phone Funeral Etiquette

“Cell phones often go off when we least want them to. In church. In school. During sex. And at a funeral. As other funeral directors can attest, the oddest thing about a cell phone ringing during funerals is how many people will actually answer.”

Church attendance, faith, millennials, peace & unity: The Millennials Are Rejecting Fighting Churches and Christians [essential reading]

“… many of them are walking away from our churches, and more of them are not attending at all, when they witness or hear about negativity and divisiveness in those churches. They want to see unity among Christians, and they are often disappointed.”

Health: * Aging Well: Keeping Blood Sugar Low May Protect Memory; * Depression: Could Be Almost Depressed?

* “… even modest increases in blood sugar among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s can have a negative influence on memory.”

* “Research suggests that as many as 12 million people in the United States may be suffering from low-grade depression symptoms that are not severe enough to warrant clinical treatment. … In fact, on some of these measures, people who are almost depressed report feeling worse off than people who actually fall into the clinically depressed range. … There is also another more serious problem: Research indicates about 75% of cases of low-grade depression will devolve into full-blown major depression if they are not recognized and arrested.”

Grandparenting, parenting & prayer: How to Pray for Your Children & Grandchildren [required reading]

“Because there are 12 prayers in this list, you could concentrate on one prayer per month to concentrate on. Within a year you will have consistently prayed the entire list.”

Holy Spirit: The Kingdom’s Second Major Death

“Why has this gone on?  Why has the Holy Spirit been quenched in our circles? Control.  Man is obsessed with control; even in religion’s court. … The Kingdom’s second major death, after Jesus’ upon the cross, is that of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of men.  We have killed Him off and buried Him in our tombs of organization and control.”

Leisure, online & time management: What You Would Be Doing If You Spent Less Time Online

“More time online means less time socializing, studying, and sleeping.”

Faith & President Obama: * The President’s Devotional: What Obama ‘Did In Secret’ In Newtown; * The Man Behind the President’s Devotional

* “The president took a deep breath and steeled himself, and went into the first classroom. And what happened next I’ll never forget. … It must have been one of the defining moments of his presidency, quiet hours in solemn classrooms, extending as much healing as was in his power to extend. But he kept it to himself—never seeking to teach a lesson based on those mournful conversations, or opening them up to public view.”

* “Dubois has been sending devotionals to Obama every morning since the 2008 presidential campaign. A collection of these spiritual messages to the president has now been published Dubois’ new book, The President’s Devotional. Dubois started working for Obama shortly after he became a senator. A public policy and economics student at Princeton University, he was also ordained at a small Pentecostal church where he served as an associate pastor. It was this combination of skills that led him to become Obama’s faith outreach coordinator during his first presidential campaign and, later, to be appointed as the Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the president’s first term.”

this went thru my mind


Change: The Worst of Both Worlds by Rubel Shelly

“The ways of God are always fresh and challenging. When Jesus came to his peers, he was rejected because of the new things of God he said and did. Then or now, those who try to contain the fresh presence of Jesus within the old and familiar forms typically wind up with the worst of both worlds.”

Fellowship & salvation: Christianity: Who Is In and Who Is Out? by Brian Mashburn

“So who’s in? It’s not my call, praise God, it’s His. I admit that in my practice of ‘fellowshipping’ with people, the farther along that I perceive someone to be in their devotion to following Christ, the deeper the fellowship (friendship, partnership, companionship) I invite. But as to the practice of proclaiming definitively and authoritatively to my fellow man who I think I can declare is ‘in’ or ‘out,’ I just can not do it.”

Health care reform: How Doctors Do Harm by Dr. Otis Brawley

“For more than two decades, I have studied disparities in health outcomes and the inconsistencies in how medicine is practiced. I have come to believe that much of the rhetoric for and against health care reform lacks the understanding that the issue involves human beings.”

Leadership: How to Let Go Without Giving In by Dan Rockwell

“You must. Letting go isn’t optional – organizational success demands it. New talent produces new perspective, innovation, fresh vitality, and forward momentum. You can’t. You can’t step away even though you must let go. Bringing on new talent is never exemption from your leadership-responsibility.”

Ministers & ministry: Statistics on Pastors by Richard J. Krejcir (thank you, Brad Morrow, for showing me this article)

“After over 18 years of researching pastoral trends and many of us being a pastor, we have found … we are [in] perhaps the single most stressful and frustrating working profession … We found that over 70% of pastors are so stressed out and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry … Thirty-five to forty percent of pastors actually do leave the ministry …”

Open-mindedness: They Were Right (And Wrong) About the Slippery Slope by Rachel Held Evans

“Now, every day is a risk. Now, I have no choice but to cling to faith and hope and love for dear life. Now, I have to keep a very close eye on Jesus, as he leads me through deep valleys and precarious peaks. But the view is better, and, for the first time in a long time, I am fully engaged in my faith. I am alive. I am dependent. I am following Jesus as me—heart and head intact. And they were right. All it took was a question or two to bring me here.”

Parenting: * When Will We Learn? by Mark Stevens; * Sharing Your Faith at Home by Chad Nall

* “Leighton Ford once said, ‘What is the difference between a man who spends every night at the bar and one who spends every night at the church? Nothing, they both lose their kids!'”

* “Having been in youth ministry for nearly 12 years, I’ve had countless opportunities to share the Gospel and my faith with teens. I’ve sat in seminars, conferences, and classes that have equipped me to do so. I’ve listened to experts talk about how to talk to teenagers, how to lead a teen to Christ. I’ve read books on mentoring and asking questions. I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve had. But I’m discovering that it’s a whole different ball game when it comes to my children.”

Personality & suffering: Wired to Suffer: On Theodicy and Personality by Richard Beck

“Theodicy has two sides. There’s an analytical side and an empathic side. … we see people doing one of two things to run from theodicy problems. Hedge on the empathy or hedge on the logical consistency. But what if you’re the sort of person who can’t hedge on either? What if you’re one of those rare individuals who are both very analytical and very empathic? It seems to me, if you are one of these sorts of people, that you’re basically screwed. … It’s a theological nightmare. You can’t turn your mind off. Or your heart. Theologically speaking, I think some of us are just wired to suffer.”

Regrets: Dying Regrets

“A palliative nurse recorded (over several years) the dying bits of wisdom from patients in the last twelve months of their lives. She recently listed the top five regrets. Here are the five.”

Religion: How to Fight the Man by David Brooks

“A few weeks ago, a 22-year-old man named Jefferson Bethke produced a video called ‘Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus.’ … The video went viral. … Right away, many older theologians began critiquing Bethke’s statements. A blogger named Kevin DeYoung pointed out, for example, that it is biblically inaccurate to say that Jesus hated religion. In fact, Jesus preached a religious doctrine, prescribed rituals and worshiped in a temple. Bethke responded in a way that was humble, earnest and gracious, and that generally spoke well of his character. He also basically folded. … Bethke watched a panel discussion in which some theologians lamented young people’s disdain of organized religion. ‘Right when I heard that,’ he told The Christian Post, ‘it just convicted me, and God used it as one of those Spirit moments where it’s just, ‘Man, he’s right.’ I realized a lot of my views and treatments of the church were not Scripture-based; they were very experience based.'”

War: Memories of Nine Years at War in Iraq by Shaun Casey

“As I grapple with the legacy of our immoral misadventure in Iraq, the main thing that stands out is the terrible, mind-numbing cost. More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers are dead and 33,000 wounded. An estimated 178,000 suffer traumatic brain injuries, more than 2,000 are amputees, and hundreds have committed suicide. Some estimate more than 1.4 million Iraqis died in the war, which cost more than a trillion dollars.”