links: this went thru my mind

Afghanistan, Iraq, ISIS, veterans & war: The Truth About the Wars

“If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I think we’re there.”

Church, expectations, inclusion, mission, perceptions & welcome: 3 Ways ‘All Are Welcome’ Is Hurting the Church

“Churches — like individuals — are called to know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and discern a clear and specific mission to where Jesus is calling them to act. Many times churches actually do have in mind a particular subset of people with whom they’d like repopulate their congregation. Many times this particular subset looks an awful lot like the current membership of the church, albeit 20-30 years ago. Often, though, neighborhoods and needs have changed. And a vital ministry — perhaps to immigrant workers, to retired folks, to single adults — is forgotten in light of chasing the ever-elusive ‘young families.'”

Corporate worship, hymns, music & singing: My Journey Away from Contemporary Worship Music

“I make this plea to my fellow ministers, do not neglect these milestones from ages past.”

Economics, income inequality & politics: A Change That Isn’t Coming

“…  until the two parties put forward lasting and structural fixes for these problems the pain and outrage are only going to intensify. And as the pain grows the American electorate will continue to lash out blindly and schizophrenically, alternately punishing the party in power and hoping for a change that isn’t coming.”

Joseph Smith, Latter-Day Saints, Mormons & polygamy: It’s Official: Mormon Founder Had Up to 40 Wives

“The biggest bombshell for some in the essays is that Smith married women who were already married, some to men who were Smith’s friends and followers.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Appreciation, encouragement, gratitude & thankfulness: 25 People You Should Say Thank You To Today [required reading]

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little world that we forget to thank the people who have helped us the most.”

Church announcements, communication corporate worship, worship gatherings: Why Your Church Needs More (Often) Announcements in Worship

“Historically, the church began worship services by announcing all member-related deaths. Nothing screams ‘Let’s worship!’ like announcing Aunt Geraldine’s funeral.”

Communication, disagreement, discussion, listening, unity & words: The Art of Having Conciliatory Theological Discussions – Suggestions

“It has taken me a while to figure a few things out when it comes to discussing a disagreement with someone. Here are a few observations I have made over the last few years that set a positive tone for a healthy conversation.”

Fathers, parenting & words: When Daddy is Silent

“A daddy’s silence can be deadly. Far too many men are silent at all the wrong times.  A father’s silence can communicate volumes. The absence of his voice can leave a boy or girl feeling emotionally alone.”

Humility, knowledge, leadership, ministry, missions, others, perception & understanding: What People in Other Countries Need (And What We Think They Need) [required reading]

“… keep in mind … the principle of relative deprivation. It’s the idea of wanting something because others have it.”

Ministry & prayer: What is the Most Common Ministry Priority that a Pastor Neglects?

“… week after week, I saw the things I was supposed to be doing getting squeezed out of my schedule because there were urgent demands on my time. Above all else, the one task that seemed to get squeezed out most was prayer. … Unfortunately, prayer doesn’t demand your attention. In the midst of people wanting your time and urgent tasks to complete, spending time in prayer is easy to neglect.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aging & maturity: Maturing vs. Growing Older [required reading]

“Crotchety and complaining or positive and adoring? Grumpy or cheerful? Age; natural age takes us one direction and spiritual age leads us into the marvel of another way. One spreads death; the other … life.”

Church attendance: The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It

“… church membership is becoming less and less meaningful in many churches. As membership becomes less meaningful, commitment naturally wanes.”

Dental care, expectations, Jesus, perception & toothbrushes: Did Jesus Have All His Teeth?

“I’m wondering whether Jesus had all his teeth when he left behind his private life in Nazareth for the more public life of an itinerant preacher and healer.  According to Luke, he was ‘about 30’ at the time.”

Digital Bibles & preaching: * Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church; * Dear Presbyter, Bring Your Scroll to Church

* “… I am not against pastors using a tablet in the pulpit for, say, sermon notes. Rather, I’m concerned about replacing the physical Bible with a tablet in the pulpit. As the pastor enters the pulpit to bring the Word of God to the people of God, no hard copy of the Bible is to be found in his hand, gracing the top of the podium, visible to the entire congregation as the book at the center of attention. Instead, the congregation sees a tablet. While this may seem harmless enough, I believe there are several potential dangers this subtle shift generates.”

* “… we discovered an as yet unpublished letter from a certain Roman Presbyter “Maximus the Cantankerous”  to “St. Callistus I”  dated ca. 220 AD. In this fragmentary letter, Maximus complains to Callistus about the introduction of codices in churches to the exclusion of the scrolls. What follows is based on my own translation of the Latin.”

Giving thanks: The Serious Business of Giving Thanks [required reading]

“… for Paul giving thanks is nearly revolutionary. It’s quite subversive in the first century. Rather than naming all the parts of one’s life as good gifts provided by the Roman gods, early Christians named the various aspects of their lives as good gifts from God who is the Father of Jesus Christ, the one who gave up everything that God’s people might have everything.

“In this sense, giving thanks is strategic truth-speaking. When we give thanks, we regard the world rightly, reckoning it as God’s world, and reckoning ourselves as recipients of God’s overpowering goodness.

“Further, giving thanks reckons rightly with how we live and move and have our being in God’s presence and in God’s hands. …

“Beyond this, giving thanks to others helps us remember that we carry each other in our hands. We belong to each other, we are in one another’s hands to do good and to receive good gifts from one another.”

Humor in the Bible: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!

“As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.”

Old Testament: Paul and the Unquestioned Authority of the “Old Testament” [required reading]

“… the sad fact remains for most in Churches of Christ the Old Testament is simply irrelevant to their faith. Outside of the sermons I have personally preached or lessons I have taught I know of only a handful of sermons in my life from the first 76% of the Bible. …

“Growing up, I had no idea how absolutely, and completely, contrary to the apostolic example of Paul our contemporary practice was regarding the ‘Scripture’ (Paul never uses the phrase ‘Old Testament’). Paul’s entire framework for understanding God, Christ, the Gospel, redemption, faith, and yes even the church/people of God comes from the ‘Old Testament.'”

this went thru my mind

 

Christian living: * The High Calling of Everyday Ordinary Living; * The Spiritual Formation of Things Not Going Our Way

* “Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional,’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matthew 22:36-40).”

* “My Facebook feed is less populated by baby pictures and shots of other people’s food (yay!) and more a place to argue over the issues (sigh).”

Culture & vision: Where Will You Be in 2073?

“Who in 1953 was thinking that in 2013 our world would be as different as it is today? … So what will life in the USA be like in 2073?”

Facebook: What Really Happens When You Like

“The only reason scammers go to such lengths to create this kind of approach is simple. There’s a lot of money to be made. There are several ways to exploit your quick response to liking things.”

God: Tom Wright Skewers the New Marcionism

“Marcion, of course, was a second century bishop who taught that the Old Testament God, a jealous and retributive tribal deity, was incompatible with the God revealed in and through Jesus, who is an entirely benevolent God of love and compassion.”

Parenting: It’s Not The Bible’s Fault. You Might Just Be A Bad Dad

“Let me be clear about this: PARENTS DON’T BABY-SIT! PARENTS PARENT!”

Perceptions: Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings?

“Do students give low ratings to teachers who instill deep learning?”

Preaching: Does Preaching Have a Future?: Technological and Sociological Trends in Preaching

“As a homiletics professor, I usually spend the last class of each semester peering into my crystal ball and imagining what the future of preaching holds. Not being a prophet, I am only making assumptions so please read the following with a discerning mind. Also, I don’t make these statements to be critical of anyone in particular or any church. I am simply making observations and doing a little forward thinking. So here are 14 statements about current trends and guesses as to the future of preaching.”

this went thru my mind

 

Lifelogging & privacy: Meet Memoto, the Lifelogging Camera

“… Memoto, a Swedish start-up, wants to capture with a small, wearable camera that automatically takes photos of the wearer’s surroundings. The square-shaped device can be clipped onto a collar, a jacket or worn around the neck on a string. It snaps photos at 30-second intervals, and switches off only when it is dark, face-down or placed into a pocket. … The device costs $279 and includes a year of free online photo storage. … The company has already received 3,000 orders, and it hopes to begin shipping devices by late April or early May. … There is no off switch or even a way to delete photos captured by the device.”

Nones: Trends in the Religious Unaffiliated, the “Nones,” by Age

” … rates of the unaffiliated rose rapidly in the 1990s and more slowly since. … rates of the religiously unaffiliated have increased rather steadily in all age groups.”

Perception & poverty: * The Poor and The Fundamental Attribution Error by Richard Beck [required reading]; * Hassled by Larry James

* “… we tend to revert to characterological, trait-based, personality-driven, and dispositional factors in explaining behavior. For example, I might look at your work ethic and conclude that you are lazy. The problem is intrinsic to your character. Your personality is flawed and is to blame. You’re a bad apple. Another way of describing the fundamental attribution error is to say that we tend to downplay or ignore the power of situations. When we see bad behavior we don’t tend to look at the environmental context, the situational causes and pressures. We tend to go looking for bad apples.”

* “… most of us have no clue as to how hard it is to be extremely poor and alone on the streets of a city like Dallas, Texas. We simply must do better than this.”

this went thru my mind

 

Americans, insensitivity, perceptions, respect & travel: America the Rude by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“… believers in other countries find some things about us challenging.  … mostly, they find us rude. They don’t like to mention it, but I’ve heard this in almost every country I’ve visited.”

Church & success: How Do YOU Define Success? [required reading]

“Two weeks ago, while at Catalyst, Andy Stanley rocked my world. Talking about how we define our ‘wins’ in the ministry world, he shared that for North Point a win on Sunday morning is when an unchurched person shows up, is helped, and comes back next week with a friend. He went on to share that there are people who have an issue with that definition because it doesn’t include anything about people accepting Jesus, to which he responds a win has to be something we can control… and we can’t control whether someone accepts Christ or not.”

Elections, faith & government: The Impossibility of Being President and Following Jesus by Kurt Willems [required reading]

“The early church, convinced as it was that Jesus commanded his followers never to resort to violence, understood that certain jobs were inconsistent with being fully devoted disciples of Christ. Of course, working as soldiers or magistrates were not the only ways to have one’s commitment to the faith called into question. Any profession that promoted actions and attitudes inconsistent with holiness were deemed opposed to following Christ. This wasn’t some sort of fundamentalist legalism, but rather quite obvious ways to not be in line with the way of the Kingdom (similar to how we might view blatantly sinful jobs such as: willful prostitution, pornographic film producers, or drug dealers).”

Nones: 32% – A Third of Young Adults Not Affiliated with a Religion

“The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans — sometimes called the rise of the ‘nones’ — is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. A third (32%) of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation, compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%).”

this went thru my mind

 

Attack ads, critics & hate: Jesus and Paul Under Fire & The 2012 USA Presidential Election by Frank Viola [required reading]

“… why do politicians spend obscene amounts of money on ads which attack their opponents – most often falsely? Because they work. In general, people are gullible and will believe whatever they hear or read without checking the facts or going to the sources themselves. … his got me thinking. What’s happening in the political world right now in the USA has been going on in the “religious” world for over 2,000 years. Consider the misrepresentations and false accusations leveled at Jesus during His earthly days, thousands of years before the Internet and cable news …”

Evangelicals, history & politics: Pro-Life, Pro-Left ‘Moral Minority’ by David R. Swartz [a book review]

“So why did the evangelical left seem to dissolve into irrelevance? Swartz argues that evangelicals’ mass enlistment in the conservative Republicanism of the “culture wars” was not the inevitable consequence of doctrine or history: Jesus did not leave behind a clear party platform. But while members of the Christian right set aside doctrinal differences to rally around a shared cultural agenda, the left fell victim to internal identity politics and theological disputes.”

Logic, discussion & reasoning: Making An Argument the “Christian” Way? by Kurt Willems [required reading]

“… if we want to discover more truth. Here are my suggestion of arguing styles to be wary of.”

Migration & US population: American Migration [very interesting!]

“Close to 40 million Americans move from one home to another every year. Click anywhere on the map below: blue counties send more migrants to the selected county than they take; red counties take more than they send.”

Movies: Hollywood’s New Bible Stories

“The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Bible—the best-selling book in history—certainly has. And like the comic-book superheroes that movie companies have relied on for the past decade, biblical stories are easily recognizable to both domestic and the all-important foreign audiences. What’s more, they’re free: Studios don’t need to pay expensive licensing fees to adapt stories and characters already in the public domain.”

Non-Christians & perceptions: Seven Common Comments Non-Christians Make About Christians by Thom Rainer

“Over the past several years, my research teams and I have interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians. Among the more interesting insights I gleaned were those where the interviewees shared with me their perspectives of Christians. In this article, I group the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency. I then follow that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian.”