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 (on violence)

 

Atrocities: A Photographer Captures the Violence in the Streets of the Central African Republic

“I think that you know, all the ghosts of Rwanda are waking up. … It’s very, very difficult to bear sometimes.”

Christian persecution: ‘Largest Massacre of Christians in Syria’ Ignored

“In late October, the U.S-supported ‘opposition’ invaded and occupied Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the nation’s military. Among other atrocities, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; Sadat’s 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for “subhuman” Christians).”

Economic violence on the poor: Good Poor, Bad Poor [required reading]

“On Sundays, this time of year, my parents would pack a gaggle of us kids into the station wagon for a tour of two Christmas worlds. First, we’d go to the wealthy neighborhoods on a hill — grand Tudor houses glowing with the seasonal incandescence of good fortune. Faces pressed against the car windows, we wondered why their Santa was a better toy-maker than ours.

“Then, down to the valley, where sketchy-looking people lived in vans by the river, in plywood shacks with rusted appliances on the front lawn, their laundry frozen stiff on wire lines. The rich, my mother explained, were lucky. The poor were unfortunate.”

Forgiveness & murder: Widow of American Teacher Forgives Attackers Who Killed Her Husband in Libya [essential reading]

“To the attackers, she wrote: ‘I love you and I forgive you.’ …

“‘I hear people speaking with hate, anger and blame over Ronnie’s death, but that’s not what Ronnie would want,’ Smith wrote of her husband. ‘I want all of you — all of the people of Libya — to know I am praying for the peace and prosperity of Libya. May Ronnie’s blood, shed on Libyan soil, encourage peace and reconciliation between the Libyan people and God.'”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Acts / Obamacare: * Affordable Care Act and Health Coverage; * Obamacare: Your 12 Biggest Questions Answered

* “On next Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Americans without health insurance coverage will be able to enroll for coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The process is fairly simple. You can apply online at www.healthcare.gov.”

* “Will the new insurance exchanges make buying insurance on my own easier? … I’ve already got insurance at my job. Why does any of this matter to me? … I’ve been buying my own insurance for years. What changes? … Will the exchanges lower prices? … What about my premium? Up or down? … Can I still buy insurance off the exchange? … Will I really have to pay a fine if I opt out? … I keep hearing about subsidies. Who is eligible for one? … I’m retired. What do I need to do? … This all sounds pretty complicated. Do we have a logistical disaster in the making? … Could the government still pull the plug? … What happens if too many opt out?”

Arrogance & pride: Three Signs of Arrogance

“Now, of course, you might say, “Not me! No way I am even remotely an arrogant person.” Sometimes we think of people who act pompous and immediately conclude that we are certainly not arrogant. Yet, arrogance sometimes comes out in people who think they are … better … smarter … more important.”

Children, parenting & youth ministry: Anonymous Youth Pastor’s Letter to a Parent

“I need to get something off my chest. When I first came to this church, you told me how excited you were that I would be showing your kids what it means to love Jesus, be part of His Church, and grow as a Christian. You told me you were praying for me and that you had my back. You had high hopes for the youth ministry. I had high hopes too. But I must confess that I am frustrated right now because I feel like you’re working against me, not with me.”

Civility, internet, respect, rudeness, speech, thoughtlessness & words: ‘Popular Science’ Shuts Comments, Citing Internet ‘Trolls

“We’re all familiar with that deep, dark rabbit hole of Internet comment boards. A negative or critical comment sparks a firestorm of debate until the discussion erodes into a cavalcade of insults and personal attacks. Once you finally snap back to reality, you realize you’ve often strayed so far from the original story that it’s often difficult to find your way back.”

Death, heaven, resurrection, the intermediate state & transformation: NT Wright on the Intermediate State

“Going to heaven when you die’ is not held out in the New Testament as the main goal. The main goal is to be bodily raised into the transformed, glorious likeness of Jesus Christ.”

Deception, government, money, poor & wealthy: Interests of the Wealthy Elite and Myth of Government “Inefficiency”

“What is very much a biblical concern is that ‘the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice’ (Micah 7:2-3). A government that deserves the support of people of faith is one that stands with the weak against the strong. Those responsible for governing who fail to do this are the very ones ‘who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right’ (Isaiah 10:1). The rich who use government to their own advantage also promote distrust of government that serves the broader legitimate interests of the population.

“It is to the advantage of the power and wealth elite to convince others that the government is wasteful, ineffective and untrustworthy. The mighty moneyed elite have pressed this message incessantly for decades. They have successfully mobilized their media and advertising power to shape the perceptions of many to the advantage of the few. And the push toward privatization has filled their pockets to overflowing.”

Education: Education Statistics: High School Diploma or Higher, by Percentage (Most Recent) by State [Texas comes in dead last]

“Percentage of population over 25 years old with a high school degree or higher.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible, contradictions, credibility, & inspiration: Do Contradictions In The Gospels Make Them Untrustworthy?

“What we’re dealing with in the gospels are legit eyewitness testimonies. And you can trust them because of the contractions, not in spite of them.”

Church & ministry: 3 Reasons Why the “Safe” Argument is Killing Churches

“… the next time we sit around a discussion table and someone says, Wouldn’t it be safer . . . . , well, we should ask: 1) is that the view of God we read about in Scripture?; 2) what opportunity and people will be lost by us failing to act; and 3) what opportunity for people to serve, create, and grow spiritually will be missed? If ‘Safety is First,’ then that means our mission is not first. And that, my friends, is why so many churches are not growing. Tradition, safety, keeping the peace–these have become our mission. And that does not reach people for Christ or grow the church.”

Consumption & oppression: 5 Resources About How Our Consumption Affects Others

“… think about how your possessions and your consumption affect people in other countries.”

Dallas Willard: Give ’em Heaven [5 min. video]

“Fourteen-year-old Larissa Heatley, Dallas Willard’s only granddaughter, delivered a personal tribute at his memorial service. She is sharing her message with us today, giving us a sweet, intimate glimpse into their relationship.”

Discipleship, love, ministry, respect & spiritual maturity: A Door Mat Christianity by Les Ferguson, Jr. [essential reading]

“Love your ministers lavishly. Chances are you have no idea what they are sacrificing–sometimes even their own self-esteem. If you like to make jokes at the preacher’s expense about only working one day a week or keeping his moving boxes close to hand or how much money he makes, Stop! Stop now. He may laugh with you, but it takes a toil. Eventually he becomes a doormat whether he wants to acknowledge it or not. Even when he can’t or won’t see it for what it is, his spouse sees it and suffers too. Doormat Christianity is hurtful, destructive, and ultimately damaging to the spirit within. Loving others means saying this is wrong!”

Disrespect & leadershipWhy You Must Confront Seemingly Indispensable but Disrespectful Team Members

“This is the tough stuff of leadership that no one wants to discuss. But it is the necessary stuff. You can’t develop people and take them to the next level unless you are willing to speak into their lives—for their benefit and for your team.”

Extreme faith & legalism: The Little Way and the New Legalism of Radical Christianity

“… St. Thérèse can be an important resource for Protestants struggling with the call to be a “radical Christian” and the resultant shame when our lives seems pretty normal and ordinary.”

Time management: Top 10 Time Savers for the Stuff You’re Too Busy to Do

“We’ve all had days where we feel a little rushed and can’t be bothered with things … Make all those chores easier with these time-saving tips.”

Worship: The Difference between Congregational Worship and a Concert

“… with regard to the main thrust of Christian congregational worship.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (3)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus). Here’s the next installment. Enjoy.

Don’t praise people for their beautiful looks, and don’t despise people for their appearance. (Sirach 11.2)

Don’t find fault before you investigate … Don’t answer before you listen … (Sirach 11.7a,8a)

… don’t be busy with many things; if you multiply pursuits, you won’t be held guiltless. (Sirach 11.10)

There is nothing good for those who continue to do evil or for those who don’t freely offer charity. (Sirach 12.3)

Rich people inflict injury, but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged; the poor suffer injury, but they’re the ones who must apologize. (Sirach 13.3)

this went thru my mind

 

Discipleship: Did We Just Discover Discipleship? by Dan Bouchelle

“The informal models of discipleship that happened naturally in smaller, more rural communities, and within small family-based churches, did not require the kind of structural programing we just assume is mandatory today.”

Evangelism & outreach: The Dangers of Evangelism by Christian Piatt [required reading]

“Sometimes our zeal for sharing something that’s important to us blinds us to the havoc we can be wreaking in the process.”

Income inequality: How Income Inequality Is Damaging the U.S. by Frederick E. Allen [note]

“New research indicates that growing income inequality isn’t just unpleasant; it is seriously hurting the U.S. economy. And economists are figuring out just how the damage is done … The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that between 1979 and 2007 the top 1% of households doubled their share of pretax income while the share of the bottom 80% fell.”

Ministry: * Lessons from the Joshua Tree by Bert Crabbe; * Growing Problems … Old Wineskins by K. Rex Butts

* “Our team learned early on that if we didn’t establish clear boundaries to protect family life and personal health, the church would swallow every waking minute.”

* “To try and live out the good news in our old ways rather than following Jesus in his new ways is to sew a new patch on an old garment…to pour new wine into old wineskins.  This just will not work and ultimately it is a failure to follow Jesus in his new ways.”

Sexual orientation: Sexual Orientation: It’s Not a Sin by Kathy Vestal [required reading]

” … I am saying that sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is not a sin. What is done with that orientation is indeed a choice and can certainly lead to sin, for both homosexual and heterosexual people. Promiscuity. Adultery. But not mere orientation.”

this went thru my mind

 

Charitable giving & money: * Faith and Giving; * Study Reveals The Geography of Charitable Giving; * How America Gives [interactive; very interesting!]; * How America Gives [article]

* “Donors in Southern states, for instance, give roughly 5.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity—both to religious and to secular groups—compared with donors in the Northeast, who give 4.0 percent. … But the generosity ranking changes when religion is taken out of the picture. People in the Northeast give the most …”

* “Households with incomes of $50,000-$75,000 donate on average 7.6 percent of their discretionary income. That’s compared with about 4 percent for those with incomes of $200,000 or more. … The more wealth you have, the more focused on your own self and your own needs you become, and the less attuned to the needs of other people you also become. … it’s not that rich people aren’t generous. They’re often just isolated. They don’t see a lot of poor people in their daily lives. [As you read this quote, recall Houston’s ranking as #1 in the state in terms of economic segregation.] Simply reminding wealthy people of the diversity of needs that are out there is going to go a long way toward restoring the empathy or compassion deficit that we otherwise see.”

* Texas ranks #14 out of the 50 states & the District of Columbia in terms of percentage of annual income given to charity (5.1%) by those who have an annual income of between $50,000-99,999. Harris County, for this same salary bracket, ranks #1,383 out of 3,115 counties at 6.0%. Chambers County, for this same bracket, ranks #1,793 out of 3,115 counties at 5.3%.

* “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities.”

Civility: Civility in Argument by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse [required reading]

“Democracy’s success depends upon our ability as a citizenry to reliably make the distinction between argument and sophistry.”

Journaling: 6 Ways to Make Journaling Work by Rachelle Dawson

“Journaling is usually used as a way to chart your spiritual growth. But there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Nigeria, persecution & terrorism: Fifty Christians Burned Alive in Pastor’s Home in Nigeria

“… 50 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the village of Maseh were burned alive after they took refuge in their pastor’s house following a terrorist raid.”

Worship gatherings & mountain-top-experiences: When Worship is Wrong by Skye Jethani

“The problem with these mountaintop experiences, whether legitimate … or fabricated, is that the transformation does not last. … This pursuit of transformation by consuming external experiences creates worship junkies who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that will not fade. … The New Testament emphasizes a different model of transformation.”