links: this went thru my mind

Benevolence, compassion, grace, judging & need: Wasted Grace [essential reading]

“How do you help healthy beggars on the road you cannot know?”

Existence of God: Is God a Hoax?

“Is God real? Or, is this a figment of man’s needy imagination?”

Gossip & prayer requests: Gossip & Prayer Requests [essential reading]

“At what point do those prayer requests become sinful gossip? … It’s complicated. … Here is a mental checklist that I have developed for managing prayer requests in a careful, godly manner. Before you pass on that request, make sure to check your facts, your role, your audience, and your heart.”

Human life, martyrdom, nationalism, pacifism & respect: Blood Trumps Everything: Why the Church Needs Her Martyrs

“My point in all this is that debates about things like nationalism or pacifism aren’t simply abstract theological discussions. These debates need to, but often fail to, take into consideration the sacred element of human blood. These debates need to reckon with the face that blood is the most sacred thing we know, more sacred, even, than God. Emotionally, where this argument will be won or lost, blood will trump theology. Always. And this is why the church needs her martyrs.”

Sexuality & virginity: When Guys Found Out I’m a Virgin

“When it comes to my decision to stay a virgin until marriage — to hold out for that one-time-only chance to fully connect with and know and love another person — I want to make sure it’s the right man. Until then, bring on the squirmy no-sex chat.”

links: this went thru my mind

Church, culture, demographics & multi-racial: The Changing Face of the American Church

“If you ask, would you like to have a multiethnic church, everyone says, ‘that would be wonderful’ … When you ask, what are you doing to make that happen—that’s when you hear the crickets.”

Contentment, life, meaning, significance & stimulation: What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point?

“What we are called to do every day, right where God has placed us, is rich and rewarding. … Sometimes, the best way to change the world is to live extraordinarily in what looks like an ordinary existence—to radically love and serve those around us every day, no matter where we are.”

Pornography & repentance: * Men and Porn (a four-part series; parts 1, 2, 3 & 4)

“The tips and suggestions below are based on my research into cognitive psychology over the years as well as from reported experiences of men who have quit using porn. Again, there’s no silver bullet. What works for one man, may not work for you. You need to be ready to experiment and try different things.”

Water: Water is the New Oil: How Corporations Took Over a Basic Human Right

“Water has become a commodity …and the world’s poor are paying the price. … Twenty percent of the world right now does not have access to clean water. Twenty percent of the world also happens to live on less than a dollar a day. And it’s interesting to look at how much those two groups overlap.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Birds & climate change: Climate Change Will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says

“… climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct. The four Audubon Society scientists who wrote the report projected in it that 21.4 percent of existing bird species studied will lose ‘more than half of the current climactic range by 2050 without the potential to make up losses by moving to other areas.’ An additional 32 percent will be in the same predicament by 2080, they said.”

Burdens, endurance, God, & trials: 21 Reasons God May Allow More Than You Can Bear

“Don’t believe the lie. God WILL allow more on you than you can bear — alone. You and I need a Him for our every breath. If you feel overwhelmed today — defeated — like there is more on you than you can bear – turn to the burden bearer.”

Christian nation, culture, morality, outrage & shock: 4 Reasons Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook

“It bothers me that Christians continually express shock, disapproval and judgment at the way non-Christians live.”

Enemies, ISIS, and love: How are We to Love the Soldiers of ISIS?

“… as long as there are nations and governments, there will be people who are more than willing to engage in violence, for no national government can rule its people and survive outside threats without being willing to engage in violence. Nations, governments and violence go hand-in-hand, in other words. The call of kingdom people is to opt out of this whole enterprise by pledging allegiance to Christ alone as we leave all vengeance to God and simply imitate Christ by loving our enemies (Eph 5:1-2).”

Holiness, perception, purity & sexuality: Search Term Friday: Damaged Goods

“This is the psychology that makes the Christian purity culture so toxic.”

Poor & poverty: What Makes People Poor?

“Let’s imagine for a moment that there are no political pressures distorting our discussion of poverty and that we can look at it as a technical problem, not a moral one. Maybe we would find that most explanations – left, right and center – are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church: * We’ve Seen Megachurch. But How About Micro-Church? [me like!]; * Slow Church (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5; this entire series is essential reading; read part 1 and you’ll understand why)

* “We’ve designed a space to direct people toward God, not by turning their eyes to a far-removed altar, but by turning instead to one another. The most dominant feature will be three ovular tables for ten. The bowed shape ensures that everyone at the table can make eye contact with everyone else. In addition, we’re crafting a space that intentionally invites people to participate. Open shelves holding plates and glasses encourage newcomers to jump in and set tables. It’s easy to see where everything is stored — easy to take part. Like a Montessori classroom, the design to encourages interaction with both materials and people.”

* “In their revelatory new book, Slow Church, Chris Smith and John Pattison reflect …”

Corporate worship, times of services & worship gatherings: 5 Reasons We Worship in the Afternoon

“I  had to struggle to close down evening services at the last two churches I served. Both were holdovers from a previous era, a time when people would go to church several times a week. These services had dwindled to a dozen or so older worshipers who faithfully sang the old hymns and turned out to hear a preacher, who was tired from two or three services earlier in the day, deliver a warmed-over homily. In winter, when earlier darkness prevented many of them from driving to church, attendance could be a mere handful. It was hard to end a ministry which had ceased to be productive long ago. So it’s amusing to me, now that I’m planting a new church, that our primary worship service is in the afternoon! We meet at 4:30 p.m.”

Food, shrimp & slavery: Revealed: Asian Slave Labour Producing Prawns for Supermarkets in US, UK

“Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers … including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.”

Sexuality & self-righteousness: * Why I Didn’t Wait; * Homosexuality: Have I Changed My View? [required reading]; * Sex, The Sinner, and Jesus

* “All this said, for those of us who walked that road of casual sex and now struggle to feel forgiven and pure, I write these things not to condemn you, but to remind you that you can choose differently now. You can remind yourself of the precious gift of sex, in the right way with the right person at the right time, that it truly is worth waiting for.”

* “… I (still) believe homosexual behavior is sin. The difference, though, is that now I know why. … Hopefully, now, my view is based on the Bible and not my upbringing or assumptions. So I haven’t changed my view. However, I have changed my posture. … Jesus stood against extortion, yet didn’t mention extortion when he encountered extortionists (Matt 9:9-13; Luke 19:1-10). Jesus stood against violence, but didn’t mention violence when he befriended a leader of a violent superpower (Matt 8:5-13). Jesus opposed adultery and even took a hyper-conservative view on sexual ethics (Matt 5:27-32), but he didn’t front sexual sin when he encountered people engaged in it (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus didn’t often lead with law; instead, he led with love and he loved people into holiness.”

* “I’m not trying to make light of sexual sin or any sin for that matter. But I do believe the grace of God is bigger than any of our sins. But when sexual sin is singled out or when we think we are on higher ground because sexual sin is not our sin, something is afoul.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Boys, children, introverts, masculinity, parenting, sexuality & socialization: * We’ve Preached Modesty to the Girls. Now, Let’s Talk to the Boys [required reading]; * In the Whirled: Socializing our Kids to Death

* “I think it’s high time — perhaps past time — that we talk to the boys. …  there are three myths of masculinity that permeate our society. I’ve been conditioned by them, and I’ve mistakenly conditioned you by some of them too.”

* “We live in a day and age when working with others has never been more valued. We send kids to school at younger and younger ages so they can properly socialize. We encourage involvement in activities, lots of activities, for the same reason. … And yet, for roughly one-third of the population, solitude is just what they need.”

Betting, casinos, gambling, lotteries & wagers: 9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

“This week the Council on Casinos, a group dedicated to fighting the spread of gambling in America, released a report on “Why Casinos Matter.” Here are nine things from the report on casinos and gambling that you should know.”

Church problems, leadership, ministry, power groups & relationships: Eight Types of Power Groups in Churches [required reading]

“The very thought of the presence of power groups seems contrary to the spirit and grace of the gospel. But power groups are very real in churches. … While a church may have more than one kind of group, only one of the groups will be the dominant power in the church.”

Churches, guests, greeting, hospitality & visitors: Welcome Visitors Tentatively Entering Your Church Doors

“Walking into a room where you know no one is not easy for many of us. … My hope is that the person, no matter the reason for coming, would find a gracious Christian community that is hospitable and lives and tells the story of God’s grace in Jesus Christ so people can experience the transformative story of the Gospel. Will you look for the unfamiliar person who is longing to be connected to our God?”

Funeral etiquette & manners: 10 Things You Should and Should Not Do at a Funeral

“…  some things should be non-negotiable when attending a funeral service …”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aging: 7 Keys to Aging Well

“No one wants to be that grumpy old man who is always complaining and no one wants to talk to. We want to age well. We want to age gracefully. Aging well is not something that just happens. It is something we must commit to, preferably at a young age.”

Bible interpretation & the OT: Dividing The Word

“We definitely need to know how to correctly handle the Word of God. … But we don’t need to divide the Word, not if it means neglecting inspired words of God.”

Culture, Miley Cyrus, MTV, sexuality & the VMAs: * What We Should Be Talking About When We Talk About Miley Cyrus; * Jesus Loves Miley Cyrus; * Sorry, Miley; * Miley Cyrus, the VMAs, Sex, and Moral Outrage

* “Don’t just stand there pointing out sin, obvious, and dangerous. Get involved. Fight. Help.”

* ” Part of me hates even acknowledging this event by writing about it—we’re giving MTV and Miley exactly what they want. But when people are talking, they’re also listening, and it’s important to think through what our response communicates about who we are. As Christians, when confronted with something offensive, we often condemn it on instinct. We want to make sure everyone knows how strongly we disagree, how completely we disapprove, how far we want to distance ourselves from such behavior. … but if all we do is shame Miley—a 20-year-old girl who grew up extremely privileged, extremely sheltered, and extremely publicly and is now in the process of discovering her adult identity—for her behavior, and bemoan one more nail in the coffin of this world, what are we communicating about a God who loves sinners and offers hope not just from them but to them?”

* “Adults are supposed to protect young people. Adults are supposed to refuse to treat young people like little gods, put them on pedestals, and parade them on stages. But adults do it, anyway, and our culture is just dumb, and just numb, enough to act like it’s perfectly normal. Turns out, as we’ve always known, celebrity messes with people’s heads, particularly the young. … Kids don’t need more kids. They know plenty of them. Kids need adults, actual adults, adults adult enough to reject a culture that is so bored, so dead, that it can only feel alive if given one more jolt, one more shock. And it’s hard to shock, anymore, but Miley hit that mark.”

* “If we are honest, we will admit that Miley isn’t much different than the rest of us. Whether positive or negative, we all crave attention, which is exactly what Miley is getting from us right now. Here we see that scandals are always relational and we are each responsible for our role in them: They create a co-dependent relationship between the offender and the offended. Miley needs our attention and we need her scandals to feel morally superior. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. I hope that Miley and Robin will take responsibility for their actions, but we all need to take responsibility for a culture that breeds these kinds of scandals.”

Culture, demographics, race & segregation: Racial Segregation in America

“The map displays the population distribution, using the 2010 census data, of every person in America broken down by ethnicity. The map has 308,745,538 dots, each representing a single person. Caucasians are blue dots, African-Americans are green dots, Hispanics are orange dots, Asians are red dots, and other groups are brown dots. From a bird’s eye view this is what America looks like …”

Gossip: The End of Gossip [required reading]

“Leadership is relational. Plans and programs shrivel compared to the relationships you create, nurture, or tolerate. Organizations are only as strong as the relationships that hold them together. Gossip weakens and destroys relationships. Gossip is about power. Those without power, gossip to get power. Manipulation, twisting truths, and speculation are symptoms of feeling powerless.”

I Have a Dream, March on Washington, MLK, politics & racism: * Has Dr. King’s Dream Come True?; * Something Was Missing From The March On Washington Anniversary [required reading]

* “For many, Dr. King’s dream has come true. Unfortunately for many more, the dream has not come true. …  May we be a people who rise up and carry on Dr. King’s dream and make those crooked places straight for the glory of the Lord and the good of His people. All His people.”

* “…  the absence of any prominent past or present Republican official in a speaking role at the commemoration …

“So instead of a bipartisan celebration of one of the 20th century’s greatest speeches and one of the most significant demonstrations in U.S. history, the event sometimes took on the feel of a Democratic National Convention. It seemed like just one more stop on the polarization express.”

Gospel, justice & mercy: A Better Story: How Our Understanding of Justice is Radically Re-defined by the Gospel [essential reading]

“The tragic irony is that inflicting violence and harm in the name of justice does not in fact stop violence at all; it perpetuates it.”

Introverts: 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert [apparently someone took a long stroll around the inside of my head, took a lot of pictures along the way, and then, summarizing their observations, wrote this article about me, because except for #11 and #17, they ID’ed me perfectly]

“Think you can spot an introvert in a crowd? Think again. … ‘Introversion is a basic temperament, so the social aspect — which is what people focus on — is really a small part of being an introvert,’ Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of The Introvert Advantage, said in a Mensa discussion. ‘It affects everything in your life.'”

Narcissism & self: Being True to Yourself is Living a Lie [essential reading]

“Disney doctrine can be summed up in a simple phrase: Be true to yourself. If you live according to this maxim, all your dreams will come true. … Now, I’m not a Disney hater, and I enjoy watching good movies with my kids and passing on these memorable stories. Still, there are two assumptions behind the Disney formula that we ought to be aware of: * You are what you feel. * Embrace what you feel no matter what others say. …

“Here’s where Christianity opposes the ‘follow your heart’ mentality of much of the Western world. … The truly courageous are those who crucify the self the world tells us to be true to. And then we are raised with Christ to become the person God always intended us to be.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: Scientists Develop Early-Warning System for Alzheimer’s Disease

“A quick sniff of a nasal spray sends microscopic metal particles into the brain, where they target and destroy the damaging proteins of Alzheimer’s disease. No Alzheimer’s? No problem—the metal particles pass out of the body safely. Such is the promise of technology being developed by neuroscientist William Klein and nanotechnologist Vinayak Dravid of Northwestern University.”

Clutter & minimalism: 10 Decluttering Principles to Help Anyone Clear the Clutter

“… understanding just a few key principles can help anyone clear their clutter.”

Discouragement & leadership: Ten Tips for Overcoming Discouragement [required reading]

“Every leader fights a never ending battle for improvement, growth, excellence, and progress. It’s the “never ending” part that gets you down. Apart from intervention, discouragement sets in.”

Handwriting & personality: Your Handwriting, What it Reveals

[infographic]

Ministry: Stupid Ministry Tricks: Do Not Do This Thing.

“I have a former colleague who used to say he could solve the preacher-elder wars. To elders, you can’t make everyone happy. To ministers, don’t be stupid. I think both pieces of advice might be unrealistic. But I do think that ministers can be smarter about issues related to change. So, here’s to making smarter ministers.”

Sexuality: What Scripture Says About Sex

“… how do you approach talking to a teen about sex?”