links to 5 helpful posts

1. Sweating Our Faith by Mike Glenn

“Most of us … live mundane lives well within the limits our natural abilities. Most of us rarely, if ever, enter to the realm of living in faith.”

2. We Don’t Need to Go Back to the Early Church

“We must always go back to the teachings of the early church, the New Testament, but the church itself was a mess. Much like today. We are a mess, too, so we go back to the teachings that went to our messy brothers and sisters. We learn from them and the teachings — not to be like them, but to be faithful to our risen Lord.”

3. As You Pass Through the Valley of Weeping by Richard Beck

“You can read the Psalms for years and still you’re interrupted by their poetry.”

4. Ein Harod – How to Move From Fear to Faith by Wayne Stiles

“Some situations today will seem as bleak, hopeless, and full of fear as Gideon’s seemed to him at Ein Harod. Circumstances and emotions will demand we doubt what God has clearly promised. But our confidence and faith must remain fixed on what the Lord has said, not in what we see.”

5. Willful Ignorance

“… even more deep than willful ignorance is the sign that many have adopted a motive of self-enhancement above what reality is telling us — going for a ‘win’ in the face of a pending larger ‘loss.’ This is where willful ignorance becomes an observable and dangerous spiritual problem — the expression of egocentric and ethnocentric thinking and acting.”

quote: N.T. Wright on the Psalms

“As you sing the Psalms, pray the Psalms, and ponder the Psalms, you will find yourself drawn into a world in which certain things make sense that would not otherwise do so. In particular, you will be drawn into a world where God and Jesus make sense in a way they would not otherwise do. … The Psalms are the steady, sustained sub-current of healthy Christian living. They shaped the praying and vocation of Jesus. They can and will do the same for us.” (N.T. Wright)

links: this went thru my mind

Behavior, habits, & thinking: How to Debug Your Brain and Build Better Habits

“… we tend to make stupid decisions at transitions, because we don’t think about them …”

Capitalism & faith: Capitalism: An Economic System that Requires Us to Think and Act As If God Does Not Exist

“I have come to believe that American Christians especially have become comfortable with this inner pluralism, internalizing a kind of practical atheism, laying it alongside belief in God and acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. With the unintended but inevitable result that God gets pushed into smaller and smaller inner spaces. Naturally, people want examples, so I’ll offer one here: capitalism.”

Disappointment, expectations, & photography: Here’s How to Stop Being Disappointed by Your Photos [this 6 1/2 min. video is applicable to much more than just photography; required viewing]

“How about giving up unrealistic expectations …”

Ministry: Ministry Isn’t Fair

“Today may have been truly awful. Tomorrow might be even worse. However, we never need to doubt that through us, in the sometimes cold and wet trenches of ministry, God is working. Who knows, with some perseverance, today’s trench may be tomorrow’s vineyard.”

Singing, spiritual discipline, & spiritual formation: Singing as a Spiritual Discipline [required reading]

“Our problem is that we enjoy, celebrate, bemoan, criticize, celebrate, and judge church life based on what we like. We are deciding on the basis of what we like because we’ve bought into the lie that our corporate singing should be personal. Personal worship for a personal savior, right? But what would church look like if we reframed corporate singing, not in the ever-narrowing category of “worship,” but as a spiritual discipline?”

links: this went thru my mind

Church, church attendance, churchlessness & secularization: Secularism Grows as More Christians Turn Churchless

“There are tens of millions of active believers in America today. But the wall between the churched and the churchless is growing higher and more impenetrable as more people have no muscle memory of what it means to be a regular attender at a house of worship. How these people think, pray and use their time is shifting away from a faith-based perspective. As a result, a churchless or secular worldview ‘is becoming its own social force.'”

Ebola, faith, fear, hysteria & panic: How Christians Should Respond to Ebola in the United States [required reading]

“Never did I expect or think that my mom would contract the disease, be airlifted to Emory University Hospital or undergo the ordeal she did. We are exceedingly thankful for God’s mercy and kindness towards us in all the ways he provided to secure mom’s recovery and health. In recent days we’ve heard and seen more news of other American contracting the virus and even here in the United States. Unfortunately there is a high degree of panic about this virus, even among Christians. But this isn’t the way it should be, especially for those of us who follow and trust Christ. For Christian’s this ‘panic’ about Ebola isn’t warranted. Let me explain …”

Ministry, mission & outreach: Competency Three: Find and Cultivate New Partners in Mission

“The first work of conversion for us to have a credible witness in the world will be our own. And here is our salvation: to believe with everything we have that God’s power and significance in the world can be fully expressed in the form of a servant.”

Ministry & preaching: The Metric of a Prophet [required reading]

“‘How will the prophet measure success? In a world where the church is increasingly taken with corporate metrics of growth and success what is the metric of the prophet? … It’s found in [Ezekiel] 2.4-5: “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.’ … They may listen. They may not listen. But the one thing they will know is this: A prophet lived among them. … This … is the only thing you can control. That when people look back at their lives they remember your words and life. They remember, perhaps from a long time ago, that they once knew a person who spoke truth to them. In a world full of thorns and scorpions they once knew a child of God. A man or a woman who spoke words of judgment and words of grace. They remember a prophet once lived among them.”

Spiritual formation & worship: When Worship Becomes Formative

“… worship is designed to accomplish four things: First, worship redefines our identity. Second, worship reorders our affections. Third, worship repatterns our imagination. Finally, worship reorients our life in the world. How does this all happen? What is going on in the worship that leads to these four elements? What are we doing in worship? What are we to be doing when we gather for worship?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Accountability, church attendance, church membership, discipleship, responsibility & spiritual formation: Why join a church? (This generation of Christians wants to know.) [required reading]

“It’s the difference in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ and being an attender only. Attenders have no commitment to the team, but are looking for a comfortable place.  They sit back and let others take the lead. But disciples are committed to this body of believers and determined to forward its vision.  Attenders want a good seat, but disciples take a stand!”

Capital punishment, civilization, government, humanity & society: Are We Descending into Barbarity?

“We Americans like to think of ourselves as among the most developed and civilized countries in the world (if not at the top of the list!). But much of the rest of the world thinks otherwise. We don’t help our case when we continue to engage in acts that can only be called barbaric.”

Christ & salvation: Christ Confesses Us

“What is salvific is that Christ, witnessing our lives, recognizes and confesses us.”

Congregational singing: 15 Reasons Why We Should Still Be Using Hymnals

“…  hymnals … are important symbols for worshiping congregations. Here are some of the reasons why.”

Conscience: Can You Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide?

“God never intended your conscience as your guide. It has another purpose.”

Divorce: A Good Infographic About Divorce

“In 2012, 2.4 million people got divorced in the U.S. … So what’s happening and can anything be done to keep the love?”

Prayer: * What Good Does Prayer Do?; * Does Prayer Really Make a Difference?; * Prayer Killers for Pastors

* “Why do I pray? There must be a thousand reasons. Here are the first 20 of my answers …”

* “I know the traditional cliché that prayer is for our sake, not God’s. It changes us, not God, or God’s plans. Even C .S. Lewis said that! I have the greatest admiration for Lewis, but on this account I think he is dead wrong.

“Prayer does certainly change us, but that’s not why we’re told to engage in it. We’re commanded to engage in prayer because it is a God-ordained means of impacting him and changing the world. Jesus didn’t say if we have faith and pray our attitude toward mountains would change. He said the mountain would move! Prayer changes what happens in world.”

* “How’s your prayer life? On a scale of 1 to 10 from non-existent to stellar how would you rate it? I bet most charitably argue for a 6 to 8. Few might place them self in a 9 or 10. Rating myself honestly, I am a solid 3.”