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Flotsam and jetsam (12/4)

Because-Im-Smart-685x513

Good Reads

  • Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years: We are out of clichés about change or the pace of change. Sometimes we forget how much particular vocations have changed in a short time. In fact, in thirty years pastoring has changed in ways we likely would have never predicted or imagined. (Thom Rainer)
  • Jesus Pushed the Elf Off the Shelf: As the traditions of the holidays swirl around my children, my hope is that they will learn to distinguish the law from the gospel. I want my kids to know that God is not another Santa Claus. I long for them to embrace the fact that they are not capable of being good enough to receive anything but coal in their stockings and that our hope for goodness can only be found in the only One capable of perfection. (Liberate)
  • When Do We Cross the Line into Plagiarism? Preachers today feel under much more pressure to be spectacular than they used to feel. Christians are much less likely to be loyal to a church of a particular place or a particular theological tradition. What they want is to have a great experience on Sunday, and that means they will travel to get to the most gifted preachers. When you put this pressure together with (a) a busy week in which you haven’t felt able to prepare well, and (b) the accessibility of so much sermon material through the internet—the temptation to simply repreach someone else’s sermon is very strong.

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/2)

Antisocial-Technology-685x476

Good Reads

  • My Ministry Is Harder Than Yours! (And Other Lies We Tell): So, please, let’s not compare our ministries on who has it toughest. I promise not to if you don’t. Let’s just get behind one another in concerted prayer and support. Let’s get rid of this spiritual one up-manship and face the facts that it’s all a privilege anyway. We serve the King of the Universe. Just let that sink in. (Mez McConnell)
  • The C.S. Lewis you never knew: The Christian icon whose image we see in bookstores may first seem distant. He spoke and dressed like a prim Englishman from another time. But his life was messy, contradictory and tarnished by thwarted dreams. (CNN) (I do wish the article put some of this in context by mentioning when he became a Christian instead of making it sound like all of this characterized his life as a Christian. But it’s still an interesting read.)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/27)

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Good Reads

  • The Speech that Launched the Crusades: On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II delivered the speech that launched the Crusades. Some call it the most influential speech in human history. (Gospel Coalition)
  • A Ghost Town With a Quad: Is that the future of the American university? I get that university professors have a questionable (and wholly inaccurate) rap as slacker lotharios who use class time to yell about Vietnam, get drunk on Tuesday at 10 a.m., and can never be fired no matter how boring they are. But even if you think this is true, the idea of decimating entire academic departments is ridiculous, because universities need to teach things, or else they are strip malls. (Slate)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/22)

pandora

Good Reads

  • Pastors and Vacations: Serving as a pastor is a joyful calling. Serving as pastor can be a stressful calling. Pastors desperately need time, extended time, to rest and recharge. Very few vocations have the emotional highs and lows as that of a pastor. (Thom Rainer)
  • Don’t Give Up on the Lecture: Especially since there is so much buzz around special merits of the undersung introvert, it is still surprising that the lecture format of learning is so commonly dismissed, and even disparaged. Is the teacher devoted to conveying serious concepts the best manager of a noisy, interactive classroom? Does it make sense to assume that a quiet student is always a disengaged student? There is no one method of education that fails across the board. (The Atlantic)
  • Is It Actually Hard to Be a Pastor? As a pastor who often hears other ministers teach and preach, I am disturbed by the number of times pastors allude to their jobs as being particularly difficult. Yes, we face many challenges—ministry may involve times of high emotional and spiritual duress—but I don’t think these difficulties merit special recognition with regard to other vocations. (Gospel Coalition)
  • MOOCs Are Reaching Only Privileged Learners, Survey Finds: The pattern was true not only of MOOC students in the United States but also learners in other countries. In some foreign countries where MOOCs are popular, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population,” according to the paper. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/18)

firefight

Good Reads

  • Seven Trends in Church New Member Classes: The number of churches requiring a membership class has increased 400 percent in 15 years! That is one of seven key trends we see today in new member classes. Let’s look at all seven. (Thom Rainer)
  • Batkid: A Heartwarming, Very 2013 Story: In everyday life—the life that can be all too nonfictional—the Batkid is named Miles. He is 5 years old. He lives, with his family, near San Francisco. He has been battling leukemia since he was nearly 2. He is, and hopefully will remain, in remission. (The Atlantic)
  • Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?: North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government. (Washington Post)
  • Generous Leadership vs. Closed Leadership: As Christian leaders, we can easily fall into the trap of becoming fearfully overprotective of what God has entrusted to us. But rather than letting our leadership become closed and defensive, we need to strive for generous leadership that keeps us trusting Jesus. (Resurgence)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/15)

vonnegut

Good Reads

  • American Indians balance native customs with Christianity: Some people assume Jason Thunderbird prays to eagles. Others are convinced he worships rocks. They seem disappointed, he said, when they learn he spends Sunday mornings reciting liturgical texts from a church pew. (Minnesota Public Radio)
  • Why is Calvinism so influential and not Lutheranism?  There are lots more Lutherans than Calvinists.  And Calvinism has all of those scary doctrines like double predestination and the limited atonement, whereas Lutheranism is, well, happier, with its emphasis on the certainty of grace, Christian freedom, and its affirmation of the secular realm as God’s hidden kingdom.  And yet it’s Calvinism that has been so influential in English and American Christianity and the culture as a whole. (Gene Veith)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/13)

happy whatever

Good Reads

  • Your Smartphone Has Officially Hijacked Your Life: We are all one-marshmallow OCD narcissists, granted by our devices the magic of comprehensive instant gratification, of self-reinforcing world views, of control over the daily minutia of our fates and fortunes. To not be irrevocably addicted to our smartphones would be senseless. (Slate)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/11)

phobias

Good Reads

  • The End of Protestantism: Protestantism is a negative theology; a Protestant is a not-Catholic. Whatever Catholics say or do, the Protestant does and says as close to the opposite as he can. (Peter Leithart)
  • 5 churchy phrases that are scaring off millennials: Here is what I can tell you about millennials: We grew up on easy answers, catchphrases and cliché, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things are almost always more complicated than that. (On Faith)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/8)

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Good Reads

  • I’ve Grown Cynical of Cynicism: Among many young people, cynicism has become a badge of pride. It suggests we have a certain sophisticated kind of intellect and dry, satirical humor, just like the witty sharp-shooters Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and all those late night guys. (Hermeneutics)
  • Onward Christian Soldiers: Today, there is an extensive, well-financed network of for-profit missions, using shadowy front companies to evangelize in North Korea. Though precise numbers are impossible to pin down, missionary-businesspeople have set up a staggering breadth of enterprises, including tour agencies, bakeries, factories, farms, even schools and orphanages, all in the name of spreading the Good Word. (Slate)

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/6)

creepy dude

Good Reads

  • Does Worship Divide Or Unite? Can people of different religions, or different interpretations of the same religion, pray together? In religious history, that has been a very thorny question. (The Economist)
  • 6 Reasons Not to Abandon Expository Preaching: Puritan theologian William Perkins wrote that preaching “has four great principles: to read the text distinctly, from canonical Scripture; to give it sense and understanding according to the Scripture itself; to collect a few profitable points of doctrine out of its natural sense; and to apply, if you have the gift, the doctrines to the life and manner of men in a simple and plain speech.” (Gospel Coalition)
  • Multisite Evolution: Whatever your opinion of multisite may be, there can be no doubt it is the new normal. (Ed Stetzer)

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