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Flotsam and jetsam (8/7)

How commonly misused words got started.

How commonly misused words got started.

Good Reads

  • Conversation: Rodney Stark: Stark offers some interesting thoughts on the modern church, including the fact that religious membership is at an all-time high.
  • Guard Your Flock…Even from Other Christians: It may seem ironic, but some of the people from whom you have to most tenaciously guard your church are other believers. If you don’t, the focus of the ministry is to respond to the special interests of customer Christians. And, that means your ministry (and its boundaries) will be focused on keeping customers happy—and no boundaries will exist.
  • Are You a Part-Time Churchgoer? You May Be Surprised: Recent statistics show that an increasing number of evangelicals who are firm in their faith are flabby in their practice of actually gathering with their brothers and sisters in worship. It’s the part-time syndrome, and it can sneak up on any of us.

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/5)

Counseling-in-the-age-of-the-internet

Good Reads

  • Return of the Jesus Wars: The irony is that Aslan’s succès de scandale would be more deserved if he had actually written in defense of the Islamic view of Jesus. That would have been something provocative and — to Western readers — relatively new.
  • At Christian Companies, Religious Principles Complement Business Practices:  Focusing on particular practices, like quotes on fry boats or gospel music, can obscure deep philosophical divisions among Christians who think about business ethics. For some, the Bible is a kind of business manual you’d buy in an airport bookstore, offering timeless precepts that happen to maximize profits.

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/2)

driving carefully

Good Reads

  • How to keep Millennials in the church? Let’s keep church un-cool: I’m a Millennial, but I am weary of everyone caring so much about why Millennials do this or don’t do that. I’m sorry Millennials, but I’m going to have to throw us under the bus here: we do not have everything figured out. And if we expect older generations and well-established institutions to morph to fit our every fickle desire, we do so at our peril.
  • Pope Francis is right: It’s time for a theology of women: The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with housework …we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the church. We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the Church.
  • Does Anglicanism have a future? The parish is the ecclesial form that has tied the church to place. Yet it seems that form of the church may not have the resources to respond to an increasingly mobile population that is no longer tied to place.
  • Why Fewer Churches Offer Vacation Bible School: The biggest change: busyness. “In 2001, only 5% of churches who did not offer VBS stated their reason as not having enough time, or wanting to devote such time to more pressing needs,” writes Barna. “In 2005, this number of time-pressed churches more than doubled (13%), and nearly quadrupled just last summer (19%).”

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Flotsam and jetsam (8/31)

everyone dies

Good Reads

  • How Google Glass Will Transform Your Spiritual Life: what happens when we offload our moral and spiritual progress to a device? Certainly, in the case of daily Bible reading alerts, it seems quite helpful, but is there a point at which we lose something essential to our formation into the image of the Son of God?
  • Five Fundamental Questions Conservative Evangelicals Must Address: We’ve been told often in recent years that conservative evangelicals must adapt to changing social conditions or find themselves consigned to irrelevance.  On matters of both style and substance, many evangelicals have been motivated by an anxiety that they simply aren’t keeping up.
  • Confessions of a Misguided Worship Leader: Little by little, God was shaping me through my own suffering and through the suffering of the people I was growing to love. Musical equipping was necessary, and theological formation was as well, but now I see how these tools are given to building up the people of God.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/29)

life

Good Reads

  • Gardens, Not Buildings: great projects, like great careers and relationships that last, are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant and grow again.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/26)

discipline slip

Good Reads

  • We Are All Virgins Now: This obsession with virginity measures so many of the wrong things, asks so many of the wrong questions, delivers so many of the wrong answers.
  • A Religious Legacy, With Its Leftward Tilt, Is Reconsidered: a growing cadre of historians of religion are reconsidering the legacy of those faded establishment Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, tracing their enduring influence on the movements for human rights and racial justice, the growing “spiritual but not religious” demographic and even the shaded moral realism of Barack Obama — a liberal Protestant par excellence, some of these academics say.
  • 10 Theories That Explain Why We Dream: The study of dreaming is called oneirology, and it’s a field of inquiry that spans neuroscience, psychology, and even literature. Still, the plain fact is that the reasons why we dream are still mysterious. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from coming up with some pretty fascinating hypotheses.
  • Why Online Pornography is Being Blocked in the UK—and Why It Should Be in the U.S. Too: American Christians on both the left and the right are frequently criticized for allowing their political beliefs to be shaped more by the culture than by the Word of God. Too often such complaints are overstated since the principle underlying their political position can be rooted, however obliquely, in Scripture. But the support for unlimited access to pornography, distributed freely in every home with an Internet connection, is not a cause that any Christian should tolerate, much less support.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/24)

quantum_mechanics

Good Reads

  • 9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Struggle with Prayer: John, a leader in a church I assisted as a consultant, admitted to me what I’d heard before from seminary students and church leaders alike: “Dr. Lawless, I don’t always pray like I should. I know better, but prayer isn’t easy.” I’ve heard something similar so many times that I’ve begun asking for more details.
  • Why Productive People Take Better Notes: The idea is to create your own repository of knowledge. With luck, you’ll continue to be awesome into your 80s–and if you’re recording and organizing your knowledge from now until then, you’ll have a mighty base of understanding.
  • Rebuking the Romance Prosperity Gospel: At best the Romance Prosperity Gospel is hazardous. But I may go so far as to call it wicked. What else can describe the claim that “God makes this promise to you” when He has not made that promise?

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/22)

Dogberts-Perspective-on-Karma

Good Reads

  • Young Evangelicals Are Getting High: The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story-tellers.
  • Why Do We Keep Saying Boys Are Easier? Our seemingly lighthearted comments about the “ease” of sons and the “difficulty” of daughters, though, are steeped in a troubling worldview.
  • The Wyatt Earp Myth: Earp’s story is thus fundamental to American culture—but it is not the story with which we are familiar. It is not about the redemptive power of violence, but the redemptive power of the media.

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Flotsam and jetsam (6/19)

eyes bigger than stomach (500x442)

Good Reads

  • You Talk Too Much. You Need to Listen For Content: Most people listen to win the interaction.  “Where’s that one word in their response where I can pounce on it and I can crush you like a bug?” But when you have a dialogue with somebody who listens for content,  they’re asking you clarifying questions.  They’re interested in your content.
  • 6 Pillars of a Christian View on Suffering: Ever since the ancient revolt, suffering has been woven, with perplexity and pain, into the fabric of human experience. We all live and move and have our being amid Eden’s wreckage. Affliction and evil—universal as they are real—haunt us, stalk us, plague us.
  • What Does Preaching Do to Your Brain? Is it possible that pastors could use the findings of neuroscience to somehow alter their preaching and, in doing so, get the people in the pews to grasp the theological truths they are trying to communicate?
  • The Six Types of Atheists: Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who still observe some religious traditions.

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/15)

Good Reads

  • Why Pastors Should Blog: Pastoral ministry, rightly conceived as a Spirit-led vocation, begins with the personal development of a pastor. The Spirit’s vocational assignment for pastors includes the life of the mind. The pastor is first a Christian who is, like any other follower of Jesus Christ, committed to the deepening of the mind.
  • 9 Things That Have Replaced Traditional Outreach in Churches: There is a direct connection between the demise of traditional outreach and the decreasing effectiveness of reaching the respective communities. Spending time in someone’s home was a highly effective connection that usually led to other relational opportunities. But, as noted, this type of outreach is highly problematic in most communities. What’s the solution?
  • How secular is Europe? A tale of two cultures: Secularisation can be understood negatively or positively: as a move away from traditional levels of public and private participation in religion, or positively as the adoption of an alternative set of values and beliefs that owe nothing to religion.

Other Info

Just for Fun

  • The Definitive Guide To The British Royal Succession. (I’m not entirely certain why so many people outside the UK are fascinated by the British royal family. But I still thought it was interesting to finally see how all the various family members are related to one another.)