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Flotsam and jetsam (4/5)

Good Reads

  • 7 Deadly Myths and 3 Inspired Truths About Book Editing: There’s never been a text written that didn’t need editing. By the time you’ve spent weeks, months, or years on a project, you can’t see the words any more. You can see the ideas — the concepts, arguments, plot, and characters — but not every word that’s on the page, or that isn’t, or where there are gaping holes in logic or jumps in style. An editor will. It’s what they’re paid to do.
  • 9 Great Things Many Group Members Hate about Small Groups: Many group members have a love hate relationship with the group they’re in. In most instances this has nothing to do with the leader of the group or the makeup of the group. It has everything to do with those expectations that are necessary for a group to be a transformational entity in the group member’s life.
  • The Atheist’s Dilemma: I don’t know when I first became a skeptic. It must have been around age 4, when my mother found me arguing with another child at a birthday party.

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Flotsam and jetsam (4/3)

Good Reads

  • We Aren’t the World: The growing body of cross-cultural research…suggested that the mind’s capacity to mold itself to cultural and environmental settings was far greater than had been assumed. The most interesting thing about cultures may not be in the observable things they do—the rituals, eating preferences, codes of behavior, and the like—but in the way they mold our most fundamental conscious and unconscious thinking and perception.
  • Eight Diagnostic Questions for a Church’s Health: a church consultation is sometimes like a medical physical—we know we need it, but we don’t like being poked and prodded by an outsider. Nevertheless, a good consultation prods with some important questions. Perhaps these questions will help you analyze your own church.

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Flotsam and jetsam (4/1)

Good Reads

  • The joys and rigours of converting to another religion: The diversity of the city [Toronto] encourages inter-religious marriages and exposure to a variety of faiths, the two most common reasons for taking the plunge. And mass immigration from around the world — including officially secular countries such as China — has also given organized religion a whole new audience to preach to.

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/29)

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Good Reads

  • Nicodemus, the mystery man of Holy Week: He came to Jesus at night, sneaking off to meet the man behind the miracles. He was a powerful Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. He wasn’t supposed to mix with the motley lot that followed Jesus. But Nicodemus had to know: Was the charismatic Galilean for real?
  • Big Theology for Little Kids: Thanks to catechism, my young ones can tell you a thing or two about justification, salvation, and repentance.
  • You’re Probably More Like Judas Than You Think: We don’t generally spend a lot of time talking about Judas, because he committed an unfathomable act of treachery. However, if we can step back for a second look, we may find a character who makes us squirm because he’s just a bit too familiar. Before Judas betrayed Jesus, he was looking for a Messiah who would let him follow his own plans.

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/27)

Good Reads

  • Why Christians Should Read Fiction: I’ve found that most people who tell me that fiction is a waste of time are folks who seem to hold to a kind of sola cerebra vision of the Christian life that just doesn’t square with the Bible. The Bible doesn’t simply address man as a cognitive process but as a complex image-bearer who recognizes truth not only through categorizing syllogisms but through imagination, beauty, wonder, awe. Fiction helps to shape and hone what Russell Kirk called the moral imagination.
  • Relationships are the new religion for many:  Religion gives people a basis for morality, for hope and a greater purpose. Millennials form their friendship groups around similar interests. They reinforce and encourage each other.
  • Generation Naive: Why Young People Can’t Help Falling for Strangers Online: My generation grew up with the Internet, spending formative years connecting with others online….A few years ago, our parents might have been worried that this fluency in digital communication would leave us somehow stunted, hiding behind the veil of an online persona. But the opposite appears to be true—millennials are only too eager to share their lives with people they don’t even know. Have we become too naive for our own good?

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/25)

Good Reads

  • Give Working Families a Rest: We live in an era of heightened materialism, where getting and spending crowds out the social and the spiritual. That’s the way most of us order our lives and it’s the way governments order our society. They worry about the economy above all else.
  • A Liberal Arts Foundation: There are no guarantees for young people now when it comes to using college to prepare for a job. The world is changing too quickly to make reliable predictions. Assume that you will have many careers, and that you will need to find ways to adapt your talents to the world’s needs. I believe the best place to do that is a liberal arts college.
  • Your Phone vs. Your Heart: Most of us are well aware of the convenience that instant electronic access provides. Less has been said about the costs. Research that my colleagues and I have just completed, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, suggests that one measurable toll may be on our biological capacity to connect with other people.

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/22)

Good Reads

  • 21 (Mostly) Irrefutably Laws of Multi-cultural Church Leadership: I believe that a picture of heaven on earth in a diverse body of people reconciled by Jesus to God displays the Gospel too beautifully to ignore. Our church is multi-ethnic (I use the term more or less interchangibly with “multi-cultural”) and multi-generational, and it’s all God’s grace. I love seeing diversity every Sunday as I preach God’s Word.
  • The Touch Screen Generation: Young children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?
  • Bigger Than We Think: The doctrine of Creation goes deeper than just explaining how the world began.
  • An Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian: When the word “homosexual” is mentioned in the church, we hold our breaths and sit in fear. Most often this word is followed with condemnation, laughter, hatred, or jokes. Rarely do we hear any words of hope. At least we recognize our sin. Does the church as a whole see theirs?

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/20)

Good Reads

  • 7 Traits of False Teachers: The existence of the counterfeit is never a good reason for rejecting the genuine. Peter essentially tells us, “Of course there are counterfeit Christians. Of course there are teachers who do the church more harm than good. What else would you expect in this fallen world? Grow up! Don’t be naïve! Don’t miss what’s real simply because you have seen the counterfeit.”
  • Living Well in Ordinary Time: ”The hardest thing in the world is to be where we are,” observes Rowan Williams in his Lent book, Christ on Trial: How the Gospel Unsettles Our Judgment. Enigmatic though it may be, I think Williams’s remark is one worth pondering if we are to negotiate faithfully the current challenges before church and world.
  • A New New Testament: Are you Serious? The council of 19—including two rabbis—examined several ancient writings…and determined which of these worthies deserved a place at the table with original New Testament books. Ten books were selected for this honor, along with two prayers and one song.

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/18)

Good Reads

  • DIY Superpowers for the Cyborg on a Budget: So what kind of sixth sense could you acquire today if you were in the market? Anything from infrared vision to an internal compass to a sort of “spidey sense” that alerts you when something is approaching from behind. And the cost can run from the tens of thousands of dollars to as little as a few bucks, as long as you have a scalpel and a hearty tolerance for risk and pain.
  • How Movements Recover: [Augustine] wanted the church to go on offense and swallow the world. This would involve swallowing impurities as well as purities. It would mean putting to use those who are imperfect. This was the price to be paid if you wanted an active church coexisting with sinners, disciplining and rebuking them.
  • 10 Ideas That Make a Difference: They can be as huge as a new constitution or as tiny as a medical microchip. In this special report, TIME explores innovations that are changing the way we work, live, pray and play.
  • Why Should Protestants Care about the Pope? In many ways, for better and/or worse, Christianity still goes through Rome. And there is no more visible representative of worldwide Christianity than the bishop of Rome. That may make a great many Christians (and non-Christians) squeamish, but it is what it is.

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Flotsam and jetsam (3/15)

Good Reads

  •  Multisite Church: Come-and-Get or Come-and-Give? What about multisite churches? Let me say that I know some really bad ones… they fit all the stereotypes. But, I know some good ones, too. I’ve preached at several that were on mission, raising up leaders, and doing great ministry.

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