Here are the top five posts from the past month. And I’ve included one post that was actually written a while back and has recently resurfaced for some reason. Check out Women Who Gave Their Lives for the Church if you’re curious.
- How Philosophy Makes You a Better Leader: The goal of most executive coaching and leadership development is behavior change—help the individual identify and change the behaviors that are getting in the way of, and reinforce the behaviors associated with, effective leadership. But what about the beliefs and values that drive behavior? (Harvard Business Review)
- 3 Ways to Avoid the “Children’s Church” Ditch: The issue of children in the worship service is a balancing act. The simplistic answers that sound so straightforward in seminary or at the coffee shop often get extremely complicated when there are actual people in the equation! What follows is my attempt–flawed though it may be–to be faithful to the clear Biblical teaching on our children as part of the worshiping community and the clear command to reach people with the Gospel in the specific contexts in which they live. (Christward Collective)
- The Health Effects of Leaving Religion: one way or another, a person’s faith, or lack thereof, is often so important that it affects physical, as well as spiritual, well-being. (The Atlantic)
- Inside the Evolution of a Dead Language: How can there be a word for “world wide web” in a language that died long before the Internet was invented? The answer is complicated, a bit geeky, and a lot of fun if you enjoy language games. (The Daily Dot)
I occasionally joke about wanting some groupies, or maybe a few minions. People who think I’m so cool that they follow me around all day and try to be just like me. But the real upside, of course, is their willingness to run errands and facilitate my various plots to take over the world.
In more serious moments, though, I realize how arrogant that sounds. We’re all deeply flawed people. Who in their right mind would be so self-aggrandizing as to think that others should strive to be just like them? Even thinking that probably demonstrates that you’re not worth following, doesn’t it?
Imitate me. The height of arrogance.
Yet that’s exactly what Paul says multiple times in his various letters (e.g. 1 Cor 4:16; Eph. 5:1). Where does he get off trying to make us into his little groupies? If we’re going to understand what Paul means when he says “Imitate me,” we need to keep the following things in mind.
- Fix Bad Habits: Insights from a 7-Year Obsession: We all have lousy habits. Things we’d like to do, or know we should, but just don’t seem to happen: exercise, diet, productivity or flossing longer than a week after the visit to the dentist. (99u)
- How Busy People Make Time to Read—And You Can Too: Even the busiest people have leisure time. The difference between readers and non-readers is that readers make a habit of picking up a book during these fallow hours. (Fast Company)
- What are ten characteristics I look for in an aspiring pastor? So, here are 10 other characteristics I look for that I feel are not necessarily deal breakers, but nonetheless very important for pastoral ministry and fall within the frame work of the fruit of the spirit in a Christian’s life. (Practical Shepherding)
- The Myth of Religious Violence: The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple. (The Guardian)
Have you ever read one of the stories in the gospels, either one that was about Jesus or one of the parables told by Jesus, and been…well…bored? If you’re like me, you’ve heard those same stories so many times that they’re like an old blanket: more comforting than interesting.
What would it be like to go back and once again hear those stories for the first time?
That’s what Matt Mikalatos is trying to help us do in The First Time We Saw Him: Awakening to the Wonder of Jesus (Baker, 2014). As he explains in the introduction, the book comes from his own experience of knowing lots of facts about the Bible, but realizing that his muted responses to the gospel stories were radically different from those who were hearing those stories for the first time.
- Will Someone Explain Christianity To The New York Times? Collecting egregious errors about basic Christian teachings is a hobby of mine and The New York Times gives me some of my favorite examples. (The Federalist)
- Confronting My Temptation to Ban Books: Don’t observe Banned Books Week because a few idiots don’t like The Hunger Games, but instead because our very existence as a free, enlightened society rests on the idea of the flow of information coupled with the skills to understand it. If you needed any more proof, the first thing ISIS did in the areas that they control is ban the study of certain subjects in the schools. (Huffington Post)
- Children, God, and Human Nature: How Being a Nanny is Teaching Me About the Universe: Children reveal aspects of human nature that are present in adults; we’re just better at hiding them. (Evangelical Outpost)
- 6 Ways to Benefit from Reading Genealogies: The genealogies in Scripture are so important that it may rightly be said that we cannot fully see the glory of the metanarrative (i.e. the storyline) of the Bible without them. Here are six tips for reading genealogies that I think will benefit the diligent reader. (Christward Collective)
- Outlook: gloomy: Humans are wired for bad news, angry faces and sad memories. Is this negativity bias useful or something to overcome? (aeon)
- The NFL and the church share the same culture of silence on abuse: Too often, it can be easy to assume that some issues are less prevalent in the church. We forget that, as a collective of individuals shaped by the culture at large, sin is indiscriminate in whom it touches. Many church leaders do not realize that all evils are present in their congregations, especially sins that carry a heavy culture of silence. (Religion News Service)
- Archbishop Of Canterbury Justin Welby Admits He Sometimes Doubts The Existence Of God: Remembering his position as the leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, Welby quickly added that this was “probably not what the archbishop of Canterbury should say. (Huffington Post)
- Why You Need More Art in Your Life (and 5 Ways to Get It): In our pragmatic culture we usually see art as optional. We drill this into kids from an early age. We tell them to be practical and belittle their dreams because we can’t imagine how they’ll make any money pursuing them. But the truth is, art is indispensable. Art gives us meaning. There are things that cannot be understood with pure reason—like love and beauty, to name two. Art helps us understand our world. (Michael Hyatt)
We finally broke down and bought my daughter a cell phone on her last birthday. After years of hearing “But all my friends have one,” she finally reached the stage where she’s away from home enough that we thought it would be useful for us if she had a phone. (Yes, the only real consideration in buying your child a cell phone should be whether it makes your life easier.)
Now that she has a phone, though, I wanted to be intentional about using this new technology as an opportunity to help her develop a more Christ-like character. In particular, I’ve discovered that text-messaging is a great way to help your children develop the virtues of patience and forbearance. Granted, you have to be careful that you don’t push it so far that you violate the command not to “exasperate your children” (Eph. 6:4). But with a little practice, I find that you can draw that critical line between exasperation and productive annoyance.
Here’s my most recent attempt.
- Chimpanzees are natural born killers, study says, and they prefer mob violence: The paper, which analyzed data from 426 combined years of observation and 18 separate chimp sites, argues chimps are not driven to violence by their contacts with humans, which some scientists have previously contended. Chimps, rather, are natural born killers. (Washington Post)
- The Church of U2: Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they’re a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious….But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2’s Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band’s music, and to the U2 phenomenon. (The New Yorker)
- Why artificial intelligence is the future of religion: Robotics and Christianity have a longer history than you’d expect, and they’re only growing more entangled. (Salon)
- 10 things students experience every day at school that we educators tend to forget about…: So, just recently I was challenged by our middle school principal, Ty Crain. The challenge was simple… come be a student at the middle school for an entire day. (Justin Tarte)
Emerging adulthood is now viewed by many as a distinct stage of life in America, one that covers the period between high school and “real” adulthood. And according to Christian Smith, Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, it’s a stage of life that is powerfully shaping the way people in their 20s view the world, how they understand the church, and how they approach their own formation.
At a faculty workshop at Wheaton College earlier this semester, Smith gave a fascinating summary of recent research on emerging adulthood and its significance for understanding and ministering to young adults today. Here are some of the highlights. (Keep in mind that these are all sweeping generalizations. Smith was quite clear that none of this will apply across the board to any particular young adult or even to distinct sub-groups of young adults. But these are pretty clear characteristics of the life stage as a whole.)