Category Archives: Other People’s Stuff

Things I found interesting today.

My Weekend Picks for 12-11-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

This is a fascinating behind the scenes look at how the correspondence between Charles Schulz and one fan helped him make a difficult move…

Why Charles M. Schulz Gave Peanuts A Black Character
-Paul Sorene
Charles M Schulz Franklin letter civil rights“People I like can be divided into two groups: a) those who enjoy and get Charles M. Schulz’s wonderful Peanuts comic strip; b) those fools who don’t. All of human life is in the artist and writer’s 17,897 comic strips.

In 1968 Schulz noticed the Civil Rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and read a letter from Los Angeles schoolteacher Harriet Glickman. She had a question for Schulz: would he include a black child in the Peanuts gang?”

The Most Essential Life Skill: Teachability -David Murray
“There’s one characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in every walk of life: teachability.

Those who are teachable, and remain so, usually succeed. The unteachable usually fail. I’ve seen that in business, I’ve seen it in the ministry, I’ve seen it among students, and I’ve seen it in my children.

No matter how much talent and gifting we have, if we are, or become, unteachable, we will never reach anywhere near our full potential in our careers, our callings, or our relationships.”

Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism? -Marty Duren
Short answer: They do.
[Image credit]
Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism? It’s a question we hear a lot after full scale terrorist attacks or individual killings. It isn’t surprising given the ongoing conflation of Islam, the major world religion, with extremist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda that represent a tiny fraction of the whole.

The fact is there are many, many condemnations following every terrorist act, or violent acts carried out by Muslims. Attacks that make the news are repudiated, usually swiftly. The repudiations are rarely noted.”

This next piece is somewhat lengthy, but it is very moving and worth your time. It is the story of how God is using one man in the midst of the refugee crisis. If you, like me, live in the shelter of American borders, this will help you get a feel for what is happening elsewhere. I love his quote at the end of the piece: “I understand why you’re afraid, but that fear is not from God,” he says. “You don’t have to be afraid. You have to show love. If we don’t, we’re giving the win to ISIS.”

Love and Loss in Syria’s Refugee Crisis -Cort Gatliff
“In the middle of this chaos, Ibrahim, a former Muslim who left behind his home in Syria, is serving refugees in Istanbul and taking advantage of every opportunity to tell them about his faith in Jesus. “This is the best time for the Muslim refugees to hear the message,” Ibrahim says. “Their hearts are so soft.” He spends his days ministering to those who’ve been caught amid this massive forced migration, but he’s also waiting to be granted immigrant status so he can reunite with his wife, whom he hasn’t seen since 2013, in the United States. Since becoming a follower of Jesus in 2004, Ibrahim felt God was calling him to serve among his Muslim neighbors.

He just never knew what that would look like, until now.”


My Picks for Thursday 12-10-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Certainty, Openness and Theological Wisdom -Ray Ortlund
2012-MAY-Source-Liaohe-River-Delta-Marshland-300x214“Some Christians seem “all certainty.”  Maybe it makes them feel heroic.  But they see too few gray areas.  Everything is a federal case.  They have a fundamentalist mindset.

Other Christians seem “all openness.”  Maybe it makes them feel humble.  But they see too few black-and-white areas.  They have a liberal mindset — though they may demonstrate a surprising certainty against certainty…

…May we become more certain where we’ve been too open, and more open where we’ve been too certain, according to Scripture.”

The famous sixth-century Sinai Pantocrator (Christ Almighty) icon depicts one-half of Christ’s face as suffering servant and the other half as serene risen Lord.

Art in the Worship of the Church
-Paul Blowers
“Contrary to the old adage, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. True beauty lies in the richness and breadth of God’s revelation, which lays claim to all our senses—even some that we may not know we have! “Taste and See” is more than a lovely worship tune composed by James E. Moore in 1983. It should be a summons to all our senses to experience the boundless glory of God and to respond in kind, creatively and resourcefully.

Churches should be encouraged to use their imaginations and a wide array of arts (not just music but drama, ritual dance, photography, and iconography, etc.) to enhance their praise and worship.”

7 Situations Where Your Church Should Not Have Greeters
-Thom Rainer
“…there are a few occasions where I think it’s best for the church to have no greeters at all. Indeed, if one or a few of these situations exist, greeters in the worship services can do more harm than good... Here are seven such occasions…”

If Donald Trump Becomes President, It’s on You
-Melissa Schwartz
DONALD TRUMP“It’s not just his hate speech that should alarm you. We have had candidates for decades that have based their campaigns on arousing hate and fear. But they have not been frontrunners.

If elected President, Donald Trump has the power to enact policies by executive action to round up people of a specific race and take unilateral action against them. If elected President, Donald Trump really can spend your taxpayer dollars to build walls, tear families apart, and deny federal benefits and protections to people of a specific race.

For those who believe President Obama has overreached during his presidency, imagine those same powers in the hands of Donald Trump.”

You’d better watch out…




My Picks for Wednesday 12-9-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but his suggestions make a lot of sense…

Why White Men Should Preach Noteless Sermons
-Nicholas McDonald“…if you can’t remember your sermon, it’s too dense. It’s too complicated. It’s too geared toward written communication. Memory goes hand-in-hand with simplicity and focus – two essential qualities for oral communication.”

Stephen Colbert shows us how it’s done…

Why Humility Always Trumps Inflammatory Rhetoric
-Jesse Carey
“The need to have an opinion about every political or social issue, or a comeback to every hot-take, requires us to claim to know things we might not actually know. It elevates pride in our personally held position, over the humility to actually think and pray about what God wants.

Some situations require us to take action and seek meaningful change. But that might mean putting aside our own ideas by acknowledging we don’t know all of the answers, but we know who does.

It means sharing our opinion about an issue, but at least being humble enough to admit, “I should have mentioned this before: I don’t know what I’m talking about,” when we don’t actually have all of the answers.”

This is not really all that hard to do, but it does require you and your volunteers to be intentional…

What Are They Remembering?-Danny Franks
“Your guests walked away from your service this weekend with a collection of stories. They are stories they’ll tell once they return to their cubicle, their neighborhood, their dinner table. They are stories of delight and stories of disappointment. They are stories that will cement a positive experience or further erode a negative one.”

I like this concept a lot. It can be really helpful in thinking through how we use technology in worship…

Lightsabers in WorshipJeremy Armstrong
“Here at worship leader we have long highlighted the distinction between “idol” and “icon” as a valuable one. An icon, such as a stained-glass window or a beautiful refrain of a worship song, points attention to God. It is masterfully crafted and intricately designed, but it has a purpose: direct attention and glory to God.

An idol, on the other hand, has no such intentions. The purpose of an idol is to point to anything other than God. Idols usually point to themselves, but sometimes they can be sneaky in sending our attention in a hundred different directions.

So again, ‘How are you going to use a lightsaber in your worship service?’ Will it be an idol or an icon?”

Moving from Star Wars to Star Trek, here’s a great Christmas gift idea. “Energize” your drinks with these transporter coasters…
Star Trek Transporter Pad LED Coasters Additional Image

My Picks for Tuesday 12-8-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Is Donald Trump Right About Closing the Border to Muslims?
-Russell Moore
rsz_1donald_trump_8567813820_2“Donald Trump…suggests that the United States should close the border to all Muslims—including Muslim-Americans traveling abroad. Anyone who cares an iota about religious liberty should denounce this reckless, demagogic rhetoric…

Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians. A government that issues ID badges for Muslims simply because they are Muslims can, in the fullness of time, demand the same for Christians because we are Christians.”

The Difference Between An Artist And A Worship Leader
-David Santistevan
the difference between“That’s the difference between an artist building a fanbase and a worship leader serving a community. It’s a different skill set. It’s a different goal.

An artist grows a fanbase. A worship leader grows worshipers.

An artist obsesses over their art. A worship leaders obsesses over the Kingdom.

An artist sings songs. A worship leader groans with desperation for Jesus.

An artist performs. A worship leader invites.”

What True Love Does-Christa Threlfall
thoughts on love + service via“Sometimes it’s easiest to serve those far from us. Sometimes we can be so concerned about another’s problem while neglecting the problems God has put right under our noses. Sometimes it’s more fulfilling to make a meal for someone else than to bless your husband with a sweet note. To speak a kind word to a stranger rather than breathing life into our children. To advocate for those in another part of the world while ignoring the hurting surrounding us. In our country, state, city, home.

It’s not that you should only serve those who are in your home and then stop. But you should start there.

Having spent 35 years in ministry I can tell you that there are a LOT of misconceptions about pastors. I always sort of took pride in the times that people were surprised to find out that I was minister because I didn’t fit into many of those stereotypes. I suppose it’s for those reasons that I appreciated this article…

10 Random Things to Know about Pastors
-Ron Edmondson
“Here are 10 random things to know about pastors. These are true for me, but I suspect they may be for your pastor too.”

Sorry Ben, this is pretty funny…
Source: Bizarro

My Picks for Monday 12-7-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Joseph’s Pregnant Advent-Tim Fall

“I didn’t get any sleep last night. I haven’t been sleeping well for a while, in fact. My friends say that’s normal for someone about to get married, but it’s not just that. It’s about my Mary.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s the sweetest and wisest woman I’ve ever met. But right now we’re merely betrothed and haven’t had our wedding night yet. That’s why when she came to me a while ago with her news it caught me by surprise. Complete surprise.”

FAQ: should I curtail grandparent gift-giving?-Jen Wilkin
“Minimalist parents everywhere, I salute your desire to shepherd your kids toward simplicity. Do your best to pair it with forbearance toward silver-haired, soft-hearted spenders with whom you share a physical resemblance, a last name, or, at bare minimum, a deep love for your kids. Should you find this difficult, eggnog will help.”

This in no way is meant to minimize the tragedies (as if that could even be done) but, I did find this interesting and noteworthy…

We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States. Here’s why.-Max Ehrenfreund

“According to the FBI’s data, the national rate of violent crime has decreased 49 percent since its apex in 1991. Even as a certain type of mass shooting is apparently becoming more frequent, America has become a much less violent place.”

When Difficulty Feels Discouraging, Remember This
-Donald Miller
“Each time I read the Bible I’m taken aback by how much we dilute the power of its stories with sentimentalism. The story of Noah and his ark has been reduced to a children’s story (a God-orchestrated massacre of all humanity) and the story of the Birth of Christ into a regal pageant complete with gifts and robed choirs of angels (A poor virgin and her new husband delivering a baby in a manger of a stable. Followed by an angry king slaughtering all children under two years old to try to kill off the Messiah.)…

One of the problems with sentimentalizing the text is that we begin to sentimentalize our actual lives. We begin to think the Christian life should be free of hardship.”
Click image for a larger version.

My Weekend Picks 12-4-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

There has been a lot of conversation about prayer on social media recently, a lot of it negative. You’ve probably already seen the now famous “God Isn’t Fixing This” headline in the New York Daily News. I suppose we Christians should not be surprised that many of those who do not share our faith might go so far as to ridicule it as worthless. However, I would suggest that part of the problem is that those who would ridicule likely don’t really understand what we mean when we say we will pray. If we think prayer is like using a genie from a bottle then we have horribly misconstrued our relationship with God. He’s the Master, not us.

That is certainly not to imply that there is no power in prayer, there most certainly is. In fact, it is likely much more powerful than we will ever realize.

All of that is to introduce several excellent articles for your weekend reading that respond to some of the “prayer shaming” going on. My hope is that you find them helpful and encouraging…and that you keep praying.

In fact, let’s start with that…


Ignore the pundits and keep praying -Joel Miller
“So, yeah, let’s stop praying. Because that’s pointless—unless, of course, someone is shooting at you.

Despite its self-assurance, the New York Daily News was exactly wrong. (Probably not the first time.) How so? Later this month the church observes the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, that tragic moment in which King Herod responded to the gospel by trying to murder the messiah.

It’s a terrible though often overlooked side of the Christmas story. But the senseless killing, the unspeakable loss, the inconsolable tears connect us across centuries. And those tears have the potential to remind us of where our hope for justice ultimately rests.”

This post by Andy Crouch is thorough and powerful…

On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After the San Bernardino Shooting
-Andy Crouch
On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After the San Bernardino Shooting
“To offer prayer in the wake of tragedy is not, except in the most flattened and extreme versions of populist Christianity, to ask God to “fix” anything. It is to hold those who were harmed, and those who harmed, before the mercy of God. In many traditions, it is to recognize that the human person is more than a human body, so that even death itself is not the final word on our destiny—so prayers are appropriate even for the dead, whose lives are held by a Life that transcends death.”

Then there’s this timely reminder from Denny Burk…

Christmas means that God IS fixing this -Denny Burk

“The idea that we have to do what God has failed to do is at best out of step with Christmas and is at worst blasphemous. Christmas is the one time of year that is supposed to remind us that God is fixing this.”


When we resort to “prayer shaming” our society, not just Christian society, loses something important…

What we lose when we prayer shame politicians after a mass shooting -Russell Moore

“For religious people, of all sorts, prayer is doing something. We do believe that God can intervene, to comfort the hurting and even to energize ourselves and others for right action. For those who don’t believe in the power of prayer, the last thing any of us should want is social pressure to pretend to pray. What we can expect, though, is for neighbors to express in what ever ways they have, “We love one another, and we hurt for one another.”

When that becomes just another culture war battlefield, we’ve lost more than a set of policy proposals. We’ve lost the social cohesion we need to do anything. And social media outrage can’t fix that.”


My Picks for Thursday 12-3-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

I gotta be honest, 35 years in ministry and this has been a constant struggle. I like to think I’ve gotten better at it, but it’s still there. Carey Nieuwhof (as usual) has some words of wisdom on the subject…

5 Much Healthier Ways to Tackle Your Critics
-Carey Nieuwhof
handle the critics“Why is it that people who have accomplished very little with their lives are completely convinced they can run a multibillion dollar business far better than the CEO? Or their favourite pro team better than their coach? Or the nation better than anyone? (To which I always say, then get off your couch and do something with your life.)

Criticism is always easier than contribution.

And leadership means contributing, not just criticizing.”

I thought this was an interesting and insightful observation…

Prayer Shaming After a Mass Shooting in San Bernardino
-Emma Green
“These two reactions, policy-making and praying, are portrayed as mutually exclusive, coming from totally contrasting worldviews. Elsewhere on Twitter, full-on prayer shaming set in: Anger about the shooting was turned not toward the perpetrator or perpetrators, whose identities are still unknown, but at those who offered their prayers…

[However,] The most powerful evidence against this backlash toward prayer comes not from the Twitterverse, but from San Bernardino. “Pray for us,” a woman texted her father from inside the Inland Regional Center, while she and her colleagues hid from the gunfire. Outside the building, evacuated workers bowed their heads and held hands. They prayed.”

(To illustrate the point even further, click the word “prayed” above and read through the comments.)

Just passing through -Seth Godin
“After all, every one of his customers is just passing through, no need to care.

And that message comes through to the staff, loud and clear.

Of course, at one level, all of us are just passing through…

But most of all, life is better when we act like we might see someone again soon, isn’t it?”

There are some drummers who just don’t seem to age. He can take on the best in every generation. Of course, he’s a puppet, so…

Animal vs. Buddy Rich in 1978…

Animal vs. Dave Grohl in 2015…

My Picks for Wednesday 12-2-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

This piece on Advent was written last year, but we’re still waiting…

This Is Not How It Should Be -Graham Gladstone
Advent“Advent is not a religious countdown towards Christmas. Advent is not four weeks of ‘mini-Christmas.’ Advent is not a cloistered huddle disconnected from the real world.

Advent is the Church’s way of saying ‘this is not how it should be.’

Racial inequality, domestic violence, abusive authority – this is not how it should be.

Advent is the Church’s way of lifting the veil of the status quo and saying ‘this way of life, struggling to make your own way, regardless of the cost’ is insufficient.

Advent is the Church’s way of saying ‘there is a Kingdom coming, one of righteousness and justice, where fairness and equity are everywhere.’

Advent is the Church’s way of saying ‘this will happen – Jesus will come again – and His coming again means endless peace and incorruptible justice.’”

Is Pro-Life Rhetoric Deadly? -Russell Moore
rsz_90382198_e68854aff2_b“Pro-life rhetoric is in the news right now, since a deranged man went on a shooting spree inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. Some on the Left would impute this killer’s actions to the rhetoric of pro-life organizations, especially about the horrifying revelations about Planned Parenthood that have come out over the past year. This is a wrongheaded and deceptive tactic, but it just might spur us to think about just what our speech should be as we think about abortion.”

Pressure at work?
Source: Wrong Hands

 Take a couple of minutes and breathe…



Do We Need Music?

This is a little excerpt from the welcome address given several years ago by Karl Paulnack of the Boston Conservatory. I recommend you read the whole thing. It is really very absorbing and inspiring. You can find it here.


“One of the first cultures to articulate how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you: the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.”

(The examples are very moving. You should read them.)

“From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.”

“You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.”

“Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet.”


My Picks for Tuesday 12-1-2015

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

This simple post resonated pretty deeply in me for some reason…

A Simple Rule That Can Make Life More Fun
John Richmond
Photo Credit: Loren Kerns, Creative Commons“Kids generally do not get in trouble for being silly—they get in trouble for being silly after an adult asked them to stop. It is often that last kid to stop that bears that brunt of the punishment.

This rule applies at every phase of life.

Knowing how to stop makes eating, drinking, investing, exercising, spending, skydiving, hang gliding, and everything else more enjoyable.

Interestingly, knowing how to stop is sometimes the best way to start.”

Following Rob Bell: The Edges of Faith and the Center of the Zeitgeist -Dustin Messer

“In a world where pastors wait with bended knees and clenched eyes for their heads to roll down the sandy slopes of a Libyan beach, the complacent, comfortable, Western church must reset her vision of bravery as it relates to the pastorate. There was a time—even in the West—where cultural capital was gained by being a Christian…

These days, the real adventurers are those who set sail for the risky land of Christian orthodoxy. The real brave men and women are those who consistently go to church, observe the sacraments, hear the word, and submit themselves to the discipline of the church. In an age of autonomy, it’s those who subject their thoughts, behaviors, and passions to an exclusive Sovereign that are the brave few. Those may not be the memoirs we’re interested in today, but they’ll be the ones that last tomorrow.”

Advocating for Life, After Colorado SpringsTrevin Wax

Colorado Springs Continues To Recover After Shooting“What does this do for “the cause?”

That is a question that presents itself to both pro-life and pro-choice people following last Friday’s rampage…

We should not be surprised to see pro-choice cheerleaders among the mainstream media and Planned Parenthood’s well-endowed politicians exploiting this tragedy, weaponizing the tragedy against the wider pro-life movement and painting all pro-life people as wild and zealous fanatics.

But our response should be different. We should grieve with those who grieve, mourn the loss of innocent life and consider the victims – the families who will pass through the weeks, months, and years ahead with a sense of loss and longing that will far surpass the volcano of words in our 24-hour news cycle.”

This is a beautiful little tribute to 20 years of Pixar animation…

Grandkid pic of the day:
Me and Oliver Lloyd work the HUB at WOCC Colerain