Tag Archives: Culture

Weekend Picks ~ 11-17-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Nobody Brags About Being MaryDanny Franks
It’s easy to brag about being Martha. We check things off the list and charge ahead with projects and get stuff done. Marthas generally feel accomplished all while feeling harried. Marthas can point to what they’re doing as a sign of how worthy they are…

While we understand the importance of sitting and resting, it’s hard to tell people that that’s what we’re focusing on. When people say “I had a really slow morning with a really long quiet time,” Marthas translate that into “I didn’t feel like getting out of bed and I have trouble managing my life.”

Is your church a movement, a monument, or a mausoleum?

Movement, Monument, MausoleumRay Ortlund
Image result for Movement, monument, mausoleum
The responsibility of a church’s leaders is to discern when their movement is starting to level off as a monument. It is at this crucial point that they must face themselves honestly and discover why they have lost their edge, go into repentance and return to the costly commitments that made them great to begin with. They may need to deconstruct much of what they have become, which is painful and embarrassing. But if the leaders will have the humility, clarity, and courage to do this, their church will go into renewal and re-launch as a movement once more. Jesus will become real again, people will be helped again, and those bold, humble leaders will never regret the price they paid.

This article gave me lots to think about…

Graphic Abortion Display Evokes Volatile Reactions, But God Is Always at Work Behind the ScenesRandy Alcorn
Display at Portland State UniversitySatan wants to discourage people from doing what’s right by convincing them it makes no difference. That’s simply not true, though often we can’t immediately see the results…

There’s no doubt that pictures of what abortion does are horrific, but they can be a powerful tool, similar to how the Holocaust was so evil that words alone couldn’t describe it. Descriptions of Nazi death camps had long been published in American newspapers, but when these papers started printing the pictures of slaughtered people, the public finally woke up. If not for the pictures, even today most of us wouldn’t understand or believe the Holocaust.

Was the solution to the Holocaust to ban the disgusting pictures? Or was the solution to end the killing?

Is the solution to abortion getting rid of pictures of dead babies? Or is it getting rid of what’s making the babies dead?

How Reading Makes Us More HumanKaren Swallow Prior
cassattban.jpgTaken together, their findings suggest that those “who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective.” It’s the kind of thing writer Joyce Carol Oates is talking about when she says, “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

Color My World…
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 11-16-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Enduring Appeal of Creepy ChristianityDavid French
http://c2.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/cult-christian-celebrity-quest-certainty-damage-church.jpg?itok=CjN4CybMThe desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results…

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.

Read this book to discover how, by nursing, regulating their babies’ sleep patterns, and teaching their obedient young children how to silently express their desires through hand signals, you can help prepare them for happy, godly lives. Read that book to discover that if you control every aspect of your child’s education and dating lives, they’ll learn more, avoid sin, and launch into lifelong, happy marriages. Watch this sermon to discover the formula for health and wealth.

Feeling Disconnected? Here’s a Fix.Danny Franks
Whatever size church you attend, there will come a point where you feel left out. Unknown. Like you don’t have the friendships and relationships you’re craving.

Feeling connected isn’t correlated to size. It seems counterintuitive, but connection is not a size issue. You can be deeply known in a megachurch, and you can skate on the fringes in a rural country church where attendance runs double digits…

We’ve found that serving on a ministry team is a the #1 “connection factor” to help people feel engaged in the church and a be a part of the mission. Had you asked me this several years ago, I would have bet money on small groups. And while small groups are a close second, people who serve actually rank their felt engagement a bit higher.

“You can’t come in, sit down, be entertained by the band, get pumped up with a God pep-talk for the week ahead, and leave. If you don’t serve inside your church, you are not only missing out on being known by the people you regularly serve with, but you are depriving the rest of the church of your specific, God-given gifts and talents”

Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and LonelyTrevin Wax
Image result for Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and LonelyAt a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal last year, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, offered a purpose statement for his entertainment juggernaut: “Fundamentally, we’re about eliminating loneliness and boredom. . . . That’s what entertainment does.”

Eliminating boredom and loneliness. Chew on that for a while, and you’ll realize that only one of these issues is truly a problem, while the other is actually an opportunity…

Without boredom, how do we teach children how to behave in a restaurant, how to sing and pray and listen in church, or how to politely carry on a conversation that isn’t immediately interesting?

We shouldn’t treat boredom as a problem to be solved…

Is loneliness resolved when the members of a family all retreat to their own tablets or devices to watch the shows that have been tailored to their interests?…

Boredom and loneliness. The church has the opportunity to be countercultural…

Boredom and loneliness often go together. Our inability to embrace boredom keeps us from going deeper in our relationships. Then, shallow relationships boomerang back in the form of loneliness and more boredom.

What the God of Peace Will DoDarryl Dash
Romans 16:20“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

Every word in that verse matters. Every word encourages…

I used to read benedictions like “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” as throwaway lines. No longer. The longer I’ve been alive, the more I realize I need this present-day grace that’s available because of the past work of Jesus and the future, complete defeat of evil. I need this grace today.

Connecting the dots…
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 11-14-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

If you think “thoughts and prayers” are powerless, you might be forgetting the cross…

Conflict, Comfort and the CrossAdam Parker
https://pjcockrell.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/cross_nail.jpgIt should be no secret in the Christian community that the world thinks that we’re foolish. We acknowledge it, but sometimes we see it in ugly ways.

Perhaps the most despicable reactions came from Actor Michael McKean, who mocked the dead on Twitter and attacked those who encouraged prayer for the people in the church: “They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else.” Wil Wheaton attacked one politician who expressed sympathy and prayers for those who had lost so much: “If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive.”…

The mockery of the unbelieving world assumes a few significant things. It assumes that God would never permit his people to die. It assumes that suffering isn’t part of God’s plan. It assumes that if prayer “worked” then God’s people would just keep on living. And most fundamentally it assumes that God builds his church on power and strength. There’s an entire worldview of assumptions that have to be true if their mockery could have any basis, but of course all of these assumptions miss the cross…

A view of American Evangelicalism from a Canadian pastor…

The State of Evangelicalism in America and all that Blah Blah BlahTim Challies
I have grown accustomed to hearing about the horrific state of evangelicalism in the United States of America. The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation has seemed to add some new fuel to that fire, a fresh opportunity to bemoan the sorry state of the church today. It has apparently become almost a pastime among conservative Christians—and perhaps especially Calvinistic Christians—to lament what the church is, rather than what she ought to be.

I’ve come to think y’all are being a little too hard on yourselves…

We long-time Christians need to be reminded of this from time to time…

The Gospel Cuts the Knees Before It Lifts the Soul
Michael Kelley
No other world religion treats humanity with such pessimism. In all other schools of thought, we have something to bring to the table. We can strive toward God and meet Him, and in a sense, be congratulated when we do.

Not Christianity.

In Christianity, we bring nothing to the table. In fact, the only thing we bring to the salvation of equation is the sin we need to be rescued from…

This is how we are cut at the knees. And part of the reason the gospel, at times, ceases to lift our souls is because we have bypassed that cutting. That’s because the one character flaw that has, and will continue, to most keep people from Christ is not greed. It’s not lust. It’s not lying or stealing or killing.

It’s pride.

That’s the only thing there is no room for at the foot of the cross.

Science confirms what I have long suspected…

Science: Constant Christmas Music Has Some Extremely Negative Mental EffectsRelevant
You no longer have to feel like a Grinch just because you don’t like constant Christmas music blasting at you all of the time.

New research has found that constant holiday tunes can be wearing you down psychologically. Essentially, all of those songs—and their constant reminder of all-too perfect celebrations and never-ending too-do lists—can actually stress people out.

Dickensian Wheel of Misfortune…
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Monday Picks ~ 11-13-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Make sure you watch the short video at the top of the article. Powerful…

Sutherland Springs Church the Week AfterJohn Moritz
Holding a Bible inside a giant tent where about 1,000 people of a variety of faiths came to show support, [Pastor] Pomeroy said no doubt has crept into his mind that in the end, human goodness will triumph.

“I know this,” he said, holding the Bible high with his left hand, “because I’ve read to the end of the book.”

Every worship leader’s (and other staffers’) dilemma…

How To Influence Culture & Lead [When You’re Not In Charge]David Santistevan
It’s true. You might be in a less-than-stellar environment. And you have a choice to either leave or to make it better. Because here’s the deal: you don’t have an option to hang on, gossip, check-out, disagree, not speak up, and coast through your job. That kind of life isn’t good for you, your team, or the people you lead.

Either LOVE your work or find something else to do.

Think about it. The grass is always greener somewhere else, but what if you approached where you were with total focus and “all in” attention? What would change?

I’ve had the privilege of being part of an incredible team. But I’ve had my fair share of temptation to just coast and show up for the job, not investing my best self.

That might be where you are right now. You might be looking for a new role. You might be praying for a change.

If you find yourself in a difficult situation, try this before You leave…

Meanwhile, in Hollywood…

‘Fear is everywhere’: a quiet paranoia haunts post-Weinstein HollywoodRory Carroll
Awards season is likely to be fraught as Hollywood comes to terms with a toxic culture. ‘Questions on the red carpet will not be who you’re wearing, but what you knew and when.’From afar it may seem Hollywood rings with denunciations. In reality, there is a hush…

“It’s fear – fear is everywhere.” It was fear of damaging your career – “if you want to survive in Hollywood you don’t want to be known as a troublemaker” – and fear of offending the internet outrage machine, said Asi. “Famous people have to measure every word. You can’t predict how the public or social media may react. Silence is the best protection, your best shield.”

There is fear even of acknowledging the fear. Several industry figures compared the climate to a witch-hunt, another called it Robespierre-style terror, but they declined to be named lest they be seen as insufficiently sympathetic to victims.

Odd Jobs…

Weekend Picks ~ 11-10-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Our Response to Sexual Abuse Should Not Be a Partisan Sport Rebecca Florence Miller
http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/rebeccaflorencemiller/files/2017/11/27581043690_baf3d9fc9e.jpg…you know what really gets me angry? The tribalism in relation to sexual abuse. If the person who is guilty is a member of our own tribe, our culture goes after the accusers and seeks to discredit them. Accusers are treated like kooks and put on trial themselves. If someone from the other tribe did it, they are monsters. If someone from my tribe did it, they get a pass (thanks for nothing, Gloria Steinem) or it’s fake news…

I’ve had it. Do not tell me “but Hillary” or “but his policies were so great.” Stop it. Tell the truth.

No, Christians Don’t Use Joseph and Mary to Explain Child Molesting AccusationsEd Stetzer
No, Christians Don't Use Joseph and Mary to Explain Child Molesting AccusationsI’m not a supporter of Moore. I don’t follow Alabama politics, and he seems a bit of a sideshow to the current (much bigger) issues we face. But, let’s be clear about one thing—his defenders are not helping at all.

In defending Moore, his supporters have now become the news, and as they do so, some are stunningly appealing to religious reasons…

after I got over my initial shock of this statement, I admittedly got angry.

If this is evangelicalism, I’m on the wrong team.

But, it is not.

Christians don’t use Joseph and Mary to explain child molesting accusations…

So, let’s be clear. No. Normal. Evangelical. Believes. This. About. The. Bible.

Even as I write this, I confess that anger might even be too light of a word for how I feel right now. Eric Marrapodi of NBC news called my comments “hot fire.”

So be it.

As Christians, this should provoke anger.

We should be angered first, that politicians think they can lie to us so easily by appealing to biblical language and characters. Second, that we so easily fall for such tactics.

For the past decade, evangelicals have been easy marks, and I hope that people won’t fall for these things…

And, to all you reporters out there, THIS IS NOT WHAT EVANGELICALS BELIEVE.

The Sequel to Chariots of Fire: A New Film Starring Joseph Fiennes Tells the Rest of Eric Liddell’s StoryJustin Taylor
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYjAzZTljYTQtOGM3Yy00NWIxLTllODItYzY1MDM3NzFhZTQzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTg5MzcwNw@@._V1_UY1200_CR80,0,630,1200_AL_.jpgMost people don’t know that Liddell, who was born in China to Scottish missionaries serving with the London Missionary Society, returned to China in 1925 at the age of 23. He died at the age of 43 in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945.

In a new film, On Wings of Eagles—which apparently releases today—Joseph Fiennes plays Liddell, portraying the second half of his life.

Winning a Yoga RaceSeth Godin
Image result for seth godin
Winning a yoga race.

It makes no sense, of course.

The question this prompts is: Are there places you feel like you’re falling behind where there’s actually no race?

Follow this link if you need to smile today…

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017

Doughboys, Flying Tigers and Coming Home – an Armistice Day postTim Fall
World War One memorial in Pennsylvania (Wikimedia)My grandfather was a World War One doughboy. Of course it wasn’t called World War One back then. In fact, some thought it would be “The War to End All Wars“. I don’t know if my grandfather felt that way, but he fought in the trenches and suffered mustard gas poisoning just like you read about in books and see in the movies….

A generation later, my father fought in World War Two. The U.S. entered the war less than a week before he turned 18….

Not everyone who goes to war comes home. I am grateful for those who have served and continue to serve.

And I am grateful for our God who promises to put an end to war.

Staying connected…
Pearls Before Swine – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 11-9-2007

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

When Everything Is MissionsKevin DeYoung
https://johnbotkin.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/worldmap.png…we are not all missionaries and not everything is missions, and if we don’t get these definitions correct we will not be effective in carrying out the mission Christ gave to the Church.

…the old slogan “every member a missionary” is not really accurate. We are all called to be witnesses and disciple makers, but the Latin word missio, like the Greek word apostelein, refers to sending or being sent. A missionary… means (a) sent (b) across a boundary to where the gospel is not known, (c) to see a church planted that (d) can reach that region with the gospel once the missionary leaves. When everything is missions and everyone is a missionary, this task is obscured or forgotten…

Should churches support Christian schools at home and college ministry on secular campuses in the United States? Should we work to have excellent and engaging youth and children’s ministries? Should we be concerned by poverty and homelessness and clean water? Yes, yes, and yes. But … if we think all of this is missions we will end up neglecting the very task laid out for us in the Great Commission. When everything is missions, missions gets left behind.


The Age of Consent in the Age of Exposure
Stephen McAlpine
171030-kevin-spacey-one-time-use-mn-1105_3ca02a0124fbd8ec428b62fd34b24235-focal-760x380Now? Sexual liberty finds itself in a bind.  At the very time sexuality is dominating the culture at an even more rapid rate than before, and in an age when you are defined by your sexuality, the small matter of consent is rearing its head.  And there is much confusion…

The iWorld embraces three taboos that serve to limit individual freedom if it affects another person’s individual freedom:

  1. One may not criticise someone else’s life choices or behaviour.
  2. One may not behave in a manner that coerces or causes harm to others.
  3. One may not engage in a sexual relationship with someone without his or her consent.

…The fact is, taboos two and three are not merely modern inventions, they are woven into the fabric of the world that God has put together and which he has revealed in Scripture. They were commands of God long before they were secular taboos. Modern culture just assumed it was smarter than God by attempting to isolate these two taboos from all of the other commands about sex that have been broken with gay and straight abandon down the centuries. And the result is a mess…

Harvey and Kevin’s real concern is that Hollywood has no confessional, no altar, no service of reconciliation. Hollywood creates movies that extol forgiveness, redemption and restoration, but all they’re doing is piggy-backing on the biblical story while stripping it of transcendence. The awful reality is much different…

An excellent tribute to an excellent player…

Halladay Was Everybody’s HeroJoe Posnanski
Halladay was everybody's heroRoy Halladay simplified pitching. This was at the heart of his baseball greatness. He took this big, sprawling, complicated thing, this intricate art form weighed down by so many details — by pitches, counts, batting styles, scouting reports and arm slots and fluctuating strike zones and high-leverage situations and low-leverage situations — and he boiled it down to its essence.

Halladay refused to complicate things, and so he made it all look so easy. It wasn’t easy…

Halladay was the most admired pitcher of his day. Everyone knew how hard he worked. Everyone respected the way he went about his business. Everyone watched in wonder how Halladay made pitching simple. And most of all, everyone longed to have just a little bit of his poise, just a little bit of his class, just a little bit of his sense of self.

Roy Halladay achieved the hardest thing a great athlete can achieve. He was everybody’s hero.

“Then I think to myself, what a wonderful world…”

The World’s Tiniest Wonders, Revealed Through PhotomicrographyAnika Burgess
Nsutite and cacoxenite minerals (Image of Distinction). Since 1975, Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition has attracted photographers and scientists interested in showcasing miniscule wonders. This year’s winning entries, drawn from the work of more than 2,000 participants in 88 countries, reveal that the very, very tiny can still have a startlingly large visual impact.

An infamous day in musical history…

Tuesday Picks ~ 11-7-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

A Small Rural Church Is Hard to KillBart Barber
A Small Rural Church Is Hard to KillWhen you … look at the story of a small church in a rural town, this event defies ranking or evaluation.

For the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, it is an extinction-level event…

The death of 26 members would traumatize any church, but for a church this size, it threatens the church’s very existence. It threatens that small church; it frightens every small church. Most of the pastors of small churches across the nation know someone whom they could imagine committing a similar crime…

A single scandal involving a key personality can make an entire network of megachurches vanish without a trace in the span of a few months. I predict a better outcome for First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

People are less likely to abandon the church they attended with their grandparents. I believe that members who have been on the sidelines will step up. Sister churches in that rural area will reach in and give a helping hand. The martyrdom of these believers will bring people to Christ.

I believe that the gates of hell remain the principal threat faced by smaller churches. I believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.

Is Your Sacrifice for Jesus Getting in the Way of Your Faithfulness to Jesus?Michael Kelley
…I wonder if sometimes our sacrifices for Jesus actually get in the way of our faithfulness to Jesus.

There are opportunities all around us right now, right where we are. Opportunities to share the gospel with a neighbor. To teach a children’s Sunday school class. To tell the hard truth to a friend. To tithe to our church. But none of these things have the appearance of being large and audacious. But each and everyone of them is a small example of the kind of day in and day out faithfulness Jesus has called us to.

Spotlight II: Not Coming to a Screen Near You
Stephen McAlpine
88039381_still-01spHollywood loves a good sequel.  Especially when that sequel guarantees a lot of money.  There’s nothing a Hollywood mogul loves more than getting his hands on a lot of money. Actually, as we’re finding out, or as we’re finally being told as if we didn’t already know,  that’s not true.  Money’ is second on the list when it comes to what a Hollywood mogul loves to get his hands on.

So the sequel I’d most like to see up on the big screen this summer is Spotlight II, a followup to the original, and brilliant, Spotlight that focussed on the sexual sins of the Catholic Church in Boston. Those sins were overlooked by politicians and police alike, but were exposed by the fearless Spotlight team reporters at the Boston Globe.

Spotlight II could star Michael Keaton and all the crew, only this time the spotlight will be firmly turned back on itself, as Hollywood does the definitive piece on the sexual sins it has covered up, and has kept covered up by dint of its power and influence.

And the script virtually writes itself, doesn’t it?  All you have to do is take the original Spotlight script and replace the words “Catholic Church” with the words “Hollywood Establishment”.

At least he died happy…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.


Monday Picks ~ 11-6-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I even sort of enjoy the semi-annual shake-up…

Shut Up About Daylight Saving Time, It’s Actually Great
Dan Nosowitz
The fundamental misunderstanding of DST is a result of us Americans (humans, really) being impatient and all too willing to miscalculate the the harm of short-term problems over subtle long-term benefits. Remember! DST is not the two days per year (“fall back” and “spring forward”) when we move our clocks around. DST is eight months long…

Critics of DST often focus their criticisms around those two days per year, citing confusion, schedule disruption, and even health problems…

In reality, DST is an eight-month experiment designed to make life, well, more pleasurable for humans…

…It’s a perfectly imperfect, fantastically weird idea with noble intentions. There aren’t that many of those that actually get any traction, and DST has firmly anchored itself in our lives. Let DST stay. It just wants to make your life better.

Good reminder from a guy who has made law his life…

The Deception and Dishonesty of Legalism Tim Fall
The more you learn about Jesus, the more you’ll tend to live rightly in God’s kingdom. But if you try to focus on how to live rightly, you’d be spending time on that rather than learning more about Jesus and acquiring knowledge of the truth about him.

After all, it is not knowledge of the rules for right living that makes you godly. It is knowledge of God’s truth that leads you to godliness. This is one of the blessings of Jesus’ gospel of grace, a spiritual truth that leads you to God and godliness. The more you get to know Jesus, the more you become like him.

Five things a leader may need to sacrifice…

The One Thing Great Leaders Can’t EscapeDan Reiland
Baseball players that play for stats instead of the scoreboard, rarely contribute significantly to a winning team. In the same way, church staff who build resumes instead of building the Kingdom, rarely contribute consistently and in a big way to the progress of the church.

The primary difference between the two is the willingness to make sacrifices.

From a more substantive perspective, sacrifice might look like this…

Disturbing Trends in Men’s Hairstyles…
Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.