Six-Pack (50)

Welcome to the big 5-0! Since starting the Six-Pack back in March 2012, over 300 links and articles have been shared in this space.

So thanks for joining us for this silver edition. Here’s the latest collection of “best recent reads” on faith, ministry, and who-knows-what!

If six overwhelms, start with two. The *Picks of the Week* provide an easy starting point.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Slowly Putting it Back Together: How One Couple Rescued a “Love Lost” Marriage (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Can a marriage on its death-bed be rescued from the brink? Megan Raines affirms that it can. Thanks to Gary Thomas, for both posting this story and for his ongoing work and writing toward strengthening and supporting marriages everywhere.

2) Three Things I Learned from Oprah
Steven Pressfield came on to my radar a few years ago, when his book “War of Art” was on a “Recommended Reading” list I received for a conference.  If you’re involved in any sort of creative process, he should be on your list too. Recently featured by Oprah, he observes what he noted from that interaction. Number three is: Oprah did not get to be Oprah by accident.

3) Seven Habits of Ineffective Leaders 
I’ve been entrusted with a number of leadership roles throughout my life. More than I care to admit, I’ve stepped up to those plates poorly. Here is a short and clear list of ways to go wrong. Let’s go do better!

4) The Silence of our Friends: The Extinction of Christianity in the Middle East
The Spectator’s Ed West does a great job highlighting just a few of the recent blows to Middle East Christianity, while asking the obvious question: Why aren’t we hearing or doing more about this?

5) The Audacity to Question God: An Interview with Greg Boyd (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
If you don’t yet know Greg Boyd, Jonathan Merritt wants to remedy that. You’ll be glad he did, as the two chat about doubt and how it pertains to Christians’ faith in the Jesus and the Bible.

6) Jack Handey Is the Envy of Every Comedy Writer in America
As I revealed in my last post (and elsewhere), I love comedy and those who “do it” in special ways. Jack Handey certainly makes that list. Don’t know Jack Handey? Start with these Deep Thoughts.

May the week ahead be filled with life, as the Father fills you with all you need!

Thanks for plowing through 50 Six-Packs with me!

YOUR TURN: Which link above was most worthwhile–why that one? Direct others readers to the best of the bunch. Your input makes this post better!

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Six-Pack (48)

Happy weekend, friends! Here is the latest Six-Pack of recent posts on faith, ministry, and who-knows-what!  I think it’s one of the best in a while.

If six is too many, start with my two *Picks of the Week* as an easy entry point.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) 21 Skills of Great Preachers
There are few things I enjoy discussing more than preaching. Let’s start there with a lengthy quote I found on Josh Reich’s blog, though I’m unsure where it’s from.

2) The Most Overlooked Leadership Skill (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
This short piece, from HBR, starts with Ultimate Frisbee and ends with a great reminder for anyone wanting to influence others, from kids to friends to whomever.

3) Alister McGrath, On Spiritual Transformation 
Scot McKnight shares some insights, from Alister McGrath, on what it takes for real transformation to happen in a life of faith.  If you don’t know McGrath, he was a prof at Oxford until 1998. Translation: He’s pretty sharp.

4) What is the Dark Night of the Soul?
This short TGC post strives to clear up some of the confusion, due to misuse, that swirls around this rich centuries-old and spiritually-rich phrase.

5) Can Noisetrade’s Free Downloads Still Save Music?
I’ve been discovering great music on Noisetrade for a couple years now. Here, CT tracks why the idea of giving away free music was birthed in the head of Derek Webb.

6) How to Focus: The Four Best Secrets to Unitasking (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
I love A.J. Jacobs. He’s funny and curious, and that’s enough for me. In this post, he plays right into my long-held conviction that multitasking is a myth. And makes me laugh a couple times along the way.

There you go!

May your weekend be one of renewal as you rest and play and praise!

YOUR TURN: Which link above was most intriguing–why that one? Direct others readers to the best of the bunch. Your input makes this post better!

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Sunday Six-Pack (43)

Welcome to the weekend and to the Six-Pack. Below is the latest installment of best-of pieces I’ve recently read online. As per usual, most pieces are faith-focused or ministry-minded; others are covered under the banner of who-knows-what!

If you need direction, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move out from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) You’re Reading the Wrong Book of Esther
The Book of Esther occupies a controversial place in the Bible. So says Joel Miller. Check out this reflection on this unique book of Scripture.

2) I Am Sorry (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Exodus International, a polarizing organization for its stance and approach to homosexuality, is closing after thirty-seven years. This apology letter by its leader is important reading for anyone wanting to enter the dialog. This response from Exodus spokeswoman Julie Rodgers supplements the follow-up conversation richly.

3) Three Things Churches Love that Kill Outreach
I have been part of churches all my life, and I have yet to be part of one where outreach appeared to be happening in a natural and unimpeded way. Some of these factors (from Church Leaders) have been tied into those struggles.

4) You Can’t Think Your Way to God (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
This CT gem features an interview with Canadian philosopher and professor James K.A. Smith. The title isn’t nearly enough to summarize this rich reflection. Too much to sum up; go read. You will be given several logs that you’ve never before placed on your fire.

5) Ten Inspirational Leadership Quotes
I am a sucker for good quotes. This batch is from Personal Success Today. If even one of these does for you what it’s supposed to do (inspire), then the link will be worth posting.

6) Angry is a Habit
As is his practice, Seth Godin packs a punch in tiny package. Allow him to nudge you toward a plan on how to address that habit(s) that is holding you back.

Another Six-Pack served.  Have at it!

May the remainder of your weekend be full of awareness and enjoyment of the God who loves you deeply. Grace and peace, my friends.

YOUR TURN: Which link above was most useful–why that one? Direct others readers to the best of the bunch. Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Saturday Six-Pack (38)

Happy Mother’s Day to every Mom and child of a Mom!

Here’s the latest installment of the Six-Pack, as assortment of worthwhile reads I’ve recently discovered. Most are ministry-minded or faith-focused, with a sprinkling of who-knows-what.

If you need direction, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move out from there.

Follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ), where I share sharp quotes and solid articles 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) The End: A Conversation with Dr. Scot McKnight
Since hearing Scot McKnight speak several years ago, I’ve paid increased attention to his work and writings. Here he reflects on the end-times-obsessed soil in which his early faith sprouted. Some good reflections here for any Christian who’s ever wondered how to make sense of end-times teachings.

2) Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Okay, that title will not draw you in! But this is a great little article. Within some discussions (regarding homosexuality among other topics), Bible-believers sometimes get accused of being inconsistent in their picking and choosing of Old Testament laws to enforce. Timothy Keller provides this sharp primer on how to make such distinctions with theological integrity. Valuable read for believers and non-believers alike.

3) 33 Leadership Quotes from Jim Putman and Francis Chan
Brian Dodd was at Exponential ’13. While listening, he put down these quotes from two presenters. Don’t expect flow or context; these are simply quotes taken on the fly by one listener. Jim Putman is a minister in Idaho who has had some influence upon the leadership of our church; he is dead serious when it comes to making disciples and one of the straightest shooters I’ve ever visited with.

4) Ten Ways to Grow a Small Group
Some great points; some less than that. Either way, several pitfalls toward healthy and thriving Small Group ministry are noted here.

5) Baptism as WarfareA guide in an ancient church once showed me a baptistry and highlighted how its styling made it a vivid point of declaring new allegiance. Or as this article highlights, it was a declaration of war. This image adds great depth to a teaching that is tired in some circles and misunderstood in others.

6) Open Letter from a Non-Mom on Mother’s Day (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Amy Young puts forward this thoughtful piece on how churches handle Mother’s Day. It actually impacted what will happen in our service later this morning.

Blessings on you, my friends.  May your weekend be refreshing in rest, play, and worship.

YOUR TURN: Direct other readers to the best stuff above by making a comment below, or weigh in on what you read.  Your input makes this post better!

[Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Saturday Six-Pack (37)

Welcome the another week’s end, friends! Here is the latest installment of the Saturday Six-Pack.

As has become custom, most of these pieces are ministry-minded or faith-focused, with just enough room to allow for some who-knows-what.

If six options disorient you, start with my two *Picks of the Week*, and roll on from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Devoted to Destruction (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
If you’ve ever wondered how to handle the “destroy everyone” passages in the book of Joshua, this article is a bit thick but certainly provocative. Thanks to Richard Beck for stirring the pot.

2) 32 Leadership Quotes from Michael Lukaszewski
Michael, from the Rocket Company, was recently a presenter at the Orange Conference. One listener quickly grabbed these notes.  More recently, the Rocket Company ran an excellent online seminar for eager-to-improve preachers. Their resources are certainly worth checking out.

3) The Real World: Leadership Lessons from Disaster Relief and Terrorist Networks (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
This brilliant piece, from Margaret J. Wheatley, is long but fascinating to any who desire to lead in ways that really make a difference in the real world. And how often do you get to draw lessons from terrorists anyway?!

4) May It Be Done (Let it Be)
Within our home, the music of Steve Bell is among the most-played. On a recent road trip, Steve blogged this piece about the Feast of Annunciation.

5) Quotes from the Master: Seth Godin
John Richardson is a huge Seth Godin fan! Here, he compiles some of Godin’s best quotes. Here are some gems from an unusually sharp (and blatantly unusual) mind!

6) Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret
Lifehacker shares this Seinfeld-secret, created and crafted when Jerry was still a largely-unknown comic, just trying to make it.

Blessings on you, my friends.  May your weekend be refreshing in rest, play, and worship.

YOUR TURN: Direct other readers to the best stuff above by making a comment below, or weigh in on what you read.  Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Saturday Six-Pack (33)

After a week away, we return with our Easter edition of the Six-Pack.

So find a seat and a few minutes. It may be that one of these ministry-minded or faith-focused articles is just what you need today. If not, I’ve attempted to include enough who-knows-what to fill the gaps.

If a half-dozen options paralyzes you, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Twelve Ways to Keep Your Church Small
If you are looking for fresh ways to limit the attendance or participation in your church, Don Nations offers a dozens ways you may not thought of before.

2) Failure as Necessity (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
In this video, Seth Godin is interviewed on why he sees failure as such a powerful experience. One of his lines: “If I fail more than you, I win.”  If you like the idea of “winning”, this interview is worth a listen/watch.

3) Ten Reasons Why We Struggle with Creativity (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Some great insights (via Psychology Today) await any who wish creativity flowed more freely.

4) 9 Things You Should Know about Duck Dynasty
I confess I have never watched an episode of this show. But I have numerous friends who love it. For those who wish they knew more about the show and its bearded wonders, the Gospel Coalition provides this nine-course meal.

5) Everyday Idolatry: Amused Apathy
What is expressed in our addiction to entertainment and our fear of boredom? Jonathan Storment tackles that one here.

6) Are Leaders Made or Born?
Forbes Magazine offered this piece, addressing one of the most common leadership questions they receive. If you think you are a leader or you wish you were a leader, it’s a quick and useful read.

Blessings on you, my friends.  May your weekend be refreshing in rest, play, and worship.

YOUR TURN: Add a line below to direct other readers to the best stuff above or to highlight the piece that gave you something worth keeping.

Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Saturday Six-Pack (30)

Welcome back to the Six-Pack, my friends!

I must say that this post represents arguably the strongest Six-Pack I’ve served up thus far.  Generally ministry-minded or faith-focused, with a dash of who-knows-what, here are a half-dozen recent reads that I think are worth your time.

If six is more than you can handle today, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) How I Learned to Not Be Overwhelmed (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Donald Miller shares the story of how Dr. Henry Cloud owes his doctorate degree to an ant farm his friend gave him. This practical post will inspire anyone who is feeling pressured by their “to do” list today.

2) How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches
The Communist government is sharpening its edge against China’s massive House Church movement. Christianity Today notes the latest trends and trajectories for underground believers in a fearful nation.

3) Multi-Tasking: Productive?
I have long declared, “Multi-tasking is a myth.” Now I have a slick infographic to support my case. Thanks to Scot McKnight for discovering and posting this.

4) 7 Common Time and Energy Wasters for Leaders
This list, compiled by Ron Edmondson, may well apply to everyone. But some of these can be especially hindering if you are in leadership.

5) Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building
Wright Thompson, of ESPN, penned this piece that has been recommended to me by a handful of friends in the past week. On the occasion of the 50th birthday of the NBA’s biggest icon, this piece speaks powerfully of man’s pursuit of significance, often a path paved with futility.

6) Fresh Air (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
That is the title of a new book, from Jack Levison, on the Holy Spirit. This great conversation about the Spirit was initiated and posted by Mark Stevens (on his great blog). No subject has my attention lately like that of the Holy Spirit; I found this interview well worth the read.

Blessings on you, my friends.  May your weekend be refreshing in rest, play, and worship.

YOUR TURN: Direct other readers to the best stuff above by making a comment below, or weigh in on what you read.  Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Sunday Six-Pack (29)

Welcome back to the Six-Pack, my friends!

After a couple weeks of family vacation, and one additional Saturday (plus one extra day!) to get myself back up to speed, here is the latest installment of internet keepers.

As per usual, these articles are typically ministry-minded or faith-focused, with enough flexibility to toss in the occasional who-knows-what.

If six is more than you can handle today, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Recommended: A Diary of Private Prayer
This quick book review is getting the first slot this week because of the value that could be discovered by following. I have used Baillie’s prayer guide on and off over the past few years–what a gem of a book! If your prayer life could use structuring and support, read this post. And then do some online shopping for a used copy of potentially life-shifting book.

2) Why You Shouldn’t Have a Position on LGBTQ’s (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
How does your church handle discussions surrounding homosexuality and gay rights? Less than comfortably, I imagine.  The following article sprung out of a Facebook post that opened with this: To the question, “What is your position on LGBTQ?” I think the best answer (in these times) is “we have no position” The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?

3) We Wait Too Long to Train Our Leaders
A recent piece from the Harvard Business Review raises the corporate equivalent of what I’ve long thought about churches.  To my ministry friends, what do you think your church has missed out on, as a result of under-developed leaders?

4) Uh Oh, Canada!
Nearly six months ago, Leadership Journal’s blog published this short piece summarizing the results from a study that indicates that young adults are departing from churches at some unfortunate rates. One of the major reasons has nothing to do with Young Adults Ministries.

5) The Myth of Human Progress (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Some have posited that postmodernism’s birth sprung from such catastrophic events as the two world wars, in which humanity’s confidence in itself and in its inevitable escalation upon the evolutionary ladder were cracked beyond repair. Living squarely within a generation labeled “postmodern”, I am not certain that the illusion has dissipated at all.  This article, from TruthDig spells out some such thoughts quite poignantly.

6) Ministry Lessons From the Good Times and the Bad
Ministry is certainly an “up and down” experience on multiple levels simultaneously. Wrapped into any graph of a pastor’s journey are facets of personal life, inner journey, and societal dynamics, not to mention the unique and multiple-layered movements occurring within a given congregation or denomination. Don Carson, for TGC, recently highlighted lessons he’d gleaned in the highs and the lows of decades of ministry.

Blessings on you, my friends.  May your weekend be refreshing in rest, play, and worship.

YOUR TURN: Direct other readers to the best stuff above by making a comment below, or weigh in on what you read.  Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Saturday Six-Pack (24)

Welcome to Wandering & Wondering!

Just in time for Christmas, it’s your latest edition of the “Saturday Six-Pack”.

Typically centered on faith or ministry, you’re sure to find some who-knows-what tossed in!

If having a half-dozen options paralyzes you, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) A Circle of Honour
One of the most powerful acts you can carry out in your relationships is to initiate experiences in which those around you are appreciated, honoured, and admired… and they know it!  Great piece from Leadership Journal.

2) Seven Questions with Scot McKnight (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Here, David Kinnaman and Scot McKnight take a look at recent Barna research on Christian women today, particularly women’s levels of satisfaction within the church. Whatever your own take on women’s roles in the Church today, Scot offers compelling perspectives on the research.  Men and women alike, your comments below on this piece could start a fascinating discussion.

3) The Paradox of Advent
This reflective prayer vividly describes the real wonder of the Christmas season.  Thanks for sharing, Scotty Smith.  If you need one more worthwhile tweeter to follow, @ScottyWardSmith will do you well.

4) Six Reasons a Pastor Should Work a Month in Advance
Mark Pierce makes a few compelling (yet brief) arguments for why more pastors might wish to pursue this approach to preaching.  Read it before you wonder, “But how would I ever pull that off?”  Then Google a quote about a will and a way.  Then decide what your next step might be.

5) Best Mac Apps of 2012
For Mac-lovers who enjoy finding new programs and such, this list may provide some enlightenment. If anything, the list made me realize that I use my iPhone for a lot of things that I don’t even address on my computer.  Several of these apps were also focused on more creative folks than myself.

6) How Social Media is Destroying Productivity (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
An article featured in last week’s Six-Pack contained this line: “What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” And a poverty of attention is one of the impacts of social media. This infographic (by ChurchMag) portrays the stats most interestingly.

Merry Christmas to all of you!  May your week be unusually full of an awareness of just how very close God has come.

Blessings on you, my friends.

YOUR TURN: Direct other readers to the best stuff with a comment below, or weigh in on what you read.  Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Saturday Six-Pack (21)

Leaning heavily on the adage “better late than never”, I give you this week’s Saturday Six-Pack… on Tuesday!

The perk? Only five days to the next half-dozen online offerings.

As usual, these articles are mostly faith-focused or ministry-geared, with a bit of disorderly-pile-of-who-knows-what tossed in!

If you need help starting, begin with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) The Bonds of Freedom
There is great paradox within the Christian understanding of freedom.  This piece from Christianity Today‘s Roger Olson fleshes out the tensions that differentiate Christian freedom from the version many of us fantasize about.

2) Tracking Wonder and Making More Time to Create
This non-Christian piece from Psychology Today was my morning call to prayer.  If you need more time for living, your next move is worship.  At least, that is what I read.  For the original statement, click the link above.

3) Great Quotes on Great Leadership (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a great quote. Tim Challies offers this list of the best bits he found in Albert Mohler’s book, “The Conviction to Lead.” (He reviews the book, which he calls “probably the best book on leadership I’ve ever read” HERE.)

4) You Asked: Does the Bible Separate Salvation from Baptism?
This brief but balanced response is offered by the Gospel Coalition to a question received from a reader, a question relevant to the whole of the Christian community, and helpfully clarifying to my Churches of Christ heritage, whose views get unnamed mention in this piece.

5) Why Should We Care About Advent? (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
In regard to Advent, there’s one question that trips up more Evangelicals than any other: “Why bother?”  Elliot Grudem, for the Resurgence, offers a handful of solid reasons on why the pre-Christmas season of Advent is full of power and potential.

6) Top Ten Gandhi Inspirational Quotes
I have long loved Gandhi. I have long loved quotes.  This LifeHack offering seemed like a no-lose way to close this installment of the Six-Pack.

May your week be full of awareness and enjoyment of the God who already fills it with Himself and every good thing.  Blessings on you, my friends.

YOUR TURN: Direct other readers to the best stuff with a comment below, or weigh in on what you read.  Your input makes this post better!

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]