Six-Pack (47)

September long weekend: The start of school, the “end” of summer. Whatever you call it, it’s come and gone one more time.

Here’s the latest Six-Pack–faith-focused and ministry-minded pieces with a bit of who-knows-what!

On the heels of the holiday, two *Picks of the Week* provide an easy starting point, if you need some direction.

 

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 Writer in 1964 Pretty Much Predicted What Life in 2014 Would Look Like
That writer was Isaac Asimov, and this is fairly wild.

2) How Richard Wurmbrand Spent Three Years of Solitary Confinement with Christ
I’ve received newsletters from Voice of the Martyrs for nearly fifteen years. Their founder Richard Wurmbrand is a pretty inspiring man, as this ten-minute video will show.

3) The Obedience of the Second Adam and the True Israel (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Don’t get me wrong: “Son of God” is an appropriate name for Jesus. But I’m not convinced it’s his most fascinating one. Two of those nominees are here for consideration.

4) Three Things You Don’t Know about Your Children and Sex (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Anne Marie Miller shares this parent-freaking piece. If you’ve got kids, this is worth your time. And after you read, pray.

5) What Makes Spirituality Christian: A Conversation with Dallas Willard
I cannot overstate the respect with which I held the late Dallas Willard. This brief interview gives some peek into his insightful mind and clarity of thought and tongue.

6) The Day Larry Bird Stopped the Pacers’ Practice in its Tracks
How fun is it when your team is run by an NBA legend? Paul George will tell you.

September brings with it plentiful opportunities. Move forward in faith and faithfulness, my friends.

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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A Sweet Touch on This Soul

brennan-manningJust over a month ago, Brennan Manning passed away. His was a life (and death) that rippled through those of countless ragamuffins around the globe.

Including me.

In my late teenaged years, I was handed the book “Abba’s Child” by a man I greatly admired. I admit to not completing it, as its message about a true self and false self fell a bit ahead of its time in my young life. A year or two later, I was stunned by the power of “The Ragamuffin Gospel” in describing God’s gracious love toward every one of us. To this day, that is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

Several years ago, I posted an audio recording of Brennan sharing a similarly themed message if you want to hear this old saint preaching with fire!

I confess unashamedly that the most vivid descriptions of grace that I have ever heard came through the lips of a recovered alcoholic Catholic priest that I never met.  Tributes to Brennan have filled the internet over the past month. Here are a couple you may wish to be aware of:

A moving excerpt from Manning’s 2011 memoir “All is Grace”.

Donald Miller offers his Reflections on Brennan Manning’s Wrestling Match with God.

Brennan, you were a gem, polished by the roughness of brokenness that lives in us and around us and birthed from the depths of God’s outrageous acceptance of such folks.  You were much loved by one Canadian prairie boy and by one Cosmic Father.

 

Three Lent Voices

Here are three directions that you may head if you are looking for help in building or maintaining some “Lent focus” in this pre-Easter stretch:

Ann Voskamp shares experiences of how her fasting attempts are proving to be far more convicting than inspiring. And in the long run, that is a most life-giving gift.

In “The Wonder of Lent,” Margaret Feinberg speculates that the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” is surpassed by another: “What do you hope to lay hold of during Lent?”

For Relevant Magazine, Caryn Rivadeneira shares “Why Ash Wednesday Matters”. This can serve a quick catch-up for those who are just realizing that the Easter “began” last week. (I recorded my first Ash Wednesday experience back HERE if you need a vicarious well to draw from.)

 

Saturday Six-Pack (25)

Welcome to Wandering & Wondering!

Here it is–the final “Saturday Six-Pack” of 2012, with one last dose of the best online offerings I’ve found before the calendar runs out.

As usual, 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) Why Discomfort is Good for You
Michael Hyatt makes the counter-intuitive (and counter-cultural) assertion that comfort is highly overrated.  Here is why I think he’s right.

2) Narrative Numbness (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
The language of “story”, significant as it is, has almost been sapped of its power by overuse. That said, this piece from Relevant Magazine nails squarely the key component that cannot be missed as Christians consider their roles in carrying the Jesus-story. Insight is sharp in this brief offering.  Thanks for sharing, CJ Casciotta.

3) 50 Motivational Quotes That Will Put Your Motivation on Overdrive
With January 1, and its spoken or silent resolutions, perhaps one of these fifty quotes, served up by LifeHack, will be just what you need to make that change stick in the year ahead.

4) The Death of a Child: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
In light of the recent tragedy in Newtown, this piece, by a parent who tasted loss, will offer some insight to any pastor or friend who ever has to walk this road with someone.  Read it, and then pray you never need it.  But if you do, walk that road as well it can be walked.

5) 4 Things I’ve Learned about God through My Baby Who Was Born Blind
This article opens with this: “It’s not often that you get the opportunity to empathize with God; I recently experienced that bitter-sweet insight when I found out that my eleven-week-old baby girl was born almost completely blind.” And on it goes from there.

6) Work Less and Do More by Applying the Pareto Principle to Your Task List
The Pareto Principle says that in most situations roughly 80% of effects come from only 20% of the causes.  Translation: There are a few things in your life that can make all the difference.  Are you aware of what those are?  Lifehacker wants to know.

Happy New Year, my friends.  May the year ahead be unusually full of an awareness of God and how very close He is to you.

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 (22)

Last week’s “Saturday Six-Pack” arrived on Tuesday.  This week’s: On Monday.  Does less failure count as success?

One way or the other, here are the latest half-dozen links to feed and fuel you.

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) Women Bishops: It’s About the Bible, Not Fake Ideas of Progress
While my fellowship doesn’t have bishops, we do have women.  We also have the Bible, and possibly some fake ideas about progress.  This short piece by NT Wright hits hard on Scripture’s non-negotiable authority in the discussions of women in leadership.  And some will surprised where he goes from there.

2) 20 Top Leadership Tips… In Tweet Length
Prompted for some of the best insights he’s picked up on leadership, Ron Edmondson offers this list… in ready-form to flood your Twitter queue.

3) Does Sliding into Cohabitation Lock You In? (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
There is a common line of reasoning that sees living together as a prudent, even helpful, test-drive ahead of marriage. “Surely this ups the odds of marital success,” is the thought. Yet the research, both religious or secular in nature, consistently argues otherwise. How can something so logical be so incorrect?  For Psychology Today, here is Dr. J.R. Bruns‘ take on what is at work under this surface.

4) On the Other Side of Suffering
Philip Yancey has long been a blessing to my life. This short piece, highlighting a lesson he learned from a WWII chaplain, may be just the word of encouragement you need this morning to press on, despite a lack of the clarity or motivation you desire.

5) Why Should We Care About Advent? (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
The Advent season is underway again. In case, you haven’t yet figured out why that should matter to you, Rob Bell has a few thoughts to share, in this piece, originally posted in 2010 for Relevant magazine.

6) Six Ways to Find Time for Your Creative Work
To any whose list includes tasks that require free-flowing creative juices, The Time Management Ninja offers these six tips.

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.]

Saturday Six-Pack (20)

Back from a two-month absence, I have a stash of articles waiting for their spots in the Saturday Six-Pack.  Let’s get rolling!

As per usual, this weekend’s Six-Pack features a half-dozen online offerings that I recently enjoyed.  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 more steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and enriching articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) 6 Reasons Why Mormons Are Beating Evangelicals in Church Growth
With the presence of Mitt Romney in the recent American election, Mormonism received even more media attention than usual.  David French, for the Gospel Coalition, offers this concise take on why the Mormon Church is “outdrawing” the Evangelical Church these days AND what we can learn from this.

2) Ranting is Not Preaching
The title says it all, but Tony Merida spends a few more lines fleshing out the temptation toward this lesser form of communication and the very real dangers that arise when pastors give in.

3) 10 Proven Practices for More Productive Leadership
In this guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog, JD Meier offers a sharp list of practices relevant for every leader.  From his role at Microsoft to whatever role you fill, something (or likely SEVERAL somethings) from this list will speak to your current leadership challenges.

4) Lost in Translation (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
For Relevant magazine, Berlin’s Ben Stevens ponders why so few Christians, particularly those who tie great importance to the Bible’s authority, have ever considered learning Greek. His observations may surprise you.

5) Does Quantum Physics Make It Easier to Believe in God?
(*PICK OF THE WEEK*)

One more entry from TGC, this post summarizes a larger article posted at Big Questions Online by Stephen M. Barr, a professor of physics at the University of Delaware who specializes in theoretical particle physics.  To consider how cutting edge science intersects cutting edge theology, start here today. You’ll be glad you did.

6) Seven Habits of Highly Prolific Writers
This brief piece by Henri Junttila will inspire those of you thinking about putting words on paper to but your butt on the chair and get ‘er done!  If the thought of writing appeals to you, this post will nudge you toward the reality of it.

It’s good to be back, my friends!  Enjoy your weekend through renewing yourself and reverencing God.

Saturday Six-Pack (19)

On a beautiful summer weekend, you are most welcomed to this installment of the Saturday Six-Pack, a collection of stuff I’ve recently enjoyed online.  Most is faith-focused or ministry-geared; the rest is who-knows-what!

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

For a more steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.

In today’s edition:

1) Real Churches and Real Pastors
This is a post upon a post upon a post.  Mark Stevens started it by asking, “Are Mega-Churches Real Churches?”  Scot McKnight then added a post of response to the unfair accusations being leveled at mega-church pastors in light of a recent pastor in Singapore being busted for stealing money from his congregation.  Stevens then re-entered the discussion with a response that McKnight posted under the title, “Mega-Church Pastors: A Petersoninan Perspective,” alluding to the far-reaching influence of Eugene Peterson on what pastoring looks like.  I pastor in a nowhere near mega-church, but all of this was relevant to my journey into this role.  Maybe you too. *PICK OF THE WEEK*

2) Can You Separate Jesus from Religion?
As trendy as it is to pit Jesus against religion, the match-up is somewhat misleading, for Jesus WAS undeniably religious.  How are we to understand this relationship if it’s not a cage match to the death?  Alastair Bryan Sterne has a few ideas.

3) Four Cringe-Worthy Claims of Popular Penal Substitution Theology
Penal substitution theology is everywhere.  For decades gone by, it has been the primary lens through which most of western society has viewed and explained what took place as Jesus died on the cross.  In a nutshell, it emphasizes that Jesus died in our place, for our sins, taking our punishment.  This is valid.  However, it is not the only lens that exists for processing Christ’s death.  Many would argue it isn’t even the best one for clarity of the “big picture”.  For the Huffington Post, Morgan Guyton offers this critique of some of the misleading messages that are created by our heavy emphasis on penal substitution.  *PICK OF THE WEEK*

4) Hearing God in Permanent Silence
One believer asks a church for the deaf why they don’t pray for healing.

5) Specific Plans Do Not Always Help
For anyone who is geared toward productivity-pursuits and goal-oriented living and list-making, this article, from Psychology Today, may speak into your never-ending quest.  You don’t just need plans; you need the right kind of plan.

6) More Connected and Never Lonelier
Chaplain Mike shares a snippet from Stephen Marche’s article, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”  The entire article, from The Atlantic, can be read here.

Enjoy your weekend, friends, through renewing yourself and reverencing God.

Saturday Six-Pack (15)

Welcome to the weekend, and thanks for spending some time “Wandering & Wondering”.

This week’s Six-Pack features the usual: A half-dozen of the best articles I’ve read this week–mostly faith-focused or ministry-geared, with a bit of who-knows-what tossed in!

This week’s load:

1) Good News VS Good Advice
The Gospel is only one of these, and it is amazingly easy to get this mixed up.

2) Four Results of Christ’s Ascension
A couple years back, a friend called.  He had been assigned to preach a sermon about the significance of Christ’s Ascension.  We both agreed that we’d heard much about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, but somehow the Ascension had always been treated as something of an assumed afterthought.  If I could go back, I might at least send him to this piece as a starter.

3) Why Do Christians Need to Make it All Better?
Many believers rush through pain to get to the hope. But is that the best way?

4) Fake Love, Fake War: Why So Many Men Are Addicted to Internet Porn and Video Games
I’ve seen at least a few articles recently based on this same pile of research.  This is some insightful stuff on what makes men tick AND why these two counterfeits are so dangerous in how they impact those who consume them.

5) The Story of Send
Ever wonder what happens to your email after you hit the “Send” button? If so, you might be interested by this entry from Google Green.  Ironically, following the story takes far longer than actually sending and receiving an email in the first place, but it’s a pretty entertaining way to learn something new.

6) How Mosquitoes Survive Collisions with Raindrops
Mosquito to raindrop equals person to school bus.  How would you deal with such mid-air meetings if you could fly?  Should that ever be useful information, this post is for you.  For the rest of us, it’s just for fascination’s sake.

Enjoy your weekend, friends, through renewing yourself and reverencing God.

Saturday Six-Pack (12)

Welcome to the long weekend for my Canadian readers.  To those elsewhere, yours is surely coming before long!  Either way, it’s a pleasure to have you here for a bit of “Wandering & Wondering”.

Each week, the “Saturday Six-Pack” aims to share a half-dozen of the best online pieces I’ve read recently.  The majority of links lead to faith-focused or ministry-geared material, with the rest falling under the “disorderly pile of who-knows-what” tagline at the top of this page!

For today:

1) Spirit-Filled Living vs. Just Trying Harder
If you ever have the sense that the Christian life will require more than you have to give, you may be onto something.  Jim Cymbala is on to the same thought.

2) Does Suburbia Hurt Christianity?
Numerous churches speak of the quest to “live a life together”. But what if our everyday circumstances are sabotaging that goal? Then Relevant magazine writes an article about it!

3) The Lost Sin of Envy
Tim Challies challenges us to look inside ourselves, in search of the slippery sin of envy.

4) Why Bible Study Doesn’t Transform Us
Even this post’s title is provocative to this group sure-loving fellowship in which my faith has been birthed and nurtured. How could power possibly be lacking when people interact with God’s Word? Oh, there are numerous ways.

5)  The Idolatry of Individualism
The term “idolatry” is somewhat foreign to many Christians. It connotes images of gold-covered statues and flaky figurines.  We’re not so dumb as to let such things lead us away from the Eternal One.   But what about when the term is linked to one of our culture’s highest values?  That’s a tad less comfortable.

6) You Are Not a Computer (Try as You May)
Technology is meant to serve us. Instead it increasingly runs us — and runs us down.  Tony Schwarz of HBR brings these words of balance to how to live plugged-in without being sucked dry.

Have a great weekend, friends–renew yourself and reverence God.

Saturday Six-Pack (9)

Final weekend of April, and another Saturday Six-Pack.

If you’re “Wandering & Wondering” for the first time, every Saturday’s post features a half-dozen online offerings that have been impacting to me recently.  Typically, these articles are faith-focused or ministry-geared, but the “disorderly pile of who-knows-what” tagline at the top of this page catches everything outside of that!

Today:

1) Prisons and Other Places the Kingdom Takes Root
Philip Yancey reflects on a few surprising places he has witnessed the work and wonder of God.

2) People God Uses
From the preface of “Accounts of Revival”, Ray Ortlund brings this list of qualities seen consistently in the men and women that God uses in revival movements.  You could be one of these!

3) The Secret Sexual Revolution
Recent research has shown that the call for abstinence, once heralded loudly among Christian youth, is falling upon deaf ears… or upon ears attached to bodies that are unable or unwilling to execute “true love waits”.  Relevant Magazine offers an insightful look behind this reality.

4) God Uses Broken Leaders… Like Me
Shane Sebastian was shocked to consider himself as a broken leader.  Even more shocking, he was certainly not alone!

5) Making Time
Need more of God?  Deeper connection?  Nourishment down to your core?  Ann Voskamp offers you a few words in that direction.

6) Why Moving the Needle a Little Makes a Huge Difference
Ever feel overwhelmed at life?  So much to do, so much to be, so much to change.  Where to begin?  In two words, start small.  Two more words: Then go.  Spence Smith wants you to know the power of small movements.

Have a great weekend, friends–renew yourself and reverence God.