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!

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

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I Want to be This Woman

When I grow up, I want to be this woman.

Well, er… not this woman. Or even any woman, for that matter.

But watch, and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

Saturday Six-Pack (39)

Welcome to the long weekend edition of the Saturday Six-Pack.

Settle in for a few minutes, and move your way through six of the of the best online pieces I found this week. Most are faith-focused or ministry-minded; others are just who-knows-what!

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 Unexpected Antidote to Procrastination
What can a prairie boy learn from surfers about life? At least one great thing, according to this HBR piece.

2) Engaging Lecturers Can Breed Overconfidence
Research Digest makes the suggestion that great speakers actually distort the learning process for their listeners. So speakers, aim to suck! Or at least read this post to be aware of what happens when you’re excellent at your job.

3) What Seems to Help in the Midst of Pain
If you’ve ever hurt or wished to help others when they hurt, then Kathy Escobar‘s thoughts may serve you well today.

4) 2013 Chick-Fil-A Leadercast Highlights
I’ve long heard rave reviews of this annual conference. Michael Hyatt has posted a short list of his take-homes from the most recent event.

5) You Only Have $5. What is the Best Way to Invest and Grow Your Money? (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
This brilliant piece uses an assignment given to Stanford students to vividly highlight the vital place for “out there” thinking.

6) Preaching Better Sermons Top 121 Tweets (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Preaching Rocket’s most recent online workshop can be tasted here in 121 tweet-sized morsels! Speakers of all stripes, have at it!

May your weekend 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.]

A Week on a Tiny Island

arrow logoOver the past two years, I have been part of the Arrow Leadership program. Briefly put, the program has involved a class of 23 people, under the age of 41, who are employed in non-profit organizations. I have nothing but the highest praise for the program–first-rate in all its work.  If you are the least bit intrigued, contact me; I would happily share more!

Barnabas-from-Above-288x288I type this post from my local airport, awaiting my flight toward Vancouver. Every six months back to September 2011, our class has gathered at the Vancouver airport, where we have been bussed and boated to beautiful Barnabas on Keats Island.  The location and hospitality leave nothing to be desired, and a powerful sense of community has been created over three separate weeks spent there together. Today marks the start of our forth and final residential.

So for good reason, I will break briefly from regular blogging. A week from now, the Canadian prairies will welcome me home, and at that point, I will meet you right back here for further Wandering & Wondering.

For today, may this Irish blessing be indicative of what God is doing in your life on this fine day:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

God of the Sucker Punch

libraryI was recently studying at a local library, situated in a leisure center with a gym and pool. My concentration was cracked by a voice, unclear, almost animal-like.  Curiosity craned my neck and I saw a family (I presume) of three exiting the building. Between the parents was the owner of the voice. Barely a teenager, living with some form of handicap, he was visibly worked up. His distressed moans were expressing as much to the whole facility. I watched his parents hold of his arms in a gentle attempt to guide him from the building, but he was having none of it. Then he began to get violent, firing unpredictable kicks at his parents’ legs and digging in his heels against their guiding efforts.

I Had to Watch.

Now in full-blown “snoopy mode”, I was unable to stop watching this odd interaction, which now escalated significantly. Father and mother proceeded to tackle their son, placing him on the ground and restraining him under their own body weight. I hoped anxiously that an onlooker would not accuse them of attacking the boy. I also wondered how many times they had been forced into these roles before. What first-day parents dream of playing bouncer as they raise that little baby? What did it feel like to tackle one’s child in a public place? In the midst of their wrestling, were they self-conscious of onlookers’ gazes, or had such thoughts been beaten out of them years earlier in the parenting of this child?

For several minutes, the three of them remained on the floor. Occasionally, the teen struggled and then surrendered into whimpering and whining once again. His parents patiently held their positions, presumably whispering negotiations for peace in that boardroom, inches from the floor.

Eventually, the three of them arose and made progress toward the exit. At this point, I saw dad run into the parking lot to locate their vehicle and bring it toward the curb. The teen noted the now-one-on-one coverage and upped the attack against his mother. Parking lot onlookers now formed an uncomfortable audience. The teen’s kicks and shoves, while still lacking full coordination and force, were intensifying, as were the feelings within this observer.

Anger was Stirring.

Ali-Liston KnockoutI knew nothing about the medical history or the family dynamics, but I was mad to watch such blatant rebellion. With father nowhere to be seen, my mind debated whether I should join the fracas as a reinforcement. Part of me wanted to swing my first “haymaker” and see what Ali felt like when he stood over Sonny Liston.

Here Comes the Boom.

And then I got sucker-punched.

A sucker punch is a punch made without warning, allowing no time for preparation or defense on the part of the recipient. (So says Wikipedia.)

Chess_piece_-_White_queenI was neither prepared, nor defended. In a vulnerable position, I was a wide receiver stretching to expose his ribs to the defender. I was the chess player so blindly bent on creating checkmate that I lost my queen. More accurately, I was King David so engrossed in a tale that I was deaf to the Jaws theme music rising to deafening volume.

“You are that man.”  That’s what David heard.

“You are that aggravating adolescent who needs an adjustment,” was more like my message.

Crystal Clear.

I have come to learn that the Spirit of God is the perfect communicator. He is as nuanced and feather-fingered or as forceful and non-negotiable as need be. His fingers can apply pressure with deadly precision to adjust exactly what is out of line.

His tone in the library did not match the anger that I had been feeling toward the parking lot punk. There was no frustration, not even impatience in the sucker punch. Rather, it struck like a sigh-filled inquiry:

“Jason, why do you battle me? Why do you fear that I might lead you astray? Why do your heels dig in? Why do you hesitate? Since the day of your birth, have I done anything to make you question My motives, as if I were out to harm you? I am capable of putting you on the ground if need be, but I would rather just walk with you in peace, with me as Parent and you as child.”

Muhammad Ali could never match the force of that gentle rebuke.

I had no answer worth speaking. I continue without one.

But I am trying to pick up my heels. The One leading me is loving and kind, and I would rather hold His hand than lie beneath His weight.

Saturday Six-Pack (31)

Another weekend, another Six-Pack!

That sentence may be spoken with a couple different meanings as another work week ends. For the part of Wondering & Wandering, that phrase describes the latest serving of my web readings that I’ve deemed worth sharing.

As per usual, most articles are ministry-minded or faith-focused, with enough flexibility protected to cover some who-knows-what as well.

If six swamps you, start with my two *Picks of the Week*.

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 Are Churches of Christ Shrinking? (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
I am part of a currently shrinking fellowship; the statistics bear this out. Many theories exist, I am sure. This piece verbalized a number of my own fuzzy thoughts better than I have done myself. I also think there is much packed into the subtitle alone: “A Left-Brained Fellowship in a Right-Brained World”. The link above goes to part one of the article. The sequel post is HERE.  Thanks to James Nored at the Missional Outreach Network for sharing.

2) The New Tent-Makers
I am not currently a tent-maker pastor, but I have wondered often if far more ministry workers won’t be bi-vocational in the future, myself included. Leadership Journal follows two current church planters as examples of what it COULD look like.

3) Why Nice People Kill Churches
This week marked my first visit to the blog of Paul Alexander.  The piece that grabbed me is about staff movement which isn’t as much of a reality in my little church as in some larger congregations. More than anything, the title resonated with something I’ve long considered, and a few of the more specific points contain valuable insights if generalized just a bit.

4) How Minimum Targets Can Mean Maximum Impact
Trust Dumb Little Man to come up with something smart! If you’ve ever experienced frustration with your inability to meet goals or to chart progress, these four tips just might make the difference between another serving of failure and a fresh dose of success.

5) Uncommon Callings (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Skye Jethani is a writer that I find myself really blessed by recently. His book “With” is one of my best reads in the past couple years.  This Jethani offering breaks down the struggle many pastors have with really grasping the “work worlds” of their church members. Some great insights here for all who work in churches.

6) 12 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn Through Science
Here’s Dumb Little Man with his second offering of the week! Taking the discovery of penicillin as an illustration, here are a dozen encouraging tidbits that might provide you direction or inspiration on how to take a step upward and forward in whatever venture you’re currently part of.

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 (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.]