A Final Peacock of Links

Real Men Risk Rejection

Bam:

But there’s no way I’ll ever take a real risk as long as my sense of worth is tied up in what others think of me. And that includes a girlfriend, or even a wife. It’s only as I put my trust in God and his unconditional acceptance of me through the atoning death of Jesus Christ that I can ever take up God’s calling to be a leader. It’s only when I’m confident of God’s love for me that I can stop manipulating the woman I’m interested in, and instead love and honor her by shouldering the risks of the relationship myself.

[...]

Some of you men are thinking at this point, “Wait a minute. Are you saying that all the risk is mine?” Yes, I am. “Doesn’t that mean that she can just tell me no and leave me twisting in the wind?” Yes, it does. Welcome to leadership. Welcome to trusting God. Welcome to being a man. Your cards belong on the table. Your intentions and your feelings, to the extent that you can discern them and it is appropriate for you to share them, should be clear. Part of your role even at this early stage is to protect the woman of your interest from unnecessary risk and vulnerability by providing a safe context in which she can respond.

Twenty years ago, when I finally worked up the courage to have the DTR, I didn’t do everything right. I wasn’t clear enough on my intentions. I certainly didn’t give her a sense of what was next. That led to problems along the way. And additional DTRs. But by God’s grace, I did risk myself. And I learned that God can be trusted, with my love life, with my manhood, with everything.

Things I’ve Learned Along the Way…

A lot of great observations:

Things I have learned along the way…

I have been in pastoral ministry for over 21 years now. I started my first pastorate when I was 17-years-old, still a senior in high school. I served Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for almost 18 years. And it has been my privilege to serve the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville for a little more than 3 years now.

I have learned a lot about pastoral ministry over these years. Of course, I still have quite a bit to learn. I hope to be a lifelong learner. But I am not a rookie anymore, either.

I recently began to list things I have learned over the years. These are not deep, theological, doctrinal truths. Just personal conclusions I have made about ministry through two decades of observation and experience.

Relevant Relevance

YES:

The definition of relevant is: “having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.” When it comes to church, what is the matter at hand? The matter at hand should be the covenant renewal ceremony of God’s people. The climax of this ceremony is the preached word.

Unfortunately, when the word relevant is used for church, the matter at hand is usually a reference to an individual’s life–is it relevant to me? And so, when we accuse a church of not being relevant, we mean that there are not enough messages about my struggles in work, marriage, sexuality, and finances. We mean that the music is so 19thcentury. Maybe we want it updated to the 21st century; or maybe we want it more like the 5th century. Either way, the matter at hand is what will get me out of bed on Sunday morning.

Should the church cater to these whims of preference in worship? Is the matter at hand the potential types of people walking through their doors, or is it faithfulness to the Word of God? What shapes our worship service?

The Faultiness of the Electric Chair/Cross Analogy

Yes, it is important that we remind fellow believers that the Cross of our faith was a device of death, torment, and humiliation; a symbol of great offense. That is why the electric chair comparison just doesn’t work. Nor does the noose, the gas chamber, or the lethal syringe.

There is no parallel symbol to speak of what our Savior suffered and endured for each of us. And that is why the cross is the primary and universal symbol for our faith. It is a peerless and powerful reminder of the dramatic extent of Christ’s love. And it makes Christianity unique and powerful beyond compare.

An FAQ on Christianity for the Unbeliever

A humorous FAQ indeed.

“Where Two or Three Are Gathered and Other Bad Interpretations”

C. Michael Patton dives into biblical context in order to clarify and point out the mistake in invoking Matthew 18:20 during things like prayer meetings, etc:

But one of the reasons why I got hara about this the other day was because of how misleading this can be. When we say that Christ is present in our midst when we are praying with two or three others, we imply something terrible about personal prayer: that he is not present when we pray alone. This is not true. Christ’s presence cannot be any greater in one situation than another. He does not hear you better when you have others with you. He is not more inclined to listen to your cries as long as you have a couple of buddies holding your hands saying “umm” and “amen.” There is simply no way to have more of Christ’s ear than you do right now. He is in your midst now because, being omnipresent, he is always in the immediate presence of everything in all creation.

“Lord, you promised that when two or three people are gathered in your name, you will be in our midst. Well, here we are. Because of this we call upon you to bless us and answer our prayer.” This prayer is the very essence of idolatry. Now, take that statement in the context of my realization that we all commit idolatry more often than we realize. But this misunderstood prayer invokes the presence of our God through a formulaic incantation, which is empty of any power and resembles the manipulative schemes of a polytheistic system which is continually dependent on the physical presence of their gods if blessing is to occur. We are not limited to such. Our God is bigger than that. So think again before you pray in such a way.

We Are Braggers All

All we do is brag brag brag no matter what:

Clearly, the Internet has given us a global audience for our bombast, and social media sites encourage it. We’re all expected to be perfect all the time. The result is more people carefully stage-managing their online image.

Boasting isn’t just a problem on the Internet. In a society of unrelenting competition—where reality-show contestants duke it out for the approval of aging celebrities and pastors have publicists—is it any wonder we market ourselves relentlessly?

The Anxious Idiot

Thanks to Scott, I am now coming to understand that this is not true. Thanks to Scott, I am now coming to understand that anyone, even the most neurotic of souls, can lessen and even elude anxiety, so long as he heeds a simple dictum: Don’t be an idiot.

I should define “idiot” for our purposes. I don’t mean someone of low I.Q. or poor academic abilities. Intelligence as commonly conceived has nothing to do with it. By “idiot,” I mean exactly what my brother meant when he tagged me with the epithet: an impractical and unreasonable person, a person who tends to forget all the important lessons, essentially a fool, one who willfully ignores all that he has learned about how to come to his own aid. A person who is so fixated on the fact that he is in a hole that he fails to climb out of the hole. An idiot, in short, is someone who is self-defeatingly lazy.

Goethe on the Psychology of Colors

One of Goethe’s most radical points was a refutation of Newton’s ideas about the color spectrum, suggesting instead that darkness is an active ingredient rather than the mere passive absence of light.

But perhaps his most fascinating theories explore the psychological impact of different colors on mood and emotion — ideas derived by the poet’s intuition, which are part entertaining accounts bordering on superstition, part prescient insights corroborated by hard science some two centuries later, and part purely delightful manifestations of the beauty of language.

Offline Reflections After 3 Months

Paul Miller reflects on how life without internet has been 3 months into his 1 year project/experiment.

Topographical Light Paintings

In a word, cool:

Photographer Janne Parviainen (previously) has been experimenting with a fun form of photographic light painting that resembles 3D topographical maps. Exposure times can take over 30 minutes as he carefully moves through the room with a light “tracing” every surface and object. See more in his light topography gallery.

21 Olympic Doppelgangers

HAHAHA. #2 and #20.

Anthology

To date, I’ve written about one legit, original post for roughly every 10 “peacocks of links” posts. The reason for this is because if I were to write original posts more frequently, I would be “forcing the issue” more often than not. This is why I tend to take my time with writing original posts. The twin purposes of this approach is that, by being conscientious and intentional whenever I DO write something, my thoughts and words would not only be genuine, but that they’d be helpful as well.

Which brings me to this particular post. In this compilation, I will be linking to some of my favorite, original posts (narcissist much?). The reason why I’m doing this is three-fold. First, it’s so that people can directly and more easily access some my original posts. Because I don’t “tag” my posts or write original posts on a frequent basis, many of them get lost in the shuffle. Second, by reading some of my older posts, this will be a great chance for me to personally reflect on the past year before I move across the country in less than a week. Finally, as I begin law school, I don’t think I’ll be able to blog much, if at all. Therefore, I look at this post as a last hurrah of sorts, an anthology of posts that came from the heart and hopefully will last long beyond their expiration dates (or until wordpress gets shut down). After each link, I’ll describe the context within which it was written first, and then discuss what I’ve learned/how I’ve changed second. Anyways, without further ado, here are the posts (in no particular order):
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I’ve got 99 problems, but pride ain’t one…

The genesis of this post was sparked by an apparent misunderstanding I had with one of my friends a while back. To be honest, I don’t even remember what it was about, but the situation I found myself in was that, because my friend misunderstood me, they assumed certain things. Now, my quandary was that were I to clarify or respond to that misunderstanding, I’d be guilty of making excuses and trying to justify myself. On the other hand, if I didn’t clarify or respond to that, my friend would continue in thinking certain things about me. Such a conundrum was what inspired me to (ungrammatically) write a blog post and unpack my thoughts on the underlying tension present within the issue of pride.

Looking back now, I think I oversimplified things in that post. I don’t think it’s as black and white as I made it out to be. For example, there IS a clear difference between self-justification and making excuses versus making necessary and important clarifications. There is also a huge difference between “staying silent” because of I’m confident about who/where I am in life versus “staying silent” because of my fear of being judged as a “whiner”. Most importantly, I’ve realized since then that if I stay committed to living a Christ-centered life, this issue of pride and self-justification becomes secondary and easily takes care of itself.

The Best Revenge Is Living Well

The genesis of this post was inspired by an article entitled “Why Steven Seagal Doesn’t Have !@#$ on My Dad”. A lot of what the author wrote about his dad resounded with my own experiences. The author also made a compelling point about why we are so invested in superhero stories (such as Batman and Watchmen) – not because of their inevitable victory, but because of their fighting spirit through trials and tribulations. As I chewed on this article, I also thought about how God personified grace and perseverance at the highest level on the cross. Then I thought about how, in response to such sacrifices (both by my dad and God), the best way I could live was not in bitterness and immaturity, but to live with contentment and confidence.

Not much has changed since then, although there is a new wrinkle in this narrative in the form of my departure for law school. I’ve had some time to think about it, and the best way to live well and live gratefully as I move across the country is to simply (and obviously enough) do my best. What I get to do in going to a great school to study law isn’t a right, but a privilege, and to treat it otherwise would be a bad testimony on my part. In a lot of ways, this post is probably the most personal one I’ve written, and one that still motivates me, as much as any other post does, to this day.

The Disease of More: Grace or Scorched-Earth Policy?

The genesis of this post was inspired in part by my own experiences and in part by the observations I made about the “grass is greener” mentality. Specifically, I always felt that the “grass is greener” mentality was destructive and always left you wanting more. I’ve always thought that the right mindset is to be thankful for what we do have rather than having everything we think we want. Irked by how this mentality hurt both those who engaged in such a lifestyle as well as those around them, I was convicted to share my thoughts on the need to delineate the difference between constructive ambition and blind greed.

Since the time of this post, I’ve thought a lot about how I could apply the lessons and principles I discussed in it once I start school. The irony is that the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize the opposite problem might be an issue for me in law school. Whereas in my post I discuss the problem of NEVER being satisfied, I’ve realized that I’ve been struggling with the opposite problem of being TOO content and smug, as though merely reaching law school is the be-all-end-all. With the former, the danger would lie in a scorched-earth lifestyle that destroys everything around you because of greed. With the latter, the danger would lie in the fact that nothing gets done and like a dimly lit candle, you’d be blown out before you can accomplish anything.

Childlike Faith & Soldierlike Tenacity

(On a side note, as I’ve read through a few of my posts, I’m beginning to see how often I use the word “indeed”. Yikes)

The genesis of this post was inspired by two sources. The first was my realization of the profound effect that childlike faith has on so many of the Christian’s struggles. The second was an excellent piece written by a 19th century theologian named JC Ryle in which he asks Christians if they are fighting. The connection I made between the two sources was that the more our childlike faith is cultivated, the more we are able to fight the good fight with soldierlike tenacity. I kept asking myself if we aren’t able to have a childlike faith on many of the basic tenets of Christianity, then how would we deal with the larger crises and difficulties of life? Such questions and concerns were what convicted me to write this post as well as quote words of wisdom from Ryle.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot about a third facet to this. In the original post, I thought a lot about the direct connection between God and ourselves, but not necessarily between ourselves and others – which was by design since the former was precisely the topic of my blog post. Nevertheless, childlike faith and soldierlike tenacity is not all there is. There is also the question of how we are to relate with those around us. To that end, winsome conduct, evangelism, theology, etc., should all flow from the childlike faith we have in God and the soldierlike tenacity we display in savoring and contending for the gospel. I think if we are aware of these things, that’s half the battle. As for actually accomplishing and living these things out, that’s a story that’s still being written day in and day out.

Let us not be the spot-finders

The genesis of this post came from a long-held conviction I’ve had about gossipping, quarreling, and divisiveness – both in and out of the church. The Spurgeon quote I came across (which I quote in my post) perfectly summed up my feelings on such topics. On one level, I never saw the productivity in constantly pointing things out about others, unless temporary ego boosts count as productive, desirable ends. On another level, I saw and still see nothing but bad things whenever we engage in being petty spot-finders. I was particularly concerned about how being a spot-finder harms, rather than builds up, fellow brothers and sisters in the church. Moreover, I was concerned about what message we send to the world when they see so much pettiness, divisiveness and pride in the Church.

Since then, I’ve still been convicted by the thoughts and considerations that I originally poured into this post. I’m still tired of the cynism that induces us to assume the worst about people and to zero-in on their blemishes. I’m not saying we need to be naive and blissfully ignorant, but rather, we need to get our priorities straight and make the best of any given situation with the people around us. We should fight for what matters; Life is too short to be wasted on gossip and petty complaints. Additionally, what I’ve been learning more of since I wrote this post is how, so often, we are prone to be spot-finders when people fail to meet our expectations/standards. I would just note two things: first, EVERYONE has their own expectations/standards so it’s foolish to expect EVERYONE to fall in line with your vision of how things should be, and second, it is illogical to expect anyone to meet your expectations when half the time, you haven’t even put them into words.

No Secret Formula

The genesis of this post came from, for a lack of a better term, my “marriage phase”. Based on my own family, things I’ve noticed in society at large, and a ton of my friends entering into serious relationships, I decided it would behoove me to investigate and study up on the institution of marriage. I read through the bible, scholarly papers and marriage books; spoke with numerous married friends; and attended dating/marriage seminars here and there. Admittedly, no amount of “learning” will replace the actual “experience”, but I can safely say I learned a lot, and what I learned actually improved many of the relationships with people in my life now. But yeah, as I was digesting and learning all this, I came across an article about a couple (both over 100 years old) that has been married for 86 years. In it, they discussed their experiences and shared nuggets of wisdom. As their lessons highlighted many of the things that I had been learning at that moment, I decided to highlight those intersections in the form of this blog post.

Since then, I’ve cooled down on my studies, mostly because I felt I plateaued in what I was learning, but also because I wanted to read and study other things. But nothing has changed, and all that I learned is still fresh in my mind. If anything, it’s probably to my benefit to revisit this blog post and refresh myself on the things I’ve learned because many of my friends (I think at least 5-10) have either gotten engaged or married in the past few months. Personally, though I’d like to avoid dating during my first year of grad school, I’d still like to get married within the next 4-5 years.

Perspective Does A Body Good

The genesis of this post came from much of the same thoughts and considerations that inspired my post on not being the spot-finders. Chronologically speaking though, this post came first. If my “spot-finder” post focused on the destructive symptoms of gossipping and spot-finding, this post was actually focused on the root cause: a lack of perspective. We see a guy running red lights and automatically assume he’s crazy, never leaving open the possibility that he’s rushing to the hospital for an emergency. A more practical example is when we encounter someone with a terrible attitude and dismiss them as douchebags without considering the fact that they might have had the worst day ever. But yeah, after these things actually became personal experience on the freeway for me, I felt compelled to write this post.

Since then, I’ve had ample practice to put my thoughts into action with friends, family and neighbors. The sobering thing I’ve learned is that maintaining perspective and trying to hear all the sides out is easier said than done. The most common objection and struggle I’ve faced is when friends and family members took my “wait, gather facts, and see” approach as my being too timid to take a position on certain issues or, worse, my not being on their side – with any rational explanation trying to clarify these misunderstandings being dismissed as empty excuses. It was quite frustrating to be misunderstood since I’m mediatory by nature. Nevertheless, it was a growing experience, and I believe such things will aid me in my law school experiences and beyond.

Confidence, Shyness, and Tasteful Intentionality

The genesis of this post came about thanks to an excellent op-ed piece I read on confidence and shyness. The op-ed piece was excellent and practically/accurately highlighted the mechanics behind the confidence/shyness dichotomy. As I chewed on what I read in the ensuing days, I thought a lot about how important it is for us to be confident about the important things in life. In my own life, the op-ed piece convicted me to consider how this dichotomy operates (for better or worse) in relation to how I live out my faith. Compared to the past, religion is vastly more privatized today. As a result, it’s almost taboo to be transparent about one’s religious affiliation and it’s even trickier when it comes to sharing about it. In my blog post, I summarize the main highlights of the op-ed piece and offer some general comments before writing at length about why it is important for me, as a Christian, to be “tastefully intentional”.

Since then, the importance of “tasteful intentionality” has only been more affirmed in my eyes. In an effort to be “nice” and “tolerant” in an ever relativist society, the contemporary tolerance espoused today has ironically been more intolerant than not. In practice, the contemporary tolerance works by stomping out and clamping down on anything that causes subjective offense and/or makes absolute claims (of course, there are certain things that are objectively offensive and have no place in society, but that’s not what I’m talking about here), such as religion. In light of such controversies as the Chick-fil-a situation, I think the temptation is to grab pitchforks and fight/argue back, but I think it’s more important to realize that the best way to advance productive conversation is to be tastefully intentional about things. Wielding diametrically opposing narratives and systems of beliefs will result in nothing but migraine headaches. What’s most important is to be civil but clear in our dialogues, respectful of the fact that others hold differing positions/opinions, but winsome in hearing them out and engaging them in what they actually say/believe. When we are tastefully intentional, I believe we will be one step closer to actually engaging others in their actual words/beliefs rather than knocking down the cheap straw-man caricatures we conveniently and lazily utilize too often.

Seeing the Ordinary in the Extraordinary

The genesis of post came from my weekly meetings with some friends at Starbucks. Over a few months, I noticed a couple that hung out at the local Starbucks on a semi-regular basis. What was peculiar about this couple was that the woman was deaf/mute. As I noticed them, I watched how affectionate and happy they were, all the while communicating in sign language. Then I thought about how we overly romanticize such stories and celebrate the noble sacrifices that are made, while conveniently forgetting that we are called to do the same in our relationships with our significant others. Problems and obstacles only look cute and seem romantic when you’re not the one that has to deal with it. I was convicted to write this post to highlight the fact that we shouldn’t be striving for “romance” at the cost of “commitment” – a balance which we seem to value less and less these days.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about relationships and marriage. This post was written almost six months ago, and I’ve only grown in my convictions about what I’m seeking and expecting in a relationship and in marriage. Admittedly, this has tended to make me judgmental towards those engaging in serial dating and/or flirting. And yeah, it’s not like I haven’t entertained stupid, immature ideas of what love is or fallen straight on my face when pursuing said ideas of love. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree on the superficiality of what society calls love these days. Generally speaking, what we call love is nothing more than the gratification of our egos in knowing that someone likes us back, similar to the tingly feeling we get when someone “likes” something we post on facebook. Moreover, I think there is something wrong with the pathological NEED to always be “in a relationship”. In the incessant quest to achieve and find the extraordinary through finding “the one”, we end up raising impossible expectations so that no matter who we meet, we see them as nothing more than ordinary. Then we dump them and move on. Pretty sure this is not the way things should be.

Pretty Girls

The genesis of this post was inspired in part by a thought exercise, and in part by my own personal experiences. One such experience was when an attractive female friend of mine basically humblebragged about how difficult it was to constantly deflect and deal with attention from guys. She wasn’t being arrogant in any way, but it was a matter-of-fact humblebrag in every way. As for general experiences, I always noticed how it felt like a burden to talk with pretty girls and how such interactions were awkward 9/10 times (that’s probably my fault). I also think it’s lame that when we enter a room, we’ll immediately discount 75% of the room based on looks. There’s a lot of people that might have awesome stories and lives, but we’ll never know a single thing about them because we have marginalized their existences on the basis of physical attraction. Based on these personal thoughts and experiences, I decided to write this post to kind of imagine what it’s like to be a pretty girl and in general, how tough it probably is.

As this was my most recent original post (and largely a thought exercise), there’s not much to add.

Dismantle Repair

Though I didn’t organize this anthology of posts in any specific order, I think it’s appropriate that this one is the final one listed. In this post, I discuss my journey to law school, with all its highs and lows. Just as important as sharing my story was, it was also important for me to share the lesson I learned in not taking things for granted. If we assume the “next thing” in life will just come to us, we’ll fall flat on our faces. When I assumed that I’d get into law school right after college (after all, I got into college pretty easily from high school, and I tested into my high school relatively easily as well), that’s when my life became a downward spiral. Because this was a two year journey with many peaks and valleys, and lessons learned, there was naturally many people who helped me along the way, so this post was another way for me to thank such people.

Since then, I’ve had plenty of time to think about school and imagine what the next stage of life holds for me. The more I have thought about it, the more I’m convinced that my arduous, but rewarding, journey to this point happened for a reason. Just as I shouldn’t have assumed getting into grad school would happen with a simple snap of my fingers, I can’t take anything for granted once I start school. If the arduous journey to get to this point never happened, I can only imagine how badly I’d squander everything in school and beyond. Thankfully, things turned out the way they did and for that, I’m a much stronger person now than I was at the beginning of this journey. That said, I know there’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of books to be read hahaha.

On an unrelated, but a fitting and closing note, here’s my favorite band performing their song “Anthology”.

A Morning Peacock of Links (8/10)

5 Things We Do Today Instead of Preach the Word 

James MacDonald on 5 things that Pastors frequently do rather than preaching the bible:

I wish I could tell you that most pastors are preaching the Word. I can’t—some are not. Here are five things we may choose to do instead of preach the Word.

Some Advice for Youth Ministers

Dave Hinkley shares some advice on youth ministry based on his personal experiences:

Given the dearth of helpful resources, I thought it might be nice to compile a few observations from my own ministry that may be helpful to you in yours. I hope they are edifying.

Legalism or Obedience

A quick take on the legalism/obedience dichotomy:

But we must be careful not to confuse legalism with obedience. Obedience is not legalism. Obedience is obedience. God commands us to obey his Word, and when pressed with those commands we must not cry foul — “legalism!”  No, disobedience is sin, and obedience is not legalism.

On the contrary, any violation of God’s commands is sin, and there are no exceptions allowed. No custom, no family tradition, no “We’ve always done that!” will cover it. Scripture insists that violation of God’s law is sin.

Simply put, we needn’t fear that we may obey our Lord too much. Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey him.

Why Men Can’t Have It All

An interesting take in which the author argues that there has been very little debate on whether men can (or cannot) have it all because. His angle is that it’s because “no one expects men to be as involved in parenting as women”:

The reason no one ever asks the question as to whether men can be fathers and professionals is because we don’t expect very much out of fathers. If a man is somewhat engaged with his children, and makes some attempt to be present and active in their lives, he is considered a good father.  And fortunately, a somewhat active participation in a child’s life still allows a man enough time and energy to fully devote themselves to another calling, that of their professional lives.  THIS is why men are better able to balance these two roles—not because of the enhanced abilities of men, but because the role of father is culturally diminished and relatively lightweight.  A man can throw himself into his career, and dabble in fatherhood, and still win the approval of all.

The Two Civil Wars

In “Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War,” the historian Gerald F. Linderman wrote, “Every war begins as one war and becomes two, that watched by civilians and that fought by soldiers” — a fact that confronted Josiah Williams and countless thousands of other Civil War combatants who found themselves separated by a deep gulf of experience from their families.

Flying Babies

Child abuse.

A Morning Peacock of Links (8/9)

The Worst Tool for Evangelism

There’s no such thing as being shamed into salvation:

“If you’re 99% saved, then you’re 100% lost!” Church sign I just drove by. I guess they didn’t have the letters for “Visitors keep out.”

A number of people saw that tweet and replied back to me with thoughts like this:

“Isn’t that theologically accurate?”

“Don’t we need to be convicted?”

I think those were good questions, but I never doubted the accuracy of that idea. I was doubting whether or not a welcome sign is the best place to debate theological accuracy. Is a message of shame the best message for a church welcome sign?

What Letter Would You Write to a Gay Son?

In response to how one father disowned his gay son, David Murray puts his thoughts to words and shows what kind of letter he would write if he were in a similar situation.

Everyone Benefits by Including Children in Small Groups

Logan Gentry makes his case for including children and entire families in small group meetings. I’ve never seen it done personally, but he makes some interesting points:

We must re-imagine the church community, moving beyond life-stage idolatry to see the church as a family. Repeatedly the Bible refers to the church as the household of God, and familial language is used in describing our relationships with one another. We become spiritual brothers and sisters and make disciples of spiritual children with God our Father because of the work of Christ in making us fellow heirs by the power of the Spirit in the gospel. Community groups that gather around the gospel, then, will includes singles, married couples, and families who seek to fulfill the many “one anothers” of Scripture, discipling one another, and participating in each other’s mission fields. Since the parents’ mission field starts with their children, the rest of the community seeks to own this mission with them.

For families to share their community’s mission, parents will need to see singles and married couples without kids as valuable to them beyond babysitting. When the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes our primary identity, life stage becomes a way to serve God and his mission rather than our main focus. If parents do not invite singles and married couples in their own church to be a part of their family, how will they ever extend the gospel to their neighbor in the same situation?

The Psychology of Social Media

You probably already know what you’ll read in this link.

Why Success Breeds Success: The Science of “The Winner Effect”

A physiological look at success and risk-taking (For an interesting look at the business/practical side of success, and how it can breed failure, check out this article):

The past century of science has demonstrated the pivotal role of biochemistry in such human phenomena as love, attraction, and lust. But to consider that individual neurobiology might impact things as rational and complex as, say, stock markets seems rather radical. Yet that’s precisely what trader-turned-neuroscientist John Coates explores in The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust (public library) — an ambitious look at how body chemistry affects high-stakes financial trading, in which Coates sets out to construct — and deconstruct — a “universal biology of risk-taking.”

One particularly fascinating aspect of risk-taking has to do with what is known as “the winner effect,” a self-reinforcing osmosis of the two key hormones driving the biochemistry of success and failure — testosterone, which Coates calls “the hormone of economic bubbles,” and cortisol, “the hormone of economic busts.” In traders — as in athletes, and in the rest of us mere mortals when faced with analogous circumstances — testosterone rises sharply and durably during financial booms, inducing a state of risk-seeking euphoria and providing a positive feedback loop in which success itself provides a competitive advantage. By contrast, the stress hormone cortisol spikes during financial downturns; traders with sustained high levels of cortisol become more risk-averse and timid, ultimately being less competitive.

A Morning Peacock of Links (8/8)

4 Disturbing Trends in the Contemporary Church

I’d say that we’ve been suffering from these trends for a long time.

A plea to all media outlets re: ‘the Westboro cult’

The journalistic profession has turned out a small number of plagiarists whose words were stolen from the creativity and hard work of others then passed off as their own. Yet, though some among your number bring a pall on the word “journalist,” I do not refer to each of you as “cheats,” “word thieves” or “plagiarists.” It would be inaccurate to label you thusly because of a few whose actions obviously do not represent the whole. But in the mass media we see, with alarming near-universality, a refusal to call the wackos from Westboro anything except a “Baptist church” or a “church.”

Evangelicaphobia

As you can probably guess from the excerpt below, Andrew Wilson points out the irony and shortcomings of Crossley’s re-defining of “phobia”:

Much could be said in response, but the thing that fascinated me about this is the broadening of the term ‘homophobic’, which I have frequently encountered in popular discourse but have not yet seen an academic seek to defend. Homophobia, for Crossley, is no longer limited to a response of hatred, vituperation, mockery or violence towards gay people. Now, it is also “an attitude that sees homosexuality as an unfortunate condition that should not be practised.” That is, if you believe that God says people ought not to behave in a certain way (like Wright, Hays and co), then in Crossley’s definition, you are homophobic.

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Great article that talks about the practical issues and problems that “the disease of more” presents. I actually tackled the topic in an earlier post, albeit from the angle of how it impacts our personal, rather than professional, lives. On a side note, the first thing I thought about after reading about the “endowment effect” was how guys treat their own fantasy teams haha:

If success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the “undisciplined pursuit of more,” then one simple antidote is the disciplined pursuit of less. Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, but constantly reducing, focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones.

Olympians, Ordinary Folk, and Mindset

When people first learned about the cash they could win, the ventral striatum, an area of the brain that focuses on rewards, took notice. The more cash, the more excited the ventral striatum was, brain scans showed. This bit of brain is known to track the possibility of rewards, so this finding is predictable. But what’s really interesting is that once people started actually playing the ball game, activity in the same brain area decreased as the prize money went higher. Once folks seemed to realize what they might lose, the ventral striatum went quiet. And, the more this brain area focused on reward shut down, the more people choked.

Gymnast McKayla Maroney was likely counting on her vaulting gold before it happened. And, this really puts the pressure on. When we fear losing something we have been counting on, this fear of failure tends to make us more likely to screw up.

Fortunately, the opposite is true too: thinking about success alters our mental mechanics to help us shine under pressure. Since the last Olympics, Hap Davis, the psychologist for the Canadian Swim Team, has been employing a mindset exercise that changes how his athletes’ brains deal with failure. Davis says that getting his swimmers to see their past failure in a more positive light helps them avoid the dreaded “choke.”

A Morning Peacock of Links (8/7)

A man’s life can be changed with forgiveness

When Stakwell Yurenimo, a Samburu in northern Kenya, did well on his eighthgrade exams, the Kenyan government informed him that he had qualified to go to a high school that they would choose. They also chose his roommate, a young man named Paul, who was a member of the enemy tribe, the Turkana. Stakwell determined in his mind that there was no way he would room with a Turkana. In fact, part of his culture demanded that in order to be respected as a man, he needed to kill a Turkana.

One Race, Every Medalist Ever

Pretty cool interactive article/page detailing the history of Men’s 100 meter dash in the Olympics, how athletes in 1896 compare to the athletes today, as well as other tidbits.

10 Twitter Mistakes That Make You Look Clueless

I’m probably guilty of 6 and 10. That said, in my twitter profile page, I do tell people to feel free to unfollow me hahaha.

Intuition vs. Intellect

[I]t is impossible for intelligence to reabsorb instinct. That which is instinctive in instinct cannot be expressed in terms of intelligence, nor, consequently, can it be analyzed.

A Morning Peacock of Links (8/6)

Great Mysteries in the Christian Faith

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with trying to solve these, and I think everyone needs to get into the ring and wrestle with these issues. But church history has seen that whenever these are “solved,” heresy or serious aberration is always the result. Unfortunately, many continue to opt not to let these mysteries remain. Often with good intentions, Christians have found “solutions.” But these “solutions” normally have to distort God’s revelation to do so. Preferring a settled logical system, many find pieces of another puzzle and force it to fit. The result is an obscured and inaccurate, sometimes even damnable, view of God.

Where God has left the puzzle pieces out, so should we. He knows what he is doing. Let’s just thank him for the pieces we do have and worship, for now, in the white mysterious area. Hand firmly over mouth is a good theological posture sometimes.

iPhoneography: Saint Pete’s

A striking photo:

I’m downtown once a month to meet with other local Acts 29 pastors. On my way from the train station to where we meet I always pass St. Pete’s, and frequently stop to look at the large depiction of Christ crucified. It’s stunning. And most pay no attention to it.

4 Wrong Answers to the Question “Why Me?”

Tim Keller:

When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one. Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”

Suffering and death seem random, senseless. The recent Aurora shootings—in which some people were spared and others lost—is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents—the list is long. As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God let this happen?” In general I hear four answers to this question—but each is wrong, or at least inadequate.

Cool Recycled Houses

The silo one is nice.

Generation Sell

Well, we’re all in showbiz now, walking on eggshells, relentlessly tending our customer base. We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something (though thanks to the Internet as well as the entrepreneurial ideal, more and more of us are), we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves like little businesses, something to be managed and promoted.

The self today is an entrepreneurial self, a self that’s packaged to be sold.