This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      The Funeral As We Know it is Becoming a Relic: Karen Heller reports that just as we are on the verge of a death boom, the rules of funerals are undergoing significant changes. She shares, " The movement will only accelerate as the nation approaches a historic spike in deaths. Baby boomers, despite strenuous efforts to stall the aging process, are not getting any younger. In 2030, people over 65 will outnumber children, and by 2037, 3.6 million people are projected to die in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, 1 million more than in 2015, which is projected to outpace the growth of the overall population."

2.      Be Slow to Assume: Being slow to anger begins with being slow to assume, Lara D'Entremont suggests: " Maybe this is what Peter meant by, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8). In my desire to assume the best of another, the small sins of another towards me are overlooked and covered, rather than racked up to be something greater than they were. Let’s toss poor assumptions, give some charity, stretch ourselves a little, and put grace on display."

3.      Why We Need to Stop Saying, "Sorry for Your Loss": This is written from a secular psychological perspective from Ed Preston. Preston is correct though, and I would suggest that the reasons as Christians are even stronger. He suggests, " Perhaps it’s because of our cultural death phobia, and the way it pathologizes everything related to sadness. If we’re not better at dealing with grief, then it’s because we’ve never been taught better. Unfortunately, that leaves the majority of people with only one stock phrase in their repertoire, “I’m sorry for your loss.”" He also includes some practical advice for what you can say.

4.      How to Get Your Church to Engage Scripture More: JR Briggs offers seven great ideas including, " Read a passage, and then ask people to write out 10-to-15 questions about the passage on a piece of paper. Why did the woman ask that of Jesus? What was running through Abraham’s mind when he was walking up the mountain to sacrifice Isaac? Allow people to interact with the text by courageously wrestling with tough questions."

5.      1 in 10 Young Protestants Have Left Church Over Abuse: Kate Shellnut reports on a recent Lifeway Research survey that contains sobering information. She concludes with practical changes churches can consider including, " Assess your church culture first and make needed changes: Do your current members experience safety and freedom in sharing their own stories of suffering?"

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       How 32 African Slaves Turned Into Millions: This year we commemorate the 400th anniversary of the tragic start of the slave trade to the Americas. This powerful info-graphic rich article shows how 32 slaves ballooned into millions. 

2.       Why People Don't Think You Appreciate Them Even When You Do: Suzanne Vickberg with helpful advice for any leader. She begins by quoting Gladys Bronwyn Stern: "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."

3.       Why Calvinists Should Be the Gentlest: John Newton, in his letter to fellow Christians exhorts gentleness and cautions a lack of gentleness, " If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable."

4.       Eternity and Mortality: Jennie Cesario with a beautiful reflection on how a scrape with death shaped her perspective about herself, God, and parenting.

5.       The Ugly History of Mass Incarceration: The United States imprisons more people than any country in the world. And with a disproportionate number of those inmates being black, it is an issue fraught with difficulty. As a former Detention Officer, the complicated history of and solution for our incarceration problem hits close to home. 

Christmas Eve Recommendations

Christmas Eve Recommendations

Merry Christmas,

As you celebrate your Christmas, here are some bonus recommendations for you.

May the joy and hope of Immanuel reign in your home and in your hearts,


1.       Did the Gospels Borrow From Pagan Myths? Timothy Paul Jones examines this claim: “In the simplest possible terms, here’s what these critics contend: The most marvelous claims in the Gospels—a miraculous birth, for example, as well as the idea of a deity who dies and rises again—are paralleled in pagan religions that predate Christianity; therefore, early Christians must have fabricated these miracles based on their knowledge of pre-Christian religions.

2.       The Lord Gave Us A Casket for Christmas: Erik Naykalyk shares his heartbreaking story, “Exactly three weeks to Christmas Day, God decreed to take my home ad flip it upside-down. Twelve days before Christmas, we lowered my son’s casket into the cold, hard, December ground. And I’ve never been looking forward to Christmas more in my entire life. No, seriously. Never.”

3.       A Letter to the Depressed Christian at Christmas: David Murray reflects, “Depression is tough at the best of times. Perhaps it’s the best of times, such as holiday times, when it’s especially tough. The thought of mixing with happy people fills you with dread. The thought of remembering lost loved ones fills you with gloom. How can people be so happy when you are so sad? How can people celebrate when you are in mourning? It jars your soul and scrapes your tender wounds, doesn’t it?”

4.       200 Years of Silent Night: Keith and Kristyn Getty consider the power and beauty of one of the best and longest sung Christmas carols: “God’s heavenly peace is still so evident in these enduring lyrics and chords, its soothing effect one of the marvels of our modern holiday traditions—like a distant whisper somehow soft enough, yet also loud enough, to reach us in the deafening noise.”

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Am I Addicted to My Smartphone? A sobering quiz for a pervasive issue.

2.      Death is a VaporBrian Sauve begins, "Nearly 60,000,000 people die every year on planet Earth. This is one of the things that makes human beings so bewildering. I'm not talking about the fact that people die, but the fact that they take so little time to consider death."

3.      Why Christians Shouldn't Cuss: Ben Archer, considers the reasons "The truth is that a particular word has no inherent sinfulness beyond that which a culture or community assigns to it, nor can it be intrinsically objectionable... This is why Christians don’t cuss: we cherish the purpose for which God gave words."

4.      How to Remember What You Read: David Qaoud's recommendations are great. I also would add that writing reviews on books is a huge aid in memory. His second point is: "I read actively, not passively. I have a highlighter and pen in hand. I highlight what sticks out to me. After reading something particularly inspiring, I’ll stop, close my eyes, and repeat what just inspired me."

5.      Why is Water Slippery? Kids ask the best questions and in this series scientists take on surprisingly complex answers to questions kids ask. Part of the surprise to this answer is how surprisingly strange water is, "How weird is water? Unlike most liquids, it is densest not at its freezing point, but at just a few degrees warmer... Water is safe for us to drink, but also so chemically reactive that it can’t be used to lubricate things like engines because of the damage it will cause inside the machine... Ball said that it’s even weird that water is liquid at all, considering that when the other elements most similar to oxygen link up with hydrogen what they form is a gas."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Time Lapse of the Earth: So stunning, this footage from the International Space Station looks fake. 

2.       Is the Attractional Church Dead? This is the first of a two part series by Jared Wilson that reflects on some of the reasons why the attractional model might have numbered days. In the second part he reflects on why it might not be over yet. " The attractional church has spent decades discipling its customers toward a more self-involved, individualized faith. They should not be surprised when this self-involved individualism gets fully embraced and people “peace out” showing up to church on the weekend."

3.       The News of the Attractional Church's Death is Greatly Exaggerated: Jared Wilson responds to himself with five reasons why the attractional church is not only alive, but is going to keep going strong. " We were never properly grounded, so we are easily led astray. Further, we’ve been accustomed to siding with the crowd and discipled according to a Christianity that apes the culture, so when preachers and teachers come along who are marrying Christianity with the culture’s views on sexuality, the fingers feel good on our ears."

4.       12 Principles for How to Deal with Christians Who Disagree with You: Wow, this is good. I'm going to come back to Andrew Naselli's chart here many times, I'm sure. Where have I disagreed like a heretic? Where have I disagreed in an unloving way? Where have I disagreed with a spirit of judgmentalism?

5.       What Happens to Babies? Dr. Tom Schreiner answers the very difficult question: "what happens to babies when they die?"

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Why is the Very Hungry Caterpillar so Hungry? What a beautiful short video about God's marvel of the caterpillar. 

2.       7 Reasons Not to Go to Church: Scott McKnight summarizes John Pritchard's book Why Go to Church where he reflects on the most common reasons people don't go to church – here are his top three: 1. I don’t believe in God; 2. The Church is a hierarchical, controlling institution in an age of freedom and choice; 3. I used to go, but I just don’t see the point.

3.       10 Reasons to Go to Church: Scott McKnight's rejoinder of his first post: Here are the top 5: 1. Because we’re on a journey; 2. Because we’re looking for a framework to live in; 3. Because it’s a place of moral seriousness in a trivialized culture; 4. Because churches make an honest attempt at community in a culture that’s forgotten how to do it; 5. Because I’m a learner, and church seems to be a community of learners.

4.       10 Spurgeon Quotes on Death: Charles Spurgeon's reflections on death are worth reflecting on. This one might be my favorite: “He who learns to die daily while he lives will find it no difficulty to breathe out his soul for the last time.”

5.       Why the Overpopulation Myth Persists: I just had a conversation with a very smart person who still believes in the threat of overpopulation. Jon Dykstra explains how the overpopulation myth was developed, why it persists, and what significant real-life damage was caused by this myth.