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New Direction

As I mentioned in my last post, I am contemplating taking this blog in a different direction in order to narrow the focus a bit. My plan, at this point, is to make this blog exclusively about the Christian life, and specifically my own Christian life. So, every week I’ll be writing a bit about my ups and downs, what I’m gleaning from the Word, etc.

I’m going to move all other content such as links to articles I’ve benefitted from, quotes, etc. to my Tumblr page which you can access here. Tumblr offers a better platform who quick information whereas WordPress is better for the text-based posts. I wish I could find a platform that excelled at both, but for the time being I’m out of luck.

Both sites will be posting to Twitter so the easiest way to see a post on either site is by following my Twitter feed which you can do here.

Check back Friday for the relaunch!



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A Tragedy Shakespeare Couldn’t Write

Girl Ends Life To Donate Eyes To Dad

Ashis Poddar, TNN Jul 4, 2011, 12.15am IST

NADIA: For days, Mumpy would listen quietly as the elders discussed how only an eye surgery could save her father’s vision and a kidney transplant her brother’s life. But both surgeries were beyond the family’s meagre means. So, Mumpy hit upon a plan, which to her 12-year-old mind seemed the answer to all troubles. She would kill herself, which would save the dowry, too, and her organs would give her loved ones back their lives.

Mumpy did stick to her plan. But the suicide note in which she had scribbled down her wishes was found the day after she was cremated.

The incident took place in Dhantala’s Jhorpara on June 27. Her father’s and brother’s ailments had left Mumpy Sarkar, a Class VI student, anxious. One of the kidneys of her brother Monojit, a Class XI student, was damaged and the other was getting weak. Father Mridul Sarkar, a daily wager, was also gradually losing his eyesight.

“The family had approached the local MLA for help. We had decided to grant them some money for the boy’s treatment. But the tragedy happened all of a sudden,” said Dhantala panchayat pradhan Tapas Tarafdar.

Mumpy had taken elder sister Monica, a Class VIII student, into confidence and had urged her to commit suicide as well for the “cause”. When Mumpy told Monica about her plan on the morning of June 27, the latter laughed it off and left for school. Their father was away at work and mother Rita had gone to fetch rice.

“Finding herself alone at home, Mumpy consumed Thiodan, a pesticide. Then, she ran to meet her father, who was about half a kilometre away. She told him that she had dreamt that someone had poured poison into her mouth and her stomach ached. Her alarmed father took her to a local pharmacy immediately where she was given some medicines. But her condition worsened soon and she had to be rushed to the local Baranberia hospital. From there, she was referred to Anulia hospital. But the doctors declared her brought dead,” Tarafdar said.

It was only the day after her cremation that Mumpy’s father found a note on her bed. Addressed to her mother, the girl requested her to make use of her eyes and kidney for the treatment of her father and brother. This left the aggrieved family inconsolable. “We were too late in understanding the feelings of a very sensitive child,” Mridul wept. Mumpy’s mother has gone into shock.

Full link here.

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Why I Dislike Church Growth Strategies

That may be an unfair title. Sensational perhaps, but I’m going with it. “Leadership” has become the new spiritual gift du jour for Christians. If you want people to come to your conference talk about how you’re going to make them better leaders. Attendance at conferences designed to make better servants is at an all time low, but everyone wants to be a leader. All that cynicism aside I definitely believe in the value of solid, biblical leadership. It’s needed. I also believe in the value of a gospel-centered church growth strategy.

However, like anything else we latch onto, what we say is based on the Bible (i.e. leadership or church growth) can quickly usurp the place of the God of the Bible.

If you check google you can find about 92,500 links to tell you all about church growth.

I’ve seen quite a few of them which don’t seem bad. However, I generally get the feeling that you could take most of those strategies word for word and apply them to any organization or corporate enterprise and it would be just as applicable. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m a former corporate hack myself so I value efficient, effective strategies. But at what point is your strategy simply an organizational growth strategy instead of a church growth strategy? Simply put are we using spiritual means to achieve spiritual results or are we using worldly means to achieve worldly results?

I say all of this because of Acts 9:31

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit , it multiplied.

What? No demographical emphasis on young families? No on site coffee shop? We have to get to a point where we teach and preach walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit more than we strategize. If we’re strategizing and sprinkling a little prayer on top we’re in trouble.

I don’t have this figured out at the church level or the personal level. On the personal side, I use a lot of “strategery.” I often try to strategize my personal spiritual growth by the latest quiet time strategies, prayer cards, journals, etc. This is first and foremost a lesson I need to learn. Walk in the fear of the Lord. Walk in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

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Weekly Rewind – 6/25/11

As mentioned before I’m moving to a weekly digest instead of a daily digest for time management’s sake. For the Daily Digest I was mirroring the format of Tim Challies’ blog here. For the Weekly Rewind I really like the way Ben Arment does his weekly post. Here’s a sample:

  • Ainsley’s mom came through brain surgery yesterday to remove a cancerous turmor. They removed the right occipital lobe of her brain, but she was lucid after she woke up. She’s in ICU for a few days. Thanks for your prayers
  • I’ve been watching our three cowboys non-stop for the past few days and loving it. We rode a ferry in Norfolk’s harbor yesterday to the Portsmouth children’s museum.
  • The moving truck pulls up next Tues. (gulp)
  • 3-dimensional set for the Amon Tobin tour. This is an incredible sight to behold (via @shawnlandis)

You can see how he has some personal notes, but also has his fair share of links. You can view his whole post here.

Hopefully these guys view imitation as the sincerest form of flattery and not copyright infringement.

So, without further ado, here is this week’s Weekly Rewind:

  • Neighborhood news: a lady managed to total her car by somehow running into the back of a parked truck owned by a police officer.
  • Weather news: We’re dealing with wildfires in our area. You know it’s bad when you’re current weather condition is this:
  • Sports Highlight: Auburn man, Tim Hudson, threw 8 innings of shutout, 1 hit ball AND hit a 2R HR in the Braves’ 2-0 victory against the Blue Jays. I believe they call this the “total package.”
  • Great article on the pitfalls of leadership. It comes from a Harvard Business School professor and is applicable in all areas of leadership, ministry or otherwise. H/T John Gunter.
  • Are people in our ministries overly busy because the leaders model busyness? Read here about the importance of establishing a pattern of engagement and retreat for effective ministry.
  • The typical Christian is not the image we often have of a white, American. A needed article here.
  • Another reason why you should teach your kids not to talk to strangers. Hint: It’s not for their safety.
  • Just started into Job in my Bible reading plan which always makes me fearful that my life is about to fall apart.
Comments always welcome and encouraged.

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6/14 – Daily Digest

Today’s digest is coming early, which is hopefully going to be the new normal. Consider it a mid-day treat for those of you in the Eastern or Central time zones. Today we’ll look at the the role of effort in sanctification, the dangers of 4 year olds on Jesus’s lap, why accountability groups may be bad, and Oreos! I’ll also throw in a helpful article on Weiner, redemption, and the exclusivity of the Gospel.

Gospel Driven Effort – A good article looking at the role of effort in our sanctification and why it matters.

These issues matter because, on the one hand, some Christians are beating themselves up to be more like Jesus when they first need to realize that in Christ they’ve already died to sin and been raised with Christ. And on the other hand, some Christians are stalled out in their sanctification for plain lack of effort. They are lazy and need to be told so.

Is God’s Word Sufficient? – This article looks at the popularity of the book, Heaven Is For Real, and the potential bad message it sends.

What bothers me about the reception of Heaven is a Real Place [sic] is what it says about the relatively low view of the sufficiency of Scripture among evangelicals today. In other words, it’s not good enough for us to hear about heaven from the holy apostles, Church Fathers, and trusted commentaries on Scripture. No, we need a little boy sitting on Jesus’ lap to tell us that instead. Then we will believe it.  And that phenomenon ultimately bodes ill for everyone who really does love the Bible: pastors, teachers, parents, and yes, even children.

The Dangers of Accountability Groups – If you’ve felt like accountability was about “do more” and “try harder” this is for you.

When the goal becomes conquering our sin instead of soaking in the conquest of our Savior, we actually begin to shrink spiritually.

Who Invented the Oreo? – Yes, there are conspiracy theories involved.

Therapy, Redemption, Gospel Exclusivity, and Twitter – Good article on the limitations of therapy in dealing with sin and the backlash that comes from proposing redemption as the answer.

There is no shortage of perplexing realities in our world today, but counted among them must be the fact that many rather well informed people seem to be shocked that Christians believe the doctrines of Christianity.

…the American impulse is to seek treatment when our real need is for redemption.

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6/13 – Daily Digest

We start off this week with a warning against desserts, an English lesson, and a cross-cultural journey into the world of Chinese high school students. Today’s digest closes with an inspiring quote from Lebron “Bron Bron” James.

No Tip For You: When eating bananas foster involves a subsequent medical helicopter ride, it’s been a bad dining experience.

Top Ten Misused English Words: The ultimate list to help you avoid being decimated by English majors (See what I did there). H/T @challies

The Downside of Exam Based Education in China: A brief look at the test that determines all Chinese students’ future and its perils.

Rein’s firm recently interviewed Fortune 500 companies in China. It found that most of them have an annual turnover rate of around 30 percent. In the U.S., 11 percent is considered high. Rein says most Chinese graduates are not qualified for a global business system.

Quote of the Day: Courtesy of the superstar himself, Bron Bron:

All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that.

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Facebook: Revisited

Last week I mentioned I was deleting my Facebook account here. All the reasons I had for deleting it are still valid, but I have had a change of heart with some newly imposed parameters.

This past weekend I was at my brother’s wedding so I got to see a lot of family. It’s always good to see family, and it’s rare that we all get together. We’ve been fortunate to be able to do that the past 2 years because of my wedding and now Sam’s. However, I am able to stay updated on their lives via Facebook, and I don’t want to miss out on that connection. The same can be said for really good friends of mine. It’s no mystery that as you get older and life situations change it’s harder to stay in touch with what’s going on with everyone, their kids, etc. Facebook provides a forum for that to happen. My beef has been with knowing that about 200+ people I don’t really know. Getting sucked in to all their status updates and photos was a time consumer. Call me a sell out, but I don’t mind getting sucked into those things when it involves real life friends and family.

So, what are my new parameters? I narrowed my friend list down from 270+ to 23. 14 of those I’m related to. The other 9 are former roommates or people I communicate with regularly in real life. If you’re reading this and were a friend on facebook and aren’t now it’s not that you’re not a real friend. You are more than likely reading this because you saw the link on Twitter. I tried to remove duplicates because if we connect on Twitter we don’t need to connect on Facebook.

I also made my Facebook profile unsearchable. This will hopefully allow me to avoid having to deny someone’s friend request. I’m not sure if this will work or not, but I can already say it’s been nice. I made this change yesterday and I had 2 new status updates from friends all day. Perfect.

If you don’t want to delete all your facebook friends like I did, but still want to avoid wasting time on it, consider LeechBlock (H/T @challies).

LeechBlock is a kind of auto-nanny: it’s a free Firefox add-on that blocks chosen Web sites at certain times on certain days and for different time periods. The idea is to automatically block time-wasting sites at times when you’re supposed to be getting some work done.

Happy social networking!


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