The following are some of the podcasts I listen to on a regular basis.  Including these does not mean that I literally listen to each new podcast under each title below. (I don’t.)  I might look at the subject matter of a particular podcast on a given day and decide that it just doesn’t interest me enough to invest the time.  I am simply listing these as a sample of podcasts that I listen to somewhat regularly.

(I did not include sermons, speeches, etc.  I did not include podcasts from individual congregations.  Nor did I include podcasts that I only occasionally or rarely listen to.)  Maybe one or more of these will interest you.

Akimbo (Seth Godin)

CBS This Morning

How I Built This (Guy Raz)

How I Work (From Australia)

Kingdom Roots (Scot McKnight)

Life and Faith (From Australia)

Things Above (James Bryan Smith)

Aspen Ideas to Go (A variety of topics.  Often interviews.)

Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell)

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In the last week, I have read or listened to several resources that may interest you.  Of course, I am listing these because in some way each had some value for me.

Are You a Procrastinator?  This Simple 5 Minute Trick Will Completely Change Your Life.  (The title is quite a promise.  Nevertheless, I did find this very helpful.)  From INC magazine.

Just listened to a podcast featuring Harvard Business professor, Francesca Gino.  Why It Pays to Break the Rules in Life, Work & Leadership.  Very thoughtful interview.  Made me think.

This weekend, I re-read two chapters from Trevor Hudson’s book (1996) Christ-Following: Ten Signposts to Spirituality.  Hudson is an excellent writer who has blessed me greatly.  If you are not acquainted with his works, you are in for a treat.

Finally, I read a very sobering interview from the Guardian about the relationship between Apple founder Steve Jobs and his daughter, Lisa Brennen-Jobs.  The article is entitled, “The daughter Steve Jobs denied: “Clearly I was not compelling enough for my father.”

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Life is hard.  Sometimes, it is really hard.

Isn’t it great, however, to have friends, family, church members, and others who will come along side you and help!  I am thinking of one Texas friend who I loved being with.  We often ate lunch together.  We would talk to one another about our lives including family, work, and church.  When times were hard for my friend, he would typically say at some point, “But the good new is . . .”

He was always looking for something good within the context of any mess.  He had a way of always looking for evidence of God’s grace.  He was not in denial.  In fact, he would admit pain and difficulty.

I found that when I was with him, I typically came away refreshed and energized, regardless of the topic of conversation.  Other friends also energized me as they communicated their love, care, or just a sense that we were in this together.

Then there are others.

There are other people who can drain you dry in a matter of minutes.  This may be a family member, a friend, a church member or even a church leader.  This person may talk with you about a problem but there seems to be nothing life-giving about the conversation.  In fact, such conversations can suck the life out of you.  This person may speak with such certainty about you ought to be doing with the situation at church, in your family, etc.  However, there is no sense in the conversation that this person is with you or alongside you.  They may leave the conversation with you feeling burdened or heavy.

Such conversations sometimes go like this (about most any topic):

  1. “I see a mess.”
  2. “I certainly know what needs to be done.”
  3. “You (looking at me) are the one to fix this.”
  4. “Goodbye.”

As I write this post, these thoughts make me want to consider the impact I have on others in conversations.  I don’t want to leave someone’s presence with them feeling even more burdened and troubled than before the conversation.

Lord, may the life of Jesus be present and displayed in me as I deal with others throughout the day.  May my actions and words be life giving and not draining.  When others are in my presence, may I make a positive difference in their day.

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This is an invitation.  Should you find this invitation desirable or even compelling, you might respond with a comment.  We live in a culture where more and more people are openly crude, insulting, belittling, and demeaning.

Perhaps we could use an invitation to be gracious.  As Fred Craddock one said, “The final act of grace is graciousness.”  Perhaps many would find the practice of graciousness to be refreshing and life-giving.

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What do you want others to see?

That may depend on where you actually place your confidence.

Is your confidence in your intellect?  Then you may want your intellect to receive the attention of others.  Then it may be very important that others are aware of how smart you are.  You may find various ways to communicate to others that you are much smarter than they are.  You may talk about others, chuckling that others “just don’t get it.”  Not like you anyway.

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Far too many of us think about dating and marriage as being all about “the spark.” A man looks into a woman’s eyes and he feels something. A woman glances at a man in a restaurant and her heart races. Some believe that this is how you find your spouse. You have to feel the chemistry first, or you are looking at the wrong person. Such a shallow and superficial view of dating (and ultimately marriage) is a dead end street.

Followers of Jesus who date and ultimately marry understand that marriage is a covenant and a serious commitment. Yes, loving one another is very important. However, solid joyful marriages are built on character and promise keeping. If you have not yet married, ask yourself, “Is this person intentional about growing in godly virtues? What about truth-telling, patience, fidelity, and a commitment to trust and obey the Lord Jesus?”

I heard not long ago about a husband who walked out on his wife when he learned that she had aggressive cancer. He said to his wife, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Meanwhile, I can tell you of a number of husbands and wives who love and adore one another and who have shared tough times together. Their marriages are not based on a “spark” or special chemistry. Rather, they have dared to travel together choosing what is deep and lasting rather than settling for how the world might define a marriage.

This reminds me to be serious about growing in godly virtues and to be a person who, by the grace of God, will keep my own marriage covenant.

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Many of us are on social media.  We post thoughts and share ideas.  Some write articles.  Some describe experiences.  We post pictures of people and places.  We talk about ourselves and we post pictures of ourselves.  You may use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another platform.  Regardless of the platform, it would be helpful if we would occasionally ask:

Why do I post what I post?  What does this mean?

Why would I post this picture?  For example: someone may post a picture of themselves on Instagram or Facebook.  Is this really the picture that I want those who are my “friends” or who “follow” me to see?  It might be helpful to occasionally overview our list of friends and followers and to remember who may be seeing what I post.  In addition, once a picture is online and has a digital imprint, others may see this whom I never considered when originally posting this.

Does this picture really represent who I am?  (If I am a Christ-follower, does this picture best represent who I am in Christ?)

  • Does this picture basically invite others to focus their attention on my body?
  • Does this picture invite others to focus on how wealthy I am?
  • Does this picture invite others to focus on how important I perceive myself to be?

Is this a picture that I really want my children to see?  Is this a picture who I would want the people at my place of employment to see?  Does this picture in any way make it difficult for another to see the place of Jesus Christ in my life?  Why do I post what I post?

Why would I make this comment?   Some people make a lot of comments online.  Sometimes they comment through a tweet or a quick Facebook post.  Others comment on what others have said.  Am I thinking before I post a comment?

When I make comments that are insulting and demeaning, what does this say?  What does it say when I seem to sneer at others and act as if I am the only one who is thinking clearly?  What do my comments say about what is really important to me?  Am I using a tone with others through social media that I would not use when face to face with another person?

In this culture, outrage seems to be the prevailing tone on social media.  Everyone seems to be outraged about something.  Outrage is not necessarily a negative.  However, I do want to be thoughtful.  Is my outrage really about something important to God?  Is my outrage expressed in a way that reflects well on who I am in Christ?  How do I respond to the outrage of others?

No doubt there are other important questions to consider.  I do think it would be helpful for us to occasionally think through why we do what we do.  These posts do reveal something about ourselves.  It might be good to consider what we are revealing.

 

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Years ago, I met a friend from out of town at our local Starbucks.  We got our coffees, sat down at a table and began to catch up.  At one point, my friend said, “It sure is sad about ______.  I can’t believe he would get involved with another woman.”  I was stunned.  I had looked up to this minister.  My mind immediately raced back to some years earlier, when I was a young minister.  I had met this same preacher for lunch.  Before our lunch, I had watched him interact with someone in his office that left me feeling very uncomfortable.  At the time, I quickly discounted and dismissed this feeling, because after all, I looked up to this man.  This couldn’t be true.  That day at the Starbucks, I learned that it was true.  Now, this preacher who at one time had a great deal of influence, had to leave his congregation and deal with the mess in his life.

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Articles

I read several interesting articles this past week including “A Brief Process for More Enlightened Brainstorming” from Quartz by Sarah Kaplan and Mark Leung.  This companion article by Sarah Kaplan was also helpful, “Combining the Two Routes to Creativity.   You can find this in the Rotman Magazine (University of Toronto – Rotman School of Management).

The Hedgehog Review recently had a special issue devoted to “The Human and the Digital.”  I read a very thoughtful article entitled “Expose Thyself!  On the Digitally Revealed Life” by Christine Rosen.

The following paragraph is just a sampling of Rosen’s very fine article.

By contrast, the lives we live on Facebook, Instagram, Yik Yak, and Twitter are virtual, not visceral, and they favor immediacy, as well as encourage less productive feelings, such as envy. One study in Germany found a “rampant nature of envy” and other “invidious emotions” among people who were heavy users of Facebook, particularly those who tended to follow other people’s newsfeeds and check others’ profiles. They experienced Facebook as a “stressful environment” that affected their daily lives. “The spread of ubiquitous presence of envy on social networking sites is shown to undermine users’ life satisfaction,” the researchers found, creating a “self-promotion-envy spiral,” in which users were “reacting with even more self-promotional content to the self-promotional content of others.”16 We hear many stories about the positive effects of social networking (of which there are many); but new research also suggests that the effects are more complicated when it comes to our emotional responses to social media.

Books

Recently, I listened to a recording of a class given by Sara Jackson and Emily Lemley in which they made reference to a discussion by James Bryan Smith on worry.  (See The Good and Beautiful Life, pp. 171-182).  In particular, I appreciated them pointing out these wonderful two sentences.

Worry keeps me focused on my own limited resources.  Trust keeps my attention on God’s abundant resources.  (p. 178)

(Is there anyone else besides me who needs to remember these two sentences?)

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The following are some of the resources that I read, listened to, or skimmed last week.  Maybe one or more will interest you.

Podcasts

This week I listened to several podcasts that were interesting.  I listened to the Reveal podcast entitled “Institutions of Higher Learning.”  (Reveal is from The Center for Investigative Reporting.)  Much of this had to do regarding the discussion taking place across the country regarding financing an education.  (This especially interested me since it opened with a story about The University of Texas, my home state).

I also listened to an interview with Andy Crouch on The Sacred Podcast (from Theos, a think tank in the U.K.).  This was an excellent interview.  Elizabeth Oldfield starts off each podcast with the question “What do you hold sacred?”

Finally, I listened to an interview with Molly Crockett, “The neuroscience of social media outrage” one of the Rad Awakenings with Khe Hy.  Crockett is a assistant psychology professor at Yale.

So this is what interested me about the two podcasts that I just mentioned.  Both Andy Crouch and Molly Crockett discussed the issue of social media and outrage.  Social media seems to lend itself most naturally to those of us who are outraged at something.  This is worth much thought!

Books

This week I will begin reading Andrew Root’s new book, Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness.  Ordered this after Scot McKnight recommended it highly.

Article

Don’t miss Lisa Whittle’s powerful article, “How to Lose a Pastor in Ten Years.”  (First became aware of this on Scot McKnight’s blog).  Very sobering.

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