Sky Links, 2-24-17

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0
You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.
-Psalm 16:11

Here are excerpts from and links to a few of the most interesting and encouraging posts I have read lately:

The Travel Ban Controversy and The Church

Lael Arrington wrote about President Trump's executive order, "The Travel Ban", and the controversy or debate that it gave rise to in the church in the United States:
Recently I was asked to sign a Lutheran Ministry’s petition protesting President Trump’s executive order on refugees. Frankly I felt very conflicted, unsure of how to respond.
Rarely has a national conversation about social justice been so loaded with appeals to the Bible and a Christian worldview. And yet rarely have Christian leaders been so divided in their response. Even Christian ministries to refugees and foreigners. Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse, is defending the order and our need for national security, World Vision and World Relief are protesting it...

Your 20's Might Be The Most Important Decade For Your Formation

Paul Sohn wrote about 30 lessons in life that he learned before turning 30.  Here are seven of them:

9. Calling Is About Complete Surrender.
Calling is about responding the Caller. It’s not choosing your own destiny. It’s not about the American Dream. It’s about responding to summons. How well you respond determines how well you live a life worth living.
10. Vulnerability Breeds Authenticity And Trust.
I always had a façade of professionalism. I needed to appear “perfect” in the eyes of others. I was fearful I would be considered inferior if I showed my weaknesses. Instead, I realized over the years, my lack of vulnerability created more distance with others. It prevented building 1-mile deep relationships.
13. Go Slow To Go Fast.
My desire to go faster has done more damage than good. Especially when working with others, taking time to build deep and intentional relationships with others, in the beginning, will do wonders once the trust is built into the working relationship. My task-driven nature is something I am aware of and continually need to remind myself of the big picture.
20. Be Interested Before Being Interesting.
I realized people don’t care about how much you know until how much you care.

22. The Power Of Journaling.
I started journaling since I was 14. Though it started off as an assignment from my ESL program, I am grateful I continued this habit. As I look at my writings, I was able to relive my past experiences both good and bad. I hope to use this information to write my autobiography one day.
29. Listen, Listen, Listen.
I used to simply teach others what I knew. I never truly listened to my family, friends and colleagues. I realized how listening is the secret to great communication.
30. Life-Long Learning Matters.
Gandhi said it best, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” The key to unlocking life-long learning really starts with an insatiable curiosity.

Idealists In Recovery

Amy Leigh Bamberg wrote about idealists, Myers-Briggs 'NF's', and their challenging idealism that God wants to redeem:
For three years now I have lived without an official platform for ministry or position for leadership. During this sobriety God proves that rather than forcing me to abstain from expressing my temperament, he works to redeem it. He wants to purify my personality so that his personhood shines through it. He does this by ordering my faith in his eternal Truths above my emotions and experiences. In his graciousness, he never demeans the latter for the former.
With the redemption of my temperament, I join with other idealists to inspire, instruct, and organize classrooms, companies, or communities with confidence. I still encounter disappointment daily and must battle cravings for that cocktail. I fight the resurging lie that some pie-in-the-sky scenario of ministry, marriage, and zip code will alleviate the angst I feel in living in this fallen world...
Idealists Anonymous, Amy Leigh Bamberg. 

Interactive Meetings and Learning Environments For Growth and Connection

Josh Packard has written a number of posts on meetings and how we often do not meet in them:
If you're designing events and meetings that don't put people into connection with each other, then you're operating with a model that was built for a different era. It's a new world, and we need to engage people differently...
Live Studio Audience, by Josh Packard. 
This past summer I had the honor of speaking on the mainstage at Influence 2016, the annual summer conference for the National Speakers Association. It was a thrill to get to bring my message to this audience, and I had a great weekend talking with everyone about why people are leaving traditional institutions, how to bring them back with more opportunities for authentic participation and how to create interactive events.

One of the things that stuck out to me to most from this experience was that even professional speakers want conferences that are more participatory and interactive!..

Too many managers, event planners and speakers are either uneducated about the data surrounding what makes for effective learning communities. They stand and talk, not because they don’t care, but just because they don’t know any other way.

To counter this, here are three things that you need to do in the FIRST FIVE MINUTES of any presentation to maintain interest and engagement.
  1. Do something that requires your audience to engage with you. Maybe they answer a question by raising their hands. Maybe you do a quick interview from a floor mic. Maybe they ask you some questions to get started....

Learning From Failures 

Steve Sjogren wrote about (wisdom gained) from his biggest mistakes of 2016.  
Here are a few to mull over:
  • Not enough margin for failure
I tend to see “Margin” as the part of life that allows me to live in “Balance.” I no longer believe in the concept of balance. That word comes from physical matters such as walking. If you tape the walk of someone, then play it back in slow motion, you might surprise at just how “unbalanced” balance is. Just as one leg comes to the end of its forward stride, it looks like we are about to fall forward. Then at the last second, the other leg comes forward. Step after step this is repeated, as we move forward.
In short, my thinking has been akin to “Either goes for a win, or don’t try at all.” To fail in ministry can sometimes bring finances stresses.
If you are the pastor of a church of any size, and tick people off, for necessary reasons or not, chances are some will withdraw their financial support. We have to do what we have to do. Just make sure you must do it and make the call to change comes out of necessity, not your personal anger.
Most of the heroes of the faith in Scripture went through large trials. I’ve noticed that the majority of the biblical characters went through great trials. The trials weren’t so much a surprise as for where they came from – sometimes from God alone, but sometimes brought most of it on themselves.
Without their failures and some of the suffering of it, I’m not sure we’d have the famous “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews chapter 11.
  • Didn’t move into the future wilder and far riskier

If you are a leader, you may have been told in one way or another, that you’ve been too wild and dangerous. Some who look up to us want an absolute guarantee that they will not be a challenge with possible failure. If you model by testing others, you will make some feel uncomfortable. Without saying a thing leaders send a message that how they live is how their followers ought to live as well. Some critics in your world of influence may interpret “Failure” as real failure instead of seeing some of the spiritual parts that come with following God.
“Not wild enough?” you ask. “I thought great models of leadership were “Mature” and had few missteps.”
I don’t want to be a killjoy about your 2017, but if you insist on playing life safely, you won’t make much progress this year...

From Steve Sjogren, My Favorite Mistakes of 2016 


Jody Neufeld wrote about how God is with us always, most definitely during the hard times:
Sometimes life is just hard. Some days are more than difficult with loved ones ill, children trying to navigate through tough questions and circumstances, and job security and health insurance a thing of the past.
If we are men and women of faith, we turn to our Bibles looking for God’s promises. We come to study groups and join others in worship, all searching for answers, encouragement and guidance from our Savior. We want to know that His promises are true. We want to know we are not alone and that God understands. We need more than the promises...
From Jody Neufeld, The Truth, The Whole Truth!

Wisdom From a Real Missionary

J. Guy Muse wrote a post on things God is teaching him:
Be faithful in the little things. God will accomplish much through my small acts of obedience.
Thoughts are sub-conscience prayers. Be aware of what I am praying.
What is not given is lost. What am I hanging on to that ought to be given away?
One negative comment packs more power in someone's life than a dozen positive remarks. I need to be careful how and what I communicate with others. If I am unable to build someone up, it is better to remain silent than use words that will tear someone down.
Confront problems, hurts, misunderstandings, and mistakes as soon as possible....
Things God is teaching me, by J. Guy Muse

African-American Evangelicals 

Roger Olson wrote about how African-American's are often not portrayed as Evangelicals, when, ironically, they are by-and-large, more Evangelical than the majority of American Christians:
Recently I discovered that many pollsters taking surveys of adult Americans and who ask questions about people’s religious identities automatically assume, as a matter of governing policy, that African-Americans cannot be “evangelicals.” Furthermore, this trickles down to them from the movers and shakers of American sociology of religion who, generally speaking, categorize American’s religious identities such that “evangelical” cannot include African-Americans.
(I discovered that in a major survey of American religious identities survey-takers asked people if they consider themselves “evangelical or born again.” But they only asked that of white people, not of African-Americans. My guess is that IF they asked that of most African-Americans they would hear a resounding “yes” to the question.)...

Discovering Meaning in Your Life

Barry Simpson wrote about living a meaningful life:
“Most of us lead far more meaningful lives than we know” wrote Rachel Naomi Remen in her great memoir, My Grandfather’s Blessings.
For most of us the meaning of our life is right under our nose. It’s been there all our lives; we fail to see it because we are focused on the distant horizon, the giant landscape, wondering when our day will finally arrive...
 Living a Meaningful Life, by Barry Simpson