Sky Links, 12-15-18

The dark side of the pastorate: being fired (emphasis mine)
Many pastors are being fired this Christmas season.
I know. I see it every year. I deal with it every year.
To be clear, I cannot be certain pastor terminations accelerate at Christmas. Perhaps the numbers seem high since the timing is so insidious. Regardless, these considerations apply regardless of the time of year.
  1. Many pastor firings occur because one or a few malcontents are spreading rumors. Please check the sources of these rumors. Please ask people other than the malcontents and bullies.
  2.  A number of pastor firings occur due to underhanded actions by other staff. I know of one situation where the executive pastor did not like the leadership of the pastor, so he worked in darkness with the personnel committee to get the pastor fired. The personnel committee never asked for the pastor’s side of the conflict.
  3. Many pastors are fired without any explanation. I am surprised how often this reality transpires. Typically, the personnel committee or similar group tells the pastors they will not get a severance if they challenge them or question them.
  4. Very few pastors get adequate severance when they are fired. It typically takes several months for a pastor to find a job. Severance often runs out before then.
  5. Your church is labeled as a “preacher-eating” church. Your church’s reputation and witness are hurt in the community. You will wonder why other pastors decline to interview for the open position. They know. They’ve heard what you did.
  6. If you had been willing to be patient and Christ-like, pastors would likely seek another job without your firing them. If you let pastors know their job is in jeopardy and give them six to nine months to find another position, many will do so. Pastors can always find another church much easier if they have a church. And the church avoids the pain, conflict, and dirtied reputation that comes with firing a pastor.
Six Considerations Before You Fire Your Pastor This Christmas -Thom S. Rainer

The Opioid Epidemic


How long-term pastors can avoid getting in ruts (Karl Vaters)

As someone who celebrates 26 years at the same church this month, here are the top 5 dangers I’m constantly trying to avoid, in no particular order:
1. Getting Stuck In A Rut
2. Getting Stuck In A Rut
3. Getting Stuck In A Rut
4. Getting Stuck In A Rut
5. Getting Stuck In A Rut
Yeah, that’s about it. If you can stay out of that rut, a long-term pastorate is best for everyone. So, how do we avoid getting stuck?
Here are a handful of lessons I keep learning that help me stay fresh, excited and forward-looking after two and a half decades at the same church.

Stay Curious
If the pastor isn’t learning and growing, the congregation will be able to tell. Maybe before we can....

Listen More Than You Talk
 People may get tired of hearing you talk, but they’ll never get tired of having you listen...

Entrust Ministry To Younger Leaders
 The youth are not the church of tomorrow. Tomorrow is too late.
 They’re the church of today....

Encourage Ministry Styles That You Don’t Like
Years ago, I heard a piece of wisdom from a retiring pastor that has stuck with me ever since. In referring to the new songs and instruments being used in the church, he said “I’ve learned to worship Jesus singing songs I don’t like.”...

Be Approachable And Correctable
Is anyone in your church allowed to tell you you’re wrong? Other than your spouse? If not, you and the church are in a dangerous place....

Equip, Equip, Equip 
Leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders. They equip God’s people to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) instead of using them to do our bidding...
The 5 Biggest Dangers of a Long-Term Pastorate and How to Avoid Them
-Karl Vaters

Anti Alzheimer's Diet: More Fat Less Sugar! Foods to Help Prevent Dementia 
-Dr. David Perlmutter

Bible Gateway 2018
Out of more than 2 billion pageviews conducted by visitors to Bible Gateway during 2018, the most popular verse for the year was Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2. John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
3. Philippians 4:13 — I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
4. Romans 8:28 — And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
5. Psalm 23:4 — Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
6. Romans 12:2 — Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
7. Psalm 23:6 — Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
8. Psalm 23:1 — The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
9. Psalm 23:5 — You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
10. Matthew 6:33 — But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Bible Gateway: Year in Review -Jonathan Petersen

YouVersion 2018

The most read verse in the United States:
Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you;do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
The most popular verse in other countries:

ArgentinaJoshua 1:9
AustraliaJeremiah 29:11
BangladeshJohn 3:16
BrazilJoshua 1:9
CanadaJeremiah 29:11
ChileIsaiah 41:10
ChinaProverbs 4:23
ColombiaJoshua 1:9
Egypt1 Peter 5:7
FranceIsaiah 41:10
GermanyJoshua 1:9
GhanaJeremiah 29:11
India1 Peter 5:7
IndonesiaJeremiah 29:11
Iraq1 Peter 5:7
ItalyIsaiah 41:10
JapanJeremiah 29:11
KoreaProverbs 16:9
MexicoJoshua 1:9
NepalJohn 3:16
NetherlandsIsaiah 41:10
NigeriaJeremiah 29:11
PeruIsaiah 41:10
PhilippinesJeremiah 29:11
RussiaProverbs 4:23
Singapore Jeremiah 29:11
South AfricaIsaiah 41:10
SpainIsaiah 41:10
ThailandMatthew 6:33
TurkeyJohn 3:16
UAEJeremiah 29:11
UkraineRomans 8:28
United KingdomJeremiah 29:11
United StatesIsaiah 41:10
VietnamMatthew 6:33

YouVersion 2018 Key Stats 

Pinterest is censoring anti-vaccine pins
The popular image-sharing social media website Pinterest is blocking pins that provide safety information about vaccines, or question whether or not legislation should be passed to mandate vaccines....

The vaccination question is not settled in the medical community

Where do licensed physicians who practice medicine in the U.S. stand today regarding the current vaccine debate to remove informed consent to vaccines? This is one area of the debate where you are not likely to hear both sides in the mainstream media.
Mainstream media, for the most part, is biased in its coverage of the current vaccine debate when it comes to the issue of removing informed consent, and not allowing parents to exempt their children from vaccines. The debate is positioned as parents against doctors, with parents supposedly representing emotional pleas, while doctors are supposedly unified in stating that “the science is settled” regarding vaccines, and universally in favor of mandatory vaccination policy removing parental exemptions.
However, nothing could be further from the truth in the vaccine debate. Doctors are not unified at all on their positions regarding “the science” of vaccines, nor are they unified in the position of removing informed consent to a medical procedure like vaccines.
Pinterest Censoring Anti-Vaccine Doctors and Pins Related to Vaccine Rights
Medical Doctors Opposed to Forced Vaccinations – Should Their Views be Silenced?
-Brian Shilhavy

The Church Is Growing in Syria. Turkey Wants to Kill It.

In the Federation of Northern Syria, new Christians are safe. For now. My good friend Bassam visited one of their churches in Kobane. He reports that the building is already too small for all the souls flocking to Christ. Bassam told me:

I was struggling to control my emotions and hold back tears. I couldn’t believe that I was on Syrian soil attending a legal church service for Kurdish converts to Christianity. This miracle in the heart of the Middle East is possible thanks to the freedom in The Federation to convert and be Christian in all openness. We all know what the Turkish jihadists will do to them (if they are allowed to) and these new Christians do fear that day.
If Turkey defies Donald Trump, and if Trump does not stop Erdogan, these churches will burn; these Christians will die.

 An Assyrian Christian from Tal Nasri said: “If Erdogan is allowed to attack this place, no Christian will remain here.” One Turkish newspaper claims that Turkey plans to occupy 40 kilometers into Syria. That would mean the end of Christianity in North-East Syria, where it has existed since the Apostles. Every Christian Syrian settlement would fall to the Turks.

Trump Warns Erdogan Not to Wipe Out Syrian Christians. Will Turks Defy America? 
-Johannes De Jong