Thought Thread: Rescue

This week's thought thread is rescue. Remember, if you'd prefer to receive the Thought Thread in email form, sign up here.

1. LINKS
Did Cars Save Cities From Horse Manure?
Sometimes history stinks, sometimes it makes you think(s).

The Silent Saviors
In 2011, 50 men worked on the leaking Fukushima nuclear reactor to rescue their country

When Robots Take Over the World, Compassion Will Save Us
A scientist's experience with cancer brought clarity to his understanding of A.I.

My Thoughts: Euthanasia, Life Plans, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves
Much has been written about the power of story. But sometimes stories go awry.

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
BOOK: Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear
A political speech writer implores us to choose words to save and inspire. If you're curious about this book, get a preview with some selected quotes.

VIDEO CLIP: A Very Marvel Rescue
This clip from X-Men Apocalypse shows a hyper-fast super hero saving some mutant high schoolers from certain death. 

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
I'm offering a new series on the Ten Commandments. To prepare, here's a teaching that sets up the need of God's people to be saved.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Rescue (Exodus 1)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute the content.  

As always, thanks for reading this stuff. Leave a comment below about anything of interest. 

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

Thought Thread: Faithful

This week's thought thread is faithful. If you'd like to receive the Thought Thread in your inbox, sign up for this biweekly email here.

1. LINKS
You Need To Take More Naps
It's science, folks: consistent napping is useful. So finish reading and schedule your siesta. 

Are You A Self-Interrupter? 
Our tech toys have the potential to keep us from being faithful contributors.

It's All About Reputation Now
The future of influence is linked to our faithfulness. Are you a trustworthy source?

My (Wife's) Thoughts: America's Fastest Growing Megachurch
Christianity Today published my wife's piece about a church just a few miles from our home that's utilizing entrepreneurial strategies for the benefit of the gospel. 

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
BOOK: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Our habits dominate our lives. Why not rewire them for the greater good? If you're wondering if this is a book worth your time, click this link to read some selected quotes.

VIDEO CLIP: A Real Life Forrest Gump
Since I ran a marathon last weekend (and will run another this weekend), I felt compelled to share this video of a guy who retraced Gump's entire epic run. 

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
The final sermon from a series on the book of Colossians. The exclusivity of Christ is seen as He is faithful

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Why Jesus Wins: Faithful (Colossians 4:7-18)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. The primary source of textual research used is the Smyth and Helwys commentary on Colossians by Nijay Gupta
3. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute the content.  

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below about anything of interest. 

Photo by Emily Campbell on Unsplash

Thought Thread: Vigilance

This week, we're thinking about Vigilance. If you'd like the Thought Thread sent straight to your inbox, you can sign up for this biweekly email here.

1. LINKS
Not All Practice Makes Perfect
The research of Anders Ericsson has revealed much about how vigilant practice can help us expand our skill set. I recommend this article as a good introduction to Ericsson's work. 

You Don't Need to Be Hacked
In this digital age, there are people trying to apply technological approaches to personal health. Biohacking is a vigilant approach to health care that has become extremely popular. But is the body something that can be controlled like a computer?

Teach Kids Creativity
For years I've consistently introduced my daughter to STEM oriented skills. In this article, however, the author makes the case for relying more on increasing children's creative skills than their tech toolbox. 

My Thoughts: Compassion Fatigue
Last summer I reflected on my work in urban ministry. It can be difficult to be diligent when continually faced with those who lie to gain compassion. Read how I've learned to combat these feelings of anger when reaching out when you're jaded.

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Combining information with inspiration, Angela Duckworth combines psychological research, anecdotes from sports and business, and life experience to provide practical strategies for accomplishing your life’s goals. If you're contemplating reading this book, click this link to read some quotes.

"Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up"
Every so often, I'll go back and watch this video of North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano. One month before he died, he delivered this inspirational speech on ESPN. His summary of his life is a lesson in vigilance. 

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
Another in this series from the book of Colossians. This week, we see that VIGILANCE is another aspect affirming the exclusivity of Christ. 

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Why Jesus Wins: Vigilance (Colossians 4:2-6)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. The primary source of textual research used is the Smyth and Helwys commentary on Colossians by Nijay Gupta
3. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute the content.  

As always, thanks for reading the Thread. Feel free to respond to any of this below. 

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Thought Thread: Vulnerable

We're chasing the thread of VULNERABILITY in this edition. If you'd like a streamlined version of Thought Thread, sign up for the email update by clicking here. 

1. LINKS
The Vulnerability of Power
It's difficult to remain positive when witnessing power corrupted. But the key to contesting this abuse might actually be our own vulnerability. This piece by a USC business professor is a compelling read.

The Challenge of Doing the Right Thing Well
Too often our lack of pride prevents us from becoming a better version of ourselves. In Masters' Season, the author of this Harvard Business Review article uses Tiger Woods as an example of humility (no, really!) and suggests we challenge our views of vulnerability.

Complete
Just a couple of weeks ago, Julie Yip Williams passed away at a young age of cancer. Her life was amazing (covered by CBS in this video) but her last words are a testament to transparency. Do yourself a favor and read her last blog post.

My Thoughts: It's Real To Me!
Next week is Wrestlemania and it motivated me to be a little vulnerable and express my feelings on professional wrestling.

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
We all know that the world is changing but how can we anticipate strategy when change comes so fast. I feel Kevin Kelly does an excellent job of guiding the reader through this conversation. If you're wondering whether or not to read the entire book, click here to read some selected quotes.

The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
Of all the links I've provided in the Thread thus far, I wondered if this was the least obscure. Brown has emerged as a go-to voice, but here thoughts in this Ted Talk are must listen, even if you've heard it before.

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
Some of the most argued texts in the Bible deal with the roles of husbands/wives and slaves/masters. In this message, you'll see that Jesus still wins because of VULNERABILITY. 

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Why Jesus Wins: Vulnerable (Colossians 3:18-4:1)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. The primary source of textual research used is the Smyth and Helwys commentary on Colossians by Nijay Gupta
3. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute the content.  

Thanks for reading the Thread. Feel free to reflect on anything below. 

Photo by Juan Carlos Pablo on Unsplash

Thought Thread: Perspective

This week, it's the thread of PERSPECTIVE.
Don't miss a Thought Thread; get it directly to your inbox. Sign up here. 

1. LINKS
Autonomy Vs. Impact
When I talk to young leaders, they routinely struggle to decide where they want to serve. Is it better to lead in an established organization or to start something brand new? This Silicon Valley investor details how he encourages people to view the two options.

The Ineffable Grandeur of Churches
Old church buildings are cherished by us people of faith. But how are they perceived by people who don't believe the story behind the architecture? This article doesn't end in faith, but we followers of Jesus could gain a fresh perspective by listening to these reflections.

The Power of Words
I saw this short video years ago, but it left quite an impression on me. We need to change the way people think about that which they routinely ignore. 

My Thoughts: Play the Man!
About twelve years ago I wrote a blog post about an obscure incident in Protestant History. Whenever I try to gain perspective, I benefit by looking to the past.  

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
Important decisions require careful consideration. But among the many perspectives we examine, rarely do we consider timing. One of my favorite authors mines statistical data to suggest some answers to the question, "When?" If you're wondering if you should get the book, click here to read some selected quotes.

Hidden Brain Podcast: Alan Alda wants us to have better conversations
The star of TV's M.A.S.H. has reinvented himself through his fascination with scientific concepts. In this podcast, Alda reflects on what he learned as an actor and how active listening can help all of us gain a better perspective while interacting with others. 

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
This sermon series on Colossians (WHY JESUS WINS) continues in the first half of chapter 3 with the topic of PERSPECTIVE. In this epistle, Paul advocates for the exclusivity of Jesus

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Why Jesus Wins: Perspective (Colossians 3:1-17)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. The primary source of textual research I used is the Smyth and Helwys commentary on Colossians by Nijay Gupta
3. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute content to me.  

Thanks for reading the Thread. Feel free to reflect on anything below. 

 Photo by Jan Traid on Unsplash

Thought Thread: Balance

Welcome to the Thought Thread. We're going to think about BALANCE this week. If you're interested in this kind of content, subscribe to the Thought Thread and get it in your inbox every two weeks. You can sign up by clicking here. 

1. LINKS
Google's Approach to Work/Life Balance
If you're like me—prone to workaholic tendencies—you struggle to find that sweet spot between career and family. Read about Google's institutional exploration on how their employees can establish healthy paths forward.

If You Think You're a Genius, You're Crazy
This scientific article discusses how the same mental processes used by the brilliant are found in those who struggle with rationality. Here's an area where balance is truly the critical difference.

Get It Done or Do It Right?
Productivity demands that we ship, getting projects completed in a timely manner. But how do we react if we're more invested in doing the job well?

My Thoughts: Silence or Shouting? Listening to Kids
In this blog post, I consider the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't wade into the issue of gun control, as I'm more fascinated by the teens stepping up to make their voices heard. What role should children take in shaping society?

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't by Nate Silver
Everyone wants to predict the future, but it's difficult to see through our noisy culture. In this book, a statistician unveils a data-driven guide to finding balance between what's important and what isn't. Before you commit to reading, here are some selected quotes from the book.

Man On Wire
Philippe Petit went rogue and walked a tightrope between the two World Trade Center towers. You can watch this documentary about his feat on Netflix.

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
I wrote a sermon series on Colossians entitled, WHY JESUS WINS. In writing to this church, Paul explains the exclusivity of Christ. This week, see how Jesus embodies balance.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Why Jesus Wins: Balance (Colossians 2:16-23)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. The primary source of textual research I used is the Smyth and Helwys commentary on Colossians by Nijay Gupta
3. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute content to me.  

As always, thanks for reading the Thread. If you have thoughts about any of the above articles, feel free to start a conversation below. 

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Thought Thread: Humility

Welcome to the Thought Thread. This week we're pulling on the thread of HUMILITY. Remember that the best way to keep tabs on this content is to subscribe to the newsletter via email. You can sign up for it by clicking here. 

1. LINKS
Why people fall for narcissistic leaders
Leadership research continues to mine new concepts explaining why we tend to follow certain leaders. If you've ever wondered why egotistical leaders seem more prevalent than humble ones, this article might help explain it.

Are you really that good?
While humility is a spiritual issue, we should recognize that our very human nature can work against us. While teaching in Seminary, I made this point to my students via the Dunning-Kruger Effect. This short video is a great summary of the concept. 

Humility from the Holy Land
In 2005, when my wife and I visited Israel, I was surprised at how many churches were built over biblical sites. While it was sometimes distracting, I've always remembered the architecture of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Here's an inspirational thought concerning the pilgrimage to the manger site.

My Thoughts: Coworkers or Competition?
Ministry leaders face what seems to be a paradoxical challenge: to elevate the kingdom (universal) AND motivate our church (local). Sometimes this leads us to feeling competitive with other churches. When planting an urban church, I myself struggled with it. Here's a reflection on how I came to grips with my jealousy of other ministries.

2. RECOMMENDATIONS
The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
These scholars deconstruct the myth that we humans are fully rational. Again, as the Dunning-Kruger affect affirms, it's important to recognize that our minds play tricks on us to keep from being humble. Before you read, you can click here for some selected quotes.

12 Years a Slave
During Oscar season, we're reminded of the great movies of our past. The 2014 Best Movie winner is not only a compelling choice during Black History Month, but it unravels the struggle of free man Solomon Northup's journey of humility after being sold into slavery. Currently, the best digital rental rate is on Amazon.com.

3. FREE SERMON DOWNLOAD
I'm continuing an examination from Paul's letter to the Colossians, entitled WHY JESUS WINS. As we examine the exclusivity of Christ, we dig into his humility.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF transcript of Why Jesus Wins: Humility (Colossians 1:15-29)

A few notes: 
1. All Scriptures are taken from the New International Version
2. The primary source of textual research I used is the Smyth and Helwys commentary on Colossians by Nijay Gupta
3. Feel free to customize the message for your audience. Since these sermons are heavy exegetical, there is no need to attribute content to me.  

Thanks for reading. If you have thoughts about any of the above articles, feel free to start a conversation below. 

Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

Pulling on the Thread

Entering my third decade of ministry experience, I've had the opportunity to connect with thousands of church leaders and hundreds of churches. From teaching in a seminary, to planting a congregation in the city, to now working in church finance, my experiences forced me to take a unique view of the church: to think differently about our work and to discover how random threads can be woven together to create new trains of thought. 

That's what Thought Thread is all about. Twice a month, I release an idea and trace the thread that binds together various resources. So you can expect:

  • Links from around the web. For years I've drawn content from random sources to provide an atypical perspective on ministry. Here you'll find items from off the beaten path.
  • Book, podcast, and film recommendations. There's a constant flow of new content developed daily. I'll show you what you might have missed and how it can help. 
  • A free sermon. I'm not claiming to be the best communicator, but I am good at developing content. If you're caught in a bind and need something to preach/teach, you can use this resource. At the very least, it'll give you a starting point. 

I'm here to serve. Thanks for tethering your life to ministry in order to change people's eternity. I pray something here will help you in your work.