So far at Disciple Project…

Of the many great quotes I have heard this week, this one stands out.
Of the many great quotes I have heard this week, this one stands out: “The best leader walks with their people and group.” – Peggy Hahn

Last week I mentioned that I would be attending the Disciple Project this week. Well, as we are slightly over half way through the week, I thought I might recap how it has gone.  In one word, its been awesome! I am so glad I am here. The connections, friends and relationships I have made and will continue to make this week make this invaluable alone. But there has been so much more.

1) I have taken 24 pages of notes over 2.5 days. That’s pretty impressive, even for me and being a normal note taker.

2) I have met a number of people in person whom I have either followed or friended through social media channels over the past couple of years. It’s great to put a face to these wonderful people and beautiful minds.

3) Texas Lutheran University (TLU) has a beautiful campus. I have to admit that. Though, I also have to sa that I honestly don’t think it compares to Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). Granted, I am biased though. : ) But, one thing PLU has that TLU never will, is a view of a mountain, Mount Rainier. Because of that alone, sorry TLU.

4) It’s been so invigorating to hear from leaders of all ages (especially 8th grade on up) about ministry and ministry projects they are leading/serving and ones that they will be serving. There is so much innovation and entrepreneurship going on among these leaders, I think Peter Drucker would be proud. I’ve shared some of my perspectives and thoughts, but also been soaking in some of the collective and gathered wisdom from the host of leaders and larger group.

There has been a whole load of other things I want to share and will, but not today. I want to be completely present, so for now this will have to suffice. How is your week going?

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on my blog means that it is time to share some links to things I have found interesting and thought-provoking over the past week with all of you. This week’s topic categories include: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I entrust these to you now and hope you enjoy them!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are preparing for this coming weekend and your congregation is following the lectionary, this post on Bishop Rinehart’s blog from Pastor Don Carlson might be helpful.

Leneita Fix shared, “4 Ministry Tips from the Starbucks ‘Name Thing.'” Tips that were offered included: ask people about themselves; don’t be afraid to go the extra mile; be fully with people; and develop a relationship with them.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) made news over the past week from its General Assembly. First came news about a committee opening a door for Presbyterian ministers to perform same-sex marriages. Then came news of the larger General Assembly voting to allow gay marriages. That news was also shared by Lauren Markoe at Ministry Matters and by Niraj Warikoo and picked up by USA Today. More formally, here is the pastoral letter from the PC(USA) to the church on the General Assembly’s marriage actions.

Partly related to this, Pastor Jan Edmiston writes that “Faithfulness is Disruptive.”

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick asked, “Should All Churches Be ‘Mere’ly ‘Christian’?” Good question and nice way to use a famous title and idea from C.S. Lewis! J.W. comes at this question especially from an interesting and thought-provoking apologetics perspective. What do you think?

Shane Claiborne shared, “A pastor’s solidarity march to end an injustice.”

Carey Nieuwhof shared, “7 Things NOT to say when you’re leading change in your church.” The list is so good (and sometimes sadly familiar) that I want to share all seven with you. Things not to say include: “These changes are great. I can’t understand why you don’t like them.”; “God told me this is what we should do.”; “We’ve got this all figured out. Trust me.”; “What happened in the past is completely irrelevant…focus on the future.”; “Everyone needs to get on board right now.”; “I know people are leaving…who cares?”; and “This plan is bullet-proof.” What do you think of this list? What might you add to it?

Dale Hanson Bourke wrote, “Faith communities on the front line of refugee aid” in The Washington Post. 

Chad Brooks shared, “Justin Wise on Call, Hustle and Why Goals Matter.” Check out this post and interview with Justin Wise.

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller reflected on “The Difference between a ‘chapel’ and a ‘church.'” Give these reflections some thought, and see what you think about Aaron’s question, “What if we thought of our churches more like military ‘chapels?'”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Over the past week we have heard some about a partnership of sorts between Arizona State and Starbucks. Is this a potential “New College Model?Joe Nocera explains and opines.

Heather Huhman shared, “The 10 Unique Soft Skills Employers Desire in New Hires.” The list includes: being dependable; pulling together a presentation; solving problems; coaching co-workers; fitting into the company’s culture; voicing opinions while being open to feedback; being flexible and focused; being creative and innovative; developing new work processes; and taking initiative.

Leadership Thought & Practice

Last month Sean McPheat shared, “Leadership Skills: Top 10 Traits of Successful Leaders.” Traits offered included: inspire action; be optimistic; be there; communicate clearly; be decisive; know your organization; continue your self improvement; act with integrity; have empathy and be committed.

How might one authentically lead from one of the middle seats on a flight such as this?
How might one authentically lead from one of the middle seats on a flight such as this?

Cheryl Isen explained, “How to perfect your one-minute pitch and capture some fans.” This is probably helpful not just for your leadership and potential opportunities, but also for your connecting and networking as well.

This might be the most interesting leadership title from the past week, “Authentic Leadership from the Middle Seat in Coach.” Jim Hauden reflected in this, and he notes that power impacts empathy and that we are all equal. Check this out and see what you think.

Peter Economy writes, “If you aren’t mentoring, you aren’t leading.” I wholeheartedly agree with that premise! Do you?

Fritjof Capra shared, “Life and Leadership.” In this post reflection is given about communities of practice, the emergence of novelty, emergence and design, and a new kind of leadership which has to do with “facilitating the emergence of novelty.” Check this out and give it some thought.

Alli Polin reflected on “One Bad Experience.” I’m sure we can all relate with this story.

Matt Monge shared “5 Reasons Your Employees are Lying to You.” Check out the list and see what you think.

Lolly Daskal shared and asked, “Good Luck or Bad Luck? Who knows!” There are important reminders here to: remain calm; trust your abilities; take action; invite acceptance; don’t compromise and foster agility.

Jesse Lyn Stoner explained, “How to REALLY Listen.” I love her ideas of what constitutes “the best response.” She writes, “The best way to listen is with your mouth shut. If you’re talking, you’re not listening…Connection and compassion are the greatest responses, the greatest gift you can give. And often, that requires no words at all.” Give this a read and some serious thought. What do you think of this advice?

Tanveer Naseer asked, “Are you creating value through your leadership?” This is a fantastic and important question. In what ways are you creating value through your leadership? In what ways might you not be creating as much value as you could be?

Dan Rockwell had a couple of posts that really caught my eye over the past week. First, was this one with “Secrets to Great Presentations.” Give this some thought, especially as you prepare for your next presentation.  The second post that caught my eye was, “How to Find the One Thing Everything else Needs.”

Anne Loehr shared a guest post by Tom Ward, “Leadership in the Zone- How to Fully Engage Spiritually.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared some ideas from Alex Zein about how “Managing is about growing others.”

Millennials

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared a post about “Life (Right) After College.” This is a great read, and offers a lot especially to parents who are still trying to figure out what life is like for their millennial children.

Jean Case shared this fantastic post, “The Business of Doing Good: How Millennials are Changing the Corporate Sector.” Check it out and see what you think.

A bunch of seminary friends together at Will and Katie's wedding doing an epic selfie!
A gathered group of millennial leaders and perhaps even millennial entrepreneurs.

In news that really isn’t all that surprising to me about hiring and recruiting millennials, Megan O’Neil shares word that a report has found that “Volunteer Opportunities Help Employers Attract Talent.”

Summer often means internship opportunities. LEAD shared news and stories about their summer interns. Check out these stories about some interesting young leaders.

Dan Rockwell shared “12 Ways Young Leaders Earn Admiration from Elders.”

Jon Mertz pondered the important question, “Why are there so many millennial entrepreneurs?” Great question!  Some of the reasons and ideas pondered include: a desire to contribute; copious confidence; a low barrier to entry; the thirst for flexibility; and the thrill of success. Check this out and see what you think.

Neighbor Love

Rev. Dr. John Nunes shared “Talk the walk: Imperative to bring unique Lutheran voice to public square for the sake of the world.” This is fantastic, and I am not saying that just because I am a Lutheran. Among areas of focus in this include the proper place of religion and the truth of poverty. Give this a read and some reflection this week.

As the World Cup continues, so do the posts related to them. Jorge Rivas writes that without immigration half of the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team would disappear.

Diaa Hadid and Joseph Krauss shared news that “For First Time since WWII There are More than 50 Million Refugees.” To say this is a neighbor love concern is an understatement.

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick wondered if there could be “A Biblical Answer to Economic Woes?”  What do you think?

Christian Piatt shared, “5 Reasons Churches Need to ‘Come Out’ on LGBTQ Rights.” Reasons offered include: much of the pain, and therefore, suspicion and resentment, lies at the institutional level; the churches’ window of opportunity to be on the right side of history is closing; people need to know where their sanctuaries are; we’re commanded to go to those in need of God’s grace; and “love is without condition. Period.” Check this out and give it some thought.

A view of downtown Austin, Texas
A view of downtown Austin, Texas

In a story from Texas, here is a post by Luke Winkie about how “Austin Was Built to be Segregated.” What do you think?

Here is a story that is awful in so many ways. First, its awful and absolutely wrong that anyway is raped. Second, to them blame the victim is wrong on every level too, and that is apparently what has happened at Bob Jones University. I am hoping this story brings about change.

John Paulk shared, “To Straight and Back- My Life as an ex-ex-gay man.” This is an interesting read and speaks to the challenges of identity on so many levels.

The Economist doesn’t often make this section of the links, but here it is doing so. Here’s a reflection about, “The Pope’s divisions: Francis, Capitalism and War.” There are good thoughts in here. Give this a read and see what ideas or questions come to mind for you.

RJ Grunewald wrote, “Prodigals, Pharisees, and Sons.” This is a good reflection about prayer and relationship.

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick provided his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.” Check out his list particularly for more things related to Biblical study and theology.

Stewardship

Friend and “Classy Frugalist” Grace Duddy shared some great thoughts about “How to Host a Frugal Party.” Check out her list for ideas and see what you might add as well from your own experience.

Lauren Markoe shared this news that “Philanthropy Improves, But Religious Giving is Down.” My observations of late would support this. What have you observed?

Denis Greene shared thoughts about “The Importance of Optimizing Mobile Giving.”

Vocation

My wife Allison posted and shared, “Stories: Through Rose-Colored Glasses.” You should read this and then respond and contribute to the conversation and collection of stories that Allison is seeking.

Last week I shared the sad news about Tony Gwynn passing away. Here’s a story I read over the past week about a former bat boy’s experience with Gwynn and his friendship. This is a must read, so check it out!

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a moment of tea time last week. Like she said, let me repeat, “Now get lost in the dancing lightening bug outside your window.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some pondering and vocational reflection and observation in “The Things We Do.”

Bishop Peter Rogness shared some wonderful life reflections in his last monthly letter as Bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. There is great stuff in here, especially about vocation, leadership, change and transition.

Miscellaneous

A small but typically packed suitcase
A small but typically packed suitcase

Here’s something for you baseball fans. This is a story from the past week pondering about a potential relationship between the Minnesota Twins and St. Paul Saints. It’s an interesting little story, but has since been denied (at least publicly).

If you live in the United States, have you ever wondered what city best matches your political views? Well, if you have, now you perhaps can find out.

As summer has officially begun, here is a helpful post for those of you who will be traveling about “How to pack lightly and still have what you need,” from KPLU.

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That concludes this week’s offering of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always if there are particular topics or questions you would like for me to wrestle with on my blog, please let me know. Also, if there are types of articles or topics that you would like me to include in the links, please let me know that too. Until next time, blessings on your week and thanks for reading! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Loaded Airplane; Austin; and a packed suitcase.

Transitions, Good-Byes, and Until We Meet Again

Katie and Will dancing down the aisle!
Katie and Will dancing down the aisle!

I haven’t written much on my blog in the past week. It’s been a bit odd, but I’ve been living in the moment, doing some wonderful work related projects, and spending time with friends. Here’s a collage of thoughts from the past few days.

1) Congratulations to my friends Katie and Will who got married over the weekend. It has been a joy to be present with you during your journey and engagement, and it was a blessing to be able to provide the music for your wedding. Blessings to you both!

2) Given news, projects, and friend’s updates of new calls and opportunities, I can’t help but revisit a post from a little while back about Transitions, Transitions, Transitions. Again, transitions aren’t always easy. In fact, I am not sure if they are ever entirely easy. But, if you can find room to “leave the door open for possibilities” a transition may really be life giving. (I have been reminding some friends of this lately, and perhaps this is a helpful reminder here.)

A bunch of seminary friends together at Will and Katie's wedding doing an epic selfie!
A bunch of seminary friends together at Will and Katie’s wedding doing an epic selfie!

3) One of the many transitions that my wife Allison and I are going through currently is seeing so many of our friends leave. We are sad to see them go and leave us geographically, but so excited for them, their families, their new congregations/organizations that they will serve, as well as the future of the church. The good-byes really started this past week, as friends Amanda and Jeremy departed for Texas. Together with friends Joe and Brianna we got them loaded up yesterday and they are now on their way. This week ahead again features more packing and moving of other seminary friends. There are sure to be more good byes and more tears. But there is also much joy and thankfulness for our friendships which will continue.

Jeremy and Amanda driving off to Texas
Jeremy and Amanda driving off to Texas

4) As with any good-bye and message of “Until we meet again,” especially among friends and seminarians, it seems important to share some kind of blessing or benediction don’t you think? So, here’s one I received during my confirmation:

“May blessings follow you through life wherever God may lead you. May love be right beside you and may joy and peace precede you. May God’s Word light your path each day, while grace and patience guide your way.”

Friends, thank you for being friends and integral parts of our lives. Thank you for being blessings to us, and we look forward to seeing the amazing things God continues to do and will do through your lives, ministry and service.

Those are some of the transitions that I’m going through. What kind of transitions and changes are you going through now? 

Looking forward to the Disciple Project

Next week I will be joining a number of other leaders, young leaders, ministry leaders and people discerning of all kinds for the Disciple Project in Seguin, Texas. I am greatly looking forward to this time and to connecting with many people I have met or been connected to digitally but perhaps never face-to-face before. As part of this time, I will be in the “Follow to LEAD” track, and I am looking forward to learning from and with, and thinking alongside Peggy Hahn. (See a video below from last year’s Disciple Project.)

koinonia
A visual depiction of values of Koinonia from LEAD

I am also looking forward to the special emphasis on “koinonia.” It is a concept I actually have written and thought a lot about, especially as part of my seminary masters thesis. The concept has all sorts of implications for relationships, leadership, neighbor love, community and service. Needless to say, I am excited to thinking with others about this. If you have thought about this idea before, what are some of your thoughts related to koinonia? How do you explain it to others?

In looking ahead over the next week or so, I will surely blog about my experience. There may not be many posts here during the week, but you can expect some thoughts about the week upon its end. In the mean time, this also means that there might be a bit less posting next week than has become usual. I am still planning on providing some links on Tuesday, but probably less than usual. I hope you are looking forward to hearing more in the week or so ahead.

If you are going to be at Disciple Project, please let me know. I’d love to meet and talk in person. To all of you else who will be experieincing the conversation and thought through my blog, I hope you will not hesitate to join the conversation.

Image Credit: Koinonia

This Week’s Links

Internet1Before getting to the Links, I really have to say WOW, what a win for Team USA yesterday! What an exciting start to the World Cup. I hope you have been enjoying it so far like I have.

Now onto the post. Tuesday means that it is time for me to share some of what I have seen and found interesting over the past week with you. This week’s topic categories are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links and I entrust them to you now.

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Last week I mentioned Rachel Held Evans had asked for reader questions for Brian McLaren. Here is McLaren’s response to those questions which is fantastic. One response that I want to include just to encourage you to check this out, McLaren writes: “Cindy, people like you can make a big difference in all this. Keep positive. Love everybody. Resist the urge to imitate the behavior of those who hurt you. Seek the guidance and empowerment of the Spirit. Welcome the opportunity for growth. Be a non- anxious presence. And know that whatever other people do, you can still do good, beautiful, kind, and loving things.”

Speaking of Brian McLaren, here is an interview that Shane Raynor did of him about the release of his new book, We Make the Road by Walking.

Rachel Held Evans also shared a guest post from Jerusalem Jackson Greer, “Church Story: ‘I hold all these things in my heart.'”

Friend and pastor Jodi Houge reflected on the “Illusion of control.” Do you share her thoughts? Do you want to join her in giving up some control?

Steve McSwain’s post, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore” from last October was shared again by a few people last week, including friend and ministry leader Peggy Hahn. If you didn’t see it then, check it now and see what you think.

Tim Soerens wrote, “How the Local Movement is Revitalizing Church.” I like the reflection he gives particularly to these three concepts and ideas: subverting consumerism; confronting what we count as success; and disrupting cultural wars with everyday life. What do you think of this?

Friend and pastor Diane Roth wrote, “The Trinity, Creation, and World War II.” It’s a good reflection about a number of things, particularly about what’s going on in the world, creation, and the mystery of the Holy Trinity. (Timely given Sunday having been Holy Trinity Sunday.)

Wayne Meisel mused, “Pentecost: Unusual Allies and the New Faces of Ministry.” Give this a read.

Building Blocks- perhaps useful for faith formation?
Building Blocks- perhaps useful for faith formation?

I stumbled across this potential Faith Formation resource, “Building Faith Brick by Brick.” It sounds like it might be an interesting approach.

Nathan Loewen asked and shared, “How do we keep it real? Authentic Assessment and Religious Studies.”

Rev. Dr. David Lose, who is in the midst of transition, shared some thoughts and an update about the future of his blog, “In the Meantime.”

If you want to see what some creative people in one synod put together to reflect on the idea that “We Are Church Together,” you should really check this out!

RJ Grunewald shared, “The Heart of Young and Seasoned Church Workers.” RJ begins by writing, “If there’s one thing that is true for all people called to church work, it’s that they have passion not only for God, but for their church.” This is very true and important to remember, both for staff and volunteers who are fellow participants in ministry. Give this a read, and think about the questions that he poses at the end when he asks, “If you’re a veteran church worker, what do you wish you could’ve told a younger version of you?  If you’re a young church worker, what would you like to tell a future version of you to make sure to remember?” What do you think?

As its June, a number of denominations are having their larger gatherings now. Last week, at their annual meeting the Southern Baptists passed an “Anti-Transgender Resolution Opposing Gender Reassignment” among some other news and resolutions.

Pastor Jan Edmiston shared this post, which she titled, “Exclusive Geekdom” about her excitement for the upcoming Presbyterian General Assembly. Jan also has written, “What Trust Looks Like in Church World.” There are great questions posed about trust in this. Give this a read and see what you think and how you might respond to Jan’s questions regarding trust.

Rev. Pat Raube shared, “Pastoral Boundaries~ When Sin is also Crime.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared some “Lessons from Navy Chaplaincy: ‘Fighting with Honor’ & the Church.” Give this some thought this week!

Looking ahead to this coming Sunday if your congregation is following the lectionary (Pentecost 2A), Bishop Michael Rinehart’s blog, with the help of Pastor Don Carlson shares some good thoughts and ideas about the appointed readings and their themes.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Julian Stodd reflected on “The enemies of innovation in organizations.”  I really appreciate Julian’s conclusion where he writes, “If you see learning as the opposite to failure, then you’re set up to fail. You have to both fail and learn and have the right permissions and trust to do so. If you’re not failing somewhere, you’re probably not learning enough.” What do you think?

Julian also picked up and continued his good work on his blog related to stories and their importance. He continued this in his post, “Unearthing organizational stories: finding the narrative.” Julian concluded nicely, “stories sit at the heart of how we communicate: uncovering our stories, refining them, capturing the core narrative and sharing it effectively is a core skill in the Social Age.” This set the stage for another post about “What you need to know about ‘The Social Age.'”

When you see a post titled, “Bill Gates Just Blew our Minds in a Single Tweet” you really can’t not read it, can you?

Have you heard of the term and concept, “Co-Intelligence?” If not, or that sounds interesting, check this out.

Building off of that post, here is a post from Tom Atlee, “Realizing Empathy as Part of Co-Intelligence.”

In a post with significance to all sectors, Harry Boyte wrote that, “To Take on the Empowerment Gap, We Need to Change the Narrative of Education.” What do you think?

Leadership Thought & Practice

Mark Fernandes shared a look “Inside the Walls of a Values-Based Leadership Organization.” Check this out!

Kate Nasser pondered, “Can you be friends with those you lead?” Good question! What do you think?

Lolly Daskal wrote, “Tear Down the Walls So Trust Can Get In.” I love her conclusion! Lolly writes, “Leadership should be dedicated to living and leading lives to a more trusted culture. Lead From Within: As the leader, if you want your company to be trusted, break down the walls and erect a foundation of values and principles that everyone from top to bottom knows and the rest of the world sees and feels. Because living and leading by values is the foundation of trust.”

In a related post Tanveer Naseer asked, “Can your team really trust you?” What are your thoughts here?

How is this for a leadership blog post title, “Super Action Hero Status: In the Workplace?” If you are intrigued, check out this post from Tom Maloney.

Ron Edmondson shared, “7 Ways to Stretch Yourself as a Leader.” Ways offered include: read something different from what you normally read; hang out with people not like you; move forward on something with uncertainty; attempt something you’ve never done; spend more time on opportunities than on problems; schedule and discipline time to dream; and stay physically active. What do you think of this list? What ideas do you have?

Cranston Holden shared perspectives on “How to Get More Done.”

Anne Loehr wrote about “How to Fully Engage Mentally.” What do you think?

Seattle on the horizon, at least when on a ferry ride on the Puget Sound
Seattle on the horizon, at least when on a ferry ride on the Puget Sound

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great leadership posts this past week, all offering seven ways or examples. These included, “7 Ways to Have Tough Compassion,” “7 Ways to Maximize Quiet Leaders,” “7 Ways Quiet Leaders Get the Most from Talkers,” “7 Marks of Engaged Leadership,” and “7 Ways to Rise Above Pie in the Sky.” Check these out and give them some thought.

Jon Mertz asked, “What Is on Your Horizon?” This is a great question! As Jon notes, horizons can be both hopeful and cruel. This is a wonderful post I hope you give some time to and wrestle with. One passage that particularly stood out to me was where Jon wrote, “The horizon is demanding our attention to the story of our life. Our life will not always be a series of success and happiness. We will face certain challenges. How we strengthen our minds and soul during the good times may determine how well we navigate and survive the bad.” What do you think?

Jon also shared a guest post by Patti Johnson, “Why Title and Experience Don’t Matter: 3 Questions That Anyone Can Ask.” The three questions are: What can I do? How can I help? And, what if?

Terri Klass asked, “Are You Tired of Your Leadership Routine?” Good question. Check it out!

Millennials

There is a theme in the millennial section this week related to faith, church and religion. First off, Samuel Adams wrote, “No More Analysis- Millennials, the Church Needs You!” It’s pretty difficult to disagree with that claim. What do you think?

Nurya Love Parish shared, “Next America 9: Engaging (Millennial) ‘Nones.'” There are great questions posed in this- about faith, “nones,” and millennials. Give this some thought.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared and asked, “Got Religion- Where are the Young Adults?” I share Ron’s wondering when he ponders, “given the pace of cultural change, whether over the next 50-100 years, the Catholic Church’s and Mormon religion’s growth will slow and/or reverse if women and sexual minorities are not embraced as full-fledged members of those communities.” What do you think?

Neighbor Love

Given recent events, much has rightfully been written about and in response to tragedies and gun violence. First up comes this post from Richard Steele where he wrote powerfully, “After Seattle Shooting, the Media Watched Us Pray.” This is an important read well worth some time.

In facing and confronting the epidemic of gun violence, here is a map that “shows every school shooting since Sandy Hook.” This idea was also picked up here. All I can say to this is “Lord, have mercy,” and “when will we learn?”

Another post within the theme, “‘Excavating Fear’ or ‘If you want children to be safer, don’t buy bulletproof blankets.'” About this, the thought of a bulletproof blanket kind of sounds like the tales of the drills our parents had to do in school in case of a nuclear attack.

One final post within this theme comes from Tom McKay. He wrote, “Australia has eliminated gun massacres by doing what the U.S. Doesn’t Have the Guts for.”

Switching gears now, how is this for a cool story of a perfect stranger and good photographer catching the special moment of a couple’s engagement and then being able to make sure that they have the pictures to treasure from that day.

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared, “Diet Doom and Gloom: The first commandment with a side of hope.”

Friend and Ph.D. student Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared “A Sermon on Creation (as opposed to the Trinity or Fathers).” I love this! One particular passage that stands out is where Amanda writes: “The messiness of creation, however, does not take away from the joy, love or delight that God takes in it. God created – and God creates – for the sheer joy of it. The earth is not an inconvenient mistake that God made long ago and far away. It continues spinning, the plants continue growing, animals and humans continue living not because God hasn’t done something but because God has done something: God continues saying ‘Yes’ to this messy, broken, blessed creation.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry recently likened homosexuality to alcoholism. I have heard some people in my very extended family try and make similar claims. I am not sure that they would be as bold to share such views in San Francisco though. (Needless to say, I don’t agree with Governor Perry at all.)

Yesterday, it was announced that President Obama would sign an executive order banning “federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Excitement early on in the first match for Team USA in the 2014 World Cup as Clint Dempsey scores for the United States' team against Ghana.
Excitement early on in the first match for Team USA in the 2014 World Cup as Clint Dempsey scores for the United States’ team against Ghana.

In the spirit of the World Cup, Jorge Rivas wondered, “Who Would Win World Cup if we ranked countries by LGBT Rights?” Check this out. You might be a bit surprised.

Tom Murphy similarly considered how the “World Cup countries compare off the soccer field.” Take a look at this interactive post which offers you the ability to see different rankings based on different criteria such as gender inequality, etc.

Patti Austin shared and asked, “Hola Carmen, Como Estas?” This is a good post both in the vein of neighbor love as well as about relationships and community.

In another example of a group taking a social justice stand about the National Football League team in Washington D.C., the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United Church of Christ has voted to boycott the team until it changes its name.

In a story that just makes me disappointed and angry, apparently a United States World War II veteran was turned away from the polls last week and not given help to get proper voting identification.

Jesse Carey wrote, “Faith Isn’t About Finding Answers.” I especially appreciate the article’s sub-title, “It’s time for the Church to embrace the joy of not knowing everything.” Do you agree with that?

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared “Thoughts from the ‘NuclearChaplain.'” One particular thought that stands out is where Aaron shares, “The Navy has actually written into its governing instructions about Religious Ministry and the Chaplain Corps rules and mandates towards tolerance, mutual respect for all people, diversity of all kinds, accommodation in a pluralistic setting.  These instructions also protect chaplains so that they may minister and represent their religious tradition/denomination in full confidence, while maintaining respect for other traditions.” Check out all of Aaron’s thoughts!

If you are looking for a place where social media and film meet social justice? If so, check this out!

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared some “Really Recommended Posts” from the past week. Check this out if you are looking for more interesting things especially related to theology and the church.

Vocation

Friend and pastor Stephanie Vos wrote and explained, “Why I Refuse to Teach Christian Yoga.” I particularly appreciate where she writes, “My choice to keep them separate comes from a deep (deep) respect for each tradition. While it disheartens me to see people in each group afraid of the other: Christians who think that yoga is ‘dangerous’ or ‘idolatrous,’ or yogis who think that Christianity is weird, hurtful, or hateful, I don’t think the solution is to harmonize them into a single practice and risk losing both.” Check this out and give it some thought.

Rev. Dr. David Lose wrote and shared this post about, “Vocation and the Mosaic Man.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared a great reflection, “My vocation- and yours.” This is such a fantastic reflection about the heart and essence of vocation. One passage in particular stands out. Diane writes, “‘What does God want me to do?’ That is the question at the heart of vocation. But it is not a question with one answer. It is a question for every day. It is a question about life’s work, but it is also a question about daily attentiveness. Even to ask the question, ‘What does God want me to do?’ is to affirm that I have a vocation.”

Last month I shared the news about Dan Lewis retiring from the anchor desk in Seattle. Last week came word that Jean Enersen was retiring from the anchor desk as well. Congratulations Jean on an amazing career as an anchor, and thank you for your service and dedication.

Friend and blogger Kate Retherford shared a good vocational and life update in this post, “Playing with Neutrals.”

My Dad and my Father-in-Law at our wedding reception
In honor of Father’s Day: My Dad and my Father-in-Law

Since Sunday was Father’s Day, there were a few posts that stood out in that theme. First, Kim Parker shared “5 facts about today’s fathers.” The facts included: that fewer dads are their family’s sole breadwinners; dads’ and moms’ roles are converging; today’s dads say they spend as much time or more time with their kids than their own parents spent with them; work-family balance is challenging for many working fathers; and for a growing number of children, there is no father in the home.

Also in this vein, friend, blogger and soon-to-be father J.W. Wartick shared, “Raise Up a Child: My Father-to-be Father’s Day Reflection.” And, in case you missed it, I shared some Father’s Day thoughts too.

Friend and musician Heatherlyn wrote, “A Scrappy Song” or “How Songwriting is like Composting.”

TK shared a vocational and family related post that I am sure many probably resonate with, “The Luck and Blessings of Family.”

Miscellaneous

Back in college, I studied abroad in Italy, so when I saw this post, “39 Reasons Studying Abroad in Italy Ruins You for Life,” I had to check it out. I am not sure that it ruined my life at all, but I do admit, I am always longing for the same quality pasta, etc.

If you are a sports fan, you might enjoy this news about a potential partnership to bring Major League Soccer to Minnesota.

In more World Cup related posts, here is a story about the best and most courteous fans in all of sport. If only we all were as courteous as Japanese fans, the world would be a much cleaner and cooperative place. Don’t you think?  Also, check out these “7 World Cup Watching Positions” and see how many of them you and your friends do regularly.

Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn
Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn

Also, for people in or visiting the Twin Cities this summer, here is a list of “13 Things You Absolutely Must Do.” I guess I have some things to check out this summer. Do you?

One more Minnesota post, the Twin Cities Jazz Fest will be starting soon, so if you love jazz like I do, check this out!

In a post that may take you back in time, comes this look at “10 Things We No Longer See at Airports” thanks to Mental Floss.

Finally, as a baseball fan I would be remiss if I didn’t share my condolences on the sad news that Tony Gwynn passed away yesterday from his battle with cancer. Prayers and thoughts are with his family and loved ones. Tony, thank you for being not only a Hall of Fame player who was dedicated to being the best hitter you could be, but also for being such a hall of fame person dedicated to doing all that you could to help out in your home city of San Diego.

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That will wrap up this week’s edition of the links. I hope that you continue to enjoy the World Cup, and that you also have enjoyed the links. As always if there are topics or questions you would like me to wrestle with on the blog, or types of things to include in the links, please let me know.

A quick note about the blog for the next month or so. I will have a number of projects, opportunities and obligations over the next month that might mean a bit less posting here on the blog. Chances are you won’t notice much of a change, but the Links posts on Tuesdays for example might be a bit shorter just because of time constraints.

Until next time, blessings on your week and thanks for reading! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Legos/Building Blocks; Clint Dempsey scores in World Cup; and Tony Gwynn.

Happy Father’s Day!

To all fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day! To celebrate, let me share a video that has gone viral.

As for myself, today I give thanks especially for my dad, my father-in-law, and my grandpas.

Mom and Dad and me on Easter Sunday by the baptismal font
Mom and Dad and me on Easter Sunday by the baptismal font

My Dad has always been there, and continues to be there. He was a connective leader before Jean Lipman-Blumen had come up with the term. He was exhibiting characteristics of millennial leadership before the concept of millennials had even been imagined. More than that though, Dad has always been present.  Many people with his position and opportunities have made choices based on their career and vocations that would have placed family second. Dad, never did this. Family always has and always will come first. Growing up, he always found time to be there for concerts, awards, presentations, etc.

My parents and my wife and I upon graduating from Luther Seminary (May 2012)
My parents, Allison and I upon graduating from Luther Seminary (May 2012)

More importantly though, Dad was there, no matter the time of day to help discuss questions about homework and life, and to teach me and play catch. Playing catch for hours on end growing up, I don’t even know where to start to talk about how many life and vocatonal related converstions happened during a good evening of catch. Those conversations also featured chats about the Mariners and other sports teams and stories, naturally of course.

Dad continues to be the most encouraging person who is there, near or far, pushing me to continue to learn, to discern, and to never give up or settle. When I might have a little doubt creep in about myself, Dad is the first person to stop me from giving into that doubt. For the longest time, we have kind of joked about who (he or me) would be the first to get their Ph.D. in our family. Now, I wonder if it might be my sister Tamara? We’ll see. Needless to say, I could go on and on. Dad has taught me- both through learning and sharing of resources and just through the way he lives life, what leadership and love look like. My dad along with my mom, modeled and showed me what it means to be called and be serving vocations before I ever thought about college and was so immersed the whole concept of vocation while in college. He lives that understanding, and to be honest, I think that has really rubbed off on me and I am grateful for that. I can imagine that some fathers might get antsy and worried if their children weren’t fully employed. My Dad has never felt like that, he has loved me every step of the way and I know he will love me every step of the way. That’s just who he is, and I am so lucky and blessed because of that.

My Dad and my Father-in-Law at our wedding reception
My Dad and my Father-in-Law at our wedding reception

I am also grateful for my father-in-law, Rob. He has welcomed me into the family in such a loving and supportive way. As it is with all families, I presume, it took awhile to get to know my in-laws and to understand them, but Rob always welcomed me. When he noticed early on that I might not be sure what was happening with some of Allison’s family he would help me with the back story. He really got that I am a ‘learner’ and that it’s important for me in terms of life and relationships to understand and appreciate my family. Certainly, I am grateful for Rob for raising and having such a wonderful daughter. I hope that he loves having two sons-in-laws now, and I can’t imagine what life must have been like when Allison and her sister were growing up, with him in the house being the only guy. (Seems kind of scary to me. How about you?)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
My Grandpa S. (back) and Grandpa T. (front)

I am thankful for my grandpas and have written about them before. I am also grateful this Father’s Day for Grandpa Bob. Grandpa Bob, Allison’s grandpa on her dad’s side, is our lone living grandfather. When he found out that I would be entering the family, Grandma Joanne and him welcomed me as a grandson. I have loved hearing his stories, seeing him play softball, and through him being reminded of my own grandpas, who all were wonderful fathers in their own way.

I am thankful for all of my uncles, for the lessons they have taught me and for their love!

Without the love and support of others, in my case- dads, grandpas, etc., I would not be who I am, and you probably would not be who you are. So, because of this, let me say to all of you who are dads, may be dads in the future, or who may not technically be dads (or never be dads) but love and support others like a dad loves, Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father's Day- especially to all of the Dad's in this amazing family!
Happy Father’s Day- especially to all of the Dad’s in this amazing family!

The Holy Trinity (First Sunday after Pentecost)

"Trinity" by Andrey Rublev
“Trinity” by Andrey Rublev

On the first Sunday after Pentecost, many in the larger Christian Church observe a day celebrating the Holy Trinity. The week prior on Pentecost, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. This week we are allowed a little space in worship to remember and contemplate deeply what it might mean that God is Three Persons (and all the mystery related to that), or if you prefer, the idea of God being a perfect community in and with God’s self.

The appointed readings for this day change yearly with the lectionary cycle. If you are following the common lectionary the readings appointed for the day this year (in Year A) all point to the relationship of God with God’s self, the promises of God and creation. The lessons are: Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; and Matthew 28:16-20. The gospel lesson I especially appreciate as it points to what it might mean to live in the community of the Trinity.

It’s important to note, like Sundays and Seasons writes:

“Though the word trinity is not found in the scriptures, today’s second reading includes the apostolic greeting that begins the liturgy: ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.’ In the gospel Jesus sends his disciples forth to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. More than a doctrine, the Trinity expresses the heart of our faith: we have experienced the God of creation made known in Jesus Christ and with us always through the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity in word and sacrament, as we profess the creed, and as we are sent into the world to bear witness to our faith.” – (Sundays and Seasons, 2014).

Yes, the term Trinity is not found in the scriptures. But the beauty of it is that it helps affirm and give language to the mystery of God. What I love is that it extends an idea of God in community and relationship with God’s self, but also with the hope that that community and relationship is extended to all creation. In this vein, it is an idea that I blogged quite a bit about earlier this year as part of my reflections with the Discourse series.

What do you think about the Trinity? Is it a faith or theological idea and conception which you hold? If you do hold it, what does such a view do for your understanding of God?

Resource Credit:  Sundays and Seasons, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2014). <http://members.sundaysandseasons.com/index.php&gt;

Image Credit: “Trinity” by Andrey Rublev.