This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have read and found interesting over the past week with all of you. Given today is the day before Christmas Eve, many of the posts are Christmas related. To help navigate all of these great pieces of food for thought, I have broken the links into different topic areas. This week’s topic categories are: Church & Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links.

Church & Ministry Thought & Practice

Bishop Michael Rinehart shares some thoughts and ideas related to the lectionary appointed readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Take a peek at these if you are looking for last minute ideas for worship this week, or if you are looking for some more Christmas themed devotionals and reflection pieces.

Bishop Rinehart also shared some thoughts about the readings appointed for the First Sunday of Christmas too.

The Pope’s traditional Christmas greetings to leaders in the church this week was anything but. Josephine McKenna shares the story in, “Pope: Vatican bureaucracy has ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s.'”

Pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston asked an important congregational and missional question we should all ponder, “Who Is the Face of Your Church?

Jen Bradbury reflected on and explained about “How to set the church of the future up for success.” Jen writes and concludes, “As a youth pastor, I’m convinced that teens aren’t just the future of the church. They’re the church of today. That said, make no mistake. We set the church of the future up for success when we empower our teens to lead our congregations today… And continue doing so as young adults.” I’m definitely with Jen in this. Are you?

Friend and pastor Brian Mundt shared “The Congregation as Community,” by David Brubaker.

Looking ahead at the months and year to come, LEAD shared and invited, “Leading the way in the New Year? Let’s figure it out together.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

lwrlogoRecently Consumer Reports released their grades for non-profits and NGOs. Rev. Dr. David Lose shares the news that recent reports hailed the work of Lutheran World Relief. If you are looking for an organization to contribute to as part of year end giving, LWR definitely gets my recommendation.

Tom Murphy shares news of a new innovative international group doing good work in explaining “How a Groupon-like app is helping build a road in Ghana.”

Julian Stodd shared some reflections about networks and communities in “Synchronicity: Engaged Communities.”

Brigid Schulte writes that “Women are flocking to statistics, the newly hot, high-tech field of data science.” As an economics major seeing this story made me smile.

Last month Moosa Hemani shared about “How to Judge the Value of Keywords for your Business.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Brian Dodd shared “An Early Christmas Present For Leaders: 15 Quotes About Great Leadership.”

Tanveer Naseer explained about “How to Increase Self-Awareness In Our Leadership.” This reminded me of a reflection I shared awhile back on self-awareness. How do you (or how do you work to) increase self-awareness in your life and leadership?

Dan Rockwell reflected about how “Authentic leadership includes pointing out your own BS.”

Steve Keating offers a good reminder about finishing the year strong, so you can start the next year, 2015, off on the right foot in “Don’t See the End Too Soon.”

Michael McKinney shared “5 Leadership Lessons” in “Richard Branson on Leadership.”

John Brandon shared, “28 Inspiring Quotes on Leadership in Business.” Included among the list of quotes is one of my favorites from Peter F. Drucker: “Leadership is not magnetic personality that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’–that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

One of the things a good leader does, is able to hold a lot in tension and they do this in part by being able to maintain a schedule and/or calendar. Related to this, Gretchen Rubin wrote back in August about “How the Strategy of Scheduling Helped Me Make a Habit.”

Marcey Rader asked, “Do you have an A-Team?” That’s a great question both for leadership and life in general.


Regarding young leaders (and likely Millennials), Brian Dodd shared what he sees and believes are “20 Things Pastors, Coaches, and Business Leaders Must Know About Leading Young Leaders.” There are good things in this, including recognition that: young leaders need clarity; do not underestimate the potential of young leaders; and give young leaders responsibility and let them lead.

Jon Mertz from Thin Difference shared, “Your Life Quest: Peace. Courage. Authenticity.” Included in this post are a couple beautiful pictures of Mount Rainier. Check it out.

Molly Page at Thin Difference shared about Madeline Caldwell, asking, “Madeline Caldwell: Millennial Entrepreneur in Disguise?

Alex Swoyer shared the news from a study released by Development Dimensions International, Inc., that “Women and millennials in leadership roles are better for business.”

Chelsea Krost shared a post from Kathryn Kennedy about “How to Use Social Media to Draw Millennials to Your Brand.” Related to this, there are three things to keep in mind: be active on social; don’t just post content, post the right content; and giving a little will get you lot.

Neighbor Love

With Christmas, Advent, protests, neighbor love and Vespers in mind, Martha Spong wrote, “On the wrong side of Vespers.” This is a powerful and important read, and I hope you check it out.

I stumbled across this post from a couple years ago which still seems very poignant by Carolyn Sharp, “Luke 1:39-56: Magnificat for a Broken World.”

Krista Tippett shared her latest “On Being” episode with Father James Martin entitled, “Finding God in All Things.”

One artist's depiction of Joseph and his dream as told in Matthew 1:18-25
One artist’s depiction of Joseph and his dream as told in Matthew 1:18-25

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this perspective and video that’s well worth a couple minutes of viewing and thought, “Dreaming of white privilege…

While journeying through the season of Advent, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared some great thoughts in “Advent as a Way of Life.”

With the Fourth Sunday of Advent in mind this past week, Brennan Breed wrote and shared, “The Self-Righteous System and the Prophetic Task (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16).”

Also with the Fourth Sunday of Advent in mind, friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared his sermon, “Joseph and the Importance of Just Showing Up,” based on the narrative lectionary’s appointed text, Matthew 1:1-25.

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon based on the same text, “Life is not disposable.”

With Christmas in mind, friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared a little about her son and Christmas in “Look Mom, Baby Jesus!” Jamie also shared her sermon for this past weekend, “Holding the Holy.”

In thinking about the incarnation theologian Will Willimon shares “Thinking Faithfully About Christ.” He also shared some more great theological reflection in “For Us and Our Salvation.”

Candice Czubernat shared a guest post by Beth Carlson-Malena entitled, “A Lesbian & the Virgin Mary.”

In the spirit of Christmas, here's a picture of a Nativity Scene that I saw outside the Vatican in 2008
In the spirit of Christmas, here’s a picture of a Nativity Scene that I saw outside the Vatican in 2008

With Advent and Christmas in perspective, friend and pastor Diane Roth reflected in “Worship on the Streets.” Within this Diane wrote powerfully, “I am still not sure what I experienced last night.  Was it a worship service or a performance?  Or was it a demonstration?  We were out in public, walking the streets, shouting ‘We come seeking shelter!’ just as surely as others, earlier in the day, had shouted, ‘No peace!  No Justice!’  For a little while we walked the streets, cold, homeless, seeking welcome, seeking shelter. ‘Bienvenido!’ was the sign.  It was a sign from God, the lowly God, the one who walks the streets, the homeless one who provides shelter, the disturber-of-the-peace who is our only peace. Meanwhile, come Lord Jesus.  Give us courage to join the procession out on the streets, to be rejected and turned away, to be disciples of the lowly God, our only hope, our only peace, in the darkness.”

Diane also shared, “Don’t Make the Gift Too Ethereal.” Within this she shares some personal reflections especially related to Advent. She writes, “I am thinking about laying off the deeper meanings of Advent for awhile, and just holding on to the ordinary things, the things I can touch:  a simple meal, a few words, a small gift to use as I see fit.  Instead of straining toward a far horizon, I will touch, and look at what is right in front of me.  And I will say that somehow, God is right here, at the table, in the simple mess, not ethereal at all. Take and eat. Taste and see. The true meaning of Advent.”

Friend and intern pastor Chris Michaelis continued sharing wonderful Advent Devotionals. I especially appreciated the one he shared yesterday, “O Dayspring.”

Christmas and the holidays aren’t always easy or happy times for everyone. At least in part to this recognition, John Pavlovitz wrote “Oh, There’s No Place Like Homesick for the Holidays.”

Also, recognizing that this season can be more blue than gold, friend, ministry innovator and pastor-in-waiting Emmy Kegler shared, “Queer Blue Christmas.” Check out this site and resources.

One of the rather surprising stories from the past week was the announcement about the intention to change polices of the United States with Cuba. Tom Murphy shared this story for the Humanosphere in “U.S. and Cuba to restore full diplomatic relations.” In response to this news, Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, the executive of Global Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), wrote and released a “Statement on Cuba” from the ELCA. Also, friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared some good perspective related to this “On Cuba and North Korea.”

The news about torture and United States policies that were used to interrogate and try to gain information regarding terrorism continues to be digested. Today, the New York Times‘ Editorial Board wrote, “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.” I’m sharing this because I think it’s an important ethical, neighbor love, and justice perspective. What do you think?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with a special and timely Christmas flare in his “Really Recommended Posts 12/19/14- Christmas Apologetics Edition.” In a somewhat related post, J.W. also shared, “Handel’s ‘Messiah’ as Apologetic.”

Jeff Bullas shared “The Ultimate Guide on How to Get More Blog Traffic: 100+ Tips and Tactics.”

Friend Carrie Gubsch shared this post by Jay Baer with me, and now I share it with you, “Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy.”

I came across this helpful post from June by Andrew Jennings that shared, “Five Questions To Ask About Social Media ROI.” The questions to ask include: What are our organization’s objectives for the next 4-6 months? How well are we currently serving our customers? Are we confident about how we measure the results of our current sales and marketing efforts? What is our organization’s readiness to adopt social media and the associated responsibilities and performance measurement processes? Are we prepared to be wrong?


Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy Pomroy shared a couple Christmas themed posts in “A Christmas Carol: What are you investing in this Christmas? (Part 1) and “A Christmas Carol: What are you investing in this Christmas? (Part 2).

With Christmas on his mind, Arthur Brooks writes and reflects, “Abundance Without Attachment.” Give this a read and some thought.

Friend Trip Sullivan shared “Read This Before You Buy Another Holiday Gift (or Goat)” by Christine Bader with me. There are good thoughts about giving, and it’s timely given Christmas and year-end charitable gifts and donations. I especially appreciate the author’s concluding question: “How do you use your year-end giving to start conversations about how you live for the rest of the year?”

Brian Dodd shared “4 Questions Christian Leaders Must Answer About Money.” The questions include: Has money become too big a deal for you? Where is your money going? Is your heart divided? Is God enough?

Erin shared a helpful stewardship related post in “How to Budget Your Time Like You Budget Your Money.”

Not that I necessarily endorse being a cheapskate, but I found this list of “8 Ways to be an Extreme Cheapskate” from Michelle interesting. Would you (or do you already do) any of these things?


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a number of vocationally rich posts as always. She shared some “Tuesday Tea Time,” “Friday Favorites,” and “Sunday Snippits.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some personal reflections about the past month, in “How I Spent My Advent.”

Friends Katie and Will continued to share reflections about their journey and first few months together in South Africa in “Part 2: Reflections on the First Three Months.”


Merry Christmas from Allison and I!
Merry Christmas from Allison and I!

As a Norwegian American this story from Deena Prichep, “For Norwegian-Americans, Christmas Cheer is Wrapped Up in Lefse” put a smile on my face. Check it out to learn about one of my family’s Christmas customs and traditions.

Friend, Mariners fanatic and high school math teacher, Tim Chalberg wrote that with “Ruggiano Acquired, the Seth Smith Watch Begins.”

To close, here’s one more Christmas themed post. Bishop Michael Rinehart shared “A Latino Night Before Christmas.”


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. Given Christmas and New Year’s, I may not be posting any links next week, we’ll see. Until the next time, thank you so much for reading and being part of the conversation. If you have any ideas for blog post topics for me to write about, or types of things to include in the links, please let me know. Merry Christmas to all of you! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Lutheran World Relief Logo; and Joseph’s Dream.

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