Returning to “Why,” in Hopes of Getting Off the Consumer Escalator

The following is an excerpt of a post that I wrote for the COMPASS blog in late November, pondering about faith and life in light of the ups and downs of our consumer culture. Please read this if you are interested, and then follow the link to the whole post and join the #faithandfinances conversation with COMPASS.

I want us to dig into the question of “why?” What really matters this time of the year, and how might focusing on that question make for a more faithful response and richer holiday experience?

For a Christian, the why can be found in the heart of the Christmas gospel in Luke 2:1-20, often read every Christmas Eve. Within that rich text, we hear the proclamation from the angel of the Lord,

“Do not be afraid, for see- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
– Luke 2:10-11, NRSV

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

It might sound trite to say that this is the “reason for the season.” And I am not exactly trying to say that. But if we remember that this is at the heart of the celebrations, festivities, food, fellowship, and all of the gift giving this time of year; if we remember that it is the fulfillment of the promises of the prophets which guide our journey through the season of Advent to the manger; we might just have a chance to get off the consumer escalator.

Please continue reading the whole post here

Image Credit: “Why”

This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday! Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; and Miscellaneous. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

For those of you preparing for worship this coming weekend or preaching, I have a few helpful links for you. If you are following the revised common lectionary, consider these thoughts on “Lent 4C” from Bishop Michael Rinehart as well as from Rev. Dr. David Lose in, “Lent 4C: The Prodigal God.” Digging more into the gospel story, friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis writes and reminds that “Perspective Matters.” For a good listen on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, check out friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner with their “Sermon Brainwave” Podcast. In wrestling with the gospel and New Testament lessons for this week, friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth wrote about the “Ministry of Reconciliation,” and just how messy and risky it is.

If you are following the narrative lecitonary, check out this “Commentary on Mark 12:28-44,” from N. Clayton Croy. To dig more into this text check out the Narrative Podcast featuring the thoughts of friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker.

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared her reflections for this past weekend, writing about “Longing for More.”

I invite you to join this exciting “NOLA Liturgy Project with Tangled Blue.”

Big news out of Minnesota broke yesterday, as it was announced that “Youth Encounter Closes Its Doors” after 51 years of ministry.

Friend and pastor Brian Mundt shared this list and post by Rich Birch who wrote that, “Most Churches Will Make These 8 Mistakes This Year – Will Yours?” The mistakes noted include: worrying about keeping rather than reaching; under-investing in the next generation; playing it too safe; your next steps are non-strategic and unclear; not caring for the community; jack-of-all-trades pastors; treating the teaching lightly; not having fun.

theology uncorked
Theology Uncorked at Messiah Lutheran Church.

My latest post from my role as mission developer at Messiah Lutheran Church shared all about “Theology Uncorked- and being out in the North County Community.”

Check out this post about one congregation named Kindred going through a brave and beautiful restart in “What’s in a name?” In a related story, Neil Ellis Orts wrote, “Restarting at Zero: Introducing the Pastor at Kindred Montrose.”

My friends at LEAD shared about this new opportunity to experience “The Camino de Santiago de Compostela.”

Hugh Ballou wrote about “Dumbing Down: How Church Leadership Has Set Up the Exodus.” I am more interested in this post by the second title and its potential implications, “The Nonprofit Entrepreneur: A New Way of Thinking about Church Leadership.” Check out the post and see what you think.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Eric Worringer shared these “Five tips for achieving lasting change in congregations” by Edie Gross. The tips offered include: empower lay leaders; play the long game; don’t get caught up in numbers; be authentic; and take programming beyond the walls of the institution.

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth took up the question, “What does a missionary do?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has had a motto for the past couple of years of, “God’s Work, Our Hands.” Dave Daubert makes a move in this post about the importance of giving voice and words writing, “In praise of service – and words,” with a possible revised motto, “God’s Work. Our Hands. God’s Word. Our Voice.” Give this a read and see what you think.

Stephen Lewis, President of FTE, wrote and shared about “Leading Differently: 12 Faith Leaders Shaping the Future.”

Pastor and blogger Nurya Love Parish shared, “7 Lessons from the Ash Wednesday Facebook Video Experiment,” and included reflection on the “Innovation Adoption Lifecycle.” Check out what Nurya learned and join in the innovation.

Are you looking for some great church cartoons? If so, check out these ones from Dave Walker which my wife Allison first shared with me.

Katy Dunigan moderated last week’s Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) chat which focused on “Sustaining Ministry.”

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson shared some good thoughts about “Training youth to be Digital Missionaries.” Joelle begins this post by offering three assumptions which I generally share: that social media is a good thing; social media is real life; and the church needs to engage in social media.

Todd Buegler shared news that the ELCA Youth Ministry’s “Updated Network App (has been) Released!

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Friend Dan Ruth shared this report by Mark Hrywna about how “Charity Watchdog is Reorganizing Evaluations, Rates Itself 4-stars.”

Peter Economy shared, “7 Powerful Lessons From the 2015 World Happiness Report.” Check out the lessons and see what you think.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared about “The Art of Teaming With Others.”

Blogger and social leadership theorist Julian Stodd reflected in “To Seek, To Strive,” and “System vs. Person.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Julian Stodd highlighted “10 Things a Social Leader Does.” Julian also wrote and shared that, “Everything Has Changed: Joining the Dots of the Social Age.”

Anne Loehr is currently profiling “Five Women Shaping the Future of Work.” The latest post in this profile series is about “Rhiannon Ruff, Beutler Ink.”

Seth Godin shared some good thoughts about the usefulness of having a “list of things worth thinking about.” If you have such a list, what is on it? If you don’t, what would you add to that list?

Vicki Zakrzewski wrote about “How to Cultivate Humble Leadership.”

Beth Kanter shared a look that is helpful both for leadership and non-profit organizations in explaining “Why Creating Space for Creative Time in the Nonprofit Workplace Improves Productivity.”

Dr. Isiaah Crawford
Dr. Isiaah Crawford

In news from the Pacific Northwest, Brynn Grimley reports that the University of Puget Sound (UPS) has named its 14th president, Dr. Isiaah Crawford.

Peter Economy shared a list of “27 Signs that You are an Extraordinary Leader.”

Dan Forbes at Lead with Giants shared a guest post by Jennifer Warawa about the benefits and importance of “Giving Your People a Purpose: From Vision to Reality.”

Kelsey Libert wrote and explained that “Your Network’s Structure Matters More than Its Size.”

As you might guess there have been a few leadership posts written of late with political perspectives. David Smith, for example, offers this story about former Defense Secretary, Robert Gates who in viewing current Republican candidates’ leadership and views, believes that, “Republicans’ grasp of national security is at a child’s level.” In an example of the absence of leadership, The New York Times’ editorial board are calling out Senate Republicans of that lack of leadership in writing that the “Senate Republicans Lose Their Minds on a Supreme Court Seat.”

Peter Cook asked, “What Do MBAs and Rock Stars Have in Common?” What do you think?

John Brandon explained “Why ‘Fear of Failure’ is Something You Need to Unlearn.”

Kate Nasser asked, “Are You Succeeding Through People Skills?

Brian Dodd shared a list of “The Top 10 Leadership Posts” that he read over the past week.

Brian Dodd also shared a great post for both leaders and Millennials in unpacking, “6 Things You Must Do to Effectively Lead Young Leaders.” The things Brian notes are: encourage their hopefulness; put them in early; let them create their own economy; be a mentor; projects are more important than careers; and don’t be mad when they leave.

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference reflected about “The Mindful Middle of Past and Future.”

Molly Page at Thin Difference offered good thoughts about the importance and challenges of “Building Community as a Freelancer.”


Eric Torrence at Thin Difference writes about when it might be good to “Give In to Peer Pressure.”

Dana Manciagli wrote about “3 ways millennials will change your business.” Dana highlights the following ways: strengthening purpose in profit; using empathy to lead collaboratively; and solve problems for the long haul.

Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke wrote that, “Cheddar, the ‘CNBC For Millennials’ Shows You Can Market Anything to Millennials.”

Mike Kineman at Young Adult Money shared “7 Money Rules for Millennials.” The rules that Mike highlighted include: create a budget; always sleep on a big purchase; your spending reflects who you are; prioritize paying your debts; invest now; have an emergency fund; and give to something you believe in.

Neighbor Love

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon from this past weekend based on Mark 12:1-17, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s: Like all the things that corrupt.”

Based on the same text, friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared his sermon about “Landlords and Tenants.”

Pastor and blogger Nancy shared her sermon from this past weekend based on Luke 13:1-9 entitled, “The Supreme Supreme Court: no vacancies, always in session.”

"Linked We Are Whole" by Vonda Drees
“Linked We Are Whole” by Vonda Drees. Given the title and concept of this one, I found it to be especially appropriate for “The Links.”

Sojourners shared a powerful post and clip where, “In Less Than Two Minutes, This Clip from ‘black-ish’ Explains Why Racism in America Isn’t Over.” Definitely watch this.

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These posts included: “creating connected, whole and holy“; “move in us, Spirit“; “spread light“; “we seek shalom“; “we can do better“; “mercy circles“; “linked we are whole“; and “precious.”

Addie Zierman wrote and shared about, “Making Room for Others on the Spiral Labyrinth of Faith.”

Friend Hannah Heinzekehr shared this post by Michele Hershberger, “Shalom justice: Reflections on events in Hesston.”

Sharon Salzburg reflected about “The Truth of Change in Every Solidarity.”

Friend, blogger, and stewardship director Adam Copeland shared this book review by Barbara Ehrenreich on “Matthew Desmond’s ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.'”

Collette Broady Grund wrote about, “Women’s Bodies and the Body of Christ.”

Imana Gunawan wrote at Humanosphere that “Members of Louisiana tribe become first official climate refugees in the U.S.

On this blog I continued my journey through Lent with daily devotional reflections inspired by the “Lent Photo A Day” group. As part of this series I wrote a post about having “heart“; some thoughts about growth by thinking about the symbol of a “Tree“; a reflection about what it means to have a “clean” heart; and I also wrote about “fruit” and the exciting story of a congregation donating more than 100,000 pounds of food.

Norman Wirzba wrote about, “Why we can now declare the end of ‘Christian America.'”

If you are looking for an interesting sounding book to read, John Cobb Jr. has a new book out today, Jesus’ Abba: The God Who Has Not Failed.

Friend, blogger, and Ph.D. student Timothy Snyder wrote about “Living Lutheran amid elections.”

The Pew Research Center shared this interesting look at “The political preferences of U.S. religious groups.”

Friend and pastor Jason Lukis shared this interview with Rev. Monica Villareal about the ‘Flint Water Crisis.”

Lynn Vavreck shared this important and sobering look in “Measuring Donald Trump’s Supporters for Intolerance.” In a related look, Daniel White notes that, “Nearly 20% of Trump Fans Think Freeing the Slaves was a Bad Idea.” Michael D’Antonio wrote that, “On race, Donald Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.”

Friend and pastor Ali Ferin shared this post by soon to be seminarian Elle Dowd about “Black History and White Parenting.”

Charles Simic wrote about what he sees is an “Age of Ignorance.”

My wife Allison Siburg shared this post from Max Lucado about “Decency for President.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart reminds about how it is important and essential to “Take sides.” Within this reminder, Bishop Rinehart quotes Elie Wiesel who wrote, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Bryan Berghoef wrote, “Why I Can’t Agree to Disagree.

For a good news story of the week, read about Bill Hanawalt in this story about how the “White House Honors Washingtonian for Summer Youth Program.”

Friend Alex Monte Calvo shared this post from Alana Horowitz Satlin who shared this moving video of “Bernie Sanders’ Moving Explanation of Why Faith Matters.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Austin Iuliano wrote and shared that “Depth over Width (is) the only social media strategy you need to grow your brand.”

Friend, blogger, and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this look by Neil Patel at “8 Tools That Will Help You Get Inside Your Readers’ Heads.” This will be an especially helpful post for those of you who are bloggers and strategizing for ways to connect better with your readers.

Raymond Morin wrote and shared, “Wait. Why Does an Entrepreneur Need a Blog?

Friend, pastor, and blogger Joe Smith shared this look by Farhad Manjoo about Twitter who wrote that, “Twitter, to Save Itself, Must Scale Back World-Swallowing Ambitions.”


If you are in Minnesota, I highly encourage you to attend the “Stewardship Lab” on April 16, 2016, as friends and great stewardship minds Adam Copeland, Grace Duddy Pomroy, Catherine Malotky, and Chick Lane will all be speaking at it.

DC at Young Adult Money shared “5 Reasons You Should Plan for Taxes Year-Round.” Also at Young Adult Money, Kristi, shared “The Ultimate Tax Checklist to Help You Prepare for Taxes.”


If you want to see what the fanciest seats on commercial airliners might look like, check out this story about virtual apartments or condos in the sky.

Speaking of airlines, my wife Allison shared this look from Suzy Strutner at “The Best Time to Book a Plane Ticket, According to a New Study.”

For those in the Northwest, this past Saturday marked the “15th anniversary of the Nisqually earthquake.”


That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week-TS

Image Credits:  The Links; Isiaah Crawford; and “linked we are whole.”

2015 in review

The stats people prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog, and I am grateful for their work.

Based on the following report, it has been another great year of: conversation, engaged discourse, and pondering; of readership and growth; of new topics and questions. Looking back at 2015, I am grateful for all of you who continue to join me in the conversation. I look forward to where our conversations in 2016 take us. If you have particular topics or questions that you would like me to consider on the blog in the new year, please let me know.

Thank you for continuing to be part of the conversation, and I hope to continue the discussion in 2016.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Who is Timothy?

I am greatly humbled by this Social Leadership post by Julian Stodd. Thank you for featuring me!

Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

A question i often ask myself. Most weeks on the blog, a link gets posted from Timothy’s site, linking to something i’ve written. Every week i think “that’s nice“, and go no further. There’s a broad community around the blog, providing momentum, reflection, challenge, support and ideas. It’s a broad group: doctors, directors, musicians, artists, technologists, warriors, students, professionals, poets and explorers. To name but a few. People engage for many different reasons, but for Timothy, it’s an act of curation, interpretation and sense making. Actions borne of generosity and humility and embodying what it means to be a Social Leaders in the Social Age.


So today, Timothy, the blog is for you.

I’m sat in Hutspot, Amsterdam. A collective working space that serves great coffee. Throughout the day, people come and go: students, web developers, artists. I love it: energy and a constant…

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Saturday December 13th – The Fourteenth Day of Advent #Beloved

During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Beloved.

I have been a bit delayed in keeping up with these daily devotionals in part because it’s a busy time of year at work, but also I have been busy writing an essay as part of a process to potentially be rostered in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as an Associate in Ministry. In writing that essay, I have had the opportunity to repeat my basic theological understandings.

1 John 4-7_resizedIn that essay I begin by writing, “We are all created and loved Children of God. This is the core of my theological understanding. I believe that God is in relationship with us, whether we recognize this or not. We are also in relationship with each other, because we are all children of God. This shapes what I refer to as a theological conviction of ‘neighbor love.’ This conviction is grounded in baptism and expressed in vocation and stewardship.”

This is on my mind today as I think about what it means to be beloved.  I have the words from 1 John 4:7-21 ringing in the back of my mind, especially from verse 7, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” It’s with this in mind that I feel I can do nothing else than join in the larger church tomorrow, Sunday December 14th in “Black Lives Matter Sunday,” by wearing black in solidarity and praying for an end to racism in a continuing effort to address systemic racism in church and society.

Violence, oppression, racism… these are all signs of brokenness of which we all must work to change and defeat. How do you defeat these? The only way I know how is love, and an active love which causes us to act- through word and deed. We cannot keep silent. Pastors cannot keep silent in the pulpit and we cannot keep silent in our daily lives. This is a central part of our faith. What we believe leads us and compels us to act and respond.

How do you respond to injustice in your daily life? How do you remember that you are beloved child of God? And how do you remind others that they are beloved children of God as well?

Image Credit: Beloved…

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that it is time to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you. (This week’s edition actually covers the last two weeks, so I hope you enjoy this expanded version.) This week’s topic categories are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. It’s the last Sunday of the liturgical year. If you are still preparing or planning for it, these ideas and reflections from Bishop Mike Rinehart might be helpful and worth some time. Also, if preparing for the first Sunday of Advent, this post from Bishop Mike could be a good resource too.

Bishop Mike Rinehart also shared “An Advent Confession” which might be a nice confession to use in your own faith community.

Melissa explained “Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore.” Do you have “Children’s Church” in your faith community? What are your thoughts?

David Briggs explained about “The No. 1 Reasons Teens Keep the Faith as Young Adults.” What do you think?

Friend and pastor Diane Roth wrote and reflected in “Remembering why I said yes.” Diane also shared, “Of Rivers and Lakes.”

Chad Holtz asked, “Can we stop making excuses for small churches?

Over on the LEAD blog, I wrote and asked, “To Plan or Not to Plan? … It’s Not Really Much of a Question.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Church Council shared an update and report from their most recent meeting in Chicago. I especially appreciate the mention of Appreciative Inquiry in this update.

Ann Haften writes, “Staying alive: seminaries embrace ecumenical, Lutheran future.”

Brian Sigmon writes, “Imagine What’s Next: College students serving God and neighbor.”

Advent Wreath with Advent Candles
Advent Wreath with Advent Candles

Keith Anderson importantly admits, “The Color of Your Advent Candles Doesn’t Matter.” What do you think?

Keith also writes and invites, “Welcome to God’s Hackathon: put on your hoodies, friends. We’re gonna rewrite that old DOS code that’s been running the Church for too long.” Are you in?

Jan Edmiston shared some important thoughts about church and organizational change in “Restructuring Church Organizations 101.”

RJ Grunewald wrote about “Creating a Culture of Mission: Interview with Jon Dansby.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared an honest and I think helpful reflection in “Making Sense of the Mars Hill Saga.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

LEAD reflected about an idea of “Leading to Learn.” Do you lead to learn? Learn to lead? Would you like to lead to learn?

Natasha Lomas writes that “Building a Better Version of Capitalism is a Massive Startup Opportunity.”

Peter Economy explains “How to Tell Your Boss You’re Not Happy in 7-Job Transforming Steps.” The steps include: the gripe list; it’s all in the preparation; set up a time to meet; compose yourself; watch the body language; ask for ideas; and move forward.

Over at Humanosphere, Ami Shah writes and explains, “Selling charity: Of Band-Aids and bling.”

Julian Stodd shared reflections and interesting and visual depictions about “Scaffolded Social Learning.”  Julian also shared, “Frighteningly Global: the democratised, decentralized new world.”

Jon Mertz writes and reminds, “Be Grateful for Second Chances.” Ask Jon asked allow me to repeat, “Will you give someone a second chance? What second chance are you most thankful for?”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Thai Nguyen shared “10 Important Reasons to Start Making Time for Silence, Rest and Solitude.” Reasons include: bypassing burnout; heightened sensitivity; dissolving tomorrow’s troubles; improves memory; strengthens intention and action; increases self-awareness; grow your brain; “a-ha” moments; mastering discomfort; and emotional cleansing. Do you make time for silence, rest and solitude?

Kate Nasser writes that, “Caring Words Cost Nothing & Bring You Everything.”

The Ripple Effect
The Ripple Effect

Friend and leadership coach Jody Thone reflects on “The Ripple Effect of Good Work.” How are you a part of the ripple?

Anne Loehr reflected on “Leadership and the Lost Art of Listening.” Are you fully listening to others?

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts over the past couple of weeks. Among the ones that stood out to me include: “The Easiest-Most Dangerous- Things Leaders Neglect,” which shares thoughts about neglect of organizational culture; “13 Things You Don’t Need to Lead,” including that leaders don’t need to make all the decisions or have position (among others); and “10 Ways Leaders Increase Stress Unnecessarily.”

Nisha Ahluwalia wrote about “The 5 Qualities Teams Look for in Their Leaders.” The qualities include: work with founders that will broaden your business horizons, not stunt your growth; look for a generous spirit and avoid the know-it-alls or credit seekers; and question how they will support you, not only how you need to support them.

Steve Keating reflected on what he sees as “The Illusion of Leadership.” Within this Steve explains about what he sees as a distinction between management and leadership where he writes, “Never forget, if you’re doing it for the business it’s managing, if you’re doing it for your people it’s leading.” What do you think?

Steve also shared a couple other intriguing posts. First, “The Ultimate Test of Leadership” writing and asking, “Do you as a leader have the ability to help common people achieve uncommon performance? Can you help a follower or a weak leader become a strong leader?” Second, he shared, “Turn Criticism into Coaching.”

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Scott Eblin, “The 3 Questions Leaders Must Ask and Answer.” The questions are: How are you at your best? What are the routines that enable you to show up at your best? What outcomes are you expecting at home, work, and in the community?

Caitlin Schiller shared, “The 7 Simple Habits that One of Today’s Most Innovative Businessmen Swears By.” The habits include: focus on customers; be frugal; make your own rules; focus on tomorrow and two years from now too; risk it; decide with data; and stay hungry.

Dan Forbes reflected on, “Infected Leadership,” writing that “some leaders today are infected, sick, and leading in the wrong direction.” In thinking about this Dan included a few leadership lessons that he has learned: everyone and every organization is susceptible to catching a virus; leaders and organizations can be sidetracked to go off in the wrong direction; infected organizations grind to a halt; a negative issue not totally eradicated will later reoccur and continue to harm an organization; crisis management costs energy, time and money; and leaders can become better leaders by learning how to deal with negative issues.

David and Goliath
David and Goliath

Ted Coine asked, “Is Your Leadership Style More David? Or Goliath?” Good question. What do you think? Ted writes that in the social age, “all that matters is the willingness to: listen actively for opportunities to serve; meet the customer where they are, which is increasingly on social; engage person to person; and delight them so much they bring their friends (or maybe their parents).”

Sam Thomas Davies wrote and shared, “The Kaizen Way: How to Master Creativity by Asking Small Questions.”

Chip Bell writes that “Great Leaders are Dreamers.” I most definitely agree with that. As Chip asks, allow me to repeat, “What are your dreams?”

Jon Mertz reflects and writes, “Not Work-Life Balance, Work-Life Tempo.” Jon writes that, “balancing will not suffice in today’s fast paced world.” I have found that to be true personally in the nature of my work. Have you? Helpfully Jon shares some thoughts about how to find the right tempo. Thoughts include: discern moments; say “no”; and be healthy.


Jeremy Chandler shares, “One Thing Every Millennial Should Learn from Our Mentors.” The thing to learn, is to learn how your mentor thinks. You can do this by: learning how they approach situations; identify the questions they ask when faced with problems; use the resources that helped them gain the wisdom and knowledge they have today; and identify the principles behind the decisions that made them successful.

Molly Page shared about, “Sidney Kushner: A Millennial Leader Listening for Solutions.”

John McDuling explains “Why Taylor Swift is the most important artist of the millennial era.” Do you agree?

Brian Ray shared and wrote, “Confessions of a Young, Prolific Academic: Equating protracted study with quality is exactly what causes graduate students to take so long earning a Ph.D.”

Did you vote?
Did you vote?

Following up on the November 4th elections in the United States, Jenna McLaughlin wrote, “If Millennials Had Voted, Last Night Would Have Looked Very Different.” In a related post, Matthew Segal and Johanna Berkson wrote, “A night of blown opportunities: Why millennials didn’t show up last night.” Did you vote?

Seth Tower Hurd shared about “The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in in Church.” Here are some of the apparent unexpected findings: the building matters; being able to unplug from social media matters; having older fellow congregants matters; and “customer service” matters.

Demetrius Minor in a related post wrote and shared, “Millennials Are Asked What they want in a church- and the answers are anything but shallow.” Demetrius summarizes the findings: don’t rely heavily on the demands of social media; be conscious of your rhetoric; be honest; provide an intergenerational presence; and keep politics out of church.

Friend, social media coach and millennial Carrie Gubsch shared this great post from August with me last week, “Three More Ways to Engage Millennial Donors” by Kathleen Kelly Janus. The ways to engage are: use social media to facilitate action and giving; connect donations with specific projects; and give donors easy ways to get their friends involved.

I found this post from January shared by Chelsea Krost and written by Morgan Pierce about “How Millennials are Shaping the Economy.”

Chelsea also shared this timely post by Kendal Perez about “How Millennials are Reshaping Retail in time for the Holidays.”

Sydney Brownstone shared and asked, “Millennials Will Become the Majority in the Workforce in 2015. Is your company ready?

XY Planning shared, “5 Options for Millennials and Cash Savings.” Options offered include: save with an online bank; create targeted savings accounts; start investing with a Roth IRA; max out a 401 (K); and get the help you need.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shares this thought to ponder, “Young Adults Aren’t Having as Much Sex as Everyone Thinks.”

Neighbor Love

From the past couple weeks one of the local stories in Minnesota that has quickly become a major neighbor love concern is what is now being called “Pointergate.” Involved in the story, was the report followed by KSTP, the local ABC station in the Twin Cities; the local police; Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis and the young man she is standing next to, Navell. At that first link in this paragraph, if you feel compelled to ask for an apology, I urge you to join me in clicking on it and then signing a petition calling for an overdue apology.

The story was even picked up by Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show."
The story was even picked up by Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.”

Much has been written about this story, and I’m not going to link to everything I have seen. In these links I am offering a sampling of perspectives and responses to this story that I have found interesting, convincing and effective in calls for change. Kristopher Tigue provides some context in, “KSTP reports Mayor Hodges flashing gang sign; Social Media erupts in anger.”

Bob Collins writes that the “‘Gang sign’ story backfires on KSTP.” Brian Lambert wrote, “KSTP savaged for Mayor Hodges ‘gang sign’ story.”

As the story spread via social media beyond the Twin Cities, it was picked up nationally, in part thanks to this take by Shaun King, “#pointergate may be the most racist news story of 2014.” Kia Makarechi wrote for Vanity Fair that “‘Pointergate’ is the Most Pathetic News Story of the Week.'” (At this point, it’s the most pathetic of the month and perhaps year.)

Locally in the Twin Cities, one of the first and best responses to the story came from Nekima Levy-Pounds who wrote bluntly, “Dear White People: Mayor Betsy Hodges is Not in a Gang.”  Another great response came from Javier Morillo in “This Brown Guy Quits KSTP. You can do something, too.”

The sad thing is, what makes the story worse is that the local news station which reported this story has continued to defend it. That continued defense has also been widely (and rightfully) panned locally and nationally. Jason Linkins and Ryan Grim write, “Even KSTP’s Response to its racist ‘gang signs’ story is racist.”

The story could use some more context, so Bob Collins, Molly Bloom and Meg Martin helped to do this in, “Explaining #pointergate: The missing context.” From a journalist and press perspective, I found this post by Julio Ojeda-Zapata also helpful, “I point to my moments of press stupidity.”

That’s more than enough links on that story for now. If KSTP continues the nonsense or finally apologizes, I will be sure to let you know in the upcoming editions of the links. As for this week’s version, let’s turn now to other neighbor love stories from the past couple of weeks.

Bishop Mike Rinehart shared a good neighbor love story and reminder, as well as a good story to reflect on in thinking about Advent and Christmas, “Silent Night: the 1914 WWI ‘Christmas Truce’ that actually happened.”

RJ Grunewald reflected on “God Hidden in Our Suffering.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for November 9th grounded in Micah 3, 5 and 6, “Elections, Politics and a Third Way.” In explaining this “third way,” Aaron writes, “This third way, this invitation to relationship leads somewhere.  It leads to God’s vision of God’s inclusive family where security and peace isn’t just an empty promise – but it becomes a reality.  Real change that makes a difference. Real change….that changes us, and changes how we live.” Go and read the whole sermon.

In thinking about that same text, friend and pastor Frank Johnson asked and shared, “Does fear of the Lord still matter? (And other leading questions).”

Peter Crutchley wrote and asked, “Did a prayer meeting really bring down the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War?” If you are unfamiliar with this story, check it out. It’s a very helpful reflection and one that makes for a good way to think about the common Isaiah Advent text theme of “turning swords into plowshares.” I know this is so, because it was the passage for the Narrative Lectionary this past weekend and friend and pastor Diane Roth made this very connection powerfully.

Speaking of friend and pastor Diane Roth, she shared a couple powerful pieces recently. She reflected in “Seeing God in a Man I Didn’t Know,” as well as in “Grieving with Hope.”

Rick Steves
Rick Steves

In preparing and thinking about Christmas, famous travel guide (and Lutheran from Washington State), “Rick Steves Has a Christmas Challenge for You,” in thinking about supporting Bread for the World. This is a great challenge with some wonderful gift incentives. What do you think?

Friend and seminarian Beth Wartick shared some good “thoughts on loving evildoers and sinners.” Within this Beth writes and summarizes the depth of neighbor love well writing, “If these are our two choices, it seems clear to me that we are obliged to take the choice that leaves the other person with hope and the possibility of reconciliation. We are obliged to hate evil and sin, yes, but we are also obliged to love other people, whatever their sin might be, and see them as our neighbors, as fellow children of God.”

Christena Cleveland shared “7 Signs that Jesus Reveals Himself Most Clearly to the Oppressed.” The signs she highlights are: Jesus turned water into wine; Jesus healed a powerful man’s son; Jesus healed a paralytic homeless man; Jesus fed 5000; Jesus healed a blind homeless man; Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead; and Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared, responded and asked, “Why read the Bible???

In thinking about election day a couple weeks ago, Tony Campolo shared and asked, “Election Day Dialog: How are we political?

In a major neighbor love story with huge justice implications, “Police charge 90-year-old man, 2 pastors with feeding homeless.” How can this be?

In response to this story, friend and pastor Erik Gronberg offered good neighbor love reflections in “Help vs. Hype.” Within this Erik profoundly writes, “to help people, to accompany our sisters and brothers in need, requires much more than setting up a table with some food in a park. It takes engagement, relationships, case-management, knowledge, and connections to services and spiritual care. There is work to be done year round. So I applaud Mr. Abbot’s desire and take a challenge from him. If a 90 year old can do it, so can you. Let go of the hype and get to work with help.”

Friend and pastor Erik also shared, “Ruling at 53%.”

Rob Watson shared “A survival guide for Christians who have been fighting against marriage equality.”

For another perspective about love, check out this post by George Weigel, “Exploded into Being by Divine Love.”

Social Media & Blogging

Peter Plasterik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland wrote, “Connecting to Change the World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact.”

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his Really Recommended Posts from two weeks ago and last week.

Speaking of the links, my wife Allison took the lead last week with her take on them. What did you think of her version?

Daniel Newman shared a guest post by Ron Sela, “3 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Plan.” The tips are: timing; tracking; and testing.


On my blog during November I am sharing a weekly post on Fridays to share some self things about what I’m thankful for. I am calling these posts “Friday Thanksgivings.” Here are the first and second such posts.

John Schmoll shared “5 Easy Steps to Not Fail at Budgeting.” The steps are: start with tracking; accept failure; create a ‘blow’ category; make budgeting easy; and make it automatic.

Allison and I are definitely grateful for each other
Allison and I are definitely grateful for each other. Who and what are you grateful for?

Over on the COMPASS blog, in the spirit of Thanksgiving later this month, COMPASS is sharing posts related to the theme of “An Attitude of Gratitude.”

I began the series with that introductory post, and then it was my great joy to introduce the second post in the series written by my wife Allison, “The Challenges and Beauty of Gratitude: A Millennial Perspective.”

Brian Dodd shared a list of “5 Things Churches Can Do to Increase Year-End Giving.” The things are: make sure it’s easy to give; find and share stories of life change; include a clear call to action; time your communications right; and celebrate your milestones.


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a number of vocationally rich pieces as always over the past couple of weeks. A couple weeks ago share shared some Sunday Snippits. She also shared some “Tuesday Tea Time” as well.

Kimlai Yingling asked, “What Grounds You?

Friends Katie and Will shared some more updates and reflections from their continued adventures in South Africa in “The Dangers of Saying You’re a Preacher,” and “A dark and stormy night.”

Nate Pyle explained, “Why I’m Becoming a Mentor.” I love his conclusion in explaining why it is so important for people to have the courage to risk and share their gifts. He writes, “You have something to offer. You have stories to share. You have wisdom learned. Your presence can comfort and heal. Don’t keep it from us.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some great life reflections in “Sunday Afternoon.” I’m guessing that many people can relate to this. I know I can.

Friend and blogger Sue Leibnitz shared, “The Old Lady and the Fountain of Youth.”


Friend ad pastor in waiting, Emmy Kegler shared some wonderful worship and interactive ideas for Thanksgiving in “For Thanksgiving: A Table Full of Hope.”

Have you heard about the Narrative Lectionary and wondered what might be a helpful starting place? If so, here’s what I have found to be a helpful introduction.

If you are thinking or planning worship for Advent and Christmas, you might appreciate this post about Christmas Carols and Hymns during worship from a year ago.

Speaking of hymns, Sean Palmer shared reflection on “Singing as a Spiritual Discipline.”


I’m quite proud to announce that my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), was listed among “The Top 10 Best Landscaped Colleges.”


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. With Thanksgiving being next week, the next couple Tuesday editions may be a bit shorter than usual. I hope you don’t mind though. Until then, if there are things you would like to see included in future editions of these, please let me know. Also, if there are particular topics you would like me to think about in future blog posts, please let me know that as well. Thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Advent Wreath and Candles; Ripple Effect; David & Goliath; Voting sign; Pointergate on Daily Show; and Rick Steves.

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share links to things that I have found interesting or thought provoking over the past week with all of you. I must have done more than my usual amount of reading judging by the length of this post. There’s a lot of good stuff this week, even if I say so myself. To help you navigate the links, this week’s topic categories are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

News broke this past week that pastor Mark Driscoll had resigned from Mars Hill Church. In thinking about this story, Matthew Halverson reflected about “How Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll Wooed Unchurched Seattle.”

There were many big stories over the past week. In addition to Mark Driscoll’s resignation, a story out of Houston nearly spread like wildfire. Sarah Pulliam Bailey shared the story that “Houston Subpoenas Pastors’ Sermons on Gay Rights Ordinance Case.” As might be expected this story got picked up quickly with thoughts and responses all across the board. The most common sort of response though usually involved some conception of “Separation of Church and State.”

A few of the responses that I found particularly helpful were from Nate Pyle and Bishop Mike Rinehart. Nate Pyle wrote that, “We Need a Less Anxious Response to Houston Subpoenas.” I completely agree with that sentiment. I also think Nate is on to something as he wonders, “do we, the church, know how to exist in our culture when we do not have political and cultural power?” What do you think?  Bishop Mike Rinehart  also shared his thoughts and perspectives on the “Subpoenaed Sermons.” I like his pondering, when he writes, “If your church’s goal is to proclaim the Good News of the gospel to all nations, then let them have the sermons, let them be published on the web, on your blog, podcast them, put them in the radio, televise them, go tell it on the mountain. Shouldn’t we want lawyers and city officials pouring over our sermons?” Would you agree with that?

Bishop Rinehart also shared some reflections and thoughts about the readings appointed for the coming weekend, Reformation Day or Pentecost 20A.

Dave Barnhart shared “5 Lessons from Church Planting for Every Pastor.” The lessons are: advertise; you need a preaching toolbox; get out of the office; share ministry; and play.

David Yonke shared the story about Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and a recent talk she gave in Perrysburg, Ohio in “ELCA leader urges better networking in Perrysburg talk.”

Sarah Pulliam Bailey shared the news that, “General Theological Seminary’s board to negotiate with terminated faculty.”

Are you in the Twin Cities of Minnesota? Are you interested in Practice Discipleship? If so, check out the information about an upcoming training on November 6th, and be sure to register.

David Lose shared some great reflections about the church in “An Emboldening Thought.” There is a real richness in the discussion that Lose gives to contemplating questions like “What” and “Why?” In many ways, he is pondering the questions that I have been pondering on this blog since its beginning about a year and a half ago. One particular passage that strikes me, is where he writes, “It’s not that the way ‘we have always done things’ (which of course isn’t the way we’ve always done it but just what we have experienced) is wrong. It’s that the group of people who seem best served by those patterns seems only to be shrinking, while the group of people who are not touched by our current practices seems only to be growing. Similarly, the question before us isn’t really about the what – a more conversational style of preaching, different hymns, a less-scripted and more participatory form of worship, different ways of establishing Christian community, or whatever. The question before us is why – because there are people we love who are not here – our children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors – who we hope will experience God’s life-changing love. And so we are willing to take risks and experiment — and you can’t experiment without experiencing some failure — in order to share Christ’s love with others.” Give this post some deep thought and reflection.

Martin Luther and the 95 Theses
Martin Luther and the 95 Theses

In a somewhat related post, Jan Edmiston reflected on “The Price of Failing to Innovate.”

If you are interested in seeing some of what is coming out of the Vatican, check this out from “Synod 14- Eleventh General Assembly.”

Russel D. Moore wrote that, “The Church needs more Tattoos.” I wonder what Nadia Bolz-Weber might think about that?

This coming weekend, many Lutheran and Protestant congregations and faith communities will be remembering and celebrating Reformation. Mike Poteet wonders, “Reformation Sunday: A Day to Celebrate?” Reflection is given to ideas like: by grace through faith; the 95 Theses and beyond; and the notion that the church is always forming and reforming. (Clint Schnekloth receives a nice shout-out in this as well.)

Speaking of Clint Schnekloth, he shared “95 Theses for the 21st Century Church.” Give this list a read and see what you think. What might you add?

Julie B. Sevig shared a story in The Lutheran about Trinity Lutheran in Cooperstown, North Dakota in “Trinity Growers: Ready for harvest.”

Jonathan Merritt shared, “Congregants flee traditional churches, but this former pastor rejoices,” featuring an interview with Kelly Bean.

PBS shared the story of Rev. Margaret Kelly and the ministry that she is a part of in St. Paul, Minnesota in “Food Truck Pastor.”

Frank Schaeffer writes and asks, “The ‘Bible Belt’ is the Porn Belt: Surprised?” What, if any thing do you make of this? Correlation or bizarre coincidence?

Aaron Loy wrote and shared, “When the Church Has Let You Down: A few steps for those who have been hurt by church leaders.” A few potential steps forward that are offered and reflected on, are: resist the urge to become cynical; remember Jesus still loves His church; re-enter at your own pace; and expect to be disappointed. What do you think?

To close out this section with a little humor, how many of you have thought (at least a few times) that your faith communities and congregations’ stories might make for a good sitcom or comedy? Well, Amy Poehler may just be about to help make that happen.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

One of my alma-maters, Claremont Graduate University, shared some great tips and resources related to “Resumes, Cover Letters, and Networking Tools.” I particularly appreciate their suggested action words to replace some common resume words with words that might help make your resume stand out.

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

Julian Stodd offered good pause and reflection for your leadership and organization in “Building a culture of sharing.” I particularly like where he writes and asks, “Reflect on the culture in your own organisation: does it welcome sharing, is it permissive of sharing? Or do you still use knowledge as a mechanism of control?”

In an interesting story with implications for many societal sectors, Sara Solovitch shared and asked, “Scrunched in Seattle- Is this hipster hovel the future of the American City?” What do you think? Could you live comfortably and content in a 192-square foot space?

I honestly try not to share too many overtly political stories, but I did find this article, “In Defense of Obama” intriguing from both a political and economic perspective. Paul Krugman lays out his thoughts in a way that definitely has made me think and reflect. What comes to mind for you? What implications are there for the different sectors of society nationally and internationally?

Anne Loehr helpfully explains, “How to Create a Positive Collaborative Environment for Freelance and Full-time Employees.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Robyn Benincasa wrote about, “6 Leadership Styles, and When You Should Use Them.” Robyn takes insights from Daniel Goleman and elaborates on: the pace-setting leader; the authoritative leader; the affilitative leader; the coaching leader; the coercive leader; and the democratic leader.

Lolly Daskal shared what she sees are “The 4 Biggest Myths About Leadership.” The myths have to do with: entrepreneurial leadership; management as leadership; trailblazer as leadership; and position as leadership. Lolly writes that “true leadership” is about: influence; it cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned; and it can never be mandated, only earned. What do you think?

Avery Augustine shared, “5 Things Managers Should Never Say Aloud.” They are: “my boss has no idea what she’s doing”; “did you hear about…”; “that client drives me crazy!”; “he really messed this up”; and “I hate my job.”

Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker

If you follow this blog regularly, you know by now that I am a Peter Drucker fan. Here’s one more reason why I am one. Rick Wartzman explained, “What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020.” Drucker really coined the phrase, “knowledge worker,” and could see long before it happened that the economy would largely be driven by a “knowledge society.” In reflecting on this, Wartzman shared “six aspects of running an enterprise that should now be front-and-center”: figure out what information is needed; actively prune what is past its prime; embrace employee autonomy; build true learning organizations; provide a much stronger sense of purpose; and be more mindful of those left behind. What I hear in this not only has implications for leadership and management, I think Drucker may have (without knowing the term) sensed what millennials would come to value too (especially the corporate purpose and autonomy pieces). What do you think?

Brian Dodd shared a number of interesting leadership posts over the past week. First he shared a list of “The Top 10 Leadership Posts” he read over the previous week. He also shared, “9 Common Mistakes When Leading Top Leaders, Outliers or Superstars.” He shared some helpful food for thought in “15 Practices of Leaders Who Build Great Churches or Organizations,” as well as “13 Practices of Leaders Who Experience Success.” Check out all these lists for good resources to think about and chew on.

Steve Keating asked, “Are You a Success?

Steve also reflected about “The Approachable Leader.” In this post, Steve provides good ideas for overcoming the “bubble” that many leaders can sometimes find themselves in, inadvertently.

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Robert Sher, “Leadership Infrastructure- A Prerequisite to Mightiness.”

Rene Lacerte shared, “7 Acts of Generosity that help Leaders Grow Great Businesses.” The acts of generosity are: be a role-model; be generous with yourself; pull together team building activities around giving; center the program on gratitude; stay away from religious or political charities at a company level; provide a forum for employees to raise awareness about causes they care about; and make sure no one ever feels pressured.

Dan Rockwell explained “How to Prevent Unnecessary Conflict.”

Jon Mertz shared “5 Ways to Celebrate Boss Day Every Day.” The ways to celebrate are: celebrate what you read; celebrate the time dedicated to self-reflection; celebrate the time to laugh and have fun; celebrate the relationships of those who make you better; and celebrate what you have learned and what you have shared. I love the question at the end of this piece especially. Jon asks, “How do you celebrate and practice being your own boss?”


Thin Difference shared a guest post by Ali Jafri on “The Challenges of 21st Century Leadership.” What do you think of these perspectives?

Also, over at Thin Difference, they are seeking some input from readers in a “Reader Survey.” Check out this post from Molly Page to hear more and participate in the short survey. Your input will help them as they continue to provide great leadership and millennial resources and perspectives.

I stumbled onto this great post from July about “Leading Gen Y.” Elena Iacono offers these great tips for effectively leading millennials: stay present; be accessible; consistently coach; reward and recognize; hold people accountable; prioritize feedback; keep it cool; and be trusting. What other advice might you add?

I also heard a great podcast this week on “How millennials fit into today’s workplace.”

The Post-it-Note Wall of Change
Can you really just call Millennials “those darn kids” when they name, list, and then go out and do something about so many things that are listed on this “Post-it-Note Wall of Change” to try and make a positive difference in the world?

In a related post of sorts, Anna Olson writes, “Those darn kids…leading millennials.”

Amy Tobin shared, “Millennial Think: Millennial Expectations of Customer Service.”

Back in May, Amy Heath wrote and Chelsea Krost shared that, “Millennial Investments Have More Potential in Real Estate.” Do you agree? What might your own experiences and stories bring to this idea?

Jordan Elton writes, “Hey Millennials- your Kickstarter page isn’t going to end AIDS.” This is a good reminder about depth, service and intentionality. It’s also an especially good reminder to vote and be a part of the process and engaged. What do you think?

Chris Martin shared, “5 Reasons Why There Are No Millennials in Your Church.” The reasons he notes are: there are no millennials in your leadership; you reject the idea of contextualization; “Sunday School” literally feels like school on Sundays; your political preferences are clearer than your gospel proclamations; and your idea of a “social media presence” is finally getting that Myspace page finished. This is a great list. What might you add?

Jonathan Merritt shared an interview and conversation with Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Mark Comer entitled, “Let’s talk about sex, baby (er, millennial Christians).” Check this out. It’s rather interesting and not just because it has a three letter word which automatically gets more views.

The Millennial shared, “Three things I’d tell the Synod on the Family about Marriage.”

Neighbor Love

Building off of the previous link, comes this story about how Pope Francis said, “God is Not Afraid of New Things.”

Shifting gears a bit, here’s a couple stories related to the current situation related to the spread of Ebola. First, Tom Murphy shared, “Some common sense on Ebola… from Fox News?” Next, friend and pastor Erik Gronberg shared some honest reflections related to Ebola and the way communication has been handled (or not) related to it, writing, “Yes, I am afraid.”

Tom Murphy also shared news that “Global hunger rates are down, but 850 million still suffer” and the not so surprising news that “The world’s richest 1% are getting wealthier.”

Here’s a story that likely will just make you want to shake your head. An attorney who was currently on maternity leave was not granted a delayed hearing because of that leave, so, Kate Brumback shares the story of an “Attorney Denied Hearing Delay Appears with Baby.” The judge in this case, I think it’s safe to say, is out of touch with what it means to be a basic relational human being. Maybe that’s harsh, but the description in this story suggests otherwise.

Friend and blogger Jenna Reyna shared a very moving and profound reflection, “Cherub Choir,” remembering and acknowledging pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. Definitely give this a read!

Two years ago pastor and blogger Nadia Bolz-Weber reflected on “The Spiritual Practice of Saying ‘Yes!‘” So often we are reminded about the importance of saying “no” for self care reasons, that it’s important to remember about he importance of saying “yes” too.

Also, Nadia shared this video that was put together by members of her faith community about what it means to be community and in response to a conference’s focus on “culture clash.” If you haven’t seen this video, definitely give it four minutes and fifteen seconds of your time, brain, soul and heart.

RJ Grunewald wrote about “Being a Christina in a Pluralistic World.”

Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman
Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman

Tomorrow, Wednesday October 22nd, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) will be hosting the 2014 David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture. Rev. Dr. Monica Coleman will be the speaker. In preparation for this speech, “You Can Have it All: Theorizing Transreligious Spirituality from the Field of Black Studies,” she participated in a “Q & A” session with Taylor Lunka. Kathleen Cooper shared more about this speech tomorrow in an article, “Scholar at the intersection of faith and justice.”

Friend and intern pastor Chris Michaelis shared his sermon for this past week, “Here’s To You!” that was grounded in 2 Samuel 12:1-9.

The ability to vote isn’t just a civic right, its also I believe a neighbor love concern. Because of this, a story like “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pens Scathing Dissent on Texas Voter ID Law,” catches my attention. If you are a citizen of the United States, make sure you vote on Tuesday November 4th, or earlier if you vote by absentee mail.

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson reflected about the Bible and a few billboards he has passed by on the highway recently in, “Inspired? Yes. Absolute and final… maybe not.” Frank also shared his sermon from this past weekend grounded in 2 Samuel 12, “Becoming Goliath: Underdogs and the career arc of King David.”

Katie Sprutta Elliott shared some thoughts about “The gift of listening.”

Friend and PhD student Amanda Brobst-Renaud shared, “Left-Behinds, Exodus and Idols.” One excerpt that stands out in particular in this, is where Amanda writes, “It is this God who refuses to allow the idols we create in our anxiety, sin, and doubt to tell the truth about who we are. Rather than being abandoned in your sin and your doubt (or perhaps because of it), as the ceaseless idols remind you, you are shielded by the divine hand, and beckoned by a glimpse of God’s glory. This God refuses to leave you behind because you are inscribed in God’s very being, even as God’s image is inscribed upon you.”

Blogger and theologian Rachel Held Evans writes, “I would fail Abraham’s test (and I bet you would too).” Would you?

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from this past weekend, based on Psalm 51:1-12, “Songs of Lament.” One particular passage which struck me is where Aaron writes, “Faith is a cry to God in our sorrow, our mourning, our grief. It’s a plea for God to do what we cannot do for ourselves. Faith is asking God to wash us; to make us whole. We ask God to restore and renew our spirits, to bring joy and hope and gladness into our lives again. And in the midst of tragedy, that kind of faith – a shaken faith – is perhaps enough, because it is still faith just the same. And for God, that’s more than enough.”

John Pavlovitz reflected on “The Lost Christian Art of Giving a Damn.” The title alone seems to obviously suggest neighbor love implications and questions.

Friend and soon-to-be pastor, Erika Grace Benson Buller shared wonderful personal and vocational reflections in “While You’re Waiting: Itinerant Preacher.” If your congregation or faith community is looking for a pastor, look no further than Erika!

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston shared some thoughts about “The Nathan Effect.”

David deFreese wrote, “Offering hospitality and respect,” offering good stories about the work of the Nebraska Synod and Mosaic. Shout out to Carrie Gubsch for sharing the story with me.

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared some links and thoughts in recognition of “Blog action day!

If you are like me, you are always on the look-out for great thinkers and ideas to track and follow to learn from. Along these lines, and to be a part of the larger conversation, Rich Birch shared, “12 Hashtags Church Leaders Should Follow Today.” Those of you who are active with social media would probably guess many of these, but here’s the list: #chsocm, #kidmin, #stumin, #pastor, #leadchange, #churchmedia, #churchtech, #innovation, #mktg, #tutorial, #poverty, and #CharityTuesday.

If you are looking for some help for your own blogging, this template and checklist might be a nice resource.

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Friend, professor and mentor Dr. Terri Elton also shared her version of “Links” as well. Check both J.W.’s and Terri’s links out for more good stuff.

Kathi Kruse shared some very helpful social media insights in, “Your Blog, Social Media and SEO: Mash Up…For the Win.”


Over on the LEAD blog, I shared “Why and How: Things to Remember for Funding Ministry.” This may be a particularly helpful post if you are involved in stewardship in your faith community or with a local non-profit.

For whatever reason, money like a few other things is still not something everyone feels comfortable talking about with others. In order to improve money management, and to be an authentic person in relationships with others, this really has to change. To this end, Stefanie O\’Connell shared, “The Sex vs Money Taboo.”

With Halloween a little over a week away, this post from John Rampton is very timely. He writes about, “How the Sharing Economy is Changing your Halloween Costume Search.”

Have you ever wondered if you live in a generous or not-so-generous state? Now you can find out thanks to these links and reports.

A component of stewardship is learning and money management. With that in mind, here’s a post by Trey Tompkins, “Thanks for not buying popcorn from my son.”

The Broke Millennial shared “Why You Should Still Save When in Debt.”

Similarly, Michelle shares thoughts about “Why You Should Invest and Save for Retirement.”

Michelle also shared, “6 Ways Being Cheap Can Cost You Money.” The ways are: buying cheap clothes; skipping insurance; shopping on “deal” websites; driving a far distance to save pennies on gas; thinking DIY will always save you money; and neglecting routine maintenance.

DC shared and asked, “Bitcoin- Will it Be Widely Accepted?” What do you think?

Bishop Jim Hazelwood writes, “I’m doing something crazy.” Check this out. It’s a wonderful idea and pitch to build up stewardship within faith communities and the larger church. Are you up for going along with this idea?

Matt DeBall provided the most recent guest post on the COMPASS blog as part of COMPASS’ series reflecting on ownership, renting and mortgages. Matt reflects on “Becoming a Home Owner.” Particularly helpful in this are four suggestions for when thinking about mortgages.

Imagine for a second if I tried to tell my wife she shouldn't make as much as me? Yeah, I can't imagine doing that. It's dumb and wrong. To think otherwise, well...
Allison sitting in a swing, giving a smile and sharing some time in conversation with friends and family.

My amazing wife and wonderful blogger in her own right, Allison shared her own personal stewardship reflections in “Why I Give.” I love this! One particular passage that stands out is where she rights, “I give because it was never mine. I can stare all I want at that black or red line in our monthly budget, but that won’t do anything. I give because I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who I don’t always understand, but one that I love because God’s relentless love is one that I can place my hope in. Giving our money is a fraction of how we give ourselves to our people and to God. I respond to God’s dreams and love for me by giving my questions, my curiosities, my money, intellect, passions and energy to God’s people – which is partly a church, but mostly, the world, because so far I haven’t found a place where God’s presence does not exist.” Go and read the whole piece.

Friend and pastor Diane Roth also tackled the question of “Why I Give.” Diane writes, “I know that God wants me to give, because it all belongs to God anyway, and God is just letting me take care of God’s ‘stuff’ for awhile. But I give to my church because we are all related, we are related to one another by baptism, which is thicker than blood, although it is hard to remember that.  I give to my church because the cross that is traced on my forehead is traced on every forehead; we belong to each other, and that is wonderful, and it is impossible, and it is essential.  We have been given this impossible mission, this story to share, this story of God who created and who mends our hearts, and wants us to join in mending the world.  And it is impossible to do it alone. That’s why I give.  I give because these are my children, and they are my grandmothers, and they are my aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers. And I am sure of just one thing:  when we give, we are running into each other’s arms.  And we are running into God’s arms, too.”


Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared some thoughts about “What Birthdays Teach Us.”

TK shared some reflections about “Problems People Living Alone Will Understand.”

Friend and blogger Lisa Lehnherr Hansen shared some great reflection in “Story listening.”

Dan Rockwell shared a vocational type related post, “7 Payments to Passion.” The payments Dan sees and elaborates on are: failure; investment; restriction; action; approval; control and trust.

Friends Katie and Will continued to document their adventures and journey in South Africa with a couple more posts. Will shared the “Top 10 from the weekend” and “Seven Observations: Equip 2014.”

I also shared some vocational reflections related to worship and an “ah-ha” type experience I had last week in “Unexpected Grounding.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared some good vocational reflections as always in her “Sunday Snippits: good, bad & awesome.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared some interesting observations in “The Parable of the Clueless Professor.”

Friend and college roommate Tyler Scott shared a wonderful must-read post, “Perfect imperfections: a love song for a baby nephew,” specifically for Tyler’s nephew Elliot. Please do read this. My guess is that you’ll love it and be able to relate somehow.


How well do you know Charlie Brown? Todd Van Luling shared, “5 Things You Didn’t Know about Charlie Brown.” Check this out. You might well be a little surprised like I was to learn some of these things.

In very sad news, famous composer and Twin Cities resident, Stephen Paulus passed away.

Let’s end on a positive and exciting note. The residence hall that I called home while attending Pacific Lutheran University has reopened, and they shared this wonderful short video, “Stuen Hall Reopens.”


That will conclude this week’s edition. I hope you have enjoyed them! As always, if there are things you would like included in this post each week, let me know. Also, if there are particular topics or questions you would like me to wrestle with and reflect on, please let me know that too. Until next time, blessings on your week and thanks so much for reading! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Martin Luther & 95 Theses; Peter Drucker; and Monica A. Coleman.