Links for Your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Thom Rainer on 4 times when you should not respond to a critic.

As a general rule, leaders should respond to criticism. I do my best to do so, or at that very least, ask someone in my organization to respond. Critics, more often than not, deserve a response. They need to hear from the leader who can give them his or her perspective. They need to hear from a leader in the event the response can be an opportunity for reconciliation. But there are times when leaders should not respond to critics.

Cristina Fox on When distractions keep us from our kids.

One of the biggest drains of our time is technology because of the access it gives us to a virtual life. Our lives revolve around this access and its pull on us is strong. There’s always email to check, texts to respond to, statuses to update, images and videos to see or post. And they must be done right away (or so we think) — putting everything else on pause.

Ed Stetzer on Whether you should stay or go at church.

I, too, found I don’t get much out of sermons, even the good ones. Honestly, there is not much new content I learn at church. Finally, I am easily distracted and the slow pace of sermons let’s my mind wander, so I’d rather read a good sermon than listen to one. So, I could’ve just stayed home. But, I didn’t. And neither should you because our church involvement is not just anticipated (1 Corinthians 12:27), but commanded (Hebrews 10:25).

Donna Jones on 15 things you did when you were dating that you should not stop doing when you get married.

What what if celebrating Valentine’s Day didn’t cost you a dime and could actually re-kindle the flames of romance?  What if you could re-ignite the sparks in your marriage and make them last?  It might be as easy as taking a trip down memory lane and doing what you should have never stopped.

Mike Cosper on Giving up on church and the culture of contemporary worship.

I wonder, though, if Miller’s thoughts don’t say as much about our contemporary worship culture as they do about Miller himself. His description of a church gathering is two-dimensional: we listen to a lecture and sing songs that connect us to God. Miller says he stopped attending because he doesn’t learn from lectures and doesn’t feel like he connects to God through singing. This description of the gathered church is anemic and shabby, but it’s also the description that many American evangelicals would use to describe Sunday mornings. Rather than a robust engagement with God’s people, God’s word, and God’s Spirit through interactions with one another, songs, prayers, scripture readings, and the Lord’s Supper, we think of Sundays as merely preaching and music.

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Favorite Albums of 2011

Unlike my favorite books list, to make this list it has to have been released in 2011 (or at least I heard it for the first time in 2011). You can see my favorite albums from 2010 and 2009 by clicking on the links.

And as of this posting, almost every album on this list is less than $5 on Amazon. Just click on the album name and download it (it also helps our adoption when you do that).

Honorable mentions

  • Bright Eyes | The People’s Key. Different, not quite as moody as older albums, but still moody enough to be good.
  • Ivan & Alyosha | Fathers be KindYou should have this.
  • Jesus Culture | Come Away. They just know how to write good worship songs.
  • Matt Redman | 10,000 Reasons. Easily Matt Redman’s best album. I often say that Matt Redman’s songs are best written by him and recorded by someone else, well this album is like someone else recording all his songs.

While this year didn’t have the albums that last year had, it is hard to top a year with Mumford & Sons, The National, Stars & Arcade Fire. So while this year wasn’t great, it was good.

Here are my top 20 of the year:

20. The Hawk in Paris | His + Hers. I realize this involves a guy from Jars of Clay, which should keep it from this list. But, it doesn’t sound anything like Jars of Clay, hence, it is on this list.

19. Alexi Murdoch |Towards the Sun. More of what you’d expect from Alexi.

18. Sleeping at Last | The Yearbook EP’s. One EP released each month for the entire year, so good. Love the piano drivenness of this band.

17. The Decemberists | The King is Dead. Easily this band’s best album to date. You should have it.

16. Rise Against | Endgame. If you need something to pound the steering wheel to or something to workout to, this is the album. Wow.

15. Denison Witmer | The Ones Who Wait. Went to high school with Denison, still love his stuff. It just keeps getting better and better.

14. Switchfoot | Vice Verses. Not many good rock albums this year. This one and Rise Against were two of the best.

13. Wye Oak | Civilian. Moody, haunting, and a girl singer. A great combination.

12. The Civil Wars | Barton Hollow. If I just got this album, it would be higher on the list. Loved it the first time I heard it, just a little tired of it now.

11. Noah and the Whale | Last Night on Earth. A departure from their previous albums, this is not quite the acoustic style of the past. What you’d expect if an 80’s Brit pop band showed up today and did it well.

10. The Antlers | Burst Apart. A poppier version of The National.

9. Adele | 21. I’m embarrassed to admit that I discovered Adele this year, not sure how I missed her. But wow, her vocals are off the chart.

8. Coldplay | Mylo Xyloto. Very different from their other stuff, but oh so good.

7. Gungor | Ghosts Upon the EarthEasily the best “worship” album in the last few years. Tells much of the biblical story in the order of the songs. So, so good.

6. Washed Out | Within and Without. An album from another era, but oh so good. It is definitely a good, kick back and chill on a romantic night album.

5. Fleet Foxes | Helplessness Blues. At first I didn’t like this album, took some time to grow on me, but now I can’t stop listening to it.

4. King Cresoto & Jon Hopkins | Diamond Mine. Just got this album last week and can’t stop listening to it. A little longer and this would move up the list.

3. Bon Iver | Bon Iver. Haunting, a great step forward from For Emma, Forever Ago. 

2. Blind Pilot | We are the Tide. Almost made this one #1. I think if I would’ve gotten this earlier in the year it might have made it to #1 as it is that good, so call this 1-A.

1. Josh Garrels | Love & War & the Sea Between. I am stunned that this album is still free online. I would pay $15 for this album and not feel like I wasted any money, it is that good. It is why it is #1 on my list this year.