Links To Go (March 21, 2018)

Bible Translated Into 49 Languages in 2017

In 2017, United Bible Societies (UBS) (@ubsbible) assisted in translating the Bible or Scripture portions into 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people, as reported in UBS’ Global Scripture Access Report 2017 Annual Progress.

These Dreamers Were Deported to Mexico. Now, They’re Helping Others Start Again

So non-profits like New Comienzos are stepping in to help out. The location for its offices is strategic; a nearby call center employs dozens of young Dreamers because of their fluency in English, a language which for most is more familiar than Spanish. The call center is something of a hub, and a number of businesses, from barber shops to burger joints, have sprung up in the area to cater to this new Americanized population — so much so that the neighborhood is known as ‘Little L.A.’

As Castro Prepares to Leave Office, Trump’s Cuba Policy Is a Road to Nowhere

Trump’s bullying only makes it more likely that the Cubans, with or without a Castro, will do what they have done for the past fifty-nine years: exhibit stubborn pride and, if necessary, forge tactical alliances with any of America’s geostrategic foes who might be willing to watch their back.

5 Ways Your Church’s Impact Can Become Bigger Than Its Footprint

  1. Equip The Saints
  2. Minister From The Church, Not Just In The Church
  3. Leverage Social Media
  4. Truly, Genuinely Love People
  5. Keep Jesus Front-and-Center

Why Reading Books Should Be Your Priority, According To Science

More than a quarter–26 percent–of American adults admit to not having read even part of a book within the past year. That’s according to statistics coming out of the Pew Research Center. If you’re part of this group, know that science supports the idea that reading is good for you on several levels.

12 Things Everyone Should Understand About Tech

  1. Tech is not neutral.
  2. Tech is not inevitable.
  3. Most people in tech sincerely want to do good.
  4. Tech history is poorly documented and poorly understood.
  5. Most tech education doesn’t include ethical training.
  6. Tech is often built with surprising ignorance about its users.
  7. There is never just one single genius creator of technology.
  8. Most tech isn’t from startups or by startups.
  9. Most big tech companies make money in just one of three ways.
  10. The economic model of big companies skews all of tech.
  11. The process or methodology by which tech is created can follow fads or trends that are in fashion.
  12. No institution has the power to rein in tech’s abuses.

A Year in Space Changed How Astronaut Scott Kelly’s Genes Behaved

Other genetic differences stuck around even months after landing. “Although 93 percent of genes’ expression returned to normal post-flight, a subset of several hundred ‘space genes’ were still disrupted after return to Earth,” acccording to a NASA press release. About 7 percent of Scott’s genes may show longer-term changes, included the genes associated with DNA repair, immune health, bone formation, hypoxia (an oxygen deficiency in the tissues) and hypercapnia (excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream).

Impaired Driver Pulls Up to Jail Security Booth, Tries to Order Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich: Authorities

The 44-year-old Jamesport woman was arrested on driving while ability impaired by drugs and unlicensed driving charges after the authorities said she pulled up to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Facility and tried to put in a breakfast order at the the Riverhead Correctional Facility’s security booth.
Authorities said after the woman pulled up and tried to place an order for “bacon, egg and cheese,” Deputy Yvonne DeCaro, who was manning the booth at the time, told her that she was at the county jail.

When tolerance isn’t the answer

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Timothy 6:3–5)

Commenting on my post about intolerance from Wednesday, Paul Smith reminded me

But to say that everyone holds every single one of their convictions in absolute purity is also a false statement. Some of our convictions are derived from a pure motivation to be correct – and sometimes a big paycheck and a chance to present the keynote lectures all across the nation are just as compelling, as are keeping peace with one’s relatives or trying to earn a seat at the elder’s table.

He’s right. That’s not an easy thing to judge, but there are people who hold certain views for improper motives… even if they may not be aware of it.

I guess I’d argue that in such matters we have to go with innocent until proven guilty. As I said on Wednesday: “every fellow believer deserves the benefit of the doubt.” I’m going to assume that people have good motives unless I’m shown otherwise.

That said, we do have to be aware that there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s not an easy balance to strike, but if I’m going to err, I want it to be on the side of grace.

Years ago I heard a saying that has served me well:

‘Tis better to trust someone who shouldn’t be trusted than to distrust someone who should be trusted.

I’ll be aware that wolves are out there. I’ll try and watch for them. But I’ll do my best to avoid crying wolf if the situation doesn’t warrant it.

Links To Go (March 15, 2018)

Think On These Things

Spend more time with people different than you. Share a cup of coffee with someone and spend time face-to-face. Stop watching cable news. Stop spending so much time on Facebook.
Garbage in? Garbage out.

Internet Trolls in Church Clothes

How now shall we comment? Consider some examples of the kind of questions we can ask ourselves before posting.

  • Am I speaking from a soul satisfied in God or from my discontent?
  • Have I prayed for this person to whom I’m about to respond?
  • Have I labored to understand what he is saying?
  • Do I love this person (1 Peter 2:15–17) — even if they feel like an enemy (Matthew 5:43)?
  • Am I merely trying to one-up him?
  • How would I phrase this critique if I had to speak it to him face to face?
  • Can I raise my critique in private instead of in public?
  • How can I say this in a way that aims to build him up as well as the hearers?
  • Is this particular critique needful at this point in time?
  • Could I be wrong?
  • Am I sowing discord or delight?

You’re Invited to the Table

That’s why Jesus invites us to his table. He wants to see our lives transformed by providing a place to belong. When Jesus told his disciples how much he had looked forward to being with them at the Passover table he was telling them in a big way that they were welcome at his table. He wanted them there. He accepted them as they were.

Stop Giving Toxic People Your Time

So when you recognize someone who doesn’t have principles, shows nasty behavior, and has multiple personalities — step away.
Instead, surround yourself with people who want the best for you.
Not with people who are jealous, can’t see your success, and thrive off negativity. I think this is important to realize for anyone who wants to live a good life.

Greeters and Gifts: How Churches Welcome Guests

If the average pastor has anything to do with it, church guests can expect multiple greetings and may even leave with a gift.
A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked 1,000 Protestant pastors what their churches do to welcome guests.

7 thoughts that help me extend grace

As the years go by, I grow less and less tolerant toward the intolerant. Which, of course, slowly turns me into one of them.

To try and fight that process, I have to continually remind myself of some things. I’ll share a few. Hopefully that might help someone else deal with the same problem. And it will hold me publicly accountable.

I need to remember…

  1. that I’m wrong. About something. Or some things. I’m not perfect in my understanding. So I can’t expect others to be perfect.
  2. that I’ve changed my views over the years. Unless we’ve reached perfect understanding, we’re going to change. That should help me understand both those who haven’t made the same changes and those who have changed in ways that I haven’t.
  3. that I’ve exchanged some wrong views for right ones. If I haven’t changed over the years, then I haven’t grown.
  4. that I’ve exchanged some right views for wrong ones. Never intentionally, but I’m sure it’s happened.
  5. that nobody chooses to be wrong. People hold a position because they believe it to be true. Getting angry and accusing people of dishonesty isn’t helpful.
  6. that every fellow believer deserves the benefit of the doubt. I need to assume good motives and good intentions. I need to suppose that they are trying to please God.
  7. that only God will determine in the end who is His and who is not. My pronouncements toward others mean nothing. I can declare someone to be a Christian or not be a Christian, but in the end, that declaration will be meaningless. God gets the final say.

More could be added, but that should get some ideas rolling in my head and yours. Please offer further suggestions or necessary corrections.

Evangelism: Losing some of the fear

A lot of Christians get nervous when you start talking about evangelism. Some of that is legit. That is, we should take salvation seriously. When we are sharing our faith with someone else, that’s a momentous thing.

Still, I think we can lose some of the fear if we keep a few things in mind:

  • Conversion is a process. One sows, another waters, God gives the growth. We need to intentionally step into the process, considering how our interactions with the people around us will help them take a step closer to God.
  • Contrived methods are the least effective form of evangelism. Studies have shown that few people become Christians by listening to someone preach a scripted presentation of the good news. Few people are converted through door knocking efforts. (I know some people who are very gifted at sharing their faith through these means; they are the exception)
  • The best way to reach people is the most natural: share good news with friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family. When we have a baby, we’re anxious to share the good news. When we buy a car, we like to talk about it. When our sports team wins, we love to let others know of our joy. Doing the same with the gospel is a very effective way of reaching people.
  • Listening is more important than talking. The most important skill for evangelism is the ability to listen to people.

Love God. Love your neighbor. See the people around you. Think about how to best connect them with God.

I talk to people around the country and around the world about how to reach out to their communities. There’s lots more to be said. But these initial thoughts will help you get started.

I’ll go ahead and throw in a plug. My Church Inside Out books talk about these concepts and more. I also present a 4-hour seminar about mobilizing your congregation to go out into your community. Would love to share where you live!