Category Archives: links

Links To Go (December 10, 2018)

American Churches Are at a Tipping Point

If current trajectories continue, American churches will pass a tipping point. Our congregations will begin a likely unstoppable path toward decline that will rival many European churches of the past century. If there is not a significant movement of revitalization, there will be an accelerated rate of decline and death.


How Should We Talk to Our Kids About Santa?

Perhaps you too wonder whether you should conform to the holiday tradition of Santa Claus celebrated around the world. Logically speaking, your concerns are warranted. If we lie to our kids about Santa, then perhaps they will think we lied to them about Jesus as well.
Yet, some of my greatest childhood memories were baking cookies and putting out milk for Santa. It wasn’t until I was in second grade sitting at the lunch table that one of my best friends broke the news. I defended Santa as fiercely as a 7-year-old could.


What We Long for the Church to Do about Sexual Violence

  1. Recognize that sexual violence is in the sanctuary.
  2. Own our pasts with respect to sexual violence.
  3. Assess our congregational vulnerabilities and resources through clear-eyed, courageous evaluation.
  4. Prevent future violations by cultivating congregational climates of respect, safety, and accountability.

The Link Between August Birthdays and A.D.H.D.

These arbitrary cutoffs have important implications for the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, we found that among several hundred thousand children who were born between 2007 and 2009 and followed until 2016, rates of A.D.H.D. diagnosis and treatment were 34 percent higher among children born in August than among children born in September in states with a Sept. 1 school entry-age cutoff. No such difference was found among children in states with different cutoff dates. The effects were largest among boys.


A New Connection between the Gut and the Brain

Interestingly, there is a growing body of work showing that there is communication between the gut and brain, now commonly dubbed the gut–brain axis. The disruption of the gut–brain axis contributes to a diverse range of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.


I’m a Brain Doctor, and This Is What I Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s

So, let me tell you how I personally leverage the very best science to reduce my Alzheimer’s risk.

  • Eating few carbs, lots of healthy fat.
  • Supplementing here and there.
  • Working out daily.

Water on airplanes is basically E. coli soup

Those who fear E. coli and other pathogens might steer clear of the beverages brewed in-flight, as well as consider bringing their own materials to disinfect hands after a trip to the plane’s lavatory rather than washing with sink tap water.


Captain Of His Destiny: The Man Who Has Lived On A Cruise Ship For 13 Years

When Charlotte passed away 13 years ago, Captain Jablin made Seven Seas Navigator his home. He still maintains a condo in Boca Raton, Florida to keep his “stuff” and to qualify for health benefits and Social Security but it’s been three or four years since he’s set foot there, he says.


Links to Go (December 3, 2018)

Is there room in the church of Christ for people like me?

It’s that specific ideology that has me feeling ideologically homeless. The progressive wing of Christianity looks down on conservative ideology, and the conservative wing wants nothing to do with those who don’t believe a person has to interpret every single issue exactly the same way to be saved. For the conservatives, nobody is going to heaven except the people in 99% agreement with them. For the progressives, it seems as though everyone is saved except the conservatives.


Four Key Attitudes That Are Killing Church Attendance

  1. The attitude that church membership is not biblical.
  2. The attitude that we are part of a church primarily to get our needs met.
  3. The attitude that church leaders are not held to a higher standard.
  4. The attitude that expectation of faithful church attendance is legalistic.

Americans who find meaning in these four areas have higher life satisfaction

But of the 30 topics that were studied, only four were universally associated with higher levels of life satisfaction: a person’s good health, romantic partner, friends and career.


The strongest predictor of men’s well-being isn’t family or health

The results showed an clear trend: The strongest predictor of men’s happiness and well-being is their job satisfaction, by a large margin—and the strongest predictor of job satisfaction is whether men feel they are making an impact on their companies’ success.


The U.S. class divide extends to searching for a religious congregation

But how likely Americans are to look for a new church varies by their education and income levels. About six-in-ten (59%) college-educated Americans have searched for a new religious congregation, compared with only 38% of those with a high school education or less, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data collected in 2015. Likewise, higher-income Americans are more likely to look for a new church than those with lower incomes.


U.S. Has Spent Six Trillion Dollars on Wars That Killed Half a Million People Since 9/11, Report Says

Wednesday’s report found that the “US military is conducting counterterror activities in 76 countries, or about 39 percent of the world’s nations, vastly expanding [its mission] across the globe.” In addition, these operations “have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad.”
Overall, researchers estimated that “between 480,000 and 507,000 people have been killed in the United States’ post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” This toll “does not include the more than 500,000 deaths from the war in Syria, raging since 2011” when a West-backed rebel and jihadi uprising challenged the government, an ally of Russia and Iran.


The Three Most Chilling Conclusions From the Climate Report

  1. Extreme hot weather is getting more common, and cold weather more rare.
  2. Climate change has doubled the devastation from wildfires in the Southwest.
  3. Rising sea levels will necessitate mass migrations, and coastal cities aren’t doing enough.

Signal to noise ratio

One solution is to find a quiet space when you have something to say. Now (in this loud place, filled with spam) might not be as good as later, in a setting you’ve earned, saying something you care about, to people who are listening.


Improve Your Conversations Forever

  1. Don’t ask yes/no questions.
  2. Ask “why” three times.
  3. Ask about specifics, not generalizations.
  4. Ask about reactions.
  5. Ask follow-up questions.
  6. Ask about lessons.
  7. Ask for a story.
  8. Ask like a kid.
  9. Ask what else you should ask.

Links To Go (November 15, 2018)

How religious groups voted in the midterm elections

A preliminary analysis of the 2018 midterm elections finds considerable continuity in the voting patterns of several key religious groups. White evangelical or born-again Christians backed Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives at about the same rate they did in 2014. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated voters (also known as religious “nones”) and Jewish voters once again backed Democratic candidates by large margins.


Poll: Majority blames both Trump and media for dividing country

Just 3 in 10 voters, 30 percent, said Trump has done more to unite the country, compared with 56 percent who said he’s done more to divide it. Even more voters, 64 percent, said the media have done more to divide the country, while only 17 percent say they have done more to unite it.


Politics in the Church

Fifty-seven percent of those with evangelical beliefs say their political beliefs match most people in their church. This compares to just 44 percent of those without evangelical beliefs.


For love of strangers: Behind the Jewish legacy of welcoming refugees

“For all three traditions, the stranger, the refugee, the wayfarer – they’re part of all the sacred scripture,” says Professor Afridi, citing numerous specific instances in the Torah, the New Testament, and the Quran where that obligation is spelled out. “We’ve all been strangers in lands, and I think that faith groups have always tried to help immigrants.” There’s a Syrian student on campus, Afridi notes, who has been helped by Muslims, Jews, and Catholics in his journey.


Pastors See Economic Turnaround in 2018 Giving

Today, 8 in 10 Protestant pastors (79 percent) say the total offerings at their church this year are at or above last year’s levels, including 42 percent who say this year is ahead of last year. Few pastors (15 percent) say giving is not keeping pace with last year.


Let Your Internet Yes Be Your Real-Life Yes

We weren’t designed to be double-minded. We weren’t made to playact, to posture. It’s impossible to keep The Persona from taking over. Whatever we put our heart into, whatever we worship, we will become. So if your online persona is abrasive, domineering, argumentative, critical, you don’t get to say for long, “That’s not really me.” You is who you is. Let’s take care that our online yes and no match up with real life, in the right way.


How these professionals get everything done in a 4-day workweek

While it might seem like a foreign experiment that is a world away from the mind-set of the U.S. workplace, many companies and freelancers are adopting the shorter-the-better approach. In addition to this experiment, many studies stand by the concept of working smarter, but not necessarily the traditional, mandated 40 hours. Not only are the benefits found in more fruitful work, but in the health of employees, too. According to the Center for a New American Dream, employees who work more than 11 hours a day are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression and 60 times more likely to develop heart disease.


Dutch man, 69, starts legal fight to identify as 20 years younger

Emile Ratelband told a court in Arnhem in the Netherlands that he did not feel “comfortable” with his date of birth, and compared his wish to alter it to people who identified as transgender.
Ratelband said that due to having an official age that did not reflect his emotional state he was struggling to find both work and love. He has asked for his date of birth to be changed from 11 March 1949 to 11 March 1969.


Links To Go (November 1, 2018)

Younger Americans are better than older Americans at telling factual news statements from opinions

This stronger ability to classify statements regardless of their ideological appeal may well be tied to the fact that younger adults – especially Millennials – are less likely to strongly identify with either political party. Younger Americans also are more “digitally savvy” than their elders, a characteristic that is also tied to greater success at classifying news statements. But even when accounting for levels of digital savviness and party affiliation, the differences by age persist: Younger adults are still better than their elders at deciphering factual from opinion news statements.


More Latinos Have Serious Concerns About Their Place in America Under Trump

And nearly four-in-ten Hispanics say they have experienced at least one of four offensive incidents in the past year because of their Hispanic background, although about as many note that someone has expressed support for them because they are Hispanic. For the 38% of Hispanics who say they have experienced an incident, these comprise: experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment because of their Hispanic background, being criticized for speaking Spanish in public, being told to go back to their home country, or being called offensive names.


Most White Evangelicals Say Immigration, Increasing Racial Diversity Harms America

White evangelical protestants are the only religious demographic in the United States in which the majority views immigrants as a “threat” to American values and sees the country’s increasing racial diversity as a bad thing, a new survey has found.


What if Everyone Voted?

Many political scientists say that policies that make voting easier would also make American democracy more representative and less likely to favor the interests of wealthier, older and white voters who typically turn out at higher rates. Broader participation, proponents say, could ease polarization, lift faith in government and dampen criticism that politicians representing the views of a minority of Americans wield the majority of power in Washington.


Legal immigration is a mess. These startups are trying to help

But a few years ago, Wang began speaking to more immigration lawyers, families, and policy experts to try to understand just why it is that the process of immigrating to the United States legally is so difficult. He couldn’t find a good explanation. So in February 2017, he launched Boundless, a service that helps applicants fill out their applications for green cards online for $750 a pop (much less than typical lawyer fees, which range from $2,000 to $5,000). But this is no Turbo Tax for immigration–Boundless also cultivates a network of vetted lawyers who review each application to make sure it has no errors. On Boundless’s website, about 7,000 people a month begin their applications, and so far the company has a 100% success rate once applicants reach the interview stage of the process.


The problem with people is that they outnumber you

It doesn’t make any sense to spend your life proving them wrong, it’s a losing battle. Far more effective is the endless work of building connection, forming alliances and finding the very best you can in those you engage with.


What Happens When Executives Email Less (Hint: It’s a Good Thing)

When sending emails, keep them short and to the point or you deserve to be ignored. Use numbered lists and bullet points to make your ideas clear and simple to address.


The Simplest Way to Drastically Improve Your Life: More Sleep

Imagine this: Someone walks up to you and pitches you on a brand-new, magical pill.
This pill can measurably improve your memory, overall cognitive performance, ability to learn new information, receptivity to facial cues, mood, ability to handle problems, metabolism, risk for heart disease and immune system.
Would you buy it?
Yeah, yeah, you saw this coming: That pill exists, but not in pill form. You can have all of those benefits cost-free, and all it takes is going to bed a little bit earlier. That’s it.


Scientist ‘stabs colleague who kept telling him endings of books he was reading’

A scientist working in a remote outpost in Antarctica allegedly stabbed his colleague because he kept telling him how the books he was reading would end.
Sergey Savitsky, 55, and Oleg Beloguzov, 52, would often spend hours reading during the four years they worked together in the lonely location.
According to reports, Savitsky has told Russian investigators that he saw red and attacked Beloguzov with a kitchen knife when he once again ruined the ending.


100 people show up to 12-year-old boy’s first birthday party after classmates said they wouldn’t come

A young boy in Washington state got the surprise of a lifetime when nearly 100 people showed up to his birthday party on Sunday where he expected a guest count of zero.


Links To Go (October 23, 2018)

How Our Culture Justifies Its Sexual Freedom (the 10 Commandments of Progressive Christianity #9)

The final step in the justification of sexual sin is to enlist the help of Jesus. To do so, Gulley trots out the standard cliches about Jesus being more gracious to sinners than to the legalists. He even appeals (not surprisingly) to the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman (166).
What Gulley leaves out, however, is that the woman came to Jesus not defiant in her sins but repentant of them! Indeed, Jesus indicates that “her sins. . . are many” but that they “are forgiven” (Luke 7:47). Yes, Jesus forgives sinners. But we must acknowledge and admit we are sinners.


Sexual Sin Isn’t Only Wrong, It’s Just Plain Stupid

Proverbs is a book written by a wise father for his son. It reminds us that we need to not only tell our children and ourselves and our friends to obey God because it’s right, but also because it’s SMART. Sin is never in our bests interests.
Sometimes, even though we should be, we aren’t sufficiently motivated by what’s right and wrong. In those times Scripture teaches us to be motivated by understanding what’s smart and what’s stupid.


Almost Half of U.S. Births Happen Outside Marriage, Signaling Cultural Shift

The data show such births in the U.S. and EU are predominantly to unmarried couples living together rather than to single mothers, the report says. The data suggest that societal and religious norms about marriage, childbearing and women in the workforce have changed, said Kelly Jones, the director for the Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.


Why Evangelicals Voted Trump: Debunking the 81%

In other words, evangelicals voted more along Republican values than traditional social conservative values. The fact that abortion and the Supreme Court ranked so low is counter-intuitive to the prevailing narrative that evangelicals are single-issue voters.
Put another way, Republican Party issues were more important than pro-life issues.


How the Baby Boomers Introduced One of the Gravest Spiritual Dangers of Our Era

I hope we learn to go to church not so much for what it gives us but because this is Christ’s body; this is where the Holy Spirit is at work. If we are constantly searching for a better place, we’ll miss what he put us on the earth for, we’ll live small and shallow lives, and we’ll get older and grouchier. We’ll be like those boomers who are now going on eco-vacations because they’re looking to do some “good” in the world, when we could have just shown up right where we live and made a difference for eternity.


Life in the Spirit Isn’t Just ‘Doing’ Differently, But ‘Being’ Different

The first thing to notice is how this list of Spiritual fruit differs from the previous list of “works of the flesh” (5:19-21). Notice that the works of the flesh are more generally just that—works. This second list, though, the fruit of the Spirit, largely consists of what we might call qualities or conditions. If we can take anything away from a blunt comparison of the lists, it might be this: the solution to bad things we do isn’t good things to do but good things to be.


Preach Simple Sermons

Just a few days after that event, 23,654 would gather in that same venue to hear Spurgeon preach. However, just days prior, only one verse was thundered from the pulpit and God used it to convert a lost man. The converted man would tell that story upon his deathbed. The next time you’re preparing a sermon or a lesson to teach in the context of the local church—think about how you can simplify the message and make sure that it’s clearly understood by everyone who will be in attendance. That includes both the carpenter and the surgeon—the little boy and the elderly woman. When you prepare to preach or teach, think about your goal of causing people to be impressed with God rather than you and your gifts.


Stephen King’s 20 Rules for Writers

  1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience.
  2. Don’t use passive voice.
  3. Avoid adverbs.
  4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”
  5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar.
  6. The magic is in you.
  7. Read, read, read.
  8. Don’t worry about making other people happy.
  9. Turn off the TV.
  10. You have three months.
  11. There are two secrets to success.
  12. Write one word at a time.
  13. Eliminate distraction.
  14. Stick to your own style.
  15. Dig.
  16. Take a break.
  17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings.
  18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story.
  19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing.
  20. Writing is about getting happy.