Links To Go (November 27, 2015)

(As always, links are offered for thought and entertainment; no endorsement implied. Tim)
11 Stats That Will Change the Way You Think About Consumerism

The day-after-Thanksgiving tradition has become it’s {sic} own sort of consumption holiday, with some shoppers leaving their turkey dinners to line up the night before for a chance to save a few hundred dollars on a product they might even already own.
On the biggest shopping day of the year, we decided to look at some of the numbers to show just how powerful American’s obsession with consumption really is.

Why I’m Complementarian

By complementarianism, I mean the view that men and women are equal as God’s fellow image bearers, but nonetheless have some differences of role in the church and in the home. The way I like to put it is equal, but not interchangeable. In other words, you cannot simply swap male and female in and out of different roles without any consequence; nor are the differences between male and female mere matters of anatomy. There are some fundamental, structural, psychological differences as well (though they are never matters of better or worse).

How Elisabeth Elliot Made Me a Complementarian

All three persons are equal in value, yet have different roles. This was key for me being able to embrace my differing role as a woman. God values me just as much as a man, but has a different role for me in this world. “Equal in value, different in role” was something I had never before considered. Elisabeth helped me to see the beauty of God’s complementary design instead of seeing it as a competitive relationship. Adam and Eve, both image bearers, reflected God in their differing roles. She helped me to embrace the calling for men to be the initiators, while women respond.

How to Help Those in Need (Without Treating Them Like Beggars)

We need to ask the question, “Is the work we do on the ground truly significant work?” We need to ask, “Whose agenda is our mission really about?” And then we need to ask, “Are we really enabling folks to move out of poverty?” The reality is that in most cases we’re not. We’re deepening dependency instead.
The only thing that moves a person out of poverty is a job. That’s it. So the next question we need to ask is, “Are we facilitating the creation of jobs that enable people to move out of poverty?” The answer is no, we’re not. And it’s because we’re taking the wrong people on mission trips. Rather than taking “servers,” we need to take job creators and business people. Instead of taking mission trips, we need to take investment trips.

To Close or Revitalize: That Is the Question—7 Steps to Know

A reality that we face today is how to know when a local church is a good candidate for revitalization or for closing. In determining best practices for a church to carry out its mission, leaders must answer the following question: will more people be reached for Christ by keeping this church open and leading it through a revitalization process or by closing it and investing those resources in another ministry that is bearing Kingdom fruit?
Seeking objectivity for this discussion, I conducted several months of research to discover what criteria would help church leaders make this decision in a Godly and objective manner.

‘Doo Doo the Clown’ saves women from violent attacker

Shane Farberman, also known as “Doo Doo the Clown”, noticed a shirtless man jumping over cars and pushing pedestrians, so he decided to investigate in his Hummer. He then witnessed the man violently confronting two women in an alley and was able to pull them into the vehicle and drive them to safety.
After Faberman was able to rescue the women and call 911, the man attempted to break into the vehicle, knocking off one of the side view mirrors.

Links To Go (November 24, 2015)

In nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain for ISIS

Recent attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have once again brought terrorism and Islamic extremism to the forefront of international relations. According to newly released data that the Pew Research Center collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia overwhelmingly expressed negative views of ISIS.

We are missing the real question about Christians and refugees

Here is what I want for Christians and refugees.
That faith will overcome fear. That if refugees come to your community (your world), that you will go among them to make disciples. It will be scary and might prove to be dangerous. And it will be what Jesus called you to do.
That actions will match rhetoric. That we will not just worry about what a government should or should not do, but that we will have an opportunity to put our faith into action. Making friends, serving in the name of Jesus, witness by our lives, testifying by teaching.

Welcoming Refugees

In his inimitable style, Stephen Colbert neatly summarizes the issue. He refers to Jeb Bush’s preference that we only welcome Christian refugees from Syria, though Jeb! wasn’t sure how refugees would prove their religion. Colbert provided the answer on The Late Show by saying:

“If you want to know if somebody is Christian, just ask them to complete this sentence: Jesus said, ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you. . . . And if they don’t say ‘welcomed me in,’ they are either a terrorist, or they are running for president.”

U.S. public seldom has welcomed refugees into country

A look back into the opinion-polling archives (courtesy of Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research) shows that American opposition to admitting large numbers of foreigners fleeing war and oppression has been pretty consistent, regardless of official government policy. We examined instances over the past eight decades where large groups of refugees from specific countries or regions were seeking admission, typically above and beyond the immigration rules in place at the time, and for which there was reliable polling data. Here’s what we found

More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.

More Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.

If We Perish, We Perish. But Let’s Choose Love Over Fear

I don’t want to make a political statement here. I realize that the refugee situation is complicated and not easy to solve. However, I do want to make a Christian statement.
When our love of safety gets in the way of obeying God, we are wrong.
When our love of safety gets in the way of loving people, we are wrong.

When we see the dysfunctional neighbor, the unruly child, the refugee, the Muslim, we should see the face of Jesus. When we see the low-income neighborhood, the Arab country, the dilapidated house down the street, we should see places to which Jesus would have run.
Yes, we should be safe when we can be. But as Christians, for the sake of love, we should err on the side of risk.

Is the Church Ticking Off the Right People?

If you’re getting pats on the back for “telling the truth” to sinners or standing up to them because of your values, be careful. You might be aligning yourself against Jesus.

4 Ways Christians Need to Respond to Evil When It Occurs

When evil occurs Christians need to respond with love, prayer, kindness, and hope. Doing so could result in the salvation of many evil people and at the end of the day that’s the Christian mission.

The Original Terrorist

The Bible presents a real and present foe of our faith. His name is Satan. Some call him the devil. Others call him Beelzebub, Belial, the obstructor, the tempter, the evil one, the accuser, the prince of demons, the ruler of this world, or the prince of the power of the air. Whatever name you choose, he is the enemy, and he is real.
If I were the devil, I’d blame terrorism on a broken political system. A disenchanted people group. The Wicked Witch of the West. I’d want you to feel attacked by an indefinable, nebulous force. After all, if you can’t diagnose the source of your ills, how can you treat them? If I were the devil, I’d keep my name out of it.

The Pure Religion Commission

Some of us have the hearts for adoption but do not have the money. Some of us have the money, and a heart for giving, but do not know where to give. Let’s find these people, and through prayer, connect them with each other to glorify Christ Jesus by being the active movement we were called to be.
This is the Pure Religion Commission. Want people to see Christ in you? Get active, get out from behind your keyboards complaining about what is wrong with those “crazy Christians” (guilty) and show the world what is pure and right about Christ and his church. It’s time pure religion speaks louder than those who represent what it is not.

Thieves steal car with a boy inside and drop him off at school in Norfolk

Two men dropped a boy off at school Wednesday morning after finding him inside a car they stole.

Dad Accidentally Films Entire Las Vegas Trip With GoPro Aimed Backwards

Joseph Griffin was recently visiting Las Vegas and borrowed his son’s GoPro camera to capture some special memories.
Unfortunately for his plan (but fortunately for the Internet), he mistakenly pointed the camera the wrong way throughout the entire trip.
The result is a hilarious four-minute video titled “An Irishman in Vegas,” which was posted by his son, Evan Griffin.

Links To Go (November 17, 2015)

What is the Missional Church? (Part 5)—Forgetting Missions

Reasons Why Missional Churches Do Not Do Missions
First, in rediscovering God’s mission, many have discovered its personal dimensions only.
Second, in responding to God’s mission, many have made everything “mission.”
Next, in relating God’s mission, the message increasingly includes the hurting but less frequently includes the global lost.
Fourth, in refocusing on God’s mission, many are focusing on being good news rather than telling good news.
Last, in reiterating God’s mission, many lose the context of the church’s global mission and needed global presence.

Hating Queerness Without Hating the Queer

Mohler talks a lot about the rise of what he calls “the autonomous self”—the idea that people should be able to determine who they are and make their own choices about how and when they have sex. This is the basic premise of every gay-rights movement, but it’s fundamentally at odds with the way Mohler and certain other evangelicals see the world. “[People] want to know why biblically-minded Christians can’t buy into the modern concept of sexual orientation as it’s presented, or an understanding of gender as entirely socially constructed,” he said. “But the distinction is actually more fundamental: It’s whether or not we are autonomous selves who define our own identity, or whether we’re creatures who are defined by a creator.”

Why a friend is suing me: the Arlene’s Flowers story

I’ve never questioned Rob’s and Curt Freed’s right to live out their beliefs. And I wouldn’t have done anything to keep them from getting married, or even getting flowers. Even setting aside my warm feelings for them, I wouldn’t have deliberately taken actions that would mean the end of being able to do the work I love or risk my family’s home and savings.
I just couldn’t see a way clear in my heart to honor God with the talents He has given me by going against the word He has given us.

If Richard Dawkins Is Right

Matthew: Awesome. But Luke, can you just remind me, what’s the point of all this? I mean, what exactly do we get out of this?
Luke: Come on, Matt, it will be so much fun. We’ll watch people being brutally martyred, and we’ll know they’ve been deceived by our dishonest fiction! What’s not to like about that?
John: I agree with Luke. This is definitely worth years of effort on our part. Count me in.
Mark: Me too.

5 Ways the Bible Supports Open Theism

  1. The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances, or as a result of prayer.
  2. God sometimes expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—even occasionally over things that resulted from his own will.
  3. At other times God tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome.
  4. The Lord frequently tests his people to find out whether they’ll remain faithful to him.
  5. The Lord sometimes asks non-rhetorical questions about the future and speaks to people in terms of what may or may not happen.

When the Pope Ordered the Death of Adolf Hitler

The only person with the prestige and freedom to act was the pope, but asking the pontifex maximus for the go-ahead to put a bullet in someone’s brain was a tall order. Ultimately, not only did the pope say yes when approached, but he also established a robust intelligence apparatus and kept pushing parties to get on with it.

Most Americans believe in heaven … and hell

Roughly seven-in-ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven — defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded,” according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study.
But at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell — a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

7 Encouraging Trends in Global Christianity

With more conflict over religious liberty in the United States and high-profile martyrdoms around the world, it would seem Christianity is in global peril. But that’s not the case, according to a new report.
Published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, the findings of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary provide an optimistic picture of Christianity heading into the heart of the 21st century.

Seven Myths of Contextualization

Leading meetings in a way that people understand should be a priority for pastors and leaders. But let’s make sure contextualization never makes us look and act like something other than what Christ has redeemed us to be – blameless and innocent, shining as lights in the world as we hold fast to the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16).

Church, Stop Doing so Many Good Things

In most church situations you will do more by doing less. That is, once the strategy to walk more faithfully in line with the gospel at a given time in the life of a church is clear, those priorities should focus and reshape everything you do congregationally. All that you do should be consistently evaluated for how it is strategically leading toward the goal. The trauma of changing the focus of a congregation by removing ministries and tactics in which the church has previously engaged is lessened by clear vision and strategic focus, and it replaces the former with a new way to serve and contribute. The purpose of shrinking the number of things a congregation does is to expand that focus and excellence of what it chooses to pursue as a community of faith.

How to Make Sure the Church Stops Growing

If we want to see the church grow today like it did in the days of the apostles we must be sure we have the genuineness that comes from a life transformed in Christ, the relevance of a message presented in line with the culture’s advances, and a message of substance that comes when we emphasize the word of God.

Church attendance for the poor in health

Teaching on attendance should be rooted in devotion rather than doom. When attendance is organic, arising out of our love for the Lord, rather than our fear of hell, we find happier and more productive Christians.

Links To Go (November 3, 2015)

We Can’t Protect Sexual Orientation Because It Doesn’t Mean Anything

Under such constructs, we are socially (and legally) compelled to honor and respect each person’s self-determined orientation and self-expressed gender identity. Of course, this inherent subjectivity raises profound practical and legal concerns for adherence to and enforcement of laws like Houston’s equal rights ordinance. The subjectivity makes it ripe for an explosion of unanticipated lawsuits from people who refuse to play along with the “well, we all know what it means” misbelief.

A Whistleblower Steps Forward on Drones

Consider this assessment of Operation Haymaker, which took place in Afghanistan from 2012 until 2013. “During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets,” one report notes, adding that estimates in Yemen and Somalia, where American intelligence is more limited, may be worse.

Academia’s Rejection of Diversity

Improving ideological diversity is not a fundamentally political undertaking. Rather, it is a question of humility. Proper scholarship is based on the simple virtues of tolerance, openness and modesty. Having people around who think differently thus improves not only science, but also character.

How to Defuse the Accusation of Intolerance

When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue, preface your remarks with a question.
Say, “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking. I don’t mind answering, but before I do, I want to know if it’s safe to offer my views.
“So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person? Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own?”

This man had the most touching response to seeing his wife’s body Photoshopped.[Apologies for the click-bait headline… shudder. Tim]

The man wrote that the photos made his heart sink because he realized his wife thought she needed to alter her appearance to be beautiful for him. He closed his note to Halton taking responsibility for not telling his wife often enough how beautiful she was. “I have to do better, and for the rest of my days I am going to celebrate her in all her imperfectness,” he wrote.

Thick Skin, Tender Hearts, and Four Types of Leaders

Only by following Jesus can you love people and not be crushed if they don’t love you. For this type of leader, thick skin is the result of security, worth, and identity placed in the Lord and not in people. If our identity is in Him, we are not destroyed when our leadership is questioned, when people we serve don’t appreciate our service. At the same time, we are not aloof or calloused toward people because the Lord has our heart, and loving and trusting Him always results in a tender and compassionate heart for people.

What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?

In the end, we actually have very good historical reasons to accept Origen’s list as genuine. And if it is, then we have evidence that (a) Christians were making lists much earlier than we supposed (and thus cared about which books were “in” and which were “out”); and (b) that the boundaries of the New Testament canon were, at least for some people like Origen, more stable than typically supposed.

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says

The draft, Professor Miller argues, dates from between 1604, when the King James Bible was commissioned, and 1608, when the six teams were asked to send their work to the general committee for review. Unlike the other surviving drafts, which scholars date to later parts of the process, it shows an individual translator’s initial puzzling over aspects of the Greek text of the Apocrypha, indicating the reasoning behind his translation choices, with reference to Hebrew and Latin as well.

Former Stanford dean explains why helicopter parenting is ruining a generation of children

And how can parents help their children become self-sufficient? Teach them the skills they’ll need in real life and give them enough leash to practice those skills on their own, Lythcott-Haims said. And have them do chores. “Chores build a sense of accountability. They build life skills and a work ethic,” she said.

What America’s immigrants looked like when they arrived on Ellis Island

We hear so often that America is “a nation of immigrants” or a “cultural melting pot” that the phrase has become kind of a tired cliche. But actually seeing that history is a different story. The fascinating photographs below — of people in their native dress passing through Ellis Island in the early 20th century — hint at just how incredible and unique America’s history is as a nation of immigrants.

Hummus joint gives Jewish-Arab tables 50% off

Want some hummus with a side of coexistence? A restaurant near the coastal city of Netanya recently started offering 50 percent off each plate of the chickpea paste at tables seating Jews and Arabs together.

This Guy Wants Us to Commute in Autonomous, On-Demand Pods

When Tommaso Gecchelin envisions the future of urban transportation, he, like many people, imagines a system of driverless electric cars. But in Gecchelin’s vision, the system is modular. Its boxy vehicles are flat-sided, identically sized, and can link up and disconnect on the fly. He calls the concept “Next,” and foresees it providing both on-demand rides and shared public transportation, like a futuristic cross between Uber and the city bus. Imagine a Next pod pulling up to your house in the morning, before scooping up your neighbor, and then, once it’s on a main road heading for downtown, affixing itself to another couple pods. Everyone goes to work, together.

Q&A For Soccer Parents

Last night I spoke to a large gathering of South Florida youth-soccer coaches. I presented the following Q&A on how to be a soccer parent. I wish I could say I was exaggerating.

Links To Go (October 15, 2015)

A Pastor’s Journey from Gay Pride Parades to the Pulpit

When Caleb Kaltenbach was two years old, both his mother and father came out as gay, then got a divorce. Growing up, he absorbed their antagonism toward Christians, but went on to embrace Christianity as a teenager. In Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction (WaterBrook Press), Kaltenbach, a pastor in Southern California, charts the path to reconciling with his parents, who are now both believers. CT assistant editor Morgan Lee spoke with Kaltenbach about his experiences ministering to people with same-sex attraction.

Bad News, Indeed — Playboy Opened the Floodgates and Now the Culture is Drowning

The iconic magazines of the sexual revolution, the very magazines that promoted the sexual revolution and opened the floodgates to even more explicit and graphic pornography, have lost their ability to shock, their ability to sell themselves to the public, and their cultural relevance — and it is precisely because the culture has become Playboy and what was once shocking is now a feature of mainstream American culture.

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis

“There is something about suffering that longs for someone to sit with us through the pain. It’s the fellowship of suffering. It’s the words ‘you are not alone’ put into action. The sitting bears witness to our pain. More than a card or a casserole, the familiar, patient presence of another says to us ‘it’s too much for you to bear, but I will be with you, I will sit with you.’”

Paul Ryan’s big speaker hangup is reportedly his family. For a male lawmaker, that’s unusual.

Someone is sure to point out that Ryan’s children are well past the swaddling and wake-up-at-night stage. That’s true. But think long and hard about the implications of that idea, particularly if you are someone’s boss.
Ryan, a man in his mid-40s, has young kids. He is part of a younger generation of fathers who, while they do not match the time put in by their children’s mothers, are spending more time with their kids and doing at least a little more housework than fathers in the past. Is that really something to discourage?

Engaging Conflict Requires An Attitude

I’m not trying to suggest that conflict is easy. If it was easy, we wouldn’t try avoiding it or do so poorly with it at times. But ignoring conflict or failing to rightly deal with it allows what could be a great opportunity become a problem that threatens the and undermines the health of the church.

What Love Does to Walls

My perspective of the love Huey Lewis sings about is deep, sacred caring for another that allows us to hold on to our beliefs and others to hold on to theirs. It is that sacred love for humanity that is most important. The way I manage my walls is to make an effort to recognize what I believe, what others believe, and still commit to loving self and others in a sacred way, respecting the healthy and necessary walls around us.

Promotion, demotion and opportunity

In a fluid system, when people are moving forward, others are falling behind.
The question, then, isn’t, “when am I going to get promoted?”
No, I think the question is, “will I grab these openings to become someone who’s already doing work at a higher level?”
Act ‘as if’. If the people around you don’t figure out what an asset you’ve become, someone else will.

Why college hasn’t closed the gender wage gap

True, they’re not funneling into fields that will maximize their earnings, the way college-enrolled men seem keen to do. But women are still studying subjects that sound like they will get them stable jobs. And not just any jobs — jobs that tend to offer more flexible work schedules and lower penalties for rotating in and out of the labor force, such as teaching and nursing. The big, female-dominated majors also tend to offer higher grades, which perhaps tricks students into thinking they’re especially good at those subjects and therefore will have better employment prospects upon graduation.

Driver cited after hitting downed plane on I-84

Luckily, neither Nguyen nor his wife were injured in the accident. When asked by his wife how he didn’t see the plane Nguyen said he doesn’t usually look up while he’s driving.
“I only have two eyes not four,” said Nguyen. “I can’t look at the road and the sky at the same time.”

Armed Robbery Suspect Tries Using Uber as Getaway Car, Police Say

Cochran was seen getting into the back of a silver Lexus, and when officers pulled the car over, the driver said he was an Uber driver, police said.
The driver and a second passenger were released since it was determined they “had nothing to do with the robbery,” police said.