Links To Go (October 13, 2015)

Columbus Day?

Well isn’t that nice. Columbus’ initial impulse upon encountering the indigenous other was to think, “Hey, these people would make good slaves!” Columbus was barely off the boat before the native inhabitants were being captured and sold into slavery. Columbus wrote, “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.” Apparently Columbus was a religious man…proposing slave trade in the name of the Trinity!

Christians Don’t Need Rights

Since when does your relationship with God depend on your rights as a human being? In the book of Daniel, when Darius made a law prohibiting prayer to any deities for a month, Daniel went back to his house and prayed anyway.
And then he went to a lion’s den.
And when Darius came back to get him the next morning, the first thing that Daniel said to him wasn’t, “Give me back my rights, jerk!” It was, “Oh king, may you live forever.”
To the guy who threw him into a lion’s den for praying.

The Lost Art of the Church Potluck

With our friends we floated two hypotheses about the decline of the potluck.
The first was church size. It seems that churches are either very big or very small, making it harder to achieve the sweet spot for a congregation-wide potluck.
Our other hypothesis was about a loss of generational skill. The consensus was that our mothers and grandmothers really knew how to do a potluck. And the main thing was that they brought to the potluck a ton of food, enough for their family and many, many more.

Daily Fantasy Sports: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) take the same principles of traditional fantasy sports–entrants choose players from different teams and receive points based on their performances–and monetizes them. Entrants pay to enter leagues, which last one week’s worth of games, with the hopes of winning large sums of cash. One pays into the system in hopes that his team wins him a lot of money.
Clearly this is a gambling model. While there are some who argue otherwise–only so they can keep it legal–it meets the basic criteria of gambling. No matter how much knowledge of the sport or research about match-ups an entrant possesses, his or her players are still at the mercy of chance. Sure, Julio Jones may be a great match-up against the Texans’ defense, but his owners didn’t plan on Atlanta jumping out to such a big lead that it would keep him from playing in much of the game, thus limiting his points. Because you can, and almost certainly will, lose money with the hopes of winning money, DFS are gambling, and gambling hurts its participants.

5 Warning Signs for the Church in a ‘Facebook Culture’

What effect does “social media” technology have on the way we view the church? On the way we conceive of life in Christ’s body? Much of social media is positive, of course. And the church has certainly leveraged this technology to advance the cause of Christ. Moreover, I can’t miss the irony of writing about the adverse effects of technology on a website. Nevertheless, I do have some concerns—and so should you.

Germany Faces Few Mass Shootings Amid Tough Gun Laws

Crimes involving guns are still relatively rare. German government statistics showed that while criminal acts increased last year to just over six million in a country of 80.6 million people, crimes that violated weapons laws declined to 30,785 cases, or by 2.1 percent, from 2013.
There was a slight decrease in violent crimes last year in the United States as well, and the rate of gun-related homicides declined to 3.6 per 100,000 people by 2010 from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1981. But the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group that keeps track of gun violence, tallied more than 40,000 acts of violence involving guns so far this year.

A Songwriting Rant

Intentionally, this has been a rant. Some points can be made better in a bombastic way than in a nuanced way, and regular readers will hopefully know my huge esteem for the enormous gifts God has given us in people like Stuart Townend, Chris Tomlin, Darlene Zschech, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Kari Jobe, Martin Smith, Bob Kauflin and many others. But in amongst the generalisations, there may be some helpful challenges for some of us, especially for those whose commission it is to shepherd the church.

First edition of King James Bible from 1611 found in church cupboard

A vicar clearing out a cupboard at his church found a forgotten first edition King James Bible dating back to 1611.
There are believed to be fewer than 200 such Bibles still in existence.

Crew shooting film to promote Houston robbed at ‘We Love Houston’ sign

Zach Jankovic, a Houston native and owner of the production company, said his crew was shooting footage of the “We Love Houston” sign for a film to promote the positive aspects of the city when a man approached them and brandished a gun.
The man fled with two video cameras being used by the crew and a GoPro they were using to shoot behind-the-scenes footage.

Links To Go (October 8, 2015)

12 St. Francis Quotes that Will Challenge the Way You Live Your Faith

Though he wrote relatively little in his life, St. Francis’ radical approach to serving those in need and his commitment to nature has continued to have an impact on Christians hundreds of years after his death. The Franciscans remain an influential group within the Church, and the pope himself was so moved by his ministry that he took the name Francis.
Here’s a look at 12 quotes (largely attributed to the friar) that will inspire the way you live your faith.

Contextualization and Interaction Mapping

It was a very memorable “pot luck” luncheon for House of Prayer for All Nations. The church planters had effectively built relationships with their neighbors and about half of the people who arrived through the long morning worship service (or perhaps just for the pot luck at the end) were newcomers to Canada. We were blessed at these worship services to have neighbors encounter the gospel for the very first time. We had to label the three different tables for the buffet: “vegetarian” (for friends from Hindu regions), “halal” (for friends from Islamic countries) and “we don’t know what’s in it” (the eat-at-your-own-risk table). The wide range of food options reflected the diversity of conversations as people ate together.

Why Japanese Kids Can Walk to School Alone

Taking responsibility for shared spaces means that children have pride of ownership and understand in a concrete way the consequences of making a mess, since they’ll have to clean it up themselves. This ethic extends to public space more broadly (one reason Japanese streets are generally so clean). A child out in public knows he can rely on the group to help in an emergency.

The Nursing Home That’s Also a Dorm

Matthew Kaplan, a professor of intergenerational programs and aging at Pennsylvania State University, says these relationships can acquire far more depth than is possible with “the one-shot-only activity, where kids come into the long-term care facility, sing a song and then go home.”
That may be nice, he says, “but it’s not until [the older and younger people] have a real relationship—which takes a lot of interaction—that it becomes meaningful.”

The Surprising Reason We Don’t Tip Flight Attendants

If stewards were so capable and appreciated, why not offer one’s appreciation in cash? The answer is, in short, because tips were for black people. Black porters on trains and boats were tipped as a matter of course but, according to Barry, tipping a white person would have been equivalent to an insult. A journalist, writing in 1902, captured the thinking of the time when he expressed shock and dismay that “any native-born American could consent” to accepting a tip. “Tips go with servility,” he said. Accepting one was equivalent to affirming “I am less than you.” This interpretation of the meaning of a gratuity, alongside airlines’ need to inspire confidence and simple racism, is why we don’t tip flight attendants today.

Links To Go (October 2, 2015)

We’re now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015

There’s no easy fix to gun violence in this country. As gun rights proponents are quick to point out, municipalities with strict gun laws, like Chicago and D.C., see more than their fair share of gun crime. But it’s nevertheless a fact that the level of gun violence we see in the U.S. is like nothing seen in other wealthy Western nations.

Back to Science Class for the Science Guy

Bill Nye is supposed to be “the science guy.” Recently he published a video on YouTube purporting to inform viewers of what science tells us about abortion. Nye claims that laws against abortion reflect “a deep scientific lack of understanding.” But it turns out that it is Nye himself who doesn’t understand the science. “I really encourage you to look at the facts,” he says. But then he misrepresents the facts from top to bottom in an embarrassingly transparent effort to hijack science in the cause of pro-abortion ideology.

Hoax: Did You Really Post That?

In particular, I think that Christians have a responsibility to check things out that look very strange or odd or may not be true. We don’t want to be linked to passing on fake links. And some of them are so obviously false, but we’re just not paying attention.

Stop Making Outreach All About You

As evangelistic methods shift in a post-Christian world, it’s important for churches to adjust their strategies. Many of our messages to the community are self-centered. They have an altruistic intent, but they’re really about us and what we offer at our church.

“Check out this new series.”
“You should come to our epic event!”
“We have this band, this speaker, this program, and this ministry…”

Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.
I know you don’t mean it that way, and these programs and events really do have the potential to alter someone’s life trajectory. But it’s a “selfie” strategy of promotion.

Do Millennial Christians Have the Strongest Faith of Any Generation?

However, the idea that millennial Christians own a deeper version of Christianity than previous generations appears to be more than a statistical phenomenon. Kinnaman says there is “real evidence that those who are staying connected in the churches and connected into their faith are taking matters of faith even more seriously than do previous generations of Christians.”

How Thieves Taught Me Truth

While the thieves stole our stuff, they also gave us something in return. They showed us that true treasure isn’t found in things. That day, our love for the things we could buy began to wane, and our love for the things that truly last began to grow.

Searching for the Temple of King Solomon

The similarities between the ’Ain Dara temple and the temple described in the Bible are indeed striking. Both buildings were erected on huge artificial platforms built on the highest point in their respective cities. The buildings likewise have similar tripartite plans: an entry porch supported by two columns, a main sanctuary hall (the hall of the ’Ain Dara temple is divided between an antechamber and a main chamber) and then, behind a partition, an elevated shrine, or Holy of Holies. They were also both flanked on three of their sides by a series of multistoried rooms and chambers that served various functions.
Even the decorative schemes of ’Ain Dara temple and the temple described in the Bible are similar: Nearly every surface, both interior and exterior, of the ’Ain Dara temple was carved with lions, mythical animals (cherubim and sphinxes), and floral and geometric patterns, the same imagery that, according to 1 Kings 6:29, adorned the Temple of King Solomon in the Bible.

High Desert ‘Maxipad Bandit’ Leaves Store Owner Bemused

“We had a pretty good picture of his face cause he came to the store the first time and looked in the window without his maxipad on,” Wedell said, chuckling somewhat. “But when he came back and he had the maxipad over his eyes I guess he thought it was going to take care of everything.”

Owner puts dog into idle truck, dog sends it into lake

While the man spoke to the other dog’s owner, the Yorkshire terrier managed to bump the Chevrolet Silverado into gear, causing it to roll about 75 feet into the lake, and bounce off a rock before sinking in roughly 10 feet of water.

Links To Go (September 29, 2015)

Blood Moons and Biblical Discernment

Finally, it is important to note that when the New Testament talks about the end of the world, in places like 2 Peter 3:10–15, it urges believers to respond not by creating fanciful date-setting schemes, but rather by walking in holiness and in hope, knowing that one day our Lord will return and this present world-system will be destroyed.

The Irascible Erasmus?

Erasmus was called the Prince of the Humanists, and with good reason, and he would be singularly disturbed that his text critical work, based on one Greek manuscript plus Jerome at the end of Revelation, should have been seen as buttressing modern fundamentalist attachments to the ‘A.V.’ or as we call it the KJV.

Advice on Hosting and/or Accepting Speaking Engagements

But when I first started receiving invitations to speak at churches and events, I would’ve loved to have a post like this for some guidance. If you’re interested in hosting a conference or otherwise hosting a speaking engagement, or if your ministry platform is allowing you to begin pursuing God’s call into that option, I hope this advice (from the perspective of a frequent speaker, if not a big one) will serve you well in considering how to honor God and your neighbors.

3 Column Bible Study

A couple months ago I subscribed to the C3 ministries blog and received Kerry Holton’s free ebook on deepening your relationship with God. It was short and easy to read in one sitting. I wouldn’t say that (at least for me) it had anything earth-shattering to say, but rather reinforced and reminded me of many basic things that I was not doing. In it, Kerry Holton explains the 3-column Bible study approach. I had heard of it before, but never tried it. So I gave it a shot and LOVED it.

The Bible Is Linguists’ Secret Weapon For Machine-Translating Obscure Languages

The Bible acts like a Rosetta Stone for all these languages, not only giving exact translations of words, but allowing the researchers’ computers to apply knowledge of one well-understood language to another “low-resource” language.

Self Awareness: Key to Sustainable Leadership

After in-depth interviews with 170 world leaders and classroom discussions with 6,000 executives and MBAs in Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) at Harvard Business School, we’ve learned three essential steps to building your self-awareness:

  1. Probing deeply into your life story and framing your crucible
  2. Creating a daily practice of introspection and reflection
  3. Receiving intimate feedback from people you trust

Lion Cub Trying to Roar Will Melt Your Heart

The tiny lion cub in this video goes on cute overload when he emerges from some grass and tries to roar several times, only to emit a faint squeak each time. On his first attempt he actually seems surprised by what comes out, and he tries roaring in two other directions: only to get the same result.

Links To Go (September 25, 2015)

Seven-in-ten people globally live on $10 or less per day

The vast majority of the world’s population lives on a budget that falls well short of the poverty line in advanced economies. Specifically, 4.4 billion people – 71% of the global population of 6.2 billion – lived on $10 or less per day in 2011, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the most recently available data.
In stark contrast, the poverty line in the U.S. was $15.77 per day per capita for a four-person household in 2011. Moreover, the median daily income of poor Americans was $11.45 per capita, greater than the income of more than seven-in-ten people globally.

A Plea for Political Civility

I agree with Jeb Bush: Barack Obama seems like a good man—a loving husband, a doting father, a caring leader. That doesn’t mean I think his foreign policies are going well. And from everything I’ve seen, I think it would be enjoyable to spend an evening with George W. Bush. He, too, seems like a man with a sense of humor who loves his family and friends.
But somehow in our current political climate, it feels like you’re supposed to pick one of them to hate.

Have We Lost Sight of the Primary Mission of the Church?

All of these things (worship, moral reform, growing congregations, and so much more) would happen if we would just focus on our primary mission. We must help the world to see what an amazing opportunity God has set before them, reconciliation with Him through Jesus Christ. But before we can help them to see how wonderful it is, perhaps we need to see it ourselves.

Through the Darkness

When we experience death or disaster, the best thing is to grieve. To mourn. To deal with the sadness and doubt and despair. Because there is comfort to be found as we mourn together. There is strength and peace available on the other side.
Faith doesn’t avoid the darkness, it simply finds its way through it.
Because resurrection doesn’t happen without death.

20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions

From what you’ll eat throughout the day to whether you should make a big career move, research suggests that there are a number of cognitive stumbling blocks that affect your behavior, and they can prevent you from acting in your own best interests.
Here, we’ve rounded up the most common biases that screw up our decision-making.

Dog stands guard for week on Vashon Island, until trapped friend rescued

For nearly a week, Tillie, a setter mix, stayed by Phoebe’s side—with the exception of the few minutes each day she went for help.