How do you like your links?

For several years now, I’ve been publishing “Links To Go” on a regular basis. This is where I link to things that I’ve found to be interesting reading. I often agree with the point being made, but not always. Sometimes it’s interesting to me because it’s a well-made argument that states the opposite of what I think.

I don’t have a set order for the links. I try to put things that I think are especially important near the top, particularly because that’s what Facebook users see when the post shows up there. (I’m always a bit amused when someone “Likes” the Links post. Does that mean they liked every article? Like the fact that I’m sharing articles? Or did they just read the first headline in the list and like it?) I favor religious articles over non-religious, but don’t hold to that strictly.

I try to put the more frivolous things near the bottom. Sports, humor, odd stories, videos… scroll down to find those.

Here’s some interesting things I’ve learned:

  • How easy it is to copy a link affects my decision to use it. I try to get past that, but the sites that insist on putting “Read more at” discourage my using their stuff.
  • Formatting can affect my choice. Another thing I try to get past, but people who regularly put their post titles in all caps make my job a bit more difficult. Slightly better are those who write them normally, but have them capitalized by the theme of their blog. I have workarounds for that. I also go through and pull out the rivers of white space created by multiple taps of the space bar. (Ben Witherington REALLY likes his space bar!)
  • I sometimes “reward” someone with a link to their site. I don’t really do this consciously, but I do recognize that in myself. This blogger has mentioned my stuff; I’ll be watching for something of theirs that I can share.
  • When I’m really busy, I don’t read as much, and don’t have links to share. So now you’ll read and say, “Aha! He’s not busy. He posted links.” It’s not just busy; it’s “busy that pulls me away from my computer.”
  • When I’m traveling, I don’t read as much, and don’t have links to share. I’m often busy when traveling as well.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the links. Oh, and yes… that was an intentional pun about “links” and “to go” since this is The Kitchen. That’s why I chose that title.

Links To Go (May 29, 2015)

Evangelicals and the Search for Credibility

…what we’re actually talking about are two societies that have beliefs about the basic nature of reality that are fundamentally antagonistic to one another. Note that they aren’t simply fundamentally different, but antagonistic. Set next to a difference of that nature, the attempts at finding superficial similarities look rather silly–which is precisely what they are.

Americans Vastly Overestimate Size of Gay and Lesbian Population

In fact, they think that 23 percent of Americans, or almost one in four, are are gays or lesbians, a Gallup survey released Thursday revealed. That’s way off: The polling organization most recently found that less than 4 percent self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
A third of people surveyed believed that lesbians and gays made up more than 25 percent of the population. Just 9 percent of those in the survey correctly stated that they thought the group made up less than 5 percent of the population.

18-year-old plans to marry her long-lost father

But one such unnamed couple living in the Great Lakes region is now making news after the teen daughter talked at length with the magazine about reuniting with her father — whom she hadn’t seen since she was about 5 — 12 years later and finding herself instantly attracted to him.
The daughter says they have been dating for nearly two years — since she lost her virginity to her father just days after reuniting with him — and that they plan to marry, if unofficially, and move to New Jersey, where she says adult incest is legal.

Where You Live Changes What You See When You Read the Bible

A great example of this phenomenon is found in Mark Allan Powell’s helpful little book What Do They Hear?: Bridging the Gap Between Pulpit and Pew. Powell recounts an experiment with 12 American seminary students assigned to read the parable of the prodigal son and then recount it from memory. Interestingly enough, not one of them mentioned the famine in Luke 15:14:

After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing.

Powell himself had considered Jesus’ reference to the famine as an insignificant detail, but he was surprised to see all of his students forget it.
Next, Powell organized a study with 100 American students of different genders, races, ages, economic statuses, and religions. Out of 100 students, only 6 mentioned the famine in their retelling of Jesus’ parable.
Perplexed, he went to St. Petersburg, Russia, and did the same experiment with 50 Russians. He was shocked when 42 of them remembered the famine. Only 6 out of 100 Americans, but 42 out of 50 Russians.

Most Christians Don’t Speak English

In this short but excellent video Russell Moore encourages mono-cultural churches to ask why they’re monocultural. But don’t look around a room and ask people like yourself. You need to go outside the church building, into the community and have those conversations with people of other races. Is there a reason that a Black, Hispanic, or Chinese family wouldn’t come to this church?
Is it possible that churches filled with white Americans have come to view ourselves as the definition of a Christian? That our standards should be universal standards? That our beliefs should be universal beliefs? That our “way” of doing church is the “right way”?

What Missionaries Aren’t Telling You (and What They Need From You)

We heard the stories of friends who lost support overnight because a church disagreed with an inconsequential decision. We hear the rumblings of, Aren’t national missionaries cheaper? More effective? More strategic? And we interpret it as One false move and you are disposable.
I realize that there is a delicate balance here, because I would agree that there are times when missionaries need to be exhorted, or confronted, or even encouraged to come home. Supporting churches do need to keep missionaries accountable. But missionaries need to have permission to struggle, to be confused, and even to fail.

What Should We Wear to Worship?

You see, when my family gathers for our evening devotional, my children are wearing pajamas. Sometimes while mowing the lawn, I will be praying in my grungy work clothes. When I’m driving down the road, I often sing songs of praise. And quite I often I will stop in the middle of my day to pray with someone who is hurting.
I’ve never once said during any of those times, “Oops, I can’t do that right now. I’m not wearing the right clothes to approach God.” And I don’t know any Christian who does.

Bill Russell’s Celtics Were Great. Tim Duncan’s Spurs Have Been Better.

The longest streak of above-average play belongs to the San Antonio Spurs. Their Elo rating rose above 1500 on Jan. 3, 1998, and hasn’t fallen below it since, a period that covers more than 17 years, or 1,644 games1 and counting. That’s impressive even compared to the Celtics, who had an above-average Elo rating from March 14, 1956 to Nov. 12, 1969. Insanely great — 13.5 years and 1,198 games — but not as great as the Spurs.

Links To Go (May 27, 2015)

A Prayer from a Pacifist on Memorial Day

God, we pledge our allegiance to Your kingdom as we seek to name evil and we discourage followers of Jesus from any vocation that might require violence. At the same time, we refuse to distance ourselves from those who have taken part in the way of Empire. God, help us to bring shalom to these people, Your children, as You have given peace to those of us who have never pulled the trigger. And prompt us to embrace the the families of the fallen, to deplore death, and celebrate life. May we mourn with those who mourn and trust that death has in fact been defeated by Love.

Another Pool of Blood In Which I Am Willing to Stand

Memorial Day was a national liturgy that shaped and directed our love toward that which is most sacred and holy in our lives. Our god will always be standing in a pool of blood. Because the pool of blood tells you what you’re willing to die for, to bleed for, where your ultimate allegiance is located.
Follow the blood, it tells you what you worship.

Fifty Shades of Khaki: Biblical Minimalism

A number of these secular sources pointed out that despite the appearance of voluntary simplicity in many cultures, religions, and philosophies in history, it is Christianity that can be credited with spreading the virtue of simple living throughout Europe and America. I was like, “Wait, what?” I thought secular observers would link Christianity with the craving for prosperity, à la Osteen, Jakes, Meyers, Hinn, and yes, Dollar. But the historically au fait minimalist community recognizes modern TBN-ism as being disloyal to, and in fact incompatible with, biblical Christianity.

The Wounds of Progressive Christians

One of the lessons Jana and I learned during that time is that it’s hard to build a church upon a foundation of anger, resentment and hurt. It’s hard to build a church around an identity that basically says, “We’re not like those other churches.

I’m Divorced: How Does God See Me Now?

Our relationships may be broken. Perhaps they are dead. But ours is a God of resurrection, and just as he overturned the curse of Jesus’ death, he can overturn the curse of a broken marriage. The empty tomb is the answer for a soul broken by divorce.

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse Is So Important

But as we got better acquainted with him and his wife, we started noticing a disturbing trend in the way they related to one another. They would often make disparaging remarks about the other in public.
At first, it seemed cute. Their comments seemed playful and humorous. Everyone laughed. But over time, they became more and more pointed, thinly masking their frustration with one another.
We ultimately left that church. But several years later we learned they suffered an ugly divorce, both admitting to multiple affairs. They lost their family, and, of course, their ministry. To this day, it grieves me to think about it.

Links To Go (May 22, 2015)

What Being Pro-Life Means in Light of the Death Penalty

When Americans were asked in a Barna poll if they believed Jesus would support the death penalty, only 8 percent of Protestants and 2 percent of Catholics said yes. Yet, despite these low numbers, 32–55 percent of Christians (range dependent upon generation) still support the ultimate punishment. It seems strange that so many Christians can live with the cognitive dissonance of ardently supporting something they believe Jesus would frown upon.

Evangelicals, Culture, and Post-Christian America

But for the most part, our churches are still poised for ministry in the old cultural mindset. They expect to be heard and respected. They expect to have the power. They expect culture to fall in line under the leadership of the church, but culture is just not listening.
Until American churches understand how to live and work in our specific version of an increasingly post-Christian culture, they will struggle with effectiveness for the gospel.

Evangelical Protestants Are The Biggest Winners When People Change Faiths

Why do evangelicals wind up ahead of other Christian sects in this model? They’re better at holding on to the people born into their tradition (65 percent retention compared to 59 percent for Catholics and 45 percent for Mainline Protestants), and they’re a stronger attractor for people leaving other faiths. According to Pew’s data on conversion rates, 10 percent of people raised Catholic wind up as evangelicals. Just 2 percent of people born as evangelicals wind up Catholic. The flow between mainline and evangelical Protestants is also tilted in evangelicals’ favor. Twelve percent of those raised evangelical wind up in mainline congregations, but 19 percent of mainline Protestants wind up becoming evangelical.

What Was Unique About Fourth Century Christianity

Did you catch that last bit? You may not know this, but Christians established the first hospitals ever known to man. Those of you who work at a hospital can thank the early Christians in part for your job. Did you also notice that the root of “hospital” is also the root of “hospitality,” as well as “hospice.” These all derived from the Latin hospes and was translated as “host,” “guest,” and/or “stranger.” The first hospital to receive substantial attention in Christian literature notes the bishop Basil of Caesarea as its founder in AD 370.

Why Are Christians So Serious about Everything?

Part of Jesus’ Good News to us is that His burden is easy and light. I have seldom met people who really live this out, but when I do, there is one thing they all have in common: They don’t take themselves too seriously. Actually, they’re kind of weird. They laugh a lot. It doesn’t take a lot to impress them, and they are completely in awe of the little stuff. They aren’t waiting for their big break in ministry or culture. They are not comparing themselves to others. They take God seriously, and because of that, they live freely.

God’s Google

It is so easy and so natural to go online to look for answers, that we may just pass over the most obvious means of help. It is here, in the local church, that we have people who are deeply invested in us and specifically called and gifted to assist us. Church first, Google later.

What Christians Can Learn from Secular Business Thinking

For the skeptics, it’s important to clarify: Learning from business thinking does not mean churches adopt everything done in the business world. (For example, I don’t agree with the “pastor as CEO” model.) Still, there remain certain universal principles that apply, namely because in both business and the church we are dealing with people.

Elephant snatches student’s camera, snaps an ‘elphie’

Christian LeBlanc, 22, a University of British Columbia student who shared the photo on Instagram this week, said the elephant on Thailand’s Koh Phangan island snatched his GoPro camera while it was in time lapse mode, so it continued to shoot photos from its vantage point at the end of the elephant’s trunk.

Links To Go (May 19, 2015)

Witness Accounts in Midtown Hammer Attack Show the Power of False Memory

Contrary to what Mr. O’Grady said, the man who was shot had not been trying to get away from the officers; he was actually chasing an officer from the sidewalk onto Eighth Avenue, swinging a hammer at her head. Behind both was the officer’s partner, who shot the man, David Baril.
And Ms. Khalsa did not see Mr. Baril being shot while in handcuffs; he is, as the video and still photographs show, freely swinging the hammer, then lying on the ground with his arms at his side. He was handcuffed a few moments later, well after he had been shot.
There is no evidence that the mistaken accounts of either person were malicious or intentionally false. Studies of memories of traumatic events consistently show how common it is for errors to creep into confidently recalled accounts, according to cognitive psychologists.

In a dramatic shift, the American church is more evangelical than ever

The numbers are even more telling when we isolate those who are Christians. Now, half of American Christians call themselves evangelical or born again. And those self-identification numbers are up across the board from 2007, even among non-evangelical faith traditions. Along with every other Christian subgroup, more Catholics and mainline Protestants now personally define their faith in evangelical terms.

God and Tony are doing work in Cuba

God, thanks for Tony and for your people in Cuba. Give them what they need to share the story of your Son in Cuba. And thank you for letting them inspire me to keep doing the same in my part of the world.

Hugh Jackman, meet Jesus.

How is it that our message of peace, hope and joy has been so contaminated? And how come the loudest voice in the church has been the boring-and-angry, God-hates-fags, only-vote-conservative, one?
We happy sons and daughters need to raise the volume! The time has come for arts and permission to be our sound, for smiles and hope to be our style, for freedom and love to be our beauty.
We’ve had enough of Christ being misrepresented by a few Christians. It’s time to love hard, sing louder, and preach Christ crucified (not the “Christ” who is crucifying everyone else!)

Mourners follow wrong hearse for nine miles

A group of relatives lost the right hearse, belonging to 71-year-old Mair Howard, after getting stuck in traffic at a roundabout and becoming separated from the rest of the cortege.
The convoy of cars, which left together after the church service, then managed to latch on to another hearse heading to another cemetery in a different direction.
The three cars, containing Mrs Howard’s nephews and pall-bearers, proceeded to trail the wrong coffin along the A50 in Wales for nine miles, only realising their mistake when family members waiting at the graveside called to ask where they were.