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.


Links To Go (May 15, 2015)

The False Fence of Fellowship

My conclusion, then, is that Jesus does not expect us to “withdraw” like hermits from all those we deem unrighteous or immoral. Rather, in his own spirit of gentleness, meekness, self-control, and (most importantly) love, we CREATE a relationship before we CONFRONT error. Perhaps if we spent as much time creating relationships as we did confronting sin, we’d learn the true fence of fellowship: a spirit that says, “I’m not entirely OK with everything I perceive you to stand for, but I do love you in Christ, and I’d love to have an awkward conversation with you in order to bring glory to God.”


How to Determine if an Issue is a Salvation Issue

There will be times when we see things differently and we will have to continue to reason together to “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). But when we disagree, we MUST NOT condemn one another:

“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

There are certain behaviors – which if we persist in them – we are explicitly told will eternally separate us from God. There are other behaviors which mature Christian reasoning will lead us to understand are not the Lord’s will. So let us be mature in deciding how to conduct ourselves and how to edify our brothers and sisters in Christ.


Jesus’ View of Women is Bigger than What Feminism Can Offer

What Jesus inaugurated with his life, death, and resurrection wasn’t a new order of business, but one of the oldest kind, one that harkens back to the perfection of Eden when men and women dwelt in perfect harmony with one another. And in that place we are given a glimpse of God’s plan for men and women all along—equal, but created with beautiful differences (Gen. 1:26-27). Jesus didn’t eradicate these differences, instead he gave a new plan for them, one that exalted the goodness of his Father’s design in both men and women. He kept qualified men in leadership positions, while also showing that women have much to offer in his kingdom work. He removed the oppression that women (and even some men) face by tearing down the false barriers of classism, sexism, and racism that have plagued us for so long.


American Mythology– You Can Be Whatever You Want to Be

What we are seeing in America now is not merely deep sexual confusion about one’s identity, but that confusion is just exacerbated by the American myth that you can be whatever you want to be. You can choose your sex, or your gender identity, or who can be your sexual partner. Somehow some forms of modern counseling and psychology have gone off the rails and affirmed even the wildest fantasies and delusions of people who really needed to be given, in a loving way, a reality check, not a blank check saying ‘be whatever your wildest dreams tell you you can be’.


Is the Original Text of the New Testament Lost? Rethinking Our Access to the Autographs

In other words, it is possible (and perhaps even likely) that some of the earliest copies of the New Testament we posses may have been copied directly from one of the autographs. And, if not the autographs, they may have been copied from a manuscript that was directly copied from the autographs. Either way, this makes the gap between our copies and the autographs shrink down to a rather negligible size.


Dear Church: An open letter from one of those millennials you can’t figure out

So no more three points and a take home. No more self-help. No more marriage and parenting advice. No more anger management pointers. We don’t need you to be our therapist, we need you to be our church. We need you to show us how to be the hands and feet of Christ, to struggle with us in making it more on earth as it is in heaven.


Open Table

I asked our church to open their homes to someone within our congregation who is different from them—a person or family living at a different stage of life, or of different politics or race, or any of the thousand ways difference blooms in the garden of community. We do this because we believe there is healing in knowing.


Is Christianity Dying?

We do not have more atheists in America. We have more honest atheists in America. Again, that’s good news. The gospel comes to sinners, not to the righteous. It is easier to speak a gospel to the lost than it is to speak a gospel to the kind-of-saved. And what those honest atheists grapple with, is what every sinner grapples with, burdened consciences that point to judgment. Our calling is to bear witness.


Your attention span is now less than that of goldfish, Microsoft says

Among the findings of the 54-page study was that, thanks to our desire to always be connected, people can multi-task like never before. However, our attention spans have fallen from an average of 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds today. A goldfish is believed to have a nine-second attention span on average, the study says.


Astronomers Find Mystery Telescope Data Came From Heating Up Lunch

In a new paper, the lab group describes “perytons,” transient signals that look similar to the astrophysical pulses as detected through cold plasma. Mysteriously, these signals usually seemed to be picked up around lunchtime. Sadly, these weren’t coming from aliens hoping to break bread with us. The radio pulses were generated by the microwave in the staff kitchen.


Links To Go (May 13, 2015)

5 key findings about the changing U.S. religious landscape

  1. Christians are declining, both as a share of the U.S. population and in total number.
  2. Within Christianity, the biggest declines have been in the mainline Protestant tradition and among Catholics.
  3. The decline of Christians in the U.S. has corresponded with the continued rise in the share of Americans with no religious affiliation (religious “nones”).
  4. The major trends seen in American religion since 2007 – the decline of Christians and rise of the “nones” – have occurred in some form across many demographic groups.
  5. The share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths, such as Islam and Hinduism, has grown modestly.

Nominals to Nones: 3 Key Takeaways From Pew’s Religious Landscape Survey

  1. Convictional Christianity is rather steady.
  2. There have been significant shifts within American Christianity.
  3. Mainline Protestantism continues to hemorrhage.

Apologetics: Who Really Wrote the Gospels?

Here’s the explanation that seems to make the most sense: When churches received each Gospel, they also received information about that Gospel’s origins, telling them whose eyewitness testimony this Gospel represented. Because they received clear oral traditions when they received each book, when Christians began adding titles to these manuscripts, every congregation connected each Gospel to the same author.
Why?
They already knew where each Gospel came from. Nothing less can explain the early consistency of the titles.


English Proficiency on the Rise Among Latinos

These shifts coincide with the rise of U.S.-born Hispanics as a share of the nation’s Hispanic population, and the slowdown in immigration to the U.S. from Latin America. In 2013, U.S.-born Hispanics outnumbered foreign-born Hispanics by nearly two-to-one—35 million to 19 million—and made up a growing share (65%) of the nation’s Hispanic population. They are also much younger, with a median age of 19 years compared with 40 among immigrant Hispanics (Stepler and Brown, 2015). At the same time, immigration from Latin America, primarily Mexico, has slowed (Passel, Cohn and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012), leading to fewer Spanish-speaking new immigrant arrivals and a more settled U.S. Hispanic immigrant population.


Lotteries: America’s $70 Billion Shame

Half a century ago, gambling was criminalized in every state except Nevada. As recently as 1980, just 14 states held lotteries. Today it’s 43. A political cynic might say lotteries are the perfect public policy: A tax disguised as a game without an organized lobby to oppose it. Corporate income taxes punish corporations, and companies respond with lobbyists. Personal income taxes and estate taxes hurt the rich, and rich families fund elections, so no need to elaborate on that problem. But lotteries disproportionately affect the poor, who vote at lower rates, donate less to campaign funds, and have inconstant representation on K Street and its equivalents in the states. So no surprise that, as recently as 2009, lotteries provided more revenue than state corporate-income taxes in 11 of the 43 states where they were legal, including Delaware, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.


Bad Hebrew = Free Advertising

If you have ever used automated translation software, you can already tell this is going to be bad.
But what they ended up with is actually even funnier than the standard, slightly ungrammatical or jumbled automated translation.
Somehow, they ended up copying the words “Babylon is the world’s leading dictionary and translation software” in Hebrew, and that’s what they gave the tattoo artist!


Links To Go (May 12, 2015)

How the Early Church Took the Lord’s Supper

Finally, the most famous early text concerning the Lord’s Supper was Malachi 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,” Says the LORD of hosts.” The church used this passage because they referred to the Lord’s Supper as the purest of sacrifices in contrast to the bloody sacrifices of Judaism and Roman paganism.


Why Micromanaging Is Ungodly

  1. Micromanagement is a failure to lead.
  2. Micromanagement is a failure to self-evaluate.
  3. Micromanagement is a failure to recognize the gifts of others.
  4. Micromanagement is a failure to trust others.
  5. Micromanagement is a failure to trust God.

Five Characteristics of a Quality Man

  1. They take Jesus seriously.
  2. They invest in others for the sake of the Lord.
  3. They desire to be authentic and genuine as they relate to their wives and children.
  4. They are more concerned about the reality of their lives than their image.
  5. They speak well of others instead of being cynical and suspicious.

How to Respond to Mistakes in the Game of Life

The same is true of life. You learn to play the game of life by playing. And in the playing there will be mistakes. There’s no question that each of us will make mistakes. There is a question as to how each of us will respond when we strike out.


Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine—And America Wants It

Although President Obama has used his executive power to lift some restrictions against medical and research equipment, Congress must lift the Cuban embargo before collaborative research can ramp up. Johnson hopes to see Cuba embrace more entrepreneurialism in science, and see the US soak up more creative approaches to medical research. Constrained by politics, the Cuban researchers had to innovate in ways the US and Europe did not. Now maybe they’ll be able to teach their colleagues what they learned.


“The Rule of Seventeen” – If you Want to Get Your Message Across & Accepted, Repeat, and Repeat and…

Ed Savage, EdD, is Manager MID Training & Development at L-3 in Greenville, and a regular participant in the First Friday Book Synopsis. He is full of wisdom and insight on a host of topics. Recently, we were discussing just how difficult it is to get a message really heard throughout an organization. (and, yes, within a family, and anywhere else messages matter). He told me of “The Rule of Seventeen: Communicating the Change Message Requires 17 Repetitions.” Though aimed specifically at communicating a message of change throughout an organization, it applies to all communication challenges. This rule states that one must repeat a message 17 times to get it through, fully accepted, and then acted upon by a listener.


The View from the Front Seat of the Google Self-Driving Car

If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car. Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.
Rear-end crashes are the most frequent accidents in America, and often there’s little the driver in front can do to avoid getting hit; we’ve been hit from behind seven times, mainly at traffic lights but also on the freeway. We’ve also been side-swiped a couple of times and hit by a car rolling through a stop sign. And as you might expect, we see more accidents per mile driven on city streets than on freeways; we were hit 8 times in many fewer miles of city driving.


@_FloridaMan Beguiles With the Hapless and Harebrained

His style is deceptively simple. Nearly every Twitter message begins “Florida Man.” What follows, though, is almost always a pile of trouble. Some examples:
Florida Man Tries to Walk Out of Store With Chainsaw Stuffed Down His Pants.
Florida Man Falls Asleep During Sailboat Burglary With Gift Bag on His Head; Can’t Be Woken by Police.
Florida Man Arrested For Directing Traffic While Also Urinating.
Florida Man Impersonates Police Officer, Accidentally Pulls Over Real Police Officer.
Florida Man Says He Only Survived Ax Attack By Drunk Stripper Because “Her Coordination Was Terrible.”