Category Archives: links

Links to Go (August 20, 2018)

Cuban ‘acoustic attack’ report on US diplomats flawed, say neurologists

Claims that US diplomats suffered mysterious brain injuries after being targeted with a secret weapon in Cuba have been challenged by neurologists and other brain specialists.
A medical report commissioned by the US government, published in March, found that staff at the US embassy in Havana suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels, but doctors from the US, the UK and Germany have contested the conclusions.


Making it political

The difference between an actual discussion (where we seek the right answer) and a political one is simple:
In a political discussion, people don’t care about what’s correct or effective or true. Facts aren’t the point.
The honest answer to, “if it could be demonstrated that there’s a more effective or just solution to this problem, would you change your mind?” is, for a political question, “no.”


Five Ways the #MeToo Movement Will Likely Impact Churches

  1. More churches will adopt the Billy Graham rule.
  2. More churches will add #MeToo questions for background checks.
  3. Smaller churches will make changes to make sure two people are not alone in the church office.
  4. Travel habits will change for church staff and church members.
  5. There will be a heightened sensitivity to the problems that precipitated the #MeToo Movement.

Rethinking Pacifism

What’s the problem with pacifism today? The problem is that countless pacifists will constantly decry the evils of war, the military, national and international violence while at the same time acting violently on their social media feeds and blogs when people disagree with their viewpoints!


Singles: A Vital Part of Our Churches, Part 1

For many, being single in the church can sometimes feel very awkward. I have heard a number of singles tell me stories that have made me cringe—stories of how the leadership and the marrieds in the church spoke or acted in ways that were silly at best and dishonoring at worst. Let’s all face it: Singles make up half of our churches, so we best learn to treat all people—married or single—equally.


We Must Do More Than ‘Motivate the Tribe’

This person was a friend, and her good-natured tease was not meant to offend. But it hit home. Sadly, many of us who “preach” spend little time doing anything that resembles evangelism. In a culture where it is increasingly hard to find unbelievers who will listen, it is tempting to throw up our hands and quit. What worries me, however, is that our conscience is not even bothering us much anymore. We’re comfortable being the congregation’s “minister.” The gig we aspire to would be a nice mix of pulpiteer/pastor/program director.


Have You Been With Jesus?

I take pride in the fact that I do not go to the pulpit unprepared. I labor in study to be faithful to the God-intended meaning of the text. I struggle in sermon preparation to be clear in my presentation. I saturate my heart and mind with the biblical truth to preach with passion. But the truth is that you can be faithful, clear, and passionate in the pulpit, without ever giving the sense that you have been with Jesus.


How one man left hate behind – and helped others do the same

Christian Picciolini was recruited into America’s first skinhead group, Chicago Area Skinhead, when he was a young teenager. He was frequently bullied at school and felt abandoned by his parents, Italian immigrants who worked so hard to make a living that he rarely saw them.
Mr. Picciolini became an international leader in the movement, but was eventually impelled to leave it through the compassion he was shown by the very people he thought he hated. By his count, he has since helped more than 200 individuals – including not only white supremacists but also ISIS members and potential school shooters – exit a life of hate by giving them a new sense of identity, community, and purpose.


Behind the Scenes with the Philadelphia Eagles on Super Bowl Morning

Community worship was part of the daily fabric of this team, similar to studying the playbook, watching film, working out, and practicing. On Monday nights, players gathered with their significant others for Bible study at a teammate’s house. On Thursday nights, they had Bible study for players at the practice facility with the team chaplain, Pastor Ted Winsley. On nights before games, they had a chapel service at the team hotel followed by prayer and fellowship in their rooms.


24 Jobs That No Longer Exist

Many jobs that were commonplace in the past are non-existent on resumes today. Some disappeared thanks to advancing technology, while some undesirable and dangerous professions were phased out due to improved labor laws. The jobs on this list were once solid options for a paycheck, and they either no longer exist—or are on the verge of disappearing entirely.


Links to Go (July 26, 2018)

What Would Happen if the Church Tithed?

This isn’t exactly news. But it is a statistical fact:
– Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation.
– Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income.
– Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while during the Great Depression they gave at a 3.3 percent rate.
Numbers like that can invoke a lot of guilt, which isn’t really the point. The larger point is what would happen if believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let’s say, 10 percent. There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute.


10 Years Ago, I Embraced Nonviolence & Anabaptism

My hunch is that, pacifist or not, if you engage in spiritual formation exercises with Jesus and you devote some of the spaces of your faith to growing in the “fruit” or virtue of peace, that you will find your impulses toward self-defense begin to become less impulsive. Perhaps you won’t be a pacifist in theory, but when tested, could it be said of you that you didn’t retaliate against your enemy? I think this is more likely than we might think.


Groanings Too Deep for Words

It is when we are at our weakest that the strength of the Lord is best perfected. Jesus is specifically looking for the poor in spirit in order to bless them with the riches of his grace. And since this is true, it stands to reason that the poorer our spirit becomes, the more of his riches we can know. This is especially comforting to know when you are at the end of your rope.


Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests

The 10 items we discuss are:

  1. Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service.
  2. Unfriendly church members.
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s area.
  4. No place to get information.
  5. Bad church website.
  6. Poor signage.
  7. Insider church language.
  8. Boring or bad service.
  9. Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew.
  10. Dirty facilities.

How to Raise Your Kids to Have Faith

Abraham Heschel, the twentieth-century Jewish rabbi and theologian, said, “What we need more than anything else today is not textbooks, but text people.” Become a “text people.” And when you need help along the way, find other fathers and mothers in the church who have listened to God and embodied his ways and are down the road a little further than you. They can help.


If I Could Change One Thing in My Church, It Would Be…

In an effort to simplify my reporting of the results, I put the responses into several categories. I have to say, I was more encouraged than not. Sure, we got the usual complaints about other people and the worship services. But I was surprised to see how many respondents said the greatest change needed to be themselves. Pastors said it. Elders said it. Deacons said it. Other laypersons said it. That response, among others, greatly encouraged me.


Dear Facebook, It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Let me cut to the chase. I am leaving Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram in the next few weeks for at least two years. I am less than two years away from a big milestone birthday and I need a break for several reasons. Quite possibly, I may leave forever. Here are my three top reasons (with a few more added later in the blog)


How Do Linguists Pronounce GIF?

In CompuServe’s FAQs, they clearly state that “The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), pronounced “JIF,” was designed by CompuServe and the official specification released in June of 1987.”


Links To Go (July 24, 2018)

5 Things That Give Pastors A Bad Name With Unchurched People

  1. Speaking weird
  2. Pretending to be something we’re not
  3. Being known for what we’re against, not what we’re for
  4. Being Experts on Things We’re Not Experts On
  5. Claiming Privilege

Evangelism: Just Do Something

I’m not saying these new resources are better or worse than the older methods, like revivals and evangelistic visitations. I don’t know what the “best” method is. But I do know that you should do something. And if these new resources are something you haven’t tried yet, then that’s a great way to begin.


Black Millennials are more religious than other Millennials

In recent years, a number of Pew Research Center surveys have shown that Millennials in the United States – young adults born between 1981 and 1996 – are generally less religious than older Americans, based on our core measures of religious commitment. This holds true for black people, in that black Millennials tend to be less religious than older blacks. That said, black Millennials are considerably more religious than others in their generation, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.


It’s impossible to lead a totally ethical life—but it’s fun to try

There’s no need to feel bad about failing to live a perfectly ethical life. That would be counterproductive. Feeling guilty doesn’t actually make us more moral. Oxford University ethicist Carissa Veliz explains in Practical Ethics that guilty feelings about wrong actions don’t make us more inclined to do better.
Not only that, feeling guilty is a selfish response. It’s more self-involvement, which is pretty much the opposite of ethical living. Veliz argues that guilt is only a boon for guilty people’s egos, and will make you more likely to look away from injustices. The ethical response to bad acts is considering how to right them, rather than thinking about your personal feelings.


Delete your account

His new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, examines how a technology designed to bring people together (remember Mark Zuckerberg’s ongoing dream of “connecting” the world) has instead helped tear apart humanity’s delicate social fabric. People, he argues, are becoming angrier, less empathetic, more isolated yet tribal, and sadder, crazier even. With every post and scroll, users feed a system built to influence behavior, in a sort of reward feedback loop. And as the 2016 elections demonstrated, the same system that’s used to sell you deodorant online can also be hijacked to wreak havoc on your political system. Lanier, who hasn’t been on social media for years, now likes to refer to Facebook and Google as “behavior modification empires.”


Why Dogs and Humans Love Each Other More Than Anyone Else

That, by itself, says something about the bond that humans and dogs share. We live with cats, we work with horses, we hire cows for their milk and chickens for their eggs and pay them with food—unless we kill them and eat them instead. Our lives are entangled with those of other species, but we could disentangle if we wanted.
With dogs, things are different. Our world and their world swirled together long ago like two different shades of paint. Once you’ve achieved a commingled orange, you’re never going back to red and yellow.


He just graduated from college and wants to be an astrophysicist. Oh, and he’s 11

He can’t vote. He’s not even old enough to drive. But William Maillis already has a college degree.
William, 11, walked across a stage Saturday to receive his Associate in Arts degree from St. Petersburg College in Florida.


Links To Go (July 20, 2018)

What Ever Happened to Evangelism?

Every other issue will be easier. You dig wells, the world will pat you on the back, you feed the hungry, the world will say “good job.” But if you proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation from sin and hell, you will face opposition. Naturally, we want to take on easier challenges.


Understanding gives way to compassion

In the Church, we are tempted to think that our unity is from shared life experiences: we all feel the same way about how short a woman’s skirt should be, which political figure to support, or whether homeschooling is bad or not. But those experiences are not what truly give us unity in the body. The most significant experience which we have in common is being baptized into the body of Christ; in being made to drink of one Spirit. That unity may foster shared opinions, but then again, it may not.


From the Ears to the Brain to the Heart

So what is the right way to listen to a sermon? With a soul that is prepared, a mind that is alert, a Bible that is open, a heart that is receptive, and a life that is ready to spring into action.


Give Your Children All of Your Attention. Some of the Time.

Being a parent will always involve juggling competing demands and responsibilities. It’s neither possible nor desirable to give our children undivided attention all day. But let’s plan to give our children all of our attention some of the time, and let’s see our necessary distractions as opportunities for our children to learn skills for real life in God’s world.


Texas shrimp industry crippled by immigrant visa cap

Hance says lacking 750 people from Mexico or Central America is crippling the Texas seafood industry.
She says the industry will lose $1 million a day because the government won’t allow these workers into the country.


Doing it completely and totally wrong

It’s possible to do everything wrong and do very well. In fact, sometimes that’s the only way to do very well.


When a DNA Test Shatters Your Identity

Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA have warnings about uncovering unanticipated information about family in their terms of service. They also allow users to opt in or out of finding genetic matches, and 23andMe has another warning in the opt-in screen.


“We don’t tip terrorists” – Texas restaurant receipt goes viral after racist customer remark

Even though he acknowledges the racially charged note, he says his faith in Jesus Christ is encouraging him to move forward despite his negative experience.
“I just had to think…what would Jesus do in this situation,” he said.


Saints lineman helped save man trapped in car that fell from New Orleans parking garage

Loewen said that the driver, who was alone in the car, had his legs pinned and was completely stuck in the front passenger seat. He quickly realized he wouldn’t be able to drag the man out, so he gathered about 10 other people and got the car flipped upright with the man inside.
Loewen then ripped the door off its hinges and started speaking with the man, who they helped “sit up comfortably” while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
“He didn’t say much, he was just thanking us all. I hugged him and told him he was going to be OK, and then I prayed with him,” Loewen told the Times-Picayune. “I couldn’t tell how bad his injuries were, but there was a lot of blood and broken glass.”


A storm ruined her beach wedding. Then a total stranger saved the day

As Gonzalez looked at her ruined wedding decorations, a woman appeared outside her car, soaking wet from the rain. Though a complete stranger, she offered to host the wedding in her beachfront home.
“She said, ‘just give me 10 minutes and I’ll have everything set up,'” Gonzalez recalled. “So we started telling all of our family and friends to go into this woman’s driveway, even though we had no idea who she was.”


Links To Go (July 18, 2018)

91-year-old man beaten with a brick asks God’s forgiveness for his attacker

Rodriguez told KABC that he is thankful that she was arrested, but he doesn’t resent her or the other men involved. He said any punishment should come from the law.
“May God forgive her for what she did to me,” he told KABC.
He wishes God’s blessings on the woman and himself, he added.


Baby Boomers Are Returning to Church

One of the most significant longitudinal studies (a study over many years) ever done provides a treasure trove of information for church leaders.
And one of the most significant findings is the increasing number of baby boomers becoming more involved in religious activity like churches.


I’ve Been Fired. Now What?

  1. Your ministry is not over until the Lord says so.
  2. You will never regret being extraordinarily gracious.
  3. You made some mistakes, too. They aren’t perfect; neither are you.
  4. Pray.

To be resilient, face tragedy with humour and flexibility

An important component of cognitive flexibility is accepting the reality of our situation, even if that situation is frightening or painful. To remain effectively engaged in problem-oriented and goal-directed coping, we must keep our eyes ‘wide open’, and acknowledge, rather than ignore, potential roadblocks. Avoidance and denial are generally counterproductive mechanisms that can help people for a while, but ultimately stand in the way of growth, interfering with the ability to actively solve problems.


Teen’s hot dog stand gets support and a permit

According to Ebeling, Faulkner did need to make some changes to his stand. He had to get a tent for overhead protection, a hand washing station and the city also gave him a thermometer to check the temperatures of his sausages and hot dogs.
Health Department staff even chipped in to help pay for his $87 permit.
“Surprisingly, I’m like, dang the city’s not the bad guys in this situation. They’re actually the ones who are helping me,” Faulkner said. “It makes me feel kind of—not kind of—really proud that people know what I’m doing.”


Iceland is building its first Nordic paganist temple in 1000 years

The Norse gods are making a strong comeback after a thousand years in the shadows. Outmaneuvered by Christianity around year 1000, Nordic paganism is now Iceland’s fastest growing religion. From 570 members in 2002, the ‘association of the faith of the Æsir’ – Ásatrúarfélagið – now numbers 3900 Icelanders, making it the largest non-Christian religion in the country.


Die Hard at 30: how it remains the quintessential American action movie

There’s not a wasted moment in Die Hard, not a moment when the audience feels confused about who’s who or what’s going on or where the characters are in relation to each other. It seems like simplest, most banal part of a making a movie, but it must be the hardest, because the vast majority of actioners, even good ones, don’t succeed in doing it.