Category Archives: links

Links to Go (February 14, 2019)

Pick Up Your Cross, Not Your Political Pitchfork: How to be friends with different viewpoints

Humility allowed us to thrive in political conversations, not simply survive, because we were more committed to growing closer to Christ and his heart than we were about winning a debate. Indeed, we spoke truth and disagreed at times, but the truth we spoke sought to be in service to one another and to God, not just from a desire to be “right.” God clothed us in compassion, because of the call, “In humility, count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil 2:3). We’ve left our conversations closer, not more divided. And while some of our viewpoints are more aligned than they ever have been, many still remain far apart.


Pastors Optimistic About Church’s Future, Regardless of Past Struggles

The survey found 79 percent of pastors say weekly worship attendance at their church will increase in the next five years. But looking at the last five years, only 36 percent of pastors say worship attendance growth increased, while two-thirds say attendance stayed the same or declined (27 percent decreased, 37 percent stayed the same).


Once a majority, Protestants now account for fewer than a third of Germans

Protestants represented a majority (59%) of Germany’s population in 1950, with Catholics as a sizable minority (37%), according to research by Detlef Pollack and Olaf Müller, scholars of religion and sociology at the University of Münster in Germany. These shares are largely based on church membership rolls that include both children and adults. Over the next 60 years, the share of Protestants fell 30 percentage points, while the share of Catholics dropped 7 points. Each group now includes roughly three-in-ten Germans, based on 2010 membership data.


How Africa is converting China

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens have gone to work in Africa, where they have encountered foreign cultures that leave many of them feeling alienated. For some of these disaffected Chinese workers, a source of comfort has come from religion, most notably the Evangelical Christianity that pervades much of sub-Saharan Africa. Evangelicalism prioritises conversion of non-believers, and the Chinese, heavily discouraged from practicing religion at home, are attractive potential converts.


I Miss Talking To Strangers

Even if it was just about burgers or bank notes or the weather (it was always about the weather), there’s a warmth and goodness in the simple act of conversation that I never noticed until it was gone. The machines are efficient, yes, but they’re cold. You can’t look them in the eye, or commiserate together about the rain, or wish them a good weekend. You can’t get to know them over months and weeks and years, and end up friends like I did with the bank tellers. I miss the bank tellers. I miss talking with them about holidays and how shocking the weather is. For that matter, I just miss talking. I miss being forced to communicate with other humans. If you don’t have to talk, it becomes impolite to break the silence. So we sit on the train, stand in the queue at the bank, wait for our orders at McD’s, and look at our personal communication devices instead of communicating with the living, breathing humans all around us.


The Psychological Trap of Freelancing

A 2016 study found that 63 percent of respondents valued money over time, while the smaller percentage of people who valued time over money reported greater well-being than the larger group. This correlation was consistent even after researchers controlled for factors like income — which complicates the assumption that prioritizing time over money is a luxury that only rich people can afford.


These Are the Life Tips People Actually Use, According to Reddit

You may not be familiar with the subreddit /r/LifeProTips, but it’s where people go to drop helpful hints for how to negotiate matters both urgent and trivial. You could just search for the top-rated or most commented upon posts, but sometimes that rating system correlates to how intensely the Redditor’s suggestion is being mocked. Luckily, on /r/AskReddit, Redditor u/Zach_the_muffin asked, “What ‘Life Pro Tip’ have you learned from Reddit that you still use every time the situation presents itself?”
Here are the most useful and used tips out there (for now).


Cleveland’s National Weather Service Issued an Unofficial ‘Small Dog Advisory’ Due to High Winds

The National Weather Service in Cleveland is reminding people with mini dachshunds, Yorkshire terriers, and other little dog breeds to keep an eye on their pooches this windy winter. According to WTOL 11 News, an unofficial “small dog warning” was in effect in several parts of Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania Wednesday, as two-legged and four-legged locals alike braced for gusts of up to 50 mph.


Links to Go (February 11, 2019)

Infanticide Becomes Justifiable

Is human life sacred, or does our moral worth depend on relevant personhood characteristics? Is society’s ultimate purpose to protect all innocent human life or to eliminate suffering—a category which both includes eliminating the sufferer, and, as with an unwanted fetus or newborn, the perceived cause of suffering? The answers we ultimately give to these questions will determine whether infanticide is finally established as unexceptional.


We Are Exiles

We’ve got to stop the Israel thinking, which is, This is our place, our home. Instead, we must consider that we are foreigners and strangers in exile. It’s someone else’s home. We’re not Israel. We’re Israel in exile.
Jeremiah 29:5 speaks to those like us in exile. Sure, plant gardens and grow, and flourish, and more. But always remember you’re in Babylon.
This makes all the difference. Why? Because only then will we have exile thinking and gospel focus. We begin to think about our mission to engage a culture that God loves and wants to redeem and restore to himself.


Almost Half of Practicing Christian Millennials Say Evangelism Is Wrong

As Barna found in research published in Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age, three out of five Christian Millennials believe that people today are more likely than in the past to take offense if they share their faith (65%)—that’s far higher than among Boomer Christians (28%). Millennials are also either two (Gen X) or three times more likely (Boomers and Elders) than any other generational group to believe that disagreement means judgment.


The Doctrine of Personal Infallibility

But that only works because, despite all the praise heaped on the Bible and its importance, the average conservative Christian does not know the Bible well enough to appreciate its diversity, reads it in a translation that hides discrepancies and differences from them, and knows only (or at least knows best) those parts that can be interpreted as supporting their stance.


For the fifth time in a row, the new Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse ever

In the House of Representatives, however, some racial and ethnic groups are now on par with their share of the total population. For example, 12% of House members are black, about equal to the share of Americans who are black. And Native Americans now make up 1% of the House, equal to their 1% of the population.
Other nonwhite groups in the House are somewhat less represented relative to their share of the population. The share of Hispanics in the U.S. population (18%) is twice as high as it is in the House (9%). Asians account for 6% of the national population but 3% of House members.


No thank you, Mr. Pecker

These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.


Digital Exile: How I Got Banned for Life from AirBnB

The part that’s especially poetic to me is that AirBnB touts a firm brand message of community and connectedness with their “Belong Anywhere” campaigns but the frightening reality is that any individual user is completely disposable, without a shred of appeal to due process. I’m really thankful that I wasn’t reliant on AirBnB income like so many of my friends.


A New Study Says There Are Actually Health Benefits to Thinking Kind Thoughts

New research from Oxford indicates that thinking kind thoughts about yourself and others can be beneficial to your immune system and overall physiological state.


This new study challenges what we know about color and type

In other words, feel free to use any hyperlink color you like. But make sure it’s high contrast, realize that it may draw more attention on the page, and know that blue is still probably the best.


Links To Go (February 7, 2019)

Seven Warning Signs of Inward Focus in a Church

  1. There are very few attempts to minister to those in the community.
  2. Church business meetings become arguments over preferences and desires.
  3. Members in the congregation are openly critical of the pastor, other church leaders in the church.
  4. Any change necessary to become a Great Commission church is met with anger and resistance.
  5. The past becomes the hero.
  6. Culture is seen as the enemy instead of an opportunity for believers to become salt and light.
  7. Pastors and other leaders in the church become discouraged and withdraw from effective leadership.

Who Worries About Hell the Most

The results are consistent with a much larger body of research showing much more positive health outcomes for those who believe in a loving God who personally cares for them than those who believe in a distant, judgmental deity.


How highly religious Americans view evolution depends on how they’re asked about it

Indeed, groups who respond differently to the two approaches are those who primarily believe that God or a higher power had a role in human evolution. For example, nearly all white evangelical Protestants who say humans have evolved – whether in a branched-choice or single-question format – believe God had a role in human evolution.
Differences in response to these two approaches occur among highly religious groups, but not among religiously unaffiliated Americans (those who describe their religion as nothing in particular, agnostic or atheist).


Cliff Sims, the ‘Team of Vipers,’ and His Views of the President’s Faith Advisors (Part 2)

Unfortunately, I think these dynamics were a kind of social rule among the group. I don’t want to paint them all with a broad brush—I think there are people with good hearts and with good intentions who are trying to be a picture of the gospel in a place that can be totally devoid of it. They deserve credit and don’t deserve to be smeared. But, I did see a lot of things that made me very uncomfortable.
It’s sad to me that faith leaders were not immune to the side effects that proximity to power had on me and other people in the White House.


How to pray for lost people

Some worry that it seems as if all I do is look for openings and opportunities to speak about Jesus. Correct. After all, if I make a friend and never talk about Jesus — then either I am not really their friend. Or I am not really a friend of Jesus.


Are you being manipulated?

Some simple questions worth asking:

  1. How does this announcement/offer/news/pressure make you feel?
  2. Is there something about this news that touches a hot button issue or fear? Is the story being told designed to trigger you?
  3. Are you surrounded by people who are also engaged with this news? Is it becoming a mob?
  4. Is the presenter of the news using external pressure to push you into acting in ways that contradict your self-interest or self-esteem?
  5. How would you feel if you discovered that the story you just heard wasn’t actually true?

It’s not just Google or Facebook: The freezer aisle is ad targeting you now

That’s a problematic lack of transparency. There’s no disclosure that users are being watched and their behavior analyzed. When I was looking at the doors, I couldn’t find any sign of the cameras at all, although I knew they were watching me. When I asked Koval about how he designed the doors so that people wouldn’t find it creepy, he pointed again to the fact that the data is anonymized as enough reason for consumers to accept the technology. But these are serious privacy considerations as retail stores bring some of the tracking that already occurs online into the real world. Most of us are aware that Facebook is tracking what we “like” on its website, but few would expect to have their emotions monitored at the local pharmacy.


El Paso Zoo will name a cockroach after your ex and feed it to their meerkats

Not only can you name a cockroach after your ex at the El Paso Zoo, but on Valentine’s Day the zoo will be feeding those cockroaches to the meerkats for their “Quit Bugging Me” event at 2:15 p.m. Feb. 14.


Links To Go (February 5, 2019)

The Five Hour Challenge: Turning Your Church Outwardly Focused

Here is my simple challenge: Commit at least five hours a week to evangelism and outwardly-focused ministries. Mark those five hours on your calendar like any other appointment. Make those five hours a priority. Do not come up with busyness and excuses that keep you from fulfilling your challenge.
This challenge should apply to all vocational ministers on staff. If you are full-time, commit five hours. If you are half-time, commit three hours (yeah, I rounded up).


4 Facts Every American Should Know About Third-Trimester Abortions

  1. Third-trimester abortions are already protected by federal law.
  2. State laws restricting third trimester abortions are unconstitutional under the precedent of Doe.
  3. The Democratic Party officially supports keeping third-trimester abortions legal.
  4. Overturning Roe and Doe won’t end all third-trimester abortions.

Say what? Newborn would be ‘resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired’

Now, I realize that this news is not — for many mainstream journalists — as big a threat to Western Civilization as a small flock of Catholic teens chanting school cheers in response to a barrage of nasty, homophobic and racist insults by grown-ups in a truly radical religious sect.


The Golfless Millennials

The fact is many a big church is filling up with people who, like the Millennials with golf, haven’t got – or won’t give – the six hours a week that is required for smaller, local churches to survive. Those smaller churches are the spiritual equivalent of a nine hole course in your average suburb.


Ethnicity Blights Democratization and Nation-Building in Africa

There is the false idealistic argument that with the establishment of liberal democracy in Africa, tribalism and ethnic difference would fade as people begin to identify themselves primarily with their country, as opposed to with their ethnic groups. However, mutual suspicions among the diverse ethnic nationalities within African countries and the lack of cross-cutting social relationships have not engendered liberal democratic ideals that would lead to nation-building.


The Christian Life Is More Like a Bus Ride Than a Motorcycle Ride

It’s hard to sing karaoke by yourself. If you like to travel by yourself, then nothing beats the freedom of a motorcycle. You can zip in and out of lanes, cut through the annoyance of construction traffic, go where you want, how you want, and as long as you want. But it’s hard to sing karaoke by yourself. Traveling by bus is slower. You have to wait for others to get on board. You can’t always have the seat you want. You can’t go as fast on the road. You can’t change lanes too well, pass others at will, have the final say on where to stop for food, and of course, someone always has to go to the bathroom. But the karaoke can be a blast!


Begin with the End

In the past, however, it wasn’t this way. If you wanted to see a graveyard you wouldn’t go to a “memorial park” located somewhere away from daily living. Instead, you’d go to church. In the past, graveyards were created right around the church. It was a sobering reminder that what was talked about inside the church had a direct bearing on where you’d be someday outside the church. Cemeteries were holy ground.


How to Write a Shareable Sermon: 5 Tips to Greater Impact

  1. Make it Short
  2. What’s the Point?
  3. Tell a Story
  4. Use a Bible Passage
  5. Be Quotable

Let Children Get Bored Again

Once you’ve truly settled into the anesthetizing effects of boredom, you find yourself en route to discovery. With monotony, small differences begin to emerge, between those trees, those sweaters. This is why so many useful ideas occur in the shower, when you’re held captive to a mundane activity. You let your mind wander and follow it where it goes.
Of course, it’s not really the boredom itself that’s important; it’s what we do with it. When you reach your breaking point, boredom teaches you to respond constructively, to make something happen for yourself. But unless we are faced with a steady diet of stultifying boredom, we never learn how.


Recreations of Famous Paintings of Myths Using Only My Children’s Toys

Sarah Scullin is grateful to her son Isaac for his assistance on this project, for letting her borrow his toys, and for accepting that sometimes her job is weird.


Links to Go (January 30, 2019)

Facebook Moves to Block Ad Transparency Tools

What it all adds up to, said Knight First Amendment Institute senior attorney Alex Abdo, is “we cannot trust Facebook to be the gatekeeper to the information the public needs about Facebook.”


How Twitter could be the death of liberal democracy

What Twitter shows us is a real-time ultrasound of the souls of America’s cultural and intellectual elite and its most committed activists — the people in charge of disseminating knowledge and who take the lead in organizing political action in our society. The picture it reveals is ugly, vulgar, shrill, and intolerant, with souls exhibiting an incapacity to deliberate, weigh evidence, and judge judiciously. They display an impulsiveness and unhinged rage at political enemies that is incompatible with reasoned thinking about how we might go about governing ourselves, heal the divisions in our country, and avoid a collapse into civic violence that could usher in tyranny.


Here’s how crazy spam calls went in 2018

The biggest takeaway from the report: an out of control trend in robocalls, citing a 46% increase in 2018 for a total of 26.3 billion in the year.
Other key highlights show that on average, people are receiving 114 phone calls per month. Of that, an average of 61 are from numbers not in their contacts. Of those unidentified calls (not saved in contacts), only 24% are answered.


Releasing Resources: Diaspora & Dollars

We must dispel the myth that national churches from low to middle-income countries have no resources to contribute to the wide missions initiative of the global church. Consider this thought-experiment based on conservative figures from the Philippines, my own country of origin:
Operation World reportedthat 12.3% of the Philippine population identified as Evangelical Christians, and Joshua Project reportedthe Evangelical Christian population to be closer to 13.93% of Filipino nationals.
If 2.3 million Filipinos are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and we apply the percentage suggested by Operation World at 12.3% of Filipinos to the number of reported OFWs, we estimate that 282,900 migrant Filipinos would identify as Evangelical Christians. Now imagine if 282,900 OFWs sent a portion of the $33 billion (sent in remittances to the Philippines in 2017 alone) to the homeland church for intentional support of global missions. What a vast resource that would be.


How Evangelism Is Kind of Like Fishing

It’s really hard to get enthusiastic about fishing when you believe there are no fish in the lake. That’s where Simon was at, right? He was convinced there was nothing to catch. But God knew there was a tremendous haul awaiting him. And I wonder if we can think that way when we share the gospel.


How Patton Oswalt’s Feud With a Troll Ended With Him Paying the Man’s Medical Bills

Oswalt found a GoFundMe for Beatty’s hospital bills. The amount sat at barely $600. Oswalt dropped $2,000 into the campaign and then asked his followers to help. As of Thursday evening, the comedian’s efforts have raised over $20,000.

8 Days, 2 H-Bombs, And 1 Team That Stopped A Catastrophe

Nearly 60 years ago, a U.S. B-52 bomber carrying two hydrogen bombs broke apart over rural North Carolina.
The bombs fell into a tobacco field. They didn’t go off, but if they had, each 3.8-megaton weapon would’ve been 250 times more destructive than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.


Housekeeper stuck in elevator for 3 days

On Friday, Marites Fortaliza, 53, was cleaning floor by floor in the five-story private townhouse when she got stuck in the elevator between the second and third floor, according to a law enforcement official.
She was rescued Monday morning after a delivery man came to the house and was concerned when no one answered the door. The homeowners were away for the weekend, the law enforcement official said.


The CPR Episode of The Office Just Saved Someone’s Life

Scott had no prior first aid training, so he had to think quick. “I’ve never prepared myself for CPR in my life,” he told the Arizona Daily Star. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
But then he recalled the CPR scene in “Stress Relief.” As awful of an example as the scene was in how to save a person’s life, the one accurate aspect of it was using “Stayin’ Alive” as the correct tempo for chest compressions.