Category Archives: links

Links To Go (June 21, 2018)

The Age Gap in Religion Around the World

Although the age gap in religious commitment is larger in some nations than in others, it occurs in many different economic and social contexts – in developing countries as well as advanced industrial economies, in Muslim-majority nations as well as predominantly Christian states, and in societies that are, overall, highly religious as well as those that are comparatively secular.


Mediafugees: An online platform by and for migrants

Mediafugees is an online media platform created to give migrants a voice. It publishes articles about migration issues, all of which have been written by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.


8 Habits of the Excellent Bible Teacher

  1. The Habit of Preparation
  2. The Habit of Love
  3. The Habit of Prayer
  4. The Habit of Learning
  5. The Habit of Bible Mastery
  6. The Habit of Limit
  7. The Habit of Humility
  8. The Habit of Gratitude

The Five R’s of Gospel-Centered Church Revitalization, Part 1
The Five R’s of Church Revitalization, Part 2

  • First, reframe on grace
  • Second, realign on mission
  • Third, recast gospel vision
  • Fourth, remember the journey
  • Finally, renew all things

This 95-Year Stanford Study Reveals 1 Secret to Living a Longer, More Fulfilling Life

But what you can do, starting today, is actively work toward achieving one of your goals. Working toward a goal will make you happier. Working hard to achieve a goal will help you live longer.
Actively pursuing a goal, even if you never quite achieve it, will make your life more fulfilling, both now and when you eventually look back on a life well-lived.


“Are you in a hurry?”

The two opportunities:

  1. Redefine “in a hurry” to be a version of your best self. So that “hurry” isn’t a crutch, an excuse or a bane. It’s an asset.
  2. Turn on “hurry” whenever you need it, and turn it off when you don’t.

Domino’s Is Fixing America’s Crappy Roads For Pizza Safety And That’s Pretty Embarrassing

To remedy this, Domino’s has been hiring work crews to repair potholes in a number of cities, including Burbank, California (five holes fixed), Bartonville, Texas (eight holes), an impressive 40 holes fixed in Milford, Delaware, and an astounding 150 potholes filled in Athens, Georgia.


How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library

The bats that live in the library don’t damage the books and, because they’re nocturnal, they usually don’t bother the human guests. The much bigger danger to the collection is the insect population. Many bug species are known to gnaw on paper, which could be disastrous for the library’s rare items that date from before the 19th century. The bats act as a natural form of pest control: At night, they feast on the insects that would otherwise feast on library books.


Nigerian man buries his father in a brand new $88,000 BMW SUV to fulfill his promise to buy him a nice car

However, a well-heeled Nigerian man, identified only as Azubuike, buried his father in a brand new BMW SUV instead of a coffin to see him off in style in the local village graveyard. According to local reports, Azubuike had always promised his dad that one day he would have a fancy car. But when he lost his father to old age, he decided to fulfill his promise and bought a new BMW luxury car worth $88,000 from the showroom to burry him in it.


Links To Go (June 13, 2018)

A Faithful Response to Suicide

Here are three modest proposals:

  1. When someone seems to have it all together, they may be most at risk. Rather than idolize them, offer prayers for them. We often demand the most from people who have the least left to give.
  2. Fund independent research for pharmaceuticals that are affordable and effective. Major drug companies are not making better drugs; they are marketing more profitable ones.
  3. Integrate faith, therapy, and psychiatry so they function more as a three-cord strand rather than ropes pulling the most vulnerable apart.

Watching our Words in the Age of Outrage

I want to be clear about something as we move into an evaluation of the words we speak. I do not write this in response to any controversy or in light of a particular thing someone said. This post comes from years of observing how we engage with each other amidst deep disagreement. This is not a question of conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, or any of the other divides we face. Every human being on this side of Genesis 3 faces the temptation to speak in a harsh, cruel, untrue, and unkind manner.


Lending Our Voice to Family — It’s More Important than Government

Evangelicals have long stood in the public square for the value of the family. This is part of our heritage we can and should embrace by speaking up again now.
This is not a hard one, sisters and brothers. Yes, immigration is a tricky issue and debatable issue, but using the separation of families as a threat and a tool is not. We can (and must) do better.


In defense of handshakes

But handshakes matter even more as part of our internal narrative. When you see yourself as a weasel, or as a bully, or as someone who is entitled to win at all costs, you’re poisoning your ability to be a generous creative. When you tell yourself a story of insufficiency, that you’re the sort of person who can’t possibly find the emotional or financial resources to keep your word, you make everything smaller.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey criticized for eating Chick-fil-A during Pride Month

While many agreed with O’Brien’s view that Dorsey’s tweet could be seen as being in bad taste, the backlash rubbed some Christians and Chick-fil-A fans the wrong way. Dorsey’s meal — and his subsequent regret — has now fueled a flurry of tweets defending the chain and its values.


For kids getting busted for running lemonade stands without permits, these guys are here to help

Country Time Lemonade is creating a team to help pay fines and permits for kids nationwide who want to run their own lemonade stands. And in the spirit of the drink’s name, they’re calling their initiative Legal-Ade.


Dad, son prank mom coming home from business trip

Barbara Nielsen said she was coming home from a week-long business trip in Michigan and when she came back her husband made this sign for her son to hold.
The sign read: “Welcome home from prison Mom”


Compassion shown by Mounds View high school pitcher is sportsmanship at its very best

After striking out Jack Kocon for the final out to send Mounds View to State, pitcher Ty Koehn made a beeline for the beaten batter and embraced him, all while his teammates rushed the field, celebrating wildly.
But there’s a story behind this act of tremendous sportsmanship, the pair are old friends and have known each other since childhood.


Links To Go (June 11, 2018)

How to remain true to Christian teachings in a combative world

Here are 10 suggestions, taken from the New Testament, for behaving as a Christian ideally should:

  • Bite our tongues. Eph. 4:29
  • Turn the other cheek. 1 Peter 3:8-9
  • Lead a quiet life. 1 Thess. 4:11-12
  • Avoid judging. Luke 6:37
  • Practice agape love. 1 John 4:7-8
  • Pursue peace. Rom. 12:18
  • Be joyful despite ourselves. John 15:11
  • Quit fretting. Luke 12:29
  • Remain humble. 1 Peter 5:5
  • Be generous to the least of these. Matt. 25:34-36, 40

On Professors and the Cult of Personality

The cult of professor worship is perhaps the most dangerous and reprehensible cult in the theological world. It is no respecter of theological position, afflicting the left just as much as the right. It is no respecter of intellectual ability, as the psychology of leader-follower is predicated more on personality and relational qualities than brainpower. And it is no respecter of souls; nothing so destroys a Christian leader, or his followers, than the mutual flattery involved in the uncritical adulation of a fan-base for a professorial rock star (and I use that term advisedly).


Elders Leading through Prayer

An elder’s job description includes numerous responsibilities. Teaching, managing, leading a small group, attending meetings, listening, and making decisions fill an elder’s time. Two of the most important responsibilities an elder can fulfill is are modeling a life of prayer and leading his church in a powerful, impacting, and continuing prayer experience.


I met two great evangelists dressed as repairmen…

But I not going to be able to share the Jesus story with most people. Neither are the preachers. Because we are professionals. We are supposed to do it. And by nature of our profession, we don’t meet as many ordinary people in the community as we could. Maybe even should.
But I tell you who is going to make a difference in bringing people to Jesus. It is the ordinary person going about their everyday business… and who talk about Jesus.


Moving Our Congregations to More Effective Evangelism

If you currently don’t have any outward facing ministries that allow your people to engage non-Christians with the gospel, start one or two. Consider taking a team of people out on the town once a month to share the gospel with others. One leader I know regularly takes college students to the streets of Chicago. He starts the conversations with, “I am trying to teach these guys how to share Jesus with others. Can we practice on you?” It’s a funny, but effective way to start a conversation!


4 Sacred Cows Haunting Churches—And How to Corral Them

  • Be respectful.
  • Understand the history.
  • Be patient.
  • Pray for other churches.

Good vs…

To my mind, that is a powerful thought not only concerning the Holocaust, but in service to God as well.Indifference to the sacrifice of Christ is eternally deadly.Indifference to sin in my life leads to problems. Indifference to the lost leads to lack of action.I could go on. Indifference.


Your Phone Is Listening and it’s Not Paranoia

With this in mind, I decided to try an experiment. Twice a day for five days, I tried saying a bunch of phrases that could theoretically be used as triggers. Phrases like I’m thinking about going back to uni and I need some cheap shirts for work. Then I carefully monitored the sponsored posts on Facebook for any changes.
The changes came literally overnight. Suddenly I was being told mid-semester courses at various universities, and how certain brands were offering cheap clothing. A private conversation with a friend about how I’d run out of data led to an ad about cheap 20 GB data plans. And although they were all good deals, the whole thing was eye-opening and utterly terrifying.


Mr. Rogers Had a Simple Set of Rules for Talking to Children

Per the pamphlet, there were nine steps for translating into Freddish:

  1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street. ​​​​​​
  2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.
  3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”
  4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.
  5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.
  6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.
  7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.
  8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.
  9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.

Links to Go (June 7, 2018)

What I Must Change

  • I must change and be more obedient in sharing the gospel. I exhort others to do so, but I am disobedient far too much myself.
  • I must change and increase my time in the Word and in prayer. Too often, I let the tyranny of the urgent replace the priority of time with God. If I sound foolish, it is because I am, and because I have been.
  • I must change how I seek my identity. My identity should be first in Christ. And my identity should also be as a family man. My greatest titles are “husband,” “Dad,” and “Rad Rad,” not “CEO” or “Dr. Rainer.” Too often I seek the accolades of others instead of pleasing Christ and serving my family.
  • I must change the depth and breadth of how I love my local church. I must serve with greater joy, give with greater commitment, and worship with greater abandon.
  • I must change my involvement in denominational politics. Indeed, I must flee from denominational politics. My involvement breaks my heart and hurts my soul.
  • I must change from a posture of silence to one of courage when others are hurt, marginalized, and abused. My silence is too often a deafening endorsement of injustice and wrongdoing.

How Bishop Curry’s Sermon Revealed the Four Evangelical Tribes

I would summarise the tribes and distinctives in this way.

  1. Political -(liberal/conservative) – they use the culture to interpret the bible and always end up capitulating to the culture (whether of right or left). Their view of the church is more as a social/political club.
  2. Pragmatists (broad church) – they use the bible to interpret the culture in terms of theology, but the culture to interpret the bible in terms of methodology. As as result they end up engaging with the culture but far too often at the price of compromising with it. Their view of the church tends to be a more corporate view with the church being there to meet individual needs, or to provide resources for interdenominational ‘ kingdom’ agencies. They tend to have a low ecclesiology.
  3. Pharisees (separatists) – (I could not use this term because in most eyes it is a pejorative term and it would take too long to explain. But the Pharisees were the separatists of their day – and they were not all bad – many did have a love for God and his word – and many came to follow Jesus – so I feel it is a justified term). They use the bible to interpret the culture, but I think their methodology is unbiblical because they cede the culture to the devil. They have a high view of the church, but one which largely closes it to the culture.
  4. Puritans – They use the Bible to interpret both the culture and the methodology. This means that they engage the culture but often end up confronting it, because when culture and Scripture collide they don’t back down. They have a high view of the church but one which sees it as open to being in the world, if not of it!

Engaging Culture Well: How to Share Your Faith Critically and Contextually Today

  • Pursue Understanding
  • Build Relationships
  • Make the Message Relatable

The Best Explanation for Our Spate of Mass Shootings Is the Least Comforting

Indeed, it’s the pattern of elaborate preparation and obsession with the subculture of mass shooters that has led in part to my own advocacy of the gun-violence restraining order. While we don’t have sufficient details about today’s shooter in Texas to know if it would have made a difference, it’s a fact that large numbers of mass shooters broadcast warning signals of their intent to do harm, and it’s also a fact that family members and other relevant people close to the shooter have few tools at their disposal to prevent violence. A gun-violence restraining order can allow a family member (or school principal) to quickly get in front of a local judge for a hearing (with full due-process protections) that can result in the temporary confiscation of weapons from a proven dangerous person.


Almost seven-in-ten Americans have news fatigue, more among Republicans

Almost seven-in-ten Americans (68%) feel worn out by the amount of news there is these days, compared with only three-in-ten who say they like the amount of news they get. The portion expressing feelings of information overload is in line with how Americans felt during the 2016 presidential election, when a majority expressed feelings of exhaustion from election coverage.


3 Ways to Normalize Bible Reading

  1. Don’t use Greek or Hebrew words when preaching.
  2. When illustrating a point, share about your personal Bible reading.
  3. Use the Bible to disciple others.

A Reminder That God’s Provision Doesn’t Equal God’s Pleasure

God wasn’t providing for the wilderness generation because he was pleased with them. In fact he loathed them. But he was providing for them because He is God and He is good. He’s still their Father. So he cares for them; and somehow I think He still loves them—even while He loathes them.


Growing Old Graciously

  1. I can commend the younger generation.
  2. I can pour into the younger generation.
  3. I can pick my critical shots.
  4. I can refrain from trying to reinvent myself.
  5. I can keep learning and growing.

‘Don’t worry, it’s my first husband’ – Wife stuns bloke after skull found in garden

A gardener who was stunned to discover a human skull while digging up potatoes was left floored when his wife calmly admitted it was her first husband.


Kansas man doesn’t regret giving up $1 million ticket

A Kansas man who returned a $1 million lottery ticket to a customer who left it on a store counter says he has no regrets about giving up the prize money.
Kal Patel, whose parents own the Pit Stop convenience store in Salina, returned the ticket to a longtime customer after tracking him down in his car.


Links to Go (June 4, 2018)

Why Church Members Are Attending Less Frequently

Some highlights from today’s Rainer Report:

  • Those who are more affluent have more options to do things other than attend church on the weekend.
  • Too many church members consider corporate worship optional.
  • Raising the bar of expectations for church members is key to higher attendance frequency.
  • The more involved people are in small groups, the more involved they will be in the life of the church.

5 Minutes After You Crash(When Sexual Sin and Adultery Destroy a Ministry)

It is a time to remember how desperately we need the Gospel of God. It is a time to remember how much we need God’s presence, his power, and his daily cleansing. It is also a time to pray for families and churches who have experienced such destruction. It is a time for all of us to remember how much we need the Lord.


The Least of These: Ministry with and to the Incarcerated

It is time for the church to be more engaged in criminal justice reform. We have a critical voice and need to use it. We have resources that can be used to empower those impacted by our criminal justice system. We are called to take care of the least of these.


The False Gospel of Expressive Individualism

In some circles, expressive individualism is being mixed with Christian thought. The logic goes a little something like this: “God is good. God made me. God gave me my desires. Since God is good and gave me my desires, then the desires I have from God must be good. And since God gave me these good desires, I have a right to express them.”


The ‘Educated Elite’ Isn’t Educated, and It Isn’t Elite

Combine academic ignorance with a worldview that too often unthinkingly and reflexively rejects religious traditions and traditional religious notions of morality, and you’ve got the recipe for exactly the proud, “elite” individualist Brooks describes. Or, to borrow a biblical concept, “claiming to be wise, they became fools.”
He is right that the “meritocracy is here to stay,” but he’s wrong that we “need a new ethos to reconfigure it.” An old ethos will do, one grounded in humility, true curiosity, and an openness to challenging ideas.


Seniors Are More Conservative Because the Poor Don’t Survive to Become Seniors

It’s well understood that millennials are significantly more diverse than prior generations. But there is something else driving the relative homogeneity of seniors: Poorer people are often hobbled by chronic illness, and succumb to premature death.


Billy Graham Makes Final Call to Trust Jesus in Last Will and Testament

“I urge all who shall read this document to read and study the Scriptures daily,” the will states, “and to trust only in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.”
Graham, who passed away this past February, also asks that his posterity “maintain and defend at all hazards and any cost of personal sacrifice the blessed doctrine of complete Atonement for sin through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ once offered, and through that alone.”


After Winning Championship, Youth Football Team Rescued a Couple Trapped Under a Wrecked Car On The Way Home

When the team, appropriately named the Boise Black Knights, came across the accident in Oregon, head coach Rudy Jackson pulled over and the team swarmed out of the car to rescue the couple.
They pulled out the man who was trapped first, then pushed on the side of the overturned car to raise it up enough for another player to rescue the woman stuck inside.