Category Archives: links

Links To Go (October 23, 2019)

In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.


Young People Will Come Back to Church, Right?

The data is speaking a clear message: the assumptions that undergirded church growth from two decades ago no longer apply. If churches are sitting back and just waiting for all their young people to flood back in as they move into their thirties, they are likely in for a rude awakening. Inaction now could be creating a church that does not have a strong future.


Sing Freedom! Why isn’t Christian music more revolutionary?

It seems we’ve gone from Jesus-is-my-boyfriend to Jesus-is-my-savior, but we’re missing Jesus-is-our-Lord. Christian worship should express our collective hope in Christ of a rescued, renewed and restored world, a world in which injustice, racism, hatred and violence have ended, once and for all.


Exodus 22:2 and the Attacker at the Door

When we read Exodus 22:2-3 in this same light, it would suggest that the law was not necessarily written to place God’s stamp of approval on killing home invaders at night. Instead, it seems as if this law, like all the others in the surrounding context, were written to point Israel towards a more loving and gracious treatment of their enemies by placing restrictions on when an attacker could be killed.


Lessons on Ministry Pay We Are Learning from Retiring Boomer Pastors

  1. Most pastors are underpaid.
  2. Too many pastors refuse raises.
  3. Few pastors give sufficient thought to retirement.
  4. Many pastors have too much debt leading into retirement.
  5. A number of pastors have given little thought to health care costs.
  6. The common theme of many of these Boomer pastors is over-spiritualizing their financial reality without the wisdom of planning for their future years.

How America Lost Dinner

This net loss in meal time can beget a nagging tension. There’s that lingering moralistic pressure that it’s important for you to cook wholesome food, sit down with people you care about, breathe, enjoy. But for many people, the trade-offs it would take to get there push the ideal dinner farther and farther out of reach. This can weigh especially hard on parents, who often simply don’t have the time that preparing family meals requires.


Vinyl records expected to outsell CDs in 2019 for the first time since 1980s

Most people never thought they would use their old records again. But, according to a report by the Recording Industry Association of America, vinyl records are expected to out-sell CDs in 2019.


Links To Go (October 17, 2019)

Business or the Bible? Thoughts about Science and Evangelicalism

Specifically, there is no Biblical reason why evangelicals should deny climate change more than any other demographic group. So something else has to be driving that opinion. And if it’s not the Bible, then what? Well, again, I think the answer is obvious and brings me right back to my conclusion: Evangelicalism defends politics as much as it defends the Bible, making it less a Christian movement than an ideological one.


Supreme Court decision on L.G.B.T. discrimination sets up religious liberty clash

Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm, told reporters before the Supreme Court’s term began that if the court views these employee cases as discrimination, there will likely be new lawsuits and “massive liabilities with churches, schools and religious organizations” that expect their employees to follow certain standards.


Bully Vol 3

Being let go with threats of legal and financial punishment if you say anything, by an organisation that prides itself on helping churches establish healthy practice, is discombobulating. Which is why so many people who are bullied out of church roles feel it so intently. It was all “family family, family”, until it wasn’t.


What a visit to the Grand Canyon taught me about God

And it was helpful to realize I am not that big a deal. Hard to be full of yourself while at the Grand Canyon. Not that big a deal here either. And don’t have to be. I just have to be ready and available for God to use me up. Fifty years from now not many people will even remember me. Maybe my grandkids. 100 years from now no one will remember the sermons or the books.


The Importance Of Doing What Anyone Could Do

When my friend works for the charity, he uses his legal skills, yes, but he also gives time, effort, care, and love for his work and the people it helps – gifts that any of us can give for the sake of the people around us. Without these ordinary skills, his specialised legal abilities would be useless to the charity, like those of so many others that could have helped, but didn’t. As the apostle Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians, impressive skills are nothing without love.


The Road to Infidelity Passes Through Multiple Sexual Partners

Instead, as my survey results illustrate, infidelity’s roots likely start much earlier in someone’s background and experience. But infidelity is also often the fruit of a lifelong approach to mating that involves seeking and practicing short-term mating encounters that encourage sexual variety at all stages and into marriage.


Firefighters calm girl’s fears after car crash by allowing her to paint their fingernails

After noticing the child was holding bottles of fingernail polish, the two firefighters turned a quick calming conversation into an instant manicure complete with purple polish. The child immediately directed her attention to painting the first responders’ nails and soon was no longer afraid after experiencing a car crash.


Funeral cracks up as dead man screams ‘Let me out!’ of coffin

Friends and family said the good-humored officer and father made the recording because he knew he was dying of a “long illness bravely borne” — and wanted “to make his family laugh rather than cry at the funeral.”


Links To Go (October 15, 2019)

The #EqualityTownHall Was Loud and Clear: The LGBTQ+ Community, Beto, the Equality Act, and Evangelicals

The message is loud and clear last night. And the result is clearer: this kind of thinking will drive a substantial number of evangelicals, some of whom would otherwise be uncomfortable voting for President Trump, to voting for him in 2020. Why? Because they see it as the only alternative.


Democrats Are Going to Regret Beto’s Stance on Conservative Churches

When the next tornado hits the Midwest or the next hurricane hits Puerto Rico, I will gladly welcome the atheists and the National Guard to help in the relief efforts. But I’ll want the religious people there, too, through organizations such as Catholic Charities, the Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board, the Salvation Army, and World Relief. Our nation’s politicians can choose to make that possibility more or less likely with their rhetoric and policies in the years to come. Threatening the loss of tax exemption to hundreds of thousands of religious organizations, including many that serve the most vulnerable in our society, is not the way to go.


A better tone

How do we fulfill our roles as church members without letting our gatherings degenerate into nothing more than meetings of a political precinct? How do we bring specialized spiritual equipment to our next discussion of Donald Trump—so we don’t beat up on each other in the “fellowship hall”? How do we resist our culture’s propensity (enhanced by too many government leaders) to fill every conversation with ugliness and insults?


Welcoming and Affirming the Same Thing? Confusion in our Culture

When it comes to our churches, we genuinely desire for all people to know that they are divinely-designed image-bearers. We are eager for them to sit under the preaching of the Word, to hear the gospel, and to trust in Jesus. In that sense, we welcome all people, even the worst of sinners, in our midst. Yet, we do not affirm everyone’s lifestyle decisions.


Bride ordered peacock-themed wedding cake but got a ‘lopsided turkey with leprosy’

Rena Davis, 52, paid $300 for the design featuring two peacocks and a trail of chocolate cupcakes, but was instead left to get hitched alongside a wedding cake that looked more like a “lopsided turkey with leprosy,” The Sun reported.


Links To Go (October 10, 2019)

Reporters delve into Dallas judge giving Amber Guyger a Bible and urging her to read John 3:16

The legal experts cited by the Times are helpful. I just wish — as I said in relation to some of the other coverage — that the reporting had included more insight from church-and-state authorities. I don’t know that any of the stories I saw tackled head-on the question of what right the judge has to express her personal religious faith after a trial.


The Lure of Androgyny

One final bit of evidence for the claim that men enjoy less social value today appeared in 2016, via a “lifestyle article” in the New York Times. It unveiled what once would have been a surprising thought: that today’s forward-looking, nontraditional fathers—including Andrew Reiner, the author of the Times piece—would, if they had their druthers, pick daughters over sons. “Some men, like me, fear becoming fathers to sons,” Reiner explained, adding evidence from blogs and websites showing that he was not alone. In addition, he cited the data that well-off white parents who use preimplantation genetic diagnosis select for females 70 percent of the time and that adoptive parents prefer girls over boys by at least a third. In the case of same-sex couples, he reported, that preference is even stronger.


Why Facebook can’t stop politicians from lying

Hovering around this debate is a larger, unspoken concern about our current moment, which is that there is increasingly little penalty in public life for telling any lie at all. Pressing as that issue is, though, it’s unclear what a tech platform ought to do about it.


So, Pat Robertson Says Trump May Lose His ‘Mandate of Heaven’

But the flight from Syria is, apparently, a bridge too far, and Robertson joins a bipartisan chorus of voices expressing grave concerns over Trump’s decision, which has already resulted in a Turkish shelling of farmlands outside a predominantly Christian village. Experts have warned that Christians are among the minorities most at risk from a Turkish invasion, and Christian communities pleaded with U.S. forces to remain in the area earlier this summer.


Just give me a sign

This kind of thinking is modern-day superstition. We try to listen to our experiences; we try to find divine signs and miracles to help us understand who God is, who we are and what we’re supposed to do. But the problem with listening to our experiences is that it means we’re not looking at and listening to Jesus in the Bible. Asking for signs from God and appearing to find them is not looking and listening to Jesus on his terms.


When Trusting Your Husband Means Trusting God

For married ladies, our husbands are wonderful gifts to us, but we should never put them in the place of God or expect them to do what only God can do, or be who only God is. When I think about my husband, I see a handsome, tall guy with broad shoulders who lovingly carries, counsels, and leads our family. But behind him, there’s an infallible God who is completely trustworthy.


If an Organization Was a Person

Before I’m kicked out of the building, we do a quick exercise by visiting the Instagram page of their church. I ask them to count how many of the last ten posts are about the church and how many are about the community or people outside the four walls of the church. Usually, it’s nine to one in favor of the church. Honestly, more often than not, it’s ten to zero.


The Average Worker Spends 51 Percent of Each Workday on These 3 Unnecessary Tasks

  1. Unnecessary Commuting (13 percent)
  2. Unnecessary Meetings (16 percent)
  3. Unnecessary Emails (23 percent)

Man robs bank day before wedding to pay for ring and ceremony, gets caught by fiancée on social media

“His fiancée, who he was supposed to marry tomorrow, was able to get in touch with him on the phone when she saw our post on Facebook. She knew it was him. She contacted him and asked him if he robbed a bank … she convinced him that she knew it was him. His picture was all on Facebook. He needed to turn himself in,” said Wallace in a video posted to his Facebook page.

Links To Go (October 8, 2019)

For Most of Gen Z, Religion Is a Regular Part of Public School Life

Around 67 percent of teenagers surveyed said they see at least some sort of religious expression at public school on a regular basis. In this survey, religious expression included things like wearing clothing with religious symbols (like an Islamic headscarf), praying before a sporting event or eating lunch, inviting someone else to a religious service or just reading religious literature outside of class.


The Biggest Demographic Churches Are Missing

The weekend workforce is not a future trend; it is a staggering present reality. Some churches will adjust and seek to reach these workers. Others will continue doing business as usual.


The discipline of listening

There is a time for advice, and there is a time to shut up and listen. It’s a challenge to discern when those times are right, and I’ve sometimes spoken too strongly without fully trying to listen. At other times, I’ve made the opposite mistake, passively listening when I should have spoken words of gentle yet honest admonishment.


3 Valuable Lessons Nursing Home Visitation Taught Me

In a culture that places an inordinate value on youth and image, caring for those who lack both can be a lost art in church ministry. Pastors who practice this art, however, will come to see how church members who are most connected to the past can have a positive impact on shepherding the local church in the present, as well as the future.


Two Words That Could End Your Marriage

We haven’t just theoretically believed in an idea. We have ardently trusted in an ideal. That is, an ideal person: The One. If you bought into this ideal, these two words might have put your marriage on a trajectory for failure before it started.


Why Americans Smile So Much

People in the more diverse countries also smiled for a different reason than the people in the more homogeneous nations. In the countries with more immigrants, people smiled in order to bond socially. Compared to the less-diverse nations, they were more likely to say smiles were a sign someone “wants to be a close friend of yours.” But in the countries that are more uniform, people were more likely to smile to show they were superior to one another.


IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor

On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either. They are “the most efficient use of available IRS examination resources,” Rettig’s report says.


NASA Says Earth Is Greener Today Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To China, India

Both China and India went through phases of large scale deforestation in the 1970s and 80s, clearing old growth forests for urban development, farming and agriculture. However, it is clear that when presented with a problem, humans are incredibly adept at finding a solution. When the focus shifted in the 90s to reducing air and soil pollution and combating climate change the two countries made tremendous shifts in their overall land use.


Sportsmanship on full display as runner carries exhausted rival over finish line at IAAF World Championships

With just a few hundred meters left, Aruban athlete Jonathan Busby slowed to a walk and was nearly doubled over, likely from cramping. Fellow runner Braima Suncar Dabó, from the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, came up to Busby and grabbed his arm, and the two began shuffling together around the final turn. After several steps Dabó lifted Busby’s left arm and put it around his shoulder, holding him up.


Amazon exec promoting new Echo Buds wears AirPods during TV interview

Amazon shouldn’t feel like it’s the first to make this mistake then. It won’t be the last, either. But, please, if you’re in charge of showing off a rival product, just take a second to make sure there’s no Apple device on your person. And this is coming from an Apple fan!