Category Archives: links

Links To Go (May 23, 2017)

“I walked away from Alice, the love of my life”: same sex attraction and the cost of discipleship

And yet, I was smitten. I was being been wooed by someone who offered everything—everlasting life and love, protection and vision, peace and unfailing commitment. In return, however, this someone demanded that I lay aside all that I had ever known and commit fully to a person I hardly knew.


Immigration arrests soar under Trump; sharpest spike seen for noncriminals

In Trump’s first 100 days in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 41,318 immigrants, up 37.6 percent over the same period last year, the agency said Wednesday. Almost 3 out of 4 of those arrested have criminal records, including gang members and fugitives wanted for murder. But the biggest increase by far is among immigrants with no criminal records.


“We Are Certainly Not Lacking Any Confidence Are We”

Fortunately, I can point to a number of young ministers with a very different spirit. I know young ministers who love Scripture, are passionate for the Lord, and who exude humility as they talk about the human condition. These young ministers are likely to ask others for their counsel and input regarding situations and chapters in life they have never experienced.
They do not have an unhealthy self-consciousness which seems to be preoccupied with appearance, image, style, etc. Rather, these ministers seem to have a very healthy God-consciousness that goes way beyond referring to Jesus, talking about spiritual formation, etc.


Like the Original

That is okay, because the task for the child of God is not to look like people of days gone by. The task is to think, behave, and honor like Jesus did. The example of what is God-approved is not so much early Christians (although they did God-approved things), but to live like Jesus. Paul told early Christians, “Be an imitator of me, in the same way that I imitate Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)


Eight Signs Your Church May Be Closing Soon

  1. There has been a numerical decline for four or more years.
  2. The church does not look like the community in which it is located.
  3. The congregation is mostly comprised of senior adults.
  4. The focus is on the past, not the future.
  5. The members are intensely preference-driven.
  6. The budget is severely inwardly focused.
  7. There are sacred cow facilities.
  8. Any type of change is met with fierce resistance.

Pastors, Spend Time with Non-Pastors

What follows are a few reminders as to why we must use some of our best time, energy, and resources to train up plumbers, lawyers, teachers, and bankers. I will focus this discussion on the discipling of men in particular. The need to care for sisters in the Lord is critical and is related to most of the points I make, but won’t be the aim of this article.


Eight Essential Items for Your Church’s FAQ Page

  1. Where is guest parking?
  2. What is there for my kids?
  3. How do I join the church?
  4. How do I join a group?
  5. Why do you ______?
  6. How do I get involved in the ______ ministry?
  7. What denomination is ______ church affiliated with?
  8. How do I contact the church for _______?

Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults

At the same time America is graying, recent Pew Research Center surveys find that seniors are also moving towards more digitally connected lives. Around four-in-ten (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the internet – a 55-percentage-point increase in just under two decades. And for the first time, half of older Americans now have broadband at home.


Links To Go (May 17, 2017)

Tim Cook’s refusal to help FBI hack iPhone is validated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack

The proliferation of the WannaCry ransomware last week unequivocally justifies Apple’s steadfast refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. As a quick refresher, the FBI last year wanted Apple engineers to create a brand new version of iOS that would allow them to skirt around iOS security measures. As a precaution, a security setting in iOS wipes a device clean after 10 erroneous passcode entry attempts. The FBI, as a result, tried to force Apple to release a specialized version of iOS that would not include this security limitation.
Apple abhorred the very idea from the get-go, with Tim Cook going so far as to say that the FBI wanted Apple to create something that it viewed as “the software equivalent of cancer.” From Apple’s vantage point, creating software capable of circumventing important iOS security mechanisms was a monumental risk as there is no way to guarantee that the customized software wouldn’t eventually fall into the wrong hands.


The WannaCry Ransomware Hackers Made Some Real Amateur Mistakes

An attack of this magnitude involving so many missteps raises plenty of questions while delivering a sobering reminder: If actual cybercriminal professionals improved on the group’s methods, the results could be even graver.


Evangelism is a Four Letter Word

I get it. Culture is changing rapidly and radically. The methods we have used successfully for decades have become ineffective, even counter-productive. Heaven? Spiritual laws? Bible verses? These no longer spark spiritual interest. Evangelism training isn’t what it used to be, but in many cases is uncertain of what it should be.
This frustration is actually good news. Good because it is causing us to reimagine how we think about evangelism… and, whether we like it or not, forcing us to redesign training tools and equipping experiences.


Sometimes You Just Gotta Get the Shot

When they told me all the possible side effects of chemo, I felt kinda like I did as a kid getting that shot. Like bolting out of the recliner before that first bag starts dripping.
But for now, it’s the best option to beat the disease, and it’s so much better than it used to be.


The Traditional Lecture Is Dead. I Would Know — I’m A Professor

The point isn’t to use any one example but to go beyond the traditional lecture by creating an environment in which students actively participate in class. You may experience some difficulty, even reluctance doing this. If so, take baby steps. Do one thing at a time. But do something, because professors who continue giving traditional lectures might just find themselves replaced by a video.


On gender issues, many in Orthodox Christian countries have conservative views

A substantial share of adults in Central and Eastern Europe hold traditional views of the role of women and the family, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 18 nations in the region. This is especially true in the 10 countries surveyed with Orthodox Christian majorities.


Meet the critic who panned ‘Sgt. Pepper’ then discovered his speaker was busted. He’s still not sorry.

This may be as a good a time as any to offer Richard Goldstein’s confession. It isn’t anything he has tried to hide, and, in fact, he mentioned it briefly in his 2015 memoir, “Another Little Piece of My Heart.” But the revelation may be startling to Beatles fans, who have devoted their lives to interpreting every lyric, recording flourish and photograph presented by their band.
The stereo Goldstein used for his review was broken.
Repeat. The guy who slammed “Sgt. Pepper” in the New York Times had a busted speaker.


Here’s the history of Zaza Pachulia’s dirty plays that Gregg Popovich was so mad about

This isn’t exactly the first time Pachulia has been accused of dirty play. The “Zaza is dirty” train left the station a long time ago. In fact, this four-minute compilation of his dirty play, which features the plays Popovich mentioned during his rant, was published on YouTube back in February, long before Sunday’s incident.


Links To Go (May 12, 2017)

Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us

These are all worthy topics for discussion, but they are also fairly cold and abstract. So a better way to appreciate the power of these five might be to take the very small view instead of the very large — to examine the role each of them plays in your own day-to-day activities, and the particular grip each holds on your psyche.
So, last week I came up with a fun game: If an evil, tech-phobic monarch forced you to abandon each of the Frightful Five, in which order would you do so, and how much would your life deteriorate as a result?


The ‘Frightful Five’ Aren’t So Scary, as Long as They’re Competing

Plainly there is no cause to be Pollyannaish. It’s sensible to be wary of acquisitions and potential overreach. And there may be specific cases that cross the line and should be reined in. Over all though, the kind of competition we see among Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft tends to sort things out naturally and brutally.


On Refusing to Live a Hurried Life

Perhaps it would do them good — perhaps it would do all of us good to take a look at our “anxious driven frantic hearts.” Perhaps what we need is to build the discipline of stillness into our habits each day so that our hearts can rest in the Lord instead of desperately trying to move faster and faster.


Why You Should Learn to Say ‘No’ More Often

One technique is the refusal strategy. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research by Professor Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedt found that saying “I don’t” as opposed to “I can’t” allowed participants to extract themselves from unwanted commitments.
While “I can’t” sounds like an excuse that’s up for debate, “I don’t” implies you’ve established certain rules for yourself, suggesting conviction and stability. And since it’s personal, it also maintains the social connection humans crave.


Why Liberals Aren’t as Tolerant as They Think

But more recent psychological research, some of it presented in January at the annual meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), shows that it’s not so simple. These findings confirm that conservatives, liberals, the religious and the nonreligious are each prejudiced against those with opposing views. But surprisingly, each group is about equally prejudiced. While liberals might like to think of themselves as more open-minded, they are no more tolerant of people unlike them than their conservative counterparts are.


Though still conservative, young evangelicals are more liberal than their elders on some issues

Millennials are more likely than older adults to take liberal positions on social and political issues. This generation gap exists even among evangelical Protestants – who constitute one of the country’s most conservative religious groups – in areas including same-sex marriage, immigration and environmentalism.


Americans Worry About Moral Decline, Can’t Agree on Right and Wrong

Most older Americans say right and wrong never change. Younger Americans—not so much.
A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found a significant generation gap in how Americans view morality.
More than 6 in 10 of those older than 45 say right and wrong do not change. For those 35 and younger, fewer than 4 in 10 make that claim.


Eight Major Changes in Churches the Past Ten Years

  1. Today: Smaller worship gatherings.
    Ten years ago: Larger worship gatherings.
  2. Today: Smaller church facilities
    Ten years ago: Larger church facilities
  3. Today: First priority staff person hired: children’s minister
    Ten years ago: First priority staff person hired: worship leader
  4. Today: Ministry degree optional for church staff members
    Ten years ago: Ministry degree strongly preferred for church staff
  5. Today: Emphasis on congregational singing
    Ten years ago: Emphasis on performance singing
  6. Today: Community focus
    Ten years ago: Community myopia
  7. Today: Vital importance of groups
    Ten years ago: Marginal importance of groups
  8. Today: Church leaders are continuous learners
    Ten years ago: Church leaders were “degree and done”

Key findings about U.S. immigrants

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 82% think immigrants strengthen the country with their hard work and talents, and just 13% say they are a burden. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, roughly as many (44%) say immigrants are a burden as say immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents (39%).


The Cross-Resurrection Contradiction

The cross of Jesus reveals that the experience of suffering is contained within God’s own nature. It reveals a God who is intimately involved in the world, who is moved and affected by all that we experience, and who willingly becomes vulnerable to suffering.


Running Without Legs

This post caught my attention for several reasons – not the least for shaking my perspectives about this world we live in, for contradicting that, “What is the world coming to?” voice. I really think that sometimes we have grown very fixated on negative things to the detriment of our spiritual lives. Hopeless and pessimistic attitudes can impair our spiritual walking in a way this child’s disability fails to impede him.


How to Reach a Child’s Heart for Christ

Moralism and manipulation harden a child’s heart. But the gospel is God’s message of love and grace that transforms the heart of a child.


Links To Go (May 2, 2017)

(Links shared to make you think or make you laugh; no agreement nor endorsement implied)


The Skeptical State of Bible Reading in 2017

But a growing segment— 19 percent in 2017, up from 10 percent in 2011—say it’s simply a book of teachings and stories written by men.
That group has remained fairly stable in recent years (17% in 2013, 19% in 2014, 21% in 2015, and 22% in 2016). So this year for their State of the Bible report, ABS and Barna asked the people in that category a new question: If you think the Bible was written only by humans, do you think it was meant to be manipulative or controlling?
Almost 4 out of 5 skeptics said yes, which adds up to 13 percent of the US population. (A similar number of Americans told LifeWay that the Bible was bigoted (8%) or harmful (7%).)


Signs of the Apocalypse?

These dark and troubled days need not testify to the power of death and the triumph of chaos, but they can be for us another step in our journey toward God’s promised Heaven and earth. What the world interprets as chaos and destruction, Jesus reads as opportunity. So lift up your head. Don’t be afraid. Lean toward the future with God. Walk as disciples of Jesus.


Pope Francis and Coptic pope agree not to re-baptize

In a joint declaration signed April 28 by Francis and Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria during Francis’ visit to the Orthodox St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo, the two churches agreed that they would not hold baptisms for members of one church wishing to join the other.


EPA removes climate change data, other scientific information from website

The Environmental Protection Agency is updating its website and, in the process, has removed a page that explained the causes and effects of climate change.


What the Press Still Doesn’t Get About Trump

Now that journalists have spent a few months covering President Trump, we asked a range of media critics, political operatives, historians and more: What does the press still get wrong about Trump, and what do we just not get at all?


Who Decides Who Decides? Developing an Action Plan

Using the above criteria can help your leader group determine whether a particular decision should be made primarily by the minister, primarily by the elders, or through some mutual process. For many leadership teams, it can be a difficult conversation to have. Yet I am certain that many leaders know the frustration and wasted time that accompany unnecessarily endless discussions about a particular decision. Having clear, written guidelines about who decides what will empower your leadership team for meaningful work.


Becoming an Effective Assimilating Church

So everyone is gifted. God has put every new member coming into the Levy family into the body exactly as he desires. He recreated them to fit and plug right into the body of Christ. It then becomes up to local body to help them assimilate in order for them to use that gift.


Census: More Americans 18-to-34 Now Live With Parents Than With Spouse

“There are now more young people living with their parents than in any other arrangement,” says the Census Bureau study.
“What is more,” says the study, “almost 9 in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still living there today, making it the most stable living arrangement.”


The Science Is In: Sarcasm Makes You (and Your Friends) Smarter

When you’re brain first hears a sarcastic comment it goes through three stages to understand it. First, the language section in the brain interprets the literal meaning of the word or words. Then, the frontal lobes and right hemisphere break down the intention of the speaker and look at things such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expression to interpret differences between the actual meaning of the word and this specific social context of the word. And lastly, the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex makes a decision on whether or not the comment is sarcastic based off of our social and emotional interpretation.


Tornado Carries Mobile Home 130 Miles, Family inside Unharmed

A family from Tulsa, Oklahoma, underwent the scariest experience of their life yesterday, when their mobile home was carried over 130 miles by a tornado, landing in a rural Kansas area. Five members of the same family were inside the building during its “flight”, and all of them have miraculously survived without injuries.


Links To Go (April 20, 2017)

Family of Facebook Shooting Victim Tells CNN They Forgive Killer and Speak of God’s Love

“The thing I would take away most from my father is he taught us about God, how to fear God, how to love God and how to forgive. Each one of us forgive the killer, the murderer, we want to wrap our arms around him …
I promise you I could not do that (forgive) if I didn’t know God, if I didn’t know him as my God and my Savior. I could not forgive that man. And I feel no animosity against him at all. I actually feel sadness in my heart for this man.”


Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to growing shares of the world’s Christians and Muslims

If demography is destiny, then Christianity’s future lies in Africa. By 2060, a plurality of Christians – more than four-in-ten – will call sub-Saharan Africa home, up from 26% in 2015, according to a new analysis of demographic data by Pew Research Center. At the same time, the share of Christians living in many other regions – notably Europe – is projected to decline.


Sermon Content Is What Appeals Most to Churchgoers

As Easter and Passover help fill churches and synagogues this week, a new Gallup poll suggests the content of the sermons could be the most important factor in how soon worshippers return. Gallup measured a total of seven different reasons why those who attend a place of worship at least monthly say they go. Three in four worshippers noted sermons or talks that either teach about scripture or help people connect religion to their own lives as major factors spurring their attendance.


The Day Before the Tomb Was Empty

Lying in the cylinder of the scanner, those words, “terminal” and “inoperable” were fresh on my mind. Then it dawned on me what day it was. It was Saturday. Not just any Saturday, but the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. The day Jesus’ body lay buried in a tomb. The day before he rose from the dead.
No comparison, really, to a PET scanner cylinder, but I thought of him in there. I talked to him in there. I felt his presence with me. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks, and I wondered how they might show up on the scan. I wondered what parts of my brain were lighting up with those emotions of fear and sadness, overcome by gratitude and peace, remembering I wasn’t alone.


Three tests for every elder

And these are the only things that really matter to me when evaluating my shepherding:
I have to look myself in the mirror.
I have to look my wife in the eyes.
And someday, I will have to see my God face to face.


Ten Common Sentiments Pastors Wish They Could Express

  1. “I am struggling with depression.”
  2. “Don’t criticize me right before or after I preach.”
  3. “I worry about my family in the church fishbowl.”
  4. “I wish the ‘healthy’ church members in our church would stand up to the bullies and critics.”
  5. “Pray for me; I need it.”
  6. “I don’t know if we can pay our personal bills.”
  7. “I am so tired of attending mundane meetings.”
  8. “Don’t ask me to do something right before I preach.”
  9. “I can’t keep up with all the changes in culture and churches.”
  10. “It hurts me deeply when we lose a church member.”

How Did the Trump Administration Lose an Aircraft Carrier?

The boat blunder is only the latest example of how failure to communicate between units is undermining the Trump administration’s ability to articulate and execute a policy. In this case, the White House blames the Pentagon for providing misleading information and a premature press release, though a fuller story will probably emerge over time. (It’s important to remember that Mattis, a decorated and respected Marine general, was supposed to be one of the more competent figures in an administration full of thin government resumes.)


The most Canadian thing ever? Mystery as BEAVER is filmed rounding up a herd of cattle and leading them around a ranch

When we first saw this we knew that people would get a great chuckle out of it because you cannot get more Canadian than that.
‘We talk about how awesome our Canadian beef is, but a beaver leading cattle around? It’s the most Canadian thing ever,’ she said.