Category Archives: links

Links To Go (October 19, 2018)

What the Arab world needs most is free expression

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

We are not the enemy (if we try)

Realizing that things can get better (they can always get better) opens the door for productive conversations, conversations that aren’t based on prior decisions about what team someone is on, and instead, on putting our shoulder to the work, taking responsibility and actually making things better.
We can fight injustice without becoming pawns in a boxing promoter’s game.

Are you becoming more or less of an encourager?

The church must be an oasis for the true Christian! You must be such a great encouragement that you become a breath of fresh air for those who speak to you. Of course, we should confront sin and push people towards holiness, but when people talk to us they should feel like we care about them and, more importantly, their soul.

Seven Ways Preachers Can Encourage One Another

This is a plea to all of us who preach to encourage, strengthen, support, and love a fellow preacher who is struggling. Let’s consider how we can encourage and support one another. If you are not a preacher, why not join in with us as we seek to encourage one another.

Americans’ Theology is a Mix of Orthodox Belief and Shifting Opinions

Six in 10 Americans say religious belief is a matter of personal opinion. For 7 in 10 Americans, such religious beliefs include one true God existing in three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And a similar number who say God is perfect. But an increasing majority of Americans deny Jesus has always existed and many say the Holy Spirit is a force rather than a personal being.

Why Public Service Loan Forgiveness Is So Unforgiving

Congress created Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) in 2007, in the waning days of the Bush administration. The pitch to borrowers was simple:
Spend 10 years teaching, nursing, policing or otherwise working for a qualified nonprofit while also making 120 monthly payments against your student loans, and the government would forgive whatever’s left. As a thank you.
But recent data from the Department of Education show that 99 percent of applications for loan forgiveness have been denied.

A new Ikea report is an unsettling look at life in the 21st century

Two years ago, the company asked thousands of people about where they felt “most at home.” At the time, 20% of subjects said it wasn’t the space in which they lived. Two years later, they asked again, and found the number has risen by 15% among people who live in cities. In other words, 35% of people who live in cities don’t feel at home in their house or apartment.

Is turning off your notifications the ultimate productivity hack?

Researchers have found that it takes, on average, 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand after a distraction. And notifications are serial offenders. Though originally introduced by Blackberry as a way to keep you off your phone (no need to keep checking email when a simple alert could tell you when a new message had arrived), notifications often have the opposite effect, drawing us deeper into the smartphone vortex.

What do we actually know about the risks of screen time and digital media?

The lumping of everything digital into a monolith is a framing that makes Oxford Internet Institute psychologist Andrew Przybylski groan. “We don’t talk about food time,” he points out. “We don’t talk about paper time. But we do talk about screen time.”

Links To Go (October 17, 2018)

The Solution to American Tribalism is … Belief in Satan

In other words, unless you believe in demons, you will begin to demonize whatever political apparatus you find yourself opposing. You will treat your political and cultural opponents not as compatriots with wrong opinions, but as the ultimate enemy of the human race, and imagine that you are involved in a life or death struggle against them. And that, in turn, justifies whatever you think you need to say about them or do to them in order to stop them.

Are You Listening or Talking to Yourself?

Far too many of us (including church leaders) seem to be almost obsessed with listening to the negative, fear-based, anxiety rooted messages that are within us. We listen to ourselves and we hear hopelessness, futility, and reasons to give up. We just don’t have enough of this or that. Of course, we then talk to our spouses, fellow church leaders, colleagues, etc. and our anxiety spreads like a highly contagious disease.

A Word to the Older Men

Old men. We need you. And we need you to live your life in such a way that evokes admiration and respect. You don’t have to be a great orator. You don’t have to write books on theology. We just need you to be godly. That is your calling, and it should be the aspiration of every man. Set the pace for us. Your family, church, and community need this from you more than anything else.

We Don’t Need to Go Back to the Early Church

We must always go back to the teachings of the early church, the New Testament, but the church itself was a mess. Much like today. We are a mess, too, so we go back to the teachings that went to our messy brothers and sisters. We learn from them and the teachings—not to be like them, but to be faithful to our risen Lord.

Churches in trouble should do this…

Even an unhealthy church that seems to be dying can be changed.
Jesus, Scripture, loving God and people.
You do not need a big staff to do these things. Or a lot of programs. Or a large budget. Or even a building.
Start evaluating your church based on these things and you can be healthy.

What Does Your Liturgy Celebrate?

The question this brought us face-to-face with though was; “Is what we are doing in our worship gatherings celebrating the gospel (and by the gospel I mean to celebrate Jesus as God’s sent Son who lived perfectly obedient to God the Father, died the death of a treacherous sinner in obedience to God the Father, rose from the dead in obedience to God the Father and by the power of the Spirit, and who sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession on our behalf today) or is it celebrating something else?”
I believe that far too often our worship gatherings celebrate something other than Jesus and the gospel. Not intentionally, of course, but nevertheless. We don’t get up on Monday and plan a worship service to celebrate ourselves, but is that what happens unintentionally?

Half of Protestant Pastors Approve of Trump’s Job Performance

A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research of Protestant senior pastors found 51 percent approve of how President Trump has handled the job, with 25 percent strongly approving.

A Nursing Home in China Offers Recent Grads Cheap Rent in Return for Spending Time With Seniors

Sunshine Home, a privately run, state-funded senior living center in Hangzhou, China, welcomed about a dozen 20-somethings into the facility this past July. Costing just 300 yuan, or about $44, a month, the home is an affordable option for many recent college graduates looking to start their careers in the city. As part of the deal, they’re asked to spend at least 20 hours a month with the elderly tenants, either by reading to them, chatting, showing them how to use their smartphones, or leading classes.

Links to Go (October 12, 2018)

How the Eschatological Views of Columbus Changed the World

Columbus believed the conversion of all peoples to Christianity and the re-conquest of Jerusalem were necessary preconditions for the Second Coming of Jesus. He also believed he was playing a starring role in the eschatological drama. As he once wrote in his diary, “God made me the messenger of the New Heaven and the New Earth.”

Kingdom Patriotism

The problem of darkness within North America is not a problem with the nature of darkness; instead, it is a problem with the light. Light, by its very nature, always dispels darkness. Jesus was not unclear on this point. If there is as much darkness as there is the light of Christ within the church, then how great that darkness must be.

Seeing Truth in the Silence

Why do we focus more on the hate than we do the holy? Is it because it speaks louder and grabs our attention more? Is it because we’re more familiar with heartache and have no problem sitting in our pain? Why do we allow the God moments to pass by so quickly, sometimes refusing to see them, when they’re happening?

What Ever Happened to Civil Debate?

When we get angry, shout, gossip, or tear down others we disagree with, we are showing what’s in our heart. Even if others “shake us” through their actions or words, only what’s truly inside us will spill out. As our sinfulness is revealed, the Gospel calls us to confess, receive the forgiveness of Christ, and strive to live in God’s mercy and grace each day. As we do so, that grace will change us from the inside out, and more and more we’ll show graciousness in our speech and disposition.

Sacred Cows to Be Aware of in Your Church

The 15 sacred cows we discuss are:

  1. The parlor.
  2. The organ.
  3. Politics.
  4. Order of worship.
  5. The building.
  6. Flowers in the worship center.
  7. Music/worship style.
  8. Sunday evening services.
  9. Pews.
  10. Attire.
  11. Committees.
  12. Cemeteries.
  13. Choir robes.
  14. Previous pastor.
  15. White tablecloths over the elements for the Lord’s Supper/Communion.

Don’t send an email without doing these three things

  • Wait at least 60 seconds and read it over before you hit send
  • Take out fillers and qualifiers
  • You are conveying the right tone

The 5 people you must have in your network

  • The creative innovator
  • The pragmatist
  • The up and comer
  • The network node
  • Your future self

The Automation Charade

Over 2,000 years ago Aristotle dreamt of a self-weaving loom that would end slavery and exploitation. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Luddites broke weaving machines in protest against the domination and destitution that came with the new contraptions, only to be unfairly remembered as opponents of progress. Today, in our own optimistic reveries about labor-saving devices, we too often forget to ask: who owns the looms?

American Airlines flight diverted because passenger wouldn’t stop performing pull-ups on the overhead bin

Perhaps hoping to prove that his fitness is on the level of #CantStop #WontStop, the man refused to quit doing pull-ups, until he finally reached his #FitnessGoal. “He would not sit down. The flight attendant probably asked him about three or four times to sit down, and he refused to sit down, and then he really got verbally abusive with her, starting calling her names,“ Markoski said.

Links to Go (October 8, 2018)

Only One in Three Americans Could Pass the U.S. Citizenship Test

The survey results don’t contain much to be optimistic about, with respondents 65 years and older scoring the best (74 percent passed) and those under 45 scoring the worst (81 percent failed). Some parts of the country are taking action to ensure this knowledge is just as important to U.S.-born citizens as it is to naturalized ones: Last year, Texas passed a bill requiring all high school students to pass the civics portion of the citizenship test to graduate.

After 17 years of war in Afghanistan, more say U.S. has failed than succeeded in achieving its goals

Republicans are now more optimistic than Democrats that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan has succeeded in achieving its goals, according to the new survey, conducted Sept. 18-24 among 1,754 adults. About half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (48%) say the U.S. has succeeded, compared with about three-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaning independents (28%).
Three years ago, during the presidency of Barack Obama, partisan opinions were nearly the reverse: 42% of Democrats said the U.S. had succeeded, compared with 29% of Republicans.

Conservatism After Christianity

But in general, churchgoing Republicans look more like the party many elite conservatives wanted to believe existed before Trump came along — more racially-tolerant, more accepting of multiculturalism and globalization, and also more consistently libertarian on economics. Secularized Trump voters look more like the party as Trump has tried to remake it, blending an inchoate economic populism with strong racial resentments.

Four roads we call customer service

Road 1: I can learn from you and make things better
Road 2: You’re an important customer and I can bring empathy and care to this moment to strengthen our relationship
Road 3: I can teach you something and make things better
Road 4: Go away

Seven Reasons Why Writing Handwritten Notes Will Revolutionize Your Ministry

The seven reasons we discuss are:

  1. It moves you to a spirit of gratitude.
  2. It reminds you of the blessings God has given you.
  3. It takes the focus off negativity in the church
  4. It is incredibly rewarding to the recipients.
  5. It changes the ethos and culture of the church.
  6. It improves personal relationships.
  7. It happens 365 times a year.

A Life With No Side Effects

Paul acknowledges that life comes with side effects, but he also acknowledges that there is a bigger picture. In the midst of personal suffering, Paul was able to discern that all of it was temporary and all of it had a purpose. This world is wasting away, but it’s giving birth to something new and improved; something far better. We groan, but in our groaning we hope and we wait. In the meantime, we persevere; knowing that the side effects will one day subside and we will be made well for all eternity.

Oblivious man had $1M lottery ticket for four months

Redding resident Charles Dudley told Connecticut Lottery officials he bought a Powerball ticket for the May 2 drawing on a whim.
“I had stopped for ice cream at the [Georgetown] Shell station that day,” Dudley said. “While I was there, I got a Powerball Quick Pick, put it in my wallet, and then forgot about it.”
He said it wasn’t until he was cleaning out his wallet this week that he found the ticket, which was only 23 days away from expiring, sandwiched between some old receipts.

Links To Go (October 2, 2018)

We’re Exiles, Not Expatriates

As American Christians, we must be diligent to remember three truths as we live on Jesus’ mission in a cultural turbulent society:

  1. Our primary citizenship is in Heaven, not America. Our eyes, like our fathers and mothers of our faith should be fixed towards the City of God.
  2. The primary document that shapes what we believe and how we live is God’s Word, the Bible, and not the Constitution. Our minds, like our fathers and mothers of the faith, should be renewed through the reading and studying of Scripture.
  3. The ruler and Commander-in-Chief that we bow to first is Jesus, not our president. Our hearts should chase after Him who guides our steps in righteousness.

Mobilizing People for Mission

Unless we see our workmates, friends, school-gate connections, and acquaintances through the lens of the gospel, then we simply won’t speak about Jesus. We won’t be willing to spend our social capital. We won’t be willing to take a risk with the connection we have made in the community. We must be captured by the glory of God, must grapple with the reality of the new creation and yearn for it, must be confronted by the reality of hell and judgement, and must see ourselves and the world through the lens of grace.

Intentional Friendliness: Making A Great First Impression In A Smaller Church

Pastors often ask me how to balance these two priorities: do we spend our time pastoring the people we have, or reaching out to people we don’t have?
The biblical answer is discipleship. We need to disciple the people we have to reach out with Christ’s love to the people we don’t have. When we do that, no one gets left out.

Context Matters: Your Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit

Let’s just make sure to follow that line of thinking all the way into the station. If this verse prohibits alcohol, tobacco, or piercings, then how much more does it also prohibit caffeine, chocolate cake, bacon grease, late nights, failure to bathe, steel factory employment, vasectomies, and drivers’ licenses? Each of these things either 1) introduces harmful substances to the body, 2) puts the body at significant risk of harm, or 3) makes permanent bodily changes for reasons other than preserving health.

How to Stop Spreading Lies on the Internet

The truth matters. When we share lies and misinformation, especially when we do so to discredit and public figure, we defame someone made in the image of God and bring shame on the name of Christ. Because Christians live as ambassadors for Christ in this world, we can and must exercise more caution and discernment concerning what we share on the Internet.

An Ancient Solution to Digital Weariness

We will never be fully in the know. We will never say everything. We will never satisfy our deepest longings. Fasting reminds us of all these truths. You may not start with an extended, long-term fast. But start somewhere—for the sake of your soul.
Don’t be afraid of the emptiness, for it is there that you will find the Way to be filled.

Your Notifications Are Lying to You

The problem with notifications goes beyond interruptions, or the fact that they deliver randomized dopamine hits like a super-addictive slot machine. Notifications help apps skew your worldview. They make you think that your phone is important and essential.
How often do you truly need an interruption to your day, a thing that sets your pants buzzing and makes you drop what you’re doing, be it work or play, and rush to take a different action? Maybe once or twice a day, right? So why are notifications bugging you all the time?

This small town, devastated by floods, welcomed Syrian immigrants. They’re now paying it back.

The result of that vow came to fruition Saturday at Syriana, where he presented the city with a check for $10,000, which he had raised from Syrian Americans from all over the country who had seen the destruction and wanted to show their gratitude not just to Ellicott, but also to the United States for accepting them.

Don’t listen to those productivity gurus: why waking up at 6am won’t make you successful

My prime time happens to be in the morning, but yours might be at noon or 7 pm. And maybe you renew your energy with a coffee date or an afternoon yoga class.
Do whatever you can to seize that prime time and make the most of it.

Self-proclaimed ‘Old Coots’ offer life advice at farmers market. Their slogan: ‘It’s Probably Bad Advice, But It’s Free.’

Each Saturday since the summer, the “Old Coots” have taken on the issues of about 30 to 40 people who come by seeking their advice. It’s a way for a person to get an outside opinion from somebody who has nothing to gain, he said.
“It started as a joke, but it’s become a phenomenon,” Caputo said. “Somebody told us the other day that we’re the most popular attraction at the market. We always listen carefully and don’t give gratuitous advice.”