Category Archives: links

Links To Go (September 27, 2019)

Stop Getting Mad at People Who Question Change

Getting mad at people who question change does not help the process of change. Those who are truly malicious are typically small in number. When people have questions about change, it does not necessarily mean that they are questioning your leadership. It’s likely they just have questions. In fact, the only leaders who go unquestioned are despots.


Church Planting Series: Should Churches “Plant Pregnant” Today?

This is why I believe that all new churches should make planting a value from day one. From the beginning, your church should have the intention and plans to multiply. Even if it takes a bit longer to plant a brand new church, your church can still live out principles of church planting in small ways.

Church Planting Series: How Can Your Church Get Involved in Church Planting?

You can probably predict how this story ends. God ultimately used our planting to grow all three churches. His math often looks different than ours, and somehow our mother church ended up growing more than both of the two new churches. Soon our church was thriving again and we felt great about our decision to be involved in planting.


5 Mistakes Church Leaders Make When Attendance Declines

  1. Stopping New Initiatives
  2. Ignoring an Old Problem
  3. Adding New Staff
  4. Making large-scale purchases
  5. Blaming Something—or Someone—Else

Seven Points of Prayer: How We Revitalized Our Staff Meetings

The plan was simple. Every week one staff person would submit seven specific prayer requests. Here is the catch: These requests had to be personal.


Pledging Allegiance to the Messiah’s Kingdom – The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer, prayed daily with purpose and commitment, will transform us. Through this prayer, we acknowledge God’s transcendence, commit ourselves to God’s agenda, and embrace a new way of living in the world that conforms to God’s will, honor God’s name, and manifest God’s kingdom. Through this prayer, we trust in God’s daily provisions for our lives, receive God’s forgiveness as we forgive others, and embrace God’s protection against the evil one. Through this prayer, we pledge our allegiance to God, and we remember God’s pledge to us.


One of the Most Important Decisions You Will Ever Make

I started thinking about my three grandsons (ages 3-9). What would I tell them if they were to one day ask me about marriage? I do think I might tell them the following:

  1. Marry someone who can be your spiritual companion.
  2. Marry someone for whom you do not need to make a lengthy explanation to justify your decision.
  3. Marry someone who will allow you to be transparent about him/her and about the relationship.
  4. Marry someone who (if you are blessed with children) will provide real spiritual leadership to your children.

Your Navigation App Is Making Traffic Unmanageable

But now online navigation apps are in charge, and they’re causing more problems than they solve. The apps are typically optimized to keep an individual driver’s travel time as short as possible; they don’t care whether the residential streets can absorb the traffic or whether motorists who show up in unexpected places may compromise safety.


21-Year-Old College Student Runs Texas Hotel Alone…For 32 Hours…During A Tropical Storm

That’s not all he did. He also took on maintenance, housekeeping, and chef duties… But Smith’s selflessness did not end inside the confines of the hotel. Noticing that many truckers were trapped outside due to closed roads, Smith and other guests stepped into the storm to distribute water and food to stranded motorists.

6th grader scores 27 on ACT, plans on taking it again

A 12-year-old in Mississippi is breaking the internet after she scored a 27 on her ACT last year. “I plan on taking it again. I want to aim higher.” After scoring 27 on her ACT, as a sixth-grader, Kristen Rhodes says this is just the beginning.


‘We got high together’: Wrong number leads to hilarious text exchange with police officer

The response says, “I would love to go to the game tonight! Sadly I think you have the wrong number. :(” The person insists the two went to the game together, mentioning Shari and Diana and the fact that they “got high together.” It’s then that the receiver reveals he is, in fact, a police officer, with a quick selfie flashing his badge: “Pretty sure we didn’t get high together.” Oops!


Links To Go (September 24, 2019)

I’d Probably Still Cancel Your Short-Term Mission Trip

Research by Robert Priest, Brian Fikkert, Dambisa Moyo, and Bob Lupton (among others) on short-term trips has shown three things:

  • They don’t change participants’ lives.
  • They don’t cause more people to commit to long-term missions.
  • They often harm both local economies and orphans.

But here’s the problem: research rarely trumps the anecdotes that participants recount after their cross-cultural experiences. With an outsider’s view of complex cultural dynamics, we’re left evaluating short-term cross-cultural experiences based on felt needs and personal testimonies. It’s like a pastor evaluating his sermon based on how he felt about it.


5+ Questions to Ask a Visiting Missionary at Dinner

  1. Have you had any near death experiences?
  2. What are your most prized food items?
  3. What about weird cultural experiences?
  4. Have you met any famous people?
  5. Are you reading any good books?

Netflix Is Making It Harder to Be a Missionary

A missionary’s supporters and church community should start by asking how the cultural acclimation journey is going for the person. In what areas are they struggling? Are there ways technology is hurting their ministry? Is it best to travel home for this event, or is it okay to miss it? In what ways are they experiencing culture shock? Is it getting easier or harder? Are there areas of sin that have gone unchecked? How can we help in prayer and accountability?


Ten Fears for the American Church

  1. I fear we go through the motions without really experiencing God’s presence.
  2. I fear we get way too hung up on things that don’t matter nearly as much as we think.
  3. I fear we think too lightly about persecution.
  4. I fear we think we’re the most important church people in the world.
  5. I fear we think too little about Bible study and scripture memorization.
  6. I fear we have little idea what power there is in prayer.
  7. I fear we tolerate sin far too much.
  8. I fear we’re not providing enough practical training for young ministers and missionaries.
  9. I fear we sometimes get in the way of missionaries on our short-term trips
  10. I fear we don’t pray enough for missionaries.

It’s Official: Merriam-Webster Has Added They to Its Online Dictionary as a Nonbinary Pronoun

Merriam-Webster notes in a blog post that people have been using they as a singular pronoun since the 1300s, and quoted an 1881 letter in which Emily Dickinson refers to a person of unknown gender with the pronouns they, theirs, and even themself. The post also mentions that using you as a singular pronoun wasn’t always considered grammatically correct, either: it was born out of necessity, gained popularity in casual conversation, and eventually became formally accepted as a singular pronoun.


50 Years Ago, Scooby Doo Was the Perfect, Weird, Hopeful Mystery Series 1969 Needed

Scooby Doo suggests to the youth of America an alternative path for resistance against a greedy grown-up world, one achieved by outsmarting the enemy, rather than either fighting it or protesting it.


Police chief: Non-homeless, non-handicap Abilene man making $1,000/weekend panhandling

They learned he is not homeless. Standridge said the man lives in a home in south Abilene. He is also not wheelchair-bound, according to Standridge. Someone drops him off every weekend to seek charity. Standridge said the man earns about $1,000 a weekend.


Girl, 11, throws loaf of bread at armed robber

Police said the half-baked bandit bottled it when customers threw “squash and a loaf of bread” at him.


Links To Go (September 13, 2019)

Can a religious school fire a gay teacher? It’s complicated.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 barring federal contractors who do over $10,000 of business with the government in one year from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion sex or national origin. In 2002, President George W. Bush issued an executive order that added a religious exemption to the measure, using language lifted from Title VII. In 2014, President Barack Obama added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in Johnson’s original order, affording specific protections to LGBTQ workers, but Obama left intact Bush’s protections for religious organizations.


Sorry, but Politico’s long exposé on Jerry Falwell Jr. lacks adequate named sources to be taken seriously

That’s a lot of sources, yes. But they’d have much more credibility if they had names attached to them. On-the-record sources with names attached have more skin in the game than those granted carte blanche to say whatever they want without their names attached. That’s basic Journalism 101 reality.

Falwell Jr., Liberty University share GetReligion’s post on Politico story — but did they actually read it?

As with many red-hot stories mixing politics and religion in the Trump era, there’s a lot of noise — some of it helpful, some of it not — on both sides of the Falwell story. My advice remains the same: Rely most heavily on on-the-record sources, documents and facts. Be careful about accepting as the gospel truth undocumented statements and claims, especially from those who decline to be named.

Trump (Accidentally) Insulted a Pastor on Twitter. Here’s What He Said in Response

Now, Carl’s sharing his response to the episode. In a post which you can read here, Carl wrote that “I’m not mad at you, I’m sad for you … Our words overflow from our hearts and can quickly evidence the health or sickness of our souls. Your heart must be in a dangerous place to have such a consistent flow of defamation and disrespect towards so many.”


The First Sexual Revolution: The Triumph of Christian Morality in the Roman Empire

Harper explains that from Paul onward, Christian sexual morality “collapsed all forms of same-sex contact, whether pederastic or companionate, into one category” (99). “Nature” was seen as that which corresponded to social norms. With Christianity, “nature” would be that which corresponded to a gendered morality of sex. Preachers like Chrysostom condemned same-sex behavior, with no concern for whether it was pederasty, the exploitation of slaves, or more durable same-sex partnerships. Under Justinian we see the criminalization of same-sex behavior, though there is little evidence this was carried out with any kind of intrusive spying upon private life.


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

These findings are in keeping with arguments from scholars of religion that highly religious people may feel conflicted about saying that humans have evolved over time unless they are able to clarify their views about the role of God in these processes.


Wednesday Night Still a Church Night for Most Congregations

Almost 6 in 10 churches have small group adult Bible study classes. Most (53%) also have some type of student ministry or youth group gathering. Around half of pastors (48%) say they have children’s activities. Slightly less (45%) use the night for a prayer meeting. Close to 2 in 5 pastors say they have choir or worship team rehearsals on Wednesday. A third (33%) say their church has a worship service that night, while 8% say they do something else.


Praying Beyond the Prayer Card

I no longer want a list of simplistic prayers supported by isolated Bible verses to inform my petitions to God for my daughter. I need a robust vision of the life God casts in his word, a life that is not defined by radical individualism, personal fulfillment, and self-actualization via Christianity. Instead, I need a vision that is informed by our identity as adopted children of God who are members of the household of faith. Only then will I invite others into that household and faithfully act as an agent of restoration in light of God’s promise to make all things new.


Chef ditches job to become ‘dumpster diver’ – and makes £16,000 in six months

April Smith, 35, says she has saved £3,250 on food bills and has acquired beauty products and household goodies worth another £16,250, by diving into giant supermarket dumpsters and turning other people’s trash into treasure.


Links To Go (September 10, 2019)

Things Stay-at-Home Mothers Aren’t Allowed to Talk About

Emerald made me a card this weekend, saying she loves it that I “didn’t want a job.” I have never specifically talked with her about being a stay-at-home mom, but at seven years old she is already understanding a little bit of my heart when it comes to our family. I don’t know if she’ll wind up being the PTO President or a CEO, but if she chooses to stay home with babies, I pray that she will find in it the complete joy that I have. Because this world needs kind and artistic and smart and funny women like her in the kitchens and the laundry rooms and the carpool lines, and there is nothing at all wrong with her giving herself to her family, undivided.


Why the day to day of marriage is radical service to God

Obedience to the call of God to die to yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus is where any act done for the Lord becomes radical—whether it be mission work overseas, in the inner city, or in the suburbs with your spouse and kids in a minivan on the way to the grocery store. The day-to-day self-denial of choosing resurrection life over temporary comforts, dying to self to serve the other, and the year-after-year investment of your life into your spouse’s is a counter-cultural radical stance. With the adventurous heart of Christ in us, those of us who are married can be radically faithful in the everyday life of marriage.


Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

Did Jesus preach the gospel? Yes, he did! He preached the good news of the kingdom of God. But Jesus not only preached the gospel, he also enacted the gospel. He healed diseases, raised the dead, drove out demons, reconciled people, forgave sin, and included the marginalized.


Seven Things We Can Learn from Attractional Churches

  1. Have an intentional strategy to reach people.
  2. Think about the unchurched.
  3. Promote excellence.
  4. Keep moving people in the direction of evangelism.
  5. Demand strong communication.
  6. Apply the gospel.
  7. Maximize the opportunity.

More Than Half of U.S. Adults Trust Law Enforcement to Use Facial Recognition Responsibly

At the same time, the survey finds that this relatively broad acceptance of facial recognition use by law enforcement does not necessarily apply to other entities that might use these technologies. Notably smaller shares of the public say they trust technology companies (36%) or advertisers (18%) to use facial recognition responsibly.


Alex Jones Loses Another Legal Battle In Sandy Hook Defamation Case

Conspiracy theorist and lawsuit magnet Alex Jones lost another legal battle last week when a court struck down an appeal related to a defamation lawsuit against him and his fearmongering website Infowars.


Stop playing sound on your devices on flights and in public!

More people should speak out when they are being assaulted by sound. Reasonable people will turn it down, turn it off, or put on some headphones. Business people doing the wander should be advised to leave the room for their conversations.


Popovich helps build team camaraderie with ‘Pop Quizzes’

That has been one of the challenges that U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich has given his players along the journey to the World Cup knockout rounds. At the beginning of some of the team’s meetings, Popovich has selected a player to answer a non-basketball question, a “Pop Quiz” if you will.


Pit bull pretends to faint to avoid having her nails trimmed

A pit bull has gone viral for her acting chops after she dramatically escaped her owner’s attempt to trim her nails. Footage shared Thursday on Twitter showed the pooch pretending to faint as her owner tries to use a nail clipper on her.


Links To Go (September 9, 2019)

“No More of This!” (Why Jesus Armed and Disarmed Peter)

Jesus did not arm his disciples so they could fight; Jesus armed his disciples so that prophecy would be fulfilled and so he could disarm them! Jesus allowed those arresting him to falsely assume he was a violent revolutionary (as the prophecy in Isaiah says); but when his disciples actually attempted to employ violence, Jesus stopped them.


Yet another ex-ex-gay leader apologizes — but no one really investigates facts in this story

Game was in the closet until 1993 when he became a Christian and tried to live a hetero existence; getting married and having two children. His wife (and they are still married), Julie Game refused to be interviewed. That fact sends up a red flag for me. If this turnabout is so wonderful, why isn’t she applauding it? Hope for Wholeness also wouldn’t be quoted, even though it operates in some 15 states, according to the article.


What Christians Don’t Want to Admit About Celibacy and Homosexuality

Shouting, “One man, one woman!” louder and louder isn’t the answer. The answer involves a careful examination of American community, a look into the reasons why denying the right to marry has become synonymous with denying the right to love, and a willingness to fix these problems, at least within the church.


LGBT Activists: Drew Brees Promoting The Bible Is Homophobic

Brees, a man of conviction and religious faith, should not be held to the moral and social standards of people who choose to express their views through actual, tangible hatred and literal intolerance. Conservative Christians do not deserve public shaming, shunning and baseless accusations simply for promoting their faith to their own community.


Why I’m Still an Evangelical

Yet over and over again, I come back to Peter’s response. Where else would I go? And it’s not because this was how I was raised, or I am afraid of what people will think, or this is what is comfortable. I believe because there is no where else to go. Again and again, I explore other belief systems. Again and again, I ask myself the hard questions. And again I am convinced: This is the Truth. What the Bible teaches is Truer Truth than any other belief system I have encountered.


Another Learning Experience

If you arrive at university this year and find yourself settled and growing in a good student church, then that will be fantastic. But before you do that, why not take a second look at some of the other churches a little further afield? You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.


In Search of a Better Land: A World on the Move and a Church on Mission

  • Takeaway #1: God is sovereign over migration.
  • Takeaway #2: How we receive the foreigner will determine how the foreigner perceives our God.
  • Takeaway #3: The great migration attunes our hearts and lives to the theological reality that we too are migrants longing for a better world.

There’s a $218 billion design problem sitting in your fridge right now

There’s a nice piece of fruit in your refrigerator right now. Perhaps it’s a veggie. Or a boneless skinless chicken breast. Whatever it is, you’re definitely going to eat it. You’re not a food waster! But here’s the truth: There’s only a 50% chance, or worse, that you’ll finish any of those things, in their entirety, a week later. The rest will only be partially eaten, or perhaps prepared and sitting in your fridge as leftovers. In any case, much of that remaining 50% will end up in the trash soon, representing lost money and one of the greatest contributors to carbon emissions and climate change.


Texas Popeye’s ran out of chicken sandwiches, man pulls gun

Police say a man pulled a gun at a Popeyes restaurant in Houston after being told they were out of chicken sandwiches.


Maid of honor wears T-Rex costume to sister’s wedding: ‘I regret nothing’

In a hilarious Facebook post, Meador shared a photo of herself on the big day in full Tyrannosaurus rex ensemble, dutifully holding her sunflower bouquet. “When you’re maid of honor and told you can wear anything you choose…I regret nothing,” Meador captioned the photo.