Category Archives: Uncategorized

Links to Go (March 17, 2017)

Why you think you’re right, even when you’re wrong

In other words, if we really want to improve our judgment as individuals and as societies, what we need most is not more instruction in logic, rhetoric, probability or economics, even though those things are all valuable. What we most need to use those principles well is scout mindset. We need to change the way we feel — to learn how to feel proud instead of ashamed when we notice we might have been wrong about something, or to learn how to feel intrigued instead of defensive when we encounter some information that contradicts our beliefs. So the question you need to consider is: What do you most yearn for — to defend your own beliefs or to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?


Taxi Drivers, Refugees, and Other Good Reasons to Pray

Given the current climate of hatred and division in our nation, and of fear in the face of global terrorism, the church is living in the best of times to complete the task of the church by the power of his enduring love.
Yes, we are living in a unique time in the history of Christianity, when the kingdom of Heaven is showing up joyfully tutoring English, and living and working intentionally in our cities, showing love to an immigrant or refugee neighbor, providing a homestay or meal for an international student, and taking a taxi home from the airport.


Were Mary and Joseph Married or Engaged at Jesus’ Birth?

Returning to Joseph, he would have paid the bride price to Mary’s father at their engagement (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:27). Despite his misgivings, Joseph then obeyed the angel’s command to marry Mary (Matthew 1:20). The time of formal engagement, whether a full year or not, had passed between them. So Joseph and Mary had begun to live together except for sexual relations (Matthew 1:25). Luke’s understanding of mnēsteuō must be expanded to include both the betrothal/engagement as well as marital cohabitation.


Who will cast a stone at Jesus?

Of course, if Jesus is a sinner, he is without question the worst of them all.
If he is sinless, then he is the Divine Savior, and Eternal Judge of all men.
Here we are, 2,000 years later. The invitation to call him a sinner still stands.
Who will cast the first stone?


The Marshmallow Myth

The secret to success in the marshmallow test of life and work is not about delaying gratification. It is about discovering gratification in every situation. It’s about leveraging the unparalleled ability of the human mind to find—and focus on—small sources of gratification in any set of circumstances.


Anton Chekhov: How to Become a Cultured Person

As Chekhov says, reading this letter (or books) is not enough. Getting from where you are to where you want to be is not easy. These eight conditions are not a checklist, but a guideline—a “true north” of sorts that reveals to us the direction we must go…


A Latina comes to the defense of a Muslim couple being verbally harassed on the New York subway

A young Latina then intervenes. She asks the older woman what nationality she is and where she is from and the woman says she is from Puerto Rico. The young woman, who says she is Chinese and Peruvian, pleads with the woman in English and Spanish to be respectful to the couple. But in the bizarre exchange aboard the moving E-line train, the older woman tells her to mind her own business and stop scolding her.
“I am not asking you to be quiet. I am asking you to please respect her,” says the young woman who Univision Noticias identified as Tracey Tong, 23, of Queens.


Grown-ups Are Stupid! How to Travel + See the World Like a Child

Consider the reasons:

  • Everything is new to them
  • They possess limitless curiosity + everything is a learning experience
  • They live in a carefree bubble, without the worries of daily adult life (money, relationships, life and death)
  • They love to create
  • They don’t care what other people think
  • They act with reckless abandon – doing “just because”
  • Their default mode is “play”
  • They live in the present

An Oxford Comma Helped Decide a Labor Dispute in Maine

If often seems as if the ongoing war over the Oxford comma is likely to rage on for as long as there is a written word. Proponents of it claim that the comma is necessary in order to cut through any confusion in a sentence (it’s also the side we here at mental_floss fall on). Critics, however, say that the comma is superfluous, clunky, and maybe even a little bit elitist. But one dairy company in Maine just found out that the Oxford comma isn’t just helpful—it could also keep you out of court.


Links To Go (July 8, 2016)

The Problem with Saying ‘All Lives Matter’

So when you hear the words “Black Lives Matter,” don’t be so quick to assume it’s a judgement about white lives. Instead, see “Black Lives Matter” for what it is: a rallying cry to make a difference and take down the unjust status quo that holds racial equality at bay in America. You can join the movement and commit yourself to the social and economic liberation of black people, or you can choose to stand on the sidelines. But don’t silence the cry with the words “All Lives Matter.” This is an emergency.


The obvious reason the NRA isn’t commenting on the Philando Castile police shooting

But there’s another, more obvious explanation: Castile was black, and gun ownership in America — down to the NRA’s messaging — is largely built on white identity.


Trump, Saddam and why people mistrust the media

So what was different last night? Clinton’s campaign said it was different. In Politico, we learn that Trump’s Hussein praise “finally caught up with him” because “Hillary Clinton’s campaign tore into his latest comments.” NBC News notes that Trump said this at a rally with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), which could lead to a clash and some awkward questions; otherwise, the only new thing is that “Hillary Clinton’s campaign seized the opportunity to once more paint Trump as unfit for office.”
And so on. The story is not that Trump argued that the United States would be better off if a dictator had been allowed to stay in power in Iraq; the story is that things are different now, because the presumptive Democratic nominee is whacking him for saying it.


America is not stranded between a Hillary and Donald place

America is not stranded between a Hillary and a Donald place. America is up in arms because we churches have shifted from faith to being political; possibly much more than we realized. Every human being needs to run…not for office…but into a God-believer who strives to die from a cross that others (even enemies) might live. May we be among those who give life to any who have grown to think there is no more hope.


Iowa Churches Can’t Discriminate During Services ‘Open to the Public’

A 2007 amendment to the Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, among other factors.
Religious institutions are exempt, but only when they are doing something “related to a bona fide religious purpose.” The language is vague, and no churches have been disciplined for discrimination.
But the newest explanation from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), a law enforcement agency commissioned to end discrimination in Iowa, wrote that “a childcare facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public” would be subject to the regulations.


A Pastor’s Take on Short Term Mission Teams

Every time I have the chance to visit with full-time, long-term, career missionaries, I ask them to share their thoughts about short term mission teams. In all of those discussions, I’ve never had a missionary tell me they think short term mission teams are indispensable to the Great Commission. Instead, I usually hear cautionary tales about short term teams that cause disruptions, setbacks, distractions, and lots of busy work for those missionaries who are planted on the field.


What Would Jesus Brew?

Christians are free to drink. And, they’re also free not to. What are the deciding factors? Well, whether or not you have a taste for it certainly plays a part. But the main thing is to keep the goal in mind: loving neighbors like Jesus does—with nuance and wisdom.


9 Sins the Church Is Surprisingly OK With as Long as You Love Jesus

I think there’s a lesson here for the church. What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?
Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most.


No one is unreasonable

No one is unreasonable. Or to be more accurate, no one thinks that they are being unreasonable.
That’s why we almost never respond well when someone points out how unreasonable we’re being. We don’t see it, because our narrative of the world around us won’t allow us to. Our worldview makes it really difficult to be empathetic, because seeing the world through the eyes of someone else takes so much effort.


The underappreciated art of saying thanks

But, if you really don’t want to say thank you, if you consider the phrase nothing more than two useless words better left to previous generations of the considerate, that’s totally fine. Just don’t ask anyone to do anything for you, ever.


Links To Go (October 13, 2015)

Columbus Day?

Well isn’t that nice. Columbus’ initial impulse upon encountering the indigenous other was to think, “Hey, these people would make good slaves!” Columbus was barely off the boat before the native inhabitants were being captured and sold into slavery. Columbus wrote, “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.” Apparently Columbus was a religious man…proposing slave trade in the name of the Trinity!


Christians Don’t Need Rights

Since when does your relationship with God depend on your rights as a human being? In the book of Daniel, when Darius made a law prohibiting prayer to any deities for a month, Daniel went back to his house and prayed anyway.
And then he went to a lion’s den.
And when Darius came back to get him the next morning, the first thing that Daniel said to him wasn’t, “Give me back my rights, jerk!” It was, “Oh king, may you live forever.”
To the guy who threw him into a lion’s den for praying.


The Lost Art of the Church Potluck

With our friends we floated two hypotheses about the decline of the potluck.
The first was church size. It seems that churches are either very big or very small, making it harder to achieve the sweet spot for a congregation-wide potluck.
Our other hypothesis was about a loss of generational skill. The consensus was that our mothers and grandmothers really knew how to do a potluck. And the main thing was that they brought to the potluck a ton of food, enough for their family and many, many more.


Daily Fantasy Sports: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) take the same principles of traditional fantasy sports–entrants choose players from different teams and receive points based on their performances–and monetizes them. Entrants pay to enter leagues, which last one week’s worth of games, with the hopes of winning large sums of cash. One pays into the system in hopes that his team wins him a lot of money.
Clearly this is a gambling model. While there are some who argue otherwise–only so they can keep it legal–it meets the basic criteria of gambling. No matter how much knowledge of the sport or research about match-ups an entrant possesses, his or her players are still at the mercy of chance. Sure, Julio Jones may be a great match-up against the Texans’ defense, but his owners didn’t plan on Atlanta jumping out to such a big lead that it would keep him from playing in much of the game, thus limiting his points. Because you can, and almost certainly will, lose money with the hopes of winning money, DFS are gambling, and gambling hurts its participants.


5 Warning Signs for the Church in a ‘Facebook Culture’

What effect does “social media” technology have on the way we view the church? On the way we conceive of life in Christ’s body? Much of social media is positive, of course. And the church has certainly leveraged this technology to advance the cause of Christ. Moreover, I can’t miss the irony of writing about the adverse effects of technology on a website. Nevertheless, I do have some concerns—and so should you.


Germany Faces Few Mass Shootings Amid Tough Gun Laws

Crimes involving guns are still relatively rare. German government statistics showed that while criminal acts increased last year to just over six million in a country of 80.6 million people, crimes that violated weapons laws declined to 30,785 cases, or by 2.1 percent, from 2013.
There was a slight decrease in violent crimes last year in the United States as well, and the rate of gun-related homicides declined to 3.6 per 100,000 people by 2010 from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1981. But the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit group that keeps track of gun violence, tallied more than 40,000 acts of violence involving guns so far this year.


A Songwriting Rant

Intentionally, this has been a rant. Some points can be made better in a bombastic way than in a nuanced way, and regular readers will hopefully know my huge esteem for the enormous gifts God has given us in people like Stuart Townend, Chris Tomlin, Darlene Zschech, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Kari Jobe, Martin Smith, Bob Kauflin and many others. But in amongst the generalisations, there may be some helpful challenges for some of us, especially for those whose commission it is to shepherd the church.

First edition of King James Bible from 1611 found in church cupboard

A vicar clearing out a cupboard at his church found a forgotten first edition King James Bible dating back to 1611.
There are believed to be fewer than 200 such Bibles still in existence.


Crew shooting film to promote Houston robbed at ‘We Love Houston’ sign

Zach Jankovic, a Houston native and owner of the production company, said his crew was shooting footage of the “We Love Houston” sign for a film to promote the positive aspects of the city when a man approached them and brandished a gun.
The man fled with two video cameras being used by the crew and a GoPro they were using to shoot behind-the-scenes footage.


Links To Go (May 6, 2015)

4 Things That Keep People Out of Your Church

  1. No One Knows … Or Cares … That You Exist
  2. You Have Lousy Hospitality
  3. You Have Unresolved Conflict
  4. Your Ministries Aren’t Creating Transformed Lives

Consistency

These are people who you know exactly who they are, not because they are perfect, but because they try to live life consistent with their faith. The best word I can think of for this type of consistency is faithfulness. These are people who are faithful to God, family and their calling.


How To Find A Mentor

A similar path is possible with mentoring. You can groan and whine that you haven’t been mentored, and you can place blame with the older generation. Or, you can resolve that when you are in a place of leadership, you will mentor and disciple those coming after you. If you can’t have the mentor you need, you can be the mentor someone else will need.


3 Promises for the Suffering

Across the globe, people are hurting, whether it’s in Nepal or Baltimore or next-door. When we suffer, we inevitably turn our eyes to heaven and ask with the Old Testament prophet, “How long, O Lord!?”
How glorious it is that, in the midst of our suffering and pain, the Bible assures us of three great promises!


3 Things True Love Is Not

Yet, one thing many of us know about love: It has let us down. Love has brought us to tears. Love has Indiana Jonesed our heart, ripping it out without even putting us under.
Love cures us and makes us sick, sometimes in the same look.
What is love? How do we get it? And how do we keep it?
To answer these questions, we need to first figure out what love is not. We need to remove some lies we believe about love to get down to the core of what love really is.


Boston Marathon Kiss: Mystery man’s wife comes forward with letter to runner

Barbara Tatge was running in her first ever Boston Marathon when she followed through on her daughter’s dare to kiss a random man as she passed through Wellesley. She did it, and then Paige Tatge began a quest to find the man in the photo when she reached out to the Townsman last week.
The mystery man’s wife was running the race for the first time as well, and in a letter to Tatge via the Townsman said that the attention the story has gotten—picked up by several national media outlets—has been fun. She and her husband would like to remain anonymous, though.


Woman in wheelchair wins a treadmill on ‘Price is Right’

Danielle Perez’s trip to “The Price is Right” looked like the dream scenario in an episode that aired Tuesday. She made it on stage and met Carey. She even won her pricing game, sending her home with a sauna and a treadmill.
Which would’ve been great, except that Perez has no legs and she uses a wheelchair.


Links to Go (August 12, 2014)

Ann Coulter and Our Mission

Ann Coulter has not suddenly pivoted to saying some outrageous, shocking thing. She’s made a living at it. Donald Trump is not suddenly a boor. He’s been playing this role for years. It doesn’t bother me what Trump or Coulter think about missiology or the Great Commission.
What I do think we should care about is the larger phenomenon. As the church of Jesus Christ, we should be the last people to fall for hucksters and demagogues. After all, we have the Spirit of God, who gifts the church with discernment and wisdom. But too often we do. We receive celebrities simply because they say they are “conservative” without asking what they are conserving.
Too often, our culture identifies conviction with intensity of feeling. And intensity of feeling is marked by theatrical outrage and attention-getting vitriolic speech. We see this in the lost world and, sometimes, lamentably, within Christian culture too. “I can’t believe she said that!” has replaced “Thus saith the Lord.”


Love Trumps Hate

The idea took root. On the night of the game, imagine the surprise of those 14 players when they took the field and there was a banner the cheerleaders had made for them to crash through. The visitors’ stands were full. The cheerleaders were leading cheers for them. The fans were calling them by their names. Isaiah, the quarterback-middle linebacker said, “I never in my life thought I would hear parents cheering to tackle and hit their kid. Most of the time, when we come out, people are afraid of us. You can see it in their eyes, but these people are yelling for us. They knew our names.”


Arguing Never Works

Over the years I have had to step back, take some time to reflect and approach a specific situation with Paul’s instructions in my heart. Learning to see God as the major player in this scene has been eye opening for me. I am a debater by nature and have quickly risen to the occasion when opposition has shown itself in my ministry.
Quarreling never achieves the will of God. Gentle instruction is sometimes really hard to get to, but it is ultimately the only way to defeat the devil. He has no defense against kindness, gentleness and a refusal to resent another’s opposition. Overcoming the instinct to react defensively and prove my own superior knowledge or position or whatever, has been a pretty long journey for me.


Work-Life Balance Tool: Intentional Airplane Mode

  1. Choose a one-hour time period to experiment.
  2. During the hour, turn your phone completely off, or put it into airplane mode.
  3. Practice mindfulness.
  4. At the end of the week, reflect on what you learned.

I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me

This is a problem much bigger than Facebook. It reminded me of what can go wrong in society, and why we now often talk at each other instead of to each other. We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves—the things we read and watch have become hyper-niche and cater to our specific interests. We go down rabbit holes of special interests until we’re lost in the queen’s garden, cursing everyone above ground.


Authors United

As writers–most of us not published by Hachette–we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want. It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation. Moreover, by inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery, Amazon is contradicting its own written promise to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.”


Girl Pitches Shutout to Lead Team to Little League World Series

Female pitcher Mo’Ne Davis led her team into the Little League World Series, throwing a three-hitter Sunday to lead Taney Youth Baseball Association Little League of Philadelphia to an 8-0 victory over a squad from Delaware.


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A Facebook group that I’m part of, called Compadres, is having a blog tour. The general theme is The Glory of The Son and each of us will pick a story, event or teaching of Jesus that reflects His glory. Here are the posts so far:
June 3: Jeremy Schopper: Leaving the Noise Behind
June 5: Danny Holman: Jesus Challenge
June 10: Carl Jenkins: Give A Man A Fish
June 17: Jonathan Dobbs: Why Me, God?
June 19: Scott Elliott:The Beauty of the Gospel
June 24: Chris Hodges: The Glory of the Son
June 26: David Smith: then they can see my glory, which you gave me
July 1: Jeremy Hoover: Matthew and Mission
July 3: Allen Carr: The Glory in the Welcome
July 10: Daniel Burns: Not So With You
July 15: Rex Butts: A Place For Lepers
July 22: Jennifer Rundlett: A Vision of Harmony
July 24: Don Middleton: Come To The Table
July 29: Tim Archer: Do Not Be Afraid
August 5: Paula Harrington: When Doubt Met Divine
August 7: Holly Barrett: He knows me inside and out

In one short question, Jesus brought the reality of her life crashing down. I imagine his eyes of kindness blazed right through the excuses she might have uttered and burned a love like she had never seen before right on her heart.
I wonder what He might want to tell me today about the reality of my life.