Got God?

Sometimes I think we’re too focused on what we can get from God instead of focusing on getting God himself. The rewards stem from the relationship; a healthy relationship isn’t based on the rewards you get out of it.

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Links To Go (July 8, 2017)

Understanding Israel’s 10 Commandments

Everyone knows that God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments. Some of you may even be able to list them from memory. But do a search for the phrase “10 commandments” in your Bible and you might be surprised to find that it actually never appears anywhere. (Your translation may supply a subheading at the beginning of these sections that says “The 10 Commandments,” but there is no such subheading in the original Hebrew.) And, for those who have memorized them, which list—of a possible three—is it that you’re reciting? Further, even if we agree on the list, how do you count them to arrive at 10?


It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex.

Many men and women are wary of a range of one-on-one situations, the poll found. Around a quarter think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate. Nearly two-thirds say people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work. A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse.


Mexican Lawful Immigrants Among the Least Likely to Become U.S. Citizens

Based on Pew Research Center estimates using the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data available, two-thirds (67%) of lawful immigrants eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship had applied for and obtained citizenship by 2015. This is the highest share since at least the mid-1990s. But among Mexican lawful immigrants eligible to apply, only 42% had applied for and obtained U.S. citizenship by 2015, a rate little changed since 2005 and one of the lowest among all immigrant groups when it comes to country of origin.


Americans Have Mixed Feelings About Sex and Religion

When faith and sexuality clash, which side should prevail?
Americans can’t decide.
About half of Americans (48 percent) say religious freedom is more important in such conflicts when faith and sexuality clash, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. A quarter (24 percent) say sexual freedom is more important. A quarter (28 percent) aren’t sure.


3 Reasons Preachers Shouldn’t Publicly Contradict a Bible Translation

  1. We are putting down people our sheep need to trust.
  2. We may be overestimating our abilities.
  3. We are withholding God’s gifts from our people

A Higher Minimum Wage Is Not Doing The Bad Things Critics Said It Would Do

One common critique of higher minimum wages is that they also raise the cost of living. But last year, an initial study from the University of Washington found that retailers, despite having to pay their workers more, weren’t raising prices. Another is that higher pay will lead to fewer shifts and fewer jobs. And while those same UW researchers are analyzing the data, other researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) used an innovative model to prove that the city’s increased minimum wage has had no negative effect on job availability.


Jack Ma, China’s richest man, was happier earning $12 a month than he is as a billionaire

After graduating in 1988, Ma worked as an English teacher at a local university in his hometown of Hangzhou, China. He only made $12 a month, according to the documentary about his life called “Crocodile in the Yangtze.”
When speaking at a luncheon with the Economics Club of New York on Tuesday, Ma referred to this period as the “best life I had.”


My 400-Person Company Has A Great Work Culture, And We All Work Remotely

When we think of “culture,” so much of that is tied to a physical location. And that’s just as true of work cultures as urban ones. But here at Goodway Group, a digital marketing company with over 400 U.S.-based employees, we have a work culture that’s earned high marks on Glassdoor and kudos from Fortune‘s Great Place to Work initiative and the Society for Human Resource Management—and we all work from home. In fact, around a dozen of our team members live in RVs.


Time Has Only Strengthened These Ancient Roman Walls

Any seaside structure will erode and eventually crumble into the water below. That’s how things work. Or at least that’s how they usually work. Scientists say the ancient Romans figured out a way to build seawalls that actually got tougher over time. They published their findings in the journal American Mineralogist.

Time spent with other Christians

I was blessed to attend the Red River Family Encampment for the first time this year. My parents attended years ago, and I’ve had many friends go regularly; I had very much looked forward to being there. I got to go this year representing the Hope For Life (Herald of Truth) ministry.

And my expectations were met. It’s a wonderful gathering of Christians in a beautiful place.

On Saturday, I led three sessions in Spanish. Despite some technical issues at the beginning, we had a great time.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I taught classes in English. There were several glitches there, I’m afraid. I was invited to speak back in November, then my invitation apparently got lost in the shuffle. Early promotional material listed the usual 10 classes, but not mine. Later they added a class by “Tim Harris” to the website. When I got there, I found that they had squeezed me into an 11th slot. (Which I’m very grateful for; I’m sure that involved renting one more tent than usual)

Not having been there, I asked the organizers if I would have the ability to use PowerPoint. I was told yes, but apparently they were only thinking of Saturday. The tents for the classes don’t have electricity! I’ll admit my first class was sub-par because I was planning to use some videos and visuals that weren’t available.

Attendance at my class was very low. On Monday, I ran into one of my cousins. He said, “I’d love to go to your class, but I don’t speak Spanish.” It’s possible that he’s not the only one who thought I was only teaching in Spanish. More likely is the fact that I was a relative unknown in the midst of some very talented teachers.

That said, I had a great time. I heard some great teaching, saw several old friends, made numerous new friends, and got to share some about Church Inside Out. All in a beautiful setting in the mountains.

I had to leave a bit early because our ministry was participating in the Summer Celebration in Nashville. We had out ministry breakfast on Friday morning, then I taught one session on Church Inside Out. I wish we’d had more time there, but it’s hard during the summer to be everywhere.

I love getting to share this material that I think is important. And I especially enjoy the time spent with Christians from other places.

Relationships and outreach

Studies done back in the 1980s showed that anywhere from 78-90% of those that came to church for the first time did so because of a friend or relative (The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples, Arn and Arn). Other studies have shown that approximately 95% of those that become Christians have friends or family in the church.

What does that mean? Here are a few thoughts:

  • We, as Christians, need to be developing relationships with non-Christians.
  • The best chance that our relatives and friends have of hearing the gospel is to hear it from us.
  • We need to focus less on programs and more on people, less on showmanship and more on relationships, less on head knowledge and more on knowing our neighbors.

The unique mission of the church is to share the good news of Jesus Christ. There are other groups that can do much of what we do in interacting with our communities: building houses, sharing food, providing clothing. These good works and others can be done by those who don’t know Jesus. But only Christians can effectively share the gospel.

And we are the best ones to do that with those in our immediate circle.

Links To Go (June 23, 2017)

Served or Serving: Curing the Sickness That’s Killing The Church

But what might happen if we thought of the church, not as a set of structures, programming, goods, and services, but as a meal? The question we have to answer together is whether this meal is more like going to a restaurant or sharing a potluck. If it’s a restaurant, our tastes matter. We can pick and choose from the menu and request our salad dressing be served “on the side.” We can rightly regard the pace, kindness, and delivery of service. Our needs and perceptions matter at a restaurant. If we like the “experience,” we can leave a tip.
A potluck is different. If church is a potluck, we know to arrive with an offering and prepared to serve and be served. We demonstrate gratitude to the others who have come equally prepared to provide a feast for all.


I Am the Center of the Universe

I can only come to one of two conclusions about my frustration over this inevitable fact of life: either I am the center of the universe and you all don’t know, or — I am not the center of the universe and I am upset that you all know.


Most Hispanic Christians Ambivalent Toward Israel

Among Hispanic Christians who support Israel’s right to exist, few cite the Bible (7 percent) or Bible prophecy (11 percent) as the reason for doing so. Instead, 55 percent say Israel has a right to exist because every nation has a right to exist.


Five Overcorrection Mistakes Churches Make

  1. A different kind of pastor.
  2. A different emphasis on evangelism or discipleship.
  3. A different emphasis on reaching newcomers versus taking care of the members.
  4. A different kind of leadership structure.
  5. A different kind of system to oversee financial controls.

Are Your Teachers VIPs?

Too often, however, our teachers receive no or few expressions of thanks. This shouldn’t be. In the strongest possible way, I want to encourage churches to do more to thank their teachers. Here are a few ideas.


Worth being afraid of

It turns out, though, that the one who usually lets us down is us.
Our unwillingness to leap, to commit, to trust our own abilities.
It’s the internal narrative that seeks disaster just as much as it craves reassurance.
That’s the one we ought to be vilifying, fortifying ourselves against and frightened of.


Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries

A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation.


Gangs of aggressive killer whales are shaking down Alaska fishing boats for their fish

The orcas will wait all day for a fisher to accumulate a catch of halibut, and then deftly rob them blind. They will relentlessly stalk individual fishing boats, sometimes forcing them back into port.


The reason Manu Ginobili means so much to San Antonio

He’s commonly known as a man of the people. It’s not unusual to catch him in the middle of a conversation with a random fan. In a city where most residents literally speak his language, one could argue he’s more loved as a person than Tim Duncan, who is the godfather of the team, but an undisputedly distant one.