Links To Go (November 3, 2015)

We Can’t Protect Sexual Orientation Because It Doesn’t Mean Anything

Under such constructs, we are socially (and legally) compelled to honor and respect each person’s self-determined orientation and self-expressed gender identity. Of course, this inherent subjectivity raises profound practical and legal concerns for adherence to and enforcement of laws like Houston’s equal rights ordinance. The subjectivity makes it ripe for an explosion of unanticipated lawsuits from people who refuse to play along with the “well, we all know what it means” misbelief.

A Whistleblower Steps Forward on Drones

Consider this assessment of Operation Haymaker, which took place in Afghanistan from 2012 until 2013. “During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets,” one report notes, adding that estimates in Yemen and Somalia, where American intelligence is more limited, may be worse.

Academia’s Rejection of Diversity

Improving ideological diversity is not a fundamentally political undertaking. Rather, it is a question of humility. Proper scholarship is based on the simple virtues of tolerance, openness and modesty. Having people around who think differently thus improves not only science, but also character.

How to Defuse the Accusation of Intolerance

When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue, preface your remarks with a question.
Say, “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking. I don’t mind answering, but before I do, I want to know if it’s safe to offer my views.
“So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person? Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own?”

This man had the most touching response to seeing his wife’s body Photoshopped.[Apologies for the click-bait headline… shudder. Tim]

The man wrote that the photos made his heart sink because he realized his wife thought she needed to alter her appearance to be beautiful for him. He closed his note to Halton taking responsibility for not telling his wife often enough how beautiful she was. “I have to do better, and for the rest of my days I am going to celebrate her in all her imperfectness,” he wrote.

Thick Skin, Tender Hearts, and Four Types of Leaders

Only by following Jesus can you love people and not be crushed if they don’t love you. For this type of leader, thick skin is the result of security, worth, and identity placed in the Lord and not in people. If our identity is in Him, we are not destroyed when our leadership is questioned, when people we serve don’t appreciate our service. At the same time, we are not aloof or calloused toward people because the Lord has our heart, and loving and trusting Him always results in a tender and compassionate heart for people.

What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?

In the end, we actually have very good historical reasons to accept Origen’s list as genuine. And if it is, then we have evidence that (a) Christians were making lists much earlier than we supposed (and thus cared about which books were “in” and which were “out”); and (b) that the boundaries of the New Testament canon were, at least for some people like Origen, more stable than typically supposed.

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says

The draft, Professor Miller argues, dates from between 1604, when the King James Bible was commissioned, and 1608, when the six teams were asked to send their work to the general committee for review. Unlike the other surviving drafts, which scholars date to later parts of the process, it shows an individual translator’s initial puzzling over aspects of the Greek text of the Apocrypha, indicating the reasoning behind his translation choices, with reference to Hebrew and Latin as well.

Former Stanford dean explains why helicopter parenting is ruining a generation of children

And how can parents help their children become self-sufficient? Teach them the skills they’ll need in real life and give them enough leash to practice those skills on their own, Lythcott-Haims said. And have them do chores. “Chores build a sense of accountability. They build life skills and a work ethic,” she said.

What America’s immigrants looked like when they arrived on Ellis Island

We hear so often that America is “a nation of immigrants” or a “cultural melting pot” that the phrase has become kind of a tired cliche. But actually seeing that history is a different story. The fascinating photographs below — of people in their native dress passing through Ellis Island in the early 20th century — hint at just how incredible and unique America’s history is as a nation of immigrants.

Hummus joint gives Jewish-Arab tables 50% off

Want some hummus with a side of coexistence? A restaurant near the coastal city of Netanya recently started offering 50 percent off each plate of the chickpea paste at tables seating Jews and Arabs together.

This Guy Wants Us to Commute in Autonomous, On-Demand Pods

When Tommaso Gecchelin envisions the future of urban transportation, he, like many people, imagines a system of driverless electric cars. But in Gecchelin’s vision, the system is modular. Its boxy vehicles are flat-sided, identically sized, and can link up and disconnect on the fly. He calls the concept “Next,” and foresees it providing both on-demand rides and shared public transportation, like a futuristic cross between Uber and the city bus. Imagine a Next pod pulling up to your house in the morning, before scooping up your neighbor, and then, once it’s on a main road heading for downtown, affixing itself to another couple pods. Everyone goes to work, together.

Q&A For Soccer Parents

Last night I spoke to a large gathering of South Florida youth-soccer coaches. I presented the following Q&A on how to be a soccer parent. I wish I could say I was exaggerating.

Links To Go (October 15, 2015)

A Pastor’s Journey from Gay Pride Parades to the Pulpit

When Caleb Kaltenbach was two years old, both his mother and father came out as gay, then got a divorce. Growing up, he absorbed their antagonism toward Christians, but went on to embrace Christianity as a teenager. In Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction (WaterBrook Press), Kaltenbach, a pastor in Southern California, charts the path to reconciling with his parents, who are now both believers. CT assistant editor Morgan Lee spoke with Kaltenbach about his experiences ministering to people with same-sex attraction.

Bad News, Indeed — Playboy Opened the Floodgates and Now the Culture is Drowning

The iconic magazines of the sexual revolution, the very magazines that promoted the sexual revolution and opened the floodgates to even more explicit and graphic pornography, have lost their ability to shock, their ability to sell themselves to the public, and their cultural relevance — and it is precisely because the culture has become Playboy and what was once shocking is now a feature of mainstream American culture.

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis

“There is something about suffering that longs for someone to sit with us through the pain. It’s the fellowship of suffering. It’s the words ‘you are not alone’ put into action. The sitting bears witness to our pain. More than a card or a casserole, the familiar, patient presence of another says to us ‘it’s too much for you to bear, but I will be with you, I will sit with you.’”

Paul Ryan’s big speaker hangup is reportedly his family. For a male lawmaker, that’s unusual.

Someone is sure to point out that Ryan’s children are well past the swaddling and wake-up-at-night stage. That’s true. But think long and hard about the implications of that idea, particularly if you are someone’s boss.
Ryan, a man in his mid-40s, has young kids. He is part of a younger generation of fathers who, while they do not match the time put in by their children’s mothers, are spending more time with their kids and doing at least a little more housework than fathers in the past. Is that really something to discourage?

Engaging Conflict Requires An Attitude

I’m not trying to suggest that conflict is easy. If it was easy, we wouldn’t try avoiding it or do so poorly with it at times. But ignoring conflict or failing to rightly deal with it allows what could be a great opportunity become a problem that threatens the and undermines the health of the church.

What Love Does to Walls

My perspective of the love Huey Lewis sings about is deep, sacred caring for another that allows us to hold on to our beliefs and others to hold on to theirs. It is that sacred love for humanity that is most important. The way I manage my walls is to make an effort to recognize what I believe, what others believe, and still commit to loving self and others in a sacred way, respecting the healthy and necessary walls around us.

Promotion, demotion and opportunity

In a fluid system, when people are moving forward, others are falling behind.
The question, then, isn’t, “when am I going to get promoted?”
No, I think the question is, “will I grab these openings to become someone who’s already doing work at a higher level?”
Act ‘as if’. If the people around you don’t figure out what an asset you’ve become, someone else will.

Why college hasn’t closed the gender wage gap

True, they’re not funneling into fields that will maximize their earnings, the way college-enrolled men seem keen to do. But women are still studying subjects that sound like they will get them stable jobs. And not just any jobs — jobs that tend to offer more flexible work schedules and lower penalties for rotating in and out of the labor force, such as teaching and nursing. The big, female-dominated majors also tend to offer higher grades, which perhaps tricks students into thinking they’re especially good at those subjects and therefore will have better employment prospects upon graduation.

Driver cited after hitting downed plane on I-84

Luckily, neither Nguyen nor his wife were injured in the accident. When asked by his wife how he didn’t see the plane Nguyen said he doesn’t usually look up while he’s driving.
“I only have two eyes not four,” said Nguyen. “I can’t look at the road and the sky at the same time.”

Armed Robbery Suspect Tries Using Uber as Getaway Car, Police Say

Cochran was seen getting into the back of a silver Lexus, and when officers pulled the car over, the driver said he was an Uber driver, police said.
The driver and a second passenger were released since it was determined they “had nothing to do with the robbery,” police said.


plastic cutleryWe had a potluck on Sunday. Our bilingual group at church does that once a month. It’s part of who we are. When I get to describe it to people, I try to stress that it’s not something we do after worship; it’s an extension of our worship.

We had a bunch of visitors on Sunday. A few arrived near the end of service (time confusion?), so their main activity on Sunday was our lunch.

One lady that placed membership in “big church” last Sunday came to our potluck and brought her husband. It was his first time at church.

I’m glad these people saw a potluck as part of their first impression of our church.

It was loud.

It was crazy, with kids running everywhere.

Some of the food was great. Some was… well, it was food.

We had store-bought fried chicken and lots of homemade Mexican food. Some of it was so spicy that it needed to come with a warning label. (I’m not complaining!)

It was mildly chaotic, like a big family reunion.

It was church.

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.


Argentine flagIt was Columbus Day weekend 30 years ago that I went to spend 21 months working as an apprentice to the missionaries in Rosario, Argentina.

In October 1989, Carolina and I moved to Córdoba, Argentina, to work with the church there. We returned to the States to live in October 2002.

So it’s been 30 years since I first went to live in Argentina. 26 years since we went there as a family; 13 years since we came back.

15 years there, 15 years here over the last 30.

13 years there, 13 here over the last 26.

That’s what October reminds me of.