Saturday, July 01, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (7/1/17)

Photo Credit: Golden_Ribbon
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

Watch Your Mouth by Randy Nabors
"The consciousness of racial injustice and its attendant social, economic, psychic, emotional, and physical realities are like a punch in the gut.  We have no alternative but to spell them out, to both the ignorant and the resistant.  Yet, if we allowed hate to fill us, these truths could inflame our hearts and push us to be fiery-eyed zealots and avengers, we instead seek to speak the truth in love; as Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to do.  This is not always easy to do, to speak hard truths in love.  We cannot be flippant about what love means (claiming we love people but producing no demonstrable proof) in our communication, especially not in having read the James passage in how the “wisdom from above” is to be imparted.  In other words people who hear hard truths from us must also hear and feel the love as far as it may depend on us."
Surprise! We Need to Learn from Christians from Other Cultures by Amy Medina
"When we talk about church in America with our Tanzanian friends, it's their turn to be shocked.  Your church services are only an hour and fifteen minutes long?  And that's the only service you attend all week?  And you've never, ever done an all-night prayer vigil? Like, never?  Are there even any Christians in America? In America, your devotion to Christ is measured by the amount of personal time you spend in prayer and Bible study.  Am I right or am I right?  Well, in Tanzania, your devotion to Christ is measured by the amount of time you spend in prayer and worship with others. Of course, you might protest that measuring godliness sounds like legalism.  Which is true--but we still do it, don't we? If you are American, what would you say to a Christian who never did personal devotions, but spent many hours every week in church worship services? Would you even know where to put that person in your spiritual hierarchy?  And would you be able to back up your conclusion with Scripture? It's easy for us, as foreigners, to come to Tanzania and point out what they are doing wrong. Those deficiencies pop up to us broadly and clearly.  But I wonder, what if a Tanzanian Christian came to the States and was given a voice in the white American Church?  What deficiencies would be glaringly obvious to him?"
I preached about a gun rights advocate. He wasn't who I thought. by Amy Butler (USA Today)
"I sat there, startled briefly by the unlikely situation in which we found ourselves. We couldn’t be more different. But Todd and I share at least one fundamental belief: nobody is the stereotype we believe they are. We do ourselves and our world a fundamental disservice when we won’t summon the courage to listen to each other and try as hard as we can to find the things we share, small as they may be."
Poll shows a dramatic generational divide in white evangelical attitudes on gay marriage by Sarah Pulliam Bailey (The Washington Post)
"The question for many evangelicals has been whether LGBT issues are matters where they can agree to disagree and still work together, perhaps like the question of when children should be baptized or whether women can be ordained. When the issue came up for World Vision, one of the largest Christian nonprofits in the country, in 2012, the answer was a sharp no — it lost thousands of donors right away. And InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a major ministry, announced last fall that its employees must affirm its views that marriage is between a man and a woman. Some evangelicals believe there’s a difference between supporting gay marriage as a public policy matter and gay marriage as sanctioned by churches. A large majority of white evangelicals (including younger generations) continue to see homosexual relations as morally wrong, according to the General Social Survey. The 2016 survey found 75 percent of white evangelicals saying homosexual sexual relations are always or nearly always wrong. That number is down from 82 percent in 1996 and 90 percent in 1987. The survey does not show a large generational gap, however. In 2014-2016 surveys, 70 percent of Generation X/millennial white evangelicals said same-sex sexual relations are nearly always or always wrong, compared to 81 percent of baby boomers/older generations."
7 ways the iPhone has made life worse by Kara Alaimo (CNN)

I'm an iPhone user but I share the concerns listed in this article from Kara Alaimo. Here she lists seven ways that she feels our smartphones have made our lives worse:
1. They're bad for our brains.
2. While we're busy on our phones, we're ignoring the world around us.
3. We're also ignoring one other.
4. They're ruining our relationships.
5. They promote FOMO ("fear of missing out") syndrome.
6. We have come to need constant validation.
7. We're expected to be available for work 24-7.
Smartphones can be useful if we use them and they don't use us. But these concerns are worth considering.

My 3 Big Fears in Parenting Teenagers by Trevin Wax (The Gospel Coalition)
"As fathers and mothers, we model the love of God to our kids in different ways. I know that whenever my children think of their Heavenly Father, they will in some way associate Him with their earthly father. The responsibility of modeling the character of God to my children makes me feel so honored and so inadequate. My fear for the teenage years is that, in the midst of the drama, the mood swings, the debates and disagreements, and the inevitable growth of independence, I will respond in ways that push my kids away from God instead of toward Him. That I will consistently model something untrue about God. For this reason, I pray that God would give me a soft and repentant heart, a willingness to own up to my sins, so that our kids would see that leadership in the home is not opposed to admitting I'm wrong, or that I need forgiveness. I also pray that God will not allow my fear of making mistakes to make me passive and thus forfeit my leadership role through apathy. A good father needs to have a combination of grace and boldness, with strands of love and authority tied so tightly you can't untangle one without the other."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wisdom on Sorrow From Oswald Chambers

Photo Credit: MorkiRo
Taken from today's entry from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:
"As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour. 
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them. 
Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining. The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be this way is immaterial. The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. 
You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (6/21/17)

Photo Credit: Richard Bromley
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention the past couple of weeks:

How Billy Graham Mainstreamed Evangelicals by Frances Fitzgerald (The Daily Beast)
"Graham was, as he himself said, still a country boy. Tall and awkward, he had a rough-hewn voice and was given to flailing his arms and stabbing the air with a raised finger. When he told Bible stories, he used slangy vernacular and acted out the parts—preening and strutting in the role of Belshazzar, or prancing around like an uppity pig in the story of the Prodigal Son. Calling for revival, he would stalk the platform, assaulting the audience with vivid descriptions of the horrors that came from man’s rebellion against God. According to his Youth for Christ peers, Graham had a kind of incandescence on the platform that came from his passionate sincerity."
Practicing Privilege in the Local Church by Michelle Van Loon (Patheos)
"Most of us are occupied trying to get our needs met for belonging and significance. Those needs are really important! God himself wired us that way. When a church staff, each holding positions of social privilege within that small community, are focused on their own “interpersonal dynamics and church politics”, it communicates that they might be focused on getting their needs for belonging and significance met. The experience B. had in the church gave him a new way to think about how he’d functioned in his previous role as pastor. Though he was a very others-focused, servant-hearted guy, he recognized he’d succumbed to the temptation to form and hoard a clique around himself so he could get those needs of his met."
The Number One Reason Missionaries Go Home by Paul Akin (The Gospel Coalition)

I have heard it often communicated that the primary reason why missionaries leave the field is because of difficulties with other team members. Here, Paul Akin suggests five common reasons why this happens: 1) Unmet expectations, 2) Conflict, 3) Stress 4) Comparison/Jealousy and 5) Sin. He briefly offers a few suggestions as solutions.

If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists by Margarita Mayo
"Charismatic leaders can be prone to extreme narcissism that leads them to promote highly self-serving and grandiose aims.” A clinical study illustrates that when charisma overlaps with narcissism, leaders tend to abuse their power and take advantage of their followers. Another study indicates that narcissistic leaders tend to present a bold vision of the future, and this makes them more charismatic in the eyes of others. Why are such leaders more likely to rise to the top? One study suggests that despite being perceived as arrogant, narcissistic individuals radiate “an image of a prototypically effective leader.” Narcissistic leaders know how to draw attention toward themselves. They enjoy the visibility. It takes time for people to see that these early signals of competence are not later realized, and that a leader’s narcissism reduces the exchange of information among team members and often negatively affects group performance."
The Uniqueness of University Evangelism by Tim Keller & Michael Keller (The Gospel Coalition)
"Universities create environments that encourage students to rethink the beliefs of their upbringing, including their meaning in life, values, and identity. That, of course, is a challenge to students who come into undergraduate courses with a Christian faith. But it also means students from other backgrounds and communities are dislodged from them and are freer to consider the claims of Christianity than they would’ve been at home. Also, while it may be considered impolite in much of society to try to convert people to your belief system, on university campuses this is essentially what everyone’s trying to do to everyone else, with vigor. The free market of ideas and the discussions that ensue inside and outside the lecture room aren’t value-neutral exchanges, but rather places of persuasion where individuals debate and accept differing explanations of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Evangelism fits right in."
Why Parents Need To Limit Screens And Make Boredom Great Again by Brooke Shannon (The Federalist)
"Unfortunately, the increasing ubiquity of screens diminishes opportunities for children’s brains to wander, create, and imagine. From carpools to the classroom to big sister’s sporting events to the dinner table, screens are destroying boredom. Why would a six-year-old stare out the car window or talk to a friend on the way to school when the latest episode of “Paw Patrol” is on? If a three-year-old can play a game on a tablet, why would he watch his big brother’s soccer game? Many waiting rooms have become quieter, and some dinner tables have gone silent. But at what cost? Too much screen time—and not enough boredom—can lead to poor social skills, shorter attention spans, and a need for instant gratification. How many future inventors will be lost without experiencing boredom? Where will the great orators and writers of this generation come from if imagination is not nurtured today?"
Why We Argue Best with Our Mouths Shut by Christine Herman (Christianity Today)
"The problem with persuasion is not just that people are stubborn; people change their minds all the time about all sorts of things. The real challenge arises when someone’s beliefs are tied to their identity. If changing your belief means changing your identity, it comes at the risk of rejection from the community of people with whom you share that identity. Knowing this, it’s not surprising that people tend to seek out information that confirms a belief and outright reject anything that conflicts with it, says Dan Kahan, a psychology professor at Yale Law School. 
“They might not perceive it that way consciously,” he says. But research has shown that this phenomenon—known to psychologists as confirmation bias—is real. Kahan illustrates with a sports analogy: “Fans of opposing teams tend to see different things when there’s a close call,” he says. “And it wouldn’t be good if you stood up on your side of the stadium and said, ‘I think the guy really was out of bounds.’ ” Being rejected by the group around which we have formed our identity can be painful. Thus, in the face of evidence that runs contrary to our beliefs, it only makes sense that we put up our guard."
What Apple Thought the iPhone Might Look Like in 1995 by Adrienne LaFrance (The Atlantic)
"To those who had been watching Apple since the 1980s, however, shrinking computers and videophones seemed to be always just tantalizingly out of reach, emblems of a future that would, fingers crossed, eventually arrive. But when? By 1995, even though Apple’s laptops had dipped to a svelte six pounds, and the transformative power of the internet was becoming apparent, the next great iteration of the web was barely imaginable. Today’s mobile web, the one that would be ushered in by smartphones, was still out of reach. But there were hints of what was to come."
Stuff Dads Never Say

I had the privilege of visiting my home church in Michigan - Colonial Woods Missionary Church - this past Sunday, Father's Day. This video was shown during the service and I got a big kick out of it.