Saturday, January 28, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (1/28/17)

Photo Credit: avidaebella
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention this past week:

Tired in the Tension: My Reflections on Today’s March (Yo Soy Kristy)
"I live in two very different worlds. I live in a world where friends who follow Jesus saw their march today as a living out of gospel values in both word and deed, even if they disagreed with parts of the platform as Christian women and men. I also live in a world where, to other friends, it was unfathomable that any true follower of Jesus would march next to anyone who thought killing babies was okay. To them, it was a politically liberal march with a liberal agenda. It was a bunch of angry women wearing pink hats yelling about vaginas. That’s it."
The Lonely Path of Racial Reconciliation for Minorities by Jarvis Williams (RAAN)

In this article, Dr. Williams highlights some of the very real challenges that ethnic minority Christians face when seeking to reach across racial and cultural lines.

3 Ways Some Churches Grow Without Getting Bigger by Karl Vaters (Christianity Today)
"In many developing nations, large churches don’t fit the culture or meet the needs of the people. So, instead of getting bigger, church growth means planting new congregations in nearby neighborhoods or villages. In fact, in the places where the church is growing as percentage of the population, it is far more likely to be happening by the multiplication of smaller congregations than by the building of larger ones. Growth by multiplication is the way it’s done for many within the house church movement, too. If the gathering gets large, they split off to new houses. This type of growth is not limited to developing nations and house churches. If your church hasn’t been seeing the kind of "butts-in-the-seats" growth you’ve expected, this may be a new way for you to look at growth."
Set of 30 Bible Stories about Honor & Shame (HonorShame)

For those of us that have grown up in the Western World, we can tend to look at our faith and relationship with God through more of a "guilt/innocence" mindset. For many that come from a more Eastern cultural background, though, an "honor/shame" framework might be more dominant. Here is a list of a number Bible stories that can be viewed through the honor/shame lens.

Reflecting on T4G’s “The Future of the Asian American Church by Andrew Ong (Reformed Margins)
"I understand that the specific question, “Are ethnic churches legitimate and biblically faithful in multiethnic contexts?” was not posed. However, wasn’t that what most of us were hoping to hear discussed? I felt like that question was skirted. Yes, Dr. Jue helpfully laid out why the Asian American church has value and what it could do for the sake of mission. However, all these things could easily applied to Asian American Christians individuals. Why do we specifically need Chinese and/or Korean churches? Ecclesiology was sorely lacking from the discussion. What does it mean for “the church” to be multiethnic? Are we talking about local churches, the universal church, or somehow both? And if both, how should that shape our discussions concerning multi-ethnicity and the church?"
How the Nazis Took Control of Germany by Peter Hayes (The Daily Beast)
"The key to understanding the transformation of Germans’ behavior is straightforward: power magnifies the ideas of those who hold it. Power enabled the Nazi regime to unleash the haters, to intimidate the squeamish, and to change the moral valence of prejudice from something frowned upon to something glorified as patriotic. Once that happened, individual self-interest took care of the rest. Above all, power enabled the propagandists for Nazism to divide the world relentlessly into Us vs. Them and to shut down more nuanced perspectives. To Germans, the world became a perpetual struggle between poor, virtuous, and victimized Us, and malevolent, conspiratorial, and implacable Them. In such an unforgiving environment, all means of self-defense were justified, including preemptively striking Them—taking their rights away, concentrating them in camps and ghettos, wiping them out—before they supposedly had a chance to do their worst."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (1/21/17)

Photo Credit: David_Bekaert
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention this past week:

Are You a Confirmation Bias Christian? by Jared C. Wilson (For The Church)
"There's really no new idolatry in our brave new world; we just find new ways with which to orient our worlds around ourselves. I think you and I see this every day in the world of social media, and it was ramped up especially so during the last election cycle. When it comes to political pontificating, my Facebook feed in particular appears to be one huge exercise in confirmation bias -- my liberal friends share and "amen" articles, videos, and memes that fit their pre-adopted left-leaning narratives and my conservative friends share and "amen" articles, videos, and memes that fit their pre-adopted right-leaning ones. I've been guilty of this myself. It is stunningly easy to fall into, this "confirmation bias" thing. If something sounds true -- meaning, it seems to fit what we already believe -- we believe it to be true without corroborating. It is the widespread epidemic of confirmation bias that has given us the relatively new phenomenon known as "fake news."
6 Types of “Dangerous Charisma” by Eric Geiger
"Charisma is often defined as “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others." But that type of charisma can be dangerous. We have seen leaders known for their charisma lead people in horrific directions or crumble because their own inner health was woefully inconsistent with their external persona."
U.S. Abortion Rate Falls To Lowest Level Since Roe v. Wade (NPR)
"The abortion rate in the United States fell to its lowest level since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion nationwide, a new report finds. The report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports legalized abortion, puts the rate at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (ages 15-44) in 2014. That's the lowest recorded rate since the Roe decision in 1973. The abortion rate has been declining for decades — down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981. The report also finds that in 2013, the total number of abortions nationwide fell below 1 million for the first time since the mid-1970s. In 2014 — the most recent year with data available — the number fell a bit more, to 926,200. The overall number had peaked at more than 1.6 million abortions in 1990, according to Guttmacher. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the longstanding controversy around abortion policy, the meaning of the report is somewhat in dispute."
Dustbin of History: The Green Book (Today I Found Out)
"But for African Americans living in many parts of the United States in the early and mid-20th century, the automobile was little more than a symbol—that of a freedom that, for them, remained out of reach. In those years, a trip by automobile for African Americans was an experience all its own, quite unlike car trips taken by white Americans. A black family preparing for a long trip had to pack enough food to get them all the way to where they were going, in case the restaurants along the route refused to serve them—a form of discrimination that was perfectly legal at the time. They had to pack pillows and blankets so that they could sleep in their car if the hotels they stopped at refused to provide them with lodging. They had to put extra cans of gas in the trunk—enough to get them through towns where none of the service stations would sell them gas. And they had to leave enough room in the trunk for a bucket that they could use as a toilet in places where restrooms were reserved for whites only."
The 5 craziest hours in the White House by Bonnie Berkowitz (The Washington Post)

On the day that a new U.S. President is sworn in as commander-in-chief, there is a group of White House staff that has to busily move out the belongings of the current president and prepare for the new. This account explains all that takes place at the White House on inauguration day.

Here's a short video explaining this process:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (1/14/17)

Photo Credit: misha maslennikov
Here is a collection of items from around the web that caught my attention this past week:

The 5 (Unwritten) Rules of Honor-Shame Cultures  (
"In collectivistic societies, identity is defined by the group you belong to. When two people meet, one of the first items of conversation is figuring out which family, clan, or village the other person is from. Since honor is a shared commodity, what one person does brings honor (or shame) upon the entire community. Children are taught from an early age how to bring honor to the family, and people are expected to be loyal to their community, even at personal cost. In Western cultures, family is much more of a voluntary association. At the age of 18 or so, young adults are encouraged to venture out from the home to “find themselves” or “establish their own lives.”"
How to Destroy Your Child Through Sports by Ed Uszynski (Athletes in Action)
"In spite of mini-movements of outcry regarding poor parent and coach behavior at youth events and the intense pressure being put on kids to perform, many of us seem committed to staying on a course that ruins our children’s ability to enjoy games. Instead of sports being experienced as something good, a category called “play” that God created for our good and His glory, too often we use our kids’ playground to exorcise our own demons. 
In more than 25 years of listening to athletes from youth to professional levels process their experience of sports, I’ve learned that these parental behaviors can be counted on not only to ruin their experience of play, but also to create multi-layered psychological and spiritual maladies that stick throughout life."
9 Steps to More Ethical Fundraising (A Life Overseas: The Mission Conversation)
"We were doing all the things we were taught to do—pray, write newsletters, make calls, send letters, schedule meetings—but after two years, we felt stuck. We were at about 50% of our goal and couldn’t seem to make any traction. One day, I just felt I needed to do something to make a statement to our potential supporters that we were as serious about this as we possibly could be and that we held them and their potential donations in the highest esteem. So I decided to write down the ways in which we were committing to respect them and their sacrifice. 
I called this our “Fundraising Code of Ethics.” To me, it was a public covenant we were making to hold ourselves to a standard of maturity, transparency, and responsibility. By making it public, we were welcoming our supporters to hold us to this standard, but we also warned them we would never have a perfect record and asked them to be gracious with us. Like every healthy relationship, trust is absolutely crucial. We are all aware if donors trust you they are more likely to support you. What we learned is that we also need to have enough faith in our supporters to be transparent with them."
Racial Divides in Spiritual Practice (The Barna Group)
"Black communities tend toward communal rhythms of spiritual development while white communities prefer a more individualistic setting. It is unsurprising therefore that white Christians are more likely to view their spiritual life as “entirely private” (42% compared to 32%). Black Christians, on the other hand, are much more likely to believe their personal spiritual life has an impact on others—whether they are relatives, friends, community or society at large. For instance, black Christians are much more likely to believe that their personal spiritual lives have an impact on broader society (46% compared to 27%). 
This was a strong belief of Martin Luther King, and it appears to have had great staying power. He fundamentally believed that one’s personal spiritual life had implications for societal justice, and he called Christians—on both sides of the debate—to bring their faith to bear on the struggle for civil rights, to which he dedicated his life. This impact is also tied to the approach to evangelism: half of black Christians (50% compared to 34%) believe it is their responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs, further reinforcing the public / private contrast between both groups."
The Longstanding Crisis Facing Tribal Schools by Alia Wong (The Atlantic)
"Children who are disciplined in school are far more likely to end up in prison as adults; it goes without saying that being disciplined as a child via formal law enforcement has similarly deleterious, if not worse, effects. The alleged practices at Havasupai Elementary are, the suit contends, characteristic of those at tribal schools across the country. Indeed, a March 2014 U.S. Department of Education report found that Native Americans across the country are disciplined at disproportionate rates. Unsurprisingly, they’re also incarcerated at a rate 38 percent higher than the national average."
Repealing Obamacare without a Replacement: How It May Hurt Small Church Pastors and Church Planters Near You by Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today)
"I’m not defending Obamacare, it’s success, and certainly not its implementation. And, furthermore, this is not just about pastors—it impacts a whole lot of people in your church (and not in your church). But, I’ve talked to a lot of pastors about this topic, so I’ve made that my focus here. In short, the point here is that big policies aren’t simply big policies. And when they appear (or actually are) broken, there isn’t a simple answer. Big policies impact real people. A plan approved by Congress impacts millions of everyday, hard-working people. And I’ve only focused on one group here, small church pastors and church planters, since I have often heard about this from church planters. Actually, I have spoken in conferences on this very topic: how the ACA has opened the door for many church planters to get insurance."
Twin Sisters Separated at Birth Reunite on Good Morning America

Two sisters, each adopted from China by different American families, meet in person for the first time on ABC's "Good Morning America." Here is their touching story.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ruining Our Children Through Sports

Photo Credit: USAG-Humphreys
I read the following headline in our local newspaper this morning:
Intrigued, I read the article.

It seems that a man who was watching his daughter play made a comment about a disagreeable referee's call. The father of a girl on the opposing team told him to "shut up."

The first man called the second man an "idiot" and the second man dared him to "call him an idiot again." The first man accepted the dare and called the other man an idiot for a second time, and the two started wrestling in the gym and punches were thrown. The men continued to fight until someone in the stands pulled them apart.

As a coach of youth sports for many years and a parent of multiple children that have played a number of sports, I know all too well what can happen when the competitive juices get flowing.

Of course most parents simply want to provide an opportunity for their children to play with friends, learn a sport and have fun while getting a little exercise.

But there are some parents that choose to live out their unfulfilled athletic fantasies through their children and put an unbelievable amount of pressure on kids, coaches and referees in order to try to make things go their way.

This article by Ed Uszynski with Athletes in Action offers 8 behaviors that can destroy our children through sports. Ed says this:
"In more than 25 years of listening to athletes from youth to professional levels process their experience of sports, I’ve learned that these parental behaviors can be counted on not only to ruin their experience of play, but also to create multi-layered psychological and spiritual maladies that stick throughout life."
Athletics can be a wonderful part of the life of a child but it can also be a dreaded experience due to poor parenting and coaching.

As a coach, I realize that most players I coach probably won't go very far in their athletic career. Although I have had a few players that have played at the collegiate Division 1 level, most won't advance past their middle school or high school teams when it comes to competitive athletics.

My hope is as my former players grow into adulthood that they will be able to look back upon their experiences in competitive athletics as children and think to themselves, "That was fun. I'm glad I was able to do that. Those were good times."

For my own children that I've coached, my desire for them is that they will have fond memories of having their dad as a coach. It's not always easy, but keeping the end in mind helps a great deal.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Weekly Web Roundup (1/7/17)

Photo Credit: Jaetographer
Here are some interesting items that I saw across the web over the past couple of weeks:

Seven Steps to Strengthen Prayer by Bonnie McKernan (Desiring God)
"Praying should be active. We cannot truly come into contact with God and not be a different person, at least in some small degree, by the time we say, “Amen.” Struggle in prayer, wrestle with it, and let the Spirit move. Answers to prayer are a blessing, but prayer in and of itself is meant to be a blessing. Sometimes it feels like the moaning of parched lips in the desert, and we should still persevere because prayer is not just the fruit of spiritual life, but the means of attaining it."
Why Are Americans Less Charitable Than They Used to Be? by Alexia Fernandez Campbell (The Atlantic)
"The results of their research suggest that Americans’ attitudes toward giving have changed, regardless how much money they have. There is some research suggesting that poor people—those would actually stand to benefit from charity themselves—are more likely to donate money (overall, wealthy Americans still contribute most of the country’s charitable dollars). An analysis by the Chronicle of Philanthropy found that wealthier Americans gave less of their income to charity during the Recession, while the poor gave more. Those who earned $200,000 or more gave nearly 5 percent less to charity in 2012 compared to 2006, while those who made less than $100,000 increased their giving by 5 percent between those same two years, the report found. The poorest Americans—those earning $25,000 or less—increased their giving the most, by 17 percent over the same period."
Study: Christians Were 2016’s Most Persecuted Religious Group by Faithfully Magazine Staff
"Nearly 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2016, equivalent to one every six minutes, according to a new study by the Italy-based Center for Studies on New Religions (Censur). The annual study, which is set for release next month, also indicated that 500 to 600 million Christians were prevented from freely practicing their faith. The number has actually declined from 105,000 in 2015, but it still makes Christians the most persecuted religious group in the world, Massimo Introvigne, director of Censur, told Vatican Radio when announcing the findings on Monday. “Without wishing to forget or belittle the suffering of members of other religions, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world,” Introvigne said."
The Candy Diet by Seth Godin
"The economics seem to be that the only way to make a living is to reach a lot of people and the only way to reach a lot of people is to race to the bottom, seek out quick clicks, make it easy to swallow, reinforce existing beliefs, keep it short, make it sort of fun, or prurient, or urgent, and most of all, dumb it down. And that's the true danger of anti-intellectualism. While it's foolish to choose to be stupid, it's cultural suicide to decide that insights, theories and truth don't actually matter. If we don't care to learn more, we won't spend time or resources on knowledge. We can survive if we eat candy for an entire day, but if we put the greenmarkets out of business along the way, all that's left is candy. Give your kid a tablet, a game, and some chicken fingers for dinner. It's easier than talking to him. Read the short articles, the ones with pictures, it's simpler than digging deep. Clickbait works for a reason. Because people click on it."
In biblical lands of Iraq, Christianity in peril after ISIS by Moni Basu (CNN)
"Life in Bartella, as he knew it, stopped suddenly and brutally in the summer of 2014. ISIS blitzkrieged its way into northern Iraq, taking control of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest and once its most diverse city. ISIS marked Christian houses with the Arabic equivalent of the letter "N" for the derogatory term Nazarene. The militants blared ultimatums from the loudspeakers of Mosul mosques: Leave by July 19 to avoid death or forced conversion to Islam. The terror-driven exodus emptied the city of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. A decade ago, 35,000 Christians lived in Mosul. Now maybe 20 or 30 remain."
Election Reflections: Bridging the Gap by Philip Yancey
"Today, both parties push toward the extremes, in opposite directions.  And here is where Christians come in.  Oddly enough, we can mind the gap by withholding complete loyalty from either party. "Politics is the church’s worst problem," warned the French sociologist Jacques Ellul. "It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world." Christians have a divided loyalty, committed to helping our society thrive while giving ultimate loyalty to the kingdom of God. We are resident aliens, taking guidance not from a party platform but from the life Jesus modeled for us.  Sometimes that means crossing the gap, rather than widening it."
Polar bear mascot keeps slipping over on the ice