Thursday, August 30, 2012

How The Internet Helped One Imaginative Boy's Dream Come True

Caine is an intelligent and creative elementary school student. The nine-year-old boy built a cardboard arcade at his father's used car parts store in east Los Angeles and was "open for business." The only problem was that none of his dad's customers took him seriously. That is, of course, until one day a gentleman who played some games in Caine's arcade decided to tell his friends on the Internet about it.

Watch the video to see more of the story...

(h/t to my friend Dave Smyth for the link.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Unhappy Kids Tend To Be More Materialistic

Photo Credit: royalconstantinesociety
From The Times Herald:
"Unhappy kids are more likely to become materialistic than children who are happy with their lives, a new study from the Netherlands suggests." 
Children who were less satisfied with their lives do become more materialistic over time, but only when they are frequently exposed to advertising," said study lead author Suzanna Opree. "Advertising seems to teach children that possessions are a way to increase happiness."
It's a significant finding because research with adults suggests that materialistic children may become less happy later in life, said Opree, a research associate at the University of Amsterdam School of Communication Research. The study, published online August 20 and in the September print issue of Pediatrics, involved 466 children in October 2006 and October 2007. 
The researchers advise parents to help kids focus on other sources of happiness, such as love, friendship and play. Intervening early might prevent a cycle of unhappiness and materialism in adulthood, study author Opree said." 
"And he [Jesus] said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” ~ Luke 12:15 (ESV)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Beatitudes, Gandhi & MLK

Photo Credit: Dean Ayres
Pointing to the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., author Philip Yancey offers a challenging perspective on what living out the instructions of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) might look like:
"The movie Gandhi contains a fine scene in which Gandhi tries to explain his philosophy to the Presbyterian missionary Charlie Andrews. Walking together in a South African city, the two suddenly find their way blocked by young thugs. The Reverend Andrews takes one look at the menacing gangsters and decides to run for it. Gandhi stops him. "Doesn't the New Testament say if an enemy strikes you on the right cheek you should offer him the left?" Andrews mumbles that he thought the phrase was used metaphorically. "I'm not so sure," Gandhi replies. "I suspect he meant you must show courage—be willing to take a blow, several blows, to show you will not strike back nor will you be turned aside. And when you do that it calls on something in human nature, something that makes his hatred decrease and his respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I have seen it work." 
Years later an American minister, Martin Luther King Jr., studied Gandhi's tactics and decided to put them into practice in the United States. Many blacks abandoned King over the issue of nonviolence and drifted toward "black power" rhetoric. After you've been hit on the head with a policeman's nightstick for the dozenth time and received yet another jolt from a jailer's cattle prod, you begin to question the effectiveness of nonviolence. But King himself never wavered. 
As riots broke out in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Harlem, King traveled from city to city trying to cool tempers, forcefully reminding demonstrators that moral change is not accomplished through immoral means. He had learned that principle from the Sermon on the Mount and from Gandhi, and almost all his speeches reiterated the message. "Christianity," he said, "has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian one must take up his cross, with all its difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering." 
Martin Luther King Jr. had some weaknesses, but one thing he got right. Against all odds, against all instincts of self-preservation, he stayed true to the principle of peacemaking. He did not strike back. Where others called for revenge, he called for love. The civil rights marchers put their bodies on the line before sheriffs with nightsticks and fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. That, in fact, was what brought them the victory they had been seeking so long. Historians point to one event as the single moment in which the movement attained a critical mass of public support for its cause. It occurred on a bridge outside Selma, Alabama, when Sheriff Jim Clark turned his policemen loose on unarmed black demonstrators. The American public, horrified by the scene of violent injustice, at last gave assent to passage of a civil rights bill. 
I grew up in Atlanta, across town from Martin Luther King Jr., and I confess with some shame that while he was leading marches in places like Selma and Montgomery and Memphis, I was on the side of the white sheriffs with the nightsticks and German shepherds. I was quick to pounce on his moral flaws and slow to recognize my own blind sin. But because he stayed faithful, by offering his body as a tar-get but never as a weapon, he broke through my moral calluses. 
The real goal, King used to say, was not to defeat the white man, but "to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority. . . . The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community." And that is what Martin Luther King Jr. finally set into motion, even in racists like me."
(Excerpt taken from Yancey's 1995 book, The Jesus I Never Knew.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Greatest Moments In The History Of Sports

Here's a compilation of some of the greatest moments in the history of sports. For those that know me, it's probably no surprise that my favorite moment happens at the 3:07 mark. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What is True For This Year's College Freshmen - 2012

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360
Each year around this time, Beloit College releases what they call the Mindset List -- a list of important facts and events which influence the worldview and perspective that this year's college freshmen class brings with them.

This year's list, which is made up for the graduating class of 2016, represents those students who were born in 1994. You can read the complete list here but I've included some entries below that I found particularly interesting:
- They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.” 
- The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them. 
- Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.” 
- If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube. 
- Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway. 
- Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge. 
- For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department. 
- They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it. 
- Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all. 
- Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends. 
- The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV. 
- White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited. 
- They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous. 
- Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens. 
- Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy. 
- They have had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes.” 
- Slavery has always been unconstitutional in Mississippi, and Southern Baptists have always been apologizing for supporting it in the first place. 
- Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book. 
- NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life more than twice during the holidays. 
- They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.
- They watch television everywhere but on a television.
- Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Most Important Role Of A Leader

Photo Credit: Konabish ~ Greg Bishop
Leadership expert Patrick Lencioni says that the most important role that a leader possesses is to create a healthy environment for her team.

He says this:
"A healthy organization is one that has all but eliminated politics and confusion from its environment. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else a business does, and even more important. 
Why? Because the smartest organization in the world, the one that has mastered strategy and finance and marketing and technology, will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. Trust me, I've seen it happen again and again. But a healthy organization will always find a way to succeed, because without politics and confusion, it will inevitably become smarter and tap into every bit of intelligence and talent that it has. 
So if all this is true - and I am absolutely convinced that it is - then why haven't more organizations embraced and reaped the benefits of organizational health? For one, it's hard. It requires real work and discipline, over a period of time, and it must be maintained. On top of that, it's not sophisticated or sexy and it's difficult to measure. 
But the biggest reason that organizational health remains untapped is that it requires courage. Leaders must be willing to confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their organization with an uncommon level of honesty and persistence. They must be prepared to walk straight into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them."
Lencioni says that the four things a leader can do to help an organization get healthy are:
1) Build a cohesive leadership team
2) Create clarity
3) Over-communicate clarity
4) Reinforce clarity
To read the rest of the article please click here.

(h/t to my friend John Waidley for the link.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Beauty Of Being A Cross-Cultural Missionary

Here are some insightful thoughts from Adam Gabriel Cavalier on "The Secret Life of the Cross-Cultural Missionary":
"Many people believe the age of the life-long, cross-cultural missionary is dead. I wholeheartedly disagree. With the rise of modern technology and short-term trips, this trend has caused some to think the long-term, sold-out, cross-cultural missionary is obsolete and passé. Certainly, it has changed the dynamics of the process (missionaries being able to return home once a year, regularly contact family, etc.), but it is absolutely not dead and gone. 
In the contemporary evangelical church, we are encouraged to go (cross-culturally) when we read books like Radical or Let the Nations Be Glad. Hopefully, many pastors and church leaders will encourage you to go. But many people want you to stay. We are called to go where we are not welcome and not to expect or demand a pat on the back (Col. 3:23-24). 
Cross-cultural missionaries that live in closed countries are not seen by the church. Without improperly glorifying the lifestyle or being self-serving, the cross-cultural missionaries are the “Navy Seals” of the church. They are small in numbers and do some of the most difficult and important work imaginable in the church. And it is all done without much individual publicity. 
I guess one of the glaring differences, though, is that we aren’t super-Christians. There is nothing fundamentally extraordinary about us. We are just normal people. Many don’t have seminary degrees or extensive theological training. You hear a lot about us but never hear from us. This is due, in part, to security issues. 
There are no “celebrity” cross-cultural missionaries. You may know a missionary or two from your home church that serves in a closed country. But I bet you a nickel that you can’t name me the author of a book who currently serves full-time in a closed country. Or an active blogger. Or a person whose podcast you listen to. When something big happens, there are books and fanfare, but that is always years after the fact. 
The overwhelming majority of gospel-centered labor is hard work and grinding. This, however, doesn’t make it any less sweet. When comfort is minimized, joy in the Lord is maximized. You could go so far as to say that cross-cultural missionaries are simply pleasure seekers (somewhere I hear John Piper saying, “Amen!”)."
To read the rest of the post please click here.

Monday, August 06, 2012

How First-Time Visitors Experience The U.S.

Photo Credit: Zellaby
From The Atlantic:
"Years before Senisha Millavanovich came to America, he watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with his wife. When the 1989 comedy showed Chevy Chase's satirically prototypical American family stringing up an over-the-top Christmas lights display, Millavanovich laughed, but not just because of Chase's slapstick antics. 
The entire idea of blanketing the front of your house in Christmas lights, he told a reporter with public radio's This American Life, had to be a joke. "When you look at the spoof movies or the comedies, they blow out of proportion things, just to make it funny. When I saw it I thought, this cannot be true. This is just too much lights," he said for a 2010 episode of the radio show. 
Imagine Millavanovich's surprise when he moved to Fargo, North Dakota, and on one December night drove down a suburban street. "Some people had not only the lights, but they also had the lights," he told the radio reporter of his jaw-dropping first Christmas in America. "And we said to each other, they really do decorate their houses as Chevy Chase did." 
This American Life, talking to refugees who'd moved to the U.S., mostly from conflict zones, found that the foreigners were shocked by a number of things that Americans might consider routine: public displays of affection, high obesity rates, families shipping their elderly parents off to nursing homes, dog-owners kissing their pets, and widespread gun ownership. "Just take a quick look and don't turn your face," a horrified Iraqi father told his children when their car pulled alongside a gun-toting motorcyclist. The kids, frightened by what they'd believed was a tool of only police and criminals, asked, "Why does he have a gun? What is he planning to do?" 
The U.S. can be such a jarringly strange place for many foreign visitors that travel guidebooks detail everything from the dangers of talking politics to tips on respecting Americans' famously guarded personal space. But what do those visitors find when they actually get here? This American Life spoke to a relatively narrow slice of foreign arrivals, but a thread on public question site Quora, jumping off from the radio segment, asks web users from around the globe to chime in with what surprised them about America."
To read the rest of the article please click here.

(h/t to my friend Trae for the link.)

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Story Behind "More To This Life" by Steven Curtis Chapman

In this video my favorite singer, Steven Curtis Chapman, tells the story of what inspired him to write his song "More To This Life." This is one of my favorite SCC songs and this is a great acoustic version. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Cru - Together We Are Making A Difference

To all of our ministry partners with Cru -- Thank you for the impact that you are having in the lives of people all over the world.