This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      What A Ten Year Study on Self-Centeredness Revealed: John Cacioppo concluded, "that focusing on yourself causes you to feel more isolated which causes you to focus even more on yourself. A vicious cycle of self-centeredness and loneliness ensues. To put it plainly — a focus on ourselves grows when we are continually by ourselves." 

2.      Half of Millennial Christians Say It's Wrong to Evangelize: Kate Shellnutt reports on new research from Barna, "Younger folks are tempted to believe instead, “if we just live good enough lives, we can forgo the conversation entirely, and people around us will almost magically come to know Jesus through our good actions and selfless character,” she said. “This style of evangelism is becoming more and more prevalent in a culture constantly looking for the fast track and simple fix.”

3.      What God Does for Us in Suffering: Randy Alcorn offers important wisdom, " There’s no nearness to God without dependence on God. And nothing makes us more dependent on Him than when the bottom drops out."

4.      How to Read the Book of Revelation Well: Great advice by Ian Paul. Every point packs a great punch and is well worth the read. He shares, " This is not an exercise in being ‘academic’ in our reading. It is just the normal discipline of recognising that the Bible was speaking in the language of its context and culture, and this decisively shapes its meaning."

5.      Confronting Defensive People: Jim Van Yperen with seven pieces of advice that we can all use, "A simple rule is this: never confront power with power, confront power with loving truth."

6. Making Faith Your Own or Making Up Your Own Faith? Benjamin Vrbicek reflects on stunning statements from a seminary President.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Comparing Take-Home Pay Around the WorldSwitzerland tops this list by a substantial margin while Mexico comes in dead last. The US comes in at the edge of the top third. And goodness gracious, if you think American income taxes are bad, don't move to Denmark!

2.      God's Grace for Foster ParentsI resonate with James Williams's post, "Fostering is hard. A child comes into our home, alters the norm of our everyday lives for a number of weeks or months, and then by government order leaves as quickly as he or she came. Many find it difficult that we regularly let children we’ve grown attached to go back home, usually never to see them again. People often say to us, “I just don’t know how you do it.” That bewildered statement implies that we have some special gift or ability that others don’t have, but the truth is, we don’t."

3.      7 Things to Never Say at a FuneralIt's hard to comfort those who are have experienced a death. Aaron Earls tells us not to mess it up. Top on his list are, "They're an angel now," and "I know how you feel."

4.      What Generation Z Wants to Do Before Hitting 30Aaron Earls reports on Barna's recent findings: "Fewer Gen Zers say they want to enjoy life before having responsibilities of being an adult (38 percent), find out who they really are (31 percent), or travel to other countries (21 percent)."

5.  How Involved Should Your Church Be During Elections? Kevin DeYoung with sober and timely advice.

6.     Why Are Self-Driving Cars Taking So Long? Really interesting video by SciShow that considers why it has been so hard to put self-driving cars on the road.

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Why Aren't You Going to Church?

Pew recently released a survey[i] on why Americans do and do not go to church. While 73% of Americans identify as being Christian[ii], surveys say Americans who report going to church weekly is only around 35%.[iii] Our best estimates for our own city (Tucson) are that less than 3% of the population is in church on Sunday.[iv]

I write this as an appeal to the 65% nationally and 90%+[v] in Tucson who don’t attend church regularly.

First, I want to understand you and your reasons for not attending. In a recent survey, those reasons were expressed this way[vi]:

Lessons from an Anti-Hero: Speak

Lessons from an Anti-Hero: Speak

Jonah doesn’t get much right. Not much at all. God called him to arise and go to Nineveh. Nope and nope. Jonah up and ran the opposite direction. But after God gets Jonah’s attention, Jonah ever-so-tentatively leans into what God calls him to.

The third call God placed on Jonah’s life was that he “call out against” Nineveh “the message that I tell you.” After being spit up by the fish and told a second time to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you,” Jonah heads to Nineveh. We aren’t told what God tells Jonah to tell the Ninevites, all we have are Jonah’s words: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”[i]

Just imagine what this must have looked like. We don’t know whether Jonah delivered this message once or multiple times as he walked through the city. The text is ambiguous about that. But it’s not ambiguous about how it must have been delivered. All we need to do is look one chapter further to see that Jonah’s heart was not at all in his message. After he delivers the message, Jonah sits perched on an overlook, anticipating the destruction of the city. In fact, if there was any pep in Jonah’s step as he delivered his message, it was that he was pouring salt into Nineveh’s terminal wound.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Darwin's Spider Shoots a 25+ Yard Web: Isn't God's creation incredible? If this was a movie, you would think it was over-the-top.

2.       The iPhone's Story: Wall Street Journal tells the behind-the-scenes story of how the iPhone was born.

3.       We Were in Marital Hell: Kay Warren has a beautiful way to use her raw transparency for the purpose of speaking deep truths. She poignantly shares, "I don’t approach this subject from the Hallmark-card version of marriage but from the blood, sweat, and tears of the trenches where our marriage was forged and is sustained. I know what it’s like to choose to build our relationship; to seek marriage counseling again and again; to allow our small group and our family into the struggle; to determine one more time to say, “Let’s start over” and “Please forgive me, I was wrong” and “I forgive you.” I know what it’s like to admit that my way isn’t the only way to see the world and to try to imagine what it’s like to be on the other side of me; to choose to focus on what is good and right and honorable in my husband instead of what drives me crazy; to turn attraction to another man into attraction to my husband... We’ve beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union."

4.       Christ's Transfiguration is a Sneak Peak of Our Future: Michael Kibbe with an absolute gem of an article, "As with the Son, so with the sons and daughters—transfiguration happens through suffering. The glory that shone in Jesus’ face on the mountain was a foretaste of things to come, not only for him but for us as well. This is why Jesus is called the firstfruits of the new creation (1 Cor. 15:20) and the firstborn from among the dead (Col. 1:18). When we see Jesus’ face burst with light on the mountain, we are invited not only to recognize how utterly different from us he is as the divine Son of God, but also how like him we may be, if we follow him down the mountain to the cross." 

5.       6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home Tech Habits Changing the American Home: Barna shares research on six tech habits that are negatively impacting our homes.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      How are Nature Documentaries Fake? What’s real and fake about nature documentaries.

2.      Is the Bible Good for Women? Wendy Alsup is a helpful guide: "Scripture first presents a story of humankind utterly dependent on God. Then it lays a foundation of male and female interdependence." 

3.      Reasons I’m Grateful to Have Married Young: Angel and I married at 21 and 19: with that came special joys and unique hardships. I resonated with Michael Kelley's reflections here.

4.      Who are these Unchurched Christians? According to Barna,10% of Americans love Jesus but not the church. Here is a capture of what this group looks like. 

5.    The Story Behind the Paper Bag: The woman who invented the underestimated paper bag.