Pew Research Center

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Why the Devil Didn't Think He Won When Jesus was on the Cross: I hadn't thought this through as clearly until I read this JA Medders post. His final reason is the strongest: " Fifth, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, he is tempted to get himself down from the cross. Why? This would cease his substituting death for us—Satan wouldn’t be disarmed and defeated. But Jesus did the Father’s will, he died and rose again for us. Defeating Satan every step of the way."

2.      How to Mend a Relationship That has Been Broken for Years: Vital Signs delivers consistently difficult, but healthy advice on matters related to conflict: Joseph Grenny offers, " I have come to believe that my capacity for joy in life is a function of my capacity to love imperfect people. And the most aggressive calisthenics of that capacity is practicing vulnerability at times of the most acute emotional risk."

3.      Seeing the Individual's Face: Jennie Cesario with one of the most beautiful reflections I've read in a while: "[T]o grow in the love of God is to expand my heart and vision in this way. To, little by little, allow more faces to become particular to me, more faces to become dear — whether they’re next to me in a church pew or against me in the voting booth; whether they’re my kindred or my worst enemies."

4.      What Teens Value Most: Helen Gibson reports on Pew Research Center's latest poll on teens. In it, having a career they enjoy ranks first, then helping others who are in need, and third is having a lot of money. Getting married is fourth and having children is fifth with less than 40% of teens saying they desire to have children one day.

5.      Is God Anti-Gay? Sam Alberry reflects on this big question during a Gospel Coalition panel (this is a podcast).

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Sunday Regulars are Happier and Healthier: Kate Shellnut shares the findings of a recent Pew Research Center report, " Whatever the explanation may be, more than one-third describe themselves as very happy, compared with just a quarter of both inactive and unaffiliated Americans."

2.      Move Over Sex and Drugs, Ease is the New Vice: Jen Pollock Michel with a sharp insight, "The decline in sexual activity and cereal sales hardly seem correlated, but both seem to point to one of the most seductive promises of a technological age: that ours should be an unbothered life. As our lives (at least in the developed world) get easier, we are increasingly formed by the desire for ease."

3.      Why Are you Hiding? This is written specifically for pastors, but it applies to many of us. Chuck DeGroat asks us why we keep our real selves hidden and why that might be our destruction: "The 17th-century Presbyterian clergyman John Flavel wrote in Keeping the Heart, 'There are some men and women who have lived forty or fifty years in the world and have had scarcely one hour’s discourse with their hearts all the while.' I’ve found this to be true of many people in ministry... They’re lost pastors, lonely and busy and empty and radically disconnected from any kind of inner conversation with their hearts and with the God who is more near to them than their very breath."

4.      They Really Did Come From Nothing: Lucia Tai, the daughter of immigrants reports on her journey back to her parents' birth home in Vietnam and how that reshaped her perception of them and undermined her ingratitude. She says, " I’ve come to see that my parents have spent the majority of their lives trying to assimilate into a new culture and to fit a mould that they were not born into...The experience also helped me to further reject internalised racism and to appreciate my heritage more. After experiencing my family’s truth, all the values that had been drilled into me from young started to make sense: the undying work ethic, the need to save every penny, the call to be grateful and to make sacrifices for the family."

5.      4 Traits of a Good Small Group Question: Lynn Pryor with great advice for leading any discussion group. Her four traits of a good question are:"1. They don’t call for a single right answer; 2. They don’t have an obvious answer; 3. They don’t call for a short answer; 4. They call for a personal response or answer."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.        How the West Became Self-ObsessedAn intriguing interview with William Storr, a book on the history of Western Individualism: "This tendency to focus on the self, on the individual, runs deep in our cultural history, and it’s not something we can easily escape."

2.       Americans Believe in God, Psychics, and CrystalsIn Pew Research's recent study, they found, "Four in 10 Americans (42 percent) believe spiritual powers rest in physical objects like mountains, trees, and crystals... A similar number (41 percent) believe in psychics. A third (33 percent) believe in reincarnation, while 29 percent believe in astrology."

3.       6 No-No's for Relating to Your Husband: The whole of Robert Lewis's list is good, but I particularly appreciate #6: "Never fall more in love with your kids than with your husband. That’s easy to do as the years go by. I call it “the great swap.” You get caught up in all the things the kids are doing, often seeing more of them than you do your husband. What you don’t notice is the growing distance developing between you and the man you vowed years ago to give your life to."

4.       6 No-No's for Relating to Your Wife: Mary May Larmoyeaux's list is also good, especially #2: "Don't tell your wife how to feel: ...please don’t say, “You shouldn’t be afraid or worried about that.” The fact is, we are afraid or worried about that. Just acknowledge our feelings. Tell us that you will pray for us. Ask us what you can do to help us not be afraid/worried, etc."

5.       Dealing with Your Anger: Ed Welch is my favorite writer on the topic of anger. He reflects, "Some counselors notice that people get tied up in knots when they hide or stuff their anger. They will tell you to deal with your anger by getting in touch with how you feel and then expressing it. “Get it off your chest. Say exactly what you think. Give ‘em a piece of your mind.” Other counselors have noticed how destructive people become when they express anger. They will counsel you to control your anger. Psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and meditation are just some of the different ways they recommend for defusing your anger and calming yourself down. So which is it, venting or calming? Actually, God has a different way for you to deal with your anger."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      The Rise in Transgenderism and Bisexuality: Joe Carter reports that, “Notice that only 6.8 percent of women identified as lesbian or bisexual, yet more than double that number had engaged in same-sex sexual contact. The phrase ‘bi-curious’ has come to be used to refer to such people who are “interested in having a same gender sexual experience without necessarily labeling their sexual orientation as bisexual.’ Social contagion is the only adequate explanation for why so many women have become bi-curious in such a short period of time.” 

2.      The Apostle Paul Was a Widower: Denny Burk explains his position, “’It is good for them to remain… as I am.’ ‘Remain” means to continue on in a certain state of existence. In their case, that state was one of widowhood. And Paul says “as I am.” This suggests that Paul is putting himself into the same category that they are. But it is not a category of singleness in general but a category of widowhood in particular. It is for this reason that many interpreters—including myself—believe that these words imply that Paul was previously married.”

3.      Old Testament Law Did Not Require a Woman to Marry Her Rapist: The idea that OT law required a woman to marry her rapist has been used often as a bully club against the ethics of the Bible. After establishing that the word should not be should not be translated ‘rape’ Katie McCoy explains the purpose of the law, “Under Hebrew law, a man was forbidden to exploit a woman as an object of pleasure. He was held accountable publicly for his indiscretion and held responsible for her future wellbeing. In other words, he couldn’t use her and lose her. Far from exploiting or oppressing women, this passage shows that biblical law held men accountable for their sexual behavior.”

4.      The Pope is Popular, But Not Impacting Roman Catholic Growth: Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra reports, “A Pew Research Center survey released today found ‘no evidence of a rise in the share of Americans who identify as Catholics [22% in 2012 vs. 20% in 2017], and no indication of a Francis-inspired resurgence in Mass attendance [41% weekly in 2012 vs. 38% weekly in 2017].’”

5.      How to Dance to Attract Girls: Rhett teaches Link how to dance in a way that attracts women based on a scientific study. Hilarity ensues.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       White Evangelicals Also Want Stricter Gun Laws: Surprising findings from Pew. Rob Schenck says, “The perception that all evangelicals have a kind of bloodlust for firearms, that’s not true, particularly when it comes to under-40 evangelicals and their pastors.”

2.       Stop Delegating! Shawn Lovejoy argues that delegation isn't true leadership. " Empowerment, on the other hand, has everything to do with the benefit of the other person and the entire organization." 

3.       Why It Was Not Good to Be Alone: Mike Leake argues that the primary reason it wasn't good for Adam to be alone wasn't physical or emotional, it was theological, " So the fundamental reason why it was not good for Adam to be alone was not because of a need to fulfilled within Adam, but rather because of a deficiency in his ability to accurately image God. He couldn’t make the invisible kingdom visible while he was alone because the invisible kingdom is a community. Adam needed Eve to accurately reflect God."

4.       Why Do I Believe in Credobaptism? Stephen Kneale makes a succinct argument for why we should baptize believers, not infants. One of his arguments is, " The Great Commission is that portion of scripture in which Jesus tells his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ This same command, the order of which seems significant, is picked up by the disciples who insist that their hearers ‘repent and be baptised’."

5.       Folegandros Island, Greece: A drone flies over the beautiful island. 

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations
  1. The 15th Most Influential Websites: Time honors the web's 27th birthday with this interesting list. I guarantee you haven't heard of a couple of these at least and The Drudge Report at #8 surprised me, but considering the imprint it has had on the bent of politics and today's news, I understand why.

  2. The Christianphobia of the Rich: Gene Veith reflects on the recent report that the demography of those who hold an anti-Christian bias is shifting, "Hostility against Christians among the general public has not increased over the last three decades. But who has hostility against Christians has changed. Today more anti-Christian bias is coming from the rich... Here is the profile of those who tend to be hostile to Christianity: white, male, politically progressive, irreligious, and wealthy... Do you see an exquisite irony here? “The rich” are the bête noir (the dark beast) of progressives. Add “white” and “male” and you have the ultimate villain, the cause of all our woes. It would seem that some of the biggest critics of rich white males are rich white males."

  3. Friendship is Not a Two-Way Street: Kim Barnes shares an important truth in the context of community, "When my husband was in seminary, he did a summer internship at a church in Bradenton, Florida. The young pastor and his wife were very encouraging to us and gave us some great marriage advice: “Remember that marriage is never 50/50. It’s always 90/10. Sometimes you’re the 90. Sometimes you’re the 10.” It turns out this isn’t only good marriage advice, but applies just as well to friendship."

  4. The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes: Zan Romanoff reports on the growing trend of gyms replacing church, "Exercise classes often function just as much like a church as they do like a gym: They gather people into a community, and give them a ritual to perform... You know who will be leading the evening; you can anticipate the general contours of its energy. You know you will recognize familiar faces among the participating crowd. As more Americans have moved away from organized religion (a 2015 Pew Center study found that 23 percent of the adult population identified as “religiously unaffiliated,” up from 16 percent in 2007) they have also moved toward new forms of community building, as well as new ways to seek mental clarity and spiritual experiences. The gym is a popular avenue for this kind of searching, in part because it mimics the form of traditional religious services."

  5. The Best Science Pictures of 2017: once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse, a hitch hiking octopus, and a creature that will give you nightmares.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     How the World's Most Recognized Atheist Got Booted Out of the World's Most Liberal College: The reasons for Dawkins's "deplatforming" reveal cracks in secular liberalism: "Ultimately Dawkins was deluded about the fact that you cannot remove the framework of the Christian gospel from the culture without removing the freedoms it afforded him. And now all he can do is splutter ineffectually on the sidelines. And Berkeley?  Their need to protect Islam is merely the self-righteous self-preening of elite liberals who are confident they stand above all religions and therefore are the arbiters of which ones should be afforded their favour and protection at any one time."

2.     The Key Pursuit of a Young Life: Tim Challies on the importance of our early life and how differently God planned his Son's life than we would have: "But it fell to God—not you or me—to set the course for his life, and God planned it very differently. Jesus lived for around 33 years, but his entire public ministry fit into just the final three. He spent 90 percent of his life in obscurity and only 10 percent in the public eye. For every one year that was recorded, there were 10 that were not. God arranged the itinerary, and he chose to have Jesus spend 30 years in quiet preparation for his three years of public activity."

3.     US Not Increasing Refugee Resettlement In Step With Worldwide Demand: Sarah Eekhoff Lystra reports, " Since 1980, more than 3 million of the world’s refugees have settled in America, according to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than any other country in the world, in terms of resettlement....  President Donald Trump cut the 2017 intake from Obama’s planned 100,000 to 50,000...  The Trump administration has capped refugees for fiscal year 2018 at 45,000—the lowest since presidents were given the power to set limits back in 1980..."

4.      You Were Created for More Than Motherhood: Melissa Edgington is one of my favorite bloggers and this is my favorite post she's ever written. Fathers, you may think this one isn't for you, but grab a box of Kleenex, click, and read: " It doesn’t mean that our hearts won’t still creak and crack and melt just a little when we remember what we once had. It doesn’t mean that what we’re doing here, in the wilds of motherhood, doesn’t have eternal significance. But, God’s purposes are big. Much bigger than we can imagine. The purpose of our lives is to glorify Him in all that we do, whether we are mothers or not. Whether we are in the thick of chasing toddlers everywhere or simply remembering those days, a little misty-eyed. God’s purposes don’t have dates of expiration. They don’t apply to only one section of our lives. And they certainly aren’t wrapped up solely in the too-short phases of mothering children."

5.     George W. Bush’s Timely Speech: Our former President delivered a powerful speech recently. The entire speech is worth reading (or watching). Among its powerful moments was this: “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

6.     30 Days at Sea Timelapse Video: From New York to Hong Kong, with incredible views of thunderstorms and ports in between.