Daily Briefing: August 17, 2017

Posted by    |    August 17th, 2017 at 5:15 am

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9. Heather Heyer memorial: Killing ‘just magnified her,’ mother says (CNN)

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her,” Susan Bro said to loud applause Wednesday at the city’s roughly 1,000-seat Paramount Theater.
“I want you to pay attention, find what’s wrong … and say to yourself, what can I do to make a difference?” Bro said. “And that’s how you’re going to make my child’s death worthwhile.
“I’d rather have my child, but by golly, if I’ve got to give her up, we’re going to make it count.”

Nick Note: You can watch her remarks here. Last night, thousands gathered on the campus of UVA for a candlelight vigil. Instead of tiki torches, there were candles and thousands singing Amazing Grace. Watch it here. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)”

8. Baltimore Mayor Had Statues Removed in ‘Best Interest of My City’ (NY Times)

“It was “in the best interest of my city,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday, as she explained why she ordered Confederate monuments removed under the cover of darkness, days after violence broke out during a rally against the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia.
“I said with the climate of this nation,” Ms. Pugh said later, “that I think it’s very important that we move quickly and quietly.”
“With no immediate public notice, no fund-raising, and no plan for a permanent location for the monuments once they had been excised — all things city officials once believed they would need — the mayor watched in the wee hours on Wednesday as contractors with cranes protected by a contingent of police officers lifted the monuments from their pedestals and rolled them away on flatbed trucks.”

Nick Note: The mayor ordered for these statues to be removed but Takiyah Thompson took it upon herself to remove the statues in North Carolina on Monday. She and four others were arrested yesterday for participating in a riot and property damage in excess of $1,500. Moving forward, it will be increasingly important to differentiate between those who want to keep the statues, those who want to remove them, and those that riot/protest. Not everyone that wants to keep the statues belongs to the alt-right or other extremist groups. The statues commemorate individuals that used their freedom in a remarkable manner. The statues stand because others used their freedom to honor past achievements. And today, we have the chance to use our freedom to engage the civic system either to support the statues or petition for their removal. Christians exist on both sides of the debate. You may support them or want them removed, but may you advocate your position in love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)”

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7. How Exercise Could Help You Learn a New Language (NY Times)

“A new study reports that working out during a language class amplifies people’s ability to memorize, retain and understand new vocabulary. The findings provide more evidence that to engage our minds, we should move our bodies.
“In recent years, a wealth of studies in both animals and people have shown that we learn differently if we also exercise. Lab rodents given access to running wheels create and maintain memories better than animals that are sedentary, for instance. And students consistently perform better on academic tests if they participate in some kind of physical activity during the school day.
“Many scientists suspect that exercise alters the biology of the brain in ways that make it more malleable and receptive to new information, a process that scientists refer to as plasticity.”

Nick Note: I Like to Move It Move It and Learn It Learn It. In seminary, I discovered I could read while on the elliptical. Today, I still read on the elliptical. I’m working through Completing Capitalism right now. This is new research but an old practice. Aristotle created the peripatetic school, where students could walk with teachers as they discussed matters. In the Scriptures, we read that Jesus often used the world as his classroom, taking objects and events and turning them into object lessons. From fig trees to flowers in the field, his renewed mind found the fingerprints of his father everywhere (Mark 11:12-25).

6. Binge watching box sets bad for your health (Wakefield Express)

“Shows such as Game of Thrones, House of Cards or Orange is the New Black are worse for your health than viewing the same amount of regular TV, say scientists. The reason is fans get so involved in their favourite programmes their pulse has speeded up by the time they go to bed.
“The study of more than 400 young people found those who binge watched reported poorer sleep quality, more fatigue and increased insomnia.”

Nick Note: And in other obvious news, eating food makes you less hungry. The average American adult watches five hours and four minutes of television per day. Four and a half hours of it is live television. Thirty minutes more comes via DVR. We average two hours and fifty-one minutes on our smartphone. And according to the EPA, the average American spends 93 percent of their life indoors. What is the solution? Move your television outside. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

5. Blacks and whites see racism in the United States very, very differently (CNN)

“An overwhelming 87% of black Americans say black people face a lot of discrimination in the United States, but only 49% of white Americans say the same thing, according to a February poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.
“Meanwhile, six in 10 Americans (61%) said racism against blacks is widespread in the United States in a Gallup poll last August — up from just 51%at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term in 2009. But that includes a broad racial split: 82% of blacks vs. just 56% of whites.
“A Quinnipiac University poll found 66% of nonwhites labeled prejudice a “very serious” problem, while only 39% of whites felt the same way. Meanwhile, one in four whites (25%) said it was not a serious problem and only one in 10 nonwhites (11%) felt the same way.”

Nick Note: Do we see racism differently because we don’t talk to each other separately? According to one study, our friendships are largely homogenous. “In a 100-friend scenario, the average white person has 91 white friends; one each of black, Latino, Asian, mixed race, and other races; and three friends of unknown race. The average black person, on the other hand, has 83 black friends, eight white friends, two Latino friends, zero Asian friends, three mixed race friends, one other race friend and four friends of unknown race.” What does your friend group look like? Jesus befriended a Samaritan woman (John 4), ministered to Gentiles repeatedly, and commended the faith of a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:28).

4. The Benefits of Talking to Yourself (NY Times)

“Language provides us with this tool to gain distance from our own experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives. And that’s really why it’s useful,” said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.
“Mr. Kross and his colleagues studied the impact of internal self-talk — talking to yourself in your head — to see how it can affect attitudes and feelings. They found that when their subjects talked about themselves in the second or third person — for example, “You can do this” or “Jane can do this” instead of “I can do this” — not only did they feel less anxiety while performing, but their peers also rated their performances better.”

Nick Note: Like Toby Keith, I want to talk about me and this research suggests that I should take this one step further by talking to myself. To a certain degree, all of us already have an internal monologue running through our mind each second of the day. All too often, this stream of thought is negative in nature. Shakespeare quipped that our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win. We are our own worst enemy (James 4:1). Henri Nouwen is right: “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the Beloved.”

3. Atlanta Falcons’ New Stadium to Feature Perpetually Closed Chick-fil-A Location (Bleacher Report)

“While the Atlanta-based chain will have a restaurant inside the arena, it’ll be tough for spectators to get their hands on an order of waffle fries when it opens.
“The fast-food chain is famously known to be closed on Sundays, due to its founder’s religious views. Unfortunately, seven of the Falcons’ eight home games this season will take place on Sundays. Chick-fil-A doesn’t plan to bend the rules, not even for the Dirty Birds. So the location will be empty and non-operational for all but one game.”

Nick Note: “Be firm in the Christian faith. Be courageous and strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)”

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2. 7-Yr-Old With Bad Case Of Hiccups Powers Through National Anthem In Hysterical Video!

Nick Note: Watch it here. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)”

1. The first pitch at the Red Sox game didn’t go well.

Nick Note: Watch it here. Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming…or a first pitch in this instance. (Matthew 24:42)

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10 Ways To Put Some SPARK Back In Your Marriage

Posted by    |    August 16th, 2017 at 7:21 am

We laughed recently when we heard a woman say, “If my husband ever says there is no spark in our relationship, I’m going to taz him. Then when he wakes up, I’ll ask him if he still feels that way.” That’s not the way to bring a spark back into your relationship, but here are 10 good ways (and much less painful 😜)…

1. TELL YOUR SPOUSE YOU APPRECIATE THEM: Refocus on what your spouse does well. Early in the relationship we tend to notice all our spouse’s great qualities, while overlooking their flaws. As marriage goes on, we tend to become guilty of noticing all of their flaws while overlooking their great qualities. Say “thank you” for the little things.

2. DO THE THINGS YOU ONCE DID: Visit back before you were married, when you were in the process of trying to win your spouse, you did things like … flirt, brag on one another, call for no reason, send flowers, leave notes for one another, etc. Go back to doing the things you did pre-marriage to win one another. Work as hard to keep your spouse as you did to win them in the beginning.

3. WATCH AN OLD MOVIE THAT YOU BOTH LOVE: After the kids are in bed, pick out a romantic comedy or action movie and snuggle up on the couch.

4. WATCH YOUR OLD WEDDING VIDEO: Pull out that old wedding video and watch it together. It will bring back some great memories and laughs.

5. DO SOMETHING FUN TOGETHER: Most of the time when marriages struggle, it’s not due to a lack of love, but a lack of friendship. You build friendship by spending time together and doing things together. Pick out some things you like to do together, and get after it.

6. GO ON A FANCY DATE: We love to date, and occasionally we love to go on a fancy date. So dress up, wear something your spouse likes, eat somewhere nice and go see a special play, etc. Don’t forget to bring the “romance” back home with you.

7. PLAN A WEEKEND ADVENTURE: If you can get the kids lined out, plan a weekend for just the two of you. This is so healthy for your relationship.

8. SEND A SPECIAL MESSAGE: Send a love letter to your spouse via snail mail or a sexy text message. Your spouse will love it.

9. HAVE MORE SEX: Be spontaneous: have it during the day or in a different place. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Intimacy is what separates soulmates from roommates.

10. BE INTERESTED: Show interest in your spouse’s day. Greet them with a hug and kiss and ask them about their day … and then listen closely with your eyes and your ears.

Daily Briefing: August 16, 2017

Posted by    |    August 16th, 2017 at 6:13 am

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9. EXCLUSIVE: Hope Hicks To Be Named White House Comms Director (The Daily Caller)

“President Trump has offered the job to Hicks and she has accepted the position, according to a White House insider. Hicks has been close by Trump’s side since the early days of the campaign and is one of his most trusted staffers. She has been serving on the press team in more of a behind-the-scenes role as the director of strategic communications.”

Nick Note: “…Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6, 18:1, 21:25)” This verse describes the time of the Judges and some contend this characterizes our culture today. Last night, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest group of labor unions in the country, quit President Trump’s manufacturing council after the president’s remarks earlier in the day.Watch some of Mr. Trump’s remarks here. At the impromptu press conference at Trump Tower, President Trump returned to his original comments regarding the tragedy at Charlottesville that blamed all sides. This did not void out his comments from two days ago, which specifically condemned and called out the “KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups,” butmany interpreted this as a step back. However, approximately six out of ten Americans will not change their mind regarding President Trump, according to the latest Monmouth poll. The tragedy in Charlottesville continues to dominate the news, especially because of a 22-minute documentary put out last night by Vice News that portrayed what happened over the weekend. I will not link to the video because of how disgusting and heartbreaking it is. But here is a short backgrounder on many of the groups involved. Nine cities across the country are bracing for similar rallies in the coming days. Undoubtedly, these rallies will unite both protestors and counter-protestors, in essence pitting them against each other. We are deeply divided and we desperately need to be united. Today, everyone may do what is right in their eyes but we need Coach Bombays to lift our gazes to work for the collective good. Ducks fly together and Christians from all backgrounds work together in order to bless the world, work for the good of their community, and love their neighbor as yourself (John 17:21, 2 Corinthians 9:8-11, Jeremiah 29:7, Mark 12:30-31). 

8. Sierra Leone: 400 bodies found after ‘huge’ mudslides (Skye News)

“Nearly 400 bodies have been found so far after “huge” mudslides hit the capital of Sierra Leone – and more heavy rain is feared to be on the way. Relatives have been gathering at a morgue overloaded with bodies in Freetown and national TV showed images of people bringing bodies to the morgue in rice sacks. The chief coroner, Seneh Dumbuya, said he expected the death toll would rise to more than 500.”

Nick Note: Also making news on the international front, at least 30 people were killed and more than 80 others injured in a triple suicide attack Tuesday in Nigeria. No group has claimed responsibility but this area is known for Boko Haram attacks. Stories like this awaken me to my helplessness. But according to Paul Miller in his phenomenal book A Praying Life, prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus. “Prayer is asking God to incarnate, to get dirty in your life…Most of our prayers are answered in the context of the larger story that God is weaving.” Would you pray for people of Sierra Leone and Nigeria this morning? (1 Thessalonians 5:25)

7. Gates Makes Largest Donation Since 2000 With $5 Billion Gift (Bloomberg)

“Bill Gates made his largest single gift since the turn of the century, giving away Microsoft Corp. shares that accounted for 5 percent of his fortune, the world’s biggest. The billionaire donated 64 million of the software maker’s shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The shares were valued at $4.6 billion at the time. It’s the largest gift of Microsoft shares that Gates, 61, has made since 2000.”

Nick Note: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35)”

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6. MoviePass’ New Unlimited Movies in Theaters Deal Sounds Amazing—But There’s a Catch (Gizmodo)

“Lowe announced that MoviePass will allow subscribers to see one showing a day of a film at any theater that accepts debit card payment for just $9.95 a month. The only restrictions that have been announced so far are that 3D and Imax films are off limits.
“The new plan is the same as many startups these days. Lose a bunch of money, gain a bunch of customers, and sell that sweet, sweet data. MoviePass sold a majority stake in the company to Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc. on Tuesday and now it has some cash to burn., so the company will almost certainly lose money on subscriptions.”

Nick Note: An average movie ticket costs $8.84. This should indicate how valuable your data is to companies. MoviePass is willing to take a short-term loss for a long-term gain all for the sake of your valuable data. To a divine degree, Jesus was willing to take a short-term loss (three days in a tomb) for a long-term gain (eternity) all for the sake of his glory, your joy, and the world’s good (Colossians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24).

5. Inside the Lab That’s Quantifying Happiness

“The UVM team’s Hedonometer surveys the country’s tweets each day and calculates a happiness score for each. The team had people rate 10,000 words on a happiness scale of one (sad) to nine (happy).
“All this adds up to a mesmerizing sine wave tracking the nation’s mood from 2009 (the fledging of Twitter) to the present. “One of our goals was to provide a snapshot of the public’s response to something,” Danforth explained, “the texture of the day.”

Nick Note: Out of the overflow of the heart the fingers tweet. (Luke 6:45)

4. These statistics show why it’s so hard to be an average man on dating apps (QZ)

“Aviv Goldgeier recently analyzed the share of “likes” on Hinge that went to the most-liked people of each gender. He found that inequality on dating apps is stark, and that it was significantly worse for men. The top 1% of guys get more than 16% of all likes on the app, compared to just over 11% for the top 1% of women. (Unlike swipe-based Tinder, Hinge is based on a system of “liking” some particular aspect of a person’s profile.)
“The most likely explanation is that women, who are generally less likely to initiate contact, have a higher threshold when they do so. For many women, though certainly not all, if they are going to break with gender norms, it is only going to be for a really attractive guy.”

Nick Note: John Cusack held up a boom box and blared “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel outside Ione Skye’s window and that was sufficient to woo her. Today requires different tactics. In 2014, single adults numbered 107 million and comprised 45 percent of the population. That number is only growing. 40 percent use online dating or an app, 52 percent are men, and 53 percent lied on their profile. In the Scriptures, we read about Jacob working for 14 years for Rachel (Genesis 29). We read about David going to great lengths for the hand of Michal (1 Samuel 18). Each instance, to a certain degree, revealed respect and hard work compelled by love. While the outworking of these values will look different today, the principles should remain. 

3. Before You Study, Ask for Help (WSJ)

“New research shows that students who excel at both classroom and standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT aren’t necessarily those who study longest. Instead, they study smart—planning ahead, quizzing themselves on the material and actively seeking out help when they don’t understand it.
“High-achieving students take charge of their own learning and ask for help when they’re stuck, according to a 2017 study of 414 college students. Students who performed better sought out extra study aids such as instructional videos on YouTube. Those who asked instructors for help during office hours were more likely to get A’s, but fewer than 1 in 5 students did so, says the study.”

Nick Note: The Beatles got by with a Little Help from Their Friends and so should you. Perhaps the most helpful book for me was How to Read a Bookby Mortimer Adler. In the Scriptures, a wise man seeks counsel, finds wisdom in counsel, and achieves victory in the abundance of counselors (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, 13:10, 19:20). The Four Tops can’t help themselves but you can by asking for help from others. So in the name of your Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, ask for help. 

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2. Dad of woman killed in Charlottesville: “People need to stop hating. And they need to forgive each other.” (h/t: Nate S)

Nick Note: Watch it here. Absolutely stunning. (Hebrews 11:37-38

1. Studious pup just can’t wait to board the bus to doggy school

Nick Note: Watch it here. Just as this dog seizes the day, go and do likewise. However, please refrain from lapping water out of a bowl. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10)

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Why ‘Game of Thrones’ is popular—and dangerous

Posted by    |    August 16th, 2017 at 5:46 am

NOTE: In response to the continuing controversy over neo-Nazis and white supremacists, I have written an article for our website titled Hitler’s Lies: Responding to Nazism Today. The article explores Hitler’s ideology, the continuing popularity of Nazism, and three biblical responses. I invite you to read it here.

The recent premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones drew a record-setting 10.1 million viewers. Coupled with digital viewers, the show averaged 25.1 million viewers last year. It was by far the most watched show on television, nearly double the viewers of the second-place show.

Why is Game of Thrones so astoundingly popular? What does its popularity say about us?

I must begin with a disclaimer: I have never seen Game of Thrones, for reasons I’ll explain in today’s article. But Internet reviews are so abundant that it’s not hard to identify reasons for the show’s enormous popularity. Each of them says something frightening about our culture today.

One: The plots are unpredictably complex. As Forbes notes, “Central characters are killed, psychopaths claim power, weddings become bloodbaths, and bad guys develop consciences as time passes.” The show is built on the premise that there is no logic to life, that we live in a chaotic world with no central purpose or direction.

Two: The show embraces amorality. “Good” characters make horrific mistakes, while “bad” characters act redemptively. One psychologist lauds the “progressive tolerance” the show legitimizes. In a postmodern culture that views all truth as personal and subjective, the characters legitimize our rejection of right and wrong.

Three: All sexuality is endorsed. Rape, lesbianism, sex between siblings, prostitution, and other acts so despicable I won’t mention them here—all are regular fare. As millions of people watch such perversion, they are desensitized and far more likely to embrace the “sexual liberation” the show articulates.

Four: Violence is normalized. Heads are crushed, people are stabbed through the eye, victims are burned alive, mass murder is depicted graphically. Why is this a problem? Exposure to media violence is clearly linked to violent acts as watching violence changes brain patterns and alters behavior.

What would God say to Christians tempted to watch such ungodliness?

One: Guard your heart. Scripture teaches us to “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). We are commanded to “think on” whatever is “pure” (Philippians 4:8). Our thoughts determine our actions, which determine our lives (Proverbs 23:7 KJV).

Two: Guard your witness. Our skeptical culture looks for reasons to reject our faith. If we are ungodly, how can we call others to be godly? “A truthful witness saves lives” (Proverbs 14:25).

Three: Guard your relationship with God. Would you want your parents to watch you as you watch the nudity and violence depicted on Game of Thrones? Your heavenly Father sees all that you see. His Spirit lives in you and is subjected to whatever your experience. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30).

Jesus taught us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Thus, we can see Game of Thrones, or we can see God, but we cannot see both.

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Holocaust survivor stands up to Nazis in America

Posted by    |    August 15th, 2017 at 6:05 am

“I escaped the Nazis once. You will not defeat me now.” Marianne Rubin held a sign with these words as she joined protests against racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The eighty-nine-year-old New York resident survived the Holocaust. Now she’s standing up to Nazis again. Her interview is making global headlines this morning.

The tragedy began when one hundred white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus Friday night. They carried torches, chanted Nazi slogans like “Sieg Heil,” and greeted each other with the Nazi salute.

The next day, when counter-protesters responded to their hatred, a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into them, killing one and injuring nineteen others. Two state troopers monitoring the white supremacist rally were killed when their helicopter crashed.

Is this tragedy an isolated incident?

The third largest political party in Greece is led by a man who describes Hitler as a “great personality.” A Scandinavian group called the Nordic Resistance Movement praises Hitler in publications. Neo-Nazi activities in Europe have doubled in recent years.

More than half of the Jews living in France and Sweden avoid wearing or displaying things that would cause others to recognize them as Jews, fearing violent attacks. Britain saw a 62 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents last year.

One hundred headstones were toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia last February. This is the city where America’s Declaration of Independence was adopted along with its famous assertion that “all men are created equal.” Attacks on Jews in America have risen 86 percent this year.

What are we to think of the resurgence of Nazism and white supremacy in these days?

Let us be clear: God forbids every kind of discrimination and prejudice. His word declares, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We are commanded to love each other as Jesus loves us (John 13:34).

Every person you meet today is someone worthy of dignity and respect. Even if you disagree with their lifestyle, you should see them as God does—a person made in his image (Genesis 1:27). For instance, I have made clear my belief that same-sex marriage is unbiblical. But I have also made clear the fact that God loves gay people and calls us to do the same.

Speaking to the NAACP in 1981, Ronald Reagan addressed “a disturbing reoccurrence of bigotry and violence” in America perpetrated by “groups who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice.” His message to them: “You are the ones who are out of step with our society. You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America.”

President Reagan then predicted that “this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct.” Will we prove him right?

NOTE: Today’s topic is so significant that I have written a companion website article, Hitler’s Lies: Responding to Nazism Today. In this essay, we explore Hitler’s ideology, reasons for the popularity of Nazism today, and three biblical responses. I invite you to read the paper here.

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Hitler’s Lies: Responding to Nazism Today

Posted by    |    August 15th, 2017 at 5:54 am

The world’s oldest man died yesterday. Yisrael Kristal was 113 years old. Remarkably, he was the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust. The rest were among the six million Jews murdered by Nazis. More than a million of them were children.

I have visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, many times. Each time I weep anew for those lost to such senseless violence. I have also visited Germany numerous times. Last week, my wife and I spent a day in Berlin, where we were deeply impressed by the sophistication of the city and its culture.

Germany has produced some of history’s greatest minds. Albert Einstein, Immanuel Kant, Albert Schweitzer, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Max Planck, Johannes Kepler, George Frideric Handel, Johannes Brahms, Wernher von Braun . . . the list goes on. How could such a brilliant society fall prey to the lies of Nazism?

The ideology of Hitler

“Nazi” is an abbreviation for “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei,” the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. After their defeat in World War I, Germans were suffering economic deprivation and desperate for new leadership. Adolf Hitler promised to pull them from the Depression and restore them to their “rightful place” as a world power.

He followed the tried-and-true three-step political formula: (1) Convince people that they have an enemy; (2) convince them that they cannot defeat their enemy; (3) convince them that he will defeat their enemy if they vote for him. In this case, the primary “enemy” was Judaism.

Hitler told Germans that the so-called “Aryan” people (primarily North Europeans) were the superior race. Their supposed superiority granted them the right and obligation to rule other races and peoples for the benefit of mankind.

Jews, by contrast, were identified as the enemy holding back this “master race.” Hitler blamed them for Germany’s loss in World War I and its resulting economic deprivation. He also accused Jews of inventing Communism, another threat to Germany’s future.

Hitler’s anti-Semitic political agenda gained a wide following in Germany, leading to his appointment as German chancellor on January 30, 1933. Later that year, the Nazi regime established its first concentration camps and began imprisoning political opponents, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others it deemed “dangerous.” Over the next six years, the regime enforced more than four hundred decrees and regulations restricting all aspects of German life. And it began the military expansion that led to World War II.

The popularity of Nazism today

In significant ways, world events today parallel those that led to the rise of Nazism eight decades ago. Some view the rise of immigration in Europe and America as a threat to their economic future. They argue that programs intended to help racial minorities have victimized white people and jeopardized their future.

And they claim that Jews continue to monopolize the global economy to their benefit and the oppression of others. Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, is Jewish, as is Jack Lew, the former Treasury secretary. Sergey Brin (cofounder of Google), Michael Bloomberg (former mayor of New York City), Michael Dell (founder of Dell Computers), Jeff Zucker (president of CNN), Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft), and billionaire George Soros (founder of Soros Fund Management) are all Jewish. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and personal advisor, is Jewish as well.

Any time a country faces an uncertain future, some turn to the past. Neo-Nazis are rising in popularity wherever white people feel threatened and victimized. But there’s more to the story.

Racial prejudice is one way inferior people justify themselves. They find a group of people to blame rather than taking responsibility for their struggles. And they decide that they are innately superior to others on the basis of unchanging factors such as skin color and racial heritage.

For instance, if a white person decides that black people are racially inferior to him, he can go through life feeling superior to an entire population class. No matter his educational, financial, or social failings, he considers himself innately superior to blacks. This is the perverted promise Hitler made to his “Aryan” people. It is the same perversion racists of all categories claim for themselves today.

How to respond to Nazis and other racists

What biblical truths should guide us as we respond to the rising racism and Nazism of our day? Consider three principles.

One: God made only one race—the human race.

Every human is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We are all descendants of Adam and of Noah. Caucasians, Africans, Arabs, Indians, Jews, and Asians are not different races—they are different ethnicities of the same human race.

Two: Our Father loves all his children and calls us to do the same.

The most famous verse in Scripture teaches that God loves “the world” (John 3:16). Jesus commanded us to love each other as he loves us (John 13:34). Those who act with prejudice are “judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4).

Three: We need God’s help in loving God’s children.

Whether motivated by racism or not, we all struggle to love everyone. No one goes through life unscathed by humanity. We have all been hurt by someone, just as we have all hurt someone. We cannot forgive fully without the power of the One who forgives us. The good news is that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Corrie ten Boom, the famous Holocaust survivor, once experienced such a miracle. Here’s how she told the story:

“It was at a church service in Munich, Germany, that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. Suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking guards, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

“He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’

“His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often . . . the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

“I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. Again I breathed a silent prayer, Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

“As I took his hand, the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand, a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

“I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

Conclusion

Yisrael Kristal was not the only famous person connected to the Holocaust to die this week. Seventy-six years earlier, a Catholic priest named Maximilian Kolbe was executed by the Nazis. Here is his story.

Father Kolbe was a Polish priest sent by the Nazis to Auschwitz. In July of 1941, a man escaped from their barracks. As punishment, ten prisoners were chosen to die in the starvation bunker. They would receive no food or water. Their throats would turn to paper, their brains to fire, until finally their suffering ended in a horrible death.

One of the ten began grieving loudly for his wife and children. Suddenly there was a commotion in the ranks. A prisoner had broken out of line, calling for the commandant—cause for execution.

The prisoners gasped. It was their beloved Father Kolbe, the priest who shared his last crust of bread, who comforted the dying, who heard their confessions and fed their souls. The frail priest spoke softly and calmly to Nazi Camp Commandant Fritsch: “I would like to die in place of one of the men you condemned.” He pointed to the weeping prisoner grieving for his wife and children.

Fritsch compared the two; this priest indeed looked weaker than the man he had condemned to death. He looked at his assistant and nodded. Father Kolbe’s place on the death ledger was set. The men were made to remove their clothes, then herded into a dark, windowless cell. “You will dry up like tulips,” sneered one of their jailers. Then he swung the heavy door shut.

As the hours and days passed, the camp became aware of something extraordinary happening in the death cell. Past prisoners had spent their dying days screaming, attacking each other, clawing at the walls. But now, coming from the death box, they heard the faint sounds of singing.

On August 14, 1941, there were four prisoners still alive in the bunker, and it was needed for new occupants. In the light of their flashlight, the Nazi soldiers saw Father Maximilian Kolbe, a living skeleton, propped against one wall. His head was inclined a bit to the left. He had a smile on his lips, his eyes wide open, fixed on some faraway vision. He did not move. The Nazi doctor gave lethal injections to the first three prisoners, then to Father Kolbe. In a moment, he was dead.

Today, visitors to the starvation bunker at Auschwitz find on its floor, next to a large spray of fresh flowers, a steady flame. It is burning today. It will burn forever. (Adapted from Charles Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn, The Body: Being Light in Darkness [Dallas: Word Publishing, 1992] 318–27.)

What price will you pay to love those for whom Jesus died?

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Daily Briefing: August 15, 2017

Posted by    |    August 15th, 2017 at 5:17 am

T O P   N E W S

9. Texas A&M Calls Off White Supremacy Event (Inside Higher Ed)

“Texas A&M University late Monday said it would not permit a “White Lives Matter” event — featuring white supremacist Richard Spencer — to take place on campus on Sept. 11.
“Spencer appeared at Texas A&M in December. At that time the university’s leaders said they deplored his ideas but had to give him the right to appear because Texas A&M is a public institution, governed by the First Amendment…Organizers of the Texas A&M event explicitly said that they saw Charlottesville as a model, issuing a press release that said, “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M.”
“Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus,” said the statement issued by the university.”

Nick Note: Unrest continues to dot the American landscape. A group of protesters in Durham, North Carolina pulled down a Confederate statue outside a government building on Monday evening. The statute depicts a soldier along with the words “In memory of the boys who wore the gray,” referring to the color of the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Watch it here. The level of emotion and hatred shocked me when I watched the video. Earlier on Monday, President Trump doubled down on his comments from Saturday and did so with specificity. “Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Watch it here. Since the tragedy in Charlottesville on Saturday, three CEOs (Merck, Under Armour, and Intel) have quit Mr. Trump’s American Manufacturing Council. They may have quit the council, but Christians have work to do. Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Peace never comes idly, rather peace comes with the presence of justice and righteousness undergirded by a robust love (Psalm 89:14). Unrest characterizes the American landscape but love distinguishes the Christian (John 13:35). And our love bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.

8. Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing (CBS News)

“With the rise of prenatal screening tests across Europe and the United States, the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased, but few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.
“Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy… Around 80 to 85 percent of pregnant women choose to take the prenatal screening test, according to Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik.”

Nick Note: What does it profit a nation to gain a Down syndrome-free world and lose their future? This isn’t eradicating Down syndrome; this is killing children who have Down syndrome (Mark 8:36, Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 8:5-7).

7. Hillary Clinton’s pastor plagiarized portion of new book (CNN)

“Hillary Clinton’s longtime pastor plagiarized the writings of another minister in a new book scheduled to be released today.
“Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” is based on emails that the Rev. Bill Shillady, a United Methodist minister, wrote to Clinton from April 2015 through December of last year.
“On Monday, Shillady apologized, saying he was “stunned” by the similarities between his email to Clinton and Deuel’s column. In a text message, Deuel said he and Shillady talked on Monday, and that he had accepted Shillady’s apology.”

Nick Note: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. (Luke 8:17)”

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

6. Suicides under age 13: One every 5 days (CNN)

“From 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 committed suicide in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. That means one child under 13 died of suicide nearly every five days, on average, over those 17 years.
“The frequency was higher from 2013 to 2015 — once every 3.4 days — thanks mostly to a 54% spike in the suicides of 11- and 12-year-olds compared to the three years prior.”

Nick Note: This is absolutely tragic. Jean Twenge, in her phenomenal research, noted this: “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones…Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan.” This is more than a familial issue; this is a community issue (Luke 17:2).

5. Despite a boom in flexible working, many singles say they’re still picking up the slack from colleagues with families. (BBC)

“A recent UK study of 25,000 workers found that two thirds of childless women aged 28 to 40 felt that they were expected to work longer hours. Growing numbers of workers, academics and analysts are documenting the issue.
Bella DePaulo, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, explores the phenomenon in her books and studies, and coined the word “singlism” to pin down the stigmatisation, negative stereotyping and discrimination against singles that she believes is widespread in the workplace and society at large. She argues that many employers are missing a trick when it comes to single employees, who, far from being lonely and isolated, are actually more likely to be actively engaged in their communities and have strong relationships with friends who “feel like family, even if they are not family in the traditional sense”.

Nick Note: In 1970, there were 38 million single people in the U.S., making up 28 percent of the population. In 2014, there were 107 million and comprising 45 percent of the population. All By Myself? Not so fast Celine Dion. We may lack a spouse but we don’t lack company. While companies should not discriminate someone because of their “singlism,” singles should also view this as a great opportunity to invest time and energies in places that might otherwise go to your spouse or kids (James 2:2-4, Luke 6:31, Ecclesiastes 3, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35). 

4. Using Smiley Faces In Work Emails Portrays Low Competence, Study Finds (IB Times)

“According to the study, while smiling during face-to-face communication was perceived as warm and indicated more competence with regards to the first impressions created, a text-based representation of a smile in computer-mediated communication did not have the same effect.
“The study also found that when the participants were asked to respond to e-mails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the e-mail did not include a smiley,” said Glikson. “We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing.”

Nick Note: When I See You Smile I can face the world. Sing along to 80s hair band Bad English, but think twice before putting into practice their lyrics in your email messages. What might be appropriate among friends may not be advantageous among your colleagues. (2 Timothy 2:15)  

3. What Green Spaces Can Do to Your Mood (Time)

“The effect is real, and over the years, scientists have shown that nature can provide stress relief, increase social interaction, encourage physical exercise and even help soothe mental illness.
“Growing research suggests that just about any kind of green space—from hiking trails and coastlines to soccer fields and local parks—can make you happier and boost your mental health, as long as it has a few key qualities…In another recent study, a group of researchers in the Netherlands found that people who think of their local green spaces as more accessible and usable felt more satisfied with their neighborhood, regardless of the amount of green space they had.”

Nick Note: Sunshine On Your Shoulder will make both you and John Denver happy. In the Scriptures, Psalm 19 expounds upon the glories of God through his creation and his law. If you reread Psalm 19, you will notice it is split into two equal portions – creation and law – almost conjoining them together. In the New Testament, when we read about the law, we find out that God’s laws lead to our joy (1 John 5:3). Essentially, the connection between nature and the law should point to our joy and in turn lift your mood.

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

2. Rare white moose spotted in Sweden

Nick Note: Watch it here. What is rarer than a white moose? According to Dwight L. Moody’s friend Henry Varley, someone fully dedicated to God. “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” 

1. College football player who helps kids in need surprised with scholarship (Today)

“Justin Juenemann has never played in a game in four years with the University of Minnesota football team, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made an impact. The Gophers’ backup kicker has dedicated himself to helping kids in need as a volunteer at Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates and coaches.”

Nick Note: Watch it here. My favorite response came from Justin’s mom. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)”

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