Daily Briefing: April 19, 2017

Posted by    |    April 19th, 2017 at 7:00 am

T O P   N E W S

Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, Narrowly Misses Outright Win in Georgia House Race (NY Times)

Nick Note: According to conservative commentator Erick Erickson, the more closely aligned a candidate was with Trump, the worse said candidate did. Mr. Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat, and he will face Karen Handel, the top Republican vote-getter, in a June runoff. Siding with Trump may have been problematic in the Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, but being Mr. Trump is pretty advantageous. Yesterday’s announcement that Mr. Trump raised twice as much money for his inauguration festivities than any previous president-elect in history proves this. Disclosures Barack Obama, who raised $53 million for his 2009 inauguration. Speaking of the former president, comparisons are being made between he and the current president relative to North Korea. Last week, it was announced that a flotilla of ships were on the way to North Korea in order to send a powerful deterring message. The problem was that the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the three other warships in its strike force were that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula. WaPo notes: “While officials are eager to signal a break from previous U.S. policy, their strategy appears to be a continuation of the Obama administration’s attempt to use international economic and diplomatic pressure to force results in Pyongyang.” Despite this conclusion, earlier today VP Pence warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the U.S. military, promising it would make an ‘overwhelming and effective’ response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons. Pence said don’t doubt our resolve and Senator Lankford (R-OK) said Mr. Trump should keep his word and release his taxes. “He promised he would,” Lankford said. “He should keep his promise.” For the Christian, our yes should be a yes and no a no (Matthew 5:37). Our words should be true because we are image-bearers and ambassadors of the Truth (John 14:6, 2 Corinthians 5:20).

Fox Is Preparing to Cut Ties With Bill O’Reilly (WSJ)

“A final decision on Mr. O’Reilly’s fate could come as early as the next several days, the people said. Mr. O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” has been ensnared in a sexual-harassment scandal related to previously undisclosed settlements he and Fox News paid to women who worked on or appeared on his program.
“Since an April 1 article in the New York Times detailing $13 million in settlements paid to five women, pressure has been growing on Fox News, both internally and from activists, to remove Mr. O’Reilly.”

Nick Note: This news broke last night, along with reports that a former clerical worker at Fox News alleged O’Reilly sexually and racially harassed her. The woman claims O’Reilly used to “leer at her” and “grunt at her like a wild boar.” He also used to call her “hot chocolate,” the alleged victim told The Hollywood Reporter. Would such behavior be tolerated in your household (1 Timothy 5:1-2, Luke 6:31)?

Georgetown University, Jesuits formally apologize for role in slavery (USA Today)

“The Jesuit order that founded Georgetown University formally apologized to the descendants of 272 slaves sold in 1838 to pay off the university’s debts.
“More than 100 descendants of these slaves gathered at ornate Gaston Hall for the Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope, where the apology was delivered by Rev. Tim Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.”

Nick Note: C.S. Lewis noted that to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. In the Scriptures, the one who confesses finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13), the one who whose transgressions are forgiven and sins are covered is blessed (Psalm 32:1). 

Baptist Baylor Picks First Female President (Christianity Today)

“Linda Livingstone succeeds Baylor University’s first non-Baptist president, Kenneth Starr, who was fired last year over the Texas institution’s bungled response to ongoing reports of rape on campus…Livingstone, a former faculty member of Baylor and Pepperdine University, leaves her position as business school dean at George Washington University to become the Waco school’s first female president in its 172-year history.”

Nick Note: According to a 2014 study, women make up 16 percent of the top leaders at evangelical colleges and nonprofits. 1 in 10 CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) members are led by a woman. Congrats, Baylor Bears. May she lead in a way that is pleasing to God, good for the school, and for the benefit of the world (Ephesians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:23, Romans 1:11, 2 Corinthians 9:8-11).

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

Facebook dreams a digitally enhanced future, free of ugly reality (USA Today)

“Soon, says Zuckerberg, everyday life will get an augmented reality jolt in three ways: by using the Facebook camera to display information on the real world, add digital objects in it and and enhance existing objects.
“Facebook opened up its camera platform to developers, an attempt to get thousands of programmers to build the killer app that will get people attached to a digitally altered reality they may have experienced on Snapchat or Pokemon Go, but in Facebook style.
“Facebook launched a social virtual reality  platform for owners of Oculus headsets and controllers, which allows users to create avatars based on their photos who then interact with each other in virtual spaces.”

Nick Note: RealDoll wants to build robots with a personality that you can love intimately. German computer scientist Jürgen Schmidhuber—who has contributed to innovations like speech-recognition technology—predicts artificial intelligence will surpass that of humans by the year 2050. Technology is changing us (see my article here for more). But will it compel us toward detrimental ends – like it did the people at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)?

Child refugees in Europe ‘forced to sell bodies’ to pay smugglers (The Guardian)

“Unaccompanied child refugees in Greece desperate to reach the UK and other parts of northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies in order to pay smugglers to help them with their journeys, according to a new report from Harvard University.
“The report reveals what they describe as a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece”.
“The report found that the average price of a sexual transaction with a child is €15 (£12.50). The largest group of children selling sex are Afghani boys along with Syrians, Iraqis and Iranians. The majority of customers are older men aged 35 and over.”

Nick Note: Nearly one in five victims of slavery is a child. The average age a teen enters in the sex trade is twelve to fourteen years old. The average cost of a slave today is $90. Slavery generates $150 billion a year. These 46 million people are physical slaves, but Christians know what it was like to be spiritual slaves. Enslaved to our desires and our flesh (Romans 6:18), we were naturally inclined towards evil (Romans 8:21, Psalm 14) and hostile enemies towards the King (Colossians 1:21). But, in his grace and mercy, God sent his Son to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). As those who have been set free and are keenly aware of the shackles of spiritual slavery, we have been tasked to go and do likewise towards those who are both physically and spiritually enslaved.

That annoying runner on your social media feed is deeply influential (QZ)

“Researchers from MIT analyzed five years of global data from fitness trackers and found that runners who use trackers linked to their social media accounts generate new paths of runners behind them.
“If two friends have several mutual connections and one is an avid runner, the other will likely pick up the habit—and probably end up running a bit farther or faster than his or her friend, possibly to stay ahead of the pack. Men also tended to run more when they saw both their male and female friends running, but women ran more only at the influence of other women…The work suggests that running is contagious—at least, in an online social network setting.”

Nick Note: I guess you need your friends to “jog” your memory to get back to running. These findings align with the Scriptures when they speak to the value of friends sharpening one another and encouraging each other (Proverbs 27:17, Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25).

Introverts tend to be better CEOs — and other surprising traits of top-performing executives (WaPo)

“But a new 10-year study from a leadership advisory firm and economists from two business schools, published in this month’s Harvard Business Review, finds that the most successful chief executives often don’t fit that mold.
“The biggest aha, overall, is that some of the things that make CEOs attractive to the board have no bearing on their performance,” said Elena Lytkina Botelho, a partner at ghSmart and a co-founder of the project. “Like most human beings, they get seduced by charismatic, polished presenters. They simply do better in interviews.”
“Meanwhile, only 7 percent of the best-performing CEOs — who ran companies from Fortune 10 behemoths to those with just $10 million in annual sales — had an Ivy League degree, despite the conventional wisdom that pedigree matters.”There was zero correlation between pedigree and ultimate performance,” she said, acknowledging that number could be higher if they were just looking at large Fortune 500 firms.”

Nick Note: in the Scriptures, we find that God has a peculiar propensity to select those who the world deems unfit (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). David was left out in the field (1 Samuel 16). Huldah was in the district (2 Chronicles 34:14-33). And the Messiah was in a manager (Luke 2:1-20).

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

His Daughter Peed Her Pants At School. This Is How He Looked To Pick Her Up

Nick Note: What a Dad! Adam Sandler would consider him Miles Davis. But nevertheless, his actions are reminiscent of Hebrews 4:15.

Workman Starts To Play On Train Station Piano. People Stop Mesmerized As Fingers Fly Across Keys.

Nick Note: Watch it here. We have all been given a gift (or gifts) (1 Peter 4:10). Are you using them or burying them (Matthew 25:14-30)?


I tasted glue, avoided cooties, and tested Mrs. Bell’s patience. In first grade, Mrs. Bell was the Gandhi of Northeast Elementary School in Cookeville, Tennessee. I was the youngest in my class, which translated into attention problems, disruptive issues, and a serious case of little-man syndrome. Six-year-old Nicholas was all about the Atlanta Braves, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and not getting cooties. What do ninja skills have to do with baseball? Very little, and even less with spelling lessons. Yet Mrs. Bell channeled my passion of baseball and ninja skills to vowels. She customized questions for me that helped me learn the fundamentals. I can still hear her saying “Great job!” behind me, giving my shoulders a little squeeze of affirmation. Little did Mrs. Bell know that she was helping me understand the value of the illustration, putting together concepts that appeared to have little in common for the sake of helping others understand. Thank you, Mrs. Bell. I didn’t cooties but I did get vowels and still use illustrations. #TeachingNickWasThePitts

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