Archives For The Briefing

bar_chart_BarnaTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Temptation is an age-old problem. But even it isn’t immune to new challenges posed by the digital age. A new study by Barna Research found 44% Americans admit to being tempted by the decidedly “digital” sin of spending too much time on media, like the Internet, video games and television.

Other technological temptations also beckoned respondents, including viewing pornography or sexually inappropriate content (18%), and reacting angrily via text message or e-mail (11%).

The study, done in conjunction with publisher Thomas Nelson for the new book “Our Favorite Sins,” asked more than 1,000 online respondents about which sins tempt them. Barna then grouped their answers into categories like “new temptations,” “old temptations,” and “particularly Western temptations,” which includes the sins of procrastinating, worrying, and being lazy.

Only the temptations to procrastinate (60%), worry (60%), or eat too much (55%) were more prevalent than spending too much time on media distractions. Spending too much money was also a temptation for 44% of respondents.

Go to Barna.org for more.

Other news:

Stanley responds to inauguration sermon criticism
Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley drew fire when he called President Obama the “pastor in chief” during a pre-inauguration sermon for the President, his family and advisors. But the title came as a result of the President’s actions following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Stanley told Christianity Today.

Chicagoland pastor will run coast to coast for clean water
Steve Spear, a regional campus pastor for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., quit his job earlier this year to get a running start on a project that will provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for 30,000 Kenyans. Beginning in April, Spear will run the 3,000-mile span between the U.S. east and west coasts in a fundraising endeavor sponsored by World Vision. Read more at christianpost.com.

NewYork_DR_page4_0128Illinois students help Staten Islanders start fresh after Hurricane Sandy
Collegiate volunteers spent part of their winter break on a whirlwind trip to New York, where residents are still deep in recovery mode after last fall’s super storm. Read the full story in the January 28 issue of the Illinois Baptist.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The craft retailer has shifted the plan year for its employee health insurance, thereby avoiding for several months up to $1.3 million a day in federal fines. Hobby Lobby is being penalized for refusing to cover abortion-inducing drugs in its employee health care plans. “Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties,” said attorney Peter Dobelbower. Full story at BPNews.net.

Weddings are Cathedral’s ‘next step’
Leaders of Washington’s National Cathedral announced this month the church will begin hosting same-sex weddings using a marriage rite developed by the Episcopal Church for same-sex couples. Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Cathedral, said offering the weddings is the “next logical step” in the church’s evolving teaching on marriage. Full story at CNN’s Belief blog.

Is homosexuality a sin?
That’s the question measured in a new survey by LifeWay Research, which found that fewer Americans now believe homosexual behavior is a sin that in 2011. The study found 37% of U.S. adults answered “yes,” down from 44% the previous year. LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer said the shift could be attributed to President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage. “The president’s evolution on homosexuality probably impacted the evolution of cultural values – there is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year timeframe – though this was hardly a normal year on this issue.” Read more about the survey at LifeWayResearch.com.

Warren tells ‘Oprah’ watchers: Read John
The Gospel of John got an unusual TV shout-out recently from Pastor Rick Warren. Appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s “Lifeclass,” Warren urged the audience to read the Bible book and also encouraged them to listen to God, instead of the world. “God says you’re valuable, you’re capable, you’re forgivable, you’re usable. You listen to the right thing, not the wrong thing.” Full story at ChristianPost.com.

CP up 1.7% in 2012
Giving through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program in 2012 was 1.7% above the previous year. As of December 31, 2012, contributions to SBC national and international ministries and missions totaled $45,019,759. “After several years of serious financial difficulties, I am guardedly optimistic that the economic prospects of our people have begun to stabilize, said SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page. Full story at BPNews.net.

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Russia’s ban penalizes orphans
(Baptist Press) Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to ban adoptions between his country and the United States was a political move, thought by many to be retaliation for U.S. sanctions against Russians accused of human rights violations. But adoption advocates say of all the parties involved, the ban is most harmful to the most vulnerable: Russia’s orphans. Christians are called to take up their cause by praying, speaking truth, and creating a culture of orphan care, said pastor and adoptive father Tony Merida. “We must be a voice for the voiceless.” More

Adoption credit made permanent
(Baptist Press) The adoption community received better news earlier this month, when a tax credit for adoptive families set to expire at the end of 2012 was made a permanent part of the U.S. tax code. The credit makes adoption more affordable for families. “Every child deserves a protective, loving family, and I hope that a permanent Adoption Tax Credit will enable many more families to open their hearts and homes to a child in need,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.-La.), who sponsored the act to permanently establish the credit. More

Hobby Lobby defies mandate
(Baptist Press) Craft retailer Hobby Lobby will face up to $1.3 million in fines every day it refuses to comply with a federal mandate that requires employee health care plans to cover contraceptives that cause chemical abortions. “To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs,” said attorney Kyle Duncan. Hobby Lobby sued the federal government in September over the mandate, but a judge ruled the corporation isn’t a religious organization and doesn’t qualify for the exemption that covers churches and ministries. More

Thumbs-up for Cooperative Program
(LifeWay Research) A vast majority of Southern Baptist pastors have a high opinion of the Convention’s Cooperative Program, according to a recent study by LifeWay Research. The survey of 1,066 pastors found 81% believe CP “fuels an aggressive enterprise of reaching unreached people groups around the world,” and 73% say it supports ministries valued by their churches. Smaller majorities believe the entities supported through CP are moving in the right direction (55%) and using their contributions effectively (52%). More

‘Flat Lottie’ travels the globe
(IMB) The International Mission Board introduced a new teaching tool in “Flat Lottie,” a two-dimensional version of famed missionary Lottie Moon. IMB tracked Lottie across Asia on their Facebook and Pinterest pages, sharing how giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering makes missions and ministry possible around the world. Her stops included a well-digging project on the grasslands of Mongolia and a slum in Bangladesh where missionaries and ministering to women and children. Follow Lottie’s journey here.