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News That Illustrates: January 21, 2013

Fornication—Our New Acceptable Sin
A thought-provoking Gospel Coalition article calls fornication "the millennial generation's acceptable sin." The article quotes Tim Keller saying, "We're not doing well on the sex side." Talking about his church, Keller said, "We're just like the rest of the city. If I preach on [sexual ethics], everybody just gets real quiet." There's also a very preachable quote about premarital sex from "White Blank Page," a song by the folk band Mumford and Sons.

PREACHING ANGLES: Premarital Sex; Sex; Sexual Immorality

Evangelicals in the News—and It's Positive!
CNN ran an excellent article about a broad range of evangelicals who are working for immigration reform based on biblical principles. The coalition, called the Evangelical Immigration Table, includes groups that don't often get together for social outings, including Southern Baptists, The National Association of Evangelicals, Sojourners, and Focus on the Family. One of their letters states, "As evangelical leaders, we live every day with the reality that our immigration system doesn't reflect our commitment to the values of human dignity, family unity and respect for the rule of law that define us as Americans. Initiatives by both parties to advance commonsense fixes to our immigration policies have stalled in years past." It's a great story about Christians from different political perspectives banding together to work for the common good.

PREACHING ANGLES: Immigration; Refugees

U.S. Students Are Even More Narcissistic
Over the past 47 years about nine million college freshman have taken the American Freshman Survey. It asks students to rate how they measure up against their peers. According to the survey, over the past four decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of freshman who think that they're "above average" for academic ability and self-confidence. For instance, while students think they're more gifted than their peers at writing, objective test scores actually show that writing skills have declined in the past few decades. Researchers call this "ambition inflation." One of the researchers, Dr. Jean Twenge notes, "Our culture used to encourage modesty and humility and not bragging about yourself. It was considered a bad thing to be seen as conceited or full of yourself." Apparently, now everyone wants to be above average.

PREACHING ANGLES: Pride; Selfishness; Self-centeredness

A New Study from 'Captain Obvious'
Here's a new research study that you can file under D for "Duh." Seriously, you could use this in a humorous way to set up a sermon on friendship, community, or small groups. A Canadian study surveyed 5,000 people and came to following three conclusions: (1) "The number of real-life friends is positively related to subjective happiness." (2) "The size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being."(3) "Real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated, or widowed than they are for people who are married and living with a partner." There you have it, friends. Extensive research definitively concludes: Real friends make you feel good. Fake friends don't. So if you're lonely, get some real friends.

PREACHING ANGLES: Community; Friendships; Small Groups

Divorce's Guide to Marriage
The Wall Street Journal ran a list of their best relationship columns from 2012, and the "Divorce's Guide to Marriage" topped their list. It's based on a simple premise: If you want a great marriage, talk to a divorced person about what went wrong in their marriage. The article states, "Research shows that most divorced people identify the same top five regrets—behaviors they believe contributed to their marriage's demise and that they resolve to change next time. [One researcher said], 'Divorced individuals who step back and say, 'This is what I've done wrong and this is what I will change,' have something powerful to teach others.'" The number one lesson learned by divorced people? 41 percent said they would communicate differently. There's also some great advice for those struggling with the pain of divorce: "The divorced individuals in the study who blamed ex-spouses, or even themselves, had more anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders than individuals who blamed the way that they and their partners interacted. Those who held on to anger were less likely to move on, build a strong new relationship and address future problems in a positive, proactive manner."

PREACHING ANGLES; Divorce; Marriage

The U.S. Tax Code—Longer than the Bible
Here's a good way to encourage people to crack open and read their Bibles in 2013. Sure, the Bible might seem long and intimidating to new readers, but consider this article titled "U.S. Tax Code Longer than the Bible—Without the Good News." The article states, "At nearly 4 million words, the U.S. tax law is so thick and complicated that businesses and individuals spend more than 6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements, according to a report Wednesday by an independent government watchdog." Rep. David Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said, "This report confirms that the code is 10 times the size of the Bible with none of the good news."

PREACHING ANGLES: Bible; Bible reading; Spiritual Disciplines

Your Cheetos Will Find You Out
The Bible clearly states, "You have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). Well, in the case of this news story, we could revise this verse to read, "Be sure your Cheetos will find you out." A 19-year-old South Carolina man broke into the Cassatt Country Store and stole some beer, cigarettes, snack foods, and energy drinks. But he made a big mistake when he opened his bag of stolen Cheetos and started munching on them on his way home. The police followed the trail of cheesy dust right to the man's front porch. The man was taken into custody and charged with 2nd degree burglary.

PREACHING ANGLES: Sin; Sin, consequences of

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