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Who is the world's most powerful woman?

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who leads the center-right Christian Democratic Party, gestures for photographers in front of her election campaign tour bus before a meeting in Berlin, September 16, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)Forbes recently released their annual World's Most Powerful Women list.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel topped the list, followed by former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton.  Taylor Swift, the youngest honoree this year, made the list for the first time.  (For more on her new, record-breaking video, see Nick Pitts's article, Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood').

There was a day when the world's most powerful women would make up a much smaller list.

My wife and I were recently in Virginia, where we toured a remarkable mansion called Maymont.  Built just 25 years after the Civil War by James and Sallie Dooley, the home and grounds make up one of the most stunning estates I have ever seen.  Mrs. Dooley was an accomplished writer, poet, benefactor, and community leader.  She donated her estate to the City of Richmond and designated that her jewels be sold to benefit Episcopal missions.  She was one of the most forward-thinking people of her day.

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Social media linked to sexually transmitted disease

The Tinder app splash screen on an Android phone being used in Yangon, the former capital of Burma (Credit: Wayan Vota via Flickr)"Can it be, that providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation to its virtue?" (George Washington).

The Rhode Island health department recently reported an increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases.  What could be behind this trend?  Officials cite the role of social media, explaining that it allows individuals to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and one of the world's leading relationship researchers, says that approximately 40 percent of men have partners outside of marriage.   Reports indicate that 40 percent of users on the popular dating app Tinder are not single (for more on Tinder, see Nick Pitts’s article To Tinder or Not to Tinder).  However, a 2013 Gallup poll reported that 91 percent of Americans find marital infidelity wrong.

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IRS admits massive identity theft

A view of an ugly brown sign outside the United States Internal Revenue Service building with spring flowers blooming in foreground, Washington DC, May 14, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)The Internal Revenue Service admitted yesterday that identity thieves have accessed tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households.  Cybercrooks used stolen Social Security numbers and other specific data to gain unauthorized access to the prior-year returns.

Such criminals clearly value earthly treasure above heavenly reward.  Now consider the number of people who are making precisely the opposite decision.

More people are coming to Christ today than ever before, many in areas especially dangerous for followers of Jesus.  Some surveys put the number at 82,000 a day, others at 150,000 or even 175,000.  When I was in Beijing years ago, I was told that 100,000 people come to Christ every day in the People's Republic of China.  More than a million Cubans have trusted Christ in the last 10 years.

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Unexploded WWII bomb found in London

An army bomb disposal expert inspects an unexploded World War II 50-kilogram (110-pound) bomb, believed to have been dropped over London during German bombing raids in the early 1940s, which was discovered by workers at a construction site near Wembley Stadium, May 21, 2015 (Credit: Mod Crown/Royal Logistics Corps/Sargeant Rupert Frere)An unexploded World War II bomb was found recently near London's Wembley Stadium.  It was probably dropped over London during German bombing raids.  When the bomb was discovered, authorities evacuated hundreds of people from their homes and offices.  Bomb disposal experts built a blast wall around the site, then worked through the night to defuse it.

No one in authority questioned the need to evacuate the area, or to defuse the bomb.  They knew that without their initiative, people could die.

Now consider this fact: 61 percent of those who attend church at least monthly have not shared the gospel with even a single person in the last six months.  Twenty-five percent say they have shared their faith once or twice in that time; only 14 percent say they have shared the gospel three or more times in the last six months.

What is the problem?

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The biggest lie employers tell employees

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid HoffmanLinkedIn calls itself "the world's largest professional network," with more than 300 million members.  Co-founder and executive chairman Reid Hoffman presumably knows something about vocational relationships.  In his new book The Alliance, he identifies the biggest lie employers tell employees: "the employment relationship is like family."  Some employers tell this lie, according to Hoffman, because they have deluded themselves into believing it.  Others tell it because they want the employee to believe it.  But Hoffman says it isn't true: "You don't fire your kid because of bad grades."

Here's where the body of Christ is different from any other organization: it truly is a family.  We are all children of one Father, sisters and brothers of one family.  The church is intended to be a community of grace, not grades. (Tweet this)  And our community is perhaps our strongest appeal to a culture driven by performance, evaluation, and competition.

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