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What to Give Up for Lent 2018? Consider Twitter’s Top 100 Ideas
(UPDATED) On the first VaLENTine's Day since WWII, it appears chocolate and alcohol will be absent from many dates. Once again, you can follow in real time what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent, which this year begins on Wednesday, February 14. Last year, food items were three times as popular to abstain from as technology items or personal habits, according to 73,334 tweets analyzed by OpenBible.info’s Stephen Smith during the week of Ash Wednesday 2017. Alcohol ranked No. 1 for the first time since his project began in 2009. This year, the creator of the Twitter Lent Tracker “expected relationship-related tweets to run higher than usual” because Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day. (Also, Easter coincides with April Fools’ Day.) “Social networking topped the [2018] list, followed by Twitter, alcohol, chocolate, and swearing,” wrote Smith in his final analysis, based on 29,609 tweets (excluding retweets). “It was a fairly typical year, with the top 5 the same as last year (though in a different order) except for swearing, which came in at No. 6 last year, behind chips.” Here is how the top 6 ideas of 2018 have trended over time: Smith was most curious last year about how high Donald Trump would rank among perennial favorites such as social networking, alcohol, and chocolate. The President ended up finishing No. 22 in 2017, up from No. 82 in 2016. In 2018, he finished No. 67. Meanwhile, LifeWay Research offered a chance to compare Twitter’s serious vs. sarcastic sharers last year via its study on what Americans who observe the Lenten season before Easter say they actually give up. Of note: 3 in 10 Americans with evangelical beliefs (28%) say they observe Lent; of these, 42 percent typically fast from a favorite food or beverage while 71 percent typically attend ...Continue reading... [...]



Sovereign Grace Disputes Rachael Denhollander’s Remarks
As former gymnast advocates for victims in the church, SGC calls her take on its past scandal “not true.” Comments by Larry Nassar accuser Rachael Denhollander in a Christianity Today interview have revived debate over a dismissed abuse lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) dating back to 2012. Last week, Denhollander referred to the SGM saga as “one of the worst, if not the worst, instances of evangelical cover-up of sexual abuse” and “one of the most well-documented cases of institutional cover-up I have ever seen.” The 33-year-old said her former church’s stance toward victims and involvement in restoring former SGM president C. J. Mahaney led her family to leave the congregation. Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) issued a statement dated February 2 calling her characterizations untrue, citing the 2014 dismissal of a civil case against SGM. (In a separate case, a former youth leader with SGM had been convicted of abuse.) SGC executive director Mark Prater said, in part: We thank God for Rachael’s courage in confronting Nassar and commend her invaluable work on behalf of other abuse victims. Like so many, we were impressed by her faithful witness to Christ in such difficult circumstances. At the same time, it needs to be said that she is mistaken in her accusations made against Sovereign Grace Churches and C. J. Mahaney. The Christianity Today article publicly mischaracterizes Sovereign Grace and C. J. based on accusations of which Rachael had no involvement and which are not true and have never been true. It’s extremely difficult to respond to false accusations without appearing unsympathetic to victims of abuse. It is our sincere hope that this brief statement has done both by speaking truthfully, respectfully, and in a way that honors God. Denhollander, whose gospel-infused testimony ...Continue reading... [...]