Good Morning! 

The legendary Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi once wryly noted: 

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” 

By God’s grace and the faithful and committed efforts of our team here at Focus on the Family, Bring Your Bible to School Day 2021 was a rousing success:   

  1. Participants Share Moving Stories Following Annual Bring Your Bible to School Day

From The Daily Citizen: 

Focus on the Family’s annual Bring Your Bible to School Day (BYBTS) was held on Thursday, October 7, 2021. 

Estimates for the number of this year’s participants are still being tabulated. However, last year, 514,609 students participated in the event at 50,000 schools nationwide. 

Numbers are important. But it’s the lives and stories behind the digits that really matter. 

One such story comes from Billy Hallowell, who posted on Twitter about his two daughters who participated in this year’s BYBTS. 

“These two participated in #BringYourBible day yesterday! And the one on your right needs prayer today. She’s going back for a second MRI,” he wrote. 

“This time she’ll be asleep to make it easier. But please pray for her, as she is still a little scared. And pray for the results! Thank you!”   

  1. NC lawmaker calls for Lt. Gov.’s resignation for describing homosexuality as ‘filth’

From The Hill: 

A North Carolina state senator on Thursday called for Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) to resign after he made comments referring to homosexuality as “filth”. 

In a tweet State Senator Jeff Jackson (D) said, “North Carolina’s Lt. Governor, Mark Robinson, just angrily referred to the LGBTQ community as ‘filth.’ Then he says, ‘Yes I called it filth.’ There’s no debate here. This is open discrimination. It is completely unacceptable. Mark Robinson should resign.” 

Robinson made the comments in June preaching at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove, N.C., according to The News & Observer. The video circulated recently after it was posted Tuesday on Twitter by Right Wing Watch. 

“There’s no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling children about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson said. “Yes, I called it filth.” 

Robinson in his remarks railed against teaching about LGBT issues in schools. 

  1. California becomes first state to mandate gender-neutral toy aisles at large retail stores

From USA Today: 

California on Saturday became the first state to say large department stores must display products like toys and toothbrushes in gender-neutral ways, a win for LGBT advocates who say the pink and blue hues of traditional marketing methods pressure children to conform to gender stereotypes. 

The new law, signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, does not outlaw traditional boys and girls sections at department stores. Instead, it says large stores must also have a gender neutral section to display “a reasonable selection” of items “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.” 

That does not include clothes. The law only applies to toys and “childcare items,” which include hygiene and teething products. And it only applies to stores with at least 500 employees, meaning small businesses are exempt. 

Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat from San Jose who authored the bill, said he was “incredibly grateful” Newsom signed the bill this year — the third time Democrats in the state Legislature have tried to pass this law, with similar bills failing in 2019 and 2020. 

  1. In 2019, Almost All of Facebook’s Top Christian Pages Were Run By Foreign Troll Farms 

From Relevant: 

In 2019, 19 of Facebook’s top 20 pages for American Christians were run by Eastern European troll farms overseas, internal documents leaked to MIT Technology Review reveal. The data shows the vast spread of Facebook misinformation is largely powered by coordinated efforts among foreign professionals working together to spread provocative content in the U.S. 

These groups, based largely in Kosovo and Macedonia, have been particularly successful when it comes to targeting American Christians. Though they split their efforts among multiple pages, they were mostly operated by the same groups. Collectively, their Christian Facebook pages reach about 75 million users a month — an audience 20 times the size of the next largest Christian Facebook page. 

It’s difficult to calculate the amount of influence such Facebook pages are exercising over American Christianity, but it certainly seems like it would be having some sort of impact. Christian pastors have congregations in their pews, at best, one morning a week. Facebook is in their pocket all day long, shaping their theology for its own ends. And, of course, there’s no telling how many Christian pastors themselves are engaging with bad faith Christian content from troll farms as well. 

5. That after-work beer or nightly glass of wine may boost your risk of cancer 

From Study Finds: 

Scientists warn that there is no safe amount of alcohol, and abstaining from consumption is the only way to protect one’s health. “All drinking involves risk,” says co-author of the new study Dr. Jurgen Rehm, a mental health expert at Toronto University, in a statement

According to this study, booze fuels up to a quarter of common tumors — in particular, those of the breast and bowel. “With alcohol-related cancers, all levels of consumption are associated with some risk. For example, each standard sized glass of wine per day is associated with a 6% higher risk for developing breast cancer,” notes Dr. Rehm. 

The habit of opening a bottle at the end of a busy day has been dubbed “wine-o-clock” culture. Drinking has also risen due to lockdown stress. “In our clinic we are seeing many people who report increased alcohol use since the onset of the pandemic,” says Dr. Leslie Buckley, another co-author at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “Although this may be related to temporary stressors, there is a potential for new habits to become more permanent. The consequences with alcohol use are often subtle harms initially that take time to show themselves, while long-term consequences such as cancer, liver disease and substance use disorder can be devastating.” 

  1. Morgan Freeman rejects defunding the police: ‘Most of them’ are ‘doing their job’

From Fox News: 

Actor Morgan Freeman broke with the progressive left during a recent interview and said he does not support the movement to strip funding from police departments across the country. 

“I’m not in the least bit for defunding the police,” Freeman said in an interview with Black Enterprise’s Selena Hill. “Police work is, aside from all the negativity around it, it is very necessary for us to have them and most of them are guys that are doing their job. They’re going about their day-to-day jobs. There are some police the never pulled their guns except in rage, that sort of thing. I don’t know.” 

Freeman was promoting his new movie, “The Killing Of Kenneth Chamberlain,” which centers around the story of an elderly Black veteran being killed by police. 

7.   Storytelling Makes Hearts Beat As One 

From the Wall Street Journal: 

Research shows that listening to the same narrative leads our heart rates to rise and fall in unison. 

When people listen to the same story—each alone in their own home—their heart rates rise and fall in unison, according to a new study published last month in Cell Reports. “The fluctuations of our heart rates are not random,” said Lucas Parra, a professor of biomedical engineering at City College of New York and a senior author of the study. “It’s the story that drives the heart. There’s an explicit link between people’s heart rates and a narrative.” 

This finding aligns with a mountain of research showing that our brains sync up when we interact in the same location, participate in the same activity, or simply agree with each other. The new study goes one step further; it tests whether our heart rates become synchronized while taking in the same narrative—even though we’re not in the same room nor even listening at the same time as other listeners. 

“The novel finding is that heart rate correlation between subjects does not require them to actually be interacting, or even be in the same place. They can be listening to stories all alone at home, and their heart rate fluctuations will align with the story, and thus correlate with other listeners. It’s not the interaction between people but the story itself that does the trick.” 

The point, he said, quoting another of the study’s authors, is that when we listen to the same radio program or watch a Netflix show, our hearts beat in unison, showing that “we’re not alone.” 

  1. Moms Can Make Disciples 

From Desiring God: 

Every believing mother is part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Motherhood does not amputate us from his body, only to be reattached after the children are no longer taking naps or have graduated into adulthood. As mothers, we are still part of the body and contribute to its growth and health as we do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11–16). 

Our children will grow up quickly, and eventually, the day-to-day demands of motherhood will ebb. But Christ’s charge to make disciples remains unchanged. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Today is the day to exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13). 

Ann Judson poured out her life to make disciples because she was convinced that “this life is only temporary, a preparation for eternity” (My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma, 203). Mothers, we have but a vapor of a life. The trials of motherhood are fleeting, but the souls around us are eternal. 

  1. Costco’s Advent Calendars for Dogs – Ruff or Right? 

From The Daily Citizen: 

According to recent reports, Americans will spend upwards of $100 billion on their pets this year – with the average family forking out close to $100 per month. 

Like anything else, there’s a broad spectrum of tastes and tolerance for what’s worth it and what’s not for pet owners. While some may spare no expense on luxuries for the family dog or cat, many prove decidedly more frugal and practical. 

I did a double take this past weekend walking into our local Costco here in Colorado Springs, Colo., when I spied a large and colorful display selling “Advent Calendars for Dogs.” 

The price tag? $35.99. 

It took almost 1500 years for printed Advent calendars to emerge, a milestone attributed to a German named Gerhard Lang. He began selling them commercially in 1908. Numerous designs followed, often used to highlight sacred art. A popular tool for parents to help children both anticipate and prepare for the coming Christmas season with prayer and scripture reading, they eventually became a worldwide phenomenon. 

How did we go from the sacred to the secular in a century? Costco’s 2021 version isn’t the first or only one for dogs. Over the years, calendars of all types have spring up featuring chocolate and other little gifts. 

But what would the early Church Fathers think about leveraging a sacred liturgical season like Advent to sell a calendar for dogs? 

  1. Celebrate Columbus’s Achievements

From the Wall Street Journal: 

Revisionism has a vital role in history, as we discover new information and apply new insights to past events. There should be no place for whitewashing and jingoism in the service of a supposedly patriotic agenda—or any agenda. We must teach the good and the bad of our leaders, our founders, our heroes and saints. 

Otherwise, myths take hold too easily, such as the Confederate “Lost Cause,” left to fester like an open wound. Its infection has spread into the 21st century. There should be no honoring those who fought a war against the Union to preserve the evil institution of slavery—which, critically, even some of its defenders at the time understood as evil

Comparing American statues of Columbus to those of Robert E. Lee fails this test of context. The call for objectivity applies also to those who would judge a 15th-century European who took outrageous risks and performed incredible feats of exploration to advance modern civilization. Humanism and the Enlightenment were still two centuries away. The year of Columbus’s iconic voyage, 1492, was also the year Spain expelled many Jews and subjected others to the horrors of the Inquisition. 

The line of ambitious explorers runs through Columbus to the likes of Elon Musk. Their accomplishments should not blind us to their flaws, but neither should their flaws blind us to their achievements. Honoring great deeds and risk-takers who defy conventional wisdom can inspire others to follow in their footsteps, be it into uncharted waters or outer space, and we sorely need such daring today. 

We too, are complex. We are capable of judgment and reason, unlike the “brutish beasts” invoked by Marc Antony. History is not a zero-sum game. We can honor indigenous people and all they represent—and all they lost—without erasing the greatest achievements of the Age of Discovery. I will be celebrating Columbus Day, and I hope you’ll join me.