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Social Network Numbers in 2014

What are the social network numbers in 2014? Just how many people are using Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and more?

The social network numbers are staggering. There are 7.2 billion people on planet Earth – the top 21 social networks have a combined 5.7 billion user profiles. More than a third of the world population now has access to the internet.

Some people still argue that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the other top networks are huge time wasters. Maybe so. But the numbers tell a story. To dismiss social networking as irrelevant feels similar to the great Yogi Berra quote: “No one goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded.”

Whether you join a network because it’s the newest craze, to connect with old and new friends, to entertain, to be entertained, to market and sell, to buy – or some combination that includes other reasons, here is what is happening in the universe of social networks in 2014. [Read more…]

5 Reasons This Will Be a Great Year for You!

It’s good to take a look back and see what we liked – and didn’t like – about last year – our circumstances, relationships, and personal behavior and integrity. But it’s even better to look forward with renewed faith, commitment, and optimism. As the Apostle Paul reminds us:

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT). [Read more…]

Presumption of Guilt and the Breakdown of Public Discourse

presumption of guilt and the lack of civil discourse

The meeting of the minds has become a contact sport!

Much is made of the lack of civil discourse and the breakdown of public discourse in American culture today. Is it time we declare the meeting of the minds to be a contact sport with special headgear?

The art of diatribe – a long, angry, bitter, satirical criticism against a different opinion – has always been practiced in the public square across generations and cultures. But doesn’t it seem worse than ever? Maybe I’m waxing nostalgic, but even in my lifetime, I seem to remember healthier expressions of dialog and debate on fiercely contested ideas.

Okay … I was born shortly before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law … my childhood was marked by the Roe v. Wade, the Vietnam War, nuclear proliferation, Watergate, and economic Stagflation. So it wasn’t very peaceful then either.

But I still seem to recall the mainstream political debates – every bit as contentious as today’s issues – having more civility. I think. Well … sometimes.

The constant companion of the diatribe today is the ad hominem attack – [Read more…]

The Lonely Crowd at Christmas

the lonely crowd at Christmas is a short reflection written by Mark Gilroy

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.

-Taylor Caldwell
It is possible to walk down Fifth Avenue in New York City with a mob of shoppers and window watchers on a Saturday afternoon during the Christmas season . . . to attend a packed church service to experience Handel’s Messiah . . . to stand in a long line at the local movie theater on the opening night of the latest holiday blockbuster everyone has been waiting to see . . . even to attend the neighborhood Christmas progressive dinner with people you know and greet regularly . . . it is possible to do all these things and still feel lonely.
David Riesman, a Harvard professor and prominent psychologist of the 1950s, described this “modern” phenomenon as being a member of the “lonely crowd.”
Christmas reminds us we are never alone.
If you are feeling disconnected, isolated, and alone in the world, well, you’re not alone. As easy as it seems to simply reach out to others, in our fast-paced, media-saturated, competitive, busy, self-centered, preoccupied society, really connecting can be an imposing challenge. Is it any wonder that so many people turn almost exclusively to the virtual world of cyberspace for dating, chatting, socializing, and experiencing relationships rather than savoring flesh and blood encounters?

You can do Christmas shopping online to avoid the crowds and connect with friends on Facebook, but you just can’t do Christmas by yourself. So even if you find yourself alone in a crowd at Christmastime, the spirit of the season—the One who came to bring peace to all people, to reconcile God and man, to lift up and redeem people from every walk of life—will touch your heart. Even if you don’t know how to reach out to Him or others, He will reach out to you.
What does it take from you? Nothing more than an open heart. Why try? You just don’t know how, when, where, and with whom you’ll realize you are not alone.

“The virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means “God with us.”

Matthew 1:23


The Simple Blessings of Christmas is a 30-day Advent devotional by Mark Gilroy

Excerpted from The Simple Blessings of Christmas.