Happy Tweets: Christians Are Happier, More Socially Connected, and Less Analytical Than Atheists on Twitter

Ritter, Preston, and Hernadez analyzed data from nearly 2 million text messages (tweets) across over [sic] 16,000 users on Twitter to examine differences between Christians and atheists in natural language. Analyses reveal that Christians use more positive emotion words and less negative emotion words than atheists. Moreover, two independent paths predict differences in expressions of happiness: frequency of words related to an intuitive (vs. analytic) thinking style and frequency of words related to social relationships. These findings provide the first evidence that the relationship between religion and happiness is partially mediated by thinking style. This research also provides support for previous laboratory studies and self-report data, suggesting that social connection partially mediates the relationship between religiosity and happiness. Implications for theory and the future of social science using computational methods to analyze social media are discussed.

Actually, this is not the first findings on the power of Christ-thinking. There was a study back in the 1990s that determined Evangelicals who went to church regularly (and at least once per week) were happier than those who went to church only occasionally, and much more happy than people who did not go to church at all. I do appreciate this research though because it is another proof positive that Christians have a much better outlook in general than those people who do not believe in an all powerful, divine, and supreme, holy God. Interestingly, Ritter, Preston, and Hernandez point out Karl Marx’s idea that religious benefits are illusions. We Christians know better.

First, though, I find reading 25 tweets daunting and time consuming. How did these people read more than 2 million? They categorized analytical thinking style as words such as Think and Consider, whereas social process thinking were words such as Mate and Friend. It is a quantitative content analysis and fairly effective to denote people’s inadvertent thought processes by word usage.

Thank you to George Duncan for highlighting this article for me on LinkedIN...

Is that cheating?

I see so many problems in our families. I have to wonder what is the underlying cause of these problems? Absolutely, those families that do not go to church together, and who do not pray together do not stay together. Numerous polls and surveys empirically prove this. However, what is causing this moral deterioration in our homes? Here's an example from a recent Redbook survey.

A journalist from a small town must go to the big city to cover a story but isn’t familiar with the city at all. The spouse calls a friend to pull guide duty in that city. When the journalist and the guide met, sparks flew. No touching, no hand holding, just looking deeply into one another’s eyes and lots of meals together. It was like a high school romance. Is that cheating?

A woman is thinking about going to her thirty year high school reunion and by
chance reconnects with her high school flame. She knows he’s married, he knows she’s married, but they flirt back and forth through their Facebook accounts becoming obsessed with each other. Just before the reunion, she convinces her husband and children to go with her. At the reunion, she shies away from her old flame whom she notices didn’t bring his wife. Is that cheating?

A wife went to lunch with some friends and met a man friend of one of her friends. They hit it off, making each other laugh and told each other secrets and became best friends in a very short amount of time. She knew she could tell him anything without any recriminations or judgments from him; and she even told him things she would never tell her husband. They talked and texted every day, several times a day. When her husband finally met his wife’s friend, he was uncomfortable at his good looks and his familiarity with his wife. He asked her to quit seeing and talking to him. She reluctantly agreed to do so. Then, within a few days, she went back to lunching with her friend, and talking with him, but keeping her “best” friend a secret from her husband. Is that cheating?

All of these stories are told as true in a recent Redbook magazine. Are your surprised that most respondents to the poll said the first account was not cheating, the second one was not cheating, and only concerning the third account did more respondents say it was cheating saying that sharing secrets that you do not share with your spouse is cheating.


In a 2006 Pew Research poll, the only issue considered more morally wrong than cheating on taxes (79% consided that morally wrong) was 88 percent of the people said cheating on your spouse is morally wrong. However, sex between unmarried adults the respondents were split 35 percent morally wrong and 37 percent saying it wasn’t a moral issue at all with 22 percent saying it was morally acceptable.

Albeit that was six years ago, the General Social Survey has been asking the same questions on their surveys for 40 years and that Survey says basically the same thing. In fact, since 1973 there is a 10 percent increase in the number of Americans who see adultery as morally wrong with 14 percent of woman reporting their infidelity and 20 percent of men reporting their infidelity.

With so many voicing this view, why are we subjected to so much infidelity and homosexualism on TV and in movies? What is wrong with the entertainment industry as well as the marketing industry that we are subjected to offensive content which is not in harmony with our inner most feelings about moral behaviors? Do entertainment and marketing execs have their fingers on the pulse of America or are we actually being hypocritical when we answer those poll questions? Or... are we buying the hooey Hollywood dishes out, and exhibiting that purchase with morally wrong behavior?

What is our moral obligation? Should we tell our best friend that her husband is cheating on her? Should we tell our boss that we saw his wife out with a good looking man, their heads close together and their feet playing footsie?

Sunday morning

I was looking out over the Sunday morning crowd a while ago as we sang Holy, Holy, Holy, and I spotted something so sweet and yet so poignant. A pair of grandparents held tightly to a darling little 6 or 7 year old girl. As she stood on the pew singing her heart out, their arms wrapped around her, they were singing in her ear. It was such a precious sight.

Then I thought, where are the parents?

There was a time when the answer to that question would have been automatic. The parents were some place where they could not get to church. Today, is far different times. Parents somehow do not feel the same deep desire to be at church as they did when I was growing up. Back then, the only ones who came to church without husbands or wives were those who did not have a husband or a wife. Every dad came with their children, and every mom was there, too.

I am not saying that just because a person goes to church, they automatically have a place reserved in Heaven. On the contrary, that won't happen. There will still be folks setting in pews the Sunday after the Great Snatch. They may suddenly realize that they'll have to hatch out something... or not.

I looked out over that Sunday morning crowd and suddenly realized what Heaven would look like. It would just as Jesus said, "Two in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two in bed, one will be taken and the other left." And most likely, 101 in church, 100 will be taken and one will be left.

I am glad I won't be left.

Psalms 26 -- something worth considering

Bible scholars point to this psalm as reflecting David’s reaction to his circumstances at the time. Another aspect scholars relate to this psalm is that David is a type of Christ (much like Psalm 22 where David cries out “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”

Looking at the surface of this psalm, one would think, “How can
Photo from http://christianworker.us/2011/10/saul/
David say all these things about himself? How can he assert his innocence when we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God?”

Psalm 26:1 Of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
Considering the circumstances David was living in at the time, we can see he has no fear about asking God to vindicate him, as he was most likely being mercilessly pursued by Saul. Saul wanted him dead, but David had taken no retaliatory action against Saul. Some translations say “judge me” and others say “vindicate me”. A person guilty of a particular sin does fear judgment and has no hope of vindication. To vindicate means to judge and find innocent, to clear, as from an accusation, imputation, suspicion, or the like: to vindicate someone's honor. Using the term to judge leaves open the result of that judgment. It is very possible to be found innocent of an accusation, but when God judges us, the only way to be found innocent or blameless is through the blood of Christ.

Psalm 26:2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
One can see that David was innocent in heart and mind of any wrongdoing against Saul, or even later against Absalom when he was trying to take over David’s kingdom. David left the retaliation and that kind of fight in God’s hands.

Psalm 26:3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
This is the reason why David did not fear God searching all the dark corners of his heart.

Psalm 26:4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
To sit with is an idiom meaning to agree with or to condone that person’s ways or ideology. Also true of David. He made it clear to those rough men of valor that followed him what the rules were by following him. In 1 Samuel 21:5, David assures the priest Abimelech his men were holy, and must be sanctified (or prepared to worship God) on every ordinary journey, how much more they are holy on their special mission.

Psalm 26:6 I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O LORD, 7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
Without going into all the purifications priests had to undergo in order to minister in the Tabernacle, David practiced purity of heart, and earnestly desired to honor God. He paid close attention to the ordinances and his preparation for those ordinances. Therefore, he could safely enter the court to the altar. It is very similar to Jesus’ teaching to Peter when He washed the disciples’ feet that those who are justified (bathed, washed clean) only need to wash their feet. Also similar to Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:28.

Psalm 26:8 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.
Saul’s constant pursuit prevented David from worship at the Tabernacle, but it did not lessen David’s love of the place. In Psalm 84, David asserts that a day in God’s courts is better than a thousand days elsewhere, and being a doorkeeper in God’s house is preferable to dwelling in the tents of wickedness. Adoration is part of worship and part of prayer.

Psalm 26:9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes.
This, I’m fairly certain, is not David’s plea for his eternal position after death. The word translated “my soul” is nephesh (neh'-fesh) and means breathing creature—more to the point, it means “me”. David is asking God to keep him from consorting with evil, bloodthirsty, wicked people. It is a different way of asking for God to take control over his life and to guide him down the path of goodness and mercy rather than wickedness.

Psalm 26:11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. 12 My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
This reminds me of Joshua’s declaration: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” David knew that with God in control of his life, and the course of his life that it would reflect God’s glory in his integrity. That Hebrew word tôm means completeness, innocence, perfectness. He has no fear of his redemption and asks for grace. Because of God, his feet are planted on the firm foundation of God. For this, he praises and blesses God.

This should be the life and prayer of a Christian. Reaching out to those who need the saving grace of Jesus, but to not allow the lifestyles of the world (the wicked and evildoers) to permeate our souls or to soil more than our feet.

Oprah says "Sorry" with tongue in cheek

Oprah Winfrey opens her mouth and accuses a sales clerk of racism in Switzerland. Oprah has billions of dollars and the sales clerk works hard everyday to make ends meet. What is wrong with this picture?

As I understand the story from several different sources (just Google it and you see hundreds), Oprah wanted a purse to match her outfit she was wearing to Tina Turner's wedding. She walks into this boutique and browses some black leather purses then eyes one that up high on a shelf reportedly worth $38,000. Oprah said the sales girl refused to show her the purse because of the color of her skin, that she certainly could not afford such an expensive purse.

Does the word prideful come to mind here?

How about spendthrift?

What woman in her right mind would pay $38,000 for a purse unless she wanted to show off how much money she had anyway?

Oprah puts a finger to her cheek and said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I purposely did not give the name of the boutique. I'm sorry I even said Switzerland."

Give me a break. Just where was Tina Turner getting married anyway? Let me guess. Switzerland?

Does anyone actually believe that Oprah did not know the media frenzy that would take place because she accused a poor working girl of racism?

I am more ashamed for Oprah than ever before. I'm also ashamed so many people wait with baited breath for her every word. Here is some advice for those folks...

Pick up a Bible! Start caring more about what God thinks of you than what Oprah says. You'll have a much firmer foundation.

Are we not made in God's image?

Ran across yet another teaching about the lack of choice we have to be saved. Some people believe that Jesus choosing His disciples implies the disciples had no choice but to follow Jesus, and I find that fact most frustrating. We are made in God's image with all the emotions
and faculties--never the God-qualities, but His emotions and the brain functions to reason and to invent things. We create because God created. We reason because God reasons. We choose because God gave us freedom to choose.

Did not Jesus choose to go to the cross and remain upon the cross? We have the Mind of Christ as Paul testifies in 1 Corinthians 2:16. Therefore, we have that same freedom of will. Jesus speaks of it in Luke...

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, putting to death the prophets, and stoning those who were sent to her! again and again would I have taken your children to myself, as a bird takes her young ones under her wings, but you would not!

Does the Holy Spirit not give us Spiritual gifts to use in our work? What do you think the "sin unto death" is spoken of by John in 1 John 5:16

Here is the exhibit to mankind's free will...
Matt 21:28 But what do you think? A man had two children, and coming to the first he said, Child, go today; work in my vineyard. 29 And answering, he said, I will not. But afterward, having regretted, he went. 30 And having come to the second, he said the same. And answering, he said, I go, sir; but he did not leave. 31 Which of the two did the will of the father? They said to Him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, The tax collectors and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God.

The prodigal son asked for and received his inheritance, spent it all and then chose of his own will to return to his father's house.

Joseph could have had Mary stoned, he could have divorced her, but he chose to bring her as wife into his home. Obey or disobey is freedom of choice and exhibits our free will.

Jesus is the Mediator I Tim 2:5... why is a mediator necessary if there is no free will?

Why is part of the Fruit of the Spirit self-control if there is no free will? (2 Tim 1:7) Why are there more than 1,000 commands in the New Testament and 613 commands in the Old Testament if there is no free will?

If we have no free will, then why is it so incredibly hard to break sinful habits? If we don't have free will and we have the Mind of Christ then sinful habits should never be formed in the first place, or if so, then we are convicted by the Holy Spirit and should give up all sinful habits through the control of God, right?

Freedom of will is the same as freedom of choice. We choose who we love, where we live, what we eat, how we react to our trials and tribulations. We choose not to suffer consequences so we obey our parents. We choose to believe God exists and believe His Word (both Jesus and the Bible), or we can choose not to believe. As in the passage from Joshua, "Choose you this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

The Bible does not have the term "sacrificial love" nor does it have the term "unconditional love" yet it was unconditional love that sent Jesus to the cross while we were yet sinners, and it was sacrificial love that held Him to the cross. "The Trinity" is another example, yet we know God is Triune. Even though there are many terms that are not written in black and white within the pages of the Bible, we understand with the wisdom that God granted us, godly wisdom which is a gift from the Holy Spirit, that the principles are there in black and white. Our discernment of God's Word comes from above through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Perilous times and perilous men

Paul gives great encouragement to the Romans by telling them to glory in the Thlipsis -- translated tribulation means
afflictions because afflictions brings about patience. Ever prayed for patience? Then you know that praying that prayer brings on trials and tribulations. That Greek word –
  1. a pressing, pressing together, pressure
  2. metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

In the New Testament it is translated as tribulation but it is also translated as: affliction, 14; afflictions, 6; anguish, 1; distress, 2; persecution, 1; tribulation, 16; tribulations, 4; trouble, 1

Photo courtesy of Chris Roll
All those synonyms stir up uneasy feelings and are apt to generate some worry and fear. Isn’t that what happens when we think something might happen? We fear the unknown and we worry that the worst will happen. We do not have to wonder what happens because Paul tells us when he shares with Timothy what it will be like…

Difficult Times Ahead 2 Timothy 3:1
1 Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. 2 As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, 3 dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, 4 treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. 5 They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people. 6 These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself "truth." 7 They get exploited every time and never really learn. 8 These men are like those old Egyptian frauds Jannes and Jambres, who challenged Moses. They were rejects from the faith, twisted in their thinking, defying truth itself. 9 But nothing will come of these latest impostors. Everyone will see through them, just as people saw through that Egyptian hoax.

They are addicted to lust and allergic to God. What about that list is unlike today? We are faced with things coming into our living room that would make our grandmothers blush, and our forefathers roll over in their graves. On a daily basis we see professing Christians treating their fellow brothers like punching bags. What has happened to integrity and morals and ethics?

Jesus warns us in John 16:33 that He taught all those things so that we would have peace in Him, in the world we have tribulation, but in Him there is peace and He has already overcome the world. Glory!

Luke reports (Acts 14:22) that Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (after he was stoned and left for dead) to confirm disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith for it is through many tribulations that we enter the Kingdom of God. Paul also exhorts in Romans 8 that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ… not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. Therefore, we walk in that assurance through the valley of shadow of death fearing no evil.

As the end of days as we know them draws near, Satan grows even more angry. Because of his anger, he strikes out with all his knowledge of our weaknesses and our failings. This is the most perilous of all and we Christians do not even recognize it.

We sit piously in our pews listening to sermons and doing good works with an attitude of pure heart, yet we harbor ill will, unforgiveness, gossip, cheating on taxes or tests or incorrect change or ambitions, foul words, rigidness, legalities, love of appearances both in physical characteristics as well as in deeds. So many times we think we are doing the right thing when in fact we are acting upon personal vendettas rather than with forgiveness or with the desire to work out the problems. We are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians somewhere).

This opens wide the door for Satan. It is a door which should have no handles or knobs for him. Yet, we have this problems with our worldly addictions. We just are not chary of Satan anymore. He is not just in sheep’s clothing, but has taken on all the attributes of a sheep. He has crept in to our churches and he whispers his siren song wooing us away from our first Love. All those trials listed above help us to draw closer to our Beloved, but Satan has become wiser down through the ages. He is more sly and crafty. He puts on the cloak of light and his lies are draped in truth.

I do not watch Grey’s Anatomy because of all the bed-hopping, but my daughter does. She called me all excited that one of the professing homosexuals on the show cried out at the end of an episode, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” On the surface that is quite exciting. A network who has taken on an agenda to promote homosexuality allowing a statement like that from one who practices homosexuality. Quite impressive. Until you dissect it.

God decrees in no uncertain terms, very frankly and without embellishment that homosexuality is an abomination to Him. Romans 1 is a good example. Now, we have someone who practices that lifestyle professing something that we Christians love to hear, but when a Christian practices sin without remorse or repentance, what does scripture say about that? 1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and we walk in darkness, we lie and are not practicing the truth.

Does this mean that the person is not Christian? Only God knows a person’s heart. But… 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of His Son Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

So, does walking in sin brand us as unbelievers? No. But, practicing sin destroys our witness and God deals with certain destroyers by taking them home early because there is such a thing as the sin that leads to physical death (1 John 5:16).

Saying I am a Christian, but living like your father is Satan makes God liar. God is explicit about this. 1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. If His Word is not in the heart, then that person is not a True Believer and that person is not saved.

On superior thing about our Beloved LORD is that He is long-suffering. When we see a brother or sister living in sin, practicing a sinful attitude, then we are to pray for them, we are to listen to God’s instruction on that. If He says to confront, then He gives us the words to say. If He says “Wait,” then there is something else He has in mind. We should ever and always hear His voice when dealing with that kind of sin, but always remembering that it is through our love for one another that the world sees Jesus.

Engraved in His palm

Someone asked me the other day what I meant when I said that I was
engraved in His palm.

I pointed to Isaiah 49:16 "See, I have enscribed you on the palms of My hands..." God said.

I had thought that was so permanent. Once there, nothing could blot it out or remove it except it be cut out. Even if cut out, the hole is still there. "I will not forget you." "Who can undo what I do?" says the Lord of hosts.

My Bible opened to that verse this morning and I was thinking about it on the way to work. God was in a talkative mood this morning.

"What else happened to my palms, Gina?" He asked in that Teacher voice. (Of course I am not hearing Him speak out loud, I just know His voice when He's talking to me in my head. It is different somehow.)

He stretched out His hands willingly to die for me. Those nails pierced His flesh and with me engraved there before I was ever born, the nail pierce me, too. That is as Paul said in 2 Tim 2:12-13... we died with Him and were raised with Him and even when we are faithless, He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself. We are one.

It is almost too much to wrap the brain around.

Engraved in His palm. So close to Him, causing Him so much pain, yet He sacrificed.

Look up the word sacrifice. It is surrendering something considered of great value for something that is considered of greater value. He willingly came to earth knowing before hand what was to happen. He set His face like flint toward Jerusalem knowing what awaited Him there.

Engraved in His palm. One with Him.

How could I not honor Him? How could I not live my life for Him? He did so much and I so little. Yet, He looked past the shame, and was not ashamed. He looked past the cross to the joy beyond. Oh, glory. Praise His Holy Name. Amen.