Why you won’t recognize your older self

Posted by    |    February 21st, 2017 at 11:02 am

Everyone knows that, as we age, our bodies change to the point that we would be all but unrecognizable to our younger selves. Until recently, however, most studies showed that such a transformation was strictly physical. In terms of personalities and what makes you you, for the most part, people stayed the same. Research that tracked people from childhood to middle age or from middle age to older age all showed that people’s personalities remained relatively stable. But it turns out those studies probably weren’t taking a big enough picture.

When researchers went back and re-interviewed living participants from a 1950 survey of fourteen-year-olds conducted in Scotland, they found that, to the researchers’ surprise, the seventy-seven-year-old versions of themselves had little in common with their younger versions. Their personalities, defined as “an individual’s characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior, together with the psychological mechanisms—hidden or not—behind those patterns,” changed to the extent that Quartz‘s Olivia Goldhill asked “Can you truly be considered the same person in old age as you were as a teenager?”

Goldhill would go on to point out that these findings, while different from previous studies, likely seem normal to those who have met up with an old friend later in life, only to be struck by the fact that they don’t seem like the person you remembered. In such circumstances, our first thought is often to marvel at how much they’ve changed when, in reality, chances are good that we have changed just as much.

But while that research is interesting, what does it actually mean for us as Christians? Two thoughts seem most pertinent.

First, if you would like to change some aspect of your personality that seems hard-wired into your DNA, perhaps the situation is not so absolute. Scripturally, that makes sense. After all, it would be strange for Paul to write of growing in our faith and maturing into the people Christ has called us to be if God was content to leave us as we are (Ephesians 4:15).

“That’s just the way I am” is and always will be a poor excuse for sin, whether it’s in the context of speaking our minds in an unloving manner, giving into seemingly natural temptations that God has forbidden, or any number of other ways that we often search for excuses to be less than the Lord has called us to be. We are perfectly capable of changing those aspects of our lives that go against what God desires, and he’s even promised us the Holy Spirit’s help in doing so.

Second, for better or worse, it’s always too early to become complacent with who you are as a person. Just as we must never settle for the sin in our lives, we must also never take for granted those areas in which we are walking with the Lord. The study found only that people’s personalities changed over the course of their lives, not that they necessarily changed for the better. That’s why Paul also talked about the need to run our race to completion (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, 2 Timothy 4:7–9).

This side of heaven, there will never be a sin we are incapable of committing, and to think otherwise is foolish. Satan is often at his most effective in those areas of our lives that we take for granted, and nothing hurts our witness more than when we have been built up only to fall later in life. Some of the Bible’s greatest heroes fell victim to that reality. David and Solomon, for example, were two of Israel’s greatest kings and served God well early in life only to watch all that they’d built begin to slip away as sin took hold in their final years. If a man after God’s own heart and someone gifted with divine wisdom can fail in that manner, then we can as well.

Christ’s call to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect should be the guiding motivation for all we do in life (Matthew 5:48). If there’s some aspect of who you are that falls short of that ideal today, then ask God to help you change it. If there’s any area in which you feel spiritually invulnerable, know that the enemy has most likely already begun eating away at that pillar of strength in your walk with the Lord. For better or worse, our race doesn’t end until we are face to face with Christ. Run it well.

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8 DATING RULES FOR MARRIED COUPLES ❤️

Posted by    |    February 21st, 2017 at 8:42 am

We had a couple tell us recently, “Our best times as a couple were back when we were dating.” We replied, “Why have you stopped?”

Dating is fuel for your marriage, so don’t EVER stop dating your spouse.

We do understand that dating can be tough sometimes when you have children. We’ve had small children, and we totally understand that sometimes it’s hard to afford both the date AND the babysitter. Here are a couple of date tips for couples …

1. THE DATE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE: Sometimes a date can be as simple as ordering off the dollar menu at a fastfood place and taking your food to the park. You can also pack a lunch, go out to a lake or park. You can even go for a walk (that’s free 😀). The key is to spend time alone together.

2. OCCASIONAL FANCY DATES ARE IMPORTANT: It’s good to have an occasional “dress up” fancy date. We often save up for a fancy date that may include nice clothes, supper and a concert, etc.

3. BABYSITTING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A PROBLEM. Childcare doesn’t have to be expensive. Swap babysitting with some friends. Find some friends that have kids about the age of yours, offer to keep their kids on Friday night so they can go on a date, and then have them keep your kids the next night so you can go on a date. Voila, you’ve just scored free childcare.

4. DON’T DOUBLE DATE TOO OFTEN: Double dates are fine, but they don’t count as dates. A date is just you and your spouse. When you double date, chances are there isn’t much communicating going on between just you and your spouse.

5. TINY BABIES CAN GO: If you have a newborn infant, they may have to go with you. It’s okay. 

6. YOUR CHILDREN NEED TO SEE YOU DATE: It’s healthy to leave your children and go out on a date. Don’t lie to yourself and say, “We can’t go on a date. Our poor babies just can’t make it without us.” We promise, they’ll be fine … and it will be good for them.

7. MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE THE PRIORITY ON THE DATE, NOT CONSTANTLY CHECKING ON YOUR KIDS: While on the date don’t spend all your time checking on the kids or even talking about the kids. Spend some time talking about the two of you … your marriage and your future.

8. ONE DATE A WEEK IS HEALTHY: A once a week date is a GREAT goal to set. Shoot for that if possible.

You fell in love because you dated, AND you’ll remain in love when you continue to date. Dating is fuel for your marriage.

Don’t make excuses this weekend, make plans … date plans.

Daily Briefing: February 21, 2017

Posted by    |    February 21st, 2017 at 6:33 am

T O P   N E W S


Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser (NY Times)

”Unlike Mr. Flynn, who served as a campaign adviser last year, General McMaster has no links to Mr. Trump and is not thought of as being as ideological as the man he will replace. A battle-tested veteran of both the Persian Gulf war and the second Iraq war, General McMaster is considered one of the military’s most independent-minded officers, sometimes at a cost to his own career.”

Nick Note: McMaster is drawing praise from both sides of the aisle. He is perhaps best known for his 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty,” which faulted the White House and the top military officers of the day for strategic and tactical failures during the Vietnam War. One former military official noted that McMaster is both a creative and strategic thinker, both necessary and esteemed qualities for someone in this position. The reaction to McMaster echoes of 1 Peter 2:12.

Bodies of at least 74 migrants wash ashore in western Libya (The Guardian)

“Last week, Fabrice Leggeri, the director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, said there were a record number of drowning deaths in 2016 on the Libya-Italy people-smuggling route across the Mediterranean.
“According to Leggeri, there were 4.579 recorded migrant deaths on that route last year, although the real figure could be much higher due to the number of deaths that go unrecorded. There were 2,869 recorded deaths in 2015 and 3,161 in 2014.”

Nick Note: Absolutely tragic (2 Peter 3:9).

Uber hires ex-AG Eric Holder to probe sex harassment claims (USA Today)

“Company CEO Travis Kalanick’s call for an internal investigation into a sexual harassment claim by a female engineer is the latest in a litany of controversies that have dogged the largest of unicorns, one with a market value of nearly $70 billion and climbing. Late Monday, Kalanick issued a memo to employees announcing that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will help lead an independent review.”

Nick Note: Former Uber employee Susan Fowler recounted systematic sexual harassment at Uber in which she and other female co-workers were openly propositioned and other “inappropriate behavior” by a supervisor. The manager wasn’t punished because superiors rated him a “high performer.” In such a transactional culture, exceptional performance excuses reprehensible behavior. Some people may be deemed too essential, so their actions are excused for the sake of the bottom line. In the Scriptures, there are no essential characters outside of God (i.e. Moses, Joshua, David, Saul, Paul, Peter, etc.) (Ecclesiastes 5:5, Matthew 7:22, Luke 19:4).

Milo Yiannopoulos’s Pedophilia Comments Cost Him CPAC Role and Book Deal (NY Times)

“On Monday, the organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded their invitation for him to speak this week. Simon & Schuster said it was canceling publication of his book “Dangerous” after standing by him through weeks of criticism of the deal. And Breitbart itself was reportedly reconsidering his role amid calls online for it to sever ties with him.
“Mr. Yiannopoulos’s comments, which quickly created an uproar online over the weekend, put many conservatives in a deeply uncomfortable position. They have long defended Mr. Yiannopoulos’s attention-seeking stunts and racially charged antics on the grounds that the left had tried to hypocritically censor his right to free speech.”

Nick Note: Yiannopoulos denied that he had ever condoned child sexual abuse, noting that he was a victim himself. He blamed his “British sarcasm” and “deceptive editing” for leading to a misunderstanding. I must warn you, this video is extremely vulgar. We live in the land of the free. We have freedom of speech as well as free markets. Our speech has consequences, as do the actions of organizations (James 3:6-10, 1 Corinthians 10:23).

With Their Elevated Homicide Rates, Four Cities Stand Out (WSJ)

“A Wall Street Journal analysis of homicide data since 1985 for the 35 largest cities shows that four—Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Memphis, Tenn.—have in the past two years approached or exceeded the records set a quarter-century ago…Twenty-seven of the country’s 35 largest cities saw per capita homicide rates rise since 2014, though most are still relatively low compared with 1990s levels, the data show. Meantime, New York and Los Angeles, the two biggest cities, are experiencing long-term drops in murders.”

Nick Note: In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he likened murder to an offense rank that “smells to heaven.” What Shakespeare smelled, God heard. Abel’s blood cried out from the ground (Genesis 4:10). Murder breaks the heart of God and demonstrates the brokenness of our world (Exodus 20:13)

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

The Scientific Reason Why Married People Are Healthier (Time)

“The finding suggest that married people face less psychological stress than their single counterparts, say researchers from Carnegie Mellon University—and provide the first biological evidence to explain how committed partnerships can directly impact health.
“Overall, married people had lower cortisol levels than those who had never been or had previously been married. Their cortisol levels also tended to drop faster throughout the afternoon, compared to those who had never been married. (Cortisol naturally tends to be highest in the morning, but quicker declines have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and other positive health outcomes.)”

Nick Note: In the opening of N. Krauss’s The History of Love, she writes: “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” The biblical understanding of marriage is a continual pursuit of the other’s happiness and holiness (Ephesians 5:22-31, Proverbs 18:22).

Your emotional baggage and the role it plays in relationships (QZ)

“The “emotional baggage” that we bring from the past can mean that we sometimes pick a partner who’s not quite right, make bad relationship decisions, or find it difficult to fully devote ourselves to the person we are with.
“This idea has its roots in John Bowlby’s attachment theory, which suggests that individuals differ in the way they approach and respond to the world. These different styles are thought to be based on past experiences of relating to important people in our lives. The effects of childhood attachment become embedded in “working models” that influence how we form relationships in adulthood.
“The psychologist Susan Andersen termed this process in which working models developed from past romantic relationships come to influence new relationships as “transference.”

Nick Note: Nicholas Sparks wrote that life’s all about moments of impact and how they change our lives forever. P.D. Tripp noted that God’s primary goal is not to change our circumstances to make us happy but to change us through our circumstances to make us holy. Contrary to John Locke, you are not blank slate but a beautiful tapestry that testifies to God’s grace and faithfulness (Ephesians 2:10). The past does not define you, but it does explain you.

Do Some Trauma Survivors Cope by Overworking? (The Atlantic)

“The link between traumatic experiences and the development of addiction has been well-documented. Edward Khantzian, who originated the self-medication hypothesis of substance abuse, writes that “human emotional suffering and pain” and an “inability to tolerate [one’s] feelings” are at the root of addiction.
“While the term has been used loosely in recent articles, a workaholic isn’t just someone who works a lot or delays taking vacation. Instead, they work so much that they neglect other areas of their life (like relationships, sleep, or health), and they may become unhappy and obsessive in the process. While there is no scholarly consensus, researchers typically define workaholics with at least three of the following four characteristics: working to the extent that one neglects self-care or one’s personal life; experiencing little enjoyment of work; working more than is expected or than the circumstances demand; and displaying controlling behaviors, like not delegating or trusting others.”

Nick Note: Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Often such experiences come out of nowhere. In response, could it be possible that survivors prefer small to big, busy to idleness? Within a small room in a curled up position, the survivor can be acutely aware of their surroundings, feeling a sense of safety in the smallness. By keeping busy, the survivor does more than cease from replaying the traumatic experience over and over, but attempts to move on – yet knowing that their movement is more limping along than walking on. You rarely are fully healed from trauma, but you are always changed because of trauma. But in the trauma, we know of a God that whispers into the small places and never sleeps, always beckoning the survivor to come and rest (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 121:3-4, Matthew 11:28).

Soccer player left the field in tears after suffering horrific racist abuse (USA Today)

Nick Note: Here is the video. Racism is alive and well in the soccer world. Sally Lloyd Jones, author of the The Storybook Bible, writes that this is a story about a young hero who comes from a far country to “win back his lost treasure.” It is a love story “about a brave prince who leaves his palace to rescue the ones he loves.” In this story, the Prince is without discrimination and abounding in love towards all. Exercising prejudice towards none, this Prince named Jesus desires to rescue all because all have need of being rescued from their own predicaments (Romans 3:23). Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight (Galatians 3:27-28). He meets them where they are, loves them as they are, and unites them into Him (Ephesians 2:11-15). This unity in him offers us peace with God and demands us to peaceably with each other (Ephesians 4:3). The beauty of our unity comes from our manifold diversity (Ephesians 3:9-10). Heaven is not racially segregated, and it will not be heaven for the racist.

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

This Canadian Ad is Going Viral All Over the World.

Nick Note: Watch it here. Steve Maraboli noted that the “best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.” These guys didn’t just invite him to play, but created a scenario by which he would want to play. God doesn’t just invite us into the Kingdom, but woos us with his grace, patience, and mercy into the Kingdom (Romans 2:4, 1 John 4:19, 1 Timothy 1:16, Colossians 1:13). As CS Lewis noted: “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”

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McMaster to NSA: a lesson for Christians

Posted by    |    February 21st, 2017 at 6:07 am

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster is President Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser. The president made his announcement yesterday afternoon, calling the general “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”

Herbert Raymond McMaster is a 1984 graduate of West Point and holds Master of Arts and PhD degrees in American history. He taught military history at West Point; his book on American strategy during the Vietnam War is on the official Marine Corp reading list. In 2014, Time named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world and called him “the architect of the future U.S. Army.”

In a world filled with military conflict, having the best military strategy is vital. In a world filled with spiritual conflict, having the best spiritual strategy is even more urgent (Ephesians 6:12–13). Here’s the principle I’d like us to consider today: while God uses evil for good, Satan uses good for evil.

Our Lord redeems all he allows. As a result, he uses even our sins and broken world to advance his Kingdom purposes. Conversely, Satan often uses what seems good or pleasurable to tempt us. But as Erasmus observed, the devil hates nothing so much as that he should be used for good. He “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Therefore, the apparent good he offers must lead to even greater sin or he would not offer it to us.

Our Lord redeems all he allows. As a result, he uses even our sins and broken world to advance his Kingdom purposes.

Of course, Satan wants us to ignore this fact. He wants us to think that we can prevent the consequences of our sins, that we will not be caught or our sin exposed, that we are better at handling temptation than he is at tempting us.

This is folly.

Scripture warns us: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). God calls us to refuse “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), choosing instead to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). This is because “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). So “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).

Gregory of Nyssa (AD 335–395): “As no darkness can be seen by anyone surrounded by light, so no trivialities can capture the attention of anyone who has his eyes on Christ. The man who keeps his eyes upon the head and origin of the whole universe has them on virtue in all its perfection; he has them on truth, on justice, on immortality and on everything else that is good, for Christ is goodness itself.” By contrast, “the fool gropes in darkness. No one who puts his lamp under a bed instead of on a lamp-stand will receive any light from it.”

Where are you being tempted today? Know that whatever apparent good you are being offered will result in much greater evil for you, those you love, and your witness for Christ. So focus on Jesus. Refuse anything he would refuse and do only what he would do.

Why is this strategy urgent for you right now?

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Daily Briefing: February 20, 2017

Posted by    |    February 20th, 2017 at 6:40 am

T O P   N E W S


Political News

Nick Note: You know one thing every President had in common? An adversarial press. Over the weekend, the press continued to cover the press and the President, and the President continued to talk about the press. Mr. Trump tweeted that the “press is the enemy of the American people.” John McCain, once imprisoned by enemies of the American people, said on Meet the Press, “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free — and many times adversarial — press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time — that’s how dictators get started.” Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace echoed that sentiment: “Look, we’re big boys. We criticize presidents. They want to criticize us back, that’s fine. But when he said that the fake news media is not my enemy, it’s the enemy of the American people, I believe that crosses an important line.”  The press isn’t the only adversary Mr. Trump is facing. The administration removed a high-ranking National Security Council official for criticizing President Donald Trump and his aides. This is understandable and this next story is expected. Anti-Trump activists have seized on today’s federal holiday to organize “Not My Presidents Day” rallies in cities around the country. Protest leaders say they expect thousands to take to the streets in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and as many as two dozen other communities in the latest round of demonstrations to oppose the policies of President Donald Trump. Some 13,000 Facebook users say they plan to join one in NYC. From Washington to Trump, each President has faced dissent from both the populace and the press. In the infancy of the American experiment, Thomas Jefferson and Republican leaders had the National Gazette. Jefferson enticed Phillip Freneau to come to Philadelphia to lead the paper. Jefferson, also the sitting Secretary of State, hired Freneau as a translator at the state department. So as a government employee, Freneau led this paper and edited their political content that was often directed against the Federalist Party and President George Washington. All of this was done to combat Alexander Hamilton, of Hamilton the Musical fame. Hamilton led the rival paper, the Gazette of the United States. This paper was friendly to the Washington administration, as well as Federalist Party policies. The media may be biased, but Christians must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). It is impossible to be objective, it is admirable to be fair. We have been admonished to listen closely (James 1:19), seek after truth diligently (Proverbs 2:4–5), and question when appropriate—regardless of who says it or where we hear it. As Augustine noted: “A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found.”

Kraft Heinz Withdraws $143 Billion Offer to Merge With Unilever (NY Times)

“But Michael Mullen, a Kraft Heinz spokesman, offered more detail on why the company had stepped away so soon from its bid. “Kraft Heinz’s interest was made public at an extremely early stage,” he said. “Our intention was to proceed on a friendly basis, but it was made clear Unilever did not wish to pursue a transaction….It is best to step away early so both companies can focus on their own independent plans to generate value,” he added.”

Nick Note: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? (Luke 14:28)”

Michael Novak, Catholic Scholar Who Championed Capitalism, Dies at 83 (NY Times)

“Mr. Novak, a former seminarian, emerged in the early 1960s as one of Catholicism’s brightest liberal lights. His journalistic essays, collected in “A New Generation: American and Catholic” (1964), and his reporting from the Second Vatican Council, in “The Open Church: Vatican II, Act II” (1964), reflected his reform-minded view of the church and his eagerness to see it address young Catholics like himself with a faith that was, as he put it,“empirical, pragmatic, realistic and Christian.”

Nick Note: My favorite Novak line: “Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice.” (Psalm 116:15)

U.S. Traffic Deaths Rise for a Second Straight Year (NY Times)

“According to its estimates, 40,200 people died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2016, a 6 percent rise from the year before….If the estimates are confirmed, it will be the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 people have died in motor vehicle accidents in a single year. The 2016 total comes after a 7 percent rise in 2015 and means the two-year increase — 14 percent — is the largest in more than a half a century.”

Nick Note: The average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2013 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. In the Scriptures, we read that we are to be careful and be selfless (Ephesians 5:15, Proverbs 12:26, Deuteronomy 4:9).

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

You’re a completely different person at 14 and 77, the longest-running personality study ever has found (QZ)

“The findings were a surprise to researchers because previous personality studies, over shorter periods of time, seemed to show consistency. Studies over several decades, focusing on participants from childhood to middle age, or from middle age to older age, showed stable personality traits. But the most recent study, covering the longest period, suggests that personality stability is disrupted over time. “The longer the interval between two assessments of personality, the weaker the relationship between the two tends to be,” the researchers write.”

Nick Note: At 14, I was a huge fan of Smash Mouth, wasn’t following Jesus, and couldn’t grow facial hair. Today, my affinity for Smash Mouth has waned, I follow Jesus, but still can’t grow facial hair (#bitter). For those who do follow Jesus, we have been commanded to set our eyes upon him (Colossians 3:2). As we do: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).”

Dog Walkers to Be More in Demand Than Teachers in Next Decade (Bloomberg)

“Spending on pets is forecast to rise strongly as boomers — perhaps pining for children who have flown the coop — shower their attention and money on new-found furry friends…“Outlays on education will lag, though, as the potential student population comprising five- to 24-year-olds grows very slowly due to the downsized, post-Millennial Generation Z.”

Nick Note: Those Sarah McLachlan “In the Arms of an Angel” commercials do a number on me and apparently I am not the only one.  But in all seriousness, the number of women having children is changing here in the US. In 2013 there were just 62.9 births for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S. — an all-time low. These numbers possibly point to at least two scenarios: greater numbers of women are waiting longer to have children, or not having children at all. All the while, Planned Parenthood is awarding clinics for the number of abortion visits. (Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Psalm 127:3)

The Key to Pandora’s Subscription Hopes: Country Music (WSJ)

“With 55 million of its 78 million active monthly listeners having tuned into its “Today’s Country” station, Pandora is a trusted brand in the country world,said Cindy Mabe, president of Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group Nashville. The country-music subsidiary says 10 of its artists each have had songs streamed on Pandora more than 1 billion times.
“Country fans tend to be older than fans of other genres, but they are coveted by the music business for their spending habits and loyalty. Country album sales have been declining more slowly than any other major genre, with country titles accounting for more than 16% of all CD sales in the U.S. last year, up from 14% in 2015, according to research firm BuzzAngle Music. Country fans were also slower to switch from CDs to digital downloads when Apple launched its iTunes Store in 2003, and many still prefer the physical goods.”

Nick Note: A country boy can survive, as will Pandora as long as King George, Vince G, Billy Ray C, and Travis T are keeping watch. I am completely biased (born in the same hospital as Kenny Chesney), but we country fans are as loyal as the day is long and supportive as a certain Mississippi Girl. In the Scriptures, we unfortunately read that the imperfections of people cause them to fail you at times. But we also read of someone who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He will never leave you, forsake you, or waver in his love for you (Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 136, Matthew 28:20).

Student Debt in America Has Hit a New Record (Bloomberg)

“Total U.S. student debt hit a record $1.31 trillion last year, the 18th consecutive year Americans’ education debt rose, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
“The federal government owns or guarantees more than 90 percent of all student debt. Total student debt only increased by 6.3 percent compared to last year, the smallest annual increase in data going back to 2003.”

Nick Note: Some have interpreted Romans 13:8 as a prohibition concerning debt. But that stretches the context of that passage like me in a game of Twister. The Bible advises against the advice of Steve Miller Band to “Take the Money and Run (Psalm 37:21).” Rather, the Bible encourages caution and wisdom concerning financial matters (Proverbs 15:22, 11:14).

For Generation Z, ‘Live Chilling’ Replaces Hanging Out in Person (WSJ)

“Teens have been hanging out online for 20 years, but in 2017 they’re doing it on group video chat apps, in a way that feels like the real thing, not just a poor substitute. Ranging in age from adolescents to their early 20s—the group loosely defined as “Generation Z”—these young people are leaving the apps open, in order to hang out casually with peers in a trend some call “live chilling.”
“Houseparty, which launched in February 2016, says it reached one million daily active users within seven months. Fam, launched in December 2016, reached a million downloads within 12 days, says co-founder and chief executive Giuseppe Stuto.”

Nick Note: My AOL instant messenger name was ‘tecnickall.’ See what I did there? I was at the gym this weekend and saw a guy on Facebook Live. He was broadcasting to his Facebook friends his workout. My anecdotes coupled with this new technology continues to edify what we have known to be true since creation: we were meant for community and connection (i.e. the Trinity (Matthew 3:13-17, Hebrews 10:24-25)). Speculation abounds as to whether you can consider these “live chilling” sessions community.

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

MISFORTUNE COOKIES ARE BRUTALLY HONEST AND WE’RE KIND OF OBSESSED WITH THEM

Nick Note: We have come to doubt fortune cookies for two reasons: they inform us of the future via a sliver of paper with incorrect lottery numbers on the back in a stale, star-shaped cookie and they are overly optimistic. We already know the future will be hard, but we want to know more than the assumed difficulty.  God rarely gives 5-year plans, but he does offer this: He does not promise a comfortable life, but does promise to comfort us in this life (2 Corinthians 1:2-4). The difference between the two is our sanctification (Romans 8:28-29).

Bruce Springsteen Invites Teenager on Stage Who Steals the Show

“During a concert at Australia’s Brisbane Entertainment Center, teenager Nathan Testa caught the Boss’ attention with a cheeky sign that read, “Missed school, in the s—, now can I play ‘Growin’ Up’ with you?”…”You know it on guitar?,” Springsteen asked upon noticing the sign. After an enthusiastic “yes!,” Springsteen told him, “Come on up!”

Nick Note: Click here to watch. This teen was ready when the boss called on him. Are you ready should the Boss call on you today (2 Timothy 4:2)?

Get your tissues ‘cos Steve Irwin’s son is basically a mini-Steve on ‘Tonight Show’

Nick Note: Watch it here. In what ways do you resemble one of your parents? I sit like my dad, have the same demeanor on my face when I listen to others, and have the same laugh (though not as pronounced as his). In what ways do you resemble your Heavenly Father, who is slow to anger and abounding in love? (Philippians 3:17, 1 Thessalonians 1:6)

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Denison Forum on Truth and Culture

Human life begins in ‘bright flash of light’

Posted by    |    February 20th, 2017 at 5:59 am

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have documented an amazing fact. According to The Telegraph, when a human sperm meets an egg, “an explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.” Northwestern professor Teresa Woodruff calls the phenomenon “breathtaking.”

When I read the article, I thought immediately of John 1: “In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (vv. 4–5).

Light always defeats darkness. It may take longer than we want to wait. It may happen in ways we can neither predict nor understand. But light wins.

Last Thursday, a panel gathered to discuss the topic, “Biology Isn’t Bigotry.” The five women who participated strongly criticized the notion that self-determined “gender identity” is the same as biological sex. One of the participants calls herself a “long-term leftist” and is on the board of Women’s Liberation Front, a feminist group. She and the rest of the panel warned that “gender identity” views amount to the erasure of women, voyeurism, and practicing eugenics on children.

The next day, Norma McCorvey died at the age of sixty-nine. She was better known by the pseudonym “Jane Roe.” The 1973 case that bears her name, Roe v. Wade, legalized abortion in the US. McCorvey later became one of America’s foremost proponents of life. In February 2005, she unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the legislation that bore her pseudonym. What changed her mind?

In her 1998 book, Won by Love, she explained:

“I was sitting in [Operation Rescue’s] offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. ‘Norma,’ I said to myself, ‘They’re right.’ I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth—that’s a baby!

“I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn’t about ‘products of conception.’ It wasn’t about ‘missed periods.’ It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs. All those years I was wrong.”

The more our nation rejects biblical truth, the more it needs our witness. Measure success by obedience, not popularity.

Keep embracing and defending biblical truth on sexuality and life. The more our nation rejects biblical truth, the more it needs our witness. Measure success by obedience, not popularity. The Jewish authorities rejected Jeremiah’s warnings and saw their nation fall to Babylon (Jeremiah 39); the people rejected Jesus’ warnings and saw their temple fall to Rome (Mark 13:1–2).

However, if even one eternal soul turns from the dark to the light, our witness is not in vain. And when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11), you will hear your Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

What if it were today?

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14 THINGS WE’RE NOT AFRAID TO SAY ABOUT MARRIED SEX

Posted by    |    February 17th, 2017 at 4:24 pm

  1. Quality sex comes from quantity sex. Meaning … practice makes perfect. Keep going!
  2. Allowing your children to sleep in your bed with you every night doesn’t promote healthy sexual intimacy in marriage.
  3. Oral sex does not mean, “talking about it.”
  4. Sex was created for pleasure; it’s okay to enjoy it.
  5. You’ll never “have time” for sex in our busy world, it’s essential that you “make time.” Intimacy must be a priority.
  6. Putting a lock on your bedroom door is one of the best things you can do for your marriage.
  7. Husbands, desire to get to know your wife in every area … not just sexually. Get to know her emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well.
  8. Sex should never be routine. Change up things like location, times, positions, etc.
  9. Wives, your husband is visually stimulated, so be visually generous with your husband. He thinks you looks amazing, whether you think you do or not.
  10. Sex is more than just physical pleasure, it’s allowing your bodies and emotions to talk and connect.
  11. Sex can suffer during the years of small children. Work hard to connect even during this time.
  12. An orgasm isn’t the only goal of good sex. It may be the best part, but don’t miss what leads up to it. Take your time.
  13. Porn is an intimacy and marriage killer. Pursue your spouse not unrealistic things.
  14. Husbands, if you’ll treat your wife like a queen, “getting lucky” won’t require any luck at all.