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Spot The Guilty Party

This video points out the importance of gathering all the evidence before leaping to judgment.
It’s also a bit cute.

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The Problem With My Decision Making Process (via Doghouse Diaries)

I do this a lot, not only in front of a computer, but in front of menus and supermarkets.
via Doghouse Diaries.


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Passing The Test

Douglas Wilson tells a story that sounds like a joke, but the punchline is eternally true.

Once there was a Presbyterian minister who had made the whole topic of sola fide his special field of study. He had mastered the subject, as far as any mortal man can be said to have mastered anything. After a long and fruitful ministry, he eventually did what all Presbyterian ministers do, which is to say, he died.
As he approached the pearly gates, he was mildly surprised to see that St. Peter was there, just like in all the jokes. But he was, he thought, prepared to roll with it because, after all, he was going to Heaven.
Right next to St. Peter was a long wooden table, of the kind you see in examination rooms. A chair was pulled out for him, and on the table was a thick test, and a pencil next to it. As he walked up to St. Peter, he was greeted warmly and the set-up was explained to him.
“We have prepared a small fifty-page test for you,” Peter said. “Because we believe in grace, we decided to prepare a test for you that is right in your wheelhouse. This entire test is dedicated to the subject of sola fide, a subject you have been studying for forty years, I understand. If you get a perfect score, you may enter into joy.” With that pronouncement, Peter handed the pencil to the minister, and gestured to the waiting chair.
The minister held the pencil for a moment, thinking about it, and then quietly, without a word, he handed the pencil back.
A smile played around the corner of St. Peter’s mouth. “You pass,” he said.

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Soul Fatigue (via John Ortberg)

John Ortberg on ‘soul fatigue’.
Excerpted from this post.

The soul craves rest. Our wills sometimes rejoice in striving; our bodies were made to (at least sometimes) know the exhilaration of tremendous challenge; our minds get stretched when they must focus even when tired. But the soul craves rest. The soul knows only borrowed strength. The soul was made to rest in God the way a tree rests in soil.
One of the challenges of soul-fatigue is that it does not have the same obvious signs as physical fatigue. If you’ve run a marathon, your body lets you know it’s finished. Our souls were not made to run on empty. But the soul doesn’t come with a gauge. The indicators of soul-fatigue are more subtle:

  • Things seem to bother you more than they should.
  • It’s hard to make your mind up about even simple decisions.
  • Impulses to eat or drink or spend or crave will be harder to resist than they otherwise would.
  • You are more likely to favor short-term gains in ways that will leave you with long-term costs.
  • You judgment suffers.
  • You have less courage.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Read the whole post here.

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How To Point Out Wasted Effort (via Leadership Freak)

Dan Rockwell summarises Peter Drucker on influence and provides nine questions “to point out and begin resolving wasted effort.”

  1. What’s frustrating you?
  2. What’s frustrating about that?
  3. What are you doing to solve your frustration?
  4. How’s your strategy working?
  5. What do you really want, with this situation in mind?
  6. Who do you want to be, with this situation in mind?
  7. How can you step toward your desired outcome, today? The answer must be an observable behavior.
  8. Who has faced a situation similar to yours?
  9. What are you willing to change?

To which he adds an important note:
People aren’t always willing to deal with wasted effort. They want to dig in and try harder. If you’ve explored the issue and they persist, don’t worry about it. You can’t change people.

From Leadership Freak.

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Saints (via David Cook)

Some thoughts from David Cook (current Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia) on saints.
Very topical given the recent beatification of two former Popes of the Roman Catholic Church as saints last week.

An excerpt:

I turned up for my early morning coffee today and, helping my newsagent friend, Charlie, dropped off today’s edition of La Fiama, the Italian newspaper, to my barista, Dom. I asked him, as usual, to translate the headline – “Pope declares two Popes saints”.
How does a person become a saint in the Roman Catholic church?
Generally, consideration is not given until five years after the person’s death, though this can be waived, as in the case of John Paul 2. Then, there is an examination for holiness; then, that others have been drawn to prayer through such holiness; then, that miracles have been attributed to prayers made to the candidate for sainthood.
Once all this is established, beatification takes place and the person is given the title “blessed”.
So today Popes John 23 and John Paul 2 were beatified.
Impressive ritual with huge crowds in support, seems so right, but in reality this substitution of the veneration of people in place of God is stark idolatry.

Read the rest of the post here.

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The ‘Softer’ Prosperity Gospel

You won’t find too many folk supporting the most strident form of prosperity gospel.
However there’s a softer, less strident form which can find its way into gospel affirming churches.
You’ll hear Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13 a lot more often than John 3:16 and Matthew 6:33.
It’s not that the gospel is denied.
It’s that it is assumed, and in its place practical messages are preached that never explicitly ground their lessons explicitly in the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection.
(A post like this won’t usually find itself linked to on our town’s Citywide Church Facebook page.)

From the 9Marks blog:

While evangelicals have traditionally decried the prosperity gospel in its “hard” form, there is a softer form of this teaching that is all too common among us. Often undetected by Bible-believing Christians, it assumes the gospel and leads its adherents to focus on things like financial planning, diet and exercise, and strategies for self-improvement. In contrast to the hard prosperity gospel, which offers miraculous and immediate health and wealth, this softer, subtler variety challenges believers to break through to the blessed life by means of the latest pastor-prescribed technique.

Here are some tell-tale marks of soft prosperity gospel.

1. Soft prosperity elevates “blessings” [even ‘prospering’] over the blessed God.
2. Soft prosperity detaches verses from the redemptive framework of the Bible.
3. Soft prosperity diminishes the curse that Christ bore and the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
4. Soft prosperity relies on pastor-prescribed therapeutic techniques.
5. Soft prosperity largely addresses first-world, middle-class problems.

(Read more explanation at the 9Marks blog post by David Schrock.

While never being so crass as to claim Jesus died and rose again simply so local businesses could have a healthier bottom line, soft prosperity will emphasise better business results as the answer to our prayers instead of growth in more Christ-like character in adverse circumstances.

We need a biblical gospel which exhorts people to know that Jesus died and rose again to make them a transformed person, not just comfortably well off.