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The Folly of Men Arming Women for Combat
John Piper: USA Today reports that the minimal standards for strength set by the marines are on hold because half the women in boot camp can’t do three pull-ups. They’re on hold as “part of the process of equalizing physical standards to integrate women into combat jobs.”

Rescued
A beautiful story of redemption: “One day something beautiful happened. Something strange. The social workers came and got us and put our stuff in a brown paper bag and we met a different mom and dad. And they said they wanted us. Like, forever. And we could live with them and never go away. And I really liked the idea, but I didn’t know what it really meant to trust, so deep inside I didn’t believe them. Not yet. ”

The Young, Restless, and Reformed and Gospel Amnesia
Luma Sims offers her experience and wisdom to the YRR.

Carrying the Burden of the Sadness of a Loved One
Another powerful spiritual narrative from Michael Patton. His closing words: “When my dad died, the burden left. The sadness that I felt responsible to fix was taken from me. And I am beginning to think that it was much of the cause for my sadness over the last few years.”

“It’s not fair”
Yesterday, I wrote about this phrase in connection with Psalm 37. Soon after, I noticed that Dan Darling had also written on it, especially what do do when our kids say it. Later I discovered that Mark Altrogge had also written written on Psalm 37 yesterday: Fretting and Fearful For Our nation – Here’s Some Advice.

1950′s F1 Driver Stirling Moss Meets Current F1 Star Lewis Hamilton
I really enjoyed the mutual respect and affection there was between these two drivers from very different eras. Judging by the cars, I think Moss was the most courageous.


“It’s not fair!”

All of us have been victims of injustice. To one degree or another, we’ve suffered from the unfair words and actions of others. We’ve been wronged by other people and yet they’ve got off with it while we’ve suffered painful consequences. We’ve been cheated, slandered, gossiped about, mistreated, and misrepresented. We’ve lost money, reputation, promotion, relationships, even jobs. People have abused their positions, their power, their privileges, and their network to do us harm or prevent good coming to us. “It’s not fair!” and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Even the youngest child knows something of this pain. One of the first phrases we learn is, “It’s not fair!” My bike is stolen, my favorite toy is broken, my brother thumps me and no one thumps him back. “It’s not fair!” and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Deeper and Wider Pain
As we get older the pain goes deeper as we perceive favoritism in the family, suffer bullying at school, experience betrayal by friends, become victims of social media smears, and even suffer at the hands of the church and of other Christians. “It’s not fair!” and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Then we begin to learn about the great inequities in the world; the perks and privileges of the rich and powerful, the sufferings and sorrows of the weak and the oppressed. We see it to some degree in our own country; we especially see it in other countries like North Korea, the Sudan, Congo, etc. “It’s not fair!” and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Dwelling on Injustice
If we allow our hearts and minds to dwell on these personal, social, ecclesiastical, and international injustices, we will spend our lives in a state of constant and damaging agitation: fretfulness, anxiety, bitterness, anger, and so on, will be our constant and damaging companions. Our minds will darken, our hearts will despair, and our bodies will deteriorate too.

“It’s not fair” BUT there is something we can do about it. In fact, there are a few things.

1. Don’t inflict injustice upon anyone. Consider the effects, the impact, the damage, and the destruction of injustice by reading, feeling, and singing Psalm 37. Before you even think about abusing your power, taking advantage of someone, wronging a person, ponder the long-term consequences for them.

2. Confess and put right injustices. Is there anyone who is singing Psalm 37 because of you today? Go to them, say sorry, put it right, and deliver them from their painful plight.

3. Recognize the impact of injustice upon yourself. There are no medals for downplaying or denying how injustice has impacted you. In Psalm 37, David reveals the effects of injustice upon himself by what he commands himself and others not to think and feel: he frets (1), he envies (1), he doubts God (2), he’s agitated (7), he’s impatient (7), he thinks they are getting away with it (7), he’s furious (8), he questions if they will ever face justice (9), he feels threatened (14), he fears for the future (19), he’s tempted to sin (27), etc.

This is deep, wide and long. Deep, in that it goes into the depths of our being; wide, in that it affects us in every dimension – spiritual, mental, physical, social, etc; long, in that it lasts for months and years. No point in bottling this up until we explode or disintegrate.

4. Bring it to God. You cannot carry this yourself. It is too heavy, too hard, too difficult. Follow the pattern of Psalm 37 where the Psalmist unbottles his feelings and spills them out before the Lord. Tell Him it as it is. Hand it over to Him. And remember, as the victim of the greatest injustice ever perpetrated, He understands and feels your screams. He can sympathize with you and support you through this agony.


Worldview

Don’t Blame Social Media if Your Teen is Unsocial. It’s Your Fault.
Microsoft’s Danah Boyd has spent a decade interviewing hundreds of teens about their online lives. The result is a books It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens and its conclusion is that parents are to blame for the unsociability of their teens.

Specifically, that teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won’t let them. “Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They’re addicted to each other,” Boyd says. “They’re not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they’ve moved it online.”

Factors that have “imprisoned” our teens include the media’s over-publicizing of rare child-abduction cases, sensationalized reporting of youth gangs, anti-loitering laws, fewer public spaces, and  increased competition to get into college meant well-off parents began heavily scheduling their kids’ after-school lives.

The result, Boyd discovered, is that today’s teens have neither the time nor the freedom to hang out. So their avid migration to social media is a rational response to a crazy situation. They’d rather socialize F2F, so long as it’s unstructured and away from grown-ups.

Charles Blow’s Self-Defeating Column Against Christianity
Brilliant analysis by Denny Burk of Charles Blow’s NYT piece Indoctrinating Religious Warriors. Here’s an extract:

There is so much wrong with Blow’s article that it’s difficult to know where to start. But perhaps I should point out the fundamental self-defeating contradiction at the heart of it. Blow argues that the “war” on Christians is a lie. There really isn’t any threat at all for Christians to be concerned about. Then he spends the rest of his article in a sustained assault on Christianity. He castigates Christians ignorant enough to believe that God created the world apart from evolutionary processes. He looks down his nose at Christians who are so unenlightened as to believe what the Bible teaches about marriage….In other words, Blow has no problem with Christianity as long as it never contradicts the spirit of the age and never makes claims of any public consequence—which is another way of saying, “I have no problem with Christianity so long as it ceases to be Christian.”

What Drives us to Do the Right Thing?
In Romans 7:8-10, the Apostle Paul describes the paradox of laws against sin actually producing sin. He basically says that before hearing laws against sin, he didn;t want to  sin, but when he heard “Don’t/Do that or else,” sin was stirred up and multiplied. “The law came, sin revived, and I died.”

Now we have modern research that confirms and illustrates this weird and twisted aspect of human nature.

Example 1: A handful of parents are habitually late to pick up their kids from pre-school. The school sends out a note, urging timeliness: “Please be considerate of our wonderful staff who, after a long day of caring for your kids, are tired and want to go home,” etc.

This works with some parents, but there are still chronic offenders. The school finally becomes punitive. Parents who are late start getting a fine added to the tuition bill. What happens? Against all seeming logic, the incidence of tardiness increases.

Example 2: Faculty do certain chores spontaneously because they are good departmental citizens. Some do lots, others are slackers, but things get done. Then an administrator pronounces that this voluntary act is now required X times a year. The slackers that had been doing less than X now do the required X. But those who used to do more than X shift to X as well.

These paradoxical effects occur because introducing punishment re-categorizes the behavior…It turns out that doing the right thing voluntarily is very different from doing it to avoid punishment.

Why are Working-Class Men Falling Behind?
After many years of studying American society, Michael Jindra, visiting research scholar in theCenter for the Study of Religion and Society has concluded that “American lifestyles are increasingly diverging between ‘hyper-achievers’ trained early on to succeed, and those often labeled ‘slackers’ whose lives revolve around entertainments of various sorts.

  • A disproportionate percentage of “slackers” are working class men who are working less and earning less.
  • These men are increasingly disconnected from families and from society as a whole.
  • Early on they fall behind females in school and never catch up.
  • One explanation for their instability is that so many were raised with single parents and are unlikely to reap the gains of a lasting marriage themselves.
  • Video games create a need for stimulation, crowd out reading, and lessen boys’ focus in school and other activities.
  • Rates of ADHD have skyrocketed with video-game overstimulation playing a role.
  • These patterns can also lead later in life to heavy television viewing, often of sports and heavy online activity, such as viewing porn.

Jindra concludes: “All of these things mentioned above—early reliance on stimulating entertainment, lower educational attainment, disconnection from families and role models, and the attractions of different, “edgy” subcultures—contribute to a widening gulf between those more connected to family, work, and society, and those without these commitments.”

Something that Jindra didn’t mention was the way in which manual labor has been so ridiculed and relegated by the incessant desire to get everyone to college. The Government, the media, and our school teachers have made college the be-all and end-all of life. Little wonder that many young men who have immense practical or small-business gifts are demoralized and discouraged by the present school system that devalues their unique talents and rewards only academic ability.


Check out

New York Times on Resurgence of Calvinism
What could possibly go wrong now?

So it begins – On Mission to Scotland’s Schemes
Pastor Patrick Mathers is getting ready to leave the New World for the Old World to bring the Gospel to Scotland’s poorest. And here’s 20Schemes plans for 2014.

The City: Its Sins and Sorrows
Staying with Scotland, Andy Murray (no relation) has just published a short eBook for 99 cents that contains four sermons by Thomas Guthrie, a 19th century Christian philanthropist in Scotland. It also contains a lengthy biographical foreword by Andy that explains how the present Church can learn so much from this large-hearted, Gospel-centered man.  If you follow Andy’s blog at Ragged Theology you can get regular updates on how he tries to put his  knowledge of Guthrie’s work into practice as he works day by day among Scotland’s poorest.

Dealing with Alcoholism
Ed Stezter warns agains the increasing acceptance of alcohol in Evangelical circles, says that it’s going to result in more alcoholic pastors, and provides an interview with one to prove his point.

The Normal, Drama-Free, Totally-Healthy Christian Homeschool Movement
Ruth Moon calls for a bit of balance in the light of a spate of negative stories and blogs about homeschooling.

What I Wish I’d Known
Sam Storms reflects on 40 years of pastoral ministry.

Your Systematic Theology is Showing
Barnabas Piper wants us to put Systematic Theology in the right place. I’ve definitely seen the problem that he’s referring to and agree with him.


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s this week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

The daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books.

Old Testament

New Testament


Hope for Despairing NEETs

What’s a NEET?

Someone who’s Not in Employment, Education, or Training.

And, as you might expect, they don’t feel they have much to live for.

In the Prince’s Trust survey of 16-25 year-olds in the UK, 9% of all youngsters agreed with the statement, “I have nothing to live for.” If the figures hold true for the rest of the UK, that works out at 750,000 suicidal young people.

For NEETs, the percentage of those agreeing with the statement rose to 21%. One in three long-term unemployed young people have contemplated taking their own lives. One in four have self-harmed.

Charities like the Prince’s Trust, set up by Prince Charles in 1976 to help disadvantaged young people, do a fine job in helping NEETs. The UK government also has various initiatives in place to reduce long-term unemployment and equip young people for the workplace. I’m sure there are similar charities and government policies addressing similar problems in the US. But what can the Church and the individual Christian do?

Surely, the first thing is to lend an ear. The most shocking statistic of all in this research was that 72% of long-term unemployed young people did not have someone to confide in. It’s agony to think of that basic need of human friendship going unmet. No, we may not be able to give dollars or jobs, but we can give something even more valuable – time and a listening ear.

And once we’ve invested in these previous lives, we then have Gospel gold to give them:

  • Truth in a world full of lies
  • Peace in a world full of war
  • Love in a world full of hate
  • Life in a world full of death
  • Forgiveness in a world full of vengeance
  • Power in a world full of weakness
  • Certainty in a world full of confusion
  • Purpose in a world full of pointlessness
  • Beauty in a world full of ugliness
  • Hope in a world full of despair

What a difference the Good News of all that Jesus Christ is and does would make to these needy lives. We can give them something to live for. More, we can give them everything to live for. Ultimately, we can give them something to die for.