Check out

A Golden Age in Christian Publishing
I totally agree. I especially agree with Tim’s words about the excellent people who work in the big publishers. I’ve met and worked with some real gems.

Has Authenticity Trumped Holiness?
“While we think self-deprecation causes us to be more relatable and empathetic to non-Christians, it’s ultimately communicating a sense of disappointment, disillusionment, and discontentment. It thrives on negativity and kills our sense of hope.”

Credo’s new online magazine is on the vital topic of justification. And it’s free!

Conversations with Young People Leaving Church
Most common explanation is not godless college but pragmatic parents: “My parents say they love God and maybe they do, but it just seems to me that if Christianity were true it would produce better people.”

The Facts About 20 Controversial Issues in Obamacare
Assuming that the truth is the best weapon against the excesses of Obamacare Chris Bogosh provides 20 facts about the more controversial issues in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Unsung Hero Award

What Drives Success?

At the risk of the unpardonable sin of political incorrectness, in What Drives Success? two Yale Law School Professors have said the unsayable: “Certain ethnic, religious, and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall.” For example:

  • Indian-Americans earn almost double the national figure (roughly $90,000 per year in median household income versus $50,000).
  • Iranian-, Lebanese- and Chinese-Americans are also top-earners.
  • Mormons have become leaders of corporate America, holding top positions in many of America’s most recognizable companies.
  • Although Jews make up only about 2 percent of the United States’ adult population, they account for a third of the current Supreme Court; over two-thirds of Tony Award-winning lyricists and composers; and about a third of American Nobel laureates.

Risky Facts
Aware that they are risking a firestorm by even publishing such facts, the researchers are at pains to emphasize that the statistics cannot be explained by class privilege, educational background, or racial stereotypes:

  • There are some black and Hispanic groups in America that far outperform some white and Asian groups.
  • Immigrants from many West Indian and African countries, such as Jamaica, Ghana, and Haiti, are climbing America’s higher education ladder.
  • Nigerians make up less than 1 percent of the black population in the United States, yet in 2013 nearly one-quarter of the black students at Harvard Business School were of Nigerian ancestry.
  • Over a fourth of Nigerian-Americans have a graduate or professional degree, as compared with only about 11 percent of whites.
  • By 1990, United States-born Cuban children — whose parents had arrived as exiles, many with practically nothing — were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to earn over $50,000 a year.

The researchers warn that all groups rise and fall over time, puncturing the idea that groups succeed because of innate biological differences. Instead, the differences are mainly cultural, with the most successful groups in America “sharing three traits that, together, propel success.

  1. A superiority complex: a deep-seated belief in your exceptionality.
  2. Insecurity: a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough.
  3. Impulse control: ability to delay self-gratification

Read What Drives Success?, for further explanation of these three qualities, how #1 and #2 work together, how all three are required for success, how each trait on its own can become pathological, and, worryingly, how “each element of the Triple Package violates a core tenet of contemporary American thinking.” Current cultural forces are working directly against each of these three drivers of success. There’s also a brief but helpful discussion about how many African Americans face an especially challenging task to succeed.

Christian Success?
Of course, for Christians, this all begs the questions, “What is success?” and, “Is success even an appropriate aim for a Christian?”

We’ve all heard, and even preached: “God doesn’t say, ‘Well done good and successful servant’ but “Well done, good and faithful servant.’” But we mustn’t let that truth make us suspicious of all success, excellence, and achievement. Remember, that commendation is given to businessmen who are so skilled with their investments that they enjoy a 100% return! Note, God doesn’t turn round and say, “Right, Joe, now we’ve got to spread the wealth a bit.” No, horror of horrors, He gives them even more to invest. Sure sounds like divinely approved income inequality to me!

Measuring Success
Having said that, although the parable teaches that in some cases money can be an appropriate measure of success, Christians must never measure success by the size of investment portfolio alone. To measure success biblically, we must also ask, “How did he get the money?” and “How does he use, spend, or give that money?” But there are other important questions as well:

  • What are his/her relationships like? (e.g. with husband, wife, parents, children, friends, neighbors, colleagues).
  • How much does he/she serve others? (i.e. sacrificing for the good of others for no payment)
  • How useful is he/she in the local church and community?
  • What fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5) or characteristics of blessedness (Matt. 5) are present?
  • What is his/her commitment to the Bible as the supreme rule of faith and life?

It can all be summed up with one simple yet profound question: How Christlike is he/she?

That’s God’s ultimate criteria for success, and there’s only one driver for that: the Gospel.


Out of the Homeschooling Closet
As education comes within the purview of worldview, here are a series of articles about the difficulty of admitting to being home-schooled or a homeschooler.

First was Jennifer Kulynych, a Washington lawyer writing in the New York Times, about the difficult of Owning up to Being a Home Schooling Parent, especially in the legal circles in which she moves.

Then Rod Dreher, reflecting on Kulynych’s post, called on parents to Come out of the Home Schooling Closet.

Gracy Olmstead does so but explains Why it’s so hard to Come out of the Homeschool Closet and closes with:

Homeschooling is not for everyone. But neither should it be the leprosy of the educational world. Its practitioners should be judged on their merits and manners, and its benefits and disadvantages should be weighed fairly, as with any other institution.

Getting Poor Kids Through College
50 college presidents and officials from states, industry and nonprofits recently attended a day-long meeting at the White House to find new ways to promote success among low-income students.

  • Of top-performing high school students who hail from the bottom half of the income distribution, fewer than half go on to receive post-secondary degrees.
  • Colleges pursue racial diversity more than socioeconomic diversity because racial diversity is much more visible, and socioeconomic diversity is much more expensive to address because you have to provide financial aid.
  • Sometimes simple techniques — such as waiving application fees — can make a big difference in terms of student enrollment and eventual success.
  • A Stanford University study found that simply providing low-income students who are top achievers with basic information about colleges not only led more of them to apply but also was associated with higher graduation rates.
  • Children with two biological parents are more likely to attend college…than those with a stepparent or no parent.
  • Children from intact homes receive significantly more financial support in covering college expenses.
  • Having no father (i.e., [being from] a mother-only household) reduces support much more than having no mother (a father-only household).

Save up to Marry? Or Marry to Save up?
When cohabiting couples were asked about why they were not transitioning to marriage, 72% gave economic reasons.

  • One-third of their respondents indicated that ‘the money needed to be in place’ before getting married.
  • One-fifth of respondents wanted to have enough money for a ‘real’ wedding before tying the knot (average cost $23,000+)
  • Respondents also said that better employment prospects were a prerequisite for marriage, especially for the man
  • Some individuals suggested that a combination of goals like completing education and steady work were needed before considering marriage.

Andrew Cherlin, professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University argues that marriage has become as a capstone.

Young adults are marrying after achieving educational goals, establishing a career and reaching financial stability rather than building a life around marriage. The capstone understanding of marriage puts matrimony out of reach for some working and lower middle class individuals who view improved fiscal status as the admission requirement.

And yet, research has also found that marriage provides large economic advantages, for example, “married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.” And of course, there are other advantages too:

Even though marriages are not guaranteed to last, healthy marriage relationships do promote human flourishing. Marriage successfully integrates emotional intimacy, parental responsibility and economic cooperation into committed, permanent union.

The Most Godly and Most Godless Cities in America
A recent study by Barna and the American Bible Society used the criteria of Bible-mindedness to measure the most and least godly cities in the USA. The study defined “Bible-mindedness” as a combination of how often respondents read the Bible and how accurate they think the Bible is. “Respondents who report reading the bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as ‘Bible Minded,’ says the study’s methodology.”

  • The two least “Bible-minded” cities in the United States are Providence, R.I., and New Bedford, Mass.
  • The most “Bible-minded” city is Chattanooga.

Or maybe the residents of Providence and New Bedford are simply the most honest!

The most challenging line in the research was “The study found an inverse relationship between population density and Bible friendliness.”

18 Photos That Will Make you Wonder if the Earth is Real
Awe-inspiring views of our beautiful world. Feast your eyes!

Check out

We don’t have to read the book or see the movie to know that Heaven is for Real
Nancy Guthrie isn’t going to see the movie and doesn’t think anyone else should either. Instead she calls us to exercise faith in the only reliable testimony, the Word of God.

15 Signs Your Church is Growing in the Right Way
Aaron Armstrong says “one of the surest signs of the health of a church is to look at the growth of its people,” and turns to Mark Dever for 15 ways to measure spiritual growth in our people.

Pastoral Internship
Brain Croft briefly explains how his church internship program works.

How to Preach David & Goliath With Balance
A helpful case study in preaching an Old Testament passage in a Christ-centered way. And here’s Part 2.

One People, One Salvation, One Purpose
Dennis Louis: “Why is it so important that we affirm that God has always had one people throughout redemptive history, had one plan of salvation, and that he had one purpose? Because when we read our Bibles with these overarching concepts in mind, we see the Bible for what it truly is: God’s complete and full story of redemption. We see a complete Gospel, not a fragmented one. We see that God’s dealings with his people are consistent and not capricious. We see that the entire Bible, not just bits and pieces, are for our instruction and learning.”

Don’t Give my Husband Romance Lessons, Thank You
Counter-cultural and funny!

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

I spent quite a bit of time this week completing the Genesis and Matthew pdf’s (see below), so I haven’t prepared any new plans for this week. We’ll resume next week.

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. And this is the second year 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.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books with Genesis and Matthew now complete (explanatory note).

Old Testament

New Testament