Worldview

Free Businesses to Act With Conscience
In The Boston Globe, Harvard Law Professor May Ann Glendon sums up the Hobby Lobby case to perfection: “At the core of the Hobby Lobby case is the idea that the Greens should be able to operate their own private family business according to their own deeply held convictions. At the core of the government’s case is the idea that the government itself is the only arbiter of conscience rights.”

She goes on to argue that most Americans and even the government believe there is such a thing as a corporate conscience and concludes: “If we want the Greens’ businesses and other businesses like them to act conscientiously, they must have the freedom to follow their consciences. Indeed, it is probably with respect to our largest corporations that a fostering of moral and social conscience is most needed. The Supreme Court should take the opportunity to confirm that businesses can and should have consciences.”

iSpy: How the Internet Buys and Sells Your Secrets
“Every year you give away up to £5,000 ($7,000) of data online. The greatest heist in history isn’t about stealing money, but taking information.” It’s why David Gewirtz says 2013 is The Year Trust Died.

Making Some Rules About Sportsmanship
In the wake of a couple of recent NFL and NBA sports scandals, journalists are asking what constitutes permissible sportsmanship and what is simply cheating: “Are there degrees of rule bending — including some that add flavor and debate to sports while others simply degrade it and deserve condemnation?”

Alan Hirsch proposes a two-part approach. His first step is simple” Don’t break the rules.”

But then he asks “What about the harder cases where no clear rule is broken but sportsmanship and gamesmanship seem in tension? How do we distinguish between “creative ways to help one’s team” and “inappropriate efforts to game the system.”

His proposed standard for resolving most cases of gamesmanship is “fooling an opponent is OK, fooling the officials is not.”

But then he concludes: “If you don’t buy the proposed approach, here’s a simpler one that may be easier to accept and yet could go even further in discouraging gamesmanship: If you have to ask, don’t do it.”

Smarts in Business is Not About Degrees or IQ
Your degree and your intelligence might get you your first job, but five years in most employers are looking for accomplishment. Who can get things done?

Maynard Webb, Chairman of Yahoo, says: “Talent isn’t just intellect. Talent is also what you’ve done. If you’re an entrepreneur trying to break through, it’s hard work. You have to be tough, you have to be willing to take lots of body blows. So I’m looking for that grit factor.”

And as Forbes says, “This should be good news for most of us. We’re not limited or defined by the IQ we’ve inherited. Much of what makes us real-world smart comes from what we’ve learned–usually the hard way.”


Check out

An Interview on Sex, Dating, and Relationships
Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen so much biblical and practical wisdom in one blog post for a long time.

I love you all the way to China
I can so identify with R.C. Sproul’s travelogue.

New Book of Meditations for Counselors by Diane Langberg
Might be just the thing for the Counselor in your life.

Susan Boyle and Aspergers
Rod Dreher: “I’m sorry for Boyle’s condition, but deeply appreciative of her decision to go public with this diagnosis, both to raise awareness of it and to show what Aspies can achieve. My older son’s diagnosis years ago — he is on the mildest end of the spectrum — came as a huge relief to his parents, who finally knew why he was behaving the way he was behaving. It also makes it a lot easier for us to prepare him for, well, life.”

7 Ways Social Media Makes Pastoring More Difficult
Waiting now for the follow-up post: 7 Ways Social Media Makes Pastoring Easier.

Help The Family of Slain Teacher, Ronnie Smith
If you want to help Ronnie’s family, you can make a donation here or purchase The History of Redemption. All of the proceeds benefit his family.


Don’t Ask for Underwear or Socks

Take a few minutes to watch this hyper-smart, super-savvy, feel-good video from Westjet (mute sound when the TV arrives at 4.22-23)

Don’t have a few minutes? Let me summarize.

  • Westjet set up live Santa screen in departure lounge.
  • Santa invites people to insert their boarding pass.
  • Santa calls the people by name and asks them what they want for Christmas.
  • Passengers embark and fly to destination.
  • Meanwhile Westjet employees fan out to shopping malls, buy the presents, wrap them, and send them down the luggage carousel.
  • Astonished joyful passengers open their parcels to find exactly what they asked for: Android tablet, iPhone, TV, etc.
  • Westjet get viral Christmas video that boosts name recognition and customer goodwill far above what millions of Madison Avenue dollars would have bought them.

And Christians get a parable of the Gospel.

How so?

Because every day God invites us to ask for His greatest gift (Christ and His salvation) to meet our greatest need (guilt and condemnation).

And what do most people do?

Like some of the passengers in the Westjet departure lounge, they look on this Gospel offer with doubt, suspicion, and mockery. “Don’t be so silly…That’s just for children…That’ll never work.”

How did they feel when the presents started trundling off the carousel and they went home empty-handed. “Why did I think I was so wise? Why didn’t I humble myself to ask for something?”

What a missed opportunity!

Or like one poor man, who asked for underwear and socks, many ask for cheap, material, temporary things – and get them. How silly did he feel when he opened his parcel! Why didn’t I ask for more?

What a missed opportunity!

And note the tears of happiness when the biggest gifts arrive: vacations, an Android tablet, and even a 50 inch TV!

No doubt these passengers thought they’d taken this golden opportunity and made the most of it.

But what are these gifts compared to the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ; the most expensive, the most valuable, the most lasting, the most undeserved Gift. And free to all who ask (Matthew 7:7).

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!”

Take this opportunity of a lifetime; indeed, of an eternal time.

You’ll discover, just as these passengers did, that even if you ask with tiny faith, He will give you far more exceeding abundantly above what you ask or think.


Worldview

Facebook Year in Review 2013
Want to know what most people in the world were talking about in the last year? The biggest relief was that Miley didn’t make #1, which gives me some hope for our culture. Top three were “Pope,” “election,” and “Royal baby.” In the US, the top three were “Superbowl,” “Government Shutdown,” and “Boston Marathon.”

And if you’re brave enough, Facebook allows you to create your own year in review to see what were your big interests for the year.

Satanists Want Statue Beside 10 Commandments
Oklahoma’s state capitol may become the first to have a monument to Satan. The Temple of Satan wants to erect a statue beside the 10 Commandments monument on state capitol grounds.

However horrific this sounds, I’m afraid that when you combine the prevailing relativism with the present American understanding of the separation of church and state, it’s hard to argue against the Satanist’s logic: “The Constitution is clear: the government can’t endorse one particular religion. So, if a state capitol has a monument to one faith, it must allow monuments to others as well.”

Couple of stunning quotes further on in this article: “The message of Satanism centers around respect for diversity and religious minorities,” which at least confirms the source of present push for equalizing all moralities and religions.

And, hold your breath for this one. A Temple of Satan spokesman said of their plans, “My favorite idea right now is an object of play for children. We want kids to see that Satanism is where the fun is.”

The College-for-all Model Isn’t Working
“Nearly half of those who start a four-year degree don’t finish on time; more than two-thirds of those who start community college fail to get a two-year degree on schedule. Even students who graduate emerge saddled with debt and often without the skills they need to make a decent living.

Meanwhile, companies in a range of sectors — manufacturing, construction, healthcare and other STEM fields — report severe skilled labor shortages. With more than 11.3 million Americans out of work, there are 3.7 million unfilled job openings — due largely to the growing mismatch between workers’ skills and employers’ needs.”

The Tragic Death of the Funeral
Chad Bird pens a convincing indictment of the trend to turn funerals into “Celebrations of Life.” He says “Although they may initially appear innocuous, or even attractive, these celebrations represent a dual danger: they perpetuate and even formalize our culture’s egocentrism, and they rob life of its true value by refusing to address its end and the meaning thereof.”

He then examines these two dangers in turn before concluding: “The bereaved need, and deserve, something better. They deserve a service that speaks frankly and honestly about death, while anchoring the survivors in a hope that extends beyond this world. If any life is to be celebrated, let it be the life of the One who alone can lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, and who shines a ray of his life into the gloom of death.”

Rob Ford, The Media, and the Three C’s
Canadian political commentator Ray Pennings says that when he is asked for advice in evaluating candidates for political leadership, “I usually reference three Cs—competence, character, and conviction—as useful criteria. Of late, though, it would seem that crack, cocaine, and cannabis are the more common focus of political dialogue.”

He goes on to demonstrate the double standards of the usually morals-free media in covering the Rob Ford scandal, and says that ”the casuistry, contradiction, and condescension with which this story has been covered is as much a moral outrage as the story itself.”


Check out

On Football, Warrior Culture, and Manhood
Looks like the warrior culture spilled into the comments too.

How to Write a Great Book Review
Aaron Armstrong’s free eBook will help school kids as well as bloggers. It will also make you a better reader.

For All Who Ever Lost a Child
Moving video and poem by John Piper.

10 Tips for Embracing People With Mental Illness in the Church
“I believe that the church intends to be kind, loving and inclusive to all people but I want to suggest that we could be better about loving our brothers and sisters with mental illnesses. Here are a few thoughts on how we can make a better effort.”

Pilgrim’s Progress Revisited (And a Giveaway)
If you’ve never given your child a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress, now would be a great time.

What Every Young Christian Needs to Know About the Bible
Neat video by young people for young people.


Wanted: The Perfect Pastor

Many moons ago I used to enjoy Crimewatch, a TV program that specialized in using Identikit software to produce composite pictures of criminals based on various eyewitness accounts. It was fascinating to watch the picture  put together on screen; first the hair, then the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the ears, and so on. With the reach and leverage of a TV program, the criminals were often rapidly identified and the following week the real picture was placed beside the composite, usually revealing remarkable similarity.

Identikit

So, what if we put together a composite of the perfect pastor; what would he look like? Here’s a composite of the best bits of the best pastors I’ve known.

Mind: He is educated in the Scriptures, the historic Confessions, and contemporary issues. He’s not only educated, though, he’s also wise and remains teachable; quite a rare combination.

Eyes: His eyes are focused upon Christ. He looks to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, and never takes his eyes off Him.

Ears: He listens to God’s voice in the Word, in conscience, and in providence. But his ears also also open to the cries of the sheep – the hungry, the injured, and the lost.

Mouth: He speaks the truth in love, in public and in private. He speaks clearly, consistently, and as simply as he possibly can even when talking about the most profound truths.

Nose: He is sensitive to heresy and sniffs it out quickly when it threatens the sheep.

Conscience: He strives to maintain a clear conscience; but if he wounds it by sinning, he takes it to Christ’s blood for cleansing and healing.

Will: He is determined, persevering, and resolute, even in the face of opposition.

Hands: In one hand he has the staff of the Holy Spirit, leaning his whole weight upon Him. In the other Hand, he has the Word of God, a lamp to his feet.

Watch: His watch has one word stamped upon it – ETERNITY.

Feet: He walks the narrow way, turning not to the right or left.

Nerves: He has a sensitivity to the suffering, the sad, and the weak. He feels what they feel.

Backbone: God has put steel in His backbone so that he will not bend in the prevailing wind of popular opinion or the storm of persecution.

Clothes: He keeps his clothes unspotted from the world.

Heart: He loves God and sinners, preaching passionately and visiting compassionately.

Soul: He has a spiritually exercised soul, a lively inner life that battles temptation, communes with Christ, examines himself, and continue to repent and believe day by day.

Lungs: he breathes the air of prayer. Prayer oxygenates his whole life. He cannot live without it.

Although we’ll never be all this and we’ll never find all this in any mere man, it’s still a great ideal for pastors and those who train them to aim at.

And it’s a reminder of the only Perfect Pastor, who was more than a mere man, and who surpassed all expectations in every part of His perfect person.