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Reformation Art
Reformation Day art sale. 50% off entire catalog.

College’s Identity Crisis
Frank Bruni surveys the ongoing tumult of the college education scene.

Conrad Mbewe’s son, Mwindula, with a tremendously helpful “confession” of envy, together with the “swap clean” remedy.

A Decent Proposal
Dr. Carl Ellis Jr. believes that universal health care is in line with the theistic core values of America, but he also sees the danger of failing to use the market to control prices. “Though I am by no means a healthcare professional, here is my humble proposal to make universal healthcare economically feasible.” It makes more sense than what our brightest and best in Washington have come up with.

Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you Learn
Michael Hyatt interviews John Maxwell about his new book.

The Northern Lights in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Extending the Marriage Boost Beyond Two Years

Happiness does not come automatically to anyone in any area of life. Because of sin our default is sadness, and that can only be overcome by intentional activity. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “There is no happiness without action.”

Take marriage for an example. A German study that followed 1,761 people for 15 years through their single years and into married life found that “people were no happier during the years after marriage than before marriage, and the average ‘marriage boost’ in happiness lasted for only two years.”

Markus and Roland
However, there were some significant differences in some people’s experiences of marriage. In The How of Happiness, researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky highlighted Markus and Roland, two participants who married while the study was going on.

Markus’s happiness increased more than average when he got hitched, and eight years later he is still happier being married (just declining a tiny bit from his high point) than when he was single. Roland, on the other hand, ended up less happy during the first two years of marriage and has become even less happy in the five years since (p. 65).

What made the difference? Lyubomirsky explains:

Markus didn’t want the effects of marriage to “wear off”; he didn’t want to adapt to the rewards of marriage and take it for granted. So he decided to dedicate himself to be the best husband he could be and not take his wife and their relationship for granted. He consciously remembers to say, “I love you,” to bring her flowers, to initiate plans, trips, and hobbies, to take an interest in his wife’s challenges, successes, and feelings (p. 65).

In contrast, Roland was disappointed at the outset that matrimony did not live up to his idealistic expectations and since then has failed to observe the slow and steady deterioration of his relationship.

Gradual Adaptation
Scientists have found that we tend to adapt to every positive change in our lives. Whether it’s marriage, a better job, a bigger house, a sports victory, etc., the initial boost of happiness and well-being fades and the better life becomes the new normal.

However, what Markus and Roland teach us is that although we usually adapt to happy improvements in our lives, we can inhibit or slow down the adaptation process with determined action.

For example, Markus “tried to inhibit adaptation to his marriage by actively and creatively behaving in ways that preserved his and his wife’s love and affection for each other,” a strategy that we can learn from in every area of life.

Newly-weds, beware of this danger, and take action to avoid it. Well-worn-weds, understand what’s happened, and take action to unadapt to one of God’s greatest gifts to you.  By God’s grace, a renewed and ever-renewing marriage can become the new normal.

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Productivity Habits
Scot McKnight looks at the productivity routines of famous creatives and then discusses his own habits.

Consider Jesus – The Savior Who Understand Abuse
Paul Tautges ministers to the abused through the Savior’s experience of abuse as predicted in Psalm 22.

Gerald Bray on Biblical Genealogies
What do the genealogies tell us about God?

Why I am a 6-Day Creationist
Ditto for myself.

How to humbly give and receive correction
Jon Bloom reaches back to Jethro and Moses to learn how to give and receive correction.

5 Stages of a Pastor’s Ministry
Thom Rainer: “For more than two decades I have studied, contemplated, and written about the tenure of a pastor. Why is pastoral tenure relatively brief on the average? Does that tenure contain common and distinct stages? Is there a particular point in the tenure when more pastors leave the church?”

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

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

Do Tough Teachers Get Good Results?

In Why Tough Teachers Get Good ResultsJoanne Lipman fondly remembers a music teacher who called his pupils idiots, poked them with pencils, and screamed insults when they messed up. Despite this, when he died, so many ex-pupils turned up at his memorial that they formed an orchestra the size of the New York Philharmonic.

Lipman asks: “What can we learn from a teacher whose methods fly in the face of everything we think we know about education today, but who was undeniably effective?”

She answers: “It’s time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works.”

She rejects the softer, gentler, kinder methods of the past few decades and proposes eight principles, “a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research.”

1. A little pain is good for you: True expertise requires teachers who give “constructive, even painful, feedback,” Top performers in various fields “deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who would challenge them and drive them to higher levels of performance.”

2. Drill, baby, drill: Rote learning cultures like India and China are now outperforming Western students in many disciplines.

3. Failure is an option: Kids who understand that failure is a necessary aspect of learning actually perform better.

4. Strict is better than nice: A five-year study of the most effective teachers in the worst L.A. schools found that the common characteristic was “They were strict.” Instead of teaching through collaboration and discussion, “they found disciplinarians who relied on traditional methods of explicit instruction, like lectures. “

5. Creativity can be learned: Most creative giants were not born as geniuses. Instead they “work ferociously hard and, through a series of incremental steps, achieve things that appear (to the outside world) like epiphanies and breakthroughs.”

6. Grit trumps talent: In a widespread study of various career tracks, researchers found that “grit—defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals—is the best predictor of success.”

7. Praise makes you weak: “Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck has found that 10-year-olds praised for being “smart” became less confident. But kids told that they were “hard workers” became more confident and better performers.”

8. While stress makes you strong: “A 2011 University at Buffalo study found that a moderate amount of stress in childhood promotes resilience.”

What do you think? Is the way back the way forward?

I’ve tried the modern teaching methods of group projects, debate teams, online discussions, and collaborative assignments, and found that they just frustrate gifted students and carry the less gifted. I’m also for more discipline and individual accountability. Some of these eight proposals are well-researched and well-tested.

School of Fear
However, I had teachers who terrified the wits out of me, so much so that I learned nothing from them, apart from how to skip classes. Three of them were male alcoholics, one a female alcoholic, one should probably have been in prison (he threw hammers at pupils across the workshop), and the others are probably incarcerated today. Yes, I went to a public school in Glasgow.

But in addition to these delightful influences on my life, I also had a few teachers who would fit the description of Lipman’s ideal teacher. And again, they scared some of us so much that many of us either “hid” in the class, or never went to class. It was a miserable experience – unless you were a star performer, and I was certainly not in that elite High School group.

Smashed Students
I also wonder about how many pupils did not return for the memorial concert. How many average and below-average kids did Lipman’s teacher smash to smithereens with his psychological and physical warfare? How many were put off education for life? How many still carry the scars of humiliation and demoralization?

I’m reminded of the words of the best ever teacher: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Now that’s the kind of teacher I can learn from.

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Puritan Help for 21st Century Conflict
Michael Johnson ransacks Richard Baxter for 16 directives on handling conflict.

Effective Personal Evangelism
Jeremy Walker starts a helpful and challenging series.

They said it far better than I could
Thabiti reviews some recent articles that demonstrate how Christians are often taking the wrong starting point when arguing against homosexuality.

When Christian Moms Get the Blues
On post-partum depression and the Proverbs 31 wife.

Top 25 Leadership Quotes
From Thom Rainer.

How 6 Faithful but not Famous Pastors Prepare Their Sermons
Always something to learn from posts like this.