Expedition 13: Songs in the Midst of Sadness

Here’s the video to show your kids at the end of Expedition 13 of Exploring the BibleIf you want to bookmark a page where all the videos will eventually appear, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. If you’re in Canada use Reformed Book Services. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

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The Happiest Teens Use Smartphones, Digital Media Less Than An Hour A Day – Study Finds

6 Ways to Survive the Grief of Childlessness

Christ-Centered Friendship

7 Ways Grief Becomes Sinful

The New Discovery of Your Body’s Biggest Organ

Kindle Books

The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms by Gordon Wenham $4.99.

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller $2.99.

Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood by Kimm Crandall $2.99.

The Murder of Jesus by John F. MacArthur $0.99.

The Bathsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders

I was talking with a military leader recently about the growing number of devastating moral failures among prominent Christian leaders. He mentioned to me a training seminar he attended on “The Bathsheba Syndrome” and its application in the military context. I asked him to send me further info and he emailed me the article (online version here) co-authored by Dean Ludwig, Assistant Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Family Business at the University of Toledo, and one of his colleagues, Clinton Longenecker.

The article is not written from a Christian perspective but uses the biblical narrative to describe this syndrome because of people’s familiarity with the story. The main points of the research are:

  • Reports of ethical violations by upper level managers continue to multiply despite increasing attention being given to ethics by firms and business schools.
  • There are many examples of good, respected, successful leaders, men and women of intelligence, talent, and vision who suddenly self-destruct as they reach the apex of their careers.
  • Most cases are usually gross violations, which the leaders know are wrong while in the act of perpetration, but they mistakenly believe they have the power to conceal.
  • Most of these leaders are men and women of generally strong principle who have built careers based more on service than self-gratification.
  • The most common cause is not lack of operational principles or the willingness to abandon principles in the face of competitive pressure.
  • Rather, ethical violations by upper managers are the by-product of success. 
  • Power dements even more than it corrupts, lowering the guard of foresight and raising the haste of action.
  • Research suggests that many managers are poorly prepared to deal with success.

Why is this? The paper offers four explanations based upon the David and Bathsheba narrative.

1. Success often allows managers to become complacent and to lose focus, diverting attention to things other than the management of their organization.

2. Success, whether personal or organizational, often leads to privileged access to information, people or objects.

3. With success usually comes increasingly unrestrained control of organizational resources.

4. Success can inflate a manager’s belief in his or her personal ability to manipulate outcomes.

David’s inflated self-confident belief in his own personal ability to manipulate the outcome of this story is probably representative of the attitude of many of today’s professionally trained managers of business. Trained in attitude and technique to “get things done” and “make things happen,” todays’ business school graduates often possess a dangerously inflated self-confidence.

Even individuals with a highly developed moral sense can be challenged (tempted?) by the “opportunities” resulting from the convergence of these four dynamics.

The authors draw seven lessons from David’s sad experience. The most important are:

1. Leaders are in their positions to focus on doing what is right for their organization’s short-term and long-term success. This can’t happen if they aren’t where they are supposed to be, doing what they are supposed to be doing.

2. Attempts to cover-up unethical practices can have dire organizational consequences including innocent people getting hurt, power being abused, trust being violated, other individuals being corrupted, and the diversion of needed resources.

3. Not getting caught initially can produce self-delusion and increase the likelihood of future unethical behavior.

4. Getting caught can destroy the leader, the organization, innocent people, and everything the leader has spent his/her life working for.

The authors conclude that organizations must re-evaluate and change structures, procedures, and practices which enhance the likelihood of managers falling victim to the Bathsheba Syndrome.

Some of the advice includes:

1. Realize that living a balanced life reduces the likelihood of the negatives of success causing you to lose touch with reality. Family, relationships, and interests other than work must all be cultivated for long-term success to be meaningful.

2. Build an ethical team of managers around you who will inspire you to lead by example and who will challenge or confront you when you need either.

3. At the board level, directors should have a concern for the leader’s personal/psychological balance. This can include forced vacations, outside activities, and periodic visits to counselors to help the leader keep both feet planted on the ground.

Needless to say, the lessons for CEO’s, boards, and businesses can easily be transferred to pastors, elders, and churches.

May God keep our leaders! May God keep us all!!

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Depression Increases Risk of Common Arrhythmia
Depression affects an estimated 16 million Americans, and the mental health issue has been linked to an increasing number of physical ailments in recent years. The new study, conducted by the American Heart Association, revealed that those who were on antidepressants or scored in the highest category for depression symptoms were 30 percent more at risk for atrial fibrillation. Exactly how depression affects heart health remains unclear, researchers said, but several possibilities have been suggested.

“Depression can induce a variety of changes in the body [by] increasing the levels of inflammation in the body, activating the autonomic nervous system which increases the catecholamine levels in our body, activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which increases the cortisol levels in our body, and activating the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system,” Garg told MD Magazine.

See also How Does Depression Affect the Heart for further evidence that treating depression is not something to be delayed, but rather should be addressed with urgency.

9 Bible Verses for Depression to Shine Light into Darkness
It’s not the only answer, but it’s usually part of it.

Food to feed your MIND: 7 diet tweaks that help fight depression and anxiety
“According to the Mental Health Foundation, those who reported a mental health problem of any degree also reported a less healthy diet, in terms of fresh fruit and vegetables and cooking from scratch but included more unhealthy foods such as crisps, chocolate, ready meals and takeaways.

A systematic review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high intakes of fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of depression.

It’s no coincidence that the rise in mental health problems in the last 50 years also accompanies a rise in the consumption of processed foods and less fresh fruits and vegetables.”

James Packer: Resignation puts focus on ‘high-flier’ mental health
Australian billionaire James Packer has received much public praise since quitting his gaming empire due to mental health reasons. His resignation has also prompted discussion about mental health at the top of business. In connection with that, here’s lots of good advice from the Harvard Business Review on When You Need to Take Time off Work for Mental Health Reasons

Just because you don’t know of anyone else at your company who has taken time off for mental health reasons doesn’t mean there isn’t precedent. Diagnosable mental health conditions impact one in five Americans in any given yearTreatment for the most common conditions (namely depression) is effective 80% of the time, but fewer than half of the people who need help get it, often because of social stigma, the fear of repercussions at work, or lack of access to quality, affordable care.

New Book

How to Break up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. The first half of the book delves into how phones and apps are designed to be addictive and the research regarding how the time we spend on them damages our abilities to focus, think deeply, and form new memories. The second half of the book then follows with the antidote – a 30-day guide to making customized changes to your settings, apps, environment, and mindset that will enable you to take back control of your life.

Kindle Books

Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Foreword by John Piper): Three Classic Works by John Owen $2.99.

The Mark of the Christian (IVP Classics) by Francis A. Schaeffer $2.99.

A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering by Michael Horton $2.99.

Quote of the Day

I admire Jordan Peterson’s courage, I’m grateful for his stand against political correctness, and I’m deeply moved by his genuine and practical compassion for young men. But, in my humble opinion, his best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is largely gobbledegook. I’ve rarely seen so many words, and so much complexity, used to communicate such simple common sense ideas. There are gems here and there, but you have to dig long and hard to get to them underneath the amalgam of weird Scripture interpretation, evolutionary science, and psychological mumbo-jumbo. For example, one early paragraph on sleep resonated with my own experience of counseling people with depression:

I always ask my clinical clients first about sleep. Do they wake up in the morning at approximately the time the typical person wakes up, and at the same time every day? If the answer is no, fixing that is the first thing I recommend. It doesn’t matter so much if they go to bed at the same time each evening [I disagree with that. DPM], but waking up at a consistent hour is a necessity. Anxiety and depression cannot be easily treated if the sufferer had unpredictable daily routines. The systems that mediate negative emotions are tightly tied to the properly cyclical circadian rhythms.

I couldn’t agree more. Sleep is about the first area I ask about (it’s usually a mess), and fixing that and establishing a regular daily rhythm can pay quick and big dividends.

The Gospel from Womb to Tomb

Every age and stage of life has its own special trials and temptations. The young are called to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). The middle-aged are warned about the choking cares of this life (Mark 4:19).

Even seniors have their own age-specific temptations.

In Psalm 71, we find just such a senior who is cast down by life’s events: increasing outward and inward troubles (vv. 4, 10–11, 13) together with failing strength (v. 9). And yet he turns again and again to God.

This spiritual dynamic is encapsulated in verse 20, where the psalmist writes, “You have shown me great and sore troubles, but you shall quicken me again, and shall bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”

Let’s look at some of the great and sore troubles of old age, and how the Lord strengthens His elderly people.

Read the rest of this article at Tabletalk. It explains how the Gospel helps seniors face the challenges of loneliness, regret, bitterness, pain, and fear.

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It’s Time to Reckon with Celebrity Power
“It was not a great week. In three separate cases in my immediate circles, a person with significant power at the top of an organization, each one a subject of flattering major media exposure during their career, was confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct and related misdeeds. ”

Thoughts On The Rise And Fall Of Pastors
On a similar topic: “In the past year, five of my friends who are pastors have lost their ministries because of moral failure. Five. Most of them were widely known beyond their local contexts as authors, conference speakers, movement leaders and such. From the outside, they appeared to be at their peak.”

Why We Shouldn’t Forsake the ‘Forgotten American in Turkey’
“A pastor and North Carolina native is being held in Turkey on unsubstantiated charges of terrorism-related activity. Here’s why Christians shouldn’t forget this “forgotten American in Turkey.”"

Teens and Disappointment
“The teens I counsel come with a variety of stories and struggles. They are unique, and each case requires delicate, individualized care. There is no cookie-cutter approach to helping our youth, but there is an overarching truth that can be emphasized throughout your sessions with a teen: God will never disappoint. His love is a love that will never disappoint, and no amount of suffering can ever undo what God has done for us in Christ.”

How to Break up With Your Phone
“Catherine Price is an author and science journalist that has spent the last two years trying to find the solution for her troubling relationship with her phone. In her latest book, How to Break Up With Your Phone, Price unveils an abundance of tools and techniques that can be used to take back your time and attention from the grips of your smartphone. The book is a practical guide that is split into two parts – the first part focuses on the science behind addicting tech and the impact of smartphones on our attention, ability to focus, health, and relationships. The second half then gives you a 30-day guide filled with research-backed strategies to help you form an intentional relationship with your phone that’s healthy, feels good, and lasts.”

Stem cell transplant ‘game changer’ for MS patients
What an answer to prayer! I know a young man with MS who has successfully undergone this transplant in Chicago. It’s truly amazing what God has enabled scientists and doctors to discover and do.

Kindle Books

Why We Pray by William Philip $4.99.

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch $1.59. A must-read (and a must-do) for every family.

A Quick Introduction to the New Testament  by D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo $0.99.