How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health – M.Grothaus

How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

Summer readingThis interesting and enlightening article by Michael Grothaus at “Fast Company” should be another encouragement to you to be a regular reader. Who doesn’t want to be healthy in body and soul these days? Who doesn’t need to gain perspective on one’s self, on life, and on the world in which we live and work?

As Christians especially, who know the real value of the soul and body, and who are always learning to see the world through the lens of Scripture under the Lordship of Christ, we want to be wide and deep readers. Even though this article is not written from a Christian perspective, it is beneficial to read and learn from.

The full article (worth your time) is linked above; here are a few excerpts:

Reading doesn’t just improve your knowledge, it can help fight depression, make you more confident, empathetic, and a better decision maker.

My favorite book is War and Peace.

And I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, another writer wanting people to think he’s all intellectual and highbrow.”

But it really is my favorite book, only not because it has 1,500 pages of unforgettable characters or a generational plot that is more compelling than that of any other book I’ve read. It’s because right before I started reading it, my life was in a rut. I had recently been passed over for a promotion at Apple and I had just been rejected by a graduate school I applied to. This double whammy left me doubting myself, my abilities, and my future. So when I came across the massive tome that is War and Peace, I thought, “Why not? I’m not doing anything else.”

And after reading through that tome, Grothaus discovered that he had regained some perspective and self-confidence:

Two months later, I finished the book and immediately knew I had a new “favorite.” But it wasn’t my new favorite book just because it was so compelling. It was my new favorite because it changed something in me. It’s almost impossible to explain why, but after reading it I felt more confident in myself, less uncertain about my future.

But according to Dr. Josie Billington, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool, my experience wasn’t so odd. It’s actually the norm for people who read a lot—and one of the main benefits of reading that most people don’t know about.

“Reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding,” says Billington. This renewed understanding gives readers a greater ability to cope with difficult situations by expanding their “repertoires and sense of possible avenues of action or attitude.”

Further on in the article Grothous quotes other sources that prove the benefits of reading:

“Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia,” says Wilkinson. “Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers. Large scale studies in the U.S. show that being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.

Wilkinson also notes that people who read books regularly “are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.” A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76% of them said that reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.

At the end of the article are some practical tips to improve your reading habits; be sure to get to those too!

“The Psalter” by Martin Luther

The 3 R's Blog:

This post is a marvelous quote from the great Reformer Martin Luther on the nature, purpose, and value of the book of Psalms, the OT Psalter. Every paragraph contains a nugget of gospel truth. Thanks for sharing this with us, Nick. I pass it on so that others may benefit too.

Originally posted on Tolle Lege:

“The Psalter ought to be a precious and beloved book, if for no other reason than this: it promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly—and pictures His kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom—that it might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible.

In fact, I have a notion that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble Himself to compile a short Bible and book of examples of all Christendom or all saints, so that anyone who could not read the whole Bible would here have anyway almost an entire summary of it, comprised in one little book…

A human heart is like a ship on a wild sea, driven by the storm winds from the four corners of the world. Here it is stuck with fear and worry about impending disaster; there…

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Published in: on August 3, 2015 at 10:08 PM  Leave a Comment  

August “Tabletalk “: What Is Christian Persecution? Tom Ascol

What Is Christian Persecution? by Tom Ascol | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August-2015This past weekend I began digging into the new issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries devotional magazine. While the daily devotions continue to take one through the wisdom literature of the Bible, focusing on the theme of worship, the featured articles are on the theme of persecution.

Editor Burk Parsons introduces this subject with his editorial “Blessed are the Persecuted.” After pointing out that here in America opposition to Christians and the Christian faith is on a rapid rise, he encourages us with these words:

As Christians of conviction, we will continue to fight for our constitutional freedoms. Yet, in the final analysis, we must always remember that ultimately we fight not against men but against the spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). Ultimately, we fight on our knees, praying for all who are in authority over us (1 Tim. 2:2). We are citizens of our nations, and we are citizens of Christ’s kingdom. As such, we can pray for national leaders even when we must vote against them. We pray for the persecuted and for our persecutors. We love our enemies while praying for their defeat—their coming to the end of themselves in repentance and faith (Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 4:12–13).

In the face of persecution, we must not lose hope. We must not fear our enemies but fear the Lord as we stand our ground in the battle ahead. Jesus told us we would be persecuted, but He also told us He has overcome the world (Matt. 5:10–12; John 16:33). Regardless of whether we ever die as martyrs for our faith, we are all witnesses of Christ. Though they may imprison us, shun us, despise us, or kill us, they can never really hurt us. For we conquer by dying—humbly dying to self that we may, under any persecution our Lord sovereignly allows, boldly proclaim Christ and Him crucified. And when we are persecuted for Christ’s sake, not for being obnoxious, we can count ourselves blessed. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Christians are not so much in danger when they are persecuted as when they are admired.”

The first main article on persecution is by Dr. Tom Ascol and has the titled found above – “What Is Christian Persecution?” Here are a few of his profitable thoughts on this topic:

So, Christian persecution can include a wide variety of responses to believers—from scorn, hatred, and ridicule to physical violence, imprisonment, and death. But for such opposition, no matter how mild or severe, to be regarded as persecution in the biblical sense, it must be provoked by the believer’s devotion to Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

This helps make sense of Paul’s statement that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12) and Jesus’ promise that His followers will face persecution “for my sake and for the gospel” (Mark 10:29–30). Every Christian should expect to experience persecution, not all in the same way, but all for the same reason—because of uncompromising devotion to Jesus.

Our Lord experienced opposition. Hatred against Him led to His crucifixion. Those who follow Him must realize that by identifying with Jesus, we are inviting into our lives the very opposition that came against Him. He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

Followers of a persecuted master will themselves be persecuted. When we intentionally live according to the way of Christ, we can count on meeting opposition from those who hate Christ. Whether that opposition comes in severe forms of physical violence, imprisonment, and loss of life or in comparatively benign forms of a low grade on a school paper, loss of position on a sports team, or being mocked by family and friends, if it is provoked by submission to Christ and obedience to His commands, it is Christian persecution.

For the full article, use the Ligonier link above.

Prayers of the Reformers – M.Coverdale

prayersofreformers-manschreckThe following two prayers I recently discovered while browsing further through the wonderful collection of prayers titled, Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958.

These two are from the section headed “Prayers of Petition and Supplication” (pp.50ff.), and are both attributed to Miles Coverdale (1488-1569), whom we know as one of the early translators of the Bible into English. I found both of these fitting with my earlier post on the blessedness of our communion with Christ.

This saving union with our Lord is not and never must become static from our side, but must be experienced and developed daily, as these prayers assume and express. May they be ours in this coming week, as we seek to grow in closer, intimate fellowship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

For increase of knowledge and truth

O gracious Father, grant unto us, which through thy Son have known thy name, that in such knowledge and light of the truth we may increase more and more; that the love wherewith thou lovest thy dear Son may be and remain in us; and that thy only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, our head, may in us his members continue still to work, live, and bring forth fruit acceptable unto thee. Amen (p.50).

Draw thou our hearts

O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee; join them together in inseparable love, that we may abide in thee, and thou in us, and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure forever. O wound our hearts with the fiery darts of thy piercing love. Let them pierce through all our slothful members and inward powers, that we, being happily wounded, may so become whole and sound. Let us have no lover but thyself alone; let us seek no joy nor comfort except in thee. Amen (p.55).

Communion with God the Son – J.Owen/S.Ferguson

Trinitarian-Devotion-Ferguson-2014Thus, Owen’s great burden and emphasis in helping us to understand what it means to be a Christian is to say: Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly Father gives you to Jesus and gives Jesus to you. You have Him. Everything you can ever lack is found in Him; all you will ever need is given to you in Him. ‘From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.’ For the Father has ‘blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.’ It is as true for the newest, weakest Christian as for the most mature believer; from the first moment of faith, we are fully, finally, irreversibly justified in Christ.

In this way, like Calvin before him, at a stroke Owen transforms our understanding of the nature of grace and salvation. To explore fellowship with Christ, then, means that we need to explore both ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’ with whom we have fellowship, and how it is that we have ‘fellowship’ with Him in His grace.

…Since all the fullness of God dwells in Him, and He received the Spirit without measure, His bearing the judgment of God on the cross could not exhaust and destroy Him. Because He is so perfectly suited to our needs, therefore, Christ endears Himself to believers. He is just what we need and He is all that we need:

[Here Ferguson quotes Owen]

There is no man that hath any want in reference unto the things of God, but Christ will be unto him that which he wants.

I speak of those who are given him of his Father. Is he dead? Christ is life. Is he weak? Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Hath he the sense of guilt upon him? Christ is complete righteousness.

He hath a fitness to save, having pity and ability, tenderness and power, to carry on that work to the uttermost; and a fulness to save, of redemption and sanctification, or righteousness and the Spirit; and a suitableness to the wants of all our souls.

And so Ferguson concludes:

From beginning to end, therefore, communion with Christ is all about Christ. When He fills the horizon of our vision, we find ourselves drawn to Him, embraced by Him, and beginning to enjoy Him.

Taken from chapter four “Communion with the Son”, in the new book by Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen, published by Reformation Trust, 2014 (pp.64-67).

The 40 Fiats of Chairman Boz – T.Boswell

wrigleyfieldWhat would you do if you were appointed the commissioner of baseball for a year?

“Chairman Boz” – aka Thomas Boswell, sports columnist for the Washington Post and author of The Heart of the Order – tells us in a section of his book titled “The 40 Fiats of Chairman Boz.”

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. The home plate umpire shall have a button. If a batter takes more than thirty seconds to adjust his uniform, tighten his batting glove, wiggle his toe, call for time and otherwise delay the game, the ump shall push the button. The button will open  a trapdoor to a pit, full of reptiles, under the batter’s box. This shall be known as the Rickey Henderson Hole, in honor of the potential Hall of Famer whose career was tragically cut short. Carlton Fisk and Cliff Johnson: consider yourselves warned. The trapdoor will also work for home run trots, but with bigger reptiles. Jeffrey Leonard gets a free trial (pp.38-39).

8. Only nicknames shall be allowed on the back of uniforms hereafter. Instead of Jim Dwyer: Pigpen. Floyd Rayford; Sugar Bear. Give us Chicken Man and Oil Can. Who knows ‘Davis’? But Chili, Storm and Eric the Red are easy. This would have been especially helpful in the old days. We could have known the difference between ‘Puddin Head’ and ‘Available’ Jones or ‘the People’s Cherce” and ‘Mysterious’ Walker. Pittsburgh’s low-budget GM Sid Thrift’s name shall legally be changed to Sid Cheap (p.40).

And, in honor of the Chicago Cubs, this one – to which I strongly object!:

18. Let there be lights for Wrigley Field, for crying out loud – and not just for eight games a year. What’s all the fuss? Be honest. Who doesn’t like night games better than day games [Not I?!]? Man, it gets hot in July. If you can get a weekday afternoon free, go swimming, play golf or have a stroke in your garden. Don’t sweat your brains out in the bleachers. …Sensible teams long ago went to Saturday night games because people prefer them. Baseball is night baseball and has been for decades. Let those who refuse to learn from the Chicago Cubs be condemned to repeat them.

The only people who really want day ball in Wrigley Field are sportswriters (great deadlines – the Chicago scribes get home for dinner and the visiting laureates have more time on Rush Street).

All weekday World Series games shall be at night. All weekend World Series games shall be in the day [Now we’re getting sensible!]. It’s cold in October. Play a couple in sunshine, but don’t get carried away (p.42).

And that’s the “Friday Fun” for July 31, 2015! Have any fiats of your own, future baseball commissioners?

Western Michigan and the Dutch Immigrants – H.Brinks

write-back-soon-hbrinks-1986From chapter two of Herbert J. Brinks’ book Write Back Soon: Letters from Immigrants in America (CRC Publications, 1986), about the Dutch immigrants who settled in West Michigan:

By the 1870s Dutch communities in Michigan, Chicago,and Wisconsin boasted ethnic churches and schools supported by a constituency of artisans and farmers. Arriving in these neighborhoods between 1870 and 1920, new immigrants found their own people, language, and institutions. By the mid-twentieth century, when urban blight spoiled the attractions of city life, many urban Dutch-Americans joined their country cousins who had established agricultural communities on the metropolitan fringes. These new suburbanites were again able to enjoy familiar social patterns, including the churches, schools, and general mores they had previously supported in their urban neighborhoods.

This conveniently pleasant arrangement of urban-rural mobility occurred first in western Michigan. Albertus C.. Van Raalte, who founded his colony on the shores of Lake Michigan, had neither planned nor encouraged this arrangement. But economic necessity forced his followers to send their children off among the Americans as hired hands, housemaids, and factory workers. They scattered in all directions; Allegan, Grand Haven, and Grand Rapids. Among these, Grand Rapids offered the best opportunities for employment. In addition, a pious Zeelander named H. Van Driel had already organized a Dutch-language worship service there in 1848. Thus, only one year after Van Raalte’s people occupied the wooded shore of Black Lake, Van Driel was reading Dutch sermons to an audience which included over one hundred young women who were providing domestic service among the American families of Grand Rapids. By 1851, it is estimated that a total of four hundred Hollanders were living in Grand Rapids.

“Michigan: A Model for Ethnic Solidarity” (pp.25-26)

Rare Look Inside The Famous Iron Mountain – KDKA-TV

▶ Rare Look Inside The Famous Iron Mountain KDKA-TV – YouTube.

Have you ever heard about the amazing archives that are stored in some massive mines north of Pittsburgh? I have heard of this place before but forgot all about it until this link was posted at Challies.com this week. I saved it for one of our Thursday archives features today.

I think you will be astounded by the things stored away in the depths of these mountains. When you are ready for the tour, visit the video below. You will need about 6 minutes.

Hidden away in the hills of rural Butler Pennsylvania, Iron Mountain houses some of America’s most amazing, priceless treasures. KDKA’s John Shumway got a rare look inside this incredible archive.

Published in: on July 30, 2015 at 6:52 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Book Alert! “150 Questions about the Psalter” – Bradley Johnston

150-Questions-Psalter-Johnston-2014As book review editor for The Standard Bearer, we recently received a complimentary copy of a new publication from Crown & Covenant Publications titled 150 Questions about the Psalter: What You Need to Know about the Songs God Wrote (2014, 112 pgs., $9.00). The author is Bradley Johnston, a pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, an exclusive Psalm-singing denomination.

The publisher provides this brief summary of the book on its website:

Who wrote the psalms, and why? Can we find Jesus in the Psalter? How do these ancient songs matter today?

In the style of a catechism, this books draws you into the majestic, meditative depths of the inspired songs of God. Divided into seven short sections, 150 questions and answers address the content and arrangement of the Psalter, Psalm genres and groupings, the historical context of the author, the Psalms relationship to the rest of Scripture and the life of Christ, and their use in private and public worship.

With appendixes that feature worksheets and charts, quotations from theologians and church fathers, this resource helps individuals, families, and churches understand and embrace the psalter for themselves.

This is a fine little book on the OT Psalter of the church, with the 150 questions and their answers giving Christians and the church today ample reason to sing the Psalms yet today, whether exclusively or predominantly. Think of it as a “catechism on the Psalms.” In addition, there are seven appendixes that treat special topics relating to the Psalms, such as “The Psalter in the New Testament”, “Martin Luther’s Favorite Psalms”, and “Arranging the Psalter in Your Head.” Charts and lists in this section add to the profit of the material covered.

As an example of the type of questions asked and answered, we quote two of them here:

8 How is the Psalter helpful to Christian saints?

There is no one book of Scripture that has been more helpful to Christian saints in all the ages of the church than the Psalter, ever since it was written. When we sing the Psalms we join our voices with true worshipers among the nations and throughout history who lift their souls to the Lord in faith (Psalm 25:1).

9 Why should Christians sing the Psalter?

Christians should sing the Psalter because the new covenant is like a marriage bond between God and his people, bringing joy and delight. But the main reason we ought to sing Psalms is because this practice is commanded by God through the apostles (p.4).

▶ The Frequency of English Words: Bubbled (Part 1)

▶ The Frequency of English Words: Bubbled (Part 1) – YouTube.

This is an interesting video using the latest technology to show how frequently certain words are used in the English language. We feature it today for our “Word Wednesday” post.

 

Published in: on July 29, 2015 at 7:01 AM  Leave a Comment  
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