Lean into stress

Run toward your fears.  That’s some billboard-variety advice I get while driving past the local university.  And as we all know, multicolored roadside signs are the most reliable source of life advice these days.

Lean into it.  That’s how the same basic sentiment was expressed in an article I read recently.  Except this wasn’t written by a nameless, faceless intern.  This was from an expert in the field of stress management who woke up one day struggling mightily to manage his own stress.

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The wise way to eat a marmot

A couple in Mongolia recently ate raw marmot meat, which is apparently a thing in Mongolia.  It is believed to be a health boost by the locals.  (A marmot is a rodent, sort of like a woodchuck or large squirrel.  I prefer them braised or fricasseed, but that’s just me.)  The couple contracted bubonic plague and died — which I think we can all agree is pretty much the opposite of “a health boost.”

The resulting quarantine held up the lives of 118 locals and tourists for six days.  The danger appears to be over now, so our family vacation to Mongolia is back on.  Get back to packing, girls.

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Apology

I have been cranky lately.  The circumstances of my life, although delightful in most ways, are not ideal.  And I have let that affect my attitude — precisely what I criticize others for doing.  I am not sure exactly how bad it has been, but I have enough humility, introspectiveness, and respect for others’ judgment to believe it has been considerably less than what it should be.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, obviously I would encourage you to ignore this paragraph.  If you do know, please accept my apology.

 

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Heaven or hell: You choose

In heaven you will find holiness; in hell you will find wickedness and impurity (Revelation 22:14-15).

       In heaven you will find those who obeyed the gospel; in hell you will find those who did not (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

       In heaven you will find Jesus (John 14:3); in hell you will find the devil and his agents (2 Peter 2:4).

 

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You are what you eat

Perhaps you have heard of “food deserts.”  The term refers to places where people have limited (or less) access to grocery stores and other sources of healthy food.  Now there are “food swamps” — that is, where food is plentiful, just not nourishing.  Food swamps feature lots of gas stations, fast-food joints, and other places that promote obesity and bad eating habits.  No farmer’s markets or kale smoothie shops, though.

Studies differ with regard to whether proximity to grocery stores is actually an indicator of general health.  (They sell Snickers bars at Publix, you know.)  But there’s certainly a case to be made that the food’s quality may be as much a factor as its availability.

“Food” is relative — whether the food is carnal or spiritual.  We can pat ourselves on the back all we want for “going to church” or even “reading the Bible.”  But if we are not nourishing our spirits, what good is any of it?  A preacher who does not “preach the word” (2 Timothy 2:2), substituting human philosophy and personal opinions, may be doing more harm than good.  Reading for five minutes just to say you did it, without an eye for application or contextual understanding, may be feed a sense of “fullness” that is completely misleading.

With that in mind, consider the following spiritual nutrition tips:

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Map

My good friend Brad Sullivan showed me the road to the preacher getaway to which I have made extensive reference recently in this space.  But I needed to leave the event early, so I drove home alone.  And I got lost.  As in, I didn’t know which road to get on, what direction to go, or even where to find a decent WiFi signal so my phone could educate me properly.

I needed a map. 

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Imitation

One of my recent Bible acquisitions claims to have an “imitation leather” cover.  Well, I guess that’s right, as far as it goes.  It’s certainly not real leather.  But honestly, if I had not seen the words on the box, it never would have occurred to me that it might be leather.  It may as well have called itself imitation rubber, or imitation wool, or imitation cardboard.

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Cool

The tagline was, “25 Dumb Things People Think are Cool.”  I was drawn in.  The caption led me to believe it would be a list of things that are inherently dangerous, or that are based on pseudo-science.  Turns out, as a couple of clicks revealed, it was basically a list of things that many people in our culture like but the one making the list does not like.  I really need to spend less time online.

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Steam

As I left the house this morning, I saw a strange thing.  I saw steam rising up from the roof of two houses across the street from me.  Nowhere else.  Now, I remember enough about high school chemistry to know steam is water in gaseous form; it is normal on hot afternoons after a rain for steam to come up from the asphalt as the heat of the surface essentially boils the water that hits it.  But this was morning time — warm, but not unbearably hot.  And it was just the two houses, as far as I could tell.  (I’m virtually certain the houses were not on fire, in case you were wondering.  The thought did cross my mind, though.)

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