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Leveraging the Compound Factor

It is never encouraging when a problem is compounded by other factors.  This typically means an issue has become more difficult to manage.  In other words, when something compounds, it grows in size or significance.  Compounding is always at work creating inertia in various areas of our lives.  Sometimes compounding reaches a point of critical mass where a system maintains or increases momentum without the any additional energy.  By the time the full effects of compounding are seen, you can be sure that momentum has been building over a long period of time.   
In fact, most aspects of life will compound over time.  Sometimes the change is so slow that it is difficult to recognize.  However, it is important to realize that, like gravity, this law is always working in the background.  Constant habits today are creating trade winds that you will be sailing with in the future.  This is even true with small, regular routines.  Compulsively checking social media, weekly calls to a family mem…
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Universe on Edge

Belief in God is not based on blind faith.We are surrounded by the work of God’s creative genius.The artistic splendor and engineering precision of the universe continues to be uncovered by the advance of science.One area where this can be seen is in the exact balance of various forces in nature. Stated simply, the universe appears to be balancing on the blade of a knife.We simply could not exist by mere chance.As scientific instruments become more precise, our awe continues to increase.

The math behind the “fine-tuning” argument for God is easy to understand.Imagine that you are going to eat lunch in a cafeteria.After grabbing a plate, you walk over to a row of food that contains four entrees.When the staff behind the counter asks what you want to eat, you just shrug and tell her to pick for you.All things being equal, you have a ¼ chance of getting your favorite dish.If there are four options for sides and four beverages as well, you would randomly have a ¼ chance of getting your fav…

Things I Don’t Spend Money On

Many people know they should be saving for a rainy day or retirement, but can’t because they have no money left over at the end of the month.  If they only earned a few hundred dollars more each month, they would be able to put some aside.  The sad truth is, most people’s lifestyle is almost exactly equal to (or greater than) their income.  Living below one’s means seems too hard or old fashioned. 
Our family went down to one income years ago when we had our first child.  Since that time, we have made budgeting and stewardship a priority.  Even with a household income well below the median income in the United States, we are able to give, save, and enjoy plenty of great memories together as a family.  One element to this equation is what we don’t spend money on.  Here are a few examples of items that cost us $0 each month. Cable or Satellite TV.  Living without television may sound strange, but it certainly has some benefits.  For most of human history, families figured out how to get b…

Interpretation and Translation

Students often want to know how a specific course will benefit them.  This is especially true for ministerial students who have signed up for Greek or Hebrew.  Learning an ancient language as an adult is not for the faint hearted! 
Even a perfect English rendering of the original language often results in some loss of meaning.  This is because two words almost never have the same semantic range between two languages. To say this another way, words from different languages do not mean precisely the same thing. This can be illustrated by examining the Greek word “logos.”  Many people know it means “word,” but in reality it is also rendered cause (Matthew 5:32), question (Mark 11:29), fame (Luke 5:15), rumor (Luke 7:17), intent (Acts 10:29),  matter (Acts 15:6), mouth (Acts 15:27), preaching (1 Cor. 1:18), doctrine (Hebrews 6:1), and reason (1 Peter 3:15).  Clearly, no one English word is sufficient to cover this entire range of meaning, so several different words are used.
While it is no…

Stay Hungry

One my goals in life is to stay hungry.No, I don’t enjoy missing a meal or not getting enough to eat.I’ve even learned not to miss lunch when I have a lot to do because I’ll normally end up scrounging around for a snack.And if I’m hungry enough, I’ll eat anything.Animal crackers, old leftovers, you name it.The only benefit of being hungry is that it focuses my mind and strengthens my will.

It is important to be hungry for things beyond food. In the area of health, relationships, finances, or professional advancement we all have a tendency to settle too soon. If good enough is below your potential to achieve, it isn’t good enough. Don’t get used to poor health, mediocre relationships, tight finances, or a boring profession if you can do something about it. But most people don’t consciously choose to live below their potential; they simply lose their hunger. Like everyone else, I struggle with the temptation to settle.However, I’ve found that there are some practices that consistently s…

Why I Read to My Kids Daily

Ever since our first child outgrew her crib, my wife and I have spent time every night reading to her before bedtime.  Now our three oldest kids all love this daily ritual.When I add up the time we’ve spent reading to our kids over the past five years, it’s a pretty substantial amount! Why do we do it?Here are several key benefits.
First, it encourages young children to read when they are older.  When children realize that reading is fun, it provides a positive reinforcement that makes it more likely for them to read when they are teenagers and adults.  There is a modeling aspect as well.  When children see their parents read, both to them and for their own benefit, they think of reading as a normal adult behavior.
Secondly, it develops children intellectually.   Many studies have shown that reading to toddlers and children increases their academic performance in a broad range of subjects.  It also develops concentration, thinking, and language skills.  Additionally, by selecting high q…

“Flesh” in Scripture

The Bible has a lot of negative things to say about the flesh.  Paul’s letter to the Galatian church illustrates this powerfully.  After passionately urging these believers to not return to a legalistic approach to God, Paul begins to wind down his letter with a warning about the flesh.  In Galatians 6:8 he contrasts the flesh with the spirit, and warns his readers to not sow to the flesh or they would reap corruption. Here the word flesh clearly refers to man’s sinful nature.
It would be easy for Christians to see the many warnings in scripture about our sinful nature and conclude that anything that appeals to our flesh should be avoided. However, such a worldview, if followed consistently, leads to asceticism.  If anything that appeals to our senses is bad, then I should only wear cheap clothes and never paint my house. And forget about fresh coffee and air conditioned churches; those appeal to my flesh as well! Fortunately, there are several good reasons to avoid such a conclusion.