9 Months in 4 Minutes

This animated video from conception to birth takes your breath away.

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.1
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16-19

Mom’s womb: the most dangerous place in the world for a child conceived in America since 1973 — approximately 57 million abortions since Roe v Wade.  It just shouldn’t be!

intrauterine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jlPdMKPyZY

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Unbroken: Did Angelina Jolie Grant Louis Zamperini His Wish?

zamp jolie

In Louis Zamperini’s updated autobiography of 2003, he expressed a deep desire that his conversion experience be a significant part of any movie made about his life.  The Lord had saved him out a life of post-war recurring nightmares and hateful resentment through a Billy Graham evangelistic crusade in 1949.

On page 272 and 273 of his updated autobiography, Zamperini wrote:

After the (first) publication of my book (autobiography, Devil at My Heels) I got a call from Universal Pictures, telling me that Tony Curtis wanted to play me and had asked them to buy the book.  I was about to sell my house and I needed some cash to purchase a new one in the hills, so I agreed.  Universal drew up a contract, but when I read it I said it wasn’t good enough.

“That’s a standard Hollywood contract,” they said.  “It’s all we can give you.”

I knew they could give me whatever I wanted, and they probably thought I wanted more money.  I didn’t.  “I need money to buy a new house,” I explained, “But that’s not the problem.  Money is not as important as a guarantee not to minimize my conversion or its influence on my life.  I have to have some protection for my faith.”  

I told him that they’d made a picture called Battle Hymn in which Rock Hudson played Colonel Dean Hess.  A World War II flying ace, the real Hess came home and joined the ministry; then they drafted him back into the Korean War and nobody knew he was a minister.  I knew Hess, and he had told me, “If they ever make a movie of your life, get a separate contract to protect your faith.  I have to live with my movie for the rest of my life, and believe me, it’s not pleasant.  Don’t let them do it to you.”

I didn’t want much, just a moment to show Christ as in Isaiah 9:6, as both God and Savior.  The producer wrote a couple drafts of the contract, but Cynthia and I turned them both down until he came up with something we liked.  ThenI made the deal and a script was commissioned.  Tony Curtis went to Europe to make Spartacus, then to South America for another film.  When he got back the script was ready, but I didn’t like it and neither did universal, so they put it on the back burner.

You can hear a 56 minute lecture on The Life of Louis Zamperini based on Devil at My Heels, here:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=871123373410

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The Strange 1914 Christmas Truce of WW1

sainsburys-christmas-advert-first-world-war-534812

Exactly 100 years ago today, this Christmas Thursday, there broke out during WW1 a strange peace between German and Allied forces who’d been engaged in bitter trench warfare against each other. Letter written accounts are rampant among rank and file soldiers. In one area, a soldier writes of hearing from across No Man’s Land: “Germans singing Silent Night.” The British began volleying back their English version of the same hymn. This drip of kindness burst into a flood of warm back slapping fellowship in No Man’s Land. A Sainsbury 4 minute video commemorating this event went viral over the web this fall. You may have seen it.

In Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Robert Sapolsky penned an article entitled “The Spirit of the 1914 Christmas Truce”.  Here’s how it began:

On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with ‘A Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. . .  Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our 2 men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench. . . 

So wrote a British soldier named Frank Richards, referring to the first Christmas of World War I, one hundred years ago this Thursday. Up and down the four hundred-odd miles of trenches on the Western Front, men risked their lives with similar acts, meeting opposing soldiers in “no man’s land.” Wary and unarmed, they made their way out of their trenches, taking steps that, a day earlier, would have guaranteed their death at the hands of sharpshooters and machine gunners a hundred yards away. The relaxation of hostilities spread, and what has come to be called the “Christmas truce” took hold. Soon, soldiers were holding joint burial services for the dead. They began trading goods. British soldiers had been given holiday tins of plum pudding from the king; German soldiers had received pipes with a picture of the crown prince on them; and before long the men were bartering these holiday gee-gaws that celebrated the enemy’s royals. Eventually, soldiers prayed and caroled together, shared dinner, exchanged gifts. Most famously, there were soccer matches at various locations, played with improvised balls. The truce mostly held through Christmas and, in some cases, even to the New Year. It took senior officers’ threats for fighting to resume, and such comprehensive battlefront peacemaking never happened again during the Great War.

Sapolsky then pens thousands of more words psychoanalyzing the soldiers to explain such strange behavior. Suggestions of post traumatic stress, resentment to superiors, and live & let live apathy were offered. But the most obvious explanation is given only by Lindy Reed Shukla as a stray line in the PS comments section:

Lindy Reed Shukla: “Once again, an intellectual fails to realize the most obvious fact, because it is not scientific:  Both sides were predominantly Christian, and they considered themselves brothers under God. That’s what drew them together, during the time of celebration for the birth of Jesus. Simple as that, and as loving.”

Isaiah 9:6: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will 1rest don His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Here’s a sermon preached on this entire theme:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1221141949482

Here’s the link to Sapolsky’s entire article:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-spirit-of-the-1914-christmas-truce-1419006906

Here’s the link to that Sainsbury 4 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWF2JBb1bvM

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Christmas Gatherings With Difficult People

familytension

Christmas celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ the “Prince of Peace” who brings “peace on earth.”  Really?  Even peace to our extended families where longstanding grudges can be nursed and offenses harbored for decades?  Sadly, Christmas gatherings typically bring many into rooms filled with old relationship hurts and grievances.  How could we ever enjoy peace even in such places?

John Piper tells how the Prince of Peace can bring peace even there:

Peace with Others

The third relationship where God wants us to enjoy his peace is in our relationships with other people. This is the one we have least control over. So we need to say it carefully the way Paul does in Romans 12:18. He says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

For many of you when you get together with family for Christmas, there will be some awkward and painful relationships. Some of the pain is very old. And some of it is new. In some relationships you know what you have to do, no matter how hard it is. And in some of them you are baffled and don’t know what the path of peace calls for.

In both cases the key is trusting the promises of God with heartfelt awareness of how he forgave you through Christ. I think the text that puts this together most powerfully for me again and again is Ephesians 4:31–32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Continually cultivate a sense of amazement that in spite of all your sins God has forgiven you through Christ. Be amazed that you have peace with God. It’s this sense of amazement, that I, a sinner, have peace with God, that makes the heart tender, kind and forgiving. Extend this to others seventy times seven.

Don’t let your dominant amazement be:  “How could I be so wronged?  They shouldn’t have said what they said, or brought it up again!”

Of course they shouldn’t have. What good is that? A feeling of vindication, of justification, while everything falls apart?!  But Ephesians 4:31-32 doesn’t say that.  

How do you feel tender when you’ve been pounded?  I know only one possible answer — be amazed that you’re forgiven!  Just amazed!  Just amazed!  Self Righteousness is simply the non-amazement at being forgiven.  God’s son was sent and not spared from piercing and beard pulling and pain and shame from his enemies.  Be amazed!  It’s that amazement that enables you not to be embittered 40 years after the grievance.  I know relationships.  I’m walking into relationships where grievances are 40 years old and they won’t let them go. How does that come about?  They’re not amazed!  I’ve sat and talked with Noelle about relationships out there.  They’re not amazed that they’re forgiven!

It may be thrown back in your face. It certainly was thrown back in Jesus’ face on the cross. That hurts and it can make you bitter if you are not careful. Don’t let it. Keep being more amazed that your wrongs are forgiven than that you are wronged. Be amazed that you have peace with God. You have peace with your soul. Your guilt is taken away.

Keep trusting God. He knows what he is doing. Keep his glory, not your success or your effectiveness in peacemaking or your relationships, supreme in the treasure chest of your heart.

And then you will be like the angels: Glory to God in the highest is the first thing. Peace among his people is the second thing.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This is why he came — on a day, to a city, as the Savior, Messiah, and Sovereign. That God would get glory, and that you would know peace. May the God of peace give you peace, and get his glory.

You can read and watch Piper’s entire sermon here.  This third point starts at about 39:30.

http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/a-savior-is-born-glory-to-god-peace-to-man

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Christian Origins to Christmas on December 25

xmas

Touchstone Magazine published an article by William J. Tighe entitled: “Calculating Christmas — The Story Behind December 25”.  He writes:

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

The idea that the date was taken from the pagans goes back to two scholars from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Paul Ernst Jablonski, a German Protestant, wished to show that the celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th was one of the many “paganizations” of Christianity that the Church of the fourth century embraced, as one of many “degenerations” that transformed pure apostolic Christianity into Catholicism. Dom Jean Hardouin, a Benedictine monk, tried to show that the Catholic Church adopted pagan festivals for Christian purposes without paganizing the gospel.

In the Julian calendar, created in 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar, the winter solstice fell on December 25th, and it therefore seemed obvious to Jablonski and Hardouin that the day must have had a pagan significance before it had a Christian one. But in fact, the date had no religious significance in the Roman pagan festal calendar before Aurelian’s time, nor did the cult of the sun play a prominent role in Rome before him. . . .

As things actually happened, Aurelian, who ruled from 270 until his assassination in 275, was hostile to Christianity and appears to have promoted the establishment of the festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” as a device to unify the various pagan cults of the Roman Empire around a commemoration of the annual “rebirth” of the sun. . . .

A By-Product

The evidence indicates, in fact, that the attribution of the date of December 25th was a by-product of attempts to determine when to celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection. . . .

Second-century Latin (Western) Christians in Rome and North Africa appear to have desired to establish the historical date on which the Lord Jesus died. By the time of Tertullian they had concluded that he died on Friday, 25 March 29. . . .

Integral Age

At this point, we have to introduce a belief that seems to have been widespread in Judaism at the time of Christ, but which, as it is nowhere taught in the Bible, has completely fallen from the awareness of Christians. The idea is that of the “integral age” of the great Jewish prophets: the idea that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception.

This notion is a key factor in understanding how some early Christians came to believe that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. The early Christians applied this idea to Jesus, so that March 25th (in the Western church) and April 6th (in the Eastern church) were not only the supposed dates of Christ’s death, but of his conception or birth as well. There is some fleeting evidence that at least some first- and second-century Christians thought of March 25th or April 6th as the date of Christ’s birth, but rather quickly the assignment of March 25th as the date of Christ’s conception prevailed.

It is to this day, commemorated almost universally among Christians as the Feast of the Annunciation (still commonly March 25), when the Archangel Gabriel brought the good tidings of a savior to the Virgin Mary, upon whose acquiescence the Eternal Word of God (“Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten of the Father before all ages”) forthwith became incarnate in her womb. What is the length of pregnancy? Nine months. Add nine months to March 25th and you get December 25th; add it to April 6th and you get January 6th. December 25th is Christmas, and January 6th is Epiphany.

Christmas (December 25th) is a feast of Western Christian origin. In Constantinople it appears to have been introduced in 379 or 380. From a sermon of St. John Chrysostom, at the time a renowned ascetic and preacher in his native Antioch, it appears that the feast was first celebrated there on 25 December 386. From these centers it spread throughout the Christian East, being adopted in Alexandria around 432 and in Jerusalem a century or more later. The Armenians, alone among ancient Christian churches, have never adopted it, and to this day celebrate Christ’s birth, manifestation to the magi, and baptism on January 6th.

Western churches, in turn, gradually adopted the January 6th Epiphany feast from the East, Rome doing so sometime between 366 and 394. But in the West, the feast was generally presented as the commemoration of the visit of the magi to the infant Christ, and as such, it was an important feast, but not one of the most important ones—a striking contrast to its position in the East, where it remains the second most important festival of the church year, second only to Pascha (Easter). . . .

A Christian Feast

Thus, December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

And the pagan feast which the Emperor Aurelian instituted on that date in the year 274 was not only an effort to use the winter solstice to make a political statement, but also almost certainly an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Christians. The Christians, in turn, could at a later date re-appropriate the pagan “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” to refer, on the occasion of the birth of Christ, to the rising of the “Sun of Salvation” or the “Sun of Justice.”

You can read Tighe’s entire article here:

http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v#ixzz3M76xfDH8

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Whom Shall I Fear? The God of Angel Armies is On My Side!

elisha dothan

Dianne shared this song with me this morning right while I was studying Hebrews 13:5-6:
“He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU, so that we confidently say,
THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID.
WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?

I love it!

david wesley

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=belPmfNDuko&list=PLGhpE2IdAcwqxWceJY7TOCr1orFSSCdDY&index=6

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Is Christmas Day Rooted in Paganism?

Charlie_Brown_Xmas_tree

MAYBE NOT!  According to Nathan Busenitz:

It’s not uncommon to hear that the celebration of Christmas is rooted in ancient Roman paganism. That claim generally goes something like this: the ancient Romans celebrated a pagan festival on December 25th, but when the Roman Empire was Christianized in the 300s, the church simply turned the pagan festival into a Christian holiday.

It is true that there was a pagan Roman holiday called the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun” that marked the winter solstice. And in the old Julian calendar, the winter solstice occurred on December 25. The cult of “Sol Invictus” (“the Unconquered Sun,” a.k.a. the sun god) became an official Roman cult in 274 under the reign of Emperor Aurelian. And the Roman empire was Christianized about fifty years later under Constantine.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see how some could assume that the post-Constantine Romans simply adopted the pagan holiday and Christianized it.

But there’s actually good evidence to suggest that the date of December 25 does not have pagan origins. That’s because, long before Aurelian made December 25 an official pagan holiday, there were Christians in the early church who taught that Jesus was born on December 25th.

In fact, in the early church, there were two primary dates suggested as the dates on which Jesus was born in Bethlehem. One was December 25 and the other was January 6.

Around the year 192, Clement of Alexandria suggested that Jesus was born on January 6. An early Christian tradition suggested that Christ’s baptism took place on January 6. Then, because Luke says that Jesus was “about 30 years old” when He was baptized, some early Christians (like Clement) assumed that His birthday was the same day as His baptism.

A contemporary of Clement named Hippolytus of Rome, writing in the early 200s, suggested that Jesus was born on December 25. Hippolytus was convinced that the first day of creation was March 25 (corresponding to the first day of Spring in the Julian calendar). From there, he speculated that March 25 was also the day on which Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. . . .  If you add 9 months to March 25, you end up at December 25.

So we have these two dates suggested very early in church history, roughly 80 years before Aurelias made the pagan observance of December 25 official in Rome, and more than a century before the Roman Empire became Christian.

What this means, then, is that the selection of December 25th as the celebration of Jesus’ birthday may not have pagan origins at all.

After the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, December 25th became the official day designated for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Meanwhile, January 6th, which is known as Epiphany, remained associated not only with Jesus’ baptism but also with the coming of the Wise Men. As for the “twelve days of Christmas,” that refers to the twelve days between December 25th and January 6th.

You can see Nathan’s entire article, including links to sources, along with an extensive volley of comments, here:

http://thecripplegate.com/is-christmas-rooted-in-paganism/

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Thanksgiving Gratitude and Fortitude

pilgrims

Here begins the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

The Desolate Wilderness

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

e-pilgrims-landing

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204482304574216002146998902

flag farm

And The Fair Land

Any one whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America.

And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped.

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere.

For the traveler, as travelers have been always, is as much questioned as questioning. And for all the abundance he sees, he finds the questions put to him ask where men may repair for succor from the troubles that beset them.

His countrymen cannot forget the savage face of war. Too often they have been asked to fight in strange and distant places, for no clear purpose they could see and for no accomplishment they can measure. Their spirits are not quieted by the thought that the good and pleasant bounty that surrounds them can be destroyed in an instant by a single bomb. Yet they find no escape, for their survival and comfort now depend on unpredictable strangers in far-off corners of the globe.

twin towers

Ferguson-protest-11-w724

How can they turn from melancholy when at home they see young arrayed against old, black against white, neighbor against neighbor, so that they stand in peril of social discord. Or not despair when they see that the cities and countryside are in need of repair, yet find themselves threatened by scarcities of the resources that sustain their way of life. Or when, in the face of these challenges, they turn for leadership to men in high places—only to find those men as frail as any others.

So sometimes the traveler is asked whence will come their succor. What is to preserve their abundance, or even their civility? How can they pass on to their children a nation as strong and free as the one they inherited from their forefathers? How is their country to endure these cruel storms that beset it from without and from within?

Of course the stranger cannot quiet their spirits. For it is true that everywhere men turn their eyes today much of the world has a truly wild and savage hue. No man, if he be truthful, can say that the specter of war is banished. Nor can he say that when men or communities are put upon their own resources they are sure of solace; nor be sure that men of diverse kinds and diverse views can live peaceably together in a time of troubles.

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere—in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

Pat Tillman

boys

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204323904577037921612867912

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Stress: Your Best Friend and Worst Enemy

stress

Dr. Travis Bradberry describes How Successful People Stay Calm:

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.

If you follow our newsletter, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health (such as the Yale study, which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control). The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.

Research from the University of California, Berkeley, reveals an upside to experiencing moderate levels of stress. But it also reinforces how important it is to keep stress under control. The study, led by post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby, found that the onset of stress entices the brain into growing new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent. As soon as the stress continues beyond a few moments into a prolonged state, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop new cells.

“I think intermittent stressful events are probably what keeps the brain more alert, and you perform better when you are alert,” Kirby says. . . .

Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance. Fortunately, though, unless a lion is chasing you, the bulk of your stress is subjective and under your control. Top performers have well-honed coping strategies that they employ under stressful circumstances. This lowers their stress levels regardless of what’s happening in their environment, ensuring that the stress they experience is intermittent and not prolonged.

While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.

They Appreciate What They Have

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this. . . .

They Sleep

I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Stressful projects often make you feel as if you have no time to sleep, but taking the time to get a decent night’s sleep is often the one thing keeping you from getting things under control. . . .

Valuable Lesson: Leverage stress in wise moderation for God-honoring good.  “Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, that you not have it in excess and vomit it” (Proverbs 26:16).

You can read Dr. Bradberry’s entire article, including 8 more strategies, here:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140805002649-50578967-how-successful-people-stay-calm

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Trending: Freeze Your Eggs & Sperm, Get Sterilized, Just Have Fun!

test-tube-babies

“Sex will soon be just for fun, not babies.”  Sarah Knapton writes for the Telegraph:

Sex could become purely recreational by 2050 with large numbers of babies in the Western world born through IVF, the professor who invented the contraceptive pill has claimed.

Prof Carl Djerassi, the Austrian-American chemist and author, said he believes that the Pill will become obsolete because men and women will choose to freeze their eggs and sperm when young before being sterilised.

He also claims it will end abortions, as no children will be unplanned or unwanted.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Prof Djerassi said that advances in fertility treatment made it much safer for parents without fertility problems to consider IVF.

The progress will give rise to a ‘Manana generation’ who are safe in the knowledge that parenthood can be delayed without repercussions, he claims. They may even have healthier children because their eggs and sperm would be younger.

“The vast majority of women who will choose IVF in the future will be fertile women who have frozen their eggs and delayed pregnancy,” he said.

“Women in their twenties will first choose this approach as insurance, providing them with freedom in the light of professional decisions or the absence of the right partner or the inexorably ticking of the biological clock.

“However I predict that many of these women will in fact decide to be fertilised by IVF methods because of the advances in genetic screening. And once that happens then IVF will start to become a normal non-coital method of having children. . . .

“For them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 per cent.” . . .

“Fertile male sperm has already been preserved inexpensively for years. Provided one first demonstrated that such storage is possible for several decades rather than just years many young men might consider early vasectomy, as a viable alternative to effective birth control. . .

You can read the entire article here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11217750/Sex-will-soon-be-just-for-fun-not-babies-says-father-of-the-Pill.html

Thrill seeking couples should be free to have fun in bed without the stress of considering the nuisance of children! Women don’t need husbands or fathers to raise their test-tube-conceived darlings! We’ve come a long way, baby! We’ll do it our way!

So boasts the brave new world.

But I don’t think the old and authoritative Word of God applauds.

Instead the bible makes a sacred connection between sex and reproduction.  The Scriptures prescribe a man and a woman, in a relationship of committed covenant love, to enjoy the thrill of erotic sexual union, in view of a fruitful outcome blessing of sons and daughters, raised to God’s glory.

Gen. 1:27-8 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it;”

Gen. 2:22-4 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Gen. 4:1-2 Now the man 1had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a man-child with the help of the LORD.” Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was ba keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. Adam 1had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began bto call upon the name of the LORD.

Psa. 127:3-4 Behold, children are a 1gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.

Psa. 128:3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table.

Eph. 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Think about it.

Addendum: I see no moral dilemma when a young couple marries, then exercises responsible procreative stewardship with a plan for seeking to avoid conception for 2 or 3 years, God willing, while paying off school loans. But that’s a far cry from the responsibility free “purely recreational”, husbands and fathers are optional, non-marital, sex life Knapton is describing.

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