Our psyches are programmed to be afraid. This is good news and bad news. It’s good because an infant, while not understanding language, can learn quicOur psyches are programmed to be afraid. This is good news and bad news. It’s good because an infant, while not understanding language, can learn quickly that a hot stove means getting a startling swat from Mama, and so will not repeat that dangerous exploration in the kitchen. It’s bad news, because our psyche remains afraid long after traumatic events, even ones we do not consciously remember. Doctors Alexander Loyd and Ben Johnson, through years of research and trials, have shown that fear is the basis of all irrational behavior. Further, this fear lodges itself physically in our bodies in the form of stress, which, though often unnoticed outwardly, nevertheless causes symptoms of illness or relational dysfunction. Unaddressed, stress shuts down the immune system altogether. In the belief that the relief of this cellular stress will eradicate all disease and dysfunction, Loyd and Johnson have devised a system to relieve physiological stress centers in the body to trigger the immune system to reboot, using no specialized equipment and with very little training necessary. The basic premise is to release the innate fight or flight energy that only serves in truly life-threatening situations. The doctors claim that, as opposed to traditional psychoanalysis, which probes into—and often reemphasizes—childhood traumas in order to resolve them, their system, called the Healing Code, does not need to address any particular memory: healing happens of its own accord. The testimonials of their fans are certainly compelling, and the science is fascinating. Many call it a miracle, but perhaps it is only the body doing what it was designed to do. “Miracles happen, not in opposition to Nature, but in opposition to what we know of Nature.” –St. Augustine “Guard your heart above all else, for out of it are all the issues of life.” Prov. 4:23 ...more
Power may very well be a figment of our imaginations.
Whether we connect it with social status or physical prowess, or whether it simply comes from ouPower may very well be a figment of our imaginations.
Whether we connect it with social status or physical prowess, or whether it simply comes from our own mental state, one thing is certain: power reveals its sources. Fragile power manifests as social grabbing and strutting, while true power, that from within, manifests as calm and unshakable. These are the claims of Amy Cuddy, the famous and beloved Ted Talker who is teaching this generation to brew its own concoction of inner power via the simplest medium of all, our own posture.
According to recent social science, good posture and poor posture work either as a booster of positivity or as a self-destruct button, respectively. While many people have learned to blame bad moods on circumstances, such as a critical spouse or a non-cooperative coworker, most negativity actually comes from that running inner dialogue which obsessively reenacts negative encounters and conversations over and over, reinforcing their harmful effects. This habitual thinking pattern creates a sense of powerlessness that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the objective truth of a person’s worth has not changed, the perception of it has. Unfortunately, this skewed perspective causes people to become self-absorbed, feel pain more acutely, perform worse on tasks and less accurately assess others’ feelings. They become either bullies that push people away and then act as ostracized victims, or underperformers that are rejected for their behavior, who then perform even worse in a maddening downward spiral.
Cuddy proposes a solution. Having survived a brain injury that derailed her academic career, she desperately needed to find a way to claw herself back to a contributing position in society. She discovered easy tricks, using what we know of our malleable psychology: when we feel powerful, we perform significantly better on tasks and contribute positively in relational settings. Cuddy stresses that the act of putting forth the positive side is not “faking it till you make it,” but rather “faking it until you are it.” It is putting the truest, best part of ourselves forward. Amy’s rediscovery of age-old principles of self-awareness and easy-to-apply physiological choices, has enabled not only herself but thousands of beloved fans to find sources of positivity in even the most negative circumstances. ...more
“It was special, wonderful, terrible, and fascinating all rolled up into adventure,” says Phil Smart of at least one of his travel exploits documented“It was special, wonderful, terrible, and fascinating all rolled up into adventure,” says Phil Smart of at least one of his travel exploits documented in his memoir, By Any Means. Despite a fair amount of flat tires, plane crashes and trouble with local law enforcement, his incurable globe-trotting taught him many valuable lessons for living an exuberant, abundant life in the hands of a loving and powerful Creator. Phil urges us to sample the world’s vastly diverse cultures and topography as an education that changes our hearts as much as our locale, with over forty personal anecdotes as proof of a life well-lived. These vicarious adventures have brightened my mornings and fired my dreams for many future expeditions. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”—Emerson ...more
“Good is the enemy of the great” rings only too-true in our culture of frenetic to-do lists and goals. Whether experienced in corporations, families,“Good is the enemy of the great” rings only too-true in our culture of frenetic to-do lists and goals. Whether experienced in corporations, families, teams or individual lives, this culture of busy-ness for its own sake is almost certainly thwarting the true greatness that we were created for. With wisdom he has been sharing with business leaders for decades, Collins helps us hone down what is non-essential in our habits, thinking and modern lifestyles, in the effort to unearth what is truly best, rather than merely ineffectual mirrors of what others have done before. Creator of the “Don’t-do list,” he gives us permission to be creative, fail and try new things, all within the framework of teams that are united in their passions, skills and goals. Most importantly, and long before any mission statements or financial projections are in place, Collins stresses that leaders must be sure to “get the right people on the bus,” which of course means eliminating the wrong ones, harsh as it may initially sound. If a team member is bringing down the group, he or she is also bringing him or herself down as well. By leading well, managers create opportunities for people to serve and work in thriving environments, humbly leading others to find their finest calling when the current one is flatlining. Everyone benefits when a lackluster dream dies and a truly great one is born....more
Pastor Troy Evans, "P.E.", literally risked his life in writing this book. He had to get permission from his former gang leader in order to share howPastor Troy Evans, "P.E.", literally risked his life in writing this book. He had to get permission from his former gang leader in order to share how his life was derailed by an unsought-after Savior, replacing his worship of pride, destruction and power with a humble submission to God and his fellow man. Now he serves as lead pastor, author and passionate public speaker to the hip-hop culture of Grand Rapids, MI, and beyond. In this inspirational true story lies hope for troubled youth who are involved in the dangerous underworld of street life—often resulting in prostitution, violence, drugs, crime— and the inevitable deadness of spirit that accompanies such a lifestyle. With practical thought questions and action steps at the end of each chapter, this memoir shows how our communities can be truly be transformed by the local church....more
Running became prayer for Michael Chitwood. Hours on the road alone with God helped him to grieve several devastating personal losses, and he learnedRunning became prayer for Michael Chitwood. Hours on the road alone with God helped him to grieve several devastating personal losses, and he learned that pain is the best, though certainly least appreciated, training ground for a life of relentless compassion. His journey led him to begin Team World Vision, a movement that emboldens average, non-running-type folks to participate in marathons in order to alleviate suffering in countries like Africa. He insists that God will not necessarily make your life—or 26 miles—easy, but He can give you what is needed to endure, most likely right on the other side of fear. Michael lives what he preaches, encouraging us to let God transform our pain into something beautiful.
“Some people say, ‘How can God let people starve to death or let children die because they don’t have safe water to drink?....God could ask us the same question…He has trusted us with all the resources to meet these needs…By global standards, we are the rich people.’”
Philanthropy is a paradox of happiness. Jesus said it two thousand years ago, and author Jennifer Iacovelli reaffirms it in modern terms, challengingPhilanthropy is a paradox of happiness. Jesus said it two thousand years ago, and author Jennifer Iacovelli reaffirms it in modern terms, challenging us to weave into our lives simple threads of generosity that multiply beyond our own limited resources. Much more than merely donating money, philanthropy is intensely personal based on our passions, ranging from shopping local or fair trade, to mentoring marginalized children in the community, to advocating for refugees, to thanking someone who has helped you in your own journey of being human. In all our own uniqueness, we can find the causes that are both enjoyable and sustainable over time. Toward this, Iacovelli provides many practical resources that help take the guesswork out of giving, such as sites and apps that post the latest data for companies’ and products’ impact on social issues and the environment, as well as ones that hold non-profits accountable for their finances. She shows us how to easily educate ourselves and others of the most worthy and effective causes, even inspires us to start new ones in our own garages and basements. Her real-world stories remind us that there are no great people, only brave ones who do hard stuff. Further, we can become the very voices that impact causes exponentially by changing the hearts and minds of our own selves and our culture. We, too, in all our imperfections, can actually make a difference for the greater good, reveling in the joy we receive in return....more
Kevin Max, best known as a third of the rock band dcTalk, wrote this intelligent and insightful memoir about the ups and downs of spiritual growth, esKevin Max, best known as a third of the rock band dcTalk, wrote this intelligent and insightful memoir about the ups and downs of spiritual growth, especially in light of his heady fame and fortune in the Christian music industry, before he embarked on his own solo career. Included is a cd of his mystical and melodic musings. Though often criticized by Christians for being too mainstream, and by the mainstream as being too spiritual, he presses on to create music that encourages reflection and seeking after the deeper meaning of life beyond the usual soul-numbing entertainments. By presenting his imperfections and the process by which he is being healed, he provides a much-needed reminder that while none of us is perfect, obviously, this can only mean good news: through God’s power we still have tons of potential to become who He made us to be. He speaks of pain and mistakes as the gifts that teach us the self-knowledge and humility that enable us to find true joy, love and freedom in life, and reminds us that our weakness is God’s glory as He continues His own lovely work in us....more
We are all deeply afraid we will not cut it, and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the sometimes-hated, yet overwhelmingly-acclaimed, Eat, Pray, Love, assuWe are all deeply afraid we will not cut it, and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the sometimes-hated, yet overwhelmingly-acclaimed, Eat, Pray, Love, assures us that this frailty can work to our benefit. As we learn to embrace and enter into fear, we find that space where creativity can flourish. With humility, humor and delightful irreverence, she encourages us to fail hard and get back up, over and over again, but also gives fantastico practical advice such as, but not limited to: 1. Have an affair with your art. If you love it that much, you will always find time to snag a few minutes with it as often as you can. 2. Don’t put pressure on your artistic passion to be your only source of income. It becomes a burden that squashes your relationship (Gilbert herself didn’t quit her day job until well after her third successful book.) 3. Become a Trickster versus a Martyr. Instead of suffering for your art, or playing the role of misunderstood victim, find every way to trick joy out of art and life and everything you do. 4. Allow for…er…magic. Even if you hate the idea of magic or anything unexplainable or mysterious, uncanny connections can provide weirdly creative opportunities for those willing to see them. Finally, whether you are an artist or at all what is considered “creative,” this is a deeply affirming book for all in pursuit of being human. May your curiosity be greater than your fear....more
Rosaria’s life was perfect until she began learning about Jesus. After many months of mentoring from a compassionate pastor friend and his family, sheRosaria’s life was perfect until she began learning about Jesus. After many months of mentoring from a compassionate pastor friend and his family, she could no longer deny that this man really was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. She made the faith leap, and overnight her identity as celebrated leader in the Gay/Lesbian community devolved into social pariah and Jesus freak, traitor to her cause. Social heartbreak notwithstanding, she embraced this savior and began a growth journey with fellow believers who did not treat her as a project or an object, but as a fellow hurting human in need of healing. Experiencing more than the usual upheaval during this transformative process, as her convictions led to the immediate destruction of her career at a venerated university, as well as the dissolution of her community and live-in lesbian partnership, she likens the experience to a train wreck. In The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, she opens her heart to reveal the process of allowing Jesus to destroy those things that kill us spiritually, just as he pours new and sustaining Life into our souls. She now has a husband and children, as well as thriving ministries in which they serve together, reaching out to the hurting and spiritually thirsty culture....more
For all his deep thoughts of faith and reason, the wretchedness of man, theology and the controversial schisms of the church during his time, the hearFor all his deep thoughts of faith and reason, the wretchedness of man, theology and the controversial schisms of the church during his time, the heart of Blaise Pascal, French philosopher and physicist of the 1600s and author of his famous Wager encouraging belief over apathetic agnosticism, can perhaps be best summed up in this simple declaration: “I love all men as my brothers, because they are all redeemed. I love poverty because he loved it. I love wealth because it affords me the means of helping the needy. I keep faith with everyone. I do not render evil to those who do evil to me, but wish them a condition like my own, in which one receives neither good nor evil at the hands of men. I try to be just, genuine, sincere and loyal to all men, and I feel special affection for those to whom God has most intimately joined me. And whether I am alone or in the sight of others, in all my doings I am in the sight of God, who must judge them and to whom I have devoted them all. These are my feelings. And all the days of my life I bless my Redeemer, who implanted them in me and who made a man full of weakness, wretchedness, concupiscence, pride and ambition into one free from all these evils, by the power of his grace, to which all glory for this is due, since nothing but wretchedness and error come from me.”...more
Robert Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis traces the disparities of the haves and have-nots in what is becoming the land of opportunity oRobert Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis traces the disparities of the haves and have-nots in what is becoming the land of opportunity only for the privileged. Taking core samples of data and interviews across the nation, the inequalities of socioeconomics are most easily reduced to the highest level of education achieved by individuals and their parents. Essentially, two classes emerge, one whose families generally reach a high school education at best, and one whose families traditionally attain degrees in higher education as a matter of course. All the charts showing these two classes show a striking “scissors” effect, where in every area, one strata of society are facing ever-worsening results in education, employment, and family structure; while the other half of the population enjoy ever-improving opportunities in all corresponding areas. Segregation of poor and rich sides of town, no longer by race but instead by class, removes many of the social connections that keep thriving communities afloat, while the rich side of town can afford to finance their own school budgets, health care, etc. Deficits in public spending marginalize those who have no other alternatives to their local education, medical care, family welfare support, libraries, and so many other social services. Most debilitating of all, though, is that our nation no longer sees all kids as “our kids,” but only those of people we know, leaving a whole generation to fend for itself. Putnam, like so many others, attempts to root out the causes of the rapidly growing divide, such as school culture, community culture and parenting practices; and finding practical, holistic and sustainable solutions....more
For those who wish to prove, or perhaps disprove, once and for all the claims of this famous Jesus fellow, The Case for Christ for Kids, by Lee StrobeFor those who wish to prove, or perhaps disprove, once and for all the claims of this famous Jesus fellow, The Case for Christ for Kids, by Lee Strobel and Rob Suggs, presents a, erm, body of evidence for those who wish to put their faith or the faith of others to the test. Looking at historical documents, witnesses, hoax theories, they use standard court evidence procedures to weigh disparities in perspective and consistency, as well as delve into theories of hoaxes, conspiracy, and hallucinations. After all, lots of megalomaniacs have claimed to be God over the millennia, and we have called them all nutcases except for this one. What makes this guy believable, and why has he had such a large impact on humanity? Wonderfully conversational, it can be read aloud as a devotional to your family or youth group, or even just to yourself, as a means to solve this mystery of a Savior on a cross....more