The Benefits of Going Deeper

Nicholas Carr’s ground-breaking bookThe Shallows, describing the effect of the Internet on the way we learn and Interact, was first published in 2011. In the seven years since the book was released, we have come to better understand the meaning and implications of the book, because “the shallows" aptly describes the place where so many people dwell in this era of instant information and constant connection.

Despite greater access to knowledge, the virtually unlimited reservoir of information the Internet provides has dampened the quality of our interactions with one another as well as the way we take in and process content. To summarize Carr’s conclusions,

  • Breadth of knowledge is not the same as depth of knowledge;
  • An abundance of facts and data does not equal wisdom; and
  • The ability to connect with an unlimited number of people does not lead to deeper relationships.
continue reading

Better Off With(out) Jesus

No one likes to be abandoned. It’s a helpless, hopeless experience. Yet that’s exactly what the disciples of Jesus were feeling on the night he was betrayed.

They were gathered in a private room, Jesus and his 12 closest followers, having dinner. First Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, something that made them more than a little uncomfortable but spoke volumes about how much he loved them. Next Jesus predicted that one of his close followers would betray him, while yet another would deny him three times.

Picture yourself in that room, surprised to hear that any of you would betray and deny Jesus. This is your friend and teacher, someone you have come to love and respect, a spiritual leader you have watched perform miracles. Why would he think any of you would turn your back on him, especially after he washed your feet?

continue reading

Billy Graham's Literary Legacy

The life and legacy of Billy Graham is front and center as national and Christian media report the passing of the world-famous evangelist at the age of 99. Over the span of his 70 plus years of ministry, Graham always characterized himself first and foremost as an evangelist. As he wrote in the preface to his 1997 memoir, Just As I Am, “an evangelist is one sent by God to announce the Gospel, the Good News.”

Billy Graham will remembered most for announcing the Good News of the Gospel through his crusades. Over a span of nearly six decades, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association conducted more than 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents. It is estimated that Graham preached in person to over 200 million people.

As important as the crusades were to the life and ministry of Mr. Graham, there’s another dimension to his legacy that will continue to carry on his life’s work, and that’s his writing. Graham was a prolific author with 34 books to his credit, many of them best sellers.

continue reading

First and Second Things

In the Olympics as in life, coming in second is nice, but it’s nothing like being first. We remember gold medalists but quickly forget who took the silver. Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights speaks for all those whothink first is best when he says, “If you ain’t first you’re last.”

If there’s an exception to this “It’s Best to Be First” principle, it’s one made popular by the outstanding “I Am Second” campaign—currently featuring Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton—where the message echoes the ubiquitous HE>i slogan from a clothing brand based on the Bible verse John 3:30: “HE (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.”

Which is why it’s puzzling that so many of us who call ourselves Christians put second (that would be us) ahead of first (that would be God). To be fair, it’s not like we think we’re more important or better than God, but that doesn't stop us from taking a shot at first place. So we trumpet a passion we have for a cause and make that our first priority. You know, good causes like caring for the poor, helping the disadvantaged, giving voice to marginalized voices, those sorts of things.

continue reading

Consider Jesus

You who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus…

Tucked into the Letter to the Hebrews are two words that provide the highest calling and most compelling mandate a Christian can have. These words comprise the central theme of Hebrews and perhaps the entire Bible. They also serve as a guide for living.

Consider Jesus.

We know Jesus, at least in the sense of knowing who he is: God’s only Son sent to earth to bring light and life and salvation to people living in darkness.

Consider Jesus.

But what do we do with Jesus? Once we have put our trust in Him and accepted Him, how do we live? Is there more to a relationship with the Son of God than trust and acceptance? We call ourselves Christians because of a relationship to Jesus, but have we truly considered Him? What does that even mean?

continue reading

The Best Book of the Year

It’s the time of year for those “Best of” lists. You know the ones. Best movies of the year, best technology gadgets, best books of the year, and so on. I work in the area of book publishing, so the book lists are the ones I follow closely.

There are so many book lists out there that it’s difficult to identify a single title as the undisputed Book of the Year. If you go by Amazon, which sells 42 percent of all the books in the world, the “most read” book in 2017was A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. According to Goodreads, the most popular book was Into the Water by Paula Hawkins.

Christianity Today named Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren as its Book of the Year, a selection I completely agree with. It’s an extraordinary book. In the world of Christian fiction, The Christy Award™ Book of the Year was presented to Charles Martin’s Long Way Gone. Another fine choice.

continue reading

So This Is Christmas

One of the wonders of Christmas is its light. In the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas Day comes just a few days after the winter solstice, the “bleak midwinter,” the longest night of the year. We should be depressed by the darkness. Instead we revel in it because of the glorious light all around—on trees, on houses, in stores and public places. We light candles and stoke fireplaces so we can enjoy their warmth and light.

When it’s the darkest, light is a gift from the one who created it. As recorded in Scripture, these are the first words God spoke: “Let there be light.” By that simple yet all-powerful command enough light came to brighten and give life to our otherwise dark and empty planet.

Since that first day of creation, darkness has remained, not only in the world but also in the human heart. When the prophet Isaiah described the people as “walking in darkness,” he didn’t mean they were physically in the dark. They were spiritually bleak and without hope.

continue reading

Lessons in Gratitude

Who would have guessed there would be lessons in gratitude—and the consequences of ingratitude—from the president of the United States and the father of a college basketball player accused of shoplifting in China. If you don’t know the story, here’s a brief recap.

Donald Trump, who was in China a few weeks ago at the time the incident took place, evidently persuaded the president of China to go easy on three players who took some expensive sunglasses from a high-end store without paying for them.

After the three players were arrested, questioned, detained, and then released and sent home, they expressed their gratitude to president Trump. But the father of one of the players refused to offer thanks. His omission might have gone unnoticed, but the dad was vocal about his refusal.

continue reading

Where Is God When Evil Happens?

The horrific event in Las Vegas has left us stunned. It should. Whether or not we come from a perspective of faith, where we acknowledge that evil and suffering happen in a fallen world, the stark expression of that reality should shake us to our core. Even if we are numbed by their occurrences, we need to come to some kind of understanding, if for no other purpose than to deal with the confusion and resentment such acts of evil inevitably produce.

Not long after another mass shooting occurred, I was on an airplane sitting next to a young woman. We had just exchanged answers to the “What do you do for a living?” question. “I’m a medical technician,” she said. I told her was involved in Christian publishing. Without hesitation and with no emotion, she replied, “I used to be a Christian.” “

continue reading

Are You a Little Weltschmerz?

Even for the most optimistic among us, the events of the past few weeks have been difficult: Social unrest, ideological clashes, political turmoil, nuclear threats, and to top it off, one of the most devastating storms in American history. Any one of these is capable of producing a knot of anxiety. But all of them at once is enough to make you more than a little weltschmerz.

Wait, what? What is weltschmerz? Not exactly a household word, weltschmerz is in fact a useful and appropriate way to describe the state many people are in right now. Coined by the German Romantic writer Jean Paul at the turn of the 19th century, it literally means “world pain” or “world weariness.” The word has been used from time to time to describe the anxiety many feel because of all the troubles in the world.

continue reading
Syndicate content
»  Become a Fan or Friend of this Blogger
About
Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.