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News That Illustrates: January 14, 2013

If You Hear God, You Might not Be Crazy
Dr. Tanya Marie Luhrman, a psychological anthropologist at Stanford University, retells an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia. But in her special report for CNN, Dr. Luhrmann offers a surprisingly supportive scientific analysis of evangelical Christians who claim that they have heard God speak to them. She concludes by stating, "Science cannot tell us whether God generated the voice that Abraham or Augustine heard. But it can tell us that many of these events are normal, part of the fabric of human perception." There you have it: If you hear God speak to you, you might not be crazy after all. Dr. Luhrmann concludes with a powerful example of hearing Jesus speak: "When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, in the winter of 1956, terrified by the fear of what might happen to him and his family during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said he heard the voice of Jesus promising, 'I will be with you.' He went forward."

PREACHING ANGLES: Hearing God; Hearing God's Voice

Shocking News: Robert Griffin III Is Human
Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins fantastic starting quarterback, had been soaring all season long … until Sunday's night's loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin reinjured his knee (a torn LCL) early in the game and struggled for the rest of the game. An article in Grantland observed that Griffin "looked labored" and "downright wounded," and "limited" and that "his mechanics were clearly out of whack." So why didn't the coach take him out of the game? Head coach Mike Shanahan said he kept Griffin in the game because he had "done enough this year to have that opportunity to stay in the football game." What? So you reward an injured player by letting him play when he clearly needs to sit? This story is a powerful parable about the need to admit and embrace our human limits. We aren't supermen and superwomen. Leaders should know when to bench themselves. Leaders should also know when to bench their people.

PREACHING ANGLES: Leadership; Limitations

The Damage Appalls Me
The former atheist A.N. Wilson, a famous British essayist, biographer, and journalist, has written a sobering assessment about the damage of the sexual revolution. Wilson confesses his own role in the damage: "I imbibed all the liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was concerned. I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy—including, of course, my children and other people's children …. How easy it was to dismiss old-fashioned sexual morality as 'suburban', as a prison for the human soul …. Yet, as the opinion poll shows, most of us feel at a very deep level that what will make us very happy is not romping with a succession of lovers. In fact, it is having a long-lasting, stable relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong marriage." Wilson notes, "We ignored the obvious fact that moral conventions develop in human societies for a reason." There's much food for thought in this article.

PREACHING ANGLES: Marriage; Sex; Vows

Costly Beauty and the Quest for Whiteness
BBC News ran a story about our all-too-common quest to find security in something besides who we are in Christ. The article stated, "South Africa is marketed to the world as Mandela's rainbow nation, where everyone is proud of their race and heritage. But for some black South Africans there is such a thing as being too black. A recent study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one woman in three in South Africa bleaches her skin. The reasons for this are as varied as the cultures in this country but most people say they use skin-lighteners because they want 'white skin.'" There's a high cost to this quest for self-esteem. The article also noted that local dermatologists say they are seeing more and more patients whose skin has been damaged by years of bleaching. This story raises some questions for all of us: What's the cost we're paying to secure our self-esteem? How does racism play out in our culture?

PREACHING ANGLES: Racism; Self-esteem; Self-worth

London's First Church of Atheism
TNT magazine reported, "Yesterday saw the first 'service' of The Sunday Assembly, London's first atheist church. Priding itself on its tagline 'live better, help often, wonder more,' The Sunday Assembly … aims to take the best things about religion and religious ceremonies, but to do it without all the god-talk." One of the leaders said that it's "a godless congregation that will meet on the first Sunday of every month to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life." Apparently, it's off to a great start, although one of the enthusiastic attendees later tweeted, "The race is on ... What will cause our first schism?"

PREACHING ANGLES: Atheism; Schism

Why Atheists Bring Their Kids to Church
And speaking of atheists, here's some hopeful news: "a surprisingly large number of atheist scientists from elite universities raise their children in a religious community such as a church." That's the conclusion of a study that surveyed over 2,000 scientists from top universities in the U.S. The study concluded that "the attendance rate of atheists with children jumps 70 percent compared to those without [children]." The reasons aren't that complicated. The scientists either had a believing spouse or they wanted their children to have a moral foundation for life and church provides a community.

PREACHING ANGLES: Atheism; Children; Seekers

Be Ready for Action
This story shows that you just never know when the Lord will put you into service. This past week a Minneapolis man stumbled into Maxwell's bar. The bartender thought the man was asking for a shot of something, but the man had actually been shot six times. The victim had come to the right place. Six nurses were just a few feet away. "Like a well-oiled triage team, they sprang into action, using bar towels, a first aid kit and the man's own belt to slow the bleeding. A few minutes later, police and paramedics arrived and whisked the man to Hennepin County Medical Center." The unidentified man kept telling the nurses "I love you guys." It all ended well. The man survived the shooting and Maxwell's bar picked up the tab for the six nurses.

PREACHING ANGLES: Service; Servanthood; Spiritual Gifts

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