News That Illustrates for Sunday, January 19th-25th
News That Illustrates for Sunday, January 19th-25th
Music-selecting Earbuds, Planting in Permafrost, the World's Worst Dating Profile
Ariel Sharon—a Leadership Lesson for All of Us
Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister and ex-general/paratrooper who embodied Israel's military might, died last Saturday (January 11th). Sharon, Israel's controversial 11th prime minister, earned the nickname "The Bulldozer" early in his career because of his reputation for running over people. He was despised by Arabs for his hard line policies, but for many of his fellow-Israeli he provided effective leadership. But here's one leadership lesson for all of us. When Arik Achmon, Sharon's fellow soldier and politician, was asked what he most admired about Sharon, Achmon said, "The louder people around him talked, the quieter his tone became. His very presence in battle calmed the atmosphere." That's a worthy goal for every follower of Christ—fathers, mothers, pastors, leaders. In the midst of life's battles, does your very presence calm the atmosphere?
PREACHING ANGLES: Influence; Leadership; Parenting; Peacemakers
Intel's Music-selecting Earbuds
On day one of the recent Consumer Electronics Showcase, tech giant Intel revealed their new Smart Earbuds. These earbuds are engineered to detect the wearer's heartbeat and select music that pairs well with their current heart rate—pumping anthems for workouts, mellow tunes for stirring pasta in the kitchen. Gone are the days of picking your own mood-matched music on an intricate playlist or (gasp!) mixtape. Now there are earbuds for that. In a much deeper way, the Father has put the Spirit in a living, sensing connection with each believer. He is tuned to sense our emotions and state of mind by the design of the Father, giving us what we need when we need it. And that's something worth getting your heart rate up for.
Preaching Angles: Comfort; Holy Spirit; Paraclete
The Future of the Earth—Uncertain or Certain?
The BBC recently posted a fascinating graphic on the Timeline of the Far Future. It walks us from one thousand years in the future (where buildings will be decayed if present-day civilization collapses) to one hundred quintillion years when the earth, under a dying sun, will die. The far distant future doesn't look good for the third rock from the sun, and is filled with uncertainty and depressing postulations. But even with the bleak uncertainty of the future, Christians have a hope for eons to come. While this is man's uncertain prediction of where the world is going without divine intervention, God certainly knows where the world is going. Believers have a sure hope that Christ will return to complete his work of "making all things new."
PREACHING ANGLES: Hope; Return of Christ; New Heaven and New Earth; Uncertainty
More Skin on Little Screens = More Skin on the Big Screen
More films at the box office are being rated "R"aunchy, largely given the prevalence of pornography and sexually explicit media easily available through the internet and smartphones. "No longer taboo" the BBC says of the growing trend for more explicit scenes. "When you scan the list of 2013's films, you could be forgiven for thinking that today's directors have sex on the brain."
A film critic for a UK newspaper argues that the sexual floodgates have been opened by "the normalisation of pornography." "The internet is so awash with porn sites, risqué music videos, and raunchy Twitter 'selfies,' he argues, that sex scenes are no longer taboo in cinemas." But all of the flood of online sexual imagery also means that people are less likely to pay to see it in cinemas. In other words, we live in a culture so saturated with sex, that salacious images aren't even a draw at the box office anymore. What does that say about our misappropriation of desire, sexuality, and media?
PREACHING ANGLES: Sex; Sexuality; Pornography; Media; Entertainment; Movies
Student Discovers Life-threatening Condition in Practice Exam
University of Virginia medical student Ryan Jones began what he thought would be a normal day of practicing diagnostics. Typically, an actor portrays a given illness and the student must identify the problem. But this time the act became real. The actor was pretending to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. But when Jones was examining the actor he found a real abdominal aortic aneurysm. How many of us are sick with sin but think that we are healthy? This is a great way to illustrate the need for regular checkups of our souls so that potentially life threatening "diseases" of the heart can be found on purpose.
PREACHING ANGLES: Heart; Inner life; Self-deception; Sin; Spiritual health;
Even the Alaskan Permafrost Can Be Fruitful
This illustration comes farm-fresh … all the way from Alaska. Tim Meyers is a farmer in Alaska, where the soil is rich, but frozen. Conventional wisdom says that farming where the ground never fully thaws is impossible—or at least impractical. But through savvy practices and hard work, Tim has become a permafrost farmer, growing organic food on his 17 acres of land, proving that even the most barren frozen land can be fruitful. Sometimes in our lives, the ground feels frozen. But Tim's story reminds us that even in the most hostile conditions, life can find a way to break in. God is waiting to make even the permafrost fruitful. Will you let him?
PREACHING ANGLES: New Life; Fruitfulness; Barrenness; Overcoming difficulties; Challenges
The Worst Possible Online Dating Profile
A writer recently created a fictitious and utterly horrible dating profile as an experiment. The goal was to create a persona so offensive—racist, manipulative, shallow, cruel, and annoying—that no man would consider dating her. For instance, on typical Friday night this fictitious 25-year-old woman from California loves "knocking the cups out of homeless people's hands." Here's her self-summary: "I'm a Goddess and I do ME!" But even this worst possible dating profile still received over 150 interested men—likely because the profile picture was of an attractive young woman. Apparently many of us are so desperate for relationship that we are willing to overlook major character flaws to be in one. What does this say about our hearts' longing for love?
PREACHING ANGLES: Relationships; Community; Romance, Dating; Marriage; Courtship