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News That Illustrates for Sunday, July 6th - July 13th

The World Cup and Worship, a First-class Actress, and Mix and Match Spirituality

The World Cup Offers a Lesson on Worship
According to the New York Times, "The World Cup in Brazil has produced a dizzying number of goals … and a dizzying number of unbridled celebrations. By turns joyous, defiant and bizarre, the celebrations have become a sort of shadow competition among the teams." After Ghana's World Asamoah Gyan scored his second goal against Germany he and his teammates got together, dropped their arms to their sides and executed a choreographed, stuttering dance step. "Not to be outdone, Miroslav Klose of Germany tied the score a few minutes later and did a running front flip." The article notes, "All this naked passion can feel like a refreshing change of pace from the staid culture of sports in the United States, where a common mantra is 'Act like you've done it before.'" Note the NFL's 15-yard penalty rule for "excessive celebration." They also fully engage the mind and body of the goal scorer and everyone on the team. Consider these creative ways to celebrate. Okay, so maybe you don't want to encourage back flips during worship, but honestly, is your approach to worship more like the World Cup or the NFL?

PREACHING ANGLES: Adoration; Praise; Worship

The Indestructible Soccer Ball that is Revolutionizing Play
There's nothing easy about growing up in one of the many countries in the world that are suffering from poverty or impacted by violence. And for kids faced with daily realities that are often grim, and even traumatic, all too often the healing solace of play is hard to come by. Streets and fields are commonly littered with glass or jagged metal, rusted barbed wire, or even shrapnel from explosives. Playing the world sport of soccer is perilous enough for feet, but the average lifetime of an expensive and rare soccer ball is only one hour. But a great idea and some kindness is changing that. Katie Couric reports: "In 2010, Tim and his wife, Lisa Tarver, launched One World Futbol Project, an organization that hopes to foster the healing power of play by producing nearly indestructible soccer balls for disadvantaged communities. Made from a unique plastic that's lighter and more flexible than rubber—a material similar to Crocs shoes—One World Futbol never needs a pump and does not go flat, even when punctured." Be sure to watch this amazing video of the ball in action. It's an image of creativity in the face of true need, certainly. But more than that, the fragile-looking ball that is truly indestructible is a beautiful illustration of strength where you least expect it. A child's plaything that can withstand knives, shattered windows, and even the deadly affection of a lion, bringing play and laughter to places that need it for peace and healing. Wow.

PREACHING ANGLES: Creativity; Compassion; Ministry

Actress Gives Up First-Class Seat to Serviceman
We hear a lot of news about outrageous, self-centered celebrities, so this story comes as a breath of fresh air. Actress Amy Adams, an Oscar nominee for her role in the film American Hustle, was on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles last week. An account of what happened was relayed on Twitter by Jemele Hill, co-host of ESPN's "Numbers Never Lie." Hill wrote: "When we were waiting to board, I saw her glance the soldier's way and then she said something to the person she was traveling with. Once we boarded, I saw she was in first class. I was upgraded to first class and she was a couple rows behind me. I think she must have said something to the flight attendant, because before we took off she had vacated her seat and the flight attendant brought the soldier to her seat." When the plane landed in Los Angeles, reporters caught up to Adams, who said, "I didn't do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops."

PREACHING ANGLES: Kindness; Servanthood

"Mix and Match" Faith Isn't Good For You
"Mix and match" spirituality—taking a few tasty tidbits from a wide variety of traditions—is increasingly popular in our culture. But there's a problem. The resulting hodgepodge is sadly lacking in the distinctives that define our culture's various faiths. Writer and New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier and conversation partner Molly Worther took this "cafeteria" spirituality to task at the recent Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. Worther noted that "There's a problem with the hyper-individualization of Millennial religion. The advantage of an institution is that it forces you into conversation with people you might not agree with. It forces you to grapple with a tradition that includes hard ideas. It forces you to have, for at least part of your life, a respect for authority that inculcates the sense that you have something to learn, that you're not reinventing the wheel, but that millennia have come before you." According to Wieseltier, these values are " … [B]eing lost because Americans are trying to bring to their religious experience the same level of customization that they expect when shopping. They treat their tradition as consumers—or, let's say, consumers with loyalty to one store.'"

PREACHING ANGLES: Culture, Faith, Liturgy, Tradition, Truth

Oxford Study: "Falling in Love Costs You Friends"
According to a recent study from Oxford University, on average, "Falling in love comes at the cost of losing two close friends." The data suggests that new relationships impact people's close social circles as a "new lover [comes] to dominate daily life." While this may be bad news for many (depending on the relationship), it illustrates a principle that goes beyond romance: what we love dramatically impacts our relationships and social environment. Relationships have ripple effects. So here's the question: what impact does your love for Jesus have on the rest of your relationships? Does it redefine your time, your other loves? Does it dominate daily life? We sincerely hope you don't lose close friends over the friend who sticks closer than a brother, but at least if you do, you'll know that you're not alone.

PREACHING ANGLES: Discipleship; Lordship of Christ; Relationships; Priorities

The Parents We Want to Be vs. the Parents We Are
Here's a fascinating study that can set up an illustration on parenting or a bunch of other issues—discipleship, integrity, hypocrisy. The Atlantic reported on a study titled "The Children We Mean to Raise: The Real Messages Adults are Sending About Values." The authors of the study point to a "gap" between what adults tell children they should value and the messages they actually send through their actions. In short, the study noted that "[Parents] may pay lip service to character education and empathy, but our children report hearing a very different message." According to The Atlantic article, "While 96 percent of parents say they want to raise ethical, caring children, and cite the development of moral character as 'very important, if not essential,' 80 percent of the youths surveyed reported that their parents 'are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.'" The kids were three times more likely to agree with this statement: "My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my class than if I'm a caring community member in class and school." It's a clear-cut case of "what you do speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say."

PREACHING ANGLES: Children; Discipleship; Hypocrisy; Integrity; Parenting

Thanks, Google! Now your phone can listen in on you almost all the time
Well, it was only a matter of time before Google pushed its "always-on" technology to all Android smartphones. The "OK Google" technology allows you to make use of your sleeping gadget when it is out of reach or your hands are full. You simply say "OK Google" and the phone will light up. "OK Google" is available with the Android 3.5.14 update. There isn't a specific date for when it will be available for each phone, so just look for the update if this is something you are interested in. The idea of voice controlling your smartphone in any situation sounds pretty cool. But, it brings some serious security concerns. If the phone is always listening, who's to say it won't pick up on your private conversations. What happens when advertisers and the government want to get their hands on that data? You also have to worry about hackers, who already love to break into your phone's camera. This is just another feature that can make you vulnerable to virtual predators. The slightly creepier angle is that this means your phone is listening to you more than ever. Ecclesiastes 10:20 may be relevant here: "Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say."

PREACHING ANGLES: Secrets; Speech; Tongue; Words

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