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Archive for October, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

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National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

I’m actually very interested in this idea. I wonder how many hours it would take to crank out a novel, first making an outline and then writing it all out rather than stopping to edit and perfect each passage. Anybody interested?

HT: Lifehacker

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In our lives, clearly we may have many acquaintances but only few friends who truly know the struggles and issues of our heart, that are with us in adversity, and rejoice with us in success.  We all desire intimate relationships, but still we spend our time talking about clothing, work, others, sports, politics, church, and so many other pseudo-personal topics that never get to the heart.  This topic becomes even more pointed when we realize that we must dig deep to truly have a personal ministry.  When we assume, we not ask.  If we not ask, we open ourselves up to a world of invalid conclusions and misunderstandings.

Paul David Tripp explains, There are many reasons why our relationships are trapped in the casual:

  • We despair of squeezing ten dollar conversations into ten cent moments.  There are times when we would like to tell our story, but there doesn’t seem an opportunity to do so.  We all deal with the disconnect between our public reputation and our private struggles.  We wonder what people would think if they really knew us.
  • We buy the lie that we are unique and struggle in ways that no one else does.  We get tricked by people’s public personas and forget that behind closed doors they live real lives just like us.
  • We all find the searching light of true friendship a bit intimidating.  True friendship calls you out of the darkness of personal privacy into the loving candor of mutual concern.
  • We do not see.  The Bible has much to say about how blind we are.  Sin is deceitful, causing us to see others with greater clarity than we see ourselves.
  • No one asks.  The typical rhythms of our lives mitigate against going below the surface.  In the busyness of life it seems intrusive to ask questions that cannot be answered without personal self-disclosure.

The genius of personal ministry is that it is personal.  It is the careful ministry of Christ and his Word to the struggles of the heart that have been uncovered by good questions from a committed friend.  This means that effective, God-honoring, heart changing personal ministry is dependent on a rich base of personal information.  You cannot minister well to someone you do not know.

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Open-Ended Marriage Questions

Paul David Tripp gives a list of open-ended questions for marriage counseling, or perhaps even for us to evaluate and see our own relationships with new eyes:

  • What things did you see in this person that made you want to marry him?
  • What were your goals for your marriage when you were engaged?
  • What things in your marriage make you sad?
  • what things in your marriage make you happy?
  • If you could press a button and change your marriage, how would it change?
  • In what ways do you think God is honored by your marriage?
  • How would you characterize your communication with your husband?
  • Describe how you and your husband arrive at decisions.
  • Describe how you as a couple resolve conflicts.
  • How would you describe your spiritual ife as a couple?
  • Are there couples you look up to?  What do you respect about their marriages?
  • Why do you think you have struggled as a couple?
  • What do you see as the strengths of your marriage?
  • What do you see as the weaknesses of your marriage?
  • What do you think you need to do as a couple to get from where you are to where you need to be?
  • Describe the marriage of your dreams.
  • What could your spouse do to greatly change your marriage?
  • What problems in your marriage do you see as your responsibility?
  • What specific things have led you to conclude that your marriage needs help?
  • What do you think God is doing in your marriage right now?
  • What do you think keeps you as a couple from solving your problems?
  • Describe how your marriage has changed over the years.
  • When you are hurt or angry with your spouse, what do you do?
  • How do you communicate dissatisfaction to your spouse?
  • Pick one area of your marriage where you think you have problems.  Describe what is wrong and what each of you has done to solve it.
  • In what ways have you attempted to communicate love and appreciation to your spouse?
  • What are the biggest hot buttons in your marriage?

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands 175-176

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Prodigal Jon has an insightful post:

Instead of addressing these problems by experimenting with specialty cheeses or lowering their price, Kraft is doing something called “Value Engineering.” Basically they are raising profits by lowering the manufacturing costs of macaroni and cheese. What does that mean? For one thing, it means that Kraft no longer puts cheese into macaroni and cheese. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Years ago, there was real cheese in there but now it’s just whey and cheese culture. The crazy thing is that Kraft still calls the product, “The Cheesiest.” Their website is “thecheesiest.com” and they love pretending there’s tons of cheese in the box.

The Wal-mart brand on the other hand has real cheese in it. They know Kraft doesn’t so they celebrate that fact in large letters on every side of their box, “made with real cheddar cheese.” And the irony of it all is that Kraft costs more. You pay 27 cents more for a product with lower quality ingredients.

Later:

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Statistics and Evangelicals

Here are some stats Christianity Today.  I wonder which of the prosperity gospel, emerging church, and new reformation are having a greater impact on opinion of evangelicals:

56% Americans who believe that freedom to worship applies to all religious groups, regardless of how extreme.
72 Americans who said this in 2000.

19% Americans who say their overall opinion of evangelicals is unfavorable.
38% Americans who said this in 1996.

60% Americans who say they have a favorable opinion of Billy Graham.
29% Americans under age 30 who have never heard of Billy Graham.

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I remember having a conversation a while back in which I offended someone, and then tried to explain why it was unreasonable that they were offended.  Let’s just say it didn’t fly.  That’s exactly what I thought of when I read the transcript of Ann Coulter on Donny Deutsch’s The Big Idea.  Well, read for yourself:

DEUTSCH: That there would be a bigger difference between the rich and the poor, a lot of other — tell me what — why this would be a better world? Let’s give you — I’m going to give you — say this is your show.

COULTER: Well, OK, take the Republican National Convention. People were happy. They’re Christian. They’re tolerant. They defend America, they —

DEUTSCH: Christian — so we should be Christian? It would be better if we were all Christian?

COULTER: Yes.

DEUTSCH: We should all be Christian?

COULTER: Yes. Would you like to come to church with me, Donny?

DEUTSCH: So I should not be a Jew, I should be a Christian, and this would be a better place?

COULTER: Well, you could be a practicing Jew, but you’re not.

DEUTSCH: I actually am. That’s not true. I really am. But — so we would be better if we were — if people — if there were no Jews, no Buddhists —

and later:

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Heaven on EarthIn the campus bookstore I picked up two copies of Stephen Nichol’s Heaven on Earth while on sale, and figured it to be a great deal.  On my shelf it stayed until the promotion all around prompted me to take it off the shelf to read.  You’ve seen a quote or two already, but here is the synopsis and recommendation by Nathan Williams at Pulpit Magazine, which I heartily commend and with which I agree:

One of the main areas in which Christians struggle to maintain the proper balance is the tension between living as citizens of heaven and citizens of earth. Stephen Nichols wrote Heaven on Earth to deal with this tension. However, he does not go it alone. The entire book is based on the sermons of Jonathan Edwards. Through the explanation of several of Edwards’ sermons, Nichols expounds the vision Edwards had of living on earth as a citizen of heaven.

Heaven on Earth is a short book, but is filled with helpful explanations of Edwards’ thoughts on heaven. Nichols begins the book with the problem being discussed, namely that we live as dual citizens, and we must learn how to properly balance our time and efforts to reflect our commitment to heaven but our desire to impact this earth with the gospel. He explains the two extremes that Christians often fall into. First, there are those Christians that Nichols calls “monastery Christians.” They live a life fearful of the world around them and with no desire to interact with it at all. “They refuse to live in this world and instead construct an entirely Christian one, from which they rarely break out.” (p. 19) In contrast to these people are those Christians who live for this world so much that it appears they aren’t even aware of the one to come. “They are consumed by this world’s agenda and are driven by its passions.” (p. 19)

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