Is having fun a sin? For years I felt that having fun as a Christian was a sin. I felt bad watching movies and sports. So I took my Bible students with me to watch them for the sake of “mission.” For a time I enjoyed playing Tetris for hours on end. I thought no one knew. But my kids remember and told me so! I felt that Christian life should be one of self-denial (Mt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23)–my key verse for the first two decades of my Christian life in the 1980s-90s. Now I positively encourage everyone to have fun. When West Loop UBF started in 2008, my catchphrase was “Have fun serving God.”
As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 approaches, a good thing UBF emphasizes is to write a review of the previous year and to choose a key verse for the New Year. This post is not my key verse testimony (2014, a year of remembrance). But this is a thought and a prayer which is good for all Christians in the coming year: Love God with our entire being. Continue reading →
A monster? If someone had never met Samuel Lee and all they knew about him they read on the Internet, then he is an egotistical megalomaniac and a cruel, heartless, manipulative, abusive monster who has no redeeming factor or Christian virtues whatsoever.
A machtmensh? Whenever I state anything complimentary about Lee, it is questioned and interpreted in the worst possible light. He is manipulative. He is a power monger (a “machtmensch”). His motive and intent was to enslave you to him and to UBF. Etc. There are elements of truth to this. Continue reading →
These days I love psychology— the science of mind and behavior, the mental or behavioral characteristics of an individual or group, and the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity. The single most helpful resource for me the past several years has been something called the BITE model. This model of control was developed by Steven Hassan, the author of Freedom of Mind.
Ben’s article about being mentally strong reminded me of Dr. Singer’s work. Margaret Singer is the author of Cults in Our Midst. One of her contributions to society is a list of six conditions that create an atmosphere where people’s minds can be influenced to not only give up their personal freedom and choices, but also be persuaded to promote controlling ideologies. This is an important question to consider, and one I’ve asked many times: How could good, smart, capable young adults become entangled with controlling ideology? Why would an intelligent person give up so much control of their life decisions to another person or group? How could so much control be gained over people’s lives without physical force? How could bright young adults be convinced they were making their own decisions while being manipulated into a systematic ideology? Dr. Singer provides a framework to begin finding answers.
I love lists. I love this list of Mentally Strong People: 13 Things They Avoid. It reminds me of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People–one of my favorite books. Mandela, Jeff Bezos and Rick Warren are likely mentally strong people (MSP). See if you belong to the category of MSP by avoiding things on this list.
1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Yourself. MSP do not feel sorry for their situation or dwell on how they were mistreated. They take responsibility for their actions and their outcomes. They understand that life is often unfair. They emerge from bad circumstances with self-awareness (Gen 50:20) and gratitude for lessons learned. They may say, “Oh, well…” or “Next.” Continue reading →
In 1960, approximately 14% of adults in the United States could be classified as obese. By 2008, the prevalence of obesity had risen to one-third. Public-health researchers have estimated that, if the current trends continue, more than half of the American population will be obese in 2030.
Why have our waistlines been expanding so dramatically? Experts agree that there is no single reason; drivers of the obesity epidemic are multifactorial and complex. But one of the crucial factors is our increased consumption of foods that are energy-dense and nutrient-poor. Energy-dense, nutrient-poor is the technical descriptor for what we commonly call junk food: fare that delivers large amounts of calories (mainly from carbohydrates and fats) but little protein, fiber, vitamins and other nourishing substances that our bodies need to stay healthy. Examples of these foods include pizza, french fries, and the classic American donut.
We crave these foods because they taste good. They bring instant gratification to our mouths and stomachs. But over the long term, an energy-dense, nutrient-poor diet leaves us paunchy, sluggish and malnourished. If we want to live long, prosperous and healthy lives, we would do well to limit our consumption of these things in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.
Tragic caricature. The labeling and caricature of anyone is never justifiable. It is certainly not loving nor is it Christ-like behavior. For decades I have heard shepherds and missionaries refer to one of their congregants or Bible students as “a mental patient.” Sadly, I said nothing. Even more sadly, I likely even agreed with them. Though I do not recall labeling anyone “a mental patient,” I have my share of caricatures by referring to others as stubborn, proud, unthankful, lazy, never listening, full of cursed woman’s desire or full of marriage problem. Only by God’s mercy and grace, God has helped me to not label or caricature others anymore. Then again, I think I might consider certain people as “Pharisee,” probably because I am closest to that label myself!
A key to having fun is to truly being yourself and living out who you are. When one is truly who they are, they live in the freedom and contentment and spirit of who they are. There is no pretense about them. But if we are not who we truly are, then we cannot but live to comply with the expectation of others (society, family, church). When we are not who we truly are, we become slaves based on the imposition and oppression of others.
Appreciation. Last Fri, West Loop (WL) held our annual appreciation dinner. Our 12 WL families attended. We had FUN. We went to an all you can eat buffet for $27 per person. You could eat as many lobsters as you wanted. I only had two! We were constantly laughing…and eating. We appreciated our six WL pastors/elders: Rhoel, Henry, Tim, Arthur, Jim, Ben. After dinner, we adjourned to Arthur’s home. We chatted, had drinks, did karaoke…and ate some more. I was “upset” the next day, because I gained 3 lbs! But I had fun. Continue reading →
Yesterday we lost a true visionary, leader and friend of humanity. Nelson Mandela was a man who spent much time in jail, and yet changed the world, especially the world around him. His life is a tremendous inspiration to me. So I would like to share some of his inspiring words.