Saturday, December 21, 2013

All Around the Web - December 21, 2013

Thom Rainer - Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors
  1. Giving their families deserved time. In reality, no pastor has a day off. It is a 24/7 call where the next phone call or email means a dramatic change in their priorities. Deaths, accidents, and emergencies know no clock or holidays or vacation. Pastors are often required to leave their families to meet those needs. And pastors worry about their families and their needs.
  2. An unhappy spouse. No one can serve in a church or do any job with joy if their spouse is unhappy. The pastor is certainly not exempt from that stressor. Some of the unhappiness of pastors’ spouses is related to the first stressor noted. Some of it is related to the next stressor on the list. And still other times, spouses are expected to fill roles in the church because of who they married, not because they are equipped or desirous to do so.
  3. The glass house. One pastor wrote me that he struggles greatly because several church members have clear expectations about what clothes his wife and children wear, how the kids behave, and even what school they should attend. Other pastors have less severe cases of the glass house, but any level of this syndrome is uncomfortable.
  4. Lacking competencies in key areas. The ideal pastor is a great leader, psychologist, counselor, financial manager, orator, teacher, conflict manager, human resources professional, and strategist. No pastor is great in every area. Many pastors feel stress because they know more is expected of them in areas where they are not very strong.
  5. Personal financial needs. Many pastors feel financial stress because they do not make sufficient income to meet their families’ needs. The pastor who worries about paying the bills is the pastor who cannot focus on the ministry and the people of the church.
  6. Responding to criticisms. All leaders are and will be criticized. Pastors are no exception. The challenge that pastors and other leaders have is how to respond appropriately to criticism. Some critics should be heard. Some should be heeded. Others need to be ignored. It is often difficult to know which approach to take.
  7. Lack of a confidant. Pastors need a pastor. Pastors need someone who can be their confidant. Pastors need someone who will not judge them when they let off steam or complain about unhealthy situations and people. Very few pastors have such a friend or confidant. All of them need one.

RC Sproul - Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?
That question comes up every year at Christmastime. In the first place, there’s no direct biblical commandment to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. There’s nothing in the Bible that would even indicate that Jesus was born on December 25. In fact, there’s much in the New Testament narratives that would indicate that it didn’t occur during that time of year. It just so happens that on the twenty-fifth of December in the Roman Empire there was a pagan holiday that was linked to mystery religions; the pagans celebrated their festival on December 25. The Christians didn’t want to participate in that, and so they said, “While everybody else is celebrating this pagan thing, we’re going to have our own celebration. We’re going to celebrate the thing that’s most important in our lives, the incarnation of God, the birth of Jesus Christ. So this is going to be a time of joyous festivities, of celebration and worship of our God and King.”

I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year. Keep in mind that the whole principle of annual festival and celebration is deeply rooted in ancient Jewish tradition. In the Old Testament, for example, there were times when God emphatically commanded the people to remember certain events with annual celebrations. While the New Testament doesn’t require that we celebrate Christmas every year, I certainly see nothing wrong with the church’s entering into this joyous time of celebrating the Incarnation, which is the dividing point of all human history. Originally, it was intended to honor, not Mithras or any of the other mystery religion cults, but the birth of our King.

WDAM - Teen addiction to pornography a growing problem
The statistics are truly shocking. Children aged 12 to 17 are one of the largest consumer groups of online porn. Experts say this early exposure to sexually explicit video can hook kids on hardcore and often violent imagery.

Shelley Lubben is a former adult film actress turned anti-porn advocate. In 2008, she created the pink cross foundation which offers resources for teens struggling with porn addiction.

"We are raising a whole generation of porn addicts," says Shelley, "When you view pornography, it creates a chemical reaction in your brain, and for a youth who is in puberty, it's like a hundred times more stimulation."

Joseph Sciambra was first exposed to pornography when he was only 8 years old. And his fascination with porn turned into an obsession as a teenager.

"It's a difficult time in your life.  You're feeling inadequate and lonely and depressed. And pornography really offers an escape," says Sciambra.

By the time he was 19, it was no longer enough to just watch porn, he had to be in it. So Scaimbra decided to become a porn star. He writes all about his experience in his book Swallowed by Satan.

Consumer Reports - Are too many kids taking antipsychotic drugs?
The number of children taking powerful antipsychotic drugs has nearly tripled over the last 10 to 15 years, according to recent research. The increase comes not because of an epidemic of schizophrenia or other forms of serious mental illness in children, but because doctors are increasingly prescribing the drugs to treat behavior problems, a use not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And a disproportionate number of those prescriptions are written for poor and minority children, some as young as age 2.

Doctors are prescribing antipsychotics even though there’s minimal evidence that the drugs help kids for approved uses, much less the unapproved ones, such as behavioral problems. And to make matters worse, the little research there is suggests the drugs can cause troubling side effects, including weight gain, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.

Doctors can legally—and commonly do—write prescriptions for any medication they see fit to treat a condition. (See here for more details on off-label prescribing)

OC Register - Mark Landsbaum: Climate alarmists' search for proof going cold
Recall global warming hysteria’s halcyon days? Just 13 years ago, Dr. David Viner, senior scientist at Britain’s University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, confidently predicted that, within a few years, winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event.”

“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

Of course, that doesn’t mesh with what happened. This past October, the UK Express headlined, “Worst winter for decades: Record-breaking snow predicted for November.”

By the end of November, Brits were shivering, “as Britain faces snow, ice and plummeting temperatures,” reported the Mirror newspaper. “Most of Scotland has been issued severe weather warnings for ice, and temperatures are expected to remain low, causing problems with snow and ice across the country.” Winter yet lay ahead.

We shouldn’t pick on Great Britain. There is plenty of global warming foolishness here at home. Recall James Hansen, global warming guru whose alarmist campaign was underwritten by his NASA paycheck. By the 2020s, Hansen predicted in 1986, the U.S. average annual temperature would rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit, or more, and up to 3 degrees by the 2010s.


There is some strong language in the video below.

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