One of the most captivating books on Christian spirituality that I've read in the past few years has been Blue Like Jazz - Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. Written by Donald Miller, it is equally challenging and entertaining. If you haven't read it, you should!
Just out of curiosity, I decided to see what are the current Christian best sellers. I found it interesting that Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis continues to rank among the best selling books. I first tried to read Mere Christianity while a freshman in high school and it made my brain cramp. Only later did I come back to the book and really enjoyed it. Here's a link to it at Family Christian Bookstore
Blue Haven Pools and Spas Supplies Direct is giving away free beach balls to contest winners. All you have have to do is register for a chance to win. Who wouldn't want to win a free beach ball during the middle of winter?!?
We'll pick a different winner every day.
If you enjoy occasionally peeking into the collective psyche of the world, you might try looking at Google Trends. Google takes in between 400-500 million searches a day. On the top end of the range, that works out to an average of 5,787 searches ... per second! I certainly add a few numbers to the daily search totals myself.
Google Trends (www.google.com/trends) is a new section of Google that allows you to see what the hottest search words and phrases are. As Google says, "Hot Trends highlights searches that have sudden surges in popularity." Many times you can tell what is in the news by looking at what gets searched for. Many times you’re just confused!
Just out of curiousity, I pulled it up for Friday, January 18. Top search phrase: "yin and yang." Number two: "sheep dash."
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution came in at number 14.
In a humbling display of arrogance, Google had the audacity to give me this message: "Your terms - Ken Hensley - do not have enough search volume to show graphs." At least I know my number of internet stalkers is fairly low -- at least on January 18.
While Christ-followers need to be aware of what is moving through our culture, it is also too easy to get caught up in it. The German theologian Karl Barth was once asked about what made for good preaching. His response: A Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. In other words, effective Christ-followers bridge two worlds -- the world we live in and the world of God.
When they compliment each other, there is tremendous synergy. Christians have harnessed the power of radio waves, television broadcasts, and the internet. These are not good or bad mediums -- they are neutral advances in culture until harnessed for good or bad. Creating music that fits the times is another powerful example of effectively bridging two worlds.
When the two worlds collide, we yield to the reality of God’s truth. Our challenge is to use culture when appropriate and to draw a line when necessary. This is the tension that authentic Christ-followers have lived with for centuries.
Add that to your Google Trends!
One of the lesson’s I learned while battling a recent cold ... cable news networks only track three stories at a time and use 12 different anchors to tell you the same thing, but in a slightly different way. And whenever a lead-in proclaims, "Breaking News" ... it’s probably not.
Yesterday happened to be Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania claims to be the home of the original groundhog and even gave it a name -- Punxsutawney Phil.
Every year the locals dress up in old-fashioned costumes and wait for Phil. We’re not quite sure how many “Phil’s” there actually are since groundhogs tend to look alike. But the locals have a good time nonetheless.
While doing some research into Groundhog Day, I came across a few lesser-known groundhogs:
Wiarton Willie of Wiarton, Ontario
Staten Island Chuck of in New York City, New York
Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina
Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
The last one sounds like a member of the groundhog mafia or possibly a retired sportscaster.
On the one hand, it’s kind of quaint that the men of Punxsutawney dress up in top hats and gather in a field at 4:30 in the morning to await Phil’s arrival. Six weeks of weather hangs in the balance.
It’s quite another matter to make life decisions based upon the behavior of a groundhog.
For several years I have been fascinated by how people go about making decisions. I’ve known coupon clippers who would drive to two or three different grocery stores to save fifty cents here and a dollar there. Some of these same people would turn right around and buy a $1,000 television without doing any comparison shopping whatsoever.
Retailers love impulse shoppers. In fact, there is a quite a bit of psychology that influences how a store is designed and where products are placed -- all in an effort to influence buying habits. Trust me, they’re not concerned with how to save you money.
How do we as Christ-followers make decisions? Several years ago, Pastor Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled, “Too Busy Not to Pray.” He was reacting to people who say, “I’m just too busy to pray.” The truth is, the busier you are, the more you need to pray!