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Pero's Bridge, Bristol, England with its two counterweights Credit: Adrian Pingstone/Wikipeida/Creative Commons

A counterweight to worry

Pero’s Bridge is one of the world’s stranger looking bridges. Built in 1999, it is a pedestrian drawbridge that spans St. Augustine’s beach in Bristol, England. The two outside sections are attached to land and the inner section serves as a drawbridge that raises to allow boats to pass beneath. It has two distinctive, horn-like objects on either side of the bridge. At first glance, it seems they are nothing more than abstract art added to decorate the bridge. In fact, it is art, but they also serve as important counterweights that exert force in the opposite direction allowing the inner span to raise quickly. Also called a “bascule” bridge — French for “balanced scale” — people have used this type of design for centuries because counterweights raise bridge spans quickly and with relatively little energy. Like a bascule bridge, we all need something to counter what life throws at us. As you watch the media, a person can quickly be caught up worrying about world events and our rapidly changing society. We worry about …

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega sharing on their devotional Vlog WOW (Words of Wisdom): Credit YouTube Capture

Hollywood celebrities Carlos and Alexa PenaVega talk about the power of prayer

Actress Alexa PenaVega (nee Vega) recently shared an Instagram post on how prayer raised her 93 year-old-grandmother from the deathbed. This past week has been a struggle for my family as our beautiful abuelita (grandma) was on life support. It has been a bitter sweet experience. Here is this woman who has had such a full and beautiful life… 93 years old…12 kids… more than 50 grand kids…10 great grand children… just the most incredible little Colombian woman inside and out. This week her lungs collapsed. Her heart started failing. Her stomach stopped working and she fell into a coma. As we all prepared ourselves to say goodbye my family’s local church members came to her side and prayed over her for over five hours. When I say the power of prayer can bring forth the most amazing miracles THIS WILL FLOOR YOU. Our abuelita Yeya woke up completely healed. The Dr.’s cannot find anything wrong with her. They can’t explain it. They keep running tests to try to make sense of it all. But …

Credit: Antonio Ponte/Flickr/Creative Commons

Sex addiction is real

Dr. Stefanie Carnes is president of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). She recently came out against those in the therapy community who do not believe people can be sex addicts. IITAP provides materials and support for those working in the addiction community. She pointed to several studies that show sex addiction is a very real problem. In particular, she cited the recent research of Ji-Woo Seok and Jin-Hun Sohn at Chungnam National University in South Korea. The two work at the university’s brain research institute. Their findings confirmed what earlier studies have shown — sex addiction is real for both men and women. In their study, Seok and Sohn found that people with a sex addiction share many similarities to those with alcohol and drug addictions. Like other addicts, those with a sex addiction spend an inordinate amount of time searching for pornography to satisfy their craving. Sex addicts have the same level of sexual desire as the normal population, but similar to other addictions have a higher degree of wanting …

Credit: Jonathan Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does God Dance?

A Bible verse recently caught my attention: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy. He will be quiet in his love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NASV) The Hebrew word, ‘rejoice,’  means to “spin around under violent emotion.” The phrase “rejoice over you” literally means to “dance, skip, leap, and spin in joy.” So, the latter part of this verse is more accurately translated, “He will dance over you with singing.” I love the visualization that comes to my mind when I read this.  God is portrayed as a mighty warrior, singing and dancing over me with shouts of joy. It describes how a warrior must have felt in the Old Testament after winning a hard-fought battle and realizing the victory was his. I can envision power, authority and strength exuding from him as he steps into a victory dance. I imagine whooping, hollering, leaping, dancing and victory shouts. We see it today, as well. It’s not much …

Do you love yourself? Credit: chandrika221/Flickr/Creative Commons

Do we need to love ourselves?

“The second is: ‘You must love others as much as yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.” (Mark 12:3) According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, loving yourself from a biblical perspective refers to loving the image of God in you and the way He created you. This is not referring to a conceited, prideful, self-worship type of love. Loving yourself and embracing your significance as a Christian is vital. We need to love and value ourselves in the same way God does. Low self-esteem, beating ourselves up emotionally and physically (body image), defining ourselves through past mistakes and failures are all signs that we are not loving ourselves in the same way God loves us. We can be bitter and unforgiving towards others. But we can also be bitter and unforgiving towards ourselves and God because of the way we perceive ourselves  through our body image or  the way things turned out for us in life. I am learning that it  is just as important to forgive myself  as it is to forgive others. Understanding …

Thiago Brado: YouTube Capture

New Brazilian worship song “Minha Essência” (My Essence)

I encourage you to listen to this video by Thiago Brado, a worship singer from Brazil.  The song sung in Portuguese, entitled My Essence in English, has nearly 4.3 million views on YouTube. Thiago, 25, whose real name is Thiago Oliveira da Silva started singing at the age of 10. At 14, he attended a musical conservatory for further training after his grandmother gave him a guitar. Three years later in 2007, Thiago encountered the Holy Spirit at a Catholic Charismatic meeting in Brazil that transformed his life. He has been attending ever since. During these gatherings his attention was drawn to worship and today Thiago says: “I sing what the Lord wants me to sing.” Several years back, my wife and I met a young couple involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement in Peru. I was genuinely impressed with their faith. We spent an evening with them and our discussion eventually turned to doctrine. Ok I confess, I asked them their views on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Though they were still Catholic in …

Mormon Row -- a collection of historic Mormon homes, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, US Photo: Hans Watson/Flickr

A Lesson from Mormon Missionaries

While we were busy, the world moved. Religion as we knew it is passing away. One example of this shift is the LDS Mormon experience with missionaries. A recent article from Salt Lake City stated that Mormons have increased the number of young missionaries, but the number of new converts has not increased much. 44% more missionaries, have only produced 4% more converts. In corporate thinking, that is a failed return on investment. The unknown statistic is how many members are dropping out. It is possible that the LDS church is shrinking, as it loses more than it gains. There are large organizations for ExMos, ex Mormons who work aggressively to convince others to leave, and drop out rates are high. I believe the same trends are true for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I have no reliable statistics. I was once invited to a covert meeting of JW drop outs, conducted like a typical twelve step program. I am sure that many evangelical groups are shrinking in the same way. Drop-outs outnumber new converts, for …

The failure that helped make Lincoln president

[by Earl Blacklock] Robert Todd Lincoln was a witness to some of the most momentous moments of American history. As Secretary of War under President James A. Garfield, he witnessed Garfield’s assassination at the hands of Charles Guiteau. He was Minister to the Court of St. James (U.S. Ambassador to Britain) under President Benjamin Harrison. He succeeded George Pullman as the President of the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1898 and, at the invitation of President William McKinley, he was at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo when McKinley was gunned down by Leon Czolgosz. Despite his lifetime of achievement, however, it was his record of failure which was, perhaps, his greatest contribution to history. Robert Todd Lincoln was the first son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, and the only one to reach adulthood.

A sacrificial gift of 18 cents

“Please don’t be mad I don’t have much. I’m homeless. God bless.” [by Dean Smith] These were the words of a short note written on an offering envelope containing an 18 cent donation deposited in the offering plate at the First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, during a recent Sunday service. Charlotte has a bustling financial center. Bank of America is headquartered there, as is Well Fargo’s east coast headquarters. Located downtown, the church is near the financial district, but is also near a homeless shelter. It is not uncommon for a few homeless people to attend services as the church provides a breakfast Sunday morning for anyone interested in joining them.

Media mocks Wisconsin governor seeking God’s will on running for president

[by Dean Smith] Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is considering seeking the Republican nomination for the American 2016 Presidential elections. Speaking to the National Religious Broadcasters in February, Walker confided he is still trying to decide God’s direction on this decision. Walker said: “I’m still trying to decipher if this is God’s calling. You’ve got to be crazy to want to be President of the United States … To look at what it does to a person and a family you have got to be crazy. But you should only do it if you feel God’s called you to get in there and make a difference. We’re still trying to decide and we’re going to ask you for your prayers in that regard.” This statement was picked up by a number of media types, including the Wallstreet Journal.  But perhaps the most odd response came from a series of tweets made by Political Wire publisher Taegan Goddard.

New, more virulent form of HIV discovered in Cuba

Cuban Doctors have discovered a more lethal form of HIV in some patients on that island nation. Normally, it takes anywhere from five to 10 years for HIV to develop into full-blown AIDs. An individual’s health usually plays a role in how quickly that happens. However, this new form of HIV is making the transition in three years and the individual’s health does not seem to be a factor.

Sun has gone quiet, scientists concerned mini ice age is looming

The sun has gone quiet and this has not only puzzled scientists but concerned them as well, as it could signal the earth is entering a mini ice age. The ‘quiet’ they are talking about is an unexpected drop in sunspots and flare activity on the sun. When it comes to these types of solar activities, the sun has a regular 11 year cycle where it goes from a solar maximum — lots of sunspots and solar storms — to a solar minimum with very few. But the sun is breaking all the solar rules. The sun was supposed to be at its maximum in 2013, but instead it is strangely quiet. In fact, this is the quietest the sun has been in 100 years.

Texas passes stricter abortion laws

Late Friday (July 12, 2013), the Texas Senate passed a law restricting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation also requires abortion clinics maintain the same health standards as hospital surgical units. All that remains for the legislation to come into effect is for Governor Rick Perry to sign the bill. “Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life. This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health.” said Perry shortly after the Senate passed the legislation.