CHURCH HISTORY & The Rise & Fall of Roman Civilization: Every Year Shown in a Timelapse Map Video Animation (753 BC -1479 AD)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: it’s important to understand when Jesus was born in relationship to world events. You can see a divine purpose behind the timing of his birth. This short, animated video is helpful in depicting the spread and growth of the Roman Empire and how the Good News traveled across across the Roman roads.

More time lapse maps available at … https://m.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=277&v=w5zYpWcz1-E&embeds_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.openculture.com%2F&source_ve_path=Mjg2NjIsMjg2NjMsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMjg2NjMsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDIsMzY4NDI&feature=emb_logo

WFH (WORK FROM HOME) & Work patterns continue to shift nearly three years into the pandemic. Friday & Thursday now most popular days for hybrid workers to take off.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: when the pandemic began leaders, hoped that people working from home would take off days earlier in the week (e.g. Mondays) and then work harder later in the week. But the opposite seems to be true with more people today taking off Thursdays and Fridays than any other day during a five day work week.

This has implications for the leader and the church staff. The staff may prefer taking off days later in the week, which also are nearer the weekend and may frustrate Sunday preparation plans.

But there is a silver lining. Church volunteers may be more available on Thursdays and Fridays than other days during the week. This is because remote workers are increasingly taking those days off. Read this article to learn more.

A shift in the most popular remote-work days has puzzled the experts

by Matthew Boyle and Bloomberg, Fortune Magazine, 12/16/22.

Hybrid workers are settling into a pattern of staying home twice a week, but it’s not the days you’d expect.

While many companies’ flexible-work plans have sought to get people in the office Tuesday through Thursday, and work from home Monday and Friday, it turns out that workers are staying home more often on Thursday. 

That’s according to new data from WFH Research, a team of academics including Stanford University’s Nicholas Bloom that has compiled data on the actions and attitudes of tens of thousands of American workers since the pandemic began. 

Friday ranks as the most popular day to work from home over the past six months, followed closely by Thursday, while Wednesday is the most common day to be on site.

The findings show how work patterns continue to shift nearly three years into the pandemic, and also reinforce how difficult it is for companies to enforce strict mandates about returning to the office, especially in a stubbornly tight labor market.

Read more at … https://fortune.com/2022/12/16/most-popular-remote-work-days-puzzling-experts/

CHRISTMAS & The Story Behind “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” per today’s article in Biblical Leadership Magazine.

Charles Wesley had an important leadership principle in mind when he penned this Christmas classic.

As Rebecca’s and my Christmas blessing to you, below is the story about an important “lesson” behind the Christmas hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Your Partners in the missio Dei.
Rebecca and Bob
REBECCA AND BOB WHITESEL

CHRISTMAS & Fun questions to share with family and friends (even virtually) to discover the real meaning of Christmas.

If you are like Rebecca and me, you’re probably spending time with some family members via Zoom.

Here is our gift.  A Christmas trivia game (scroll below) that I edited together for our extended family. It can be shared in person or online. And, it leads to the real meaning of this season.

Trivia Rules (can be played online or in person)

Requirements  
  – 12 pieces of notebook paper
  – Dark marker pen
  – Divide into teams (family or other)

Host will ask you a question …
  – Mute your microphones (if online) or deliberate quitetly
  – Deliberate 30 seconds
  – Write down your answer and show it when asked.

——— Family (part 1) ——— 

Question: How many ghosts show up in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: Four

Question: In Home Alone, where are the McCallisters going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind?
Answer: Paris

Question: Three of Santa’s reindeer’s names begin with the letter “D.” What are those names?
Answer: Dancer, Dasher, and Donner

Question: In which modern-day country was St. Nicholas born?
Answer: Turkey (in the ancient area of Lycia)

——— Kids only (part 2) ——— 

Question: What did the other reindeer not let Rudolph do because of his shiny red nose?
Answer: Join in any reindeer games

Question: In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, what was the first name of Scrooge?
Answer: Ebenezer

Question: Which one of Santa’s reindeer has the same name as another holiday mascot?
Answer: Cupid

Question: What words follow “Silent Night” in the song?
Answer: Holy night

——— Family (part 3) ——— 

Question: What is Ralphie’s little brother’s name in the movie A Christmas Story?
Answer: Randy

Question: According to the song, what did my true love give to me on the eighth day of Christmas?
Answer: Eight maids a-milking

Question: In the movie Elf, what was the first rule of The Code of Elves?
Answer: Treat every day like Christmas

Question: The movie Miracle on 34th Street is based on a real-life department store. What is it?
Answer:Macy’s

——— Kids only (part 4) ——— 

Question: What gift did the Little Drummer Boy give to the newborn Christ?
Answer: He played a song for him on his drums

Question: Which fairy tale were the first gingerbread houses inspired by?
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

Question: What was Frosty the Snowman’s nose made out?
Answer: A button

Question: Visions of which food danced in children’s heads as they slept in the poem “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas?”
Answer: Sugar plums

——— Family (part 5) ——— 

Question: What is the name of the last ghost that visits Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

Question: How many gifts in total were given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song?
Answer: 364

Question: What is the first and last name of George Bailey’s guardian angel in It’s A Wonderful Life?
Answer: Clarence Odbody

Question: In the song “Winter Wonderland,” what do we call the snowman?
Answer: Parson Brown

——— Kids (part 6) ——— 

Question: In what town was baby Jesus born?
Answer: In Bethlehem

Question: What stopped over the town of Bethlehem and led the wise men to Jesus?
Answer: The star

Question: Why was Jesus born in a stable?
Answer: There was no room in the inn

Question: What did the angels sing to the shepherds?
Answer: Glory to God, in the highest. 

Mike, it is our prayer that this simple trivia quiz will be a springboard to sharing the story of our Savior’s birth with your family and friends.  

Bob
BOB WHITESEL, DMIN, PHD
COACH, CONSULTANT, SPEAKER & AWARD-WINNING WRITER/SCHOLAR

Extra  Questions:

Question: Whose eyes are all aglow in “The Christmas Song?”
Answer: Tiny tots

Question: In the movie Elf, how does Buddy get to the North Pole?
Answer: He hides in Santa’s sack

Question: Who wrote, “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more?”
Answer:Dr. Seuss

Question: Where did there arise such a clatter?
Answer: On the lawn

Question: Elvis isn’t going to have a white Christmas, he’s going to have a….
Answer: Blue Christmas

Question: In the movie A Christmas Story, what was the name of the neighbors whose dog ate the Christmas turkey?
Answer: The Bumpuses

Adapted with additions from Parade Magazine, https://parade.com/943457/parade/christmas-trivia/


Requirements  
  – 12 pieces of notebook paper
  – Dark marker pen
  – Divide into teams (family or other)

Host will ask you a question …
  – Mute your microphones (if online) or deliberate quitetly
  – Deliberate 30 seconds
  – Write down your answer and show it when asked.

——— Family (part 1) ——— 

Question: How many ghosts show up in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: Four

Question: In Home Alone, where are the McCallisters going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind?
Answer: Paris

Question: Three of Santa’s reindeer’s names begin with the letter “D.” What are those names?
Answer: Dancer, Dasher, and Donner

Question: In which modern-day country was St. Nicholas born?
Answer: Turkey (in the ancient area of Lycia)

——— Kids only (part 2) ——— 

Question: What did the other reindeer not let Rudolph do because of his shiny red nose?
Answer: Join in any reindeer games

Question: In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, what was the first name of Scrooge?
Answer: Ebenezer

Question: Which one of Santa’s reindeer has the same name as another holiday mascot?
Answer: Cupid

Question: What words follow “Silent Night” in the song?
Answer: Holy night

——— Family (part 3) ——— 

Question: What is Ralphie’s little brother’s name in the movie A Christmas Story?
Answer: Randy

Question: According to the song, what did my true love give to me on the eighth day of Christmas?
Answer: Eight maids a-milking

Question: In the movie Elf, what was the first rule of The Code of Elves?
Answer: Treat every day like Christmas

Question: The movie Miracle on 34th Street is based on a real-life department store. What is it?
Answer:Macy’s

——— Kids only (part 4) ——— 

Question: What gift did the Little Drummer Boy give to the newborn Christ?
Answer: He played a song for him on his drums

Question: Which fairy tale were the first gingerbread houses inspired by?
Answer: Hansel and Gretel

Question: What was Frosty the Snowman’s nose made out?
Answer: A button

Question: Visions of which food danced in children’s heads as they slept in the poem “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas?”
Answer: Sugar plums

——— Family (part 5) ——— 

Question: What is the name of the last ghost that visits Scrooge in A Christmas Carol?
Answer: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

Question: How many gifts in total were given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song?
Answer: 364

Question: What is the first and last name of George Bailey’s guardian angel in It’s A Wonderful Life?
Answer: Clarence Odbody

Question: In the song “Winter Wonderland,” what do we call the snowman?
Answer: Parson Brown

——— Kids (part 6) ——— 

Question: In what town was baby Jesus born?
Answer: In Bethlehem

Question: What stopped over the town of Bethlehem and led the wise men to Jesus?
Answer: The star

Question: Why was Jesus born in a stable?
Answer: There was no room in the inn

Question: What did the angels sing to the shepherds?
Answer: Glory to God, in the highest. 

Mike, it is our prayer that this simple trivia quiz will be a springboard to sharing the story of our Savior’s birth with your family and friends.  

Bob
BOB WHITESEL, DMIN, PHD
COACH, CONSULTANT, SPEAKER & AWARD-WINNING WRITER/SCHOLAR

Extra  Questions:

Question: Whose eyes are all aglow in “The Christmas Song?”
Answer: Tiny tots

Question: In the movie Elf, how does Buddy get to the North Pole?
Answer: He hides in Santa’s sack

Question: Who wrote, “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more?”
Answer:Dr. Seuss

Question: Where did there arise such a clatter?
Answer: On the lawn

Question: Elvis isn’t going to have a white Christmas, he’s going to have a….
Answer: Blue Christmas

Question: In the movie A Christmas Story, what was the name of the neighbors whose dog ate the Christmas turkey?
Answer: The Bumpuses

Adapted with additions from Parade Magazine, https://parade.com/943457/parade/christmas-trivia/

ATTENDANCE & 6 Surprising insights from the latest, every-ten-year U.S. Religion Census.

By John Burger, Aleteia, 12/04/22

… Since 1952, the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies has issued such a report every 10 years (the U.S. Religion Census). Its latest came out November 11, covering the years 2010-2020. It gathers information from religious bodies and maps out the number of congregations and adherents on a county level.

The latest study also found that:

  • The Catholic Church is the largest denomination in 1,231 counties (the US has 3,143 counties).
  • Non-Christian bodies continue to increase their presence. The number of Muslims, for example, increased from 2.6 million to 4.5 million. The USRC includes congregation counts of five other non-Christian bodies, and congregation and adherent counts for Baháʼí, three Buddhist groups, three Hindu groups, and four Jewish groups.
  • Oriental Orthodox Christians have surged but Eastern Orthodox have decreased.
  • Southern Baptists have the most churches of any religious group: 51,379.
  • There are some 44,319 nondenominational churches, a jump of nearly 9,000 over 10 years ago, and about 9 million adherents. 
  • Southern Baptists and United Methodists each lost 2 million members from 2010 to 2020.

“Denominational brands have weakened, and divisions have increased over issues such as female clergy or sexual orientation,” said Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. “This likely led some adherents to seek or even start new nondenominational churches.”

Read more at … https://aleteia.org/2022/12/04/every-10-year-religious-study-of-usa-shows-some-surprising-numbers/

TRENDS & This Is What Leadership Will Be In 2030: 4 Mindsets + 5 Skills. #Forbes Magazine

by Benjamin Laker, Forbes Magazine, 11/30/22.

… Jacob Morgan (in) The Future Leader… interviewed more than 140 top CEOs from around the world at companies like Audi, Mastercard, Unilever, Oracle, SAP, Best Buy, Verizon, and many others.

Jacob asked all of these CEOs … the top skills and mindsets they believe will be most relevant for future leaders over the next decade and beyond.. Jacob put together what he calls, The Notable Nine, which is the top 4 mindsets and top 5 skills that future leaders must master.

Mindsets 

1.Global Citizen

…means thinking globally and embracing diversity. Leaders need to understand and appreciate new cultures, actively seek diverse teams, lead employees with different backgrounds, and know-how to enter and succeed in new global markets. 

2. Servant

… The mindset of the service means that you practice humility and that you serve four groups: your leaders if you have them, your customers, your team, and yourself.

3. Chef

Like chefs balance numerous ingredients to create masterful meals, leaders must balance the two most essential ingredients of any business: humanity and technology… One side can’t succeed without the other. 

4.Explorer

Future leaders need to be like explorers of old and embrace the unknown. They need to be open to new ideas, and change course as the world around them evolves. Just like explorers had to learn continually, leaders need to be super perpetual leaders and practice curiosity. 

Skills

1. Coach

Great coaches motivate, inspire, and engage their teams while caring about each member as an individual. Likewise, future leaders need to appreciate employees as individuals as opposed to viewing everyone as just workers. The best coaches and leaders develop their people to be more successful than them. 

2.Futurist

Futurists make sure organizations aren’t surprised by what the future might bring. The world in which we live and work is continually changing and full of unknowns. Futurists consider multiple scenarios and think through new possibilities. They stay on top of trends and are connected to their networks. This was the #1 skill, according to the 140+ CEOs Jacob interviewed.

3.Technology Teenager

Teenagers seem to always be current on the latest technology, and future leaders must be the same way. They don’t need to be experts in the practical application, but they should embrace technology and know-how to best leverage it to serve their company. They need to be tech-savvy and digitally fluent.

4.Translator

Translators are master communicators. They listen to understand and do more than hear what people are saying.

5.Yoda

But in the future, leaders need to be emotionally intelligent like Yoda and develop their empathy and self-awareness. Great communicators build connections and aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. Empathy understands the feelings and perspectives of others. Self-awareness is about understanding your strengths and weaknesses and helping others understand yours as well.

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjaminlaker/2020/08/05/this-is-what-leadership-will-be-in-2030/?

JUDAISM & CHRISTIANITY & “You Should Know This: A Rabbi Explains Christianity to Jews” an interview with author Rabbi Stephen M. Wylen.

by Jeffrey Salkin, Religion News Service, 11/1/22.

…Why did you write this book? Who is your audience?

…In this case, my audience is all American Jews, and a good portion of American Christians. Jews have so many questions about the religion of our neighbors, and they do not have a reliable place to turn for answers. I have given them answers.

Even though Jews live in an overwhelmingly Christian culture, we do not really understand Christianity as well as we might. Why is that the case?

Jeff, you have defined the problem exactly. There are a number of reasons for our misunderstanding.

First, we get a lot of our information from popular culture — movies, television, popular Christmas songs — and that information is often misleading.

Second, we live in a secular age, and general knowledge about religion is lacking. We can ask a Christian friend a question, but they might not know the right way to answer.

Third, there are still many people out there who want to convert Jews to Christianity, sometimes using deceptive means to reach out to us. This makes Jews defensive and suspicious, and rightly so. Jews need a trusted source for information.

…American Jews need to understand Christianity just like a fish needs to understand the ocean in which it swims. This is our environment.

What are some of the most common Jewish misconceptions about Christianity?

If Jews want to understand Christianity and how it differs from Judaism, first they need to know more about Judaism. That is why this book that explains Christianity contains a lot of Judaism.

…What is the biggest error that Jews and Christians share? The misconception that Christianity and Judaism are opposites. Jews and Christians alike simply assume that if something is Jewish, it’s “not Christian,” and vice versa.

So, for example: If Christians have a religion of love, then it must be that Jews just have a religion of harsh judgment.

If Christians believe in divine forgiveness, then it must be that Jews don’t believe in divine forgiveness.

If Christians believe in an afterlife, then it must be that Jews do not.

If Christianity is all about believing in Jesus, then Judaism is all about not believing in Jesus.

This popular view of Christianity and Judaism as opposites harms Jews and Judaism, and it also misrepresents Christianity. It would be far more accurate to say Christianity and Judaism offer different answers to some of the same compelling questions.

What do you think of the increasing tendency to try to meld these two faiths together and/or to minimize differences?

Everyone wants to get along. And, many households have both Christian and Jewish members. So, people have a stake in minimizing differences.

But, the problem in doing this is that it does violence to both religions. Just as you can only speak a specific language, you can only practice a specific religion. Judaism and Christianity are the “same” — only if you are not practicing either religion in your daily life. If we want to live our religion, it becomes apparent that Judaism and Christianity often contradict each other. That is why they are, in the end, different religions.

Some say we should all forget our differences and just come together. That sounds friendly, but in reality, it threatens the minority faith. It is as if the ocean says to the pond: “Let us merge, and just be one body of water.” If the ocean and the pond merge, the end result is that it will look just like the ocean. But, the ducks, trout and cattails will no longer have a home.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2022/11/01/you-should-know-this-wylen-judaism-christianity-interfaith/

CONFLICT & How to disagree without making someone defensive.

by Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company Magazine, 11/22/22.

…according to Shelby Scarbrough, former international and U.S. Department of State Protocol Officer and author of Civility Rules! Creating a Purposeful Practice of Civility.

Watch your language

First, avoid using accusatory terminology, such as “you should,” or shaming or blaming the other person.

“It’s a surefire way for them to come back with a response that’s defensive or angry if they are sensitive at all about their position on something,” says Scarbrough. “Somebody who’s extremely comfortable and confident in their own position often is not defensive because they don’t need to be. They can have a conversation about any topic and not worry about it’s not a personal slight.”

Focus on your experience

Next, avoid telling someone what to do and giving advice.

“If we want to engage with somebody in a deeper, meaningful level, it’s not about us getting out our views,” she says. “That’s where we kind of go wrong in society these days. We’re so hell bent on getting our own opinion out there and putting it out there as truth or fact rather than realizing that it is a perspective and that there are other perspectives.”

Instead, share your experience…

Sharing your experience illustrates how you’ve come to your view. Start your sentence with, “This has been my experience.” Be willing to be vulnerable and open to push back, says Scarbrough.

“The person might say, ‘Yeah, but’ and that’s okay,” she says. “That doesn’t mean you have to get defensive, too. You can say, ‘I can see this is hitting a nerve and that’s not my purpose. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I would I’d really like to have a conversation about this. And if it’s uncomfortable for you, we don’t have to talk about it.’ That can help calm the situation, so the other person feels safe.”

Check your motive

Ask yourself, do you want to have a conversation about something or do you just want an opportunity to push your position. If it’s the latter, it’s usually a good way to cause someone to get defensive, which creates a dead-end conversation.

If you want to have a conversation, enter it with open-ended curiosity. Scarbrough suggests saying, “Tell me more about that. I’d like to understand your views.”

Read more at … https://www.fastcompany.com/90810773/how-to-disagree-without-making-someone-defensive?

MEMBERSHIP & Presbyterian Church USA reported that it had lost more than 51,000 members in 2021, along with over 100 congregations, and four regional bodies, or presbyteries.

by Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post, 10/26/22.

The most recent numbers for the denomination record that it has around 1.1 million active members and 8,813 member congregations, with 166 presbyteries.

By contrast, in 2012, the PCUSA reported having 1.84 million members (or over 700,000 more than at present) and 10,262 member congregations (or around 1,400 more than at present).

Read more at … https://www.christianpost.com/news/pcusa-to-add-nonbinary-genderqueer-category-to-official-stats.html

GEN. Z & Youth for Christ says over 7,000 made decisions for Christ, doubling total from last year.

by Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post, 11/20/22.

Despite the onslaught of challenges and cultural confusion faced by many of America’s youth, God is at work, says the Christian group Youth for Christ, which saw more than 7,000 children and teens decide to follow Jesus Christ this year, doubling last year’s numbers. 

Youth for Christ, which has 130 chapters nationwide, reports 7,323 individuals gave their lives to Christ this year, according to K-LoveChristian media.

“Twice as many kids made first-time decisions to follow Jesus when compared to last year,” YFC President and CEO Jake Bland was quoted as saying. “It is clear that God’s Spirit is moving through leaders everywhere across the nation, and that the Gospel is as needed and as effective as ever, especially as the unfailing love of Christ meets today’s changing youth landscape.”

Bland added that “there is a growing need among young people,” referring to the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent statement that youth mental health is in a state of emergency.

Despite the onslaught of challenges and cultural confusion faced by many of America’s youth, God is at work, says the Christian group Youth for Christ, which saw more than 7,000 children and teens decide to follow Jesus Christ this year, doubling last year’s numbers. 

Youth for Christ, which has 130 chapters nationwide, reports 7,323 individuals gave their lives to Christ this year, according to K-LoveChristian media.

“Twice as many kids made first-time decisions to follow Jesus when compared to last year,” YFC President and CEO Jake Bland was quoted as saying. “It is clear that God’s Spirit is moving through leaders everywhere across the nation, and that the Gospel is as needed and as effective as ever, especially as the unfailing love of Christ meets today’s changing youth landscape.”

Bland added that “there is a growing need among young people,” referring to the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent statement that youth mental health is in a state of emergency.

Read more at … https://www.christianpost.com/news/youth-for-christ-over-7000-children-teens-accept-christ.html

WORSHIP STYLES & Research Finds Musical Tastes are Linked to Different Personality Traits. #AmericanJournalOfPsychology

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: We all know that musical styles can be divisive. And the following research points out that a criticism about a person’s music feels like a criticism of them. This is because different personalities, identify with different musical styles. To better understand your congregation and how one’s personality is linked to preferences for certain musical styles, see this important research.

Music Preferences and Your Personality: What Your Music Taste Says About You

by Kendra Cherry, Very Well Mind, 10/30/22. Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW

… researchers asked more than 36,000 participants worldwide to rate more than 104 different musical styles. They also filled out Big 5 personality inventories and provided information about their favorite music. The results indicated that personality and musical taste are indeed linked, but other individual differences factor in, too. Here are some of the personality traits the study linked to certain musical styles.

  • Pop. Extroverted, honest, and conventional. Although pop music lovers were hardworking and had high self-esteem, researchers suggest that they are less creative and more uneasy than those enamored by other musical styles.
  • Rap/hip hop. Despite the stereotype that rap lovers are aggressive or violent, the researchers found no such link. However, the rap fans tended to have high self-esteem and were generally more outgoing than fans of other styles.
  • Country. These fans typically identified as hardworking, conventional, outgoing, and conservative. Although country music frequently centers on heartbreak, people who prefer it tended to be emotionally stable. They also ranked lower than others in openness to experience.
  • Rock/heavy metal. Rock and heavy metal often project images of anger, bravado, and aggression. However, this study found such fans to be gentle, creative, and introverted. They also tended to have low self-esteem.
  • Indie. Fans of the indie genre registered as introverted, intellectual, and creative, but less hardworking and gentle than fans of other styles. Passivity, anxiousness, and low self-esteem were other notable personality characteristics.
  • Dance. Those who preferred dance music were typically outgoing, assertive, and open to experience but ranked lower than others in gentleness.
  • Classical. The study’s classical music lovers were generally somewhat introverted but at ease with themselves. Creativity and healthy self-esteem were common among them.
  • Jazz, blues, and soul. Extroverted with high self-esteem. They also tend to be very creative, intelligent, and at ease.

The study further suggests that people define themselves through music and use it as a means to relate to other people. This explains why people sometimes feel defensive about their taste in music: A criticism about their music feels like a criticism of them.1

Footnote:

1. North AC. Individual differences in musical taste. The American Journal of Psychology. 2010;123(2):199-208. doi:10.5406/amerjpsyc.123.2.0199

Read more at … https://www.verywellmind.com/music-and-personality-2795424

PREACHING/TEACHING & Emotions heighten memory, but unfortunately for preachers and teachers it is less pleasant emotions that tend to win out when it comes to memory.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Ever have a sermon or teaching plan where everything goes well except for one snafu. And perhaps the misstep creates confusion or anxiety in your listeners. Unfortunately, research shows that this misstep may be the main point people remember from your sermon or teaching. The lesson is to try to keep negative emotions to a minimum.

Michelle D. Miller. (2014). Minds Online : Teaching Effectively with Technology. Harvard University Press. p. 97

Generally speaking, emotions heighten memory.16 However, the type of emotion matters, and unfortunately for teachers, the less pleasant emotions tend to win out when it comes to memory. In contrast to the classical Freudian view that we repress painful memories, contemporary researchers have discovered that negative emotions— fear, anger, and so forth— actually accentuate memory.17 The effect of negative emotions may have to do with the nature of the interconnection between regions of the brain involved in en-coding memories and areas involved in emotion. One structure in particular— the amygdala, located deep within the brain— is highly attuned to strong emotions, particularly negative ones. It becomes more active in the presence of emotionally charged stimuli— for example, an angry- looking face.18 In this highly activated state, the amygdala ramps up the creation of memories via its connections to the hippocampus, a structure that’s heavily involved in creating memories, and via its connections to other memory regions in the ce re bral cortex. But although the emotion effect is strongest for negative emotions, there is still some benefi t for positive emotional tone,19 so that any kind of emotional charge can help trigger im-proved memory.

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & How and When Does Conversion Occur?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D. (excerpted from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey, Abingdon Press, pp. 140-143).

Does conversion occur in a flash, with miraculous transformations and heavenly encounters?  Does conversion take place over time?  Or perhaps conversion is a stumbling process, where the conversionary experience takes place in what Richard Peace calls “fits and starts.”[i]  Richard Peace, Scot McKnight and others have looked at the New Testament record and conclude that the answer is “all of the above.”[ii]  Let us look at three basic categories.

Sudden Conversion.  Sometimes conversion takes place “in a flash … a sudden point-in-time transformation based on an encounter with Jesus.”[iii]  This is the experience of Saul/Paul in Acts 9, and has became the standard way the evangelical church looks at conversion.[iv]  At the altar sudden and dramatic responses are often expected, door-to-door visits lead to a “prayer of commitment,” and mass rallies end with an appeal to come forward for conversion.[v]  While this may be required to facilitate a person on the verge of a sudden conversionary experience, not all conversions happen in this manner.  Psychologist Lewis Rambo, in an exhaustive look at religious conversion, concludes that “for the most part it (religious conversion) takes place over a period of time.”[vi]  Thus, the evangelical church may be limiting the number of wayfarers she can help by focusing too exclusively on sudden conversion.  

Progressive Conversion.[vii] A closer look at the Gospel of Mark reveals that Mark was describing a different, more gradual paradigm of conversion.  As Peace notes:

“What Mark sought to communicate in his Gospel was the process by which these twelve men gradually turned, over time, from their  culturally derived understanding of Jesus as a great teacher to the amazing discovery that he was actually the Messiah who was the Son of God. In showing how the Twelve turned to Jesus, step-by-step, Mark was inviting his readers to undergo the same journey of conversion.”[viii]

Peace concludes that “what happened to Paul, and what happened to the Twelve was identical in terms of theological understanding, though quite different experientially.”[ix]

Scot McKnight describes how progressive conversion can take place in churches that practice infant baptism.  McKnight states, “for many Christians conversion is a process of socialization,”[x] meaning that nurture is confirmed later by personal affirmation.  For example, an infant baptism or an infant dedication can be seen as a public affirmation that the church community and parents will nurture that child (i.e. via spiritual socialization).  After growing up in this environment of spiritual socialization and religious community, the grown child will be expected to ratify this effort via further instruction (i.e. catechism) and confirmation.  

Liturgical Acts and Conversion.  McKnight also notes that in some liturgical traditions, such as the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, while conversion is experienced, the sacraments are more involved.  Thus, baptism, the Eucharist and “official rites of passage” are where conversionary experiences often take place for “liturgical converts.”[xi]  There is nothing to preclude that God can use such spiritual rites as touchstone experiences where metanoia (repentance) is combined with pistis (faithin order to bring about epistophe (conversion).

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7 and read more in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Abingdon Press, 2010). Please remember, if you enjoy the free download please consider supporting the author and the publisher who invested in this book by purchasing a copy.

[i] Charles Kraft, Christian Conversion As A Dynamic Process,” International Christian Broadcasters Bulletin, [Colorado Springs, Colo.: International Christian Broadcasters, 1974], Second Quarter; Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels; Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, 6; Peace, “Conflicting Understandings of Christian Conversion;” Lewis R. Rambo, Understanding Religious Conversion (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993).

[ii] Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels

[iii] Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, 6.

[iv] Peace, “Conflicting Understandings of Christian Conversion,” 8-9.

[v] Donald Miller’s analysis of the results of crusade evangelism in the Harvest Crusades with evangelist Greg Laurie discovered that only about 10 percent of the decisions for Christ resulted in long-term changes in personal behavior (Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the new Millennium, Berkley: University of Calif. Press, 1997), 171-172.  However, Sterling Huston’s earlier research on the Billy Graham Crusades suggested the results were six times this (Sterling W. Huston, Crusade Evangelism and the Local Church [Minneapolis, Minn.: World Wide Publishing, 1984]).  Whether these discrepancies were the result of tactics, cultures, samples or eras remains to be researched.  The answer may lie somewhere in between. The ambiguity of these results begs further analysis by researchers. 

[vi] Rambo, Understanding Religious Conversion, 165.

[vii] Charles Kraft introduced terminology to distinguish the different types of people that experience sudden conversion or progressive conversion.  On the on hand, Kraft saw people who undergo radical and sudden conversion as usually “first generation Christians” who previously had only been moderately influenced by Christian principles.  On the other hand, Kraft saw “second-generation Christians” as those who were raised in Christian homes and in which “there may be little or no behavioral change evident as a result of the conscious decision to personally affirm one’s commitment to the Christian community in which one has been practicing since birth” (Charles Kraft, Christian Conversion As A Dynamic Process,” International Christian Broadcasters Bulletin, 8.)  While the terms “first” and “second generation Christians” have been widely used, these terms cause some problems. First, Paul’s conversion was certainly radical and sudden (Acts 9), yet he had been practicing a devout lifestyle (Acts 23:6), so in Kraft’s paradigm he should have had a more progressive experience.  In addition, McKnight’s story does not fit with Kraft’s paradigm, for in the interview that concludes this chapter McKnight states that he underwent a radical behavioral change in a progressive sequence.  Thus, the value of Kraft’s insights may be that there are numerous ways that conversion is encountered and that whether a person is a first- or second-generation Christian has some, though limited, affect.  Instead, the emphasis should be upon the fluid role of the Holy Spirit in individualizing conversion to each traveler, for as John 3:7 states, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God” (The Message).

[viii] Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, 4.

[ix] Ibid., 10.  Some may argue that progressive conversion as described in Mark was necessitated because the Holy spirit had not yet been given at the Day of Pentecost.  While this is a valid critique, Lewis Rambo’s research suggesting that most conversion is progressive (Rambo, Understanding Religious Conversion, 165) may indicate that both examples are valid.

[x] Scot McKnight, Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels, 5.

[xi] Ibid., 7.

GRIT & ‘Grit’ Author Angela Duckworth Says This Question Separates People Who Give Up From People Who Get Back Up Again: “Have you crossed the Rubicon?”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: my doctoral students know that I emphasize the importance of persistence and how “Grit” author Angela Duckworth has proven this in her research and illustrated it in her TED talks. Angela Duckworth gives us an important metaphor about not turning back when she asks (article below): “Have you crossed the Rubicon?”

Jesus emphasized this about 2,000 years earlier when he stated, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NIV.

by Jessica Stillman, Inc. Magazine, 11/8/22.

… Duckworth claims mindset also plays an important role in determining whether someone has the grit to weather setbacks.

The difference between grit and giving up, she writes, comes down to whether or not someone has “crossed the Rubicon.” If you’re a little hazy on your history, the expression comes from the time of Julius Caesar. When the Roman general decided to lead his army across the Rubicon river even though the Roman Senate had expressly forbidden him from doing so, he committed a clear act of treason. There was no going back. His options became victory or death. 

Obviously, few of us today literally put our lives on the line in pursuit of our dreams. No one will execute you if your business venture fails. You will live to tell the tale if your acting career doesn’t work out. But Duckworth insists that, for maximum grit, you metaphorically need to “cross the Rubicon” and go all-in in pursuit of your goals. 

“Being all in means you’re fully committed to your goal. You’re no longer weighing the pros and cons of your dreams. Instead, you’re figuring out how to make them a reality,” she writes. Those who cross the Rubicon are no longer asking whether they should chase their goals, they’re solely focused on how to chase them. Changing just that single wordmakes all the difference when it comes to your level of grit. 

“Is that a dream or a plan?”

Duckworth’s instance that mental toughness boils down to focusing on the process you’re using to pursue your goals rather than whether they are the right goals at all reminded me of similar advice from author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss. He too says the difference between dreamers and achievers boils down to a small change in language, though he makes his argument slightly differently.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/grit-author-angela-duckworth-1-word-people-give-up-people-get-back-up.html

GRIT & ‘Grit’ Author Angela Duckworth Says This Question Separates People Who Give Up From People Who Get Back Up Again: “Have you crossed the Rubicon?”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: my doctoral students know that I emphasize the importance of persistence and how “Grit” author Angela Duckworth has proven this in her research and illustrated it in her TED talks. Angela Duckworth gives us an important metaphor about not turning back when she asks (article below): “Have you crossed the Rubicon?”

Jesus emphasized this about 2,000 years earlier when he stated, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NIV.

by Jessica Stillman, Inc. Magazine, 11/8/22.

… Duckworth claims mindset also plays an important role in determining whether someone has the grit to weather setbacks.

The difference between grit and giving up, she writes, comes down to whether or not someone has “crossed the Rubicon.” If you’re a little hazy on your history, the expression comes from the time of Julius Caesar. When the Roman general decided to lead his army across the Rubicon river even though the Roman Senate had expressly forbidden him from doing so, he committed a clear act of treason. There was no going back. His options became victory or death. 

Obviously, few of us today literally put our lives on the line in pursuit of our dreams. No one will execute you if your business venture fails. You will live to tell the tale if your acting career doesn’t work out. But Duckworth insists that, for maximum grit, you metaphorically need to “cross the Rubicon” and go all-in in pursuit of your goals. 

“Being all in means you’re fully committed to your goal. You’re no longer weighing the pros and cons of your dreams. Instead, you’re figuring out how to make them a reality,” she writes. Those who cross the Rubicon are no longer asking whether they should chase their goals, they’re solely focused on how to chase them. Changing just that single wordmakes all the difference when it comes to your level of grit. 

“Is that a dream or a plan?”

Duckworth’s instance that mental toughness boils down to focusing on the process you’re using to pursue your goals rather than whether they are the right goals at all reminded me of similar advice from author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss. He too says the difference between dreamers and achievers boils down to a small change in language, though he makes his argument slightly differently.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/grit-author-angela-duckworth-1-word-people-give-up-people-get-back-up.html

EDUCATION & Does education ‘cure’ people of faith? The data says no.

by Ryan Burge, Religion News Service, 11/10/22.

 It’s been 30 years since The Washington Post published an article on Christian televangelists, describing their followers as “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.” The pushback was immediate and overwhelming, as thousands flooded the Post’s telephone switchboard and letters poured in to its editors after Pat Robertson — a Yale Law School alum himself — read the offending passage on his television show, “The 700 Club.”

It was a watershed in journalism that woke many mainstream outlets to the reality of evangelicals’ demographics and power.

Yet the bias that says that churches, mosques and synagogues are filled with people who have a low level of education persists. The common assumption is that a formal education, particularly a college degree, is antithetical to religious belonging.

Even a cursory look at recent data reveals that just the opposite is true: Those who are the most likely to be religiously unaffiliated are those with the lowest levels of formal education. The group that is the most likely to align with a faith tradition? Those who have earned a college degree or more.

Chart by Ryan Burge

The Cooperative Election Study, one of the largest publicly available surveys in the United States, began in 2008. In all 14 years since, those Americans who attained no more than a high school diploma have been more likely to report no religious affiliation than college graduates. In 2020, 38% of those who did not finish high school described their religion as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular. For those who had completed some graduate school, just 32% said that they were among those unaffiliated with any religious community, a group known as the nones.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2022/11/10/does-education-cure-people-of-faith-the-data-says-no/?

STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP & Three agenda items for your next strategic planning meeting. #HarvardBusinessReview 3STRandLEADERSHIP

Strategic Planning Should Be a Strategic Exercise by Graham Kenny, Harvard Business Review, 10/4/22

… Here are a few pointers to help make your next strategic planning session really “strategic.”

1. Distinguish between operational and strategic plans.

The argument that strategic plans are inevitably not “strategic” is a straw man. Critics conflate strategic and operational plans and then show how strategic plans aren’t strategic. It’s true, operational plans aren’t strategic. The primary focus of a strategic plan is competitiveness. It is designed to respond to change and future opportunities in a way to find advantage. The primary focus of an operational plan is efficiency. Operational plans are designed to roll out strategy via internal department programs developed by, for instance, HR, IT, marketing, and manufacturing.

Take Toyota, for example. A strategic position is decided by Toyota at the corporate level to add electric vehicles to its product range. This is then executed via a production plan rolled out in Toyota’s factories. The first plan is strategic, the second is operational.

2. Don’t think of your strategic plan as fixed.

Few plans ever turn out exactly as drafted. It may seem obvious to state this post-pandemic when every organization on Earth has had to contort itself to survive. But strategic planning’s critics seem to think that strategic planners always assume that the world is standing still — and consequently are doomed to fail in an ever-changing world.

Don’t forget that “strategy” originates from the Greek strategos, which means a general in command of an army. Military chiefs don’t envisage that their plan of attack will remain static after contact with the enemy. Nor should you.

3. Aim for insight.

This is the most difficult shift of all. I’ve often come away from strategic planning sessions with a feeling that we didn’t “nail it.” Not that the clients weren’t happy. They were. I was the one who felt we’d left something “on the table,” so to speak. I’ve come to recognize that my disappointment, if I can call it that, was something I’d now label a lack of insight. What do I mean by that?

It’s that aha moment when the “penny drops” or when you see something with fresh eyes. Should you experience this realization in your strategic planning, appreciate that you’ll be ahead of your competition if you act on it.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2022/10/strategic-planning-should-be-a-strategic-exercise

STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP & Three agenda items for your next strategic planning meeting. #HarvardBusinessReview 3STRandLEADERSHIP

Strategic Planning Should Be a Strategic Exercise by Graham Kenny, Harvard Business Review, 10/4/22

… Here are a few pointers to help make your next strategic planning session really “strategic.”

1. Distinguish between operational and strategic plans.

The argument that strategic plans are inevitably not “strategic” is a straw man. Critics conflate strategic and operational plans and then show how strategic plans aren’t strategic. It’s true, operational plans aren’t strategic. The primary focus of a strategic plan is competitiveness. It is designed to respond to change and future opportunities in a way to find advantage. The primary focus of an operational plan is efficiency. Operational plans are designed to roll out strategy via internal department programs developed by, for instance, HR, IT, marketing, and manufacturing.

Take Toyota, for example. A strategic position is decided by Toyota at the corporate level to add electric vehicles to its product range. This is then executed via a production plan rolled out in Toyota’s factories. The first plan is strategic, the second is operational.

2. Don’t think of your strategic plan as fixed.

Few plans ever turn out exactly as drafted. It may seem obvious to state this post-pandemic when every organization on Earth has had to contort itself to survive. But strategic planning’s critics seem to think that strategic planners always assume that the world is standing still — and consequently are doomed to fail in an ever-changing world.

Don’t forget that “strategy” originates from the Greek strategos, which means a general in command of an army. Military chiefs don’t envisage that their plan of attack will remain static after contact with the enemy. Nor should you.

3. Aim for insight.

This is the most difficult shift of all. I’ve often come away from strategic planning sessions with a feeling that we didn’t “nail it.” Not that the clients weren’t happy. They were. I was the one who felt we’d left something “on the table,” so to speak. I’ve come to recognize that my disappointment, if I can call it that, was something I’d now label a lack of insight. What do I mean by that?

It’s that aha moment when the “penny drops” or when you see something with fresh eyes. Should you experience this realization in your strategic planning, appreciate that you’ll be ahead of your competition if you act on it.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2022/10/strategic-planning-should-be-a-strategic-exercise

FORGIVENESS & When it comes to forgiveness, faith and science agree on the benefits. Across dozens of scientific studies in diverse contexts, the physical and mental health benefits of forgiveness have been validated. See links here.

by Azza Karam,  Andrew Serazin, Religion News Service, 10/24/22.

(RNS) — Forgiveness is an age-old practice central to the teaching of many of the world’s religions. In Islam, forgiveness suggests alignment with Allah. In Judaism, acts of atonement — or Teshuva — are expected for wrongdoing. In Christianity, forgiveness is unconditional, by loving one’s enemies as oneself.

… When it comes to the transformative power of forgiveness, scientists and faith leaders agree on its benefits for long-term mental and physical health. It is clear that the ability to forgive — to transform anger and resentment into hope and healing — can indeed be a restorative and healing act requiring faith. But forgiveness is also backed by an ever-growing body of scientific evidence, one that refines and extends our faith in new ways

… We now know that to receive the most powerful benefits of forgiveness, it requires both the head and heart. Decisional forgiveness, which accesses the cognitive centers of the brain, must be accompanied by emotional forgiveness, which involves a full range of affective consequences.  In addition, over the past two decades research has delivered high-quality evidence that forgiveness improves overall health and well-being, down-regulates the body’s stress response and improves cardiovascular outcomes. 

And for those whose ability to forgive may not be as automatic, scientific knowledge based on tested interventions can support the work of spiritual leaders who seek to help their communities with their forgiveness journeys. Likewise, scientific research has engaged directly with aspects of faith, demonstrating through empirical studies how belief can enhance a person’s ability to forgive.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2022/10/24/when-it-comes-to-forgiveness-faith-and-science-agree-on-the-benefits/?