TRENDS & 6 Pop Culture Examples That Show Faith Isn’t Taboo Anymore.

by Paul Jankowski, Forbes Magazine, 1/2/19.

..,I’ve been studying the role faith plays in marketing to the New Heartland for over a decade. As one of the three core values this cohort, which makes up 60% of the country, prioritizes in their decision-making process, it’s important to explore its relevance in today’s society. 

…Get to a place where you understand the role faith plays.

Lately, entertainment and faith have been intersecting in ways that reflect a New Heartland state of mind. 

Faith and its connection to pop culture is gaining ground with both New Heartland and non-New Heartland personalities leading the way. 

… Here are 6 examples from 2019 of pop culture heavyweights leaning into faith, not away from it…

2. Eric Church Faces Monsters with Prayer 

2019 was the year of embracing faith in country music. Some notable songs featuring faith include Matt Stell’s “Prayed For You,” Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” and Little Big Town’s“The Daughters,” fans were introduced to “Monsters” by Eric Church at the end of the summer. Church sings about the power of prayer when faced with difficult times. Since his first EP, “Sinners Like Me,” Church has danced with faith in his lyrics to much success. 

3. Chance the Rapper Gets Inspiration from Above 

Since Chance the Rapper declared himself as a Christian rapper in 2018, he has lived out the lifestyle very publicly. He uses Jesus’ name on network TV, volunteers for Kids of the Kingdom in his hometown of Chicago, and shares his message of faith through his music. His 2018 single, “Blessings,” opens with the line “I’m gon’ praise Him, praise Him ’til I’m gone. When the praises go up, the blessings come down.” 

  • 4. Dolly Parton Takes Traditional Values to a Non-Traditional Genre

    Swedish DJs Galantis and Dutch singer Mr. Probz approached Parton with a proposal to sing on their EDM remake of John Hiatt’s 80s hit, “Faith.” Many of her country songs have been re purposed as party mixes, but this is the first time she collaborated on a venture of this type outside of her bluegrass roots. Her collaborations following 18 years away from the stage are predominantly faith-focused. In addition to “Faith,” Parton joined forces with For King and Country earlier in 2019 on their song “God Only Knows.” 

    Read more at …

    FAITH & C.S. Lewis’ observation that it is: “Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” 

    [To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

    Read more at …

    FAITH & New research suggests people who see God as someone they can talk to, take the Bible literally, “because this is how the Bible presents God.” #BaylorUniv

    by Sarah Watts, Forbes Magazine, 2/22/19.

    A new study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion has some interesting findings about gender and God.

    …Kent and co-author Christopher M. Pieper, PhD analyzed data from nearly 1400 respondents who participated in the Baylor Religion Survey. In addition to being asked about frequency of church attendance and frequency of prayer, respondents were also asked questions about attachment, such as whether they felt like God is loving and caring, or whether they felt He was distant and uninterested in their day-to-day life. Respondents were also asked questions about Biblical literalism, including whether they believed the Bible contained any human error, and whether it should be taken word-for-word on all subjects as a historical text.

    more so than gender, researchers found that Biblical literalism is tied to a person’s attachment to God. In other words, the more personally attached to God a respondent was, male or female, the more likely he or she was to interpret the Bible literally.

    People who take the Bible literally tend to percieve of God more as a person who can be interacted with,” says Kent. “You can talk to God, he hears you, he talks back. Our argument is essentially that in order to sustain a personal relationship with God as a person, one has to take the Bible literally because this is how the Bible presents God. He’s a being that talks to prophets and prophets talk back.”

    Biblical literalism is also not exclusively tied to any religious group, Kent says.

    “People who look at religion tend to associate literalism with evangelicals,” says Kent. “What we found is that if we break out each of these religious groups – Evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics – we found that you have literalists in each of these categories. There’s more of a relationship between literalism and close personal attachment to God than there is to denomination.”

    Read more at …

    FAITH & Watch this video zoom all the way into the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

    Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Before you watch this short video recreation by the European Southern Observatory of a star system being sucked into the middle of a supermassive black hole that lies at the center of our galaxy, consider what Isaiah said, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” Isaiah 40:26.

    Then, just stop for a minute and wonder at the power of God before you finish reading how Isaiah ends this passage with a familiar and oft quoted verse of reassurance.

    “O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:27-29 & How to find the faith of a son or daughter.

    by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Jan. 2018.

    DAY 9

    The Faith of a Son or Daughter

    Stormy relationships and more storms at sea reminded John Wesley he was not prepared to die. The ministry that began with such promise had ended in disgrace, a lawsuit, and broken relationships. Describing his feelings about the mission’s promise and its failure, he realized that though he had gone to the colonies to convert native Americans, he too was in need of a spiritual change. He knew he needed a spiritual change because “when no danger was near” he could believe, but when facing death his spirit was troubled.” 1 He lamented that could not say, like the apostle Paul; “To die is gain” (Phil. 1:21 NIV). 

    Have you ever felt the same way—that squandered opportunities and the shame of sin make you fearful of meeting God? Wesley’s experience points us toward the spiritual change God wants to make in you. 

    Once John arrived back in England, Peter Bohler, a Moravian, cautioned him that good works and methods were no substitute for a faith that saves a person not only from eternal punishment but also from undue worry and debased passions in this life. John would later recall that, in Georgia, he had had the faith of a “servant,” seeking to please God because of obligation and duty, but that he later came to experience the faith of a “son,” seeking to please God because of their father-son relationship.2

    After returning from Georgia, Charles Wesley became gravely ill and was attended by a godly woman. Impressed by her faith, Charles asked, “Then are you willing to die?” The matron replied, “I am, and would be glad to die in a moment.” After she left, Charles said he felt “a strange palpitation of heart” and declared, “I believe, I believe.”3

    Though we are sometimes weak in faith and lack assurance, God promises that He can grow a “new heart” within us, as Ezekiel reminded the similarly downtrodden Israelites: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be cleansed of all your pollution. I will cleanse you of all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one” (Ezek. 36:25–26).

    A few days later, John attended evensong, an early evening service of prayers and psalms, at stately Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The choir sang Purcell’s profoundly stirring anthem “Out of the Deep Have I Called,” in which Wesley saw his own “godly yearning, mingled with heartfelt anguish.”4

    After evensong Wesley ambled down the adjacent Aldersgate Street toward a Moravian Bible study. He arrived to find the group reading Martin Luther’s Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, in which Luther reminds readers that living out faith fosters a newness and an assurance. When the following passage from the book was read, John’s life was forever changed: “Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God, John 1:12–13. It kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers; and brings with it the Holy Spirit.”5 

    In Wesley’s own words here is what happened next: “About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”6 


    Assurance of one’s relationship with God overcomes fair-weather faith.

    From that moment of conversion, a new assurance took hold of Wesley’s life. No longer was he focused upon a successful career or cultivating relationships with friends and family. Instead with faith like that of a son, characterized by assurance of salvation, grew so that he would be ready to stand before God’s throne at any moment and be welcomed with the words, “Well done! You are a good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23). Formerly John’s career as a churchman and a theologian had focused on his efforts to serve God with strict rules and precise theology. But after his Aldersgate experience, John saw that his relationship with God as a son of a heavenly Father meant that rules and theology serve the relationship, rather than the other way around.

    The lesson for today is that assurance of salvation moves us beyond a fair-weather faith that is dependent upon circumstance. Instead, assurance grows in us the faith of a daughter or son, reminding us that we possess our heavenly Father’s genetics. We represent Him not because we are His servants but because we are His family, doing so with the graciousness, forgiveness, and joyfulness He exemplifies. 


    [Special block or other formatting.] For personal devotion, read the questions, meditate upon each, and write down your responses. For group discussion, share, as appropriate, your answers with your group and then discuss the application.

    Ask yourself, “Do I have a fair-weather faith, confident in my Christianity only when everything is going well? Do I attend to spiritual matters (like Bible study, prayer, and Christian fellowship) only when times are good? Do I find it difficult to have peace and calmness when facing temptation or death?”

    Then ask, “Is my relationship to God more like that of a servant or of a daughter or son? Do I follow God as a servant might, because of obligation and duty? Or do I seek to follow and please God because of a relationship—because I am His child?”

    Can you say, “I am ready to stand before God’s judgment this very hour,” or, “I have the assurance that if I were to die this instant, I would hear God say ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant’”? 

    Read these verses about assurance. Then write down three things you have learned. 

    God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. (Eph. 1:4–6)

    All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ (Rom. 8:14–15)

    You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal. 3:26–27)

    Finally, speak out a short prayer to God, describing your assurance as His enthusiastic child. 

    Speaking hashtag: #Kingswood2018

    NEWNESS & The Route Back (Principles of God’s Plan of Salvation)

    by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2012.

    Why NEW is Needed

    Humans Are in a Pickle.

    As we just noted, humans want to do the right thing, but we find ourselves constantly and repeatedly failing to do what we know is right. God knows we are prone to this (after all he’s a long time observer of our behavior). And, God has made a way for us to be changed. The Message Bible is a good translation for putting such principles in modern idiom, and Figure 7.3 explains this fracture.

    Figure 7.3 Our Wrong Actions Fracture Our Fellowship With God

    We have an inner pull that makes us do the wrong thing, even when we know better ·       “It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back..” Titus 3:3 (MSG)
    These wrong actions separate us from our loving heavenly Father ·       “There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn’t hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (MSG)
    If we accept God’s plan to have Christ bear our punishment, then God will restore our fellowship with Him, help us change and give us eternal life too! ·       “But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.” Titus 3:4-7 (MSG)

    How Did God Create a Route Back?

    Once humans see that we are prone to do what is bad for ourselves and that we are incapable of changing by ourselves; we then notice that God has created a route, a bridge so to speak, back to fellowship with God. Figure 7.4 is how the Message Bible explains it.

    Figure 7.4 God’s Plan for a Route Back


    Jesus took the punishment for our wrong actions (so we could be restored to a close relationship with our loving heavenly Father):

    ·       “But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death … Romans 5:8 (MSG).

    ·       “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:23-24 (MSG)


    Trusting in Jesus’ actions will acquit us from the punishment due for our wrong doings and give us a “whole and lasting life:”

    ·       “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…” John 3:16-17 (MSG)
    This route back is only available through Jesus Christ. ·       “Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me.” John 14:6 (MSG)

    How Do We Take That “Route” Back to God?

    Now that we understand that God has created a route back to fellowship with himself, we begin to grasp that the all-powerful Creator of the universe wants to have personal friendship with each of us who will return. So, what is involved in returning to him? The answer can be summed up in the statement of Figure 7.5. let’s look at this figure and then examine three important words in it.

    Figure 7.5 How We Take the Route Back to God[i]

    Repentance must be combined with faith in order to bring about spiritual transformation.


    Repentance is a decision to “break with the past” which also carries the idea of turning and going in a new direction.[ii] This is what it means when 1 John 1:8-9 says “…if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing” (MSG).

    People come to this stage when they realize they are dissatisfied with the way their life is going and know they need help beyond what humanity can provide. They may be frustrated that their life is full of animosities, pride, biases, deceptions, conflicts and a host of other maladies. And so, they seek inner change.

    The good news is that God wants that change for you too! He even promises to give you supernatural power to help you make those changes. It is this trust (or faith) in God’s ability to help you that takes you to the next step.


    “Faith” is a reliance and inner sense of knowing that God has the power to transform you.[iii] The author of Hebrews offers a classic statement about faith:

    It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. Heb. 11:6 (MSG, italics mine)

    Author and lay theologian C. S. Lewis reminds us that faith also carries the idea of growing in unwavering faith, stating, “Faith… is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.”[iv]

    New People (Spiritual Transformation)

    Spiritual transformation in biblical terms means divine empowerment to reverse direction and go in an opposite direction with your life.[v] The author of Titus describes it this way:

    He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.” Titus 3:4-7 (MSG, italics mine)

    Therefore …

    • When repentance (for our wrong doings)
    • combines with faith (in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on your behalf)
    • then spiritual transformation (into a new person) occurs.

    This spiritual transformation into a new person has been called many things: conversion, salvation, being born-again, etc. And, though these are important terms they also have been mischaracterized. Unfortunately to many people today they do not bring to mind the original meaning of being transformed from our old way of life.

    Today spiritual transformation may be the best term to sum up what God is doing. When he creates a new person our old desires for self-satisfaction, preferring oneself over others, etc. will still be there, but spiritual transformation reminds us there is divine power to increasingly overcome these self-serving lures.   And, we experience an emerging confidence and power as we see God daily helping us come closer to him and as we participate in his mission. And so, spiritual transformation is a remarkable intersection of human will, Jesus’ sacrifice, God’s forgiveness and a rekindled heavenward relationship. This is not a transformation that we can muster up ourselves. This is a change that goes deeply to the purpose of the One who created us. It goes to the core of our relationship with a heavenly Father who loves us and can help us.

    And so, the Church is primarily a community that is collectively and constantly welcoming and experiencing this spiritual transformation where new people emerge. Yet, the gloomy fact is that most commonly today, congregations are not experiencing this. And, it does several things to a church, including robbing a church of its supernatural expectation and making a church more familiar with churchgoers than non-churchgoers.

    Thus, the “HOW” of Growing N.E.W. is critical for nurturing an uncommon church, But, before we look at Chapter 8: Grow N.E.W. HOW let us look briefly at why spiritual formation is at the pivot point of the uncommon church.

    [i] This statement is adapted with updated terminology from Richard Peace’s terms in “Conflicting Understandings of Christian Conversion: A Missiological Challenge,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 28, No. 1, 8.

    [ii] Metanoia (the Greek word for repentance), William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 513-514; see also Peace, “Conflicting Understandings of Christian Conversion: A Missiological Challenge,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 28, No. 1, p. 8.

    [iii] Pistis (the Greek word for faith), William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 668-670.

    [iv] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFransicso, 2001), p. 140.

    [v] Epistrophe (the Greek word for spiritual transformation or conversion), William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), p. 301; and Richard Peace, “Conflicting Understandings of Christian Conversion: A Missiological Challenge,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 28, No. 1, p. 8.

    Excerpted from ©BobWhitesel, Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2012), pp. 126-130.

    FAITH & Religious people cope better with cancer…unless they think God is punishing them #TheTelegraphNewspaper

    Believing in a benevolent God that answered their prays made cancer sufferers more outgoing and able to maintain relationships.

    Those who believed their illness was punishment from an angry or distant God or who had doubts over their faith fared worse.

    Researchers said further studies were needed on the long-term link between religion and health and whether health support services should offer believers religious guidance.

    Read more at ……unless-they-think-God-is-punishing-them.html

    FAITH & Losing your faith is bad for your health #PennStateUniv

    By the editors, The Telegraph Newspaper, London, 24 Sep 2010. Losing your faith is bad for your health, a new study suggests.

    Leaving a strict religion makes people more likely to live unhealthily, with an increase in drinking and smoking, as well as becoming more susceptible to negativity and stress.

    It can also lead to losing friends and acquaintances who remain devout, said Christopher Scheitle, of Penn State university.

    He said: “Strict groups typically require members to abstain from unhealthy behaviours, such as alcohol and tobacco use.

    “These groups also create both formal and informal support structures to promote positive health.

    “The social bonds of belonging to the group might be another factor for better health.”

    The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, defines strict religions, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as those with strict social, moral and physical guidelines for members.

    Mr Scheitle examined a total of 423 cases of people associated with religions from 1972 to 2006 and compared the self-reported health of 96 people who switched to another religion and 54 people who left religion altogether with those who stayed.

    It found about 40 per cent of members of strict religious groups reported they were in excellent health but only 25 percent of members in those groups who switched to another religion reported they were in excellent health.

    Findings also showed that people who were raised and remained in strict religious groups were more likely to report they were in better health than people in other religions.

    Mr Scheitle said positive thinking and the stress of leaving strict groups were other possible factors.

    He said: “You could lose your friends or your family becomes upset when you leave, leading to psychological stress and negative health outcomes.”

    But he said the study did not necessarily mean that leaving a religion caused poor health because in some cases poor health could prompt a person to leave, given the demands placed on them.

    A belief that an “all-powerful being who failed to heal their condition” also left them feeling despondent, he adds…

    Read more at …

    FAITH & For a long life, have faith #UKTelegraphNewspaper

    by James LeFanu, The Telegraph Newspaper, 18 Aug 2014. Religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long, healthy life

    It is encouraging for those reluctant or unable to engage in vigorous exercise that the splendidly named Dr Duck-chul Lee, of Iowa State University, should have found, as reported in this paper last month, that jogging for as little as five minutes a day should be beneficial, dramatically cutting the risk of dying early.

    Still, as Richard Scott, a family doctor, notes in this month’s British Journal of General Practice, religious faith remains by far the best predictor of a long and healthy life.

    When convalescing recently from a gruelling schedule of chemo and radiotherapy for a tumour of the bowel, Dr Scott, a Christian, read the scholarly Handbook of Religion and Health, whose survey of the research runs to 700 pages.

    The positive influence of church attendance is well recognised, but the findings of this overview are, he observes, “quite extraordinary”, with faith reducing the risk of a heart attack by two-thirds and being associated with improved survival of a stroke or cancer.

    For mental health, the statistics are even more dramatic: those with depression recover faster, and those with schizophrenia function better, while alcohol and drug misuse is reduced.

    “Faith in God,” he says, “is relevant to all diseases yet studied.” That belief could be, as so many nowadays maintain, illusory, but the beneficial effect in conferring “greater happiness, morale, optimism and meaning in life” is indisputably for real.

    Read more at …

    FAITH & Having faith ‘helps patients live longer’, study suggests #UKTelegraphNewspaper

    By Andrew Hough, The Telegraph Newspaper, London, 06 Oct 2010.

    Believing in God can help people live longer, a study has suggested.

    Research into liver transplant patients found those who were actively “seeking God” had a better survival rate than those who did not hold religious beliefs, regardless of which faith they held.

    They found some patients were up to three times more likely to survive by having a “strong religious connection”, even if they didn’t attend church.

    The study, published in the journal Liver Transplantation, adds weight to previous studies that showed how religion and faith can “influence disease progression”.

    Dr Franco Bonaguidi, who led the study, said the study found patients with “high religious coping” who actively sought “God’s help” and trusted their beliefs had a “more prolonged post-transplant survival than patients with low religiosity”.

    “We found that an active search for God, (where) the patient’s faith in a higher power rather than a generic destiny, had a positive impact on patient survival,” he said.

    He added it was the “personal relationship between the patient and God, regardless of religious creed rather than formal church attendance that positively affected survival”.

    It did not matter what relgion a person believed in.

    In their study, researchers selected 179 patients who had received a liver transplant between January 2004 and December 2007.

    The group, the majority whom were male and middle aged, also completed a “religiosity” questionnaire before being monitored for the next four years after their transplant.

    Almost two years later, religious patients were three times as likely to survive as those who did not hold such faith.

    After three years, almost seven per cent of the actively “seeking-God” patients had died compared to more than a fifth of non religious believers.

    The researchers concluded that the “search for God factor” coupled with a patient’s length of stay in an intensive care unit were “independently associated with survival”.

    One participant, who was not identified, told the researchers that they “recovered” their life through the will of God, which made them “feel strong and calm”.

    The study pointed to previous research, which it said showed people with HIV as well as heart patients, kidney dialysis patients had better survival chance if they were religious.

    Last month researchers from Penn State university found that losing faith was bad for a person’s health as leaving a strict religion made people more likely to increase their drinking and smoking and were more susceptible to negativity and stress.

    Read more at …

    WRONGLY ACCUSED & How to Act When People Mistreat You

    One of Abraham’s great-grandsons, a boy named Joseph, was chosen by God to become the leader and protector of his other 12 brothers and one sister. But since he was second to the youngest, this didn’t sit well with his brothers. It was through a dream that God communicated His plan for Joseph, but it was through kidnapping and slavery that Joseph’s brothers sought to thwart the plan. Let’s pick up the story on a day when Joseph’s brothers felt they had had enough and their jealously boiled over.

    “But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

    When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe – the richly ornamented robe he was wearing – and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

    Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.” Genesis 37:18-28

    “His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:18-20

    Even though he was sold into slavery, the Bible tells us “the Lord was with Joseph.” And slowly, but deliberately, God brought Joseph to a position of great prominence and responsibility in Egypt. And in his new found position of authority, Joseph would provide a safe-haven for his family in Egypt.

    Eventually, Joseph’s brothers felt sorry for mistreating Joseph; but Joseph looked at his calamities from a different perspective. Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” Think about it. After all the mistreatment, slander, and abuse Joseph saw God’s hand working behind the scenes to bring about good.

    How do you react when people or circumstances mistreat you? Do you rail and rave, calling attention to your predicament? Or do you act like Joseph, ready to stand back and let God’s unseen hand work behind the scenes to make things better. The next time you are maligned or mistreated, try following the example of Joseph. You’ll be glad you did!

    STRATEGISTS & How Visionaries Can Ruin Their Plans By Thinking of Worst Case Scenarios

    Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “This journal article points out that strategic thinkers ( i.e. those who envision the future) also have an Achilles’ heel, in that they tend to envision more negative reactions then they will actually encounter. This reminds us that having faith and seeing a positive future is more helpful than fearing the negative.”

    Anticipatory brain activity predicts the success or failure of subsequent emotion regulation.

    Denny BT1, Ochsner KN, Weber J, Wager TD.


    Expectations about an upcoming emotional event have the power to shape one’s subsequent affective response for better or worse. Here, we used mediation analyses to examine the relationship between brain activity when anticipating the need to cognitively reappraise aversive images, amygdala responses to those images and subsequent success in diminishing negative affect. We found that anticipatory activity in right rostrolateral prefrontal cortex was associated with greater subsequent left amygdala responses to aversive images and decreased regulation success. In contrast, anticipatory ventral anterior insula activity was associated with reduced amygdala responses and greater reappraisal success. In both cases, left amygdala responses mediated the relationship between anticipatory activity and reappraisal success. These results suggest that anticipation facilitates successful reappraisal via reduced anticipatory prefrontal ‘cognitive’ elaboration and better integration of affective information in paralimbic and subcortical systems.

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