Sky Links 3-17-18

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0
Rip the heavens apart!  Come down, Lord; make the mountains tremble. 
-Isaiah 64:1 (CEV)

Your Kids Are Too Clean

Children need microbes — not antibiotics — to develop immunity, scientists say
-Brandie Weikle

Yes, it’s important to wash your hands. It’s critical during cold and flu season and especially if you visit someone at the hospital.

The problem is — in the West at least — parents have taken the business of keeping clean way too far.

New science shows that blasting away tiny organisms called microbes with our hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps and liberal doses of antibiotics is having a profoundly negative impact on our kids’ immune systems, says microbiologist Marie-Claire Arrieta, co-author of a new book called Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Our Children from an Oversanitized World.

The assistant professor at the University of Calgary, along with her co-author, esteemed microbiologist Brett Finlay, make the case that we’re raising our kids in a cleaner, more hyper-hygienic environment than ever before. They say that overdoing it the way we are is contributing to a host of chronic conditions ranging from allergies to obesity. I chatted with Arrieta recently to find out more.

The Cinderella of the Church is The Prayer Meeting

6 Lessons Leonard Ravenhill Taught Me
By Mark Dance

The privilege of knowing Leonard Ravenhill as a teenager was nothing less than a sovereign surprise. Ravenhill was a British evangelist and writer whose quotes on prayer and revival still pop up in sermons and on social media. God crossed our paths during the most impressionable years of my life.

Here are six lessons I learned from this wonderful man of God.

1. Invest In Young People

2. Pray With Conviction

3. Pray In Unity

4. Great Worship Trumps Great Music

5. Anger is Not Always a Sin

6. Prayer is More Caught Than Taught

Figuring Out Your Calling/Purpose/Passion

Is This Japanese Concept the Secret to a Long, Happy, Meaningful Life?
-Laura Oliver

What’s your reason for getting up in the morning? Just trying to answer such a big question might make you want to crawl back into bed. If it does, the Japanese concept of ikigai could help.

Originating from a country with one of the world's oldest populations, the idea is becoming popular outside of Japan as a way to live longer and better.

While there is no direct English translation, ikigai is thought to combine the Japanese words ikiru, meaning “to live”, and kai, meaning “the realization of what one hopes for”. Together these definitions create the concept of “a reason to live” or the idea of having a purpose in life.

When Your Church Has No Building

A Place To Call Home?
-Andrew Hamilton

I’m really reluctant to lead any bunch of people on a building project in this day and age, partly because it is such an all consuming thing, but it also moves me from ‘pastor’ to ‘fund raiser’ – a man with mixed motives… Its unavoidable when large sums of money come into play. And costs do tend blow out… just a bit…

So I’m pondering… and praying… wondering what’s next? What shape will our missionary endeavours take in the barren outer suburbs? Those planting in established areas with plenty of community buildings may yet experience the struggle to find space too, but when there’s no space available anywhere the question becomes ‘what now?’

I’m up for creative thinking and exploring new options – maybe there are possibilities we just haven’t seen.

Oddly enough in a recent conversation with a mate we were discussing the value of being a physical presence in the community – being seen – being there – being present. He suggested that a church that meets in a local facility often ‘doesn’t exist’ in the minds of the community, and perhaps even in the minds of the church people themselves.

How The Fastest Growing Churches In The World Are Multiplying

-Beth Stolicker

We’ve been hearing how the Church in Iran is the fastest growing church in the world. But the shape of the Church is actually underground and in the form of numerous, individual house churches—and the Iranian government wants to shut them down.

Ironically, the Iranian government created this underground movement when it made it illegal for Farsi speakers to attend physical churches. When that happened, everyone became an evangelist and house churches began popping up across the country.

“One of the leaders we met, he said, ‘I used to have 100 people that came to my church and when they closed the Farsi speaking churches, now we had 100 house churches and 100 house church planters’…so when they shut one down, they just create five more,” Heart4Iran’s *David shares.

Now, those believers are being persecuted. Iran is ranked #10 on Open Doors USA’s **World Watch List. But, there’s also a disconnect amongst believers in Iran. Most of them think they’re alone.

Perseverance and Courage Are The Thing

-Alvin Reid

Why is it that many of the most intelligent people –– those who crush the SAT, have a GPA over 4.0, and excel in so many areas –– don’t necessarily become the most effective or successful people in life? Why is it that some who were told they weren’t talented enough (Michael Jordan famously in early high school, and so on), or smart enough, or skilled enough, often become leaders in their fields?

I see this in ministry. Some of the more average students academically I’ve taught have gone on to have remarkable ministries, while some of the most gifted when starting seminary flamed out before earning their degree. It’s not always the case, but it’s too common to miss. I see it in doctoral students: why do some start, move through seminars, and knock out their dissertation, while so many hit the wall after classes and either take forever or never finish their work?

It’s because of something you can’t measure in an SAT or a GRE. It’s something beyond people skills, emotional intelligence, and natural talent. It’s something scholar Angela Duckworth calls GRIT.

Yes, grit. Passion and perseverance beyond the ordinary. The work ethic required to do the menial and hard when no one is watching. Watch the short TED talk below to get an idea (it may be the best 6 minutes you spend today). Or, if you have time, watch the longer video as well.

How does one develop grit? It’s missing so often in everyone from executives to pastors. It’s too rare and too underrated, while surface ability and grades on a test often get rated too highly.

A Hazardous Job

In Isolated World of Pastors, Churches Mum on Troubling Clergy Suicides
-Leonardo Blair

Dr. Jared Pingleton, vice-president of professional development at the American Association of Christian Counselors, who is a licensed clinical psychologist and a credentialed minister, said of the suicide rate among clergy, "I wouldn't be surprised if it's not at least as high as the general population. I wouldn't be surprised if it's higher."...

...Pingleton explained that the reluctance of churches to openly discuss suicide and other mental health issues is one of the reasons the problem endures.

"I attribute what you experienced to what I called the unholy trifecta — silence, shame and stigma — about mental health issues and especially suicide being the chief of those, there is a deafening silence," he said.

"And there is pervasive shame which causes us to hide from Genesis 3 on, and then there is this consistent stigma for mental and relational health problems, because suicide is a relational thing. It's not just a mental thing. It is often referred to as the ultimate act of self-centeredness, for example, or the ultimate act of last revenge, to play the quintessential or penultimate guilt trip on one's loved ones," he continued.

"We need to end the silence, eradicate the shame and erase the stigma because there's still so much [to deal with]. It's against the rules to struggle in a church. You just don't have enough faith, you don't read the Bible enough, you need to pray more. We would never say that to somebody with diabetes or cancer or that you shouldn't take medication," he said.

A 2014 LifeWay study found that 66 percent of Protestant senior pastors seldom discuss issues of mental health with their congregations. That number includes 49 percent who rarely or never address the issue. Just 16 percent speak about mental illness once a year while 22 percent are reluctant to help those who suffer from acute mental illness because it takes too much time.