What are you enjoying right now?
Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: I know it’s Super Bowl week and everyone is focused on football, but this Wall Street Journal article on the history of the basketball jump shot is fascinating and potentially instructive for church leaders.
Today, the jump shot is considered one of the fundamental aspects of the game, but that wasn’t always the case. The two-handed set shot (with both feet on the ground) was the way everyone played. When players started using the jump shot, the University of Kansas’ legendary coach Phog Allen said the move was unfair. Hall of Fame coach and player Dick McGuire worried it would give one player too much power and rob the game of teamwork.
Years later, we see how unfounded those concerns were. The jump shot was part of the game’s evolution and have only bettered the game and its execution.Those first jump shooters used the new ability to lead their teams to national championships. But innovation is often scary in the moment—in sports and in the church. We always need to be reminded to try new things to reach new people with the gospel.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: I’ve been reading Randy Alcorn’s Happiness, about how God not only wants us to be happy, He commands it. As someone who’s nickname in high school was “Smiley,” I appreciate Alcorns biblical view of happiness. This book is not about putting on a fake expression of happiness. It’s about discovering happiness in Christ.
“Until Christ completely cures us and this world, our happiness will be punctuated by times of great sorrow. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be predominantly happy in Christ,” writes Alcorn. “Being happy as the norm rather than the exception is not wishful thinking. It’s based on solid facts: God secured our eternal happiness through a cross and an empty tomb. He is with us and in us right this moment. And he tells us to be happy in him.” Now, that’s something to smile about.
I highly recommend the book and now there’s a small-group Bible study to go with it. Happiness Bible Study Book includes a six-session study for the group, individual study, applicable Scripture, and a group discussion guide.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: For Paul Kalanithi, becoming a neurosurgeon was part of a quest for “capital-T Truth.” His diagnosis of terminal lung cancer at age 36, just as he was completing his medical training, brought his search for meaning into sharp focus.
“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything,” Kalanithi wrote in his compelling memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, published posthumously.
“Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely.”
Raised in a Christian family, Kalanithi had turned in his 20s to a scientific, atheistic worldview. “The problem, however, eventually became evident: to make science the arbiter of metaphysics is to banish not only God from the world but also love, hate, meaning—to consider a world that is self-evidently not the world we live in.”
After a long stretch, Kalanithi returned to Christianity and its central tenets of sacrifice, redemption, and forgiveness.
“Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data,” he wrote, “but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.”
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My favorite is that Cinderella Man, a documentary about singer and songwriter Doug Seegers, is now on iTunes.
Seeger, who is in his 60s, was living under a bridge in Nashville when he met two Swedish filmmakers. They asked him to play something. He struck up a tune called “Going Down the River.”
They caught the song on film and before long he was in a studio recording the tune, then on the top of the iTunes and Spotify chart in Sweden. It’s a great story and the movie covers Seeger’s first tour of Sweden, where he’s a huge star.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: My kids actually got some adult coloring books for Christmas. Mostly because that’s the new trendy thing to do. Little did I know, there is research they are actually good for your brain. I think I ended up coloring in them more than the girls, because it is in fact fun and relaxing. They do have them online now, too, so it’s easier to do them on the go.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?