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: In his upcoming book, Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, Tim Keller writes what could be considered a book “prequel.”
His best-selling The Reason for God is a tremendous modern apologetic for Christianity, but what if you aren’t there yet? In Making Sense of God, Keller goes back further and works to remove the intellectual barriers skeptics may have in accepting anything spiritual.
In classic Keller fashion, he weaves personal anecdotes, statistical data, cultural references, and Scripture to create a reasoned, compelling argument for God.
While its audience is the skeptic who is at least open to exploring the idea of God, Christians can clearly benefit from reading Keller’s latest. It provides encouragement for your beliefs and a model for how to engage questioning friends and a skeptical culture.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: Allow me to brag on my friend Chris Tiegreen a little. Several years ago he wrote a daily devotional guide The One Year Walk with God Devotional and sent me a signed copy. (Confession: I’ve had it tucked away in my nightstand all this time and never cracked it open. Sorry, Chris.)
I kept meaning to use it, but other devotionals and Scripture-reading plans kept taking precedence. But on January 1, 2016, I began my journey through this devotional guide, and it’s been a wonderful way to start my day. About half of the devotionals come from the wisdom books, and half come from other parts of the Bible.
I appreciate Chris’ reflections on each passage of Scripture. And I like that some weeks he stays in a chapter for multiple days. If you’re looking for a devotional for 2017, I highly recommend it.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: He didn’t even stay overnight. After a few hours at the hospital for a treatment described as routine, my husband was released to go home.
The bill: $58,349. And that’s just for the hospital. Bills from doctor, lab and pharmacy are still rolling in.
I’m grateful for health insurance, which provided a $53,349 “discount” on the hospital bill. I’m grateful for our Health Savings Account, which held plenty of funds to cover the balance. But I’m baffled by health industry pricing.
This week I read a Los Angeles Times column illustrating the point. A woman bitten by a stray dog while traveling abroad needed a series of shots to prevent rabies. The first, in Cambodia, cost $125. The second, in Thailand, was $18.50. Her third shot, administered in an emergency room in the United States, cost more than $5,000.
I don’t know the solution. In the past few weeks, my husband and I have seen doctors order tests with no clue what the costs will be. We’ve gotten business-office calls asking why bills were unpaid when in fact they were overpaid. We’ve discovered we could pay $900 for a prescription using our health insurance—or get the same medicine for $300 by paying out-of-pocket with a discount card downloaded from the internet.
It’s been a learning experience with one bright spot—his deductible has been met for the year.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: Bob Chapman wants to change the way American companies do business. Instead of profits, he want businesses to put people first. And in his book, Everybody Matters, he offers leadership lessons any organization, including churches, can benefit from.
Rather than assuming he knows best as a leader, Chapman is constantly asking his employees how to improve workflow and eliminate frustrations. And he’s constantly on the lookout for things people are doing well and celebrating those accomplishments.
“We can improve our business with better processes or new technology,” says Chapman, “but only people can stun you with quantum leaps forwards. Only people can exceed your wildest dreams and do ten times what you thought they could do. Only people can make you feel great at the end of the day. Everything we consider valuable in life and business begins and ends with people.”
Chapman’s approach can sound Pollyanna-ish and impractical—till you realize his company is extraordinarily profitable. Their profits rival those of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. In a TEDx Talk, he describes how much of that success is due to treating people well and helping them thrive.
For church leaders, Chapman’s approach is worth heading. Most everyone in a church wants to serve God and their neighbors well. Invest in them, Chapman would advise. Believe in them. Celebrate them. Ask them for their ideas. You might just be surprised by what they can accomplish.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I like the Weather Channel’s website: weather.com. Mostly because I never know what clothes to wear, and I find it more accurate than our local anchors. It’s also good for checking on family members living in different parts of the country who might be under a hurricane watch.
One thing you may not expect from the weather channel is awesome photos of nature. They just wrapped up their photo contest called “It’s Amazing Out There.” Here are the finalists (or you can skip to the winner). It’s a reminder of the beauty of God’s creation and how blessed we are to be surrounded by it.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?