Worth Reading - 4/2

When the nation’s top nutrition panel released its latest dietary recommendations on Thursday, the group did something it had never done before: weigh in on whether people should be drinking coffee. What it had to say is pretty surprising.

Not only can people stop worrying about whether drinking coffee is bad for them, according to the panel, they might even want to consider drinking a bit more.

The panel cited minimal health risks associated with drinking between three and five cups per day. It also said that consuming as many as five cups of coffee each day (400 mg) is tied to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

”We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” said Miriam Nelson, a professor at Tufts University and one of the committee’s members. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

2. Thomas Kidd wonders what Evangelicals can do to make themselves more likable:

It is a good day for evangelicals when we get positive coverage in the New York Times, but it also raises a perennial question for traditional Christians. How much should we expect, or seek, the world’s approval for what we’re doing? Dr. Foster and other missionaries like him are great examples of Christians whose undeniable self-sacrifice and benevolent work overcomes all but the most hardened secularists’ questions about why they insist on talking to patients about Jesus.

It’s nice to be liked. But it also comes with temptation – that of focusing all the church’s work on things that will engender the world’s approval. A hundred years ago, social gospel Christians began to suggest that service and aid, not evangelism, should encompass all of a believer’s missionary responsibility. Thus began one of the most important turns away from evangelical Christianity which has haunted the mainline denominations in America ever since.

3. According to Tim Challies, a clean house is a sign of a wasted life:

You have probably heard the saying before: A clean house is a sign of a wasted life. Whatever else the phrase means, it expresses some of the frustration and the sense of futility that attends life in this world. I thought of that saying when I spotted this proverb: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4). A little bit of research shows that commentators are divided on exactly what it means, but I think one of the explanations rises to the top.

According to this explanation, the proverb is about the messiness of a life well-lived. Tremper Longman says the moral is that “a productive life is a messy life.”

I love productivity. At least, I love productivity when it is properly defined—as effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. By this definition, each one of us, no matter our vocation, ought to pursue productivity with all the vigor we can muster. And if you do that, it is inevitable that along the way you will accumulate some mess. You cannot focus your time, attention, gifts, energy, and enthusiasm toward noble goals while still keeping every corner of life perfectly tidy.
Whether we realize it or not, we all end up at times on our backs staring at the sky screaming, Water! In our family, political, occupational, and even spiritual lives, we make decisions and take stances based on bad theology, personal benefit, political correctness, or simple convenience. We think the right thing to do is whatever the majority thinks at the time. Like a ship without a sail, we are tossed back and forth by the prevailing trends and stances of our cultural leaders, anchorless in a storm of popular opinion.

In a moment of misguided sincerity, my baby boy needed absolute truth. And contrary to popular belief, absolute truth is what we all need. As Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” No doubt the person in this proverb is sincere in his beliefs. He may even think he’s doing what’s best for himself, his family, his country. Unfortunately, though, sincerity by itself is never an accurate indicator of right and wrong. Many of the decisions we make—both individually and collectively—that we think are good are ultimately leading us down pathways of destruction. In fact, many of us deceive ourselves by assuming our thinking is wise—or, as we sometimes express it, “enlightened” or “evolved.”