Commentary: Santa Claus vs. Amazon — a modern Christmas story

The old man with the red suit and white beard trudged dejectedly into the psychiatrist’s office. The psychiatrist motioned him to lie down on the couch.

Here’s a link to the editorial at the Chicago Tribune.

Op-Ed: Happy birthday: The solution that never was to Illinois’ pension crisis

Illinois was born 200 years ago this week. But another significant birthday should provoke pause, because it points the way forward for our struggling state.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Illinois News Network.

ObamaCare continues to fail – Let’s face it, insurance costs are unmanageable for many middle-class Americans

Open enrollment in the 39 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov insurance exchange looks like it will end with a whimper this Saturday. Through the first month, sign-ups are down 11 percent compared to the same period last year.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Fox News.

Op-Ed: Two wrongs don’t make a right in ‘Fight for $15’ debate

The “Fight for $15” an hour is back in Illinois, although it’s not likely to be much of a fight and this time there’s a bit of a twist.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Illinois News Network.

Here’s how to overcome holiday anxiety and stress

“You get gas and I’ll run in for the fruit chews.”

Here’s a link to the editorial at Fox News.

Enemies of American history

Back in August, protestors at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill took it upon themselves to pull down a Confederate statue. The “Silent Sam” statue honored UNC students who had fought for the Confederacy in the civil war.

Here’s a link to the editorial at Fox News.

Pastor Rick Warren: Wise People Avoid Arguments

Wise People Avoid Arguments

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).

Have you ever met someone who is always arguing and looking for a fight? I heard about one guy who was so argumentative he would only eat food that disagreed with him.Wise people work at maintaining harmony. James 3:17 says that true wisdom is peace-loving. If you’re wise, you don’t antagonize people’s anger. The Bible also says in Proverbs 20:3, “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (GNT).

You can only avoid arguments when you know what leads to them in the first place. Here are three causes of arguments:

  1. Comparing. Do you ever use phrases like, “You’re just like . . .” or “Why can’t you be like . . .” or “When I was your age . . .”? You’re only asking for a fight when you do.
  2. Condemning. This is where you lay on the guilt: “It’s all your fault,” “You should be ashamed,” “You always” or “You never,” “You ought to . . .” or “You shouldn’t . . .” are all unhelpful phrases. Someone said, “You can bury a marriage with a lot of little digs.” The same can be said for any other relationship.
  3. Contradicting. William James once said, “The secret of wisdom is knowing what to overlook.” You have to learn to let it go! Some things are just not worth the fight.

If you want to be wise in your relationships, don’t antagonize others’ anger. “A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes” (Proverbs 14:29 TLB).

Talk It Over

  • When was the last time you used one of the phrases mentioned in today’s devotional? What was the result?
  • What is a small grievance that you could choose to overlook in one of your relationships?
  • In addition to avoiding the three causes of arguments, how can you actively work to maintain harmony in your relationships?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.

A Prayer to Put Jesus First this Christmas Season – Your Daily Prayer

Your Daily Prayer Devotional Banner

A Prayer to Put Jesus First this Christmas Season
By Debbie McDaniel

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

No room for them. No vacancy. No place. Words that still seem to hang close, even today.

In a world that seeks to crowd Jesus out, where busyness abounds, and hearts are stirred to focus on other things, it can be hard sometimes to choose to keep Him first. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the whole hurried dash of the holidays, and to give our attention to what seems more urgent. Our focus gets blurred; and the most important gets pushed aside.

It takes an active and daily choice to put Christ first, especially in a culture that says you’re too busy to focus there. Or that life is too full. And there’s no more room.

May God help us to choose wisely, what voices we listen to, and where we give our attention today.

He is the One who brings true meaning to Christmas.

He is the One who brings real peace in this all-too-often hectic season.

He is the only One worthy of our time and attention as we slow down the maddening rush around our lives.

We can know all of this in our heads, but may He help us to really believe it in our hearts…and choose to live it out this season.

Renewed.

Refreshed.

Making room for Him, first.

Dear God,

Help us to keep our focus first on Christ this season. Please forgive us for giving too much time and attention on other things. Help us to reflect again, on what Christmas is really all about. Thank you that you came to give new life, peace, hope, and joy. Thank you that your power is made perfect in our weakness. Help us to remember that the gift of Christ, Immanuel, is our greatest treasure, not just at Christmas, but for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. For you never leave us. Thank you for your daily powerful Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that you surround us with favor as with a shield, and we are safe in your care. We choose to press in close to you today…and keep you first in our hearts and lives.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Humility and civility: More pols, please, like George H.W. Bush

There was once a private school that graded students on the usual academic subjects, plus a fuzzy category related to decorum: “Claims no more than his fair share of time and attention.” Modesty and deference are still enviable traits, but imagine enforcing such behaviors in the age of social media. Where would Twitter and Facebook be without boasts and rants? Our current president would be rendered mute.

Here’s a link to the editorial at the Southern Illinoisan.

Walter V. Wendler: Reflections on Higher Education

Clicks or Bricks

With the growing pervasiveness of online and distance education opportunities (Clicks), future students will have transcripts peppered with courses from different modes of instructional delivery at different institutions. At West Texas A&M University, rarely will a student’s academic record come completely from courses taken on campus (Bricks). This “academic diversity” will become the norm in public higher education.

Walter V. Wendler

Demands for convenience create growth in online delivery. As the number of working adults engaged in study increases, the benefits of online learning opportunities likewise increase. Currently at West Texas A&M University, one in five students is engaged in some form of the online study. Competition between various online/on-campus providers, both for-profit and non-profit, also grows.

The challenges of online education are not limited to the United States, but are equaled by the United Kingdom, Turkey, South Korea, South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Russia where digital delivery is increasing. These nations are home to over 50% of the world’s population. Recent studies report growth in online enrollment everywhere. Online education is increasingly perceived as a legitimate means of study.

Traditional strengths of intentional on-campus delivery have value, but well-conceived online offerings also provide effective learning potential. At WT, the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business provides guidance to proactively ensure quality in delivery of online instruction. Hiring a faculty member to teach from a bedroom in New Hampshire is not the same thing as having an online faculty member who also teaches on campus and lives in the region of the home institution, as is the case in our most subscribed online programs in business, education and nursing. Enlightened leadership recognizes the importance of addressing these challenges.

Private companies—not typically educational providers—are “getting into the game” of providing directed educational opportunities to their employees. Kettering University was originally established as The School of Automotive Trades in 1919 in Flint, Michigan.  When acquired by GM the name became General Motors Institute of Technology (GMIT). GMIT provided a means for advancement and learning potential that fit the GM mission. This specificity, desirable for corporate effectiveness, is rational in a for-profit enterprise. Today, US News ranks Kettering University, the name that it has held since 1998, as number 13 nationally among non-PhD degree granting engineering schools, first in Michigan for salary potential and 10th nationally for return on educational investment. A trade school has adapted to a changing educational environment. Agile online providers married to adaptive on-campus educational providers create “fields white for harvest” in purposeful partnerships.

Changes in the educational ecosystem create consternation for institutions that covet a 17th-century mindset of university education. I have little sympathy for that hide-bound perspective, but I also recognize the power of a traditional on-campus experience. Over the last two decades, expectations accompanying a bachelor’s degree, such as increased lifetime earnings, a changed view of the world and other outcomes of a college experience, have diminished. Value and debt forcefully affect these perceptions. A good pipefitter can earn as much as a good teacher. In addition, that same pipefitter, as well as the teacher, can study 17th-century German art in the evenings, online, at no cost.

The ubiquitous nature of knowledge and insight, and accessing both, has changed everything. Bi Sheng’s invention of moveable type in 1040 enabled Gutenberg to develop his lead, tin and antimony type systems. Without the Gutenberg Bible, Martin Luther might as well have been speechless.

The prosaic challenges of online learning are manifold. Cheating is more common in online courses. The number of students who start and complete online courses is less than on-campus instruction, yet lenders and grant providers make little distinction between those who study online and those who study on campus. Passive students with inferior study habits and little peer interaction find online settings tough. Even with well tested online technology, there are still obstacles to overcome when a technical issue at the home institution causes communication to cease.

Online study and learning is mildly disruptive to universities and colleges that seek to maintain a traditional approach to college. However, online instruction does not diminish the value of on-campus education, but sharpens, focuses and augments that experience while opening it up to an ever-widening range of people.

This is likely: the on-campus experience in the next decade will decreasingly be a four-year experience and increasingly become something different with less time spent on campus. The residential four-year baccalaureate degree as the only effective framework for learning is already a historical artifact.

Thoughtful universities will not argue the variety or veracity of online education but rather find ways to integrate that learning experience with the more traditional on-campus experience.

Clicks plus Bricks. Never, any longer, Clicks or Bricks.