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Top 10 Reads of 2021(and the 10 that just missed)

By Jesse Jost

I finished 50 books this year. Here are 10 I found most enjoyable and/or beneficial:

10. Thinking, Fast and Slow

by Daniel Kahneman

We have to sort through a ridiculous amount of data and complexity as we try to make sense of things and endeavour to make wise choices. Often times we don’t have time for thoughtful reflection, so we develop mental shortcuts that work most of the time. However, these shortcuts and assumptions end up causing truly troublesome errors in belief and judgement.

This is a comprehensive book examining our biases and what we can do to mitigate their harm.

9. Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories

by Rob Brotherton

Obviously we will never agree on what ideas are overblown conspiracy theories and what are verified facts that are being suppressed. This book takes a historical look at how conspiracy theories have played a role in events, and what makes us susceptible to conspiracy thinking that is not warranted by the evidence.

This book was written before many of the emotionally charged theories common today, so it should be able to be enjoyed regardless of how you interpret current events.

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Another Letter To Me 2021 Christmas Letter

written Dec 22, 2021

Dear Jesse, I bring you greetings from the future.

I see you sitting there near the end of 2020, scrolling your phone as you try to digest the crazy things 2020 brought into your life.

You read about how your beloved province of Alberta is in lockdown as government officials try to contain the latest outbreak of covid, or maybe as they try to restructure society. It’s not clear in the moment which is really behind the lockdowns.

You have so many questions and are trying to sort out what the future will hold.

Well, here I am, writing to you from one year later.

I’m sorry to report that there are still a lot of unanswered questions, and we are still facing government restrictions on gathering. I’m also a little embarrassed to tell you that you were dead wrong in your prediction that vaccine passports weren’t going to become a reality. Believe it or not, we now need to show proof of vaccination (or a negative covid test) to eat indoors or go concerts or movie theaters or to cross the border.

Yes, as we end 2021, covid is still our hot topic.

Some updates though: we now differentiate new variants by the letters of the Greek alphabet. We’re currently dealing with Omicron. So the good news is that we are over half way to the end!

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  • Ken Jost

    Enjoyed your letter Jesse

  • Cousin Anne-Marie

    Such a wonderful, creatively written letter Jesse! You guys have had quite the year! Grateful for how God has sustained you all!!

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How Conspiracy Theories Reveal a Hunger For God

By Jesse Jost

There is a wealthy cabal of elite who believe the masses are too stupid to govern themselves and need to be governed by a world dictatorship. This group hates democracy and plans to take over by planting seeds of discord, and fostering hate between the races and classes of people.

They seek to control the media, manipulate politics, and rig elections.

They plan to also control the world by releasing disease, conjuring up recessions, and assassinating heads of state. Their key to controlling people is to spread non-stop fear because a terrified people are easy to control.

Sound familiar? No, I did find out about this group on Facebook or YouTube.

These points were allegedly taken from the leaked minutes of this secret group that had the power to start world wars and destroy economies.

It was written over one hundred years ago in a best seller called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The secret elite supposedly responsible for such evil world domination, it claimed, were Jewish businessmen.

The book was first released in Russia in the early 1900’s and when it became eerily prophetic after World War 1 and the Spanish flu and the chaos of the era, it became a bestseller.

Henry Ford became a huge fan of this book and its theories. So did a young Adolf Hitler who used these conspiracy theories to stir hate toward the Jews. He warned that if people did not wake up to the Jewish problem and take action, everyone would become the Jews’ slaves in their new world order.

Of course, the book turned out to be fake, plagiarized from novels written in the mid 1800’s. But the ideas it contained turned out to be lethal and helped create fear and stir hatred toward the Jews and led to millions of them being burned in the gas chambers.

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God’s Truth Prescription For Anxiety

By Jesse Jost

When you pause to consider all the ways life can take a tragic turn, it can be terrifying: Rare medical disease, cancer, accidents, financial ruin, chronic pain, sudden physical disability, brutal nature events, economic collapse… you get the idea.

If you’re like me, you manage to block out most of these harsh realities, but occasionally one of these items starts to feel like a plausible and imminent threat. Once the emotional brain is triggered, it becomes a near impossible battle to find reassurance.

We think about God’s power and try to tell ourselves: a good God wouldn’t let this bad thing happen to me, would He? Then you remember that He HAS allowed such tragedies and far worse to happen to millions of other people, so why should I get to be the exception? And so the anxious torment wheel rolls on.

However, Jesus and the Apostles command us firmly to not be anxious about anything.

 What truths can combat the vicious mental cycles of fear and anxiety?

These are the truth combinations that calm my troubled mind:

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Redeeming Your Private World

By Jesse Jost

It’s fascinating to me the contrast between the big objective world out there, and our individual private experience of it.

Everyone wakes up to a different experience of the same world. We see things from different perspectives, and have different emotional reactions and interpretations of similar events.

Sometimes the outside world is filled with prosperity and peace and vibrant growth, while the private world can be filled with pain, anxiety, and depression.

In 2017, the reports from the outside world seemed mostly positive, but our private world was falling apart as we dealt with a whooping cough outbreak in our community, with a new born in the house. There were lumps and cancer tests, and hardest of all, a brand new diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in our five year old son. This completely turned our life upside and gave it a big shake.

Conversely in 2020, when the outside news was filled with death, ventilators, job loss, political upheaval, and riots, our private world was serene with extra cuddles and local family adventures and exceptionally good health.

The quality of our private world does not just depend on the immediate circumstances, though; it is also affected by our daily habits, attitudes and thought patterns.

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Redeeming Social Media

By Jesse Jost

Please humour me with a thought experiment: If you replaced all your time on social media, with time meditating on God’s Word, what effect would that have on you?

Would you have more peace or less? More joy or less?

Would a deeper awareness of God’s majesty and power, replace a sense of frustration with human corruption?

Would there be a greater sense of personal conviction of where you need to repent instead of outrage for the stupidity of others?

What would the drawbacks be to this switch? Would you feel less informed about what is really going on in the world?

Do you think a person spending more time in the word and prayer and less on social media is more likely to be duped by propaganda or less?

I love Facebook and Twitter, I love engaging in the conversation of ideas, and seeing the pictures, adventures, and life updates from other people.

The problem is not that we use social media; the problem is in the balance. The poison is in the dose.

I did not ask the previous questions to get you to get off social media completely, but to consider the effects it is having on your mind.

We are commanded to set our minds on things above, where Jesus is, and not on things below. (Col 3:1-4) We are to keep our mind stayed on God. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Rom 12:1-2)

We are changed by what is currently in our view. There is a psychological weakness we have because of our limited brain power: What you see in moment feels like that is all there is. Another way to state it is “Out of sight, out of mind.”

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  • Bianca Jago

    Wow, some of this is exactly what I needed right now. Thanks for the great post–I just found your blog.

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You’re wrong! (So am I.) Now what?

By Jesse Jost

Have you ever stopped to think about how many wrong beliefs you might currently have?

 We can be wrong in our judgement of other people: Some have worse character than we assess, other people have more virtue than meets the eye.

We can be faulty in our memories of the past, and very wrong in our predictions of the future.

We can be in error in our views of God and our interpretations of the Bible.

We can have wrong beliefs about what will make us happy and what is truly meaningful.

We can be wrong in our interpretation of causation, with many theories about how the world works that may be way off.

We can be wrong in our understanding of health and nutrition and medicine.

The crazy thing is that while we can fully accept that other people have their heads full of wrong beliefs, it is almost impossible to accept that we are in error!

It Feels so Right!

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Who Has Loved You Today?

By Jesse Jost

In the movie “A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood” there is a powerful scene where Mr. Fred Rogers asks his friend to take a moment and just remember all the people who have loved him to where he is today.

It’s an exercise I have been trying to do lately: Making an effort to remember and focus on all the ways that those around me have sacrificed for me, and poured their love and affirmation into my life, and have shown me acts of service and kindness.

It’s amazing the effect this has on me. The fear of rejection, and sense of insecurity and alienation starts to dissipate and is replaced by a sense of feeling loved and protected.

It’s so crazy how our thoughts naturally gravitate to the ways we have been hurt and obsessively doubt if we are liked or loved. Left to its own paths, our brain will constantly focus on what could go wrong and compulsively pick at the scabs of doubt and confusion.

My experience of the world is so different when I firmly direct my mind to focus on all the gifts in my life and the ways people have loved and supported me.

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Is A Christian Called To Always Obey The Government?

This past year many North Americans have had a first taste of having civil rights, protected in our charters of freedoms, taken away. There is strong disagreement about whether the threat of disease justified the government removing these rights.

This has raised difficult questions for believers about when to obey our authorities and when to resist.

It’s easy to apply the commands in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 about obeying every ordinance of man when it comes to laws against stealing or murder.

But what do you do in the grey areas when the government mandates make it challenging to fulfill other biblical commands like hospitality or gathering for worship?

Obviously it is a complex issue, but what might the Bible suggest as a short answer to the question of when to obey and when might it be okay to disobey?

If you look at the context, the chapters before and after the biblical injunctions to obey earthly authorities, you see two prerequisites to these commands:

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4 Ways To Test If You Are Motivated by Hate Or Love

By Jesse Jost

The most insidious thing about hate is that while it’s relatively easy to spot in our enemy, from the inside, our own hate doesn’t feel like hate. It doesn’t feel evil. In fact it feels like a desire for justice, a passion for purity, and a desire to rid culture of immorality. It can even feel like a desire for God’s glory.

Hate hijacks noble desires, which make it a destructive force, and cause its carrier to become immune to the conviction of the conscience. It’s why people full of hate feel so righteous as they cause church splits, civil wars, abuse on minorities, and even genocide.

We all despise hate in other people, and obviously want to be motivated by love. But when hate feels so righteous, how can we test to see if we are truly being motivated by love and holiness, and not just hate and pride and self-will?

Here are four biblical tests:

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