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MIKE POTTER'S BLOG | On life, learning, love, and laughter.

We’re Losing Our Brains!


I carry a large portion of my brain in my pocket – and most likely you do too.   According to a recent European and U.S. study by software security firm Kaspersky Lab, Internet and mobile devices are causing users to store information on devices we once stored in our head. They conclude that losing your phone would be akin to losing your memory.

I’ve been saying this for some time.  When I don’t know the answer to something, I reach for my phone and say, “Let me check my external brain.”  Gone are the days of memorizing facts, quotes, ideas, concepts, or even things as simple as phone numbers.

More than half of European adults surveyed could not remember their children’s mobile phone numbers and needed to consult their smartphone and 1 in 3 could not recite their partner’s mobile number. Across all 6,000 respondents, 57% could not remember the phone number of their place of work. 91% of Americans are dependent on the Internet and devices to remember things, and consider them as an extension of their brain.   Among 16-24s, more than half said their smartphone holds all the information they need to remember.

But what happens to our brains when we stop memorizing and rely on an external device to remember?  After while, wouldn’t we begin to display the same forgetfulness as those suffering from dementia – if not for our phones?  Will our brains atrophy like unused muscles do?

Even more troublesome would be the consequence of not following a major principle of the Christian faith as articulated by King David when he declared, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”

Word Heart

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts (minds) will help us to avoid sinful thought patterns and sinful actions.  The opposite then must be true that NOT hiding God’s Word in our minds will result in sinful thinking and sinful actions.  And while there are tons of Bible apps out there, nothing on or about our smart phones can help us with this.  As Christians, we must discipline ourselves to fill our minds with God’s Word.  Our smart phones just won’t cut it on this one.

Random Thought Thursday: July 16, 2015

President Obama is being treated unfairly by the news media.

Ok.  Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain why I feel the need to defend the president.  I watched his press conference yesterday on the nuclear agreement he and other countries signed with Iran.  He made a good case for why he agreed to it, and his critics are making a good case why he shouldn’t have.  I have my opinions about this, but that’s not the point of this post.

In addition to being concerned about a rouge nation like Iran having a nuclear weapon, I’m very concerned about the 4 Americans being held as prisoners there, especially American Pastor Saaed Abedini who is being held because of his Christian faith.  So, I watched the news conference, and sure enough, a question about the 4 prisoners was brought up to the president…and this is when things got ugly.

CBS News’ Unfair Question

During the conference, CBS News’ Major Garrett asked the president this question: “Can you tell the country sir why you are content, with all the fanfare around this deal, to leave the conscious of this nation, the strength of this nation, unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?”

It was apparent that the president was annoyed by the question – not just about the words – but about the tone of the reporter’s question.  And I was too.  To insinuate that the president is “content” with these 4 prisoners being in Iran is unfair.  He is not, and his composed response was a far calmer response than I would have given.

The president responded, “I’ve got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions. The notion that I’m content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails, Major, that’s nonsense, and you should know better.” Then Obama reminded everyone at the conference and viewers that he has met with families of some of the Americans held in Iranian custody, and that his administration is “working diligently to try to get them out.”

Obama explained why tying the release of the Americans to the nuclear deal would not have been an ideal plan, and it made sense to me.  He said, “Nobody’s content. And our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try and get them out. Now, if the question is ‘why we did not tie the [nuclear] negotiations to their release, think about the logic that that creates. Suddenly Iran realizes, ‘you know what, maybe we can get additional concessions out of the Americans by holding these individuals.'”

Even Pastor Saaed’s Wife Agrees

Naghmeh Abedini House Foreign Affairs Committee FduZZ9VHlYRl
In an interview by Leonardo Blair of the Christian Post,  Naghmeh Abedini, Pastor Saaed’s wife, said that she supported the president’s decision saying it “makes sense” and that she knew all along that her husband’s release would not have been a part of the deal and she also made it clear that she never asked that her husband’s release be a part of the nuclear deal.

She said, “I’ve never asked for Saeed to be part of the deal but I’ve hoped that on the sidelines that his release would have been secured as we still have some leverage with the Iranian government and that has been my hope that his release would have been secured even on the sidelines.”

Fox News Not So Fair and Balanced

Despite the president’s explanation and Naghmeh Abedini’s words, Fox News published an opinion piece by Jay Sekulow entitled: Iran deal: Obama leaves Pastor Saeed, Other Americans Behind.  In it he writes, “The worst case scenario has happened. The Obama administration has signed a deal with Iran – a deal that failed to secure the freedom of American Pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans who remain imprisoned in Iran. It is unconscionable that the United States would ink a deal and leave Americans behind. But that’s exactly what has occurred.”

Really?  He’s leaving them behind? That’s nonsense.

At the press conference yesterday, Obama said, “That’s why those issues (the prisoners and the nuclear deal) are not connected, but we are working every single day to try and get them out and won’t stop until they are out and rejoined with their families.”

Naghmeh Abedini confirmed this.  She said, “I know they (U.S. diplomats) have also been talking to the Iranian government on the sidelines. Again, it does make sense that he was not part of the deal but I was hoping on the sidelines as they were reaching a deal they were also securing the release of Saeed and the other Americans. But his explanation does make sense. I’ve never wanted my husband to be part of having to give up something, our government and the rest of the world, for their release. And I didn’t want that to be used as part of the deal.”

Why does this bother me?

I’m not a huge fan of the president – nor have a been a huge fan of any president for that matter.  Politics are messy, and truth is hard to find within politics.  There’s so much gridlock and posturing that I’m pretty skeptical and cynical when it comes to politics – especially politics on a national level. So, why go to the hassle of writing this – especially when politics and pastoring are not a good mix?  Because on the issue of Pastor Saaed and the other 3 prisoners, President Obama is being treated unfairly.

I have read how many presidents from the past were ripped up by Americans being held hostage on their watch.  I know that Jimmy Carter was consumed with grief about the Iranian hostages during his presidency, and I believe that President Obama is no different. Sadly, many people will simply watch or read the unfair and hateful things that news outlets like CBS, Fox, and others are saying about the president on this issue and believe it.

But on this one, will you please give President Obama the benefit of the doubt that he actually does want to secure the release of these men – not just because of the political gain it may win him but simply because he’s a human who is genuinely concerned for the welfare of these lives?  And will you please continue to pray for him and for the diplomats that are working to secure the release of these 4 men.  May God bring these men home safely and soon.

Smaller Is Better – For Me

I pastor a church where 225 people call themselves “regular attenders” and another 60 or so are “trying us out” on any given month.  When people ask me about my church, I often refer to it as a “small” church, because I know of several larger churches.  However, it looks like I’m wrong.

According to Outreach Magazine, 90% of the churches in the world have fewer than 200 people, and 80% have fewer than 100.  Most pastors will spend the majority of their ministry in small churches. 90% will never pastor a church larger than 200 people.

I love my church – the people that is (as opposed to the building or institution) – and I’m very content (and blessed) to be their pastor.  We may be considered “large” by comparison to the rest of the world, but I’m glad we’re not too large.  Years ago, I was offered a position to pastor a church that at the time had 1,000 attenders.  At the same time, I was offered the position I’m currently in.  I had to decide between pastoring  a “large” church or a “small” one.

the-pastorIt just so happened that when I was faced with this decision, I was reading Eugene Peterson’s memoir called The Pastor.  In it, he talked about the “small” church of 300 people that he pastored for 30 years, and in great detail, he described the deep connections he was able to make.  He said that because of the smaller size, he was able to “know” everyone in the church.

This really made an impact on me because at the time, I was serving as an associate pastor at the 1,000 member church and felt unsettled not being able to connect with and know all those people.  Especially unsettling was when people would come up to me during the week in public and tell me how my preaching was making a difference in their lives, and until that meeting, I had never seen them before.

I don’t have a problem with big churches; God has just made it clear to me that smaller is better – for me.  I’m glad that I “know” the people of my church, and I Iove that they invite me into their lives.

But armed with these newly discovered statistics, I may just tell people – when they ask – that I pastor a “very large” church – one of the top 10% in size churches in the world!

Cool Church is NOT Cool

cool-churchChurch attendance has plummeted among young adults. In the U.S. 59% of people 18 to 29 with a Christian background have, at some point, dropped out. According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, among those who came of age around the year 2000, a solid quarter claim no religious affiliation, making them significantly more disconnected from faith than Gen-Xers were at a comparable point in their lives and twice as detached as Boomers were as young adults.

In response, many churches have sought to lure Millennials back by focusing on style points: cooler bands, hipper worship, edgier programming and impressive technology.

Recent Barna Group research found 67% of Millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77% would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.” They also exhibit an increasing aversion to exclusive, closed-minded religious communities masquerading as hip places.

Barna’s David Kinnaman said “Millennials are not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion.”

Least and Most Religious Countries Worldwide

A global survey by WIN/Gallup International has ranked the U.K. as among the least religious countries in the world along with Czech Republic, Sweden, Japan and China. Only 30% of Britons describe themselves as religious; 53% are not religious, and 13% say they’re atheists. In the U.S., only 56% said they are religious; 33% are not, and 6% identify as atheists.

Worldwide, 63% claim to be religious, 22% were not, 11% as atheists, and 4% did not give an answer. Morocco, Georgia, Bangladesh, Armenia and Thailand made up the list of countries where people most often described themselves as religious. The total number of religiously unaffiliated people in the world is 16% and is projected to drop to 15% by 2050.

Click the picture below to see the breakdown of the world’s religions.


Random Thought Thursday: May 7, 2015

The Mayweather – Pacquiao fight was a joke.  This should have been their 3rd and final fight, not their first.  I remember the  Sugar Ray Leonard – Roberto Duran trilogy of fights in the 1980s.  Those were awesome! They fought twice in 1980 (both winning once) and one last time in 1989 – an epic fight between old foes who were beyond their prime.  If you want to see boxing in its prime, check out their fights on You Tube.


I’m not sure where I would be in life or what kind of man I would be if not for green chile stew.  It’s like eating New Mexico, and it’s wonderful.  Those of you who don’t live in the Land of Enchantment won’t understand, but for those of you who do, can I get an “Amen?!”


I admit I don’t like the New England Patriots because my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have a hard time beating them these days. However, the findings from the “Deflate-gate” investigation are in, and it has been discovered that indeed the Patriots cheated…again. A few years back, they secretly taped a teams practice so that they could steal their signals. I’m not saying they’re not a good – perhaps great – team. I’m just saying that their cheating diminishes their accomplishments over the past 10 years in my eyes.

I just finished this book recently, and it’s one I recommend you read too. It’s the story of the 1936 USA Olympic rowing team that brought home gold from the Berlin Olympics – back when rowing was a big deal in the U.S. As the story is told, the reader is given a bird’s eye view of the horrible impact the Great Depression had on our country and the resilience of the American people to survive and ultimately overcome it. Simultaneously, a detailed look into the preparation of Hitler’s Germany for the Olympics is given which includes a peak into the Nazi propaganda machine that used the Olympics to convince the world that Nazi Germany was not horrible like the rumors were saying. It worked, and the world was lulled to sleep by the grandeur of the Olympics and the Nazi façade that allowed Hitler to get away with murder – literally – for years after. The story follows the account of the last survivor of the 1936 rowing team, and his family story alone would make for a fascinating read. Add to it the Olympic struggle and the maddening deceit of Nazi Germany, and it makes for a superb read.

On life, learning, love, and laughter.