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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lack of sleep: what it does to your brain

Very informative article from emily sohn of discovery news


Behind the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed in New York earlier this week was a tired driver, according to new reports that engineer William Rockefeller fell asleep at the wheel.

Could lack of sleep cause such a fatal mistake?Biologically speaking, experts said, yes. Sleep deprivation affects the brain in multiple ways that can impair judgment, slow reaction times and increase the likelihood of drifting off during monotonous tasks.

When you're sleep deprived, your brain reverts to a teenager — it's all gas and no brake," said Michael Howell, a neurologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. "Suddenly the part of the brain that says, 'Let's think through this,' is not functioning well."

The purpose of sleep has long mystified scientists, said Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

In an evolutionary conundrum, lying unconscious for hours on end makes people and other animals vulnerable to predators.

Yet, not sleeping for long enough can actually lead to dementia and death. Chronic sleep-deprivation can cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other ills.

Studies have shown that exhausted people do worse on tests of memory and have more trouble learning. Tired basketball players sink fewer free throws. Even golfers who fail to get enough shut-eye take more strokes to finish a round.

Almost everything researchers have looked at," Howell said, "they've demonstrated is impaired if you don't get enough sleep.

"When it comes to accidents, sleep matters because failure to get enough rest hampers functioning of the brain's frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive judgment, or the ability to pay attention and make good decisions.

In overtired people, Howell said, imaging studies have shown that there is less blood flow to these areas in the front of the brain and brainwaves there move more slowly.The result is a compromised ability to respond to things, along with a faulty tendency to do things you shouldn't have done. 

When the frontal lobes aren't working efficiently, people also have more difficulty paying attention during boring tasks, such as driving a car on a highway or operating a morning commuter train.Early morning hours, like when the Metro-North train crashed, are some of the most vulnerable times for sleepy accidents, Howell said, especially for people whose circadian rhythms favor a later sleeping schedule and make it biologically difficult to function well after waking up with an alarm clock at 5 a.m.

Reports that Rockefeller had been driving for 20 minutes since his last stop and felt zoned out before the accident suggest that he probably fell asleep before the crash, Howell added.

Recently, scientists have begun to piece together an even more nuanced understanding of why sleep is so restorative.

In a study published in Science this fall, Nedergaard and colleagues injected mice with a green dye that allowed them to track the movement of cerebrospinal fluid, the liquid that surrounds the brain.

As our brains do their work throughout the day, previous work had shown that cerebrospinal fluid collects the waste products of normal metabolism and functioning. Then, a network of tiny channels works like a dishwasher to regularly flush out the dirty fluid and send it to the liver for detoxification.

The new study found that sleeping facilitated the flushing of this toxic fluid, which was much slower to drain in sleep-deprived rodent brains. Nerve cells are very sensitive to the presence of waste, Nedergaard said. When surrounded by contaminated fluid, communication at the cellular level likely slows down."What we described is that this microscopic cleansing system turns on as soon as we fall asleep and washes the brain clean," Nedergaard said. "From our standpoint, when you're sleep deprived, you get a dirty brain."

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

American Pastor Saeed Abedini: condition worsening


American Pastor Saeed Abedini Robbed, Life Threatened at Knifepoint, as Health Deteriorates in Deadly Iranian Prison

By: Jordan Sekulow Filed in: Iran 11:38 AM Dec. 3, 2013

American Pastor Saeed Abedini not only faces deadly conditions in Iran’s Rajai Shahr prison, but we can now confirm that he faces direct threats on his life from other prisoners. Pastor Saeed’s Iranian family was able to visit him yesterday – the second visitation allowed since he was transferred to the deadly new prison last month.

Pastor Saeed is facing constant threats to his very life in the new prison.  There have been several nights where he has awoken to men standing over him with knives.  Pastor Saeed’s “cell” is only separated by a curtain from the rest of the violent prisoner ward he is forced to share, allowing dangerous prisoners – murderers and rapists – unfettered access to him 24 hours a day.He has also been robbed at knifepoint several times, stripping him of what few necessities he has been permitted to purchase for personal hygiene.

As a result of the robberies, the utterly deplorable conditions of the prison, and the lack of doctor-prescribed medication which is being withheld by prison authorities, Pastor Saeed’s health has quickly deteriorated.

The pain in his stomach has returned and he is now experiencing increased pain in what he described to his family as his kidneys. 

As a result of repeated beatings in Evin prison, Pastor Saeed suffered from internal bleeding.  After months of being refused medical care, Pastor Saeed was allowed to see a doctor and was prescribed medication earlier this year.  As a result of that medication, his physical condition had improved and his pain had subsided. 

However, since being moved from Evin to Rajai Shahr last month, Iranian officials have refused to allow him this critical medication and his condition is worsening.He is being refused medication, prescribed by Iranian doctors, for injuries he sustained from prison beatings.  This is one of the most deplorable human rights violations imaginable.

To make matters worse, the prison conditions and lack of basic hygiene have led to his body being covered head to toe in lice.  Because of the lice and increased pain, Pastor Saeed has been having trouble sleeping. 

He is also experiencing symptoms of recurring urinary tract infections.  There is no medication to stop the infections.  He is now also experiencing significant joint pain.

His family reports that Pastor Saeed has also noticeably lost weight in the new prison from lack of proper nutrition.The conditions he faces are unfathomable.  He faces direct threats to his life on an almost daily basis.Iran has sent him to disappear. 

The Obama Administration abandoned this U.S. citizen when given the opportunity to negotiate his release, even reportedly releasing an Iranian scientist for nothing in return. 

Pastor Saeed has been left for dead.We must not forget Pastor Saeed.  We must take action now.I, along with ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, am in Berlin this week meeting with foreign dignitaries and world leaders across Europe urging them to use international pressure to free Pastor Saeed.The time is now to pressure Iran for his release.  Each day could be his last.

Join tens of thousands in standing with Pastor Saeed by signing our petition demanding international sanctions until he is freed.

 CALL OUR PETITION LINE1-877-989-2255CALL JAY SEKULOW LIVE1-800-684-3110Lines open Mon-Fri noon to 1pm ESTGET LEGAL HELP757-226-2489

The ACLJ is an organization dedicated to the defense of constitutional liberties secured by law

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paul walker believes there is GOD


By Jessica RodriguezDecember 3, 2013 |
Paul Walker's Daughter, Meadow Walker, Encouraged Dad to Keep Acting as He Reassessed His Life 

It has emerged that Paul Walker's daughter, Meadow Walker, 15, encouraged the Hollywood actor to continue acting after turning 40.

The "Fast and the Furious" actor was contemplating to pull back from his career to reassess his life and even "go in a completely different direction," but his daughter inspired him to carry on. Walker was set to appear in six new movies from 2013 to 2014.

Comments that Paul Walker made just months ago have reemerged recently following his tragic death at the weekend.The actor was killed in a car accident on Saturday, Nov. 30, after a vehicle driven by his good friend crashed into a tree and exploded in flames, killing Walker and the driver.

Walker is survived by father Paul Walker III, mother Cheryl Walker, brothers Cody and Caleb, sister Ashley and his 15-year-old daughter Meadow from a previous relationship.

Meadow had just moved in to live with her father in recent times, and they were reportedly very close.In an interview with GQ UK magazine in August, Walker explained how his daughter encouraged him to keep acting.Walker said, "It's so funny, my daughter now lives with me full time and my original plan was to work up until I was 40 then reassess my life, even go in a completely different direction with things.""She keeps encouraging me to do all this stuff. I thought at this point in my life I would need to be home with her, but she wants me to keep acting so she can travel around the world with me.

Would that be so bad?"He added, "Thing is, I went to a born-again Christian high school, was brought up in a traditional Mormon family where these ideas about parenting are of structure and sacrifice. To think outside of that idea of family and parenting that I've grown up with is tough, but also very freeing."

Walker was born on Sept. 12, 1973, in Glendale, Calif., and was raised in a Mormon family. He graduated from Village Christian School in Sun Valley, Calif, and became a non-denominational Christian and was well-known for his compassion and work to help those less fortunate than himself.

IMDb has reported Walker as saying, "I'm a Christian now. The things that drove me crazy growing up was how everyone works at fault-finding with different religions. The people I don't understand are atheists. I go surfing and snow boarding and I'm always around nature. I look at everything and think, 'Who couldn't believe there's a God? Is all this a mistake?' It just blows me away."

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Soldanelle Plant Is Solitary Of Natures Amazment

By Farid


Actually this little plant and the way it grows and bloom is one of our great creators marvels.

These plants grow and bear flowers in the most atypical way. There are snow patches in these areas edged with frozen ice. Through this ice curst these soldanelle flowers blossom and the surprising fact is that these weak flowers come out through the ice safe and unscratched.

In the by-gone summer the plant is said to spread its leaves wide and flat on the floor, and drink in the sun-rays, and it keeps the heat stored in the root through the winter.

When spring comes and stirs the pulses under the snow and when it sprouts,  the warmth that was stored in the roots through summer is given out in the strangest measure that a little dome is thawed in the snow over its head.

As the plant keeps getting taller and taller this bell of air as well rises higher. And on fine day the flower bud forms safely within it. Even though it is under the ice the flower is safe and not ruined because it is in the bell of air.

Then to conclude, the icy covering gives way and allows the little flower to blossom through in to the warm sun shine.The mauve petals shine like snow itself, and the crystalline texture of its petals seem to reveal the flight through it came.

Although the conditions seem unworkable this bell shaped flower blossoms in the Alpine meadows. Frequently there are 2 or 3 flowers on each stem. The flowers are bell shaped and bent over. The flower is divided into five lobes and each lobe is divided into many fold narrow strips.

This is an uncommon plant which grows in harsh weather and under the strangest surroundings.

This pretty flower not only adds grand beauty to nature but also reveals the creative power and the capability of the almighty creator.

We human beings can gain knowledge of a great lesson from this simple but strong plant.

When things seem to be impossible and under the most difficult conditions, we must rely only on the power that is above us.

This God who has created us has the power and ability to change any circumstance or else take us through any variety of weather, if we will only have faith in him and not trust and depend on our own feelings and influence.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Overcome with Awe

Insightful article :)


Trevin Wax
Trevin Wax Blog | November 26, 2013

After spending 11 chapters magnifying the grace of God shown to us in Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul broke out into a hymn of praise:"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33).

Have you come to this place before? A place of awe before an all-knowing, all-wise God?Whenever we study the big questions of life, the big debates of our world, and the development of a biblical worldview, we can easily become smug and confident in what we know. We put God in a box and assume we have figured out His ways and His plans.

Reacting against this arrogant overconfidence, some Christians make everything about the Scriptures a mystery. They wonder whether we can know anything with certainty about who God is and what He has done.

The apostle Paul struck the right balance. Paul believed he knew things about God, and he held these truths with confidence. At the same time, the more Paul knew, the more he realized he didn't know everything. In other words, though Paul could know many things about God with absolute certainty, he understood that he didn't know God exhaustively.

So what was Paul's response? He bowed his knees in worship. He proclaimed what he knew about God based on God's revelation of Himself, and then he knelt in worship, fully recognizing his own limitations of knowledge.

That's where intellectual growth should lead us, not to overconfidence in our ability to figure God out but to our knees in worship, in awe of His goodness to us.

What is the role of worship in developing a Christian worldview?What are some ways you can turn your knowledge of God into more opportunities for worship?

***This post is adapted from a session I wrote for The Gospel Project's Winter 2013-2014 Bible study on "A God-Centered Worldview."

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

C.S. Lewis book 'Mere Christianity'

Here's a link to downloading C.S.Lewis' book  Mere Christianity  :)

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Narnia and Camelot: A Tribute to C.S. Lewis

Dying on the same day, JFK and C.S. Lewis exemplify two contrasting reasons for hope.Ed Stetzer

4,694 miles—that's what separates Dallas, Texas from Oxford, England.But on November 22, 1963, they were brought together in the deaths of two influential men called "Jack" – John F. Kennedy and C.S. Lewis.I don't remember either event-- my parents had not yet married, let alone had any children. Yet, that day would be significant for many reasons.The president of the United States had been assassinated and the eyes of the world turned to Dallas, Texas. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, an Oxford professor collapsed in his bedroom, succumbing to an illness that had ravaged his body for more than two years.Seeing the president shot dead as he rode through the streets will dominate the news and grab the attention of everyone. Lewis' death in his home due to a kidney illness he had been living with since 1961 doesn't jar the senses and beg for headlines quite as much.

But, the latter had much more influence on me than the former.Over the next decade of upheaval, Lewis' works remained almost dormant. Disillusionment following the assassination of JFK and Bobby Kennedy, Vietnam, the civil rights movement and the sexual revolution pushed aside his place in the culture.But turmoil and revolution can only last so long. People needed something solid. There was Lewis, ready to be rediscovered by a generation of Christians looking to engage culture and move beyond the isolationist mindset of fundamentalism.

I was one of those who discovered—and in many ways was bolstered by—C.S. Lewis.I think the first book I read was Out of the Silent Planet and then followed up with the whole Space Trilogy. I was a young teen at the time and my mother (a new Christian) gave them to me. I knew, because she told me, he was a Christian, but I did not know just how much of an influence he would have on me later. I just liked to read science fiction and I loved the idea that a Christian would write such... and then later saw more in the Chronicles of Narnia.

But, it was his other writings that would later light my fire for accesible theology. It was first Mere Christianity, which I would later share with hundreds of different people as an apologetic defense of the gospel. Then, later, it was The Screwtape Letters, Miracles, The Problem of Pain,and Surprised by Joy. 

I read them all as a teenager—and more.I was unimpressed with a lot of the teen devotionals. Having been raised in a nominally Catholic home outside of New York City, and having come to Christ in an Episcopal Church, I did not relate to much of the bubble gum devotionals that were birthed from the evangelical bubble. As a young, recently converted believer, I was drawn to his writing—an articulate Anglican talking so much about this Jesus.Lewis made it OK to love Jesus and have a brain.Half a century later, we still read Lewis because he wrote in such an accessible, but passionate manner about the convictions of our faith. He was an atheist whose life had been transformed by Christ. In a lecture to the Oxford Socratic Club entitled, he said, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."He was able to communicate with reason and imagination.

The same mind that developed the logical arguments within Mere Christianity created the fantasy world of Narnia. And Lewis did so because he was informed and shaped by his Christian faith. He wanted others to know Christ as he knew Him.In many ways, Lewis was before his time. There has been a recent emphasis on telling the story of Scripture. When we were developing The Gospel Project, this was part of our focus—helping people see the unifying story within the Bible. With Narnia, Lewis wanted to communicate the biblical truth through fictional stories.He discovered that people would automatically become defensive if the conversation turned to spiritual matters. Even in his own childhood, he felt his feelings toward Christianity were hampered because they seem to be obligated. The way around that, he discovered, was through a story."But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.

"So 50 years after his death, Lewis still influences countless readers, including many whose dragons are caught unaware. Yet those who believed Kennedy would usher in an age of prosperity and peace were confronted with the very reason Scripture tells us to not place our hope in princes.Perhaps Camelot and Narnia are a reminder to us. We should not attempt to use political means to accomplish spiritual goals.

Our hope for change hearts does not come at the ballot box, but rather as we form relationships with others and tell them the story that has transformed us. Our hope flows from a blood-stained cross and an empty tomb, not Supreme Court rulings or Oval Office decisions.On that fateful November day, Camelot was over, but Narnia lives on.

//Aaron Earls, our resident C.S. Lewis guru (who blogs at Wardrobe Door, no less) contributed to this article.

Ed Stetzer© 2013

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