Friday, April 30, 2010

Wannabe


At this stage in my life, I see a lot of people around me who are continually striving to build their lives. We are “wannabes.” We are baristas that want to be musicians, assistants who want to be managers, and students who want to be teachers. We are singles who want to be married, married people who want to be parents, and lonely people who want friends. May be 50 years ago people would be safely tucked into a nice comfortable spot by now, but it seems to me that is becoming the exception instead of the norm.

We want to be significant, to matter. We spend our blood, sweat, and tears in our attempts to make our dreams come true. We seek mostly what is just beyond the horizon. There is a sense of spiritual hunger that seems to drive us. Yet sometimes it seems that hunger can get so strong that one can be consumed by it. We want just one drop of…

Something.

Jesus says in John 6 that he is the goal of our striving. He says that believing and drawing to him will cause us not to hunger or be thirsty. He also guarantees that what we seek is not the temporary stuff we see around us. It seems this stuff is what makes us strive.

The truth is probably that this striving is not limited by life stage or situation. May be it is a universal human condition to want. I am not sure what it looks like, but I “wannabe” filled with that which will last.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Immigrated

Following Arizona’s new law, many people have been talking about the immigration question. There have been threats of boycotts and many protests. Washington D.C. has even taken notice. In case you have been hiding in a hole for the past week, the new law gives authorities the right to ask anyone to provide proof of citizenship. Individuals who cannot provide said proof might be subject to jail time. Many have called it racism, or a violation of privacy.

Personally, I think this law is ill conceived. It seems to have been passed out of revenge and fear. I think it will be effective solving it’s objective if enforced; yet I do not think this objective serves to benefit the citizens of the state of Arizona. The best possibility that I think could come from it is that it might cause the United States government to take notice and try something different than putting people in jail. I am not a law expert, but it seems to me that making citizenship easier to attain is a much better idea.

In the 6th chapter of the book of John, Jesus is being followed by a large group of people. These people are away from their homes, longing for a better life for themselves and their families (does that sound like immigration to you?). They had come to listen to Jesus and see his miracles. Jesus kept his part of the deal and spoke to the people. No one said that Jesus had to feed them. Yet Jesus brought it up, then he performed the miracle of feeding over 5,000 people even though he started with next to nothing. Jesus also said in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I know that immigration is not an easy problem with easy solutions, many of which I probably do not understand. Yet I do not think Jesus would be in favor of Arizona’s current approach. He was in the business of convincing people that they are important. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Renew


Ray Kurzweil is a famous scientist. He is famous because he was instrumental in developing software in which a computer can read text. He is also a futurist, making predictions about trends and breakthroughs in technology. He predicted the growth of the Internet in the 1990’s as well as the growth of wireless Internet. Kurzweil also predicts that before he dies, he will be able to download his consciousness on to a computer, waiting for the time when the technology will exist to give him a new body. Then at some point, he will be able to download the consciousness of his deceased father as well. He thinks they will take their new bodies and live forever.

There is no doubt that Kurzweil is a brilliant man. His intelligence has brought him many accolades. Yet just like many other men, he wants to have power over death. He chooses technology and nutrition as the tools he thinks will give him this power.

The problem is that the odds are not in his favor. All but one man in the history of the world who have sought power over death have not gained it. Many have tried in many ways. The Bible mentions other men who were resurrected from death, but only Jesus Christ has in himself power over death.

In John 5, Jesus talks about his Father bestowing upon him the power over death. He says his followers will cross over from death to life, no technology needed. We will be renewed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jumped the Shark

Have you ever heard of the phrase “jumped the shark?” It usually is used when a successful group or company does something that leads to its downfall. Jumping the shark also seems to happen when that group or company loses touch with how it became successful. This loss of touch brings about something outlandish, which seems to turn the tides of public popularity. 

The origin of the phrase is from an episode of “Happy Days” from the 1970’s. In the episode, the character Fonzie dawns water skis and uses them to jump over a shark in order to prove his manhood. It seems like everyone could tell that the producers were hard up for ideas. Even though the show continued for 7 more years, it was not the same. It was like that one episode symbolized that it would never be the same again.

In many ways, it seems like Jesus jumped the shark in John 5. He openly opposed the Pharisees and proclaimed himself as the only Son of God. From that statement, things could never be the same again. People could not think of him as a teacher or just a prophet. At this point he is who he says he is, or he is out of his mind.

Has your faith jumped the shark yet? Have you reached the point where you either throw in all your chips, or shrink back into the same old routine like everyone else? Can you make that leap? Can I? 

Posted via email from stilllearning's posterous

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Motivated


I have never been very good at logic puzzles. This seems weird to me because I think I am a pretty logical thinker. I do not enjoy working on them just for brain exercise. I think this may be why I have never been too good at math. However, when it comes to real world problems and solutions, I will spend hours pondering novel solutions.

The best explanation I have found for this paradox is an issue of motivation. I guess I have a hard time seeing the point of solving a nebulous problem that does not do anyone any good. Many different things tend to provide us with motivation. Sometimes we merely want to do better than other people, other times we are motivated by trying to master a task. Trying to achieve valued goals is also motivating, so is trying to avoid unwanted consequences. Motivation is also affected by the extent that we personally identify with our objectives, as well as how we perceive our own capabilities.

In John 4, Jesus talks about his motivation. He was not trying to write a best-selling book, build a mega church, or to be known as the greatest guy around. Jesus’ valued goal was to do the will of his father. He was not trying to avoid consequences, for he knew he had to face them head-on. His life was surrendered to reach his goal and he seemed to have such confidence that people listened to him.

I think it is important for us to examine what motivates us, as well as how that affects our behavior. As part of that, we must consider our real goals, what we value that may be driving us onward. I guess the final step is to soberly assess whether you think that motivation is in line with what is right and good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Floodgates and f

I remember when Facebook was just for College Students. I reluctantly joined back in 2004 when I was working on my Master’s. The girl I was dating was on it all of the time, so my curiosity led me to give it a try. Everyone had to have a college e-mail address in order to get a profile. I think college students were quick to adopt it because using computers and the Internet was absolutely essential for college even then. Plus, college students seem to like being connected with one another.

According to Wikipedia, Facebook opened itself up to high schoolers in September of 2005, then to anyone over the age of 13 in 2006. That was when the floodgates opened. Now it is likely that your parents or even grandparents have Facebook accounts. Just recently an Internet research company reported that 60% of Internet traffic was separated between Google and Facebook.

In the 4th chapter of the book of John, it seems like Jesus was starting to open the floodgates. Religious belief systems before Jesus was largely separated among geographical and/or ethnic boundaries. Unfortunately, the Samaritans were second-class because they were the offspring of the Jews who intermarried with other tribes against God’s command. The comment said by the Samaritan woman makes it seem like she did not feel good enough for God. When Jesus told her about how true worshippers were not only Jews, she must have felt enormous relief. In the coming centuries people all over the world of all colors and sizes would put their faith in Christ.

In some parts of the world, the word of God is still flowing like it just broke through a dam. I recently heard that Christian Churches in China are constantly multiplying. In other parts of the world it seems more like a large river with incremental, yet largely undetectable increases. No matter how the Church is growing in your area, it is the responsibility of Christians to continue the work. We have a better message than a social networking site. We serve a God who desires to draw all humanity to him. It is that message which breaks through anything.

P.S. For the past few days I have been correcting the capitalization of the first letter of the word “Internet,” yet I did some searching about it today and I found that there is currently a huge debate concerning if it is correct to capitalize the word. Personally, I would vote “no.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Star

The Fort Worth Star Telegram published a story about an older couple that had a flat tire on a Sunday night. After about a hundred cars drove by, someone stopped to offer help. It did not take long for Bill and Sharon White to recognize the well-dressed man who stopped. It was none other than Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo. They were shocked.  Evidently Bill asked the pro bowl quarterback not to talk about the game because he had not watched it yet.


I am not really in to celebrities. I have met some kind of famous people, but usually it is just awkward. Meeting people is supposed to be a two-way street, but with celebrities one seldom has anything to offer. That pretty much makes it a one-way deal, which is awkward.

In John 4, a Samaritan woman meets a celebrity and does not know it. Instead of it being a one-way relationship, he starts talking to her. It is clear that she does not realize that she had an audience with the Son of God. Yet he was mostly concerned about the condition of her soul.

I think it can be helpful to be reminded occasionally that humans can have a personal relationship with someone much cooler than Tony Romo (and most of you know that I think Romo is pretty cool). Not only do we have access to him, he pursues us like he did the Samaritan Woman. May be we should work harder to build that relationship.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Deconstructed

Since the invention and application of functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), it seems that neuroscience has taken off. The last ten years have accelerated our knowledge of the brain faster than the journals can publish the results. Everyone is getting on the bandwagon. Even though some uses of this technology have not really been substantiated by research, that has not stopped people from offering it to the public. Companies are already popping up that use FMRI technology to diagnose and treat psychological disorders, as well as criminal lie detection.

Some research has shown that adding the words “neurological” or including a picture of the brain will lead to your findings appearing more credible. It is also a movement towards deconstructionism. Since you can look at someone’s brain activity in real time on an FMRI machine, it has led us back to the idea that our entire existence is a collection of chemical reactions that occur a few inches above the neck. We call this the “Mind-brain” problem.

Jesus teaches a teacher about the mind-brain problem in John 3. He tells him that “flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit.” Jesus also explains that there is something beyond what we see, hear, and experience. Finally, he tells the teacher that he is trying to use imagery that normal people can understand.

Although it is very important to study our brain’s processes, I think being human is more than chemical reactions. We are more than carbon-based complicated robots. However, I do not think science will find some inexplicable hole in the brain where God jumps in and listens to our thoughts. As Jesus said, there is flesh and there is spirit, they are different realities. Even though the two may interact, I think the spirit is undetectable by human means. I believe this is one of the greatest mysteries. Someday, we will know the answer.
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