Sunday, July 31, 2011

Generous Hearts (Luke 20:45-57, 21:1-4)


Click over to YouVersion for the Bible verses.

Jay Barnes, President, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minn. (at Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash., www.oursaviorsbaptist.org) Sunday, July 24, 2011, notes from the 9 and 10:45 am service. (I pray my notes are useful to you.)

Standard of living or standard of giving?

Day-to-day job deals a lot with money - how to raise more money, how it is used or not used to further school's vision. He and his wife mentor to engaged couples, spending a lot of time looking into money issues, knowing that's a big issue with married couples. When he got promoted to president, a real estate called and suggested he needed a larger house. "Why?" he asked, "I have trouble taking care of the one i have." Uganda had 3 masters-level nurses but Bethel worked to create a Masters program with a university in Uganda - they just graduated 7 new nurses. Then he read "A Hole in Our Gospel" by Rich Stearns - "Boy, talk about a book that wrecks your life. You've been given so much, what are you going to do with it?".

He had just cleansed the temple, just advocated for paying taxes (render unto Caesar what is Caesar's), met with Zaccheus, and now he's here talking about giving sacrificially versus acting pious - not to mention accusing religious leaders of stealing from widows. (Between Palm Sunday and Easter, one of his last teachings.)

So... makes him wonder - what would we need to do to be praised by Jesus instead of condemned?

2 Corinthians 8:9, 11-14: A group in need, a group with more than it needed.

"9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich. [10 And herein I give my judgment: for this is expedient for you, who were the first to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but also to will.] 11 But now complete the doing also; that as there was the readiness to will, so there may be the completion also out of your ability. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not according as he hath not. 13 For I say not this that others may be eased and ye distressed; 14 but by equality: your abundance being a supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want; that there may be equality."

This is how Jesus acted towards us, this is how we are to act towards other. Can we imagine putting ourself into a position like Jesus gave?

The principles Paul notes:

  • Give in proportion to what you have. (Net and gross argument is totally bogus.)
  • Give eagerly and cheerfully.
  • Give towards the goal of equality within the body of believers.
  • Believers are to help each other.
  • If you give generously, you will receive generously.
  • God is the source of all resources. (What you receive might not be just money, it might be far better.)
  • God wants to produce a harvest of generosity in us. (Remember, you can't outlive God.)
Don't be legalistic - don't look for a formula - remember, in the old testament there was both tithes and offerings -God was asking for close to 40%!

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be?

"Passing the Plate:" Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money
20% of Christians give nothing.
60% of all giving comes from 5% of Christians
Only 27% of higher wealth American Christians (earning over $100,000 annually) give more than 3%!
American Christians who go to church at least twice a month earn $2 trillion per year -- greater than the GDP of all but 5 countries.
If "serious" Christians gave 10% of their AFTER tax income it would generate an additional $46 billion a YEAR. (Note: Gates Foundation is worth a total of $36 billion.)

$22 billion: (a "pick all" list)

  • 150k new missionaries
  • Triple efforts on Bible translation
  • quadruple resources spent on missions
  • 1 million new water projects (solving water problems in Africa and Central Asia)
  • 5 million micro loans
  • Full resources to wipe out malaria
  • Sponsor 10 million children
  • Provide need-based scholarship to 10-15k needy college students
  • feed and clothe all refugees on three continents
  • several additional things, he spoke too quickly

American Christians spend:

  • $27b candy
  • $93b water, soda
  • $86b new tv
  • $45b on state lotteries
  • $100b fast food

What if Christ-followers were known as the ones who did all that stuff?

Ideas:

  • What if I matched to a charity what I spent on bottled beverages?
  • What if I matched to a charity what I spent on clothes?
  • What if I matched what I spend each month on my cable bill and cell phone to Bible translation.
What choices are we willing to make?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Big Math

I recently discovered The Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org) - a website designed to help teach people math and other skills.  There are over 2,400 videos on the site that explain concepts, you work through concepts and after you get 10 right in a row you're considered "proficient" in the topic.  You can also get coaching or ask for hints.  (Hints reset your "streak.")  You earn badges and "energy points" and can go back and look at stats about your own progress and how much time you spent on each module and how much time you spent watching videos and stuff.

There's a couple of videos on the homepage where you can learn more.

The week before last, I started Rachel on them.  She made quick work of addition 1.  Completing the module earned her a Starbucks, so early Saturday morning we walked to Starbucks.  It was a great bonding time, it probably took us 30-45 minutes each way.  I thought "This is awesome!"  This will be great bonding time.  We will turn this into a habit, a ritual, a chance to talk and that will help as she gets older to have a habit of being able to talk to old dad and maybe not think he's quite so clueless about everything.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sift 196-200

The Sift 196: Cars
  • Alfa Romeo’s 4C Will Add a Gorgeous Green Edge to Motoring
  • Yana Briggs’ Sexy Chevy Era Concept Cleans Up Polluted City Air
  • BMW, Porsche, others announce support for HomePlug's EV networking spec
  • Tesla Motors Announces It Will Stop Production of the Roadster Electric Sports Car
  • Obama Calls for 56.2 MPG Fuel Efficiency Mandate by 2025
Read more...



The Sift 197: Infographics
  • If San Francisco Crime was Elevation
  • Job Growth/Loss by Month on map for top 100 MSAs
  • The Expat Explorer Survey: Comparing Countries by People Living Abroad
  • The Connected States of America (multiple)
  • Cat People vs. Dog People: What Our Pets Say About Us
Read more...



The Sift 198: Amazon
  • Kindle Books Now Outselling Real Books on Amazon
  • Amazon Looks To Build Full-Fledged Publishing House
  • Apple's request for preliminary injunction denied, Amazon's Appstore needs no alias
  • Amazon Cloud Player hits iPad, adds unlimited storage, scoffs at constrained competition
Read more...



The Sift 199: Brain, People and Thought Leadership
  • You Better T.H.I.N.K.
  • Experiments are different than failures
  • Who Is In Charge of Being Nice to Little Kids?
  • Prepare Yourself for the Unexpected by Pretending You’re an Expert
  • Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days (Video)
Read more...



The Sift 200: Entertainment and Technology
  • Blockbuster: Please, Please Change Your Habits
  • DVD Hacks Database Contains Instructions to Unlock Region-Free Mode for Hundreds of DVD Players
  • Japanese Robo-Suit To Help Paralyzed Man Visit France
  • Quadrocopters: blooper reel edition
  • EU Invests $6.2 Million in Research to Develop Futuristic Flying Cars
Read more...


Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is broken.

Ok, the sign reads "DOOR MUST STAY CLOSED. This will allow the A/C to cool properly. DO NOT PROP DOOR OPEN."  And then at the bottom of the door?  A doorstop permanently involved?  How does this happen?  Someone probably wandered over to that aisle, grabbed one, screwed it onto the door.  (Wonder if they even paid for it?)  This was on the door to the staff lounge at our local @HomeDepot.  More Failing, More Doing.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slow Me Down (a work-related post)

One of the things I got from Brain Rules was the idea of "switching costs" - that multitasking is a fallacy and really to do multiple things requires several distinct steps. I don't have the book handy as I write this, but you basically need to re-orient yourself to a particular task, recall where you were, perform the action, and then wind-down that activity and choose the next one. And so as you move from a phone call to an email to an instant message and then back to the Excel report you're working on, you're performing all these discrete tasks for each switch. And while you feel like you're being productive, if you were to do each task -- start to finish, without interruption -- it would take you half as long. And also, by multitasking, your chances of making an error doubles.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review -- Brain Rules

Brain Rules
John Medina

I believe I received this book for Christmas 2009.  It's been on my nightstand for quite some time.  I read part-way through it, got caught up in other books and had to start over to re-orient myself to what I was reading.  I think that was providence - this past year we learned our son was on the autism spectrum.  We don't have a more specific diagnosis yet (he's still young) but a prominent local brain specialist did a preliminary observation with him earlier this year and that was his diagnosis.   A follow-up assessment is scheduled for later this year.  So, when I re-started, I was now reading from the perspective of not only curiosity, but also with the idea that maybe I could learn a little more about my son as I went.

Throughout the book, it regularly refers to the website www.brainrules.net.  I have not explored the website myself, but it looks like it has a lot of the content that's available on the DVD that comes with the hardbound book.  (I've linked you directly to this book's content as there is other content on the site for another book.  Use the navigation at left on that site to view slides and videos and hear audio that gives you additional details and examples beyond what's in the book.)

This was one thick paperback, clocking in at 280 pages.  The content was really meaty, when I did start reading the second time, I found that often a single chapter (there are 12) would take me two nights to read.  There are lots of examples and interesting facts.  I would recommend this as an interesting read.  The author's predisposition towards evolution can be distracting if you hold a creation viewpoint or haven't decided where you stand on the issue.  You can get a lot from the website, but it's probably better as an accompaniment than a replacement for the book.  The book could also be a good gift for anyone who has an inquisitive mind and enjoys learning new things.

The author John Medina is (according to the bio at the front of the book*) is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant.   He is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine.  He is also the director of Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University.  He lives in Seattle, Washington.  (*Taken verbatim - not intending to thwart copyright laws, but to give you a succinct explanation of his particular qualifications.)

Each chapter presents a rule: Not so much a mandate or checklist for you to follow, but rather something research has suggested is true through repeated testing and examination.  The rule is presented, explained, specific real-life examples are presented, and then ideas about how we ought to change the way we do things is suggested.  If there are exceptions, those are called out as well.  (For instance, if our ancestors walked 12 miles a day, then perhaps sitting in a cubical all day is unhealthy for our bodies, specifically our brains, with specific examples about how we ought to go about becoming more healthy.)  Each chapter ends with a summary.

Here are the 12 rules:

1. Exercise: Exercise boosts brainpower.

2. Survival: The human evolved, too.  (We have three brains.)

3. Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.

4. Attention: We don't pay attention to boring things.

5. Short-term Memory: Repeat to remember.

6. Long-term Memory: Remember to repeat.

7. Sleep: Sleep well, think well.

8. Stress: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.

9. Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.

10. Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.

11. Gender: Male and female brains are different.

12. Exploration: We are natural and powerful explorers.

As I read, I made some specific notes, things that really stood out to me.

Alerting - our brains have three phases to alerting (Posner).  Phase 1 "Intrinsic Alertness" says we're constantly monitoring what's around us.  If something unexpected occurs, we transition to "Phasic Alertness" - we focus our attention on the disturbance (involuntary reaction).  Third, the "Executive Network" kicks into play, determining how to react (voluntary/deliberate reacton).  

More complexity leads to greater learning - if it takes more work to process/understand something, there's a greater chance of us learning from it, remembering it later.  If something is easy, boring* or simple, we may not capture anything from the encounter and thus have trouble recalling it later.  (*Boring could also mean 'perceived to be irrelevant.'  This is probably one of my problems at work - if I encounter a piece of information that I don't know how to put into the mold of what I already know, I may have trouble remembering it later, I may mentally discard it. This is why I write so much down, so that I can look it up later, or so that the process of writing it down as another chance for me to make it stick in my head a little longer.)

Environmental Cues and State-Dependent Context - if you are learning something for the purpose of later recall - either for application or for testing, you should learn it in an environment that matches the environment where you will later need to recall it.  For example, if you are doing classroom learning on repairing jet engines, your classroom should be on the floor or a maintenance facility (or at least in a classroom with windows through which you can see into the facility) so that as you're learning, you're also experiencing what you're learning.  Or as a silly example, if you will be taking a test in a movie theater, study with the lights down low while eating (and smelling) fresh popcorn.

Stress - one element of stress that you cannot control (in school or work) - stress caused at home.  If there is any way to control, mitigate, reduce, it should be done.  The author suggests that a child's school system ought to start at birth with classes for parents.  Understandably, a lot of ink is spent on the effects of stress at home on a child's ability to learn and do well in school or an employee's ability to perform well or efficiently at work.  This is an area that is sadly seemingly under-approached in the real world, despite the implications.

Occupational Stress - this was a great "Aha!" moment for me as it applies to me and to those who work for me.  A major source of occupational stress occurs when a great deal is expected of you -- but you have no control as to whether or not you will perform well.

Another quote from the book about stress: "Studies show that a certain amount of uncertainty can be good for productivity, especially for bright, motivated employees.  What they need is a balance between controllability and uncontrollability.  Slight feelings of uncertainty may cause them to deploy unique problem-solving strategies."

And an author to look up: John Gottman (can tell within 3 minutes of interacting with a couple - with 90% accuracy - if they will last as a couple).

Monday, July 25, 2011

False Sense of Security

I'll admit it, I was fooled.  But there are just some times when you ought to be able to trust the world presented to you.

At right is a blue Rubbermade tub.  On the side, the words "Read, Respond, Recycle Your Mail"  Up top, a metal lock.  In front of the PO Boxes at our post office is a long counter and underneath are 4 or 5 of these boxes.

I can't recall, I might have even made a blog post before praising Rubbermade and the U.S. Postal Service for these boxes.  Before, I had to find some other way of disposing of all of the junk mail I received, especially pre-approved credit card offers.

Now, I thought, I could avoid all of the hassle and figure that it was either being shredded in the back or at least combined with so much other mail that the chances of someone pulling mine out were greatly reduced.

Well, that turned out to be a false promise.  If the weakest link in any security system is the humans involved, the ones at my post office are doing a crack job.  

The other day, I decided that something I had dropped in hadn't gone in far enough and someone could fish it out.  I grabbed the edges of the lid to lift up the container to shake it.  And the lid popped right off.  I found a key inside in a plastic bag taped to the lid.  I removed the key, locked the lock and nothing happened.  I removed the lid.  On the box is a metal tab with a slot.  On the lid, the lock turns a metal bar that pivots into the slot.  Only on this box, the metal bar turned away from the slot.  I used the key as a screwdriver to remove the bar, reverse it, and then tighten it again.  Perfect.  The box was now locked.  I dropped the key in the outgoing mail slot.  I knew it would fall into one of those bins on the other side where it would be discovered.

And it turns out it was - the next time I visited the post office, all of the boxes were unlocked.

So I'm back to having to find some other method of more securely disposing of my unwanted mail.

But just serves as a reminder that we should not accept the world at face value, but poke it, prod it, question it, make sure it's what it claims to be.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Luke: So You May Know With Certainty

Click here for the YouVersion.. um... version.

Luke: So You May Know With Certainty (Luke 1:1-4; 24:36-53)

Message #3 of "NT70 -- 70 Days through the New Testament" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg; Our Savior's Baptist Church (www.oursaviorsbaptist.org), Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, July 17, 2011 (My notes from the 9:45 and 11 am services, I pray they will be useful to you.)

--- Can you be sure? ---

- Did it really happen? (historical)
- Does it satisfy my intellectual needs? (personal)
- Do I want to follow it? (will)

--- Luke, the book of "certainty" (1:1-4) ---

Luke was written 2,000 years ago to answer that same question.  They were asking back then, just as they are today.  The book was commissioned to address nagging doubts.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

video blog #2


Me rambling for 5 minutes about recent stuff.

The Sift 191-195

The Sift 191: Social Media
  • AccountKiller Details How to Delete Your Account from Nearly Any Web Site
  • Revealed: Facebook’s music plans involve Spotify, others
  • 2012 Olympic Athletes Are Welcome To Tweet
  • Twitter Could Put Promoted Tweets in Users’ Timelines
Read more...



The Sift 192: Education, Brain, People and Thought-Leadership
  • Brand exceptionalism
  • Purge Your Schedule Like You Would a Packed Fridge
  • How else are you supposed to take it?
  • What Your College Major Is Worth
  • A Game Theory of NFL Negotiations
Read more...



The Sift 193: Art, Architecture, Design, Fashion and Style
  • Geek Alert! Psychedelic LED Light Paintings Are Created Using Roomba Robot Vacuums
  • How to Match a Tie with a Dress Shirt and Suit
  • Alphabet Building Spells Out New Approach to Creative Offices
  • Bridges That Babble On: 15 Amazing Roman Aqueducts
  • Amit Sood: Building a museum of museums on the web (Video)
Read more...



The Sift 194: Google+
  • Google Launches Google+ To Battle Facebook
  • The Google+ Bar
  • More About Google+ Hangouts
  • EXCLUSIVE: Google To Retire Blogger & Picasa Brands in Google+ Push
  • Google To Retire Private Google+ Profiles On July 31
Read more...



The Sift 195: Apple
  • Should Apple Store Employees Form An iUnion?
  • Apple patent application highlights location-based social networking, encourages intimate pinging
  • Intercontinental Ballistic App Store
  • Apple Hopes to Thwart Jailbreakers with iOS 5
  • Apple files motion to intervene in Lodsys patent lawsuit
Read more...


Friday, July 22, 2011

Running on Autopilot


I was a little under the weather recently and couldn't run. (And did one day anyhow and paid dearly for it.)  Anyhow, I'm doing better now and it felt good to get back into it last night.Despite the long gap, I'm still way ahead of my original goal of 100 miles in 100 days.  I added a new trendline at 1.5 miles per day which would get me there in 67 days instead.  Of course, I intend to beat even that - yesterday was day 41 and I completed mile 70.

What does this all mean?  Nothing, really.  I enjoy running and will continue to do so after I hit 100.  Although I have promised myself some more appropriate running shoes when I hit 100.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Off-Brand


From my daughter as we walked past it the other day at Home Depot.  "Dad, what makes that Disney?  It doesn't look like anything Disney would make."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Sift 186-190

The Sift 186: Uncluttering
  • Use Side ‘Procrastination Projects’ to Become More Productive
  • Treat Personal Internet Use Like a Coffee Break to Get More Done
  • Resolved: How to Keep Your Computer Safe, Clean, and Backed Up in 2011
  • Finding solutions to disorder by identifying the causes of disorder
  • California stops automatic phone book delivery following pressure from Verizon
Read more...



The Sift 187: Web Developement
  • Wow. What's possible with HTML5
  • Introducing schema.org: Search engines come together for a richer web
  • 9 Well-Designed User Registration Pages To Learn From
  • Customize Your FavIcon in Blogger
  • Chrome 14 Blocks Insecure JavaScript
Read more...



The Sift 188: Email
  • Friends to Gmail Exports Your Facebook Contacts into Google Contacts
  • 3 Labs graduations, 1 retirement
  • Email checklist (maybe this time it'll work!)
  • The History of Email [INFOGRAPHIC]
  • Protect yourself from scams by knowing who really emailed you
Read more...



The Sift 189: Advertising, Marketing, News and Media
  • Social Media Has Little Impact on Online Retail Purchases [STUDY]
  • 9 Viral Videos That Are Actually Advertising
  • Former NPR CEO Named Chief Digital Officer of NBC News
  • Wikipedia’s New Love Button Will Let You Send Kittens or Beer to Others
Read more...



The Sift 190: Finances, Banking, Business and Acquisition
  • Microsoft, Facebook, RIM, and others write to the FCC in support of AT&T-Mobile merger
  • What is NFC, and why do we care?
  • SageTV HTPC software acquired by Google, next stop Google TV?
  • Google's New Currency Converter
  • MySpace Sold to Ad Network for $35 Million
Read more...


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review -- Road Dogs

Road Dogs
Elmore Leonard

It's probably unfair to compare apples to oranges.  Or in this case, apples to George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Soderbergh (and Ving Rhames! and Don Cheadle! and Steve Zahn!  and Albert Brooks!   and... and... ).  Ok, unfair fight.  This isn't a review of one of my favorite movies.

I must have known when I placed Road Dogs on my reading list that it was the next Foley book after Out of Sight.  By the time I got the book, I had forgotten this fact.  But this was the first Elmore Leonard book I read.  This won't be the last one I read, but I gotta say, I was a little disappointed.   

I read a review later that describes Foley as both a slick guy who knows how to get along with everyone, but at the same time, very clueless.  This comes through, and Foley does well in the end, but the story here wasn't nearly as strong as the Out of Sight or Get Short stories (another film I really enjoyed).  This book kind of plods along with a number of characters I really didn't care for or about.  One thing that I liked about this book was the dialogue - there's a lot of back and forth, a lot of interplay.  However, it's hard to read an accent than it is to hear it.  But I still appreciated the variety of the characters.

So, yeah, don't recommend this book, but I'll definitely check out more Elmore Leonard.  (I'm a little scared posting this, I know Leonard is a well-revered author and I really suspect my appreciation may have been diluted by the book choice and the cinema.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

#trust30: Change Your Thinking


Change Your Thinking by Maryellen Smith



“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson



At any given point in time, you’re only one thought away from changing your thinking. What thought can you change today? (Author: Maryellen Smith)
I'm a little confused by this question, to be honest.  But I still think I have a good answer.  I am thinking about the idea that I am an introvert, I was created an introvert, an introvert I will always be.  On one hand, that's who I am.  On the other hand, the world doesn't reward those who keep to themselves.  Or at least the business world does not.  If I want to succeed, I must push myself, I must go beyond my comfort zone.  I must, really, consider my default state to be somewhat of a handicap and so to be successful, I must work harder than someone for whom this comes easy.  Fair?  No.  But it's the world I want to play in.

Inc. -- July/Aug. 2011

Inc. Magazine
July/August 2011
Cover story: How I Did It: 14 Tales of Unexpected Success - short profiles of some unexpected successes. Inspiring - it's good to see people succeed, especially when they recognize their own mortality and the need to keep pushing, to not coast at the top.

Racing to Build the Next Spacecraft - an infographic (that worked better in print)

Turning Customers into Salespeople - I got some great ideas that I wish we could explore at our organization

How Would You Market Art for Rent? -- I liked this more because I love the idea of renting art. We have a massive blank wall in our living room just crying out for the right art piece.

Added to book list:
Good Strategy, Bad Strategy -- Richard P. Rumelt

There was also a few articles on very young entrepreneurs but I only skimmed them - being older than all of them, the articles didn't really inspire me but rather had the opposite effect.  There was also an article on salary comparisons for sectors and job types that I didn't really read.

For the rest of the issue online, go here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When You Get Only Half Your Miracle (Mark 8:22-29)

Click on over to YouVersion

When You Get Only Half Your Miracle (Mark 8:22-29)

Message #2 of "NT70: 70 Days Through the New Testament" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash. (www.oursaviorsbaptist.org). Sunday, July 10, 2011. (My notes from the 9 and 10:45 am services. I pray these notes will be helpful to you. There was no outline this week, so hopefully it doesn't feel disjointed.)

Do You See Anything?

In other cases, Jesus simply needed say a word. Or maybe even some mud. But in this case, it was a two-part miracle. Why did Jesus take two steps here?

The emphasis wasn't on whether he could see, but the degree to which he could see. (Like someone who doesn't realize they need glasses - we think we can see fine until we borrow someone's glasses or finally take a vision test.)

We know from the man's answer that he wasn't born blind - that he knew what people were supposed to look like and that things weren't right.

Can he see anything?

Yes. Well, that's better. But... Is that good enough? Should he have settled for partial sight? The people who win a big prize on the game show but have the choice about whether to quit while they're ahead or gamble it on what's behind door number two?

Jesus had been working with the disciples about their understanding. "Who do the people say that I am?" The crowds (and the disciples) only saw in part - they understood some of the truth, but not all of it. Christianity is like that as well - both with new Christians and long-term Christians. People see part, they understand a little bit. They accept Jesus, but that's only the first step - they're only just getting a taste. But they often think that they've got the whole picture.

Some come because they find Jesus intellectually interesting. Some come seeking help for a hurt. Some come because they know they need something to believe in.

"They seem to know enough about Christianity to spoil their enjoyment of the world, and yet they do not know enough to feel happy about themselves... they see, and yet they do not see." -- Pastor Martin Lloyd Jones

Born-again unbelievers - trapped in the knowledge that they are a sinner in need of help, but not understanding what it means to be redeemed in Christ and the joy that brings.

A guy moves from Colorado to Texas, builds a big house with a big picture window and then complains that there's nothing to see. At the same time, a man moves from Texas to Colorado, builds a big house with a big picture window and then complains that the mountains block the view. We bring our perceptions into Christianity, but fail to realize there's more.

The blind man sees.

He sees something. But his sight is not accurate.

Is 10 and 10 15? Well, 10 plus 10 is at least 15. So yes, it's right. But it's not right. It's not the whole picture. It's partially right but mostly wrong. 10 plus 10 is 20.

The man sees, but he realizes that he's not seeing it correctly, he knows there's more.

Why did Jesus have to spit in the man's face in order for the man to be healed? This wasn't even sitting on the ground and making mud, this was just plain spitting on the guy. Does it matter? Yes. But after a lot of thought about it this week, Pastor Jeff can't figure out exactly why and has come to the conclusion that maybe right now he doesn't need to know why. Because we don't see the whole picture, there may be things we don't understand now, or we might not ever understand.

Does it ever feel like Jesus has spit in our face?

We were hoping for one answer to prayer and got something else, or no answer at all. We don't see the whole picture and we need to realize that. And that's tough. This church has recently seen several unexpected deaths, a grandson of a member who passed away at 22 as well as a 27-year-old who had been part of the youth ministry before moving to Chicago, memories of a 17-year-old killed a year ago by a drunk driver - why would Jesus allow this? We just got spit in the eye by Jesus and we don't get it. We're stumbling in the dark. This doesn't make sense.

Like the blind man seeing trees, we, too, see things that don't seem right, like there's possibly something we're missing, something we're missing out on. The first step is to recognize that what we're seeing might be only partial, inaccurate, just like this man does.

Jesus once more put his hands on this man's eyes and his sight was restored and he sees clearly. This is not just about a blind man being able to see, this is also about the process Jesus is bringing the disciples through to clarity. After asking the disciples what others say about him, he turns to them and says "But who do YOU say that I am?"

All of us will have to answer that question, the most important question in all of life. Someday we will stand before God in heaven and be asked that question. In a moment of clarity, Peter got it right. In that moment, he probably still didn't completely understand (the Bible later says that Peter didn't fully understand until after the crucifixion.) This was their moment of acceptance. That they would respond to Jesus as LORD Jesus.

This is Jesus, who understands the why, even when they did not fully understand.

If Jesus stood before us right now, if He asked us what we saw, how might we answer?

* I've had more of an emotional response.
* I've had more of an intellectual response.
* My faith was a response of the will with no substance to it.

Step 1: Admit that you only see partially.

Step 2: Say to Jesus "Touch my eyes again, I want to see YOU more fully."

The answer to seeing spiritually is not coming to a full understanding of what God is doing in your life. it is not coming to a full understanding of why God is doing it in your life. Seeing spiritually is coming to a fuller understanding of WHO Jesus is. (Not WHY Jesus does what he does.)

Eye doctor asked patient to cover one eye and read the line. The patient read it fine. Then the doctor said "Now the other eye" and the patient again read it fine. Then the doctor said "Now both eyes" and the patient couldn't read anything. The doctor discovered the patient had covered both eyes.

Sometimes when we can't see why Jesus has allowed something into their lives, we cover both eyes and don't want to acknowledge that God is still God of their lives because it means that in the pain, still accepting what God is doing in their lives, accepting that it's OK because Jesus is God and Lord and has a plan even though we can't see it. It requires an acceptance and submission that we do not like. Because it's painful to do that. We don't want to understand it.

Is there more about Jesus that we're missing because we're trying to understand life instead of trying to understand Jesus?

Ephesians 3:16-19 - Paul prays:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Fannie Crosby - eye inflammation at 6 weeks old, treatable even back then (in 1820). But the doctor that treated her was careless and put too much ointment in the dressing and made her totally and permanently blind. But she said later in life that if she could meet the doctor now, she'd thank him over and over again - she saw her blindness as a gift from God and said she believed it made it possible for her to see Jesus in ways she doesn't think would be possible if she had retained her sight.
(Note: Wikipedia cites a book that suggests she may have always been blind. May not be relevant, but I looked it up, so now I'm mentioning it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Crosby )

---

Playlist:
- Blessed Assurance
- Blessed Be Your Name
- When I Don't Know What To Do
- Amazing Grace
- Forever Reign
- Fairest Lord Jesus
- Here I Am to Worship

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In the past decade

The other night I heard the phrase "in the past decade."  It rattled around in my head for awhile and started to really bug me.  This entire period - this past decade - an extremely long amount of time - refers entirely to a post-college period of my life.  Now, I've been happily married for longer than a decade.  My car still serves me well more than a decade later (and still looks pretty good).  But to have been out of school for over a decade means a lot of time spent working.  And I'm not sure I have enough to show for it.  There's a few people where I work who graduated from the same college as me around the same time.  I looked at where they'd ended up, coming to work there much sooner after graduation than I.  And then I wondered where I'd be if I'd come here much sooner after I graduated.  Very quickly, I get my answer.  I'd have been fired.  I had a lot of learning to do on the job before I got here.  Not to say I no longer make mistakes, but I had a few starter careers (the video rental store, the internet startup, the movie studio, the small non-profit) to work out most of my most grievous, fatal errors.

So I just recently got my five year pin.  I think I've done quite a bit, but it's all been so hard to quantify.  I recently read a Seth Godin post that talked about how you can only make the trains "so efficient."  You can't keep going to where the trains are early or that's just as bad as being late.  At some point, the schedule's good enough.  After that, you have to differentiate.  You need to make the trains themselves better - new seating, upgrade the dining car, etc.

And yet I feel myself still trying to get the train more on time.  The trains are running fine.

Friday, July 15, 2011

#trust30: Original Thought


Original Thought by Michael Brajkovich

“The arts and inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate men.”


Think of the last time that you thought, said, or did something that was original. What inspired or invigorated this? (Author: Michael Brajkovich)
My brain is constantly firing off new stuff.  Often new ideas are "sparked" by something I hear, see or read.  Whether it's in a meeting, or watching a TED Talk, or reading one of the many magazines I read.  The other day I read an article in Inc. magazine about a company that used an offer of a free month of Netflix as an incentive to get people to refer their friends.  I wondered if there was any way for the non-profit I work for to do something similar.  There's a fine line that must be danced upon - would we be seen as too commercial?  Would it look exploitative?  Could we find a company to give us free product to give to our donors?  If it were a monthly product being sold, would it "compete" with the monthly donation opportunity we were seeking, especially if push came to shove and they had to choose financially between continuing one or the other.  Or, I recently got an email from American Home Shield giving me free air filters for a year.  I noticed that in the clickthrough url it contained the phrase "retention" - it was no mistake that the offer appeared now just as my warranty was coming up for renewal.  If, in our non-profit, some donors consider their commitment only for a year (essentially, it's ongoing), would an unexpected gift just before the end of their year or giving make them think favorably and reduce the number of cancellations?  Maybe it's a bumper sticker or a t-shirt or a product donated by a company.  Something to take gives a little boost in that area of the brain reserved for unexpected presents and makes them less likely to cancel?  Both ideas, I thought, were interesting and slightly novel.  However, I felt like I had a hard time getting anyone interested in them.  
Sign up here to get the daily prompts by email.  (The website is wrong.  They're still sending new prompts.)

The Sift 181-185

The Sift 181: Apple
  • Steve Jobs Unveils Crazy Spaceship-Shaped Clean Energy Campus for Apple
  • Apple gives in to publishers, changes policy on in-app subscription prices
  • Apple to drop DUI checkpoint apps like a bad habit
  • iOS 5 imposes minor feature limitations on iPhone 3GS, 3G owners still bitter
  • iCloud’s real purpose: kill Windows
Read more...



The Sift 182: Food, Health, Exercise and Medicine
  • 5 ways restaurants get you to spend
  • New Self-Powered, Blood-Activated LED Sensor Can Detect Pancreatitis in an Hour
  • Not Just for Cavities: Brushing Your Teeth Affects Your Body’s Total Health
  • Nike+ Visualizations: 1,000+ Runs in NYC
  • Whole Grain Pasta May Not Hold Many Real Health Benefits
Read more...



The Sift 183: Google
  • Google Decides Knowledge is Power
  • Creative Commons Videos on YouTube
  • Better Embedding Code for Google +1 Buttons
  • Knocking down barriers to knowledge - voice search, visual search, instant pages
  • Google trademarks Photovine, hints at new photo-sharing service

Read more...



The Sift 184: Cycling
  • Brilliant LED Backpack Lets Night Cyclists Signal to Drivers
  • Washington still 'most bicycle-friendly state'
  • Roll Your Bike Up the Staircase
  • Visualizing All Bike Accidents in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Cycle Safely With Fraser Mort’s Playful Emoting Bike Lights
Read more...



The Sift 185: Entertainment and Technology
  • CBS’ fine new dramas are an escape from reality TV
  • Motorola Televation turns cable TV into IPTV streams for the whole home
  • Hulu Expands Original Programming With Sci-Fi & Comedy Shows
  • Wii U will not play DVDs or Blu-ray, Iwata says
  • New Discovery May Lead to Typing-Powered Laptops and Everlasting Batteries
Read more...


Thursday, July 14, 2011

#trust30: Ordinary Things


Ordinary Things by Ana Guardia


“Every artist was first an amateur.”

To be an artist one has to find beauty in ordinary things. Find 10 things of great beauty in the landscape that surrounds you. For example, crumple sheets on your bed in the morning, the smell of coffee making its way around a busy office. (Author: Ana Guardia)
Ten things around me that I find beautiful, huh?  I'm currently sitting at my desk, so here goes.

1. A frame containing four panels.  The panels contain drawings my daughter did several years ago of us and our cats.

2. A second frame containing cut-outs that spell dad.  The first D contains a photo of my son and I.  The A - me and both my children.  The final D, my daughter and I.

3. Many, many trees outside my office window.  It's gray right now, but I love rain, so that's fine.  I can see glimpses of the lake through the trees and if I stand up, I can see the ponds and walking path just outside the building.

4. My stats screen is showing that it's after 5 pm, but not yet 5:30.  This is a little bit of me-time between work and home and for once, I'm not yet late.

5. Attached to the window is a post-it.  It was an idea for a project that did not get prioritized.  However, it so resonated with people that some work is being done on it in people's spare time when they don't have prioritized projects to work on.  That's beautiful.

6. My coffee cup.  It's empty right now, but it's the place that holds my coffee before I drink it.  And coffee makes me happy.  Even if it's the office drip.  Because it's sweet and warm and I like the solid heft of the cup.  Oh, and it has a photo of my daughter from before we moved here.  People have asked recently and I have to laugh and say the cup is 6 or so years old.

7. There are a bunch of multi-colored post-its on my desk.  Each one represents a to-do list item.  But at a quick glance, it's just a splash of color.  Tomorrow I may not find them so beautiful.

8. I have a miniature zen garden on my desk as well.  It's been awhile since I gardened, but I can picture myself using it.

9. My calendar is beautiful.  It tells me I have only one more day of work before I go on vacation.

10. There's also a small piece of wood cut in the shape of a church that someone gave me that hangs on the wall of my office.  Someone's used a wood burner to draw on a door and some windows and the words "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  It's nothing fancy and the words run together a little bit.  I suspect it's handmade.  It's a nice bit of randomness amongst all the sharp polished angled lines of all of the computer monitors (3) and picture frames and wires and stuff.

120: What do you want from me?

He sighed when the beeping started.  He shouldn't have really been surprised.  He couldn't see how he'd triggered it.  Was it a delayed reaction to him walking through the gate, or was there a motion detector of some kind on the path?

He retraced his steps to the gate.  Opened, walked through, closed.  He pulled out his phone, paused his workout and waited, the stupid beeping continue.  Who would believe he was just out for his lunchtime walk and wanted to say "hello" to the chickens? Or that he had done this just last week with his boss?  Only things were slightly different, now that he thought about it.  There hadn't been a gate.  There had been a couple of chickens, but some of the holding pens were still under construction - fencing incomplete, newly poured concrete foundations.  'What have you stepped in this time, bud?' he asked himself.

There was a breeze on the ridge and he wondered just how long he'd have to wait.  Finally, he could see some dust and eventually he could see a small cluster of people coming towards him - guys with sunglasses on motorcycles and several women, each with an obscene number of mall store bags on Segways rolled across the dusty dried grass to where he stood, waiting.

She motioned for him to have a seat at her desk and she walked past to stare at the large whiteboard.  She sighed and pulled it from the side.  It hinged down, covering the worksurface below.  He'd only caught a glimpse of the beakers and burners and other things he'd not seen before, having never taken a chemistry class.  The outer walls were higher, so the whiteboard formed a lid, hiding it all from view.

She sat down at the desk and turned her attention to him briefly before looking at the stack of papers on her desk and slowly sifting through them.  "Now, to talk about who you are and why you're here," she said, leveling a gaze at him.  "There are three things I want to know... I don't understand why you're here, what you were looking for.  And you're not a runner.  I find that puzzling."  She seemed distracted.  He waited, but there was no more.

He took in a deep breath.  "It sounds like you're asking who I am and why I was there.  But I'm sorry, what was the third thing?"  He figured it was best to just play it straight, but seriously, what was she getting at?  He often was a runner, just today he felt like taking a walk instead.

She dropped the papers and stared at him.  "Let's start with why you're here, since you so artfully tried to dodge that," she said testily.

And there it was, or so he thought.  Had the line been crossed?

"That is a good question," he responded.  "Why am I here? I don't even know where here is.  You're obviously not part of the security detail, you've not threatened me with trespass.  You didn't even check my backpack.  To be honest, I find this all extremely sloppy."

She stared at him in disbelief.

"I don't know what you mean by 'not a runner' - I often run at lunch but today I felt like taking a walk.  And as stupid as this sounds, I thought I would stop and say 'hi' to the chickens as I walked past.  But I'm guessing you must actually be talking about how I didn't run away when the alarm sounded.  Why I waited patiently for you guys to show up."

She said nothing, but color began to rise in her neck.

"So I waited, you guys showed up, obviously back from a lunch break at the mall, march me back down the hill to this building with no name on it, bring me in through the side door on one of the guy's keycards, deposit me in this office.  I can see your whiteboard with your equations, your table with all that chemistry stuff on it.  Frankly, I was expecting to get sweated in some windowless office underground by someone from security.  You're obviously not from security.  You haven't threatened me with the actual police.  This is all a stupid misunderstanding, but I went along because I figured it was the easiest way to get this over and done with.  But now, I'm starting to get curious."

She began to stammer as he rose to his feet.

"No, no, it's cool.  For all you know, I've got a bomb or some kind of recording device in this backpack.  But you didn't bother to check.  I'm going to save you the trouble."  He hefted the back onto the table and began unloading its contents.  An iPad, the latest issue of Fast Company (in print, of course), pens, pencils, a notepad, some post-its, a charger for a Dell laptop (but no laptop), an extension cord, a long ethernet cable, a small wireless router, some gum.  By now, the myriad pockets were all unzipped and he forcefully upended the back, showing how light it now was, shook it over the table and nothing but a few packets of Splenda and some crumbs fell out.

He slowly began placing everything back in the back.  She sat there silently watching him.

"Futhermore," he said, "here's my ID badge.  I work for the small start-up down the street.  We write computer software to help people organize their lives.  All day long I try to keep the bad guys from gaining access to our systems.  Whatever you're doing here," he waved his hand broadly at her office and behind him at the open cubicles a level below them and the natural light from the ceiling made of windows three floors above that central core, "whatever all of this is -- I have no idea.  I have no interest.  I was just out exercising on my lunch break and I went somewhere I shouldn't have.  And now I really, really need to get back to work."

Oddly, she was now smiling.  "Please," she motioned, "have a seat."  She pressed a button on the phone on her desk as he nervously sank back into his seat.  "You're right," she said calmly, "you don't need to know what we do here.  But your observations are correct.  In terms of security, we lack," she paused for effect, "a certain level of discipline.  We have the patrols, the perimeter alarms - we knew about you 10 minutes before you knew we knew - but it's all come together organically, ad hoc, as needed."

And the next thing he knew, those jerks at Park Pharmaceuticals had stolen another one of the employees from the small start-up down the road as he agreed to fill the newly created role of Vice President of Security and Access Controls.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#trust30: Deep in Your Soul


Deep in Your Soul by Michael McFadden



“I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
What message is yearning inside you?  What is something you know deep in your soul?  Don’t look for someone else to describe it.  You do it.  Write it down.  Write it as a poem, a sentence or even just a string of words.  Just make sure you get it to paper.
(Author: Michael McFadden)
It's been a long day.  I wouldn't say a difficult day, though there were bits and pieces that definitely were.  But to think right now, the thought that comes to mind is pacing.  Is this pace sustainable?  For me?  For my co-workers?  For my family?  It seems like things only get busier and busier.  Everyone scurrying, scurrying.  It's 5:20 and yet I will fill most of the next seven hours before going to sleep.  And I'll wonder later about the quality of some of it.  This is not a post of unhappiness, not a post of complaint.  Just an interesting observation.
Some other ones who've posted today:

Fast Company -- July/August 2011

This double issue had a couple of large articles on global philanthropy that naturally appealed to me.  But a few other smaller pieces of interest as well.  You can find the entire issue online here.

Can Matt Damon Bring Clean Water To Africa? - a look at the work and approach Damon and partner Gary White are taking to try to increase world-wide access to clean water

How To Train Your Celebrity: Five Hollywood Charity Myths - bottom line, it's an investment, it's work and it can be beneficial to all parties involved if it's taken seriously.

Ticketmaster: Rocking The Most Hated Brand In America - maybe there's hope afterall

BankSimple: A Bank That Doesn't Suck - I've been following their RSS feed. I guess the fact that this is a radical change in direction from a typical bank explains all the beards. Thankfully, plaid in limited supply.

Trulia's Movity Offers More Than Just Maps - now if Trulia would make it easier to find all those cool things on their website

Redesigning: Cubicles - interesting concepts

TypeCon - interesting infographic

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

#trust30: Legacy


Legacy by Tim Belber


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

One definition of legacy is what someone feels, thinks and says when they hear your name. What are you doing today to build the legacy you want?
(Author: Tim Belber)
The word legacy to me brings to mind the word family.  Jim and Shirley Denison led a Homebuilders weekend back when we were at Lake focusing on the topic of legacy.  Legacy remains after you're no longer around.  Sure, that can exist in an office, staff remembering who you were after you left, but that's incredibly fleeting, subject to revision and often negative -- even if untrue, the last guy out the door often gets the blame for a lot of stuff because once you're an adult "not me" can't get the blame anymore.  So family legacy, that's something that endures.  Friends of ours are part of a multi-generational close-knit family.  Each successive generation has had larger-than-average families and so it just builds exponentially.  (Part of our now canceled desire to have three natural children ourselves.)  But family is the legacy that lasts.  Pridefully, we can try to leave our name on something by buying a new wing for a hospital or donating a park, but eventually, those two, succumb to the bulldozer.  No, it's only your name that has the potential to live on in others who receive it themselves at birth and as they come to be adults, decide what that means to them.  So in that, my desire is to raise children who surpass me in terms of how they navigate the waters of life - their love of Jesus, their love of their own families, the example they set yet again for generations after them.  It is, in a few words, intentional brand-building.  One measure of success will be how close the generations stay together.  This family I mentioned all lives pretty close to one another, able to gather together regularly, to share in child-rearing (they are their own village, essentially) and be an example and guiding force in each other's life.  My wife's family is spread out across the country and while my family is closer together, it's not that close and I was far away for a time.  I hope my children help to keep that gap even closer together.  Only time will tell.

Review -- Other People's Rejection Letters

Other People's Rejection Letters: Relationship Enders, Career Killers, and 150 Other Letters You'll Be Glad You Didn't Receive compiled by Bill Shapiro

This was an interesting book, to say the least.  It was also a quick book.  I read the entire thing nearly cover to cover in about 90 minutes.  I have to admit that in a couple places I skimmed.  It's also a sad book, but you might expect that from a book of rejection.

It was interesting to see how gracefully some companies let people down, how others used humor and how some would have just been downright disappointing to receive.

It was also interesting to see common themes - women who entered relationships too soon after a break-up and then realized they needed to slow things down - men who had problems with their mom or dad - people who had been done wrong and were in the process of divorcing.

I mention that it's sad - even though these are rejections, I kind of expected to be slightly more amused.  I don't know if that was a bad expectation on my part, or speaks to a sadistic streak on my part.  But, no, these were human beings being turned down and there wasn't a lot of humor to that.

Sprinkled throughout are rejection letters to a single artist who then added his own drawings to the rejection letters.  I didn't quite understand that was the theme there.  And then near the end there's a request for clemency from someone who killed two people followed immediately by a letter of confirmation that the person had been executed.  It was interesting from the perspective of being really old, but it was really sad from the perspective of someone asking for their life to be spared after they killed two other people and then seeing not exactly a rejection letter but a confirmation that their request had been rejected.  Maybe even moreso because children got left behind with no parents and that's always sad for me.

The final pages of the book give follow-up to some of the previous rejection letters and here, things pick up a little bit, take a happier turn if you will.  There's the story of someone who followed-up on a rejection letter and ended up being accepted afterall, the story of someone who was rejected multiple times and went on to prove themselves in the field anyhow, stuff like that.

This is a good book to get from the library because you will read it quickly.  Or, if you are the type of person who likes to buy books, this would be a good one to read and then pass on, or to leave at the "take a book, leave a book" section of an independent coffee shop when you're done with it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

#trust30: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall


Mirror, Mirror by Esther Poyer


“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mirror, mirror on the wall… find the nearest mirror. Look. Keep looking for 3 minutes. Write about what you see.
(Author: Esther Poyer)

Looking at myself in the mirror for any length of time was a little bit strange to me.  Usually I look through a foggy mirror as I throw some gel in my hair in the mornings or as I wash my hands after a bathroom break, or after I splash water on my face and hair before adding more gel after a midday run. But to look for such a long time confirmed something I suspected but don't like to admit.  I'm no longer 22.  Heck, I'm not even the youthful guy in the photo with my young children.  Thankfully my short haircut and spiky gel look belie the fact, as does blond hair that could hide any potential gray, but I'm feeling old. I think the running and the aches and pains that come with it only serve to reinforce that.  But yep, looking in the mirror, I can see the lines in my forehead that seem to be a nearly permanent feature, plus I need to shave. On this particular night, I also wore a baseball cap, pushing the spiky hair backwards into a jumbled mess of a wall. But I'm also struck by how I don't see bags under my eyes and my eyes are still seeming to sparkle.  I resisted the urge to make faces at myself and kept my mouth firmly closed.  I am not sure if I was supposed to generate any great revelation from this, except to say that I'm not a bright-faced young naive idealist anymore. Hopefully I can still be young-at-heart, or at least remain an idealist.  Because reality isn't good enough - there's more potential out there'd yet untapped and undiscovered. Both in myself and in the people around me. Especially at work.  I feel guilty that work is always so much on my mind. But it is.

The Sift 176-180

The Sift 176: Dropbox
  • The Cheapskate's Guide to Getting Free Dropbox Space
  • BoxyTunes Turns Dropbox into a Cloud Music Player for iPhone and iPad
  • How To Add a Second Layer of Encryption to Dropbox
  • mPPP Is a Web-Based MP3 Search Engine That Slurps Music Straight to Dropbox
  • Don't have dropbox yet? Get it here.
Read more...



The Sift 177: Energy, Environment and Science
  • Cellphones Could Be Killing Bees
  • MU Develop Solar “Nantennas” that Can Capture 95 Percent of Solar Energy
  • Washington State To Be Coal-Free By 2025
  • Purdue University Students Turn Ordinary Saltwater into Hydrogen Power and Drinking Water
  • Detroit DIYer cooks up stronger, lighter steel, shames scientists
Read more...



The Sift 178: Food, Health, Exercise and Medicine
  • The Eating Habits of Conservatives Versus Liberals [INFOGRAPHIC]
  • Student Developing New Electric Paper That Could Tell You When Your Milk is Rotten
  • It’s Not OK to Eat that: Mold Goes Deeper than the Surface
  • Announcing RunKeeper Meetup Running Groups
  • The mystery of chronic pain
Read more...



The Sift 179: Microsoft
  • What Microsoft Should Do
  • Kinect enabled head-tracking previewed in Forza 4 spotlight video, turns heads
  • Researchers hack Kinect for glasses-free 3D teleconferencing
  • First Look at Windows 8’s New Interface for Tablets and PCs
  • Microsoft releases Android developer poaching package for Windows Phone 7
Read more...



The Sift 180: Social Media
  • Google +1 Button for Websites
  • 6 Reasons Why You Should Never Outsource Social Media
  • Search + Photos
  • Why You Can’t Say “Twitter” Or “Facebook” On French TV
  • Wondering where to go this afternoon? Why not plan a foursquare badge crawl
Read more...


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Light on the Salt (Matthew 5:13-16)

Click here to see the note with the verses on YouVersion.

Light on the Salt (Matthew 5:13-16)
Message #1 from "NT70 - 70 Days through the New Testament" by Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church (www.oursaviorsbaptist.org), Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, July 3 (My notes are from our 9 and 10:45 am services, I pray they will be useful to you.)

--- You are the Salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13) ---

Salt - today, it's seen as an enemy, in terms of health.  Throughout history, however, it had been one of the most valuable minerals.  One of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War was over a salt mine.  Roman solders were worth their salt - our modern word salary comes from a latin word salarium(?) - they were sometimes paid with salt instead of coins.

Salty Purpose (and Problems)
* It PRESERVES, but CAN MAKE USELESS.
* It PURIFIES, but CAN BE CAUSTIC.
* It SEASONS , but CAN OVERWHELM THE FLAVOR.

Salt prevents bacteria and cauterizes, slows the process of decay.    Even can be used on wounds.  Drop a few crystals in a glass of water and you change that water.  Drop a few Christians in a group and you change that group.  We will be able to slow the rate of decay in the world, in a place for a time.

Salt does not have its own flavor, but draws out the flavor that's already there.  Our appreciation for the beauty of God helps us appreciate the beauty in the world.  This is why many artists (especially before commercialism) were Christians.  Why hospitals were started by Christians. Why large NGOs are Christian. We should value beauty more in this earth. And we should set the standard for loving and caring for people.

Too much salt erodes, is caustic if there's too much. Too much salt can overwhelm the flavor of the food.

If you're only known for what you're against, you're being too salty.  (Example: Westboro of its protests against funerals and even *other churches.*. "Scourge of the earth" putting other Christians in a bad light.)

--- You are the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14-16) ---

Light Focus and Faults

* It EXPOSES DARKNESS, but CAN BE STARK.
* POINTS THE WAY, but MUST BE FOCUSED.
* To be SEEN, but NOT FOR ITSELF.

It does not take a lot of light to expose what's in the darkness.  But it should point the direction out of darkness.  If it's completely dark and someone comes in and just flips on a light - too much light all at once just makes you shut your eyes and exclaim negatively at being blinded.

Light shining in the darkness doesn't change what's in the darkness, but shines a light on a path out of darkness.

Does my life help people to see Jesus more clearly? Does it point in the right direction? Or does it just simply glare?

My light should expose darkness, show a better place (Jesus) and help people see how to get from here to there.

No such thing as "secret Christians" - it's only been in the past century or so where lighting fixtures themselves have become the focus.  We shouldn't shine for ourselves but for Jesus.  (Pastor doesn't mention it, but we can think of Christians who allow themselves -- or intentionally work -- to become the attraction themselves.)

--- Being Both ---

Salt alone can be caustic. Light alone can be glaring. But together they can be helpful.

* Understand, you ARE SALT AND LIGHT. Do it WELL!

Not that you are "like" or that you "will become" - but that you "ARE."  Not something to can decide to be or something you can volunteer for.  You don't have a choice about it - your choice is how well you'll do it.

* Get out of the SALT SHAKER and TURN ON YOUR LIGHT.

If we stay in the salt shaker, we have no purpose - we're just decoration. If we stay inside the church with our Christian friends, we are no good to the world.  If we hide our faith, if we do not shine a light on Jesus, we are of no use to Jesus.  (Read that again.  Harsh? It should be. Again, no "secret Christians." - I'm reminded of the great commission in Matthew 28.)

Invite some neighbors over for a BBQ.  Is it always just people from church? It's a good place to practice, but don't stop there.  If God presents an opportunity, take it. (And I would add - pray for the opportunity! Now that's a scary step of faith!)

STRETCH - this fall, we're going to get out of our comfort zone.
Worship, Fellowship, Growth in Jesus, Service, Outreach

* LIGHT your world with THE FLAVOR OF CHRIST.

They should smell the aroma of Jesus when they're around you.  Their life should be better by being around you.

We need to help people know what we are FOR, not just what we are AGAINST.  (That the world would see your good deeds.)

- 1.2-1.5 more abortions this year
- The homosexual agenda coming like a locomotive
- Public schools not only work hard to keep God out, but seems to take pride in mocking God.

If we simply work on what we are against, we are fighting a losing battle (the world will become a darker and darker place, this is a foregone conclusion).  But if we are working on what we are for, we slow the decay of the world.  We are for making the world a better place.  We're for caring for people. Jesus said "be as shrewd as serpents but as harmless as doves.". The world doesn't seek to know what you know when you're being a whiney Christian, but when you're loving like Jesus.

Darkness changes what you think is reality.  (Think of a child in a bedroom late at night without a nightlight.)  The world around us is in darkness.  It's not our job to scream at them in the dark but instead to help them see reality.

2 Corinthians 2:15 - "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."

When people see that you respond differently to the difficulties in life, they will want to know more about why and will be drawn to you.

Lots of fear around us, but we have the hope of Christ.  When others see that, they will want the hope you have.

* It's to SHINE THE ATTENTION ON THE FATHER, NOT US.

A wedding - procession, cake, gifts, the day - but it's really all about the bride.

The same way about us - if they only point to you, you your building, your amazing music - then we've failed.  Not "what a get Christian he is" but "what a great Christ he knows."

Are we influencing our spouse, our children, our parents, our neighbors - do they see Jesus, or just someone who doesn't have anything they need or want and happen to also be a Christian?

---
Playlist:
- A Thousand Tongues
- Jesus Messiah
- How Deep the Father's Love for Us
- You Are My King
- Shout to the North
- Glory of the King
(Communion/Benevolent Offering)