Testimony: Three Dilemmas, All Handled by Faith

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10, ESV)

We’re going to discuss three issues I faced this morning and that a man of faith like me can handle, of course, with patience.  Unbelievers are stuck with their reasoning power, and while God imparted to all persons (Christians and otherwise), Christians have the power of faith, which goes beyond reason to solve much more profound problems that mere reasoning cannot.

  1. Missing wallet
    All this time it was under the bed, within the past few days.
  2. Could not turn on my computer with Apple password, which I have forgotten since I seldom use it.
    I called Apple, after I asked my mother what their phone number.  Upon getting to obtaining the serial number, I talked to tech support, and worked my way through the procedure.  I now have a new password for turning on my computer.  Hooray!
  3. Lack of olive oil
    Of secondary importance to breakfast, but essential for many omelets and other cooking ideas.  While I was busted, a friend brought me to a local convenience store, and bought it for me.

You can see in this testimony, “God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility,” a central doctrine of Reformed theology (“Calvinism”), the Protestant theological tradition I belong to.  While we trust God’s is sovereign over all events of history, man is still responsible for those very deeds, that is, those which are within his control.  So despite loads of criticism (and I’m not trying to convert you to such belief), Reformed Christian doctrine, in my humble opinion,  is one of the most God-glorifying, man-humbling, and indeed beautiful expressions of Christian faith.

But in any faith tradition, always be thankful for what God does for his “sheep” (i.e., Christian believers). and to give more abundant life on earth, as well as eternity with him.

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Science and Scripture Don’t (Typically) Mix

Some verses, aside from the creation narrative(s), are quite unscientific.

I give three key examples here

1) John 3:8 — Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus about the new birth included Jesus’ statement that the wind direction cannot be detected. Yes it can, thanks to meteorology! But that didn’t exist then!

His message is that you can’t always tell the people who are saved.

2) Isa 55:10,11 – This verse suggests that rain comes down ONLY to water the plants. Well, consider the ecological concept of the water cycle and some botany. In addition to evaporation from land and bodies of water, the air moistens due to another process called transpiration, wherein the stomata (pores) in leaves open to cool it, albeit perhaps at the expense of photosynthetic efficiency. Together, all evaporative processes are thus known as evapotranspiration, and has its sharpest effects in arid conditions.

All Isaiah said, living long before this science was known, in the next verse was that God’s word will do its will.

3) 1 Cor 15:36, 37 – Paul says that seeds must “die” to germinate. Well, they may be dormant, but the actual pending plant (the embryo), needs water, as well as food storages in its cotyledons (aka “seed leaves”). Once the seed does germinate, the cotyledons are the jump-starter before the plant starts to truly photosynthesize, and thereupon the cotyledons wither.

Paul is discussing resurrection of the body, not botanical principles.

These are just three of many unscientific points in Scripture that should corroborate its true purpose. Only some may be strongly interested in science, but all people need to know Scripture. AMEN

Reaping from Keeping with my Own Peeping

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.  (2 Thess. 3:11, 12, ESV)

As was discussed yesterday, I was convicted (by Scripture!) that any learning (especially on secular topics), does not need to be matched to any other set of sources.  I’ve basically been, well, a busybody here.  So I’ve come to terms with the idea:  Let others research their way and do the same your way.

And, bar none, I have reaped many benefits of such.  I learned things far beyond what was in the Britannica!

In days past (when encyclopedias were more valued) libraries juxtaposed them with other sources (both reference and circulating), optimizing available knowledge.  Just like today’s Google.

Remember, my perspective on technology lies both in the 20th and 21st centuries.  Some things of the latter I like, others I would rather prefer from the last century.  Believe it or not, whatever its content, any print Britannica is fine, and may even find it unnecessary to keep the online and/or the DVD forms.  Any knowledge developed over the years can easily be updated, through yes, the Web!

And, in case you were wondering, the second portion of the verse above, refers not only in self-study (an existing — and and always persisting — pastime), but an actual job (and “living,” namely, to get paid), and thus wherever God leads me.  (But remember, after all, in NT times there were no universities or degrees!). And being “quiet” about such matters is to buck up and do whatever work that you are intending to do, not dawdling to draw parallels or competition.  (Of course, in the economy, business stands and falls on competition, but that’s a different story). It also, somewhat prophetically for the 20th and 21st centuries, bears the application of keeping within your own (sub-)specialty of a field and not crossing into others.

Americans:  remember those commercials for Delta Dental several years ago?  It emphasized doing one thing and being good at it.  It’s not the exact principle of this, for I do like to explore topics unrelated to what my main area of expertise is.  But I’d keep it casual; the web (or sources like Britannica) are prime examples.

Cyber-Coveting of Knowledge

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you; and covetousness, which is idolatry.  (Col 3:5 ESV, my emphasis)

Well, even if I really enjoyed something, I still often want more.

The principal example involves encyclopedias, preferably the now-out-of-print Encyclopedia Britannica.  Also with their CD/DVD options gone, all they have is the internet.  But since I have all three of them (and the DVD and internet very similar, I have some quality info on our side.

Now here’s the catch:  In an internet dominated world, encyclopedias have been all but pulled off from reference shelves.  But I’ve been a little nosey here.  I seem to seek a equivalent pathway, tracking what elese may match a source’s content, just to see what others may see on the same topic.

Well, everyone has different research needs for the same thing.  Look at the folllowing passage from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

While money and material goods are not evil in themselves, such issues shows that Jesus, in his Parable of the Sower, “riches can be deceitful.”  This is true especially when you sell things, but that’s a different story.

Back to my situation:  Not only that everyone’s search needs are different, one’s “Googling” is none of another “Googler’s” business.  So rather than get into competititon between what sources I have and what’s available to others, it’s best just to “count your blessings” and when exploring for more, be content on that you can find, and treasure that.  Metaphorically, that is a new car among many used ones.

Also, the idolatry here is that of knowledge.  As individuals, no person is a clone concerning interest.  It won’t work, so let it be.

This does not rule out sharing knowledge with others. I can by all means benefit ohers with such a tactic.  But I can hereby say that it’s not my job to be speculate on others’ research inquiries to get the “same results.”  It’s not logical, it’s not ethical, it’s not practical, it’s not, well you get the idea, to do such “speculative searching” online

Look Closely at Your Eggshells

Eggshell
See the translucent shell lying under the opaque shell we normally see.

I was making an omelet around 6 this morning (and have been up since about 5).  I discovered however, that eggshells have an inner layer.

I will sometime try to research the anatomy of an egg.  Texts (or, better yet, college courses!) on ornithology and embryology, as well as Britannica, etc., will help. For now, I ought to see amazement in every area of his creation I observe, wherever it may be.  AMEN.

How to Make Non-Fiction Reading Productive and Fun

Most people don’t have photographic memories, so we must face it.  Nonfiction books aren’t there to be memorized verbatim.  They’re about concepts, not minute details.

Such details come in countless varieties:  names, dates, places, you name it.  Also, there are forms pertaining to particular fields.  Examples of scientific cases should be treated less seriously than the overall scientific ideas themselves.  For example, in a Britannica article on vision across the animal kingdom, I do my best to extract the key principles, using a Macintosh note taking tool.  Also, tools like highlighters (to be used only on your own printouts/copies!), are of avail.  Unimportant details, just to give examples, are such things as animals that may bear a structure or function to work in their habitat, or mathematical reasoning or equations.  My ultimate goal in researching topics of any kind  is to obtain a “take-home message” (of course, I’m typically already at home, but you most likely get the metaphor).

And some sources are just not for everybody.  Some are too easy for one, others too hard, still others not satisfying.  I typically use Britannica (and is wonderfully sufficient for me), though I am not endorsing nor condemning it and I leave it up to you to decide which are the best resources for you.

In any case, you could tediously memorize an entire unit of text, whether a paragraph, chapter, or entire book.  But I’d prefer just to understand a book or other source of info yielding a take-home message.  While the existing knowledge quantity grows, the capacity of the inquiring mind does not.  So don’t be too tenacious about learning.  It may backfire.

The Price is Wrong

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Mat 6:24, ESV)

Greed.  People, especially Americans, too often develop an insatiable appetite for it.  And one daytime show has always celebrated filthy lucre on American TV, for 45 years and counting.  That show is none other than “The Price is Right,” a late-morning staple on the CBS television network since 1972, which serves the US, both in the eras of radio and TV, and has been a leader in ratings (which also have a greedy connection, but that’s for another post).  It has also aired on the other two major US networks (NBC and ABC).  But their power had nothing like CBS has had.

Procedure

First, when the show opens, four contestants are called to “Contestants’ Row.”  They are presented an item to bid on.  (This “bidding” is quite different than that at auctions, also for another post.)  Whoever has the highest bid among the four without going over the actual retail price.  If all four go over, they try again.  One strategy that contestants use is to bid a mere dollar, the ultimate way to avoid overbidding, which will work if the other three have overbid.  The winner of that item then is in for more, using a “pricing game.”  There are a truckload of them, but their central aim is to get prizes (two of their major prizes are cars and trips, and an occasional money game.)  There are three pricing games.  After each game, another contestant is called to fill in the missing seat.  Even if you lose, you still are entitled to “Showcase Showdown,” when you spin a wheel, which in itself can give you cash occasionally.  The wheel must not go over $1.00, but as close as possible.  The entire cycle repeats: bids, pricing games, and then the second showdown.

The “Showcase”

The climax of the game is known as the showcase.  This gives two contestants from the game (one of which is the “winner,” which I think is the one closer to the dollar in the showdowns.). The showcase is a complex of prizes, often with a theme.  When one of the two views the showcase, s/he can decide to bid or pass.  Now if you bid, the next contestant is stuck with the other prize, and you the originally designated one.  If you pass, the other contestant is stuck with your prize, and what s/he would have bid on is now yours, and you can’t get away with it.  The winner also has a privilege:  if the difference between the actual price and his or her bid is less than a certain amount, you’ll win both showcases.

So this double showcase winner, euphoric as he may be, combined with all the different prizes he has accrued, I assume he will be terribly miserable in just a few short weeks.  Alas, it’s a luck of the draw.  It’s your problem now.

Conclusion/Advice

You can see Satan’s cunning schemes here, can’t you?  Joy does not come from physical property.  It is part of the “fruit of the Spirit” that Christians enjoy.  Sure, you can enjoy the physical items for their purpose, but you must remember we are nothing without God.  So I think it may be time for “The Price is Right” to bid farewell (pun intended) to the airwaves.  And yes, keep a low profile in the Los Angeles metro.

If I were you and seriously couldn’t do anything but watch TV at 11:00 AM (when the Price is Right airs), try ABC’s the View, a talk show that makes controversial topics (e.g., politics) funny, or whatever NBC offers in your area.  And don’t forget cable/satellite, if you have it.  The new over-the-air “bonus” channels offer programs of all kinds (which rival cable’s heyday), often annexed to traditional stations.