Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Not by Sight

William Wilberforce on the character of Christians:

“First then, it is the comprehensive compendium of the character of true Christians, that ‘they are walking by faith, and not by sight.’ By this description is meant, not merely that they so firmly believe in the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, as to be influenced by that persuasion to adhere in the main to the path of duty, though tempted to forsake it by present interest, and present gratification; but farther, that the great truths revealed in Scripture concerning the unseen world, are the ideas for the most part uppermost in their thoughts, and about which habitually their hearts are most interested.”

Wilberforce, William. A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. (pp. 126-127). Kindle Edition. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Administration vs. Productivity

In Deep Work, Cal Newport cites an interview in which Richard Feynman explained an anti-administration productivity strategy.
To do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time… it needs a lot of concentration… if you have a job administrating anything, you don’t have the time. So I have invented another myth for myself: that I’m irresponsible. I’m actively irresponsible. I tell everyone I don’t do anything. If anyone asks me to be on a committee for admissions, “no,” I tell them: I’m irresponsible.
Feynman was adamant in avoiding administrative duties because he knew they would only decrease his ability to do the one thing that mattered most in his professional life: “to do real good physics work” (pp. 61-62).
The name Richard Feynman always catches my attention. I enjoyed his book, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. In one essay therein he described how his father was very vivid in his descriptions of things when reading to him as a kid. If he was talking about the size of a dinosaur, he told him while standing on ground floor level, he could poke his head into a second-floor window of their house. As a scientist he also was continually unsure of things, and did not embrace faith for that reason. He was on the team investigating the Challenger explosion incident. Interesting guy.

His comments cited here set up an extremely clear distinction between work and busywork. While I can do administration, it's more of necessity and as a means to an end. I see the value of deep concentrated work. For me, it's more just a question of economics right now.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Am I Called?

Dave Harvey wrote a book called Am I Called? for those considering if they should go into ministry or not. Matt Chandler summarizes:
Chapter after chapter, Dave does a phenomenal job of outlining what needs to be considered for all of us, regardless of life position or background, to answer the question: Am I called? The book’s first section sums up what the call is and how that call comes to us. The second section is filled with questions, most of which you must continue to ask even after you enter pastoral ministry (Kindle Locations 121-124).

  • Are you godly?
  • How's your home?
  • Can you preach?
  • Can you shepherd?
  • Do you love the lost?
  • Who agrees?

Friday, October 19, 2018

News of Interest

New experiment: I'm going to collect news I find interesting each week here.

I went looking for a good weekly news summary last Saturday and didn't find one. Everyone wants to be daily in my inbox. I just want weekly. I've wanted weekly for a lot of things. Enough explanation, on to the headlines.

Another NASA space telescope just went into safe mode
The Chandra X-ray Observatory joins Hubble in going into protective mode to deal with a system complication.
Related: We're still years away from the Webb Telescope launch in March 2021.

Purging long-forgotten online accounts: Worth the trouble?
Perhaps a better approach is to focus on the most sensitive accounts. It might not matter than a news site still has your log in, if you never gave it a credit card or other personal details (of course, if you reused your bank password you might be at risk). Rich Mogull, CEO of data security firm Securosis, said people should think about what information they had provided to services they no longer use and whether that information could be damaging should private posts and messages inadvertently become public. Dating sites, in particular, can be a trove of potentially damaging information. Once you’re in a relationship, delete those accounts.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Borrowing ebooks

I had downloaded Libby before, but never really used it. It did not survive a previous round of app purging from my phone. However, after a mention from a friend yesterday, I downloaded it again, re-entered my (rarely used) library card number, and this time I downloaded a couple books to my Kindle: Hidden Figures and Deep Work.

I'm not entirely sure the practice of borrowing books when there's nothing being physically transferred entirely makes sense, and I'm not going to complain about being able to read full books without paying for a copy either.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Six Words

A few years back I heard about the Six Words initiative by Smith Magazine. I didn't read about it directly, and it seems I may have misunderstood the plan. Apparently they wanted six-word sentences to encapsulate a memoir. I used it more as an exercise to find six words as categories into which I could put everything else.

The number six also reminded me of the six days of Creation, so I also tried to organize them in an environment and filling pattern.

1. Word — As we sing in Awana Clubs, build your life on the word of God. This includes reading the word, memorizing it, studying it, etc.

2. Lead — As we learned in Summit, leaders are readers. This is mostly about leadership preparation, specifically reading books.

3. Form — This is the category for work. “If a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). “Develop your business first before building your house” (Proverbs 24:27). Work and making a living are essential to being able to do everything else, so I borrowed the word from the creation pattern observation. However, it's subordinate to living a life to honor God, so that's why it's not first.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Age of Data

Sometimes one can check the news, not for the latest happenings, but for a sense of where we are as a culture.

I came across a headline that seems ripe for subjection to mockery by The Onion. (In fact, that prompted a visit to The Onion that featured a rather inspired work of satire. Reader discretion advised if perusing other headlines on that site.)

The headline was this: “What is a smart display and do you need one?

Get this: It's an amazing new internet-connected device, and it actually has a screen!

Wait, don't we have those already? Yes, but this screen doesn't do much. It just displays current status for things like the weather or your music playing. Dumb is the new smart. (I'm not saying it has no place; I'm just noting the irony.)

One of the samples shows a screen saying, “A light is on.” One the one hand, this sounds like it should be obvious enough, so why do we need another screen for that?

On the other hand, knowledge of your light being on is no longer limited to you. The Internet of things may redefine the internet and make it synonymous with your information being known beyond you.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Unity

There are two kinds of unity. Godly unity is good. Godless unity is bad.

At both the beginning and end of the Bible there are instances in which unity is considered by God to be a profoundly bad thing.

In Genesis 11, the people were united at the tower of Babel. They weren't uniting around God, but were in fact trying to make a name for themselves without him. In order to disrupt their plan, God confused their languages, and we still have 6,000 languages in the world today to remind us not to use unity as a form of rebellion.

In Revelation 13, we can read about how the world will unify around the beast and his mark to the point where people will not be able to buy or sell unless they participate in this one-world government system.

Mankind trying to be unified without God is bad. This why Christians rightly tend to oppose international government organizations like the UN and other entangling alliances.

Unity with God is good.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Junior Theologians

From a message I sent to Awana leaders today:

Today would have been my great-uncle Dave Breese's 92nd birthday. He was a longtime friend of Awana back in its early days. Then it was the Awana Youth Association. He wrote the introduction or forward to one of its history books. When he passed away 16 years ago, they asked that any gifts in his memory be given to Awana. I called my aunt Carol, his widow, this afternoon and she thanked me for remembering his birthday. She once described Awana as “raising up little theologians.” That's exactly right.

Awana leaders are raising up young theologians. If that sounds like an overstatement, believe me, it's not. Compared to the spiritual darkness and desert in which we live right around us, we are raising up a Gideon's army of people who know the truth and are storing it up in their hearts.

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