Monday, December 31, 2018

Economics of Time

Today is the day when economists look at how the markets finish for the year, and look ahead to the next.

There are people who deal with money who like to say, “Time is money.” What if that were reversed? What if economists measured value only in terms of time, time that people spend and have? How would that change their perspective on value?

It's most likely only a thought experiment, but it would point to things of value beyond the value of money.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Oh What Will the Answer Be?

A Cry, as of Pain

"Come over to Macedonia and help us." Acts 16:9

Verse 1
A cry, as of pain, again and again,
Is borne o'er the deserts and wide spreading main;
A cry from the lands that in darkness are lying,
A cry from the hearts that in sorrow are sighing;
It comes unto me; it comes unto thee;
Oh what—oh what shall the answer be?

Verse 2
Oh! hark to the call; it comes unto all
Whom Jesus hath rescued from sin's deadly thrall;
"Come over and help us! in bondage we languish";
It comes unto me; it comes unto thee;
Oh what—oh what shall the answer be?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Where the fire has already burned

A wagon train was one day making its way across the western plains of our United States. The trip had been pleasant, and the travelers were filled with hopes of a new day in Oregon and California homesteads.

One fateful afternoon they looked with mounting terror at the onrushing scourge of the western traveler, a prairie fire. They watched, numb with fear, as the distant flames roared down upon them, fanned by the west wind, leaping dozens of feet into the air.

The cry went up, “We are lost, what shall we do?”

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Nonfiction in Fiction

I've not been much of a fiction reader. I read some as a kid, and have enjoyed fiction in 2-hour formats, but when weighing the amount of effort required in the form of hours reading a book, nonfiction easily wins over hours reading something that feels like a fabrication.

I've been reading Chapters from Mark Twain's autobiography, and there have been more than a few references to the people in real life whom he was representing as characters in his fiction books. Based on the colorful characters in his life, Twain felt comfortable writing the sometimes outlandish tales of people he actually knew, just with a different name.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Joseph, Dreams, and Egypt

The first book of both the Old and New Testaments in the Bible include accounts of a man named Joseph who had dreams related to Egypt.

In Genesis, Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, occupies almost the last third of the book (37-50). After dreams of greatness, he goes from being the most favored, and thus most despised, to being ruler of all the land of Egypt, a fulfillment of those dreams. Neither the dreams nor his greatness were of his own making. His life was a type of Him who was to come.

In Matthew, Joseph, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David, was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Accounts of him are much shorter (1:16-2:23), but Matthew tells us of no less than four dreams he had, one of which involved fleeing to Egypt until a threat on Jesus life had passed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas, Later a Controversy

For as much as people can criticize the commercialization of Christmas and the busyness of the season, in some ways, the original Christmas was itself rather hectic and bore a strong resemblance to what we think of as tax season. Politics would most certainly have been a widespread and hot topic of conversation: Caesar had given a word, and everyone had to move accordingly.

For Joseph and a very pregnant Mary, this meant going “up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem” (Luke 2:4). The hospitality industry in Bethlehem was not prepared for the influx of visitors, so people stayed where they had to stay, even among the animals, if necessary—and it was necessary. While they were there, Mary's pregnancy reached its fullness and she delivered Baby Jesus right there (2:6-7).

In reading Luke's account, it sounds like they did what the law of the Lord required (because they weren't just rendering to Caesar), and then went back home “to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth” (2:39). That's true. That also leaves out several intervening events, but even just this one is enough to stir controversy for Jesus later.

Monday, December 24, 2018

An Energizing Purpose

“Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

The Hebrew for order is kun which means to stand upright firmly established. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses in Romans: “Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (14:4).

The Hebrew for establish is saad which means to support, uphold, sustain, refresh, energize, nourish.

Jesus is going to set us up for a specific thrilling purpose, and then energize and motivate us to fulfill it. Relative to eternity, we still sit on the eve of these great and exciting things to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Ultimate Birth Announcement

One of the most obvious, visible, supernatural parts of Jesus' entire life was his birth announcement.

Not far from where Jesus was born, there were shepherds guarding their flocks (Luke 2:8). Some have noted these may have been sacrificial sheep for use in the temple. They were with them day and night, and this was just another night until suddenly the darkness was replaced by light, a glorious light from God's messenger (2:9). (Very often this is depicted as an angel high in the sky, but the messenger actually “stood in front of them.”) The messenger makes the announcement (2:10-12), and then one angel was joined by thousands of others, and they sing! (2:13-14).

At no other time in Jesus life on earth do we have record of thousands of angels appearing to him or anyone else about him. Of all the significant events in and recorded of Jesus life, the one time thousands of heavenly messengers fill the earth with the glory of God is at his birth.

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Scripture-Loving Home

I read the Magnificat this morning, and some commentaries on it. I like Charles Ryrie's comment the best: “There are 15 discernible quotations from the OT in this poem, showing how much the OT was known and loved in the home in which Jesus was reared.”

You could also say the same about the home in which Mary was raised, too.

The New Testament is built on the Old Testament. You can tell by how often it's quoted.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Insufficiency of Human Strength

When something really needs to get done, it will take the backing of God behind it to happen.

This is true for nations, for individuals, and how individuals affect nations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lies of Debt

I'm not sure which time of the year may be the most likely for people to go into debt, but the holidays, with all of the social pressure and all the retail messaging, seem like a prime time for people to be susceptible to the temptation of spending more than they have.

Debt tells us that our work is worth more now than it actually is, or at least more than we're getting paid. It allows us to pretend we got paid more than we did and live accordingly.

Debt tells us that our time later is worth less than our time is worth now. We reap what we sow, and eventually the bill becomes due. That means while we got to enjoy a little extra now, we end up enjoying a lot less later because then we're not only paying for then, but also the past that wasn't paid for in the past.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Monday, December 17, 2018

News for All People

Our culture has a voracious never-ending appetite for news.  If local reporting is slow, we have several news wires to keep “the news” supplied with news. We even have news about the news. Despite dissatisfaction with the news that has become increasingly public in the last few years, the flow of headlines shows no signs of abating.

The pace of news production and consumption has accelerated ever since the invention of the telegraph. In the last couple decades, the internet has caused a reshuffling of news business models that news organizations are still trying to work out today. Large macro news organizations are struggling to redefine their identity with these new hyperlinked circumstances.

Smaller trade publications, on the other hand, are thriving. As people work in increasingly specialized ways, their need for news also becomes increasingly specific. Even the large news organizations that aim for mass appeal still split up their news content among various interests. After a section for general news, USA TODAY splits off its content into areas for sports, life, money, tech, and travel. The reason for this is pretty simple: not everyone cares about all of the news. Not all of it applies to everyone.

This is why it stood out to me this year when I read again about news “for all people.” It turns out this is a strange and bold statement.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mouse vs. Pen

It seems that even the sturdiest off-brand laptops have their limits in terms of durability. When a keyboard's circuit board cracks after three years and a frequently used number key becomes significantly less reliable, it's time to shop around.

I had not been aware of Microsoft releasing its Surface Go line of products this year. Apparently it's an attempt to win an increasing slice of the student market. I saw a deal for one on Craigslist and picked one up this weekend.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Future of Value, Travel Edition

Travel options are becoming increasingly granular, both in time and space.

Just as one person once owned a vast amount of land and now a smaller area is home to more than a million people, so, too, travel options can become increasingly small.

For instance, Hilton has launched a micro-hotel chain called Motto. “The average Motto guest room will be 163 square feet, which is about half the size of a room in Hampton by Hilton.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Future of Value

There are two trends in employment of which we would do well to maintain awareness in the decades to come.

The first is increased specialization. People don't just go into the law anymore, they become a specific type of lawyer. People don't just work in technology, IT, or even Web development anymore. They focus on and specialize in very specific parts of those things which have grown into fully developed and established positions. Expertise has become more granular.

This extends down the chain, too. Some things that paralegals once did may now be broken up into eight different specialties. Sometimes these specialties may be part of a process, so, like circuits, they may not just be parallel areas of expertise, but may operate in series at times.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Drifting Into Monarchy

Human nature being what it is, I suppose we must expect to drift into monarchy by and by. It is a saddening thought, but we cannot change our nature: we are all alike, we human beings; and in our blood and bone, and ineradicable, we carry the seeds out of which monarchies and aristocracies are grown: worship of gauds, titles, distinctions, power.

We have to worship these things and their possessors, we are all born so, and we cannot help it. We have to be despised by somebody whom we regard as above us, or we are not happy; we have to have somebody to worship and envy, or we cannot be content.
Twain, Mark. Chapters from My Autobiography (Kindle Locations 1408-1412). Kindle Edition.

This is why vigilance against tyranny is always necessary.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Nothing More

I came across a description of a beloved form of work:

“The definition of superb animation is that each character on the screen makes you believe it is a thinking being. Whether it’s a T-Rex or a slinky dog or a desk lamp, if viewers sense not just movement but intention—or, put another way, emotion—then the animator has done his or her job. It’s not just lines on paper anymore; it’s a living, feeling entity. This is what I experienced that night, for the first time, as I watched Donald leap off the page. The transformation from a static line drawing to a fully dimensional, animated image was sleight of hand, nothing more, but the mystery of how it was done—not just the technical process but the way the art was imbued with such emotion—was the most interesting problem I’d ever considered” (Creativity, Inc., Kindle Locations 270-275).

There was a familiarity to me in this description:

“They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat” (Psalm 115:5-7). “They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:16-17).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

John Chau's Lingering Question

Missionary and martyr John Chau wrote in his journal that he didn't want to die, and then asked, “Who will take my place if I do?”

It's a powerful question because the North Sentinelese people still need to know about Jesus.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Gene Editing

I once read there was a time a couple thousand years ago when the great ethical question in medicine was whether or not piercing the skin was morally acceptable or not. Since then we've discovered and become quite familiar with various internal organs. Surgeons who operate on them are internists.

The great ethical question in medicine during our time seems to center on our arrival at the cusp of being able to modify and control the human genome. Will the human genome become as familiar to medicine as internal organs are today? Will we even have a name for specialists who can reprogram human development?

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Sports is not the only place competition is useful. It's useful in business, too.

Competition keeps prices down. It also gets work done faster, too. Competition creates a sense of urgency when work getting done is needed right away.

Watch how fast a vendor will work and come up with solutions when there's a very present possibility they might lose the business if they don't.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Surprise Raise

Have you ever had one of those days where you got a pay raise on one of your jobs and hadn't realized it right away? At first it seemed like a previous paycheck came tax-free, and then later I realized the rate had officially risen.

When that raise also pushed that job ahead of another, that may also shuffle the deck as to how I prioritize my work, too.

It's good to know rent and food aren't the only things on the rise.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Further Than Listening

Tonight I went to a community meeting hosted at a church for civic leaders to discuss their plans for development, transit, roads, and other matters. Public meetings can still start and end in prayer in Jesus' name in Northern Virginia.

Affordable housing is a popular topic in this area. While I have questions about the role people want the government to have in that matter, I still find it valuable to listen to people. One can go further than listening in helping people ask their questions better and explore data that speaks to their argument. In doing that I found I did not just learn about their perspective, but the process helped shed greater light on the wider questions and matters at hand.

Building relationships is valuable inherently and perhaps down the road when there may be opportunity to explore additional sides to questions and issues explored only in part today.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Memories of President George H. W. Bush

My maternal grandfather shared a birthday with George H. W. Bush. He was six years old on the day the 41st President of the United States was born.

I was too young to remember President Reagan's first presidential election but I remember his re-election. It was years before this elementary school student understood that the Bush in “Reagan-Bush Administration” mentioned in the news referred to the vice president.

I don't remember understanding President Reagan encouraging George Bush to “win one for the Gipper,” but I remember when he did.

I didn't understand the significance of Iraq invading Kuwait other than it seemed like a case of international bullying. Among us middle school students the most significant part of the news was the President of the United States threatening to “kick Saddam Hussein's a--.” Such words among world leaders seemed to be a first in living memory for anyone we knew.

I remember President Bush's decisive and effective action to liberate Kuwait, and afterwards him riding sky-high popularity in the 90 percent neighborhood.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Jet Lag

Even in the same time zone, it's possible to suffer from jet lag. Visiting family and playing games is fun. Starting the fun when your day is normally ending, not so much—especially later.

I came back to two very full days, and that took me to my limit. I cleared the deck for this weekend to get back on track.

In other news, I've scheduled daily blog posts on my Bible observation blog into next year. A lot of that is Twitter-sized, but Twitter doesn't make it easy to highlight key phrases like a blog post title does. Blogger could still stand to make scheduling posts more efficient.

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