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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Maybe you’ve experienced it. Surely you have at least witnessed it. Relationships have their ups and downs. Sometimes they deteriorate and sometimes they deteriorate to the extent that you don’t hear what each other is saying. The deterioration has a deleterious impact on your communication and it is so hard to recover. When you say something, the other person doesn’t hear what you are saying. Rather, they hear what they think you mean rather than what you actually are saying or what you mean. Sometimes your communication partner will even assign motive to what you are saying and by the time they process what came out of your mouth, it is nothing like what you actually meant. When you reach this state, you just don’t hear each other and it is hard to repair the relationship because you just don’t hear each other. You just talk past each other and the emotions heat up and you get angrier and angrier with each other.

This is where race relations are in this country. The different sides in the culture war are just yelling slogans at each other. People are yelling and not listening. The slogans used are employed to advance a particular narrative on race relations. Opponents are caricatured and very little listening is done.

Some chant “Black Lives Matter!” while others yell “All lives matter.” Some say “Make America Great Again” while others are infuriated by the slogan. The truth of the matter is, other than the rare exception, nearly all Americans would agree that black lives matter and that all lives matter. Nearly all Americans want America to be great. It is not the statement or slogans but it is the unspoken statements that make those on both sides of the culture war angry. It is the assumptions we are making about people when they use terms like “systemic racism” or “white privilege.” We aren’t communicating with each other. I feel like it is like the relationship that has reached that point where you just aren’t communicating. We just aren’t hearing each other. We are talking past each other and just getting angrier and angrier.

So, I am wondering if we have past the point of no return. How do we get to a point of where both sides can hear each other and listen to the legitimate concerns that both sides have in the race debate? Both sides have to be willing to listen.

Today’s cultural conversation is about police brutality against the black minority. One side of the cultural debate has a particular negative point of view about law enforcement. Is there anything that law enforcement can do in order to get the black community’s trust? Will the black community be satisfied with anything less than being freed of the shackles of police? Is there a way to move forward or will there be division in our society forever.

There is hope for our society. Change can happen but it won’t come through reconciling the two sides of the culture war. The change will happen through heart change and it must happen one person at a time. Hope is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and nothing else will change the strife and division that we see. It ebbs and flows but it is always there. Sometimes it is below the surface and at other times it erupts like it is now. But the strife is always there. It can only be overcome with heart change. The heart change I am referring to is the change that Jesus bring to a heart that is dead in trespasses and in sin and He comes and gives a new heart. This new heart views the world in light of God’s laws and the fact that we have committed sins for which we deserve death as our punishment. It sees others as better than ourselves and places the interest of others above our own. It sees others as people that are loved enough that Christ would die and take the penalty for their sins. Without this heart change and the transforming power of the gospel, things will not get better. May the prayer of our hearts be, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Soli Deo Gloria

 

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I really enjoy listening to J. Warner Wallace and his podcast called Cold Case Christianity.  You can find him at Please Convince Me or Cold Case Christianity.  I enjoy apologetics and listening to thinkers reason about faith and cultural issues.  I was recently listening to J Warner Wallace discuss the issue of abortion with an atheist.  Wallace mentioned to the atheist that his objections to abortion were not based on the Bible but based on pure reason.

I understand that you can’t reason with an atheist using the Bible.  You must use reason.  However, as a Christian I believe that the foundation for our convictions must be the Bible and not reason.  Reason and logic are a reflection of God’s character and the order that He has created.  On the other hand the Scriptures are direct revelation from God.  As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) says:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

God’s Word is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness that we may be complete and equipped for good works.  How can we use anything else as the foundation for our convictions?  Only God’s Word is without error.  I agree that when we are in “arguments” with non-Christians we should use reason but that is not the foundation for our convictions.  It is what we use to convince others of the reasonableness of our positions.  God’s Word is His revelation to us and should be the foundation on which we stand.  Reason is a reflection of his character and we must use reason as we look to His Word and apply it.  We should use reason in the public square but may we never say that Scripture is not the foundation for our beliefs and convictions.

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I work as an engineer.  I think I am pretty good at what I do for a living but it is just that; what I do for a living.  It is not something that I am necessarily passionate about.  It is what I do in order to fulfill my biblical responsibility to work and provide for my family.  There are other things such as various ministries in which I am involved that are really my passion.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard statements similar to the following from Christians.

“I am an accountant but my real passion is apologetics.”

“I work as a salesman in order to make money but what I really enjoy is the work I do at church.”

“I am an engineer by profession but my passion is preaching the Word.”

Have you heard this from many people?  I hear it frequently in the circles in which I am involved.  I am left with the question, “Are we supposed to enjoy our jobs or are we called to endure whatever it is we need to do in order to bring home a salary?”  Is it wrong to wish I was doing some other kind of work related to ministry?  I know the Bible tells us that we should be content in our situation.  Does this mean that it is wrong to desire to be doing something else more fulfilling or even some sort of full time ministry?  I have been thinking about this and do not have the answer quite yet but for now this is what I think.

1. Work is a blessing from the Lord.  It was something that was given to Adam and Even before the fall and is therefore a gift and a blessing.  We can do work to provide for our families while at the same time enjoying the work.  I believe that God even intends the work to benefit us and even society as a whole, especially if your job provides employment opportunities for others.

2. Work became less enjoyable after the fall.  I don’t think I need to cite verses about the curse on humanity after Adam and Eve sinned.  I believe that after the curse, work became less enjoyable and became hard.  By God’s grace some people can still do things they enjoy for the job but I don’t think that this is the norm to be expected.  For those of us who long to be involved in ministry on a full time basis we long for the new heaven and new earth but until then we are called to labor in secular work as well as in ministry.  The grass is not greener on the other side although we think it might be.  We are where God want us for now.

3. For those of us who want to be involved in full time ministry and are stuck in secular careers, we need to understand that there is not enough money to go around.  The economic times are tough.  God can use us as lay people in ministry while we keep our secular professions.  This allows us to have some income that is not dependent on the generous giving of other Christians.  It frees up money for the kingdom and it also allows us to not be beholden to those who give.  In other words, you can spend your ministry time and effort as you want and you are not accountable for what ministry you want to devote your energy to.  You also don’t have to worry about people withholding funds from you because of a controversial stand against something like homosexuality.  You have income and it is based on your work, not on what you teach.

This is where I am for now.  I am an engineer who loves to excogitate.  I would rather be out there teaching or reaching or defending the faith.  But wait, I am doing that.  I am just not doing it on a professional basis and I have an engineering job that pays my bills.

Just to add another comment.  By having a non-ministry job, we are able to come into contact with lost people and people who need to be confronted with the gospel on a daily basis.  If you were a ministry professional you would be in a Christian bubble and would only have limited access to lostness.  But as a member of the secular workforce we have ready-made relationships that are in place.  All we need to do is use those in order to share the message of hope we have within us.

What say you?

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I have been noticing a very interesting phenomena in engineering known as biomimicry.  According to the Biomimicry Guild the definition of biomimicry is:

“Biomimicry is an innovation method that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies—for example, a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on Earth over the long haul. Biomimicry follows life’s principles, such as build from the bottom up, self-assembly, optimize rather than maximize, use free energy, cross-pollinate, embrace diversity, adapt and evolve, use life-friendly materials and processes, engage in symbiotic relationships, and enhance the biosphere. By following these principles you can create products and processes that are well-adapted to life on Earth.”

One really interesting example of biomimicry I learned at ASME.org.  There is an article that explains how a Japanese engineer used biomimicry to eliminate the sonic boom caused by the Japanese bullet train.  When the bullet train emerges from a tunnel at 200 mph, it created a sonic boom.  Japanese engineer Eiji Nakatsu copied the beak of a kingfisher because this beak allows the bird to fly at high speeds into water without making much noise and creating only a small splash.  You can see the similarity in the pictures below.

biomimicry

Amazingly the sonic boom has been eradicated but the new design made the bullet train more energy efficient and allows it to travel at greater speeds.

Scientists will tell you that they are learning from nature’s millions of years of evolution.  Well, this is actually counter-intuitive.  I think this idea of biomimicry points to a creator rather than evolution.

First, engineers are copying from nature what phenomena already exist.  For example, would one say that the bullet train was the result of evolution?  No.  It took the hard work of engineers to design.  What is more complex: a bullet train or a kingfisher, a living animal?  I believe that the existence of complex life forms points to a creator.  The creator is the master-engineer and engineers like Nakatsu who use biomimicry are copying what the master-engineer already engineered.

Second, could the bullet train come into being by chance?  Even if all of the parts were put in a warehouse together what are the chances that someone could put the parts together to make a bullet train without drawings and instructions?  Furthermore, what are the chances of the the bullet train parts putting themselves together or by chance falling into place.  The thought is crazy.  How much crazier is it to think that the kingfisher came into being by chance by evolution over millions of years.

Third, some of the best engineers of our day are copying engineering feats found in nature.  Do we really believe that these feats are a result of chance?  If they are by chance, are our best engineers so dumb that they have to copy things that happened by chance rather than ideas that they can come up with on their own?  No, they are copying the work of a greater engineer — the creator God — who knows everything and to whom there is nothing new under the sun including engineering ideas.

So, biomimcry points to God.  God is the creator.  God is the master designer.  God is the greatest engineer.  It is his designs that the brightest engineers are copying.  May we give glory to God and not to dumb chance.

 

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