Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Changing your keyboard takes over 100 years...

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.” (Isa 64:8)

Have you ever wondered why your keyboard is in the order of: QWERTYUIOP?
Urban legend has it, when typewriters were first invented, typists could type faster than the machines could function. As people typed, the linkage connecting letters to keys would jam-up something terrible. So, the manufactures figured out a way to slow down, purposefully slow down the typist. How? They mixed up the order of the letters in such a way that people would be forced to slow down as they typed. I don’t know if that was true or not, I wasn’t around in the 1870’s. So, with all of the technical-advances in the last 100 + years, why hasn’t someone changed the layout on the keyboard? Good question, since it would be beneficial. Look at your Blackberry or touch screen keyboard on your I-pad and then ask that again... I guess change is harder than we think?

There are plenty more stories like QWERTY that are traceable, like the Ferguson Breach rifle that could’ve changed the outcome of the Revolutionary war. Thankfully, the British decided not to transition from their slower musket-loaders to the Ferguson; they had access to the more efficient weapon but were unwilling to retrain their troops. Or, remember how the Swiss hesitated to switch over to Quartz movement in their watches, but the Japanese jumped on the use of Quartz movement and quickly cornered the market, a market previously dominated by the Swiss for centuries.

How we travel has changed too. After all, who wants to travel by boat anymore now that we have the Jet airplane? I don’t know, ask the Cruise ship industry. A flight might be convenient, but people still enjoy a Cruise ship, or even a train ride today. Once, boat and train travel were slow and dangerous, and today they are considered luxurious. Remember what Solomon wrote: “What has been is what will be,and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

While we all struggle with personal changes, we need to remember that change might feel like a loss at the time, but it does not create a void; change creates a choice. Sure, you may write an email to a friend across the country, but I promise a handwritten note will carry more weight, have more meaning or significance. Really? Yes. Ever wonder why your Grandmother doesn’t just text you a Christmas greeting, or your aunt send you a birthday text? We still value the handwritten note over any other correspondence, even in an electronic age. I guess we could say there’s room for multiple forms of communication...?

Jesus wants to transform us, not replace us with robots or pet dogs; He wants us to become what we are not. He wants us to replace hypocrisy with empathy so we can have authentic relationships, that’s why He says get the log out of your eye. He wants us to bear fruit and reject apathy, that’s why He says if we love Him we’ll obey Him. He wants us to have hearts that love unconditionally, that’s why He says “By this” all men will know you are my disciples.... if you have love one for another. HE wants us to change who’s will we submit to... That’s why He says, “when you fed the least of these” because He wants us to change our view on who the universe revolves around... This type of change is daily: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (II Cor 4:16)

Jesus wants to change you, doubtful? Just wait till the Resurrection when in the blink of an eye we are all... Well here’s how Paul puts it in I Cor 15:52, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

BTW: Pictured here, above, are several books from my personal library, notice what they are stacked on...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do you see...?

I read a story that Italian folklorists share, a story on how we see reality. It goes something like this: There were three stonecutters working in the heat of the day. When the first one was asked what it was he was doing he answered: I am chipping these stones to make them fit just right. The second stonecutter responded: I am earning my wages. And the third stonecutter replied: I am building a cathedral.

Amazingly, those three stonecutters in the story were working side-by-side, yet saw something different. I guess people could compare this to the parable of the six blind men who all explain an elephant in six different ways, i.e., "It's a rope." "No, it's a tree-trunk..." ect.

Sometimes, it would seem, we need to take a second look, or even a third look.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daily schedule's appearance: Too Hideous or ready to harness?

I love the smell of leather. I know it might sound weird, but I have a German-made knife that sometimes I remove from its sheath, and I sniff the sheath.
The smell of leather is one I'm very familiar with. Some of my earliest memories are of handling my dad's saddle that he kept in our livingroom. His saddle was for horsemanship in the "Western Pleasure" style. My dad also had an old set of horse-harness he kept out in the barn. Both the saddle and the harness-set had a rich aroma that deeply appealed to my young senses. I rode in my dad's saddle along with him in the days before I was even walking. But, we never used the harness, though I heard many stories from my dad about the days when his people depended on the horses's harnesses.

Today we have a huge challenge in our churches. Our congregations seemingly have to compete with the barrage of activities that our families are entrenched in. Grandparents have an endless supply of sporting events they can watch their grandchildren participate in. Children have several different extracurricular actives at school they can sign up for. Parents have their own activities to consider as well.

If you've ever tried to recruit Sunday school teachers for just one quarter, I don't have to tell you how busy our people are. If you've been asked to serve in any capacity in a church activity, I don't have to tell you how hard it is to fit these requests into your overbooked schedule. So what can we do, and, what does this have to do with the smell of leather?

We, as believers, can either fight against the overwhelming madness of the endless stream of dance classes, orchestra concerts, practices for (you fill in the blank)__________, or scouting activities that rob our children of any free time... or we can harness them.

Moses, nor Jesus as far as this goes, commands us to escape the world. We are, on the other hand given this command, to uses every opportunity throughout our day to develop our faith... and to pass on our faith to the next generation. We are commanded by Moses to use the daily events as springboards to instruct our young people about how we walk with our God. We examine the day's activities through the lens of God's Word, not through the blinders of monasticism.

In other words, The Scriptures reveal our faith takes place in the chaos of the day, not in spite of it, nor apart from the daily grind. Re-read Deut 6:4-9 with a closer look at the word "when": "[4] “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Moses didn't expect the Israelites to postpone their instructional or formational duties to their children in light of the demands of their daily life. He clearly instructs his people to use those everyday-experiences for teaching their children.

So, consider how our people could adapt this. Instead of forbidding or prohibiting our children from playing football, we go to their games, and we pray with them before the game. Or consider a volleyball game with your child, what an opportunity to talk about how good sportsmanship sends a clearer message of the gentleness believers practice than any message we could proclaim. Or, what about simply seeking an opportunity to invite a fellow parent from any of these events to a worship service? We complain about not having enough opportunities to evangelize, yet we come in contact with hundreds of people through our children's activities we otherwise would've never been able to meet.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm fed up with the craziness of our demanding culture. I've often thought how great it would be to escape this hyperactive culture and join the Amish... no, really, I have. And, I have the utmost respect for the people who bemoan this tug-of-war plight we are in, but mistakenly think we can get our young people to scale back their activities. I simply think we can either fight the stream till we are all drowning, or we can channel these activities for the glory of God. I covet your feedback on this, when you can find the time...