Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Book review : Blink

Blink : the power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (Penguin, 2005) greatly challenged by belief that you need lots of information to make a correct decision. I discovered that sometimes you don't.

Blink relates many stories where a spontaneous decision is made in the blink of an eye, and it has turned out to be a very effective decision. Gladwell explains, using much research, that our brains are constantly picking up information that our conscious mind is largely unaware of. This information can be used to make a decision without going through the normal channels of gaining knowledge.

However towards the end of the book Gladwell relates times when our preconceived ideas and other factors can interfere with this process and the results can be devastating. He relates several stores where innocent people have been shot by police who genuinely believed they were acting in self-defense. This was a sobering note to bring out as the book was drawing to a close and I wondered if it could have been included earlier in the book.

Overall though I found the book to be fascinating with lots of interesting stories and theories to be considered.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Devotional thought : Revelation 1:5-6

"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6

While I was on holidays I read, "He has made me glad" by Ben Patterson. This sentence from the book particularly impacted me, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

It is a challenging thought that we glorify God when we are satisfied with Him. The truth is sometimes we are not satisfied with God. Sometimes we are disappointed with aspects of our appearance – perhaps we think our nose, mouth, feet or whatever is too big or too small; or maybe we think our personality is too loud or too quiet; or maybe we wish we were smarter. What we are actually suggesting is that we are not satisfied with how God made us.

Sometimes we are not satisfied with our life – perhaps if we had gone to a different school, lived in a different town or married someone else our life would be better. Again we are expressing dissatisfaction with God who holds all of our life in His hands.

When I wrote this Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving. I read a thought by an American girl who was simply expressing gratitude for supermarkets full of food with such variety, such quantity, such quality. Yet as wonderful as supermarkets are, we have Christ, who loves us and frees us from sin. He has made us to be His people.

Let's focus on all that God has done for us then we will glorify God by being satisfied in Him.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday's lighter note

"Receptionist to doctor: 'The patient is in the middle of a magazine article and will see you soon doctor.'" - Earl Engleman in Medical Economics (Readers Digest)

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lighthouse Church Wollongong

Last Sunday morning I was in Wollongong and attended Lighthouse Church. I was surprised when the pastor said he had just returned from the US as I had been there recently myself. He went on to explain that international students have been attending their church for some years. Apparently Wollongong University has about 4,000 international students a year and many of these are from the US. Subsequently some of these students have found themselves at the church and often made commitments or recommitments to Christ whilst at the church. The pastor had been to visit some of these students and also to publicize a program they now run at their church where international students are encouraged to part take in an internship with the church.

One rather amusing thing he said (tongue in cheek) "… and I told them if they come to Australia to do our program and fall in love they have to stay here. We are not having any more of our young people move to America to get married!"

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Blog Break

I'm out of town for a few days ...

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Friday's lighter note ...

"We were dining at the home of friends one evening and our hostess passed a bowl of broccoli to my husband.'No thanks, I've already had some,' he said, then added, 'I was eight or nine years old at the time.'" - P.S.F. (Reader's Digest)

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Devotional thought : 2 Samuel 12:13-14

"Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' And Nathan said to David, 'The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.'" 2 Samuel 12:13-14 NKJ

Often we think that sin only disrupts our relationship with the Lord and with the other people involved. While this is so, we don't often think about what effect our sin has on "the enemies of the Lord".

This thought is repeated elsewhere in the Bible. Paul addressing the Jews in Romans 2:24 says, "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (see also Ezekiel 36:22)

Our actions are more far reaching than we realize. When we sin we give God's enemies, whether these enemies are spiritual foes or physical people, the opportunity to despise God. As Christians need to understand that we live in a "gold fish bowl" where people are watching to see if our faith makes any difference to our actions. People who have no respect for God will feel vindicated when they see one of God's people fall into obvious sin. Others will question the value of being committed to God when they feel that they live a better moral life than those that call themselves Christians.

In spite of his failings David did not sit around bemoaning his lack of self-control or objecting to the death of an innocent child. He admitted his sin, repented and received God's forgiveness. After he realized the child was dead (v.20), he accepted God's decision and moved on with his life.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday's lighter note ...

I like to read the funny stories in Reader's Digest. This one was sent in by a Lynn Smith: "Before retiring from my 30 year marketing career at IBM, I attended a seminar where a young salesman presented the latest PC. Impressed with the presentation, I remarked, 'When I joined the company, we intended to make the computer as easy to use as the telephone. It looks like we made it.'
'We have,' the speaker replied. 'We've made the telephone a lot more complicated.'"

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Secret Message of Jesus

Brian McLaren writes about Jesus' message from the perspective of its original hearers and then explains what that means for us in the 21st century. I particularly enjoy the way he writes about the four political groups that were around in Jesus' day and how their ideas are still present today. The Zealots believed in armed revolt. The Herodians just wanted a peaceful life so cooperated with the Romans. The Essenes were pacifist who left the corrupt religious and political systems and created an alternative society in the desert. The Pharisees believed God would liberate them from the Romans if the Jews became purer and more righteous. Jesus' message disappointed all four groups and continues to do so today. His message is like yeast in bread dough or a seed growing in the dark. They expand silently and effectively without a showy display.

I did find it a little odd that McLaren writes as if he is presenting new material about Jesus whereas I personally found that he was simply adding further insights to things I already knew. Nevertheless these insights were valuable and beneficial.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Devotional thought : Hosea 1:2

Incidentally this is also an excerpt from my book.

"When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord." Hosea 1:2

God's love is so much more than the water down version we have grown accustom to calling love. Dan Allender writes: "We've come to view love and forgiveness as little more than acting pleasantly, yielding to the will of others, and ignoring offences. But this definition doesn't begin to approach the radically disruptive nature of genuine love as modelled by Jesus Christ."

The world would have us believe that Christian love is merely feeling emotionally warm, or being pleasant to people when we would rather not or overlooking another's shortcomings. But God's love is not nearly so passive. God takes the initiative to pursue the people He made even when they show very little interest in Him.

Such was the case in Hosea's time. The story of Hosea is a shocking tale of love, betrayal and forgiveness. Hosea marries and is later reconciled to an adulteress prostitute. What a graphic picture, outrageous that God would ask Hosea to do such a thing yet it is a picture of what God does for us. When the significance of this sinks in to our hearts we are overwhelmed by a God who loves like that. A God who knows our lack of commitment to Him. A God who knows we yearn for something or anything, other than Himself. A God who has been hurt by our attitude that says, "my relationship with You, God, is not enough to satisfy me." But a God who continues to love and pursue us anyway.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

On a lighter note ...

"I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes."
- Erma Bombeck

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Disappointment with God

Surprisingly perhaps, considering Philip Yancey popularity and the fact that I am an avid reader, I haven't read a lot of Yancey's books. I often find him hard to relate to because he has a very different Christian background to me. However recently I read and enjoyed "Disappointment with God".

The book looks at three questions people often ask about God. Is God unfair? Is He silent? Is He hidden? Yancey gives us an overview of the Bible as he looks at these questions. He starts with the Israelites in desert, moves on to the prophets, then to Jesus' times and finally to the New Testament letters. He shared many fascinating insights as he look at these issues in a fresh way.

Half way through the book, just when I felt Yancey was coming to a conclusion, he starts on a new tact. He looks more fully at how time impacts human existence and more closely at the book of Job. It was slightly disconcerting to find myself on a new train of thought and I wondered if maybe if he should have written two books. Nevertheless Yancey shares so many helpful thoughts that it is well worth the read.

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