Thursday, March 17, 2011

Times are Changing

I have been monitoring the news coming out of Japan, as they begin to recover from a lethal combination of disasters. The situation reminds me of the movie Jurassic Park. Man has created something amazing and dangerous, believing that he can manage all the possibilities. At this point, no one really knows how the disaster will end.

Sorting through rubble and shoveling mud will eventually bring relief from the earthquake and tsunami. Geophysicists, according to missionary Carlton Walker, say that the force of the quake was so great that it moved the main Japanese island of Honshu 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) to the east. With a 9.0 reading on the Richter scale, the quake was the largest ever measured in Japan.

The damage from the shaking and deluge will take years to recover from, but their devastation has stopped. The fallout from the nuke plants may have only begun. No one knows when the radiation will be contained. No one knows what will really happen if a total meltdown occurs. We are dealing with forces that we don’t completely understand.

This crisis is sending other shockwaves through the world as well. Stock exchanges are jittery. Flights are cancelled. Energy policies are being reviewed. Even the friendly relationship between the U.S. and Japan is strained.

We look at this disaster in light of major changes in the Middle East, another key part of the world energy puzzle. While the fighting in Libya seems to be leaning toward stricter totalitarianism, in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt and other countries, freedom may be taking hold.

There is even political unrest in the United States, as citizens clamor for an end to deficit spending and big government. The stakes are also high in political battles at the state level.

As all these changes come, we have to wonder what we can count on. What is our point of reference? It is easy to say that God never changes and we can always count on him. Yes, that’s true. But the bigger question is how well we build our lives on him.

For most of history, there has been constant political upheaval. And for most of history, standards of living and ways of life have changed very little from generation to generation. Today, the situation is reversed. We are accustomed to epic changes in living standards and stable civil life. I wonder if we are ready for that to change.

If our lives are really built on a relationship with Jesus, we can weather any storm, or earthquake, or tsunami, or war, or even nuclear fallout.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reality Check

Last week as I tried to pull up my gmail account, Google informed me that they had suspended my account because of suspicious activity.  I could not access my email.  Not good.  I quickly found my heart rate escalating. I had a sense of impending doom.  My android phone is also driven by Google's software.  That means that all my contacts are hosted by Google.  They could deny me access to my own lists of phone numbers and email addresses.

Now, I'm glad that they noticed any unusual activity on my account.  I'm glad that they promptly shut down any scammer who may have hijacked my account.  I don't know how a hacker could have accessed my account -- although a couple of days before I had logged on at Panera Bread and checked email.

I was able to get back into my account after a couple of hours of considerable angst. 

But this lock-down has made me do some serious thinking.  These Google folks are trying to help me by keeping other people off of my account.  If the people who are on my side (I hope they really are...) can shut down my cyber life, I wonder what could happen if someone with evil intent got control.

They could mine my contacts for all kinds of info (maybe about you).  They could deny me access to all my Google accounts.  They could intercept my email.  They could disable my cell phone.  They could shut down my main lines of communication entirely.  This is not a comforting thought.

In the aftermath of my great panic, I set up a Yahoo account.  At least now I will have some means of emailing without the permission of Google.  I'm still dependent on the internet -- no way around that for email.  But when I used Outlook, my contacts were stored only on my very own computer.

Is it smart to avoid being so dependent on someone else holding my vital info?  Yeah, I think it is.  I'm just not sure how to do it. 

I also believe that we have become far too dependent on computers in general.  We live in a world where virtual reality can be confused with actual reality.  That brings me to my knees as I worship the One who never changes.  I know I can always count on God.  I don't have to worry about him shutting me out or suspending my account.  I have to remember that my real life is not on my computer anyway.

I know this blog is on Blogger, courtesy of Google. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Doing Nothing

I tried it.  On Sunday afternoon, for a little while, I actually did nothing.  There were no meetings that afternoon, so I had the chance to chill.  As an added bonus, it was 70 degrees on the back porch with the sun occasionally peeking through.

My wife and I sat in the Adirondack chairs.  She snoozed, but strangely I was not sleepy.  That rarely happens.  Having preached that morning on Sabbath and taking time to be still, I had the opportunity to practice what I preached.  But I had the urge to go get a book or my journal.  I thought about composing a blog.  I thought about reading my Bible.  I thought about getting my prayer list.

But instead, I did nothing.  I sat there looking at the yard, thinking, praying.  It was oddly disconcerting.  That shows how twisted my system has become with adrenaline and the need to be productive.  Heaven forbid that I should allow a minute to go by without doing something.  But that's what I did.

Forgive me for my pride at doing nothing.