In The (K)Now

In-The-KnowIs a readily-accessible social media presence feeding an obsession to be “in the know…in the now”?

How immediately do you expect or want to see someone’s photos when you know they are at a special event? Where do you look for more information about someone’s medical condition or update? How quickly are you to assume one person’s perspective is the only side of the story because it’s all you can see and read? What do you assume about a person’s life because of their posts? Are you willing to readily accept something as truth when it affirms what you want to hear or if it gets shared by one or more people in your feed? How much fact-checking do you do?

Social media helps us get fast access to information, whether it’s about an international or national event or an individual’s life. But has that instant access made us spoiled and lazy? Do we believe everything we read or see? Do we try to manipulate truth by controlling our access to information?

We need to ask ourselves these questions and commit to an authentic, humble search for truth instead of taking the fast track toward something that easily satisfy our need to claim as truth. Social media can be a great tool of communicating and sharing, staying connected and reaching out for help. But it can retrain us to think we need to know more than we need to know more quickly than we need to know it. Careful searching is worth the time and effort.

Please don’t hijack my phone: A plea for group texts.

When someone sends a mass email to many, most people blind-cc everyone, so people can’t “reply all” and inundate all the recipients or gain access to their email addresses (and make it easier to get spammed).

When someone sends a mass Facebook message to many, there’s a simple “leave conversation” option.

But when someone sends a mass text, it’s as if a mob of people hijack your phone.

I’m not saying there are not situations that call for a “group conversation” text. For instance, if you’re trying to plan something, such as a family gathering, and it’s best to see each person’s response to make sure everyone is on the same page, go for it. It saves time of trying to convey each person’s response to everyone else who needs to know the details.

However, if you’re simply conveying information, just an “fyi,” please click that little box that says “send as individual conversations.” You still just have to send it one time, but the follow up comes specifically from people who want to reassure you, ask a clarifying question, etc. If someone wants to share their story that relates to your text or catch you up on their life, share the latest piece of gossip, or get into a debate, everyone else doesn’t have to be a part of the conversation.

When you receive a group conversation, there’s nothing you can do to get out of it. Even if you delete the conversation, as soon as another person responds, your phone lights up or vibrates. It’s like sitting in a waiting room and the people on either side of you carry on a conversation around or through you as if you’re not there. They could just as easily move to two empty seats, or ask you to switch places so you can have a little privacy. It’s like someone using a speaker phone so that you loudly hear all the details even though you’re not actually part of the conversation…when it would be just as easy for the person to step away to a less crowded area to chat. It’s like a chat screen constantly fills your computer screen like an annoying pop-up despite you signing up for anything.

All I’m asking is that people consider and respect others around them, whether they’re physically in the same place or simply sharing cyber/cellular space. The nice thing about technology today is the ability to reach out to people with abbreviated messages in a quick timeframe. But we need to consider not just our perspective of sending but also the perspective of others receiving what we send.

Let’s reach out and hand something to someone instead of inundating them with an unsuspecting game of dodgeball.

 

Legalism Gets In The Way

This is who God is/what God thinks…and no one will convince me otherwise.proverbs

Legalism gets in the way. It deters dialogue, which discourages relationships. Being right takes precedence over being respectful. And a much as we believe we are spouting truth, the truth is, God might teach us otherwise.

Faith is about honoring God. As long as we are alive, there is more we can learn about God. We can get closer to Him. We can experience Him, His will, and His world, including people, in surprising ways. We don’t know it all. And we need to accept and embrace that fact. Until we acknowledge we don’t know it all, we’ll limit what we know. We’ll miss out, which is not what God wants for us.

Don’t shut yourself from others, or God, by claiming you know it all. Even when you claim an absolute truth, have respect for others and invite them into dialogue. Who wants to listen to a know-it-all? We even have trouble listening to God at times!

 

False Teachings

G.B.Y.Logos.1Those false teachers are like springs without water and clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them. They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin—people who are just beginning to escape from others who live in error. 2 Peter 2:17-18

We seek springs with fresh, flowing water, but not every spring is nourishing to us. We must learn to discern who to follow and who not to follow.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we didn’t have access to vast information the way we do today. Information can be truthful, but information isn’t inherently truthful. When you ask a search engine a question, are you looking for information or truth?

A problem arises when we argue that truth is relative, depending on who is seeking and why. When truth is assumed relative, nothing is reliable. There’s no difference between fact and opinion, good and evil, real and imaginary. Questions of purpose, personhood, and faith appear to be unessential. Purpose, faith, and life seem to float in air – with no firm foundation.

When we become information-driven instead of truth-driven, we don’t change reality as much as we might think we do. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re much more powerful than we are. We don’t define ourselves, our world, or the reality of either. We don’t – and can’t – change truth. There is foundational truth in life, and there’s a search engine you can use to seek it.

It’s God. You can access some accurate information using search engines such as Google and Bing, but when you search God, you’ll always find truth. It’s a different sort of search. It’s not instantaneous. It’s often a journey of one question leading to another and another. You’ll often reveal pieces of truth and continue to fit new pieces as you search more.

Searching God isn’t as easy as using a search engine, because it’s based in a relationship. Relationships are ongoing, challenging, developing.

Would you rather have a relationship filled with effort but also filled with truth or an impersonal, brief, uncertain interaction? Do you want to search passively or actively?

Live It. Notice opposites or things that don’t match throughout your day: salt and pepper, green and red traffic lights, loud and soft sounds. Practice noticing the details and differences. As you become more aware of what’s around you, you can become more in tune with what details God is pointing out to you to determine the differences between his true teachings and all false teachings.

Uprooted and Cooked

Fennel, Sweet potatoes, beets, leeks, turnips, carrots, and more.

Not exactly my idea of the best foods. Okay, so I really like sweet potatoes when they’re baked well (in other words, the way I like them). Carrots are the same for me. The rest I can do without. When I think of turnips, I think of Laura Ingalls Wilder having to eat them over and over and not liking them – to harvest or eat. When I think of beets, I think of the runny, fake purple juice running across my elementary school lunch tray. Leeks remind me of a garden hose. And fennel? To be honest, I’d never had it (to my knowledge) and was certain I wasn’t missing out on anything.

Yet I came face-to-face…um, vegetable to mouth…with a large roaster of root vegetables at a women’s conference this fall. As usual, I arrived a little early and was greeted by a delicious smell consuming the building. I meandered into the eating area and first noticed a table of desserts: homemade baklava with pumpkin and apple filling. Mmmm. I wasn’t sure what was going to be placed in all the dishes on the main tables, but the smell was irrestible.

The couple in charge of cooking and baking introduced all the foods before we began: herb-crusted pork roast, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, lemon green beans…and roasted root vegetables.

“Just try them!” we were told. Don’t let your past experiences and preferences taint your willingness to take a risk.

We were also told that if we tried the root vegetables, we should try a piece of each kind to get the perfect blend of flavors. I decided to be adventurous. I was swayed a bit by the chef standing over the serving table, directing me on what to spoon onto my plate!

Each bite was scrumptious, savory, and very…surprising. I liked every single one of the vegetables. The tastes chattered my preconceived presumptions. I walked away from lunch determined to try a similar combination soon. (I have yet to actually attempt it, but I’ll let you know when I do! I think I’d better wait for a large family event so I’ll have a few more brave tasters.)

I’ve written about adventures in eating before, but this was slightly different because of my existing assumptions. I expected not to like what I was eating. I was wrong.

Our assumptions are often wrong. We’ve had one experience and base future decisions on it. We’ve heard someone’s opinion and adopt or reject it automatically. Making assumptions helps us make sense of new information, but if we’re not willing to question existing information, our assumptions will sometimes build walls that limit our opportunities.

Take inventory of your assumptions today.

This isn’t a simple food challenge. I’m referring to the assumptions you make about people, relationships, and experiences. God continues to grow you beyond where you were yesterday. He continues to invite you into a closer relationship with him, which means searching for answers to probing questions, meeting challenges with anticipation, and taking steps of adventures. Be willing to get your hands dirty as you uproot assumptions that might be holding you back from amazing experiences. You might just find a new favorite recipe in the process.

Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions will be wicked madness. Ecclesiastes 10:13

Judging the Book Cover

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

Any avid reader certainly knows this to be true. A plain or poorly designed cover might wrap around a fantastic story. A beautifully designed cover might contain a boring, poorly written story. You have to look inside…but in order to look inside, you have to get past the cover. Not an easy thing to do sometimes, especially with people. We make assumptions, and those assumptions lead to decisions about how we interact with people.

I took a fantastic class in high school called Persuasion and Control. One of our units was aimed at helping us identify our assumptions – or prejudices – and move past them when unfounded. I remember one of the assignments well. At the top, it simply said, “Define WE.” Go ahead. Try it. When you use the term “we,” who do you mean?

Ready for the next part of the assignment? Define THEM.

Now think about the routines of your life. Where do you use the terms “we” and “them” and what impact might they have on your thoughts, attitudes and responses? Dig deeply. Look closely. This is important stuff. It’s affecting relationships.

A couple days later we got personal in class. The teacher asked what we believed about the “thems” in our school. Basically, students had the opportunity to voice their dislikes for cliques of which they weren’t a part. There was silence for several minutes.

Someone finally spoke. “All the cheerleaders are stuck up.”

I guess now would be a good time to tell you I was a cheerleader. I didn’t get defensive (well, maybe just for a moment), because the truth is I had the same thought of many cheerleaders I’d met. But I said, “What makes you think that?” Really, I meant for it to be calming, but let’s just say the temperature in our classroom skyrocketed from there.

I don’t remember everything that was said, but I remember the last few exchanges.

Me: What have cheerleaders done that make you think they’re stuck up?

Student: They don’t talk to me.

Me: Do you talk to them?

Student: No. Why would I set myself up to be judged by someone?

Me: I don’t know. I feel the same way. Maybe that’s why neither of us has spoken to each other.

Student: Maybe we’re more alike than I thought.

We make assumptions about people, and those assumptions aren’t all bad. We have to organize information, so we can make sense of more information. The fancy word for what your brain does is called assimilation. New information comes in and fits into the categories you already have. Until you take in information that doesn’t match. Then the categories have to shift in order to make sense. That’s called accommodation.

When has someone made an assumption about you that was incorrect?

When have you made an assumption about something that was incorrect?

You’ll likely interact with many people in the week ahead…not just face to face but through the internet, tv, radio and even stories you hear. Pay attention to the assumptions you make. Do they involve judgment or do you find yourself asking questions to gather more information?

When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his followers, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and still others say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Then Jesus asked them, “And who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-16

You ate WHAT?!

On a women’s trip to Israel, one of my friends brought her mom. We quickly adopted her as the mom of our group, calling her Mama Sue. She kept us in line…or at least tried to. As a nurse, she was always concerned with our food intake. It wasn’t about the kinds of food we ate – she was the most adventurous eater of us all – it was about the preparation methods. Open markets were not her favorite place to eat to say the least. And those who liked to take a snack from the morning buffet to enjoy through the day were firmly instructed on how soon they should eat whatever they took.

As serious as Mama Sue could be about our eating habits, she was always jovial. She loved to joke with us, and we enjoyed joking with her. After a particularly busy day, only four of us were at the dinner table together. Mama Sue had already begun to eat. Cathy and Tracie sat down with their plates, which included “beef.” Meats were often labeled too generally for my tastes. If I don’t know exactly what it is when it comes to meat, I’m not likely to try it.

Cathy and Tracie tasted their beef. After several bites, Mama Sue asked, “What do you think of the beef?”

“It’s delicious!” “It falls apart in my mouth.” “This is fantastic!”

“What do you think it is?” Mama Sue continued.

We knew her well enough by then. This was not going to end well. Tracie insisted she didn’t want to know: “Just let me eat in ignorance and peace!”

But Mama Sue just couldn’t hold back. She had to share.

“It’s tongue.”

“No!”

Debate ensued as Tracie dug through her meat. When she pulled away a piece of fat, it was obvious…taste buds.

There would be no more eating of the “beef” at our table but many jokes in the coming days!

What’s a food you’ve tried that you were surprised you liked?

Sometimes we gather information first and then make our decision. Makes sense. But many times we make a decision on limited information – whether we admit it or not. Limited information can be a good thing because we end up trying something we otherwise wouldn’t. But limited information can also get us into a rather distasteful situation!

Try a new food today. And give up a food you currently eat that’s not good for you.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s victory parade. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14