Why Faith Goes Beyond Mere Reason

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  – Matt. 6:34 ESV

I spent some of last night’s wee hours struggling with such cares concerning what are the best subjects (if any) to learn.  Since my chief interests are in the sciences, but include many other areas as well, I thought, concerning the ideas of practicality and usefulness of such knowledge, could be totally beyond use.

But as I have observed many times in the past, much of my knowledge will pay good dividends.  For example, why does bird excrement contain white and dark portions?  (Urinary products, primarily uric acid, are excreted in a combination with the actual feces.) Or, speaking of white and dark, the “white” breasts and the other, “dark” poultry portions (i.e., drum, thigh, and wing) represent differing rates of metabolism in the muscles (which, basically, is the meat before slaughter).

Physics is the reason why a Volvo commercial is false if it was to stop suddenly in the face of an obstacle.  Good for the rescued kid crossing the streets, bad for the driver with her inertia paced on her by a sudden stop.  And another ill-advised product I actually own:  an alarm clock that projects on the ceiling in the dark.  But here’s the catch:  in dark enough conditions, the center of the retina dominated by cones, will not respond in darkness.  The certain portions of the alarm clock numbers cannot be seen directly, so unless you skim around, you may get the wrong picture.  Likewise, you can’t see a dim star looking directly at it,  but you can when you look next to it.

I could go on and on about these things, but knowledge of any kind is a good investment no matter what it is used for.  After all, may come in handy in various situations.  For example, two botanical words:  “pinnate” and “palmate” refer to leaves concerning the veins of the leaf, compounding (when leaflets, while isolated, are really one subdivided leaf), and even the pattern of lobes on certain leaf margins.  (Thank you, Britannica.  But sorry, I can’t infringe your copyright, so no picture here!) Together with many other traits that are useful for identification, it may led a nice hobby to observe properties of plants.

And reason is a gift from God, despite many secular claims otherwise.  But all these unbelievers:  atheists, agnostics, deists, secular humanists, freethinkers, whatever, consider reason superior to religious doctrine (which is obvious by their disbelief of God).  Reason is good, but if it gets to an excess, it could take it into a powerhouse of planning and worrying about what could happen, rather than trusting a loving God and His providence.

And that was my very antidote, around 2:30 this morning, I put such matters in the hands of God, and immediately saw a better insight of the information.  Now I am much happier, and was asleep just after about 3 AM (and slept till 8 or even 8:30)

So, if you get anxious or frustrated from excessive reasoning, especially when it deals with personal problems (as opposed to appropriate uses of reason, such as asking questions and observing what happens as say, in scientific research or financial planning), turn it to prayer!

Bottom line:  Focus on learning for now, then you’ll have a arsenal of knowledge to use for different needs.  As always, one day at a time!

Testimony: Three Dilemmas, All Handled by Faith

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10, ESV)

We’re going to discuss three issues I faced this morning and that a man of faith like me can handle, of course, with patience.  Unbelievers are stuck with their reasoning power, and while God imparted to all persons (Christians and otherwise), Christians have the power of faith, which goes beyond reason to solve much more profound problems that mere reasoning cannot.

  1. Missing wallet
    All this time it was under the bed, within the past few days.
  2. Could not turn on my computer with Apple password, which I have forgotten since I seldom use it.
    I called Apple, after I asked my mother what their phone number.  Upon getting to obtaining the serial number, I talked to tech support, and worked my way through the procedure.  I now have a new password for turning on my computer.  Hooray!
  3. Lack of olive oil
    Of secondary importance to breakfast, but essential for many omelets and other cooking ideas.  While I was busted, a friend brought me to a local convenience store, and bought it for me.

You can see in this testimony, “God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility,” a central doctrine of Reformed theology (“Calvinism”), the Protestant theological tradition I belong to.  While we trust God’s is sovereign over all events of history, man is still responsible for those very deeds, that is, those which are within his control.  So despite loads of criticism (and I’m not trying to convert you to such belief), Reformed Christian doctrine, in my humble opinion,  is one of the most God-glorifying, man-humbling, and indeed beautiful expressions of Christian faith.

But in any faith tradition, always be thankful for what God does for his “sheep” (i.e., Christian believers). and to give more abundant life on earth, as well as eternity with him.

When the Time is Right

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  (Matthew 6:33)

The past few days have been troublesome for learning things.  Sure, school’s been good, but my attitude toward different subjects has made me a little iffy about my tolerance for certain subjects.  In other words, in my major study field of biology, I have felt a nervousness about certain topics, whether in school or in my personal learning, primarily due to suspicion about overwhelming detail in certain subjects (and sources of such).  The one that is pertinent today is gastropods, or snails and slugs, in case you were wondering.  Yet this is currently a topic of personal study, not in school.

This entire preoccupation turned out quite moot, since it was utterly dependent on the mood of the moment.  Sometimes I’m in the mood to read certain material, other times I feel it may not be the time.

I should keep in mind what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount in the above quotation.  Whatever you strive for, keep God in the center.  If it isn’t absolutely pressing as school (or whatever endeavor) is, the best way to approach things is to just determine if your mood (or mind) is well poised to take on doing something non-essential.

Bottom line?  Try to determine how disposed you are toward a certain task that is “on the side” of your chief responsibilities.  In other words, set priorities.  This will help you decide if the time is right.

A Chief Weakness of Mine

With all my strengths, given the fact that no one is perfect, I must present at least one weakness.

This deals with the fact that I tend to make decisions without seeing the whole picture.  I typically impulsively decide things based on a few facets with other factors neglected.  I really shouldn’t be this hasty, and should consider all details of a decision and take my time.  Sometimes this insufficient analysis leads to obstinacy.

This includes decisions like choosing a college, those textbooks I read for pleasure, buying other products, and much more.  At my “Cedar City” business, I have sold three textbooks, have two to go, but have taken the remaining two off the market so I can, yes, read them!  When I buy textbooks (namely, for fun) while I learn a lot, I worry that I’m not getting the correct or important information.  Well, big deal.  While college professors can give you a deeper understanding, a 1978 book, aiming to provide suggestions for those adults that want the knowledge of college, said that learning is “internal,” and the lectures, homework, etc., are just supplemental.  The textbooks on the market discuss the same basic things, but professors differ just as all people do.  Colleges have multiple professors, yet you’ll probably only get one.  And since there are sundry colleges coast to coast, it’s all a luck of the draw.  Some professors aren’t that good anyway.  Therefore, I earnestly count my blessings here, particularly in comprehending information that many people don’t, which I thank the Lord for.  I also enjoy, and am quite talented in, summarizing technical/scientific information into plain English, and am indeed quite good at it.

OK, enough with the academics.  Dietary choices when shopping are often impulsive, as well as the “need” (really a desire) to eat out rather frequently.  When eating, I tend to binge, which depletes food rather quickly.  This often does warrant take-out, but if I observed portion rules better, maybe food wouldn’t be depleted so quickly.  And often, I may blunder on budgeting sometimes.

This, by the way, is a great topic for prayer.  A daily diet of Scripture is also crucial.  Pray that the wisdom of God will guide me in all endeavors, of all kinds.

Decisions, decisions, decisions, what are we gonna do?

Let’s Just Live In The Present, Okay?

Since it’s autumn now, why not soak up the beauty while it’s here?

If there is one word that defines my activity in life, that would be “plan.”  While I do enjoy things now, sometimes I make too many long-term goals, which turns into substantial worry and uneasiness in life.  As you have seen in the recent posts dealing with educational qualms, there is nothing wrong with learning things unconventionally.  And while I am more open minded than I used to be concerning plans, I still find myself preoccupied with the goal for a certain career and other future factors.

Well, the answer is simple:  one day at a time!  I brag about it more than I adhere to it.  In Mat 6:34, Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow.  And even tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, let alone next month, next year, etc.  Yet I am so focused on coordinating future plans not for what they will be, but what they should be.  College dreams are a top example.

Psych Text Cell Bio Text Plant Phys

The first textbook in the above row is the one currently for school use, which I currently use for my lone college class this semester in Psychology.  The middle text is an aging (dating from 2002) but still amazing text dealing with cell biology, heavy both literally and figuratively.  (It contains over 1600 pages!)  That textbook, like most I obtain, is “just for fun.”  And with enough prep from that and further knowledge of chemistry (especially organic), and the fact that both introductory and organic chemistry have good online texts, I’ll be ready for the right-hand book on plant physiology, which I have owned countless times, in different editions (one of which was a rental).  This copy isn’t current either (also from 2002), but it sufficed for the price.  And again, I intend it for mere pleasure reading.  By the way, it hasn’t arrived yet; it’s still in the mail.

An out-of-print book from 1978 (which therefore makes it somewhat obsolete but still with some truth), entitled College on Your Own, reveals how you can rival college-level expertise in a number of fields, such as history, math, science, psychology, philosophy, economics, etc.  While I enjoy classroom settings, I am equally apt at self-learning, wherein the latter may in fact may allow for more “personally relevant” applications and implications.  As you may guess, the book equally advocates both degree completion (for career potential) and personal knowledge (just for the sake of it, which, as a Christian myself, can help expose God’s wonders in nature more intimately.)

Finally, being Sunday as I type this portion, I thought I would it would be appropriate to include a summary of my church service’s sermon!  It was out of Esther, a book known to be the only book In Scripture not to mention the name “God.”  We all know about the fact we should take up our cross and follow Jesus, and do what is right even when it isn’t always fun.  (In a nutshell, the Jews were about to be exterminated, and Esther (a Jew) takes the great risk of entering a potentially lethal situation, to protect the Jews.  In a way, Jesus was the ultimate Esther, since, as God incarnate, while He was sinless, He became sin to absolve believers from their sin, in his Passion culminating in his death, followed by resurrection.)  And this is an eternal sacrifice, not just the temporal one faced by Esther.

So for me, what does this mean, based on the “one day at a time” mantra?  Well, God is sovereign and the people, places, and things in life he brings are all part of his grand scheme (cf. Rom 8:28).  And they need not always be pleasant.  You never know what’s going to happen next year, or even tomorrow (which isn’t guaranteed anyway).  Thus, we should embrace what you can do now rather than worry or excessively plan the next steps.