Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Commandment regarding the poor

But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess—if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. (Deuteronomy 15:4-6, ESV)

I've read this before, but it is an extraordinary command regarding:
  1. How a nation should be a lender, not a borrower, and in being so, rules over them
  2. There are to be no poor among you - and the chapter goes on to describe an economic system for how that is to take place.
See also v. 11 - that we will always have the poor with us.

It's been very interesting to read this section of scripture as a systems engineer and see how God was creating a whole way of life for his people.  That includes a law system, an economic system, cultural norms, and a whole worship system.  The whole thing admitted of The Fall and sin, and yet pointed the people to God and His grace and how to show that to each other.  This whole system was utterly different from the people around them.

I wonder how different just our family looks from our culture, or how much our church family looks different?  Admittedly, we're in a very Christianized area with many churches, so some things will not look different, but some will - and should.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Technology and Short Term Missions

Interesting article about the relationship of technology to short-term missions. When we didn't have the ability to keep up with friends and family while in a far-flung place, this wasn't an issue as it wasn't really possible. However, now that the Internet is so pervasive, I would think it is a strong temptation for short and long term missionaries to remain closely connected to their home, with a consequence being that they are not fully engaged with the culture they are ministering to.

There's plenty that is good about technology in this sense. Those that support missionaries can get very timely updates about how they are and what needs they have. However, how to use the technology so that it serves this purpose but not to draw the missionary away from engaging with friends in their own culture is difficult.

Kristy and I have lived in three different towns since we were married. I'm very glad to keep up with some of our friends from the previous two towns via Facebook as I want to know what's going on with them. But, I can certainly see how people can get so involved with friends on Facebook that they don't make time for friends that are real and present here.

While I miss many people that are in other locations, I'm called to be with those that are here, geographically. In spite of Internet hype, geography is still an essential factor of life, and I think the more deep ministries (e.g., of the church) recognize that.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Failure is Not an Option

I recently read Failure Is Not An Option by Gene Kranz, a former flight director (among many other jobs) at NASA. He's the flight director that is the main focus of the Apollo 13 movie. It's his memoir of his life, focusing mostly on his time in NASA and on the missions he was a part of.

In short, I loved this book.  Spaceflight is terribly interesting to me, and I'm still amazed that they accomplished what they did with the technology available at the time.  But this book brings out the personalities of the many people involved. 

One thing that struck me was the amount of leadership, ingenuity, and deep expertise expected from everyone involved.  Many involved were from a military background and so naturally tended to leadership positions.  The great importance of the project made it necessary for only really good leaders to rise up - no "social promotion" or promotion based on years experience.  Definitely a meritocracy.  Also, leaders had to both know their technology backwards and forwards.  It wasn't enough to be a good manager, but you had to have come up through the system having not just the ability to look up information but the ability to pull it out of your head at a moment's notice. 

The ingenuity to deal with not just the extraordinary circumstances like Apollo 13, but designing everything from the rockets to the landers to the procedures to make it all happen in mission control to the communication system in such a short time was extraordinary.

I highly recommend it.