MTP Exam: Day One

Today was the first day of the missionaries’ examinations. What did I think?

1. On the whole, they did an excellent job of presenting a summary of the key points from their research paper for the year.

2. In general, they chose challenging topics and made a thorough analysis of problem areas, often finding cogent resolutions.

3. Their collegiality was encouraging.

4. Listening to them present inspired in me hope for the future of our church.

Driving home, I listened to NPR (National Public Radio). As an aside, when I was a kid, I thought listening to talk radio was a really foolish thing that only old people do. I mean, who turns on the radio to listen to people talking?? Radios were for music! But take a look at me now…and interpret as you wish 😉

On NPR, there was a heated conversation about Amazon’s place in the world of books and publishing. I had half a mind to sit in my car and hear the conclusion of the matter when I got home. The other half of my mind won the argument though.

The jist of what I caught in my 20minute commute, was that Amazon doesn’t care about the publishing industry. Because they sell other stuff on their website, they can give you books for peanuts, pretty much, as a lure for you to purchase other things from them. Come to think of it, Amazon is one of the first stops for me, when I think of where to buy…anything, really…especially books!

So, what’s the problem? It’s nice that we can get books for cheap! Well, I gather that publishers’ problem is that it drives down market value of books, so that publishers will have to sell their books for cheaper in the future. That would be fine if they had other sources of income as is the case for Amazon. But they don’t. They rely on book sales to fuel the whole publishing process – hiring authors, editors, marketing, etc. They don’t have an electronics department that’s making profit to bolster their losses on books.

As I turned the car engine off, they had begun to address the question of whether it’s really Amazon’s fault that publishers are selling less. Some statistics they cited seemed to indicate that people just don’t read books like they used to. It would appear, that book sales were declining way before e-books rolled around. Amazon kindle or no kindle, people just don’t buy books any longer.

I could see that! What, with netflix, and hulu, and youtube, and itunes, and audiobooks, and audioverse…Who needs to read?

That is a huge part of why I was so proud of our missionaries today. They took time to read, study, parse the material for themselves. They had to read one book, check its references to find the next book, buy that book and read it to see if it had anything viable to offer… They communed with the minds of thinkers before them, and engaged in the process themselves to reach their conclusions.

Yeah, yeah, you think as you watch a documentary… But there’s just something about words on a page that lends itself to rigorous analysis!

Today’s experience challenged me to more diligent study.

Missionaries, I salute you.

Chimurenga

On the 18th of April, 1980, Zimbabwe, my home country, declared independence from Britain. It took years of fighting in a war called the Chimurenga, and a measure of external support to achieve the goal. One of my uncles who left home to join the struggle never returned. Every day, for years, my mother’s family would look out on the horizon in frustrated hopes of seeing him walking down the beaten path…And so it was for the many families who lost their loved ones in the fight for freedom.

Today we celebrate 32 years of independence but Chimurenga continues.

Only two years after our independence, Gukurahundi began. An estimated 20,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed between 1982 and 1988. The CCJP and LRF published a report titled “Breaking the Silence: A Report on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands.” You can find an abridged version here. To this day, there has been no official acknowledgment, let alone an apology for the human rights violations that took place.

Operation Murambatsvina came 5years after the fast-track land reform program which evicted white farmers, and opposition party supporters, from their land. Murambatsvina evicted city dwellers from shanty camps forcing them back to their rural homes in what has been seen as a bid to disperse urban support for the opposition.

Three decades later, although Zimbabwe is a free country, ethnic divisions heightened by Gukurahundi remain unaddressed; racial divisions have been piqued by the illegal land seizures; and freedom of political expression is virtually non-existent. Inasmuch as Chimurenga is a struggle for human rights, political dignity and social justice, the war continues.

So it is with heavy heart that today I celebrate the independence of a nation that is yet to be free. I am comforted and encouraged by the knowledge that Truth will always triumph in the end – though the wicked seem now to prosper, God will visit judgment in favor of His elect.

Moreover, in the greater struggle with sin in our individual lives, victory is assured through Jesus Christ, our Savior!

Chimurenga continues.

Lesson 5: ‘Tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus

Your homework’s done – you have a clear sense of your budget and how far it can stretch; you’ve weighed your needs against your desires to find their critical balance where they meet your financial ability; you’ve read all the car-purchasing and negotiation tips; and kept an eye on the market for a gauge of what to expect…Now you’re ready to make the decision.

Trying to find “the car” was a strenuous, challenging task. More than once, you thought you’d got it, only to discover, upon reflection, that you had to get back on the market and keep looking. But don’t think of those experiences as wasted. Rather, they were opportunities to understand yourself better. If you really think about it, you probably learnt A LOT about yourself in those moments.

So, there you are at the Secretary of State. The butterflies in your tummy make you nauseous. Are you sure this is “the car?” What if you kept looking? Maybe you’d find a better deal somewhere, out there, beneath that bright blue sky…What if it turns out to be a lemon and your good deal was a rip off? Are you really ready for the commitment?

One of my life theme texts is found in Psalm 146:3-5

Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.

When you have rested your case in the capable arms of a loving heavenly Father, there is nothing to fear. You can trust that He would intervene if this deal were not for your benefit in the long-run. You can be sure that He who sanctioned the transaction will provide for it’s sustenance in the future. He didn’t bring you this far just to leave you.

What is it that takes the edge off of commitment-phobia? For a Christian who has made God a part of every stage of their decision-making process, they can trust in the Father above. It really is a sweet thing to trust in Jesus – just to take Him at His word…just to rest upon His promise – just to know “Thus saith the Lord.”

Lesson 4: Head before Heart

Isabel Briggs Myers didn’t have to tell me that I’m moved by my feelings. In fact, it’s probably one of my greatest challenges as a Christian – to act on faith inspite of feeling. So when my friend started talking about loving with your head first before your heart, I knew what he was talking about.

It’s not just about getting a good deal on a car and having the upper hand in the negotiations. But, you see, he was talking about a principle to be applied in romantic relationships too. Before you let your heart get carried away with emotional attachment, you need to make sure that your mind has paved a clear path.

There’s nothing wrong with chemistry between two people. I think, actually, that it’s an important part of a romantic relationship. But, once the chemistry has been acknowledged, and it’s obvious you click with this other person…Before you allow your heart to commit to them…The mind must be engaged.

Here are the considerations the mind must go through, in the words of Ellen White:

“Examine carefully to see if your married life would be happy or inharmonious and wretched. Let the questions be raised, Will this union help me heavenward? Will it increase my love for God? And will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life?” AH 45.2

Those are some packed questions! And they need to be asked before your heart commits. Asking them after you’ve decided that this person is perfect…and that you could spend every waking moment of the rest of your life with them…is too late. Your answers won’t be honest.

And when you find yourself in a situation where your heart has run ahead of your head, you need a time-out. A recess from the person with whom you are so emotionally entangled. It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the wrong person for you, but you’d rather have the security of knowing, without a doubt, that God approves the match. A time-out will help you clear your mind and answer more honestly.

She goes on to say:

“If these reflections present no drawback, then in the fear of God move forward.”

Sometimes it turns out not to be the perfect car for you after all. Or, maybe it will be the right choice for you. But wouldn’t you rather know for sure!?!