Jump to Conclusions

As a child, whenever I expressed how much I liked a particular food, whether it was cereal, a snack or dinner, my parents would get/make it often. Growing up I thought, “Gee, just because I like it, you don’ t have to ALWAYS get it.” I know, what a bratty kid I must have been.

Recently, I have been wearing a lot of orange. People have come up to me and said, “You like orange, don’t you.” I started to just make comments like, “Orange is the new Black!” or “Go Giants!” just so I don’t have to explain. The reality is, it was just chance, most of my clothes that I wear are given to me. If someone were to ask me what my fashion inspiration is, I would have to say, “Pake Chic”.

Last October on my birthday my mom wanted to get me new shoes. We went to Ross and it came down to two shoes, a muted colored Sketchers or a bright orange Brooks. I got the Sketchers because it was more my color. Then I had buyer’s remorse because Brooks are GOOD shoes and they were the same price. I exchanged them. While at Ross, I saw SF Giants caps. I always wanted a Giants cap, but they are so expensive. I tried a few on, but the orange one was on clearance! It was an easy choice. Then I got a bunch of free clothes from different people. Orange happened to be in there. So, do I like orange, if it’s free, I LOVE it.

Here’s the thing. People are making assumptions about what they observe about me. On one hand I could be annoyed and think, “You don’t know me.” The other perspective is better. People are actually invested enough in me to make observations. My parents expressed their love and care for me in that they are actually paying attention to me and when I say I like something, they remember. They want to do what they can to actually give me what I like! People draw the conclusion that I like orange, because they NOTICED I was wearing a lot of orange.

If you think about it, that can be a good thing. People are actually paying attention to others and making observations instead of being self-centered. There are people who are not too captivated by their electronic devices or themselves that they notice each other. There’s hope in that.

When we put others before ourselves, we are able to notice these things. If I want to live like Jesus, then I must put others before myself. While Jesus lived in the flesh He did not sin, yet He died for sinful man. We are to do the same:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:3-7

                  There’s a difference in being observant and judgmental. We must avoid being judgmental, but I urge you all to jump to conclusions a little more. It can show you’re paying attention. Even a comment like, “You like orange, don’t you?” might be a comment that makes someone’s day, because someone cares enough to notice. -jason

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Alone

Emily and I love watching the History Channel series, “Alone”. Ten people are dropped off at different remote locations on Vancouver Island. They are equipped with standard issue gear and ten personal approved items. They also have a ton of camera equipment to self document their journey. The participants all have previous survival skill training. Upon being dropped off they must establish shelter, find food and a water source. There are three main things that seem to lead participants to tap out, fear of the wildlife, lack of food and loneliness. Usually it happens in that order. It’s amazing how impactful it is to be alone.

I used to think I would be fine just living in the mountains alone. Isolate myself from the rest of the world and do my own thing. My friend once reminded me, “No man is an island”, and I would say, “Except Jason Hew!” After watching two seasons of this show with twenty survival experts that have spent time all over the world journeying to isolated places, I’m pretty sure I’m no island. Over 400 years ago John Dunne penned these words:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

            I see a disturbing trend in society, the development of islands. There appears to be increasing isolation, not just in physical proximity, but also in emotional and personal interaction. News reports of the Dallas sniper have the assailant’s mother and neighbors describing a man who was much to himself. Even outwardly when people seem social, there is a sense of isolation. A couple of years ago my sister and brother-in-law befriended a man that appeared to be friendly and warm. He ended up killing four people and injuring three others. While he was open and social and friendly on one level, there was another, deeper part of him that was isolated, never shared with anyone till it was too late.

Even in our churches we have developed islands. There is a level of depth that we dare not expose to others. This lack of authenticity then leads to the younger generations to find church repulsive. In response many then walk away from the church with a mindset of, “It’s just me and God.” There is a danger in this kind of spiritual isolation. I believe it’s the subtle attack from the Enemy. The writer of Hebrews reminds us:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25.

            When we isolate some of the deepest parts of us, we miss out on the opportunity to “stir one another up in love and good works.” If it is the church that has become stagnant and lost it’s way, speak life, speak truth and motivate the brothers and sisters to remember their first love, Jesus Christ. If it’s your community or society at large that seems to have lost it’s way, speak life and speak truth in encouraging community, encouraging one another in love.

The more we isolate, the more we put ourselves in danger. Personally, we put ourselves in danger of making terrible choices. As a society, we put ourselves in danger as we will see fear drive people deeper and deeper into their caves and the aspiration of a unified community becomes a distant reality. I hope you will all see that there is something happening that we is beyond what we see. It has been happening throughout history. Ephesians 6:24 informs us:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

When we make the battle about flesh and blood, we lose. When we isolate we are blind to the realities of a spiritual battle. No man is an island. No man can live alone. Invite others into your life, even to the deepest parts of it. In doing so, you may be invited into another’s life, onto their island. The ripple effect could be tremendous. Community only happens when individuals come together. -jason

Black Coffee with Cream

 

A big part of my job involves meeting with and talking with people. Often conversations occur over a cup of coffee. I do love a good cup of coffee and I like my coffee untainted, just black.

When I order my coffee I keep it simple. “Can I get a small black coffee?” Nine out of ten times the barista replies, “Room for cream?” Usually I just say no thank you and that’s the end of it. Every once in a while the barista will catch themselves and say, “Oh, black coffee, sorry.”

It doesn’t bother me at all. These coffee shops are usually stacked with endless lines of people all anxious to get their caffeine fix. I’m sure having to take coffee orders over and over again it just becomes routine. Lines like, “Room for cream?” just becomes an automatic response.

While this is acceptable in some circumstances, I began to wonder if I have automated responses to people in different areas of my life. I imagine with my kids I can have the tendency to give automated responses without really listening. At the end of a long day I may give my wife an answer before I really hear her. Even at church when I am tired or preoccupied with other things on my mind, I might give some automated response without really listening.

Dietrich Bonheoffer, in his book Life Together, talks about listening. “There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say.” Listening with half an ear is when we start to formulate our responses before the other person is done talking.

As I see it, the world can use some better listeners. I have a feeling if we were all better at listening to our family and friends, we might put some therapist out of business. Maybe the simple act of listening can bring us together as a society and community a little more. Let’s be more present in our conversations, let’s listen intently and respond accordingly. Listening with half an ear and giving automated or premature responses is like asking someone if they want cream in their black coffee. It just doesn’t make sense. -jason

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

Proverbs 18:13

Your Opinion Matters

 

While preparing for Bible study this past week I thought about how crazy the Bible is. God became flesh and lived among us as Jesus. He was crucified to save our sins. Only by this act of grace are we accepted as righteous to our Creator. Consider the Trinitarian God, three persons, Father, Son and Spirit, in absolute equality and also in submission in their function. Talking donkeys, dead prophets summoned by kings, miracles, plagues, healings…and I haven’t even gotten to Revelation yet!

I’ve had it asked of me, “Why do you believe in the Bible?” Many will consider that it is an outdated, irrelevant fairytale. Perhaps even a manual for religious brain washing. I find it interesting that there is so much skepticism of the Bible, a book that has provided guidance and teachings and wisdom for years, the Book that has changed my life. It’s interesting because as I look through the Internet, we have really paved a way for the opinions of many to influence our lives. Blog posts, like this one, are opinions. Just my thoughts, and yet have the potential to shape someone’s thinking.

What shapes your thinking? Have you considered that? This is why your opinion matters. With the world shrinking by means of technology, your opinion could impact the thinking of someone across the globe. We are all shaped by external influences, whether we accept that or not.

Perhaps in opposition to religion you say, “I believe in science.” Me too. I believe that one plus one is two. I believe that gravity holds me to this earth. I believe that oxygen is required to live. What about more of the abstract things? It’s interesting that many are so apprehensive about the Bible, yet will live their lives by what Oprah says, or structure their lives around Lord of the Rings, maybe even plan their day around their horoscope. Science is wonderful, but dangerous when opinion creeps in.

I love psychology. Love it. I’ve come to see that there is a scientific side of it, and a side of opinion. There are significant findings in psychology and it helps us to understand dementia, depression, anxiety, etc. The danger comes when people give their opinion on how to treat it. There are so many forms of practice. Psychologist and therapist will ask each other, “What model of therapy do you use?” There are many, because it is formed around the opinion of others. Again, your opinion matters, our world would rather live by the opinions of others, than the truth of an “outdated book”.

So then, what will shape your opinions? What will guide your life? Science can tell you the process of aborting a baby, but what will tell you if it’s right or wrong? Or is there a right and wrong? Perhaps right and wrong are arbitrary concepts for an archaic time. Perhaps we should just let each person decide for themselves what they believe is right and wrong. Maybe we can just Google it or maybe get Siri’s opinion on it. Your opinion matters because more people are following the opinions of others rather than seeking one source of truth. What will shape your opinions? What will guide your life? – jason