Counting the Seconds

“Hey Google, how many more minutes on the timer?”

“You have 15 minutes and 53 seconds.”

“Hey Google, how many more minutes on the timer?”

“You have 15 minutes and 26 seconds.”

This was the scene of Jonah’s first solo baking adventure. He wanted to make brownies for his sister’s birthday party. I suggested he go and play while it was baking and I would let him know when it was ready. He refused to leave the area and for the entire 25 minute bake time, he continued his frequent dialogue with Google.

Somethings are just too exciting to take your mind off of. The world around us stops and all we can think about is this one thing. Sadly, some things that are completely difficult to fixate on are tragic and dreadful.

My father is aging and he was reflecting on it in a recent conversation we had. With his usual blunt way of speaking he said, “Yeah, I guess I’m going to die soon.” In response I drew into perspective the stories of fatality in the media of many young people. Diseases, acts of violence, unfortunate accidents, there are many things claiming lives of all ages. We just have to live no matter how old we are. We just don’t really know. I said, “You may very well live past 100!”

Perhaps there is a different view when you know there is something greater after this life. If this life is all you have, I can see how fixating on the seconds might be even more difficult to avoid. When we do that, we can miss out on life. 25 minutes waiting for brownies to cook isn’t that long, but certainly is time that could have been used on other things. A lifetime, well, we already determined it is an unspecified amount of time, but however long it might be, we should not waste it counting the seconds. -jason


Play It Safe

A couple weeks ago I attended an active shooter training at work. The Honolulu Police Department did an excellent job in educating and encouraging us to consider strategies and tools to help make the school a safer place in the event of an active shooter. While it was a very good and relevant training, I thought to myself how unfortunate it is that we even have to think about these things.

Later that week Emily and I watched one of our favorite shows, Alone, on the History channel. Ten people are dropped off all alone in the wilderness, this time in Mongolia. The participants run their own cameras and a couple of them are filming in the middle of the night with night vision. They are in their sleeping bags while rumblings and calls of what sounds like large animals are right outside their make shift shelters. In seasons past that fear for personal safety has push contestants to “tap out”.

The idea of safety is interesting. It really is a construct of society. In some ways an illusion. A social psychologist named Azim Shariff developed a theory that religion, and specifically God, was the creation of man to enforce accountability on people as communities began to grow too large to oversee. His study on the effects of a belief in God and cheating show that belief often curbs the temptation to cheat. In effect, the creation of a God creates with it a sense of safety. I must add, while this may be  accurate and astounding data, it falls short to disprove the existence of God.

With recent and growing concern over gun control, I have been so torn by both sides. When you look at it, they are promoting two views of safety.

On one hand you have George Young Jr. of Hilo, HI. He sued the State of Hawaii because he was denied an open carry license. By the laws in Hawaii he is technically able to obtain a license should he prove the need. As an older man who has years of fire arms training in the military and law enforcement, he feels the need for protection. Having a weapon makes him feel he can keep himself safe.

On the other hand you have others that say laws that allow the government to control the individuals ability to own a firearm will minimize danger. In this perspective people are trusting that the government will keep them safe.

In any event, safety is a matter of perspective. We think about the past and wonder why things aren’t like they used to be. It was much safer then, or was it? It’s what you believe is keeping you safe. This is true with kids. Jonah talks about lava and robbers. Are this real threats? Well, in some regard, yes. Our job as parents is to help Jonah and our girls feel safe.

Do you feel safe? It’s all a matter of perspective. Safety is in many ways a construct of the mind. Even in Christianity people may feel safe in their belief in God. With a true understanding of Biblical teaching, safety is assured for the believer in eternity, not in the flesh. Does that mean that God doesn’t protect our physical bodies? No, He can, but it’s not an assurance.

Perhaps we sometimes need to set aside certain realities and just “play” it safe. -jason

The Guilty Party

Have you ever heard the name  Margit Hamosh? It’s probably unlikely. Dr. Hamosh was a scientist who discovered the digestive enzyme, lingual lipase, in her study of human milk and neonatal digestion. Margit Hamosh may also a name heard along with other colleagues like, Mika Popovic, Robert Gallo and Rameshwar Sharma. All were on trial by the Office of Research Integrity organized by the National Institutes of Health in the late ’80’s.

In a piece done by Malcolm Gladwell in the Washington Post, and more recently revisited in his podcast, Revisionist History, he highlights the absurdity of the attack on the scientific community in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Many scientists, like the ones listed above, were found guilty of scientific fraud because of a typo or the deviation in the definition of a word like, “use”.

Gladwell expresses remorse over being a part of the journalistic frenzy over scientific fraud. He points out that he and others were proclaiming scientist “GUITLY!” and yet never really understood the crime.

I appreciate the sentiment of regret, but I also empathize. There are many times I have joined in the “GUILTY! Party” without much understanding. Without even knowing the crime, I quickly jump into the party that has told me someone is guilty of a crime. It’s human nature after all.

When Jesus was sent to Pilate for a trial, Pilate couldn’t find the basis for criminal punishment. He address the Jewish crowd in Luke 23:22-23 “And he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.’ But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.”

Incited by the religious leaders, the crowds collectively proclaimed Jesus’ guilt, and requested the freedom of another prisoner. My guess is that many in the crowd didn’t even understand what they were proclaiming Him guilty of. It was the collective agreement of the “GUILT Party”.

Whether in a casual conversation with friends or as an opinion from a media article, we must try our best to understand the situation before we reach our verdict. Tweets and social media outlets are so instantaneously spread throughout the globe. Like wild fire an opinion becomes fact and then the consensus of the masses. Let’s do our part to avoid being a default member of the “GUILTY Party”. -jason


Hold the Door

I’m grateful for my upbringing and parents who taught me to be courteous to others. Understanding I am no poster child for chivalry, I try to remember gestures of societal and communal kindness as much as I can. With a greater prominence of individualism in our world, I feel myself getting impatient in these attempts at courtesy, like holding the door open for others.

Have you ever held the door open for the person behind you only to get stuck holding it for the next fifty people? You ask yourself, “What did I get myself into?” Having this experience I often just carefully let the door go behind me so the next person has to hold it themselves as they exit. I mean, who has time to hold the door for other people???

The other day I was leaving a room and ran into someone I knew as they were entering. I held the door open as they stood in the doorway and we engaged in a conversation. Not long after a third person walked up and we all start talking. Then as the conversation shifted to a subject that only pertained the the other two people I began planning my escape. How can I leave when I am holding the door and these two people are standing in the doorway!?

So I waited, resigned my strategic getaway and engaged. In the scheme of the day, it was a few minutes. A few minutes of interaction with people, a few minutes to connect and build relationship for a longer lifetime. I suppose I could have said that I needed to get going and ended the conversation. What difference would it make? Turns out, those few minutes turned into a conversation that I know will be significant in the future.

The things we do for others, as inconvenient as it might seem, have to come out of a sacrificial heart. When we do for others and truly have others in mind, we can give and do freely and joyfully. You never know how significant that might be.

hen we hold the door open we might be encouraging other people to pass along those acts of kindness. We never know how our sacrificial acts of compassion and thoughtfulness will develop into a greater benefit of our community as it ripples through relationships. When we give without expected reciprocation, what we receive unexpectedly might just be something that impacts our lives for years to come.

You can afford to give a couple minutes, don’t forget to hold the door open for others.


Running the Red

It was me. I was the idiot driver that you shook your head at a couple weeks ago.

My family and I were invited to a day at the pool and I was trying to plot out the route in my head. While carefully and strategically downloading my mental map, I drove straight through a red light. Emily almost passed out and the woman that was about to drive through the intersection honked her horn and gave me “the look”. I totally deserved that.

This was actually the second time in my life I did something like this. Once I drove right through a STOP sign. Teren and I had been over at Trav’s house till the sun came up the next morning. It was time to head home. Although no alcohol was consumed, sleep deprivation had me impaired. While driving Teren home my mind was fixed on our conversation, I went right through a normally busy intersection. Thankfully, it was very early in the morning so no one was around.

This is no lighthearted matter. Just the other day in Honolulu’s Chinatown, a woman was killed and two others injured when a car ran the red light and struck them.

In my situation, my eyes were fixed on the road, but my mind wasn’t. When we become preoccupied or unfocused we become unaware of the lights and signs that are warning us. These signs may be in the form of health symptoms, emotional distress, relationship issues and a variety of other things. We are on the go and our bodies, our brains, the people and circumstances around us are telling us to STOP. Without realizing it we just drive through the intersection. I thank the Lord for His protection that no one was hurt when I ran the red.  As it was in recent news, the outcome can be deadly.

We can look so far ahead that we don’t see what’s right in front of us. We may be under the influence of some intoxicating emotion or way of thinking and become impaired. More recently, people become distracted by cell phones and other things. Perhaps we might just not be in a condition to be moving forward and we have limited faculties. The road your are on may come in the form of relationships like marriage, family and friendships. Your journey could be your career or professional goals. Stopping before you move forward might save you from a tragic accident and allow you to safely arrive at your destination.

Pay attention to the signs in your life that might be telling you it’s time to stop. Take a pause. Take a minute to see the cars going in the opposite direction. Allow people to cross your path safely before you continue on your journey. Don’t run the red. -jason

In Dependence

This Wednesday we celebrate the independence of our country. Regardless of how you feel about the current state of our nation, our independence is worth celebrating. We are, after all, a people that love and value independence.

Recently I have come to believe that independence is an illusion. We all pursue it, but can we really achieve it?

The reality is that we are all dependent on something or someone. We lean on money, substances, people, fame, or even our own strength. All of these things, ALL OF THESE THINGS will fail.

There is one that is eternal that we can depend on. Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection was not only his path to eternity, but it was His invitation for others to follow Him into eternity.

What are you dependent on and will it last? What will happen when eventually it fails?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Celebrate our countries independence for in it we may live freely in our dependence on the Lord! -jason