Archive for September, 2013

Chi Alpha Reflections: Integrity and the Joy of Christ

Tonight the speaker examined the story where David spared Saul’s life even though he had perfect reasons and opportunities to kill the king. If you didn’t read or forgot my first post about this story, you can find it here. The speaker’s main point was that we should have integrity in all of our actions. Where we are going and what we are doing is important, but just as important is how we do. We may benefit a great deal by allowing ourselves to commit and overlook “tiny” sins or breaking the rules just a little bit, but it isn’t honest or the right thing to do.

That was about all I got out of the speaker’s message. That may have been because I am exhausted. I don’t notice it when I’m doing things, but after sitting in a dimmed auditorium for 20 minutes or so my eyelids got really heavy…

I did especially like the tonight’s student testimony though. The testifier (does that work here) grew up in the church and was a very good athlete, but after getting hurt in high school and college fell into a state of depression. During this time he realized that he was treating sports as an idol in his life and worked to refocus his life on God.  And by constantly reminding himself of his life in Christ, he has come to realize that even his worst days aren’t all that much worse than his best days. Compared to the perpetual joy of living in and for God, nothing else can really compare, so it’s just all good. I don’t feel like I have that joy all the time yet, but it’s definitely something that I want to work toward.

Act of Congress – Love Comes for Free

Romans 1 & 2

Tonight I started reading Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. While the last two letters I read (Colossians and Galatians) were focused on the theme of faith and salvation through it, Paul’s theme for the Romans seems to have been righteousness. These two ideas are closely related, and in Romans 1: 17 Paul says that “the righteousness of [or from] God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” The way Paul discusses the two is different though, with the teachings about righteousness dealing a lot more with sin and temptation.

After his introduction and greetings to the Romans, Paul quickly goes into a short rant about sin and ungodliness, especially by those who “know” God. Later on he lists several common sins, some obvious and others less “blatant,” but all hated by God. In chapter two, Paul makes a very good point: “He ill render to each one according to his works.” (Romans 2: 6) Those who live according to God’s teachings will be saved, but those who live unrighteously will reserve “wrath and fury” for themselves.

One similarity between Galatians and Romans (so far) is Paul’s comparisons to living according to Jewish Law. Rather than explaining that living by faith replaces the Law however, he writes that if you live by the Law, you will be judged by the Law. Therefore, by acting according to the Law, you may be righteous, but it can also be dangerous because we all have sinned. Paul especially warns against hypocrisy when living and teaching the Law, which is a major problem many Jewish Elders of the time had.

My favorite part of these two chapters comes from a little bit earlier, in chapter 1, verse 16. Paul writes “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” I think this should be the way we all live as Christians. After all, why have faith if we are ashamed of it, when truthful, public faith may be used to spread the Good News. I pray that I (and you all) may live with no shame in what I believe.

Global Warming Can Make Winters Colder?

For several years now, I have been a subscriber to the monthly magazine Scientific American. I really like learning about new discoveries and progress in the scientific world, both in my intended fields of study, chemistry and physics, as well as others that I know relatively little about, from psychology to computer science. Scientific American provides excellent articles on a wide range of topics that lets me do just that, and it is the only periodical I subscribe to. Unfortunately, as a senior last year I did not have as much time to read for pleasure as I liked, and when I had time, I tended to read other things, so I am a ways behind. While I was able to read a lot this summer and this first month of college (I expect that will not be the case the whole time), I am still just finishing the January 2013 issue.

That being said, I read a really interesting article on Wednesday (from the December 2012) about sea ice melting and some unexpected effects it can have on global weather patterns. As hinted at in the title, as sea ice melts, it can actually cause winters to be colder and stormier in the United States and Europe. If you’re thinking what I was thinking when I first read it, you’re thinking something along the lines of “…wait, what…?” But as unbelievable as it sounds, there is a good amount of evidence to support this hypothesis. So, here’s a quick explanation of how that works:

First, when I (and most scientists) say that sea ice is melting, they are referring to the fact that the amount of ice in the Arctic that remains frozen through the whole summer is decreasing, and rather rapidly. As the Arctic warms up, which is accelerated by this loss of ice, the pressure and moisture in the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean increases. The higher the pressure and moisture, the weaker a normal “polar vortex” around the North Pole is, which has major consequences for other weather phenomena in the northern hemisphere. With a weaker polar vortex, two patterns we know as the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation tend to have a “negative” phase.

While the differences between the positive and negative phases of the two oscillations are hard to explain, when they are negative they cannot hold cold arctic air in the Arctic as well. The global jet stream is also pushed southward, taking more mild air with it. The rest is simple, cold air that would normally be constrained by the Arctic Oscillation is able to move southward, making winters in most of North American and Europe significantly colder, stormier and snowier. This exact phenomenon, with some variation, has happened in the past three winters, bringing some of the most severe temperatures and storms to certain places with it.

That was pretty surprising for me, but is a good reminder of the unpredictability of our climate and weather. Global warming is a lot more complex than it may seem, and can may some pretty drastic and unexpected consequences. And because we can’t predict it, wouldn’t it be better to do whatever we can to stop it so we don’t need to find out what problems it may cause. I don’t want to rant about climate change now, as I could spend a lot of time and would rather do that later, so that’s all I have to say for now. If there were a free (and legal) version of the article online, I would post it, but I don’t know of one, but if you are interested enough feel free to check out where you could buy issue here.

Galatians 6

Paul’s last chapter in Galatians is short, but has a few really good points as always. He first talks a little bit about interactions with other Christians. In verses 1 through 5, he tells us to keep one another accountable and “restore” others who have sinned, take care not to be tempted ourselves in helping other and “bear one another’s burdens,” or support them if they are having trouble with anything. These teachings, while not explicitly explained by Jesus that I know, are taken from his actions and interactions with his followers. In verse 6, I found it interesting that Paul writes that we should support the teachers in our churches however we can. And finally, before his closing statements, Paul writes that we should “not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6: 9) Again, while not saying that we are saved by our good deeds, Paul is stressing the importance of acting towards the world as Christ did. It is simply the Christian (Christ-like) thing to do. And so, from verse 10, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.”

David Holsinger – Havendance (Performed by the Univesity of Nevada Reno Wind Ensemble)

What to do?

Agh! I can’t focus at all tonight. I have been trying to sit down for a couple of hours now and read, but I haven’t been able to keep my mind on task. I’m exhausted, and it’s late, so that’s probably a big part of it, but it’s still rather frustrating. Rather than spending a long time trying to really get into the next couple of chapters of Galations, I’m just going to let my mind calm down a little bit and then pray. Good night.