July 24, 2011

Jesus, initiator of centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep our lives in orbit

I bet a number of us have studied a particular chapter of the bible time and times again and each time a different verse(s) would strike us and come alive. If we choose to meditate upon the verse(s), God expounds in awesome ways.

Recently, I meditated on The Message version of John 3:29-30:

29 -30"That's why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.

This was John’s response to his disciples when they reported to him that Jesus was becoming more popular and attracting more people. This information did not upset John. Rather he was happy to slip to the sidelines.

I mused, churned it and God took over. It became clear to me that it was better if Jesus was at the centre of my life and activities. If he is at the centre, creativity and productivity will be higher. Since I don’t have the power to keep all things in equilibrium, having Jesus at the centre was the ultimate solution. Then I began to see him as the centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep me in orbit. I continued to churn; wondering how to fully apply the thoughts.

I had to refresh my memory of what I know about centripetal and centrifugal forces. I sensed God was trying to say we can’t do without him. So why try?

It was easier for me to understand that Jesus is the centripetal force pulling me to him. But how is he the centrifugal force?

First let me explain the forces. Centripetal force (centre-seeking) is the force that pulls an object towards the centre; thus making a circular motion possible. Centrifugal force means to flee from the centre. Centrifugal force does not act on the object but acts on the source of centripetal force to displace it from the centre. Interestingly, it is not the centrifugal force that causes an object to fly out of its orbit but rather it is the removal of the centripetal force.

Okay, I know we usually regard circular motion as going nowhere but are you aware that acceleration occurs in circular motions? Furthermore, application of circular motions achieve results such sedimentation and separations. It is also applied in carousels and turning cars to mention a few. And the moon!

The moon is kept in orbit by centripetal and centrifugal forces. The moon is pulled towards the earth by centripetal force and centrifugal force pulls on the earth and helps to keep the moon in motion. There is a balance between the two forces – they act in equal measure but opposite in direction. Imagine if centrifugal force was greater, what will happen to the moon? The moon would have taken off and probably land in my backyard, crashed to pieces.

Jesus is the influence that keeps our lives in equilibrium. Everything going on whether palatable or unpalatable is balanced by Jesus. He applies the centripetal force to make us seek the centre which is him.

But how does he apply centrifugal force since it is a reaction to centripetal force? Just like centrifugal force is needed to keep the moon in motion, we also need centrifugal force. Centrifugal force can be trials and tribulations. Depending on how we respond to them, they will just be the counter force required to keep us in equilibrium. The centrifugal and centripetal forces are net forces that keep us seeking the centre. The presence of Jesus and God inflicted trials in our lives are to keep us centre seeking.

However, we can respond in such a manner that it may appear that the centrifugal force is greater and may succeed in removing the centripetal force. When the centrifugal force becomes greater, it means we are responsible for the imbalance. This is because as Paul wrote to the Corinthians; the trials God bring our way are within our limits and he is always present to help us through them. However, when they exceed it means we have brought upon us the consequences of our disobedience. Our disobedience displaces the centripetal force which is the presence of Jesus from our lives. May we not allow sin to prevent us from always seeking the centre.

But then, brace yourself! Jesus is not just the centre; he is also the orbit. He is the sphere of influence on our lives and he is the main director of our lives. In sum, it is all about him!

I would like to hear from you. Do you agree that Jesus is the initiator of the forces that keep us in orbit? Perhaps God has revealed more of this to you. Please share. 

July 17, 2011

Learning from robots to improve our relationship with God

You may ask having read the title, ‘what can we learn from robots?’ Now before we get into that, let’s really understand what robots are. Robots are mainly machines that programmed or commanded to undertake tasks in which it mimics a human or an animal. Some of them like those made in South Korea are made to interact with humans. They are expected to work using their own sensors and intelligence. They do not have emotions though we are almost given the impression from some movies. A robot is able to do a task repeatedly because it is programmed to do so. It does not have to think about it. And so it does not try to rationalize the instruction; complain about it or contemplate whether to do it or not. It just executes the order.

Now what can we learn from robots? Obeying instructions! Robots always comply to instructions. When God gives us instructions, he knows better than we do. He has seen the end from the beginning before giving the instructions. So when we do not comply or dismiss what we hear, it is disregarding the one who gave the instruction.

One man in the bible that has challenged me is Abraham. God had promised him that his descendants shall be like the sand of the sea. If sand of the sea can be counted then so shall his descendants be. After 25 years of God promising to give him a child, he had Isaac. When Isaac had grown; perhaps a teenager (age was not specified) God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham did not negotiate; he did not try to remind God about his promise and he did not dismiss what he heard. Rather he complied; he set out to sacrifice Isaac. As they prepared for the journey to the land of Moriah as God directed (Genesis 22), Isaac observed there was no animal for sacrifice. He asked his father Abraham who simply replied, “The Lord shall provide”.

Abraham sure acted like a robot by being instantaneous in his obedience with no complaints or debate, though I would like to consider him a robot extraordinaire. The only aspect we are to learn from robots is complying. However, like my friend Ada said, ‘while robots obey out of duty or programming, we ought to obey out of love.’ We ought to obey out of the knowledge we have of God. Yes, I realize that whether our obedience is instant or delayed; undertaken happily or grudgingly depends on our faith and knowledge of God:

“By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, "Your descendants shall come from Isaac." Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that's what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar”. (Hebrew 11:17-19; The Message).

Abraham’s knowledge and belief in God enabled him to pass the test of obedience even though he stood possibly to lose his only son.

All said; obeying God is not in our power. No wonder Jeremiah talked about God training him to obedience (Jeremiah 31:19, The Message) and David pleaded with God to train him to obey (Psalm 86:11; 25:4,5; and 119). David went ahead in Psalm 119 to state that he had more insights than his teachers and was wiser than the elderly by thinking of God’s word and doing what God told him.

If we keep disobeying or obeying grudgingly and not out of love, God will communicate less. However, the more we obey the more God reveals. Our lives and community will be better for it. Our relationship with God will improve; our purpose here on earth accomplished and God will be glorified.

I would love to hear from you. Do you think that Abraham’s kind of faith is still possible in our time? Can we obey God like Abraham and have the kind of relationship he had with God?

Image by Leeloomultipass @ dreamstime

July 3, 2011

How to access true success and fulfilment in life

One day, I was reading John 5 and verses 19 and 20 caught my attention:

So Jesus explained himself at length."I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing. (John 5:19-20; The Message).

I began to realize I cannot boast in anything I may have achieved because it is God the father that has enabled me to accomplish. Furthermore, if Jesus who is equally God could acknowledge this, who am I to think I can do good, achieve success and have a great life all by myself? And if God is the enabler, who am I to look down on myself and think I cannot? If I don’t believe I am able, it means I don’t believe in the one who has created me and endowed me with great potentials. I don’t believe in the one who created me and saw that I am good. All I need to do is emulate Christ who only did what he saw his father do.

As I thought of it, I understood that as I look unto God and see, then it means that whatever I see can be done. As I continue to focus on God, then I begin to live in a realm of possibilities. I shall no longer think that anything I see is impossible to achieve.

Indeed you and I are created to do the impossible! All we need to do is focus on God. Whatever we see in the spiritual realm is possible in the physical realm.

Then I imagined - if all God’s children are looking unto him to see what He is doing; will all be seeing the same thing? As I thought of it, the awesomeness of God dawned on me. He is a huge multitasker! He is willing and ready to involve each one of us in all that he is doing. He can attend to all of us and can show us different things at the same time. The difference will be based on each person’s make up and level of relationship with him. 

For instance, if he is healing someone in my vicinity and gets me involved in it, he may be comforting another and gets another child of his involved in the task of comforting at the same time he is involving me in healing.  He may be showing me how he wants to influence the world through me which will be different from what he may show my sister simultaneously. 

So when there is a need not met, a gap not bridged or a challenge not surmounted, it means someone may have been distracted from focusing on the great multitasker. 

Jesus met the needs of people who came to him (even those that did not request like the man by Pool Bethesda) bridged the gap and surmounted all challenges because he focused on God. He did not take decisions on his own:

I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. (John 5:30; The Message)

Jesus, while on earth carried out only the orders of our Father. There was nothing he did on earth that was his own decision. I believe that was why he was extremely successful. He was well known and revered. Of course the religious people were not happy with his success and popularity. Yet, the Pharisees could not kill him before the appointed time; he escaped every trap set for him and he had the right words and solutions for each situation.

His focus was to glorify the one who has called him and in so doing, he was also glorified!

As I pondered, it became clear that real and sustainable success is achievable if I can forget my selfish ambitions; focus on God and do only what I hear from him and see him doing. When my focus and delight is doing the will of the Father, he will include me in everything. As I continually align with his will, I shall discover his desires and my desires will be one and in the end I will achieve true success and be fulfilled. 

As I focus on glorifying the Father, I will be glorified. As you focus on glorifying our Father in heaven, you will be glorified.

Image from dreamstime by Marcia Cirillo