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Showing posts from March, 2015

The Second Machine Age (A Review)

Driveless cars, humanoid robots, 3D printers and the Internet of Things are just a few of the many technological developments that are increasingly converting science fiction into everyday reality. A recent book The Second Machine Age’ by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argues that as extraordinary as these changes are, these are merely warm-up acts of a broader 'second machine age' that is already transforming us and is poised to sweep us off our feet in the near future!
The first machine age was characterized by muscle power epitomized by the steam engine and its descendants. In the second machine age, computers and other digital advances are increasing use of our brains, enabling us to understand and shape our environments. This is vast and unprecedented boost to mental power means that we are at an “inflection point” in the history of economies and societies. Crucially it is an inflection point in the right direction - bounty instead of scarcity, freedom instead of co…

A reality check!

O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.  (‭Psalm‬ ‭3‬:‭1-2) We all have a tendency to deceive ourselves about our true circumstances. The behavioural science school calls these “cognitive biases”. We tend to underestimate our problems. Whether it a struggle with sin, emotional pain or physical suffering! This is why I find reading Psalm 3 so refreshing.

On the Kindle

I have enjoyed reading every Sunday afternoon over the last few months Proverbs : Wisdom that Works by Raymond C Ortlund. It is part of the “Preaching the Word” commentary series. Although he does takes a somewhat topical approach after Chapter 9, it still rich in depth.

The only quibble I would have is that the Ortlund sometimes moves too quickly in connecting the text to Christ. But I suppose that is a good problem. Otherwise this is a very rich and practical reflections on problems as illustrated by this helpful excerpt from the book : The Lord Jesus Christ who died for you also claims you, all that you are from head to toe. The gospel calls you to deploy your very body for him: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

God is an Undertaker

I recently came across this article about Chloe McKnight one of the youngest female funeral directors in the UK. She was inspired at the young age of 12 to one day become a funeral day after visit the local funeral home on work placement. She remembers that on arrival, she was confronted with a corpse in the chapel of rest and felt "strangely comfortable with it".  It is quite a thought - being comfortable with death.
I was very assured though when she later says that the job has tonnes of sadness : "When the police call you to remove a body on behalf of a coroner, you don't know what you're going to see – an accident victim, a suicide …It can be overwhelming at times – even now I sometimes have to take a deep breath – and it's always unsettling when the person is younger than I am". 

This double tension of anundertaker - comfortable and yet unsettling is worth bearing in mind as we come to one of the most interesting descriptions of God in the Bible. Acc…

The Road to Golgotha (Part IV)

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. (Matthew 26:47-50) The key point Matthew is making in his narrative is that Jesus willingly embraces not only his betrayal but also his betrayer. Jesus is not distancing himself from Judas. He still has arms extended wide. We shall see this amplified later in the context of Peter.
This is a tremendous source of comfort for all of us. There is no doubt we are in the garden, not with Jesus but with the crowds. We are carrying swords and clubs. We are those who everyday seek to crucify Jesus all over again with our sinful deeds.
Is it then not amaz…

The Road to Golgotha (Part III)

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Matthew 26:45-46 ESV) As we continue our daily walk to Golgotha through Matthew, we see one of the big themes of Matthew's Golgotha narrative emerging : Jesus is the betrayed King!

On the Kindle

At the beginning of each year I try and select a couple of hot books from the year before as selected at the end of the year by Amazon Editors. I do this to keep in touch with what others are reading. It also exposes me to issues that I would not naturally read about. There is nothing better than picking up a book and discovering it is a gem!
I have just finished reading  one of the top Amazon Singles from 2014. I never knew what an Amazon Single was until I picked up the book Perseverance by Kristin Peck . It is a very short memoir / personal essay by Kristin Peck which chronicles her emotionally charged struggles with infertility and persevered through to a happier ending. 

Two quotes from the book struck me, and perhaps highlights the double edge of the book. The first quote expresses a common human struggle : We did our best to try to focus on anything other than our fertility problems as we took the twelve- hour flight to Maui. But your problems manage to travel with you, even when …

The Road to Golgotha (Part II)

And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (Matthew 26:40-44 ESV)As we continue our daily bible verse walk to Golgotha through Matthew we find ourselves here. A few points worth noting. First, the three disciples are sleeping, but here Jesus addresses only Peter. Secondly, watching and praying is offered as the solution for Peter's upcoming temptation. Thirdly, it is unclear what the temptation for Peter is - is it lifting the sword or is it the denial to come? Either way, the antidote is the same : pray, pray and …

The Road to Golgotha (Part I)

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ (Matthew 26:36-39 ESV) We begin our journey with Matthew to Golgotha here, along the way we shall spot some details that strike us afresh. As we start, it  is important for us to recognise that the sacrifice of Jesus begins from his conception. As one author says, Jesus was born crucified. Most important the pain of Gesthmane is part of God crushing him for our sins. 
What strikes me most is the Lord's vulnerability "stay with me". Oh, how we all need to learn to say to others "Broth…