I recently read an article that lists 12 common half-truths many of us have accepted as facts. Here are a few: peanuts aren’t really nuts (they’re legumes), a palm tree isn’t a tree (it’s a plant), a koala bear isn’t really a bear (it’s a marsupial), and a penny is actually worth more than one cent—costing about two cents to make. Whether they are of consequence or not, we find ourselves swimming in half-truths.
In 2010, researchers simulated a category 3 hurricane to test the strength of two houses—one built according to normal construction standards for the region and the other built with a reinforced roof and floors. The researchers turned on giant fans to create wind gusts of 110 miles per hour for more than 10 minutes.
In 2012, thanks to a rapper named Drake and the supercharged vehicle of social media, “YOLO” became a popular acronym. It stands for “You Only Live Once.” Though the message of YOLO is test the limits, it became a justification to live life irresponsibly. The answer to drunk driving, parking illegally, disrespecting parents, and missing class was simply YOLO. Its underlying meaning is that my life is mine and I get to live it how I want to.
A little boy’s mother baked a batch of cookies and placed them in a cookie jar, instructing her son not to touch them until after dinner. Soon she heard the lid of the jar move, and she called out, “Son, what are you doing?” A meek voice called back, “My hand is in the cookie jar resisting temptation.” It’s funny to think of a person trying to resist temptation with their “hand in the cookie jar.” This is as much a challenge in our culture today, as it was for the Ephesians.
One day during class, Adrionna Harris noticed something disturbing—one of her young classmates cutting himself with a small razor. As she perceived it to be a grave situation, she did what she thought was the right thing to do—stepped in, took the razor from him, and threw it away. But instead of receiving praise, her compassionate act earned her a 10-day suspension. Asked if she would do it again, Adrionna replied: “Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him . . . I would do it again even if I got suspended.”
A German bank employee was in the middle of transferring 62.40 euros from a customer’s bank account when he suddenly nodded off. His “power-nap” took place while his finger was still on the “2” key, resulting in a 222-million euro (300 million dollars US) transfer into the customer’s account. The sleepy state of the worker nearly became a nightmare for the bank, all because he wasn’t being alert.
According to an Italian newspaper, more and more immigrants are asking for plastic surgery so they can look more “Western.” Some Asians are requesting procedures to reshape eyes and make them rounder; some Africans are undergoing procedures to reduce the size of their lips and reshape their bodies; other ethnicities of darker skin colors are undergoing procedures to lighten their skin because lighter skin is associated with success. These individuals, who aren’t satisfied with their appearances, would likely find it difficult to sing David’s song in Psalm 139:1-24.
In the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift, many of the creatures are trying to save the world from imminent disaster. Two possums named Crash and Eddie, however, simply engage in fun and games.
John Newton, slave trader turned pastor and hymnwriter, believed in “large asking” when it came to prayers. He encouraged many with the archaic words in this verse from the hymn “Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare”: “Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such, none can ever ask too much.”
This is the last snack I’m going to eat today, you tell yourself. Then 5 minutes later you’re looking for another one! Michael Moss, in his book Salt Sugar Fat, reveals how food companies study ways to “help” people crave junk food. Some of the food industry’s biggest names hire “crave consultants” to determine people’s “bliss points”—the conditions when food companies can optimize consumers’ cravings. One popular company spends $30 million a year to determine the bliss points of consumers.
In December 2011, USA Today ran an article that analyzed a group of Americans called the “spiritually apathetic.” Their attitude could be summed up as: “So what?” The article presented the following sad statistics:
In 2013, a train carrying 218 people derailed in Spain, killing 79 and injuring 66 more. Though the train’s engineer said he couldn’t explain why the accident occurred, video footage provided answers. The train was going as fast as 119 mph before it hit the deadly curve—more than twice the speed limit for that section of track. So it wasn’t just the speed that caused the accident. It was the combination of the speed and the location of the track. The boundary of the speed limit was created for the protection of the passengers, but the seasoned engineer ignored it, and it led to tragedy.
One evening my family and I were watching an episode of the TV show Brain Games. It had a segment in which they tested the ability of people to make choices. One group went to an ice cream parlor that featured 50-60 flavors of the delicious dessert. The other group went to a shop that had only three flavors. The group who had to choose from many flavors experienced more anxiety than the group who had just a few selections. Having choices no longer liberated but debilitated.
At the beginning of the classic book The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins was enjoying a comfortable and predictable life in his home in the Shire—until the mysterious Gandalf dropped in for a surprise visit. Gandalf turned to Bilbo and said, “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.” Bilbo replied, “I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! We don’t want any adventures here, thank you.”
Blasio Kugosi was tired. This schoolteacher from Rwanda was tired of simply sitting back in quiet discouragement over the lack of spiritual fervor in the church and his own spiritual life. So in 1935, Kugosi fasted and prayed for a week. During that time, God transformed him.