Friday, October 28, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Dear Friends in Christ,Life is fleeting, even as we are reading this email, we are growing older and nearer to eternity. As a Steve Jobs fan and one of the million users of his creative technologies, I can't help but think of his zest for life - and pray the same for all of us. The Apple iPhone-iPad-iPod founder died young aged 56, but taught us a lot of lessons. Some of them being to - Dream, Dare & Do - using the talents, the LORD has blessed us with. For we will all be held accountable at the end of life. In 2005, in a moving address at Stanford University after receiving surgery for pancreatic cancer, he reflected on his own mortality, urging his audience: 'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.' Below is the text from the speech.We at The CSF have a dream - to see Indian Christians - especially the lost, last and least - truely saved, giving thanks, praise and glory to God, for all that HE does through us. We invite you to join in and do your bit for HIS people, where God has planted you. Get in touch...Blessings & Respect,Yours in community service - Joseph Dias
Steve Jobs' Stanford speechI am honoured to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories. The third story first.My third story is about death - When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumour on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumour. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Thank you all very much.The first story is about connecting the dots - I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out? It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the seven miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.My second story is about love and loss - I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2bn company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our board of directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologise for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
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The prayer of Jabez is found in a historical note within a genealogy:
"Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, 'I gave birth to him in pain.'
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request" (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
Little is known of Jabez, other than he was a descendant of Judah, he was an honorable man, and his mother named him "Jabez" (meaning "sorrowful" or "sorrow-maker") because his had been a painful birth.
In his prayer, Jabez cries out to God for protection and blessing.
Using a play on words, Jabez, the "man of sorrow," asks God to keep him from that sorrow which his name both recalled and foreboded.
The prayer of Jabez contains an urgent request for four things:
1) God's blessing. Jabez acknowledges that the God of Israel is the source of all blessing, and he asks God for His grace. No doubt, this request was based, at least in part, on God's promise of blessing to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 22:17).
2) An expansion of territory. Jabez prays for victory and prosperity in all his endeavors and that his life would be marked by increase.
3) The presence of God's hand. In other words, Jabez asks for the guidance of God and His strength to be evident in his daily existence.
4) Protection from harm. Jesus taught His disciples to pray in this way: "Father in heaven . . . deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:9, 13). Jabez looks to God in confidence as his defender.
Jabez 's goal in his prayer was to live free from sorrow, and the last thing we read about him is that God heard and answered his prayer.
Like Solomon's humble prayer for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-14), Jabez 's devout prayer for blessing was answered. The success Jabez enjoyed outweighed the sorrow of his beginning.
The prayer of Jabez overcame the name of Jabez.
Brooklyn, New York:
Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools.
At a Chush fundraising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out,
"Where is the perfection in my son Shaya?
Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do.
Where is God's perfection?"
The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father's anguish and stilled by the piercing query. "I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that He seeks is in the way people react to this child."
He then told the following story about his son Shaya:
One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball.
Shaya asked, "Do you think they will let me play?"
Shaya's father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya's father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.
Shaya's father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play.
The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said,
"We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning."
Shaya's father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya's team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat.
Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it.
However, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya should at least be able to make contact.
The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya's teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch.
The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya.
As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman.
Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman.
Everyone started yelling,
"Shaya, run to first. Run to first!"
Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running.
But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head.
"Run to second, run to second." Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home.
As Shaya reached second base, the opposing short stop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, "Run to third."
As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming,
"Shaya run home!" Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a "grand slam" and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "those 18 boys reached their level of God's perfection."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Go Back and Make It Right ..
'...if you are displeased, I will go back.' Numbers 22:34 NIV
A lace-maker was working on a very intricate design when she noticed a mistake at the beginning of her work.
To the untrained eye it was inconspicuous and she could easily have camouflaged it, but moments like that separate the professional from the 'dabbler'.
She worked all night, painstakingly unravelled her work till she reached the flaw, fixed it and started over again.
When the angel blocked Balaam on the road, Balaam said,
'I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me...if you are displeased, I will go back.'
There are times when you need to go back and make things right.
Now, God doesn't usually send angels to tell us we're off-course; He speaks through His Word, through a trusted friend, or through our conscience.
Joni Eareckson Tada says,
'If the Holy Spirit reveals we've made an error, it's pointless to go on unless we go back... Sometimes you get so far in life and realize...the threads just aren't coming together; you've made a mistake somewhere along the line.
Your sins have come home to roost.
We do ourselves a disservice when we merely make a quick mid-course correction.
If you want the ends to come together, then ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you "dropped the stitch".'
'We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.'
If the Holy Spirit is dealing with you right now about some unfinished business in your life, stop, go back and make it right.
It's not easy, but God will honor your humility and obedience.
What is the Christian view of Human Cloning?
While the Bible does not specifically deal with the subject of human cloning, there are principles in Scripture which may shed more light on the concept.
First, DNA is removed from the nucleus of a creature's cell.
The material, bearing coded genetic information, is then placed in the nucleus of an embryonic cell.
The cell receiving the new genetic information would have had its own DNA removed in order to accept the new DNA. If the cell accepts the new DNA, a duplicate embryo is formed.
However, the embryo cell may reject the new DNA and die.
Also, it is very possible that the embryo may not survive having the original genetic material removed from its nucleus.
In many cases, when cloning is attempted, several embryos are used in order to increase the odds of a successful implantation of new genetic material. While it is possible for a duplicate creature to be created in this manner (for example, Dolly the sheep), the chances of successfully duplicating a creature without variations, and without complication, are extremely slim.
The Christian view of the process of human cloning can be stated in light of several scriptural principles.
First, human beings are created in the image of God and, therefore, are unique. Genesis 1:26-27 asserts that man is created in God's image and likeness and is unique among all creations.
Clearly, human life is something to be valued and not treated like a commodity to be bought and sold.
Some people have promoted human cloning for the purpose of creating replacement organs for people in need of transplants who cannot find a suitable donor. The thinking is that to take one's own DNA and create a duplicate organ composed of that DNA would greatly reduce the chances of organ rejection.
While this may be true, the problem is that doing so cheapens human life.
The process of cloning requires human embryos to be used. While cells can be generated to make new organs, it is necessary to kill several embryos to obtain the required DNA. In essence the cloning would "throw away" many human embryos as "waste material," eliminating the chance for those embryos to grow into full maturity.
Many people believe that life does not begin at conception with the formation of the embryo, and therefore embryos are not really human beings.
The Bible teaches differently.
Psalm 139:13-16 says,
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
The writer, David, declares that he was known personally by God before he was born, meaning that at his conception he was a human being with a God-ordained future.
Further, Isaiah 49:1-5 speaks of God calling Isaiah to his ministry as a prophet while he was still in his mother's womb.
Also, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was still in the womb (Luke 1:15). All of this points to the Bible's stand on life beginning at conception. In light of this, human cloning, with its destruction of human embryos, would not be consistent with the Bible's view of human life.
In addition, if humanity was created, then there must be a Creator, and humanity is therefore subject and accountable to that Creator.
Although popular thinking-secular psychology and humanistic thought-would have one believe that man is accountable to no one but himself and that man is the ultimate authority, the Bible teaches differently.
God created man and gave him responsibility over the earth (Genesis 1:28-29, 9:1-2). With this responsibility comes accountability to God.
Man is not the ultimate authority over himself, and he is therefore not in a position to make decisions about the value of human life. Neither, then, is science the authority by which the ethics of human cloning, abortion, or euthanasia are decided.
According to the Bible, God is the only one who rightfully exercises sovereign control over human life. To attempt to control such things is to place oneself in God's position. Clearly, man is not to do this.
If we view man as simply another creature and not as the unique creation he is, it is not difficult to see human beings as mere mechanisms needing maintenance and repair.
But we are not just a collection of molecules and chemicals.
The Bible teaches that God created each of us and has a specific plan for each of us.
Further, He seeks a personal relationship with each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
While there are aspects of human cloning which may seem beneficial, mankind has no control over where cloning technology may go.
It is foolish to assume that only good intentions will direct the utilization of cloning. Man is not in a position to exercise the responsibility or judgment that would be required to govern the cloning of human beings.
A frequent question is whether a cloned human being, assuming that human cloning is one day successful, would have a soul.
Genesis 2:7 says,
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
Here is the description of God creating a living, human soul.
Souls are what we are, not what we have (1 Corinthians 15:45).
The question is what kind of living soul would be created by human cloning?
That is not a question that can be conclusively answered.
It seems, though, that if a human being were successfully cloned, the clone would be just as much of a human being, including having an eternal soul, as any other human being.
Here is a story, reported to be true, about a nine-year-old boy who lived in a rural town in Tennessee.
His house was in a poor area of the community. A church there had a bus ministry that came knocking on his door one Saturday afternoon.
The child came to answer the door and greeted the bus pastor.
The bus pastor asked if his parents were home and the small boy told him that his parents take off every weekend and leave him at home to take care of his little brother.
The bus pastor couldn't believe what the child said and asked him to repeat it.
The youngster gave the same answer and the bus pastor asked to come in and talk with him.
They went into the living room and sat down on an old couch with the foam and springs exposed. The bus pastor asked the child,
"Where do you go to church?"
The young boy surprised the visitor by replying, "I've never been to church in my whole life."
The bus pastor thought to himself about the fact that his church was less than three miles from the child's house.
"Are you sure you have never been to church?" he asked again.
"I'm sure I haven't," came his answer.
Then the bus pastor said,
"Well, son, more important than going to church, have you ever heard the greatest love story ever told?" and then he proceeded to share the Gospel with this little nine year old boy.
The young lad's heart began to be tenderized and at the end of the bus pastor's story, the bus pastor asked if the boy wanted to receive this free gift from God.
The youngster exclaimed, "OF COURSE!"
The child and the bus pastor got on their knees and the lad invited Jesus into his little heart and received the free gift of salvation. They both stood up and the bus pastor asked if he could pick the child up for church the next morning.
"Sure," the nine year old replied.
The bus pastor got to the house early the next morning and found the lights off.
He let himself in and snaked his way through the house and found the little boy asleep in his bed. He woke up the little boy and his brother and helped get them dressed.
They got on the bus and ate a doughnut for breakfast on their way to church.
Keep in mind that this boy had never been to church before. The church was a real big one. The little child just sat there, clueless of what was going on.
A few minutes into the service, these tall guys walked down to the front and picked up some wooden plates.
One of the men prayed and the child, with utter fascination, watched them walk up and down the aisles.
He still didn't know what was going on.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, it hit the child what was taking place. These people must be giving money to Jesus.
He then reflected on the free gift of life he had received just twenty-four hours earlier. He immediately searched his pockets, front and back, and couldn't find a thing to give Jesus.
By this time the offering plate was being passed down his aisle and, with a broken heart, he just grabbed the plate and held on to it.
He finally let go and watched it pass on down the aisle.
He turned around to see it passed down the aisle behind him.
And then his eyes remained glued on the plate as it was passed back and forth, back and forth all the way to the rear of the sanctuary. Then he had an idea.
This little nine year old boy, in front of God and everybody, got up out of his seat.
He walked about eight rows back, grabbed the usher by the coat and asked to hold the plate one more time.
Then he did the most astounding thing I have ever heard of. He took the plate, sat it on the carpeted church floor and stepped into the centre of it.
As he stood there, he lifted his little head up and said,
"Jesus, I don't have anything to give you today, but just me. I give you me!"