The Importance of Studying

Last night, I spent some time in the “thinking spaces” of my life. I got a good walk in, then did some shopping. While doing some shopping, I came across a book that seemed to be of solid value for one of the brothers that I disciple. I was right in the value, but might have been quick in giving it to him.

He and I got together twice today. The first time it was to check on a family issue and just kick back a bit. At that point, I took him the book and we talked about the value of knowing what you are talking about when it comes to Scripture. Not just a simple reading of it, but understanding how the text connects to itself and life around us. From that understanding will come the means to explain Scripture to others in appropriate manners.

Well, let’s just say that I was a bit ahead of things giving him the book. Nevertheless, its in his possession to read as he goes through some homework that was assigned from me.

On the second visit, I wanted to display a point about the value of study and so I put on Steven the Levite‘s To Die is Gain LP and specifically the song QnA (Questions and Answers). Here’s the lyrics as he’s posted them online (line breaks I did for readability):

QnA (Questions and Answers)
(2 Tim 2:15; 4:3, Prov 30:5-6)

Does it make sense for me to enter a prayer circle and say “amen” at the end when I didn’t comprehend what they were sayin’? (hmm)
Was the Holy Spirit given to Christians so when the rhythm is quickenin’ He can hit ’em and get ‘em shakin’ and wigglin’? (ya listenin’)
If in the house of God hats are forbidden then how come the high priests weren’t permitted without them? (Uhh)
And furthermore, did the Lord say he’d dwell in the four walls or in the hearts of those he secures? (that’s raw)
Can I be blunt for a minute? If it’s a sin to get drunk then what kinda Spirit makes you a fumbling idiot? (consider this)
And when did it become known of the Holy Ghost to take control of folks and do things that the scriptures don’t promote (Umm)
And I hope you soak this in when you hear it: am I suppose to be your sin offering if you slay me in the Spirit? (where did they get it)
And finally, whether it’s rhymed or preached are you dividing the Word or trusting your heart that it’s divine or tweaked?
No I’m not beefin’ with any denominations just relayin’ the questions of a confused congregation and if possible, I’d like to give you some logical goggles with which, to examine the epistles, prophets and gospels specifically,
First Corinthians fourteen: sixteen
John fourteen through sixteen,
back to First Corinthians chapter eleven,
Acts seven verses forty eight through fifty
Titus chapter two: one through six please
First Corinthians fourteen: forty
Leviticus chapter one and three and four: verse four B and fifteen and twenty-four and twenty-nine and thirty-three
and once again back to First Corinthians fourteen: forty
then Second Timothy two: fifteen
and First Peter three: fifteen,
and Jeremiah seventeen: nine
it’s time to rewind so you can write ’em down if you missed it
Acts seventeen: eleven, don’t get it twisted

Now, if one reads this and notices the two stanzas, there’s an importance to studying and interpretation to the Scriptures that’s presented here that values not just the reading of the text and theology, but the understanding of it in its historical and modern contexts in relation to the original and current audiences. If you will, we use the Scriptures to evaluate and set direction towards how we understand today what it is we do. And where they don’t line up, we ask questions both of the Scriptures and of the times we live in – looking to get a clear answer.

Now, my bro didn’t do too bad with these. He didn’t do great either. At the end of the time he admitted that there were a lot of these questions that he didn’t know and that he needed to study the Scriptures more in order to understand them. And this is good. In light of things, I too needed to go back to the Scriptures and study more because these questions are a constant towards how we should be approaching life and faith.

In the mist of this time that I’ve not been plugged into a (single) local church, I’ve been asking a lot of questions and answers – similar to how Steven has placed these. A lot of these questions are taking me back to the basics of understanding the simple things about the Scripture and what we have or haven’t done in living through them.*

Other things have shown me that this time while great for evaluation will mean nothing if they aren’t eventually shared within the context of the entire Body. I wish that I could say that in this city that there is one Body – but there isn’t. There are a lot of silos and in looking for the threads, I’m finding thin pickings within my own stables.

Eventually, we get to a point when studying where we simply just live out whatever it is we’ve been engrossed in. In giving the book to my bro (and the questions afterward), I hoped that he would see being more intentional about studying the Scriptures would cause some of that cohesion that has been sorely missing. I’m a part of having to change the man in the mirror as well, hence I too am getting back to the grind, hoping that my obedience in not being so zealous for others could cause a humbleness that rocks His spark to better things.

Until that point, we/I get studious about understanding life and Scripture as much as I’m afforded. And if I could be so bold, not everything comes out great as God’s will really does come across as a cruel joke at times. But, the key is that its His will, and studying the record of His doings only keeps that clarity. The better I know the Truth He presents, the easier it will be to ascertain in my life travels how to respond to myself, and those around me who are also growing in Him.

Fear God and love His commandments, this is the entire duty of man. Getting off all of the fluff that we’ve added over time is like a second job sometimes.

*If a person were to boil down the Scriptures to simple points it would be to “Love God with everything you’ve got, and love your neighbors with everything else that remains.” In doing this, we aren’t anymore living by a code or rules, but they are living through us – finding life not in their being a statue for living, but in the fact that we give life, and these rules for living and being are a reflection of what can happen when we are consumed by His love beyond our own. Such is the promise of Scripture, being born again in Him to live again through Him. The rules we’ve seen in the Scripts are only a small part of a much bigger life. If one studies long enough, this point is very easy to see.

PayPal, Bump, the iPhone, and Why Your Credit/Debit Cards Don’t Matter Anymore

Pardon the long title, but sometimes you need one of those in order to make the point very clear: given the right tools and timing, institutions that act like silos will fall in the face of innovation and clear use. Its for this reason that the releasing of the PayPal 2.0 application for the iPhone/iPod Touch has the opportunity to totally change not only how we pay for items, but change the reasoning for why we pay for them the way we do.

First, let’s look at what elements that we have here:

  • A mobile device that while holding a small part of the market in sheer numbers (about 7-13% globally) holds a significant part of the market in mindshare (the iPhone/iPod Touch platform has changed/enhanced mobile computing considerably).
  • A simple technology which allows people to share information wirelessly in a manner that is as familiar as a hug or handshake (Bump)
  • A financial transaction service which takes what we understand about email (have address will communicate) and extends it to sharing money and goods (PayPal).

With the release of the 2.0 version of PayPal’s iPhone application, these elements combine to becoming one incredibly disruptive technology to the banking and credit/debit card industries. Why?

Who needs a card and a platform to support it (read: charge for it) at every turn when with a simple tap or email address you can send money for goods.

Now the example:

You and friends are at a restaurant. The server comes up to you with an iPod Touch in hand to take your order. Their first question is whether it will be a split or shared bill, and the application adjusts itself accordingly. The person begins taking your order through a well-designed order-taking/menu application.

At the end of your time, the server asks if you would like a paper receipt to pay with a card/cash, or if you would like an electronic receipt and pay with PayPal. You and your friends have opted to split the check, each pulling out their iPhones and firing up the PayPal app. The server touches their device to each of your devices to transfer the receipt and request payment. You authenticate on your device the bill, add whatever tip, and then bump the devices again.

The server gets a notice on their device that the tip was sent immediately to their personal PayPal account and the balance was paid in full and deposited immediately into the restaurant’s account. You and your friends’ devices all beep with confirmation of the payment and both PayPal and your email accounts note the transactions.

Simple life ain’t it. This is now possible with Bump and PayPal. And the thing is, all it will take for this to take off is some major sit-down restaurant chain (or several diners on major interstates) to think about how easy it would be to not only take payments, but refine their entire customer ordering, processing, and payment processes around people having an iPhone/iPod Touch to take orders, and customers to with those devices to pay for them.

The only reason that this isn’t a bigger deal right now is because PayPal’s application isn’t on every mobile platform and Bump’s API is also limited to the iPhone/iPod Touch and Android platforms. But, let this open up to all the other platforms which are (much) larger (Symbian – 40+% of the market, RIM BlackBerry 20%, etc.) and… well, see where this is going?

Why would a company (restaurant, vending machine, etc.) go through the trouble of paying for a credit card infrastructure (card scanner, card fees, auditing software, etc.) when a combination of PayPal and Bump could do things point-to-point and much simpler? Why would a person resort to carrying cash or credit cards when they can get more transparency with financial purchases, and a much easier to follow paper-trail with this? And what street vendor wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to have a sign that says Visa/MasterCard/iPhone? This could literally change the tourism industry without much effort. In light of these and other possibilities, it makes too much sense to continue the way we – carrying and processing a card (bleh).

The only remaining issue is that of using other devices. I’ve asked for the Bump API to be integrated into the Symbian platform because this just makes sense. For the larger mobile platforms that are out there, this is just too easy.

The days of carrying cards are soon coming to an end (yea for no more wallets). And frankly, the only thing that can stop it from being so effective is you dropping your mobile in the toilet before the bill appears at your table. For which, then you might want to have someone else take your share of the check.

Reactions to The Librarian and the Yellow Canoe

Something that I’ve noticed in the blog stats since relaunching this site on WordPress has been the increased viewing of the short story The Librarian and the Yellow Canoe. Its been pretty neat to see that others think of it enough to click on and read, but I’ve never read any comments about it.

So, this is as good a time as any to ask for any reactions to my short story. Its been a while since it was written, and I really did drop the ball on a second one. Who knows, depending on the reactions this time around, maybe I’ll write another.