Ozaki 8

The 2015 release of Point Break introduced the Ozaki 8, a list of extreme sports endeavors that honor the forces and wonders of nature. Ironically, the Ozaki 8 is more popular than the movie among extreme sports enthusiasts. This fictional challenge has become a real pursuit for many. Eight separate disciplines have been identified:

  • emerging force
  • birth of sky
  • life of water
  • life of wind
  • life of ice
  • master of six lives
  • awakening earth
  • act of ultimate trust [1].

An example challenge for the birth of sky category is base jumping from the peak of Mt. Everest. This gives you a sense of the expected scale for these impossible feats.

The Ozaki 8 is fascinating, but I know of something that is much harder. Some would say it’s impossible and it’s just one activity. I call it the James 3.

Listen.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:3-10)

Rather than the Ozaki 8, or wealth, or fame, or sports greatness, or sexual conquest, I suggest that we pursue something truly challenging, something truly worthwhile. Tame your tongue. Submit your life to God and see where this wondrous path leads you. Peace!

  1. https://www.extremesportslab.com/ozaki-8-list-ultimate-extreme-sports/
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The first CAD/CAM

My career is closely connected with computer-aided manufacturing, or CAM. In modern manufacturing, CAM is preceded by CAD, computer-aided design. Complicated electro-mechanical mechanisms, such as an airplane or passenger vehicle, are composed of subsystems, which are each a collection of assembled parts. Many of these parts are fabricated using machining, where a simple form (such as a rectangular prism or cylinder) is modified by cutting away the unwanted material to leave the desired part. Sometimes the starting form is more complex. A V-8 engine block, for example, begins as molten  metal that is poured into a mold, allowed to solidify, and then finish machined to leave the required dimensions and surfaces.

Before machining begins, a CAD model of the part is produced. This CAD model, which initially exists only in the designer’s mind and then digitally in computer software, is used to produce the CAM file. This file includes the instructions that guide the computer numerically-controlled (CNC) milling or turning machine axes. These axes carry the cutting tool which removes the unwanted material. It is a mesmerizing experience to watch a design emerge from a block of material.

This manufacturing sequence makes me think of Genesis from the Bible.

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” (Genesis 1:27 MSG)

God’s CNC is His Word. He speaks creation; He speaks life. In the same way that I have the thought of a part in my mind and then see it appear from within a block of metal, God began with the thought of you and then watched you emerge from dust. As much as I appreciate the parts that I machine, God loves you so much more. He knows you, even if you do not know Him.

May I introduce you? The God of all creation announced Himself this way to Moses, who He sent to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14 NIV)

Did you know that you’re in slavery as well? Your master is sin. You were born into it. Me too. Did you know that God has already provided for your delivery? He sent His Son, Jesus, to live a life without sin and then die on our behalf to pay our sin penalty. When Jesus rose from the dead, He left our sin in the grave. Deliverance requires only belief in Him.

Listen. You’re a wonderfully crafted part made directly from God’s design. Go meet Him today. Just speak to the I AM; he’s listening!

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Border walls

Walls are not a new concept. They have been used throughout civilization to keep enemies outside and citizens inside. They’ve been built and they’ve been destroyed. The cycle continues. You may be familiar with these examples.

  • Athenian “Long Walls”
  • Hadrian’s Wall
  • The Great Wall of China
  • Moscow Kremlin Walls
  • Wall Street’s Wall
  • Berlin Wall
  • Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Trump’s border wall?

Did you know that there are walls in the Bible as well? When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to claim the promised land of Canaan, their first battle occurred at Jericho, a walled city. The gates were secured and no one entered or left because the people of Jericho feared God’s support for the Israelites. The city’s wall was impenetrable.

God provided Joshua with an unusual battle plan to say the least.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:2-5)

Note the order of the instructions. 1. The battle is already won. 2. Do what I say even if it doesn’t make sense to you or follow popular strategy. 3. After you obey, the wall will collapse.

Are you facing a wall? Perhaps there is a wall between you and a loved one due to harsh words and unforgiveness. Maybe you’ve let a wall be built around a grudge due to a slight or betrayal. Could there be an envy-wall robbing you of contentment and peace? Is shame a wall blocking you from God’s grace and mercy?

Chances are that there’s at least one wall in your life, looming over you, blocking the sun, robbing you of freedom. If so, I have tremendous news for you. The God who made you, the God who loves you, the God who sent his son to die for your sin, is the original wall destroyer. When he speaks, walls crumble.

Listen. March. Shout. Watch the wall fall. Peace, friend!

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Fear: The asthma of life

Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs which causes difficulty in breathing. I grew up with this adversary and still occasionally wrestle with it. In my youth, there was no real solution to an asthma attack. The best option was a capful of whiskey. Later, the rescue inhaler was introduced. It changed my life — a couple of puffs and I was breathing again.

If you haven’t experienced asthma, here’s what it feels like to me. When an asthma attack begins, it’s as if an iron band is placed around my chest. With each breath, the band tightens just a bit. With each breath, I get a little less oxygen in my lungs. It’s a struggle not to panic.

Fear is like asthma. Fear can often start small:  am I liked and accepted?, will I get into a good college?, will I get a good job?, when will I get married?, what if I fail at my job?, how will I raise my children to be good people?, how will I pay for my children’s college?, what if my health is jeopardized? That seed can grow into a climbing, coiling, choking kudzu forest. You may have experience with the chest-squeezing iron band of fear that robs you of sleep during the night and joy during the day.

Ever been there? Yeah, me too.

I’ve found a rescue inhaler for fear, though. It is God’s mercy, grace, and love. Here’s what to do with the fear that plagues you.

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

Paul wrote these encouraging words to the new church in Philippi. They remain true two thousand years later. You will face fear. You can defeat it, though. Just follow these steps:

  • celebrate God’s goodness
  • celebrate again
  • be kind
  • don’t worry, be thankful instead
  • turn to God (not your own strength) with your needs.

The promise is peace, the tranquility that exceeds your circumstances. Breathe easy; fear’s rescue inhaler is within reach!

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Captain, ship of fools

I had a trio of events occur that chastised me, lest I should ever be tempted to become proud of myself.

  1. I am at not at my best when I’m concentrating on a task and am interrupted. The worst case scenario is when I’m programming. I really enjoy writing code and become totally immersed when doing it (my wife calls me a pod person and, though I’m not exactly sure what that means, I’m pretty sure it’s not a compliment). My typical response to interruption is to be curt with my answers in order to clear my office as soon as I can. [I know. Shake your head. Let’s move on, please.] In short, I was rude and immediately regretted it.
  2. On my self-loathing drive home, I consoled myself with 80s music from Robert Plant (solo work, post-Led Zeppelin). He soothes me. The song was Ship of Fools. These lines stung me: I built this ship it is my making / And furthermore, my self control, I can’t rely on anymore.
  3. At bedtime the same night I was reading the book Prayer by Timothy Keller. In it he quotes the author Flannery O’Connor. She says, “It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are, but the little it takes is long in coming. I see my ridiculous self by degrees.”

Does your harshest critic live in your head? Yeah, me too. Believe it or not I didn’t sleep very well… God doesn’t leave us to wallow in defeat, though. He gives us a ladder to climb out of this hole.

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:19-21 MSG)

Don’t worry, friend. God doesn’t expect perfection. He’s a good gardener. Weeds happen. Just get up, dust yourself off, and walk on with your loving Father.

Oh, and try not to bother me when I’m programming. Kidding!

 

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Citizen, but not by birth

I was born in Texas, so I’m about as American as you can get. I grew up in Kansas, so I know all about amber waves of grain. I’m a flag-waving, apple-pie-eating, armed-forces-respecting patriot.

But I’m really an alien with no way to earn my citizenship.

I have many friends and colleagues who were born in other countries, but became U.S. citizens by naturalization. To do so, there is a test to pass. There is a series of steps to follow [1].

But I failed the test.

Like the Israelites from thousands of years ago, I was born into slavery. They were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, generation after generation. Pharoah owned everything and conscripted them into back-breaking service without hope of a different life (Exodus 1).

I was born a slave, too, a slave to sin.

God heard their cries, though. He sent Moses to lead them to freedom (Exodus 3). He gave them a new land, Canaan. He led them home with full rights as citizens of this lush promised land (Joshua 3).

God knows that we are trapped in bondage with no homeland, as well.

The true meaning of the Christmas season is freedom. Jesus was born to serve as a sacrifice for our sins. He lived without sin so that, through His death and resurrection, we might be offered a passing grade on our naturalization test. He lived, died, and lives again so that we may become citizen’s of His kingdom, Heaven.

To enter this new life, you only need to acknowledge your foreign status, admit your sin, and believe in Jesus as your only true Savior, the gateway to a new life (John 10).

Welcome home, friend. I’m so happy to join you.

  1. https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship

 

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Ink on a page

Consider this riddle. When is ink on bound pages more than a book?

Answer: When the printed words are more than words, when those words are life. The collection of pages is more than a book when the words are alive and, by reading, understanding, and following them, your life is changed.

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This Word is Jesus. We get to know Him through the book that is more than ink on pages, the Bible.

The Bible is a narrative in two parts. It begins with the Old Testament, the first covenant (or promise). It proceeds with the New Testament, the second convenant. The Old Testament provides the law. Through this testament, we learn about God and His loving nature. The New Testament introduces Jesus as the Son of Man. It describes His time on Earth and the establishing of His church through His apostles.

There is one unifying thread that is woven throughout the two-testament narrative. It is Jesus. Let me show you an example.

Old Testament, 1 Kings 8

In this chapter, Solomon has finally built God’s majestic Temple in Jerusalem and the priests have delivered the Ark of the Covenant (that contained the 10 commandments, the law) to the Temple. Solomon dedicates the Temple through prayer. Here’s an excerpt.

41 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, 42 for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple,43 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name. (1 Kings 8:41-43)

Think this passage is only about a building?

New Testament, John 14

Here, Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples. He is teaching them about Himself.

12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:12-14)

Do you see the parallel? Jesus is the Temple. When we pray “toward the Temple”, we are praying toward Him, in His name. Jesus connects Heaven and Earth. He connects God and us. Just like Jacob’s ladder/staircase (Genesis 28:10-17), Jesus serves as the Bridge between our circumstances (our sin) and our salvation (perfect unity with the Father in Heaven).

Immerse yourself in this Word. Said simply, study the Bible. True life awaits!

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