What uncommon things do we want to become common?

Things like:
our children having mutual love and respect for each other.
our teenage children having love, honor, respect and obedience for their parents.
us continually becoming better friends and lovers.
our family totally trusting God in all things and putting our faith in Him to fulfill his promises.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Human Reasoning

>By Creg

When we believe beforehand that something will be good (for ex. food or a movie) generally, it will be good. And when we think it will be bad, usually it is bad. To prove this theory two professors (from the book Predictably Irrational) set up a coffee shop & gave out free coffee to any student willing to answer a few questions like; How much they liked the coffee? Should it be served in the cafeteria? What is the maximum price they would pay?

For the first experiment they used Styrofoam cups for the coffee & they put the cream & sugar in a ripped up cup labeled with a handwritten note. Then, with the same coffee, they used silver cups on silver tray with cream & sugar in beautiful containers with silver spoons & nicely printed labels. Guess which coffee was much more likely to taste good, draw a higher price & be recommended to be served in the cafeteria? The coffee with the fancy set up, of course. This shows that expectations can influence our reasoning. Our brain cannot start from scratch at every new situation so it must build on what it has seen before. That’s called stereotype, which is a way of categorizing information in the hope of predicting experiences.

For example, according to stereotype, men are better at math than women. And Asians are better at math than other nationalities. For the next experiment Asian women were put into 2 groups to take a math exam. The first group had discussions about gender-related issues like long restroom lines and buying dresses. The second group had discussions related to race like language and the geography of Asia. Is it surprising that the second group performed better. They were subconsciously reminded that they were Asians & therefore good at math. So, our own behavior can be influenced by our current state of mind even though we're not aware of it.

For another example, one group of participants completed a scrambled-sentence task using words such as aggressive, rude, annoying, & intrude. The second group used words such as honor, considerate, polite, & sensitive. The researchers are trying to get the participants to think about politeness or rudeness without them knowing it. After they completed the scrambled-sentence task they went to another room to supposedly do a second task. What they saw was an experimenter apparently in the midst of trying to explain a task to a participant who wasn’t getting it. They were both actors playing along. Which group do you think waited the longest before interrupting the experimenter? The polite word group waited 9.3 minutes, while the rude word group waited only 5.5 minutes. Our attitude can be influenced by ideas someone else puts in our mind.

For the last example they used the same scrambled-sentence task, but now they wanted them to think about the elderly so they used words such as Florida, bingo, & ancient. After they supposedly finished the task the group walked down the hallway & stairs, when the real experiment took place. You see the “elderly” word group walked considerably slower than the other groups.

Can you see what affects our reasoning? Expectations, stereotypes, & ideas people put into our minds. And what can our reasoning affect? Tastes, performance, attitude, & physical traits. Without us even realizing it. The following verses are from Matthew 17.

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Catch a fish with money in it's mouth! Whoever heard of such a thing? I wonder if Peter is going to walk by Jesus’ instruction or by his own reasoning? When the story ends the miracle is up to Peter. Too many of us have a completed story without a miracle because we follow our fickle human reasoning instead of Jesus instruction.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Violin Lessons

By Chelsa

I've always enjoyed violins. Every time I would watch someone play or listen to a concert or show, I would think to myself, "It would be so cool to be able to play one of those." That's been the extent of my desire to play. I've never pursued or even really seriously considered learning to play one, until this year. For some reason, I've had several violin encounters the past few months. And that has awakened my desire to learn how to play. And to top it off, for my 40th birthday this year, I received a gift certificate for Sierra and I to take violin lessons together.

Kay had contacted a violin teacher about our interest and Mrs. McGlaun suggested we come to their year end concert and also observe a couple of lessons before we made our decision. So we did that and decided we wanted to give it a try.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to my cousin-in-law, Tom, who had come by for a visit recently, that Sierra and I were thinking about taking violin lessons and that I was inspired in part because he had built a violin and I remember thinking it would be neat to be able to play it. He then told me that he had an old violin he would give me if I wanted it. He said it needed a little work, but that he would be happy to get it in working order for me. I should be able to pick it up this weekend at the family reunion.

Our teacher said we each need our own violin, so this past week we got online and ordered a violin for Sierra. She got it in the mail a couple of days ago. We are both super excited and I hope our excitement will wear off on the rest of the family. Maybe we can inspire them to learn to play something, too.

Suprise Catch

by: Chelsa
Sterling has gradually been adding to his plethora of pet critters in his room. It truly reminds me of the Creepy Crawly Center at the Abilene Zoo. Since the last post, he has added a box turtle which we found crossing the road, and 3 fire-belly toads from Petsmart. A few days ago he told me that one of his toads escaped from its aquarium. This new aquarium didn't have a big enough hole in the lid to fit the air hose inside, so Sterling had to prop the lid open just enough to let the hose through. Apparently that's how the toad escaped. He had looked high and low to no avail. He was worried that it had shrivelled up and died somewhere because they need the water. Poor thing.

Several days later I was loading the washing machine with towels. Most of the ones I dumped in were kept in a basket, but there were two wet towels on the floor beside the washer. As I was checking to make sure the towels were evenly dispersed, I noticed something wiggling around inside the tub. To my astonishment, there was Sterling's little toad happily swimming through the maze of towels! I carefully scooped him out and put him back where he belongs. You don't get to experience that everyday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Victory In Jesus

By Creg

While sobering up from getting strung out one Friday night Dennis didn't know what to do, so he called his friend Lloyd (See post titled "Overcoming" for more about Lloyd). So Lloyd brought Dennis to church and we spent some time praying about his situation. Monday morning Lloyd took Dennis to the Serenity House to try and get him checked in but was told they were full. Lloyd immediately turned the matter over to God through prayer and knew something would happen. It did. Within minutes he received a call that someone just walked out of the program about 5 minutes ago, so there was now a room available for Dennis. After getting checked into Serenity House Dennis hoped things would change because he realized his life was not working. Substance abuse had been a part of his life and he was ready to get rid of that demon. Through some new friendships and regular attendance at church & Bible study Dennis got to know God in a new way and he knew he wanted more.

In May he reconciled with his wife, Sunny and 2 weeks later he was baptized in the Clear Fork of the Brazos. He's been clean for 4 months now and his wife has bragged about a noticeable difference in his life. She says he's more affectionate toward her, more content & patient with what God is doing in his life. He's more encouraging & forgiving, not worried or anxious about the future.

Jesus is in the business of second chances and it's so fulfilling to find people ready to take advantage of that offer.