What Messages Are We Sending?

What Messages Are We Sending?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

Brent Pollard

The website Live Science recently published an article about our attempts through the years to communicate with extraterrestrial life. The piece, written by Isobel Whitcomb, is entitled “What messages have we sent to aliens?” We think of World War II as ushering in the concept of “little green men” with reported citings of UFOs (i.e., foo fighters) during aerial combat over Europe and the Pacific. Indeed, in the postwar years, Hollywood began churning out science fiction flicks like The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951.  

Yet, people were thinking of the possibility of life “out there” before the mid-twentieth century. You may recall that H.G. Wells wrote War of the Worlds in 1897. Whitcomb mentions that Austrian astronomer, Joseph Johann Von Littrow, conceived the idea of digging trenches in the Sahara Desert and filling it with kerosene to set ablaze to send a message to otherworldly observers. Von Littrow envisioned this plan which never saw fruition in the early nineteenth century! 

From this point, Whitcomb points out the progressively advanced plans made and executed by humanity as our technology advanced. In 1962, Soviet scientists directed radio waves at Venus containing “peace” in Morse code. Eventually, in the late 1970s, the United States sent out two spacecraft which they hoped would be discovered by extraterrestrials in interstellar space. Yes, governments have spent millions of dollars to be greeted only with silence. (Another Live Science article by Mindy Weisberger posits that aliens ignore us after observing us like animals in a zoo.)  

Rather than worrying about messages that will never receive a response, we ought to concern ourselves more with messages we send to terrestrial and celestial beings. As Edgar Guest famously reminds us, most people would rather see a sermon than hear one. Indeed, our lives are sending out a message to others.  

  • We are sending a message to our spouses. Do husbands, specifically, love their wives as Christ loves the church? (Ephesians 5.25) Have wives been encouraged to love their husbands? (Titus 2.4) Do the husband and wife recall that they are not to separate what God has joined? (Matthew 19.6)  
  • We are sending a message to our children. Children see whether mom and dad seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6.33). Are fathers bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6.4)? Are mothers doing as Eunice and instilling a sincere faith in their children? (2 Timothy 1.5) 
     
  • We are sending a message to our neighbors. Do they see someone who strives to live peaceably with others to the extent to which it is possible? (Romans 12.17-19) Do they see someone following the “Golden Rule”? (Matthew 7.12) Do they know you love them as you love yourself? (Romans 13.9) 
     
  • We are sending a message to our enemies. Do they see someone who loves them despite being their enemy? (Matthew 5.44) Do they see one turning the other cheek to them? (Matthew 5.39-41) 
     
  • We are sending a message to the lost. Do the lost see one whose lack of self-discipline disqualifies the Gospel preached? (1 Corinthians 9.26-27). Do they see someone ashamed of the pure, unadulterated Gospel message? (Romans 1.16) 
     
  • We are sending a message to God. Our ways lay before the eyes of God, and He is watching all our paths (Proverbs 5.21). He will judge us according to even the secret things we have done (Ecclesiastes 12.14). Since God knows the heart, He knows who merely gives Him lip-service (Matthew 15.8-9). 

Yes, we are sending out messages. What messages are we sending? No, we don’t have to worry about miscommunication with the “Roswell Greys,” but we should concern ourselves with the message God and our fellow humans hear from us.  

Works Consulted: 

Whitcomb, Isobel. “What Messages Have We Sent to Aliens?” LiveScience, Future US, Inc, 20 Mar. 2021,www.livescience.com/messages-sent-to-aliens.html

Weisberger, Mindy. “Are Aliens Ignoring Us? Maybe We’re Already Their Captives in a ‘Galactic Zoo.’” LiveScience, Future US, Inc., 25 Mar. 2019, www.livescience.com/65063-meti-galactic-zoo-aliens.html.  

Further Reading: 

Janos, Adam. “Mysterious UFOs Seen by WWII Airman Still Unexplained.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 15 Aug. 2018, www.history.com/news/wwii-ufos-allied-airmen-orange-lights-foo-fighters

The Art Of Conversation

The Art Of Conversation

Neal Pollard

With conversation, when both are active listeners, you are exchanging ideas. Along with this, there’s body language and tone of voice which give clues to what the words mean to the speaker. You negotiate, reason, affirm or deny, and continue through these patterns while discussing any number of subjects. This process is invaluable to building relationships, working together, and even evangelism. For all its advantages, social media lacks almost all of those dimensions.

MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle, in the book Reclaiming Conversation (New York: Penguin, 2015), makes the case that we are talking more than ever but we’ve lost the art of conversation.  Turkle observes, “From the early days, I saw that computers offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship and then, as the programs got really good, the illusion of friendship without the demands of intimacy” (7).  What demands? Paying attention, building trust, having empathy, and giving thoughtful responses (as opposed to rude, reckless ones). 

I’m not trying to militate against the use of social media platforms, texting, or emailing. But the more we gravitate toward those to do our “communicating,” the less we successfully navigate the more difficult, yet more rewarding, art of conversation.

When we read the Bible, we are struck–from beginning to end–with the pervasive importance of dialogue and conversation. From Genesis one, where we read the Godhead’s conversation, “Let us make man…,” to Jesus’ conversation with John in Revelation 22, conversation is indispensable. Not only did God create interpersonal relationships and the vehicle of conversation to build them, but He models it throughout the pages of Scripture.

This article seeks to inform, teach, and even persuade, but it is only one dimension of communication. One might argue that other forms of communication are not only necessary, but in many cases will be more effective. The snippets and soundbites of social media postings, much more condensed and lacking context, while being pithy and thought-provoking, are no substitute for what happens face to face in the tension, hard work, and unpredictable dynamic of conversation. Conversation necessitates practice, attention, and mental engagement. 

From the dawn of time, God observed that it’s not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). As suggested by the title of another book by Turkle, Alone Together, we find ourselves increasingly isolated from others and more ill-equipped for building real life relationships. The antidote to that is simple and so attainable.

Let’s engage people more. Let’s resort more to making real life connections and less to hiding behind screens. Let’s look for opportunities to do this with friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Let’s connect more in real life. As with anything, the more we practice the better we’ll get at it. 

36061_1459393010529_4771877_n
Photo credit: Michael Hite

 

PREACHER FAN

PREACHER FAN

Neal Pollard

Frankly, some preachers are or can be a pain! There are various reasons for this, but I would hasten to say that such are in the minority.  As I sit in our Future Preachers Training Camp listening to our teachers speak to the next generation of preachers, I am in admiration. Their passion, knowledge, experience, wisdom, and, knowing them, their character leave me in grateful awe. Others who have filled the pulpit or taught classes this week take their place alongside the others I mention.  Their work and life are incredibly noteworthy. While some would not use this word of them complimentarily, preachers are “special” men.

To go into this field of work requires some distinct traits:

  • A willingness to have your life on display
  • A desire to spend your life full-time in ministry
  • An understanding that some will not respect your occupation
  • A willingness to have people disagreeing with what you say, though you know it’s important
  • A humility to care and minister to others, even the difficult and unpleasant people
  • A willingness to enter a profession that may have an economic ceiling

The gospel preacher knows these and other circumstances may often exist, but he sees so many enriching aspects of the life of preaching. Soul-winning, serving, developing, aiding positive change, learning, and much more epitomize the fringe benefits available to a man who preaches the Word. Those wise enough to see this find these things more than sufficient to offset whatever perceived challenges accompany this life.

Watching tomorrow’s preachers absorbing, questioning, thinking, and working excites me. I’m thankful that they are able to find sound, qualified men to provide well-reasoned, Bible answers, but I’m as thankful they are interested and desirous of exploring this life. In a bad-news world, watching quality young men trying to stretch and grow themselves in leadership and preaching is some of the best possible news. Seeing works like preaching camps, schools of preaching, brotherhood activities featuring gospel preachers make me so thankful for men who dedicate themselves to this wonderful life. Please pray for every man who endeavors to aspire to and live this life. Each of us need God’s Word, wisdom, and strength to do this work adequately.

americana_wedding_the_preacher_2813852652429