Your Paradigm Is Worth More Than 20 Cents

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Have you ever taken part in a debate over Creation versus Evolution?

Well, in my line of work it’s almost an occupational hazard.

Don’t get me wrong – As a son of an attorney I used to have to present a legal brief to get the car keys on a Saturday night.

I grew up with the motto – “Truth is found in the marketplace of ideas.”

In fact, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good debate.

It’s just a bad debate that make me cringe.

Like a discussion of the Creation/Evolution controversy that begins with this all too common verbal salvo:

“Oh, yeah? Well, we evolutionists will put our facts up against your facts any time!”

To me, that is fingernails on the chalkboard city.

Why?

Because whatever side of this issue you take, the facts are identical.

What we are discussing is the lens we use to examine the very same facts.

That lens, how we process the facts, is what we could call our paradigm.

Business Dictonary.com defines a paradigm as:

An intellectual perception or view, accepted by an individual or a society as a clear example, model, or pattern of how things work in the world. This term was used first by the US science fiction historian Thomas Kuhn (1922-96) in his 1962 book ‘The Structure Of Scientific Revolution’ to refer to theoretical frameworks within which all scientific thinking and practices operate. See also paradigm shift.

The crucial issue with a paradigm is fairly easy to spot – Does our intellectual lens give us an accurate picture of how things really do work in the world?

Or are there things that we encounter in the world that just don’t fit?

And this is the essential issue in the Creation/Evolution debate – which makes more sense when we look at the world around us? Is this universe the work of a Purposeful and Personal Creator as he reveals Himself within the Bible – or is it all just one big happy accident as Darwin postulated in “On the Origin of Species” ?

Did God create all that we see miraculously, out of nothing a relatively short time ago?

Or can all be better explained by an appeal to blind natural process over aeons of time?

Our answer to these basic questions will go along way toward determining how we look at the facts.

And the lens we use to look at the very same facts will go a long way toward determining our conclusions.

A classic example of this “same planet/different worlds” phenomenon was beautifully illustrated last weekend.

What’s New About Hadrosaur Goo

A preserved blood vessel of Brachylophosaurus, with what may be degraded dinosaur blood inside. From the Science paper.

A preserved blood vessel of Brachylophosaurus, with what may be degraded dinosaur blood inside. From the Science paper.

One of the first things I learned about dinosaur fossils was that soft tissues are never preserved. Impressions of skin, hair, and even internal organs can leave their mark in the fossil record, but no one is ever going to find an intact, non-fossilized Tyrannosaurus heart. Like many of the things that “everyone knows,” though, it now seems that this view is not exactly right. In very exceptional circumstances , remnants of dinosaur soft tissue can be preserved, and a recently published paper in the journal Science throws new support to this controversial hypothesis.

For several years now paleontologists have been debating whether structures found inside a Tyrannosaurus femur were preserved soft tissue structures or something else, like bacteria, that took the shape of things like blood vessels. The pioneering scientist behind this research has been Mary Schweitzer. The new report by her and her colleagues focuses on a new case of soft tissue preservation, but it is not about Tyrannosaurus. Instead it features preserved soft tissue structures from the hadrosaur Brachylophosaurus, a dinosaur from the other great branch of the dinosaur family tree, the Ornithischia.

The researchers who found the Brachylophosaurus leg in which the soft tissue structures were found were careful right from the start. They did not expose the bones in the field but kept it in a plaster jacket until they got it into a lab. Only then did they expose it and quickly take their samples to prevent possible contamination or degradation of what might be inside the leg. What Schweitzer and her colleagues found were bone cells, blood vessels, and what appeared to be degraded blood products, real remnants of dinosaur soft tissue and not bacterial biofilm. They tested the material, re-tested it, and even sent it to other labs, and the overwhelming consensus was that the material truly was the ancient leftovers of dinosaur soft tissue.

Here we see that paradigms can be tough little monkeys.

The fact that dinosaur bones contain dinosaur guts should be a paradigm busting discovery.

DNA is an amazingly complex organic molecule.

The fact is, such complex molecules break down rapidly into smaller, less complex molecules in a very short amount of time.

If we are in fact, dealing with a 65 million year old fossil, there should be no “goo” left, let alone “goo” that maintains the structure of a blood vessel, or a ligament.

Let alone a structure with DNA so well-preserved it can be sequenced in a lab.

These are the facts.

So what does that do to our paradigm?

In the case of committed evolutionists – nothing.

Consider the end of the article from Smithsonianmag.com:

It is still unknown how soft tissue structures and bits of protein have come to be preserved for over 80 million years, but finds like this suggest there is a lot of fossilization (and dinosaurs) that we are only now just learning about. As outlined in Jack Horner’s recent book How to Build a Dinosaur, a new area of paleontology is opening up in which knowledge of microbiology and genetics is just as important as knowing skeletal anatomy. This is only the beginning, and if students follow Schweitzer’s lead into paleomicrobiology who knows what amazing finds might be made?

“Still unknown”?

How about this possibility – the ancient age of the fossil is wrong.

Demonstrably, physically wrong.

Now which lens makes more sense when looking at Hadrosaur “goo”?

80 million years plus an organic chemistry defying process we just don’t understand now?

Or a recent creation, with a catastrophic flood, that would cause creatures like Hadrosaurs and T. Rexes to be so rapidly buried in sediment that the internal tissues would not have time to be exposed to external degrading forces?

Same fact.

Different lens.

Which best reveals reality?

The bottom line?

Proponents of Darwinian evolution have made great hay with the general public by asserting that they present fact, while Creationists trade on faith.

And yet with the discovery of Dino-Goo we see Evolutionists take a leap of faith that an unknown preserving process exists in the great beyond that will re-write everything we know about bio-chemistry.

Well, get back to us with that one when you find it.

The fact is, Dino-Goo is  a paradigm exploding discovery, but not for those who look at this universe through the lens of Scripture.

CS Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I also see everything else.”

Interesting how the light of God’s Word even shines on dinosaur remains.

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:21-22)

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To Save a Movie?

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One of the most fascinating trends in pop culture is the rise of the “Indie” Christian movie.

Perhaps the most well-known example of this phenomenon was Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”.

Because of the storm of controversy surrounding an R-rated, unrelentingly graphic portrayal of Jesus’ suffering, Gibson found himself with a movie that none of the mainstream Hollywood distributors would touch with a 10 foot staff found in the prop department of the 10 Commandments.

So Gibson took matters into his own hands and bypassed Sony, Fox and Miramax and distributed the film himself.

The rest is box office history.

Following in this same do-it-yourself school of movie making we have seen significant response to Christian films like “Left Behind”, “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof”.

The latest offering to follow in this off the beaten path approach to film making is the gritty look at high school life and relationships  – “To Save a Life”.

Producer and former youth pastor Jim Britts set out to depict the realities of a generation crying for help.

The film opens with the funeral of Roger, a 17-year-old boy who ended his own life after years of experiencing neglect from everyone at his school, including his childhood best friend, Jake Taylor, who ditched him three years ago for popularity.

His heart wrenched over his friend’s death, Taylor begins wrestling with life questions and searches for answers in places he never expected, including church.

As the film follows Taylor on his search, it addresses a host of issues, including suicide, peer pressure, divorce, teen pregnancy, abortion and the authenticity of Christians.

And although that’s a lot to deal with in a less than two-hour movie, students who have already screened the film say what the movie depicts is real.

In fact, each character in the film and many of the scenes are based off of students Britts has had in his youth group at Newsong Church in Oceanside, Calif., and their experiences.

For Britts, the most moving scene in the film is the turning point of Taylor’s life when he walks away from playing a game called beer pong.

“He walks away … saying ‘I can’t live both worlds of checking out this God thing as well as living a way that’s completely opposite of that. If I’m going to give this God a try, I need to do it completely,'” Britts told The Christian Post on Monday, before a movie screening in Denver. “That was inspirational for us.”

In the film, when Taylor goes to a local church youth group, he isn’t looking to be religious or just some Christian. He’s searching for real transformation.

“What’s the point of all this if you’re not going to let this change you?” Taylor shouts, confronting all the “fakers,” including potheads, in the youth group.

Shaken by his friend’s suicide, Taylor is perhaps more hungry than his peers for transformation and a change in the direction of his life. He drops his popularity and star-athlete hat to start a lunch group that welcomes all, especially the outsider who was on the verge of following in Roger’s suicidal steps. Taylor begins a Facebook page in Roger’s name to help others struggling with suicidal thoughts.

He soon finds himself encouraging thousands of people and saving lives.

According to those who have seen preview showings “To Save a Life” has all the ingredients necessary to make a huge impact on its audience –

With one significant exception.

On the Christian Post web site, guest columnist Greg Stier observes:

Probably the only real criticism I have of this movie is that the makers of To Save a Life had a tremendous opportunity to give the gospel but they didn’t take it. I talked to the writer about this (a GREAT guy and a youth leader, so I love him by default) and he told me that he didn’t want to make an “altar call type of movie“, but one that shows the impact of the gospel to change a life. I told him that, while I understood his point, he could have given the gospel easily in this film without it coming off like a “come forward and touch the movie screen if you’re trusting Jesus” movie going experience. I believe that if this film would have given the gospel in a clear and compelling way it would be much easier for teenagers to talk to their friends about the gospel afterward. Heck, the movie is called “To Save a Life” so why would you not give the gospel? In my opinion it’s like setting up a joke and not giving the punchline.

But in spite of philosophical differences on this point I still think that this is a must see movie for your youth group. It presents a tremendous opportunity for teenagers to invite their unreached friends out to the movie and to follow it up with raw conversations about the gospel afterward.

Although I would be the first to agree that not every Christian movie needs to include a direct invitation to receive Christ, it does seem that a film about the reality of  a transforming relationship with God probably needs to explain how a person enters into it.

And if part of the film is an indictment of youth group phonies, one might not be too out of bounds to ask, “Great. So how do you find the real deal?”

It’s almost like the dodge some use when asked if they have ever shared their faith with a non believer –

“Oh, I don’t actually say anything. I let my life speak.”

The problem with that approach is that the average non christian walks away with the impression that we are neat people, rather than discovering that it is only Jesus living His life out through us that makes us different.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing more grating than having the loudest voice of “evangelism” in your office or school also be the hardest party-er, or the most easily offended, or the most insensitive to others feelings.

But to ask the question, ‘Which is more important, to share the love of Christ with your lips or your life?” is almost like asking, “Which wing of the airplane would you rather have intact at 30,000 feet?”

The sad fact is “To Save a Life” makes that choice, and leaves the Gospel unexpressed.

Perhaps the best way to make up the difference is to take Greg Stier’s advice and prepare to be the one who gives voice to the message of God’s love and forgiveness and how to make that personal following the film.

Like “The Passion of the Christ”, many could be reached in the conversations that take place afterward.

But let’s make sure that our testimony about Jesus has both wings of the airplane in place – sharing the transforming difference Jesus makes with our lives and our lips.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

American Idol: Here Comes Da Judge?

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Have you ever tried your hand at memorizing a few verses from the Bible?

Now, before your eyes glaze over and your mind tells you that sort of thing is only for pastors and professors who toil away in dusty seminary dungeons, here’s a shocking insight –

Kind of like the kid who discovers that what he thought was candy was really something – ugh!”-  good for you, you may have already memorized Scripture without even knowing it.

In fact, let me share with you a verse from the Bible that is so well-known, it is literally the first words I often hear when sharing the message of Jesus with an antagonistic non-believer.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew7:1)

I know. I know.

Usually this verse is used as a deflector shield by those who come perilously close to the truth that living to stimulate one’s nerve endings isn’t the highest form of morality.

But the idea of  “judging not”  as Jesus speaks  it, isn’t to adopt a code of ethics with the consistency of cotton candy.

But it is a pointed warning about looking at life and people in a superficial and cynical way.

And let’s face it, it is much easier to base our judgments on outside appearances and well grooved experience based expectations  than to expend the time and effort necessary to look beneath the surface and catch a glimpse of the heart.

A classic example of the dangers of snap judgment not only happened on national television last week, but actually spawned an internet phenomenon.

OK, we’ve seen this before.

Early cattle call style auditions on American Idol.

A few gold nuggets to be found in a sea of people who have an unfortunate mix of large egos and little talent.

Presented for your approval, the strange, delusional and freakish – like this old guy who has the nerve to call himself “General”.

The judges could barely keep a straight face.

Until the real story of the “General” came to light.

Atlanta “General” Larry Platt, whose original ditty “Pants on the Ground” cracked up everyone on “American Idol” Wednesday night, is not your standard “Idol” outtake (and not only because he’s well over the cut-off age of 28).

Beaten by law officers during the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march in Alabama, Mr. Platt was nicknamed “General” by Atlanta civil rights icon Hosea Williams for his heroic role in the civil rights era. (See a picture here. Platt is the young man on the left looking at the camera.) These days, Platt is going at it alone, protesting that too-stubborn urban fashion statement: pants worn low, crotch almost at the knees – a sign, to many, of disrespect and a thumb in the eye to many civil rights activists like Platt who fought to raise the profile of black Americans in US society.

Sure, some communities – including Atlanta – have tried (with dubious success) to outlaw the fashion statement, saying low-rider pants are obscene. But Platt’s catchy ditty about youths with gold in their mouths, baseball caps turned sideways, and “looking like a fool with your pants on the ground” could do more to discourage the look than any local ordinance, especially now that his tune is getting remixed on YouTube. Unusually cheery, “Idol” grump Simon Cowell predicted: “I have a horrible feeling that song could be a hit.”

It looks like Simon Cowell was right.

“Pants On the Ground” has become an internet sensation, the most downloaded song of the month on YouTube.

There is a groundswell of calls for the General to sign a record deal.

But don’t miss the point.

What looked like a play it for laughs non starter of a contestant on American Idol, turned out to be a man with a noble history and a passion to make things better in his community presently.

Appearances can be deceiving.

The case of  “General” Larry Platt underscores a powerful challenge to each of us in our day-to-day lives.

While judging others superficially may be a valuable time saver, it can end up robbing us of benefiting from the rich life experiences that sometimes can come to us dressed in unusual packages.

And the other funny thing about judging others is this –

When we judge others, we often reveal the true condition of our own hearts.

Did you catch the rolled eyes, the hidden laughing, the “Oh, brother! Not another goofball” atmosphere that dominated the panel?

Unfortunately that response said more about the panel of judges than it did about the “General”.

We need to think about that “General” principle the next time we feel inclined to put people down or write them off.

A Faustian Earthquake?

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If you’re a reader of the German writer Goethe,

an opera buff,

a watcher of the old Twilight Zone series,

or even a Charlie Daniels Band fan you’ve heard the story before.

A poor, unfortunate soul makes a deal with the Devil, and , well, there ends up being Hell to pay.

Most of us are aware of the devastating 7.0 earthquake that has laid waste a good portion of the already poverty-stricken nation of Haiti.

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But what you may not be aware of is that at least one national commentator is claiming that the destruction of Port-au-Prince is a case of the Devil collecting his due.

In keeping with his natural gift for stirring up controversy, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club made the following remarks this morning.

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” he said. “They were under the heel of the French … and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’

“True story. And the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,'” Robertson said. “Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

Robertson’s remarks have stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy, so much so that a spokesman for the 700 Club issued this clarification to blogger Ben Smith of Politico.com.

On today’s The 700 Club, during a segment about the devastation, suffering and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history. His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed.

Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath.

If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders are expected to arrive tomorrow and begin operations to ease the suffering.

I think it is fair to say that however one might view Robertson’s remarks, there is no doubt he has put his ministry’s money where his mouth is concerning constructive acts of compassion for those suffering in Haiti.

In fact, I find it ironic that so many of Robertson’s detractors rail against his intolerance and then in the same breath heap curses upon him that would curl your hair.

But enough of the “We will not tolerate intolerance!” tail-chasing.

But when an event like the Haitian earthquake takes place, a disaster that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called one of “Biblical proportions”, the inevitable question gets asked –

Why did God allow this to happen?

And there is a Biblical answer.

When God finished creating the heavens and the earth he looked upon all that He had made and pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31)

There was no suffering, no death, no disease – no devastating earthquakes.

And God created man with a unique nature and a unique responsibility.

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

Our first ancestors were given the choice of saying yes or no to a love relationship with our Creator.

They were also told what the clear consequences of their decisions would be.

The phrase “you shall surely die” is emphatic in the Hebrew. It can be literally rendered “dying you shall die.”

There would be both physical and spiritual consequences for turning away from the Author of Life.

And the rest is, as they say, history.

When we separated ourselves from God, spiritual and physical death filled the void.

And we all experience the effects of this fall every day.

The apostle Paul put it this way:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)

So when we are hurting or find ourselves hurting others, it goes back to the fall.

When we find ourselves struggling with a sense of emptiness and frustration in the deepest part of our souls, it goes back to the fall.

When we at once see the remaining traces of the beauty of creation, and the mind-blowing destruction that same creation can deliver, it goes back to the fall.

And so, in a sense, Pat Robertson was right.

When Adam and Eve listened to the voice of the serpent, the result was a cursed creation.

But that curse isn’t restricted to Haiti, or the coasts of Indonesia and India when the tsunami disaster hit.

It effects all of us.

And every time we sin, we ratify that same decision that rendered the once “very good”  creation into what we live in today.

But the good news is, in spite of what we have done, God continues to love us.

In fact He loves us so much, He became a man and lived in this same fallen world we live in today.

In Jesus He lived a life we could never live – without sin –

and laid down that life on a cruel Roman cross so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God.

And so, when we see tragedies like the Haitian earthquake take place, we mourn together for those caught in harms way.

And following in our Father’s footsteps, we reach out to do what we can to alleviate the effects of the fall.

In this light, the best question we can ask in the aftermath of almost unimaginable disaster isn’t so much “why?”, as much as it is “what?”

What can we do to make a practical difference in the lives of those who suffer?

What can we do to share the message of God’s love and His desire to forgive and reconcile us to Himself with the hurting?

If you want to get involved with both, follow the link to a wonderful Christian relief organization, Compassion International.

Colt McCoy:Redefining the MVP

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“They got a name for the winners in the world

I want a name when I lose..”

– Donald Fagan and William Becker

We’ve all seen it a hundred times before.

The media star athlete taking a moment to thank “the Man upstairs” for their moment of glory.

Let’s face it, in ego driven days like these when the Holy Trinity has been redefined as “Me, Myself and I”, even a smidgen of humility seems refreshing.

But have you noticed that the giving of thanks sounds a little hollow when offered under a shower of champagne?

And not just when the Deity gets credit when an artist wins a Grammy for “The Most Soul Corroding Video of the Year”.

And when nonbelievers watch winners sharing their platform with the Almighty,  a few less than comfortable theological questions get raised.

Like:

If this athlete, actor, musician or politician is thanking God for this victory, does that mean they would also be blaming God if they lost?

Let’s face it,  we all tend to suspect that most of these usual suspects who give God the glory in triumph would just as easily be taking His Name in vain if they had dropped the pass, missed the pitch or watched a rival walk off with the award they were convinced they deserved.

But occasionally we come across an individual that scrambles our jaded sensibilities.

An individual whose relationship with God is the same – win or lose.

And especially, when they lose.

Consider the case of University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.

A Heisman Trophy finalist, McCoy saw his life long dream come true when his Longhorns took on Alabama’s Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game.

But early on, disaster struck.

McCoy was hit from behind in a pile up after a running play.

The impact caused his entire right arm to go numb.

McCoy ended up watching his team mates lose a close game from the sidelines.

An entire life devoted to realizing this moment, only to be denied the chance to play when the moment came.

How to deal with seeing your greatest dreams crumble and fade away?

Colt McCoy’s answer was stunning.

“I always give God the glory. I never question why things happen the way they do. God is in control of my life. And I know that if nothing else, I’m standing on the Rock,” McCoy stated.

“I want people to know that having a personal relationship with Christ is probably the biggest decision that any of us will make. It goes deeper than going to church, than just acting like a Christian,” McCoy wrote for the group’s Web site. “It goes with really deeply knowing and coming to know Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him.”
Who knew that Colt McCoy would get the opportunity to demonstrate the reality of those words as he faced what must have been the biggest disappointment of his life?
And this is where we find a principle that is applicable in the lives of every Christian who wants to be used by God to impact the lives of others.
As soon as it becomes known in our home, school, workplace or neighborhood that we are Christians, nonbelievers will start watching our lives to see if what we say we believe is real.
Sometimes we think we are making the most headway when people see us being blessed.
But the fact of the matter is, the greatest impression is made not when we are thanking God for victories, but when we are the same person in the shadow of defeat.
Anyone can be a “sunshine soldier” for Christ.
But when people see that Jesus is more than just a good luck charm, or a way to get what we want out of life, that is when a real testimony begins.
Colt McCoy will undoubtedly have his share of ups and downs in his walk with God. We all do.
But for one shining moment at the national championship game he redefined the initials MVP – from Most Valuable Player to “Most Verifiable Personal Relationship With Christ”.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,  having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:12-13)


Spotting Terrorists? The Eyes Have It

Pop quiz:

You are working for the Transportation Safety Board at a major airport.

The Department of Homeland Security has raised the terrorism threat level to “Red”.

Where should you best focus your attention?

A. On unattended luggage

B. On nonconforming bottles and containers in carry on luggage?

C. On passengers with Arabic names?

D. On passengers with one way tickets?

Actually, the answer is:

E. “None of the above”.

At least according to the people tasked with providing security for the number one preferred target for terrorism in the world – Israel.

Israel has a radically different and amazingly efficient counter terrorism strategy than we do.

And believe it or not, it is based upon a solidly biblical concept.

The Toronto Star provides a fascinating appeal for what has been called the “Israelification” of airport security.

The ‘Israelification’ of airports: High security, little bother

While North America’s airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel’s, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

“It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He’s worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, ‘We’re not going to do this. You’re going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.”

That, in a nutshell is “Israelification” – a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel’s largest hub, Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

“The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport,” said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

“Two benign questions. The questions aren’t important. The way people act when they answer them is,” Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

Once you’ve parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion’s half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

“This is to see that you don’t have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious,” said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

“The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds,” said Sela.

The rest of the article details the common sense approach Israel takes concerning issues like unattended luggage, or the spotting of a suspicious object in X-ray.

But the recurring principle that makes the system work is again emphasized when a passenger gets to the body and hand luggage check.

“Here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America,” Sela said.

“First, it’s fast — there’s almost no line. That’s because they’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you,” said Sela. “Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes … and that’s how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.”

That’s the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

Sela goes on to say that attempted airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would have never made it to the gate at David Ben-Gurion Airport.

Did you catch the simple biblical principle that undergirds the Israeli security effort?

It goes back to a statement Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount:

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)

Isn’t it interesting that in our culture fixed eye contact tends to make us uncomfortable?

It’s as if we know that a long look into our eyes will put all our cards on the table.

It is also interesting that such powerful results have been achieved by Israel in the crucial area of airport security by consciously or even unconsciously applying a simple biblical principle.

It makes me wonder how different our lives could be if we made it our aim to skillfully and practically apply even the most basic teachings of Jesus in our day-to-day lives?

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)

Fred Flintsone’s GPS

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Remember the Flintstones?

The running gag that set up the program was that cave men weren’t all that different from us.

That “modern stone-age family” had to deal with traffic jams and harsh bosses just like we do.

Bowling alleys, airports, less than cooperative house pets, the Flintstones had them all.

Imagine that – primitives whose lives were nasty, brutish and short acting remarkably sophisticated?

What a hoot.

Or maybe not.

The more we uncover about our ancient ancestors, the more we discover that our stereotypical view of their lives and even their level of technological advancement need some serious adjustment.

A remarkable case in point was recently uncovered in Britain.

How a prehistoric sat nav stopped our ancestors

getting lost in Britain

The sophisticated geometric system was based on a stone circle markers.

Our ancestors were able to travel between settlements with pinpoint accuracy thanks to a complex network of hilltop monuments.

Enlarge   sat nav

The prehistoric pointer was based on stone circles and way markers that appear to be placed in a triangular grid

These covered much of southern England and Wales and included now famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and The Mount.

Researcher Tom Brooks analysed 1,500 prehistoric monuments, including Stonehenge and Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, and found them all to be on a grid of isosceles triangles – those with two sides of equal length – each pointing to the next site.

He believes this proves there were keen mathematicians among the ancient Britons 5,000-6,000 years ago, at least two millennia before the Greeks who were supposed to have discovered geometry.

Many monuments are 250 miles or more away but GPS co-ordinates now show all are accurate to within 100 metres and provided a simple map for ancient Britons to follow.

Incredibly, the triangles still exist today as many medieval churches, abbeys and cathedrals were constructed on top of the original stone circle markers.