Yearly Archives: 2009

No AP for That

A phrase that may capture the changing mindset characterizing 2009
is, “There’s an AP for that!” Applications for Apple I-Phones and the
rapidly growing generation of fully Internet-capable “smart phones” is
astounding. Apple, alone, has more than 65,000 APs available, either from
their own store or from third-party programmers. As Android and other
challengers to I-Phone proliferate, the number of APs expands exponentially.
Want to find the nearest Thai restaurant? There’s an AP for that. Want to
know how your high school basketball team eight states away is doing in a
holiday tournament? There’s an AP for that. Interested in the nutritional
analysis of that plate of pasta al fredo at Olive Garden? There’s an AP for
that. Want to play a practical joke on your friends with unexpected sound
effects? There’s an AP for that. The list covers the sublime, ridiculous,
and everything between and beyond.

A psychologist associated with a major research university commented
on a year-in-review NPR broadcast that the barrage of instantaneous
information and applications may not be the best news in 2009 for general
mental well-being. He expressed concern that our minds are not served best
by a constant input of new stimuli, information that is ever-changing and
unfiltered. He admitted that he and others sounded like the perennial old
timers who resist any new information technology, but he longed for a quiet
reprieve from texts, calls, APs, and other distractions from personal
contemplation and reflective interaction with people and events of the day.
The psychologist, however, did not see much likelihood of the scramble for
even more instant information lessening.

The absence of screen-reading APs that make smart phones accessible
for blind and visually impaired users like me has kept me from first-hand
experience with the range of APs available for various pursuits. I am sure
that there are APs for organizing daily Bible reading, or prayer reminders,
or favorite worship song-of-the-day. I’m sure an AP will keep track of the
members of your Bible study group, calling or texting everyone with any
updates that need to be shared with them. Surely there’s an AP for
converting the widow’s mite or Judas’ thirty pieces of silver into current
U.S. dollar equivalents. While these and more APs might offer interesting
tidbits of information or assistance with noble pursuits, they don’t equate
with or accomplish developing deeper faith in God.

There’s no AP for that. No download, no amount of thumb-typing, no
level of virtual connectivity will instantly infuse genuine,
life-transforming faith in God. Faith always must be exercised as it has
been explained for thousands of years in the scriptures. The basic
procedure is clear: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to
figure out everything on your own. {6} Listen for God’s voice in everything
you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. {7}
Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!” (Proverbs
3:5-7 The Message) Even though the prescription for life as God intended it
to be lived is elegantly stated in ancient Hebrew wisdom literature, people
are slow to catch on. The great prophet Isaiah repeated the message: “Seek
the LORD while he may be found. Call on him while he is near. {7} Let wicked
people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them
return to the LORD, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to
our God, because he will freely forgive them.” (Isaiah 55:6-7 GWT)

All along, the way to faithful relationship with God has been more
than an ethereal religious feeling. From the earliest compilations of how
to live God’s way, practical instructions for the demanding dual focus of
one’s actions have been given: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart,
all your soul, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NCV) “You must not
hate your fellow citizen in your heart. If your neighbor does something
wrong, tell him about it, or you will be partly to blame. {18} Forget about
the wrong things people do to you, and do not try to get even. Love your
neighbor as you love yourself. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:17-18 NCV)
Jesus quoted and affirmed these statements as the core of all the teaching
of the law and prophets. (See Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke
10:27-28.)

This kind of life is not dependent upon how much bandwidth we have
available, nor does it arrive instantly displayed on a 2.5″ LED screen. It
is cultivated by active faith, powered by devoted prayer, and infused by
continually-mysterious spiritual union with God. Paul told followers of
Christ how the process proceeds: “I pray that Christ will live in your
hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on
love. {18} And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power
to understand the greatness of Christ’s love–how wide and how long and how
high and how deep that love is. {19} Christ’s love is greater than anyone
can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you
can be filled with the fullness of God. {20} With God’s power working in us,
God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians
3:17-20 NCV)

Seeking God, not our own way . Choosing to resist actions that hurt
others . actively demonstrating and growing in love with God and others ..
There’s no AP for that. It happens only in a personal relationship – with
God and with the people you encounter.

APs may entertain, organize, inform, or even simplify some moments
of your life. They won’t transform your life or draw you into deeper, more
meaningful and satisfying relationship with God or others. Nothing will do
that instantaneously. There’s no AP for that — but there is miraculous
love and grace from God that will make all the difference in how you live.

– J. Edward Culpepper

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