The real SAT test

(Thanks to my friend Mark Eckel, Director of the Mahseh Center for allowing me to re-post this blog post which originally appeared as “Genesis: ‘The Real World’ (Part 7)” on his Warp and Woof blogspot.)

Bright, shiny copper pots: I have never seen anyone so excited about cooking utensils!  Jon was explaining his historical finds that coincide with his love of preparing gourmet foods.  One of the cooking pots had actually been “resurrected” from an underwater shipwreck.  Jon’s love of cooking is displayed as decoration in his home.

One expedition for book boxes prior to a move found me in a bar. While there, the manager showed me his latest technique for dispensing drinks: a gravity system that worked from the room above.  Exact specifications created the beverage ordered by patrons below.  I’ll never forget the excitement of the owner.  He was so pleased to offer exceptional service.  Loving his vocation meant enjoyment of his life within the world.

I received a text from a former student the other day while he was in a tree stand hunting deer.  Back and forth electrons flew as I expressed amazement that he could hunt and text at the same time!  Guy told me that when you spend 200 days a year in the wild you learn to do many things at the same time.  Visiting his website I saw the pure joy in Guy’s eyes as he taught people lessons about life through hunting.

When God created “the heavens and the earth” He had such human enthusiasms in mind.  God’s assessment of His work speaks for itself: “And He saw that it was good.” The word means “beautiful” setting the standard for human excitement in creativity and aesthetics.  The material world is good.  We are not Gnostics, legalistically binding ourselves to human-centered regulations. To enjoy God’s good gifts of life is a sign of gratitude; thankfulness to One outside of ourselves.  The Psalmist is blessed by astronomy, agriculture, biology, law codes, wildlife and human life.

Delight in this God-given life is one of the reasons why I disdain certain gospel songs.  Growing up, one of the little ditties we sang in church was “This World Is Not My Home, I’m Just A Passin’ Through.”  I have been teaching a seminar for some time with the title “This World IS My Home!  I’m NOT Just Passin’ Through!”  I love the smell of crisp fall air.  I love the smell of the air just before it rains.  I love the smell of wood fires in the night air.  I love the smell of a bakery, sautéed onion-pepper mixture on the stove, and Kentucky Fried Chicken®!  And that’s just a few smells!  The list is endless of what I enjoy in this life!

So it is with great admiration that I mention a hymn which perfectly explains my joy:

For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth, Over and around us lies.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour, Of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale, and tree and flower, Sun and moon, and stars of light.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye, For the heart and mind’s delight,

For the mystic harmony, Linking sense to sound and sight.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.

Satisfaction, Appreciation, and Thankfulness is the most important SAT test we will ever take. To be ungrateful for the gifts given to us is to reject The One Who has given those gifts to us. We ought to give thanks for the reality of this life since He has given everything for us to enjoy.

E. M. Forster would cringe when people would tell him to “face reality.”  Turning round in a circle he would ask, “Which way should I face since reality is all around me?” In a similar vein, Cornelius Plantinga rightly takes to task those who think paying bills, going to a 9-5 job, and balancing work with leisure is “the real world.”  He says, “Someone who lives in the ‘real world’ lives with an awareness of the whole world, because the whole world is part of the kingdom of God.”

“The whole” compels me to contend “the real world” includes the seen and the unseen.  The five senses do not make sense apart from the sixth sense.  There is another world to which I must give an account.  The supernatural creates the natural.  The invisible God made the visible creation.  To neglect our responsibility to live under Heaven’s authority creates a disjointed view of life.  We succumb to naturalism, materialism, and pragmatism.  We begin to think that success is based on production.  “The bottom line” becomes our “finish line.”

God draws “a line in the sand.”  Unless we are careful, Deuteronomy 4:15-19 declares we are prone to worship, honor, and subscribe to the standards of this world.  I would encourage us all to ask ourselves this question: Is our Christian distinctiveness informed by “the real world’s” accountability to Another World?  As much as I enjoy this God-given life, I am constantly reminded that the creation has a Creator.  I will continue to revel in sights, smells, tastes, and human ingenuity as I remember that earth depends on Heaven.

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19 Comments

Filed under Biblical worldview, creation & environment, encouraging the heart, stewardship, worship

19 responses to “The real SAT test

  1. Pete Post

    Dan (and thanks to Mark),
    As I begin another semester teaching Intro to Special Education at Trinity, working with education students of all disciplines and asking them to consider the special needs of future students that are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14) just a little (or even a lot) differently than their peers – I am once again thankful for the insights of nurturingfaith. As my students read “The Real SAT Test” I would like for them to post a response to Mark’s question: Is our Christian distinctiveness informed by “the real world’s” accountability to Another World? As they prepare to teach English, pe, history, art, reading or even special education – how will their teaching be affected by the works of a marvelous Creator God. I look forward to reading, and sharing, the responses of these future teachers.
    Prof Pete Post

  2. Luke Aulwurm

    “Satisfaction, Appreciation, and Thankfulness”

    I believe it is safe to say that at the core of all human development, and all of human evolution, to be satisfied with your life, appreciate the mortality of it, and be thankful of the oppurtunity you have over others is an amazing thing. Because I was endowed with the ability to think and manage with life goals that others may not gives me a strong sense of responsibility to “pick up” those who need help. I feel the need to be a crutch to those who would have my help. I can honestly say and feel that I do not believe that God has any influence on my notions of morality or community responsibility. I was raised with good Lutheran values from an older generation, where respect of your elders, and courtesy were important ideals. I myself am selfish in the emotion that self-sacrifice, self motivation and the love of the world around me are solely from my own perception. God would merely be a spectator. To allude to my rather agnostic veiwpoint does not shed any notions that the values of God’s Word (primarily from New Testament literature) will be that of spreading compassion, love, and unbiased respect to all who will cross my path. I will honor and respect all students that come into my classroom with open arms regardless to their race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, past digressions, or learning disabilities. I have only courtesy and respect, as I learned from my grandparents, to give.
    So in answer to the “real world”, I fear I may not fit the same world view. I will conclude that the article was very optimistic and embracing of a beautiful world created by God. I myself, a realist, see so much pain and suffering, and choose to believe that God does not influence all things, so that we can have plagues and earthquakes without tediously saying, “he has a plan”. I will provide a learning environment that is fun for my students, but also prepare them for real life. Let them know that life can get pretty hard before it becomes easy again. I want them to think, and dissect issues in the world around them. The world really is a magnificent place, the good with the bad.

  3. Anthony Ferrazzi

    God is great; and we can see this in all that is around us. All of the marvelous things that were pointed out in this article attest to the power and glory of God. I would agree that many people fall to worshiping and honoring things in this world that ultimately are not important. I often find myself ignoring the warnings given in Deuteronomy 4:15-19, and subscribing to the standards of this world. In all that we do it is important to look to God and not the things around us when giving thanks and praise. It is important not to take the shape of the world, but to keep the shape in which God has formed us.

  4. After all that has recently happened in our world, especially the tragedy of what has happened in Haiti, this article really provided some light to this darkness we have witnessed. We as a people of God, attending a Christian institution, are generally expected or least knowledgeable of a religion that exists and we are to respect that no matter what. I am very touched by the above article because it really allows us to take a time to look back and really be satisfied, thankful, and appreciate what we have after all that has happened in recent times. We see in the news daily of how tragic things are around the world, but sometime we get numb to that because it is happening so often. I really believe that this is happening for a reason and quite frankly my ideals and my upbringing have taught me that this is all part of God’s big plan. This article was great to read, especially at a time in my life when I was not really appreciative of all that I have. I have a great education, great friends, family, and so much more, but sometimes we take all of that for granted. I now am aware of the fact that I need to be appreciative of everything I have, because just like others around the world, we never know when it can be stripped away in mere seconds. This is the real world in which we live and we are called as a body of Christ to act out using faith and hope for a better tomorrow to try and at least make some impact. That is our calling in this real world, somehow make a difference. Not one act of God is larger than the next, for they all matter in the eyes of God. In this real world I am learning to walk more firm in my faith, for when I am armed with my beliefs and faith, I feel that I am better equipped to make a difference and give back to the kingdom that has given me so very much.

  5. Wow,
    I really enjoyed the post and related to it. I also thought that my classmates’ responses were powerful and insightful. I find myself in a cycle where one minute I’ll marvel at the wonders of the world and its beauty, and then the next I’ll be reminded of something tragic. I’m thankful for the blessings I have, but I feel bad for others who don’t share those blessings.
    The fluctuation between the two modes of thinking is a healthy reminder to me that getting stuck in one of those two modes for too long can be hazardous to myself and others around me.

  6. Mike Senatore

    Is our Christian distinctiveness informed by “the real world’s” accountability to Another World? I’ve been trying to respond to this question for about 20 minutes but my mind keeps getting boggled. I’ll take a try anyway. Our Christian distinctiveness is made known by our understanding of what the “real world” is. To deny all the earthly things of their true origin is when we lose sight of reality, or the “real world”. After we lose sight of the real world we do turn to things such as naturalism and materialism which was mentioned above. These kind of lifestyles or ways of thinking then become what we believe to be reality or the real world. So I guess the answer is yes, our Christian distinctiveness is informed by our understanding of our reality and our total dependence on God. Lastly, the SAT test mentioned in this blog post is a great one to remember, especially when we become overwhelmed with the semester.

  7. Jon Anderson

    After reading this article, I can agree that the whole world and everything around us is truly a blessing from God. The world not only is a blessing from God, but is proof of God’s existence. Everything around us is a true gift from God. I believe even though there is much beauty in the world, this article ignored the many negative aspects that come from the world such as disasters and tragedies. I believe this article could have included a section about tragedy and disasters and how even though there are horrible things, good can even come from these aspects in life. When disaster happens unity and support come from those all around us. In these situations the world shows God working through those who are helping to build areas back up and those working together to fix what has been destroyed. Tragedies and disasters give us time to think about what is important and what we need to do to build ourselves and those around us back up to show respect and appreciation for our gift from God.

  8. Steve Radostits

    The truth is, everything happens for a reason, whether it be good or bad. And seems to me that God needs a way to balance things out, which is why some disasters occur. Yeah I can relate a bit to the above. I live day in and day out trying to stay as optimistic as possible, despite being a walking example of “Murphy’s Law.” Regardless, I’m never quick to blame, but rather accepting of the way people and things are.

    “The Real World?” As far as that goes, I’m fully aware of “the world” as a whole. But my real world also consists of an everyday routine of waking up, going to school (or work), practice, homework, and going to sleep. You’re probably asking yourself, “Is Steve really that enthusiastic about life like he should be?” The answer is a definate, “Yes.” I live my life to the fullest everyday, and everyday I try to make a difference in somebody else’s life. But nobody’s a superhero, and bad things can happen to good people. I am thankful for everything and everybody in my life…good friends, loving family, neighborly community…I could go on all day. And after I graduate from Trinity and begin my career “molding young minds,” I expect to teach kids not just about living healthy lives, but also to trust God and have faith in what you do. You’re never alone, there’s always someone who believes in you.

  9. Brandilyn Asplund

    After reading this article and the responses that were made by my classmates I agree that everything in this world is a blessing from God. I also believe that more times than not our days become so consumed by trivial things that we forget to take the time and really appreciate all the little blessings that life has to offer. This world and everything in it is proof of God’s exsistence. There is so much to be gained from the world around us which is why I believe it is our responsibility to give back in any way we can.

  10. Tara Zichterman

    As I reflect on the question, “Is our Christian distinctiveness informed by “the real world’s” accountability to Another World?”, I cannot help but think that sometimes even Christians get caught up in the creation and forget about the creator. This maybe putting emphasis on our relationship with a significant other or our best friend, while letting our relationship with Christ dwindle. I have taken a walk, watched the sunset or sat on the beach and thanked God for the amazing creations that he has blessed us with. However, quite often that is not the case. I go out and get caught up in my life, and negelct to notice the beauty of our world. Even as a Chrisitan to me the ‘real world’ is the life in which I exist. I know of hurting people in other places, but I neglect to do what I should to help. It is through God that we are blessed, and it is through our faith in God that we should aim to see the whole world as the ‘real world’ and recognize the beauty in our life for the gift that it is.

  11. Courtney Randle

    First of I would like to say that this blog post was very eye opening. After reading that Mark of the Mahseh center was one of the originators of it, I knew it would be a good read. Having been there and learning from Mark I understand the importance of taking a step back and looking at what God has given us. Our world is truly awesome because it was made by an awesome God. If discovery channel can understand that; why can’t we as Christian understand that as well?
    Although our world is awesome I do believe that there is a double standard when enjoying God’s creation. I for one have wanted to see the world since I was a young child. But, at the same time many people have told me to take life one step at a time. Not to rush things.
    After reading this blog I now have a predicament on my hands: Should I continue to work towards one day traveling and revel in God’s creation? Or should I just practice Satisfaction, Appreciation, and Thankfulness through enjoying the life God has placed in front of me?
    As I continue to grown in Christ and think about how awesome our God is, I can better practice and implement the SAT into my daily life.

  12. Alyssa Guerrin

    It is definitely interesting to read all these posts and see what people have taken away from this article. I think it’s very true. When people try and disprove creation but bringing up science I think science only further proves that there is a God. Everything in the world around us, each organism and part of the world around us is far to complex to simply be created by a “bang.” Everything works together in such a mind blowing way I can’t help but marvel at the work of God’s hand. It is good for us as his people to praise him for His creation. If we don’t “the rocks will cry out.” That’s another amazing thing to me is how creation, in it’s own way, praises it’s creator as well. Yay God!!

  13. Daniel Bracken

    We should all be thankful for God’s gifts. For following a Christian lifestyle, individuals should respect his creations and understand that everything that God gives us, we should appreciate and take notice of. The world is a very complicated place and God can give us guidance and help in the long journey humans will encounter. My teaching will be affeceted by the works of God in many ways. I am physical education major and I give thanks to God for giving my the ability to help others in motor development and health. As a teacher, I would considered myself in the same role as God at times. God gives guidance and help to others along with acting as a mentor in someways. These attributes should be shown as in a teachers perspective as well. I hope to influence others and change their lives in a positive way.

  14. Erin Albright

    While reading this article I was struck by how often I am not satisfied, I am not appreciative and I am not thankful. Too many times do I complain about petty things going on in my life and allow these unimportant “grievances” get in the way of seeing God’s beauty and the gift that he is continually giving to us on earth. One of my favorite things is when the leaves change in the fall. This is something that has been given to me as a gift and I continually take for granted along with so many other things in my life, such as my family and friends, my health and my knowledge that God loves me. I was reminded by this article how much I have and that it is truly a gift from the Lord.

  15. Chris Boswell

    The one thing I noticed while I was reading this was truly how bless we are as Americans and followers of Christ and how often I find myself forgetting that. I say things like if I just had this, or I just need this but in all reality all I need is provided for me. I have a fiancee who loves me and I love her, a family that supports me in my highest of highs and my lowest of lows, a warm bed to lie my head in every night, and finally the knowledge that I have the love of a God that has created all things and will take care of me for the rest of my life. So I truly believe the one thing that this article has given me more than anything else is to not always want more than I have but rather I need to occasionally stop myself realize all that I have in my life and thank God for all of the glorious things he not only has given me but continues to provide for me each and every day.

  16. Megan Doorn

    First of all, I really enjoyed being able to read my fellow classmates’ posts. It shows that God made each of us unique with something to contribute to this article. In my own case, I often find myself forgetting how beautiful of a world we live in. It’s so easy to get in a routine for every day, completely forgetting that we wouldn’t have that routine if God didn’t wake us up every morning. One particular piece of the article caught my eye, and that was the part discussing whether Earth is our home or are we just passing through. I agree with both sides in a sense. I can understand that we are just here for a short while compared to eternity with our Creator. At the same time, while we are here, it’s our God-given responsibility to care for His creation. After all, he put man in charge of maintaining the earth. That being said, while we are living on earth, we should put forth our best effort to maintain what God created. This is my Father’s world!!

  17. Is our Christian distinctiveness informed by “the real world’s” accountability to Another World? This is a difficult question for me to ponder, because
    I think of when the Bible tells us that we are to be in the world but not of it. And like someone else mentioned, its so easy to get bogged down by tragedy that distracts us from the marvel of God’s creation. I absolutely loved that post and reading through the comments that followed. Sometimes I get frustrated with the mentality that the World isn’t our Home. Although we are called to a higher standard of living and we should not be weighed down by earthly things, there is still the plain and simple and marvelous fact that God has created the incredible World around us for us to enjoy and to find His presence in. And this is not just the physical nature of creation. This includes the people and cultures and every aspect of every environment. I think this is important to keep in mind, in life, Education and even more so in Special Education. Our students are created by God and fall under the magnificent umbrella of His beloved creation. This is the hopeful mentality that I desire to hold steadfastly to, even when the road gets hard.

  18. Jackie Witte

    I can think of many different times when I have focused on the beauty found in creation instead of the Creator. Thankfully, there have also been times where I looked out at creation and praised God for his beautiful handiwork. However, this feeling of overwhelming gratitude often fades away when I step back into the “real world” of school, work, and other responsibilities. I need to remember Platinga’s idea that “the whole world is part of the kingdom of God” and understand that everything in this world has been given to us by the Creator.

  19. Hannah Gonzales

    Wow, God is great!
    As I was watching the video realted to the world, all I could think of is how mnay fascinating things God has created for our human pleasure. I would like to agree with Jim about all the blessings that we have in this beautiful world God has created for us, but it is also true that sometimes tragedies do happen and unfortunately all we can do is wait them out and try our best to help. Soemtimes I forget that God is in control of everything, but that video helped me to realize that God really is in control of everything. How smoothly our earth opperates; the oxygen, plants, and natural supplies that he gives us. It is incredible, and that video helped me remember that.
    The article had a lot of things that also got my mind to thinking. How we are in this world, and we need to take advantage of the time God has given us while we are here. He has blessed us so much with this earth and we need to live for him. God is so great and merciful to let us exist here!

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