Sunday, February 07, 2016

Love is Kind

There may be no better book to read on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 than Lewis Smedes' Love Within Limits: A Realist's View of 1 Corinthians 13.

Chapter 2 is - "Love is Kind."

Nietzsche, in one of his
gentler moments.
"Kindness," writes Smedes, "is the will to save; it is God's awesome power channeled into gentle healing. Kindness is love acting on persons." (11)

Love is power.

One quality of love is kindness.

Therefore, kindness is power.

The German atheist philosopher Nietzsche did not take kindly to this. Nietzsche hated Christianity (and especially Paul) for promoting kindness, which he saw as weakness and door-mat-ness. But "kindness," says Smedes, "is enormous strength - more than most of us have, except now and then." (Ib.)

"Kindness is the power that moves us to support and heal someone who offers nothing in return. Kindness is the power to move a self-centered ego toward the weak, the ugly, the hurt, and to move that ego to invest itself in personal care with no expectation of reward." (Ib.)

Only a free person can love this way. When I ask God to "set me free" I am thinking of this kind of thing; viz., freedom to love; freedom to be kind.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Grand Opening of Redeemer's Education Wing Tomorrow Morning!

The Family Room in our new educational facility.

Tomorrow morning at Redeemer (2/7/16) will be a great celebration as we open up our new Educational Facility.

Many Redeemer people have helped with this project. Thank you!

This is a 5500 sq. ft. building with a large Family Room (1200 sq. ft.), with audio-visual capabilities and worship stage.

A kitchenette and bathroom.

A meeting room.

Nursery plus three more classrooms  -  all spacious and beautifully and creatively decorated.

A large storage room.

We've also redone some of our parking lots, put a new roof over the entire church building, and some other additions.

We are reconstituting one of the old classrooms into a large adult classroom with audio visual capability. Another old classroom will be a conference meeting room, and a room for nursing mothers and counseling.

Another classroom will be a storage room.

The loft in our gym/fellowship hall has been transformed into a youth room.

And, from a vision God gave me, one of the old classrooms will be transformed into a Praying Room.

We'll celebrate these things tomorrow morning, with some testimonies, plus a very cool slide show with photos from groundbreaking to completion.

Our Redeemer kids will be having Sunday Church Time in the new building tomorrow.

I thank God for it all and am looking forward to all God will do in the days to come!

Love Always Protects

στέγω,v \{steg'-o}
1) deck, thatch, to cover 1a) to protect or keep by covering, to preserve 2) to cover over with silence 2a) to keep secret 2b) to hide, conceal 2b1) of the errors and faults of others 3) by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear

Love always protects. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

In my late teens when I had a date with a girl I would be thinking "Will she have sex with me?" One time I was with this girl in the back seat of a car and started putting physical moves on her. She pushed my hand away. She wanted none of that. I didn't understand and tried to convince her otherwise. That was the last time she went out with me. 

Good for her! She set a boundary. I did not respect it. Feeling disrespected, she wanted nothing more to do with me. I was so self-centered that the concepts of honor and respect were not part of my DNA. I did not know love or how to love and be loved. I did not understand that love always protects.

The Greek verb stego means "to bear." This does not mean love "bears up under things," but that "love bears all things up." "Love carries everything." (Lewis Smedes, Love Within Limits, 94) Lewis Smedes writes:

"Love hates a scandal... [L]ove drives us away from scandal for deeper reasons than propriety and good taste. Scandal hurts people; and love hates everything that hurts people. This is why a loving person is turned off by gossip and rumor - out of concern for the people being whispered about." (Ib., 95)

Love carries our sorrows. Love never causes more sorrow. "Sorrow is a suffering of the mind, the hurt of knowing that something is wrong." (Ib., 97) Love is a cure for, not a cause of, emotional pain. The girl who refused my sexual advances refused to be victimized by my disrespect of her.

To respect is to protect. Love always cares for the other, with no expectation of anything in return.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Christopher Hitchens Against Abortion

La Jolla, California

The late atheist Christopher Hitchens wrote an essay in Vanity Fair against abortion. Here are some quotes, with some parenthetical comments inserted. (Hitchens, "Fetal Distraction," February 2003) Remember that Hitchens was pretty much his own person and didn't much care whEther his views were shared by others, to include other atheists.

"I claim an absolute right to be interested in the condition of the human fetus because … well, I used to be one myself. I was in my early teens when my mother told me that a predecessor fetus and a successor fetus had been surgically removed, thus making me an older brother rather than a forgotten whoosh. I hope the thought of this hasn’t made me unusually self-centered, or more than usually so. And I’ve since become the father of several fetuses, three of which, or perhaps I had better say three of whom, became reasonably delightful children."

[Some abortion advocates liken the fetus to an appendix, or a tumor. Hitchens responds.] "If we need to remove an appendix or a tumor from our own personal spaces, then it’s nobody else’s *** business. I used to cringe when I heard this, not so much because in the moral sense fetuses aren’t to be compared to appendixes, let alone tumors, but because it is obvious nonsense from the biological and embryological points of view. Babies come from where they come from. The diagram of a vacuum-suction abortion in Our Bodies, Ourselves gave the female anatomy in some detail but showed only a void inside the uterus. This perhaps unintended concession to queasiness has since become more noticeable as a consequence of advances in embryology, and by the simple experience of the enhanced sonogram. Women who have gazed at the early heartbeat inside themselves now have some difficulty, shall we say, in ranking the experience with the planned excision of a polyp."

[Hitchens responds to the pro-abortion idea of "viability."] "Now and then there would be a tussle over whether it [the fetus; even the conceptus] was a fully “human” life, but this was casuistry. What other species of life could it be? Some states even announced laws on fetal personhood, conferring the moral equivalent of citizenship on every fertilized egg, thereby presumably extending to it the warm embrace of the equal-protection clause and voting rights at age 17¼.
That the most partially formed human embryo is both human and alive has now been confirmed, in an especially vivid sense, by the new debate over stem-cell research and the bioethics of cloning. If an ailing or elderly person can be granted a new lease on life by a transfusion of this cellular material, then it is obviously not random organic matter. The original embryonic “blastocyst” may be a clump of 64 to 200 cells that is only five days old. But all of us began our important careers in that form, and every needful encoding for life is already present in the apparently inchoate. We are the first generation to have to confront this as a certain knowledge."

[Human life begins at conception. But of course! It's not nice to take another human life.] "For the theologically minded, this provides what they never much desired before: a scientific confirmation of “life from conception” morality."

The rest of Hitchens's essay is interesting as he obviously distances himself from theism, is guilty of some red herrings, and engages in appeal-to-pity reasoning re. human beings who are conceived as the result of rape or incest.

Hitchens's reasoning has similarities with Baylor University philosopher and jurisprudential scholar Francis Beckwith. See my Beckwith post - Beckwith's Logical Argument Against Abortion.

(More on) Francis Beckwith on Abortion

In Bangkok

If your position on abortion is that it is the taking of a human life (a person's life) then you will (unless you have no heart at all) be passionately against abortion. That's my position. Of course I am influenced here by my Christian theistic worldview. But non-religiously I am most influenced by the work of Francis Beckwith, who is Prof. of philosophy and jurisprudence at Baylor University. Beckwith's Defending Life:  A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice is the book to read for a non-religious, philosophical and legal argument against abortion.

1.    The unborn entity is fully human from the moment of conception.

2.    Abortion (narrowly defined) results in the intentional death of the unborn entity.

3.    Therefore, abortion entails the intentional killing of a human being.

Assumption: Human beings have a right to life.

Exception: “If, however, there is a high probability that a woman's pregnancy will result in her death (as in the case of a tubal pregnancy, for example), then abortion is justified. For it is a greater good that one human should live (the mother) rather than two die (the mother and her child). Or, to put it another way, in such cases the intent is not to kill the unborn (though that is an unfortunate effect) but to save the life of the mother. With the exception of such cases, abortion is an act in which an innocent human being is intentionally killed; therefore, abortion should be made illegal, as are all other such acts of killing.” (Beckwith)

Some claim to be both pro-life and pro-choice, expressing this as follows: "I'm personally against abortion, but I don't object to a woman who wants to have one if she believes it is the right thing to do." But this is odd and inconsistent.
Beckwith writes:

·         The problem with this statement is that it doesn't tell us the reason why the person claims to be personally against abortion.

·         Most people who are against abortion are so because it is the taking of a human life.

·         This is a strange, seemingly inconsistent position, “since the assumed reason why he would be personally against abortion is the same reason why he should be against publicly permitting it, namely, that an entity which is fully human has a right to life.” (Beckwith)

·         Beckwith writes: “After all, what would we think of the depth of an individual's convictions if he claimed that he was personally against the genocide of a particular ethnic group (e.g., the Jews), but he added that if others thought this race was not human, they were certainly welcome to participate in the genocide if they so chose? What I'm getting at is simply that the nature of some "personal" opinions warrants public actions, even if these opinions turn out to be wrong, while other opinions (e.g., one's personal preference for German chocolate cake) do not. Thus, it makes little moral sense to claim that one is both pro-life and pro-choice.”
See the entire essay, where Beckwith shows that the following pro-abortion argument fail logically because they commit the "appeal to pity" fallacy.
- Illegal abortions are dangerous (so we must legalize abortion)
- Arguments from economic inequity
- Arguments from population, poverty, and financial burden.
"This is not to minimize the fact that there are tragic circumstances with which our society is all too familiar, such as the poor woman with four small children who has become pregnant by her alcoholic husband. But once again we must ask whether or not the unborn entity is fully human, for hardship does not justify homicide. In such cases, those in the religious and charitable communities should help lend financial and emotional support to the family. And it may be wise — if it is a case of extreme hardship — for the woman to put her baby up for adoption, so that she may give to others the gift of parenthood."
- Argument from the deformed child. Beckwtih writes: "This is not to deny that there are tragedies in life and that having a handicapped child is often a difficult burden to undertake. But I think it is important to realize that if the unborn entity is fully human, homicide cannot be justified simply because it relieves one of a terrible burden. Though it may be hard to accept, I believe the following principle is fundamental to correct moral reasoning: it is better to suffer evil rather than to inflict it. If this moral precept were not true, all so-called moral dilemmas would be easily soluble by simply appealing to one's own relief from suffering. But in such a world the antidote would be worse than the poison, for people would then have a right to inflict suffering on another if it relieved them of their own. This would be morally intolerable." 

Abortion: A Logical Argument

Backgammon, in Jerusalem

(For my MCCC Logic students)

Here is Baylor University philosopher and jurisprudential scholar Francis Beckwith’s logical (not religious) argument against abortion. 

Beckwith’s argument does not depend on any particular religious beliefs. I think it’s a good argument to use in a logic class because logical arguments are to be non-emotive arguments. The abortion argument can get very emotional! 

In logic, the idea is - attack the argument, not the argument-maker. To do the latter is to commit the informal logical fallacy called ad hominem abusive. Attacking a person rather than the argument is, I think, mostly ineffective.

I'm presenting this argument to my students tonight.


(Beckwith is currently Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Jurisprudence at Baylor University.)

1. The unborn entity, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community.

2. It is prima facie[2] morally wrong to kill any member of that community.

3. Every successful abortion kills an unborn entity, a full-fledged member of the human community.

4. Therefore, every successful abortion is prima facie morally wrong.

This is not a religious argument, but a logical argument. No appeal to religion needs to be made.

By “full-fledged member of the human community” is meant that the conceptus[3] is as much a bearer of rights as any human being whose rights-bearing status is uncontroversial, like you or me. As Beckwith says, “the unborn entity is entitled to all the rights to which free and equal persons are entitled by virtue of being free and equal persons.” “Full-fledged member of the human community” cannot mean something like “viability,” since then we have two problems:

1) the arbitrariness of deciding who’s a full-fledged member and who’s not; and
2) the odd philosophical idea that there is suddenly a “moment” (call it time ‘t’) when the conceptus/fetus/inborn child becomes a person, which means at time ‘t-minus-1 second’ it was not. “Abortion advocates argue that the unborn entity is not a person and hence not a subject of moral rights until some decisive moment in fetal or postnatal development.” (Beckwith, 130) Such a position is incoherent and fraught with philosophical problems.

“Virtually no one disputes – including leading defenders of abortion-choice – that every mature human being was once an adolescent, a child, an infant, a baby, a newborn, a fetus, and an embryo.” (131) But the abortion advocate argues that it is morally permissible to end a human being’s life at the embryo stage of human life. How is this possible? Beckwith says they argue that not all human beings are equally intrinsically valuable (IV) because some do not have the present capacity to exhibit certain properties or functions that would make them IV. (130) Thus, the fetal self is not “intrinsically valuable.”

Beckwith holds to a “substance view of persons.” This means that a human being “is intrinsically valuable because of the sort of thing it is and the human being remains that sort of thing as long as it exists”. That is, an individual “maintains absolute identity through time while it grows, develops, and undergoes numerous changes”. To use another example, the term “universe” refers to one entity that goes through various stages. The universe at t + 1 second, though much smaller and far more inchoate then the universe now, was still at that time as much “the universe” as it is now. So, the term “universe does not suffer from vagueness. It is in precisely that sense that “person” does not suffer from vagueness as well.
Various functions and capacities, whether fully realized or utilized do not constitute a person. Thus a human being is never a potential person, but is always a person at different stages of development, whether potential properties and capacities are actualized or not.

To explain: a human being may never realize the ability to reason logically. It would then lack this ability. In contrast, a frog is not said to lack something if it can’t study logic, because by nature it is not the sort of being that can have the ability to do logic. But a human being who lacks the ability to think logically is still a human being because of her nature. A human being’s “lack” makes sense if and only if she is an actual human person. (E.g., a rock does not “lack” the ability to see.)Most pro-abortionists argue that personhood is not inherent or intrinsic, but based on certain capacities and functions, be it consciousness, sentience, self-awareness, the ability to reason, and so on.

WHAT ABOUT THE FOLLOWING POPULAR ARGUMENTS FOR ABORTION CHOICE? Beckwith says they many commit the informal logical fallacies of “appeal to pity” and “begging the question.”

“An argument from pity is an attempt to show the plausibility of one’s point of view by trying to move others emotionally, although the reasonableness of the position stands or falls on the basis of other important factors.” Here are some arguments from pity:

Argument from the dangers of illegal abortions

If abortion is made illegal then women will perform illegal abortions.If women perform illegal abortions then women will be harmed.Therefore if abortion is made illegal then women will be harmed.
This argument “begs the question.” Only by assuming that the unborn are not fully human does the argument work. “But if the unborn are fully human, this abortion-choice argument is tantamount to saying that because people die or are harmed while killing other people (i.e., unborn people), the state should make it safe for them to do so.” (94) Therefore, the argument begs the question.

Argument from financial burden

We can’t minimize the fact that there are tragic circumstances, like a poor woman with four small children who becomes pregnant by her alcoholic husband.“But once again we must ask whether the unborn entity is fully human, for hardship does not justify homicide.” (98)For example, if I knew that killing you would relieve me of future hardship, that’s not sufficient justification for me to kill you.

Argument from the unwanted child

This argument, again, begs the question.Because only if we assume that the unborn re not fully human does this argument work.It is extremely difficult to argue that the value of a human being depends on whether someone wants or cares for that human being.

Argument from the deformed and handicapped child

First, if this argument succeeds in showing that abortion is justified if a woman is pregnant with a deformed or handicapped fetus, it only establishes the right to abort in those kind of situations.But this argument again begs the question. “For if the unborn are fully human, then to promote the aborting of the handicapped unborn is tantamount to promoting the execution of handicapped people whoa re already born.”[4]Of course having a handicapped child can be a terrible burden. “But it is important to realize that if the unborn entity is fully human, homicide cannot be justified simply because it relieves one of a terrible burden.” (102)

Argument from interference in career

Again… this begs the question. “For what would we think of a parent who kills his two-year-old because the child interfered with the parent’s ability to advance in his occupation?” (104)

Argument from rape and incest

This is a horrible thing, of course.Note: this argument is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand.Note also this: “the unborn entity is not an aggressor when its presence does not endanger it’s mother’s life (as in the case of a tubal pregnancy). It is the rapist who is the aggressor. The unborn entity is just as much an innocent victim as its mother.” (105-106) Again… this argument begs the questions by assuming that the unborn is not fully human.

Another popular argument is the Argument from Imposing Morality.
This argument says: It’s wrong for anyone to “force” his view of morality on someone else. Pro-lifers, by attempting to stop women from having abortions, are trying to force their morality on others.
But this argument cannot be right. Because it’s not always wrong for the community to institute laws that require people to behave in certain moral ways. E.g., it’s not wrong to institute a law against child molestation. If the unborn entity is fully human, forbidding abortions would be perfectly just. Any law prohibiting abortion would unjustly impose one’s morality on others only if the act of abortion is good, morally benign, or does not unjustly limit the free agency of another. The real issue is: what counts as a “person,” a full-fledged member of the human community.

[1] All quotes from Francis Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice

[2] Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning “on its first appearance”, or “by first instance”. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a matter appears to be self-evident from the facts. In common law jurisdictions, prima facie denotes evidence that (unless rebutted) would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact.

[3] The fertilized egg

[4] See Peter Singer, who admits that “pro-life groups are right about one thing: the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference… The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite: to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.” (In Beckwith, 101)

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Love does Not Fashion Others Into One's Own Image

It is the height of arrogance, manipulation, and control to try to make other people into one's own image.
I often meet people who try to make some significant other into a "normal" person like they are; into someone who thinks their thoughts, likes their likes, wants their wants, and desires their desires. Parents do this to children, friends do this to friends, lovers do this to their beloved. What is this evil thing that wants to live vicariously through other people?

Thomas Merton writes: “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Real love lets others be who they are, and champions them to be better than they both are.
The one who can love someone just as they are is a sign of the lover's freedom. It's an insecure person who needs others to be just like them and agree with them on everything.
The truth is that if both people agree on everything then one of them is not needed. That's how the other will feel as some image-controller manipulates them.
Discover the reality of your own self, before God, in Christ.
Release other people to do the same.
This will make life lighter, more truthful, and more joy-filled.

Peter Singer's Argument for Infanticide

Tonight, in one of my MCCC logic classes, I am presenting, as an example of logical argumentation, Peter Singer’s argument for infanticide. (Note: I don't advocate infanticide. But Singer's argument is famous, and followed.)

Singer argues, in his essay “Taking Life: Humans” (1993), that it is morally acceptable to kill, in some cases, disabled infants. (Note: Singer has since refined his views.)

Before I show you the argument, here are some of Singer’s assumptions.

1.   A “person” has self-consciousness.

2.   Fetuses and newborn babies do not possess self-consciousness. They are “merely conscious.”
a. “The fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings.”
4.   “Killing a self-conscious being is a more serious matter than killing a merely conscious being. Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.”

5.   Being a member of the human species is irrelevant to a baby’s moral status.

6.   A parent may want to “replace” (the “replaceability thesis”) their defective baby with another baby, hopefully to be born.

Singer’s argument in his own words reads:

Or reframed this way.
1.   If we can morally kill a disabled fetus that has no self-consciousness, it follows that we can morally kill a disabled infant that has no self-consciousness.
2.   We can morally kill a disabled fetus that has no self-consciousness.
3.   Therefore, we are morally justified in killing a disabled infant that has no self-consciousness.

Singer is an atheist. He follows real atheism, like that of Nietzsche, who understood that with the loss of Christian theism's metaphysical foundation we've left "the land" and sail on a sea with an "infinite horizon" (this kind of horizon is the equivalent of "no land in sight"). So Singer advocates, among other things, "fourth-trimester abortions, i.e., the killing of infants after they are born." Singer writes:

"My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of 28 days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others... Rats are indisputably more aware of their surroundings, and more able to respond in purposeful and complex ways to things they like or dislike, than a fetus at 10- or even 32-weeks gestation. … The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy." (See here, p. 189, fn. 21.)

Surely Singer is right in that, if there' i no God, then humans are no different than animals and to think so is to be guilty of species-ism. Ideas like "All men are create equal" and "Human life is precious" make sense on Christianity but not on atheism.

I've long thought that, were I an atheist, I'd be in the Nietzsche/Singer camp, and find it odd and at times humorous when atheists disbelieve in God but co-opt Christian theistic moral values to their advantage, like assuming the special-ness of humans.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Holy Nothingness As the Precondition for Divine Everythingness

In his second letter to the Corinthian church Paul defends his credentials as an apostle and a messenger sent from God. The new Corinthian Jesus-followers look at him and find it hard to believe he is who he says he is. They thought, writes N.T. Wright, that “an apostle needs to be a showy leader, a flowery and entertaining speaker, with personal charm and flattery, like the kind they were used to in their culture. What Paul ultimately wants to say to them is that all these things are nothing…  compared with the lifestyle which embodies the gospel of Jesus.” (N. T.Wright, Paul For Everyone: 2 Corinthians, 32-33)

Paul, by his own estimation, is unimpressive. Paul writes:  I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. (2 Cor. 12:11) 

How can someone who is a "nothing" not be inferior to everyone? The answer is that Paul's "nothingness" is a "holy nothingness," a "sacred insufficiency." This brand of nothingness is a necessary precondition for divine everythingness.

Paul views himself as unqualified, in himself, to minister in Jesus' name. But Christ, in Paul, is sufficient. Paul writes: Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (2 Cor. 3:5) Christ, he writes, has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant. (2 Cor. 3:6)

The reality of the "new covenant" is that God has placed his desires, not on tablets of stone (the old covenant), but within the hearts of all who embrace Christ. Now, amazingly, Christ-followers "partake of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). As Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:17: if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

All this is in fulfillment of the God's promise of a new covenant, as expressed in Ezekiel 36:26: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. God's Holy Spirit, in us, is the reason we have confidence and are "sufficient."

In Paul we see this pattern:
  1. I am nothing
  2. This drives me to rely on God
  3. I can do all thing in Christ, who dwells in me and strengthens me
Years ago Linda, Dan, and Josh went with me to Singapore, where I taught at a Chinese seminary for 20 days. Good friends of connected us with David and Sue Pickard of Overseas Missionary Fellowship. David was the director of OMF, which used to be China Inland Mission, founded by Hudson Taylor. David and Sue had us over for dinner. It was Josh's birthday and they had prepared a birthday. David showed us Hudson Taylor's Bible. That was an awesome moment. Taylor was taken out of his comfort zone and used of God even though he was out of his depths. How was this possible? Taylor said: “God chose me because I was weak enough. God does not do his work by large committees. He trains somebody to be quiet enough, and little enough, and then uses him.”

I love how Oswald Chambers expresses this truth: “God can achieve his purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or the abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.”
I must become a nobody so that Christ can become Somebody in me.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Praying for Faithfulness in Small Things

Lake Erie, Sterling State Park

Today, like most days, will be a day of small things. My prayer is to be faithful in those things. I am a small person interacting with small people.

God can turn a small thing into a big thing, should he want to. It's up to him. But my focus is not to be on faithfulness in "big things." If I am not faithful in small things I cannot be trusted with big things. I don’t believe God is evaluating things by "small" and "big." Be faithful to God's calling. That's all I need to do.

Faithfulness is qualitative, not quantitative. If I fail to love those in my own environment I cannot be trusted to love others. I cannot be interested in "swimming with the big fish"; rather, I am a little fish called to swim with whomever God brings into my life.

Jesus tells us that “He who is faithful in a little” is the one who will be rewarded much.[1] C.S. Lewis put it this way. “This then is the great secret. Good and evil both grow at compound interest. That is why the SMALL things you do each day are of such infinite importance. It is the small things that will turn you into either a heavenly or hellish creature.”[2] 

Who dares despise the day of small things...[3]

[1] Luke 16:10
[2] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
[3] Zechariah 4:10