The Ability to Think

September 24, 2018

I write these posts on an iPad with the latest Apple keyboard. It’s much like a small computer.

The WordPress app offers a string of words suggested by past usage to help get a writer started.

There was a spot on the bottom of the screen. I tried to clean it. I wrote a sentence (noun, verb, modifier). Weird.

Why do we teach people to write?

I’m not sure about that answer these days. There have been some strange philosophies such as just let the child write whatever comes to mind. It’s more important to fill a page with words than to think.

Sounds like someone who had to write too many 600-word essays in school.

What amazes me is reading prose from 3,000 years ago–or maybe even further back in time.

It is so logical and well-thought-out. Scholars can decipher several rhetorical devices (consult Dr. Google if you don’t know what those are) that help bring forward the argument.

I was just re-reading the Gospel of Matthew for the first time. Yes, I have read it many times, but I approach each time as if it were the first time and try to decipher new insights.

Matthew takes what today we call four chapters to painstakingly lay out a story and an argument that places Jesus firmly in the tradition of a Wisdom King. We don’t recognize kings, let alone think them wise. But back in the day, this would be immediately understood by all the readers/listeners. Especially the non-Greek ones.

This is 2,0000-year-old prose that is beautiful in logic, consistency, story telling.

Matthew wasn’t filling a page with writing. He had actually thought it out. And we can see it, even today.

This is a good example for us to follow whether we write essays, letters, or emails.

To See Others

September 21, 2018

The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote about the gift of God to ourselves as others see us.

The other side of that is to see others as they see themselves.

My favorite news, Axios, contained this item is last night’s newsletter:

What Men Don’t See

Three high-profile murders in recent months shared two common factors: 1) The victims were women engaged in physical activity outdoors; 2) They were killed by men, seemingly at random.

Why it matters: The past few years, most recently the #MeToo movement, have exposed a major gap in what men know about what women face — and the common knowledge women are taught about how to deal with these dangers.

Between the lines: It’s not a new phenomenon for women to feel unsafe being outdoors by themselves. But recent instances are reminders of how often women feel targeted or singled-out in a variety of settings, even those that are most familiar.

I’ve talked with a few women at the park in the morning when I’m out for a run. While I think I’m watchful, they point out an entirely different level. There are several who never make eye contact when we meet.

I think I understand. I have empathy for others. But can I fully.

A further gift is to see others as they see themselves.

Why Do You Go To Church

September 19, 2018

Is it an obligation?

To see friends?

For a lively worship experience?

To contemplate?

Maybe curiosity?

Hear a good message (whatever that means to you)?

From my daily email from Plough came this thought:

Madeleine L’Engle

Sometimes the very walls of our churches separate us from God and each other. In our various naves and sanctuaries we are safely separated from those outside, from other denominations, other religions, separated from the poor, the ugly, the dying.…The house of God is not a safe place. It is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.

Never Stop Learning

September 18, 2018

“I took a course on that topic as an undergraduate in college. I am an expert.”

Some people learn a little on a topic and think they know everything. (The quote was actually by a young man I hired once upon a time.)

Other people fail because they are overwhelmed by the comparison with experts or the seeming great amount of things to learn.

Still others learn something intentionally every day.

Only The Disciplined Are Free

September 17, 2018

Eliud Kipchoge is the world’s best marathon runner. He just set a new world record in the Berlin, Germany marathon–2 hours and a minute.

How did he achieve that? “Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.”

Someone posted a picture of the daily schedule of a famous (I guess) body builder. He has a disciplined approach to his day. Rise early, eat, workout, eat big breakfast, and so forth until bed. He rises each day at 2:30 am and is in bed by 7:30 pm.

My schedule includes rising at 5:30 and in bed by 10. Reading, writing, workout, work, reading, sleep.

Successful CEOs, creative people, athletes all have a disciplined schedule of rising early, working out (whatever that might be), reading, practicing or doing, family time, sleep.

This is ancient wisdom. Try reading the Proverbs in your disciplined early morning reading time.

When you don’t have to make so many decisions about the routine matters of life because of your discipline, then you are free to create, achieve, serve, or whatever you do.

Only the disciplined ones in life are free.

Correct One Another In Peace

September 14, 2018

Father was yelling at his young son. He yelled so loudly he could be heard for hundreds of feet away. His tirade was laced with the most vulgar words of his limited vocabulary.

It was disgraceful. I came very close to walking two houses down to stop him.

We read in The Didache (an ancient Christian teaching) under the heading Call to Follow the Gospel, “Furthermore, correct one another not in anger but in peace, as you find in the Gospel.”

Quick, first impression especially for Americans but maybe others–Christian person.

What picture came to mind?

Someone shouting at others with anger and emotions tending toward hate to another group?

Too often, that is true.

We convince not with anger but with peace and love.

Do As I Do

September 13, 2018

Children learn but little from what you tell them to do; children learn by watching what you do.

There are people who stand on the sidelines and tell you how to live and what to believe.

But their own lives are characterized often by the opposite of what they say.

The easy part it to tell others what to do.

The hard part is in the doing.

Beware those who stand on the side of the contest criticizing others.

Be one of those who enters the fray and puts faith into action.

Jesus said he had two commandments which were actually one–to love God and to love your neighbor. James said that the love part is expressed in doing love, not just preaching it.

Wishing People Well

September 12, 2018

I saw this quote this morning in my readings. I don’t know the author. These are words pointing to a valuable practice. Joan Chittister suggested, “Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days: I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.”

She suggested saying this to the ponds and lakes, and maybe we would stop using them as garbage dumps. But we should try saying this to everyone meet–and maybe even those we don’t.

There is a meme floating around Facebook land. I didn’t read the whole thing. This is actually a new thing. In order to get around Facebooks algorithms, you are told to get a group on Messenger and then ask everyone on the group to spread it through your Messenger list.

I have to confess. I didn’t read the whole thing. This is not the kind of Christian I wish to be associated with. The message had something to do with disparaging various types of human beings. I stopped reading and found a way to remove myself from further messages.

Jon Swanson has been quoting from the letter of James on his blog. Second chapter today. James is advising the new gatherings of Christians not to consider dividing people into groups and favoring one over the other. He says the supreme commandment of loving one another means, well, to love one another. James tells us that the one another is all of us.

We just cannot seem to avoid poring through scriptures looking for verses that reinforce our prejudices rather than simply living the words of Jesus.

I wish you all happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future. All of you.

Servant Leadership

September 11, 2018

There was a man. CEO of a smaller company. Perhaps 100-150 employees. High technology. Seemingly successful–according to the press releases and conversations.

He gave away statues of Jesus washing Peter’s feet to business acquaintances. These were large, perhaps 14 inches long by 8 inches high.

He held a conference for partners and customers. Had the author of a book on servant leadership give one of the keynotes.

He always had a smile.

But things weren’t really going so well. One day his investors told him he had to sell. So he sold his company to a competitor.

He came into the office on Sunday and cleaned out everything. There was no trace of him left. He literally took the money and ran.

Except for a printed memo posted for the employees notifying them that they had a new owner and that the future was uncertain.

We can model servant leadership by giving away models.

Or, we could do what Jesus actually did and taught–be a servant.

Ask how we can help.

Encourage those who work for us.

Be honest and transparent, therefore worth of trust.

Face up to the challenges alongside our staff as well as celebrating the good times.

Create a professional environment.

How do you want to be remembered?

Be a model, don’t just give them away.

Dwell In God’s House

September 10, 2018

Psalmists love to use the metaphor of dwelling in God’s house.

I wonder what they meant.

Preachers, priests, church leaders, they all seem to interpret that as being in (their) church buildings.

At the time the psalms were written, there were no church buildings.

I am pondering this in a spiritual sense. Dwelling with God. Both Old and New Testaments have phrases about living in God and God living in us.

What if they were talking about living each moment as if we were with God? Like an intimate relationship? Like when I have options there is something or someone inside me that guides me toward the proper decision or action?