Author Archive

Achieving Balance

January 7, 2020

I recently listened to a conversation between two medical researcher geeks discussing some of the latest research into mitochondria, glucose conversion, muscle activity (both high performance athletes and we “casual” workout people), imbalances that lead to illness such as Type II diabetes and so on.

When our bodies and minds are healthy, we are in such a delicate balance of systems, nutrients, activity.

Ancient people in India figured out the need for balance–balancing mind/body, balancing the six tastes, balance meditation and action.

Our Western heritage emphasizes brain and rationality often placing it out of balance with our physical and spiritual sides.

This year, perhaps we could learn balance.

  • Our needs and the needs of others
  • Our brains and bodies and spirit
  • Our abundance and the deprivations of others
  • Our time spent on family, work, service, meditation
  • Our “rights” and the “rights” of others
  • Peace as a balance

The Third Path

January 6, 2020

A rich man approaches Jesus. “What must I do for salvation?”

Jesus asked him about following all the Jewish law. “I have since I was a child.”

In that time, and probably as much in our time, two ways seem assured to get right with God. This man had them both. First, wealth. Second, he followed the rules.

Yet, something told him that it wasn’t enough.

Jesus told him to give it all up and become a follower, a disciple.

The man couldn’t. He went away sad.

Jesus followers were astounded. If a rich man can’t make it, who can?

Jesus told them it starts with God. We have named that grace.

There remained a gap in the man’s heart. Wealth didn’t fill it. Following rules didn’t fill it.

Changing your heart and following Jesus–that will fill it.

Practicing Virtues

January 3, 2020

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz introduces the reader to a variety of surprising examples of leaders who paid attention to building a sustainable culture.

He probes into the only successful slave revolt in history (in Haiti), a prison gang leader in Michigan who transferred his experience upon leaving prison, the Samurai in Japan (who ruled for several hundred years and whose influence remains), and Genghis Khan.

The Samurai had a set of practices or virtues. Sort of like what I try to teach about spiritual disciplines–life is not about sitting around telling people your opinions, rather it’s about the practices you exhibit in your daily life.

The Samurai oath sounds strangely familiar. It is worth bringing in one way or another into our lives.

  • I will never fall behind others in pursuing the way of the warrior.
  • I will always be ready to serve my lord.
  • I will honor my parents.
  • I will serve compassionately for the benefit of others

Horowitz’s book is one of the rare business books that is worth reading to the end. Too many in that genre say everything they have to say in two chapters and then fill 150 more pages just so a book can be published. Also, the ideas are transferable into any organization.

Curiosity and Imagination

January 2, 2020

Two traits to develop during your year–curiosity and imagination.

Read more this year–and try reading outside your usual genre. Then use the new insights to build seemingly outlandish analogies to your long-held beliefs. Cultivate new friends and travel to someplace new.

The old folk saying, “Curiosity killed the cat”, is misleading. Lack of curiosity will kill your enthusiasm for life and (as Agatha Christie’s little detective Hercule Poirot would put it) your “little grey cells” in your brain.

Albert Einstein rated imagination as the most important trait. His theories (and those of Henri Poincare and many others) came from “thought experiments” where imagination ran loose until settling into new insights.

Eat well. I have unbounded curiosity about the latest nutrition findings, even though they mostly support basic common sense of eating whole foods and not too much.

Maybe a new way of exercise to grow those “little grey cells”. Have you tried Yoga or Pilates? Our Y began offering “cardio drumming.” Beat your frustrations into submission. (I looked at that, but as a trained percussionist, I’m not so sure I could just let go and pound wildly.)

Meet some new people this year–from outside your normal circle. Be curious about different lifestyles and cultures. You probably will learn some useful and fascinating things.

I’m beginning the new year with a fitness and health course and a deep book on analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking. Looks like I’ll be diving into deep theology as NT Wright has a new book out. 550 pages on thinking followed by 990 pages on history and theology of the first Christians. Should be a way to get my “little grey cells” jump started for 2020.

What Kind of Year Will It Be

January 1, 2020

I’ve always liked the Carl Sandburg story about the Kansas farmer I heard from Earl Nightingale many years ago.

A Kansas farmer who, as he contemplated the great mysteries of life, was asked by a passing stranger in a covered wagon, “What kind of people live around here?” To which the farmer replied, “Well stranger, what kind of folks were there in the country you come from?”

“Well, there was a mostly low-down, lying, thieving, gossiping, backbiting lot of people,” said the stranger. And the farmer replied, “Well, stranger, I guess that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

The first wagon was hardly out of sight when another newcomer interrupted the farmer’s reverie with the same question: “What kind of folks was there in the country you came from?” the farmer asked again. “Well,” said the stranger, “there was mostly a decent, hardworking, law-abiding, friendly lot of people.” And again the farmer replied, “Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

What kind of year will this be for you and me?

I guess we’ll get what we look for. Our attitude determines what we see and how we experience.

Happy new year. I pray for your growth and success this year. May you be a light in someone’s life.

Nine Evidence Based Guidelines for a GOOD LIFE

December 31, 2019

As you search for ideas in order to compile your list of New Year’s Resolutions (do people still do that???), consider instead two things for the new year and for life–attitude and habit. I found this list compiled by a friend on social media. I can personally vouch for almost all of these. They can help you intentionally change your attitude and habits.

1. Exercise your body and your brain every day.

2. Count your blessings.

3. Try to see others’ point of view.

4. People, not things, make you happy.

5. Work to earn, to live. Don’t live for your work.

6. Keep reminding yourself: It’s not all about me.

7. Just teach your kids how to cope.

8. Use your conscious reasoning to slowly make the changes you want.

9. When stressed, process your worries consciously.

Consider This Do List for 2020

December 30, 2019

I saw this on Twitter. Yes, mom, some good can come from social media–but for me much more on Twitter than Facebook.

Shared it with my small group. Got a lot of knowing smiles.

Thanks to @steveryancarter for sharing this thought from @michaelfrost6

I’ll begin the New Years with number 1.

A friend who is on “The Spectrum” in my small group tells me that I embody number three.

As for number two, I may have to start. I am a member of a United Methodist church in the West Ohio Conference. Turns out the Bishop (leader of the conference) made The New York Times when he tried to quietly dispose of a case of sexual misconduct by a clergy member of the Conference. Only some of the women involved felt greatly ignored by the process.

I’ve seen this bishop’s leadership style. Typical of organizations–tries to keep things as quiet as possible and smooth over problems. I’ve seen the same tendency in public school superintendents.

Now to go find insignificant friends. And then live again.

Some Talk, Some Do

December 27, 2019

Some groups of people seem to make all the noise. They know how to manipulate media, sometimes even while deriding it.

“The Media”–to whom I often refer as “mainstream media”–are as gullible as many evangelical Christians. They’ll fall for anything. I turn to NYU professor Jay Rosen for reasoned critiques of The Media. Look especially at his latest post about Meet the Press.

While I consider it a necessary spiritual discipline to avoid getting sucked into media drama, I notice who gets the press time (we used to say ink, but now it’s also pixels).

There are many more people who are actually out in the communities and world doing what Jesus actually commanded. Getting into relationship with God and into his kingdom. Going out amongst strangers and feeding the hungry, healing the sick, helping the poor, bringing comfort to the ailing, justice to the oppressed.

It’s the same in all organizations, both religious and secular, where we hear the negative, the nihilistic, the mean, the hate, the ego. Those make the headlines.

The people doing the work, well, we don’t hear much from them. They are too busy doing. Where are the algorithms that spread that word? Oh, they don’t sell ads?

Are you a Christian; or, are you a follower of Jesus? We know you by your love.

Moral Bankruptcy and Pride

December 26, 2019

I’m traveling for the holidays, and therefore on a different daily regimen. Which means, I read my news feeds before thinking for the day.

There were stories of greed, deception, lying, pride, ego, power seeking.

These were also the stories of 2,000 years ago. This could describe the Roman Empire and Jewish leaders.

And it describes the antithesis of the kingdom that Jesus described. The kingdom that turns it all on its head by putting love and humbleness and ethics at the center.

It’s not that we’ve lost. It’s just that every new individual born into human society must decide which kingdom it will reside in. And as we often say, failure to decide is in itself a decision.

Will we decide to enter, or just slide into, the kingdom of following our emotions and agree to manipulation?

Or, will we decide to enter the kingdom Jesus introduced?

Choose wisely.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2019

The kingdom of God is here.