Archive for the ‘Disciplines’ Category

Traveling Light, Agile, Flexible

May 26, 2017

It’s 7:30 am. I’m checking out of the hotel, but I’m not leaving the conference until about 3:00 pm. I ask the person at the desk if there’s a place to leave my baggage.

I hand her my backpack. “That’s all?” Yes, I replied. I’ve learned.

People all the time make travel much more difficult and anxiety ridden than they should. They wrestle with baggage through the airport. When you travel alone, you have to take it all into the restroom stall with you. Ever try that?

Then there’s the worry about overhead space. If you are not among the first 30 or so, will there be space for my baggage?

If weather is bad and you miss a connection, you’re on standby for later flights. Often you’ll be the last one on. No room for the “roll-aboard” luggage.

My backpack fits under the seat in front of me. Unless I’m in a bulkhead seat, I’m fine. Even then, it’s easier to stow a small backpack than a hard-edged suitcase.

“That’s smart,” she said.

How do I do it?

I ruthlessly evaluate everything I carry. I look at size, weight, and utility. After years of travel, you figure out that you’ve carried tons of clothes and other things that you never used. Stop carrying them.

I’m an old man, and I’ve experienced many troubles–most of which never happened.

The baggage analogy is often used in life. That’s because it’s true.

It’s the same in life.

Have too many things? Ruthlessly pare down to the essentials.

Too many people in your past that hurt or disappointed you? Put them behind you. They don’t care about you. Why carry the burden with you?

God has injured or disappointed you? Put that god behind you. Read what Jesus said again with new eyes, devoid of theologies you’ve been taught. What did he actually say. It’s really a simple faith and experience of the Spirit of God.

Like Noel Paul Stookey of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary wrote in Hymn about attending a church service at offering time

I just had time to write a note, and all I said was I believe in you.

Are We Really Connecting?

May 25, 2017

When you say something to someone, does the message get through?

OK, we already know about kids. How about spouses?

When God says something to you, does that message connect?

I have devoted a good portion of this week learning about a new computer networking standard–a new version of Ethernet–called Time Sensitive Networking. TSN is a hot topic. Perhaps many new people will read my business blog when I write about it.

There are several important new technologies to this standard, and I’ll spare you the gory details. But there is this one–setting a “priority” so that when one device sends a “packet” of data to another, the entire network stops for a nanosecond while that priority packet gets through. It’s like traffic stopping to let an ambulance go by. You have told the network that communication between these devices is a priority and the message must get through.

So, I started contemplating then concept, of course. It’s what I do.

And I thought, when you say something to someone, does their inner dialog network shut down long enough for your message to get throug? Are you being heard?

Or, something you can control–do you intentionally shut down your inner network when someone is talking to you so that you actually receive their message? And in networking, we have what we call data and we have metadata–data about the context of the data. When you listen, do you absorb the entire context? Where they are. What they actually mean. What back story influences the conversation.

Then I thought about prayer.

For many it’s talking to God. Or maybe requesting a package from the Great Vending Machine In The Sky?

Can you shut down your inner networking for a few nanoseconds (or minutes or hours?) to listen for God’s message packet to come through?

Choosing To Live Past Temptation

May 24, 2017


“Choose your temptation.” At first glance, I missed the “breakfast” in the sign’s headline. I’m in queue at the Starbucks at the hotel where I’m staying this week. 

I think, “Interesting. Choose your temptation. I bet Jesus would have fun with that play on words.

I suppose we can choose that which will tempt us.

The real question is how do we recognize and respond to temptation.

I recognized that advertisement as a temptation to overeat. Now that I recognize the emotion as a temptation, I can make another choice. Maybe for health and keeping my waistline down. (I ate a nutrition bar in my room along with my Americano).

Some temptations are more difficult to recognize. It may take a while.

Wisdom is letting experience teach us to recognize temptation sooner.

Or we could pray “Lead me not into temptation.”

Write Things Down

May 23, 2017

The palest ink is better than the best memory. — Chinese proverb

The speaker was discussing being steadfast commenting on a passage from 1 Corinthians. He said something that provoked some thoughts. I need to make a note of that, I thought.

My everpresent notebook was on the floor unde my seat. It was a effort to reach under and retrieve it. Then fish the pen from my pocket. I’ll remember it, I told myself.

Ha!

By the time I remembered that I had something to remember, it was gone.

I was going to write on something related to being steadfast or holding steadfast or something like that.

Write things.

I once made all my notes electronically, except for a small Moleskin that fit in the back pocket of my jeans or slacks. Now I make all notes in a journal. Thoughts. Things to remember. Business interviews. Notes from press conferences. Notes from books and articles. Things I need to do.

When I fill a notebook, I go back through and copy unfinished business into the new notebook. I can sketch ideas graphically. I can draw mind maps. It is much freeer to write with a pen in a journal than to type into the Notes app of an iPhone.

Every few months, I’ll go back and skim through several old notebooks. It’s interesting to see my thinking from a year ago. Or things I’ve never done, yet.

Spiritual discipline? Yep. 

Personal discipline? Yes again.

Growth tool? For sure.

We joke about getting old and losing our memory. Actually, our memory is much worse at every age than we think it is. The worst evidence in a trial is eyewitness testimony.  Write it down.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Six Times

May 19, 2017

Yesterday I wrote about second chances. How instead of pointing fingers at others, pay attention to how we have also sinned and been given a chance by God through grace.

Then I went out for my exercise and tuned into a podcast by John Fischer on BlogTalkRadio which was a conversation with Susan Burton.

Susan wrote a book about her experiences, Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women.

She tells her story about going from grief to drugs to jail to release (6 times) until someone pointed her to people who would help her break the cycle.

She did, and went on to found an organization that helps other incarcerated women recover and find a better life.

It makes you wonder what we’re doing with our lives right now. Who could we be helping?

Some people believe that we are only put here on Earth to serve ourselves. But God seems to think that we should be serving others. Here is a story of a woman who was helped and is now a helper.

A Place of Second Chances

May 18, 2017

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in America newspapers love to dredge up stories of past failures and sins of everyone they write about. If someone gets a new position with local visibility, you’re sure to read about the parking ticket they received 15 years ago. And especially worse misdeeds.

But in conversations, do we like to dwell on what others have done wrong in their past?

Do we forget that we all have done things–great and small–that we shouldn’t have? A stream of images just flashed through my consciousness of things I’m not proud of.

Are we willing to let it rest?

As a church fellowship, are we willing to admit people with a past? After all, that would be all of us.

When do we move on? When do we stop bringing up the past and live in the present moment?

We all need something of the Alcoholics Anonymous foundation–I screwed up, I recognize it, I own it, I’m living a new life one day at a time with the support of others.

We need to be the “others” lending support, not reminding everyone of the past.

It’s all part of our spiritual growth.

What If Jesus Appeared Among Us Like He Did Before

May 17, 2017

What if we were walking into a market square in a city or a mall or someplace similar and what if we ran into Jesus?

He’d be dressed more or less like us. But he’d stand out in the crowd for some reason. Probably personality.

And what if he touched someone and made them well right there in front of our eyes?

What if he gave us instruction and teaching just like he did as recorded in the gospels?

Would we follow him?

Somewhere aroung 130 years ago, Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote a novel called The Brothers Karamazov. Read it, but don’t watch the movie. Within the novel is a story.

Jesus visited Spain during the Inquisition. The Grand Inquisitor (a Roman Catholic Cardinal concerned with purity of the faith as he knew it and probably also concerned with personal power) heard about some guy going around healing and teaching. 

He had him arrested and thrown into jail. Then he visited Jesus in jail. He told him he should never have come back. People really didn’t want freedom and spirit. What they really wanted was their daily bread and security. He says, you know I’ll have to kill you all over again. We can’t have someone running around filling the people’s heads with your teaching. We have the Church to think about.

What if we met Jesus today? I mean, in the flesh. Person to person. Would we follow him? Or would we join the crowd killing him?

When The Power Goes Out

May 15, 2017

Very unusual in this part of the world–I awakened to more darkness than customary. Hmm, the power was out. No electricity.

My small electronic devices were OK. Cellular service was still functioning.

But no coffee.

No lights to read the newspaper by.

I could check some news. Post the day’s message to Facebook about the local coffee shop.

But I started thinking about power.

In physics, power is the rate of doing work. It is the amount of energy consumed per unit time.

It would be trite to start talking about God and power, I suppose.

But power is related to energy.

Our energy must be continually replenished.

How?

Connection with the spirit?

Proper rest?

Proper nutrition?

Enough exercise?

So far today, for me, it’s check, check, check. Time to go out and get moving.

Living In An Always On Video World

May 12, 2017

You lose your emotional balance. Start yelling and screaming at someone. You do it long enough for at least one person, perhaps more, to point their smart phone and click video / record. One Facebook post later, and 2 million people see what a jerk you are.

You step outside, and someone could be taking your picture. If you have caused anger in your significant other, even in your house you could be the subject of a new “film at 11” on the Web.

You would think that all this surveillance would make us behave better.

I wonder if Biblical writers such as John, who often wrote about light and dark and things we do in each, or James, or Paul even in their nightmares could envision the public exposure extending their thoughts about doing good.

The problem is that we see one video over and over and our brain starts to think this is a common occurrence. It isn’t. I just completed two trips–two continents, 10 different flight segments, five airports. Not one thing worth videoing. Darn, I’m not going to be famous (he said facetiously).

Someone asked me last night, wouldn’t it have been better for the person shooting the video to step up and try to be part of the solution? Sometimes we can’t. But I bet most of the time we can.

What if someone videoed us doing an act of kindness? Of being a calming influence when tempers start to kindle? Of preventing a friend or neighbor from becoming the next Internet Star?

Mother’s Day Is Coming

May 11, 2017

Interesting that Jon Swanson wrote about Mother’s Day this morning.

I got into a conversation with an Israeli journalist yesterday in Las Vegas at the computer conference I attended. The subject of Mother’s Day came up. He was staying in the States for a second conference, so he would be here for the holiday. But he was confused about it. His English was not fluent. We could not translate “Hallmark Holiday” into terms he could comprehend.

According to a Wikipedia article, a certain Anna Jarvis began campaigning in 1905 for a day to be set aside as a national holiday in commemoration of her mother–a Civil War peace activist. Some states began recognizing it by 1908. President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1911 setting Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May.

But it didn’t take long….

Although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

Gee, sounds like Christmas all over again. And Easter. And Father’s Day (well, maybe not so commercial, you can’t buy for men, you know). Did you know Sibling’s Day? Grandparent’s Day? Groundhog Day? Ooops, I think that one is different.

It is certainly hard to maintain your focus on meaning in the midst of hype.

My mother passed away quite a few years ago. I still remember the last time I saw her alive. But my wife reminds me that she is the mother of my children, so I should remember and honor her. And I will. For the 17th time in the past 22 years, I’ll be overseeing the referees at a soccer tournament. So, I’m out of her hair and she can do as she pleases.

But, maybe dinner later.

And to my many international readers–perhaps you don’t have a national holiday, but you could still take a day and do something special for your mother.