Archive for the ‘Doing’ Category

We Are Known By What We Do

January 11, 2021

Rather than go down the rabbit warren of Resolutions or Goals, I practice and teach the method of visualizing the sort of person I’d like to be.

  • I am the person who rises early to read and meditate
  • I am the person who eats a healthy diet
  • I am the person who exercises with intention every day
  • I am a helpful person
  • …(you get the drift…)

Another practice I’ve adopted for many years is to begin the year reading Wisdom literature. Perhaps it’s the Proverbs which just happens to have the same number of chapters as there are days in January. One-a-day. Sometimes it may be the study of James. Another good one is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7. This year for no rational reason, I’m reading Wisdom literature from a different tradition.

But saying I am a certain type of person or studying Wisdom literature is only a foundation. Jesus knew that. His challenge was “hear my words and do them.” Solomon was reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived. He did not live wisely. And his child and heir destroyed the united kingdom in just a few short years. All those wise words Solomon had about raising a child–they never made it from his head to his heart.

How many people who have learned a hundred or more Bible verses and can recite from memory do we know whose life would never attract someone to God? How many religious leaders do we know who fail at basic morality? How many people have we dealt with in business who talk Christian talk but fail in fundamental ethics?

So, this year:

  • Get off your butt and actually exercise
  • Actually eat those foods that you know you should
  • Do something for someone somehow
  • Act with intention

Here’s a question you can carry with you along with your wallet and keys–Are You Being Served? Actually, that was a cute British sitcom from the 70s and 80s that I used to watch at times. That visualization reinforces the question we should be asking all the time–Are you being served? Oh, and then, serve.

Will I Be A Sitter Or A Follower This Year

January 1, 2021

Already yesterday I saw threads on Twitter about posting your New Year’s Resolutions.

Don’t.

They don’t work. Before January is over, you’ll have forgotten them.

This year, maybe we just decide to stop sitting and complaining. We choose to get up and follow Jesus. The first groups around Jesus? They weren’t scholars so much as they were followers.

Try this thought from Søren Kierkegaard.

Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may be able to explain every article of our faith, yet remain spiritually motionless. The power that moved heaven and earth leaves us completely unmoved.

What a contrast! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it spurred them to set out on a long, hard journey. The scribes, meanwhile, were much better informed, much better versed. They had sat and studied the scriptures for years, like so many dons. But it didn’t make any difference. Who had the more truth? Those who followed a rumor, or those who remained sitting, satisfied with all their knowledge?

Søren Kierkegaard

Maybe you were taught to be only a leader, never a follower be. But you follow something or someone. You follow those who promise riches. You follow those who promise power. You follow those who appeal to your insecurities and fears.

None of those satisfy in the end.

Make 2021 a year of choosing to follow Jesus who leads us (if we but do his teaching) to living a better life because we chose to live in God’s kingdom.

Maybe you will or won’t lose that 30 pounds. Or you will or won’t write that book. Or you will or won’t double your income.

But you can be a different kind of human.

Vocation

November 4, 2020

No, not vacation, something we all need right now. Rather, vocation refers to the work you do, your career, how you devote your skills and talents. My introduction to the word was in high school. There was a course of study called Vocational Agriculture. It was for the farm kids who were going to go into the family farming business.

I went to college and studied lots of things. Then I was introduced again to the word when I taught 7th grade at a Catholic school. Not being Catholic, I had to pick up on the specific meaning of the word as they used it back then–namely (I think) showing the kids the opportunities for “vocation” meaning becoming a priest, brother, or sister.

Most of us get a job of some kind and perhaps it becomes a career of some kind. Do we think beyond that? Like those Catholic kids I taught, are we encouraged to consider what God might want us to do with our time, skill, talent?

I saw this thought in today’s readings:

Vocation is not evoked by your bundle of need and desire. Vocation is what God wants from you whereby your life is transformed into a consequence of God’s redemption of the world. Look no further than Jesus’s disciples – remarkably mediocre, untalented, lackluster yokels – to see that innate talent or inner yearning has less to do with vocation than God’s thing for redeeming lives by assigning us something to do for God.

Especially American Baby Boomers, but also many people in the world, think about how much money we can make, or how much power we can exert over others, or retiring to a lifestyle of wealthy leisure such as portrayed in countless movies and TV shows.

But no, someday God will call us to account for our use of his gifts. It’s not to late to discover and go.

10 Things You Can Do Now

August 24, 2020

Here are 10 things you can do now that require zero talent.

  1. Being on time
  2. Work ethic
  3. Effort
  4. Energy
  5. Body language
  6. Passion
  7. Doing extra
  8. Being prepared
  9. Being coachable
  10. Attitude

Go out and change your world today. You can do it.

Get Up And Do What Needs To Be Done

October 9, 2018

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

I just love the language of the Proverbs. “You sluggard…” That is so blunt.

Yesterday I wrote about focus. Then I listened to an Eastside Christian Church podcast talk by Mike Breaux (pronounced bro for you non-Cajuns) on procrastination. Seems like a series brewing.

Sometimes we can’t focus because we just can’t get around to the work. We put things off. Dust the desk. Search on Google. Fix a cup of tea.

Go to the ant, you sluggard–it has no boss, yet it works constantly.

Get over the fear of starting.

Or maybe just plain laziness.

Sometimes you need a signal. Perhaps that cup of tea is the signal to sit down and write, or think, or draw, or make those phone calls.

I think of Garrison Keillor and the “sponsor” of Prairie Home CompanionPowdermilk Biscuits. Heavens they’re tasty, and expeditious. Give shy persons the strength they need to get up and do what needs to be done.

Consider the ways of the ant and be wise. Get up and do what needs to be done.

It’s Not Everyone Who Calls Me Lord

April 10, 2018

What if Jesus meant what he said?

I truly appreciate that group of teachers who began pondering that question some 45 years ago or so. It is much to our loss that their voices have been drowned by the hype of others.

What if Jesus really meant what Matthew recorded (7:21):

Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus also said (as reported by his good friend John):

I give you a new command, Love one another as I have loved you.

What if we lived today not simply repeating opinions of theology or calling the name of Jesus with empty hearts, but…

that we lived today doing the will of the Father.

Maybe like James teaches, we watch what we say lest we hurt someone rather than building them up.

Hint: perhaps we step back and look objectively at the tone of our opinions and social media posts–remember that the right to free speech does not absolve us from the responsibility of speaking in love.

Maybe like the apostle Paul teaches, such as the list he gives us (1 Corinthians 13) describing how to act with love.

Maybe Jesus really meant that we are supposed to do the will of the Father, not just call out his name.

Do This In Order To Understand

February 5, 2018

Søren Kierkegaard — Christ says: Do according to what I say – then you shall know. Consequently, decisive action first of all. By acting, your life will come into collision with existence, and then you will know the reality of grace. Nowadays we have turned the whole thing around. Christianity has become a worldview. Thus, before I get involved I must first justify it. Good night to Christianity!

Peter delivers a major evangelistic sermon reported in Acts 2. On the day of Pentacost when the followers of Jesus were given the power of the Holy Spirit, they attracted the attention of crowds of people who had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

Peter preached about the resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins. It was a moving and powerful sermon. It lacked one thing a great speech of this type needs–a call to action. There must be a “to do” or a “so what” to conclude. But the people listening supplied the question, “So what should we do?” they asked.

“Repent and be baptized,” Peter said.

There is something to do.

Paul wrote to the Romans (chapter 12) after talking about grace and the unity of Jew and Gentile, goes into a list 29 items long telling us how to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. A “to do” list.

I’m reading a psychologist currently. Just started the book. Chapter One–stand up straight. Change your posture and change your life.

We know that we can often act our way into believing, or act our way into changing our attitude. When we perform an action repeatedly, it becomes a habit. And a habit defines us. It pays rich dividends to choose our actions wisely.

Thoughts Are Nice, Actions Speak Louder

July 7, 2017

Be doers of the Word, not hearers only.

I like the little book of James. It is ancient Wisdom literature revisited in light of Jesus.

He talks about how we act and then again about how we should act.

We should accept people of different social classes and backgrounds and skin colors.

We should speak encouraging words being careful of how hurtful words can be.

We can be contemplative, but how we act with others reveals our heart.

I wrote recently about Christian business people. The problem is that they spent so much time outwardly “professing” their own faith that they forgot to care about others.

It’s sort of a Christian Narcissism.

It is not always the “big” acts that count.

Surely we need leaders. But I know a woman whose ministry is writing encouraging notes to people. She has more influence than the preacher. Or the guy whose ministry was hospitality and prepared coffee and cookies for people before and after worship for many years. There is the person who will drive people to doctor’s appointments. The person who will comfort those who are grieving. The person who slips some extra money to someone in need or gifts and orphanage with needed equipment.

We remember these people. The guy who talks a big self story–not so much.

Knowing And Doing

March 17, 2017

To be is to do – Socrates; To do is to be – Sartre; Do Be Do Be Do – Sinatra

I first heard that old joke in grad school years ago. Sometimes it’s good to poke fun at serious thinking that gets too serious.

The suggestion has been made by various people (including me) that instead of making new year’s resolutions or setting goals, determine what sort of person you want to be in the coming year. Who do I wish to be?

The value of an idea lies in using it. Thomas Edison

We then have to act on that vision of who we want to be in order to actually become that person.

Merely sitting around and wishing doesn’t make it.

The same holds for knowing and doing. Knowing how to fix a car or a leaky faucet has no value unless you actually fix the car or stop the leak.

When Jesus gave us his commandment, it wasn’t to know something–“Love the Lord your God … and your neighbor as yourself.”

How many people have spoken those words and yet their lives bear no resemblance to them?

How many times do I have to not do what I should before I can incorporate what I should do into my daily life?

And sometimes we just go through a day singing. And that’s not all that bad.

You Are Who You Are

August 22, 2016

“You are who you are.”

Weird phrase. Sounds like a truism.

Psalm 139 opens with, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.” Later it says, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Paul writing to the Ephesians tells us to be worthy of our calling.

So, I was thinking about these weird little phrases, such as “you are who you are.”

Few things are sadder when someone tries to be what they are not. A short kid thinks he’s an NBA star. A tone-deaf person thinks she’s a great singer. A person short on vision and unable to connect with people thinks he’s a leader.

Maybe we dream of being a great speaker and in reality our calling and gifts point toward teaching and mentoring.

Worse still, are the hypocrites. Jesus once said (I bet in reality he said it a lot), “Woe to you hypocrites.”

Hypocrites means someone who wears a mask. They present a persona to the world that is not even close to what they are.

They pretend to be godly.

They pretend to be wealthy.

They pretend to pray.

They pretend they are compassionate.

Yet, their hearts are hardened. They are actually insecure, or angry, or greedy, or self-absorbed, and so on.

Paul prays that we are not like that. That we truly are filled with the spirit of God. That we find our true calling in life and live it out.

The psalmist concludes 139 with, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Those are challenging words. They might make us change direction.