Monday, September 27, 2010

Bad context... Bad Pizza

I'm down in Chicago for the weekend watching my little brother play football, and I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. My father and I are staying for the weekend to hang out with Corey. So last night after the girls all headed north we needed a place to eat. My father wanted to go visit a very famous Chicago pizza place. So he told me the name the restaurant and I searched for it in my blackberry in order to find an address.
It was 22 miles away so Corey, Steve, and I jumped in the car and drove to town. The further we got the more confident my father got that this was the wrong direction. By now we're all getting very hungry, and the neighborhood is getting a little sketchy. Finally after a 45 minute drive we arrive on our final destination....
GIOVANNI'S!!!
the world famous take out pizza place???
You see my father said Giovanni's (meaning Giordanos) when I asked him the name of the place. I took him at his word and searched for Giovanni's, which happened to come up. What I really wanted to search for was...
GIORDANO'S!!! the world famous pizza place!!!
What happened was I heard something that sounded right "giovannis" and acted on it. Instead of spending a little bit of time researching and doing to some back ground checks I just went with it with out a second thought.
Unfortunately this happens way too often in our spiritual lives as well. We hear some one say they heard something in the Bible about such and such a topic, or they'll make a statement with out support and we'll blindly take them at their word. More often we read a passage and with out spending diligence studying the context of the chapter, consulting other resources, or seeing what others have said about the passage, we make a conclusion and then an application from that conclusion. This is called devotional interpretation and is based largely on our limited knowledge as well as our personal feelings and biases about the text. This poor reading of scripture leads to eisogesis or false meanings about the passage.
Another problem with eisogesis is it can lead you to the wrong pizza place!
So as you study in your devotions remember to take time and look at the historical context, the background, and seek outside help from respected commentaries in order to get the most accurate reading possible.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The power of the "stache"

Here's a little Friday morning humor for you.
Check out this sweet article about 20 mustaches that changed the world.
My personal favorite is the "Tom Selleck", because my dad has tried to be his twin for 30 years.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Comparisons

I remember as a kid, my dad called me to come inside, but I was having fun playing with my younger brother. Well, in our family, if you didn't follow instructions there were consequences. I remember, standing in the shower afterward and comparing who had the reddest backside!
Kids aren't the only ones to compare. We all do. But comparisons can lead to sin. How?
Well, if you compare yourself to others, and you come out ahead. I am better, I can do this faster, nicer, with much better quality... Comparisons lead to pride. Basically, we are taking credit for how God created us, and for his gifting in our lives.
On the other hand, if you compare yourself to others, and you come out behind: I am not good, I can't do it as well, They are soo much better... Comparisons lead to doubt. Meaning, we don't believe that God did a good job. And we question his ability to use us. This is unbelief or lack of trust. We are saying God can't do it.
Honestly, I wish I could say that this doesn't happen for me. However, truth be told, I find myself bouncing between both categories. Some days, I am prideful and think, "why can't others do things as well as me." "Why does it take them so long." "I wish they would think through this situation the way I would." Then other times, I question myself. I look around at the people I work with, and see how much more effective, detailed, or driven they are than me. They get things done, I get bogged down. They are very strategic and intentional, I wing it. They plan ahead, and I always procrastinate.
So what can we do to avoid or overcome comparisons. Realistically, I don't think you can live a day in this world without making a comparison, so avoidance isn't the best option. However, I think we can move our focus away from comparing ourselves to others, by being thankful.
Here is what I mean. We need to constantly thank God: both for the way he has gifted us and the ways that we see he has gifted others. When I am thankful, I give God credit for his creation, and I choose to believe that he can do it through me and through those around me. I negate pride, because it is God's craftsmanship, and I negate unbelief, because I am stating he did it!
Here is my best effort at sharing some things that God has been teaching me this past year. At times, I felt like a Mac in a PC world, here at Grace. At the time, I knew it wasn't true, but I was so different from other fulltime staff. As I have had God speak his truth into my life, I have come to claim that I am a necessary, and needed part of the body. He wants me to be different, he made me that way.
He wants you to be you. He made you that way. So stop dwelling on comparisons, and be thankful!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Facebook Affairs?

There is a rising trend in relationships. Man and women enter into a committed relationship (marriage or not), one person's ex-significant other from the past pops up on facebook, a little bit longer there is a messy split. Is facebook at fault for connecting us with former flames and leaving us no choice but to accept that friend request? After all you have accepted the door man's request, your cousins uncles room mates request, it would be rude to ignore some one you once had a relationship with. The real question should be why would you leave a door cracked open. A wise person once told me that humans enter into sin through doors they intentionally left cracked open. Here's the problem with having that old flame around. It didn't work the first time, but you've forgotten that by now. All you remember are the powerful first crush feelings you had or the high lights of the relationship. Over time this has been warped into a pseudo fantasy instead of reality. Now those feelings come back with fake memories to support them. There is a level of danger and risk that give you a rush as well. All of this combined is a sort of mental pornography in effect because it warps reality, pulls you away from real interaction, and creates a rush. Are you spending more time facebooking than you are face time with people? What level of accountability do you have with your significant other? Do you have secrets from them? All of these are open doors we leave cracked. It's not facebooks fault any more than it's a pens fault for misspelled words. I read an article by a secular therapist on a mainstream news website where he explained that even he does not accept these requests. That his wife has access to all his accounts at any time, and she can call him, text him or just show up at any time. That is open and transparent. He has nothing to hide, and his relationship benefits from his showing that to his wife. So instead of leaving doors cracked open, what new doors can you open in your relationship that will strengthen and encourage your spouse? What new and exciting hobbies can you start together to create new energy? Look for ways to be proactive in protecting your relationship and with openness, transparency, and accountability, you won't have to worry about facebook.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Self Esteem: Hot Air or Hard Things

I happen to be a competitive person, who values staying healthy. A few years ago I needed a goal to stay motivated. It was getting harder and harder to wake up and exercise. So, I decided to try a triathlon. Running wasn't my favorite thing, but the variety of swimming, biking, and running helped spice it up. Now a few years later I really enjoy finishing a race. This summer the joy was increased when my two oldest daughters, 13 and 11 years old wanted to race with me. We found a triathlon that had distances for their ages and the training began. My 11 year old is extremely competitive and would ask me when we could bike or run. Anna our oldest had a harder time, especially with running. It was always too painful for her to run. Two weeks before the race she wanted to quit. I could have told her it was great that she tried and maybe next year she could actually do the race. Too often, we, adults, tend to believe that affirming words and frivolous praise will build up the confidence of a child. Self Esteem can only come from self accomplishment. Anna was given a choice, she could drop out of the race and pay back the entry fee or do the race. She choose to stick with it. During the race she was the first one out of the water and the first one off her bike, now the running was still very difficult, but she finished third. The look of satisfaction and joy on her face at the end of the race was priceless. There was nothing I could have done or said to produce that look. Anna's self esteem was greatly increased because she followed through on a difficult task. How can you challenge those around you to do hard things?

Healthy Tension?

Many people spend a significant amount of time trying to avoid stress, strain, and tension in their lives. There are entire life styles devoted to experiencing a totally stress free life. I've been reading a bit about leadership lately. One concept that comes up frequently and one that we teach as critical to leadership at Grace, is the idea of healthy tension.
What creates tension?
1. Relationships; One article talked about how poor leaders hire people with similar behaviors and beliefs. This means there often is not much disagreement. I think insecure leaders do this. It takes a lot of comfort and confidence in who you are where you're going to have people on your team that see things differently. However with out those people, you can never break out of your own paradigms that may be stifling success.
This only works when all parties involved have unity of purpose though. If there is disagreement with out unity then people will start protecting their silos, which will create destruction, defensiveness, and criticism.
2. Departmental; Different arms of organizations have different perspectives. This is similar to relationships but not the same. The accountant is more sensitive to finances, while the product control officer is concerned with the highest quality product. Marketing wants to sell the world, while the service providers don't want to compromise experience. Left to our own desires each department could very easily slip into a pattern of what they see as best with out considering the other perspectives. This balance of desires is what helps to keep a company honest with itself.
3. External Factors; Competition, growth, change in cost of doing business, bad PR, are all examples of things that can cause tension in a company. This has a different opportunity though. Because it's not predicated by anybody in the company usually, the team has the chance to band together against this tension. It can cause unity or disunity depending on how it is responded to. Leadership must cast a vision for employees to band together behind in order to overcome these opportunities.
Finally tension can become unhealthy. When it becomes personal, when there is no appreciation for the areas of unity, when people feel unsafe, for whatever reason the line has been crossed.
Consider a rubber band. It only works if it is stretched, stretched too far and it can not serve its purpose. Are you creating teams that have healthy tension in them? How do you know how much is too much?
This is the most amazing rubber band gun ever, epic;

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lessons from the County Fair

The end of August signifies the end of summer for most people as kids head back to school and the weather starts to cool. The end of August also signifies for many Oceana County kids the end of year of hard work, dedication, fun, and fellowship. The end of August is the Oceana County 4H fair and this was my daughter’s first year participating. I am a people watcher. Therefore, the week was extremely interesting and at times very entertaining. You see all sorts of people with all sorts of different behaviors as they file through the barns to look at the livestock and take in all of the sights, smells, and textures that go with going through, hog, sheep, goat, cattle, and horse barns. You could tell those from the city and those from the country right away. What is more interesting to me were the families and how the parents interacted with their kids. This was just as true for 4H families as it was the fair goers. Now 4H is an absolutely wonderful organization with many great outcomes. I am very excited to see my daughter creating her own experiences that building character that will translate into much broader applications then how to muck a horse stall. What 4H is not, is that it is not a Christian organization. Being a much more diverse organization means that the kids (and parents) have a diversity of worldviews. When I first saw a different worldview being displayed by a kid talking back to their parent or a parent cussing out their kid, I was sadden. I wanted to confront and correct the behavior. Then I asked myself if I even wanted my daughter to be exposed to seeing such things? As I reflected, I remembered Luke 19:1-10 which is the story of Zacchaeus. Luke 19:9-10 says,”Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Ephesians 5 tells us to live a life of love, light, and wisdom. That is, our lives should reflect Christ in all that we do. That is exactly what Jesus modeled for us with Zacchaeus. Working in full-time ministry and being involved in our local church my kids spend a majority of their time in a safe, nurturing, Christian environment. That is awesome! However, I am excited for her involvement in 4H because what a great opportunity for my daughter to see how the world ,lost as it is, but yet the two of us have an opportunity to build relationships with people, model Christ, and be used by God to save what was lost. How does God want to use you? Are you in the World, but not of the World or are you so removed from the World that you have lost touch with who is lost? Christ never compromised Truth and yet he continued to seek and to save the lost.