Dangerous Witness, Love Ridiculous

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Genesis 13; Matthew 12; Nehemiah 2; Acts 12

Summer Sunny Forest Trees And Green Grass. Nature Wood Sunlight

Often when I read God’s living word, I find myself stopping to say something of the sort “Wait, what’s that all about?” Today’s reading started off this way.

Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. -Genesis 13:4

This phrase ‘called on the name of the Lord’ confused me. I thought to myself “that is an interesting way to say Abram worshiped the Lord. What does an old testament sacrifice have to do with God’s Name?” Seeking for answers, I looked for the phrase throughout the Bible. I found it used in several places throughout the Bible, old and new testament, such as; Gen 4:26Gen 13:4, 1 Ki 18:24, 2Ki 5:11, Joe 2:32, Ac 2:21, Ac 22:16To me, it became more clear what this meant with each of the old testament occurrences but none more than in the prophecy of Joel and then later in Acts.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered:… -Joel 2:32

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16

I also looked in to the individual words used, which helped me better understand the phrase. The root word for ‘called’, as in Abram called on the Name of the Lord is קרא, which I learned can be used in several different forms. In the form it is used here, it is also used throughout chapter one of Genesis when God is naming his creation: ‘calling the light day’ and so on. Interesting. So not necessarily called as in; Tom called on Jane, but more; Tom called Jane beautiful. Put another way, calling something what it is. 

This phrase ‘calling on the name of the Lord’, in my estimation then, is a proclamation of faith that God is who He reveals Himself to be. Put another way, announcing officially or publicly “God is who He says He is! Jesus is the Christ! I profess my dependence on Him and commit to follow Him.” Perhaps not that specifically, but you get the idea.

Another interesting revelation from this study is that this proclamation of faith is consistent term, if you will, of all the covenants that God graciously enters into with His undeserving people throughout the Bible. Throughout the covenants we are called to be His witnesses.

In the old testament making sacrifices and observing special holidays was a way to be different from the other people of the earth and in so doing the others could see from afar that these people we’re proclaiming God’s Name. Imagine an animal being sacrificed. Such an act would not go unnoticed by the neighbors. It would be loud. The smell, far reaching. Like unto it, many of the rhythms of holiday observances and pilgrimages, people about would take notice; ‘There go God’s people.’ As we adhere to the covenants we proclaim God’s name.

Today, Jesus tells us that love will be the signal to all the world that we are His disciples.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. -John 13:35

Trying to think on why love is the way to proclaim God’s name in the new covenant may be another study entirely. Perhaps receiving the Spirit was the only way we would be capable of sending such a signal? Acts 1:8

I feel this understanding has presented me a most precious opportunity to consider a question. Can the way I live, the way I love, go unnoticed by the neighbors? When I love does it point straight to God? Does it proclaim His name? God help me. 

The vision statement at Eastview names me a dangerous witnesses who has love ridiculous. Perhaps the kind of love that can not go unnoticed? Perhaps the kind of love that is so unself, so supernatural, it can only become through the power of the Spirit? God would you accept my life as a living sacrifice? God would you help me take up my cross daily and focus on things eternal, letting go of the temporal? God would you turn my heart towards Your statues and not toward selfish gain? 

Further reading from past studies:

Parenting: Good-night Words

Good night words to a child ought to be the best of words, as they are words of greatest potency. The last waking thoughts of a child have a peculiar power over his mind and heart, and are influential in fixing his impressions and in shaping his character for all time.
-H Clay Trumbull

Parenting Good night words

Before Eleanor arrived and since her arrival, in small talk, folks seem to gravitate to a common place. In jest, advice, and curiosity Eleanor’s sleep seems to be thee topic of interest. It became clear to Jamie and I that this was an important issue before Eleanor came to us and so we asked and sought out and knocked on the door of scripture, books and friends to learn as much as we could.

Here are some of the larger takeaways from Mr. Trumbull’s chapter on laying a child down to rest:

  • This is an hour unlike others in a child’s day where they are particularly left to themselves and so a child craves sympathy, appreciates kindness and is grieved by harshness and cold neglect at this hour where they are most alone.
  • Children are particularly malleable just before they sleep and so it is at this hour that a parent’s words and presence are most potent.
  • A wise parent will prize this hour as the golden hour of good impressions on the child’s heart. There should be no severity then, no punishment. Every word should be one of gentleness and affection.
  • The last waking thoughts of a children’s are of particular importance in the shaping of the child’s character through all time.

Eleanor has nearly outgrown her bassinet and so we are preparing her for her crib. A bedtime blessing was prepared. In our studies on sleep we found there are some 139 verses on sleep in the Bible. Most all of them point to this idea of trusting in a God who is worthy of our trust. I believe Mr. Trumbull came to a similar conclusion through his studies and perhaps that is what lead him to include this story in his chapter on good night words:

A sensitive, timid little boy, long years ago, was accustomed to lie down to sleep in a low “trundle-bed,” which was rolled under his parents’ bed by day, and was brought out for his use by night. As he lay there by himself in the darkness, he could hear the voices of his parents, in their lighted sitting room, across the hallway, on the other side of the house. It seemed to him that his parents never slept; for he left them awake when he was put to bed at night, and he found them awake when he left his bed in the morning. So far this thought was a cause of cheer to him, as his mind was busy with imaginings in the weird darkness of his lonely room.

After loving good-night words and kisses had been given him by both his parents, and he had nestled down to rest, this little boy was accustomed, night after night, to rouse up once more, and to call out from his trundle-bed to his strong-armed father, in the room from which the light gleamed out, beyond the shadowy hallway, “Are you there, papa?” And the answer would come back cheerily, “Yes, my child, I am here.” “You’ll take care of me tonight, papa; won’t you?” was then his question. “Yes, I’ll take care of you, my child.” was the comforting response. “Go to sleep now. Good night.” And the little fellow would fall asleep restfully, in the thought of those assuring good-night words.

A little matter that was to the loving father; but it was a great matter to the sensitive son. It helped to shape the son’s life. It gave the father an added hold on him; and it opened up the way for his clearer understanding of his dependence on the loving watchfulness of the All-father. And to this day when the son, himself a father and grandfather, lies down to sleep at night, he is accustomed, out of the memories of that lesson of long ago, to look up through the shadows of his earthly sleeping place into the far-off light of his Father’s presence, and to callout, in the same spirit of childlike trust and helplessness as so long ago, “Father, you’ll take care of me tonight; won’t you?” And he hears the assuring answer back, “He that keepeth thee will not slumber. The LORD shall keep thee from all evil. He shall keep thy soul. Sleep, my child, in peace.” And so he realizes the two fold blessing of a father’s good-night words.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid:
Yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
– Proverbs 3:24

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
– Psalm 4:8

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD,
Which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper:
The LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.
-Psalms 121

Trusting in the LORD is a beautiful thing. From my studies, I have come to believe that so much of my sin has come from wanting things for myself. Adam and Eve in the garden; the apple, a way to say “If I have the knowledge I won’t need God. I will make my own way. I won’t need to depend on the LORD.” What a complicated mess. A simpler way to rely completely on the LORD. To trust completely in the LORD for He is completely trustworthy. May our children know that the LORD always watches over them, that He alone is enough for them, that they can trust in Him in all things and sleep sweetly and always go in peace.

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciate

A Journal Entry: When to Talk

let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
-Saint James

When to talk and when to listen

I have come to keep a journal. Reflections on the day and so on. This morning in my time set aside to blog, thoughts of reflection on a topic that has gone unanswered too long and an idea of resolution consumed me to journal instead. So this week I will share this entry. Names removed, adding in verses for and some of my thoughts that did not make their way to the entry for context, etc:

5.2.15

In the past I have not been sure as to the volume of my speech. In business settings, in the past I have felt like I, in general, have ideas I think will help. So I have always erred the side of sharing them. That said, I have been mindful of God’s word that encourages us not to speak hastefully and in great volume. It has been a point of uncertainty for me. The balance of volume my speech. Should I talk or should I remain silent? Is this a point of pride? That everyone must hear my idea because my idea is so good? Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my mentors. My struggle on the matter came up as we talked about James 1:18-20:

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

I have come to believe this to mean that if we are going to be God’s firstfruits amongst His creatures, if we are going to serve and love our fellow; the formula to make that possible is to be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath. We need to listen to be positioned to love others well. It does not say “do not speak” it says to “be slow to speak.” This I think helps us focus on listening. The opposite thinking about what we are going to say and waiting for the first opportunity to speak, I do not think is slow to speak but rather quick for we have already spoke to ourselves and are just waiting to privy others our thoughts. The question I asked him was how does this work with the gift of speaking and teaching and sharing understanding. He looked at me and smiled. He gave no answer. No word left his tongue. Interesting. Perhaps now I think he may have been teaching me a lesson after all. After breakfast he and I went to visit an old friend of my fathers that was in town from the city on a case, he is a God fearing lawyer, his father was too. I asked him this same question after talking about James 1:19. He said that it was a tough question that he had no answer. He did however afford me a piece of advice his father gave him. ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ That is, as I took it, when in doubt remain silent. Still my dilemma remains for my confidence soars in conversation that a particular idea should be shared for the service of those there. Not to my glory of course, that I rescue them with my idea or some nonsense, but instead, should what is shared help; glory be to our God who makes all things known, the Creator of all ideas. I was mowing the lawn last afternoon, preparing our home for a dinner with the families of two business partners where we planned to discuss how to help another in a new venture. As I was mowing the lawn reflecting on the day, I came to this bit of advice that my fathers friend passed to me from his father. ‘When in doubt remain in silence.’ Then a thought flashed in to my mind. 1 Peter 4:10-11:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In my estimation, if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow, then speak as it is your duty. This, I think, is when the doubt is removed; that point of balance I had been searching for. When to talk. My father’s friend said something else that I think answers the ‘if’ of the qualifying question above. That is; discerning if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow. I am doing my best to recall and paraphrase his comments, ‘I thrive in hardship.’ He said, ‘It is good for me. To be humbled and know I rely on God. I have no humble bone in my body. God brings me to my knees.’ This sort of revelation has been reoccurring to me as of late years. My complete reliance on God. On God’s Spirit to show me what to do. I think now, God willing, my dilemma in speech will draw me closer to God. Practicing the presence of God. God give me discernment and faith with wisdom, understanding, knowledge. I need Your help God. I depend on You moment by moment. Draw me near You God and draw near me. Show me what to do.

A quick programming note: I want to clarify something that was clear in my mind when writing in my journal but could be taken for granted here. And when I say clear in my mind I do not mean that I have figured this out, only that I have come to believe these things important. These things are things that if, should you believe you are to speak, I do not think should give way to manners and other proverbs addressing our speech. Things like talking in definitives or otherwise squaring off that you are in the right, interrupting and other forms inserting yourself when another is speaking, or dominating a conversation as to not let another contribute. 

 

-A journal entry on speech

  As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Theological Virtues: Charity

Charity means ‘Love, in the Christian sense’.
-C.S. Lewis

Charity wanting the best for others

Charity from caritas the standard Latin translation for the Greek word Αγάπη, meaning an unconditional love for others. Charity in old english was defined as a Christian love of one’s fellows. Today charity has come to be thought of mostly in the sense of relief by giving money. But it is much more. Unconditional is such a powerful word when we stop to consider it. Not because of anything. Not in return for anything. Non-negotiable, always, no matter what.

Unconditional seems to be a matter of will instead of feeling. So many times we hear people say things like “[they] are in love”. Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about his belief that love is a verb – that love the feeling is the fruit of love the verb. C.S. Lewis notes a lesson in charity revealing one of the great secrets in life: “When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love them”. He goes on to explain that this secret also works terribly the other way round. Cruel acts produce hatred and more cruelty and on and on. His point? “Good and evil both increase at compound interest.” This is why the little decisions we make day to day are of such importance. The things we do, the seeds we sow, will come to harvest.

Christians by charity are called to unconditionally want the best for others. This is different from liking people. I do not think Christians are called to like everyone by the virtue of charity. I do however think that wanting the best for people, unconditional of your preference to the way they did so and so or that thing they said or what they think about such and such, produces a genuine and authentic liking of them.

We by our very nature afford perfect charity to ourselves. No matter the condition of our preference for ourselves, we want the very best for us. No matter how we fall short of what we think we ought to have done, that is: the degree to which we like ourselves at the moment, the desire for good things for us never wavers. No matter what. Charity I have come to believe is turning this phenomenon outward toward others.  A Christian, unconditional, love for our fellows.  A Christian, unconditional, desire to see others well.

 

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

-A takeaway from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Love and Business: Protection

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserveres.
-1 Corinthians 13:7

Love and Business: Protection

What role does love play in business? One part often overlooked is the beginning of verse 7. “it always protects,” Sound counsel for those of us wishing to lead. A wise business man once taught me a lesson in the importance of intangibles in business. Protection, one of them, I learned is very important.

Have you ever asked for something you thought quite reasonable at an establishment only to have an employee say something of the sort “There is nothing I can do for you.”? I’ve asked this question of several people and most everyone has agreed that, yes they have. It may vary a bit, “that is the policy” or “the rules keep me from whatever” but all the same, it is there. And I have come to believe that the root of the issue is a lack of protection. I think, if I am not mistaken, it illuminates a lack of leadership. Leaders of course are called to love. And as we have learned; love protects.

When we hear these responses, and often see the frustration on even their faces, I have come to believe what they are really saying is “I am not protected.” They go on, “you see we have these rules, and if I step outside them, I am not protected. So, therefore, I can not so and so to help you.”

People want protection and they will fabricate it when it is not provided them. What other forms of protection have our teammates created to rely on when we do not protect them? Collecting a string of emails perhaps, when what was really needed was a hard conversation with a client. Or holding back their experiences, when what was really needed was the truth in a meeting. Do your teammates feel protected? If not, what is it costing everyone you are leading?

A quick stop on leadership. Leaders who have authority are, I think, more effective leaders. Still, I do not believe that one needs authority to lead. Is there a lack of protection on your team? Step in and provide it. Lead. A rather animal example but a good one I hope is afforded us from the wolf pack. There is no committee. No vote is taken up to determine the alpha. The alpha is, or perhaps became the alpha, unless I am mistaken, because when danger arose, they went and dealt with it. They provided protection.

But what of the rules, the policies? How will we get on? Policies and rules seem to me to be put in place when there is a lack of trust. When a leader can not trust a team member they place their trust in a set of rules. Let’s think about what this is costing us. I once heard the founder of redbox talk about having this very experience in a Blockbuster long before the idea for redbox ever crossed his mind. “I am sorry but I am not authorized to help you”. At that moment, a spark lit, he thought to himself ‘there has to be a better way’. Interesting. That seemed to cost them the lot.

Trust enables. It empowers. Rules and policies of the variety we are talking seem to do the opposite. They seem to create robot employees that leave our customers frustrated as though they were dealing with a sort of automated phone tree that does not work. By the way the very next part of verse 7: “[love] always trusts”, interesting.

What policies have you lobbied, even put in place? Do you think this is the best way to protect your teammates or could it be that it is your way of protecting yourself? Is it really working, or is it costing you? Verse 5 “it is not self-seeking”, interesting.

Does your business, does your team, need a big dose of love, of protection?

 

-A takeaway from an internrocket.com meeting with Arnold Lovin

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Law of Compensation

The Simple Path: Silence is Prayer. Prayer is Faith. Faith is Love. Love is Service. The Fruit of Service is Peace

-Mother Teresa

umbrella and rain drops closeup

This post runs the risk: what does this have to do with that?  And. How does that lead to this?  Still in some way they fit to me. The thought of heavy rain spattering against an umbrella. A peaceful sound. Let us suppose each drop of rain an opportunity to provide value. The protected wishes to be. Drops deflected value provided. Imagine still deflecting each drop on its own. A difficult task. Impossible perhaps. If that were the way, how valuable the the modern umbrella would be.

The Law of Compensation:

Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.

I have come to believe that once we have a good value to provide, our income is determined by the rate at which we  allow others to participate in the exchange. Innovation accelerates these occurrences in my experience. Innovation in this sense. Applying new systems or technology to scale service. A matter a leverage. Leverage without dilution of value all the better.  What systems can we adhere to allow others the value we provide exponentially?  Pick one point of value that you provide others and develop a simple system or apply a simple technology to accelerate the rate at which others can gain from it. Think one to many. I do this once and many gain and so on. Peace be with you.

 

-A takeaway from The Go Giver by Mann and Burg

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Love

I have been doing marriage counseling for about 15 years and I realized that what makes one person feel loved, doesn’t make another person feel loved.

-Gary Chapman

Love sport concept - running couple kissing. Closeup of running

Seems like it makes sense.  Men are from Mars and all that stuff.  I know Jamie and I are different.  In The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman argues that people need different things to feel loved.  He presents five categories of ways to love and be loved.

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

The biggest takeaway for me from this book was that you and your significant other may be missing eachother with all the best intentions.  For example, if your love language is acts of service and theirs is receiving gifts, your natural tendency might be to do things for them and their natural tendency might be to give you things, because that is what either of you would like in return – but you would both be missing the mark.  Instead recognize that people appreciate different things, be intentional about learning those things, and do them even though it is not natural.

Jamie and I took the quiz in the book and we found it helpful – mostly I would say due to the conversation.  Here is an online version of the quiz.  We came out of it with a better understanding of what things the other appreciated.  This made it special when Jamie did so and so that I said was important to me and the other way round.  It made it easier to notice and appreciate.  To know what was required to love well.

 

a takeaway from The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

 

Any helpful books, takeaways, stories, lessons learned on this topic?