Monday, March 31, 2008

Culture and Beliefs

Been doing a bit of work on worldviews: how they are formed, how they can be formed. Then had an interesting conversation with my friend Jesse Gable about our time together in the youth group of a church we were at together.

I think this is what I believe: creating a "culture" is more powerful than teaching truths (or policies or priorities or ...) because it both directly and indirectly alters those beliefs (I'll call them "governing beliefs") that affect actions, feelings, and other beliefs. Perhaps these "governing beliefs" are the same thing as one's world-view.

Critically, maybe this is why who I hang-out with or what I immerse myself in is so important (ex. friends, music, 'scene', books, club, church, etc.).

Perhaps this, 'culture', is what all the current business-thinkers are talking about: how do we get an organization to move-forward, to be always growing, etc. because what we've BEEN doing isn't working (management by walking around, management by objective, six-sigma, reorganization / re-engineering, etc.). How do we shrink the gap between the lowest or newest employee and the CEO or the soul of the organization? Seems to me they are usually asking, "How do we create a culture that just . . . causes! . . . what we want in the company?"

As a leader, how deliberate am I about pro-actively creating the desired culture (since I AM creating culture by my very position)?

As a human, what kind of culture(s) am I in? What would I assume they are doing to my worldview? Is it good, bad, neutral? Do I NEED a different culture to live in right now (in order to grow, expand, heal, etc. some aspect of myself)?

How intentional am I being with those aspects of my life that define what I think is "natural"?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Reclaiming Time" - N.T. Wright

"The reclaiming of time as God’s good gift (as opposed to time as simply a commodity to be spent for one’s own benefit, which often means fresh forms of slavery for others) is not an extra to the church’s mission. It is central." - N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope.

As one who naturally thinks in terms of tools (utility), this . . . hurts. My natural instinct is contrary to the idea of time as a gift, a good gift, a gift not to be taken lightly nor used like a dish-towel.
- Nor am I to re-activate my Time Systems(c), my Day-at-a-Glance(c) account. I need a new perspective. I need to see time as more 'holy' than I have. This is actually a heart/motive issue first; for me, this is a soul-problem.

While not a directly Scriptural command, this thought strikes me as a powerful understanding of how my context (me & my choices in my culture) thwarts my praying, "YOUR will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."

[Thanks to Tara for pointing out this quote]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Great quote on Persistence - too good to pass up

Sorry to simply quote someone else's whole blog-post. But I really like this and it's short.


Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My eyes are opened to the opening of my heart

In our small-group last night, I was challenged. Again.

I find the following unkeepable balance:

Pray, especially because God asks (including: "you don't have because you don't ask" & "your faith has made you well")

-- vs. --

God is sovereign (including: "who are you, the clay, to question the potter" & "were you there when I _____ [formed the word, created the Leviathan]" & "even kings are like drops of water in God's hand")

Growing up in a Reformed-informed + contra-charismatic tradition, there was a strong leaning on the Sovereign God side. Then I watched T.V. and saw the "claiming" approach and thought, "Nice - what a bunch of bunk." Local news shows followed-up and "proved" the sham.

Then Pat (the host/husband) said, "When you do that, you withhold part of your heart from God." Huh. Pat is one of those guys who's all-man, but very healthy emotionally nonetheless (grin). So I listened. [Also, I know I'm emotional behind for my age]

He said it's better to claim God's healing, forgiveness, miracle, etc. and then, should God not do what I was asking, give Him my sense of hurt, of loss, of disappointment. I realized I had kept those kinds of things from God.

Then Pat (innocently) pulled the, "It's better to have felt and lost than never felt at all." The best thing about Pat is that there was NO sense that this was a jab - he really wanted me to get this, to experience this.

So to those that follow my journey or one like it, I have once again re-engaged the emotional aspect of my relationship with God. Not that I drop the other: the mystical or the rational. But now I am learning how to add Emotion to my relationship with God (and my wife, and my kids and ...). I honestly thought the steep part of my emotional journey was over. Perhaps I was wrong!

Pat's the coolest.

Postmodern Grammar and Water

For some reason, I read this . . . "wrong." I thought I might need to buy a permit for my car so that it could go swimming in the Car Pool 'located' behind the sign.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

my Trouble isn't about me but God's Reputation

I read Psalm 46 this morning through eyes that have seen God's method-of-operation more than yesterday. I think, then, that the New American Standard captures the heart of this Psalm better than the others. Like this:

God is our refuge & strength, a very present help in trouble. So we don't fear.
- even if the earth reshapes itself! Violently! No fear.


God's city, the place where God's "will be done," that's a calm place. But it's in His timing...
- calm like a river, calm like a gigantic rock - so big as to be a mountain

There IS much shaking and reshaping among humans. Violently! But humans and their uproar are melted by God simply saying so.


The evidence of God's work is everywhere. And it is becoming increasingly blatant. He even violently destroys violence(?!).

To strive, then, is not the action of those seeking victory or release. Victory or release are not for me - they are to show God's greatness. My victory, my release, are for God's reputation, not really my situation.

THIS, then, is why He is called Lord of the Mighty Army of Heaven (Hosts)
THIS, then, is why He is called God of the Promise Without End (of Jacob)
HIS reputation is vastly more important than my Trouble

Is this why His help comes only when "morning dawns" and not when I feel most overwhelmed?

Can I live under a God who sees my trouble with two eyes: one of love for me, but one of proving Himself to be the Great God - the later more powerful than the first?

In Ezekiel 36, God makes it very clear to both Israel and the mountains that God has/will wipe the mountains clean of His people who have harmed His reputation. Then He is going to fill the hills with God-fearing people and amazing produce. And His repeated battle cry is, "Not for your sake, but so everyone will know that I, Yahweh, have done ALL of this.
- yet in the middle of this is one of the most dominant, New Testament themes:

a new heart, the Spirit within you

It was this, the coming of the Spirit, that caused Peter & John and the rest to giggle when beaten, to sing when imprisoned, to have what N.T. Wright calls "an almost care-free joy." It is that "something" that I read in the book of Acts yet don't sense in the Church today. It is that "something" that rewrites my trouble by putting into the hands of God. But God doesn't have only me in mind, He also has is own reputation ("glory").

I find myself asking, Can I handle a God like this? Can I, in the height of my pain, be okay with a God who is more interested in using the situation for His reputation more than He's interested in fixing my problem(s)?

Or, as it now sounds to me having read this, Am I okay with a God who is more about Himself than about Me?