Friday, August 31, 2018

Recruiting = Ministry

Any ministry leader knows that recruiting for various roles and needs in a ministry is continual.

Recruiting for a ministry can itself can be a ministry to people. Sometimes people volunteer to help because it will be good for their own social needs. I think this is completely legitimate. Just think of the number of times people tell of how they get more by serving themselves than they feel they give.

Patience, answering questions, listening to people's stories, and ensuring flexibility for people new to a ministry are all themselves eternally valuable for the recruiter and recruitee.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Law of the Harvest

We sow, and then we reap.
  • We reap the same thing as what we sow.
  • We reap more of what we sow.
  • We reap later than when we sow.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors” (John 4:35-38).

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Day Scores

Sleep is good for staying healthy. For some of us, a simple count of how many hours of sleep we've had per night or per week does not provide sufficient context to make that number meaningful. For someone who has worked in technology, sometimes it's easier to make things more complicated in order to make them simpler.

I've heard recommendations of getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As sleep tends to come in 90-minute cycles, another recommendation I've heard is that we need 35 of those cycles each week whenever we can get them. (That works out to on average 7.5 hours of sleep per night.)

Let's assume an average of 8 hours of sleep per day is a good goal. That means a goal for waking hours is no more than 16 per day. For me, I find I feel best if I can keep that number to 15. (There are 15 hours in a day; the rest are for sleeping!)

A few years back I realized it would be fairly simple to create a formula that would compare waking hours to sleeping hours in a way that gives me a number that looks like a day counter.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Wins Today

I built a tool for an organization to use in order to better understand, manage, and make use of its resources. One person who would use it is now viewing his 20-year career as before and after having this tool. He's planning to retire in a year. When I had told him about it, he had no idea how it would be useful; now that he can see for himself what I saw in my head, he wonders how he ever lived without it. Life is much easier when you create the environment before trying to fill it.

Another family (with 10 kids!) signed up for Awana today. We're approaching 50 clubbers to start the year. And it sounds like we have someone very interested in taking the lead on Awana Grand Prix, too.

I sent our Awana directors access to our online recordkeeping system, and both of our new ones thought it was pretty cool to be able to keep track of their clubbers' progress that way.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Add Tool = Increase Motivation

If ever you're not motivated to do something you should do, perhaps purchasing a tool to help you accomplish that job would increase your motivation.

For me, it was washing dishes. Buying a long-handle dish brush helped a lot. Now not every time I go to wash dishes to I have to scrub everything by hand.

For a friend of mine, it was a table-mover. Carrying a lot of tables around can get old, but if you can prop one up on a wheel and roll it around, the job can be much less burdensome.

I was speaking with the resident manager at my building once after I had moved around a lot of furniture, and she said she thought everything should be on wheels. I don't think going quite that far is necessary, but I just noticed there's a thing called furniture sliders that get somewhat close to that objective.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Awana Clubs start soon

Today was our annual Awana Clubs leader meeting. By way of background, I'm the ministry leader for our club.

One of our directors told me he was encouraged to see significantly more people here than last year. Amen to that! We are also looking at an opportunity to significantly grow the club with a sister congregation and their children and families.

Things are in good shape, and I'm encouraged. Please pray for our club for the Lord to do much through His Word and us with these young people and their families, in Jesus' name.

Friday, August 24, 2018

“Are you religious?”

Several weeks ago I shared a meal with someone who afterwards asked me, “Are you religious?” It's rare for someone to ask me that question.

I'm sure to some that would mean this person obviously doesn't know me.

I am a believer in Jesus Christ and the good news of His coming for us. Does that make me religious?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Vertical vs. Horizontal Rights

A friend of mine had a propensity to shut anyone down who would make a claim on their rights. If they asked, “What about my rights?” his response was, “You have no rights.”

On the one hand, he was making a valid point. Man is sinful, and he has no standing, or rights, before God—vertical rights. That's why we need the Gospel.

On the other hand, man does and should have rights before his fellow man, fellow sinners—horizontal rights.

Even though we are sinful, God gave us rights.

I love Romans 14:4. Paul wrote:
Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How Tyrants Lie

The first thing to know about tyrants is they try not to sound like tyrants. They may genuinely not realize they are tyrants. The first clue is that they think of themselves as good. They're not. No one is. The second clue is they think they can use the power of government for good. This is dangerous. Be wary of anyone who doesn't think they need a Savior, and thinks they can be your savior if you give them power. If those two pieces are in place, watch out. Here's how.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Importance of the Individual

Church leaders have attacked a focus on the individual before, even from the Lord's prayer, and now it's coming from Albert Mohler, president of a conservative seminary. I have appreciated his worldview analysis on various issues, and on this I disagree, and I can show from Scripture why.

His premise starts with the Lord's prayer and emphasizing the first person plural pronouns used: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

His conclusion: “One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is our obsession with individualism.”

There are several problems with extrapolating from the Lord's prayer a general anti-individual conclusion. One is better informed by taking a look at the broader context in both account's of the Lord's prayer and Scripture in general.

Monday, August 20, 2018

What is a right?

The United States of America was founded on the premise that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We have rights, and they come from God, our Creator.

How do we know that?

I've often heard conservatives claim that “our rights come from God,” and I've never voluntarily heard an accompanying explanation of that premise. This is important because many Americans no longer “hold these truths to be self-evident.”

I was once at an FRC event featuring Hadley Arkes, and he made a similar statement about the origin of our rights. Afterwards I was able to ask him how we know that. He had a clear explanation.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Reader's Theater Bible

Recently I saw a good deal on a leather-bound Bible of The Voice, a translation I've found intriguing for some time. Today I used that Bible to carry to church instead of a smaller NKJV or ESV translation I've often used.

I have to say, it literally reminded me of going to church as a kid. It must have been that long since I've used a full-size Bible like that on a Sunday morning. I've got a few other leather-bound Bibles at home (KJV, NKJV, NASB) that have percolated to the surface this summer of translations and notes to read next.

In ordering that new translation recently, ChristianBook.com also had a paperback version of it for $0.99. I added one of those as well. Other than a title page in the front and an ad on the last page, it's literally all Bible text with some notes along the way.

If you've ever seen reader's theater before, this is like the entire Bible turned into a reader's theater script. I think it would be useful to have at least four or five copies on hand so that if ever one wanted to be able to easily turn parts of the Bible into a mini drama, they would already have scripts on hand ready to go.

Friday, August 17, 2018

“And Should Communism Be Victorious?”

Professor Emil Brunner of Zurich, Switzerland, along with Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr, were theological liberals in the Protestant ecumenical movement. The final chapter in Apostles of Deceit includes text from an article by Professor Brunner published in the Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper of Zurich for Sunday, May 28, 1961. (Emphasis and links added.)
But above all, the Communist strategists undertake to split and make of no effect what Christian and humanitarian strengths are still in existence in Europe. Most alarming is the success they have gained in World Protestantism. The World Council of Churches accepted as their password, “Anti-Communism is the line of attack of the Roman Catholic Church and must inevitably lead to war!” The opinion became widespread that anti-Communism is a sterile position unworthy of a Christian; that one has to “remain in Communication with Communism.” Moscow's peace propaganda was accepted inasmuch as the church has to, of course, be “for peace.”

With great passion it accepted and made its own the “fear” of the atom catastrophe, which Moscow propaganda is constantly spreading. This was done by falling for the Communist trick of equating nuclear armament with willingness to wage an atomic war and making the West responsible for it. All this without noticing how Moscow alternatively wavered between threats of rockets and Russian superiority in atomic weapons, and the waving of the palm of peace. All of this while ignoring the fact that that segment of Europe which is still part of the free world owes its very existence, above all else, to this very nuclear armament of the West which had never been put into action.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Productivity tools for each project size range

Not all To Do list apps or tools are created equal. Not all projects are either for that matter.

I find I have three tiers of sizes for projects I try to accomplish: small, medium, and large.

Small projects are those that can be done in one sitting, and usually I can aim for getting them done in a specific day. Often they're anything from a momentary do-it-quickly project or item up to a few hours. Many of these come up on a repeat basis.

Reminders for iOS is intended to be a tool for this kind of project, but it has not worked for me for several reasons. For repeating items, it was not fast and it was not reliable. I found I could not count on it to regenerate completed repeating items as I had specified especially on a timely basis. Badge notifications for only past due items also seemed a bit backwards. I still use the app for a shopping list, but that's about it.

For small recurring projects, I have found Swipes to be the most useful for small and frequently recurring daily tasks. Their ingenious innovation is that by definition every item entered in the app has a due date this took a little adjustment at first, but it's quite powerful in terms of mentally engaging in a specific timeline for completing everything. Badge notifications are for things to be done now. In terms of its swipe actions on items for snoozing or completion, when I first started using it I would have reversed what the right and left motions do, but it's familiar and natural now.

I can't put a timeline on every project, though, so on to other tools.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Flight of Richard Russell

Richard Russell's last day was a culmination of unmet desires.

The aviation world is the hub of activity at the pinnacle of society. Russell lived near the bottom of that culture. He was not a pilot. He was not a mechanic. He was a baggage handler. At 29 years old, to be useful for nothing more than manual labor in a high-end economy is not an encouraging place to be.

He mentioned the minimum wage. Just this year Seattle's minimum wage went up to $15 per hour. The higher the minimum wage goes, the closer everyone is to what society calls the bottom. The further down the income range one is, the more acutely this denigration is felt.

He had played some video games, and given his ability to get a real airliner off the ground and “do a couple maneuvers” in the air, he may have also had practice with flight simulator software. His mentions of regurgitation and being light-headed show there is more to real flying than he expected.

He told flight controllers, “I hope this doesn't ruin your day” and he was glad they were working to make sure he wasn't “screwing up everyone else's day on account of me.”

A good day is when everyone comes out alive, and Richard did not, so Friday was not a good day for the flight controllers. The travel plans of many others were disrupted, but their day did not end as badly as Richard's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Is Taxation Theft?

Underlying this question is one of legitimacy. Is taxation legitimate? Is government legitimate?

First, I would ask, “What does the Word of God have to say about that question?” The classic go-to passage in the New Testament on government and law is Romans 13. It specifically mentions taxes twice: “because of this you also pay taxes” (13:6) and “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due” (13:7). Jesus also condoned paying taxes. Combine this with theft being prohibited, and one can reasonably conclude, no, not all taxes are theft.

A question remains: Could some taxation be theft? If government acts beyond purposes described for any government in Scripture, could taxes to fund those activities be theft?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Technology & Gratitude

Yesterday a friend mentioned how he often uses Siri, and he's inclined to say “Thank you” afterwards, but then wonders, What's the point in saying “Thank you” to an algorithm? Is it possible technology can make us ungrateful?

I think that's very much a thing. There's a strong ethos in the technology world that if technology can do something, then technology should do something. The language of should is not the language of thanks.

Ethical questions have centered on whether or not the end justifies the means. Technology flips this on its head leaving us to ask if the means justify the end. Just because technology can do something (the means) does that mean it should (the end)?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Rainy Reflections

I find rainy days to be the most useful for reflecting. I first thank God, in Jesus' name, for shelter and windows whereby rain can be more enjoyable than a nuisance.

Interestingly it was sunny earlier this afternoon. While I was working in a bright sunny office, a couple alerts popped up on my phone about my area being under a severe storm watch for the next 24 hours, and a flood watch for the next 9 hours. The contrast was striking. I looked up the weather radar for the area, and sure enough, stormy weather was not far away and was getting closer.

As I was walking to my car, I got to thinking about how God gives us warnings like that, too. To us, everything may look fine, but despite appearances, not far away danger is lurking.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

I grew up in a patriotic home. We loved our country. With grandparents who had fought in World War II, the greatest generation taught our parents respect for the flag and “the republic for which it stands.” They in turn passed that on to us.

This disposition toward country flourished in a church that was in no way exclusive to the U. S. of A., but had both domestic and foreign missions efforts. That thriving church that founded Awana was also instrumental in founding and recruiting for New Tribes Mission, now Ethnos360, an organization dedicated to doing as Jesus said, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), and “you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

There is nothing about the love of Jesus that is exclusive to one country. Neither does loving one's country mean that one cannot also love other people in other countries. One can both be grateful for what God has given in the land of one's birth or adopted country, and also see all people in every land and nation as created in the image of God and needing to hear the Good News of Jesus.

One other note on patriotism: While God has created all men equal, not all governments are equal. Some governments recognize the inherent desire for freedom in the spirit of man, and others do not. The 20th Century saw a great contrast between a flourishing nation built on and expanding on principles of freedom, and other nations under the oppressive and encroaching regimes of communism around the world. The contrast was stark and clear, and to love this country was to be grateful to be alive and free.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Social Media Reading

Reading online and reading a book are fundamentally different experiences. The words may be from the same language and even on the same topic, but the user experience is different in both purpose and result.

A social media feed is built to be a stream of content with no end—keep users on the site as long as possible. The underlying purpose of reading on social media is driven by fear of missing out. It's a strategy tilted more in favor of the company than the reader.

A physical book, on the other hand, has a clearly-defined end. There's no fear I'll miss what it has to say as I know I will reach everything eventually if I keep reading.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Semantics

I like words. I like being precise with words, too.

Sometimes people have accused me of parsing too finely to the point where a clarification I think is important is reduced to “semantics.” I don't like that word, especially when it's used that way.

Here's the way I see it. If a difference in language represents a difference in meaning, then the language difference is more than just a semantic difference, but is a meaningful important difference. If the meaning doesn't change at all, then sure, it's just semantics. A couple examples:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reverence for the Word

I had a good conversation with a friend today who is working on a book. One of the themes we touched on is one we've covered often: How the Word of God applies to all areas of life, or as I prefer to put it, We can apply our whole life and every area of it to God's Word.

We were discussing how many people don't believe this these days, and we weren't just talking about non-believers either. Even among Bible-believing professing Christians who adhere to doctrines like the inspiration of Scripture, there is not always an embrace of the idea that the Bible is practical for all things. All things should be in subjection to God's Word. Nothing exists without God's Word. God is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).

As we were talking, I wondered if Christians don't completely believe the Bible does apply to all things because they're not sure it can apply to all things. One more step back from that: Do Christians fail to believe the Bible can apply to everything because they lack reverence for the Word of God?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Landfills also recycle

After having made several trips to the Fairfax County Landfill, I can tell you that there's more to trash management than putting waste in a pile, ventilating it to the surface, and covering it with dirt and grass.

Public Works turns wood into electricity. (After all, it is located on Furnace Road.)

There is no charge for dropping off metal because that gets recycled. That may also be why waste pickup companies don't allow appliances in dumpsters.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Being content with progress

After too many late nights and super-late nights over the past couple weeks, it's time for a super-early night.

I don't have to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Taking one or two significant steps toward where things need to be is progress.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Is the press the enemy of the people?

Q I just wanted to follow up on Sara’s question from NPR. She asked you about Ivanka Trump’s statement that the press is not the enemy of the people. And she asked you whether or not the press is the enemy of the people.

You read off a laundry list of your concerns about the press, and things that you feel like are misreported, but you did not say that the press is not the enemy of the people. And I think it would be a good thing if you were to say, right here, at this briefing, that the press, the people who are gathered in this room right now, doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials like the ones you brought forward earlier, are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.

SANDERS: If the President has made his position known, I also think it’s ironic —

Q Would you mind telling us, Sarah, if you don’t —

SANDERS: I’m trying to answer your question. I politely waited, and I even called on you despite the fact that you interrupted me while calling on your colleague.

Q Well, you attacked our news organization —

SANDERS: I said it’s ironic —

Q — which is why I interrupted.

SANDERS: I’m trying —

Q But if you finish, if you would not mind letting me have a follow-up, that would be fine.

SANDERS: It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the President for his rhetoric when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country. Repeatedly — repeatedly — the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger.

The media has attacked me personally on a number of occasions, including your own network; said I should be harassed as a life sentence; that I should be choked. ICE officials are not welcome in their place of worship, and personal information is shared on the Internet. When I was hosted by the Correspondents’ Association, of which almost all of you are members of, you brought a comedian up to attack my appearance and called me a traitor to my own gender.

Q We didn’t try to do that, Sarah.

SANDERS: In fact, as I know — as far as I know, I’m the first Press Secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

For how much would you sell your dietary habit information?

Credit card offers in the mail can be more interesting than they first appear. They tell you want financial institutions want.

Yesterday I pulled one out of my mailbox that offered three tiers of “Cash Back.”

3% Cash Back on Dining.
2% Cash Back at Grocery Stores.
1% Cash Back on other eligible purchases.

In other words, they really want to know what I eat, especially when it might not be completely healthy by someone else's standard. Why might that be?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

If you're thinking of getting in touch with someone, do it while you still can

Today I received the sad and tragic news that the second cousin of mine that I recently mentioned visiting years ago has passed away. He was in his 40's. Though a hiker with a lot of experience, he fell off a log and drowned in rapids flowing underneath.

In going through some old family papers recently, I realized that he had sent me a special gift of Mars Hill Audio years ago. He was a thinker, and he wanted to love the Lord with all his mind.

I will miss him. I had been thinking of getting in touch with him recently. I should have sooner. Now I can't.

This is not the end of the story. We have hope that we will see him again. Even better will be seeing the Lord.

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

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