Thursday, January 31, 2019

What do you want?

Before we leave this beginning month of the year, it’s worth noting another beginning.

Jesus’ first question of his disciples was, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). Jesus asked a question like this more than once (Matthew 20:32; Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41). It’s a beautiful open-ended question. It’s not a closed, directed question. It’s full of freedom.

His followers answered a question of what with an answer of where that was really based on who: “Rabbi, where are You staying?” (John 1:38). Maybe they could have gone anywhere, but they pegged their desires to being with Jesus wherever he was.

Jesus once asked a similar question once long before this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Experience

It's not a verb.

I learned that my senior year in high school when I did a research paper on the writer Bernard Malamud. It was one of his pet peeves.

If you think about it, using “experience” as a verb is about as substance-free of a verb as one can get. Verbs are about action, and if something is “experienced” (sic), that says absolutely nothing about the action other than there was action.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Rediscovering the Value of Names

Names, especially in the English-speaking world, have taken on a nature unique in the history of the world.

In ages past, names were often descriptors. I learned this after I learned how to look up Bible words in the original Hebrew and Greek. In developing his exhaustive lexicon and numbering every word used in the Bible, Mr. Strong had a habit of giving a word a different number if it was being used as a name, than its normal use in grammar. However, if you look at the lexicon entry for a word just before or just after an entry for a name in his lexicon, sometimes it's the exact same word, explained as its other use.

What this means is that there was not a separate name category of words in those languages. People were simply given everyday words as names, often surrounding the circumstances of their birth or beginning. If someone was given a new name, that new name was similarly related to an event or circumstances in their life.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Approaching God

When teaching Sunday School recently, part of the lesson on Exodus 3:11-15 asked a question about how we approach God. The curriculum question was written in such a way that the “right answer” was that we should “never” approach God lightly.

Viewing my relationship with God differently, I instead asked, “Is it ever appropriate to come before God lightly?” Technically that's a closed question, but its nature is still one to open up discussion, and it did.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

God's Empathy

At the end of last year it was my privilege to substitute teach in Sunday School. Our lesson was on Exodus 3-4. The theme was on God calling Moses to his role in delivering God's people from oppression.

One of the lines from God's Word that really stood out to me was Exodus 3:7, “I know about their sufferings…” In many ways, that's the first step in dealing with people who are suffering under oppression—they need to know that someone at least knows about their predicament. That's the first step to understanding and feeling understood.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Holy Ground

When people think of holiness, they often think of something that is other. It is something that is pure and undefiled.

When people see the holiness of God, they think of themselves as being unholy, unclean. Isaiah called himself “a man of unclean lips” in the holy presence of God.

Therefore, we think of our interactions with something holy as that which can possibly taint and pollute that which is holy and pure.

When Moses saw the burning bush and realized this was not your everyday desert combustion, on seeking to look closer God called to him and, when Moses responded, said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

This is fascinating because on the one hand Moses is not to get any closer, and on the other hand he is already in a place that is holy. It gets better.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

9 Things I Love About Martha

Martha is most commonly known for when she was rebuked by Jesus when he said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). There’s more to Martha’s story than her lowest point. There’s a lot to like about this women.

1. Martha had a gift of hospitality. She had welcomed Jesus into her home (Luke 11:38). She knew how to both create an environment for relationship with others, and how to fill it.

2. Martha served (Luke 10:40). I’ve heard it said that a weakness is a strength carried to an extreme. I’m not sure how theologically sound or universally true that is, but in this case it seems to fit. She was working so hard to serve so much that it was interfering with her thinking. Her serving was a strength. We know that her serving could be a good thing because it was later recorded without incident: “and Martha served” (John 12:2). In the context of hospitality, service likely meant a party. I expect Martha loved the various times of the year for the various annual Jewish feasts.

3. Martha loved her prostitute sister and her sick brother. “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord (Mark 14:3; John 12:3) with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick’” (John 11:1-3).

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Seeing Thomas in Context

The Apostle Thomas is often known as the Doubter, or Doubting Thomas.

This comes from his response to the other disciples telling him, “We have seen the Lord,” and Thomas responding, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

Sounds a bit harsh, right?

The context here can shed some light on his thinking and how he got to this point.

Thomas’ reference to the nail prints and side of the Lord may not have been an original thought. Just before this, when Thomas wasn’t there, Jesus had specifically shown the other disciples “His hands and His side” (John 20:20). In their gladness of having seen the Lord, they may well have excitedly told Thomas, “We saw his hands and his side.” Thomas’ response might have been much more of a “I want to see them, too,” kind of response. His reference to “I will not believe” may have been more in reference to the other disciples than the Lord.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Roe Generation

The oppression of the People of Israel in the land of Egypt began with fear of their multiplication. Though this reproductive tendency was in obedience to God, it was viewed as a threat. When enslavement and bondage were not enough to suppress the People of Israel, Pharaoh turned to genocide and population control.

One of the survivors of this period was Moses. We first read of him in Exodus 2. “And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son.” (1:1-2). Through a series of providential events, Moses' life was preserved and he was not a lost member of his generation.

One could be forgiven for thinking Moses was the oldest child in his family based on him being the first child mentioned after “a man of the house of Levi went and took as a wife a daughter of Levi.” In fact, he had a brother, Aaron, whom we later find out is three years older and a sister who was already looking out for her little brother just after he was born. We later read that the man was named Amram, his wife was Jochebed, and their children were “Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.” Their children are also listed in this same order later in the official ecclesiastical record of the People of Israel. Moses definitely was not the firstborn, so why is he the first child we hear about from this couple?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Remembering Kennedy's Inaugural Address

Among the first words of President John F. Kennedy to the nation on January 20, 1961, were these:
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Lead a Soul to Christ

  1. Show everyone's need of Salvation. (Christ).
    1. Because everyone has sinned.
      (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; James 4:17).
    2. Because those not saved suffer the consequences of sin.
      1. Abiding under God's wrath.
        (Romans 1:18).
      2. At enmity with God.
        (Romans 8:6-8).
      3. Result - eternal suffering.
        (Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:15)
  2. Show that God provided salvation in Christ.
    (Romans 5:6-8; I Peter 2:24; II Cor. 5:21).
  3. Show that one is saved by trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour.
    (John 1:12, 13; John 3:36; Romans 10:9, 10, 13).
  4. Show that if one sins after salvation, Christ acts as intercessor.
    (Hebrews 7:25; I John 2:1).
  5. Show converts how to grow spiritually. Assure that Christians keep fresh, fragrant, and fruitful and quietly grow into spiritual giants, as acorns grow into oaks, by practising.
Three Talks
  1. Talk to God daily - prayer
  2. Let God talk to you daily - Bible reading
    (Read in order to know and obey the Bible).
  3. Talk about God daily - witness for Christ
    (By speech - life - service)
In my ministry, converts seemed to grow spiritually as they practiced these Talks. Those failing to grow neglected one - then another - then all.

William McCarrell, D. D.
Christian Work Center
2214 S. Laramie Ave.
Cicero 50, Ill.

William McCarrell, D.D., was the pastor of Cicero Bible Church.

His son Dave McCarrell was with Pacific Garden Mission.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Follow the Money

If a corporation were found to be making a profit from selling 20,000 people a week into slavery, there would be an outcry and demands for an immediate halt to its activities. Congress would investigate and hold hearings to grill its leaders on its practices and purpose. “What is this, the 1600's?”

If the United States government were giving funds to that corporation, those responsible would be held to account. Campaigns would be mounted. Elected officials would be called out. Passivity would count as complicity. “You're either opposed to this or you're out.”

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Random Things of God

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

The foolish things of the world are those things which the world considers meaningless, random, and insignificant. The world sees no possible way in which these things could make any difference, positive or negative.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

200 Days

I'm 20% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing. It's hard to believe it's been 200 days already.

I've had more days than I've wanted where I didn't have time to write and had nothing posted ahead of time, so I only made a brief mention of recent life happenings in order to maintain the commitment. It's clear on those days not much writing was scheduled ahead of time except perhaps a few time-sensitive items.

A few times I've written something first offline, and then later added links and such when I'm actually posting it.

I've also tried to push writing ideas closer to completion ahead of time by starting drafts and setting times directly in Blogger. The problem with this is then I don't have my schedule or post notes available offline. I started a writing calendar, and I've noticed Windows 10 Calendar is more flexible (Microsoft enterprise-compatible) than Google Calendar. I still have some workflow optimizing to do.

Tim
15,200 days

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Demand Equality = Demand Power

Another strategy of the supposed nonplayer (for power) is to demand equality in every area of life. Everyone must be treated alike, whatever their status and strength.

But if, to avoid the taint of power, you attempt to treat everyone equally and fairly, you will confront the problem that some people do certain things better than others. Treating everyone equally means ignoring their differences, elevating the less skillful and suppressing those who excel.

Again, many of those who behave this way are actually deploying another power strategy, redistributing people’s rewards in a way that they determine.
Greene, Robert (2000-08-31T23:58:59). The 48 Laws of Power. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Monday, January 14, 2019

When Learning Requires Unlearning

Anyone who has driven a car for years has built up in his arms, his legs, and his brain a set of conditioned reflexes. He automatically does certain things in the face of certain problems of speed and control. When he decides to fly an airplane, he faces the problem of unlearning some of the principles that apply in the two-dimension problem of an automobile but which would be foolish or even fatal in the three-dimension world of aircraft flight.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Two opposite ways to hit bottom

After having written about why it's difficult for the rich to get to heaven, I thought about what is the opposite of this in some ways.

There is an often an experience for the rich of having hit bottom, and then functionally learned absolute dependence on themselves. On the flip side, Jesus us told us to “sell what you have.” Even if this was in the context of talking to a rich man, it has instructive value for everyone.

What if we actually did that? What if we actually sold everything we had?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Congress Updates

GovTop Report
Pray for Congress

Family Lighthouse

Today is Mom's birthday, and I thought it fitting to write a tribute for her. I don't know that I've ever done that before, especially publicly (which she may not appreciate), but I've written her things in the past she has found encouraging and appreciative of all she has done for me.

When my mom was young and growing up in Pioneer Guards (if I remember right, either a predecessor to Awana or an early form thereof), the theme the curriculum used was lighthouses. This really stuck with her, and she has enjoyed noting lighthouses during her travels ever since.

She was a lighthouse to our family in many ways, shining forth the word of truth in our family and home. There are several key forms this took over my growing up years that I want to highlight here.

Friday, January 11, 2019

How to be an exceptional contractor

In college I enjoyed many conversations with the vice president of operations. We both have a similar background, and were like-minded on many things.

I thought about doing some consulting and starting up a business, and he gave me some advice. “If you want to be a good contractor, it's very simple: Do what you say you're going to do. Do that and you'll be exceptional.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Understanding Compromise

Sometimes people come to a disagreement. Sometimes disagreements must be resolved before people can proceed and move forward. The resolution of a disagreement can take several forms: one person is right, the other person is right, they meet somewhere in the middle, they find another option neither initially brought to the table.

There are two main approaches to figuring out which of those four options is best, and they tend to come down to whether or not one believes in first principles. This is a worldview difference that can cause one side to completely misunderstand the other.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

An Opportunity in Every Situation

“I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts xx. 27).

It is probable that God lets every human being, that crosses our path, meet us, in order that we may have the opportunity of leaving some blessing in his path, and dropping into his heart and life some influence that will draw him nearer to God. It would be blessed, indeed, if we could meet every immortal soul, at last, that we have ever touched in the path of life, and truly say, “I am pure from the blood of all men.”

Beloved, is it so? The servant that works in your household; the man that sat beside you in the train; the laborer that wrought for you, and, above all, the members of your household and family, your fellow-laborer in the shop or factory, have you done your best to lead them to Christ?

The early Christians regarded every situation as an opportunity to witness for Christ. Even when brought before kings and governors, it never occurred to them that they were to try to get free, but the Master's message to them was, “It shall turn to you for a testimony.” It was simply an occasion to preach to kings and rulers, whom otherwise they could not reach.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 363—December 29). Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Where to find God's promised power

“The Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts v. 32).

We can only know and prove the fulness of the Spirit as we step out into the larger purposes and plans of Christ for the world.

Perhaps the chief reason why the Holy Spirit has been so limited in His work in the hearts of Christians, is the shameful neglect of the unsaved and unevangelized world by the great majority of the professed followers of Christ. There are millions of professing Christians—and, perhaps, real Christians—in the world, who have never given one real, earnest thought to the evangelization of the heathen world.

God will not give the Holy Spirit in His fulness for the selfish enjoyment of any Christian. His power is a great trust, which we must use for the benefit of others and for the evangelization of the lost and sinful world. Not until the people of God awake to understand His real purpose for the salvation of men, will the Church ever know the fulness of her Pentecost. God's promised power must lie along the line of duty, and as we obey the command, we shall receive His promise in his fulness.

Lord, help me to understand Thy plan.
Simpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (p. 363—December 28). Kindle Edition.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Future of Value, Shared Office Edition

There is room for further innovation in the commercial real estate industry for shared office coworking space. The hospitality industry has developed smaller and more granular rental time frames and spaces, and the same would be useful in the commercial sector.

The current shared office business model typically includes a monthly membership for access to a working space with WiFi, and for a higher price a member can rent a specific secured space to which only they have access. Some coworking spaces offer snacks and food for while people are working.

Sometimes even these arrangements are unnecessarily limiting. For instance, in some cases the people using shared office are part of a cohort with a time-limited duration of time using office space.

Some of us would like to be able to have a secured access on a more temporary basis. Being able to have a space in which we can work and temporarily lock our things while we may step out briefly would be ideal.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Year Transition

It's church budget planning season, and I'm responsible for a couple different categories, so that's where my writing efforts have been of late, like today.

Meanwhile, my idea list for writing here continues to grow. Thank you for your patience, and please stay tuned.

Friday, January 4, 2019

4004 B.C.

Today is the birthday of Irish Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656).

One of the things for which he is most remembered is his chronology which dates the time of creation to 4004 B.C.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Two days in one for Congress

Trying to figure out the Congressional Record is difficult when the Congress is now passed. Tomorrow may be even more challenging when two different days from different Congresses happened on the same calendar day—today, January 3, 2019.

Trying to live more than one day in a single day sounds familiar these days. It's a busy start to a new year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

House vote scheduled for tomorrow on efforts to make human life more vulnerable

The Democratic push in the House to make human life in the womb more vulnerable has begun.

Is supposed to be a method to find compromise to end the partial shutdown?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Rivers of Pleasure

I love new beginnings, especially at the beginning of a new year.

I don’t remember enjoying a new year as much when I was a kid. Maybe that’s because as a kid I myself am quite new to the world anyway. Growing up in a stable home, how much of a fresh start does one need every year? Maybe it was part of growing up in tropical Florida where seasonal changes aren’t as dramatic, visible, or noticeable. As we get older, and we hit a few more bumps along the way, fresh starts are more appreciated. A new year is a natural time to clear the decks to forge new paths in the year ahead.

The beginning of God’s Word describes the beautiful beginning of creation. The description of the Garden of Pleasure (which is what it’s called if we translate “Eden”) doesn’t get much attention, but it’s particularly lively.

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You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin