Archive for October, 2009

How to Confront in Love

October 30, 2009

That knot builds in the pit of your stomach.

You avoid thinking about the problem for days.  Finally, you avoid the person all together.

God has made it obvious to you that there is a problem and you are the person He want to confront your friend/loved one about it.

How can you confront someone in love?  Personally, I think there are several good models.  I happen to be reading Galatians this morning, and found a model I thought I’d share:

  1. Set a background – Paul spends the first 2 of six chapters setting up his confrontation.  A full third of the book.  He reminds them of his personal story.
  2. Confront succinctly – Very briefly, Paul states his frustration.
    1. Lead with a question – the majority of Paul’s confrontation is in the form of a question – “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”
    2. Address the root – Paul spent the next chapter and a half assuring the Galatians that they were Children of Promise, and didn’t need to ‘earn their stripes.”  Interestingly, he doesn’t identify their feelings for them, he just addresses the root.
  3. Show them your personal concern – Although Paul comes on strong in the beginning, he now lets them know he cares for them, is concerned for their well-being, that he loves them.
  4. Remind them of your history – Paul reminds them of their shared history, of their personal relationship.
  5. Provide a healed vision for the future – Paul then paints a vision for the future in chapters 5 & 6.  These chapters might say “this is what victorious living looks like.”

In short:

  • Set the stage
  • Confront
  • Confirm  Relationship
  • Show Vision for a Positive Future

Telling someone things they don’t want to hear is never easy.

How do you know when you have to confront someone in love?  When it is the most loving thing to do.

The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice

October 29, 2009

blog 1Jesse Rice is the worship arts director at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.  I think he missed his calling.

You may have noticed, the world is changing.  The way people interact is changing. We are moving faster, connecting virally, but this also changes the way we connect.  Years ago, we spent hours talking around a table, or while working on shared tasks.  Today, we text one another and set 30 minute coffee dates.

The Church of Facebook is a sociological study of the needs of people and the way they connect.  It is also a biblical study look at what makes us best as humans.

This book does not:

  • teach you how to develop a church on Facebook
  • answer all of the questions we have on how to be a connected, balanced person

It does:

  • give the best analysis I have ever seen on human connectivity
  • set forth the beginnings of a personal ethic on how to be a connected, balanced person

Rice is a great story teller.  Situations from history and the social sciences set the scene – like the building of the Millennium Bridge in England, the 47 year trek from dream to fruition of the Hubble space telescope, monkey research and the building of man-made islands off of Dubai.

The one thing I thought Rice failed to think through was the female brain and its impact on the development of social networking.

That said, I think this is an awesome study, and I highly recommend it to all college professors and to anyone who considers themselves a student of people.  Rice’s research is incredible and very thorough.

At the end of the book, Rice switches into devotional mode.  What was Jesus’ approach to connection? How can we be like Him and operate at the speed of … Facebook?  Rice looks at intentionality, humility and authenticity and shows us how to make it apart of our daily lives.

I think this is really a book for students, learners and/or teachers.  We will all be richer because of this study, but I think it is only the beginning.

You will find an interesting preview video here.

Here’s the book’s website.

You can buy the book here.

Obstacles Welcome by Ralph de la Vega

October 27, 2009

blog 1Obstacles Welcome is three books in one.

First, it is a biography.  Ralph de la Vega was born in Cuba before Castro’s regime.  Soon after Castro took over, De la Vega’s parents tried to leave the country with their two small children.  At the airport, they were stopped by officials, and only young Ralph was allowed to proceed to the United States.

For the next four years, he was raised by surrogate parents, and finally joined his parents when they were able to immigrate.  Overcoming a difficult start in the United States, de la Vega rose to become the President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.

The second theme of the book is the strongest.  If you have read John Maxwell or Jim Collins, you will find Obstacles Welcome a book of applied leadership.  Where Maxwell and Collins focus on theory, de la Vega sets up his theory, but explains it with story after story from every level of his career.

The third focus of the book is personal leadership development.  It is easy to know how to do things, but often we have mental blocks that keep us from moving forward.  De la Vega works to help us remove those blocks and go to the next level.

I found this book both delightful and frustrating.  The first couple of chapters are choppy. It would almost have been easier if he had left out his early years. After that, the book is really fun and helpful.  Some of us learn from other people’s stories.  This book fills an important hole in the world of leadership training.

You can learn more about it at the Thomas Nelson web site.

You can buy it at Amazon.com.

Deeply Rooted Part 4

October 26, 2009

Jeremiah 17:7 says:

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.”

In a quick review, in order to be deeply rooted, on needs to:

  • be teachable,
  • not have the habits of sinners,
  • make sure you get your counsel from godly people
  • make time for God
  • consider His approach throughout your day

Today we add:

  • Put your Hope in Him
  • Put your Trust in Him
  • Walk in Confidence

We looked at the physical and the mental.  Today we look at the emotional.  Where do you get your emotional strength?  Where do you take your stand?

When Israel had enemies facing them down, they had to make a decision.  Who would they trust in?  Would they trust in God, or would they run to Egypt and ask for help from the ones who had all the horses and chariots?  The outcome of this decision showed whom they really trusted.  They ‘put their trust’ in the source that they thought would save them.  (See 2 Kings 18 for more of this exciting story)

“hope”, “trust”, and “confidence” are often found together.

First, you discipline your emotions and direct them to God and not any place else, placing your hope in Him.

Then, you make the decision to put your trust in Him, cutting off other options – this usually means that you choose to stop trying to do things on your own, but you trust God for His answers to your situation.

Last, you walk in confidence.   This is an act of faith most of the time.  Think about Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego.  They said to the king – we won’t bow down, God can save us, but even if He doesn’t we will still worship Him only.  They put their Hope in God, they Trusted Him, and then they walked in the Confidence of that decision.

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur

October 26, 2009

image003Pastor Jason Faircloth was a pastor who had it all – the ginormous church, perfect house, and all the answers, but his family was a mess – his life was out of control and he didn’t even know it.

When life fell apart on him, he was forced into a season of searching and Randall Arthur does a fabulous job of walking us through an honest deconstruction and reconstruction of one’s faith, call to ministry and the faithfulness of God through it all.

I LOVED this book.  This book was first published in 1991.  The author was apparently ostracized by his denomination when they found out about it.  I can’t figure out why.  It is a completely honest look at the ‘dark night of the soul’ that so many of us walk through – regardless of what started our journey.

When I picked up this book, I was reading two other books, but I put them both aside and read this one in one weekend.  This book is terrific – not just for entertainment, but for its look at real life and real faith.

Thank you to Arthur for his honest writing.  I strongly suggest you take the time to read this book.

You can buy it from Random House or Amazon.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Deeply Rooted Part 3

October 25, 2009

Psalm 1:2 says:

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Yesterday, we saw that the first part of being deeply rooted had to do with our actions.  Today, the language is primary having to do with our mind.

What do you delight in?

When the day is said and done, what is the first thing you look forward to doing?

I was watching “The Devil Wears Prada” the other night, and there was a telling line:  “the person whose calls you always take?  That’s the relationship you are in.”  Wow!  This hit me on so many levels.  First, how many times do I put my family on ignore?  Second, how many times do I put God on “ignore”?  Not because I want to ignore either of them, but because I’m sure they will all be there “later”.

I have found that in a world that rewards sacrifice, I have a tendency to sacrifice the things that are not sacrificable – my relationships with my family and my relationship with God.

“What do you delight in?”  May not be the right question today.  It may be “what do you make time for?”

Second, what do you think about day and night?  We measure everything against a matrix.  Our matrix is either a worldly standard of what ‘should be’, and emotional standard of what is ‘safe’, or God’s standard of ‘this is similar to x,y,z in the Bible, and this was God’s answer.’  We need to be bold enough to look outside the box for God’s answers in light of who He is.

So our second step to deep roots is:

  • Make time for God
  • Consider His approach throughout your day.

Deeply Rooted Part 2

October 24, 2009

Psalm 1:1  says:

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

The first step to having deep roots is grounded in the physical.  This verse has three primary verbs:  walk, stand, sit.  Now, this is where I find life very interesting.  You see, Jesus sat with tax collectors.  He was a friend to those where weren’t religious.  Those of his day would have certainly felt he violated this verse.  How can you be like Jesus, a friend to sinners, and still have deep roots?

Where are you walking?  Are you walking in the counsel of the wicked, or are you walking with the wicked and counseling them?

Where are you standing?  Are you standing “in the way” or do you “have the habits of” sinners, or do you stand with sinners and watch their habits change because they have become your friend?

Sitting in the seat of scorners – well, looking at the original language doesn’t help much here – it means what it says.  However, if you investigate the word scorner or mocker more, you find that it appears to be synonymous with “fool” or “unteachable” – someone who is closed minded and not willing to take in another point of view.

So, the first step to being deep rooted is to

  • be teachable,
  • not have the habits of sinners,
  • make sure you get your counsel from godly people.

Deeply Rooted Part 1

October 23, 2009

by greenlake2When a tree is first growing, it develops a taproot – a root that grows very deep.

Have you ever tried to uproot a dandelion? It doesn’t work well does it? It takes a lot more work, because there is a deep taproot.

Young trees tend to have a taproot. Interestingly, once a tree is a few years old, most of its root structure changes, leaving only one or two deep roots. 95% of its root structure is within 2 feet of the surface, but extends out from the tree as far as the tree is tall. Why is this? Apparently, it is important for a young tree to have deep roots, and a taller tree to have wide roots in order to get the nutrients it needs for the tree to survive.

Is your root system feeding you and making you strong? I’m going to take the next couple of days and look at what makes a strong root system, because trees, and people, with strong root systems will withstand the weather systems of life.

God created you for a reason and planted you where you are, but you need a strong root system to be the person He created you to be in the place He put you.

The Year of Living Like Jesus by Ed Dobson

October 22, 2009

blog1I enjoyed this book so much that it will become part of my permanent reference library.

Ed Dobson was at one time a pundit on all the talk shows and right-hand man for Jerry Falwell.  18 years later, after a long stint as a pastor, Ed is in another transition time of life.

During this transition time, after hearing A.J. Jacobs speak on his experience of A Year of Living Biblically, Ed decides to take a Christian approach to the subject, and try a year of living like Jesus.  This book is a review of that year.

He doesn’t try to do everything in January (thankfully, I think he would have quit) – instead, he spends January considering and applying how Jesus lived physically, and installing some spiritual disciplines into his life – like attempting to read the gospels through every week.

Then, as the year progresses, Ed seems to focus on prayer, and asking the hard questions on how his life measures up to who Jesus called him to be.

I learned so much from this book.  During Ed’s investigation of prayer, he investigates and shares with us the spiritual disciplines of the Jewish festivals, the Catholic prayers, the Orthodox and Episcopal prayers.  He also talks about his reading of the gospels over and over.  He also investigates outreach in non-traditional forms, which was fun to watch.

Have you ever heard of someone’s journey and it challenged you to do better?  Years ago, I discovered that one of the older women of God I know memorizes whole books of the bible.  That became one of my goals, and I began working on James.  (Still working.)

This book had the same effect on me.  It gave me insight, hope and encouragement by watching someone else’ journey; as well as a challenge to do better in my own walk.  Today I’m spending more time focusing on God and His activity, and less time frittering away time on nonsense.

You can learn more about the author at his home page.

You can buy the book at Amazon.com.  Also, if you check out the amazon.com page, you will find related media – a video interview.  I hope you enjoy.

The Book that Made America by Jerry Newcombe

October 21, 2009

image001(5)I’ve delayed in reviewing this book.  I don’t like to give negative reviews.

However, this book really disappointed me.

“The Book That Made America” had so much potential.  So much of western civilization is formed and under-girded by the Bible.  It would have been fascinating to see how the Bible formed our understanding of who we are today – from an empirical viewpoint.

However, Newcombe approaches the subject almost as if the sky is falling.  “Just because President Obama or Newsweek declares we are no longer a Christian nation does not change our origins.  We are still one nation under God because of our roots – despite what some liberal politicians, activist judges, or secular media may say.”

With rhetoric like this on page 8, this book is obviously just for ‘insiders’, and not a book for people who are interested in an investigative, inquisitive study.

I was really put off by Newcombe’s defensive approach.  He tends to form arguments instead of approaching history objectively and letting it speak for itself.   He ignores facts.  Although he admits that many forefathers weren’t believers, or became unbelievers, he uses quotes from the part of their life when they did believe and lets that speak for their whole life.  This isn’t fair to history.  It isn’t believable.  I think God is big enough to handle our unbelief.  I’d love to hear about how the Bible formed our nation in the face of the struggles of our forefathers.  We know it did.  He could have made his case with a much higher level of scholarship.

This defensive approach also makes it look like Christianity has been painted into a corner by a non-religious government.   In this, I think he is completely off the topic of how the Bible formed our nation, and yet (since he is off topic anyway) ignores the implications on all the other religions in our nation and how our founding fathers intended a ‘melting pot’ to work.  (To be fair, I think the author might be trying to say that some of the founding fathers intended to win them all to Christianity as he talks about the French settlers winning the Indians.)

I think it is so important for people to know the Bible.  It is God’s Word.  It is life.  I was really hoping that this book would intrigue people to read it more.  I was hoping it would show them what a delightful piece of literature it is, and discuss how it influenced the thinking of the many people who worked together over the centuries.  I hoped it would draw them into God’s Word, but it didn’t.

I was disappointed.  It is available at amazon.com.


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