One of a Kind Creation!

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“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.” ~Film Director, Robert Bresson

Your fingerprints are UNIQUE! Not a single person in the world has a set like yours. Your DNA is like NO OTHER in the world. The same is true for the retinal patterns in your eyes- as is your iris. Did you know that your ears have unique curves and ridges not found in anyone else. Even the way you walk, your gait, is UNIQUE to you alone!

Starting to feel special? You should be…you are a ONE OF A KIND creation!

And if you have physical attributes that only you possess, why wouldn’t there be other things that are UNIQUE TO YOU?

Think about the unique mix of your personality, gifts, talents, and passions-coupled with your nearly limitless imagination… Can you see how YOU might have a UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION to make in the world?!

It’s vitally important for each and everyone of us to SLOW DOWN to UNDERSTAND what unique things we bring to the banquet table of life. To truly grasp the importance of doing something with our unique blend of gifts, talents, and abilities. And to begin to pursue our PASSION as well as we do our obligations!

What “invisible thing” is going to be seen that ONLY YOU can create or do?

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It’s a Dirty, Rotten Shame!

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Shame is actually counterfeit “conviction”…. Shame eventually will drive you to the repeat the very behavior you’re trying to avoid!

Conviction should cause us to explore, question and discuss a matter…leading to redemption, healing, and restoration.

Shame on the other hand drives us to cover, hide and even deny the issue. Since the issue isn’t dealt with properly, we’re more likely to do it again. And the next time we’ll do it in a way that won’t be discovered-we learn better ways to hide and not get caught; instead of dealing with the problem.

Conviction, especially when initiated by the Holy Spirit, is always for the purpose of  re-establishing RELATIONSHIP!  The best relationships are intimate ones. And intimacy only comes from vulnerability.

There is no room for shame in an intimate relationship. There is, however, every opportunity to admit our weaknesses… without excuse or defense…and begin the healing process. When should we do that? NOW!!!

“Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].”
‭‭ROMANS‬ ‭8:1‬ ‭Amplified Version

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Why Is Magic No Longer Done in England?

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“To a simple question, sir. In the past, magic was done as a matter of course. It… it was as much a part of this country as the rain. Then 300 years ago it died, seemingly overnight. We wish to know… why magic has fallen from its once great state. We wish to know why is there no more magic done in England?”

I don’t know why, but for as long as I can remember I have really enjoyed Charles Dickens-like stories set in old England; Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Christmas Story,etc… I’m also a sucker for Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s Progress and Gulliver’s Travels .

I recently stumbled across a BBC miniseries aired on Netflix. It’s based on a best-selling novel by Susanna Clark- “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.”

The story opens where the book does: in the fall of 1806 on a meeting of the men of the Learned Society of York Magicians. They have gathered as they do on the third Wednesday of every month “to read each other long dull papers about the history of English magic” (Note it is a discussion about magic, not practicing magic!).

But a Mr. Segundus, much younger and more earnest than the rest, interrupts. He has recently begun to wonder, he questions, “Why the great feats of magic that I read about remain in the pages of my books and are not seen on the street or on the battlefield… In short, gentlemen, I wish to know: Why is magic no longer done in England?”

(Derisive laughter erupts from the other attendees)

“It is a long question, Mr… Segundus.

Magicians study magic, the history of magic. We do not perform it. You don’t expect an astronomer to create stars, eh?

(They all chuckle)

Or a botanist to invent new flowers, eh?

(They all laugh)

It is a child’s question, I appreciate, but no-one else… Classical magic, sir, is not a thing for the gentlemen of this society. Nor any… gentleman. I do hope that you have not been trying to cast spells, sir.”

(They all laugh)

As I was watching this conversation unfold, it seemed as if God was stirring in my heart that the same things could be said about the church today!

What Does Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Say About the Church?

I couldn’t help but think of the “conversations” (more arguments actually) currently going on in the church…

* Miraculous spiritual gifts TODAY for every believer vs cessation of same (They have gathered as they do on the third Wednesday of every month “to read each other long dull papers about the history of English magic” (Note it is a discussion about magic, not practicing magic!).        It’s actually a PROMISE that Jesus made. John 14:12-14

 
* Resistance to the 7 Mountain Maindate (spheres of cultural influence) and bringing the Kingdom of God into the marketplace (Why do the great feats of magic that I read about remain in the pages of my books and are not seen on the street or on the battlefield?)

 
* The requirement to be “apprenticed” by so-called “experts”…when the apprentice may have greater gifts than the “teacher;” and without biases and ulterior motives that “experts” have (In the story, Mr. Gilbert Norrell is a self-proclaimed “practising magician” …”The greatest magician of the age” and owner of the most extensive library on the subject. While Jonathan Strange naturally practices magic, both in greater degree and in the battlefield to help England’s war effort; without “knowing” how he’s doing it!?)

 
* Opposition of the current established leadership to new ways, ideas and leaders- to extent of being enemies of the new move of God. Gilbert Norrell desires to make himself the judge, jury, and executioner of any kind of magic that he disagrees or disapproves of- under the guise that he wishes to make magic “respectable.” ”Sometimes the greatest opposition to what God wants to do next comes from those who were on the cutting edge of what God did last.” R.T. Kendall

In the story of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, amidst the chaos and destruction that he himself instigated, Mr. Norrell sees the error of his ways and helps Jonathan Strange; even embracing the new found ways. Let us hope that the same will be true for the church- that the “old guard” will not not only help the new leaders, but also embrace the new move of God…glorifying Him TOGETHER!

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Ketubah Today!

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Whether you’re just recently engaged or married for 40 years, this could be one of the most important things you could do as a couple!

Borrowing concepts from an ancient Jewish legal document, couples today could have healthier and less stressful relationships.

I believe that couples could avoid many of their problems if they would openly and honestly DISCUSS and DOCUMENT their EXPECTATIONS for one another. These expectations should probably be revisited and amended as time goes on and people’s needs and expectations change.

The Ketubah is a staple in the Jewish wedding ceremony, but many couples today don’t even know what it is! The earliest extant ketubah dates from circa 440 BC found in Egypt and written on papyrus

I believe if the concept could be modified to serve as a relationship tool today, the Ketubah’s primary objective would to be a means of communication and loving accountability with one another.

HOW TO GET STARTED:

Separately, the couple should make a list of expectation TOPICS that are important to THEM. For example:
* Provision
* Relationship
* Sex
* Family
* Individual professional goals
* Etc…

Once you both have the List of Topics, you can separately write what your expectations are for each topic. If one person puts little or no value on a particular topic that the other does, no expectation NEED be written. It would not be uncommon for each person to have differing expectations and/or priorities. It is more important to KNOW, HONOR and RESPECT them, then for them to share them or desire them too.

Now that both of you have your expectations for the List of Topics, it is time to come together and share them.

This should be done in a “date-night” atmosphere…with the understanding that these are not edicts or demands, but simply what each of you deems important and expects. The quote, “Seek to understand before asking to be understood” would be appropriate here. The discussion should be limited to sharing expectations, NOT how well the expectations have been met to date.

Hopefully, the sharing will be done without conflict. If, however, things get contentious, it would be a good time to end the discussion, and look at another time to resume talking; possibly with a trusted third-party “mediator.”

In a perfect world, the couple would then be prepared with a list of expectations that they could be intentional in making sure are met for the other. Notice I said for the other…like the 5 Love Languages, they may not be important to us, but they are important to the other person. To truly feel loved and appreciated, it needs to be conveyed in THEIR “language,” not ours. (We tend to show love to others in the way we feel loved, irregardless of whether they feel loved by the things we do). The same is true with expectations.

Since we live in a fallen world, and none of us is perfect, there is a chance that an expectation might not be met. The couple now has a written list of things they both understood are important to, and expected from, the other to refer to.

WHAT TO DO IF EXPECTATIONS AREN’T MET:

In the event that one or the other refuses to live up to an expectation, they now can follow the Biblical steps of rectifying the situation, found in Matthew 18:15-17…

* If your husband or wife doesn’t live up to an agreed upon expectation, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
* if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
* If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector*. (This means you would LOVE them with the intent of redeeming, restoring, and healing the relationship…but with an unwilling partner-and possibly from a distance)

THE HISTORY OF KETUBAH:

The traditional and historical ketubah is a binding legal document, which catalogs a husband’s obligations to his wife, such as providing his wife with food, clothing, and conjugal rights, which are inseparable from marriage. It includes the husband’s guarantees to pay a certain sum in the event of divorce, and inheritance rights obligatory upon his heirs in case he dies before his wife. It is really the religious equivalent to the contemporary pre-nuptial agreement of secular civil law.

It was not a mutual agreement; the wife agrees only to accept the husband’s proposal of marriage. It is assuredly not a bill of sale; the man does not purchase the bride. In fact, the ketubah represents the witnesses rather than husband or wife. Through this instrument they attest to the groom’s actions, promises, and statements, and to the bride’s willing acceptance of the marriage proposal.

POSSIBLE APPLICATION OF KETUBAH IN SCRIPTURE:

 “If your brother or sister sins [doesn’t live up to agreed upon expectation], go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.  But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17 [edited for purposes of our discussion]

*HOW TO TREAT ENEMIES, PAGANS AND TAX COLLECTORS ACCORDING TO JESUS:

““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:43-48‬ ‭

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Accept, Approve, Appreciate SOMEONE today!

Rather than reading a blog post, please take 15 minutes to watch this video (have some Kleenex ready)…and then validate someone today!

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5 Whys…

imageHave you ever faced an issue or problem, and for the life of you, couldn’t figure it out?  I think this tool might help…

The 5 Whys is a technique used in engineering, but has almost universal application-especially when human factors or interaction are involved.

By repeatedly asking the question “Why” (five is a good rule of thumb), you can peel away the layers of symptoms which can lead to the root cause of a problem. Very often the ostensible reason for a problem will lead you to another question. Although this technique is called “5 Whys,” you may find that you will need to ask the question fewer or more times than five before you find the issue related to a problem.

How to Complete the 5 Whys…

  1. Write down the specific problem. Writing the issue helps you formalize the problem and describe it completely. It also helps a team focus on the same problem.
  2. Ask “Why” the problem happens and write the answer down below the problem.
  3. If the answer you just provided doesn’t identify the root cause of the problem that you wrote down in Step 1, ask “Why” again and write that answer down.
  4. Loop back to step 3 until the team is in agreement that the problem’s root cause is identified. Again, this may take fewer or more times than five “Whys.”

EXAMPLE…

Problem Statement: You are on your way home from work and your car stops in the middle of the road.

1. Why did your car stop?
– Because it ran out of gas.

2. Why did it run out of gas?
– Because I didn’t buy any gas on my way to work.

3. Why didn’t you buy any gas this morning?
– Because I didn’t have any money.

4. Why didn’t you have any money?
– Because I lost it all last night in a poker game.

5. Why did you lose your money in last night’s poker game?
– Because I’m not very good at “bluffing” when I don’t have a good hand.

Quote to remember:

“If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems.”  ~Edward Hodnett

Please leave a Comment if this tool helps you!  Consider leaving an example to help others…

 

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Judging…

 

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I have to admit that I’m a recovering “judger”… I’m sad to admit that for many years I became very good at spotting and pointing out other people’s sins and shortcomings. Until one day I heard a quote that started me on my road to recovery:

“Any idiot can find the faults in another person, it takes a genius to see the greatness in them.”

Needless to say, it IS difficult to see the greatness in some people. It takes effort; perhaps that’s why few people look for it!?

It truly seems easier to find the flaws in others.

Even if it is “natural” to judge others, rarely, if ever, does any good come from it.

In the final analysis, we are ALL imperfect. We all have flaws…imperfections!

So when we do judge others to condemn them or belittle them, we are only:

“Imperfect people judging other imperfect people for being imperfect differently.”

Shane Willard shared an interesting story that really drove home this point in a powerful way.

Many of us have heard of the “Seven Deadly Sins”… you may have heard the term, but not know what is on the list. So here is the list:

* hubristic pride,
* greed,
* lust,
* malicious envy,
* gluttony and
* sloth.

Surprisingly, this list is not found in the Bible (although the words can certainly be found in Scripture)*

Any way… Just keep this in mind for when I attempt to make a point later…OK?

Shane recounts a man frantically approaching him at a conference where he was the keynote speaker. The man was grossly overweight- obese.

The overweight man approached him agitatedly asking loudly, “Shane, what are we going to do about those homosexuals?!”

Shane ran to the window and yelled, “Where?!?”

The overweight man asked, “What are you talking about?”

Shane told him, “The way you were talking, I thought the building was being attacked by spear-wielding homosexuals!”

“No…no! Don’t be silly!” Replied the overweight man. “But seriously, what are we going to do about the homosexuals?”

Shane asked him, “What should we do about the gluttons?”

Shocked, the overweight man said, “What did you just say?”

Shane replied, “I didn’t stutter… what should we do about the gluttons in the church.

The overweight man sheepishly walked away….

While we must exercise godly judgment to identify problems in people’s lives, it should only be done with the intent to help rectify the situation; or heal, redeem, and restore them. Any other form of judgement is destructive.

Perhaps that is why Jesus warned us about judging?

“Judge not…” Matthew 7:1

And again in Romans 14:4…

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”

There’s wisdom in the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” album, we’re ALL somebody’s servant:

“Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord…But you’re gonna have to serve somebody…”

Should we leave the judging to the Owner(s)…and do the work of a genius and look for greatness in others… what do you say?!

 
***ADDITIONAL READING***
The list of Seven Deadly Sins may have been complied by men called The Desert Fathers as early as the third century (271 AD). However, history clearly shows the list was compiled.

The Bible does list seven things God hates and detests. Here are those verses:

“There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
* haughty eyes,
* a lying tongue,
* hands that shed innocent blood,
* a heart that devises wicked schemes,
* feet that are quick to rush into evil,
* a false witness who pours out lies and
* a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
Proverbs 6:16-19

I have to tell you that I do not believe God has “weights” or “points” on sin or wrong doing; they all separate us from Him equally. (for the purposes of brevity and staying on point, I’ll leave that here. But if you’d like, I’d be willing to write more on that subject)

The point being… IF God DID have a weighted list, I think we’d all agree that those listed above would head the list.

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