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QUOTE (Elon Musk) 

March 4, 2021

I have had several conversations with young(er) people who can’t afford a home and are not optimistic about the future.  They are struggling with hopelessness.  

My tendency is to feed and confirm that skepticism.  The messaging of doom and gloom is not unique.  

I have been wrong for my part in those attempts at predictions. We are making bets on the future through our words, with no skin in the game.  

It is a form of pride.

It is harmful when we as leaders make predictions of forbodings without remedies of hope.  The predictions might be right. I don’t know.  What I do know is that it is not kindness to tell someone something they already feel and add to their hopelessness.  

We should help them.  The help might be as simple as reminding them that they are not alone.  It might be helping them practically navigate a chaotic world to find that bright day.  Hope comes with the discovery of their plan.  Their unique plan for a bright future, a hopeful future.  The kindness comes in assuring them that they are not alone.

That is kindness. That is the golden rule. 

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QUOTE (Noreena Hertz)

March 3, 2021

I have started reading a disturbing book, The Lonely Century by Noreena Hertz.  My tendency is to respond with some trite phrase as “suck it up buttercup” .  However, I think we may be beyond appeals to bootstraps and suspenders.  We are all experiencing fundamental changes in the societal norms for interaction that we need to seriously address.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/613546

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A Bit of Advice – Relational Currency

February 27, 2021
Photo by David McBee on Pexels.com

The rise in the valuation of bitcoin has me thinking about currencies.  There are traditional currencies like the dollar and cutting edge currencies like bitcoin, but there seems to be a currency that contains real wealth that few consider.  There is a currency that gets transacted upon in every aspect of our lives but I have never heard it discussed in terms of currency.  Relational currency might be the most significant medium of exchange you handle. 

Are not relationships of tremendous value to you?

What if you were to categorize the relations in your life in terms of the currencies from the United States, Venezuela, China, Bit-Coin?  All currencies fluctuate in their valuation.  Most of those fluctuations are associated with the stability, the retained wealth, and long-term potential of the entity behind the currency.  Consider the relationships we value the most.  Those valuable relationships tend to be stable.  You can count on that other person to consistently respond in a predictable trustworthy manner.  High-value relationships are those that you can rely upon. 

I have relationships that are as stable as the US Dollar.  In times of crisis, I move my other relational speculations back into these high-value people because I know they are going to be there for the long-term.  I know other people value them. They are widely considered wise.

I have relationships that have devalued faster than the Venezuela Bolivar.  There were events that made me question the fundamentals of the relationship.  These are the relationships that I put at arms length when character issues arise that indicate an untrustworthiness.  At best, these devalued currencies have to be hedged against.

I have relationships that I suspected are as manipulated as China’s Yuan. Many people will tell you what you want to hear just to try to get something from you.  Often, the thing they want is something that you would have been willing to give without all the manipulations.  It tends to be all about appearances.  It is unfortunate, but it is what it is.  These relationships are valued for what they can provide today but the future is always uncertain.

I have relationships that are so confusing but represent such an intriguing upside that you have to play it out, just like bitcoin.  These are the folks that represent the wild-ride of life.  They will take you to incredible highs and devastating lows.  These are the folks that you can’t go all-in on.  You can have them in your portfolio of relationships, but do not get overextended on the number of these folks in your life.  They will drive you crazy.  (note: do not marry a bitcoin person)

There are two sides to every relational currency.  I control only one side.  My goal is to be the type of person that has the fundamentals of a high-value relationship.  I want other people to be able and willing to highly value their relationship with me. This goal requires that I adhere to a set of character standards which are inherent to a stable relationship.  I know that the value of my relationships can dip on the most trivial of fluctuations in an expected response.  I am continually amazed at the disregard that is often given to these trivial elements of relationship that have significant impacts upon a relationships valuation.

I manage employees.  I am not a micro-manager of employees.  This requires that I trust those whom I am managing.  It requires that I have a high-value relationship with my employees.  High-value relationships do not just happen upon the first day of employment.  These relationships are built over time.  Trust is not a right.  It is a privilege.  It must be earned.  I must earn it as an employer and employees must earn it with me.  This happens through an accumulation of a variety of signals over time that demonstrate someone can be trusted.  These signals lie among the trivial decisions that every person makes.  It is shocking how naïve people are to this basic principle.

Photo by Marc Mueller on Pexels.com

I have people lie to me on a regular basis.  They are not big lies, more like minor deceptions, mis-directions, exaggerations.  I know that they are ignorant to my devaluation of our relational currency.  I know they are ignorant to it because I often don’t tell them.  The issue is trivial but the ramifications are not.

As an example, it is very illustrative how employees manage their “paid time off” (PTO). 

  • There becomes a trust issue, when an employee goes on vacation, has handed off all her projects, yet logs more work hours than PTO at the beach resort.
  • There becomes a trust issue, when an employee consistently does a little bit of unnecessary work on their day off because it looks like they are gaming the system.
  • There becomes a trust issue, when an employee is “working” from home but cannot be reached for hours or doesn’t complete what normally should have been done.  There probably should have been a mixture of PTO in that work day.

These trivial issues are never about the value of PTO.  It is about the devaluation caused by the doubt in the relational currency.  I absolutely hate discussions about the proper use of the trivial amount of a 1/2 hours use of PTO.  I just want to trust them.  I want to trust their integrity and honesty.  I want to trust them not because I am worried about getting ripped off on a 1/2 hour of PTO.  I need to trust them because I have much more valuable responsibilities that I hope to give to them. 

If I have doubts about their trustworthiness in managing their PTO, such a small thing, I cannot trust them with responsibilities that have significant consequences.  As an employer, I have found that employees either have integrity or they don’t.  It is difficult for me to change that.  We can create a company culture that values and encourages integrity, and that is worth doing.  However, some will just play along;  a manipulated currency if you will.   It is really hard to distinguish between the honest and the manipulative. 

Therefore, if you are a person of integrity, do not get lackadaisical on the trivial.  Do not inadvertently plant a kernel of misplaced doubt.  Do not be naïve in thinking the trivial does not matter.  Everyone’s relationships fluctuate.  The valuation of these relationships have significant implications for the future. 

The Biblical principle is true.  Those who are dishonest in the little are likely to be dishonest in the large.  Those who are honest in the trivial can be trusted with the significant.  How you handle the trivial might just be your path to the significant.

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QUOTE (C.S. Lewis) 2-24-21

February 24, 2021


https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/610588

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EMBRACING INFINITY

February 20, 2021

A new creation in Christ Jesus.  The Holy Spirit now residing within me.  I am not sure how this can be.  I don’t feel different as if wholly new but yet changed enough as to not be askew.  A temple to the Lord they say, but holy and sacred this temple does not stay. A grand edifice or pilgrimage terminus this temple is surely not. I wonder, based on what I see, how can He in me and what is a lot?

Made one in Christ, we are told as marriage is meant to be.  Why should I be surprised in struggling to understand the oneness of the divine when the illustration often eludes being defined.

As I gray, I have learned that oneness is much more than an act of coitus. Marriage is a blending. Where do I end and she begins? We are a new creation; something different than from what was when we said “I do”.  This new is no longer she and he but we.  We is an entity of one, a union not created by an institution.  Whole in all of me but nothing without all of her. Never to be divided without being blighted.  The we becomes a diamond, more precious than the separate carbon assignments.

Too often, the focus drifts to the parts mayhem rather than the gem.  Scrutiny is dedicated to the raw material rather than ethereal.  A temple is more than sweat and stone.  The value lies not in a bill of material alone.  Even more disappointing is when we miss the lesson in the example of the mortal which is pointing to more beyond the portal.

Oneness, in marriage, I cannot define.  I cannot explain how it can be, but I say look and see.  Oneness is on display when you cannot help but see the her when you see the me.  That is the moment when a glimpse is revealed of the mystery of this new creation called we.

The whole of wedded oneness is so much more than a goal. It is a sacred symbol written in our DNA. A new creation is marriage’s ballet.  This mysterious mixture of the infinite with the finite. Yet, unlike our example of mortal marriage, 50% XY and 50% XX, the spiritual composition is infinite God and something less.

Consider if the new creation was the number 7 in all its perfection.  What would my portion be?  Surely, not much more than 0.1 of a part can be me.  That is 70 parts, 69 His and 1 me.  That doesn’t seem right, so let’s make it a little more trite, maybe .0001, which will be 70,000 parts with only one of me.  I must confess that it still seems too much credit to the edited element of this new installment. Let’s stretch it out, further and further.  What are the portions to be?  Based on value, He is the treasure by far.  Test it toward holiness, what a joke, there is no contribution from my lowilness.  Examine the value inherent, my worth comes from His image, which is apparent.  What about my contribution to this new creation?  How can one be impressed by the ignorant who merely prayed yes?

Stretch out this mental marathon further to the edge of humilities dawn; divide by 10^-10, 10^-100, 10^-1000.  Move the decimals farther and farther to the right; go as far as your fright.  As humility pushes each place holder to the left, we come upon the cleft of zero’s nothingness, the absence of value, humility’s rest.  We encounter the mortal sin of maths innovators; dividing the numerator by numbers traitor.  It is not that the equation no longer works.  A quotient sin, as man defines, lies in the loss of vicinity, an inability to grasp infinity and the uncertainty in a human’s ability to do anything.

The same is glimpsed when this new creation is split.   A new creation in Christ is a phrase so commonly used, but how to comprehend the me’s and you’s. The infinite in me, no beginning and no end, the alpha and the omega, made one with the finite, infinitesimal me. How can this be?

Oneness, in Christ, I cannot define.  I cannot explain how it can be, but I say look and see.

This new creation is out of sight, but what can see is Him through my small light.  That is what is on display when one’s light burns bright.  If you see me in my small minute, then I have dimmed the infinite.  For those in Christ, when observed in this finite, you cannot help but see the infinite or so it should be.

I wonder if this isn’t the curse in which we all are enmeshed. We cannot be rid of this sinful flesh.  Our portion it must always thresh. No matter how large or small that portion remains, we struggle to find humility’s domains. The place where we can finally see the revealed glory of infinite God without the clouding of you or me.  Maybe, that is the blessing of death, the reduction to nothingness. Knowing my place, to truly participate, in the oneness of Christ Jesus and me.  No longer, Him in me with my portion trying to be stronger.  I long for the day when it will be, I in Him, complete, and all glory to Thee.  Then I will embrace infinity, where there is nothing left for one to do but to praise and glorify the One who is so much more.

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THANKFUL FOR THE PORTION

November 27, 2020

"First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," Jeannie Brownscombe, 1914

“We give thanks this day for the abundance that we have been given” is a prayer many will have spoken this Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving, many feelings will be expressed of heartfelt gratitude for friends and family, provision and providence, wellness and well-being.  Yet, there is no distinction between the warm feelings of gratitude when the thankful have abundance filling every corner of the treasure room of their hearts.

All can know appreciation when plates are full and seats are all filled.

Yet, what is the basis for thankfulness when all is not sufficient?  Do we fake it? Do we pretend to be thankful even when we are inwardly dissatisfied?  Do we rationalize the sufficiency of the insufficient based upon a relative scale with others?

I read of Jesus’ thankfulness for five loaves and two fishes.  Was he really thankful for what was clearly insufficient?  Jesus thanked God for a meal to feed one or maybe two, which left 4,998 (plus families).  Jesus was thankful when all the whole was missing.

This year, many will have a portion but the whole will be missing.

At my family’s table, a chair will be empty and the family missing a father.
At my Wife’s table, a chair will be empty and the family missing a mother.
At my Cousin’s table, a chair will be empty and the family missing an uncle.
At Brother’s table, the chair of my Sister-in-Law will be filled but the grief of cancer’s curse colors all with feelings of finality.
Our table will be divided. Family members isolated in smaller groups amongst various homes.  Our tables will not be whole.  They will be portions.

How are we to be thankful in a year such as this?

Jesus was thankful for what was insufficient for the need.  He was not thankful for a couple fish and several loaves.  He was thankful for a God that was sufficient for all needs regardless of the portions.  This year the portions are not sufficient for many.  This year most are not celebrating with the whole.

Gratitude in the whole is not an act of righteousness.  Anyone can be thankful in abundance.  This year we have an opportunity to practice the thankfulness of Jesus.  We can be truly thankful, because God can either make the insufficient sufficient or He can make us content under the wing of our sovereign, all-sufficient, savior.

Thankfulness is an act of Faith.  Our thankfulness should not rest upon the visible but on the invisible and what is to come.  Our thankfulness should reside upon the truth that there will be a day when all are together, and the table is full with our Lord at its head.

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On-line Study

July 23, 2020

I had the opportunity to preach this past Sunday. I did a short introduction to the on-line study “Making Sense of the Bible”. Message me if you are interested in joining us.

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INHERITANCE

July 13, 2020

I will give you a treasure. It will be your inheritance.

These words, inheritance and treasure, receive their significance in the reality of the allocations. The mind can rationalize throughout the period of promise while treasure remains intangible.

All inheritors hope in the promise while all remains a promise. What happens on the day the promise is fulfilled, when hope becomes reality; when deeds are issued and seekers become the bequeathed?

Allocated assets enter balance sheets. Future net earnings are calulated. Improvements determine based upon their return on investments. Fortunes are made in these declarations of allocations. Yet, not all land is the same; not all fortunes are equal. The inheritances will be different.

The differences do not matter while they remain a promise. Something is better than nothing lasts until something become something.

The satisfaction of the heart is tested when comparison becomes unavoidable. It seems the greatest test resides with those examined with intangible promises while others are scheduling meetings with their accountants.

The mind can reason that God is better. He is a treasure, a pearl of great price, better than anything the world can offer. The tangible inheritors might even agree.

What does the heart believe when others take up residence in the land you have walked through, the possessions you have fought for, the assets you have suffered for.

The balance sheets will quantify the comparison between tangible and that which is not.

  • What if the Baptists received Wall Street, New York City and all the businesses that call it home;
  • The Episcopals got Google, Apple, and all of Silicon Valley;
  • The Methodists got Amazon, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest;
  • The Lutherans got all the resources of Texas,
  • While the Presbyterians received Alaska?

On and on, the allocations go but you are told that these fortunes are not yours to hold. Your inheritance is God. How would your mind value the allocations as the balance sheets are told?

Would your reasoning, God is a treasure surpassing all earthly wealth, determine that you received the most valuable of all inheritance? How will your contentment weather the reality of others taking possession of their new wealth?

Our eyes are so quick to turn evil to the generosity of God. Our chameleon hearts change rapidly when confronted by God’s unequal gifts.

Has God done us wrong by giving as our gift, Himself?

Perhaps, we have been set apart, holy unto Him; spared from that which God knows will corrupt.

Have you ever considered that prosperity absent holiness is never a gift? Wealth in unrighteousness is always a curse.

Our inheritance does not come in this world. We are like the tribe of Levi, content in the best of inheritance!

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/514827

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Virtue?

June 27, 2020

Many appeal to a standard of virtue but few can list it’s practical attributes and even fewer can identify the true source.

Virtue is not knowledge. It is action; action driven by it’s source.

If you pursue the attributes of virtue without the source of the virtuous, your pure virtuosity is nothing more than the self-serving actions of the ambitious.

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HIS WAYS

June 24, 2020

wp-1593004281838.jpg

There is a degree of confidence that comes with knowledge.  Assurance rises through the fullfillment of an agreeable plan.  We rest comfortably while our lives unfold in accordance to the foreseeable circumstances of normal.

We rarely have difficulty when our thoughts are aligned with His and His ways correspond to ours.  The course of life is comfortable while the heavens seem in line with the earth and God does not demand anything beyond our normal aspirations.

What happens when our ways diverge from His;
when His ways cause pain and His thoughts seem cruel?

The worlds of the created can fall apart in the of a span of a day.  Within a week, I received the news that my Sister-in-Law and my cousin have limited time on this earth.  It appears that God’s ways are truly not my ways.  His thoughts assuredly are not my thoughts.  The diagnosis of terminal shocks one out of the delusion of normal and into the confusion of a denied reality.

People die before the time that I had prescribed for them.
Families grieve losses cloaked in the darkness of the unknowable.
Minds are clouded in the defeat of impending death.

This world sucks.

The delusion of normal is a dangerous mindset.  The delusion of the world as wonderful and a place of paradise cannot abide with the reality of suffering.  We were never promised a world of delights.  We were never promised a world unbroken. We were never promised a world without pain.

That is why this world had to be overcome.

We were told that this world contains suffering even as we thrash beneath its hand.  We were told that evil rules even as we look away from the evidence.  We were told that there are mysteries beyond our understanding even as we try to deduce them.

This is why our home is not here.  This world had to be overcome in order for us to escape and enter into true rest.  A terminal diagnosis is yet another reminder that we need a redeemer, a rescuer, who will take us to our rest.  I do not love this world.  I want to go home.

I am thankful that His ways are better than mine.
I am thankful that His thoughts are beyond mine.
I am thanful that He is good.
I am thankful that He has overcome this world.
I am thankful that His love flows.

When normal crumbles, faith must remain.  When knowledge fades, hope must shine.  When defeat abounds, love must abide.

 

 

 

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