Miscellaneous thoughts from a Christ following husband, dad, teacher, preacher, professor, school administrator, musician and taco lover, who likes to hang out at coffee shops, read, write, hike, run, play tennis, bike, play guitar, dabble in photography and hack away at golf.
I just finished reading the book, Poiema: Poems by D.S. Martin. I usually devour the books I am reading, but not this one. I savored it; page by page, poem by poem. The above stanza is taken from one of Martin's poems about the subtle and relentless passing of time in our lives. My journey through this book was time well spent.
In less than ten minutes the year of 2013 will be finished on this side of the International Date Line.
It has been a year of learning, growing, joy, regret, frustration, surprise and love. Through it all, God's goodness has sustained me. God's compassion, love, grace and mercy in my life leave me astounded and full of hope.
I thank God for 2013 and even more for the hope of 2014.
Here is the song, and thought that I am finishing the old year with and starting this New Year with. Enjoy!
There is a story about Abraham Lincoln’s hiring procedures and method of judging character that would give any respectable, law conscious HR director heart palpitations.
It is told that as Lincoln was in the process of assembling his cabinet members one of his advisors recommended an individual that Lincoln curtly rejected. When asked why he wouldn’t consider the suggested candidate Lincoln said, “I don’t like the man’s face.”
The advisor responded, “But the poor man is not responsible for his face.”
Lincoln replied, “Every man over forty is responsible for his face,” and the discussion ended.
Lincoln was a great man. He was pivotal in the work of abolishing slavery in the USA and it is clear that he did not judge a man based upon the color of his skin. But did Lincoln reckon a man and his worth based upon the look of his face?
Yes and no.
In a revealing anecdote it is told that in the midst of a political debate involving some harsh personal criticism, Lincoln responded to his detractors with the quip, “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
It is evident within Lincoln’s self-deprecating humor that he did not regard the specifics of one’s appearance (particularly his own) too highly. Yet, a man’s countenance obviously mattered to Lincoln. He refused to consider a man for hire simply because he didn’t like his face!
Because Lincoln knew that the face of a person speaks volumes, and the real tale it tells is the story of the heart. He wasn’t concerned about the man’s outward appearance as much as he was concerned about the inward reality it was reflecting.
“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)
Nearly $450 billion a year is spent on beauty products in the USA. When it comes to our faces, we spend a lot of time and money—washing, powdering, shaving, plucking, moisturizing and painting. These efforts at “saving face” work for a while, but eventually time and life take their toll. The years play upon our visage in a way that makes the need for name tags at a class reunion a non-negotiable.
According to Lincoln, we are responsible for our faces, especially if we are over forty—and at that stage in the game it is a steep uphill battle. William Shakespeare and wisdom literature from the Bible offer up some insight into face and heart maintenance:
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13 (NIV)
“Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.” Ecclesiastes 8:1 (NIV)
“The eyes are the window to your soul.” —William Shakespeare
Just as the elements of weather impact and form the landscape of the earth, so do the intangibles of joy, disappointment, wisdom and sorrow play upon our faces. That is because our faces are connected to our hearts.
The work of the face is the domain of plastic surgeons and cosmetologists, but the realm of the heart is superintended by God. In the Bible Jesus mentions the heart 743 times. A person’s heart is where the treasure for living resides—where God dwells—and it deserves our utmost care and attention.
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” Proverbs 4:23 (MSG)
Whether you are over forty or under forty, you are responsible for the state of your face and your heart. If you are in need of a face lift the place to begin is with your heart. Jesus was a carpenter and is the creator of the universe. Remodeling hearts is his specialty. He will address that stone face of yours by giving you a new heart.
“Anyone united with Jesus gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (MSG)
Look to Jesus for a new heart and a new face. It comes complete with hope, joy, love and peace . . . and maybe even a job.
In relation to my work here in South Korea it was my privilege a couple of weeks ago to attend the Grand Opening Ceremony and Dedication for the new headquarters building of the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) located in the thriving metropolis of Seoul.
Dr. Billy Kim is the Chairman of the Far East Broadcasting Company, he is a friend of our school (Taejon Christian International School), and he sent us an invitation to the dedication ceremony. It was a grand event.
Dr. Kim is a revered pastor, preacher and Christian leader in Korea, the USA and throughout the world. A significant event in Dr. Kim's personal and professional life was when he had the opportunity to serve as the translator for Billy Graham at the crusade that he held in South Korea in the early seventies. As Billy Graham proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a crowd of 1.1 million people on June 3, 1973, Billy Kim was right next to him, translating every word into Korean. The rest, as they say, "is history," a history that is still in the making.
I remember as a young boy in the 1970's sitting on the floor in front of our TV set watching the Billy Graham Crusades. I was enamored with the music and the message given by a preacher that had a presence about him that I admired. I wasn't a Christ follower then, but I know now that God was at work in my heart, lovingly drawing and wooing me unto Himself.
I became a Christ follower in 1980 and Billy Graham and his message of Jesus Christ has been a significant presence in my life. He is a part of my history, but his message and ministry isn't a thing of the past. It is a message of life and hope through Jesus Christ that is still rippling out into the world. It is a history that is still in the making and maybe it is time for you to become a part of the story.
Take a look at the video below. Billy Graham is much older, but his message of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ is just the same. Dr. Billy Kim started out with Billy Graham over 40 years ago and God has blessed him and used him greatly throughout the world. I know that God wants to use Billy Graham to bless your life too.
Things have been a little slow on this blog of late and I came across a song that I like so I thought I would share the fun. It is by Phillip Phillips and it is called, "Gone, Gone, Gone." I realize that Phillips has been popular for awhile now, but I am sometimes slow on the uptake. I like his sound and his lyrics. This is a song that makes me think of the one I love. We are less than a month away from celebrating our anniversary, so I say, "let the mushy stuff begin!" I dedicate this to Dina, the one that makes my heart beat "like a drum."
Things are out of control—
the stock market, politics, the weather, morality, the wrinkles, the gray hair, gas prices and the other drivers.
What are we to do?
We need to control what we can control, and a good place to start is with ourselves.
How's your attitude? What are you thinking about? Or as some would say, "sinking about." Take a look at this video.
Proverbs 23:7 nails it: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
In other words, "What we think, we become."
How's your attitude? Where is your focus? What are you thinking about?
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Hebrews 12:2-3 (MSG)
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who
both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating
finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way:
Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of
honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your
faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of
hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is
right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
When things seems out of control (mayday!), control what you can.
Every morning I try to read one chapter from the book of Proverbs. Today this verse caught my eye:
A kindhearted woman gains only respect,
But ruthless men gain only wealth.
Proverbs 11:16 (NIV)
In the margin of my Bible, right next to the second line of this verse, I have written the name, Henry F. Potter, No, he is not a former boss of mine, nor is he an old school teacher that I despise. (When it comes to teachers and bosses, you only remember the really good ones and the really bad ones.)
Potter, as he is called, is the antagonist in my favorite Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life. He is the bane of Bedford Falls and can best be described by two words: rich and ruthless.
Potter controls the bank, he possesses the liens on most of the homes and businesses in the city and he is merciless in his efforts to “own” Bedford Falls.
He holds most of the town’s wealth, but very little of its respect.
George Bailey, on the other hand, is respected by nearly everyone in the little town of Bedford Falls. He is the protagonist in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, who runs the family owned building and loan company and spends his days and years helping people make a life worth living. In the midst of frustration, hardship, disappointment and unrealized dreams George is quick to serve others, help the downtrodden and he is kindhearted to all.
In the closing scene of the movie, George Bailey stands in his home surrounded by scores of friends from throughout the town. They have come to give him money to help him out of a tight spot that he finds himself in. They are literally “paying” him respect for the kindness that he has shown them over the years.
As the money piles up and more and more of George’s friends crowd into the room, Potter is conspicuously absent from the scene of immense love, friendship and community. It seems that George’s investment of kindness in the lives of others has left him standing amidst friends as the richest man in town.
The ruthless gain “only wealth” and when the money, power and prestige are gone, they stand alone, with nothing.
The kindhearted gain “only respect” and when the admiration, esteem and honor fade, they stand together, with friends.
Edited by Brint Montgomery, Thomas Jay Oord and Karen Winslow
The book, Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, is a bit like one of those photomosaics that is composed of a collection of subject specific photographs that are arranged and presented in a way that when observed as a whole reveal a larger target image.
In this book the editors, Montgomery, Oord and Winslow have assembled a variety of essays on the topic of Relational Theology that when considered together reveal an image of the Relational God at the heart of Relational Theology. They call this book an introduction, and introductions—of people or theologies—are as varied as the one giving the introduction. However, each contributor in this contemporary introduction of Relational Theology very effectively illuminates the different facets of the radiant gem that is Relational Theology.
This book is a source of light. As I read each and every essay, I found myself knowing and wanting to know the Relational God better. I began to recognize God’s hand in nearly every aspect of my life and I identified areas in my theology that weren’t very relational.
Within the idea of relational theology I encountered a God who is cooperative, creative, diverse, loving, sociable and alive. John Donne’s quote below gives words to the concept and the God that I encountered in this introduction to Relational Theology,
Religion is not a melancholy: the Spirit of God is not a damp: the Church is not a grave: it is a fold, it is an ark, it is a net, it is a city, it is a kingdom, not only a house but a house that hath many mansions in it. Always it is a plural thing, consisting of many. And very good grammarians amongst the Hebrews have thought and said that that name by which God notifies Himself to the world in the very beginning of Genesis, which is Elohim, as it is a plural word there, so it hath no singular. They say we cannot name God but plurally; so sociable, so communicable, so extensive, so derivative of Himself, is God, and so manifold are the beams and the emanations that flow from Him.
Relational Theology is a description of something that is moving, dynamic and alive. It is about a God that is engaged and at work—forming, restoring, creating, shaping and loving a world and its inhabitants that were created for good and for God.
The best way to get a clear view, or photograph, of a moving object is to move in relation to it. The book, Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction is a great read that will get your mind and heart in step with the Relational God who is clearly visible at the center of Relational Theology.