Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
So I’m doing some work for this consulting company, and they have this crazy idea about entering time daily, and being accountable for every minute of the day, and coding that to a list of valid activities, some 'billable' and some not. And having it entered by the end of the same day of said activities. Sheesh. Their reasoning is that if they have better data and more of it, it helps them in collections.
Here’s what they grossly misunderstand. If people like you they will pay their bills. They will pay quickly and fully. If people don’t like you, more data just gives them more not to like. If you want collections to go more smoothly there is one sure solution. Make them like you. There are hundreds of ways to accomplish that. Racking your labor force is not one of them.
Truly, keeping a meticulous list of what someone owes you is enough to drain any chance at trust and friendship and joy off of any relationship.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I bought a car from my parents a few years ago. Just gave them cash for it. It was a Lincoln Towncar, and I think it had 96,000 miles on it when I bought it. It was a great car. When you buy a car, you buy more than just the wheels and the engine and the A/C. You buy more than the sound system and the leather seats. You also buy the oil changes and the belt replacements. I’ve had to do all that. And I had to buy gas for it. And I had to replace the suspension system. I didn’t blame my parents for all that. I purchased the car.
It’s the same with a house. When we bought our house we had to find a title company to research the property. They checked for liens and judgments, for back taxes, and stuff like that. And I had to find an inspector, too. Because when you buy a house you not only get all the nice benefits of a shelter from the rain and rooms to sleep in and a kitchen to cook in and a bathroom to bathe in and a/c and a two car garage. You also get all the liabilities. So if the property is found to be in a flood zone or is condemned or something, you get that, too. You also get the leaks and termites and stuff.
And when I was driving in to work today, I was thinking about this. And I was also thinking that if I were a king and conscripted a soldier it would be the same. I’d have to feed him, train him, equip him, and take care of him. If he was hurt I’d have to move him off the line, and when he was recovered I’d have to redeploy him. With a slave it would be even more true. Not only would I have the benefit of all his service, but I’d also have to provide for his basic needs, and even his higher needs like community and family.
Last week our church read Luke 9 in The Message. When I finished reading I asked everyone what they heard. The biggie was this section:
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I'm leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn't, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. Some who have taken their stand right here are going to see it happen, see with their own eyes the kingdom of God."
Jesus was entering this new stage in his life. He had been healing, setting captives free, and teaching all over the place, but now he set his course for Jerusalm and all that would happen there. And it was like he was giving his disciples the heads up. If they thought this was about self-improvement they were wrong. From now on they would see that this was about self-emptying—first for Jesus, then one by one for each of them. And if they still thought that they were at the center of their own lives, if they still wanted to find a way to win, if they still wanted to find a way to be in charge, they were going to be offended, because the Way was not about filling up but about giving up. And the secret was not to lead but to be led.
And I couldn’t help but think about ownership. People within Christianity talk a lot about choices, the choices everyone has to make day to day. But I don’t know how many of them live like they’ve already made their choice. I do believe in choice, but I think there is really only one. It seems to me that you either live in a reality that you are your own, you have free will, you choose among the things that present themselves to you day by day. Either that, or you live in a reality that you belong to God—sort of as his vehicle or his home or his soldier or his slave. If you are your own, then you can proceed to live your own life, and to make your own decisions, basing them on your knowledge of God and faith. But if you are not your own then you don’t have any decisions to make.
And there are two realities.
The first one goes like this: “Every day I am presented with choices, and my faith helps me decide which way I will live.” And if you live this way then you are your own.
The second goes like this: “Every day I am presented with choices, but they are false choices because they are not really my choices to make. I already made my choice. I am no longer mine.” And if you live this way then you are not your own. You are bought with a price.
To live the first way is to live with the knowledge of God but in a kind of present darkness. To live the second way is to live in the light, to walk the truth that God did really send Jesus to redeem you from sin, and that you really are bought with a price, that you really are not your own, that you really are ransomed and redeemed, and really are being ransomed and redeemed.
The great thing about self-sacrifice, about being purchased by God, and owned by Him, is that He is a good owner. He takes care of his property. He maintains it. He refills it with the needed fuel to make it day to day. He does major repairs (for some of us, MAJOR repairs). He owns it all. He even owns our faults and our liabilities. We don’t even have to worry about them. That's why we don't have to worry about making the wrong choice. That's why we don't have to worry about wearing out or running out. That’s why it’s really kooky when people make such a big deal out of sin that they won’t just confess it. They somehow still think they still own that liability and want to take care of it themselves before they can testify about it. Crazy. Dark.
Maybe the greatest thing about being owned by God is that he has these great ideas for his property. The bible talks about man being the glory of God. And when I read that I get this image of a little child getting this awesome toy and showing it to everyone, always keeping new batteries in it, never letting it leave his sight, sleeping with it, eating with it, and always knowing where it is, and never losing it. But I also think that unlike a little child God never gets tired of it. It’s like the novelty doesn’t wear off for Him. Maybe that has to do with how much he actually paid for it.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I know what I think this blog is about, but we humans have a tremendous capacity for self-deception. So I've kind of entered a new season of life, and I wondered if anything had changed/shifted since March. Here's the new one:
And then I got to wondering...what if you did a word cloud from say, the gospel of John? So I did. And here's what you get.
Kind of interesting what people actually write about, huh?
Update. Stardate 2006.09.10
Ok. I've decided to give the other "gospel" writers equal time. Why not? It should be kind of fun to compare the emphasis of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Monday, September 04, 2006
What makes me so sure I'm not the most important person in the world?
Really. I'm reading Blue Like Jazz again with some friends. And loving it. Loving it for the honesty that Don approaches his own life with, loving it for the candor, loving it for the humor, loving it for the conviction that burns in my heart as sure as a meaty set of curls burns in my biceps.
I have a friend whose email signature includes this tag line:
He does not believe who does not live according to his belief. - Thomas Fuller
And that's what Don Miller and his friend Andrew the Protester have been saying in Blue Like Jazz. "What I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do." So at the end of his chapter on belief (subtitled: the birth of cool) I wrote the words above. Because really, if I look at how I spend my time, my money, mainly my time, what evidence is there that I don't think I'm the most important person in the world? Of course it's a scientific/modern approach to knowledge, a bit of fact gathering to draw a reasonable conclusion and all. I'm done with that. But I do think it's important to consider whether my words and my actions are really on the same team. Am I really and truly conferring to the world the kingdom that was conferred to me, or am I only getting real good at talking about it?
If the main naked person I clothe is me, and the main hungry person I feed is me, and the main person I open the door to my house for is me, and the main thirsty person I give something to drink is me, the main sick person I care for is me, and the main prisoner I am there for is me, then don't I really believe that the main manifestation of Jesus Christ in the world today is me?
I just thought I'd repeat something that I said when I got really worked up in this comment:
Mercy is justice in action.
Far from what I was taught, that justice and mercy are somehow opposing personalities of this Multiple Personality Disorder of a God that is up there somewhere, if you've seen God's mercy you've seen his justice. As wrong as that sounds, mercy is the just thing to do.
I know. It's completely unreasonable. Like God.
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