2015-11-02T08:34:15.315-05:00God reveals much in the Scriptures about those who suffer. One of His primary purposes in suffering is evangelism. When those who suffer are “not in any way terrified” by their persecutors, it is “to them a proof of perdition” (Philippians 1:28). It is also “an occasion for testimony” (Luke 21:13). Our suffering, even among the most severely persecuted, is truly “light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17) compared to those who are treasuring up for themselves “wrath in the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5) and for whom “the treasury of hail” (Job 38:22) may also be light compared to the undiluted wrath of God “poured out without mixture” (Revelation 14:10). Suffering for Christ is a small price to pay for those facing misery without hope and who need to hear the Good News.
2015-02-20T16:54:40.685-05:00In response to recent defeats and in the interest of moving beyond past successes, Jay Cost argues for reforming conservatism. His central point: “The animating impulse is not so much to increase or decrease the scope of the federal government, but to modify the way the government accomplishes its goals.”He is correct in that “smaller government” is a relative term that does not speak to what the correct size of government is. His reference to “the way the government accomplishes its goals” implies that the goals of government are already understood. I am not convinced this is the case.The role of government is to punish evil and praise good. Government should be large enough to punish as much evil as there is in the land. If there is not much evil, government does not need to be very big. Conversely, government should effectively praise good as well. “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men” (Proverbs 22:29).Sometimes government can get its roles mixed up and praise evil or punish good. More subtle is when this begins as a government attempting to do good. Cost quotes our beloved 40th President Reagan, “Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” I would agree with the first part of that and narrow the second part to say “government outside its correct role is the problem.” A lack of vigilance to when government deviates from its rightful purposes gives rise to corruption.This is why, in addition to “sound policy on education, entitlements, regulation, and energy,” Cost argues, “Reform conservatism should also concern itself with political corruption, the systematic tendency of the government to favor narrow factions of society over the public good.” (To clarify, I consider “sound policy” with respect to those things to still only be punishing evil and praising good.)Cost is correct in that one form of corruption is when government favors “narrow factions of society.” Dick Morris recently noted the contrast in winning elections by identity politics and appealing to narrow factions vs. winning by messaging on principles that apply universally to everyone.Is corruption really “the systematic tendency of the government”?I would argue that corruption, called sin, is inherent to human nature (hence our need for the Gospel), and that our government is set up to systematically counterbalance this corruption. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts sinful man absolutely. This is why we have separation of powers. Parallel to Isaiah 33:22 we have three branches of government. No one branch of government has absolute power. This was the original ambition “made to counteract ambition,” as Cost quotes Madison. Some may corruptly exploit the limits of the system, but nonetheless, the principles on which that system is based remain true and useful for good government.If a nation rejects God and the Source of its blessings, including a system of government that follows God's Word and compensates for human nature, then it is no surprise to see vigilance decrease and corruption within that government increase.We may be seeing this now with the Affordable Care Act. In the name of lowering costs, the law tilts the balance of power heavily toward the administration and toward denying basic laws of supply and demand. This is not a systematic tendency of government, but a systematic tendency of this law enacted in defiance of our system of government and of basic laws of economics.A focus on corruption is only as useful as there is a tendency for corruption to exist and multiply in the first place. If conservatives become the anti-corruption people (feeding further still the ruse that they always oppose things), then laws like ACA give that cause reason to exist.Cost gives three reasons for his reform conservatism agenda: (1) pro-middle class, (2) anti-corrupt wealthy, and (3) process reform.The first sounds too close to more identity politics. The [...]
2015-02-10T14:21:56.300-05:00Yesterday I wrote about how the Christian life is not about commands, and concluded pointing out it is about friendship. Today I want to pick up on that and point out that relationships shifting from commands and obedience to love and respect is a sign of maturity.
2015-02-10T14:22:31.625-05:00When I read Romans 14:23, I don't read, “Whatever is not of obeying the commandments is sin.” When I read Hebrews 11:6, I don't read, “without following the commandments it is impossible to please Him.” We are “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Law was over us to point out our sin (Romans 7:7), punish our sin (Romans 13:4), and point us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Grace is not an alternate to law to point out our sin, punish our sin, or point us to Christ. Grace is Christ over us lifting us up out of sin (Ephesians 2:5,8). We “live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4), and “after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:25). “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).When Jesus gave us his “new commandment” (John 13:34), it was of a completely different nature than the law. Unlike the law, His commands are “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus did not say in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you obey my commandments.” While Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15), and made similar statements in John 14:21 and 15:10-11, I don’t know of anywhere that He says or even implies, “If you don't love, you're sinning.” It's a completely different focus. His command is about shifting the focus from law to love. “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).Do we measure how well we love through how well we obey the commandments, or do we measure how well we obey His commandment by how well we love?I don't see anywhere in 1 Corinthians 13 law teaching us what love is. Galatians 5:22-23 suggests that law is totally unnecessary in the face of love. Law cannot give life (Galatians 3:21), and by implication cannot give love either. Law is all about duty. We're not under the law (Romans 6:14), and even so, love fulfills the law (Romans 13:8,10) and exceeds the law (Matthew 5:38-48).If love is nothing more than obeying a commandment, then what is the Gospel? Why did God love the world? Was He following a law? Was it a requirement that He send His Son? It was His “good pleasure” to send His Son (Luke 2:14), reveal His Son (Luke 10:21; Matthew 11:26; Ephesians 1:9), predestine us through His Son (Ephesians 1:5), and it is His “good pleasure” to work in us (Philippians 2:13)! It is our “good pleasure” to proclaim the Gospel (Philippians 1:15) and pray for the salvation of the lost (Romans 10:1).Paul asks, “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?” (Galatians 4:21). He literally frames the choice of being under the law or not as a choice between bondage (Galatians 4:24) and freedom (Galatians 4:26). He concludes by saying, “we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free” (Galatians 4:31). Jesus says, “Woe” to those who “load men with burdens hard to bear” (Luke 11:46). This stands in contrast to when he says, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). We know Jesus' commands by the ones that are “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).When we truly understand that we are not under the law (Romans 6:14), that Christ came to set us free (John 8:32) and that we have been justified “freely by his grace” (Romans 3:24), then we have every reason not to be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1). 2 Corinthians 3:17 does not say “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is no sin,” but rather “there is liberty.” We have been “called to liberty” to “through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). There is no love without freedom. Without freedom, good works are just duty. If our focus is on a duty to follow commandments so we do not sin, then there is no room for love to exceed the law. It is only in being “free from the law” (Romans 8:2) that we can then trade the spirit of bondage for the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15). Someone who focuses on not offend[...]
2015-01-24T20:08:12.016-05:00I don't expect this post to be especially valuable. I'm mostly writing it because I took on the 7-day Your Turn Challenge in my own modified way, and today would be my day to finish it. Feel free to skip this over, as that would probably be a good demonstration of what I'm about to describe learning to do.
2015-01-23T07:00:06.399-05:00J. Vernon McGee has preached all the way through the Bible. One day I was reading his remarks on Psalm 2:12, and he tells a story that has really stuck with me. Perhaps that is because we, too, “live in a world where every man is tooting his own little horn.” His comments follow:“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” —Psalm 2:12The late Dr. George Gill used to tell us in class, “ ‘Kiss the Son’ is the Old Testament way of saying, ‘… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …’ (Acts 16:31).” “Kiss the Son.”Do you remember who kissed Him? Have you ever noted what our Lord said to Judas after he kissed Him? The theologians today argue about predestination and election and predetermination and foreknowledge, and that this man Judas could not help what he did since it had been prophesied he would do it. Now I’m going to let the theologians handle that. I’m just a poor preacher who doesn’t know very much; so I stay away from those problems and let the theologians solve them.However, after I listen to them awhile I have a sneaking feeling they haven’t solved them. Notice what the Bible says, and it is well to listen to the Bible rather than to the theologians.Remember at Jesus’ betrayal when Judas led the mob out to apprehend Jesus in the garden, he said, “I’ll identify him for you by kissing Him.” So he came to Jesus and kissed Him.Have you noted what Jesus said to him? “And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? …” (Matthew 26:50). Why did He say that? Didn’t He know why Judas had kissed Him? Of course He did. Then why did He call him friend? What did He mean?Let me suggest this. “Judas, you have just kissed Me, which has fulfilled prophecy, and has satisfied all the theologians who are going to come along. Now you are free to turn and accept Me, free to turn that kiss of betrayal into a kiss of acceptance. You can do that, Judas. You are a free moral agent.” And the Spirit of God says, “Kiss the Son. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”My friend, the Spirit of God today is in the world saying to mankind, “Kiss the Son before it is too late. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ before it is too late.” He is coming some day, and He is going to establish His kingdom here upon this earth. He is going to rule, and He is going to put down all rebellion. He will bring peace and harmony to this little earth.When I first went to Nashville, Tennessee, as a pastor, some friends, thinking they were doing me a favor, called me and said, “We have tickets for the symphony orchestra that’s coming to town, and we want to take you as our guest.” Well, I love music, but I know nothing about it; and I can’t sing it—I always help congregational singing by keeping quiet. Frankly, I can’t think of anything more boring than a whole evening of symphony! But I had to go because they were polite and I wanted to be polite, so I accepted graciously and went along.I had never been to a thing like that before, and I was impressed by what I saw. We went in, took our seats, and in a few moments the musicians began to drift out from the stage sides. They were in shirt sleeves for the most part, and each man went up to his instrument and started tuning it. The fellows with the fiddles too big to put under their chins sawed back and forth—oh, it sounded terrible. The fellows with the little ones they put under their chins squeaked up and down with those. The ones with the horns—oh my, nothing was in harmony. It was a medley of discordant, confused noise.Then after they got through with that kind of disturbance, they all disappeared again—went out through the wings. Another five minutes went by, when all of a sudden the lights in the auditorium went off, the lights on the p[...]
2015-01-27T11:31:06.309-05:00It is from the late Howard Hendricks that I learned inductive Bible study.It is from his son Bill Hendricks that I learned inductive people study.Bill has made it his life's work to help people discover, what he calls, their giftedness. That is, how you are wired, what makes you tick, what makes you come alive.His book is called The Person Called You, and therein he describes how he has people tell stories about experiences in their lives they have found especially satisfying. From there he looks for patterns in abilities used, subject matter at hand, circumstances surrounding the experience, the role the person played in the situation, and what they found satisfying.It was a good read and worth my time. I recommend it.Kindle locations below are noted [in brackets].1. Teach a hammer how to look for nails. Excerpt: “Let’s say that a hammer doesn’t know it’s a hammer. In other words, it doesn’t know what it was designed to do. Lacking that knowledge, it’s liable to go around breaking windows, putting dents in cars, or trying to drive screws.” Once a hammer understands its purpose, “From then on, that hammer won’t be looking for a job, it will be looking for nails.”2. What keeps someone at a task for 10,000 hours? Excerpt: “people who end up at the top in any field get there as a result of one thing: they work harder than everyone else. In fact, much harder—ten thousand hours harder, to be exact. It’s called the Ten Thousand Rule. … From the standpoint of human motivation and how we choose to spend our lives, perhaps it’s the key question: What keeps someone at a task for ten thousand hours? … The only way you’ll do something for ten thousand hours and be productive at is is if you’re gifted to that task.”3. Your giftedness affects all of your relationships. “If for no other reason, you do well to know something about giftedness in general and yours in particular because of the way it affects all of your relationships.”4. You can predict how you will react in a situation. “The best indicator of how well you know your giftedness is that you can use it to predict ahead of time what will happen if you place yourself in a given set of circumstances.”5. Your giftedness can shape a vision of your future. “A vision is a picture of what your life might look like at some point in the future if you really trust your giftedness … You can’t predict the future—except that you can predict that your giftedness will still be operating. … You start with your giftedness and then describe what you would actually be doing if you used it on a daily basis. … A vision is a North Star that guides your path. It keeps you aligned with your giftedness. … Your next job needs to put you one step closer to your ultimate vision.”6. We must let our giftedness rest. “Sabbath, or rest, is not a quaint custom of a bygone era that is slowly fading from the stage. Yes, society may be gradually setting aside the rituals and customs associated with Sabbath. But Sabbath was never about a custom or a day but about a reality built into the fabric of the world and the nature of human beings. We were designed to work, and to that end we were each given a gift. But we were not made to work all the time. At some point and in some way, we’re supposed to rest, which means letting our gift rest.” frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=ss_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=mountaintopbo-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B00H3V4YZQ&asins=B00H3V4YZQ&linkId=IIAIFUZPSACY4LNB&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;">[...]
2015-01-21T21:53:09.143-05:00Sales help keep the economy going. If you work in sales and want to learn how to do things better, you may find something here helpful. If you want to know how the process works, you're welcome to read this, too.The heartbeat of the sale is the buying sign. Learning to recognize them and maximizing their potential is what a salesman does. It begins with creating an environment in which these signs can emerge.When I was at RadioShack they taught us about what they called the four stages of selling: greet, qualify, present, and close.GreetThe sales process begins at the moment you begin the interaction with the customer. While some people put a lot of stock into first impressions, I think the most meaningful first impression is when the salesman begins to actively engage the customer.One would hope that greeting a customer would be part of naturally being friendly with other people. If it is not as natural for you, here are a couple basic pointers: smile, and look people in the eye. Those two things can set you off on a good start. Handshakes are generally reserved for higher end transactions, or maybe at the end of lower end transactions.Note: In retail, if you have people walking in the door, you begin with an advantage in that you know they are already thinking about your products. Cold calls or canvassing (door knocking, telemarketing) usually require some kind of sales pitch.QualifyOnce the initial relationship is established, the first step is to ask the customer open-ended questions to figure out the customer's needs. An open question is one to which the responses can be anything. What are you looking for today? How can we help you? What brings you here today? What are you trying to accomplish? How are you trying to do your project? They usually begin with words like “What” and “How.”You want to make sure you have established an understanding of the customer's purpose or intent in making a purchase. Build the customer's confidence that you are working on their behalf. Once you begin to get an idea of the product the customer is seeking, then you can begin to steer the conversation toward the products that you have available.PresentOnce you begin to offer your products to the customer, you have entered the presentation stage of the conversation, though there might still be more qualifying to come later. It is very important to thoroughly know your inventory, selection, menu, or whatever you have available to sell. This can also help you better qualify the customer, too.It is worth noting at this point that integrity is very important. A quick story: One day during Hurricane Isabel I had some customers in town who were displaced from their home in Virginia Beach. They came in browsing around and one of them had a lot of questions about our products. I had a lot of answers. The conversation volleyed back and forth several times, and then they hit on a question to which I did not know the answer. At that point I simply said, “I don't know.” And then the customer said, “Now I trust you.” It was a very poignant moment in understanding not just the importance of integrity, but also of building trust with a customer.Focus your presentation on what you have available to sell. SWAT. Sell What's Available Today. No one is particularly helped by discussing products past, present, future that are not available right now. When people are ready to move, it is best to move with them on that readiness to act. Strike while the iron is hot.During your presentation, pay close attention to how your customer reacts. Specifically, you are looking for buying signs. These are indications that the customer is mentally engaging your product and thinking about how their life would be better after having purchased that product from you. This is the reason that sales people intentionally put a product into a customer's hand. It raises the le[...]
2015-01-22T08:10:25.347-05:00That was the tagline that inspired hundreds of high school students to gather at 6am for breakfast one day to hear a Student Venture speaker. It also helped that he was a triple major from Harvard.His basic message was one of a three-step process of preparation for one to undertake leading up to the night before a writing assignment must be submitted that he called “Load, Relax, and Capture.”1. Load.Remaining mindful of the time between when an assignment was given and when it was due, the first step is to begin introducing yourself to the topic. Along the way of everyday life, read articles, material, etc. Become familiar with people, things, and ideas related to the topic.And that's about it for that step. Maybe note a source reference to make the bibliography easier to write later.The next two steps work in tandem together:2. Relax.Forget about the paper, the assignment, school, etc. Go about your daily life.That's it. Don't try to force the work on the paper.3. Capture.He described how as you are going about your normal daily life, our minds are wired to percolate on ideas under the surface, and every once in a while, a great idea will come to us that would be relevant to our paper. Because thoughts have a very short half-life—maybe 15 seconds—it is essential to always have at the ready a way to capture those ideas.He told a story about how one time some people wanted to study a particular individual—he might have been an executive—who was especially creative. They worked out an arrangement to follow him around for a while to study him and his habits. They weren't noticing anything particularly unusual about how he did things or what he did. The time came for him to fly across the country—perhaps a meeting. The guy tilted his head back to doze off. The researchers thought their study was going on pause. It turns out that's actually when things got interesting. Every once in a while, he would come to, pull out a pad, quickly write something down, put it back, and then go back to dozing off. They asked him later what was going on, and he told them he was writing ideas down. Some of his best ideas came to him that way.Capturing ideas can happen many times over while one is assigned to work on a paper. The idea is to gather all those ideas one has captured into one place so that when the night before the paper comes due, you have a lot of material at your disposal for including in the paper. (If it's a larger project, it's better if that writing starts two or three days before its due.) My tool of choice for capturing became a pen in my right pocket and a pad of Post-It notes in my left.Pen and paper still have major advantages over a screen. You can precisely put as many marks as you want anywhere on the page.— Developer Letter (@DeveloperLetter) September 22, 2013Never thought I'd have to coerce a guy into seeing the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises with me.— Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 20, 2012How do people know where they want to be in 14 years?! This is absurd to me! I don't even know where I want to be in the morning!!— Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 19, 2012It's official. I'm going to be a godmother on August 6th at 2pm. Poor kid doesn't know what he's in for.— Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 16, 2012This makes me sad, mainly because I know girls who are actually like this. How to bag the perfect hubby.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2…— Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 14, 2012Responded to a classified ad and just took this guy home.twitpic.com/a75ljy— Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 13, 2012The funniest quotes in sports. buzzfeed.com/jpmoore/the-fu…— Jessica Redfield (@JessicaRedfield) July 13, 2012The lil nugget just got off the ice, waved then blew a kiss at me. Starting his g[...]