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Maintenance Is For Weenies

If a man is lazy, the rafters sag.
Ecclesiastes 10:18

We sat at lunch one day with a team from our office. It was a farewell meal for an intern who had joined us for three or four months. He was a very likable chap, had a bright mind, and was a genuinely nice guy. For our part, we had put him in tasteful accommodations, given him a car to drive, had him participate in some interesting projects, and given him exposure to life in Silicon Valley when all was well in Dot.com land. So at the end of it, all my wife asked, “What did you learn from your time with us?” His answer caused more than one person to nearly choke on their Chinese food: “I don’t like maintenance.” That was it. The grand conclusion from the twenty-year-old on what he had learned from his work stint: maintenance sucks. 

The first to respond was our Information Technology manager (who, incidentally, spent most of his day maintaining other people’s computers). He gently explained...

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Love Is The Goal

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
I Timothy 1:5

In the introduction to this letter, Paul tells Timothy his work assignment: “command certain men not to teach false doctrines.”  Later he says (in verse 8), "We know that the law is good, if one uses it properly."  There is a sharp contrast between a genuine movement of God, which has at its core "love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith," and the complex formulation of institutions built around laws and structures and complexities made up by man.  

As we deal in business, we will write contracts, deals will be signed, and plans will be made.  In all of these things let us remember to have "love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith." 

Reflections

  • Is your heart pure?
  • Is your conscience clear?
  • Is your faith sincere?
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Stand and Ignore

Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.   Ephesians 6:13 (NLT)

We like to think of amazing accomplishments, great acts, momentum, and being on the offensive. But there are seasons where it is enough to just come out on the other side still standing. 

“…so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.”(The Message)

When suffering leads to perseverance that chisels out character that ekes out hope; when we have stared through the difficulties to the God-faced possibilities; when our knees have wobbled and our toes curled ‘round the clods’; when the day of evil has come — "and after you have done everything, to stand." Sometimes just showing up and standing is enough. The harvesting will come on another day.

Not as a contrast, but to preserve us from hopeless hanging around, while we are standing there are things we can do. Standing naked will not suffice. There is apparel even for...

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Plodding vs. Pontificating

There’s a difference between perpetually pontificating and persevering. The editor of the Manchester Guardian once said, “Comment is free; facts are sacred.” Every day billions of opinions are tweeted as facts. Zillions of sage advice tweets and posts might give the impression that there are billions of people doing amazing things. I too have opinions. While I am not prone to untamed tweeting I am in danger of confusing perseverance with pontification. It is one thing to hold an opinion and quite another to back it with the actions that lead to an outcome. 

A little phrase caught my eye: “You need to persevere.” Like many of you, I am in the midst of planning for the next calendar year. This usually involves several months of revisiting old mind maps where I listed an unreasonable number of things I hoped to work on, then tweaking them for the coming year. I have done this long enough to know the difference between dreaming and planning. It is...

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How Ripe Is Your Field?

they are ripe    John 4:35

When Jesus ventured into non-friendly territory he encountered a thirsty woman, turned her town upside down, and gave his disciples a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee lesson. “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” He saw the opportunities, but they saw the obstacles. 

  • One obstacle was their reputation. “What if people see our boss talking to a woman of ill repute?” 
  • Another obstacle was religion. “Why are you wasting time on Samaritans? They are not our target market.” 
  • Their third attempt to ‘get out of Dodge’ was practical: “Why don’t you get something to eat?”

"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 

What do you see in your workplace? Is it an environment where people are neutral to spiritual things? Perhaps you see it as disinterested, not caring much about God and all that...

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Home Game, Away Game

Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. 

And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?  Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves.  Judges 5:17

Not that long ago the New York Giants won their 10th consecutive away game, an NFL record. Winning on the road is tough. There were “away game” players in Scripture with catchy names such as Barak, Benjamin, Ephraim, Issachar, Napthali, and Zebulun. They all played an away game, won, and their names are recorded in history. Let me set the context. Israel had been oppressed for twenty years, and their leader, a woman prophetess names Deborah, called on the nation’s leaders to fight their enemies. The opposition was formidable, but God had given an instruction, and Deborah passed it on. 

“The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his...

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Ambition, Brand, Comfort

Baruch was of more noble birth than the prophet Jeremiah yet was his scribe. For many years he had prophecies that were ignored and sometimes burned in the flames. Poor old Baruch had to rewrite them. After a slew of people had been taken captive to Babylon and only the stragglers remained in Israel this remnant came to Jeremiah and asked, “Should we go back to Egypt?” It took Jeremiah 10 days to get an answer from God and it was a resounding “No!” The problem, however, was that the leaders had pre-decided that they wanted to guarantee their comfort and go back to Egypt. They hoped Jeremiah would confirm their predetermined plan. They predictably ignored his counsel and, to make matters worse, dragged Jeremiah and Baruch, his scribe, with them. History says Jeremiah never saw the Promised Land again. 

No wonder Baruch was feeling despondent. When he signed up for the job of scribe to a great prophet he probably didn’t think that Jeremiah would be...

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The Mule and the Donkey

We are living in times when many are being as “stubborn as mules” about things that may or may not be critical. Anyone with a passing thought can post it on social media and, if it is provocative enough, garner the support of international miscreants. We have learned how the more controversial thoughts get more reactions, so we opine without expertise, post without wisdom. Yet there is something winsome about combing grace and truth. Truth on its own can be harsh; grace without truth can be sloppy. The combination, however, builds up and infuses courage. When grace and truth are backed up by action the outcome can be nothing short of splendid.

Income-producing ass

We remember the unusual story about a mode of transportation being co-opted for a historic ride into town. More specifically, it was someone’s means of income or income-producing ass, that was conscripted into greater service. If this happened today the story might read:

“Go to the town ahead of...

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But it was because the Lord loves you

The Lord set his affection on you and chose you because the Lord loved you. Deuteronomy 7:7-8

God gets bad press. The ‘liberal media’ has been around since the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say…? You know why he said that, right…he wants to dis-empower you!” As Israel came out of Egypt Moses tried to help untangle their preconceptions about God from their experience of Egyptian gods. He also tried to lay the groundwork for the fledgling nation to avoid future entrapment by other gods.

The 10 Commandments and related instructions were therefore very clear: keep God as the one and only, and don’t flirt with foreign gods. “Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them.” This is the M&M verse (if it helps you remember it better): no money, no mercy, no marriage, no mingling. Israel knew slavery—they had been at the receiving end of it for many years. Back in the tent as they thought about...

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“What are you crying for?”

 

Crying was not really smiled up when I was growing up. If your brother gave you a shove and you fell and hurt yourself, the question was “What are you crying for?” If you broke your favorite toy… “What are you crying for?” If your parents said “No” when you wanted “Yes” and you cried… “What are you crying for?” followed by the inevitable, “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Nowadays we tell people, and not just children, “It’s okay to cry.” While there were some advantages to the get-up-and-get-over-it mindsets of our parents, there were disadvantages as well. It is appropriate to cry, sometimes, and the question is, “What are you crying for?” or, more accurately, “What are you crying over?”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a...

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