Monthly Archives: November 2009

following, leading & critical thinking

It’s been said that people are either followers or leaders. I think that’s pretty true. I know people who are leaders and others who are followers. But I contend that there is another group which is a subset of either, critical thinkers. I think it would be tough to be a leader while not being a critical thinker, but I know leaders who were not quite what I would call critical thinkers. And I have had people who worked for me who were critical thinkers, and they really added to the team. I have also had people work for me who were not critical thinkers, they were often frustrating to lead.

I think Paul was a critical thinker who encouraged critical thinking. The most explicit example of this is, perhaps, when he taught the people in Berea. Luke (the writer of the book of Acts) says that “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” One can infer that Luke and Paul discussed this incident since Luke was often nearby and travelling with Paul. Indeed, we can imagine Paul, an incredibly well read, highly trained figure in first century Judaism, discussing this with his friend and historian, Luke the physician. Not only was there this comparison of spoken word to written Scripture, but this resulted in “prominent Greek women and many Greek men” believing in the message and becoming followers of Jesus. These are examples of followers who were critical thinkers. Paul, clearly, was a leader who was a critical thinker.

The last 2000 years of the history has seen the rise and fall of many movements made up of followers of Jesus. When one reads the history of Christianity, one reads of these movements: their rise, establishment, slippage and their ultimate fall. One considers the result of a movement, what other movement may have been impacted by it, a movement that may have come from it, etc. But these movements of men in the name of Jesus are nonetheless movements. They come and they go. They often stood in opposition to other movements and books were written to clarify positions in juxtaposition to another group. Many make great claims about results in numbers. They count numbers of people who become followers of the movement, results seen in the works of the movement, results seen in supernatural events connected with the movement.

Today, with the Internet, it is easy to attack a group by creating a website. The more you criticize another group, the easier it is to get ‘hits’ on your site. If you are part of a group and target another group, those who listen to your podcast, streaming website, or open letters on your blog agree with you will say “YEAH.” Those who disagree will yell “NO” and long threads of comments will ensue. It becomes a competition not unlike a political race. In fact, it often looks just like a political site. People respond to one another using the same words their leaders use to describe another group who they disagree with. This is not biblical. Paul spoke clearly against that which was not of the Holy Spirit, but Paul, Peter, James, the writer of Hebrews, John, et al, were inspired by the Holy Spirit. We should look and listen carefully and critically of anyone today who makes such a claim for himself or he who that person follows.

My plea is that these followers of Jesus would be of more noble character and act like the Bereans, go check the Scripture. And as one steeps oneself in the Scripture and thinks critically, read very carefully the parts of Scripture which talk about division in the church. I awoke the other day with 1 Corinthians on my mind and carefully looked through the teaching. I was really struck by the message of the Holy Spirit through the great apostolic missionary. Here is just a bit of it from chapter three:

8Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (ESV)

Whether we are leaders or followers, let us be faithful to the God who gave us His image and use the mind and His Scripture and be critical thinkers like the Bereans.

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football coach

here in the ‘ville, the local college football coach is, apparently, in trouble… the big news is that tomorrow may be his last game… he has another two years on his contract at the local college… to the tune of two million dollars per year… so, think about this… this coach, who has been unsuccessful for some time now (read more here), may be all set to get bought out of his contract, the local TV news says there are alumni of the local college ready to write the checks necessary to buy this fellow out of his contract… where is the justice? where, I ask you? Why does a guy who cannot get the job done, get four million dollars to stop working? yes, I know, the contract must be honored, I get that… but where is the justice? There must at least be a spiritual principle at work here, mustn’t there?

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Black Friday and a good cause

Today is the day when American stores “go into the black” (they begin making money). Many stores operate “in the red” until the Christmas shopping season. The big rush at the end of the year is what pushes many of them into profitability.

Here’s a thought. If you are one of those who saved a ton of money on Black Friday by taking advantage of big sales, why not donate some of those savings to a worthy cause???

Want a cause suggestion? How bout needy children in Eastern Europe?

Early this month, at one of the children’s homes CEO supports, I met a four year old girl who along with her seven year old sister had been picked up by the police. They had used a brick to break into a bread store, they were caught sitting on the floor eating bread. The police identified them, found their mother, and she turned them over to social services. She has huge substance abuse problems and couldn’t care for these kids anymore. Social Services called the leader of 2nd Chance homes and now these two girls are well fed and cared for in a group home. They are clean, have good clothes, their own beds with toys and full tummys. Christian Educators Outreach is a supporter of this work to bring justice to the lives of hurting kids like this. You can help us them them with some of your Black Friday savings. To learn about joining our cause, click here.

I am thankful for you.

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Happy Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?

In a little book I read the other day on prayer, by R.A.Torry (early 20th c. ?), the author says that one of the hindrances to prayer is a lack of thankfulness.

On this great American holiday weekend, why not sit down and think and perhaps even write down what you are thankful for.

Then, like those so long ago, thank God for all those things which you have and are thankful. Among other things, I am thankful for you dear reader.

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thoughts on unity

Lazo and I had a great talk on the way to the airport this morning… we talked about unity among the followers of Jesus. I have hung out with a ton of cool people over the last four weeks in a bunch of places. They are all trying to make Jesus known to the people around them. They are doing it in a lot of different ways as they follow God’s calling on their lives. As he and I reflected on a political issue here in the Heartland that involves different “churches,” I was struck during our conversation by the lack of unity that there is between different groups, all of them fly the flag of Jesus. Some of us don’t always act like it. I guess all of us don’t always act like it. We don’t act like it because we are pretty busy being right and following agendas.
Lord help us seek to live and think and act like we are guided by your Spirit and in Jesus Image.

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reflections on Spain, heading to Homeland tomorrow

(Had no Internet so, I’ve been absent, I wrote this at the Madrid airport and posted it from Budapest) I’ve been visiting some friends (one old, others new) in western Spain. I arrived to warm (relatively speaking) weather and a warm reception. There are some possibilities for my work here. But there are things to weigh and more conversations to have. Basically, we would lend our expertise in ESL to an existing team.

I found the city of Caceres to be welcoming and an excellent place to visit. From those I was visiting it is a great place to work too. The main plaza and the old city need another visit however, there wasn’t quite time to take it all in. Next time.

I didn’t to see any of Madrid as I came in on the train because of the smog. It hung over the city like a curtain.

Getting to the train from the airport in Madrid is not too hard, but you have to know what you are doing. The metro system is modern and appears thorough but is not well signed. Since I am not afraid to ask for directions, I was able to get there and back with a minimum of hassle. There is a subway that goes right from the heart of the city and rail line (N. Minesteros, I think) that takes you straight to the airport. But, of course, I figured that out after the fact. I’ll know next time. Coming to the airport from the subway, be sure you know which terminal to go to, unlike London’s Picadilly line there are no signs in the metro to guide you to the correct terminal. It seems that most international flights go out of 4 which is a pretty awesome airport, except for one thing: elevators. There are no escalators. They move people with elevators, and not enough of them. So be prepared.

A final note on the folks I saw and the folks I met. They are a pleasant lot. The folks I saw were smiling and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Oh, and all the stuff you’ve heard about their hours is true. It’s interesting, the sun rises about an hour and 15 minutes later (it seems)than Hungary (the eastern edge of the time zone). And when I sat on my friend’s balcony for my morning reading and writing, about 8, there was almost no one out. And yes, we stayed up much later (as per their norm) than I am used to. But it all seems to work. The siesta and coffee (which is nothing to write home about… stick with the espresso) which followed the siesta was that which enabled me to stay up with the crowd. I am fairly certain that I will be back, but probably NOT in the summer, they say its hangs around 40-42 degrees in the summer.

Next leg: Homeward bound Tuesday through Paris (yes, I’ll be packing a change of clothing in my carry on in case Air France can’t get me home on time).

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amazing weather

In the last few days we have seen some amazing weather in Bosnia Monday and Tuesday, Croatia yesterday and Hungary today. Today, I came up out of the subway and saw the best view of the Hungarian parliament I’ve seen, the angle of the sun and the lack of scaffolding resulted in this view…

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