Saturday, April 09, 2011

50 thoughts on turning 50

Up until the last few days I never imagined living to 50! But, it appears I'll make it. And, it is appropriate to stop and reflect for a few moments. In the five decades I've picked up a thing or two that have shaped the way I view life. I thought I'd pass them on here, hoping that it they will help someone be a little smarter than I have been. Here goes, in no particular order:
  1. Give up trying to be perfect.
  2. Everyone is broken and bruised, handle with care.
  3. Every sorrow is mingled with joy and every joy tainted with pain.
  4. Marry over your head!
  5. Read 1 chapter of Proverbs per day every month...for ten years!
  6. If this life is all there is, it's not worth it.
  7. Find a few things you are good at and make a difference there.
  8. You are an original, don't be a copy.
  9. Avoid debt on any depreciating asset like you would avoid drowning!
  10. Cash is king. Keep a reserve.
  11. Life makes more sense when it is about God, not about you.
  12. Don't take yourself so seriously.
  13. Yes, your parents screwed you up -- get over it. (Don't merely toughen up, learn from it so you don't do it to your kids).
  14. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.
  15. The person who doesn't read has no advantage over the person who can't.
  16. You will reap what you sow.
  17. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).
  18. Take responsibility.
  19. Live in Quadrant II -- the important, but not urgent.
  20. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.
  21. Begin with the end in mind.
  22. Take time each week to review your plan and plan your week.
  23. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.
  24. Most things I've worried about never happened.
  25. You will regret not trying more than you will failing.
  26. Separate your hazards.
  27. Money is a great slave, but a horrible master.
  28. You will understand yourself and your life better when you experience another language and culture.
  29. Guard your heart for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23).
  30. Insanity = doing what you've always done and expecting a different result.
  31. Mosquitoes can ruin a big game safari.
  32. If you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
  33. The two most important days of your life: The day you were born and the day you figure out why you were born.
  34. Only do what only you can do. -- Scott Haugen.
  35. Things happen for a reason. If the reasons don't change, neither do the things. -- Pat Clifford.
  36. never trust a man who doesn't walk with a limp.
  37. Christianity, if false is of no importance; if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. -- C.S. Lewis.
  38. The way around is usually through.
  39. The quality of your life is largely determined by the quality of the people around you.
  40. Leadership is a choice. It is a choice not to do nothing!
  41. What does this have to do with the overwhelming supremacy of Christ?
  42. The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object off its love. -- Henry Scougal
  43. Take the long view. We overestimate what we can do in three months and underestimate what can be done in three years.
  44. GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out.
  45. Turn off your TV.
  46. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him. -- John Piper.
  47. You've got to do your own growing, it doesn't matter how tall your grandfather was.
  48. He doesn't waste our time.
  49. 20% of your effort produces 80% of your results. -- Paretto Principle
  50. The six most important words: "Well done, Good and Faithful Servant!"

Monday, April 04, 2011

A Jealous God?

I recently received the question, “If God is love and love is not jealous. How can God be jealous?”

The person who asked me correctly identified the problem:

God is love -- Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 NIV)
Love is not jealous -- Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, (1 Cor 13:4 NAU)
God is jealous -- You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, (Exodus 20:5 NIV)

While this appears on the face of it to be a contradiction, I think it is fairly easily resolved if we clarify two things. First, what do we mean by “jealousy”? Most of the time we associate the word with a negative emotion that is something like envy or selfishness. And, I think that is how the word is used in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Love isn’t that way. Yet, there is a sense in which jealousy also indicates an appropriate feeling/action that protects the object of love from other rivals. In fact, in that case it would be unloving not to be jealous. For instance, if Marcia started going out dancing with some young handsome cowboy, it would be wrong of me, in fact unloving, not to be concerned or jealous for the special relationship we are supposed to enjoy. So, jealousy would be right, not wrong.

In addition, it also helps to clarify the differences between God and us. When I am jealous I can have mixed motives. Some of my motives are selfish and small, controlling or envious. If someone started talking about another preacher and I got jealous, it would be out of my insecurity not out of my interest in the good of that person. It might be great for them to listen to that preacher. God’s motives are never mixed. The best thing that can happen to those that God loves is for them to love him completely in return. He loves us enough to insist on our best! No other god is as good for us as our God, so for Him to be jealous is a completely loving thing that seeks our best.

While it appears to be a contradiction, it seems that way because we are thinking of the same word in a couple different respects. It applies differently to sinful and selfish people than it does to a perfect and loving God. Great question.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Marcia and I went to see The Adjustment Bureau last week. I enjoyed it very much. One review I'd read before I went suggested that I'd have things to think about beyond the movie.

The chief idea of the movie revolves around the conflict between "Fate" and "Free Will". While I believe neither in Fate or Free will, I enjoyed this movie. Fate was treated as a blind script with no purpose or destination, merely an impersonal plan for the universe and your part in it. Free Will was treated as an individual's desire to deviate from the plan. Neither of those correspond to the reality as I understand it from Bible.


The movie's conflict developed when the central character did not spill coffee on himself by 7:05 like he was supposed to. Think about that, how many things in life change because of something so insignificant as spilling your coffee. What you may deem as insignificant, alters the course of the rest of your life?

A Limited God

One of the agents informs David Norris that they don't adjust the small things, only the big ones...because they do not have enough "manpower". It is impossible to conceive of a God who has the manpower to make a plan happen as he wishes.

In addition "The Chairman," the one who calls the shots, depends on agents who do not have the whole plan. They have only the piece they are told. So, they act without the knowledge of the outcomes of their adjustments. Their lack of knowledge has potentially tragic results.

And, The Chairman continues to revise the plan as he loses control of it! As the fallible agents fail to control the free will of the people a future unfolds that is not what The Chairman had in mind. This makes for a fun movie, but a highly unpleasant reality.

Goodness & Sovereignty

I have not adequately considered the importance of both goodness and sovereignty. Free will turned out just as I expected in this movie. Not only did it result in a proud defiance of the chairman, it led to an immoral sexual relationship. That's why I do not believe the will is free. It is bound to sin (Romans 3:23).

The ability to run the world demands moral perfection and goodness. In the movie, one agent lies. The chairman does not appear to have a problem with that...if it keeps people on plan. The plan itself had no inherent goodness, it appeared to be one among many ways to run the world.

A plan without a good destination is an inadequate plan. If it is not good, run by a good God toward a good end, then it is hopeless determinism and should be resisted.

Individual vs. Societal Planning

The good of the individual and the good of society were at odds in the movie. If David Norris had what would give him greatest happiness he would no longer serve the purpose he was to fulfill in society. It appears unkind for The Chairman to favor the societal good over the individual good. Surely, if The Chairman were good both the big plan and the little plan would work for a common good.

My conclusion:

This is what I've come to after thinking about this movie: We have no idea how God does it!

If God is sovereign and good and works everything according to his purpose (Job 42:2), he does it in mysterious ways. How does He use the good choices of some people and the evil of others to work the good for the individual and for society in a way that ends up where he designs...I have no idea. But I'm glad He does.