Friday, January 30, 2015

The Right Tools for the Job

In the course of my life I have interacted with two different good people who have very similar gifts and challenges.  They are both friendly and engaging and intelligent.  They are both blunt speakers and they both have a reduced ability to comprehend or care how their blunt words are received.  They speak confidently and authoritatively what they believe is true, illustrate and back up their points articulately and, when it comes to conversations, are only at peace when they've been the last one to speak.

What an interesting set of gifts and challenges..

So, today I was thinking about gifts and challenges and the work we engage in.

One of these two friends of mine has chosen a profession where those gifts and challenges have served her and others well.  She is a lawyer and is a fabulous, successful and daunting courtroom presence and ally for abused and fearful individuals in divorce cases.  My other friend has chosen a profession where his gifts and challenges make his work difficult, and he is mystified and frustrated when he finds that he has alienated coworkers.  He cannot understand why what seems so right to him seems so wrong to them.

If he were a well-trained and experienced search and rescue coordinator, he'd be exactly the sort of person I'd want heading my local search and rescue teams   If he'd chosen a military profession he'd have just the right set of gifts to get a bunch of young marines to not only shape up but fly right and live straight. Political experience? He could testify to Congress in no uncertain terms about the ramifications of a bill they were considering, and like my other friend, with good legal training he'd be an effective legal advocate for the abused or intimidated.

But years ago he chose a different profession.  And though he finds the work interesting and engaging and he's financially successful at it, he continues to experience the frustrations I mentioned at a higher than average frequency.

While mulling these observations I remembered something my father said in a group conversation about a book.  In it is a man on a road trip on a motorcycle.  In that narrative the motorcycle breaks down on a stretch of highway and the author describes the range of emotions a man can experience when that happens.

"How do you think or respond," asked one of the group, "when something like that happens to you; when something you need to work, breaks?  Do you get angry, do you get discouraged, do you blame yourself or someone else, do you get frustrated?  What do you do?"

Various people gave various answers.  My father's honest answer when he was asked was, "I generally think that the problem is that I don't yet have the right tools."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Primary song lyrics I appreciate

"I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created...."

"I'll walk with you, I'll talk with you....."

"I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in his ways. I'm trying to live as he did, in all that I do and say."

"Jesus said love everyone..."

"As I have loved you, love one another."

"Tell me the stories of Jesus"

"Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way."

"..for reverence is love"."

"Thank thee, God for everything."

"I thank thee, dear Father in heaven above, for thy goodness and mercy, thy kindness and love."

"Red is for courage to do what is right, yellow for service from morning till night."

and, just because it bounces and teaches at the same time and makes me smile

"For some must push and some must pull..."

What would be on your list?

Primary song lyrics I'd change

There are many Primary songs I like, but there are a few I'd change the words to

"I belong to the church of....."      No, the church does not own me.  I choose it and own it as mine to work in and serve in.  I belong to Christ.

"There's a right way to live and be happy..."   Actually, there's a right way to live and find Christ's peace.  Sorrow comes to all of us in this life.

"It is choosing the right every day..."   and also repenting and turning to the Lord when you mess up all the time too.  You should not automatically assume that success, peace or happiness is only achieved if you never choose the wrong.  Repentance is every day too.

"Follow the prophet...he knows the way...."  Well, it's way more complicated than that. Follow Jesus, listen to prophets, respond to what the Holy Spirit tells you is light and truth, forgive people called as prophets their weaknesses and appreciate their strengths, continue in faith.  Yup. Way more complicated.

"Scripture power, the power to win...."   Win? Really?  This life is not a competition.  Time in the scriptures increases discernment of what is wise and good and needful in life and in order to become a better disciple.  But it does not give you "power to win".  It actually decreases your interest in "winning".

Any Primary lyrics you'd change?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


...from "The Road to Bountiful", by Donald Smurthwaite

"You first learn not to let your own concern come through in your voice, then not to frown, and then to smile when a baby has croup and a young, frightened mother calls at three in the morning, panicked and seeking your help.  You watch the seasons and wait for the burning heat of August to turn gradually to cool autumn, the the gray, clipped afternoons of January, slowly, in tiny steps, giving way to the first pale green buds of spring.  You learn to let this old earth turn on its hinges, and you realize you are a mere passenger.  You learn to let things run their course. You come to understand time and its meanings.  You learn there really isn't much difference between minutes and hours, days and weeks.  When you do try to move things faster than their natural gait, it is all to easy to become frustrated and then disappointed.  When you rush things you may lose their meaning.  I suppose God wants us to notice things and learn.  I suppose He gives us experiences that we might sort through them, retain what we should, discard what we don't need, and inch along toward what we are destined to be in the eternities."

Sunday, January 04, 2015

To Preach the Acceptable Year of the Lord, Luke 4:19

In the 4th chapter of Luke it is related that Jesus read the passage, Isaiah 61:1-3 in a synagogue, and then, while seated and expounding explained: "This day is this scripture fulfilled."

The Isaiah passage he read outlines the work he was anointed to do:
to preach the gospel to the poor
to heal the broken-hearted
to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind
(that these are linked makes me think of the freedom that comes when one is finally and truly able to "see" truth)
to set at liberty those who are bruised
(makes me think of the captivity and damage that comes from emotional trauma as well as physical trauma and sin)
to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Below is what Martin Luther King thought that last phrase meant, taken from a sermon he preached in 1966.  A good reminder of some personal guidelines as I start a new year.

. . And then the church, if it is true to its guidelines, must preach the acceptable year of the Lord. You know the acceptable year of the Lord is the year that is acceptable to God because it fulfills the demands of his kingdom. Some people reading this passage feel that it’s talking about some period beyond history, but I say to you this morning that the acceptable year of the Lord can be this year. And the church is called to preach it.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men decide to do right.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men will stop lying and cheating.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when women will start using the telephone for constructive purposes and not to spread malicious gossip and false rumors on their neighbors.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men will stop throwing away the precious lives that God has given them in riotous living.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when people in Alabama will stop killing civil rights workers and people who are simply engaged in the process of seeking their constitutional rights.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will learn to live together as brothers.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will keep their theology abreast with their technology.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will keep the ends for which they live abreast with the means by which they live.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will keep their morality abreast with their mentality.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when all of the leaders of the world will sit down at the conference table and realize that unless mankind puts an end to war, war will put an end to mankind.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: and nations will not rise up against nations, neither will they study war anymore.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will allow justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we will send to Congress and to state houses of our nation men who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will walk humbly with their God.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain will be made low; the rough places would be made plain, and the crooked places straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will do unto others as they will have others do unto themselves.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will love their enemies, bless them that curse them, pray for them that despitefully use them.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men discover that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess the name of Jesus. And everywhere men will cry out, “Hallelujah, hallelujah! The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah, hallelujah!”

The acceptable year of the Lord is God’s year.

These are our guidelines, and if we will only follow the guidelines, we will be ready for God’s kingdom, we will be doing what God’s church is called to do. We won’t be a little social club. We won’t be a little entertainment center. But we’ll be about the serious business of bringing God’s kingdom to this earth.