It’s About Caring

It’s About Caring

I was speaking last night to another member of my church small group and we were discussing how we do not like shopping at a particular supermarket. It had nothing to do with the prices or product selection, but rather with the lack of care displayed by the employees of the store. As she was describing her experience, I nodded my head in understanding and told her I will always pay more if it means receiving the level of service I desire.

It’s amazing how much caring makes a difference.

My wife and I have been struggling to find employment, and the hardest part has been the empty void into which our applications seem to disappear. On occassion one of us will receive a notification saying the application is being reviewed, but then the waiting continues and frustration simply mounts.

This morning, however, I received an email from Johnson & Johnson. It was in response to an application I submitted yesterday. Yes …. YESTERDAY! As in, “J&J replied to my application within 24 hours!” Take that, empty void!

It was a rejection letter – to be honest, I knew I did not meet Johnson & Johnson’s requirements – but it was a letter crafted on a foundation of gratitude and empathy. Sure, perhaps J&J have the ability to automate responses. I would assume they receive thousands of applications on a daily basis. Still, someone at some point took the time to ensure a process is in place to respond to all applicants. And the genesis of that decision making is a genuine concern for the human being who submitted the application.

Johnson & Johnson cares about the individuals seeking employment in their organization. If you read their Credo, you’ll know they care about a whole lot more, too. In reading their email this morning, I honestly felt they cared about me.

We appreciate your interest in joining Johnson & Johnson. When you submit your application to us, we look for certain minimum requirements essential for the role. Though your achievements are impressive, they didn’t exactly line up with what we’re looking for in this particular job. For example, you may not have met the required years of experience, education or other minimum requirements.

We understand that being rejected is always disappointing no matter how far along you’ve made it in the process. But, don’t let it hold you back. Your relationship with Johnson & Johnson doesn’t end here and there are some things you can do to open yourself up to other possibilities: ….

We wish you the best of luck as you continue your search and we hope that this won’t be the last time we cross paths.

Who wouldn’t want to work for a company like this?

And now all I keep thinking about is how this sense of compassion aligns with my personal belief system. Compassion is such an undervalued sentiment in our fast-paced, instant gratification world. As a Christ follower, I firmly believe compassion is the currency with which we should transact every interaction.

In the NASB version of the Bible, the word compassion appears 92 times. Matthew uses it seven times in his gospel, often to refer to the emotion Jesus felt for the people to whom he was teaching.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.Matthew 9:6

When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.Matthew 14:14

And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”Matthew 15:32

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.Matthew 20:34

To paraphrase Andy Stanley, other people should be important to you because they are important to God. And when times are tough, make the time to give your empathy and express your compassion to those who really need it. Show them you care, because it may be the very thing they need in that moment.

I really think this quote from Brene Brown best illustrates the importance of compassion.

Meet Me On the Mountain – Jill Briscoe

Meet Me On the Mountain – Jill Briscoe

My wife Lee participated this past weekend listening to the presenters of the 2019 IF:Gathering. I happened to come into the room as Jill Briscoe was presenting.

Jill shared this amazing poem, and I simply felt compelled to share it with others. It’s such a beautiful reminder of our need to give all of of heart to Jesus.

You can find the original posting of this poem on the Telling the Truth website.


Meet Me On the Mountain by Jill Briscoe

Have you met Him at the lakeside
   Did you hear His still, small voice?
Did He call you there to follow Him,
   And said, “You have a choice”?
And did half of you say, “Yes, Lord,”
   And have half a mind to start?
Did you think He didn’t notice
   When you gave Him half your heart?

He saw it on the day
   He met disciples on the mount;
And gave them all another chance
   to make their whole lives count.
Some said that day, “What comes
   my way, Oh, Lord, I’ll do my part,
Dear Lord, I’ll be obedient
   and give you all my heart!”

I’ll love for you and speak for truth
   and tell the Gospel story
I’ll live from this day forward
   to give you all the glory.
Where e’er you send me—use me send me—
   I will speak for you,
Help me glorify your name—be with me—
   see me through!

So as we leave the mountain top
   Will you go for Him or stay?
Continue on half-heartedly
   or give it all away?
Will you yield yourself from this day on
   Receive the Spirit’s call?
Say Jesus, “I give all to you,
   Not half my heart—MY ALL!”

Write It On Your Heart

Write It On Your Heart

In 2017 I had the privilege of attending a Catalyst conference at which the keynote speakers were pastors Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley. As they wrapped up the conference, Andy Stanley said something that has stuck with me ever since.

“Do not criticize that which you do not understand.”

Those instructions resonated with me having grown up in a household that, although was full of love, was also full of criticism towards others. With both my parents, decisions and situations were very binary (i.e. black or white), and there was never much consideration given to the nuance of a particular issue (i.e. the gray area in which we all live and operate).

I am sad to say that worldview dominated my way of thinking in my young adult life, and it was such a huge hurdle to overcome. To this day, I struggle with reverting back to that mentality, but I thank God for surrounding me with women and men of faith who, when it comes to this particular personality tick, help keep me focused on the nuance and not the binary.

So as I watched the video below about Billy Joe White, an artist in Ohio who covers up racist tattoos for free, I felt myself want to be judgemental towards the people who had the offensive ink and were now looking to have it hidden. The video does an excellent job in allowing the individuals to explain what compelled them to get those tattoos, and it steers our attention to where it should be; not on a decision in the past that propagated the rhetoric of hate, but rather on actions in the present that are rooted in love.

“Do not criticize that which you do not understand.”

The video is not about people who were/are racist. The video is about a man seeking to make a difference in a culture where racism and hate are prevalent. He does this not to bring attention to himself, but rather to help bring healing and renewal to others. The lesson here is one of extending grace.

In his book Irresistible, Andy Stanley writes:

For John, Paul, and Jesus, loving people is loving God. Not because people are God, but because they are loved by God. Refusing to actively love a brother or sister is paramount to refusing to love God. Under the new covenant, we do not love God and love our neighbors. Under the new covenant, we love God by loving our neighbors.

I pray the next time I feel myself leaning toward that old habit of judging and dismissing, I remember that as a follower of Christ I am commanded to love my neighbor, without exception and without conditions. It is a commandment we should all have tattooed onto our hearts.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.1 John 4:20-21 (NIV)

A Gentle Nudge

I have two friends on my mind tonight.

The first is my friend Rick. He is also a writer and keeps a blog about his experiences during his faith journey with Jesus. His blog is called Discovering and Sharing Grace, and its focus is on gentle witnessing.

When I met Rick several years ago, his words and his writings gave me a new perspective on what it meant to evangelize the gospel of Christ. They also made it obvious to me that in-your-face Bible thumping is not the solution. Rather, a gentle approach in which you share what God has done in your life and give to Him all the glory for His continued blessing; this is how we kingdom build here on earth.

I was thinking of Rick as I was conversing with another friend of mine, someone whom I’ve known for over three decades. I was surprised to learn this friend is not a believer, and as we had a conversation about faith and religion and salvation, I could hear Rick’s voice whisper in my ear. “Be gentle. Stay gentle.”

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

I am very passionate about salvation, but eternity and the afterlife is not something (IMHO) that should be discussed passionately. Rather, I invited my friend to allow God to surprise him. I asked him to put aside for a moment his very analytical and scientific brain and just let Scripture speak to him. It was a good conversation, but it was also nuanced and delicate.

Still through it all, my focus was to be supportive and inviting. At the end of the day, I don’t save souls. Only God can do that. Still, I can be obedient to the need to share the gospel and invite non-believers into a relationship with Christ.

Overall I think it went well, and my friend will be in my prayers going forward. I ask you to keep him in your prayers as well.

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter, everyone.

Risen

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on Sunday morning,[a] just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.  On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth,[b] who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” – Mark 16:1-7 NLT

CTRL+Z

CTRL+Z

As part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I am taking part in a daily blog post challenge through the BlogHer website. Today’s prompt:

If you could redo one moment in your life, what would it be and why?
How would it change who you are now?


I’m a technology geek. It’s partly a result of working in IT for the last twenty-two years. If you’re not familiar with the keyboard command that is the title of this post, CTRL+Z is how you ‘undo’ a command on most computer applications.

Copied and pasted text into the wrong section of your term paper? CTRL+Z. Deleted the wrong graphic from the presentation that’s due in ninety minutes? CTRL+Z. Realized you applied the wrong formula to your financial spreadsheet? Well, CTRL+Z won’t help you there, but whiskey will.

ctrlz

But in all seriousness, today’s prompt is asking what moment in my life I’d most like to CTRL+Z. I wrote last week that I do not believe in the concept of no regrets. Regrets are healthful experiences that, when you step back and look at the fabric of life, allow us to progress as a civilization. I know that’s a weighty statement, but it’s one I find to be true.

There is nothing wrong with making a mistake so long as we learn from it, and in my life I have made many mistakes and I have lots of regrets. Not every mistake has lead to a Disney-esque lesson learned, and not every regret has been life-altering in the direction of betterment. Still, when I look at the road map of decisions that have brought me to where I am today, I see some glaring moments at which I could’ve been better, as well as some ‘what if’ bubbles that rob me of sleep from time to time.

To deliberately sound cliché, I wouldn’t change any of it.

I am experiencing my current life because of God’s divine grace, and because of the decisions, both good and bad, I made over the years. The pattern being; when I was prayerful and surrendered my burdens to Christ, I was blessed with good decision making. In those times I stepped away from God and tried to do life on my own terms, the bonehead moments were plentiful.

Yet our human nature, one that is sinful and proud, which by extension makes us innately greedy for comfort and ease, enjoys harping on those times in our past that slowly eat away at us. It’s the enemy whispering in our ear, “if only” or “what if.” We can’t undo the past, but God can undo our sins. In fact, He already has through His son Jesus Christ. All we have to do is ask Him to forgive us.

So as easy as it would be to say I wish I could undo that time in my life when I had an affair that cost me my first marriage, I use that experience in order to be a better husband in my current marriage. When I think about how I wish I would have been less hard on my kids, I allow myself to feel pride at how wonderful and respectful my children, now young adults, are. That homeless person I ignored on the street out of some meritless sense of fear? I let it serve as a reminder that fear is not from God and that I should be a badass like Jesus was.

If we could undo those moments that make us feel pain and regret, how could we possibly grow as human beings? And if we had no pain and regret, how could we appreciate the beauty that is the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We put too much focus on the CTRL+Z when we should be putting all our effort into the CTRL+S.


nablopomo

Raise the Bar

No, this is not a blog about tearing down the local watering hole. (think about it)…..

Rather, this is a spur-of-the-moment, “the Holy Spirit nudged me and told me to write” kinda post.

I just wrapped up my last class of my first semester at Trinity College in Florida. The class was Biblical Ethics, and to conclude the course, we were tasked to write a term paper and make a presentation of the Executive Summary of the paper.

I think most of my classmates did not read the proverbial fine print in the syllabus because what they ended up doing was presenting their paper to the class. As you can imagine, it was quite the mind-numbing experience. Presenter after presenter talking about such ethics class standards as abortion, same sex marriage, and divorce.

Yawn!

To be fair, there were a couple of individuals who were captivating in their presentations, and held my attention from start to finish. Their presentations were authentic and heartfelt. But for most of the three hour session, it was an exercise in, “please, God, please let them wrap up soon” praying.

Kill Me Know

Now, I know this may come across as a humble-brag type of post, but I am really proud of what I presented and the manner in which I presented. As God would have it, my turn to present – as determined randomly by my professor – came towards the end of class.

I launched my PowerPoint presentation, followed the points laid out in my Executive Summary, and added additional comments as they came to me during my presentation. It was succinct. It was informative. I like to think it was engaging. Based on the louder than average applause from my classmates, I think it was well received.

To be fair to everyone else in my class, I’ve worked in IT pretty much since I graduated from college in 1994. I’ve been with my current employer going on nineteen years now. I am well versed in putting together presentations. Speaking in front of others is easy for me. Tonight’s assignment was very much in my wheelhouse (although I can’t tell you what a wheelhouse is).

My hope is not that others were impressed by me or my presentation. My hope is that they are motivated or challenged to apply the techniques I used in their next presentation. My prayer is they seek a sense of betterment as a student going forward because the were presented with an example of a what clear, concise, and effective presentation looks like. (see aforementioned humble brag)

I would say approximately 80%-90% of what I’ve learned in life I’ve learned by watching others. Observation is our greatest teacher (other than Jesus, of course), and it is in observing others that we learn what to do … and not to do … in certain situations. We see others reset what ‘possible’ means, and we are driven to do better or be better as a result.

Bar

The greatest imperative we have as Christ followers is to continuously raise the bar in terms of what it means to be generous, forgiving, understanding, and loving. Being a Christian does not necessarily mean we have the Bible memorized, nor does it mean the Bible always makes sense to us. I think being a Christian means looking at the life Jesus lived, recognizing His is the ultimate example to follow, and understanding no matter how hard we try we’ll never reach that standard.

Still ….. despite our flaws, despite our sinful nature, and despite our inability to be perfect the way Jesus was, we try anyway. We strive towards the standard He set because in doing so, we exercise love, we foster fellowship with others, and we create betterment in our lives.

And I firmly believe it is the pursuit of this betterment, inching closer to God today than we were yesterday, that makes us good and faithful servants in the eyes of the Lord.

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!'” Matthew 25:21