Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Self-Help" Books - Becoming fully actualized!

I picked up two books by Suzanne Willis Zoglio.  Neither were difficult reads – and in fact, both were not intended to be read “straight through” – but more as resource books for reframing one’s life.  Both books are really more a collection of “wisdom sayings” – alongside stories and suggestions – for improving one’s life.  Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul and Recharge in Minutes:  The Quick-Lift Way to Less Stress, More Success, and Renewed Energy.  Nothing complex here – but good ways to, in fact, recalibrate.  The first ten suggestions in Recharge were great in themselves.  Practice “Morning Intent” – Do, Defer or Delegate -  Learn to really breathe -  Complete One Thing – Throw One Back – Get Physical – Accept a Helping Hand – Get Rid of the Ghosts – Stop Shoulding on Yourself – Plan Tomorrow Today.


The Good Among the Great:  19 Traits of the Most Admirable, Creative and Joyous people by Donald Van de Mark.  I find it humorous to read books like this – because they are really quite simple at their core.   Van de Mark takes 19 traits from Maslow – based on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs – including his view of those who are at the highest levels of self-actualization.  The traits of “the good among the great” are not new ideas that Van de Mark has found, but his assembly of stories from persons he has interviewed that might have many (if not all) of the traits first identified by Maslow.  A simple review of Maslow’s theory (thought it is criticized) would prove as sufficient as reading the book by Van de Mark.  Autonomy, Loving, Ethical, Unaffected, Private, Detached, Experiential, Realistic, Laid back, Performance and Process oriented, Egalitarian, Jolly, Empathetic, Dutiful, Appreciative, Creative, Exuberant, Joyous, and Transcendent.  But, can anyone, truly be all of these things?  Certainly not at one time nor at all times.  I suppose though, we should all learn to live these traits in the right moments.  But discerning those correct moments takes wisdom itself.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Year - within Judaism

At the start of Rosh Hashana, I offer blessing to all persons - of any
faith - and hope for a spirited reflection about what the New Year
might entail by virtue of renewed commitments!


Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Gift of Sabbath!


I'm off to an intentional retreat with good friends, faithful colleagues, and shared partners in ministry.

God has given me two gifts as the journey begins.

As we got to the airport to prepare for our departure, I realized that there were two people on the flight who, many years ago, maliciously and falsely claimed lies about me that they wanted to use as a framework for disabling and disempowering my work in ministry!   Through a period of a few years, I endured some close scrutiny from those who believed the lies and were confused by the subterfuge of those who sought to cause me ill, and am thankful to report that the integrity of my total life experience triumphed over the vitriol of these persons hate.

It is so nice to be authentically who I am - and to live a life committed to the truth of God's work in the world.  I have committed myself to study and service in the Kingdom of God - and seeing those who had willed to cause me harm was a reminder of the wonderful sense of extended Sabbath that God has granted to my life.  This is the kind of Sabbath that has, indeed, "released the bond" - Isaiah.  "Isaiah 58:6 6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"

My life is characterized by wonderful, freeing Sabbath - from enemies of my past who I pray God's grace will transform, and who I hope God's love can reach!

God gave me a gift in seeing these people who had willed to be my enemies - by reminding me of all the deep goodness, wholeness and solitude that God has brought into my life in the face of my enemies.  I thank God for the many gifts of so many things, I was reminded of in these few moments.

After our airplane landed at the airport hub for our layover - en route to our retreat - I discovered that one of the friends of my life had a conversation with the very persons who had tried to cause me harm in the past.  Those persons shared with my friend that they were "sorry" that he was my friend!  What a tragedy for them to view life in the midst of their continued attempts to cause harm.  But, as they went their way, my friend shared this story with me.  I shared with my friend how unfortunate it is that people have to live their life in the framework of hate and attempts to hurt others. 

And then, God gave me the 2nd Gift.  I looked down at my watch to orient myself to the time-zone in preparation for catching our next flight.  My watch was showing the time - but not correctly.  In fact, it seems a weakened battery caused my watch to completely reset - reading a date of "January 1st" - set to a Monday default  - and a time that was completely wrong.  A gift!

In some ways, the weakened battery caused just what I needed - I needed my "clock" to be reset as I head off to Sabbath.  I needed to not be "on the clock" and not be concerned about the "hour" of the day - or the day of the week - but the moments of Sabbath that I get with my friends.

I've left my watch on my wrist - with its incorrect time - for the remainder of our days together.


It serves as a reminder to me now - that my "battery" needs to be "recharged.

It serves as a reminder to me now that I'm "off the clock" in these days - and I've been "reset" to the start of a new thing (like the New Year of January 1st) - and I truly receive these moments as Gifts of God in my life - right now.

The gift of a life lived with integrity.  Thank you God.

The gift of my "clock" being reset - as this Sabbath experience re-orients my life.


I am truly, truly grateful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jerusalem - Extending Peace

Jerusalem means, literally, "City of Peace" - I hope for extended peace in and through Israel that it might extend to the hopes of Palestine in the U.N. in these historic days ahead! So that it might be "Eretzsalem" - the Land of Peace.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Break-through Rapid Reading


I borrowed a textbook from a learner yesterday - and then read the text last evening.   Break-Through Rapid Reading by Peter Kump.

I realized as I read it - I have intuitively been putting the basic concepts of this book into practice for years.

I "knew" I read faster than "most" people - but know I understand more clearly how or why I read - and how other people read.

If you want to read more text more quickly - I found this to be a great text.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Who are these Nazarenes?


It is not uncommon for a person to ask me, “What is a Nazarene?"

I will share a few things about who “we” Nazarenes are – that are part of a larger history, of course!  These items stand out as personally important to me.  

Nazarenes - connection to John Wesley and the Methodist Church:

Nazarenes are an extension of the larger movement of Methodism – that extends back to the influential work of John Wesley and the Methodist movement – including various denominational traditions that have emerged over more than 200 years!  There are an estimated 75 million Methodists worldwide.

Nazarenes – who trace a particular theological lineage to John Wesley through the Methodist Church (and social-holiness-revival meetings) are a small denomination that emerged from the larger whole.  There are only about 2 million Nazarenes worldwide.  (For additional perspective, there are an estimated 100 million Baptists worldwide – an estimated 80 million Anglicans worldwide and an estimated 73 million Lutherans worldwide.) 

Nazarenes are just a small drop in the large bucket of Christian denominations!

A few key notes about Nazarene history and distinctive practices that are important to me.

Denominational Name:

The name Nazarene derives directly from the identity of Jesus, who was from the town of Nazareth.  An intentional hope of persons associated with the Church of the Nazarene, was that their ministry would follow in the footsteps of this “original” Nazarene.

Connection to Los Angeles Urban Poor:

The Church of the Nazarene traces direct roots to a movement among Christians in Los Angeles, California.  In the Organizing Minutes of the church, October 30th, 1895, denominational leaders declared (in language characteristic of their historical context): 

“The field of labor to which we feel especially called is in the neglected quarters of the cities and wherever else may be found waste places and souls seeking pardon and cleansing from sin.  This work we aim to do through the agency of city missions, evangelistic services, house-to-house visitation, caring for the poor, comforting the dying.  To this end, we strive personally to walk with God and to incite others so to do.”

Connection to Influential Civic and University Thinkers:

This church was led in its birth and through its early years primarily by Phineas F. Bresee, but connected to others, including Joseph Pomeroy Widney.  (Widney was the second President of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the founding dean of the USC School of Medicine.)

Bresee and Widney had been Methodists.  Both men had been active in “downtown” (a modern term) mission in L.A..  Bresee and Widneay wanted this new church they were founding to be active among the homeless in connecting homeless urban poor with Christian families.

Commitment to Education and Female Leadership:

Bresee, who would stay with the fledging denomination while Widney would return to Methodism, was himself a trustee of USC and an advocate for liberal arts education.  Bresee would later become President of a Nazarene college – and it is of interest to me that the first Nazarene college was founded by lay-women – and not by male clergy - and included liberal arts work alongside a separate (but connected) Bible college.


Important Quotes on Mission to the Poor from P.F. Bresee:

The mission of Bresee was at the heart of this denomination – and, is a reason I believe in the mission of the Church of the Nazarene today.  Key quotes from P.F. Bresee that motivate my connection to the Church of the Nazarene today include the following:

”Let the Church of the Nazarene be true to its commission; not great and elegant buildings; but to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and wipe away the tears of sorrowing, and gather jewels for His diadem.”

“We were convinced that houses of worship should be plain and cheap, to save from financial burdens, and that everything should say welcome to the poor…”

"We can get along without rich people, but not without preaching the gospel to the poor."

"We want pastors who will go out and find the poor that nobody else cares for."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day Privileges - Unearned


I shared with learners in my courses this past week - that they will get Labor Day off - because we live in a wealthy America that gives us privileges that we have perhaps not earned.  (Reflection on Unearned Privileges here and here and here and here.)

And today, I sit in a quiet, cool office with time to reflect on the privileges I possess on this Labor Day.

I am thankful for my life - and hope to extend in tangible ways the benefits I have received.

In one University course from this past week, as we got to know each other, I asked every learner to share something about themselves that is essential to knowing them.  I asked, "What one thing is so important to who you are that we can not really know you and not know this about you?"  I shared the following fact from my life as I shared:

If you want to know me, you need to know that I think unembodied theology is meaningless.  Our cognitive ability to think about God has no purpose or function if it is not lived out in tangible ways to make the world a better place.

On this Labor Day Holiday, I am thankful for the insight of wise friends (James K.A. Smith's blog - and John Franklin Hay's blog) who cause me to remember the privilege I have, inspiring me to work for all labourers in our world today.