Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nurturing a Career within a Scholarly Profession & Guild

This 5 minute video is from the American Schools of Oriental Research entitled "ASOR Member's Advice to Those Just Starting Their Careers."

While the advice includes information about field research that may or may not apply to some issues in Bible, many details of their advice apply to various guilds of Biblical Scholarship, Theological Scholarship, or Religious Scholarship.

I hope this video is encouraging and motivating for any developing scholar.

Great insights here: 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Legal Maxims

I work to be a peacemaker.

As a person who lives in the world and who owns property with business income and business partners and leasing relationships, I have been forced into Court mitigated situations that I did not want to engage.

Here are the maxims of my experience about Court/Attorney Litigation.

One or all of these seem to apply to every court situation:

(1) It will take longer than you think. 
(2) It will cost more money than you think. 
(3) The judgment/decision/agreement will be curious in some way you could not have predicted even had you tried to think through all potential outcomes.

I've shared this advice with others - and archive here at the request of a friend.

This means most Court related litigation is expensive, extended and unpredictable.

If you are facing the possibility of court related arbitration or litigation, you should plan for each and all of these realities.

If  your situation involves genuinely irrational persons or persons unable to own responsibility for their issues, expect all three maxims to apply in more problematic ways. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thriving with newness in relationships.

“Go home tonight and if you live with somebody, notice five new things about that person. . . . The person will start to come alive for you again.”

- Dr. Ellen Langer, in her conversation with Krista Tippett On Being: “Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness”

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Monk Manifesto - OnBeing & Christine Valters Paintner

Longer reflection is at The Monk Manifesto: Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention.

There you will read more about these intentions:

  1. I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.
  2. I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.
  3. I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.
  4. I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.
  5. I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.
  6. I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.
  7. I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Summer Reading 2015

Summer Reading in random order:

One Million Steps by Bing West.  An interesting "insider" view of war.

The Road to Character by David Brooks.  Many chapters were worthy of a second reading.

50 Self Help Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon.  Good audiobook for the road, as each chapter was a different focus.  

How Successful People Win by John Maxwell.  I have learned from Maxwell for years and while his work is redundant over time, it is still good reading.

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan.  Some funny.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.  More funny.

I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson.  I love his style and appreciate his humor, especially in cultural and travel contexts.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.  I was hoping for more.  Glad I read it.

Half the Sky:  Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof.  I value his great work in humanitarian aid an advocacy building work.

The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day At A Time by Jonathan Kozol.  An interesting biographical and scientific exploration into the way the mind works as it fails.

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Community  by Nicholas Kristof.  Again.  Good work.

Open Heart by Elie Wiesel.  Not what I was expecting and yet moving to know more of Wiesel's story.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Read this before I knew she was "becoming" famous.  Think she's on to many good concepts!

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman.  One of the most "Oh!My!Word!" books I've read.  

G.I. Brides by Duncan Barrett.  A human portrait to another time.

Finding Zero by Amir D. Aczel.  Math and history.  Interesting.

Alexander the Great by Paul Cartledge.  Excellent reading.

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick.  Enjoyable reading - discovery of American subcultures and the history of whaling.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin.  Good reading, yet, easy to summarize in a simple review.

Family Portraits:  Character Studies in 1 and 2 Samuel by Randy McCracken.  One of the "most favorite" books I've read as Rev. McCracken and I have read "all the same people" and think most of the same thoughts - though I still learned from his interpretation in meaningful ways.

From Earth to Heaven:  A Literary Study of Elijah Stories in the Book of Kings by Moshe Garsiel.  Also great insight into literary and dynamic issues, a super read.

David, King of Israel, And Caleb in Biblical Memory.  I was overdue to read this book, and am always thankful for new insights into David studies.

Ecclesiastes by Peter Enns.  Re-reading this in order to come back to understand the meaning and meaningless of life as viewed from the perspective of Qohelet.

Friday, July 31, 2015

On Teaching People How To Treat You

I'm loved in an incredible way by a lovely woman.

She routinely tells me she appreciates me and I frequently tell her I love her.

This morning I shared with her a minor house-project I completed (that might otherwise go unnoticed because of location).  The conversation went like this.

Me:  "I finished that foam insulation install yesterday and just today insured all the gaps were sealed using a sandable bonding product I'll seal in around the edges, then sand another day." 
Wife: Silence as she was applying make-up. 
Me, speaking as if I were my wife:  "Oh! Thank you, Sweetie.  I'm so thankful to have a husband who gets projects done and knows how to fix things." 
Wife, then said lovingly, "Oh! Thank you, Sweetie.  I'm so thankful to have a husband who gets projects done and knows how to fix things."

My wife very likely would have told me thanks without me "telling her what to say" as she routinely speaks with kindness to me.

And yet, I thought to myself, too how good it felt for her to say those words back to me.  She did not "parrot" them back nor "sarcastically" repeat my words.

She stopped her make-up application and said with kindness only what I said.

And it caused me to remember two things:

(1) We all need affirmation - often!

(2) There is nothing wrong with - and perhaps even something very important about - teaching someone how you want to be treated.  Teaching someone how to love you for what you need to hear.

I'm thankful to be so wonderfully loved and I hope, loving.

Don't be afraid to teach those you love how to love you.  And learn to, how to love them! Words of affirmation and love are meaningful to every human!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Life's Complexity - Glad I'm In Shape

Life's been too complex.

Some great stuff going on, too,  to share later.

I'll be back here soon.  Waiting out a few things.

Right now I'm glad that I exercise routinely to stay in shape.  The benefits of being in shape allow me to "do things" on the "spur of the moment" when I get a unique opportunity to be outdoors.

Thankful for the outdoors and good health.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Newness with each new Spring

Life's complex - and has been particularly curious in recent weeks.

Today I think to myself, "I'm ready."

As I watch newly formed green leaves tussled by the wind, I think about how newness emerges in life. 

"I'm ready for & celebrate the possibilities of newness."

Picture  is the view from my window.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Resources on Considering Seminary

I'm sharing a link to David Murray's Blog, "Head, Heart, Hand" where he shares numerous excellent links for people considering a seminary education.

If you have thoughts about a seminary education (or many forms of graduate theological education toward any degree) . . . 

If you want to review perspectives to consider before enrolling

At this link you will find many, many, many more links to resource your thinking!

David, who I have yet to meet personally, is professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and the pastor of the Free Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Author Royalties

I doubt I'll write a book that will reshape the world. I will continue to write.

I don't write to make money. I write to share.

Received one of my book's royalty cheques.

It's just enough for the family to eat out a couple of times or one really nice date with my wife!

That's just fine with me!

Painting what is unseen, Waxing what is hidden

Our daughter came home as I was painting behind the fridge.

"Why are you painting back there, Dad?  It's not like anyone can see it!"

And I wonder to myself, "Have my kids learned nothing from me!?"  ha!

I shared with her, "I'm painting back here because I will know it is painted.  And!  I'm painting back here because we live by the motto from my childhood: 'Once a job has begun, never leave it 'til it's done.  Be the labour great or small, do it well or not at all.'"

I had my wife get a picture of me painting behind the fridge so that now I can say "See - everyone can see it!" ha!

Robyn also got a picture of me painting our lofted ceiling over our stove area.  For some reason, my wedding ring stood out to me in the picture - maybe as an image to capture my love for  Robyn and I was re-painting the second coat of the new colour, after she decided the first colour was not to her pleasing.  She's happy now, and so am I.

And, the old-University-Chemistry table that has been our dining room table for many years needed a good coat of Johnson's Paste Wax, so Robyn got a picture of me sealing up the parts that most people don't see as I polished the entire table - top to bottom.

Then, pictured with some shine and the new carpet!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Learn more about the Biblical Books of 1 & 2 Samuel - King David

King David is one of the Bible's most significant characters.

And yet, there are so many other characters associated with David in the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel!  Many people know very little about these other persons!

I have given much of my life to studying David and the Biblical Books of 1st and 2nd Samuel.  I teach about the various characters in these books in a Graduate Level course for Pastors.  I find great depth and meaning in the stories and persons found in these books.

In order to help any person learn more about the great stories of 1st and 2nd Samuel, I have produced a new resource to engage Christians.

The resource is an "Audio Conversation" intended to function as a  mentoring audio-guide for any person who wants to read the Bible and have a Bible Scholar inform their Bible reading.

I offer accessible theological and academic insight intended to help any Christian, no matter the level of their prior experience with the characters or theology of these books.

Of course, a pastor could use this resource to study and engage 1st and 2nd Samuel for personal learning - or - in order to develop a sermon series!

Available for download from iTunes and Link to King David and God's People: An Audio Conversation about the Old Testament link to King David and God's People:  An Audio Conversation about the Old Testament

My sincere hope is that people will engage and learn from the vibrant, emotional, curious, scandalous, prayerful, and faithful stories in 1st and 2nd Samuel as we learn about King David, God, and many of God's people, in 1st and 2nd Samuel.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Reflecting on Health & Wellness for Enjoyment

I love the outdoors and I love water.

I do not often get out when I'm in Oklahoma for many reasons.  (1) I work a lot of hours and (2) Weather in the summer is so hot to be unbearable (3) the kinds of outdoor things I enjoy are hard to do in Oklahoma, (i.e., I can swim in local lakes, but it requires tromping through red clay into red-clay stained waters.  And, there is no ocean for many of the ocean sports I enjoy.)

I decided though I needed to be in better shape so that when I do get to the ocean (3x in the past 13 months!) - I can enjoy that time.

16 months ago I went to my local YMCA.  I swam 17 laps in 40 minutes.  A lap in a minute, resting a minute.  A lap in a minute, resting a minute.

Last night I swam a steady 64 laps in 30 minutes.

The routine of swimming, which is healthy for me - gives me the pleasure and enjoyment to swim elsewhere and not be "sucking for air" so I can enjoy it.

Pics of me on the beach before I swam across La Jolla Cove near San Diego - and - boogie boarding at Windansea Beach.  

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Becoming A Resonant Leader

Becoming a Resonant Leader 

Great insights in many ways.

I need some more time to reflect on what kind of leader I am and how I plan - I feel like I am a mix of all three.

What kind of leader are you and how can these insights help you best plan for your future?

a.    Organizational performance and personal dreams and goals are rarely linked and thus fall flat. We all want to learn and grow (and be engaged in that process), but that’s rarely connected to what we do at work. In essence, personal development and change is all about YOU and not about performance improvement at work. 

So, your Learning Agenda/Plan is not a performance-improvement plan. Planning to learn and develop ourselves activates the positive emotional attractor state (hormones and neurology that lead us to positivity—give us hope, compassion and mindfulness). However, performance improvement (for work or for what others want of us) often moves us to the negative emotional attractor state (negativity and dissonance).

b.    Planning Style: People approach the future in three different ways: Goal-orientation, Direction-orientation and Action-orientation (see My Planning Style indicator on pp. 157-8). 

i.    Goal-oriented people like to pursue goals which may not be necessarily tied to a dream. For them, accomplishing the goal is the brass ring. And setting new goals moves them forward. About 50% of subjects in a study conducted by Annie McKee on planning styles were goal-oriented people.

ii.    Direction-oriented people have a dream and a good idea about how to get there but are less driven by goals, more so by the dream/vision. Less than 33% of McKee’s study were direction oriented.

iii.    Action-oriented people are in it for the moment—living task by task. For them each task leads to the next—their form of planning is linear and task-oriented and living in the present. 

c.    Learning Style: David Kolb’s learning theory.

i.    Comprehending & Apprehending: Comprehending—trying to grasp aspects of an experience. Apprehending—understanding what you’ve comprehended.

ii.    Reflective Observation (focused internally) & Active Experimentation—externally focused on how the environment responds when you try something.

iii.    Resonant Relationships: Develop a personal board of advisors— people who you trust to act as a sounding board. Alternatively, a coach works well.

iv.    Continuous Improvement and Refinement: Experiment and practice to deepen and make new neural pathways in your brain. Change comes from rehearsal and practice.

d.    Learning Plan: 

Look at your Personal Vision (Ideal Self) and then at your Real Self and note any gaps that exist between the two. The difference with this model is that you’re working toward the positive emotional attractor not trying to stop something (the negative emotional attractor).  

The cascade in planning is Personal Vision (5-10 years)  
► Learning Goals (1-5 years) 
► Milestones (6-12 months) 
► Action Steps (present to 6 months). 

See charts from p. 166-173.

A Manifesto to the Best Me and Best We

Manifesto to become the Best Me I Can Be and the Best We We Can Be:

I read a lot of books – good books (and some bad.)

I listen to great lectures, sermons, podcasts, TEDtalks, insights from creative people – and while I put some insights into practice – only some of them get really lived out in my life.  I need to change this.  We “know” how to live better – and I can do better with my life so I will focus more on what I know now and embodying that, instead of needing to learn something new.  (Though I will keep learning.)

I love Facebook for connecting with friends and especially former students, whose lives I cherish!  And yet, the routines of being on FB tax my life.  And, it’s a socially engineered network where I only see/know certain things.  I will be on FB less.

I have certain routines when I “power down” and “power up” in the morning and at night – including things like at least a daily (sometimes 2x or 3x daily) dose of aggregate news feeds. In truth, reading the news does very little to shape my every day or every week existence.  I care deeply about social, political, international, peacemaking and other issues of the world, and yet – the persistence with which I read/feed on these things, does little to nourish my life’s deepest meaning and personal, close, intimate, local well being.   This is to say nothing of the wasted time spent on silly websites that provide goofy memes or the latest viral videos that shape my life in no meaningful way –and even the brief laugh is fleeting.

I am going to focus more frequently, I expect daily – on more introspective aspects of my life.

I plan to ask myself many more daily questions.

Maybe I won’t do it daily – though I think I will. 

I need something to give focused attention to my thoughts every evening.

Robyn has committed to help me – and I’ll engage her with questions as frequently as she will indulge me with the questions that follow.

Here is the list of questions I’ll start with below.  They have been borrowed and reshaped from persons like John Wesley, St. Ignatius, Thich Nhat Hanh,  Brene’ Brown, Wendell Berry, Richard Boyatzis, John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni & the Table Group, David Allen, and John Gottman.  No doubt they’ll be reshaped in the next days or weeks to (I’ve been working on the questions for days already, so they’re in formation):

Best Me I Can Be:

1.     Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2.     Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3.     Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence? Can I be trusted?
4.     Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?  Do I over-focus on any items of my physical appearance or “presence” of appearance with others?
5.     How did the God of the Bible live in me today?
6.     Did I give time for the Bible to speak to me today?
7.     Am I enjoying prayer?  Do I pray through events; before, during and in moments of my life?  Do I set aside time for prayer?
8.     How did I share my faith today with someone who needs to see/know God?
9.     Do I pray about the money I spend?
10.  Do I need the items I am buying or working for or purchasing?
11.  Am I conscious of my need for sleep?  Quiet rest? Calm moments?
12.  Did I take 5 minutes to reflect on or meditate on something today?  What was it?  What aspects of my life (personality/presence) needs quiet reflection and meditation?
13.  Did I disobey God in anything?
14.  Did I honor my wife?  Did I love her in all my actions?
15.  Did I pray for my children?
16.  Did I communicate in a specific way to my children that I love them today?
17.  Am I defeated in any part of my life?  What next action will I take to fix that tomorrow?
18.  Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?  What specific actions can I take now and tomorrow to correct these issues in my life?
19.  How do I spend my spare time?  When I am in between tasks, or waiting on others, am I in prayer or intentional reflection?
20.  Is there a someone specific I need to contact tomorrow? 
21.  Am I proud?
22.  Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing to reconcile this relationship?
23.  Did I grumble or complain today?  Was it justifiable?  Am I solving problems with others or only complaining to others?  How can I be an agent of positive change about the situation that needed to be fixed?
24.  Is Jesus real to me?  Do I make Jesus real to others?
25.  Who do I want to be in five years time? And in a year?  What are the next-action steps I will take tomorrow toward this direction for my/our family life? 
26.  Where do I want to be in five years time?  And in a year? What are the next-action steps for only tomorrow?
27.  How can I find calm right now?
28.  What bad habits do I need to stop?
29.  What mistakes have I made today? And how will I correct/fix them tomorrow?
30.  Who do I admire? What qualities do these people have? In what way can I learn from them? What is it about them that inspires me? How can I become like them?
31.  Am I initiating positive relationships?
32.  How did I steward my time today?  Am I waiting patiently for God to act? 
33.  Do I feel compelled by God to contact any specific person or entity?  Who is it and how should I contact them tomorrow?
34.  Who do I love and who loves me?
35.  Am I doing things for others, subject to their judgment or decision, or am I doing what is most important to me for my social/existential/family and connected spiritual life?
36.  Have I worked for Jesus today and left a trace of his life somewhere?
37.  What about my life will be left behind and how am I working for that today? What am I doing to leave a legacy (Leading Each Generation Affirming Children And Youth).
38.  Who did I help today?
39.  How am I right now aware of God’s presence and how can I be aware of God’s presence in every moment?
40.  What are at least thee specifics items am I thankful for right now?
41.  What can I do tomorrow that I love to do?  How will it make me feel?  Why should I do it?
42.  Who got my attention (time / listening) today?  Was it worth it?  Who/what will I give my attention tomorrow?  How might it shape me and focus my life to be the best me I can be?
43.  What part of my life do I need to simplify/remove?
44.  Did I exercise today?
45.  Did I eat right today?
46.  What actions for health, eating, exercise will I take tomorrow?
47.  Do I need to contact someone tomorrow out of kindness/love?  Who?  When & how will I contact them?
48.  Did I laugh today?  Was I happy and did I smile?  How can I enact joy tomorrow?
49.  Did I play today?  How?  How did it make me feel and in what way will I play tomorrow?
50.  Was I a person today that was faithful and honest? Kind and true? Gracious and generous?
51.  Did I today reflect and embody the Kingdom of God?
52.  Do I have any wrong perceptions of myself? Others? How will I fix these wrong perceptions tomorrow?
53.  Did I demonstrate poor communication today?  How will I fix this poor communication tomorrow?
54.  Do I have any misplaced anger?  What is the fear or loss that creates it?  How will I respond to that loss or fear and resolve the anger both right now and tomorrow?
55.  Did I experience the Peace of Wild Things?  Was I still in the face of life’s anxiety?
56.  Was I today, the best me I can be?  If not, what actions from the items above will help me fix that for tomorrow?

Best We We Can Be:

1.     Do you feel I properly understand the goals that God has placed in your heart? What are they? How can I help you achieve them?
2.     What are two things I can do to regularly show you just how satisfied and happy I am with you as my partner?
3.     Is there anything I am doing or failing to do that seems to send a signal that I do not honor our shared life?
4.     Is there anything I can change to make our home a place where you feel more satisfied and comfortable?
5.     Are there any big dreams in your heart that you have been hesitant to share with me? How can I help you fulfill them?
6.     How do you feel we can begin communicating better than we already are?
7.     Do you feel that there is anything keeping either one or both of us from God's best in our lives? What should be my part in freeing us from those restraints?
8.     Are we where you wanted us to be at this stage in life? How can I help you make that possible within God's guidelines?
9.     How do you envision our future together? What can we do together to achieve that goal?
10.  What can I do to show you how much I need and trust you?
11.  Have I overlooked any question you would like to ask me?
12.  Can you give me a list of two things I can do to be a better partner for you?
13.  What actions or words can I take on to make you feel more loved?
14.  What actions or words can I take on to make you feel more respected?
15.  What actions or words can I take on to make you feel more understood?
16.  What actions or words can I take on to make you more secure?
17.  What actions or words can I take on to make you feel more confident in our future direction?
18.  What specific attribute would you like me to develop?
19.  What specific attribute would you like me to help you develop?
20.  What achievement in my life would bring you the greatest joy?
21.  What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more loving and self-serving for you?
22.  What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?
23.  What is a story from your childhood that I don’t know?  What significant factor/actions took place at work that would better help me understand your work world?
24.  I am going to now name for your, two qualities of your being, who you are, that make me most happy?
25.  Is there anyway you bid for me that I missed?  Help me understand how I missed it and what you needed from me?  (Apologize now and communicate specifically my intent to be better.)
26.  What issue do we disagree on now and how can we come to understand each other better on this issue?  Is there a timeline when we need to agree?  When is it?  If we can’t come to an agreement, how can we move forward still loving each other? 
27.  What unfulfilled dreams do you have?  What are the next action steps we can take now to fulfill them or work toward their fulfillment?
28.  What habits did we engage today for our microculture?  What specific events can or should we plan for now for our microculture? 

29.  What is our shared future and how are we pursuing that for tomorrow and for the next decade, right now?

Image Link to the Manifesto used above is a GREAT blog entry in itself, I found it after creating my manifesto, and it is inspiring for me now! Link Here.