Month: December 2015 (page 2 of 2)

Reads of the Week | 12/05/2015

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These five reads from this past week challenged, encouraged, and provided perspective for me. Check them out for yourself.

Thanks to the Internet, Everyone is a Storyteller by Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff gives three ideas of using the internet to connect with your kids. Part of the genius of this article is your children can learn a little bit about your childhood and connect with you.

7 Habits of Leaders Who Inspire Loyalty by Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf provides seven habits of awareness of others. Inspire loyalty within teams means genuinely listening and taking time for others in our homes and workplaces.

The Legacy of George F. Johnson and the Square Deal by Guy Raz

I’m giving a little homage to my hometown, Endicott, NY. This article and radio story share about George F. Johnson, who brought business to my hometown.

Were you lonely when you were a freshman? by Brian Doyle

Doyle recounts his freshman year of college. His authentic reflection reminds us of the loneliness around us.

Always Advent and Never Christmas by Andie Roeder Moody

A call to recapture the celebration of Advent. Moody gives insight into the context of this season and provides practical thoughts on making the most of the season.

What were your reads of the week? Share the links in the comment section below.

Photo credit by Aleksi Tappura.

The Question Behind the Question

Questions rarely come out of nowhere. Think of when your child asked a deep or meaningful question about life. Perhaps, a friend sitting with you at coffee paused and then reluctantly posed one to you. You might have received a text message that you could not respond to another text.

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You might have heard it said, “Don’t answer my question with a question.” True, this adage makes sense for direct and “yes” or “no” questions. At other times, a question is an invitation to a significant aspect of another’s life. When we answer too quickly, we can run the risk of not understanding.

The most meaningful questions people ask result from a deeper place and even hours of processing it in their mind. They might have a story to tell. Maybe, they care far less about your answer and just want you to listen. To immediately reply, misses the “why” of the ask in the first place.

So the next time someone asks you a deeper question, here’s a few steps to understand what might lie behind it:

1. Pause

Sometimes, we talk too soon. Let the silence settle. Take the time to digest what the person has asked of you. They might even have more to say. You could miss that if you immediately talk.

2. Affirm

Consider when you ask a significant question. It requires courage and authenticity. Identify those characteristics in others. Value their journey and process, then share what you affirm in them.

3. Understand

Don’t miss the opportunity. Just ask them, “Can you help me understand what’s behind that question?” Let them tell you more. Providing the space of listening allows them to process and for you to have context.

4. Respond

Not every question needs an answer. Often, we find people need space to share. Consider what they have said to you and offer perspective. If you don’t have a answer, don’t offer one. On the other hand, if you have insight look to connect with them.

It’s a gift when someone asks you a meaningful question. Let’s not miss the opportunity to build the relationship. Discover the question behind the question.

Photo credit by Vadim Sherbakov.

Blindness

We don’t always see clearly. Our vision can get obstructed. Distractions sidetrack us. Preoccupation with a situation or person can get us stuck.

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The Gospel of Mark details one of Jesus’ most peculiar miracles (Mark 8:22-26). Jesus and the disciples encounter a man born blind on the outskirts of Bethsaida. We can become accustomed to Jesus’ instant healings. On His first attempt, He asks the man, “Do you see anything?” The man responds, “I see men walking as trees.” Jesus rubs his eyes again, and the man experiences clear sight.

This peculiar miracle begs the question for us, what’s Mark teaching us about following Jesus?

Before this passage, Jesus feeds the 4,000 (Mark 8:1-13). Immediately after the feeding, the disciples forget the leftover bread (Mark 8:14-21). It would seem like Jesus built enough equity with the disciples, that if they did not have bread he could provide. They still worried. Jesus asks them the same question that He asked the blind man (Mark 8:17-19), “Don’t you see?”

Mark reveals to us how we do not always see clearly. You and I can easily wonder how the disciples missed it. Jesus stood right in front of them, and they still worried about bread. David Garland in the NIV Application Commentary: Mark helps us apply this passage:

If we ask, “How could the disciples be so dense?” we need immediately ask the same question of ourselves. The disciples saw dimly in a glass coated with dust of traditional ways of view things and warped by the curvature of their own dreams and ambitions. The glass we look through is no different. We are no less in need of healing before we can see what God is doing, and it may not take on the first try (pg. 316)

We don’t always see things clearly. Often, I find it difficult to understand how God is working around me. Just like the disciples and the blind man, we have enough vision to get the picture of Jesus but we still have our blind spots:
Anxiety drives us to focus on the minutia.
Worry freezes us in the what ifs.
Hurts from others can keep us stuck.
Doubt keeps us from remembering Jesus’ work in the past.
Ambition can distract us.

This passage calls us to recognize our blindness. We don’t always identify how Christ is working in us. The disciples and blind man help us see our need Christ to clear our vision. Today, it might start with you asking Him to remove the obstructions in your life.

What blinds you from seeing Jesus’ work in your lives? What might He invite you to see?

Photo credit by Mario Calvo.

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