Archive for November, 2011

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How We Adjust in Marriage

November 30, 2011

Extrovert-v-introvert

Let me start with a quick explanation of personality typing. Essentially there are four things we measure when we talk about a person’s “type”:

1. How they gain their energy while they interact with the world around them (Extravert or Introvert)

2. How they collect data (with the senses or the intuition)

3. How they react to the reality around them (with their mind or their emotions)

4. How they accomplish their goals (with patterns or with principles)

So you can have a person who is extraverted (meaning they feel more energy when interacting with other people) married to an introvert (someone who regains their energy by spending some quality time by themselves). This is a common pairing in marriage and generally the adjustments are slight over time. Usually, the longer an extravert and an introvert are married to each other, they will tend to adapt by coming closer to the middle. For instance, in the ten point scale I use to measure personality, I am a nine point extravert (five being the middle). Kathy was a 2 point Introvert on that same scale. That is what we were when we first married. Now, I am a seven point and she is a three point. We are moving closer to the middle.

What is even more intriguing are those situations where two people with the same characteristic marry each other. Let’s take two introverts. Both of these people like to have alone time to rejuvenate. But, over time, they balance each other out. The least introverted will actually begin to seek out people more. The most introverted will actually spend more time alone. Though I would have to do a bazillion hours of research to verify this, my guess is that most couples will eventually add up to “11” after 20 years of marriage.

How have you seen that in your relationship?

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Movies That Teach the Value of Hard Work

November 29, 2011

It is helpful at times to watch movies according to a theme or a value. In doing so, the mind can be directed subtly to consider and evaluate how a particular value can look when played out in life. Movies are visual parables, and as such direct the mind and value system much more strongly than almost any other media.

I believe that a culture based upon the value of work for its own sake is a strong and vibrant culture. Therefore, I look for movies that contain that value at least as an underpinning to its plot and characterizations. Here are some that I love to watch when I consider how hard work can be put into practice. As with all my lists, these are not in any particular order.

Stand and Deliver

Door to DoorStand-and-deliver

A Beautiful Mind

Gattaca

My Left Foot

The Pursuit of Happyness

Rudy

Secretariat

Finding Forrester

Homeless to Harvard

It’s a Wonderful Life

Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037

Chariots of Fire

Rocky

If I had to pick three that are the best of the bunch to watch today, here is what I would choose: 1) Door to Door: The true story of a man who became one of the most successful door-to-door salesmen while having Cerebral Palsy. 2) Gattaca: No matter what they tell you, there is a way to fulfill your dreams. Sometimes the obstacles are high, but hard work will find a way. 3) Homeless to Harvard: Few have overcome the obstacles this girl did…it will inspire you.

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Who is Laughing Today?

November 25, 2011

A percentage of those reading this rant will label me a humbug. But remember that the role of social commentator is an important one; one whose responsibility includes saying the hard things. So let me make an observation on the lines of people camping out at Target, Best Buy and Toys R Us this morning. People are laughing at you and it’s not just your family members who stayed in bed.

It’s the so-called “filthy rich” that you are protesting on Wall Street and Main street.

On the same news broadcasts that featured people camping out at city halls across America, even on Thanksgiving, we saw identical tents and tarps in front of the major retail stores getting ready for Black Friday and its step-sister, Grey Thursday Evening. The people who got pepper-sprayed, evicted, ridiculed and thrown in jail could have snagged a big-screen television if they had moved a few blocks away. (Update: This scene from Los Angeles underscores that the wrong people are moving from one location to the other).

Don’t people realize it is the system of buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have that helps the Wealth Gap to form? If the wealthy know one thing it is that there is a sucker born every minute. In Jesus’ day, there were people who camped out in the Temple to sell pigeons at a 500% markup to the poor, who could only afford a pigeon for their offering to God. Jesus “occupied” their storefronts and turned over their tables as a prophetic act, proclaiming the original intention of the Court of the Gentiles was prayer not marketing. But I can imagine that even though people were mesmerized that someone would have the audacity to take this stand, an hour later someone was already back in line to buy a pigeon or exchange their money for the temple offering coins.

If it really bothers you that the rich are getting richer, stop allowing their advertising to split your brain into purchasing cubicles. You decide (totally apart from marketing) what you want, need, should purchase. In addition, look at those companies, especially smaller ones, whose approach to business takes more into account than profit. Look at how they re-invest their profits, how they treat their employees, how they add to the community.

My wife and I were traveling through Portland a few months ago, and we stopped into Panera Bread for lunch. We sought it out because we knew what that particular store stood for. They are a non-profit business that does not have cash registers or prices. They take donations for the food they offer and almost all of the money goes into local concerns. From their explanatory letter, here is a sample:

Panera Cares is a new kind of cafe – one that exemplifies an entirely different way of giving
back. It is a community cafe of shared responsibility. One of the goals of this charitable program
is to ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one. People are encouraged to take what they
need and donate their fair share. There are no prices or cash registers, only suggested donation
levels and donation bins.
“The vision for the Panera Cares cafe was to use Panera’s unique restaurant skills to address real
societal needs and make a direct impact in communities,” said Shaich. “Thus, the Foundation
developed these community cafes to make a difference by addressing the food insecurity issues
that affect millions of Americans.”

There are hundreds, if not thousands of such businesses. I ate at this restaurant and it was just as delicious as all other Paneras in the country. The difference is my soul felt fed more than my body when I left that place.

Can you say that about the store you muscled your way through at 5 a.m. this morning? If you think I am just peeing on everyone’s parade, let me tell you why I am writing this. I believe there is a way to bring prosperity back into our communities and end the cycles of economic inequity around us. It cannot happen by legislation, taxes, protests or rhetoric. It happens when we take action to support local companies who give us what we need, who take care of their employees and who invest in their communities. Yes, for the most part, I am speaking of small businesses.

It also happens when we stop buying things because of advertising and peer pressure. Take a long look at your life priorities and see if your spending matches up to them. Or, get some life priorities.

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Review of Chapter Five of the Book “Radical

November 16, 2011

I warn you as you begin to read this chapter’s review. If you love this book and are reading these reviews because you want me to verify why you love this book, you may need to change your approach. I believe in critical reviews. What that means is the reviewer is looking to analyze everything he reads and to report on both the best points and the lesser points. In this way, we can separate what is possibly divine from what may be very human. This is not to find fault or to become hypercritical, but actually to appreciate even more what has been written. No books contain ALL well-written truth. Some come closer than others. Some books are garbage. Only people with a critical mind can discern what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:17–19 says “Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold onto what is good.” With that in mind, on to the review of chapter five.

Synopsis of the Chapter: David Platt discusses the central nature of discipleship in the growth of the church. It is his contention (and it is hard to argue with him about this one) that all Christians should be involved in the process of disciple-making. He notices (as do a thousand other Christian writers) that Jesus’ Great Commission is to make disciples. If I sound a little cynical, it’s because this chapter appears to be thrown together quite carelessly. But we’ll get to that in a second.

Strong Points of the Chapter: As opposed to the last chapter, this one didn’t contain as many good points. He does identify the process by which disciples are made. It is a three-fold journey that includes Going, Baptizing and Teaching. In addition, he shows how the life of Jesus was poured into just 12 men and not into the crowds. Even though he did a lot of miracles in his life, he did not stress these but rather he put all his time into teaching his apostles the meaning behind what he was doing.

Weaker Points in the Chapter: There are seven things I feel this young author needs to address if he looks at this book for a reprint. This chapter will begin to lose people, even those who agree with his central point. This is a yawner at best and considerably annoying at worst. Allow me to enumerate its weaknesses and flaws.

1. Formula Writing: Normally, I don’t care much about the way an author outlines his work. Most authors have a style and a system to how they write. Platt is no beginner (as his Masters Degree in Communications reveals) Read the rest of this entry ?

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Hospital Charting Bloopers

November 15, 2011

Every profession has their own bloopers. I love to look at church bulletin bloopers and Psych chart bloopers. My wife the nurse collected these hospital charting bloopers. Enjoy!

1.The patient refused an autopsy.

2. The patient has no previous history of
suicides.

3. Patient has left white blood cells at another
hospital.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her
husband states she was very hot in bed
last night.

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left
side for over a year.

6. On the second day, the knee was better, and on
the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly.
She also appears to be depressed.

8. The patient has been depressed since she began
seeing me in 1993.

9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male,
mentally alert but forgetful.

11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia
for lunch.

12. She is numb from her toes down.

13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated, and
sent home.

14. The skin was moist and dry.

15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size
thyroid.

18. She stated that she had been constipated for
most of her life, until she got a divorce.

19. I saw your patient today, who is still under
our car for physical therapy.

20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light
and accommodation.

21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is
circus sized.

22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover
function.

23. Skin: somewhat pale but present.

24. The pelvis exam will be done later on the
floor.

25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other
abnormalities.

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Relevant Churches are Not Really that Relevant

November 15, 2011

Some friends have suggested I spend too much time on the Internet. It depends on what you mean by “too much time”. I have a counter on my computer that keeps track of every minute I’m online; it rarely goes over one hour a day. But I get a lot done with that hour. I have a newsreader that collects all my favorite blogs, newspapers and magazines and trims them down to headlines. Therefore, I sometimes read things very quickly without deep reflection. Occasionally, it takes days until I react and respond to what I’ve read. What I’m going to talk about next is a result of one of those situations. I cannot even find the original article this idea came from. (I am sure one of my readers will find it and help me out, so I’m not worried about plagiarism).

I want to talk about the word “Relevant”. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya (of the Princess Bride): “I do not think that word means what you think it means”. And it is the collective brain trust of contemporary church leaders who may have misunderstood the meaning and direction of this word. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Review of Chapter Four in “Radical”

November 14, 2011

Summary of the Chapter: Platt focuses on the call of God to all believers to be involved in bringing the Good News to the nations. He contends that this call is not just for some, not just for those who feel “called” to overseas missions. In this chapter, he challenges the idea of a special call to missions. He says that few of us think we have a special call to be blessed, or a special call to be cared for by God. So why should we think we have to have a special call to go to the nations.

Best Points of the Chapter: It is ludicrous to take the command of Jesus to “make disciples of the nations” and naturally assume that is referring to someone else. In this chapter, he presents a compelling case that in some way every follower of Christ is expected in some way to be uniquely involved in the Great Commandment. He ends the chapter with several examples of people who have begun to use their skills and resources to reach out to the world. He mentions a young engineer who is ministering in Guatemala. He talks about a successful businessman who uses his time and resources to help a pregnant woman living on a garbage dump. He introduces us to a retired couple who help feed the refugees in Sri Lanka. All of these people are prototypical of Americans, except they have not shirked their call to the world.

Weaker Points in the Chapter: At some point, Platt needs to stop opening his chapter with straw men and ideal examples. In this chapter, he opens with a pastor who threatens his congregation if they don’t give to missions he will pray their children get sent overseas. The pastor and deacon mentioned at the beginning of this chapter are cartoon christians. I assume they’re real, but so few are really like that. What Platt needs to learn to do is present more realistic and down to earth examples –  both good and bad.

It got me thinking: I thought through a very long list of believers I know who have sold almost all they had and begun serving the nations. They represent the full gamut of ages, professions and abilities. Yet they have all had this in common: They believed Jesus was speaking to them when he called them to bless the nations. I believe this is hugely important.

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