How angels respond to worship:
And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9)
How Jesus responds to worship:
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32).
In other words, angels reject worship, saying only God is to be worshiped. But Jesus does not reject worship, but instead accepts it. This is truly incredible if you think about it.
The fact that Jesus accepts worship is one of the most striking evidences of his deity.
In the recent meetings with media companies, the Apple executives, including Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, have outlined new ways Apple’s technology could recognize users across phones, tablets and TVs, people familiar with the talks said.
In at least one meeting, Apple described future television technology that would respond to users’ voices and movements, one of the people said. Such technology, which Apple indicated may take longer than some of its other ideas, might allow users to use their voices to search for a show or change channels.. . . .Apple has worked on technologies for integrating DVR storage and iCloud, its online syncing and storage service, into the device, according to a person briefed on the matter. Such technologies could allow users to watch shows they have saved or purchased on two different devices, like a TV and a computer, without having to buy or record the shows twice.
Here. (Note: Opens in Apple’s App Store for the Mac.)
Notables include: iA Writer, 1Password (a must have), Day One, Fantastical, and Evernote.
And, here’s Macworld’s app Hall of Fame.
Five More Books I’m Looking Forward To: Leadership, Vocation, Global Poverty, Theological Education, Willpower
Going through my inbox, here are 5 more books I’ve just bought or been sent that I’m looking forward to:
I believe along with Scott Todd that we can end extreme poverty in our generation. Further, I think there is firm biblical basis in Deuteronomy 15 and 2 Corinthians 8-9 that we especially ought to seek to do so in the church, and can do so. Sometime I hope to write on that.
Until then, I love the way Edwards put it: “There ought to be none suffered to live in pinching want, among the visible people of God, except in cases of prodigality or laziness or some other case which the word of God excepts.” Amen.
We need to take that seriously.
This is a collection of Bonhoeffer’s letters and papers as he was struggling with how to uphold a forthright Christian witness against Nazi totalitarianism and maintain his theological education activities illegally underground after being banned from preaching and teaching by the Gestapo in 1937.
This book is not only of interest in itself, but ties to Scott Todd’s book that I mentioned above: it is not enough to seek to end extreme poverty. There is also a massive need for theological education in the developing world. Theological education is essential in itself, and is also a critical and unexpected means to overcoming poverty. I talk about this a bit in my book, though I think I will have to cut it out due to space (and publish it in a different book). Suffice it to say, I’m very interested in learning about how to serve the cause of theological education in the developing world, and am interested in learning about how to innovate the model to work more effectively in the hardest to reach places. I hope that Bonhoeffer’s book helps.
3. Teach the Bible to Change Lives. Continuing the subject of theological education, I’m looking forward to this book by Glenn Brooke as well.
I’ll be reviewing this one for The Gospel Coalition. It has received good reviews so far, and I like that the first chapter is about the importance of character to leadership. I make the same point about productivity in my book except, of course, in relation to personal effectiveness and productivity. For too long the personality ethic of (mere) image and technique has dominated; we need to restore the character ethic.
I saw Amy present on her book at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society this year and enjoyed it. I’m especially interested in this book because of its tie to the doctrine of vocation.
Though the message of this book is hopeful, I find it depressing (at least initially) because he points out that willpower is an exhaustible resource. In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, one of the authors argued that willpower has a physical dimension and operates like a muscle which can be strengthened with practice but fatigued by overuse. That paper became the foundation of this book. The later part of that summary is the bad news — your willpower can be depleted. But the good news is that we can build our willpower and creatively overcome some of the seemingly built-in limitations. The authors talk about scientifically demonstrated ways to do this.
I think willpower is an important subject. The verdict is out in my mind, however, as to whether will power is the same thing as self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. I don’t deny that there are physical components to the fruit of the Spirit — for example, if you get more sleep, you are likely to be more joyful, patient, and of course self-controlled. But at the essence of any fruit of the Spirit is that you are able to maintain it even under the worst conditions — no sleep, annoying opposition, terrible circumstances. So while willpower is certainly a virtue and highly useful, I am not sure that it is the same as what the Bible at least is referring to in Galatians 5 when is speaks of “self-control” (though there would doubtless be overlap).
I ended up adding another book in the middle of the post, so looks like it actually adds up to six. I hope to get to these soon, though it will probably take me longer to get to some rather than others.
I mentioned the ties between the first three books. You’ll notice there is also a tie with the next three as well, for if we are going to do good for the world on a global scale and address pressing global problems like extreme poverty and the lack of theological education, we need to become effective leaders (book 4), have a robust doctrine of vocation (which book 5 relates to), and know how to management ourselves effectively (which book 6 relates to, though it certainly wouldn’t be the first book to read on issues of personal effectiveness).
If you want to know how to live as a Christian, what to believe, what to do, what kind of attitude to have, what God is like, or anything else about ultimate things, all you have to do is look at Jesus. He is the foundation, goal, sum, essence, and everything of life and any organization that calls itself Christian.
I know we need to be more specific in our mission statements about what our specific goal is, within this framework.
But my point is that every Christian organization is imitating Jesus in some specific way, seeking to act in his power, and proclaiming his message. So Jesus does sum up what any Christian organization is seeking to do. Anybody should be able to look at what your organization does, then look at the portrait of Jesus in the gospels and epistles, and say “yes, that follows.”
And thus, if you are going to make a mistake in your mission, it’s better to make the mistake of being too broad and high-level, but getting the core (Jesus) right, than being highly specific but leaving the core implicit or assumed.
This is for Christian organizations. Secular organizations, or even businesses run by Christians, do not need to have Jesus in their mission statements explicitly. The “main actor” can be off stage at times, without undermining the fact that everything is about him.
I’m talking specifically about Christian ministries and churches — organizations that exist specifically to proclaim Jesus and make him known. For Christian organizations, Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of the entire mission, and it is right and wise to make that explicit.
A good article in the Wall Street Journal on what’s ahead for Virgin Galactic:
By next Christmas the airline mogul could be ferrying paying customers outside the atmosphere — and, later, to the bottom of the ocean.
If you upgraded to the iPhone 4S, Gizmodo has some good suggestions on places you can easily sell your (now) old iPhone 4.
I saw this on Food for the Hungry’s Twitter feed the other day. What a great opportunity: For $25, you can provide medication and everything else necessary to deworm 500 children who have been infected with parasites due to poor sanitation.
Here’s the description on their site:
In the areas we go, dirty water, lack of sanitation and poor hygiene result in almost every child being infected with parasites. Malnutrition and even death can result. The good news is — on average, it costs about a nickel to deworm 1 child. Treatment keeps a child healthy for 6 months or until clean water and sanitation become available.
There is no reason not to do this. For a very small gift, you are able to make a very large impact in the lives of a large number of people. If you can, up your donation to 100 and help 2,000 people.
And the New York Times obituary.
Godin gets this right:
There are a few reasons to tolerate the customer who makes unreasonable demands:
- You promised you would
- She helps you raise your game
- Her word of mouth is very powerful
- The cost of frequently figuring out which customers to fire is too high compared to the cost of putting up with everyone
It’s probably worth firing a customer if:
- He willfully corrupts your systems at a cost to other customers
- Your employees are prevented from doing their best work in the long run
- His word of mouth can’t be changed or doesn’t matter
- He distracts you from delighting customers that are reasonable
In general, organizations are afraid to fire customers, no matter how unreasonable. This is a mistake. It’s good for you.
A good point from Godin the other day:
One of my favorite ideas in the new wave of programming is the notion of minimal viable product. The thought is that you should spec and build the smallest kernel of your core idea, put it in the world and see how people react to it, then improve from there.
For drill bits and other tools, this makes perfect sense. Put it out there, get it used, improve it. The definition of “minimal” is obvious.
Often, for software we use in public, this definition leads to failure. Why? Two reasons:
1. Marketing plays by different rules than engineering. Many products depend on community, on adoption within a tribe, on buzz–these products aren’t viable when they first launch, precisely because they haven’t been adopted. “Being used by my peers,” is a key element of what makes something like a fax machine a viable product, and of course, your new tool isn’t.
I love this quote from Godin:
An entrepreneur is an artist of sorts, throwing herself into impossible situations and seeking out problems that require heart and guts to solve.
This is a very helpful, short, significant e-book by Glenn Brooke on what fathers should teach their sons. Glenn is an elder at the church my family attended when we lived in the Des Moines, IA area and is an excellent teacher of the Bible.
As a father, I feel the lack of good instruction on parenting that exists right now (with some notable exceptions) — and the difficulty in making time to read the books that are helpful. Glenn’s book helps address both of those issues because it is both short and significant. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to read Glenn’s book while my kids are still young!
After about 21 days of using the Kindle Fire myself, I am in agreement with Michael Hyatt’s very helpful, non-technical review.
Here’s his conclusion:
Overall, the Kindle Fire is no iPad killer. If you can afford the iPad, I’d buy that instead. It is just much more polished and, with so many available apps, can do so much more.
However, if your primary goal is media consumption at an outstanding price, you won’t go wrong with a Kindle Fire. With Amazon’s backing, it will only improve with time.
I agree with this: the main reason to get a Kindle Fire would be price. If that’s your goal, it’s a good device.
And I would add one more suggestion: At this point in time, price should not be a factor in choosing electronic devices. We are at a stage in history right now where the benefits of a truly exceptional device (such as the iPad) far, far outweigh the price difference between those devices and the lower priced attempts.
Additionally, the benefits of an iPad, iPhone, and so forth go far beyond the actual things you can do with the devices. The primary benefits are in how they affect your thinking, helping you see what’s possible and what’s next and how technology can be utilized to do good to the greatest possible extent. You cut yourself off from the fullness of those benefits when you go with budget models, and for a few hundred dollars savings, it’s not worth it.
Save money in other areas. Seeking to save money in technology is not worth the price.
Chip and Dan Heath’s latest book, The Myth of the Garage, just came out last month and is available on the Kindle. It’s a collection of their best Fast Company columns. Here’s part of the description from Aamazon:
In Myth, the Heath brothers tackle some of the most (and least) important issues in the modern business world:
• Why you should never buy another mutual fund (“The Horror of Mutual Funds”)
• Why your gut may be more ethical than your brain (“In Defense of Feelings”)
• How to communicate with numbers in a way that changes decisions (“The Gripping Statistic”)
• Why the “Next Big Thing” often isn’t (“The Future Fails Again”)
• Why you may someday pay $300 for a pair of socks (“The Inevitability of $300 Socks”)
• And 12 others . . . Punchy, entertaining, and full of unexpected insights, the collection is the perfect companion for a short flight (or a long meeting).
My post last week at the Willow Creek Association blog.
Biblically speaking, to be just means to use your strength on behalf of the weak.
Justice most certainly includes an overall “fairness” and truth and integrity and honesty and refusing to show partiality.
But the essence of justice goes beyond that.
The essence of justice is that those with greater authority and influence are to use their stronger position in service of those who are in a weaker situation.
Helping those in a “weaker situation” might mean helping those suffering from poverty or sickness or some other harm, but it doesn’t have to be. It means helping anyone without the influence of formal authority you have. Which means, if you are a manager or leader in an organization (or in politics or anywhere), that it includes those who work for you.
Some people think that the biblical commands to be just in this sense and their corollary, radical generosity, do not apply inside the bounds of an organization. Inside an organization, “business rules” apply, which is interpreted to mean that people must be impersonal (a distorted notion of the concept of being “impartial”) and that doing things for your own advantage primarily is correct and right.
But this is wrong. The biblical commands to be generous and to be just apply in all areas of our lives, without exception. The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and commands to be merciful as God is merciful (generous to all, especially the undeserving, Matthew 5:43-48) do not cease to apply at our jobs and in our work and in our organizations. They are not simply for the personal realm.
Their manifestation may look different in each area of life. But these principles of justice and generosity still apply in every area of life and we must be diligent to apply them in all areas.
So, here’s one example. Let’s take the workplace. Being just and generous in the workplace means that, if you are in authority over people, you use that authority in the service of everyone you interact with — including those in the organization who directly work for you, those around the organization who don’t work for you but you are in a position to influence, and those outside the organization that you interact with. It means you see yourself as the servant of all, and that you see your authority and position and role as existing not as some statement of how great you are or how hard you’ve worked, but rather as existing for the sake of those around you. Your authority exists to do them good.
Now, immediately here we run into “the fallacy of doing good,” which is the tendency of people to act contrary to the purpose and role of their vocations in in their attempts to “do good,” which ends up making things worse. One example might be a chef at a restaurant who gives away dozens of free meals every night out of a spirit of generosity, when it’s not his restaurant and the owner has not given him the authority to do that. In this case, the chef’s generosity of spirit is right, but the way he carries it out is not. (If he owned the restaurant or had been given the leeway to do that sort of thing by the owner, however, go for it!)
So, what does using your authority and role to “do good” at your job look like when done right? A lot could be said, but let me just say one simple, yet core, thing.
It means being for the people who work for you. Which means believing that they can excel and do good work and make a contribution, even when few other people might be able to see it. And it means using your influence to give them opportunities and, yes, advance their career whenever you have the chance.
Note I’m not saying you shouldn’t be smart and discerning. But I am saying that you should have a default belief in people and therefore do whatever you can to give them a chance, to give them greater opportunities, and to give them a break whenever you can and whenever it seems they will be able to meet the opportunity and succeed in it.
And it means, even when you aren’t in a position at the moment to help advance someone or given them an opportunity, that you are encouraging and always seek to be the type of person that builds others up and helps them get better at what they do.
So much here is about your spirit and attitude — the disposition you have and with which you carry yourself. You need to see yourself as existing for the good of others, and charged with the responsibility from God to use any influence, authority, and resources you have in service to others.
But note that I’m not simply saying “be for other people.” That is a critical thing. But it’s not enough, because it’s so easy to say that we are “for” someone but never take action. It’s easy to say words that we don’t back up with our behavior. The true disposition of a servant is to be for people and to be diligent and forward and effective in identifying ways to promote their welfare.
This is a call to give thought to improving in both our dispositions and our concrete actions. See yourself as existing in your role for the good of others, and be proactive in finding real opportunities to use your authority and influence and resources to serve others and build them up.
That’s a how true Christian operates in his job and lives his entire life.
“Which one thing, if I accomplished it, would result in the greatest number of all these other things that I also want to do also getting done as a result?”
This is the converse of yesterday’s post, where I made the point that you have to be OK with not doing everything and instead focus on what’s best next.
Here’s the irony: When you focus on what’s most important, you often get all the other stuff “thrown in.” This happens by virtue of the spillover effect. Doing the most important thing leads to positive ramifications that often accomplish the aims behind all those other things you weren’t able to do.
I’m not saying you will literally find that all the things you decided to leave undone are accomplished. Some of them will be. But more significantly, the point behind them will often be accomplished through the spillover effect.
But if you try to do everything directly, you often end up accomplishing nothing. (Or, almost nothing.)
The point is to do what’s best next, not everything that’s next.
And the reason for this is the simple fact that there will always be more to do than you possibly can do. It is simply impossible to do everything.
And, if you know what’s best, if you know what’s most important and what really counts, you will be OK with that.
The reason it’s a fallacy to pit these two against one another is that learning is about making connections. That is, learning is about making connections between facts — between truths.
Hence, you cannot learn anything without knowing facts.
The process of learning is the process of seeing and identifying and even delighting in the connections that you see among various truths. Without a storehouse of knowledge — of facts — this can’t happen. With a great storehouse of knowledge — of facts –, however, this can happen in abundance.
Learning how to learn is important. However, the first step in the process of learning is to gather the facts — gather information and truth. As you are doing that, connections (learning) will come. And as you gather more truth, more connections happen — and thus learning increases.
If in our schools and colleges and graduate programs we only focus on learning “how” to learn, we set people up to be incredibly behind. For they will have to embark on the actual process of gathering the information that is the fuel of learning after they are done with their school or program, rather than getting a bunch of that in place during their program.
Far better to learn how to learn and, right along with that, actually learn. Then, when you graduate, you will not only know how to learn when you encounter new territories, but you will already have a large storehouse of knowledge to build on. You won’t have to take so much time getting basic (or advanced) knowledge in place, and thus you will be coming at the new territory with a significant head start.
I think this is recognized in most schools, but there still persists this idea, perhaps only in popular conception, that the most important thing is “learning how to learn” rather than actually learning specific and abundant facts and truths as well. Though probably we could do better in most schools and graduate programs as well (with graduate programs, perhaps, focusing more on the making connections component of learning rather than mostly gaining information; also critical here is gathering the right information — which means, for theological education at least, reading fewer liberals).
One last thing: The fact that almost everything is available now through an internet search does not eliminate the need to actually learn facts. I love Google and looking up whatever I need to know when the need arises. But since learning is the act of making connections between facts, you need to have a whole bunch of facts in your head — not just available through a quick search on the Internet — in order for learning to take place.
(And, it’s also more efficient not to have to look everything up.)
You have to be mindful of God in the good that you do.
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19).
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19).
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).