Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Little Perspective

A wonderful little book for your summer reading pleasure is The Noticer by Andy Andrews. Published in 2009, it followed Andrews' best-selling The Traveler's Gift.

The book opens when a stranger arrives to an Alabama beach town carrying a mysterious brief case loaded with books that he gives as required reading for searching souls. Beaches and books grabbed my attention from the very start.

Jones, the mysterious Noticer, gives advice to a homeless man, a struggling married couple, and a lonely widow among others. His main message is the book's subtitle:  sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective. "I am a noticer," Jones explains. "It is my gift.  While others may be able to sing well or run fast, I notice things that other people overlook. And you know, most of them are in plain sight. I notice things about situations and people that produce perspective. That's what most folks lack - perspective - a broader view. So I give 'em that broader view...and it allows them to regroup, take a breath, and begin their lives again."

To a defeated and alone young man who lacks the motivation and direction to begin his life again, the Noticer points out that encouragement, opportunity and wisdom often comes from the people around us. "Ask yourself this question every day: 'What is it about me that other people would change if they could?'...A successful life has a great deal to do with perspective. And another person's perspective about you can sometimes be as important as your perspective is about yourself."

It was interesting for me to consider what my wife, daughters, and friends would change about me if they could. It provides a different angle than asking 'what would I change about myself.'

There's a hint of a heavenly dimension to Jones, but I would not shelve this book in the faith section of the bookstore.

Nevertheless, the theme of this book is the transformation of hurting people. I love that because it points us to a biblical truth:  the God who created each of us wants to make us a new creation. He has already provided salvation from our dark circumstances; we may just need a little perspective to find our way.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Living a Life of Kindness

A book on my summer reading list is Barry Corey's Love Kindness: Discover the Power of a Forgotten Christian Virtue. Barry is a friend and the President of Biola University in California. 

The book is a memoir of sorts. Barry has collected a number of stories from his life that illustrate the power of the Christian virtue, kindness. 

President's Corey's father, Hugh Corey was a pastor and the book includes a conversation between a young Barry and his father:  "Barry, he said, 'if the lives God intersects with mine don't have the opportunity to receive me, how will they ever know the love God has for them?'" 

Hugh Corey's goal was to be "receivable" to others. He lived with the promise of Jesus recorded for us in Matthew 10:40: "Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me."

As Christ-followers, we are called to be receivable. And in this rough and tumble time where civil, respectful behavior seems lost, living a life of kindness can make us receivable. 

Barry summarizes the relevant importance of loving kindness so well:
"The way of kindness is not just having right theology; it's being the right kind of people. It's understanding that our lives as Jesus' followers mean we have a common humanity with everyone, and therefore there's no need for exceptionalism. We owe all human beings the honor due them as beings made in the image of God."
Kindness is about giving everyone the honor due them as children of God. This doesn't require us to give up the convictions of our faith. And living kindness doesn't mean everyone will receive us; for sure, many will reject our kindness. But the radical call of Christianity is to be receivable; to remove the obstacles that we put in place to separate ourselves from those around us that we find disagreeable. This requires humility and authenticity and honor for all God puts in our path.

How do we make LETU more receivable to the world around us?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Our Daily Work

The LeTourneau University Center for Faith and Work is assembling a website of excellent resources for all of us who seek to find God in our work. Dr. Bill Peel, the executive director for the center, posts original thoughts on this website, but the Center also assembles thoughtful articles from many sources.

For example, Greg Forster writes about how the church can regain its culture-shaping voice, John Pletcher writes about how to handle emotions at work and John Beckett writes about what Christian CEOs should look for when hiring new college graduates.   

I recently found a link to an old hymn that celebrates the biblical truth that we find joy when we do our daily work with the enthusiasm as if we were working for the Lord.

The 1925 hymn, Those Who Love and Those Who Labor, is an excellent mediation. Here are the lyrics:

Those who love and those who labor, follow in the way of Christ;
Thus the first disciples found him, thus the gift of love sufficed.
Jesus says to those who seek him, I will never pass you by;
Raise the stone and you shall find me; cleave the wood, and there am I.
 Where the many work together, they with Christ himself abide.
But the lonely workers also find him ever at their side.
Lo, the Prince of common welfare dwells within the market strife;
Lo, the bread of heaven is broken in the sacrament of life.

Our university founder often said that God was his business partner. It wasn't a statement of arrogant heavenly endorsement. Mr. LeTourneau was reporting the promise of this hymn that he himself experienced: that the presence of God is available in our daily work.