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Let’s flip G-I-G-O

gigo bubbleG-I-G-O was an acrostic developed a few decades ago to signify Garbage In, Garbage Out. Often it was used to describe the earliest computer programs, specifically the fact that whatever one programmed into the operating system was what came out. In later years, the acrostic was applied to anything that had required “input” towards a desired outcome… whether a piece of technology, a weight loss program, or a person’s mental or spiritual condition. The common instruction was don’t put junk into your “system” and you will not get junk out.

Why not flip G-I-G-O with a positive spin: Good In Good Out? Rather than focus on the garbage to avoid, why not concentrate on putting quality content into your program so that one will achieve the desired results.

For example,

  • With children, give them quality television programming in limited quantities.
  • With social media, only like positive feedback and share only uplifting stories that offer encouragement and/or inspiration.
  • With meal preparation/exercise/weight loss programs, identify healthy foods and recommend life habits that contribute to good physical, mental and emotional health.

Over the past couple years, our children have learned to memorize significant matters through singing. The good news is the chattering children have now become the singing children. We don’t really need to attend their annual Christmas programs, whether at school or church, because we’ve already heard the songs for a month beforehand (but we still went anyway). We don’t often need to wonder what they are watching on YouTube because we will hear them singing it later. Our task as parents is to ensure that good music (lyrically) goes in, so that good comes out of their mouth!

You may have goals to accomplish in this new year. What good habits are you input-ing into your life so that maximum results come out?

 

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Book Review – Why People Stop Believing by Paul Chamberlain

For the reader who has grown up within the Christian evangelical sub-culture, this question, Why People Stop Believing? sometimes can be answered with an almost dismissive “spiritual” answer. Yet Paul Chamberlain, director of the Institute for Christian Apologetics at Trinity Western University, does not a simplistic answer.

Chamberlain approaches the book using the works of at least five recognized and well-respected academics who at one point believed in the tenets of the Christian faith and through further study have not only stopped believing, but in fact argue for atheism. Chamberlain than dissects the arguments against the Christian faith and gives a defense and explanation designed to strengthen those looking for answers to questions they fear do not have good (ie rationale) explanations.

Chamberlain’s tone throughout the book is gracious and not condescending or arrogant – a quality itself often lacking in apologetic discussions. Nonetheless, Chamberlain is clear that the arguments levelled by these critics of Christianity are not flawless, and do, in fact, have reasonable answers demonstrating the legitimacy of the Christian faith claims about the nature of belief, reliability of the Scripture texts and canon, and Jesus and His miracles.

The only potential “criticism” of this book is its highly academic/intellectual nature. While it is quite readable, it is clearly aimed at the university level student – and well-suited for the audience – and requires consistent mental attentiveness. (Its not a “sit back, relax, and read a book” book.) Furthermore, while Chamberlain only seeks to address these unique challenges, this reader would contend most of these academic/intellectual challenges are really a foil/cover for more personal or spiritual issues. Chamberlain acknowledges this possibility but does not try to explore them. (Example: the movie God’s Not Dead)

I would recommend this book to any young person in college or university who faces challenges about the reliability of their Christian faith. Chamberlain does not create straw-man arguments and then deflate them, but rather answers the questions with exemplary research and an attitude of sincere concern. Other adults not in the academic world may also find this book encouraging to their faith as they are presented with challenges about Christianity also.

Click here to buy the book.

“Oh no! I have no internet!”

I pride myself on not being one of “those” people. You know “those” people… the ones who have be connected all the time. Like they are missing an arm or leg if they are not connected at every moment. I’m glad I’m not like them!

walking phone trafficOr at least I didn’t think I was… until yesterday. Due to an incident almost 100 km away from our town, we lost internet access yesterday. Just as I was leaving home, I noticed we were having trouble with our home internet when I tried to check the weather forecast for the day. “That’s a bit strange, I thought. Oh well, it will be back in a few minutes. I’ll just head to work and my wife can find what we were looking for later. Or else I can look it up at lunch time.”

I arrived at work and there was no internet there either. Oh? I told them ours was down at home too so it wasn’t just problem at the office. So I did some work on some spreadsheets to start. But I could not check the work email, of course. So that limited another daily task. I performed a few other catch-up tasks. Still no internet.

I thought, “Ok. I will call Telus and see if they can tell me how much longer its going to be down.” So I do. And after sorting through the menu’s I hear a message saying, “There has been a major break in a line resulting in no internet in your whole area. For further updates, visit http://www.telus.com…” After hanging up, I start laughing!

online study picI return home after this disappointing morning at the office and have lunch, expecting that internet service will be restored soon. After all, its been out all morning! How much longer can it be? My wife is away at a meeting herself this afternoon and I am watching our nephew who is napping. Fortunately, our TelusTV works and so I watch a PVRed show from last week.

The show finishes. Still no internet. I take advantage of the quiet and have a rest. I text friend who is moving away from town soon and ask him for an email address so we can stay in touch. Then I play with our nephew once he wakes up from his nap. The other children come home from school, including our son who is ready to play on his Xbox.

“Sorry, son. Wifi isn’t working right now so you and your friend cannot play Xbox.” They play an old-fashioned board game instead.

One of our international students returns with her after-school snack asking why the WiFi isn’t working? Her phone has been working all day at school! “Sorry, Telus WiFi is out,” I reply with dismay. So our international student and our daughter play nicely and even watch a tv show together too.

By this time, the wife is cooking supper and I decide I will call Telus again to see if there is any estimate on when the internet will return. Fortunately, I don’t get the hilarious answer again. I just get no answer.

How did this happen? How did I become so reliant on the internet? I can’t believe I have become one of “those” people. Sorry world!

If you wish to check other blog posts relating to technology and devices… from days gone by when I thought I was not one of “them”…

Feel free to share a “confession” story if you have come to the realization you are too dependent on constant connection too!

3 Strategies for Naming the Elephant

african-elephantIn the book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Ronald Heifitz, Alexander Grashow, and Martin Linsky (Harvard Business Review, 2009) identify five key characteristics of a healthy organization (p. 101). One of these, “The elephants in the room are named” is a challenge all of us have likely encountered on more than one occasion. While one may personally recognize the elephant in the room, it takes some skill to help others in the room to be willing to acknowledge the un-discuss-able reality out loud and put it on the table for a meaningful conversation.

Here are three “Ask” strategies that can be effective when it comes to making the elephant visible and discussion-able.

  1. Ask a question
    Arguably the preferred way of addressing the elephant in the room is to ask some leading questions so that others can recognize the untouchable topic by answering your question. Questions like “Is it possible…?” “Would there be an advantage to…?” “What would happen if…” can draw the elephant out of hiding and into full display and gives others permissions to address an issue/topic that seemed off-limits.Of course, asking a question could also simply draw a number of “No” responses, keeping the elephant hiding. If good questions, cannot assist people in discussing a taboo concern,…
  2. Ask for permission
    Asking the question allows others to name the elephant in the room. Asking for permission means you politely name the elephant yourself. It is courageous, yet sometimes necessary, especially in working with the risk averse members of a team. Simply asking, “May I suggest that the issue we are facing is actually…?” or “I wonder if one of the reasons we keep coming back to this problem is because…”This approach may be necessary when others do not see the elephant. They are willing to consider your suggestion, but the team members may not have seen it yet or as clearly as you. As soon as the elephant is named, people may be willing to address the topic. Of course, as with asking the question, the response to your ask for permission may also be a dismissive “No.” A dialogue could happen where the person explains why your suggested option is not a concern, but at least the taboo topic will be on the table. Then other team members can either agree with your suggestion or with an alternative. At the very least, the elephant has been  named.
  3. Ask for “Forgiveness”
    Although arguably the least constructive way to unveil the elephant, sometimes after having the same discussion with a team a few times, someone needs to just speak up in exasperation and say, “Or we could do the obvious and [name the elephant].”
    Admittedly, the immediate reaction will be stunned silence. You just stripped the elephant naked in front of everyone with seemingly no warning. Survive the awkward silence for a few seconds and then calmly explain what caused your strong words. It may be something like, “I am sorry if I surprised you with my frustration. I feel we’ve been dancing around this topic for 4-5 meetings and if we are going to move forward productively on any plan, I think we have to be willing to acknowledge that [elephant] is an issue/problem.”
    Again, some will interject, especially in the absence of any other voices, say, “Well, that seems to be quite the over-reaction” (or words to that effect).” Again, express the same sentiment above in a calm, minimally emotional statement emphasizing the issue needs to be addressed.

I am pretty sure I have used all of the above strategies at one time or another, each with varying degrees of success in terms of naming the elephant and discussing it further.

How about you? What strategies have you found effective in helping your team name the elephant?

Leadership at the Lemonade Stand

boy lemonade standThis morning my parents had a garage sale in their yard along with a few other families. Our son, Caleb, set up a lemonade stand at grandma’s encouragement. He kept full cups on the table and managed the sales (ie money), after his cousin Amanda and younger sister Rachel prepared the jugs of pink and regular lemonade. He chose to sell the lemonade for 5 cents per cup. Of course, most people bought a cup or two and willingly gave him a quarter. He seemed to quite enjoy counting the money and I was once again reminded of a leadership principle: promise satisfactory results and deliver exceptional results and you will be a successful leader. (aka promise low, deliver high)

5 Ways to Pray for Unbelievers

How do I pray for my friends and family who are not yet saved?

1. Pray forprayer God to open doors (Colossians 4:3) – The Apostle Paul, who knew that sometimes God closes doors (see Acts 16:6-10), boldly asked God to open doors for the Gospel to be proclaimed. Ask God to open doors for you to share the Truth with your friends and family.

2. Pray for clarity (Colossians 4:4) – When God does open the doors for you to speak, pray for God to fill your mouth with the right words to clearly explain the Gospel in a grace-filled way.

3. Pray for the consistent witness of your life (Colossians 4:5) – Pray that the Lord will make your life a consistent witness to God’s grace. No Christian will be perfect (until heaven) yet we can ask God to help us to live wisely, especially before “outsiders.” Remember, your life IS a witness to the Gospel. Ask God to make it a clear and effective witness.

4. Pray for gracious speech (Colossians 4:6) – Ask God to give you gracious speech in all you say – at work, with your family, as you pay your bills and talk around the “water cooler.” Unbelievers are listening to hear if what you say about your friends, family, other Christians, the government, and others when they are not around matches up with the way you speak about them when they are present.

5. Pray for their eyes will be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18) – Ask God to open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel and remove the blindness that the Enemy, Satan, has put over their spiritual eyes (Romans 1:21 & Ephesians 4:18).

Book Review – Made for the Journey by Elisabeth Elliot

Originally published in 1998 as These Strange Ashes (Servant Publications; 2004 by Revell Publishing), this newly published book (Revell 2018) shares the late Elisabeth Elliot’s (1926-2015) reflections on her first year of work in Ecuador as a single missionary.

Elliot shares honestly how her strong sense of Divine call, desire to effectively serve Christ, and be “productive” in translating the Bible into the Tsahfihki language for the Colorado people were challenged in her first year on the field. She acknowledges her limited understanding at the time, though (obviously) later was able to reflect on these situations as God’s preparation for her career of service when other setbacks in life, family, and ministry occurred.

While deeply challenging for any Christ follower, whether in cross-cultural work or not, Elliot shares with uncommon vulnerability in this easy-to-read book. I would recommend it, especially for any person entering into cross-cultural work. It could also be used by coaches in guiding ongoing discussion with new workers.

Note: This book was provided free to the reviewer in exchange for an unbiased review by the Nuts About Books blog review program.

Click here to buy the book!

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