Saturday, December 30, 2017

Make life an adventure get off your iPhone or droid!

Do you ever get jealous of that friend or even stranger that is bold, adventurous and courageous? You know that one friend that is always hiking up some ‘god forsaken’ peak or travels to some exotic place? Yesterday I improvised because I couldn’t take a group of 30 kids to Hawaii or Mexico but instead decided to have lunch on top of a local very popular mountain! It was so cool to see the look on the kid’s faces as we made the trek, yes, a winding road that could make you ‘puke’. When we arrived at the top after almost going in circles the look of amazement on everyone was incredible.

I chuckled as I watched the other families on top as they saw us unload and set up a lunch site. We had ordered 9 pizzas, had paper plates, napkins and water. It always shocks me how many native Zoni’s (Arizonians) have never been to the Grand Canyon or Lake Powell! So why not do something outside the box and have your breath taken away?

A new Christmas tradition has become ice skating downtown at Cityscape outside when it’s chilly. (I admit that Phoenix doesn’t really get cold, cold but temps in the 40’s is chilly!) It was so much fun, in spite many not knowing how to skate to inch around the rink or for a few to actually swoosh over the ice with almost a smirk on their faces. It’s a great tradition for anyone who has grown up in the desert with temps in the 110’s.

I understand that streaming the latest from Netflix or Amazon is a great temptation. So, why not do both!! Go for it and create your own bucket list and expand your life horizon to shock your friends and family! Live life to the max is one of my favorite ‘sayings’ from Jesus.

New Year’s Resolution is to make life happen by being adventurous, bold and courageous!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Two minds are better than one!!

One of the most amazing gifts and joys in my life is when I’m able to connect with someone who challenges both my thinking/perceptions and expands my understanding of life! I recently had lunch with a new friend who is a recent college grad. This individual had studied and worked at a think tank that does research with community development. It was a delight to both share my passion but also hear this new friend’s story.

 I was also saddened to hear of the passing of one of my professors this last week who had been very instrumental in shaping my critical thinking skills. As I have read a variety of tributes to this prolific author and lecturer it struck me that another one of my professors, same age, grew up in the same home town, yet, weren’t close and didn’t partner together. It was a bit of a shocker to hear this other professor who was instrumental in my seminary days admit that because of their different approach to apologetics they seldom worked together. I was also very taken with another friend who mentioned this one professor who was well known for his TRIADS in his classes and writings. (Triperspectivalism)

I had a delightful conversation with an old friend from the 80’s last night that brought to the forefront again that synergism is a very powerful tool hopefully for good. It distresses me that our present political system is afraid of having bipartisan discussions. I can’t fathom that it isn’t possible to have many great minds come together, yes iron sharpens iron and can ‘hammer’ out an immigration plan, tax plan or a well thought out approach to funding our government. Instead, we face another shut down of the government that is tragically a byproduct of the unwillingness of those in power with differing paradigms to work together and compromise.

One of the incredible gifts in my life is to have a super intelligent wife of 44 years that is willing to listen, humble me and often encourage me to continue to be a life learner and critical thinker. I understand that many in the ‘know’ truly believe that their approach to life is obviously the only way to make the world a better place to live. The opportunity that is before us is to be more willing to learn from those around us that are very different and be humble enough to consider another way. Is it possible to work together with someone that clearly is your equal but has a differing solution to the ills of the world?

Solomon, one of the early Kings of Israel, was given the opportunity to receive a gift from the Lord. His choice wasn’t wealth or frame but the gift of wisdom. He is the one who highlights the fact two can keep each other warm and that a strand of three ropes is so much stronger than a strand of one. Yet, the tragedy over the centuries is that too often most prefer the strand of one instead of a willingness to admit that I benefit from your brain power to help me be a better person and help the world improve!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Can helping actual hurt someone?

I think all of us have heard the phrase give a man a fish and feed him for a day but rather give him a fishing pole and he can feed himself. This is a very simplistic approach to community development or neighborhood transformation. The reality is that even with a fishing pole and a few lessons of fishing the individual might not be the best fisherman/person. What’s just as important is whether the individual is fishing in a pond that has fish. Forget the topic of whether the pond is clean and the fish are safe to eat!

My life experience is that when I learn a new skill set it happens most often through someone taking the time to train me, walk with me and actually watch me as I figure things out. One of the great opportunities is that it takes lots of time for most to learn something outside their bubble. The difficulty is what happens when a person doesn’t learn or get it? How long do I help someone live before it becomes counterproductive to their life?

I’m privileged to be around some that have a natural ability to start businesses and employ hundreds and even thousands. I’m also around some that I have walked with for years that still struggle with making life happen on a day to day basis. What helps a person more making life easy or allowing them to experience failure at times. This can motivate them to take a different approach to how they view life, learning and owning up. Yet, the reality is that no one should go to bed at night hungry nor be sleeping outside without any protection.

It’s a struggle and at times a battle knowing how to impact a person’s life. This becomes a hot topic of conversation in a local city context where individuals, churches, businesses and the city fathers can clash when it comes to providing resources for the homeless, under employed or those ‘stuck’ in chronic and cyclical poverty. It’s ok to provide shelter, food, clothing and job resourcing with the city overseeing shelters but inappropriate for individuals and churches to personally hand out food, clothing and personal necessities?

So, if I’m going to error in the journey of helping without hurting I will always show grace, mercy and kindness. I can purposely help someone and put them in the position that they must help me help others. The difficulty is that the impact of cyclical generational poverty cripples too often youth growing up in this context. It takes a lot of consistent mentoring, training, pushing and patience to see a young life become committed to excellence and have a passion for life-long learning and being responsible for themselves.

I know that most get annoyed at the homeless person on the corner of the freeways panhandling. I know that family issues and life challenges can put someone in a position that few are there to help and getting a job can be sadly hopeless. So I know that too often many will quote Jesus saying, ‘The poor will always be with you’, as if that’s an excuse not to have to care or help someone.

My life choice is to be willing to always help with an eye to mentoring and motivating the individual to do better but ultimately they have to own up and care about themselves.