Mess of Pottage Blog

Luke's "Pro" Blog

It really is better to give…

The Apostle Paul cites a saying of Jesus (not recorded in the gospel accounts):

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

According to this New York Times profile of Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant, Jesus just might have been on to something:

For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity, a time-sapping diversion from the actual work at hand; it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. In some sense, he has built a career in professional motivation by trying to unpack the puzzle of his own success. He has always helped; he has always been productive.

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A Woman’s Right to Choose

Apparently, women in China are going to have a right to choose whether to have an abortion. This is a great pro-life victory:

Following international outcry, China’s Population and Family Planning Commission issued an order to ban the use of forced abortion when enforcing its one-child policy. The directive is being hailed as a significant step forward in human rights.

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Best Tim Tebow Article

I don’t follow football very closely, but as a former Coloradoan, it was good to see Tebow shake things up with those come-from-behind wins most of this past fall.

And after the win last week against the Steelers, it’s been impossible to miss all the coverage. There’s a new/old song about him, the inevitable Hitler/Downfall parody, and an incredible number of articles debating whether he’s as awesome as his fans think he is, or just “fool’s gold.” But this article by Rick Reilly is the best one I’ve seen:

I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Read the whole thing.

(And if you’re curious, the Atlantic has a good article by Owen Strachan that addresses the really important question: Does God Care Whether Tim Tebow Wins on Saturday?)

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Please Don’t Tip

If you want to stiff your waiter, that’s your business. But please don’t drag God into it:

The idea that Christians are poor tippers apparently has been whispered in service circles for a long time. Many waiters try not work Sunday brunch, so as to avoid notoriously stingy churchgoers, claims Justin Wise, the director of a Lutheran ministry in Des Moines, Iowa.

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The Best Apologetic

Twenty-odd years ago, I became a Christian, and part of the reason was apologetics, or defenses of the faith. God used several books, including C.S. Lewis’ wonderful Mere Christianity, to overcome my objections to the Christian faith.

By the time I got to seminary, however, I was really pretty bored with apologetics. It’s not that I had decided they were unimportant–far from it: as my faith became more important in my life, I realized how important those apologetics had been. But I’d moved on, and they weren’t very helpful to me any more. (Although I do still pick up my copy of Mere Christianity every couple of months and re-read a chapter or two.)

It turns out I’m not alone. In this article, Max Lucado, a best-selling Christian writer, says that the best apologetic is compassion.

Though Christians do need to respond intellectually to explain their faith, the long-time pastor recognized, “When the church argues back with society, I don’t know if we get very far.”

“But if we can say our passion is to help the poor and the forgotten, you cannot argue with that,” he noted. “Nothing convinces people of our Lord better than to live like he lived. We cannot live like he lived without being compassionate.”

That rings true for me. Jim Noble, the pastor who led me to Christ, told me, “Maybe you could believe in God if you saw him at work, and [his church] is a great place to watch.”

He was right. I had some baggage I needed to deal with, and my apologetic reading helped me do that. But it was seeing God at work in and through the community of faith engaged in works of compassion, that enabled me, finally, to put my trust in Christ.

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Jim Collins on Excellence in Church Employees

I happened on an excellent session from Catalyst 2008 with Andy Stanley interviewing Jim Collins about keeping employees who are a poor fit in a position. Andy says that churches are all about mercy — so sometimes, out of compassion for the employee, we keep people in positions for which they aren’t a good match. Watch Collins’ reply here.

There’s a great point in there, too: “The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve probably made a hiring mistake.” (Watch Stanley’s face when Collins says that.) That’s an excellent clue and we ignore it at peril to our mission.

Another excellent point: instead of giving people titles and rules, give them responsibilities. People should be able to say, “I am the one person in this organization who is ultimately responsible for [whatever it is].”

(I found this video on Catalyst’s Youtube channel which has a ton of other content that ranges from Dallas Willard and John Ortberg all the way to Trip and Tyler.)

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Do the Dead Grieve?

Reading C. S. Lewis, I was struck by this thought:

If, as I can’t help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.

(From A Grief Observed, pp. 49-50. Emphasis added.)

I’d known that Lewis was comfortable with the whole idea of purgatory, but I was fascinated by his idea that purgatory might entail grief. On the one hand, we want our loved ones to be happy — to be, as we say at such times, “in a better place.” But there is a slight, selfish appeal to the idea that they grieve for us, just as we grieve for them. How much sharper it would make our grief if we thought our loved one had simply shrugged us off.

We Presbyterians, however, aren’t keen on the concept of purgatory. Our Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, in the Service of Witness to the Resurrection we have at funerals, says, by contrast:

We thank you [God],
that for him/her death is past
and pain is ended,
and that he/she has now entered
the joy that you have prepared.

It’s an intriguing notion, nevertheless. I don’t have time right now to do a serious study, but I’ll have to keep this in the back of my mind, in case I run across Scriptural arguments for or against the idea.

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The World Turned Upside Down

The book of Acts records the conflict between the first Christians and the pagan communities they were evangelizing. Those communities said they were advocating customs unlawful for Romans to adopt (Acts 16:20), that they were “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

Have you ever wondered what they meant by that?

An article in the BBC News today describes the excavation of a mass burial of 97 infants in the Thames Valley of England. Archaeologists believe might have been a brothel. Key quote:

And infanticide may not have been as shocking in Roman times as it is today.

Archaeological records suggest infants were not considered to be “full” human beings until about the age of two, said Dr Eyers.

Let’s hear it for turning the world upside down.

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A Catholic Martyr

I was vaguely aware that Pope Benedict XVI recently visited Cyprus, but I missed this story about the martyrdom of Luigi Padovese, on June 3 of this year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Haiti Earthquake

Horrific pictures coming out of Haiti here at the Big Picture. Please be in prayer for the people of Haiti and consider donating through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

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