Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Points to Ponder
Minister’s Musing on Ministry & Misc.
by Dr. Brooks

What is the winning strategy in your business?  

I once read a management book based on the practices of Genghis Khan.  I was fascinated!  His brutality was matched by his organizational skill.  The accomplishments of Khan are historic.  However, I would struggle to call them a winning strategy.

The 4-way test of Rotary International (of which I am a member) is a good critique of those who practice a style as ruthless as Khan.  The 4-way test asks … Is it the Truth?  Is it Fair to all concerned?  Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?  Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?  This reads more as a winning strategy.

Recently, I was confronted with a thorny business problem.   I wondered what the Christ-like way would be to handle the issue?  Admittedly, my emotional response to the problem had not encouraged me to think first of the Lord in my life.  My emotional reaction to the Christ-like solution was very affirming.

In addition to managing my emotions by attempting to channel Jesus’ call upon my life, the more I considered the end game of the problem, the more I found a Christ-like response to be a winning strategy.  It is tempting to avoid a Christ-like strategy because we think it too soft or too weak.  If we are honest, this temptation is born from greed, selfishness, or other brokenness.  

Keeping Jesus as the priority in my life helps me keep the puzzles of daily life in proper perspective.  My engagement is more creative and confident.  My fear of failure is lessened because I am working to please Jesus who loves me unconditionally.  As well my goal of “winning” in the problem is redefined.

Though naive in places, a Christian classic “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon is worth a read.  It is a feel good book.  Inspiring for the faithful.

Winning strategies in business (and life generally) thrive with discipline and consistency.  Might I recommend the life-giving strategy of taking Jesus to work with you every day?  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Relationships: Best Gift Ever

Relationships include gift giving, from remembering others on holidays to the time and presence we offer one another.  What is the best gift you have received?  given?

My Grandma and I shared the same birthday.  One year, when I was a child and we celebrated at her house, she took me to town.  She and my Grandpa lived on a small farm.  Our trip to town was to obtain groceries for dinner.  Well that was the reason when we left the house.

Once in the car, my Grandma explained that we would be purchasing my birthday gift, and I would be able to select the gift.  However, I had to act surprised when it came time to open gifts.  Receiving a toy gun was not why this is among the best gifts ever. 

I remember the anticipation as we drove to town to select the gift.  In the store, I struggled to wield well the power of selection, something I wanted but I did not want to ask for something too expensive or extreme.  As we opened gifts, feeling worry that I would not be convincing in my feigned surprise.   I recall the sense of sharing something special and unique with my Grandma.  I remember my Grandma’s smile and bright eyes.

The criterion for best gift ever was something beyond the material.  My Grandma, like all my amazing grandparents, excelled at making me feel special.  This included the memory of something shared, something uniqued.  Love made real.

Tomorrow we start Lent.  For Christians, it is a period of preparation for Easter.  Some of the faithful will give up something, make a sacrifice, to discipline the soul.  Others will take up a new spiritual practice.  

What if each day of Lent, you remembered the “best gift” you have received from a person important to you?  I pray Easter arrives before you have named one person per day.  If Easter has yet to come or if you name a person lacking that “best gift” moment … create the moment.  Give them the moment or make the plan to do so.  

Love made real …. daily … till Easter … when God makes it real for you in an eternal way.

Imagine … how will the remainder of 2015 transpire if now you name 40 important individuals and the “best gift” moment over 40 days?  

God’s smile and bright eyes upon you be forever.

Sunday, February 08, 2015


How do you offer thanksgiving?

Polite manners beseech us to say “please” and “thank you.”  Refined is our nature when we pen a note to say “thank you” for this kindness or that remembrance.  These social niceties are, well, nice.

What of when the thanksgiving is rooted in a more profound place, phenomenon, or person?

How you offer thanksgiving when so motivated?

In the gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verse 31 we see such a thanksgiving.  The text reads (NRSV)  “1He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”  Jesus heals Peter’s mother-n-law who then serves Jesus and the others.

Did Peter’s mother-n-law serve them because she was told to do so by the one who healed her?  The text does not imply such an explanation.  

Did Peter’s mother-n-law serve them because she was set free of the fever / sick bed and chose to return to her gifted participation in the community as hostess?  Very likely and the thought of my sermon on February 8, 2015.

Did Peter’s mother-n-law serve them because she was offering her thanksgiving?  A complimentary thought to the one just previously offered.  Having been healed by the touch of God’s son, Jesus, the natural response is to offer thanksgiving.  This woman offered thanksgiving by serving them.  

How do you offer thanksgiving?

Were you to be set free of obstacles, restored to community, healed of illness, etc . . .
How do you offer thanksgiving?  It is your choice . . .

If you wonder what God would prefer you do offer as thanksgiving, let me share a quote from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

I invite you to ponder Buechner’s words and the cause of your thanksgiving.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Recommended Read: The Reason

My ideas of love were only shadows compared to this painfully bright, shining, true love that fell all around me.”  This is one of a multitude of inspiring lines from Lacey Sturm’s book, The Reason: how I discovered a life worth living.  A book that I passionately recommend you read.

I first encountered Lacey’s voice in her role as the lead singer of the Christian band, Flyleaf.   Though I never saw her perform live with the band (I was able to see the band start their first tour without her), I have enjoyed their music and her voice for years.  Their music videos are amazing.

Picking up her first book, I wondered if she would write as well as she sang, could she author a book as well as she penned a lyric.  Within a few pages, her talent was obvious.  Her writing style is very balanced and mature in her dealing with subject matter that is quite profound.  This book read as if she were talking to me over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

You should read this book for its message and model.  I do not agree with every theological statement Lacey makes.  I share deeply her love for God and God’s people.  I am inspired by Lacey’s ability to be vulnerable about her life and passionate about God’s love.   As she shared how God has worked in her life, I readily recalled moments when I feel close to God and craved more.  

You will be blessed if you read this book. 

(quote from page 112)