Archive for May, 2010

unalloyed

May 29, 2010

God spoke to me through three different scriptures today.

I’m a couple chapters into Mark and Patti Virkler’s book Dialog with God. Chapter two points out the passage in Ezekiel 14 where the elders came to the prophet to ask God a question. God responds to them: “Since you’ve come to me with idols in your hearts, I’m going to answer you regarding your idols”.

I might further paraphrase: “You’ve already decided what you’re going to hear and what you’re going to do.  Why should I answer you?  Get the garbage out, then we’ll talk.”

This may become a pivotal verse for me.  What God is saying is that he is actively involved in the ongoing purification of my heart.  Even though I know him and pray to him, he’s not going to answer when I’ve placed a man-made idea or concept as his equal in my life and mind.

As I was reading the verses in Ezekiel I was reminded of the one at the beginning of James’ letter where he says: “But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.”

Satan’s first words to Eve were calculated to introduce doubt.  And doubting God is an indication of an idol.  It means I’ve believed God is less than he is, or something else is greater than he is.

The third verse was one Adam Edelstein posted on Facebook.  It’s in Paul’s second Corinthian letter where he wrote: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Together the three verses said to me: “God wants my whole heart.  He is at work on me, through my relationship with him, revealing the impurities.  He expects me to use the power tools he has provided to continually purify my heart of the things he is revealing.”

Not a bad word for a day, eh?

telling stories

May 10, 2010

The good guys wear white hats and draw faster and shoot straighter.  They win all their fights and ride off in the sunset with the pretty girls.

And they’re not real; they’re just a badly told story, missing most of the details.

Ever notice the heroes in the Bible?  Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul – all great men of God – all just as human as you or me.

A bad story is idealized and moralistic.  A good story shows pride and desire and fear and the battle to overcome them or to deal with the consequences when they’ve prevailed.  The goal of a good story is relationship and the protagonist’s temptation is to rat out a friend to save himself.

And God is a great story teller!

open and honest

May 4, 2010

One of the things I do for a living is design and develop business software.  My favorite project of all time began eighteen years ago at IBM’s Toronto lab on a product called ImagePlus.  We completed the project on time, within budget, and with an unusually low defect rate.  Two doctoral students from the University of Guelph somehow heard about our project and came out to study the team and discover the secret to our success.

Each team member filled out a survey and the researchers interviewed a number of us.  Their finding was eye-opening.  We weren’t successful because of superstar team members or a new breakthrough in management theory.  They felt the keystone of our success was one key phrase that came up on the questionnaire and in interviews: “open and honest communication”.

I heard that phrase several times recently listening to Ed Catmull speak at an event put on by the Economist magazine.  Ed is president of Pixar Studios and was speaking about running a creative company.  He too listed open and honest communication as a key factor in their success.  Working with strong, creative, even eccentric personalities was all part of the job, but the real challenge is calling things what they really are.  Being un-intimidated about saying so when something isn’t working.  Willing to recognize when people are gaming the system. Thick-skinned enough to handle criticism.  Willing to trust the other people in the process to do their jobs while you do yours.  That’s what makes an excellent project team.

And couldn’t we use some of that in the Kingdom of God?