Sunday, January 31, 2010

In a perfect world ....

What would it be like to live in a perfect world?

The answer to that question is so hard to fathom, especially when so many people around me are going through tremendous hurts and struggles. Marriages don't last the way they are meant to. A friend of mine is fighting save her home from foreclosure. Another has a son who has been kicked out of school so many times there are no more schools for him to go to. A classmate from high school recently lost her father. Another was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. A dear friend of mine became a widower yesterday. And a classmate from grade school lost her battle with liver cancer this past week. And there is much, much more.

A perfect world would have a flawless structure and atmosphere. No earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, or global warming. A perfect world would engage in the art of peaceful conflict resolution. Even be proactive in preventing conflict in the first place. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters would not tearfully say good-bye to their sons, daughters, daddys or mommys, perhaps for the last time, as they leave to fight a war in a land halfway around the globe.  Widespread poverty will not be a social issue, because people will be sensitive to the needs of others, and will allow God to use them to willingly, joyfully, and generously meet their needs.  Money and things would not be the objects of our desire.

In a perfect world, neighbors would have a strong sense of community. Sugar and eggs would be borrowed from next door, and repaid with the sweet delicious cakes made from them.  Children would not know what it is like to have to fear strangers. Integrity and mutual respect and honesty would be among our non-negotiable core values.  Adults would not forget what it is like to see the world as for the first time through the eyes of a child, with a sense of discovery and awe. Young ones will not know that the world can be viewed any other way. 

If people had to die in a perfect world (and they might, since the world is still a finite place), death would be peaceful and without pain.  It would be like a departure on a long journey. Loved ones would see her off, waving, "There she goes!", knowing that on the other side of the journey a group of loved ones is waiting to receive her, stirring in anticipation and preparation, saying, "Here she comes!"  There will be no fear of dying, because an even more perfect world awaits us.

But the world is not perfect. Even my vision of a perfect world falls way short of the mark. That is because I fall way short of the mark of perfection. Don't get me wrong - I'm not an axe murderer (but don't push me to it ...). I just make bad choices and do wrong things like most others I know.  My body has known injury and disease.  And the ground I walk on has bumps and holes and cracks where there shouldn't be any.  I often forget what childlike wonder is, claiming that Elmo and VeggieTales were not created with me in mind.  I've even borrowed sugar from my neighbors and kept the cake for myself.

But I am not fearful of death. Not that I'm in any hurry or anything - apparently God is still pleased to have me here on this earth. But I know that when I die I will have loved ones seeing me off, saying, "There she goes ..."  and my Creator with his host of angels stirring in preparation and anticipation, joyously saying, "Here she comes!"

And my world will be Perfect.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What men have to say ...

Let's face it - men and women are just different. Not just in personal relationships, but in the business world as well. Shaunti Feldhahn's new book "The Male Factor" gives readers a peek into "the unwritten rules, misperceptions, and secret beliefs of men in the workplace." This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Feldhahn and her research team have gathered insights from hundreds of men in the business world through surveys and interviews to answer this core question: "Is there anything you've seen talented women do that undermines their effectiveness with men, simply because the women don't know how it is being perceived?" 

Beginning with differences in the structure of the male and female brain, and exploring topics such as "It's not personal, it's business," the emotional side of women, getting the job done no matter what, and other ways women may unknowingly undermine their full potential in the workplace, the men, many of whom are high-level executives, give feedback to the core question, and practical advice for women to work more effectively with men on the job.

What did I like about the book? Feldhahn tells in the introduction how she was able to get men to first of all take the survey, and secondly be honest in their answers. Most of the men quoted in the book genuinely want women to be successful.

What I didn't like so much? The book seems to be directed toward women in white-collar, high-level, or at least upwardly-mobile career paths. I would also have liked to see some references to how working-class Joe the Plumber men would answer the core question, to see if their answers are in line with the CEO's and CFO's answers.

Would I recommend this book? I believe this book is beneficial to women who wish to advance in their careers, or who are starting careers in competitive, traditionally male-dominated fields. A word of caution though. Some women may take offense to the subjects brought up by the men who were interviewed, for example, the chapter about how men react to some wardrobe choices. The underlying intent of this book is for it to be read with the perception of a mentor giving constructive feedback how to improve how you relate with male colleagues.

I do have one copy of this book to give away. I will be choosing the recipient from those who leave a comment.

Friday, January 01, 2010

In the darkness ...

And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

These are words from the first chapter of the book of Genesis. Bleak words for the beginning of a new year, don't you think? Waste, void, darkness, no sense of order or organization. Not much hope for improvement. As I reflected on those words I thought of some of the many people whose 2009 did not have a particularly happy ending. If an outsider, say a historian or someone like that 3,000 years into the future, were to judge these lives just on the closing days of 2009, one might say these lives were wasteful, void, dark. Their observations would be taken out of context, with no consideration of life before or after December, 2009.

In the same way, the waste and void and darkness at the beginning of Genesis is not all there is to God's creation of the world. The word "And" tells us there was something prior. And though the above statement is from Genesis 1:2, that is not the entire verse - there is something more.

Before the void, there is God. And during the darkness - before the famous words "Let there be light" - the Spirit of God is there.

What does this mean to us today?

We can find comfort. Before the void we may now feel, God was there. During our darkness, the Spirit of God is here. We were never without Him.

And we have hope. Our darkness need not last forever. God has given us Light.

(Jesus said) "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12
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