All red in the face

red-faced monkeyStepping out of theological discussions for the moment, I wanted to say a word for the red-faced among us. You know who you are. Or, should I say, who we are.

I’m a blusher. I turn red easily. For a variety of motives. Something that non-blushers don’t understand.

Turning red is frustrating enough. Having people ascribe motives to my redness is even more frustrating. Let me put it bluntly: you don’t know. Almost never.

Let me tell you why I turn red. The biggest motive for me is perceived conflict. When I have to say something that I know someone isn’t going to like, I turn red. It’s not embarrassment. It’s not anger. It’s not that I’m upset. It’s probably best described as mild anxiety.

From there, I’d say that turning red comes from self-consciousness. Self-awareness. Which means that if someone says, “Look, he’s turning red,” I’m going to turn bright red. Blushing is embarrassing; embarrassment causes blushing. It’s a nasty cycle.

Other things that make me turn red:

  • Exertion
  • Exposure to sun
  • A rise in emotion
  • Shame (both present and past)
  • Sexual interest or arousal
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment

And I could go on and on. As I said, the biggest problem is when others try to read my red face and determine what caused it. “I can tell when Tim is upset.” Baloney. All you know is that my face is red. Maybe I’m remembering a mistake I made in the past; you have no way of knowing.

“You must have been really mad. Your face was red.” Uh, no… maybe I was feeling bad for how bad you were going to look when I pointed out your mistake.

So here’s my tips for dealing with people who turn red

  • Try to graciously overlook their redness.
  • Do NOT ascribe motives to someone’s blushing. (Unless you’re playing poker; maybe it’s a good tell!)
  • Recognize that it’s something absolutely beyond their control.

Thanks!

Guatemala trip and random travel thoughts

Just got back from a great weekend in Guatemala City. It was primarily a follow-up trip for Hope For Life (Herald of Truth) on campaign work done there last year and radio work that is ongoing. Bruno Valle and I spent most of our time with Roberto Alvarez, who has been our chief contact there the last few years. Roberto directs the Biblical Institute of Central America; his students were conducting a house-to-house campaign, and Bruno and I provided the preaching for the event. There were seven baptisms and two restorations.

A few random thoughts that have come up over the last few weeks:

  • Just finished reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I’d recommend the book, primarily for understanding a bit more about Islam and the differences between the worldview of a shame culture vs that of a guilt culture.
  • I now read ebooks almost exclusively when traveling. I have a small iPad with the Kindle app on it; I keep it loaded with plenty of books. I like hard copies when home, but love ebooks when traveling.
  • When traveling, try to limit yourself to one carryon. That’s been my practice for years, and I’m constantly reminded of why it’s a good idea. I have what I call a half-rollerboardthat I can combine with a full-sized carryon for especially long trips. Unless I’m carrying something bulky or taking a lot of supplies somewhere, I don’t check a bag. For suggestions on how to reduce your travel load, check out OneBag.com
  • I love the lightweight hiking shirts made by Columbia. They do well in warm weather, plus you can wash and hang-dry them from one day to the next. I think they look much nicer than the fishing shirts a lot of guys wear. The model I’ve been wearing is Royce Peak II; I’m sure there are others that look as nice.

That’s it for now. Have a great day!

Links To Go (May 23, 2017)

“I walked away from Alice, the love of my life”: same sex attraction and the cost of discipleship

And yet, I was smitten. I was being been wooed by someone who offered everything—everlasting life and love, protection and vision, peace and unfailing commitment. In return, however, this someone demanded that I lay aside all that I had ever known and commit fully to a person I hardly knew.


Immigration arrests soar under Trump; sharpest spike seen for noncriminals

In Trump’s first 100 days in office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 41,318 immigrants, up 37.6 percent over the same period last year, the agency said Wednesday. Almost 3 out of 4 of those arrested have criminal records, including gang members and fugitives wanted for murder. But the biggest increase by far is among immigrants with no criminal records.


“We Are Certainly Not Lacking Any Confidence Are We”

Fortunately, I can point to a number of young ministers with a very different spirit. I know young ministers who love Scripture, are passionate for the Lord, and who exude humility as they talk about the human condition. These young ministers are likely to ask others for their counsel and input regarding situations and chapters in life they have never experienced.
They do not have an unhealthy self-consciousness which seems to be preoccupied with appearance, image, style, etc. Rather, these ministers seem to have a very healthy God-consciousness that goes way beyond referring to Jesus, talking about spiritual formation, etc.


Like the Original

That is okay, because the task for the child of God is not to look like people of days gone by. The task is to think, behave, and honor like Jesus did. The example of what is God-approved is not so much early Christians (although they did God-approved things), but to live like Jesus. Paul told early Christians, “Be an imitator of me, in the same way that I imitate Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)


Eight Signs Your Church May Be Closing Soon

  1. There has been a numerical decline for four or more years.
  2. The church does not look like the community in which it is located.
  3. The congregation is mostly comprised of senior adults.
  4. The focus is on the past, not the future.
  5. The members are intensely preference-driven.
  6. The budget is severely inwardly focused.
  7. There are sacred cow facilities.
  8. Any type of change is met with fierce resistance.

Pastors, Spend Time with Non-Pastors

What follows are a few reminders as to why we must use some of our best time, energy, and resources to train up plumbers, lawyers, teachers, and bankers. I will focus this discussion on the discipling of men in particular. The need to care for sisters in the Lord is critical and is related to most of the points I make, but won’t be the aim of this article.


Eight Essential Items for Your Church’s FAQ Page

  1. Where is guest parking?
  2. What is there for my kids?
  3. How do I join the church?
  4. How do I join a group?
  5. Why do you ______?
  6. How do I get involved in the ______ ministry?
  7. What denomination is ______ church affiliated with?
  8. How do I contact the church for _______?

Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults

At the same time America is graying, recent Pew Research Center surveys find that seniors are also moving towards more digitally connected lives. Around four-in-ten (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the internet – a 55-percentage-point increase in just under two decades. And for the first time, half of older Americans now have broadband at home.


Ministry for non-ministers

No tengo alma de cura.” Translation: I don’t have the soul of a priest.

That’s how one church member in Argentina explained why he wasn’t more involved at church. He wasn’t a preacher. Wasn’t a song leader. Got too nervous to lead prayers or direct singing. There was nothing for him to do.

Hopefully we can see the folly in this reasoning, but I also hope that we can see that the view isn’t uncommon. We hear it a lot in gender discussions. We should be aware of it in all of our church discussions.

Church members need to see that they can and should have a ministry outside of the Sunday assembly. Here are some suggestions on how to go about that, taken from my book Church Inside Out:

  • Leaders expect to be positive and affirming when faced with ministry proposals. The church needs to develop an atmosphere where members can try new things; that’s the best way for people to discover their gifts.
  • Priority is on “outside the walls” ministries. It’s too easy to fall back into thinking about what is done in Bible class or the worship assembly when we’re thinking about how God has gifted us. We need to see that the ability to feed the hungry and clothe the poor is a spiritual gift, and teaching young kids to read is as much a ministry as teaching Ladies Bible class.
  • When someone describes something that isn’t right, it’s taken as an offer to help. If someone wants to talk to the leaders about something that needs improvement, that person needs to know they will be actively engaged as part of the solution.
  • Members need to be aware of needs in order to meet those needs. Part of the job of being a leader is awareness of needs in the community and in the church. Leaders need a mechanism for communicating those needs to the body.
  • The church will not and can not meet every need. But we can expect God to use members to meet the needs that best fit their gifts, and we can expect him to provide gifts for the needs the church is best able to meet.
  • Ministries have to be given the freedom to die. People need to know that there is no shame in moving on from a ministry that is no longer fruitful or no longer needed. People need to have the opportunity to try something and honestly evaluate the results. If what is tried doesn’t work, the church members must have the freedom to let it go.

What suggestions would you offer? How can we help our members to identify and use community-oriented gifts?

Links To Go (May 17, 2017)

Tim Cook’s refusal to help FBI hack iPhone is validated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack

The proliferation of the WannaCry ransomware last week unequivocally justifies Apple’s steadfast refusal to help the FBI break into an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. As a quick refresher, the FBI last year wanted Apple engineers to create a brand new version of iOS that would allow them to skirt around iOS security measures. As a precaution, a security setting in iOS wipes a device clean after 10 erroneous passcode entry attempts. The FBI, as a result, tried to force Apple to release a specialized version of iOS that would not include this security limitation.
Apple abhorred the very idea from the get-go, with Tim Cook going so far as to say that the FBI wanted Apple to create something that it viewed as “the software equivalent of cancer.” From Apple’s vantage point, creating software capable of circumventing important iOS security mechanisms was a monumental risk as there is no way to guarantee that the customized software wouldn’t eventually fall into the wrong hands.


The WannaCry Ransomware Hackers Made Some Real Amateur Mistakes

An attack of this magnitude involving so many missteps raises plenty of questions while delivering a sobering reminder: If actual cybercriminal professionals improved on the group’s methods, the results could be even graver.


Evangelism is a Four Letter Word

I get it. Culture is changing rapidly and radically. The methods we have used successfully for decades have become ineffective, even counter-productive. Heaven? Spiritual laws? Bible verses? These no longer spark spiritual interest. Evangelism training isn’t what it used to be, but in many cases is uncertain of what it should be.
This frustration is actually good news. Good because it is causing us to reimagine how we think about evangelism… and, whether we like it or not, forcing us to redesign training tools and equipping experiences.


Sometimes You Just Gotta Get the Shot

When they told me all the possible side effects of chemo, I felt kinda like I did as a kid getting that shot. Like bolting out of the recliner before that first bag starts dripping.
But for now, it’s the best option to beat the disease, and it’s so much better than it used to be.


The Traditional Lecture Is Dead. I Would Know — I’m A Professor

The point isn’t to use any one example but to go beyond the traditional lecture by creating an environment in which students actively participate in class. You may experience some difficulty, even reluctance doing this. If so, take baby steps. Do one thing at a time. But do something, because professors who continue giving traditional lectures might just find themselves replaced by a video.


On gender issues, many in Orthodox Christian countries have conservative views

A substantial share of adults in Central and Eastern Europe hold traditional views of the role of women and the family, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 18 nations in the region. This is especially true in the 10 countries surveyed with Orthodox Christian majorities.


Meet the critic who panned ‘Sgt. Pepper’ then discovered his speaker was busted. He’s still not sorry.

This may be as a good a time as any to offer Richard Goldstein’s confession. It isn’t anything he has tried to hide, and, in fact, he mentioned it briefly in his 2015 memoir, “Another Little Piece of My Heart.” But the revelation may be startling to Beatles fans, who have devoted their lives to interpreting every lyric, recording flourish and photograph presented by their band.
The stereo Goldstein used for his review was broken.
Repeat. The guy who slammed “Sgt. Pepper” in the New York Times had a busted speaker.


Here’s the history of Zaza Pachulia’s dirty plays that Gregg Popovich was so mad about

This isn’t exactly the first time Pachulia has been accused of dirty play. The “Zaza is dirty” train left the station a long time ago. In fact, this four-minute compilation of his dirty play, which features the plays Popovich mentioned during his rant, was published on YouTube back in February, long before Sunday’s incident.