Modern English Definitions

We all know that language is constantly evolving. Here is my understanding of the new definition for several familiar English words in prevalent use today:

Liar: Someone who does not assent to my understanding of reality

Cheater: Someone who appears to have circumstances more favorable than mine who has not yet assented to yield their advantage to me

Truth: The understanding of circumstances that best suits my needs at the time

Justice: 1) Seeing all the cheaters suffer; 2) Getting the opportunity to make someone else’s circumstances worse than mine

What do all these new definitions have in common? They are all egocentric. These concepts are no longer defined by an absolute standard, but instead are defined by comparison with the speaker’s condition.

Narcissism is a related psychological concept. I’ve done almost zero research on this, but I propose that US society (collectively and individually) is suffering from some form of egocentricity or narcissism.

Check this list of narcissistic traits:

*An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
*Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
*A lack of psychological awareness
*Difficulty with empathy
*Problems distinguishing the self from others
*Hypersensitivity to any sleights or imagined insults
*Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt (if you’re having trouble envisioning this one, picture the response of any recently arrested public figure)
*Flattery towards people who admire and affirm him or her
*Detesting those who do not admire him or her
*Using other people without considering the cost to them of his or her doing so
*Pretending to be more important than he or she is
*Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating his or her achievements
*Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people

See our culture in these descriptions? See your friends, co-workers, neighbors?

See yourself?

If you don’t, you’re probably wasting your time reading this.

If you have this really heavy feeling in your gut right now, welcome to my reality.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Deny yourself–no wonder Jesus is having trouble finding people who want to be his disciple in America today.

In the Garden, the Serpent tempted Eve by telling her that eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would make her eyes opened, and that she would be “like God, knowing good and evil.” I don’t believe this means she would be able to recognize good and evil. Rather, I believe she would be able to define good and evil. Eve didn’t get in trouble for breaking God’s rule, she tried to take his throne! She was tempted (and responded to the temptation) to define good and evil from her perspective, rather than accepting and submitting to God’s definition. And no, I’m not just beating up Eve; Adam was right there, and joined right in. And so have I.

A lot of people in our country today are fed up with “those other guys”. Some are actually mad enough to do something about it.

I’m fed up with me. I pray that Jesus will do something about it.

A post about nothing…

OK, it worked for Seinfeld for how many years? Can’t I get away with one?

Life’s been so busy this past week, that I can’t fit it all in. Had a great class Friday night and Saturday (Biblical Interpretation), but I’m behind on my homework.

Work is work: too busy, too much to do, not enough time to do it all, let alone do it well.

The building project I’m working on in my spare time is coming along, although on a schedule that only God knows, and He doesn’t show any signs of consulting with any of the rest of us for our plans…Should start pouring a foundation Monday. That’s great news, until you consider that the best time to pour a foundation in Alaska is, like, JUNE.

Leaving for vacation Thursday morning! Two weeks in Israel! No job distractions, just time to explore, learn, have fun, hang out with family and friends. Only stressful thing about it is I haven’t even begun to prepare!

I say all this not to snivel. OK, not just to snivel. I’m learning something in it all.

I’m learning about studying God’s Word, and mining truth out of a passage in the same way that some of the best teachers I’ve been privileged to learn from use. You know, those ones that open up the Scriptures, and show you a new depth or nuance to a passage you’ve read many times before. I’m not there yet, but I’m learning.

I’m learning that the work gets done. And the work that doesn’t get done, probably wasn’t that big of a deal.

Most importantly, I’m learning that taking time to do the important things in life pays off. And the important things are almost never about a job, a bank account, a project, or getting ahead.

Instead, it’s things like taking the time to talk to a man who I didn’t have time for, but in doing so, discovered that he’s learning to walk a new walk, late in his life, kinda like I’m doing in mine. Hopefully I was an encouragement to him–he was to me.

It’s taking the time to hang out with my son, who I don’t get to spend much time with anymore. Yeah, there’s a lot of joking around that looks a little harsh, but I also get to tell him how proud I am of him, and how he’s doing one heck of a job becoming a productive member of society.

It’s getting ready to spend two weeks with my daughter, showing her some amazing stuff, and anticipating her enthusiasm, and her infectious laugh when we get to walk down Ben Yehuda Street (she loves funny-sounding words, and you gotta admit, that one sounds funny!).

It’s pulling a late night study session with the love of my life, as we both scramble to get all our homework done, balance all the challenges of life, encourage each other, pray together, and prop each other up, when we’re too tired to go any farther.

Finally, it’s about knowing that in all things, God has a plan, and this season I’m in is part of that plan. It’s easy for me to think about it as “preparing for something”, but I can’t lose sight of the fact that it’s just as much about the journey, and how I walk it, as the next destination. Maybe more important.

Stay tuned!!! I plan to be posting from Israel in a few days…

Technology 3, Greg 0

But it’s 4th and goal, I’ve got the ball on Technology’s 2 yard line, and there’s 17 seconds left in the 4th quarter. 2 tight-end set, and I’m going for 6, baby!

I’ve been fighting with the desktop at home for months now, then Wednesday my really cool Windows Mobile Phone (HTC Tilt, none of that feel-good iPhone junk–a real power-user’s phone!) had a hardware failure.

But, at 1:32 am Saturday morning, I’ve got my hard drive reformatted, with all my new software up and running (including my Zune software, so I can listen to podcasts again–and it WORKS!!!). Partitioned the hard drive so next time the OS goes south, I don’t have to remember where all the data is squirreled away (got all the really important stuff, but I lost my “favorites”).

And, I got a new phone–HTC Fuze. Tilt on STEROIDS!!! All the cool UI of the iPhone, plus real functionality, not just toys (but I can get toys too).

So, life’s good! What did we ever do before technology made our lives so much easier? We definitely got more sleep. I’m off to bed. Gotta get up in about 5 hours.

Sorry for the long delays with no posts. But, I’m baaacckkk!

Anybody else restless?

Unsettled? Feel like you’re doing a lot, but not doing what you need to be doing? Not sure what you should be doing, but pretty sure what you spend most of your time on isn’t it?

I thought at first it was just me, but in watching friends, co-workers, spouse, etc, it seems like we’re all busy, productive, and totally restless and unsettled with where we are.

I’m tired. I want to be purposefully busy, but not frazzled from an extended adrenaline rush that is my normal workday.

What about the rest of the world? Am I normal? Abnormal? Anybody figured out how to redirect this?

Part of the reason it’s been 5 days since my last post is that I can’t slow down long enough to think deep thoughts. I’d like to change that too.

Today wraps up our vacation at Disneyworld, which bills itself as “The Happiest Place on Earth” and the place “Where All Your Dreams Come True.” it’s neither. Don’t get me wrong…I had a great time, but it was because I was here with my wife and daughter. That’s my Happiest Place on Earth-where my family is.

This place also made me think. I posted earlier about the riches spent to build this place. It IS impressive. We’re watching the nighttime parade at the Magic Kingdom. The showmanship, attention to detail, and excellence exhibited by the Disney organization should inspire each of us in our own jobs. I know–we’d all work hard and settle for nothing less than excellence if we worked at Disneyworld. Wrong! Some of these tourists are NOT happy–they’re downright mean and angry! But the “cast” always responds cheerfully. I wish I always had that attitude at work.

The design and engineering are also amazing! If you pay attention, you notice all sorts of details that make this place beyond the ordinary. In Animal Kingdom, the concrete paths look like real dirt trails, right down to the boot prints and bike tracks formed into it. They do the little things with excellence, not just the big things.

However, in the end, the experience left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve wanted to go to Disneyworld since it opened. I imagined it to be magical. It’s not. It’s…nice. But for me, it’s turned into a metaphor for all the temporal things that we desire…Disneyworld as kids, and later cars, money, jobs, power, or prestige as adults. IF we ever attain them, we realize they aren’t all we imagined. We wind up unfulfilled. Like King Solomon said (a man who had it ALL by any measure of worldly success):

“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2

In the end, I agree with Solomon. Theres only one thing in this life that brings true fulfillment. If you don’t want to read his whole treatise on the emptiness of worldly success, you can skip to the ending, at Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Excuse me now while I watch the fireworks.

Communication thoughts…

Two quick thoughts before we head out for the day in Disney World. Both come from communications that I didn’t need to do, and could have very easily not initiated:

1) Talk about the uncomfortable things with the people that are really important. It’s much easier to bottle them up, and let them set. That’s how vinegar is made. It’s not going to be good for your long-term relationship, or for you.

2) Take the time to do those dumb little things for other people, even when you think it might be corny, or a waste of their time. God has a way of prompting YOU to do something that turns out to be what someone else needs, just when they need it. Most of the time, you don’t even get to know that you made a positive impact on that person at that particular time. Sometimes you do, if nothing else because they write you a note and let you know. So the next time God brings someone to mind for you to send a note to, or a gift, or just to call and say “hi, how’s it going?”, do it. You may be the difference in their day. And who knows–their note of “thanks” may be just what you needed to hear when you heard it.

Kinda cool how God works all that out in our lives, if we’re only willing to cooperate, huh?

Greetings from Disneyworld! We just arrived here after 2 days at a leadership conference in Orlando. The conference was an awesome opportunity to hear several great speakers discussing radical ideas to have influence in our changing world.

Four hour later i’m riding a monorail in a fantasyland. This is my first time here, and it’s overwhelming. Too many choices! We’ll be here for three and a half days, and there’s no way to experience it all. It’s hard to reconcile the news of unemployment, poverty, and suffering in our news today with the luxury and unlimited riches on display here. Two thoughts:

1) Americans in general have had it so good for so long that we (I’m certainly one in that “we”) don’t know what real poverty and suffering looks or feels like;

2) It’s hard to believe our economy’s in terrible shape when you see how much we spend on having fun. Or is that part of the cause of our economy’s terrible shape?