One of my interests is reading about neuroscience and how the brain works. This title was especially captivating to me because I am right brained and was optimistic that this book would help me understand why my brain functions the way it does. While Pink’s book does deliver some basic information about both hemisphere’s of the brain, his work is more about how using both sides to move past the information age into the remainder of this century.
Most of the text on the right hemisphere of the brain is basic. For example,
The left side is sequential while the right side is simultaneous.
The left side is the 1,000 words while the right side is the picture.
The left side specializes in text while the right side specializes in context.
The left side handles what is said while the right side handles how it was said.
The left side is about attention to detail while the right side is the big picture.
The left side is analysis while the right side is about synthesis.
The left side thinks in categories while the right side thinks in relationships.
Ultimately, Pink writes, to be healthy you have to use both hemisphere’s.
Pink offers that the left hemisphere has led the way in our careers and our economy to date, however we are now seeing many of our jobs outsourced to people overseas who can do the same kind of work for pennies on the dollar. So how does the right hemisphere help us maintain our competitive edge? By developing six senses related to the right side of the brain.
It’s not just function, but also design that values both utility and significance.
2. It’s not just argument, but also story where we learn to fashion a compelling narrative.
3. It’s not just focus, but also symphony where we combine disparate pieces into an arresting new whole.
4. It’s not just logic, but also empathy that enters into what other’s see and feel.
5. It’s not just seriousness, but also play that adds value to what we know.
6. It’s not just accumulation, but also meaning so that we find purpose, transcendence and spiritual fulfillment.
Again, it’s not one engineers versus artists. It’s both/and.
I found Pink’s book to be interesting and very helpful. If you’re interested in this sort of stuff, perhaps you will too.
Within a few short hours Americans will make their way to their precincts to cast their ballot for the next President of the United States. I have not missed a presidential election since I became eligible to vote 35 years ago. At no time during my brief allotment of ballots have I sensed this level of anxiety among the electorate. This election has dominated both our television screens and our personal conversations. As I have listened to people I have become increasingly concerned with the observation that this high level of anxiety is no different among people of faith as those who do not have any religious leanings.
To the people of faith who may stumble upon this simple post, I offer the words of Old Testament King David, who penned these words:
“Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7, NLT)
On Wednesday, November 9, we will awaken to our alarms and discover that the sun has still risen. And more importantly, God will still be on his throne.
Back at the first of June we obtained one, female German Shepherd puppy. Needless to say, our summer has been busy, but limited. Puppies are a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. One of the things I’ve noticed about her is that she doesn’t care to be outside in the heat of day. Summers in Iowa are not renown for intense heat and humidity, but we have had several days of 100 degree heat indexes. On those days she immediately seeks shade when outdoors.
Shade is something that makes summer what it is. It is a place where we find rest from the heat of the noonday sun. There are times when we have to be in the sun, but its nice to have some shade available.
There isn’t really much about shade in the Bible, but recently I’ve been thinking of the story of the Exodus. When God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, he provided his presence and guidance through the form of a cloud. The fleeing children simply had to keep an eye on the cloud to know the path to the land of promise. Interestingly enough, the same thing that provide them with guidance also provided them comfort, for those who followed the cloud walked in its shade.
The same thing is true today. Following God provides some marvelous benefits, including his comfort. The more closely we walk with God, the more we sense his comfort. The Psalmist understood this principle far before I did. Psalm 121:5-8 says, “The Lord watches over you–the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.”
So next time you see a park bench under a shade tree, remember that the Lord is your spiritual shade, provide rest and refreshment from the noonday sun.
Barna Research has released it’s latest report, focused on the top 50 most generous cities in America. I am not surprised to find Des Moines/Ames ranks number seven on the list. The report shares two interesting insights from their findings.
First, four of the top five cities have a larger “downscale” population than an “upscale” population. Downscale is defined as those with a gross income of less than $20,000 per year who do not hold a college degree. Upscale is define as those with a gross income in excess of $75,000 who hold a college degree. This affirms what data has claimed for some time: wealth does not have a direct impact on generosity.
The second observation is that the majority of donations among the top 50 communities are directed toward churches and religious institutions. This insight is interesting to me given the general feeling that churches are continuing to cleave along the lines of the haves and have nots.
If you would like to read the full report or see the top 50 list in its entirety, you can find it at www.barna.org.
For the past five weeks I’ve been teaching on the Fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23. There are a variety of opinions on how the Holy Spirit develops this fruit in our lives. I’ve settled on the concept that the Fruit of the Spirit develops in progression.
For example, the first one in the list is love. That fruit is the baseline for all that follows. We begin by developing the fruit of love, and when that is in place, we then have access to the fruit of joy. Love plus joy yields peace, and upon those three we can then move toward patience. Once I have a handle on patience, I can then demonstrate kindness, followed by goodness, and so forth.
To understand it in reverse, you’ll never find a kind person who is not loving, or a person at peace who doesn’t have a measure of joy.
Because fruit is singular, we need to embrace the whole, not just the individual virtues listed by Paul. My grocery store has a salad bar that includes a large assortment of fresh fruit. I’m interested in the berries and the pineapple, but will always pass on fruit like kiwi. The Fruit of the Spirit doesn’t work that way. We can’t pick and choose joy and peace to the exclusion of patience and faithfulness. We begin with love and add to it one by one until we arrive at the final trait, self control.
If you want to evaluate your Christian maturity, don’t assess your gifts. Don’t bother to measure your ministry involvement. If you want to evaluate your maturity inspect your fruit! Tomorrow I’m beginning a new sermon series from Galatians 5:22-23, on The Fruit of the Spirit. I hope to share some thoughts throughout this series here on my blog!
Here’s the poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox that I recently shared at the Memorial Service of a member of our congregation. It’s titled, “Two Kinds of People.”
“There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Two kinds of people no more I say.
Not the good or the bad, for it’s well understood,
The good are half bad, the bad are half good.
Not the happy or sad, for in the swift-flying years,
Bring each man his laughter, each man his tears.
Not the rich or the poor, for to count a man’s wealth,
You must know the state of his conscience and health.
Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span,
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.
No! the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift, the people who lean.
Wherever you go you’ll find the world’s masses
Are ever divided into these two classes.
And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I mean,
There is only one lifter to twenty who lean.
In which class are you? Are you easing the load
Of the overtaxed lifters who toiled down the road?
Or are you a leaner who lets others bear,
Your portion of worry and labor and care?”
Here’s to a great day of living as a lifter!
“In his Pulitzer Prize winning book on leadership, James McGregor Burns offers advice to those faced with this dilemma: “No matter how strong the yearning for unanimity…(leaders) must settle for far less than universal affection… They must accept conflict. They must be willing an able to be unloved. The recognition that they will not be universally loved despite their best efforts may trouble leaders initially; however, once they come to accept that truth, it can be quite liberating.”
–from Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work, by Richard DuFour and Rebecca DuFour
Each of us have experienced the pain that comes into our hearts when someone we love passes from this life. We are too familiar with the experience of mourning: black clothes and black cars; hushed voices that whisper in solemn tones; flowers whose brilliant colors are drained as we view them through an endless flow of tears. It is hard to let go and hard to say goodbye.
The school bus drives down the street but no longer stops in front of the house.
Rush hour traffic dwindles into twilight, yet no car arrives in the driveway.
Busy feet rush through the back door, yet there is no kiss of welcome.
And worst of all, there’s an empty place at the table.
Death brings questions. We should not be surprised that there were questions raised surrounding the death of Jesus. Three such questions were offered at the dawn of the first Easter.
The first question was “Who will roll away the stone?” (Mark 16:3)
In rural areas of the country, many country folk have a simple tradition. One the calendar its called Memorial Day. But for an older, more agrarian culture its called Decoration Day. It’s a time when people got to modest cemeteries and place flowers on the headstones of friends and family. Those marble monuments, tombstones we call them, stand on bright green grass, freshly awakened from winter’s sleep. To the right, there is a stone that marks the separation of a husband and wife. To the left, a stone that marks the separation of a parent and child. Across the well measured row stands another that marks the separation of a friend who took the time to share the joys and sorrows of life.
When the body of Jesus was taken down, it was laid in a borrowed tomb. A stone was rolled across the entrance, symbolizing the separation of our Savior from his family and followers. As the women prepared to make their way to the garden tomb, they were well aware that a stone of separation would block the way. “Who will roll away the stone,” they asked?
And it’s a fair question for us even today. Who will roll away the stone, and end this great enemy of life? Is there anyone who can roll away the stone?
The second question offered was “Why seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:6)
Imagine that! The body of Jesus was missing! He had told them he would rise again, yet in their grief they are not thinking of the promises of God. They’re thinking of their present problem. A graveyard seems like an illogical place to look for life. It is a place representing the mortality of our lives. But if you pause and think for a moment, isn’t that exactly what so many are doing today?
Some seek meaning in life through relationships or in other people. Some seek purpose from obtaining a promotion or a position of prominence. Others seek life by obtaining possessions or acquiring enough wealth to secure their futures. For others still, life is best found through pleasure or some new experience.
Trying to find the meaning and purpose of life among these things is like seeking the living among the dead. It’s like sticking a plug into a dead outlet. It looks good, but there is no power. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. The problem is, they never were intended to deliver what we hope they will. We find ourselves bored and disappointed when they don’t deliver, and then it’s on to the next thing.
The final question was “Why are you weeping?” (John 20:11-13)
It’s interesting that this question was not asked on Friday.
On Good Friday, Jesus was
On Friday, it appeared as though all was lost. On Friday, there was bad news. There was suffering, death, sorrow and fear. Friday was the day for tears.
But the good news of Easter is that Jesus only needed the tomb for the weekend!
On the first day of the week, the one who laid his life down willingly took it back up again and rose victorious over sin, death and the grave! Jesus died our death so we could live his life forevermore!
Who will roll away the stone? God rolled away the stone, not so that Jesus could get out, but that the world could see in. That stone of separation was moved so that we would come to understand that our earthly separations are not final. They’re only temporary.
But what about the other questions? Are you seeking life among things that were never designed to deliver it? It’s always easier to see it in someone else that in ourselves.
Why are you weeping? We may weep in this life, but we do not weep as those who have no hope.
I recently received my copy of the National Congregations Study due to my participation in the process. The NCS was directed by Mark Chaves, Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity at Duke University. The study gathered information from 3,185 congregations from across the religious spectrum. What follows are some of the important results from the research.
1. The number of congregations claiming no denominational affiliation increased from 18% in 1998 to 24% in 2012.
2. White mainline congregations, and the people in those congregations, are older than the congregations and people of other religious traditions.
3. Most congregations are small but most people are in large congregations. The average congregation is getting smaller, but the average church goer attends a larger congregation.
4. People in smaller congregations give more money to their churches than do people in larger congregations.
5. Worship services have become more informal and expressive.
6. 10% of church goers worship in a multi-site congregation.
7. American solo or senior pastoral leaders are more ethnically diverse and older, but not more female than they were in 1998.
8.Food assistance is by far the most common kind of social service actively pursued by congregations, with more than half listing food assistance among their four most important social service programs.
9. 13% of all congregations are led by a volunteer solo or senior pastor.
10. Women could, in principle, serve as a senior or solo pastoral leaders in 58% of American congregations. However, only 11% of those same congregations have a woman serving as a solo or senior pastor.
What do you think? Any surprises?