67 – Fathered and Fatherless Act Like It

Children who do not grow up with healthy, balanced oversight of good instruction in the home will show it in the things that they don’t know and no propaganda will convince the facts otherwise.

Children missing a parent can quickly develop an “I don’t need that parent” life motto. It’s not a logical or scientific conclusion, but an emotional coping mechanism to invalidate the self-invalidation they invent every day. Not having a parent doesn’t make someone invalid in itself; it shows up in one’s lifestyle.

An eight year old who doesn’t know how to tie his shoes probably has too much pampering at home and school. A ten year old who ties his shoes incorrectly likely has parents who just don’t care.

A high schooler who doesn’t respond to text messages is announcing to all his friends, “Hey, my parents yell at me all the time, so I ignore what everyone says just to cope with it.” The junior higher who can’t agree to go to the movies next weekend—time and again—is likewise broadcasting, “My parents interrupt my life constantly, thereby erasing my concept that ‘tomorrow exists’.” When their friends call them out on it, they act indignant and accuse everyone of making up complaints from their “dream worlds”. They make their own parents look bad in the eyes of the student body and everyone sees it but them, especially their teachers.

School carries into the workplace.

I have a saying, “Beware of people with hyphenated last names; they haven’t resolved their loyalties.” In Chinese it holds for four-character names, rather than than the usual three-. No judging, they may be great people, but strange formats make work for others and begs questions about one’s upbringing.

Everyone has family problems. If you’ve outgrown yours, but have a strange name format from the fallout, take counsel and review a legal name change. The process may be therapeutic. Alternatively, artists often take additional middle names or file a legal DBA/pseudonym.

Whatever “baggage” you may carry, ditch it. Everyone else sees it but you, don’t act otherwise. What happens at home shows in the world, especially when you’re offended by other people’s reaction to your conduct.

66 – Temptation

God does not tempt people nor can temptation have any sway with Him. This is important to consider when understanding both God and temptation. They are incompatible. God would never consider turning to the Darkness because He is Light. Things just don’t work that way.

Temptation to sin comes to everyone. It even happened to Jesus when he went to the desert to pray before starting his public ministry. This was possible because Jesus existed as a human in the flesh; the Father was not tempted nor the Holy Spirit. Temptation can only be done to flesh, with or without a sin nature from Adam.

The Bible is silent on whether Satan continued tempting Jesus after that, but it is a good bet that Satan did not suddenly wise up and end his futile efforts when Jesus was baptized.

Being tempted does not make you any kind of bad person. God does not count it against us for being tempted. Often times, God allows Satan and his demons to tempt us to sin, merely to “test” and thus strengthen us. If the Devil gives you a test, keep it; don’t give in to temptation.

During times of temptation, we might be able to call on Jesus’ name to make the temptation stop, especially if it is from a concerted demonic attack. But, sometimes that doesn’t work.

Temptation may be so strong that it takes hours or even years to resist. But usually, this kind of temptation only happens when we have been involved in that tempted sin for a long time and we are breaking free of the old, bad habits related to it.

Resisting temptation eventually makes the temptation stop. It will return, but less and less frequently. If you don’t give in, demons just won’t see you as a worth-while target.

There are two main things we can do about temptation: prepare and resist.

It’s not if, it’s when temptation comes your way. Read your Bible often. Pray often. Praise Jesus and tell him that you love him often. Focusing on God’s goodness will strengthen you. In the midst of temptation, do the same. Temptation’s appeal weakens the stronger your life in God.

Luke 4:1-13, 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:12-15

65 – Leaders Are Strong and Tough

Leaders must make tough decisions, which means leaders must be tough.

If there is a department in an organization or a child in the family who makes trouble for others—whether through passive-aggression, overt bullying, absenteeism, poor quality work, or otherwise—the leader with the power to intervene must intervene. If the leader does not intervene, then the troublemaker will make more and more trouble, making the leader an indirect—but nonetheless real—endorse of the trouble maker.

Having the “power” to intervene and stop a troublemaker does not mean that a leader has the emotional trust of the organization or a 50%+ popularity rating—it only means having the legal right to raise the issue and address the matter. If a peer has the right to raise his hand at a meeting, that peer could initiate discussion to stop the troublemaker.

Of course, a “troublemaker” must be defined as someone who actually makes trouble, not someone who irritates lazy and incompetent teammates while doing good work. Many talented people are mislabeled as troublemakers when they are the only competent people on a team. “Not playing well with others” is the lowest priority in labeling a troublemaker.

…And a good leader must know this.

By being strong, everyone will interact with a strong person when they interact with the leader. This will make everyone else’s skin a little thicker, their spines stronger, and the talented person who smells funny and talks out of turn won’t be so irritating. It’s the leader’s responsibility to set that tone.

A strong leader will talk frankly and harshly at times, get irritated into ranting and raising his tone of voice. Whether a man or woman, loud or soft -spoken, each leader has his own style of “strength” and must follow that style, but still be strong. A leader who is weak and calls it “style” is not only weak, but an excuse-maker.

Sometimes people need to be fired or downsized. Children need proper, calculated spankings to stop fights among siblings. Peers need to be told truth from others.

The tough leader will be feared at times, but will thus be trusted as a safe protector during the toughest of times.

64 – God the Mighty to Save

God loves to save us!

When Israel came out of Egypt, God utterly crushed the crux of Satan worship in that day—Egypt and their phony religion of human sacrifices. Often, God would remind Israel, “I brought you out of Egypt.” This is a reminder for all who study the Bible.

Whatever adversary you face, look to how God helped Israel get out of Egypt. Ten times Pharaoh got a sound spanking from God, but he still wouldn’t learn. God told Moses that He wanted to harden Pharaoh’s heart just so that he could decimate that evil empire. Pharaoh made the choice himself to reject God, relegating to God the choice of how much to harden Pharaoh’s heart.

God allows evil to mount up so He can out-show and out-do everything and everyone. Those times when God comes to the rescue we utterly know in our hearts that He is supreme over everything. Of course, we easily forget, which is why God tells us to study the Bible daily and why He so often reminds Israel to remember what He did in Egypt—what He did to Egypt.

When you know that God is stronger than your enemies, you will fear no one except the God you know loves you. He knows how much you need to be reminded of this. So, he sets up foolish enemies in your lane—He put them there like bowling pins to bowl right through. The whole time, God is not worried one bit. He laughs at your enemies and celebrates just the though of you. God comes with wrath and laughter, not the least bit worried, not shaken in the least.

You must build up your knowledge about God Who Is Mighty to Save before the day of your trouble. The swelling waves will scare you to pray if you have not been praying enough. God sends adversaries and troubles for your benefit. Those times are scary, they build character, you will almost surely wet your pants the first few times, but you will only go into all-out panic mode if you have neglected your daily life in Bible and prayer. Prepare yourself; study the God Who Saves.

Exodus 1-17, Psalm 37, Zephaniah 3:17

63 – Opening Bid Is Final Offer

If you can change your mind after hours of negotiation, then you started without knowing what you wanted—and you owe the other party a consulting fee for the vision mapping session.

Auctions are institutionalized, meant to sell a vast number of good to a vast number of people at publicly agreed prices in quick order. Usually these are for liquidation, fundraising, and government contracts. You are not overstocked nor damaged goods nor are you an overpriced trinket from a charity banquet—do not establish your price as if you were. Governments are the exception.

Pay the highest price you’re willing. Give people what they’re worth and don’t attempt less. If the other party does, walk away right away.

When you offer to join a team, set your ceiling at the outset and don’t go above it. If you say, “Four hours is all I can do that day,” and the person gives reasons why you should give five, they need help with vision and mission. Explain it, “You’ve got too much at stake and seem to be over-budget. I’m a four-hour guy, you need a five-hour guy, and you need to either talk to your accounting department to get a budget for the right guy or talk with your visioning team about a four-hour plan.”

The “Trump” negotiation tactic was well-demonstrated throughout his life, even his presidency: Make the opening offer “hugely” outrageous, then “come to your senses” and ask for what you wanted in the first place. That’s for dealing with parties who don’t know what they want. When people open with that outlandish offer, I go straight to “vision” mode.

The same applies against delphi method and managed conversation.

Many people ask my permission to cancel appointments. I tell them the same, “It’s not my choice. Just figure out your schedule, then call me.”

I once made an ethics-related suggestion to an itinerant speaker about his content. He gave his propaganda-couched excuse, adding, “…if that’s okay with you.” I answered, “It’s not my choice,” and made him own his. That speaker just stood speechless.

Never “negotiate”. Either host an auction, plan a strategy meeting, or act unilateral-friendly so you never pressure others.

62 – Literature of the Bible

Understanding the Bible is much easier if you know the types of genre. Knowing genre, you can quickly identify the specific genre you are reading and know what to expect from it.

Much of the Bible is narrative. This simply records actions and events, neither condemning nor condoning any of what actually happens. The important thing to remember in narrative, as with any other type of genre, is the first time a word or event occurs. If a similar word or event shows up later, both events will have a kind of connection, whether a parallel or contrast. When reading events, take note of the smallest details.

The genealogy genre is easily belittled. Genesis has some genealogy. Genealogies often have small events inserted, highlighting things a person did or did not do. These can be significant. To Jewish culture, a genealogy was also important to confirm which tribe someone came from.

Law is seen much in the second part of Exodus, as well as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. While other “laws” appear elsewhere—such as God’s instructions to Joshua for invasion—Exodus sets the template for the genre. Laws were specific to Israel, mainly before Jesus. But, we can still learn from them and following many parts of Moses’ Law can be beneficial. The important truths about laws are that Jesus completed the laws for sacrifices and that Jesus interprets Moses’ Law more clearly than anyone else. Look at the Jerusalem Council in Acts and also Hebrews for apostolic commentary on the Law.

Poetry fully comprises Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentation, but poetry also appears in other Bible passages. By familiarizing yourself with these books of poetry, you will understand poetry in other books of the Bible.

Figures of speech can appear anywhere in the Bible. Know them in your native language, then you will recognize them in the Bible. Label language as “figurative” only with good reason, never favoring a contradictory interpretation.

Prophecy and visions pop up everywhere, containing both figurative and literal language. Interpreting these requires time and never finishes. Begin with Daniel and Revelation.

The Gospels and Acts are ancient journalism. The rest of the New Testament is correspondence.

61 – If Someone Gives You a Test, Keep It

Don’t let people toy with you. This is about respecting yourself. Cultivate a reputation that people who want toys will become toys if they try to play with you.

Of course, there is a time for fun and it is good chivalry to be hardy in friendship and jest in the staff lounge. But, at work and with truth, you are not a toy.

I once had a friend irritated at my self-confidence. So, he lied to me, and invented a false claim to attempt to disprove me—”just to see what I would do” as he explained five minutes later. And, he found out what I would do. I have never had a meaningful conversation with him since.

If someone plays “devil’s advocate” with you, treat him like the devil’s advocate: Send him to Hell; make the conversation painful enough that he wished it would end. Call him “Satan” and tell him to get out of your way before you trip; that’s what Jesus did when Peter played.

The easiest way to combat someone who makes up tests just to toy with you is to take them absolutely seriously all the way to the end. This works much like shoving the stick farther into the dog’s mouth to make him want to release it, or grabbing the punch that comes your way and pulling the arm to keep it going.

As you progress in your life, people will criticize you and, when that doesn’t work, they will invent hypotheticals, all the while hoping to offer you some kind of “benefit”.

Real situations need real facts to treat them. Take all hypotheticals seriously: “That’s a hypothetical and I won’t speculate on it. And, frankly you shouldn’t ask me to.”

“But, what if you were talking to someone else?” they protest.

Practice these words: “I’m talking to you and you should be present with me.”

Whenever someone calls you a name, wear it like armor. Quote it everywhere, never let them forget the nickname they made for you.

If someone decides to become your self-appointed examiner and give you a test, take it, but don’t give it back. Whatever anyone gives you becomes your permanent property.

60 – God the Patient

God is not slow, though in our short attention span it can seem like He has forgotten all about us.

God is above all of our circumstances, though He is also in those circumstances with us. The Bible teaches that God is “near to the broken-hearted”. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died. Having lived and suffered on Earth, Jesus knows our situation. Yet, Jesus remains beyond the ability for our circumstances to destroy him.

God can stand and observe our situation without limit, not because He doesn’t see or doesn’t care, but because He is strong enough to be patient. He doesn’t need to quickly finish so He can go sleep or grab a snack or visit the WC.

As a child I asked why we need Satan. Now, I have finally come to understand that God will never get rid of Satan—we will. God is patiently waiting until that time, preparing us for that time.

Many people have not yet worked out whether they like Satan. They say they want to do good, but then they go do something stupid. People complain about corruption in government and business, but then they go and do morally corrupt things in their families and among Chistian friends. God asks us the same question every day, “Why do you allow evil in your world? Are you ready to get rid of it yet?” Once we get resolved on our answer, God will give us the tools to put Satan and his servants into the fire forever. But, we aren’t there yet. We’re still making up our minds, so it seems.

Every day, try to at least act like you have made up your mind about getting rid of Satan. Do what is good, make the world around you a little better, let your life be a reason for people to make up their minds about God.

While we take our time and sort out which way is up and down, God will be there, patiently watching, patiently nudging us in the right direction, and, when necessary, patiently giving us a catastrophe here or there to help turn our short attention spans back toward His everlasting patience.

59 – If You Spank Them, You Must Hold Them

God made each child with certain talents and abilities. We naturally hunger for those things God made us able to do best. We discover those talents and abilities by sniffing them down through the nose of our desire for them. It is a thrilling mystery every time, for every person, for all of everyone’s life.

As children it’s easier to see, but it repeats throughout life: We misbehave when we have lost the scent trail in pursuit of our inborn talents.

A child who was born to be an entertainer will seek attention in all the wrong ways—especially if his quiet, orderly family denies him positive, proper, and constructive attention. Of course, the child also may lack practice with peers, but that’s a separate, related discussion. Then, there is proper discipline to explain the boundaries of respect and accepting the things that we cannot change.

People who grow up to be disrespectful probably were not disciplined when they were children to accept whatever things they cannot change.

When we hunger for love and healthy attention, our need is love and healthy attention, not discipline and correction. But, when we just don’t want to accept things that we cannot change, that’s when we need a swift, immediate, firm, well-explained, hand-on-skin, redness gone in thirty minutes, and, in all other ways, proper spanking—so that chasing the wind loses its pleasure. Neglected grownups don’t know whether children need love or discipline nor do they know the difference between discipline and beating.

Accepting what we can’t change is hard. Sometimes the entertaining child needs to practice being quiet in the presence of others—sometimes, not every minute spent at home. Those moments are difficult for everyone, especially the child. As much as the spanking hurts, it’s harder to let go of what earned us the spanking in the first place.

It’s hard to accept that we can’t change things we don’t like. Life isn’t fair. That’s one of the things we can’t change, so we must accept that unfairness will exist somewhere within our universe.

We get to be that child at times. God is right to spank us because He always holds us while we cry.

58 – Humanity: the Non-Omnipotent, Non-Omnipresent, Non-Omniscient

There is great power in knowing what you are not. Know your limits. Know what you can do, be confident in your actual abilities, but do not overstate them. Know the line that your abilities cannot cross.

Part of our broken “sin nature” that comes from Adam’s choice combines itself with the nature that we remain the Image of God. In a sense, it almost makes us get a feline complex—where we reinterpret reality to presume that everything centers around us. We sneeze just before lightning and thus conclude we caused it. Someone gives us an inch and we think ourselves to be rulers.

We are the Image of the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient God—all powerful, everywhere present, all knowing—, but we do not have those specific qualities, but our sin nature presumes that we do.

Part of good theology includes that those qualities are unique to God—He is the Almighty, which means that we are not. Everyone will face the sin nature’s tendency to forget what we are not every day of our lives. The more you get in touch with what you are not, the less you will try to do things that you cannot do, the less you will be offended at results that can’t be, the less you will waste what time and energies you have, the more you will focus on whatever things you can do. Once you focus solely on things within your ability, you will find yourself accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks.

Arguably, this is the key to efficiency: Only attempt what is possible.

There are many things that may seem impossible, but that presumes that we will try methods that fail or that only God can use. If we stay within our limits and only use the powers we have, many purported “impossibilities” will become easy. As for those things we truly can’t do, by knowing that only God can achieve them, He is more likely to achieve them through us, all the same achieving what is impossible without God. So, there is no benefit in telling someone what cannot be done, but only in who we are not and what only God does through us.

Job 38-42, Micah 6:8