40 – God the Creator & Craftsman

God made everything. He created us as open, blank canvases, each with a free will. Our very will to love or hate God is among the things He created. He also created the stars and everything in the universe, all through His Word.

Plants, animals, and even landscapes were not manufactured, they were crafted. Just as a painter expresses emotion on the canvas, so does God continue to weave His thoughts, personality traits, and emotions into Creation. In many ways, though not all, we can learn about God’s nature by looking at the nature He crafted. For the rest, we must study His Word.

The intricate, fine artistry throughout Creation—from the galactic level to the microscopic—all reflects God’s handiwork. The identifiable yet unique properties of species also show His artistry. No two leaves in all of history are ever identical, yet we can clearly identify a tree by its leaves. Leaves grow today, then whither; God continues crafting, so can we.

We as God’s Image reflect His nature as the great Craftsman. We find Creation to be beautiful because in Creation we find an archetype of ourselves on some level. By looking at Creation, we read messages of love and hope from a Creative Craftsman God who is very present even when we cannot feel Him.

Few things are as inspiring for our own innovation as Creation. God is the source of all innovation and diligent craft. Inspiration is one reason some people enjoy individual sports like motorcycle riding, light aircraft piloting, sailing, surfing, skiing, wake boarding, skate boarding, show boarding, hunting, fishing, running, hiking, and golf. Harnessing the forces of nature while enjoying nature on a grand scale inspires us.

Craftsmanship originated with our Creator. By having any craft of our own, we understand more about God because craftsmanship is the mastery of yet one more attribute of God reflected in our own immutable character. By understanding nature through the Bible’s explanation of God, and by understanding God through His own craftsmanship, we gain the best insight as good craftsmen ourselves. Even mundane diligence in craftsmanship helps us to touch His heart.

Among God’s many fitting titles, He is our Master Craftsman.

Proverbs 3:19-20, John 1:1-3, Ephesians 2:10

39 – Look Before You Leap

There is a time for quick action, but good judgment in short order requires experience and thoughtful reflection.

In driving, we look left before turning right, yet we must always hone our ability to judge time and distance. Safety and speed go together.

Do your homework and consider your options.

Don’t blindly enter politics without having become familiar with the usual boilerplate “fools wisdom” other politicians will give you, globally known as “capitol district fever”. Don’t enter the fashion industry without first walking the floor of a clothing factory and sample office; don’t get your clothing through international trade unless everyone on the floor of that factory spoke a language you couldn’t. And, never travel to another country without at least researching general travel advisories well in advance; if you can get duplicate copies of your vital documents, get triples as well.

I have met numerous Westerners traveling in Asia who were stuck at an airport all night or couldn’t stay as long as they had hoped, all because they did what the airline told them rather then checking travel document requirements for themselves, then double checking twice more. I have yet to meet one person in the world who regrets having known more than was needed ahead of time, no matter what the task.

Many people will belittle you for doing diligence before the deadline. Take a good look at their lives; they don’t have the results you want and they have many problems that you don’t want. The only reason “average” addicts will give you a hard time for running the risk of learning too much is that they “don’t do things that way”. To them, it doesn’t matter if they have the results they want, they only want to maintain their habits, no matter how disappointing.

When someone tells you that you don’t need to look carefully before clearing every intersection, just say, “I’ll send you flowers if I can’t visit you in the hospital myself.”

Firstborns in particular like to wait and research indefinitely before making a decision. But, you can’t anticipate every problem. At some point you must leap and pray for Heaven’s favor, just pack your parachute properly first.

Proverbs 16:1-3

38 – Trying to Be by Trying to Grow

Size and strength come from decisions and practices. These things don’t merely fall down from the sky. Even Samson had supernatural strength because he obeyed certain Nazarite promises to God and lost his strength when he did not.

Don’t be the fool who thinks he will be strong by acting strong. Don’t be the other fool who thinks he will be strong by lifting heavy weights for hours at the gym. By not also using small weights to strengthen the inner balancing muscles around his joints, he will develop muscle conditions that make it impossible for him to use his big muscles at all.

External results flow from growth inside, not merely mimicking results shown on the surface.

Many wealthy and powerful people have subtle habits and practices which are the main causes behind their wealth and power. They know what these habits are, some of them include making unpopular decisions, prioritizing the bigger picture, asking before judging, abandoning pet projects and distractions, obnoxiously high and “impossible” standards, and pushing past the comfort zone to finalize every task.

Unfortunately, people who lack skill, wealth, and influence, yet also covet and disdain people with skill, wealth, and influence, will belittle the virtues and habits that build up skill, wealth, and influence.

“That’s just a different opinion,” they say, or, “I don’t agree,” as if it is a “mere” matter of opinion without an effective difference. It is obvious that someone disagrees with the methods of people who have different results. But, saying so is considered “rude” by the masses while people striving to better themselves appreciate the benefit of truth candidly told.

Biblically called “sowing and reaping”, this principle applies to everyone: artists, managers, athletes, innovators, engineers, pilots, Bible students, even family members—any discipline.

Everything takes more time than we instinctively feel it should. Healthy growth requires us to continue past the point of discomfort, where it feels like “too much”, then keep going. “Poking it with a stick” at a comfortable distance won’t get real results; though many people, marked by mediocrity, think it will.

While God determines the style and nature of our paths, inner decisions account for our growth and progress.

Judges 13-16, Isaiah 44:14, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Galatians 6:7-8

37 – Words Have Power

Words gain their power because of their effect on the mind.

We have three main ways of communicating ideas into the mind: sight, touch, and audio. When we speak, we use two; when we read aloud we use all three.

When writing, we see our words and feel them written through our fingers. In speaking, we feel what we say through our mouths and hear our words with our ears. When we read aloud, we also see the words, thus using all three inputs. This is one reason punishing a student by writing a sentence multiple times can be effective. Usually those students will whisper the words while writing them, even without knowing.

Whatever you say, write, and even type is sent back into your brain through at least two communication methods. This has the effect of self-programming.

You program your mind with your words, whether spoken, written, or even typed.

In Freakonomics, Steven Levitt explores whether a child’s name can have power. Two children were given somewhat negative names and they lived negative lives. But, incidentally, two brothers less than a year apart were named “Winner” and “Loser”, respectively. Winner became a failure and Loser became a big success. While Levitt argues that this defuses the theory of names making a difference in the life of children, I argue that it shows the power of words spoken.

What is the one name you are likely to say more than your own—other than your brother’s who is less than a year different in age?

The Bible is also clear about the power of the tongue, not only of humans, but also of God the Creator. All Creation was made through the Word of God, Jesus is the Word made flesh to deliver us of our sinful situation, the Bible is the Word of God. As the Image of God, it only makes sense that our words also have power of some kind.

Cursing and fowl language are mainly matters of word power. Whether words have supernatural power is moot. Words evidently affect us all. Whether we harness or neglect our tongues, the results will show in our lives. Watch your words; train your tongue.

Proverbs 6:2, James 3:2-12

36 – Mundane Diligence

Every skill has its non-glorifying, earthy, unspiritual routines that are essential to excellence. Don’t belittle them. Don’t think less of them. God considers them as your way of praising Him because God likes nice things.

There is much in the world that, if forgotten, the world would fall into decay. Regular, boring, daily rounds—even laundry—keep the world turning. That’s part of what God wants for us on Earth.

In the sense that practice makes perfect—or better said by better coaches practice makes permanent—the mundane errands of life train us in what it means that God is not only the Author and Creator, He is also the Sustainer. In computer coding terms, we might call God the Maintainer.

Doing laundry, washing your feed for thousands of hours over your life, commuting to work—these things teach us valuable wisdom that we might never fully know about until the afterlife. In a sense “restrooms” were appropriately named. Martin Luther had his “evangelical breakthrough” in the sixteenth century while sitting on the toilet. That reformed Europe.

Praise Jesus for poop!

It’s fascinating that I was already scheduled to write this now, which turned out to be “laundry day”. There is laundry on my floor, cooling as I type. Going to rotate the laundry—a philosophy topic all to itself—though frustrating, gave me reflection time to improve what I write here. It always does. Laundry is a “necessary disruption”, such as the “necessary disrupters” who keep a company profitable—the ones whom “team-oriented” leaders like to downsize.

In a business sense, there is money to be made in the mundane. This is one reason so many people remain poor. One of the best moneymaking ventures is in money itself: banking. Consider coffee, toilet paper, soap, groceries, stationary, first aid—some of the most profitable business sectors don’t require much innovation at all, just a knack for monotony well done.

If you hope to have progress, you can’t let monotonous chores overpower your day. Always read something that will improve your character, one reason daily Bible is vital. Schedule more difficult tasks first, but don’t curse maintenance. Maintenance on Earth is characteristic of the divine.

Genesis 8:20-22, Job 38:33-37, Psalm 36:6, Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3, 2 Peter 3:7

35 – Earth Will Be Full of the Knowledge of God

When Jesus reigns on Earth, whatever the truth is—whatever things our theology was right about or wrong—all people will know God truly, without need for anyone to teach them. That’s one of the main reasons life will be, in so many words, “Heaven,” except that it will be Heaven on Earth, literally.

Even in the ages after Earth, everyone will understand the structures and systems of society. There won’t be political divides because both the needs and the ways to meet those needs will be widely know to everyone. When society is full of knowledge about God, that changes everything.

We’re not there yet, thankfully.

Even without sin, society must slowly learn about God. We can’t just have God come down, open the skies above everyone’s house, and download all truth. That would reduce us to minions. We must study and learn, ponder and work, in order to understand God.

Once all human society is filled with that knowledge about God, it won’t be from any download; it will be from our experience and from having seen Jesus face-to-face and having real fellowship with those who have done the same.

Learning comes from our own choice to do so, even in the next life. For all Eternity, we will never stop learning and God will never run out of things for us to learn about Him. So, in this sense, part of experiencing “Heaven on Earth” even now—of entering into Eternal Life even during this current, brief life—includes being students of theology—students of the knowledge of God. This begins with fearing only Him and nothing else, loving Him more than anyone or anything else, and pondering clear truths about love and self-sacrifice for others, from the smallest to the greatest circumstances of our daily lives.

Everything in your life—everything—was allowed or introduced by God as part of helping you learn about life, yourself, others, and—central to all knowledge—learning about Him. Look for His reflections—His fingerprints—in the world around you. Knowledge of God, after all, will abound in Eternal Heaven, but it is just as relevant and accessible here, in the world right around us.

34 – The Least of These

Jesus said, “When you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.”

The world is full of people who only help people whom they think can help them in return. This is not godly thinking. In a worldview of Biblical morals, helping everyone is helping Jesus because Jesus died to help everyone.

With good Bible hermeneutics we know the Greek way of expression, just as we have sayings in English and any other language. Jesus did not mean, “only unto the least of these,” but the idea is, “even unto the least of these.” We know this for two easy reasons up front, in addition to familiarity with how people talk in the New Testament: First, it’s hard to prove in court that Jesus meant only, second, he didn’t define “least”. “Least of these” has a Greek grammar conundrum. In English we would say, “the lowest of people,” which is still undefined.

Jesus means that no matter who we help or don’t help, he sees all and no self-sacrificial deed goes unnoticed.

Some of the “least of these” includes very wealthy people whom the masses are rude toward. Never show favoritism to anyone, neither for being poor and underprivileged nor for being rich and overprivileged. Jesus died for all people and he wants you to help all people he died for.

In that process, love knows when to be “tough” and let people do their own work. There is dignity in doing things ourselves, not taking handouts, and working to right problems we made for others.

One of my high school teachers had printed on the wall, “Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” That teacher’s wisdom helped a lot of students, all of them in fact.

Befriending the friendless includes giving harsh advice.

Doing what is right cannot possibly conflict, by definition. Whatever is good for others is always good for you and vice versa; if you think otherwise then you misunderstand justice.

Help all people, sometimes by not helping or not encouraging or not “positively” drawing attention to embarrassment. Don’t just dump money either. Actually help—across the board—all people.

Matthew 25:31-46

33 – Rest & Sabbath

God commanded through Moses that we shall “remember” the Sabbath and keep it “holy” or “separate”.

God created the Sabbath day—Saturday, the seventh day of the week—as a day of rest. He Himself rested on this day after creating Earth. This set a precedent for Man, His Image, to rest.

Any day will do as long as you rest and remember God’s original Sabbath.

Rest is vital for any discipline. Proper rest is half of any training process. During times of rest, our bodies rebuild tired muscles—that’s when they actually become stronger.

Just as muscles need rest from exercise, our bodies need rest from labor and our minds need rest from work, especially creative arts and sciences. During rest, our bodies continue alternative forms of work and recovery, but something similar happens with our creative minds.

Our subconscious minds process our cognitive thoughts and deliver conclusions, but this happens only with things we aren’t actively thinking about. Time away from work leads to those “gut feelings” or “ahha!” moments where the solution to a problem suddenly snaps into mind. That’s because we never actually “stop thinking” about anything, we only “shift” between active and passive thinking—or conscious and subconscious thinking.

If you want inspiration, learn to shift your thoughts between active and passive. Prepare, understand, research, gather, toggle, get your bearings, and otherwise download as much data and experience into your active thinking while you work. Then, go play or think about something completely different. When you do, all that information will continue being processed elsewhere in your mind and whenever your mind finds a conclusion it will send you the results—just the results and only the results.

Nothing shifts thinking like a good, Biblical Sabbath day of rest. Any creative craftsman needs such a day. It’s not necessarily a day to roll around in bed all day, though that might not be a bad idea. The important part is to break your tiring daily routine. Whatever sums up the work of your week, take one day to rest from it and make sure you sleep well. A Biblical Sabbath makes the rest of your work ten times as effective.

Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 16:22-30; 20:8-11, Mark 2:27-28, Romans 14:5-6, Hebrews 4:9-11

32 – You Get What You See

Everything starts in the mind. Our plans, our goals, our directions—all we accomplish begins by what we envision in the  mind’s eye.

It’s impossible to climb over a wall that you have convinced yourself you can’t climb over.

Many people take this type of wisdom one of two wrong ways. Either they claim that we can truly climb over every wall in the universe merely by thinking we can or they claim that is what we are claiming. The problem here is practical: We can’t do whatever-the-heck we whimsically feel like, but we can’t do anything at all if we believe we can’t do anything at all.

There’s a lot more we can do than we give ourselves credit for. In all fairness, there’s also a lot we can’t do that we probably don’t know we can’t do. Pessimists especially think themselves “pragmatists”, but they also attempt things they don’t know they can’t do, such as trying to be happy by overspending, all while thinking they don’t need to learn healthy “success oriented” habits first.

Know your limits and your strengths; make neither artificial nor false. Don’t say you can’t when you can. Don’t say you can without getting your mind right first. And, for Heaven’s and Earth’s sakes both, please don’t decide that you can do what-the-heck-ever without proper preparation or with enough preparation. There are some things no one can do, but don’t overuse that truth.

Not all, but most of our problems come from some boundary we limit ourselves with. Don’t just work hard; also evaluate your progress to ensure you work smarter every day. We need both hard and smart work; each day is new.

Take time to educate and familiarize yourself with your goals. Consider that your goals might not be best, but the goals behind the goals behind the goals could point you in a better direction that you will be more happy with. Do your homework, then envision the path all the way to the end.

Watch your language, eradicate negative speech. What you say reinforces and rewrites what you think. Whatever you end up with—whatever you have even now—began with what you already saw.

Proverbs 23:7

31 – Don’t Sell-Out

Your values, ethics, personal standards—the moral code by which you live your life—must never be for sale.

If you decide that you should improve your morals and standards, that may or may not be necessary, and that is a different discussion altogether. But, when the cost of keeping your moral code becomes high, you will discover whether you have a price tag on your forehead announcing for how much you can be purchased.

Keeping one’s moral code includes personal dignity, but not only. To sell-out ones morals is more than about dignity, it’s about the foundation of good judgment, wisdom, and the conscientious compass by which decisions are oriented.

There is something magical about holding to one’s ethical code. It solidifies behavior, reliability, methodology, and character. In some way, people will be able to predict your actions, which isn’t always preferable. But, in other, more important ways, keeping your moral code will make it impossible for corrupt people to ever understand you, let alone predict you.

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. But, if you stand for something, someone else will come riding along in white night to bring you aid that wouldn’t have been possible had you not stayed and made your stand.

There was a tale of Christians escaping persecution from China’s secular government. Two Chinese policemen stopped them and asked if they were Christian. “Yes,” they said honestly. “Good,” the two policemen replied, “We’re coming with you and we will help you because we want to get out of here ourselves.”

When you know that you are not alone—that there are other people in the ecosystem of humanity—that you depend on others and that others depend on you—that what you do can have serious effect on others, for better or worse—you will more easily make your stand and keep your watch.

The big picture is vital, but with a moral code we only need to know that morals belong to the big picture. If you maintain a moral code from above and you keep that code, you don’t need to know the specific plans of others, yet you will help others without knowing.