74 – Lay down Others’ Law with Others

At times, you will need to lay down the law. It’s never fun, especially when the law has been ignored. It makes people feel constricted and oppressed, no matter how valuable the law may be to people who obey it. Painting lines where we once roamed freely isn’t fun.

Some laws, however, should not be implemented. No man-made law anticipates every scenario, this is one reason for courts. The purpose which a law was written to achieve is the common question asked by every judge and debated by every lawyer. Once enforcement of a law serves against the initial purpose of the law, even a hard line judge will want to throw out the court case.

This is much more normal in legal courts than among friends, family, and corporate hierarchies.

Companies will often enforce their own rules long after they have out-served their purposes. Unbending parents will refuse to give circumstantial flexibility to their own rules, even under comparable circumstances that highway patrol would let someone off on a moving violation. Don’t be so rigid in enforcing rules that you rule yourself a fool.

Sometimes, the hard line law to lay down relates to basic respect to humanity. Those are the rules you should lay down everywhere you go. If a shop keeper insists that an old lady stand in the rain rather than in his store, step in and tell him that the lady will stand out of the rain and he will have to figure out a way to deal with it. If he is “only” a clerk fearing the wrath of his boss, tell him that his boss should fear your wrath if he doesn’t act with humane decency.

Lay down the law, mainly the humane.

Sometimes you must firmly stand for your own rights, even if you’re the old lady needing a dry place to stand. It could be password-only access or policies about giving information over the phone. Beneficial laws need enforcement for everyone’s sake.

You may need to enforce a “shoes off” policy, even in someone else’s house. We step on all kinds of filth and disease. As inconvenient as cleanliness is, somewhere shoes must be taken off.

73 – Dear Kid Part 2

Do these with others, then it will be easy to make sure others do these with you…

Whenever working with others, you must have these two mutual requirements:
1. You didn’t tell someone something until you tell them and they say it back to you. You don’t know what someone did until you ask them what they did. Even with 500 witnesses and 1,000 videos, ask first. If the person lies to you, then you found out the most important part.
2. Give everyone a second chance at something once or twice. After paying for a five million dollar mistake, firing the person is too expensive after investing so much in the person’s education. The price of a low turnover rate without constant rookie mistakes is that you must forgive enough to allow multiple second-chances.

…And, do these for two reasons:
1. This is what smart bosses and smart companies do. Those that don’t are easy to defeat in any arena, from sports to military to business.
2. Jesus commands it, forgiveness and healthy communication.

Indirect teaching is polite, allowing people time to learn on their own. But, indirection is never, never, never “communication” where one can expect another to have received the message. To expect understanding, one must be direct.

When working for hethens, you are only as good as your last mistake. When working for Jesus, your mistakes make you irreplaceable because of the expense on your education. Heathens often parade themselves as Christians, then inject this ideology into their fake “Christianity”, claiming Jesus while neither forgiving nor reconciling. Know it and don’t touch it. If you have been unforgiven, get out. God’s protecting you from heathens.

You never know what’s going to set people off. Just be humble, forgive, be forgiven, and keep relationships that have a history. If you’re expelled without warning, be thankful that God got you out before the building self-destructed.

You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person and you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person. If you are worthy, a smart boss or client will hire you. If you are worthy, but don’t get hired, then God is protecting you from something.

72 – God of Means

God could just open up the sky, reach through, and situate everything so it’s perfect. But, that’s no fun. Instead, God uses means—He works through people and through events in history.

God’s nature, that He works through means, relates to His patience. He’s not in as big of a hurry as we often presume we should be. But, in the End, we will see that everything happened as quickly as it possibly could have—all because of the means God chose to work through. This part of God’s character has great ramifications for our own.

Ronald Reagan was often considered a lazy president, merely because he was so effective at delegating. “If you want something to be done right, you’ve got to do it yourself,” is the motto of people who don’t get much done. Many things might have the appearance of “being done better” if God just bypassed us, decided we were useless, decided that nature doesn’t matter, and just positioned everything like a collection of inanimate toys—but we each too valuable for that.

God wants us to participate with Him as He does great and wondrous things. As you understand God as the God of Means, you will become a human of means. Then, the people in your life will no longer seem like obstacles in the way of perfection—those people will become more important than your projects just as you absorb the truth that you are God’s craftsmanship, among the greatest reasons why He uses you. God is not actually accomplishing the work you do through you so much as He is accomplishing your perfection by means of your participation in His work. God uses us as a means to achieve as a means of achieving us.

The Book of Esther never once mentions God, but His fingerprints are everywhere. Esther made the famous statement, “If I die, I die,” when she decided to risk death to save her people, all because her uncle Mordecai said that she may have been made queen for, “such a time as this.” That God is arguably best explained in the book that doesn’t even contain God’s name, but beautifully demonstrates His means.

71 – Dear Kid Part 1

Lessons to kids, perhaps yours, perhaps you, or perhaps the younger you whom you wish to tutor…

How to use an alarm: Get out of bed when it goes off.
How to use prayer: Do it.
How to use Bible: Same as prayer.
How to use a computer: Plug it in, same with appliances.
How to use a battery: Only if you must.
How to use money: Buy anything but happiness. Buying happiness will put you in debt.
How to get paid: Require it; for yourself to work and from others to pay you.
How to make friends: Be a friend.
How to be a friend: Do a good job.
How to do a good job: Do your own job.

Don’t “learn forever” from a single event in the past. Crazy stuff happens. Don’t “always be safe” from one freak accident that defied laws of physics. Don’t “never do that again” because a bad person got angry when you did something good. Don’t “never love again” when someone betrays your trust. Crazy things just happen at times. Only “learn forever” from things that indicate the normal flow of the universe. And, from the freak accidents, “learn forever” that freak accidents happen without explanation and we need to just keep going.

Don’t explain everything in too much detail. Say the general idea. Recognize the general idea when other’s say it. That’s enough for mature people. If it’s not enough for you, then get mature.

Always be closing. When you ask someone for something—a parent, customer, boss, employee, coworker, classmate, child, spouse, friend, enemy—and the person says, “Yes,” shut your mouth, take, “Yes,” for an answer, and start moving forward with what you asked for.

Don’t argue your point until people agree with you. Start with your conclusion, tip your hat to what your arguments might be, mature people will get it from there. If someone doesn’t understand that much, then they need a teacher, not a debate. Don’t fall into the trap of talking until everyone agrees with you. State your point, give reasons if asked, figure out who agrees and disagrees where, then act like an adult and move on while keeping friendships.

70 – ‘Biblical’ Morals

Morals are not explicitly “taught” in the Bible, they are implied. So, not listing them explicitly in the Bible does not mean they aren’t taught in the Bible. A “Biblically moral” worldview presumes and holds truths to be self-evident, among them: morality and the benefit thereof.

Enoch, Noah, Job, and Abraham were called “righteous” men, even before there was any moral code outlined in the Bible. This goes back to the Biblical idea of basic righteousness: using balanced scales—the same standard for oneself as for everyone. This includes morals about marriage.

In Egypt, Pharaoh wanted to respect Abraham’s marriage. There was no Biblical teaching about marriage and what it meant at that time—there never is a clear definition in the Bible of what marriage is. The way to get a “Biblical” definition of marriage is to look at Bible stories that presume marriage as already defined, where the Bible explains respect for that view of marriage. That is a “working definition” of marriage in the Bible, the only kind of definition there is.

All morals work this way in the Bible, even where specific actions are outlined, such as the Ten Commandments, or generic “evil deeds” described by John in his Gospel and in Revelation and other passages where immorality is frowned upon, but not defined.

God expects that we each already, generally know what is right and wrong. There might be some ambiguity in what God expects of us, though the simple rules of humility toward God and fairness toward each other can’t be mistaken. Some “morality” answers are admittedly fuzzy; some (never all) of those fuzzy answers God allows discretion of each person’s conscience.

Even with the ambiguity on some Biblical morals, nowhere does the Bible allow us to rewrite God’s morals nor does the Bible ever even suggest that morals are purely at the discretion of Mankind to create and alter.

But, never quibble over morals. Run with the people you agree with; respect those you disagree with. We must each answer to God for our own lives, never for other people’s. But, we will certainly answer for how we understand and practice morals, whether clearly presumed, defined, or fuzzy.

Genesis 12:10-20, John 3:19, Romans 2:1-16, 1 Corinthians 4:4; 10:29, Revelation 9:21; 16:11; 21:8; 22:14-15

69 – Might Is Right in the Long Run

It’s controversial to say that “might is right” because many have twisted perspectives both of “right” and of “might”.

Might is, in fact, right because God is God Almighty. He has all the power and is the strongest anywhere that is somewhere.

When we lose perspective of God being in control, we tend to freak out and become unethical. Someone overpowers us, then we start to play “dirty pool”, cut corners, tell white lies, hit below the belt… gossip. Godly people don’t allow themselves to do those things.

Without getting God’s permission first, the Accuser couldn’t have harmed Job. Job knew the very easy way to know whether God wanted a thing to happen: It happened.

God does not “win” all at once because He is waiting while we choose sides.  Maybe you should have acted, but you didn’t, so God did something else instead—just as He allowed you to not act.

For too many people, “might is right” only applies to “might in the moment“, thus twisting “might is right” into meaning “whoever can get away with whatever he wants in this small time and place is thus morally right”. Such is errant reasoning, reject it.

Never do something merely because you can get away with it in the moment. You may find that there is one stronger who will come along and exact retribution—and be able to get away with it because it is right.

All might is right, if we look at all time.

God brought justice to Israel through Samson merely because Samson was strong and did whatever he wanted. The Philistines hated Samson because every time they tried to play dirty games—usually involving killing people—Samson killed them instead. They didn’t hate Samson because he was unfair, but because his brute strength didn’t allow them to be unfair. So, they accused him of wanting to be unfair as they actually wanted.

Might can be meek, but never weak; and it always shows itself eventually. Strength in weakness is also strength. God is mighty and He is not unvirtuous for it.

Mightiness is a virtue. If you want to do rightly, then you must be mighty.

Judges 13-16, Job 1:1-2:10; 9:4; 26:14

68 – God the Restorer

Unless a seed dies it does not sprout.

When an adult first tells an idea to a child, the child seems to ignore it or even reject it. Actually, God—the Great Gardener—simply let the idea die so that it could grow. Before long, that child will be applying that idea, succeeding with it, and teaching it to others. When a child says, “No way!” he’s almost sure to get it.

You know this because you are that child.

You remember such times of loss and frustration. We wish we would have or could have—those are the times when God summoned our hearts to awaken. We spend the rest of our lives knowing what didn’t happen. Sometimes, we give up and try to prevent anyone else from doing what we didn’t do, just so we don’t feel like we missed out. Other times, we run through life beating our heads like inmates at the asylum, chanting that we “never – ever – let – that – happen – again”. This routine process of “wishing it were different” is more easily understood through the truth of dead seeds: All seeds are dead, which means they had to die.

Look at what God does in the Bible. Satan and his foolish comrades made a mess. God flooded Earth to restore it, now things are much better. Job lost everything, but God gave it all back twofold. Jews were enslaved in Egypt, then God led them to freedom and arguably the most fertile, accessible land on Earth. Ruth lost her husband and her mother-in-law also became a widow; God gave them a new family. Her great grandson, David, spent a decade hiding in caves from Saul, then God made him king. Israel sinned and was taken to Babylon, but God brought them back and rebuilt their Temple, then their walls in only fifty-two days. Jesus was crucified, but came back to life. Christianity was persecuted in its early days, but eventually celebrated. God restores lost crops.

But, if we consider how a seed must die, arguably, God set out to give us more starting from the very moment that everything was taken away. God has been restoring from before the beginning.

Job 8:6; 42:10, Joel 2:25, John 12:24

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.