A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

“Be Good for Goodness’ Sake” the Atheists’ Pitfall

Doy Moyer got me thinking

Last week, Doy Moyer, had an outstanding post about a couple of new campaigns by atheists to evangelize their anti-God faith. He pointed out  how contradictory and illogical this is because they want to talk about being good, but they have no standard for goodness. Who gets to decide what is good? Them? Me? I’m guessing they wouldn’t want me to be the standard of goodness.

This post got me thinking. There is an even more fundamental problem with this philosophy coming from atheists. Please understand, I too believe we should be good for goodness’ sake. I hunger and thirst for righteousness and do not simply want to be good so God won’t slap my hand or so I can get a reward in the end. I want to be good because I want to be good. Frankly, I’m glad to hear atheists do also. 

Atheists’ have the same problem Christians do

The big problem is atheists face the same downfall I do. We have botched it and continue to botch it. I’m guessing every atheist, though he hates to hear his feelings so accurately expressed in the Bible, knows the exact feeling Paul expressed in Romans 7:15-24:

“…I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am? Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (ESV).

Of course, I recognize atheists don’t believe in “the law of God” and therefore don’t have an objective standard of goodness. However, I’m sure each one has a personal standard of goodness. Whatever the standard, atheists who actually want to be good hit the same wall Christians hit. They want to be good. They have decided to be good. They long to be good. But they keep doing what they hate. Perhaps they decided they would quit coveting as Paul had decided. But they just keep going back to it. Perhaps they said they would stop their angry outbursts, but they just keep blowing up. Perhaps they said they would quit being arrogant, but their pride keeps rearing its ugly head.

Like Christians, they want to be good and they want to do it because being good is the right thing to do. Like Christians, they just can’t pull it off. They keep falling short at being completely good. Thus, they fuss at themselves and may even despair.

The Christians’ answer and the atheists despair

When Paul uttered his despairing cry, “Wretched man that I am? Who will deliver me from this body of death?” He had an answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

The sad part for the atheists who finally have the courageous honesty to admit they just can’t reach their goodness goal is they have no answer to this dilemma. “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” All that comes back is eery silence. Or perhaps they say, “Me. I’ll do it.” But wait, didn’t you get you in this mess your in? What makes you think it will be any different tomorrow? Go ahead, keep relying on your own reserves of strength. Keep researching your own weakness and pain. When you finally get to the point of despair and the pain is finally too great, then perhaps you can turn to Paul’s answer. Once you finally run out of faith in yourself, maybe, just maybe you can start having some faith in God because if you will surrender to Him, He will deliver you. As you grow in Him, you will become good for goodness’ sake. It will take time. It is about progress, not perfection. But in God, there is hope and He is waiting for you, giving you time to realize He is where your hope for being good for goodness’ sake really is.

So, for my part, I hope atheists keep pressing their “good for goodness’ sake” campaign. Sooner or later that will drive them to despair. Then because they have increased their desire and hunger for goodness, some of them will begin to realize they can only accomplish their goal if they surrender themselves to God.

Christians need to learn this too

Of course and sadly, there are many Christians that need to learn this lesson as well. If we are seeking goodness as a means to merely avoid hell or be rewarded with heaven, we will likely fall short. That leads to a legalistic approach of trying to figure how much is enough and what are the rules to help earn your way to the reward. That simply won’t cut it. Instead, if you want to be good because you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will learn you can’t make it unless you just surrender to God. Then you will be seeking God’s way, not to earn your way out of hell or into heaven, but rather to simply be like God recognizing God’s way works.

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November 17, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Atheism, surrender, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Delivering Well-Crafted Targeted Feedback (from Ken Blanchard Companies)

blanchard_ken

Last week we talked about how to grow from the negative feedback we sometimes receive. Coincidentally, I received the Ken Blanchard Companies’ Ignite newsletter in my e-mail this week. One article looked at the other side of this. How to give great feedback. Check out the article below.

Blanchard is the author or co-author of several books such as Leading at a Higher Level: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations, Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service and The One Minute Manager.

For more info, you can find the article in its original format here. Make sure to check out the information about a free webinar on giving and receiving feedback.

 

Delivering Well-Crafted, Targeted Feedback

Employees need specific and descriptive feedback if they are going to master a skill or achieve a goal. But this type of one-to-one feedback is in short supply in most organizations. The reason is two-fold. First, managers avoid giving feedback because they do not have a clear process to follow, and second, they are concerned that without such a process the conversation might be perceived as evaluative and judgmental. The result is hesitation on the part of the manager that results in the feedback session never occurring.

“The opportunity loss is tremendous,” explains Susan Fowler, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. “We know from the research that if someone does not get feedback, they are not going to grow. If they get feedback that is ill-delivered or ill-defined, then their performance can even decline. The only way we see a dependable increase in performance is when a person gets well-crafted, targeted feedback in a timely fashion.”

Providing good feedback does not occur naturally or by default. To provide effective feedback, leaders must learn, develop, and cultivate very specific conversational skills.

For Fowler, that means that managers—or anyone trying to help develop another person’s skills—

appreciate the importance of effective feedback; understand their personal motives, agenda, and responsibility for giving feedback; and know when and how to give the various types of feedback.

Start with Some Self-Examination

For managers looking to improve their feedback skills, Fowler recommends starting with a couple of self-directed questions. In her experience, many managers get off on the wrong foot because they focus more on their own needs than the needs of the person receiving the feedback.

As she explains, “I think that oftentimes, sadly, the feedback that we do give to people is based on our own need to be seen as an expert or to control the environment.”

To address this, Fowler recommends that managers ask themselves, “Is this my need to give this feedback or am I giving this feedback because the other person’s performance will actually benefit as a result of it?”

“You really have to understand whose need it is,” Fowler explains. “Start with understanding your role with the individual. Whether it is your spouse, your child, someone you manage, a coworker, or a peer, ask yourself, ‘What is my role here? What context am I in? Is it appropriate for me to give feedback? If it is appropriate, what is my purpose?'”

Match the Feedback to the Desired Outcomes

Once a manager is clear on the purpose of the feedback, the next step is to provide the type of feedback that will best meet the needs of the recipient. There are two main types of feedback—

personalized and pure. Both can work well, as long as they are matched correctly to the needs of the employee.

Personalized feedback is the type that most managers are familiar with. This is judgmental information (either positive or negative) about past performance designed to encourage or extinguish future behavior. It takes the form of either praise, when used to recognize positive behavior, or re-direction, when used to discourage negative behavior.

Pure feedback is a new concept for most managers. It is feedback that is descriptive, objective, factual, and nonjudgmental. This kind of feedback allows the receiver to decide what to do with it. It is most appropriate when the goal of a manager is to develop an independent person who can judge for themselves how they are doing—

to give themselves feedback.

Feedback Builds Relationships

The research says that people appreciate and respond positively to well-crafted feedback. It improves performance and helps people sustain higher levels of performance. From an organization’s point of view, that’s why you want managers who are skillful at giving feedback.

But feedback also builds mutual trust and individual respect that results in greater interpersonal relationships.

As Fowler explains, “At the end of the day, when you have given someone feedback that is in context, informative, and not judgmental, and that helps them improve, you’ve demonstrated that you care about them. It is a wonderful way to demonstrate caring.”

Managers obviously have to be role models. They have to be giving the kind of feedback that they themselves want to get—

not only from their managers but also from their direct reports.

“Giving effective feedback takes work,” says Fowler. “You have to do homework. You have to gather the data. You have to plan it. You have to deliver it authentically. But when you do, it is servant leadership in action.”

November 6, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Giving Feedback, Growth, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trina Discovers Chocolate OR Why I Should Never Be Left Alone to Watch the Kids

There I was, minding my own business, doing my work, updating my blogs. When it dawned on me. Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be watching the kids. Why can’t I hear Trina (my 10 month old)? I guess I better go look for her. Lucky for me, she is apparently not allergic to peanuts.

Check out what happened.

Maybe Marita won’t leave me alone with the kids anymore.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Fun, My Family, Raising Kids, Uncategorized, Videos | , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Survive

I know this one has been around for a while but every once in a while I have to find it just for kicks.

Enjoy.

October 17, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Fun, Uncategorized, Videos | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meaningful Together Time (an excerpt)

Built by the Lord

Check out the book today!

If you didn’t read last week’s A Springboard for Your Family Life, check it out for the first part of this chapter on “Keeping the Family Together.” Click the link below.

The Great American Struggle

Meaningful Together Time

let me make one thing perfectly clear. To my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with any of the activities mentioned in the previous section in and of themselves. The answer to the problem is not necessarily to end all extra-curricular activities (though some may take that approach). The point is, with so many opportunities waiting to take each family member away from the family unit, we have to be on our guard to preserve family togetherness.

There is only one way to do this. We must carve out and schedule meaningful family together time. Further, we must not buy into the modern mumbo-jumbo saying, “It’s about quality time not quantity time.” There is not a single person out there who can teach us how to prefab quality time into fifteen minute chunks no matter how many books you by with questions to stimulate “meaningful” conversation. Quality time is the result of quantity time. There is no way around that.

Deuteronomy 6:7 provides some interesting insight to quality time. I recognize this passage talks about the Israelites passing the Law on to their children. We typically use this passage, rightly so, to discuss passing the gospel on to ours. However, let’s look at it from a broader base. the verse says, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

These Israelites were able to have quality time, passing the Law to their children because they spent time sitting together in the house and walking together in the way. They had time together when they got up and before they went to bed. do we take that kind of time together with our families?

We need to make time for the whole family to sit together in the house. Meal time is a great time for this. However, there ought to be other times as well. By time together, I do not mean time in the same house, but each in separate rooms. There needs to be time when all the televisions and computers are turned off, when all the phones are in the cradles and Mom, Dad and the kids are together.

Many of us wonder, “What on earth is there to do if we have turned off the tv and computers?” Read a book together and discuss what happens. Visit with one another the same way you would if you had company. Discuss what has happened in your individual lives that day. Ask each other for advice. Confide in each other. Play games together. A lot of life’s lessons can be passed along over a game of Yahtzee or dominoes.

let me encourage you to resist the urge to make all of your family time movie time. Watching television is always an individual activity no matter who you are sitting next to. Each person is individually interacting with what is on the screen. No one is interacting with each other. When you do have movie time as a family time, make sure to discuss the movie together afterwards. What did you learn from it? What were your favorite parts? What were you least favorite? What did you think when so and so said such and such? And so on.

Of course, as Deuteronomy 6:7 directly states, you need to study God’s word together and teach God’s word. Look at the book of Proverbs. The whole book is a parent’s recognition he has to teach his children. Do not think sermons and Bible classes are enough to teach your kids to be faithful Christians. They are not and God never intended them to be.

Along these same lines, the next time you go to a group Bible study, prayer time or singing, have your kids stay and be involved. Don’t send them off to the play room, tacitly teaching them that spiritual things are too big for them. Even if they do not get to say anything or ask any questions, what a great opportunity your kids will have to hear adults discuss the Bible and how it impacts their lives.

One more opportunity for together time is working together. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons we do not have time with family that our Bible counterparts had. Why did Mom and Dad have the ability to walk in the way with their children? They were going to the same places. When Mom was walking to the river with the clothes, little Susie was walking with her. When Dad was walking to the fields to plow, little Billy was walking with him.

We live in a different work culture. It is well nigh impossible to go back to that kind of work culture and I doubt any of us really want to. However, we need to figure out ways to work together as a family. Get the kids involved in yard work. Have them help you clean the house. Go together to someone who has a need and work together meeting the need. Visit the sick and shut-in together. Talk with each other as you walk in these ways. I guarantee you, the more of this time you spend together, the more quality moments you will rack up.

There is one more way the Old Testament demonstrated for producing family togetherness. In the Old Testament, we see memorials that set the Israelites apart as a group and prompted time to pass their faith along to their children. Consider passages like Exodus 12:25-27. God established an annual memorial to pas on Israel’s identity as His special people. When the family observed the Passover together every year, the children would eventually ask about it. There was quality time that came out of quantity time.

Certainly, it is good for you to have memorials of spiritual significance. However, we can broaden this concept, realizing family traditions provide family togetherness prompting quality time and meaningful interaction. Those traditions, whether they surround holidays, birthdays or any other aspect of family life, will provide a marker, causing your family to identify with one another.

Family traditions do not have to be anything out of this world. I know one family whose tradition is what they call “worm cakes.” It is essentially a bundt cake cut in half and pieced together to look like a worm. then it is decorated with colored icing. Oreos are crushed up to provide dirt. It is given jelly bean or M & M eyes. They might lay gummy worms around it to be its friends. Sometimes they use licorice sticks to make hair. Each one is decorated differently. These cakes were used on birthdays, holidays, special events. Amazingly enough these little cakes became so important, when this family’s two sons got married, guess what kind of cake they wanted for their groom’s cake. That’s right–a worm cake. Not much, just a family tradition providing great memories and togetherness.

Check out next Tuesday’s A Springboard for Your Family Life to finish up this little series from Built by the Lord as we examine how churches should act to help promote family together time.

October 14, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Family Time, parenting, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

4 Lies of Raising a Princess

This past weekend, I had the great fortune of taking my wonderful 11-year-old daughter to Orlando, Florida for the Fathers of Faith and Daughters of Excellence retreat led by a great father of two daughters, Frederic Gray. It was a great experience. We stayed at the Doubletree Castle hotel, kicking off the weekend with a daddy/daughter banquet, listening to several great presentations about the role of the Father in raising excellent Daughters and also the role of the Daughter in heeding the advice of the Father.

Tessa and I had a great time. After scheduled events were over on Friday evening, we continued our own little daddy/daughter date and played a game of miniature golf. Of course, I thought that was great because I stomped her socks off. Then we crossed the street to Friendly’s and had a really good but really expensive chocolate shake. I also learned that sometimes even 11-year-olds snore. That was amazing.

I got a lot of good things out of the weekend and I think Tessa did as well. But one concept really jumped out at me. Frederic commented on the modern lies of raising a princess. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying boycott Disney or that it is a sin to watch their movies. I’m simply saying we need to consider some of the messages with which we may be training our little girls and never even know it. Consider just a few. You can probably give some thought to it and think of some more. These lies are expressed below as they are told to our little girls in these movies.

Lie #1

I can defy my father’s advice and direction and follow the impulses of my emotions and in the end everything will work out alright. After all love should be my guide when pursuing prince charming.

Truth: Hey, I know dads can sometimes be mistaken. But lets get real. A 40 to 50 year-old father knows a lot more about the way the world works and a lot more about 18 to 25 year-old boys than daughters do. Further, Hollywood and Disney aside, the American landscape is littered with broken homes because daughters were guided by the emotional infatuation they confused with real love and married someone despite the good advice of their parents.

Lie #2

I can find my prince charming by one night of dancing with a stranger.

Truth: Real love is not an emotional fit when a man walks into the room or places his arms around you. Real love is knowing a person intimately, knowing his strengths, weaknesses, flaws, personality, past, goals, etc. and then devoting your life to complement his. Real love is not an emotion that is out of your control. Love is an action that is your choice. You can certainly find a man who will thrill your soul for a while just by looking into his eyes on the dance floor. But you can’t possibly find a man you are sure you want to commit yourself to unconditionally or even know that he is worthy of such commitment that way.

Lie #3

If I love a monster enough, he’ll eventually change into prince charming.

Truth: Once again, the American landscape is littered with broken homes because young ladies were certain that the guy they were dating who was rude, inconsiderate, irresponsible and sometimes even cruel would change over time as she just loved him enough. Don’t get me wrong, people can change. But, daughters, you can’t change them. They can only do that themselves. Pay attention to the way your “prince charming” treats his mother and his sisters. That is how he’ll treat you and you are not likely to change it. Pay attention to how he treats you while you’re dating. If he is cruel, sarcastic, degrading, objectifying and condescending now, it will probably only get worse when you’re married to him. If you are only an object with which to make out or try to have *** **** while you are dating, you will not suddenly become a person with hopes and dreams in his eyes once you are married. Pay attention to his work ethic and his discipline while you are dating. If he is a bum who is mooching off his parents while you’re dating, he won’t suddenly become Mr. Responsible once kids come on the scene. Look, I know people change. I have changed over the years. But don’t buy the lie that you can change someone. 

Lie #4

The most important thing in life is true love’s kiss from prince charming.

Truth: Physical intimacy is a great part of a committed relationship. Sadly, most folks today think physical intimacy is the goal of every relationship. That just isn’t so. The goal of relationships is completeness, wholeness. The goal is to find someone who complements and therefore completes you. You can’t figure that out if you’re merely focusing on his lips. I don’t know how many married couples I’ve spoken with or tried to counsel who claim they married someone they didn’t really know because when they started dating, all they did was make-out. I’m not at the point where I’ll call it a sin to kiss someone to whom you aren’t married. I might get there, but I’m not there yet. However, to be honest, I wish I had never kissed anyone but my wife. All the physical intimacy I ever had with girls before I got married only served to mess up the joy of the physical intimacy I want with my wife. They all became obstacles I’ve had to overcome so “true love’s kiss” could actually be something special. In any event, get this in its proper order. Physical intimacy is not the goal of our relationships. Physical intimacy is the celebration of one very special relationship that is already in it is proper and committed place. Get the commitment, the union, the completion down and then let physical intimacy celebrate that. Then you’ll really have your prince charming and then true love’s kiss can be very special and exciting. But if you’re trying to find prince charming by seeing what kind of kisser he is, you’re only looking for trouble.

I’m sure you can think of more. I may bring up more in a later post. But Dads, I hope you’re getting the picture. Again, I’m not saying boycott princess movies by Disney. But be aware and use them as opportunities to talk about the difference between fantasy and reality. There is a reason those stories are called fairy tales.

ELC

 

September 30, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Daughters, Fathers, Raising Kids, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pride Goes Before a Fall

I’m taking a brief break from my series on what I have learned about preparing for temptation simply to provide this helpful reminder that pride goes before a fall.

I certainly hope this guy learns from his life.

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Just Plain Fun, Uncategorized, Videos | , , , | 1 Comment