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Archive for September, 2010

 A Briton, a Frenchman, and a Russian are viewing a painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:

“Look at their reserve, their calm,” muses the Brit.   “They must be British.”

“Nonsense,” the Frenchman disagrees.  “They’re naked, and so beautiful.  Clearly, they are French.”

“No clothes, no shelter,” the Russian points out, “they have only an apple to eat, and they’re being told this is paradise.   They are Russian.”

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think?   Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?   This question has important implications for politics, law and religion. *

If you have ever studied a language other than your own, you quickly realize that it is more than just replacing words in English or another native tongue with words from a second language.    Differences exist in grammar, verb tense, male and female, punctuation, and the like.   Some languages read left to right, others right to left, and some top to bottom.  While some of the Germanic languages translate fairly easily into English that can be understood without much explanation, the same cannot be said for Asian languages and others.    

I tried this recently with something in Japanese that I found on the internet.      I won’t say much more than that, except the subject of the sentence was a character that I have grown familiar with over the years.    🙂      Suffice to say, the computer translation of Japanese to English made little, if any, sense to me.     A friend and coworker from China who often blogs and “tweets’ (another language, or dialect, all its own) in Mandarin Chinese had a brief (140 character limit) post on Twitter.     Curious, I ran it thru the web translator, and all I could make out was something about young people and bomb.    After asking this friend for a fuller translation, I got a page or so of text outlining the thoughts more fully in English.   It was entirely different in thought and meaning to the original.    I was definitely lost in the translation.

A lot of things were lost at Babel, but much was gained as well.   The challenge for us is to overcome the differences, thereby enhancing the richness of our relationships.     It has been said that to learn another language is to look thru a window into the soul of a country and its people.      I have experienced this, both as an exchange student with a family in Europe, and with spending time in our home with friends of my oldest daughter who are from different countries in the Asian world.      Did you know that we count age differently in the western world versus some eastern nations?     In some lands, the measuring of age begins at conception, not at the actual date of birth from the mother.    There is a life lesson for western societies even in that small difference of communication and thought.         Context, character, emotion, and intellect (as in how we count and add) are impacted by the language that we speak; the language that we think in.      Clearly there seems to be a pattern to how we think that is influenced by our language, or is it that our language is influenced by how we think?     The premise goes far to potentially help us understand why we feel so different from those of other lands.     Why do we fight?    Why do we fear?     How can we learn to trust?

This is indeed the great Social Network.      Find friends.    Make your request.     Update your status.    Learn to think like others, take a walk in their shoes, and learn to love them where they are.       Science has shown that all of us, every one, can trace back to the same original DNA strands, that being our friends Adam and Eve.     And yet, we look, act, think, communicate, and fear in different ways.    

 We can thank the ambition and sin of those at Babel for that.

It looks like that Apple in the painting above is Orange/Red.     Clearly Adam and Eve were “house divided” Bedlam fans from Oklahoma; they just did not have the official NCAA gear to prove it.

*footnote: This question was recently addressed in an article by Lera Boroditsky of Stanford University that was reviewed in the International Management class that I am currently auditing at OC.

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Zuckerberg.    Andreesen.    John.    Three kids; each named Mark, albeit with different spellings covering multiple languages (English, Greek, and computer), and in at least two eras, but arguably three.       Each has helped to change the world, and there is more to come,so long as time continues.

Mark Zuckerberg is all the rage in the media these days.    The subject of the new upcoming move “The Social Network”, I could not get thru a Sunday today without hearing about him in both a CBS news feature piece and a sermon at our church.    Reportedly a not so nice guy, he has helped to change the world in this modern era.

Somewhere around the age of 20, Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room in 2004. The idea for Facebook came from school traditions of publishing an annual student directory with headshot photos of students, faculty and staff.   For 2010, Facebook has now reached the 500 million-user mark.

Marc Andreesen worked in the early 1990’s with a team at the University of Illinois that had recently developed the World Wide Web.    (and you thought that Al Gore had invented it).   After two months of 80-hour weeks in the computer lab, living on chocolate chip cookies and milk, Andreessen and his team churned out a graphical browser called Mosaic, which used pictures and mouse clicks to navigate through information. The team gave the Mosaic browser away free, and before long, some two million people were using it and the name was changed to Netscape.     When Netscape went public in August 1995, the 24-year-old programmer found himself worth $56 million on paper.    Not so much of a “playa” in the internet space in 2010, Andreesen helped define and change the world in the mid 1990’s.

Mark, John Mark, is the person who wrote the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament.     A cousin of the missionary Barnabas and travelling companion to Paul, little is known of Mark as a person.   He is called “John” in three of the texts of the New Testament (Acts 12:12,25; 13:5,13; 15:37). The early Christians gathered at his family’s house in Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey as far as Perga in Pamphylia. The last mention of Mark is in the Acts when it is noted that he journeyed to Cyprus with Barnabas.

Mark’s closest relationship seems to have been with Peter. Peter sends Mark greetings in his first letter (5:13), and Papias, a 2nd-century Christian writer, states that Mark copied down the words of Peter and thus composed the Gospel that carries his name. As far as can be judged from the testimony of Christian writers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Mark composed his Gospel in Greek some time between A.D. 63 and 70.  If, as has been surmised, Peter was one important source for Mark’s Gospel, and if the assigned date of composition is correct, it is possible that Mark accompanied Peter to Rome, going on from there after Peter’s death.  It is not known how or where Mark finished his life. The Egyptian Church claimed Mark as its founder and patron saint. Another tradition associates Mark with Aquileia in northern Italy.  (this paragraph courtesy of wikipedia)

What’s the link up between these young men, centuries removed from one another, you say?      Well, even in 2010, Christianity remains one of the dominate beliefs and religions in the world, and Mark was instrumental in spreading the word to the Gentiles thru his travels and his specific gospel account found in the New Testament.   By the way, when we say Gentiles, we’re talking about most of the world, minus Jews and the nation of Israel.  That most likely includes you, as well as me.  A pretty large group to influence for almost 2,000 years, don’t you think?    Certainlysounds bigger than “the Facebook” in it’s present form.

Without Andreesen, who’s to say the internet would look, feel, or function anything like it does today?    Netscape and icon based “surfing” and programing were start of the art, and help drive everything we see today.    And without that, suffice to say, there probably would be no “Facebook“.      I would argue that our current technology and information era has the potential to change the world as much as other major historical developments like the printing press, the industrial revolution, the advent of flight, and man’s journey to space.

How we communicate and relate is forever changed.    It’s the world wide web, and “the Facebook” is global and in multiple languages.     Of the 300+ “friends” I am connected with on FB, a dozen or more do not live in the United States.

Where is the application for us in 2010?    This is a historical opportunity.    We now say “The World is Flat”, and probably has been no more so since the Tower of Babel, when all was “lost in translation”.    Effort and emotion is necessary to promote richness in relationships whether face to face and next door, or over the web and thousands of miles away.     As Christians, this is an opportunity like few others before.     In this era of “the Blogosphere“, we have a voice, and others are listening, from all over the world.

Speak up.     Share your story.      Improve your relationship “status”.      Help change the world.    Make your own “mark“.

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Lyric vault moment celebrating a great day. May you have a blessed Sunday, you and yours. Enjoy a rich relationship today with our Creator and Redeemer.

Hope is here, shout the news to everyone
It’s a new day, peace has come, Jesus saves
Mercy triumphs at the cross
Love is come to rescue us, Jesus saves

Hope is here what a joyful noise we’ll make
As we join with heaven’s song
To let all the world know that Jesus saves
Raise a shout to let all the world know that Jesus saves

Free at last, every debt has been repaid
Broken hearts can be remade, Jesus saves
Sing above the storms of life, sing through the darkest night
Jesus saves

Free at last, what a joyful noise we’ll make
As we join with heaven’s song
To let all the world know that Jesus saves
Raise a shout to let all the world know that Jesus saves

We’ll sing it out to let all the world know
That Jesus saves
Raise a shout to let all the world know
That Jesus saves

You save, you heal, restore, reveal
Your Father’s heart to us
You rose to raise us from the grave

Your spirit lives in us

Sing it out to let all the world know
That Jesus saves
Raise a shout to let all the world know that
Jesus saves

Shout it out to let all the world know
That Jesus saves
Raise a shout to let all the world know that
Jesus saves

Sing it out to let all the world know
That Jesus saves
Raise a shout to let all the world know
That Jesus saves

Oh, sing it out and shout ’til the whole world knows his name
(Jesus saves)
Sing it out and shout for we will know your name
(Jesus saves)

Jeremy Camp

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I’m likely going to have to apologize to a small army of folks for this one, but here goes.     As referenced earlier, this weekend featured a long overdue catchup visit with an old college buddy, and as you can guess, the photo album came out and the memories ran deep.

The picture here on the left got quite a bit of attention from the kids during the visit, and even an, “oh, Dad, yuck”.   But that’s just it, appearances can be deceiving.

If my teenage son had commented, instead of his twin sister, he might have said something like “wow, Dad, you were a playa“.     (playa, colloquial spelling of “player”, as in the context of dating)  I think it might have been Confucius who said “If you have to define it, you are not one”.    Touche.    Appearance (or first impression) can be deceiving.   You’ve got to go deeper.

Friday of last week, I accompanied my kids to the local high school football game.    Ever the parental creeper, I was keeping an eye on what “the boys” were doing on the hill adjacent to the end zone.      Seems this rat pack was attracting a crowd.    I thought to myself, “hey, my son is a playa“.   But as the gaggle of young ladies in the picture to the right swarmed in around the young men, a very interesting thing happened.     The young ladies sat down, and all of the boys got up and left.    Appearances can be deceiving, but I digress.

So back to the lead picture.   What gives?    Well, you see, this was a university business club trip.    My friend and roommate and I were preparing to leave for the airport to return home after a fun week in Los Angeles with friends, and my friend suggested he take my picture by the hotel lobby sculpture.    That picture follows here.  Bus as he was taking the picture, this “gaggle” of young ladies walked into the lobby where we were sitting.     “Take our picture, too”, was the cry.      You have to remember the context: in this era before digital photography and instant viewing and sharing, we didn’t take very many pictures.    Film, it was called film; and developing.    It could get expensive, and it took time.    But I digress.     Appearances aside, these nice young ladies were friends and acquaintances, and a couple of them are even Facebook friends today (at least, before this post, that is)  but we were not that close before the trip, nor after.    Appearances can be deceiving.       Sorry, Judy, Laura, Krista, and Tanya.   Thanks for the fun picture, and the blog  application 23 years later.

Proverbs 20:8 says “When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence,
      distinguishing the bad from the good.

So, what’s the application here from this “sea of randomness” this morning?     It’s simply this:   let’s not be too quick to read, rule judgement, and react when we see things in our everyday life.    When you read that email, when you have that stress moment conversation at the home or at the office, or you get what feels like a curt brush off in the hallway at church, think about what might be going on in the background.    How is that person’s day, week, or year?     What is happening in their life?    what is happening in the interactions that go on between the two of you?      Do you need to work on the richness of your relationship?

So, back to the lead question?    Are you a playa?   Am I?     Relationshipwise, that is…

You see, not too many months after this original picture was taken, I met and cemented a rich relationship with the lovely young lady pictured below.    Thank you, Sherry, for not just going by appearances.

When I met my future father in law the first time, he called me a wolf in sheep’s clothing.    Months later, after he’d gotten to know me, he said I was a sheep in wolf’s clothing.    Touche?

But we’ve formed a rich relationship, not just my wife and I, but my father in law and I as well.    And I definitely earned the great prize, 21 years and counting.

Who knows, maybe I was a playa after all….appearances can be deceiving.

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Does anyone remember that classic 80’s Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short movie,    The Three Amigos?     It was a cult classic favorite of my roommates and I in the OC apartments back in the day.

As one of those fine gentlemen is on campus this weekend with his family, considering starting a second generation of OC Eagles from the great state of California (imagining it pronounced, as our friend from the image left could only do), I have recalled some classic thoughts from this movie.   

The best, of course, is the image of El Guapo.   Spanish for “The Handsome One”, this dude was anything but.     Villan, buffoon, and all around nasty guy, he was the bane of our hero’s existence.

As Steve Martin recited in that classic late movie soliloquy: “You know, we all have our own El Guapo’s to face.   For some, shyness might be their El Guapo.   For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo.    For us, El Guapo is a mean, ugly, dangerous guy who wants to kill us”.

So what’s your “El Guapo”?    What’s mine?      Fear?    Disease?     Regret?    Debt?     Anxiety?   Unemployment?      Guilt?    Exhaustion?       Anger and Resentment?       Or is it just a mean angry guy that wants to kill you?      Let’s hope not.

 Psalm 91: 1-7:

 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
       will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 

 I will say  of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
       my God, in whom I trust.”

  Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
       and from the deadly pestilence.

  He will cover you with his feathers,
       and under his wings you will find refuge;
       his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

  You will not fear the terror of night,
       nor the arrow that flies by day,

  nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
       nor the plague that destroys at midday.

 A thousand may fall at your side,
       ten thousand at your right hand,
       but it will not come near you.

So, what’s holding us back?    What do we fear?    Nothing?     “Good.  Neither does El Guapo“.     🙂

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You put me here for a reason
You have a mission for me
You knew my name and You called it
Long before I learned to breathe

Sometimes I feel disappointed
By the way I spend my time
How can I further Your kingdom
When I’m so wrapped up in mine

In a Blink of an eye that is when
I’ll be closer to You than I’ve ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I’ll embrace every moment I’m given
There’s a reason I’m alive for a blink of an eye

And though I’m living a good life
Can my life be something great?
I have to answer the question
Before it’s too late

Cause in a Blink of an eye that is when
I’ll be closer to You than I’ve ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I’ll embrace every moment I’m given
There’s a reason I’m alive for a blink of an eye

If I give the very best of me
That becomes my legacy
So tell me what am I waiting for?
What am I waiting for?

In a Blink of an eye that is when
I’ll be closer to You than I’ve ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I’ll embrace every moment I’m given

In a Blink of an eye that is when
I’ll be closer to You than I’ve ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I’ll embrace every moment I’m given
There’s a reason I’m alive for a blink of an eye

Thanks to MercyMe for this reminder. Life is short. Savor the richness of your relationships….

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The following blogpost is by John Maxwell (OnLeadership.com).    I likely could not say anything to improve upon these ideas.    I am, however, very moved by the points in “Fallacy #2”.     

On my Facebook page, I have the tag “halfway there, livin’ on a prayer“.    Thank you, Bon Jovi, for that deep thought.    But here’s the real point: I may be gone in the next 5 minutes, or I may live another 50 years.    Truth be told, I may not live to see this post appear on the www at 5:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2010.    (yes, I do advance schedule, sometimes; confession is good for the soul)   I may not be quite halfway there, or I may be past that point.    The family men in my life, notably grandfathers, have not lived to enjoy life beyond the age of 70 that my father is today, so at 44.5, I may be over halfway, or, like my grandmothers, both who lived to be over 95, I may end up pinching babies and kicking tin cans around the garage well past 90.   Who knows?     I guess it may depend on if my aged, $1,500 (and climbing) mid life crisis red BMW kisses a tree between now and then with me at the wheel, or some other similar incident.    That’s between the LORD and me, I suppose.

Until recently, I have not really measured success by the richness of my relationships, other than my family.    But therin lies the challenge.     Jesus’ life was all about rich relationships and helping others.     I have just recently begun a concerted effort to improve on that, and in fact, that needs to be what I’m all about, every moment of every day.     I have some great friends that I deeply appreciate, and I am blessed by the opportunity to make efforts to help them along the path of life as they help me.    I’m going to work on that, in whatever amount of time remaining on this earth that I am blessed to experience.

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Correcting Our Shadowy View of Success
By John C. Maxwell

Have you ever watched a dog chase its shadow? It can be a comical sight. Mistaking the shadow for something concrete and catchable, the dog yaps at it and tries to chase it down. Time after time, the dog dramatically pounces on the shadow, expecting to pin it to the ground. Yet, no matter how hard the dog tries, the shadow always eludes its grasp.

We laugh at the silliness of a dog’s futile attempt to catch a shadow, but it’s not nearly as funny to watch a person try the same routine. Unfortunately, that’s just what many leaders do in life. They chase after a shadow of success, not realizing that what they’re pursuing lacks depth and substance. They’re running after an illusion of success rather than tracking down the real thing.

I’ve found that there are two core fallacies that cause us to have a shadowy view of success. Let’s take a moment to look at each one in greater detail.

Fallacy #1: We see success as a place instead of a process.

Most people have destination disease. They see success as a far-off place where they hopefully will end up in the future. In the meanwhile, they float through life without a sense of urgency. Lacking a plan to get where they want to go and eschewing the hard work needed to get there, people with destination disease rarely arrive at their vision of success.

People with a proper understanding of success know that it is determined by their daily agenda. They’re aware that success has two main ingredients: decisions and discipline. Decisions pave the way to goal-setting while discipline fuels goal-getting. The two traits cannot be separated; one is worthless with out the other.

Good Decisions – Daily Discipline = A Plan without a Payoff
Daily Discipline – Good Decisions = Regimentation without Reward
Good Decisions + Daily Discipline = A Masterpiece of Potential

Successful people know where they want to go. They don’t drift; they drive. Along the way, they pay the price of daily discipline in order to achieve their goals.

Fallacy #2: We measure success by the magnitude of our accomplishments rather than by the richness of our relationships.

Many people envision success as attaining a powerful position, commanding a high salary, or obtaining luxurious possessions. None of these goals are inherently wrong. However, distortion comes when, in striving for “success,” leaders elevate getting above giving. Rather than connecting with and serving their teammates, they slip into self-absorption and start to treat their followers like pawns.

People who live solely for themselves end up by themselves-alone and disconnected. Albert Einstein hit the mark when he said, “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” An unselfish life of service never ceases to be filled with the pleasant company of friends and loved ones. If you desire true success, then put a high value on people, make the effort to form relationships, and invest in those relationships regularly.

AboutJohn C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 19 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com. He can be followed at Twitter.com/JohnCMaxwell.

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