Category Archives: Community

Monday Morning Moment – Getting to Know the Person Behind “Beyond the Guitar”

Photo Credit: Beyond the Guitar Store

We all have our favorite artists, creators, personalities. This guy is at the top of my list. Forget that I’m his mom. If you’re like me, you go after details about a person’s life who you respect or who intrigues you – with his or her talent, worldview, or way of life. We search out and devour details of celebrity lives. I’m not saying that’s a healthy thing, especially if taken too far. It can, however, just be for fun. Like yesterday, I was at a baby girl shower for a friend who’s a great fan of Taylor Swift’s. She received the usual great essentials for the baby coming in a few weeks, and she also received some sweet surprises. Like 3 copies of the Taylor Swift Little Golden Book – one for home, one for the car, and one to keep for when Baby Girl becomes a fan.

Back to my favorite artist: Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar. A guitarist who plays both the classical repertoire as well as themes from TV, film, and video games. The covers he arranges and performs take the listener to a whole other realm of nostalgia. Then there are his original compositions, one of which could be a next Star Wars theme. Who knows?!

I used to feature Nathan’s latest arrangements/originals on my Friday Faves blogs. As much as I loved writing those, these days they are rare, with life pouring into other things. That’s one of the reasons I decided to take this Monday for a reflection on this favorite artist of mine. Not to give you those personal details (deep sigh of relief from Nathan, I’m sure)…but to point to where you can find more of the person behind the guitar.

Just this weekend, a vlog, featuring Beyond the Guitar, was posted by guitarist Josh Garofolo. He is an excellent musician himself, self-taught, and you can give a listen to him on his YouTube channel. What he brings uniquely for folks like us fascinated by favorite artists is a podcast where he does walk-arounds with guitarists, in their towns and studios. He did a couple of those with Nathan, here and here. Josh asks great questions and, given they are both musicians, his own passion for music and life makes an easy stage for Nathan to share deeply about the things that matter to him. Guitar, business, family, teaching, mindset, and way more.

Joshua Garofolo Guitar

Photo Credit: screenshots from GuitarTubers with Josh Garofolo

I watched both conversations with Josh and Nathan…like a total fan. Because I am. Even as close as we are, it’s a pleasure to be “in the room” with an artist talking about how he got where he is, and what he’s learned along the way. Not just about the craft but about life. This artist happens to be one of our kids, but he has his own large life to balance. One sweet gift he gave us recently (especially his dad) was to arrange and perform one of our favorite songs which we knew would be just amazing with him playing. Here it is:

I know you get me on discovering something about the heart of an artist – if you really love Taylor Swift, for instance, you want to know her heart. Or maybe, like sports fans, the numbers are enough. I still don’t understand how my husband, and other guys like him, can pull forward the most obscure (or seemingly obscure) stats on athletes and teams. My friends from the baby shower yesterday can happily talk on and on about Taylor Swift because she is, after all, a rock star. I get it!

For me, it’s Nathan Mills… Now if you want to hear about our other two great kids, I can help you out with that as well. For more on Beyond the Guitar: “subscribe, like, and comment”. Not here but on his channels.

Blessings.

Beyond the Guitar Podcast

Yet Podcast – T. C. Burr – Stop Making Excuses and Do the Work with Nathan Mills

Classical Guitar Corner – An Interview with Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar

P.S. Beyond the Guitar’s latest arrangements below

Worship Wednesday – Praise You Anywhere – Brandon Lake

Photo Credit: GodTube

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!Psalm 150:6

Rejoice in the LORD, O righteous ones; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Psalm 33:1

The Lord is faithful to all His words and merciful toward all He has made.
The Lord lifts up all who fall, and He supports all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look eagerly to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.
He opens his hand, and He satisfies the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways and merciful toward all that He has made.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.
He grants the desire of those who fear Him. He hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love Him, but He will destroy all the wicked. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord. Let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. – Psalm 145:13-21

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

Praise is a completely natural response to both the character of God and His marvelous works.

On a phone call earlier today, my mom-in-law was going down her prayer list, asking me the status of different ones for whom she has been praying. Over and over, she would say, “Answered prayer!” It was true. As we pause our lives and consider God, we can take hope, even rejoice, in all that He is doing in our lives and around us. This world feels broken, but He isn’t finished…not nearly so.

We may all have different ways we praise God and different preferences as to the setting of praise. In the expansive out of doors or inside in a “quiet time” chair. In the living room of a house church or a huge worship space. Alone or with others.

Photo Credit: Deb Mills, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va.

The point is that we keep praise a priority in our daily lives. Even in valley experiences or a season of suffering, when we look for it, we will find reason upon reason to praise the Lord. A dear friend of mine finishes her cancer treatment this week. We are praising God for how He walked with her through this time such that she made it through a hard regimen and will ring the bell on Friday to celebrate the last day of treatment. We are also praising God as another friend is getting prepared to start cancer treatment; her cancer was found before she started having symptoms. We are trusting God for good outcomes for both. Praise. Praise. Praise. He is worthy.

Several months ago, I went with a friend to a concert that turned out to be so much more than just great music. It was church. Worship with a few hundred folks we didn’t know but shared a love for Jesus that would bring us to our feet, hands in the air, singing along with singer/songwriter Brandon Lake.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

There is something about Brandon Lake that reminds me of King David in 2 Samuel 6:14-22 when he was dancing in the streets at the return of the Ark of the Lord. He could not contain his joy and had no care for what others might have thought of him. Praising God, dancing before Him, taking great comfort in this moment of feeling God’s pleasure and provision.

God is worthy of praise, with complete abandon, our minds riveted on Him, both alone and in the company of the saints.

Worship with me…and Brandon. Stand on up. You will be in good company.
Sometimes you’ve gotta dance through the darkness
Sing through the fire, praise when it don’t make sense
Sometimes you’ve gotta stare down the giant
Worship from the lion’s den

Sometimes you’ve gotta shout it from the mountain
Louder in the valley, trusting that He’s gonna get you there
Sometimes you’ve gotta welcome the wonder
Wait for the answer, worship with your hands in the air
I’ll praise You anywhеre

Praise, give Him praisе, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the praise

Sometimes you’ve gotta praise in the prison
Cry out to heaven, shout it ’til the doors swing wide
Sometimes you’ve gotta stand on your shackles
Brave in the battle, worship with your hands held high
I’ll praise You anywhere

Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the praise

Faithful all my life, blessings day and night
Countless reasons why I’ll praise You anywhere
Every promise kept, goodness every step
Each and every breath, I’ll praise You anywhere
Faithful all my life, blessings day and night
Countless reasons why I’ll praise You anywhere
Every promise kept, goodness every step
Each and every breath, I’ll praise You anywhere

Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
Praise, give Him praise, give Him praise in the highest
He is worthy, yes, He is worthy of all of the praise

Oh, I’ll praise you anywhere
Oh, mountain or valley, I know that You’re with me there
I’ll praise You anywhere*

Photo Credit: Heartlight

We’re not done! Years ago, when we lived overseas, in Cairo, Egypt, we would attend a monthly praise event called “The Cutting Edge” at Maadi Community Church. Our kids were young and just cutting their teeth on corporate worship. Those evenings, in the cool of hot days, we gathered in the courtyard of this international church and sang together – with other believers from many nations, all having different worship styles and preferences. It didn’t matter. What a grace to focus on Jesus and sing our hearts out!

One more song on this Worship Wednesday – “Praise” with Brandon Lake, Chris Brown & Chandler Moore. Somehow I had missed this song until a few days ago…we have so many reasons to praise the Lord. Let’s get after it!

Worship with these brothers:

Let’s go, 1, 2, hey
Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord (You got it), praise the Lord
Let everything, let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord
(Let everything) Let everything (Hey) that has breath (Hey)

[Verse 1: Brandon Lake]
I’ll praise in the valley, praise on the mountain (Yeah)
I’ll praise when I’m sure, praise when I’m doubting
I’ll praise when outnumbered, praise when surrounded
‘Cause praise is the waters my enemies drown in

[Chorus: Brandon Lake & Chandler Moore, Both]
As long as I’m breathing
I’ve got a reason to
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
Praise the Lord, oh my soul

[Verse 2: Chris Brown & Chandler Moore]
I’ll praise when I feel it, and I’ll praise when I don’t (Yeah)
I’ll praise ’cause I know You’re still in control
‘Cause my praise is a weapon, it’s more than a sound (More than a sound)
Oh, my praise is the shout that brings Jericho down (Yeah)

[Chorus: Brandon Lake & Chandler Moore, Both]
As long as I’m breathing
I’ve got a reason to
Praise the Lord (C’mon), oh my soul
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (I gotta)
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
(Yeah, praise the Lord)

[Interlude: Brandon Lake]
C’mon let me see a dance, put a dance on it tonight (Yeah)
If you’re grateful, c’mon
Hey, hey, yeah

[Bridge: Brandon Lake & Chris Brown]
I’ll praise ’cause You’re sovereign, praise ’cause You reign
Praise ’cause You rose and defeated the grave
I’ll praise ’cause You’re faithful, praise ’cause You’re true
Praise ’cause there’s nobody greater than You
I’ll praise ’cause You’re sovereign, praise ’cause You reign (You reign)
Praise ’cause You rose and defeated the grave
I’ll praise ’cause You’re faithful, praise ’cause You’re true
Praise ’cause there’s nobody greater than You

[Chorus: Chris Brown, Brandon Lake & Chandler Moore, All]
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
(C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
(I gotta) Praise the Lord, oh my soul
(Praise the Lord, oh my soul)
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
Praise the Lord, oh my soul
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (How could I)
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (I won’t keep quiet)
I won’t be quiet, my God is alive
How could I keep it inside? (I gotta)
Praise the Lord, oh my soul

[Outro: Chandler Moore]
Jump, jump, jump, jump, jump
Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord (Hey, hey), praise the Lord
Let everything, let everything that has breath
(C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
Praise the Lord (C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
Praise the Lord (C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
(Let everything), Let everything that has breath
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord
(Let everything), Let everything that has breath
(Praise the Lord)
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord**

*Lyrics to Praise You Anywhere – Songwriters: Jacob Sooter, Brandon Lake, Ben Fielding & Hank Bentley

**Lyrics to Praise – Songwriters: Steven Furtick, Chandler Moore, Brandon Lake, Pat Barrett, Cody Carnes, Chris Brown

Worship Wednesday – the Wonder of God – Count ‘Em – Brandon Lake – Deb Mills

Why Is Praising God Important?

12 Reasons God Is Worthy of Worship – Karen Hoffman

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Monday Morning Moment – Contempt – the Cold Killer of Hearts and Humanity

Photo Credit: Armstrong Economics

Ah…contempt. It is defined as a strong negative emotion that joins disgust and disrespect. We have all experienced contempt, either for someone else, or a group of someones…or the contempt of another towards us.

Contempt is a harsh response…a cold killer of hearts and relationships.

It became more real than ever when I experienced it myself recently. Not toward me personally maybe but because of an association/affiliation I have that is viewed by some as contemptible. When we express contempt, it is usually in conversation with those who agree with us. Rarely do we have the person(s) toward which we feel contempt in front of us. We don’t engage them as much as we complain about them. We hold some in contempt because of their beliefs or actions, and our temptation is to have nothing to do with them. We may view this as a strength, but (as I’ve heard said), “an unguarded strength is a double weakness.”

“Knowing our weakness, dividing leaders on both the left and right seek power and fame by setting American against American, brother against brother, compatriot against compatriot. These leaders assert that we must choose sides, then argue that the other side is wicked—not worthy of any consideration—rather than challenging them to listen to others with kindness and respect. They foster a culture of contempt.” Arthur C. Brooks, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save Our Country From the Culture of Contempt

Contempt is something I’d like to annihilate in my own thinking, and thankfully there are helps. Below you will find two thought leaders who have worked to expose contempt for what it truly is and does to us, and who have given us counsel on how to recognize it and rid ourselves of it. Author and academician Arthur Brooks and clinical psychologist John Gottman.

How do we confront contempt?

Arthur Brooks’ 5 Rules to Counter Contempt

1. Refuse to be used by the powerful.“The accurate image of a powerful manipulator is someone on your side of the debate: a media figure who always affirms your views, a politician who always says what you think, or a professor who never challenges your biases. They declare the other side is terrible, irredeemable, unintelligent or anything else that expresses contempt — and they say you should think these things as well.” Brooks encourages us to tune out that person “on our side” who seeks to manipulate us, whatever the reason. Then (this is the harder part), we are to call out contemptuous behavior among those with whom we agree (our friends and maybe family). Contempt tears us down, and we don’t want that for ourselves or those we love.

2. Escape your bubble.“The culture of contempt is sustained by polarization and separation. It is easy to express contempt for those with whom we disagree when we view them as “them” or never see them at all. Contempt is much harder to express when we see one another as fellow human beings, as “us.”” We do well to make opportunities to share space and conversation with people not like us. Seek to understand and look for ways we are alike.

3. Treat others with love and respect, even when it’s difficult.“Never treat others with contempt, even if you believe they deserve it. First, your contempt makes persuasion impossible, because no one has ever been insulted into agreement. Second, you may be wrong to assume that certain people are beyond reason. There are many examples of people forming unlikely bonds precisely because they didn’t treat each other with contempt.” Sometimes we are the ones toward which contempt is aimed. If we have offended, then we can apologize. Raising an issue higher than the value of the person doesn’t take us anywhere positive.

4. Be part of a healthy competition of ideas.“I believe disagreement is good because competition is good. As in politics and economics, competition — bounded by rule of law and morality — brings excellence. In the world of ideas, competition is called “disagreement.” Disagreement helps us innovate, improve, correct and find the truth. Of course, disagreement — like free markets and free elections — requires proper behavior to function.” The goal is not to disagree less but to disagree better, notes Brooks.

5. Disconnect from unproductive debates.“Get rid of curated social media feeds. Unfollow public figures who foment contempt. Want to get really radical? Stop talking and thinking about politics for a little while. Do a politics cleanse. For two weeks — maybe during your next vacation — resolve not to read, watch or listen to anything about politics. Don’t discuss politics with anyone. This will be hard to do but not impossible.” This exercise will reveal how much of your life and mental energy is wasted, allowing you to refocus on people you truly love and work/play that matter more than those things you probably won’t be able to change. – Arthur Brooks, Sick of the Culture of Contempt? Here are 5 Ways You Can Subvert It

One last quote from Albert Brooks: “We should be careful to note that love and agreement are not the same thing. There are ideas and actions that are worthy of our contempt. But while some ideas and actions are worthy of contempt, we should always remember that no person is.”Defusing a Culture of Contempt: Arthur Brooks on How to ‘Disagree Better’ – Joan Frawley Desmond

Another exceptional thinker and clinician is Dr. John Gottman, psychologist and professor. His focus is primarily on marriages and individual mental health within relationships. The Four Horsemen is a metaphor pointing toward end-times. Dr. Gottman uses the same metaphor in describing four elements of communication, any one of which can predict the demise of a marriage (or any other relationship). These elements are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Each has an antidote.

Photo Credit: John Gottman, Gottman Institute, Instagram

The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling – Ellie Lisitsa

Contempt is much more mean-spirited than criticism. It communicates a measure of cold superiority over the one being criticized. Gottman isn’t talking about a political stand or a point of contention over culture or morality. He is concentrating on the relationship between two people, usually being a married couple.

“Contempt, simply put, says, “I’m better than you. And you are lesser than me.” [It] is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about one’s partner, and it arises in the form of an attack on someone’s sense of self. Inevitably, contempt leads to more conflict—particularly dangerous and destructive forms of conflict—rather than to reconciliation. It’s virtually impossible to resolve a problem when your partner is getting the message that you’re disgusted with them and that you’re condescending and acting as their superior.”

Gottman prescribes two antidotes for contempt in the marriage relationship – one short-term and the other more long-term:

  • First, the person feeling contempt toward the other would do well to name the emotions that rise to the top during a conflict. Express these emotions to your spouse without blaming, and appeal for help with a solution. “I am sad that we don’t have friends over. Could we talk about a way forward on this?” Or “I get worried when the bills pile up. Can we talk about what we can do to stay within budget?”
  • Second, Gottman suggests establishing (or re-building) a home culture of fondness and admiration for each other. This is a discipline that may take some strong determination, but it is doable. In fact, I have go-to Bible verses (Revelation 2:4-5) that help me immensely during those dry times in my own marriage. It speaks about what to do when we have lost our first love (for God and each other). Essentially, the instruction is to remember how it was in the beginning, repent/return, and repeat the actions/emotions/intentions that came naturally when the relationship was new. We don’t have to feel the fondness or admiration at first, but as we practice them, they can be restored. Among many tools, Dr. Gottman uses the instrument below to kick-start the process as the spouse chooses three descriptors and then gives examples of those to the other person.
Photo Credit: John Gottman, The Gottman Institute

Contempt is deceptive. It feels so good to think we are right, and yet in the practice of contempt, we become more isolated and less engaged in real community. Only preferring people who think like we do. At some point, our competencies will be impacted because our problem-solving shrinks down to just judging others and determining they aren’t worth our time. We miss learning from them, and we miss the possibility of genuinely understanding them, even loving them.

Having faced contempt myself in the last week, It has brought me to a “come to Jesus” moment. I don’t want to hold contempt for anyone, no matter how different they are, no matter what wrongs they have done. I want to figure out how to stay engaged with people…such that “if [I] can’t move mountains, [maybe I can] move a stone”.*

Photo Credit: Instagram, Ullie Kaye Poetry*

Monday Morning Moment – Henri Nouwen on Leadership

Photo Credit: Henri J. M. Nouwen, In Jesus’ Name, QuoteFancy

What can we learn about leadership from a priest? A priest who spent his potentially most influential years as pastor of L’Arche – a community for mentally handicapped persons? What? Plenty!

Henri J. M. Nouwen was a renowned scholar, writer, professor, and a Dutch Catholic priest. He taught for many years at such prestigious universities as Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. His writings were prolific and his personality was winsome.

Whether you are Christian or not, you will profit from the tiny book (81 pages) he wrote on leadership – “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership”. I read this book yesterday afternoon and was spellbound by his wisdom. Having read many texts on leadership over the years, both secular and Christian, I was captivated by Nouwen’s take on leadership…and his willingness to confront the pitfalls that can occur along the way. In a clear and succinct way, he exposed the temptations we have in leading others and the way we can extinguish them through applying certain disciplines or habits.

Nouwen points out three temptations leaders are apt to succumb to, and then he offers three disciplines to counter (and gain freedom from) them. Christian readers, you will appreciate his direction. He refers to Scripture for his teaching – two passages in particular: 1) Jesus’ questioning a repentant Peter after he had denied the Lord three times (John 21:15-19), and 2) the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). I will list the temptations below and examples from my own life where they crept in:

  1. To Be Relevant – In recent years this has actually been a longing of mine, before the Lord. After retiring from a full and satisfying ministry life, with all our children grown and on their own, my days got very quiet. I didn’t know what to do with them. The calls to join this team or lead that work just didn’t come in. Somehow I had made relevance an idol. Thankfully God was working away at that temptation in my life. He is still at work, because I still struggle…but not like before. Earlier today, I was sitting in the waiting room while an Afghan grandmother in my care was having dental work done. It’s been my least favorite activity on the refugee resettlement team of our church. The appointments are three hours long (for the dental students’ learning), and even with books, phone, and hallways to do steps, I bristled at times at the servitude of this activity. After reading Nouwen’s book, he pointed the way to resist. Contemplative prayer is the answer. Recognizing that I don’t need to be going here or there because it is I who am needed in those situations. To use the time of seeming irrelevance to participate in a grander work than I could have ever imagined. To simply be, humbled and grateful, with God, and to have a quiet many would love to know. To remember that the work, whatever it is, came from Him to begin with. I don’t own work, or ministry, or service of any kind. It is an opportunity to show up for a greater good, in a quieter state, where I am surrendered, making myself available, to love others more than myself – “in the name of Jesus”.

“I’m telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love…God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.”Henri Nouwen

2. To Be Popular (Spectacular even)What a temptation this is. It is stealthy. We sometimes aren’t even aware that we experience it. Until we are. Sigh… Leadership lends itself to singular popularity (even in situations where people love to hate you…it’s still a superlative position of a sort). When we rise through the ranks, through experience mixed with education, it can be a very individualistic journey. “Lonely at the top”. However, there is a head trip attached where we become prone to thinking that we are the ones to call, or to consult, or to give opinion, or have the last decision. This temptation to want to be “the one” is fortunately tempered by doing work/life/church in community. By taking someone along. By sharing decision-making. By including those most affected in the conversation. Making room around the table. Nouwen, in regards to this temptation, calls the reader to Confession and Forgiveness. When is the last time you heard a leader confess a weakness or struggle? When did she or he ask forgiveness for a decision that turned out poorly or for a moral failure exposed? Being willing to remove the cape of the hero, and step off the pedestal, takes a humility that allows for, mutual confession and forgiveness within the larger community.

3. To Be Powerful – What a temptation!! To believe that we could actually have power over other people’s lives. To be in a position of making sweeping decisions with little restraint. To be surrounded by those who (dealing with their own temptations) would go along with the decisions out of their own need for popularity and power. It’s messed-up. In fact, what we think is our leading is really being led (by our own preferences, or the pressures of that vaunted position). What’s the solution? Now, each of these temptations so far has had a spiritual response – prayer, confession and forgiveness. What is the way forward when power has taken the driver’s seat? Theological Reflection. Nouwen is NOT talking about the answers that may be debated in the seminary classroom. It goes far deeper…to actually look for the truth in the background…and seeking to act on what is true…not for the sake of relevance or popularity or to hold onto power.

“Christian leaders have the arduous task of responding to personal struggles, family conflicts, national calamities, and international tensions with an articulate faith in God’s real presence. They have to say ‘no’ to every form of fatalism, defeatism, accidentalism or incidentalism which make people believe that statistics are telling us the truth. They have to say ‘no’ to every form of despair in which human life is seen as a pure matter of good or bad luck. They have to say ‘no’ to sentimental attempts to make people develop a spirit of resignation or stoic indifference in the face of the unavoidability of pain, suffering, and death…Theological reflection is reflecting on the painful and joyful realities of every day with the mind of Jesus and thereby raising human consciousness to the knowledge of God’s gentle guidance.” Henri Nouwen

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Henri Nouwen left the lofty academic environment to join in community with those who would not incline to be impressed with his credentials. Yet, in the setting of L’Arche, Nouwen dug deep into how to lead in gentler and more loving ways, with the example of the life of Jesus, and the nearness of God and community.

The beauty of his life laid down has given me pause to look differently at leadership and the possibility of being led…by a God who loves us first, in servant mode, in community with others…in the name of Jesus.

YouTube Video – Remembering Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)

In the Name of Jesus – Summary – Chuck Olson

Monday Morning Moment – Withholding – When It Goes Way Past Boundaries Into Downright Meanness

Photo Credit: Marshall B. Rosenberg, Quote Fancy

This has been days in the writing. When I saw the quote below just scrolling through Instagram, it stopped me in my tracks. Withholding (as defined here) goes way past “not knowing what to say” or “placing boundaries” or any measure of shyness or introversion. Withholding is actually an act of aggression…a display of power. One in which any of us can find ourselves if we don’t practicing checking our hearts or intentions regarding certain people or situations.

Photo Credit: Covenantal Relationships, Instagram

My Mom was the most significant influence in my life growing up. Now, I didn’t have the vocabulary for a lot of what she taught me, in word and deed, until recent years. Much of what she modeled came through her love of Scripture. She wasn’t a practicing Christian in my early childhood, but still she had made some decisions as a young person (while churched or otherwise influenced) that she practiced throughout her life. She became more mature and even more compassionate in these rules of life as she patterned her life more and more like Jesus.

I said all this to say that she was the opposite of a withholding sort of person. Even as an introvert.

Maybe growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a timid mother influenced her willingness to show up for people – her brothers, her friends, her children, and strangers she met day-to-day. She did not withhold herself from others – all sorts of others – and it made for a beautiful life. This from a woman who worked full-time, raised four kids, and dealt with a cancer that would take her life too soon. Well, it didn’t take her life. Her life was finished at 75 to the glory of God. Even in her last hours and experiencing pain and increasing weakness, she was encouraging all of us around her. She even woke up from a coma that had silenced her to say “I love you” in response to one of her little grandchildren’s goodbyes to her.

This woman. Now you can understand why this issue of withholding feels so wrong to me. I understand people needing boundaries in toxic relationships, however, the practice of withholding can take boundaries up several notches. This probably isn’t a winsome topic because we don’t think what we’re doing is mean-spirited…it’s just because we are busy, or shy, or can’t do one more thing, or (fill in the reason).

Withholding can have different faces depending on what our intent or inclination is. It can be withholding of:

  • Time, attention, helps, favor.
  • Information, encouragement, welcome.
  • Food, possessions, recreation, experiences.
  • People (children, friends, family members).
  • Finances, job opportunities, training/equipping, inclusion.

We have all experienced withholding – either as the one holding out on others or the one experiencing that neglect (whether intended personally or just in the wake of not being chosen for any of the above).

What do we do with this issue? If you’re reading this, you are already on the path to solutions. Those who don’t read this sort of piece don’t see this as a problem. Certainly, none of us are necessarily entitled to whatever is sensed as being withheld. However, if we don’t want to be on the giving end of withholding, we can note it and practice the opposite – a humility, intentionality, watchfulness, and graciousness can move us toward an openness and willingness to be there, even when others are not.

Parenting is a long season where withholding can become a habit – when we as parents get exasperated with our children’s choices and when we are shaken in our sense of who we are and how we’re doing. An example is well-communicated below by Youth Dynamics of Montana. If we have struggled with parenting or have been harmed by our own parents’ withholding, our temptation is to extend that same experience back, over time, either with our kids or our parents.

Do we really want that to become our practice?

Photo Credit: Youth Dynamics of Montana, Instagram

For me, it’s a daily battle to be like my Mom, but one I want to come out winning, or at least fighting. To be that person who works to catch the eye of people, to engage and encourage, to be courteous and deferent, to include, to give where there is opportunity, to serve when I know I can, to share information that would help, to let people in and to show up for others. All of this models good for our children and is a blessing to those around us. Choosing not to withhold myself, my people, and my resources by tightly circling the wagons.

There’s a great call to action by the Prophet Isaiah on what can happen (if I could interject) when we don’t withhold. When we show up, God shows up in exponentially greater ways. Is that your experience?

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert…
Isaiah 35:3-6

5 Withholding Tactics Malignant Narcissists and Psychopaths Use To Torment You – Shahida Arabi, MA

What Emotional Withholding Looks Like And How To Handle It In Relationships – Row Light

Why Punishing a Child by Withholding Affection is Wrong – W. R. Cummings

Withholding: A Dangerous Saboteur of Love – That Immobilization Some Feel Under Stress Can Become Withholding Behavior. – Randi Gunther Ph.D.

To Say the Least: Where Deceptively Withholding Information Ends and Lying Begins – Marta Dynel – a highly scholarly (but very readable!), totally fascinating article on this topic

Monday Morning Moment – A Place for You – Deb Mills

Inner Circles – the Mad Pursuit of Position, Power, Prominence, and Plenty – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Considering Others – the Wawa Experience – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – “What If You’re Wrong”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

What just happened? When you read the title “What If You’re Wrong”, was there a reaction in mind or body? If I had written “What If I’m Wrong”, it would have been far less provocative, right? Clearly, it’s possible for me to be wrong on many things. Not just possible but actual. I am most probably wrong on a number of things, either out of ignorance, preference, a lack of understanding, or neglect of the truth.

Is there a way we can talk about the stuff that matters to us with people who care about very different sorts of things? People who strongly disagree. People who are sure they are right, when we are also sure that we are…and they are wrong.

Below you’ll find an old video of a Richard Dawkins lecture at a Virginia university. He took questions from the floor, and one very brave, if not naive, student asked him “What if you’re wrong?” His answer, or non-answer but more repartee, was clearly one he had fashioned for just that question. Have a listen.

The lecture must have had to do with the existence of God, and Dr. Dawkins, though once a “Christian” is now an atheist. His response to the student was condescending, dismissive, and unkind. Oddly, his reasoning fell along the same lines as a 16y/o Muslim student in my World Religions class in Morocco. My student surmised that people followed the religion of their parents. Yet, here, Dr. Dawkins disproved what he said himself by leaving the Christian faith for atheism. In the video, maybe he considered disrespectful the student asking the question, therefore, he responded with mirrored disrespect. Who knows?

This is what I’m wanting to know. Can people engage each other with curiosity, care, and consideration (hope you don’t mind alliteration)…when they are at opposite ends of a worldview or belief system?

The key is those 3 c-words above. If I truly want to understand the position of another person, hopefully that can be communicated in such a way that engenders an openness. If that person knows I truly care about him/her, maybe they would be willing to trust me with such a conversation. If they knew my desire is to take into consideration how they came to their conclusions, maybe they would risk digging down into their reasoning. No judgment. On either side.

That would be amazing.

Writer, creator Adam Dachis posted a helpful piece for Lifehacker.

How to Know When You’re Wrong (and What You Can Do About It) – Adam Dachis

  1. Common Denominator – Find It. What might the continuing point of contention between you? Find that “button” that always gets pushed and choose together to find a way for it not to be the confounding issue.
  2. Considering What’s Right – Convictions & Outcomes When you analyze your positions (convictions), it is possible to consider which would lead to a better outcome. This is a growth point toward understanding if not change.
  3. Changing Someone Else’s Behavior – Shouldn’t Be the Goal. – Trying to change the other person’s opinion or worldview can’t be the goal. They are in control there, but you can change something about your own behavior toward them or the situation. This approach is not about people-pleasing but about defusing and deescalating. The goal has to be relationship, or why bother?
  4. Consult the Facts. We tend to focus on and be influenced by information that aligns with how we think, not even considering that the information might be wrong. If one of us considers the other wrong, the temptation is to attack (if I am the one feeling right or feeling wrong, the default is to become defensive and tempted to attack). Listen to the other side. Be tuned into what you are feeling as well. Stay in the conversation. Treat yourself and the other person with compassion. The goal is understanding.

Gustavo Razzetti, a work culture design consultant, writes about the difference between the soldier mindset and the scout mindset in dealing with conflicting worldviews:

“The soldier mindset is rooted in the need to defend ourselves. The pressure to be right elevates our adrenaline—we experience a fight-or-flight response.

A more curious mindset is that of the scout—this role is about understanding, not defending our beliefs. The scout goes out, maps the terrain, and identifies the real challenge—he wants to know what’s really there.

The mindset you choose affects your judgment, analysis, and decision-making.

The soldier mindset is rooted in emotions like aggression and tribalism. The scout mindset is rooted in curiosity—it’s about the pleasure of learning new things, being intrigued when new facts contradict our beliefs, and not feeling weak about changing our mind.

Above all, scouts are grounded—their self-worth isn’t tied to how right or wrong they are.” – Gustavo Razzetti, “What If You’re the One Who’s Wrong”

I lived for many years in countries where the majority religion was not my own. Local friends would at some point or other ask me the “right or wrong” sort of question… “Why wouldn’t I consider their religion?” I treated that question with the care I had for those friends. In fact, I have a document on my computer where I considered all their tenets of faith and what kept me from becoming a follower of their religion. What was right for them was wrong for me.

However, the most beautiful experience of those “What if you’re wrong” scenarios was what happened with my dearest local friends. Without knowing the concept at the time, we determined to make each other feel “seen, soothed, safe, and secure”. Although my own faith (especially my belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord) would not be altered, these friends mattered deeply to me. We reconciled our differences in faith through the depth of our friendship. If one had to be considered right and the other wrong, we would still love each other. Period. Full-stop.

One Small Step – StoryCorps

Winsomeness, Wisdom, and the Way of Jesus: A Few Reflections on Christ and Culture From John 6 – David S. Schrock

Photo Credit: Reddit

Worship Wednesday – Holy Forever – Chris Tomlin

Photo Credit: YouTube

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Revelation 4:6-11

After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. And they fell face down before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”Revelation 7:9-12

It wasn’t my time. A few days ago, I turned into a neighborhood street near my house. On a fast errand, I returned on the same street within a couple of minutes max. There across the street was this huge fallen tree! It was a moment for me to think about the reality that a few seconds later entering that street or earlier returning, and my car could have been under that tree.

You can imagine, it gave pause. Thinking of all the times we are slowed down by red lights or long store lines or the distracted driver slowing us down. I believe in angels. How God protects us through these heavenly messengers who don’t make themselves known to us, but who may very well sometimes protect us from all sorts of calamity. I say sometimes, because we all know (and may even be experiencing right now) hard situations that God did not prevent. Yet, He knows and gives grace and works all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

In the midst of every day life…both magnificent and mundane…God reminds us of Himself and the grandness of this life (and the next, of course). We forget…or we don’t notice…our heads too often down, looking at screens, rather than up and around at the beauty of God and those He places in our lives.

Sunday, our worship team closed out the service at Movement Church with the song Holy Forever. It is a familiar song but hit me different that day. It was a tiny snapshot of what it will be around the throne of God in eternity. All of us, singing, agreeing on the majesty of holy God.

Video – Movement Church – Holy Forever – at 1 hr., 3 min. in – Hallelujah!

What does it mean that God is holy. Got Questions, an online ministry, answers that question beautifully. Here is an excerpt:

“The holiness of God refers to the unparalleled majesty of His incomparable being and His blameless, faultless, unblemished moral purity (Isaiah 6:1–5; Revelation 4:1–8). Unlike His created beings, God is eternal, preeminent, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He was, is, and will be before all things. He is ageless, tireless, and faultless. He is beyond full human comprehension. Indeed, our language lacks the superlatives necessary to justly describe Him. Drawn to Him for His unequaled goodness and majesty, the psalmist wrote, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1, ESV). Nothing or no one satisfies like God, for He is altogether lovely to behold. Earthly treasures will pass away, but the Lord is our great reward and inheritance (Joshua 13:33)…God is holy. In Him, there is not even the faintest trace of evil. He is impeccably pure, wholly without fault, and uncompromisingly just. God cannot lie. He cannot make wrong decisions. He is blameless, timeless, and sinless. To the lost the holiness of God is a dreadful matter, but to the redeemed the holiness of God is our greatest good.”

What Does It Mean that God Is a Holy God? What Is the Holiness of God? – Got Questions

Pastor, writer Scott Savage has written a beautiful review of the song Holy Forever. He references songwriter Chris Tomlin‘s story behind the song. Tomlin wanted to communicate 3 elements, in particular: God’s transcendence, the idea of “eternal worship”, and God’s faithfulness in the face of our failure.

Savage goes on to say:

“If you need a reminder of God’s transcendence in your life, I want to encourage to get into God’s creation. Stargaze, hike, or get out on the water. Put your phone away and get alone, or get with people who will help you connect with God, not distract you from God. 

Be quiet before God – really listen for His still, small voice. Read Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4. Listen to the song “Holy Forever” and meditate on the bigness and holiness of God. 

When you do, may you find your heart reset and your viewpoints recalibrated in light of the glory, majesty, and transcendence of God.” Scott Savage 

Faith Behind the Song: “Holy Forever” by Chris Tomlin – Scott Savage

One day, it will be my time…as it will be for all of us. What an amazing grace to stand before the One True God, in the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ, and be welcomed Home.

Worship with me.

A thousand generations falling down in worship
To sing the song of ages to the Lamb
And all who’ve gone before us, and all who will believe
Will sing the song of ages to the Lamb

Your name is the highest
Your name is the greatest
Your name stands above them all
All thrones and dominions
All powers and positions
Your name stands above them all

And the angels cry, “Holy”
All creations cries, “Holy”
You are lifted high, holy
Holy forever

If you’ve been forgiven, if you’ve been redeemed
Sing the song forever to the Lamb
If you walk in freedom, if you bear His name
Sing the song forever to the Lamb
We’ll sing the song forever and amen

And the angels cry, “Holy”
All creations cries, “Holy”
You are lifted high, holy
Holy forever
Hear Your people sing, “Holy”
To the King of kings, holy
You will always be holy
Holy forever

Your name is the highest
Your name is the greatest
Your name stands above them all
All thrones and dominion
All powers and positions
Your name stands above them all, Jesus
Your name is the highest
Your name is the greatest
Your name stands above them all
(Oh, stands above)
All thrones and dominions
All powers and positions
Your name stands above them all

And the angels cry, “Holy”
All creations cries, “Holy”
You are lifted high, holy
Holy forever (We cry, “Holy forever”)
Hear Your people sing, “Holy” (We will sing)
To the King of kings, (Holy) holy (Holy forever)
You will always be holy
Holy forever

You will always be holy
Holy forever*

*Lyrics to Holy Forever – Songwriters: Chris Tomlin, Brian Johnson, Jason Ingram, Jenn Johnson, and Phil Wickham

YouTube Video – Movement Church – Holy Forever – 1 hr. 3 minutes in.

The Meaning Behind the Song: Holy Forever by Chris Tomlin – Charlie Wall

5 Friday Faves – Good Friday, Beyond the Guitar’s Rendition of Dune, How to Know a Person, Scruffy Hospitality, and Flowering Trees

Real fast. 5 Friday Faves.

1) Good Friday – Holy Week 2024 is coming to an end. Every day, I join many around the world reflecting on the events and meaning of each day of that last week of Jesus’ earthly life. Up through the crucifixion and onto Resurrection Sunday. You can read my countdown here.

“It was not nails that held Jesus to that wretched cross; it was his unqualified resolution, out of love for his Father, to do his Father’s will—and it was his love for sinners like me.”D.A. Carson

And as You speak
A hundred billion failures disappear
Where You lost Your life so I could find it here
If You left the grave behind You so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve done
Every part designed in a work of art called love
If You gladly chose surrender so will I
I can see Your heart
Eight billion different ways
Every precious one
A child You died to save
If You gave Your life to love them so will I

Like You would again a hundred billion times
But what measure could amount to Your desire
You’re the One who never leaves the one behind – Hillsong (So Will I (100 Billion X)

Don’t leave until you watch and listen to Pastor S. M. Lockridge‘s powerful 3 1/2 minute oration below!

Or listen to Atlas Rhoads song He Cries with scenes from The Savior film.

2) Beyond the Guitar’s Dune – As usual, Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar captures the exquisite beauty of Hans Zimmer‘s compositions (this time, from the film Dune Part 2 soundtrack).

Here’s Nathan’s rendition on classical guitar. So moving!

3) How to Know a Person – How to really know a person? David Brooks’ book delves into that so practically. I hadn’t heard of this book until someone I follow on social media described it as a masterpiece. then I caught Brooks’ interview on The Next Big Idea podcast.

Photo Credit: David Brooks, Amazon

So far, I love everything I have heard and read about this book. A few quotes from the book follow:

“The real act of, say, building a friendship or creating a community involves performing a series of small, concrete social actions well: disagreeing without poisoning the relationship; revealing vulnerability at the appropriate pace; being a good listener; knowing how to end a conversation gracefully; knowing how to ask for and offer forgiveness; knowing how to let someone down without breaking their heart; knowing how to sit with someone who is suffering; knowing how to host a gathering where everyone feels embraced; knowing how to see things from another’s point of view.”David Brooks, How to Know a Person

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them,” George Bernard Shaw wrote, “but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”David Brooks, How to Know a Person

“On social media you can have the illusion of social contact without having to perform the gestures that actually build trust, care, and affection. On social media, stimulation replaces intimacy. There is judgment everywhere and understanding nowhere.”David Brooks, How to Know a Person

“As the Harvard psychologist Robert Kegan has observed, what the eye sees more deeply the heart tends to love more tenderly.”David Brooks, How to Know a Person

Brooks offers story after story of human connections, the kind we all long for…and how they happen. With curiosity and care and a measure of intentionality. Get the book!

How to Know a Person by David Brooks – Review, Summary, Analysis & Facts – Mental Branch – excellent review!!

David Brooks: We Change People for the Better by Knowing Them More Fully – Justin Whitmel Earley – also super helpful!

4) Scruffy Hospitality – Hospitality follows along the same thinking as David Brooks’ book on knowing people. When we put out the welcome mat for folks, we gain as much as we give, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Photo Credit: Jason Lander, Flickr

Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.

Don’t allow a to-do list disqualify you from an evening with people you’re called to love in friendship. Scheduling is hard enough in our world. If it’s eating with kind, welcoming people in a less than perfect house versus eating alone, what do you think someone would choose? We tell our guests ‘come as you are,’ perhaps we should tell ourselves ‘host as you are.’” – Jack King

In Praise of ‘Scruffy Hospitality’ – Robin Shreeves

Families are embracing ‘scruffy hospitality’ — should you join the trend? – Rosie Colosi

Scruffy Hospitality – Poems of Lived-In Places – Sarah Ann Winn

What We Gain When We Forget That Scruffy Hospitality – Tara K. E. Brelinsky

I was reminded of this sort of hospitality when a neighbor dropped by recently without notice. I felt a bit embarrassed by the piles of books on my coffee table and the general messiness of the kitchen. I was cooking for a special occasion, and the counters were full of preps in progress. She wasn’t bothered by any of it, and we had a great visit.

Just today after a meal shared with extended family, we were sitting and talked, and I noticed how dusty the floor was in the afternoon sun – the areas that don’t get “swept up” by sock-clad feet. Sigh… Even as we were visiting, I pulled out the dust-mop and tidied up the floor. It didn’t bother our visitors, but it did me, once I saw it. Couldn’t unsee it.

The important thing is to keep inviting folks into your home, into your welcome. The condition of the house is secondary. There are too many folks out there eating alone because we want the comfort of our own homes without the work of making them presentable to others. Since COVID, also, we seem to have gotten out of the sweet habit of gathering, like we once did. Worth re-visiting.

5) Flowering Trees – We’re in Springtime here, and the flowering trees and bushes are giving us quite the show! I remember with great delight the fragrance of flowering Jasmine when we used to live in North Africa. For a brief time, the Viburnum bushes with new blossoms gives that same intoxicating smell. Everywhere you look right now, trees are like watercolor paintings with flowers popping and new leaves unfurling. Spectacular time of the year!

Viburnum

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So much more…but with this being a special week of celebrating the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah…will close here. Thanks for stopping by. It means so much.

Monday Morning Moment – Considering Others – the Wawa Experience

Small acts of kindness aren’t really so small. They add up and can alter your day. Take stopping into Wawa – “the ultimate convenience store for food, drink, fuel, and more”. [If you don’t have Wawa in your town, it’s wherever you stop for gas and coffee.] Now, Wawa seems to be a working person’s stop-on-the-go place. Fueling the car and grabbing a quick beverage (plus food maybe). Customers are on the move. They have places to go.

What happens there, in seconds, is noteworthy. When folks go to and from the store, they almost without exception, hold the door for the next customer. Literally, I sometimes just stand and watch, while filling my gas tank. [It would have been creepy for me to video this activity although I was tempted. It’s a constant where the one opening the door waits for the oncoming person exiting or entering.

So considerate. So courteous. Now, I’m sure there are folks who run in to grab coffee and are lost in their thoughts. They enter and exit without thinking. Not noticing the person in front or behind them. This happens…just doesn’t seem to happen here.

I love that about Wawa. Working people who have jobs to do but take the seconds to hold the door. A small act of kindness. Do we do that intuitively? Or did we learn it from someone – at home, in the classroom? It’s definitely a work culture phenomenon as well. Check out the #1 element of work culture that matters in the SloanReview article:

10 Things Your Corporate Culture Needs to Get Right – Donald Sull and Charles Sull

We lived overseas for many years and were amazed at the courtesy extended toward us and others. If I was at tea with local ladies and children entered from school, without prompting, they would go around the circle of women and greet each one of us. No matter how old they were. That was just one example of the almost ceremonial expression of hospitality wherever we found ourselves. Now, every culture has its imperfect treatment of people, but I was struck but the impact of courtesy and consideration expressed even from small children, even from teens.

Photo Credit: How to Know a Person, David Brooks, GoodReads

A verse in the Bible comes to mind related to this: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) In that moment, considering another more important than myself. A great exercise in life.

What does it take to teach, model, and reward/reenforce such qualities as consideration and courtesy such that they continue throughout life? I’d love to hear your take on this, in the Comments.

It was a sweet visit to Wawa for me. Consistent with every other visit. My favorite coffee (Hazelnut with vanilla creamer) even came free today and it’s not even Free Coffee Tuesday.

So…think about slowing down a bit and consider others just ahead of or behind you, and hold the door. If you read this far, you probably already make a habit of showing that level of care. Thank you.

Putting Others Before Yourself – 7 Great Tips – David Peach

The Power of Etiquette: How Practicing Good Manners Enhances Our Well-being

How to Teach Kids Good Manners: The True Meaning of Etiquette and Why It’s Important – Ashika Singh

The Importance of Courtesy: Lessons in Kindness and Respect – Naytik Sheth

Seven Activities for National Courtesy Month (September)

[Postscript: Below you’ll find another quote on being a friend or creating community. It goes beyond the scope of this Monday Morning Moment but is apropos to how we treat people, even in the moment, even strangers.]

Photo Credit: How to Know a Person, David Brooks, GoodReads

Worship Wednesday – Crown Him With Many Crowns – Looking to Easter and the Resurrected Christ

Photo Credit: Jean-Marie Pirot, also known as Arcabas, The Lent Project, Biola University

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.Revelation 4:10-11

During the season of Lent, leading up to Good Friday and Easter (Resurrection Sunday), I am inspired by reading, listening to music, and studying the beauty with which God surrounds us (including the sacred arts). Biola University combines all three resources for worship in its Lent Project which we can access online. The Arcabas painting above is the capstone of the March 21, 2024 devotional. The painting title is “The Humbled and Exalted Christ”. Christ is shown with the crown of thorns set painfully on His head prior to His crucifixion. Then, upon His resurrection/ascension, the angels are shown crowning Him with the golden crown as King of Heaven.

Below you’ll find excerpts from this day’s devotional written by Dr. David Merrill, theology professor at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology.

“We see the reality that it is here in Christ’s humiliation, there is exaltation. Here slave and king, heaven and earth, God and man are brought together…The incarnation, suffering, and death, form the basis of his exaltation. What is also won of course, is our salvation and healing, for “with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). In gathering humanity and death into himself he defeats death and gives us new life…this truth must find a home in our own hearts. For what we exalt in our hearts becomes lord of our lives and what we deem as beautiful governs our loves and desires, and thus directs our lives.”Dr. David Merrill

Crown Him with Many Crowns – Rev. Colin Smith

Worship with me to this timeless hymn:

1 Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king
through all eternity.

2 Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save;
his glories now we sing
who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

3 Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified;
no angels in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends their burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

4 Crown him the Lord of years,
the potentate of time,
creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.*

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as we look intently into Your face and attend to Your crucifixion, may You be exalted in our hearts. May our affections be captivated by Your beauty, and may we come to find that life is truly found in You alone. And where our loves have become captivated by the beauty of other lords, draw us back and lead us along the ancient path, the way of the cross. Amen. – Dr. David Merrill

*Lyrics to Crown Him with Many Crowns – Matthew Bridges (1851 – original lyrics, see below) and Godfrey Thring (1871, alterer of lyrics – shown above)

Casting of the Crowns – Commentary

[The lyrics below include all the verses, as written by Matthew Bridges (1851) – Anglican converted to Catholicism] and Godfrey Thring (alterer, 1871)

Crown Him with ma­ny crowns,
The Lamb up­on His throne.
Hark! How the heav’n­ly an­them drowns
All mu­sic but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee;
And hail Him as thy match­less king
Through all eter­ni­ty!

Crown Him the vir­gin’s son!
The God in­car­nate born,
Whose arm those crim­son tro­phies won
Which now His brow adorn!
Fruit of the mys­tic rose,
As of that rose the stem;
The root whence mer­cy ev­er flows,
The Babe of Beth­le­hem!

Crown Him the Lord of love!
Behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet vi­si­ble above,
In beau­ty glo­ri­fied:
No an­gel in the sky
Can ful­ly bear that sight,
But down­ward bends his burn­ing eye
At mys­ter­ies so bright!

Crown Him the Lord of peace!
Whose pow­er a scep­ter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
Absorbed in pray­er and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierc­èd feet
Fair flow­ers of pa­ra­dise ex­tend
Their frag­rance ev­er sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of years,
The Po­ten­tate of time,
Creator of the roll­ing spheres,
Ineffably sub­lime.
All hail, Re­deem­er, hail!
For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glo­ry shall not fail
Throughout eter­ni­ty.

Crown Him the Lord of Heav’n,
Enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the king to whom is giv’n
The won­drous name of Love.
Crown Him with ma­ny crowns,
As thrones be­fore Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with ma­ny crowns,
For He is king of all.

Crown Him the Son of God,
Before the worlds be­gan,
And ye who tread where He hath trod,
Crown Him the Son of Man;
Who ev­ery grief hath known
That wrings the hu­man breast,
And takes and bears them for His own,
That all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who tri­umphed o’er the grave,
And rose vic­to­ri­ous in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glo­ries now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eter­nal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of lords,
Who ov­er all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the in­car­nate Word,
For ran­somed sin­ners slain,
Now lives in realms of light,
Where saints with an­gels sing
Their songs be­fore Him day and night,
Their God, Re­deem­er, king.