Archive for the ‘Relationship’ Tag

Outrage and Hope   1 comment

Recently I was scrolling through Facebook (often dangerous) and came upon an article that shocked me to the core. Actually I was so outraged that I had to at least try to investigate if the information was  an example of the notorious”fake news”. So for reasons that I trust will become apparent I am resisting the urge to provide you with a link to the article so you can be outraged as well. Suffice it to say that article recounted how one of our news stations broadcast an investigative report on how Iceland has succeeded in almost completely eliminating Downs Syndrome from their population.On the face of it an interesting story until as the story unfolds it becomes apparent that the report is celebrates and praises an achievement that has been brought about by aborting any pregnancies that have the slightest chance of being Down Syndrome children.

Now I confess that to a limited extent this is personal to me. I have friends who have Downs Syndrome children and without exception they are wonderful human beings and the world would unquestionably be poorer without them. While making unique and productive contributions to their communities, they spread  joy and love in ways few others are able to parallel. However as I thought about this further I became dissatisfied with the idea that I could merely join the chorus of protest and outrage. As a follower of Jesus I have so often regretted that all we seem able to do is join the chorus when, if we really believe that Jesus is the hope for the world we should be able to find away to proclaim hope with an equally loud and passionate voice.

By God’s grace in this particular situation I believe I found a way to do just that. One of the most compelling podcasts I listen to comes from an organization simply named Q*  Its founder, Gabe Lyons, and his wife Rebekah have a Downs syndrome child themselves, and in a recent edition interviewed an wonderful lady, Heather Avis. Heather has adopted two of these amazing children. She tells a story of joy and hope that provides a powerful repost to anyone who considers  the elimination of such people is anything to be celebrated. So I enthusiastically provide links both to this conversation and to her book ” The Lucky Ones.”

One final thought, I am wondering if the sharing of hope should not be a priority in my thinking whenever I consider responding to the vast range of tragedies and outrages that litter our news media from home and abroad. If, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the answer and that He is enough then it is that hope which is the unique and powerful contribution we can offer, in humility, to these conversations. Otherwise we simply join the rhetoric that fuels the anger that so often brings yet more tragedy… What do you think?

*Q is an organization that facilitates wide-ranging conversations about the most challenging issues of our day. It is probably the most stimulating podcast I listen to and is guaranteed to challenge you to think differently!

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Give and Take Pt 2   Leave a comment

I promised further insight from“Thanks for the Feedback” by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone, so here is part 2

It would seem that there may be more to learn about receiving feedback than we first think (See post 8/15).  At the end of their first chapter Heen and Stone ask this question ” Why is it that when we give feedback we often feel so right, yet when we receive feedback it so often feels wrong?”  A more detailed look at the “triggers” enumerated in my last post will help. In order to give more objective attention to the feedback we receive, we must first be able to recognize the type of feedback we are receiving. The authors list three; Appreciation, Coaching  and Evaluation.  The first, appreciation, is about our relationship with the giver. An indication that the hard work one has done is valued or simply that they like to have you around! Coaching often takes the form of helpful, constructive suggestions about how something can be improved. Evaluation is simply a statement of performance against a known standard. All three types of feedback are extremely valuable in the right context, but when we expect or want one type and get another, our response can range from frustration to anger and hurt. When we just need someone to tell us they value us and they give us some handy tips on cooking steak, or indeed when we would value some help and all that is forthcoming is an “attaboy” we are left disappointed!  Whereas it maybe difficult to avoid negative responses altogether, being conscious of the type of feedback we are seeking and  recognizing the type we are in fact getting can at least help>

What difference does it make?   Leave a comment

Continuing our look into “A Praying Life “ by Paul Miller one of the first questions he asks is, “ What good does it [prayer] do?” Like so much in this book, it is a question we have all asked often but rarely dared to utter out loud. Often our childlike faith gives way to cynicism in the wake of sincere prayers that seem to fall on deaf ears. As a consequence, deep down, there is a growing lack of confidence that prayer makes any difference.

Miller suggests that, in an attempt to get help we might visit an imaginary “prayer therapist”. Asked about what it means to be a child of God, we give a full account of the relevant doctrine. However when asked to describe what it feels like to spend time and talk with our Father…

“You cautiously tell the therapist how difficult it is to be in your Father’s presence, even for a couple of minutes. Your mind wanders. You aren’t sure what to say. You wonder, ‘Does prayer make any difference? Is God even there?’ Then you feel guilty for your doubts and just give up. Your therapist tells you what you already suspect. “Your relationship with your heavenly Father is dysfunctional. You talk as if you have an intimate relationship, but you don’t. Theoretically, it is close. Practically, it is distant. You need help.”

So how do we begin to reach for the type of prayer life that is described in the pages of our Bibles. Miller suggests we begin by realizing that prayer is first and foremost about relationship and to help us understand this he uses the image of a family meal    

A praying life feels like our family mealtimes because prayer is all about relationship. It’s intimate and hints at eternity. We don’t think about communication or words but about whom we are talking with. Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God. Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another.

But then so many of our family meals these days are rushed, taken at different times dependent upon our diverse and frantic schedules. Could it be that this feature of our home lives is reflected in our experience of relationship (or lack of it) with our Father in heaven? Could be at least part of the reason we don’t experience  “a praying life?”

Posted August 31, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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