Thursday, December 15, 2016

How are you?



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“How are you?” is a loaded question when directed at myself or other cancer survivors.

There are 47 markers from a blood test that my oncologist looks at to answer that question.

I had 46 normal ones with only one out of normal range. Her years of experience and training, led her to conclude it wasn’t any problem. It did seem strange to her that my good cholesterol was 38 when it should be greater than 40. 

So, why focus on one problem, when there are like 46 other great things going on.

One or two bad days, bad weeks, bad years, bad arguments, bad meals, bad hair, bad attitudes do not define a human being.

One’s identity is not found in that one marker that is out of the standard range.

An ultra runner may have one bad stretch of a run, but by experience doesn’t pull out, because they know it is a standard part of the race.

A long-term marriage partner doesn’t pull out of the relationship when there is one or two bad seasons, for they know there will be better seasons and have experienced better ones.

A maturing person will have a few bad days, but won’t give up because they know the bad days come and go and are a part of being a maturing human being.

Markers are just marking what is.  Take note of where you are, get advice from professionals, pull from experience, deepen faith in God, make changes, keep living and focus on the 46 good markers.

Great joys are found even in chemotherapy infusion rooms surrounded by the sickest of patients with the deadliest of diseases.  You too can discover that well-being has less to do with one’s circumstances than one’s mindfulness about the 46 good markers in life. 

Consider hiring a coach to help you with your 2017 mindsets. Visit my coaching website, ccraigburns.com if you want someone to unconditionally and confidentially help you discover your way forward.  

Consider joining a community of God’s people, to help you live in community, process life and prepare for eternity. Visit our congregations website at ViennaAG.com if you want to begin thinking about joining.

Acting on these considerations could help you focus on the 46 great markers in your life, and not let that one, define you.  I understand that it is a struggle to NOT focus on the one marker.  (I increased my oatmeal intake this morning as well as ran four miles in the freezing weather and gusting wind.)

If this Christmas isn’t all merry, don’t focus on this one.  There have been good ones, and there will be more good ones.  Even the less than positive ones, have a few good markers to remember.  So what if a few situations are out of the “standard range”?  (It is our first Christmas after losing our unconditional loving dog.)

Having a Merry Christmas is your choice, so go have one, and another one, and. another…


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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Focus on the Person Not the Problem



One of my mentor coaches wrote an enlightening book on this topic. (It’s very expensive.  Only .99 on Amazon Kindle and could change your life. “Coach the Person Not the Problem” by Chad Hall.)

Chad is the President of Coach Approach Ministries, and say’s, “don’t let the word problem trip you up. If you’d rather think of this as the client’s challenge, topic, or issue, that’s fine.”

I have joined CAM, and after 5 plus years of study, preparation, and practice I recently reached the first milestone of being certified by the International Coaching Federation as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC).

As the focus shifts from the problem to the person, a transformation can occur.

Consider taking the action step to focus on the person, not the problem as an offering to the Lord during Advent.  Anytime a problem manifests itself, make the attempt at focusing on the person with the same grace of the virgin born one.

Another author on this topic was the Apostle Paul who wrote: “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Eph. 4:4 NLT

I find it difficult to be tenderhearted and forgiving, when I focus on the problematic actions of others.  I also find it difficult to remain focused on the person if I focus on a very positive action or aspect of a person.

The easy path forward is to stay the same.   A more rewarding and difficult path is to focus on the person, and not the problem or a very positive issue, “just as God through Christ has ...”.

Consider this:  Hiring me as a coach for the first part of 2017 to help you with a positive trajectory.  Visit my website and discern if I would be a good fit for you. https://ccraigburns.com/

Also consider joining the community of Vienna Assembly of God.  Visit our website to see if we would be a good fit for you.  http://viennaag.com/

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reflectors are NOT enough

Early one morning I was run over by a bicyclist from behind.  My reflective gear wasn’t enough for the rider to see me in time to brake and/or swerve.  For years I blamed the cyclist, until it dawned on me, that reflective gear is not enough.  So, now I run with both a forward facing headlamp, and a rear facing red back light when it is still dark outside.  Vehicle drivers, other runners and cyclists cannot depend on reflectors alone to know there is trouble ahead. They rely on a car’s brake lights or a runner’s backlight to alert them to the need to also brake and/or change their trajectory.



What’s the point?

As a Christian, we hope that our good behavior will so reflect the love of Jesus that someone will want to come to church with us, and/or enter a relationship with God.  Most people have so much going on, that they miss subtle signals, and need a “brake light ahead” to let them know to slow down and adjust their trajectory.

Be affirmed for being a nice person and reflecting the love and grace of Jesus. Also be encouraged to generate some light by using words about your church and/or a relationship with God, through Christ Jesus.

We have many examples in the Christmas story of telling others about Jesus. 

Luke 2:17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone...


Who will you tell about Jesus and invite to your church?


When?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Neutrality and Polarity


The presidential election has revealed how polarized we are as a nation.  How do we follow Jesus in this polarized environment.  A difficulty in determining and following our Lord’s example is that he demonstrated many different leadership characteristics in ministry.  He is referenced in scripture in contradictory terms often in the same book, chapter and verse.  He is defined both as a predator and prey in Rev. 5:5,6.[1]   He is defined as the author and perfector or finisher of our faith in Heb. 12:2.[2]  He is restorer in Acts 1:6[3] and destroyer in Mt. 24:2 [4].  He is healer in Mt. 15:31 [5] and afflicter in Zephaniah 1:17[6].  He is holy, set apart from culture in Revelations. 4:8[7], and incarnated into culture in Philippians 2:6-8[8].  He is also defined as judge in Acts 10:42[9], and mediator in 1 Timothy 2:5[10].   He is described as one who is to judge in John 5:22[11] and as one who is not to judge in John 12:47[12].  The dilemma in following Christ as our example into this polarized world is highlighted in the book of John.  In one scripture Jesus himself tells us that he did not “come to judge the world” [13] yet in John 9:39 he tells us that judgment is why he came into the world. [14]

Navigating polarity requires that we follow our Lord’s example.  The challenge is that there are so many conflicting characteristics of Christ, all of which we are to reflect.   Which model best serves the purpose of navigating polarity?  The model penned by the Apostle Paul regarding Jesus in Philippians 2 is the clearest example of Christ being neutral in his office of mediation.  Philippians 2 says that Christ “made himself nothing”[15].  This neutral, or “nothing” model is what one must bring to the table of polarizing conversation.  Jesus further demonstrated this when he clearly stated that he didn’t bring his own agenda to the place of mediation and reconciliation, but “the will of him who sent me.”[16]  Often, Jesus would refer to his neutral mediatorial role reminding his disciples and even himself in prayer that He did not come to do his will, but the will of the Father.[17] This neutral mediatorial theme is reflected often in the gospels, going so far to claim, Jesus did nothing whatsoever on his own.[18]
We must use discernment and reserve acting upon Jesus’ example as Judge for very rare cases.   The definition of judge, according to Dictionary.com, is to “pass sentence on and condemn, as well as to govern, rule and to hear and decide on in a court of law.” [19]  Also, from Dictonary.com, the definition of mediator is “one that reconciles differences between disputants”. [20]  A mediator is a neutral party “who intervenes between two persons who are at variance, with a view to reconcile them” and as a “medium of communication between two parties” [21] while a judge is someone who “passes sentence on, and condemns”[22].   The mediator model is the more effective choice for a pastor/leader in a Christian context for resolving the conflict in this polarized culture.
            Prayerfully re-consider polarizing rhetoric, including sharing polarizing  social media posts.




[1]NIV Revelation 5:5 Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." 6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
[2] NIV Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
[3] NIV Acts 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
[4] NIV Matthew 24:2 "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
[5] NIV Matthew 15:31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
[6] NIV Zephaniah 1:17 I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth.
[7] NIV Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
[8] NIV Philippians 2:6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
[9] NIV Acts 10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
[10] NIV 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
[11] NIV John 5:22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,
[12] NIV John 12:47 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.
[13] Ibid
[14] NIV John 9:39 Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."
[15] NIV Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
[16] NIV John 4:34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
[17] NIV Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
[18]. NIV John 8:28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
[19] http://dictionary.reference.com/  
[20] http://dictionary.reference.com/
[22] http://dictionary.reference.com/