Be Intentional

No one will accomplish their life’s masterpiece without being intentional. Malcolm Gladwell proposes a 10,000 Hour Rule. He believes that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. If you Google the “10,000 hour Rule,” you will find both adherents and detractors from this idea. Whether Gladwell is completely correct or not, consider devoting 10,000 hours to following Jesus’ teaching.

Remember, this is what Jesus taught to be the supreme activity for humankind.  Also, remember that Jesus was the most successful and joyful person to ever walk the earth. Continue reading “Be Intentional”

Masterpiece Mondays: Is Your Life a Masterpiece?

What is the masterpiece that you are creating with your life? That was the question I asked in last Tuesday’s blog post. As I sought an answer, I turned to Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22.36-40).

With a fair amount of intentionality I focused last week on fully loving God and giving love and only love to other people.

Success and Failure Continue reading “Masterpiece Mondays: Is Your Life a Masterpiece?”

Jesse James and Mixed Messages: Matt Brooks

Matt Brooks is an inmate in the Missouri Department of Corrections. I was introduced to Matt by my good friend, Josh Monk. Matt had an experience with Jesus Christ while in a local county jail. He and I have been corresponding ever since that time.

While in prison, Matt reads, writes, exercises, and tries to be a positive influence to others. This section of Matt’s writings concern the famed outlaw, Jesse James.

Why is a ruthless criminal famous?

Bang Bang! rang the sound from Jesse’s revolver, “Yah! Yah!,” yelled his brother Frank as they barreled around the corner to ride out on the plains.

“We’d better skedaddle out of here if we wanna get a jump on that Pinkerton bunch,” Jesse James said urgently. “You know they’ll have every law dog in this neck of Clay County on our heals, once they find we plugged one of their own!”

Every time I hear mention of the name Jesse James I’m reminded of the unbalanced justice system in place today. Portrayed as a dapper, chivalrous gentlemen during his robberies, was only to sell the nickel and dime novels he so proudly helped usher into the 20th century. They say money is the root of all evil, sitting right there central to, was Jesse James. Raised by a Baptist minister, I guess the goodness of the truth from the gospel would pass him by. He was set up on high as some sort of myth, or legend, when in all actuality he was savage, cold blooded, killer. Continue reading “Jesse James and Mixed Messages: Matt Brooks”

The Corrections Industry: Zach Bowers

Zach Bowers is an inmate in the Missouri Department of Corrections. He appreciates the outlet that provides him for the expression of his views. Next week, we will have an interview with his daughter in the blog.

Broken Industry

This industry of “correction,” that feeds its bottom line by the amount of bodies it pulls into its iron grasp, snared me at the age of 15. On May 11, 1997 I was charged as an adult in the Missouri courts. I was numbered and sent off to prison to fuel a broken industry.

What do I mean by “broken”? When an industry is built on the backs of suffering men and women who are in bondage, it is doomed to failure. Look at slavery! Missouri’s Department of Corrections is doing just that and is failing as an “industry.” More importantly, it is failing to fulfill its sworn service to correct and rehabilitate those who are housed in these stagnant prisons.

Evidence of its failure can be seen in the astronomically high recidivism rates Missouri DOC produces. Admittedly, the DOC has been tasked with a difficult job of persuading inmates to take up wholesome lives, as opposed to the drugs and gangs that are prevalent in prison.

However, it can be done. Continue reading “The Corrections Industry: Zach Bowers”

A Morning Prayer

The Orthodox Church includes Psalm 5 in their daily liturgy. Imagine the value of praying and meditating on the words of the Psalmist on a regular basis.

God personally hears our prayers, sighs, and cries.

God is not an impersonal force, but he is a personal being. As such, he hears all of the ways we bring our thoughts to him. The prayer begins with a bold and confident appeal for God to hear the prayer.

Psalm 5.1-2 – Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. Continue reading “A Morning Prayer”

“Flash Prayers” and the Danger of Sand

A famous tank commander during World War II was asked what was the most troubling aspect in leading his command. He replied with one word and said, “Sand.” Sand seemed to be far less lethal than anti-tank weapons, but it was very pervasive in “gumming up” the machinery and severely limited the effectiveness of a tank.

On Tuesday’s blog, I wrote about my life being a masterpiece that was defined by Jesus’ words to love God with all my being and to give love and only love to others (See Matthew 22.36-40).

What gets in the way of my masterpiece becoming a reality? One word, “sand.” I usually begin my day well. I have pleasant visit with my wife while we eat breakfast. This is followed by a Bible study and reading the news on-line. One of my joys is to take my grandson to school each morning. Along the way, “sand” enters the picture and “gums up” the machinery of my plans. Rush hour traffic and erratic drivers often begin the process. Phone calls and demands on my time and energy, though sometimes pleasant, can fit in the “sand” category. I have one word for tasks that I must do, but don’t particularly enjoy – “sand”. Throw in some conflict and problem solving. Add physical tiredness. I think you have the picture. By the end of the day, the “sand” of life has caused me to be dull and spiritually vulnerable. Continue reading ““Flash Prayers” and the Danger of Sand”

Spiritual Friends: Meeting Makers Make It

Every Tuesday night I meet with a few spiritual friends. These people are important providers of security for children’s events at Maywood. Each Sunday and Wednesday night these kind people check in children for the children’s programs at our church. We meet on Tuesdays to visit, pray and talk about random topics that I propose to them.

Meeting Makers Make It

One slogan that is often used in AA meetings is that “meeting makers make it.” Our Tuesday night topic was to get the opinions of my friends about the value of AA, NA or church small group meetings. Continue reading “Spiritual Friends: Meeting Makers Make It”