My wife Nancy and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary last week, and I have been reflecting on our years together. She works from home, raising our five children, and caring for her high-maintenance husband. She is utterly precious, and I value her more than diamonds or rubies. Almost every day throughout these years, Nancy has greeted me at the door when I get home from work. Her smile is warm and her embrace warmer. She is genuinely glad to see me, and always follows a hug with “how was your day?”
Over and over and over again is the only way to learn, to work, and to grow in God. Our attitude controls whether we get bored or get better.
Multnomah Bible College professor John Mitchell was renowned for having vast swaths of the Bible memorized, including most of the New Testament and much of the Old. He denied having more than average ability and wasn’t even trying to memorize Scripture. Dr. Mitchell absorbed so much of God’s Word because while preparing a sermon he read each passage aloud fifty times before preaching it. The key to learning the Bible is repetition.
This morning I read the story of Demetrius the silversmith in Acts 19. I do my daily Bible study in German and Spanish, checking my interpretation in English. In so doing I improve language skills and get a different perspective from reading the English alone. It is good work but sometimes slow, especially when I run across a new word or phrase. By about the fifth time seeing a word or phrase, I know it. At work I converse with a Spanish speaking lady every day, and talk in German as often as possible. The key to learning languages is repetition.
How do leaders and influential groups in the world view Christians? How do Christians view themselves? How does God view His people?
As a leader, a seminary teacher, and a medical professional, I keep abreast of events throughout the world. To do so, I review news on many websites every day (see the Virtual Business and Intelligence Center), and read the Economist, a highly regarded British news magazine, every week. The 18 September 2015 cover story was an article entitled “Two Mexicos”, but what struck me was the cover image, contrasting the two Mexicos. The upper half of the image showed a man playing a guitar, three cactuses, a well-appointed factory, and a smiling statue. The lower half of the image showed a man holding a rifle, three crosses, a ramshackle house, and a frowning statue.
We talk to other people to share information, to make impressions, to intimidate, to seduce, and for more reasons than we realize.
Last month I attended triservice Disaster Management classes in San Antonio, TX. We did many team simulations and during a break I chatted with a teammate, Sarah, a Navy environmental health officer. She had only been in uniform a few months, previously working as an environmental lobbyist in Washington DC. A single female in her mid-30s, she was a self-described liberal, and after class she was going to Austin, which she described as a “little blue dot in a sea of red”.
Pundits might classify Sarah and I on different ends of the political spectrum, and I was curious about her views. We chatted a few moments about economic inequality, and at the next break I asked her to continue with her thoughts. She hesitated. Sarah said “these conversations start from different points” and they end “without either person having convinced the other”. I responded, “yes”, but to convince the other person is not the main point of a conversation; the main point of such discourse is to build relationships. She seemed a little surprised, but began sharing, and we had a fine discussion.