Saturday, January 24, 2009

No Substitute for an Expert

I’m finally online! I bought this sweet little computer several weeks ago – works like a charm and slides into my purse nicely for travel. Only problem was that it could not connect to the internet using our USB modem. We have transported this little beauty back and forth across town to our internet service provider for the last week. Three charming computer techs had a go at it in various turns. We swapped for an upgraded SIM card (for a price). And finally were advised to downgrade my up-to-the-minute computer to Service Pack 2 that would be more compatible with the USB modem! With this dubious advice, we sped our way to a nearby computer store that had previously helped us exterminate a worm from our computer. After explaining our problem we reluctantly handed over our new baby to the computer tech complete with passwords and their promise to return it to us by the next day.

Within one hour we had a call back that we could come to pick up our computer! It’s true! He had made several minor changes in internet settings that allowed my new computer to connect to the internet like it was created to do. My computer savvy husband was embarrassed that he had missed it. Three friendly smart computer techs had also failed to spot the problem! As we drove home I was reminded of two things. First, how important it is to go to the right person with the right knowledge and expertise. A friendly smile, a good listening ear, or even a title or position are not necessarily the qualifications that make someone an “expert,” but they sure do help ease the pain of the irritation.

Secondly, no problem is unsolvable if the right person is involved! My computer problem loomed as an impossible situation, at least a frustratingly hopeless situation; and we seriously considered compromising for the sake of finding a solution. Yet, just around the corner was an expert waiting to be invited to apply his knowledge.

I was reminded of a Scripture I had been meditating on for the last week, “He [God] will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure” (Isa 33:6 NIV). So many times in ministry I have reached the boiling point of frustration and sense of hopelessness. But this Scripture reminds me that for sure God is the expert in every area within my imagination and is just around the corner waiting for me to come for his help. And he does it with a smile and a listening ear and experienced expertise!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Keeping on Track and out of the Ruts

OK we’re three weeks into the new year. Time to take inventory of those lovely New Year’s resolutions I decisively jotted in my journal. How am I doing so far? Now where were those things I wrote out? In fact, what were they again? Vaguely it’s coming back…

Maybe you’re like me. New Year’s resolutions are great to help identify changes I want to make in my life. Commendably, I’ve suspended frantic activities long enough to recognize the need to change and paused long enough to want to do something about it. But if my insight and desire surface only on that one day at the beginning of the new year I’ll sadly join the ranks of petrified characters who dutifully mount their soap boxes again at the end of 2009 with regret and recycled resolutions.

So here I am in danger of getting off track with my well intentioned and Spirit-prompted changes! I’m pouring into my work with fresh vigor and passion. The pressing emails, phone calls, reports, planning, and errands are taking over my waking hours. Oh, did I tell you about my increasing interest in the finer points of writing? Oh, yes, did I tell you about joining Facebook that consumes valuable minutes during my coffee breaks?

Enough. What can I do to sharpen the focus and possibility of the success of my proposed changes for 2009? First of all, find them. Get them out and put them some place where they’ll stare me in the face each day. For me that’s my Power Point prayer list. For others it’s their refrigerator or desktop.

Secondly, make them a matter of prayer. How obviously simple and yet so easily forgotten. Prayer provides a daily reminder and is the given means of involving God in the process of my change. Through prayer I invite his grace, strength and Spirit’s promptings as I begin the daunting task of disrupting well established routines and habits that have made up my previous behaviors and responses.

And thirdly, involve someone else in accountability, someone who is willing to risk challenging me to keep on the progress track and willing to call me out when I run straight back into hobbling in the old ruts of habits that I vehemently deplored last December. For me that’s my husband. I give him the right to challenge, badger, question, and encourage me to keep on track and to stand beside me on 31 December with a banner of victory and a fresh list of resolutions for the next year. How about you?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

They’ll Know You Are My Disciples

How refreshing, challenging, and disturbing. MukomaWa Ngugi wrote his appraisal of lessons learned and not learned from the Kenya election fiasco of 2008 in the Jan-Mar 09 edition of BBC Focus on Africa.

Refreshing because Ngugi profiles the National Council of Churches of Kenya as responding in an honorable role during this hiatus of Kenya politics. Not because the churches remained exempt from participation in the violence, but rather because they publicly acknowledged their partisan response to the post election violence and apologized for not taking a united stand for justice. Such a humble public admission of wrong stands out as a stark example in a time when many governments and leaders flounder to make reasonable and honorable excuses for their own failures that have crippled nations and cost great loss of lives.

Challenging because Ngugi showcases the church’s apology on the international field, setting a standard for the Church worldwide to be as courageous in admitting their failures to be the source of solving problems rather than being embroiled in the problems along with the public. Challenging because the watching world knows how the Church should respond! Challenging because they know the Church should be different.

Disturbing because Ngugi has highlighted the Council of Church’s acknowledgement and apology in such a way that leaves us as believers with a serious reminder to follow their example in our very basic everyday existence. While it feels quite safe for us to honestly confess our sins privately to God, it is another thing to transparently acknowledge those same sins and failures in the presence of our most beloved critics, our family members and peers. In an era of political mud slinging and dodging expertise, the National Council of Churches of Kenya has clearly modeled the radical humility that God calls for in those of us who would call ourselves Christians.

So refreshing, challenging, and disturbing. The eyes of the world have observed and recognized a higher standard. And they shall know you are my disciples by your…humility and confession of wrong. Now that is disturbing.