Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Monday
May282012

TINA FEY ON IMPROV

The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life And Reduce Belly Fat *

By Tina Fey

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE.  Always agree and SAY YES.  When you're improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created.  So if we're improvising and I say, "Freeze, I have a gun," and you say, "That's not a gun, it's your finger.  You're pointing your finger at me," our improvised scene has ground to a halt.  But if I say, "Freeze, I have a gun!" and you say, "The gun I gave you for Christmas!  You bastard!" then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.

Now, obviously in real life you're not always going to agree with everything everyone says.  But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to "respect what your partner has created" and to at least start from an open-minded place.  Start with a YES and see where that takes you.

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no.  "No, we can't do that."  "No, that's not in the budget."  "No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar."  What kind of way is that to live?

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but "YES, AND."  You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own.  If I start a scene with "I can't believe it's so hot in here," and you just say, "Yeah . . ." we're kind of at a standstill.  But if I say, "I can't believe it's so hot in here," and you say, "What did you expect?  We're in hell."  Or if I say, "I can't believe it's so hot in here," and you say, "Yes, this can't be good for the wax figures."  "Or if I say, "I can't believe it's so hot in here," and you say, "I told you we shouldn't have crawled into this dog's mouth," now we're getting somewhere.

To me, YES, AND means don't be afraid to contribute.  Always make sure you're adding something to the discussion.  Your initiations are worthwhile.

The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS.  This is a positive way of saying, "Don't ask questions all the time."  If we're in a scene and I say, "Who are you?  Where are we?  What are we doing here?  What's in that box?" I'm putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.

Tina Fey by David ShankboneIn other words:  Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.  Don't just sit around asking questions and pointing out obstacles.  We've all worked with that person.  That person is a drag.  It's usually the same person around the office who says things like, "There's no calories in it if you eat it standing up!" and "I felt menaced when Terry raised her voice."

MAKE STATEMENTS also applies to us women: Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, "I'm going to be your surgeon?  I'm here to talk to you about your procedure?  I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?"  Make statements with your actions and your voice.

Instead of saying, "Where are we?" make a statement like "Here we are in Spain, Dracula."  Okay, "Here we are in Spain Dracula" may seem like a terrible start to a scene, but this leads us to the best rule:

THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities.  If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what?  Now I'm a hamster in a hamster wheel.  I'm not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll end up being a police hamster who's been put on hamster wheel duty because I'm too much of a "loose cannon" in the field. In improv, there are no mistakes, only beautiful, happy accidents. And many of the world's greatest discoveries have been by accident.  I mean, look at the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.

     *  Improv won't reduce belly fat.

     From Bossypants, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011, pages 84 and 85.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

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