Our 4 Rules For Posting Family Pictures

IMG_20151025_152607I love taking pictures of my family. I love sharing pictures of my family. My cellphone has become a proverbial wallet with the flowing picture stack. Often my first instinct is to post some cute thing that Miss E has done. But 99% of the time, I don’t actually do it. Unlike a wallet, a digital post is instantly accessible by the myriad of people who can see my different social media accounts which isn’t just the people I’m connected with online, but also the employees of the different services that I use. Unlike a wallet, multiple digital versions of a photo instantly come into existence the nanosecond I upload that photo. Unlike a wallet, uploaded photos are nigh-impossible to destroy completely.

The Digital Wild

The digital world is wild and filled with trolls which unfortunately do not turn into stone during the day. Be that as it may, we cannot keep our children out of the world, digital or otherwise, and expect them to know how to deal with the dangers lurking in the shadows of the mountains.

Here’s the reality of the digital wild:

  1. Memes can quite suddenly come from anywhere. When something goes viral, there’s no taking that back. Even though memes fade, a person will be connected to it for a very long time (kind of like a one-hit wonder).
  2. There are people who take publicly accessible photos and manipulate them into some pretty heinous garbage. To be frank, I don’t want my kids image to be exploited, especially by pornographers.
  3. We want our kids to be able to grow up with as little digital baggage as possible. We understand that our children will be among the most quantified and digitized generation that has ever existed. In the interest of what little privacy our children will have, we want to make sure that they don’t have the burden of having every success, failure, happiness, tantrum, sick day, sadness, and other intimate moments follow them throughout their lives in HDR detail for every employer, potential spouse, friends, and enemies to see.

Mrs. Jones and I know that we can’t keep our kids out of the digital world. Barring some fantastical series of events that send us back to the 19th century, the digital world is here to stay.

So, Here’s Our 4 Rules For Posting Family Pictures

  1. Our children must always be dressed.
  2. Our children must always have an adult in the photo with them.
  3. The photo should be in as public of a space as possible.
  4. We ask parents of other kids who may be in our photos with us if it’s alright to post, and we really, really appreciate it when you ask us the same.

We decided these rules before Miss E was born. They work for us because we often struggle to catch up to our various social media providers ever-changing privacy policies. Instead of trying to create a complicated curation system based on who can see what and where, we thought about it more from the perspective of “would this be ok to post on a bulletin board.”

I’m not saying you should do what we do for your family. I just thought you might would like to see why we do it.

Updates for October

Long time, no see. So, we’ve been busy. Who isn’t, though? So far, it’s been a great fall. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Mrs. Jones and I have started working with Mercy Clinic Fort Worth to provide communications services. You should go check it out (after you’re done reading this post, of course).
  • Miss E was the cutest Halloween strawberry:
    halloween strawberry
  • The MBA is coming along nicely. It’s just the academic challenge I’ve been itching for. Each class is a window into a world of insights that I honestly didn’t know anything about or just refused to see. Such as:
    • In Economics (the market kind, not the Marxist kind), did you know that competition isn’t between sellers and buyers, but amongst sellers or buyers. I didn’t. Probably through a combination of bad information and English professors, I had just come to a meandering conclusion that to sell anyone anything meant accepting a certain level of being ripped-off, as if the whole world were populated by unethical used car salesmen (what can I say? I went to a state college with a strong populist bent). I was wrong. Capitalism may be about competing for market surplus, but it can’t survive if everyone is cheating each other.
      People who cheat won’t survive in the long run… which sounds an awful lot like Proverbs 10:2: “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.”
    • The four functions of management are: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (monitoring). Note this does not say: “ordering people around.” I’ve got a whole other post coming up about this.
      Bill Lumbergh

      Bill Lumbergh… the classic middle management caricature.

      So, yeah… not coming in on Sunday.

    • Any group of humans who manage to stick together long enough to accomplish something have a system of rules – some explicit, some implicit – which govern behavior. It’s the implicit rules, or culture, that usually trip up newcomers. I’m not sure why I’ve refused to acknowledge this reality — I’ve always seen it, but refused to accept it. I’m not sure why I expected ministry to be different — people are people, even the saints.
    • Good strategy comes from the top. Good feedback comes from the bottom (and the top). When this cycle is disrupted, there will be problems. Guaranteed. How is this cycle disrupted? A combination of bad internal communication and misunderstood culture (see the point above). When I think about the dysfunctional organizations I’ve been a part of, this stands out big in my mind.
    • Black Friday isn’t a bargain. Most people know this. It’s not about the bargains; Americans like the thrill of the hunt and competing with one another (see my first point above).
    • A good attitude is vital to your survival. When I say good, I mean healthy not unrealistically optimistic. Some days are going to be fantastic and others will be rotten. A good attitude is a mindset of responding in a correct and mature fashion.  There is nowhere you or I can go that will ultimately reward us for having a bad attitude. The struggle is real, but struggle we must.
    • Showing up (aka. doing what you say you will do when you said you will do it) is definitely more important than being the smartest person in the room. Again, the struggle is real. If you struggle too, do what I do — tell yourself a new story: “I am a person who shows up.” Then do it. When you struggle, don’t change your narrative — admit your limitations, and just keep swimming.

Business school has been great for me. Modern management shares many commonalities with stewardship. Every class I learn something and think to myself: “Wow. I can’t believe I want to serve the Church, and I didn’t know that!” This is definitely Phase II of equipping myself so that I can equip others.

Until next week (yes, showing up is part of my narrative now)!

Oh, and don’t forget! Check it out: mercy-clinic.org

Bowtie Selfies and 5 Lessons on Consistency

I know this sounds silly, but I did it anyways. I was challenged to post a daily picture of a bowtie selfie until I ran out.. just to see how many I had. So, I thought, what the heck? Why not. Normally, I am not a selfie person — I wasn’t expecting to learn anything from a bunch of bowtie selfie pics, but I have this habit of noticing trends, and wouldn’t you know it, I learned something.

The Challenge: A Bowtie Selfie A Day

bowtie selfie 1 bowtie selfie 2 bowtie selfie 3 bowtie selfie 4 bowtie selfie 5 bowtie selfie 6 bowtie selfie 7 bowtie selfie 8

First of all, I didn’t use every bowtie I own. I picked the eight best over two weeks (we have casual Friday at work).

The Lessons

  1. When you commit to something, people expect you to show up. Promises have tiny grace periods. People expect you to do what you say.
  2. Consistency is nourished on accountability. If I was even five minutes late posting my picture, I started getting messages.
  3. Consistency leads to recognition. The act of showing up every day at the same time with a new photo caused a modest increase in people interacting with me on social media.
  4. Consistent is better than perfect. That being said, if we wait for “flawless,” we’ll never be reliable. Doing something well doesn’t have to be the same as creating a masterpiece. Note: none of those photos come close to perfect.
  5. Consistency will translate into faithfulness. The choices and actions that we repeat over and over are the foundation of our character.

Conclusion

Good old fashioned playfulness can lead to surprising insights. Have you learned anything lately through play?

What Does Blessed Mean?

What Does Blessed Mean?We all want to be blessed, right? What normal person says to God, “That’s enough blessing for now, thank you.” Of course we want to be blessed, but the popular understanding of being blessed and the Scriptural understanding have drifted apart.

Conventional wisdom assumes God specially favors people who have good health, extravagant wealth, and a position of power. I do not deny that God places His children into positions of wealth or authority, but the presence or absence of wealth and authority do not necessarily correlate with a state of blessedness. Scripture often cautions us against pursuing them.

And, yet, not a day goes by where I do not see some pithy statement or empty prayer on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter that promises wealth and blessings “in Jesus’ name.” I do not deny that Scripture promises abundant life, nor do I deny that we have a fabulous inheritance in Christ. I believe that God will do miraculous things in the lives of the faithful… but for His name’s sake and glory alone.

Blessedness and Kingdom Priorities

From a human point of view, it seems that comfort and provision would indicate God’s favor. However, pious saints live in abject poverty and vile sinners control the welfare of nations. Suffering does not necessarily indicate God’s displeasure anymore than comfort indicate of His favor.

Moreover, we must remember an important detail about the kingdom of God: God’s ways are not like our ways. He doesn’t look on the outside, but searches the heart. To put it another way, kingdom priorities are often paradoxical and what we expect least.* For example:

  1. The first shall be last.
  2. The greatest in the kingdom will be the least.
  3. Christ came to serve, not be served.
  4. He who would lose his life for Christ’s sake will gain it.
  5. Take up your cross daily.
  6. Though we are crucified with Christ, yet we live (not us, but Christ who lives in us).
  7. The kingdom was revealed to “babes” instead of the wise.

These are paradoxical because they turn our conventional, human wisdom on its head. Blessing and blessedness, too, aren’t what we expect.

So, What Does Blessed Mean Anyways?

In the Scriptures listed below, blessed means the happiness that comes from being in an enviable position. This is a good starting point. We all want that enviable state of happiness. Where we become confused is understanding what is truly enviable. As you read through these, take note of what God says about riches, poverty, and happiness.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
-Matthew 5:3-12

Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
-Matthew 11:4-6

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.
-Luke 1:45

So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
-Acts 20:32-35

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.
-Romans 4:7-8

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
-James 1:12

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
-1 Peter 4:12-16

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
– Revelation 14:13

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
-Revelation 19:9

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
-Revelation 20:6

Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.
-Revelation 22:7

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
-Revelation 22:14

What Blessed Doesn’t Mean

In all of the passages above, blessed come from the same word in Greek (makarios). This form of blessed occurs 50 times in the New Testament (I have included a link below if you want to see the rest of them). All of these passages speak of those in enviable positions. Interestingly, none of those passages implicitly or explicitly state that earthly wealth or good health is the measure of our “blessedness.” In fact, several passages throughout the Bible speak to the deceitfulness of riches and a comfortable life (to name a few: Ecclesiastes 4:4-85:8-20Luke 12:13-211 Timothy 6James 25:1-6Revelation 3:14-22). So, while God sees fit to enlarge our provisions or to allow us to enlarge our provisions, they are not the measure of kingdom success. How we use them to serve God and love our neighbor as ourselves — that is the measure of kingdom success.

Would We Rather Have Riches or Jesus?

Look again to that passage from 1 Peter 4. Peter drops a massive spoiler on what it really means to be blessed: to have the Spirit of God rest upon you. To put it another way:

Happy is the man who is persecuted for the sake of the Gospel,
Whose provision is literally the LORD resting upon him and sustaining his life.

You can’t buy that.

So, does God want you to be rich. Yes, He does. But not for the trinkets of this world. He has something much better in mind than the heaven’s asphalt.**

***

Links:

50 Times makarios occurs in the New Testament – from BlueLetterBible.org 

* from Google:

par·a·dox
ˈperəˌdäks/
noun
  1. a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.
    “a potentially serious conflict between quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity known as the information paradox”
  2. a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.
    “in a paradox, he has discovered that stepping back from his job has increased the rewards he gleans from it”
  3. a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
    “the mingling of deciduous trees with elements of desert flora forms a fascinating ecological paradox”

** Gold. The streets are paved with pure gold.

15 Verses About Money

15 Verses About Money

What does the Bible say about money? Quite a bit, actually. Here are 15 of my favorite verses about money:

The Lord Establishes Wealth and Poverty for His Glory

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