A New Year’s Revolution

A New Year’s Revolution

Recently I read the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  ­I’m a neat and well-organized person, so I mostly wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I thought I might glean a new tip or two, but I didn’t expect any major revelations.  I am happy to report that I was wrong. For Kondo, tidying and organizing is the way to restore balance among people, their possessions, and the places that they live.  Her premise is that, with very few exceptions (like essential documents), we should only own things that bring us joy. Period.  She asserts, and I agree, that our homes and lives are often cluttered with things that we “might use some day” like clothes that don’t quite fit, books and gadgets, or things that we feel obligated to keep such as gifts, souvenirs, and mementos. She instructs readers to gather all similar items (such as all your books or all of clothes) in one place, pick each item up, and determine if it brings you joy.  If so, you keep it.  If not, you toss it or give it away.  Hesitancy or uncertainty over an item indicates that it should go. I decided to try her method on my clothes. My closets were not over-full, but I was amazed at how much I could easily part with, how practical it was to organize per her instructions, and how freeing the process was.  I was delighted to discover that I felt better with fewer things I truly enjoyed in a (more) organized space....
Where Do We Go From Here: Moving forward in the post-election season

Where Do We Go From Here: Moving forward in the post-election season

Tracy Hartman CHC Coach Here we are a week post-election, and now, as many have stated, the real work begins. Here are three ways we can begin to bring healing and unity to our churches and communities in the days ahead. Pray for our local, state, and national leaders, both in our private devotional lives and in our corporate worship.  The author of I Timothy writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” (I Tim 2:1-3) Whether we are pleased or distraught by the outcome of local and national elections, this is a clear mandate. We may find it difficult to pray for leaders that we ardently disagree with, those that we may have campaigned against, or those we fear may persecute us (or at the very least not work in the best interest of those we care about). But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has strong words for us about loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.There is good reason for this mandate: it is hard to despise someone we are praying for diligently. Whether we approve of them or not, our leaders are deeply loved by God, and governing is a difficult job under the best of circumstances. All elected officials need and are worthy of our prayers James Dunn notes that the early Christian church was not an...
Falling Forward

Falling Forward

Three weeks ago, my life changed in an instant.  One unfortunate misstep landed me in the hospital with a badly damaged foot.  The next day, an orthopedic surgeon reset my bones, but for me, the real work is just beginning.  My new reality is a fall season spent in splints, casts, walking boots and physical therapy.  My new goals are to wear a shoe and be driving by Christmas. A friend who dropped by to visit asked me a great question.  “You are an educator,” he said.  “What are you learning from this experience?”  I am learning many lessons and I realized that some of those lessons just might be applicable to institutions that find themselves in the midst of an unexpected difficulty. Any number of events, from the unexpected departure of a staff member (especially if impropriety or controversy is involved) to an expensive and unbudgeted repair to an aging facility can throw a church or non-profit organization into a temporary tail spin. So from my new position in the recliner with my leg elevated and iced, here are a few lessons that might assist you on your journey:  Sometimes you need an expert to guide the process.  Although anyone could look at my foot and tell it was broken, we needed an orthopedic surgeon to fully diagnosis my injury and to get me on the road to healing.  Likewise, in congregations, we may have a basic understanding of the problem, but a trained coach or interim can be invaluable for helping us flesh out the issues and get clear about the steps involved in healing. An expert...

Sharper than the Sword: The Power of God’s Word

In October, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond had the privilege of hosting all seven volumes of the Heritage Edition of the Saint John’s Bible on our campus. For those not familiar with the project, The Saint John’s Bible is the first hand-written, illuminated copy of Scripture produced in over 500 years. A Bible for today, the mission of the project is to ignite the spiritual imagination of people of faith all around the world. We were delighted that the exhibit drew over 1,500 people to our campus. One afternoon as I was serving as a docent, I paused to look around the chapel, and suddenly I gasped in surprise. Two very diverse groups were mingling together, admiring the pages of scripture. One group was from a church that had recently been asked to withdraw from our local association for ordaining an openly gay man.  The other group was very conservative theologically.  Deeply committed Christians from both of these groups had engaged in spirited (and sometimes heated) discussions with one another at a number of associational meetings over the course of the last year.  The issue drove a deep wedge in our association and it remained unresolved. My first reaction was, “I’m glad these folks don’t know who they are standing next too, this could get interesting.”  Then, part of me wanted to get everyone’s attention and announce to the whole group exactly who was in the room.  In the end, I just stood back (with a tear in my eye) and marveled at what was unfolding around me. Later, I took time to do some theological reflection on the...