Beaten but not Defeated

In sports you are not supposed to give in. You don’t stop before the whistle goes. In soccer the expression ‘the ball is round’ will be used either explaining the loss or giving the impression that anything can happen. Anything. You can not give in! The game can be turned around in seconds.

In a regular fist fight – which I by the way try to avoid if possible – the idea is not to escape. The idea is to fight down the enemy. It wouldn’t be a fight otherwise. You don’t quit.

I sometimes fight with myself, with my own thoughts, with my own emotions and reactions. I will have to face it, I will have to accept the situation, but I cannot escape. I have to win. In the battle between good and evil good is going to win. Evil will not win.

The whole Christian message is about this. There was a moment in the human history and the spiritual history where everything was at stake. Jesus himself was seen as beaten and punished. God did not come to his rescue. Why? Did good lose? Did God lose?

It is not completely in line with my human logic but: After giving in. After giving up. After giving everything. –  He rose from the dead and as the Bible describes;
‘“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.”’

One of God’s names is Jehova Nissi in Hebrew. “The Lord our banner.”

He always wins. Always. I want to be on the winning team.

Bible ref; 1 Cor 15,25-27
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New Energy

One of my few memories from before I was 5 is a situation where I and my brother wanted to do the dishes to help and surprise our mother. The memory is pretty vague, but I remember where the kitchen sink was and that we had to climb chairs to do the job. I don’t know if we managed to do the work before my mother came back into the kitchen. But the most important element of this memory is that I can remember doing something with my brother who died at 4. And I also value the fact that I had this distinct urge to help and do good deeds at an early age.

The other day I was happy to see the same urge in a young girl. I was watching three kids and the oldest stated that she wanted to tidy up and clean their car to surprise her mother. I gladly helped out. When the parents came back the car was clean both inside and outside.

It makes me happy when I meet people that really want to help. Partly because I also sometimes need help and partly because I know it comes from an overflowing heart.

I recently met with a friend that is really helpful and a strong worker. I could sense that she had become a bit tired and worn out from the work. When getting tired you should rest, get the right focus back and be reminded that the work is not in vain.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Bible ref; Gal 6,9-10
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Around the World

From another planet? Teletubby?

How fast is it possible to get around the world these days? How quickly can you spread news to the ends of the world?

When Jules Verne wrote ‘Around the world in eighty days” it was an amazing story on how to go from London, around the world and back in 80 days. Today we hardly pay attention if somebody tells us that they have visited a remote village in Inner Nowhere. We have become world citizens and transport and communications have made it possible to reach people far away in seconds. And if the opposite takes place we get frustrated. It should be possible to get online everywhere and reach anybody at anytime.

The other day we got the news that they have found a new Indian tribe in Amazonas. A group of 200 people lives completely isolated and nobody have ever heard of them before. And we still know nothing. There are only some pictures from satellites and planes. In accordance to the local authorities in Amazonas there are 68 such isolated groups in the area.

When Jesus ascended to heaven he told his followers this:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

They did not have the overview. They had no clue we were going to make trains, planes and invent the Internet. Through hundreds of years they had to walk, sail and ride horses.

Now there seem to be no limits but the groups in Amazonas are still not online.

Bible ref: Matthew 28,18-20
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A Hole in My Heart

”There is a hole in my heart (All the way to China)” Cyndi Lauper is singing. I believe she is not referring to a medical condition. Great lyrics from literature and the musical world are describing this type of pain and longing.

A friend of mine stated once that there is not one morning where she wakes up and doesn’t feel lonely and longs for a special friend. And in this she is not alone. All over people are describing loneliness as one of the biggest challenges in life. Who would have thought? In our western world with all the facilities, money and whatever we need at any time. Still there is a hole.

Cyndi sings; “This hole in my heart that goes all the way to China
You gotta fill it up with love before I fall inside of…”

I truly believe that we in the industrial, post modern living have lost something on the way. I in fact think that we are now less competent with regards to communication, relationships and love.

How can one really experience to be complete, content and satisfied? Maybe we question the whole thing too much. Are we really happy? Are we really doing what we should do? Instead of enjoying the moment, appreciating the people we already have in our lives, we start looking for something else.

I find loneliness to be a form of fear. And for that there is help:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”

But then we are created for relationships with one another. God help us…

Bible ref: 1 John 4,18-19

African Beauty

We visited Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, my colleague and I, a few years back. ‘Now she is a beauty!’ my male colleague complimented the hotel’s business host. A tall, gracious African woman in a delicate business suit. We agreed she would be a good match for our co-worker back home.

I have been watching British Joanna Lumley’s travel show on TV. She follows the Nile, the longest river on the planet, from Cairo to its source in Rwanda. She crosses the vast area of the old Nubian kingdom that covered large areas in the Northern/Eastern part of Africa. In the middle of nowhere, in the desert of Sudan, she is making these statements observing people’s life there:
“I am not sure we got it right in the western world. – Not sure I want to live as simple as this. – But I am not sure we got it right.”
And when I hear the voice of a distinguished 65-year-old blond actress from UK reflect like this it makes me wonder. What should we do? How can we possible make our lives more simple, easy and straight forward? I just wonder.

And I am thinking about the beautiful people in this area. No wonder Moses fell for one of the Nubian women. In the book of Numbers in the Bible we can read the story of how his brother and sister reacted to this;
“Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.”

But God made it very clear:
“… my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;”

The African beauty gave Moses some trouble, but she was probably worth it.

Joanna Lumley following the Nile from mouth to source

Bible ref: Numbers 12

Beauty

”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. What a beautiful expression! It is said to have its origin from an old saying in Greek from 300 B.C.

If you find something beautiful you shouldn’t care about the general opinion. And why do we even care what others think? And my next question is why we so often miss out on the beautiful things in life.

“What a waste!” is my thought when I talk to young beautiful girls with low self esteem. I have had knock-out beautiful friends that have had the worst self image. What is wrong? A young girl not believing she is worth anything and even thinks she is unattractive is a waste. It is sad. I guess there are many reasons for such a misinterpretation, but it is still sad.

If you think of it you don’t really pay too much attention to the outward being when you really know somebody. Well, we may still be into nice outfits and make-up but that is really just accessories. The beauty is in the person himself or herself. Appearance is definitely made up of more than just the looks.

Looking for beauty? Look at a sleeping baby. Look deeply into your friend’s eyes. Look at the sunset or the sunrise. Look at the rain drops at the window. Just start looking.

It is written that when God created the world he looked at it all and saw it was very good. He still likes it. He likes us. He finds us attractive.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And he watches out for those who want to be with him:
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Bible ref: 2.Chron 16,9

Be Outstanding

The other day I saw this poster: ”Be outstanding”. Hanging in a window close to the entrance of a mall it was apparently promotion for a brand; clothing, fashion and style. An encouragement and a clear message to the public: Just be outstanding. Don’t hold back, don’t go for less. Aim for higher goals, aim for something better and something of higher value.

I was reflecting on how this statement affected me. Was I encouraged or did I feel intimidated? I actually found it inspiring. Why not? Why shouldn’t I go for outstanding? Why not stand out?

God does always have more in stall. He doesn’t think small. He has excellence, style and integrity. He never lies, he always stands behind his words and he wants the best for everybody. He wants the good things to happen. Always.

Jesus did a famous speech. All kinds of people were listening; religious and laymen, men and women, children and old people, rich and poor. A small taste here:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

And I am thinking – if you stand out from the crowd you are outstanding. Be outstanding!

I am challenged.

Bible ref; Matthew 5,43-48

Mind the Gap

“Mind the gap!” The voice is sounding in my ears every time I visit the tube in London. And afterwards I might find myself in a store named GAP. Some brilliant marketing people did something right finding a name for the brand.

In the business world we talk about gap analysis. Companies have rules, regulations and ways they want their business processes to be run. And then there is the reality; how things are actually run.  There are different kinds of gap analysis. In general they all describe the gap between how things should be and how they are seen today.

 How serious is the gap? How much will it cost to bridge the gap? Is it worth the cost to mend the gap? Is it worth the effort? Can somebody create a project that will fix the processes, the investments, the employees and the delivery in order to make the gap disappear? Or can we live with the gap?

There is a gap, whether I think it or not, whether I like it or not. There is a gap between the way God intended us to live and the way we manage to live. We might think the gap is small. We might think we can jump the gap. We might think we can create our own understanding of the gap and that it makes it alright. We might think the gap gets smaller if we behave nicely or think correctly. But our thoughts and intentions are not able to remove the gap.

«Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.»

There is this guy named Jesus. He came to mend the gap.

Bible ref: John 5,24

The Cocktail Party Effect

It started out with the cocktail party effect. We were sitting in a crowded noisy room. The evening before had been a blast; my sister’s wedding party. Now people were chatting, drinking loads of coffee, saying good bye and just having fun. Kids were running all over. The cocktail party effect is described as being the ability to concentrate and be attentive in a conversation under such circumstances. One of my other sisters was sitting at the table 100 % focused on our conversation.

Suddenly another phenomenon occurred. My sister said: “Arggh!” put down her coffee, rose from the chair and rushed out. The rest of us then became aware of the reason for this body language; from somewhere down in the basement in this fairly big building we could hear a young girl’s voice. “Finished!!” She was shouting at the top of her voice. Apparently she was in the bathroom. Her mother took action.

And two things hit me: The little 4-year-old’s confidence that somebody would come to her rescue. Maybe an uncle, aunt or of course her mommy. She just had to shout loud enough and keep on until something happened. The next thing was the ability of a mother to hear the kid’s voice through all the noise. In a cocktail party you would also be able to hear your own name mentioned a few meters away even if you’re totally focused on another group of people.

Have no doubt. Even if you think God is busy he still will listen and come to your rescue. The Psalm describes a person being confident in God’s love;

“He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.”

Bible ref; Psalm 91,15

CTRL-A DELETE

The screen shows: “To logon press CTRL + ALT + DELETE”. You then get the choice whether to logon, lock computer, log off and so on. (Yes I am referring to former versions of Windows but CTRL+ALT+DELETE still works)

Then open your email. Go crazy. Through your email you can probably get all things done. You can delay stuff, order stuff, offend people, encourage people and you can find all the emails you never answered or never opened.

I am normally on top of things. Normally I will keep my inbox down to a size of let’s say 100 emails. Something like that. Where are all the others? In subfolders; Gives a sense of control. Not any more. My inbox has 1299 emails. One of my inboxes that is. Only 38 are unread but I know what they contain. I think.

I was once teaching people how to replicate their inbox into another system. The response time was extreme. Why? One user had like 12.000 emails in her inbox. “Do you ever delete anything?” “No.”

It is time to cleanup, get on top of things again. My former colleague and friend told me he once came back from vacation, opened his inbox, pressed: CTRL + A (select all) and then DELETE. He got rid of them all in a second. “If there was anything important they’ll come back to me.” he said. I was shocked.

It might be time for a cleanup. But I’ll keep the valuable stuff; big orders, nice words, important questions and a few memories. Then I’ll move the rest to an archive.

I something think about what the Bible tells me:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!”

CTRL + A Delete? Then CTRL + N.

Bible ref; Isaiah 43,18-19