Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Fool Says, "There is no God"

The Book of Psalms in the Bible is a collection or anthology of 150 individual hymns, laments, warnings and benedictions.   In Psalm 14, there is definition and characterization of the fool that says, ”There Is No God”

Here are the first four verses of Psalm 14:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is none who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
    to see if there are any who understand,
    who seek after God.
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
    there is none who does good,
    not even one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
    who eat up my people as they eat bread
    and do not call upon the LORD?

It has been documented that there are more and more fools today.  Likely more than ever before.  It’s unfortunate but one of the prophesied signs of the end-times.

The Apostle Paul in writing to the Thessalonians about the coming of the Lord states, “Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thes 2:3)

This word ‘rebellion’ is often translated ‘turning or falling away’. This is the Greek word “Apostasea' and means a departure from the truth.

While many local churches are growing, there is also a documented wholesale departure here in the United States and throughout the developed world. One way of looking at it is that many are departing from the churches affiliated with mainline denominations that long ago have departed from the truth. I saw this first hand in Europe.  I had the opportunity to travel and work in places like England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland,  and my interest in the history of Christianity brought me to tour many of the great cathedrals in the capitals and major cities of these countries.  Sadly, most of these once great cathedrals are not much more than museums today.  What was once the center of Christianity and the birthplace of the Reformation nearly 500 years ago has today become cosmopolitan centers not of devoted Christians but of those that say, "there is no God." 

America is also changing. While it remains likely one of the most Christian and devoted groupings of people, there are more and more that identify themselves as having no belief.  These are the ‘nones’ that have been identified and characterized by Christian prognosticators.   Many of the ‘nones’ are young, many have a Christian heritage and all have dismissed Christianity as being irrelevant based on their desire for meaning, success and happiness.   God calls these people fools.

By definition, those that declare there is no God are either atheists or agnostic.  The agnostics are the larger group as they haven’t developed an informed view or philosophy about God and prefer to remain relatively neutral. God calls them fools.

The other type that is becoming more and more common are the theoretical atheists who affirm their non-belief in God often vocally and militantly.  These are those that follow the musings and blogs of people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  They like to challenge pastors, Christian theologians and teachers by asking them ‘gotcha questions’ just like the Pharisees would try on Jesus.

“Jesus, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"

“Jesus, is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”

"Jesus, and who is my neighbor?"

Jesus was able to easily answer these ‘gotcha’ questions.   After all, these people were fools.

As believers, our mission is not only to develop a personal and relevant faith.  I believe that our mission is also to reach those that have legitimate questions and to have the wisdom to be able to answer those with the ‘gotcha’ questions.

The Bible gives us our marching orders:

The Apostle Peter commanded Christians: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’ (1 Peter 3:15)

Jude’s inspired epistle said: ‘I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’ (Jude v. 3)

The Apostle Paul said: ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

This branch of theology or the science of answering questions about the faith is called Christian Apologetics.

The term ‘Christian apologetics’ doesn’t refer to apologizing (or saying ‘sorry’) for being a Christian. It comes from the Greek word “apologia” meaning defense. 

For those of us that know we should be ‘always prepared’ and for those that are willing to ‘demolish arguments’ there are a few well known and capable Chrisian apologists that have made their teachings widely available on the web including many videos on Youtube.  Here are three to get started

ALWAYSBEREADY.COM (Charlie Campbell)
CROSSEXAMINED.ORG (Frank Turek)
RZIM.ORG (Ravi Zacharis)

You'll find by watching these learned Christian Apologists that most of the challenges to a belief in God in general and Christianity specifically fall into just a few categories.  Knowing how to answer and being prepared can quickly turn the conversation around, provide an opportunity to articulate a witness to the truth and sow the seeds of the Gospel. 

Be prepared.  Be willing to share, and always be kind. 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Hiring The Right Person




I think perhaps there has been too much emphasis on hiring the right person for the job.   From my perspective, the problem hasn’t been on being too intentional about the hiring process; intentionality is good.  However, the problem started with an over emphasis on creating detailed job descriptions for candidates, likely a result of new electronic career sites that instantly bombard the company with hundreds if not thousands of applicants. 

These very detailed job descriptions had two unintended consequences.  The first unintended consequence was that they immediately disqualified someone who easily had the capacity to learn the job but lacked the actual experience.   The second unintended consequence was that this over emphasis on matching the job description point-by-point led to hiring candidates based on their ‘past experience’ rather than their “future potential.”

My recommendation may seem a bit unorthodox but I’d recommend that we shouldn’t be hiring the right person for the job but simply hiring the right person.   If we focus on the person, we’ll build the organization.  By focusing on the job, we can often fill the job but miss out on bringing in the best people for the future.

Here are four things to look for in hiring the right person

1. Look for Cultural Fit

Cultural is not just important in a healthy organization, it’s ALL important.  The company culture is defined by the people not by a corporate document or advertising.  Culture is not what you do but how you do it.  It’s the glue that holds the organization together.   Leaders that seek to create a culture in their organizations that inspires, motivates and perpetuates their values and core principles need to hire people that have the same cultural fit.

2. Focus on soft skills.

Although the right skills are definitely an important factor in hiring the right person, particularly for high-skilled jobs, the truth is that all skills are acquired and most on-the-job skills are learned on-the-job.  Soft skills are ‘people skills’ like communication and organizational skills, empathy, diplomacy and creativity.  The right people have the soft skills that make them useful for the present and for the future. Technical skills can be acquired but personalities cannot.

3. Integrity matters

Warren Buffet was quoted as saying, “When looking for someone to hire, look for these qualities: Integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you”.  Integrity in the workplace can be described as behavior that is fully consistent with stated company policies, principles, desired outcomes and values.  Integrity isn’t just a matter of checking a box on the application form that states there are no warrants outstanding.  It has more to do with attitudes than background checks.   Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  Hiring managers often put integrity as one of the most desirable characteristics.  Ask open-ended questions about success and failures as well as challenges and keep an ear open for ‘doing the right thing.’   Integrity will keep your company out of the newspapers and encourage clients to come back and recommend you to others.

4. Hire Natural Leaders

In the world of venture capital, it’s often said that a venture capitalist is much more likely to invest in a company based on their leadership team than their business plan.  The reason is simple, business plans often need to be overhauled and great leaders can and will make the necessary adjustments.

Natural leaders are flexible; they know how to adjust to situations, market conditions and challenges when necessary.  Natural leaders are continually investing in people around them. They understand that that training and empowerment creates more leaders and a company can never have too many leaders.   Natural leaders also have tenacity, they know how to persevere and put in the additional effort when necessary.  Finally, natural leaders are servant leaders.  They serve their company and those around them and are not aloof or indifferent to the concerns of those around them and particularly the people that work for them.

Hiring the right person is extremely important.  It’s important for the company as well as the employee.  Hiring mistakes cost the company money.  Beyond the obvious costs of the time in interviewing, relocating and training there are also the ancillary costs of how the bad hire will impact the rest of the employees.   The wrong hires that are eventually weeded out and either quit or are terminated are expensive but not as expensive as those that stay for the long-term.


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