Learning to Receive

It has been two months now at my new job and I am excited about my work here.

When I applied for this job I figured it was a shot in the dark. We applied our son to Kindergarten and I went online to apply for financial aid. I saw the EMPLOYMENT link and a counselor position and thought, “Why not?”

Later I told Emily that I applied and assured her I would not get hired. An institution like `Iolani will certainly pursue someone with more experience and education. To my surprise, I was offered the job. Over the last two months I have been still in disbelief that I was hired here.

A couple weeks ago during Sunday worship we sang the hymn, “I Stand Amazed in the Presence”, written by Charles Gabriel. When we got to the chorus, “how marvelous, how wonderful is my Saviors love for me”, I began to reflect on just how marvelous it is. The thought was overwhelming. Then I realized through that moment of epiphany, I struggle to receive that. The reality of how undeserving I am to receive God’s love overshadows the fact that despite what is deserved, God’s grace and mercy pours out His love on me. It’s a gift from the Lord, gifts are not earned. In that revelation I felt absolutely free. I felt vulnerable, but a necessary vulnerability to allow God’s love to flow through me.

God revealed a broader understanding to me that morning. I struggle to receive love from others. I’m a skeptic. In my mind there is always an angle, there is always an agenda. This keeps me on my guard and when my guard is up, I am unable to receive love that is given. When I cannot receive, it’s difficult to freely give.

When the Bible talks about a faith like a child, I think of how my kids freely receive our love. There is no condition and no questioning the love that is given. You grow older and the people that take advantage of innocence sow seeds of mistrust in us. We can’t help but put up our guards. We narrow the input of love in our lives.

If we are able to accept love and kindness from others, not because we deserve it, but because it is truly a gift, we free ourselves up to give. In my job I see how I have been very limited because I’m trapped in my thinking that, “I don’t belong here.” In my marriage I see how I can shutdown because I can question the motives of my spouse. In my parenting I can get frustrated easily because I can look past the simple innocence of love that is given. In my friendships I can see how I can shut people out because I don’t believe they would really want to be my friend. Most critically I am unable to really be transformed and shine the light of Jesus to the world because I feel like I need to earn it from God.

When we can learn to receive from others freely and without judgment, we can give to others freely and without judgment. -jason

 

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Hurricane Warning

Hurricane Lane came barreling toward the island state of Hawaii. An intense Category 5 Major Hurricane presented potentially catastrophic outcomes.

If you have lived in Hawaii for any significant amount of time, you likely have been around during some natural disaster warnings. Tsunami threats and hurricane/storm warnings are not uncommon. When these things happen, people start to prepare.

When I went to Costco there was a pallet of about 20 cases of water left. An employee was standing there loading the water into carts for customers limiting everyone to two cases. I stopped to get gas and there was only diesel and regular grade left, the lines were long. Everyone was preparing, and that is a good thing. Always be prepared.

There is a parable in the Bible that Jesus tells regarding the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven upon the earth. In this parable of the ten virgins, they are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. They have lamps so that they will be able to participate in the celebration of the wedding feast between the bride (the Church) and the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ). Five of those virgins did not bring extra oil and therefore were unable to participate when the bridegroom arrived. (Matthew 25)

In the chapter preceding this one, Jesus gives the background to the need for this parable. Enraged with the Pharisees, He tells his disciples whats to come: 

“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

This is just a sample of the signs of what is to come, the return of the Lord.

The Christian understanding is that we are all prone to turn from God. That’s just our nature. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the redeeming of many who He has called back to Him. In the end a storm is coming. There will be destruction, but those who are prepared will live.

Like a natural disaster, we should always be prepared, not just at the last minute. With the return of Jesus, we are already seeing the effects of the storm and we already have heralds proclaiming the coming storm. Will you be prepared?

Hurricane Lane has not passed us yet. We are not yet in the clear. The damage from heavy rains are already being broadcast on the news. Pray that it might move on with minimal further damage. This storm will eventually pass, but consider the spiritual storm that is brewing in our world. Be prepared, there is only one shelter available for this storm. -jason

 

ICONIC

ICONIC

Marketing is so powerful. There are certain companies that have marketed themselves to be household names. Easily recognizable and so well integrated into our culture, these names become a part of our regular conversation. Consider how certain brands have become icons that shaped our society in the paragraph below.

What’s better than lounging in your Jacuzzi® while dinner cooks in the Crock Pot®. Please, if you have a cut, put a Band-Aid® on it before you get in. There are Q-Tips® if water gets into your ear and if the night gets chilly and you get a runny nose a box of Kleenex® is available. Go ahead and take some leftover dinner in a Tupperware® when you are done. You can use the Sharpie® to write your name on a piece of Scotch Tape® to label your food.

The list goes on…

These brand name’s have become iconic due to the fact that their names are tied to the general product, whether or not it is from their company. Hot tubs, slow cookers, bandages, cotton swabs, facial tissues, containers, markers and tape. A larger group of products in a saturated market is identified by one brand.

Sometimes icons are people. We have entertainment icons, sports icons, political icons, and we even have icons within our private institutions. We hear that “[so-and-so] is the face of football” or “[this person] IS Rock-n-Roll”. During my new employee orientation we learned about some of those icons at`Iolani School. These people were incredibly influential to the foundation of the school. Eddie Hamada, Harold Keables, Father Bray, and Reverend Coon are just a couple of those. Incredible people that were loved dearly and left their mark here.

At `Iolani School they push the philosophy of “One Team”. This was developed and lived out by the people mentioned above. With One Team there is a sense of humility as we strive for excellence together, unified. While certain people stand out in the foundation and history of the school, `Iolani is not represented by a few people, it’s everyone associated with the school. From past to present, from student to parent, from faculty to staff. We must carry out the values we pick up and learn from those who have come before. The icon of the school is the collective whole.

Honoring the memory of iconic people is very important and very valuable. May we never forget those who have gone before, paved the way and laid the foundation on which the many facets of our community are built. Let us also be sure that the values that they have exemplified live on through us. We cannot let the values and character they have shown us and taught us stay attached to a memory. When we carry on the work they have begun, we too become iconic as one with them. In everything you represent, be iconic. For your family, for your school, for your job, for your friends and for your beliefs, be iconic.

-jason

Good Intentions

This past weekend I spent a lot of time working around the house. There is sense of accomplishment when something is broken and I can fix it. I’m no handyman, but I am a cheapskate so I like to do things myself.

This past Saturday, the freezer handle broke off. I figured out the problem, got the part I needed, and fixed it. The toilet was difficult to flush. I Googled the problem and discovered a seal that needed to be replaced. I got the gasket, replaced it and it works. A faucet was leaking so I thought it was the stem. Upon further review it was not the stem, but the rubber plug under the stem. Repair pending. Our pet vac was broken so I opened it up and discovered a piece of broken plastic that was stuck in one of the drive belts. Fixed. My sister bought a flood light and the screws were not in it. I found some screws and got it mounted.

Very fulfilling, and satisfying that I got things done and saved some money the process. I wish I could say my efforts always paid off.

I’ve always considered myself pretty decent with computers. Of course as technology advances it gets a little more complicated. This was true last week at work.

Our IT department has been super busy putting out fires and getting people ready for the new year. Since they are so busy I knew it might take some time for my printer to show up. There’s a Xerox WorkCentre in the counseling office so I figured I would just go ahead and set my computer up through the network. I’ve done it before, shouldn’t be that hard. I’m not going to bother the IT department, I’ll just do it myself.

Change the IP here, adjust that setting there and…nothing.

Spent some time on YouTube and TADA!!!

Nothing.

Oh well, I’ll try again later. Unless…”How come my document won’t print?” Inquired a voice from another office. Dang it, I broke the printer. Thankful for our IT hero, Scott, who came right over and fixed the issue. I reluctantly told him about the one in the other building that I messed with… OOPS!

Sometimes we have the best intentions to help, but then we make things worse. There are certain things we can just wing it on, there are others that might be best we leave alone. Home repairs, car maintenance, medical advice and even dynamics of relationships. Sometimes times it’s best to say, “I don’t know”, and leave it to someone who does know. With our best intentions, we should also operate within our scope of understanding, otherwise we may be creating a bigger problem.

“The road to creating more work for others is paved with good intentions.” I think that’s how the saying goes… -jason

The More You Know…

There’s a series on Netflix that I stumbled upon, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. It is sort of a mobile talk show where Jerry Seinfeld picks up other comedians in a unique car to grab a coffee and sometimes a meal. The humor suits me and I also think I like it because it seems more genuine than a traditional talk show. Jerry says to one of his guests, “Do you know why I like doing this show? Because I get to have people on that I like.” This seems to be true. The interaction feels genuine and personable. You have a sense that Jerry is really getting to know the person, not just getting to know about them.

There is a developing concern that I have for the Christian community. More and more people are becoming fascinated with the scholarship of Christian theology. Academia has become an idol in our churches and for many of our church leaders. We are intrigued by how intellectual our leaders are. Church members are drawn to how much they know about God and less concerned whether or not they know God. This has produced a culture of church leaders that are arrogant and independent from the Spirit of God.

Paul tells the church in Corinth in 1 Cor 2:12,13:

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

Later in chapter 8 he addresses eating food offered to idols but applies a broader teaching:

“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

Like the 90’s PSA, “The More You Know, The More You Grow”, but grow in what?

To really know someone or something, it often requires us to “grow” before we “know”.

The same is true with our relationships. With the popularity of social media, we are able to know so much about a person, but not really know them at all.

With the internet, we can know so much about a place or a particular topic, but not know it at all.

In our modern world knowledge is praised and exalted. To really know someone or something, it takes time and energy. It’s intentional, it’s intimate and it requires us to step aside from our arrogance and pride in developing our knowledge about it.

Step back from pursuing knowledge about something or someone and press into KNOWING: your spouse, your child, your family, your friends, you neighbors, your job, your community, and most importantly, your God. -jason