Inside the processing.

Paul does design work in the housing industry. Someone else works with customers who want cabinets. Those dreams and dimensions come to Paul. He takes spaces and figures out how cabinets will fit in them.

A new guy is sitting with him these days. He’s learning how to do this work, too. Paul said, “Part of my work happens inside my head, as I look and plan and adjust the drawings in my head. But then I realize that the new guy can’t see in my head.”

Paul has to explain the processing to the new guy. Not just the process. The processing. How Paul looks at a situation and his experience with design and with installation and with the product and with the customer and brings them together.

It’s hard to explain this. But the better Paul explains, the more successful the new guy will be at understanding that processing is necessary. That this work takes reflection. That what happens when the fingers are off the keyboard is as important as what happens when they are entering dimensions.

Paul gets this.

So did, I think, another Paul who reminded his apprentice Timothy that Paul had lived his life in a transparent way. Timothy got to see the work and the teaching and the struggles and the testing and the wrong and right responses.

The risk with lots of people who talk about following Jesus is that we don’t do a very good job of explaining the inside part. We focus on the actions which are easy to measure and criticize. We don’t explain how we process.

But maybe I could say more often, “I’m not sure how these two pieces fit together.” Or “I’ve been working on understanding this for a couple months, what do you think?”

You think?

Planning to do good.

1. I’m sure that you are way ahead of me on this. I’ve talked elsewhere about my friend Becky’s 6 things to do list. At the end of the day, you make a list of six things that must get done the next day. Only six on the list, don’t need to be big, have to get done. And then you do them.

Until Sunday, I never thought about making any of those six things be about a particular prayer, or a particular Bible passage to read or a particular action of kindness or gentleness or self-control.

I’m sure you have, though. That’s why you remember to pray for that person you promised to pray for. Right?

2. It’s possible you’ve been wanting to be part of a small group that read a bit from the Bible and then does it. Bob Goff calls his a “Bible doing” group as opposed to a Bible study group. I’ve talked about ours as a sabbath group. But you are waiting fro someone to start one and maybe ask you to be part of it. But what if you just asked a few people you know if they want to read a bit from the Bible and do it? Nothing fancy. You could even start by reading from a book about Nehemiah if you want some training wheels. And this isn’t for everyone. But maybe it’s for you.

3. A prayer for Monday from Psalm 130

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

a good word for a friend.

Bud was 94. He died on Monday. I’ve known his daughter for nearly thirty years. I’ve known him for half that.

I knew pieces of his story, like his service following World War 2. But I knew more of how he lived in the present. Bud read the Bible, applied it to himself, and talked about it with a passion. He was, I suppose, a living example of Ezra, who read the law, obeyed the law, and taught the law. Bud prayed aloud in prayer meetings with a humility and intensity. It was clear that he wasn’t performing; he was letting us listen to the conversation that happened all the time.

I knew less about his competitiveness, not being an athlete. But I heard that he played hard, in basketball, softball, and golf.

And I heard that he was a friend. I talked with a man who said, “A couple days after my wife died, I was sitting in the silence. I got in the car, drove to his house and said, ‘can I cry with you?'”

But I’m selfish. I care about what he did for me.

He always asked me how Andrew was doing. He said that he prayed for Andrew. He said, “I wish I could do more.” I told him that praying was a lot.  Through soccer, through college, through wedding, Bud was regularly talking with God about my son.

I understand that the members of the trinity are talking with each other about us. And I’m glad for that. But know that this white-haired guy was joining in that conversation humbled me.

Bud’s funeral is today. I get to lead it. As I talk with God about Bud, and talk with his friends and family about God, I’ll be grateful. And sad.

And I’ll carry on the conversation.

Apparently ordinary man decides to not comment.

On Wednesday, Jim Josephson, 39, spent 15 minutes reading the Facebook status updates and shared posts of friends. He then decided not to comment on any of them.

In a candid statement published on his LinkedIn page, Josephson wrote about his experience:

“It was rough for me,” he wrote. “I like conversation as much as the next person. Take an extreme statement that I disagree with and I’ll tell you about it. Make a well-considered post about the people I  disagree with and I’ll share it with everyone. And say anything at all about puppies and I’m with you.

“But early Wednesday morning, I was reading my mail, like I always do. There was a message that had been forwarded to me from a guy named James. He talked about it not being good enough to just read stuff from God, we need to do it. It was an interesting point. But it made some sense.

“Then James talks about how stuff we say is like a fire. It can ignite whole forests. When I was scrolling through my friends’ posts, I started noticing that my chest was tightening and my temper was heating up. And comments on some statuses added up so quickly that it was like a fire spreading. And I knew that I had to stop just reading and do something. So I did something. I took my fingers off the keyboard. With the mouse, I closed Facebook.

“I’m not sure what to think about this. I mean, after a few minutes, the knot in my stomach relaxed. But I’m pretty sure I’ll start wondering what’s happening to my friends. But maybe I’ll just call them. No one on the phone ever talks about puppies.”

Some of Josephson’s friends shared his statement on Facebook. There are several comments supporting and condemning him.


If you have Kindle Unlimited, you now have free access to A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works.


What I will do.

In my journal the other day I wrote, “runners run” It was October 9. I hadn’t run for a couple days. I was a little achy. I was hesitant. But I knew that what runners do is run. More than talking about it, more than reading about it, more than worrying about it. They run.

morning runA couple lines later in my journal, I wrote the words from a song: “In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice.

The writer has the same kind of resolve that I did about running. “Prayers pray,” is what it says.

The writer goes on: “In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

These words are from psalm 5, a song about lament and cries for justice. It is not a pleasant song to listen to, with its calls for divine punishment. Unless, I suppose, you are in ancient Israel being lied to ad betrayed, or ancient Babylon watching family members being attacked. Or not so ancient.

But what captures me? The writer addresses those cries and laments and calls to God. In the morning first thing, like me sitting in my chair with my coffee and Bible and journal. Like a runner lays out clothes and shoes the night before so that there are no excuses in the morning. Like a parent prepares the cereal and the bowl and the toaster the night before. Like a planner writes out the six things for the next day the night before. Like a praying person plans to pray.

I do want to make confession. A couple days later I said, “God, I don’t even know what to say. So what do you want me to ask about.”

But I think that’s the point. Regardless of our competence or speed, prayers pray.