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Literally Humble


7:59 AM
Yesterday was one of surprises and blessings. My activities included: reading the Psalms on the back porch, coming to the office for a brief time and doing some work, having lunch with my son Seth, dropping the car off to get it fixed after running over some trash that fell of a truck in front of me, having a meeting with my pastor, and going to class. The between times, driving from place to place, were filled with contemplating the theologies of Rahner, which I find difficult to understand. Some of his ideas I agree with but there are other thoughts that I disagree with totally.

While driving around, a friend from the Downtown Rescue Mission called and needed money to buy a truck. He wrecked his and now doesn’t have a means of transportation to get to work and school. I wanted to say no, but I didn’t. I told him I would buy the truck for him as long as we didn’t go above $2,500. While at lunch, I got an email from George Veras, the marketing guy at the Hall of Fame. He apologized for the late notice but wanted me to do a 4 hour telephone call Friday and would pay me $10,0000. Coincidence? God is so good! I think, He has been waiting on me to trust and surrender so that He might show me his faithfulness.

I also have been noticing that there are times when I have felt led to either kneel or lie prostrate to God. Naturally, I didn’t. I simply sat there and would talk “to God” in a way that no one else would know what I was doing. This morning, I was led to kneel before leaving the house. This time, in the safety of the privacy of my own home, I knelt. What a blessing!

Why is it that I say I want to be pleasing to God and follow his will while at the same time, I fail to do it? Also, why do I fool myself into thinking I am following Christ but yet I always limit my surrender?

For me, I think it boils down to fear. The money issues are a fear that I will not have enough to live on or not keep up my lifestyle if I follow God’s leading in giving to those in need. At other times, it is that I am fearful of what others will think. What if someone walked into my office and saw me kneeling? What would they think? It’s not that I’m some holier than thou person who is wearing my faith on my sleeve or trying to cram the gospel down somebody’s throat. Besides, I don’t think that was Jesus’ way. He did, however, go off by himself to pray and in remembering him in the garden, he knelt. I also remember Daniel and company kneeling three times a day in their living quarters. Maybe these acts of worship and praise have a purpose.

Maybe these acts are used to allow God to reveal himself and his character to us. Maybe these acts are used to confirm our humility, our adoration, and our surrender to our King. Maybe in surrendering and in doing we get to experience God in reality and not just in the imaginings of our mind. He becomes real. At any rate, I am going to pray that God grants me the grace that In the future, I will listen to the impulses that he plants in my head and then be wiling to do them.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19

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Written by John Hannah

November 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

Literally Humble


As most of my friends know, I am in the process of getting my MA in Pastoral Studies from Loyola Chicago. I read a book earlier entitled The Call to Discernment by Dean Brackley. If you take it to heart, it will shake you up! It talks of how the American economic system has created a hierarchy of status based on wealth. Status symbols have become our standards for determining self-worth. This comparison, what is in reality competition, causes us to look down on those at a lower rung while holding in contempt and envy those who hold a higher rung. His issue was not that there are those who have the God-given talents to increase wealth but that somehow in creating this wealth, they think themselves superior. He also has issue with those who are less wealthy who have bought into the societal norms and somehow feel they are less than. In either case, we dishonor God because He has made us all and we are all equal – equal in depravity and equal in the grace of His love and forgiveness.

This morning I was pondering over the three types of humility as defined by Saint Ignatius. For those unfamiliar with Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, I will give you a brief intro into his understanding of humility. It is important to know that each of these three types of humility builds on the previous humility.

1. Person of the Law – This person is totally committed to keeping the externals of being a Christian. For instance, making sure they are in church every Sunday, that no curse words cross their lips, you know the external.
2. The seconde humility gets to a point in life that they neither desire riches nor wealth, fame nor disgrace, health nor sickness, long-life nor short. Their only desire is for whatever brings the most praise, reverence, and service to Jesus and/or whatever builds them the most in their faith, hope and love.
3. The third humility is to actually desire poverty over riches, shame and disgrace over fame and honor.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered a conversation about the Genesis creation story. I happened to state that I had changed my view on the Genesis creation story. I wasn’t really sure that is the way it happened and that it might be more allegorical to teach Spiritual truths. Wow! Did I catch it! I was wondering though does he takes the following passage found in Mark 10 as literally as he does the Genesis story?

“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

Most times I hear others speak about this passage, they tend to talk that it really didn’t mean to sell all your possessions but just to love Jesus more than the possessions. It is an allegory. Is that why the apostles got up and walked away from everything to follow Jesus? I guess in my own mind, I have settled on taking the passage in Mark more literally than the one in Genesis.

Written by John Hannah

October 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

WE WERE ALL MEANT TO SHINE


Coach Carter – Our Deepest Fear

Last night, I was playing with face book and chatting with a friend. As we discussed an issue, she explained how she and several of her associates were disappointed in the way things were in her organization and in the way things were headed. I asked her if she had done anything. Her answer was, “no.”

How many times have we sat around accepting the unacceptable? I know I have! It could have been because we were fearful of potential conflict. It might also have been that we were afraid that we would be ridiculed or that we might loose face or worse; we might have been afraid of loosing opportunity of advancement, our position or pay. When do we take a stand? When will we be willing to sacrifice for a belief or value?

The moment in time that an individual becomes so burdened by the current condition that there is a willingness to sacrifice for the better condition, is exactly the point in time a person starts to become a leader. Do you need to become a leader? Is there something that eats at you continually? Is there an area that you feel needs to be changed for the betterment of others? As John Maxwell says, ” What makes you sad? What makes you glad? What makes you cry? What makes you laugh?”

If you have identified an area of passion in your life become the leader to manifest that change. “How?”, you say. Lets check our oil:

1. Have you taken the time to identify the strengths, talents and abilities you possess that you can commit to the cause?
2. Are you developing those abilities and making them stronger and more effective?
3. Have you written down your vision for the future and are you able to communicate it effectively to others?
3. Have you started taking action to make those changes?
4. Are you building a team with teammates who have areas of strength in your areas of limitation?
5. Have you and your team developed a strategic plan on how to get where you want to go?

We, as a people and a nation, need leaders. People who will be unafraid of political correctness. Those who will take strong stands for values, beliefs and character. Think if we had not been so complacent in the past. Would we be better off than we are today? What will we be like in the future if committed people don’t become leaders?

If your still a little intimidated, remember the quote i read last night, “The mightiest oak was once just a nut.”

Written by John Hannah

August 13, 2009 at 10:47 am

Posted in God

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Strengthen Your Brothers


Rocky 5 lessons of life

When I look back on my life, I think about all the people who helped develop and mold me. I think of my father who modeled a sacrificial work ethic and instilled in me a strong desire to become a man of integrity, to be honest and open with everyone. I think of my high school coach Major Luke Worsham, a World War II vet, who taught me to give it all I’ve got, to fight until the end. I think of Jim Ringo, my offensive line coach with the Patriots who poured into me all the knowledge, skills and techniques he had learned while in the pros and then gave me the confidence to become my best.

Do you have people that believed in you? You know the ones. They’re the people who knew you could succeed, who had faith in you. They are the ones who taught you the skills and provided the encouragement to keep going. They’re the ones who bragged about you in front of others and created a sense of pride in who you were and created in you a confidence in the abilities you possessed so that you kept on trying no matter what. Think about how those people made you feel. Think of where you would be today if it weren’t for them. Think about how you felt about them then and how you feel about them today. In the same way think about how you would feel if others felt the same way about you.

Jesus said, “whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” This is exactly what our mentors did for us. They forgot about themselves for long enough to put us first; to pour their life lessons, their skill sets and their knowledge into us, to provide us with caring concern and encouragement. Don’t you think we should do the same?

Often, it’s because we think we’re too busy or too important to spend time developing others. Yet, developing others is the most important thing we can do. It’s what creates teams that win championships in sports and creates explosive growth in companies. It’s what creates a legacy and allows entities and ideals to continue. Others may feel that because of failures they’ve endured, they’re not qualified or worthy to be guiding others. I disagree. In fact, the most important things I’ve ever learned is through my failures. Before Peter denied Christ, even Jesus told Peter, “And when you’ve turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Ar you mentoring others? Are you providing the example and providing the lessons for others to realize their fullest potential? Let’s check our oil:

1. Have you run across a person that you think has potential? That you feel is not all they should or could be? If not, find one.

2. Do you have what that other person needs? Take an inventory of all the lessons you’ve learned in life, the different experiences you’ve gone through whether successfully or not. What are some things that you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t and hope you don’t do ever do again?

3. Are you willing to put aside self time for them time?

4. If you are mentoring someone, even your own children, do you demonstrate your faith in them by providing them with loyalty, support, wisdom, belief and encouragement? Do you tell them that you love them, that your proud of them and that they’re good at what they do? Do you provide them with companionship, with security, with significance and with emotional responsiveness?

If not, why not? Think about what the next generation would be like if each of us found someone and became their sponsor, their mentor in life. Do you think the world would be a better place?

Written by John Hannah

August 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Posted in God

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HOPE – THE VISION THAT MOVES US TO ACTION


Those who have meant the most to me in life are those who have created a vision of my future for me. Have you ever had anyone who believed in you and created hope by building a vision for you? Someone who recognized and believed in your abilities. Someone who helped show you the possibilities and created opportunities for you to succeed at your dream?

Hope is what allows us to fight the fight. It is what creates the urgency and the effort to accomplish. Paul in Romans says,”We rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint.” Hope is the vision of what we are trying to achieve. The vision is the results of our finished product and what it will mean to us and to those around us. Do you have a vision? Do you have hope? Are you casting that vision to others in the hope that they will join you? That is leadership. It is engaging others with a vision and it produces hope. Let’s check our oil:

1. Do you have a vision for the future? One that’s grand enough to make a difference in the world you live in? One that inspires you to keep on going no matter what?

2. Are you able to communicate that vision to others so that they are able to see, smell and taste it? to get them excited and draw them alongside so they can join you in the journey?

3. Are you creating a vision for others? Do you see abilities in others rather than limitations? Do you cause them to believe in their abilities and provide them with opportunities to succeed so their belief and confidence in those abilities will grow and produce hope?

Think of what it would be like if we didn’t just go to work to do a job, but rather to make a difference. Do you think it would be more fun, more exciting and a whole lot more rewarding?

Written by John Hannah

July 27, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Posted in God

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A Threefold Cord Is Not Easily Broken


I don’t know about you but there have been many days when I wanted to quit. I didn’t think the battle was worth fighting nor did I think anyone really cared. Have you ever felt like that? A time when you were tired and frustrated. When you felt the whole world was against you and there was just no way you were ever going to make it happen..

In Ecclesiastes we are told that two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But pity the one who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Do you have a team around you? Do you have people who can encourage you? Who can provide counsel, support and help when needed? A person who has strengths in your areas of limitations? And, are you doing the same for others? Let’s check our oil. According to Robert Lewis we need three types of mentors. Do you have them in place?

1. Do you have and adoring mentor? An older person who sees your potential, wants you to succeed and has been through the ropes so that he or she can offer guidance, encouragement and support?
2. Do you have a side-by-side mentor? A person that is a close friend and confidant. Someone who is of high character and will hold you accountable. Someone with common interests, goals and values? Someone who, just by being around him or her, lifts your spirit.
3. Do you have a protege? Someone whom you are developing. Someone whom you support, empower and grow into their fullest potential.

If not I would suggest you find someone in each of these three categories. Imagine what it would be like the next time you feel discouraged and you can pick up the phone or go to lunch with your friend and mentor. How uplifting, how motivating, how encouringing. Think about how your confidence would grow knowing that you’re not in this alone but that you have a team lifting you to succeed and become the best that you can be.

Written by John Hannah

July 24, 2009 at 11:29 am

Posted in God

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Victory Belongs to Those Who Persevere


I see many football players holding up four fingers at the start of the fourth quarter and I ask myself, “Do they really understand what it means?” Coach Bryant was the first to start this tradition but there was more to it than just an encouraging sign. It was a reminder of all we had endured under his guidance. The hot afternoon practices where he pushed us to the breaking point and beyond. It was a reminder of his pregame speech where he always said, “Boys, they’re better than us, they’re stronger than us, they just better than we are. But, if we can keep it close until the fourth quarter, we’ll win because we want it more than they do. We’ve paid a higher price than they have so it means more to us than it does to them. So when everybody gets tired and wants to quit, you won’t because you will remember the price you’ve paid.”

How much does winning mean to you? Let’s check our oil:

1. Are you doing things everyday to get better? To improve your abilities?
2. Are you sacrificing for the goal? Are you working harder, longer and smarter than your competitors?
3. Deep down inside, in your gut, do you want to succeed at your dream? Does it move you to action?
4. As John Maxwell says, “Are you falling forward?” Do you use setbacks as a stepping stone, not as a stopping zone? Are you learning from setbacks by knowing what doesn’t work and adapting to new techniques to achieve?

Written by John Hannah

July 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

Posted in God

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