S.A.N.T.A. approach to cross-cultural friendship

Here is a simple, easy-to-remember approach to making a friend with someone of another culture.

S = smile

A smile is the international way to show friendliness. It is your best first smilestep. Best to keep your smiling man to man, woman to woman, so you don’t miscommunicate.

A = appreciate

Say something appreciative about the person, such as:

  • I’m glad we are neighbors.
  • It is great to see your family getting together
  • That shirt/dress is beautiful. Is it from your culture?
N = name

Everyone loves to be known by their name. When appropriate, ask and remember the name of your new friend. If it is difficult, resist the urge to shorten it. Say, “I love your name and want to remember it. Could you say it again (or spell it)?” Don’t be afraid to write it down; that shows you really mean what you say. Remember the name for the next times you meet.

T = tea

Sitting and chatting over a simple cup of tea or coffee, with a biscuit, is an important step in deepening a friendship. Do this often, preferably in your home or apartment, although a neutral cafe is okay. Home hospitality invites your friend into your space, which helps build trust. If a visitor of another culture comes to you door, invite them in without question (not applicable to sales people necessarily).

A = ask

What do you talk about over tea? Ask your new friend to tell you about him/her self. There is an interesting story to hear. Do this more than once, for there is much to learn. You might ask:

  • Where is home for you, and how are things there?
  • What was your experience in coming to this country?
  • What are your favorite traditions in your culture?
  • How has this country been different than you expected?
  • What do you hope to accomplish in coming years?

I encourage you to repeat the S.A.N.T.A. approach many times with your new friend. Each time you will deepen your friendship. In time you will be able to share your story. Showing interest in this way is so rare that you will be invited into your friend’s life and network. You will be amazed at how fulfilling this can be.

Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org

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#WWJD. Abstain! (3) John the Baptist

If John the Baptist was here and now, what would he say about Election 2016?

Three episodes of his life stand out to me.

First, John remembered that Jesus is greater than any other leader.

His entire purpose in life was to make a smooth path for the coming JohnTheBaptistMessiah. He did this by denying himself the perks of his culture, and by telling others to get right with God. His baptism was for repentance; i.e. change your mind about what matters and change your behavior to please God. John said he was not worthy to strap Jesus’ sandal. That’s humility as a result of keeping Jesus in His rightful place as God’s anointed.

–> Election 2016. Let’s not get so wrapped up in the outcome of the Presidential race that we knock Jesus out of first place in our hearts. The Lord Jesus has survived and outlasted hundreds of horrible candidates and rigged elections! He will outlast this one too!

Second, John faced his doubts but clung to Jesus when things got confusing.

I’m remembering the time when John was in prison and was getting a bit bewildered. He had a clear calling, but it had led to his suffering. Understandably, he needed the encouragement of knowing that it was all worth it. So he sent some of his followers to ask Jesus if things were still under control out there (Matt.11).

Jesus did not fault John for this, but sent word back to him saying, in effect, “John, you would be so jazzed to see what I’m up to. People are being healed, sinners repenting, the poor are being empowered by the truth, and resurrections are happening. Keep believing and you won’t regret it!”

–> Election 2016. This is a great time to cut through all the confusion and realize that Jesus is at work today in phenomenal ways. We are living in a supreme illustration of the folly of the efforts of humankind. Our world-class democracy is like the tower of Babel — our best effort and our greatest folly. Let’s keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus Christ.

Third, John knew character mattered and did not compromise.

We learn that the reason John was in prison was because he spoke out about the immorality of Herod who had gotten involved with (affair? married?) his brother’s wife (Mt.14:3-4). Herod, perhaps tipsy on wine, made a promise he later regretted, and ended up having to execute John to save face.

When John criticized Herod, he was not keeping his views under wraps inside his believer’s fellowship. He was speaking into the public arena the moral standards of God. And he paid the price.

–> Election 2016. I’m troubled with the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils. I know there have never been any perfect candidates, either morally or in terms of issues, but the candidates in this presidential election are, to me, so flawed in character that I feel I have passed a tipping point. I have read many justifications for voting one way or the other, but I keep circling back to the obstinance of John the Baptist.

Photocredit: spindleworks.com  (btw if you want a good chuckle, google “john the baptist images”; some of the depictions of this guy are so wonky; I think if there is blushing in heaven that John is tomato red)

See prior thoughts on Moses and Isaiah.

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The greater of two hills

So much happened when Christ died for our sins – not just on earth but in heaven. Could we stretch our minds to encompass some of that higher drama? To do so, return with me to Jerusalem, and imagine the story that two of that great city’s hills – Mount Moriah and Golgotha – could tell.

temple herodMount Moriah was a grand and regal hill, boasting a star-studded history. How many mountains could brag about Abraham’s raised knife and his son’s quiet faith? Now the mount proudly wore the magnificent temple that Herod built. The pearl of the City of David, the center of Israel’s faith, jutted toward the sky in gleaming splendor. Now its priests busily prepared for the Passover celebrations.

Probably just three thousand feet away stood Moriah’s diminutive half-brother, Golgotha. Golgotha didn’t even count as one of Jerusalem’s golgothaseven hills. By appearance, it was plain. By history, it was despicable. But by destiny, it was about to become glorious.

For you see, while the priests scurried about the temple on Moriah, preparing to enter the Holy Place, Golgotha was about to host the High Priest of heaven. With sandaled feet, the Rock of Ages as scheduled to walk onto the rock of shame and step into the eternal Holy of Holies, into the temple of the Living God.

In Herod’s temple, the priests had become quite adept at offering a day’s worth of oblations without soiling their garments with goat’s blood. In a moment, on the hill of ignominy, the eternal High Priest would come to perform His sole task: to spill His own blood shamelessly onto Himself and wherever else it would happen to fall.

The two hills could not have been more different. By all appearances, Mount Moriah for its temple was clearly glorious and admirable. But no one would want to visit the ugly hill of Golgotha.

Isaiah the prophet knew how unsightly a place Golgotha would be. He foretold how disfigured the High Priest would become on that hill. The ancient prophet knew that the Messiah would be mauled, displaying neither beauty nor majesty. Instead, He’d be despised and rejected by men. Man of sorrows. Familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces. Stricken. Smitten. Pierced. Crushed. Oppressed and afflicted. Let like a lamb to the slaughter.

But Isaiah also knew there was a purpose for all the ugliness. Jesus would take up our infirmities. Carry our sorrows. Be pierced for our transgressions. Crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him. By His woulds we are healed. The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

That’s why Moriah, the regal mount, deferred to Golgotha that day. Call it a passing of the baton. Think of it as a recognition of greatness.

The shadow bowed to the substance. The copy yielded to the original. The earthly acquiesced to the heavenly. The temple applauded the Sanctuary.

The worship on Moriah grew dim in the spiritual realm that day, lessened by the increasing brilliance that shone on the Redeemer. Perhaps, like John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase but I must decrease,” the Temple tipped its hat to the heavenly High Priest on the hill called Skull. And maybe the Sanctuary saluted back to the stone and bronze, acknowledging a job well done, releasing it from its duty and accepting the immense responsibility on Himself.

Though no mortal noticed it, heaven’s eyes could see that the golden lampstand beamed a smile over the wall to the Light of the World. The table of showbread turned over duties to the Bread of Life. The golden altar of incense giggled with delight at the fragrant offering ascending over Golgotha. The Ark of the Covenant sighed deeply with relief that the new covenant of the heart had finally come. And the cherubim who covered the mercy seat joyfully fluttered their golden wings at the deluge of grace raining down and washing away condemnation.

Caiaphas, the high priest on Mount Moriah, didn’t have eyes to see this phenomenal display. He had missed his true calling. What should have been the grand climax of glorious centuries of preparation turned out a dismal failure of perception. So thick were the blindfolds that the high priest didn’t know that his heavenly counterpart, the true High Priest, was even now within the Holy of heavenly Holies, offering once and for all the sacrifice for all of humankind’s sin.

But the High Priest of the new covenant didn’t require the acknowledgment of the old. The new Mediator bridged the gap single-handedly.

Job well done, O bulls and goats of the sacrifice! You pictured Him well. You pointed the way.

O you tender lambs of the ages, you who gave your lifeblood helplessly. Look, see Him there, the fulfillment of your prophecies. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world!

Excerpted from Safe in His Sanctuary, (Multnomah 1999), Robert Rasmussen

Photo credits: Herod’s temple: telegraph.co.uk.
Golgotha: elishavision.wordpress.com

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The day God ran out of patience

thunder lightningOne day, God’s patience snapped. It began as a clap of thunder in the distance. His discontent rumbled over the hills of villainy, sending forth the first warning shots that His silence would soon cease.

The ocean began to swell, turning the deep green water into white foam, reflecting the Almighty’s building fury. The winds picked up the tempo as they began to howl, building into gale force, breaking into the bellowing roar of divine indignation. God was fed up with the captivity of souls, sick and tired of the despicable prince’s pompous rule.

The roofs and shutters of the Land of Wrath lost their grip and sailed uncontrollably into the wind, exposing dismal hovels of fear. Then the earth began to shake, and the foundations of the mountains trembled, shaking with God’s burning rage.

Smoke rose from His nostrils and consuming fire burst forth from His mouth. He split the heavens because the perishing cried out; He came to rescue those entangled in the snares of death. From His Sanctuary, He heard their wail of distress.

So He mounted the cherubim and soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his hiding place, the sky’s dark rain clouds His canopy. Out of the brightness of His presence, the clouds advanced over the dreary land, hail-stones and bolts of lightning emissaries of the infuriated King. The Lord thundered from heaven, the voice of the Most High roared. He shot His arrows into the lewd oppression and scattered the devilish minions in a thousand directions. He threw great bolts of lightning and routed the hierarchy of hate. The valleys of the sea were exposed, and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the Lord’s rebuke, at the blast of breath from His nostrils.

Yes, the God of love could bear the sight no longer. He could no longer endure the pain. He had to rescue the people brought forth from His yearning arms, the family He created for holiness.

And so He rose that day in vindication so righteous as to be virtuous. He rose against the devastation and waste. He rose in disgust at the culture of filth, His blood running hot with rage over the crippling depravity. He rose to crush the skull of the vile rebel who had deceived His creation, and with flaming eyes and fuming anger, with clenched fists raised toward heaven, with holy sandals planted squarely on the sludge of deception’s kingdom, God lifted His thunderous voice and shook the rafters of rottenness. His glaring eyes pierced right through the lion, and with words sharpened like a saber, God challenged His enemy to the duel of the ages: “Meet me at Golgotha!”

Excerpt from Safe In His Sanctuary (pp.83-84), by Robert E Rasmussen

photo credit: agatelady.blogspot.com

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Look Anew (poem)

Day after day he had seen it in its case,

gazing on its pristine beauty.

Until one day he freed it from its place

to view it in the sunlight clearly.

And when he did, the beam pierced through;

with eyes awakened did he see.

O friend, do take a look anew

for that same jeweler you can be.

Robert E. Rasmussen, Imagine Meeting Him

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The man with the burden

I was talking with friends recently about God’s forgiveness, and recalled one of my favorite passages from IMAGINE MEETING HIM:

“You couldn’t have been any farther east. You were burdened with an indefinable weight, unable to analyze it or get a grip on it or rid yourself of it. And no one could help you with it.

Until a man came and, taking your burden as if it weighed hardly anything, carried it up and across a range of mountains.mountains

On his climb, a seductive woman, a woman called Justice, intercepted him. She reasoned with him, saying, ‘The one whose burden you carry doesn’t deserve your efforts. Lay down the weight, and stop your journey in the name of fairness.’

Your man kept going.

By and by he passed through a desert, traversing its barrenness for days on end. Under the scorching sun, a strapping young man called Reality desertapproached him. ‘You’re carrying that heavy weight for someone who won’t even appreciate what you’re doing. Not only that, he won’t always relieve others of their burdens, even when given the chance. Let me take care of it for you right now. You won’t have to carry it any farther.’

forestAcknowledging the young man, your burden bearer nevertheless persevered. Soon he came upon a deep forest, so thick that sunlight could scarcely penetrate it. An old man with many years of experience in the world met up with him. The graybeard was called Restitution. ‘You,’ said the elderly man, ‘with that burden on your back. I see that you’re very determined, since you have made it this far. But realizing all the work this requires of you, you must go to the owner of this burden and make him pay for the relief you have provided.’

But the burden bearer passed through the forest without stopping.

Soon he came to the end of his journey. He had gone as far west as he Deep-Oceanpossibly could. There he faced the deepest of oceans.

He removed your burden and threw it into the heart of that sea, where to this day it is still sinking.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12).

“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

[excerpt from Imagine Meeting Him, by Robert Rasmussen, 1998 Multnomah Publishers, pp. 169-170]

photo credit: unbelievablefacts.com




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If election is the question, Jesus is the answer

SHS coverRereading SAFE IN HIS SANCTUARY, I came across this treasured section:

Somehow, Jesus is the only explanation of election. Long ago, before the crossbars of governments were lifted into place, before the pillars of society were raised, even before the foundation of the world was laid, God the Father looked at His Son with loving eyes and envisioned for Him a committed people.

He pictured His Son as the King of kings and knew who would be His loyal subjects.

He considered Jesus as the groom and He chose for Him an appropriate bride.

He thought of His Son as the head of the Church, and it apparently came into clear focus as to who would comprise His body. He conceived of His Son as a Savior, and He determined the ones who needed to be saved — no, who WANTED to be saved — no, who WOULD be saved.

If election is the question, Jesus is the answer. He is the scope and boundary, its basis and purpose. He doesn’t have limited capacity to save people. Nor does He have (thank Him) any restriction in His love that excludes some while enfolding others.

When I get baffled about the doctrine of election, I find the best response is worship!

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To vote for President or not (2)

As I pondered who I should vote for come November, I was struck with the number of compromises of character and morality I would have to condone to vote for either Clinton or Trump. As much as I value the right to cast my vote for the Presidency, and as much as I dislike withholding it, I began to wonder if exercising the right to vote outweighs my troubled soul.

Voting is one important way of influencing my country – one way I have been given a voice. But it is not my only voice. I can write and express my opinion and, in this one contest, my words will take the place of my vote. Here is why: Americans have chosen two Presidential candidates that are so raunchy that my commitment to Jesus Christ leads me to vocally reject them both. In what I “know” of their personal character and certain of their issues, both candidates are so out of sync with the eternal kingdom values I embrace, that I conclude it is better to not support either of them.

I am deeply thankful to be an American citizen. Both my parents defended its freedom in WW2. My U.S. passport has opened doors of opportunity in several countries. So I truly wish that our citizenry had chosen at least one candidate worthy of American virtues.isa 41.10

In this series of protestations, I head toward the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” My belief is that He would abstain from the Presidential vote. As I  aim toward articulating an answer, I am reviewing some of the writings of those whom Jesus looked to, and built upon.

isaiahConsider Isaiah. Prophets like Isaiah were not called to be popular. Isaiah, if living today, might have 16 Facebook friends beefed up with 7 Twitter followers. Prophets received biting revelations from God, expressing how disappointed and downright angry God was at His people Israel. Prophets castigated God’s people for idolatry, intermarriage, adultery, sabbath-breaking, and taking better care of their homes than God’s worship center.

America would not receive a rebuke from God if it suddenly appeared on every computer monitor and TV screen. Evangelicals either. Just look at the way brothers and sisters are compromising character to support the lesser of two evils.

For this post, I’ve chosen some of the kindest words out of Isaiah’s mouth (Isa. 40:15,23-24). I like the positive perspective they give us at this time:

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales;

He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.

To my fellow believers who are all in a lather about this election, I remind you isa 43.2that America is not promised perpetual greatness. The effect of a Presidency is short-lived against the swirling winds of centuries. We who have joined the eternal kingdom are strangers passing through this place. God will still be God when the next century has come and gone.

When our national citizenship asks us to compromise our Kingdom citizenship, we had better have our wits about us.

Stay tuned. John the Baptist is in the on-deck circle!

Photo credits: (Isa 43.2) nyupperroom.blogspot; (portrait) oca.org

Leave me a comment won’t you. What are your thoughts?

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What Would Jesus Do? Abstain! (1)

WWJD  What Would Jesus Do?

WWJD was a semi-popular evangelical mantra a few years ago. I have found myself pondering that question as we have entered the most confounding election in my memory.

I plan to get to what would Jesus do, but I want to back up and take a running start at it, by considering some of the predecessors Jesus read and endorsed.

So let me start with Moses. WWMD?

moses_ten_commandments__image_2_sjpg637Moses went up on the mountain to deliver to the Israelite immigrants (fleeing Egypt, seeking a land of promise, illegally) the instructions from God. He came down with the “decalogue” (10 commands) once, only to have to ascend the mount a second time to receive them again, since the people, notably, had fallen into idolatry in the form of worship of a calf made of the precious metals and gems which God gave them from the Egyptians who were only too happy (after 10 devastating plagues) to see them depart.

So I think it safe to say that Moses valued these commands, and would see America’s election cycle through the lens of the revelation he received. One thing that came through loud and clear was that God did not want to be considered a peer with anyone else. (“You shall have no other gods before Me” Exodus 20:3). Neither did God want to become another in a line of revered entities (“You shall not make for yourself a carved image…for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God….”). So there is a back-story to election 2016 — America has shrunk God and phased Him out.

WWMD?  He would likely cite the bit about taking the name of the Lord in vain. Likely touch on remembering to take one day in seven to rest and reflect on how good God is to provide. I suspect he would mention the murder thing, and something about adultery. Oh, and coveting. Moses would say: Are you surprised you’re in this fix?

I’m not talking about the scuttlebutt some time ago in the U.S. about taking the 10 commandments off government buildings. No, what matters is that respect for God left our country long ago. The awe of the one true God left our hearts decades ago. Even from the beginning. Our founding fathers were only “Christians” in the (extremely loose) sense that they believed morality mattered. That was something at least. It would be good to go back to that at least.

As I have written before, the “pursuit of happiness” is not one of Jesus’ promises. He promised the suffering of a cross and (for the trouble) an eternal reward. Despite the brothers who now espouse a heaven-on-earth kind of reward, I’m looking for something a lot more glorious than possibly containable on this planetary sphere.

moses notBut back to the election… I think Moses would say to us: Look, human glory fades. Yours clearly has. You are in a real reality show, and it is not going well. You have made your decisions as a people. You have idolized a future with your “rights” and “equality.” You have, with open-eyes, violated every one of the 10 pillars of a thriving society — and have invented some of your own. Now your society has wilted.

Is there hope? What do we do?  Stay tuned… next up is Isaiah

PLEASE comment, like, protest, laugh… something to let me know you were here!

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