Watching and Learning in Life

To watch and learn in life, is something we all do. We all watch someone fail, we hopefully learn from that failure that we were able to witness.

Something that doesn’t often happen is While we are learning are we watching? Most times people are not because the learning curve may not allow you to watch as you learn.

Next time a period of time comes while learning try to watch and see if you can. I tried it and failed; that is ok though. I know the next time even if I fail; I will fail forward.

Thanks for reading,
Arthur Poston

Squinting Through the Fog?

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Squinting Through the Fog

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God
. . . and it will be given him—James 1:5

God knows what’s right in every circumstance. We do not. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). And yet, God installs us as decision-makers nonetheless. He intends us to struggle through, and answer, tough questions throughout our lives: Should I take the job? Should I marry the girl? Am I becoming the man God intends me to become? How should I deal with pain and fear and temptation? Tough questions, indeed. Huge implications.

King Solomon was an epic decision-maker. God told him, “I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12). Fortunately for the rest of us, Solomon passed along some of that God-given wisdom, in the form of the Book of Proverbs.

For tough questions, Solomon wrote, we must look first to God (Proverbs 3:5-6). One way to do that, since he empowers us as agents of his wisdom, is actually to look to our brothers in Christian community (Proverbs 11:14; James 5:19-20). Wrote Solomon, “a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). Counsel from other men is one of our most powerful tools. We needn’t use it for every question. But, for the toughest ones, we must.

Speak Responsibly

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Speak Responsibly

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love—1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Whether it’s two of us or twelve of us or more, when we gather in Christian community, we’re to speak truth to one another, truth motivated by love (Ephesians 4:15). Truth in love—it sounds simple, actually . . . straightforward. And sometimes it is. Many times, though, it’s anything but simple or straightforward. And, in those times, we men don’t typically fare too well. I mean, the mess and complexity of life can make speaking truth in love daunting and uncomfortable—for example, when it requires we challenge a brother or admonish him; when it requires we call-out a brother or call him back from sin. So it’s a rare group of men indeed who are willing to speak truth in love even when it’s hard. We’ve got to be that kind of men.

For us to be that kind, though, we must first be another kind: men who take time to know one another. You see, except in a few cases, it’s irresponsible to “speak truth” to any man without knowing his story. We’re one body, all following our King, Jesus Christ, but we’re also all different, with different designs, different functions, different experiences (Romans 12:4-5). For community to work, for truth to flow properly, we must understand and appreciate each other. And we begin by telling our stories. If we don’t begin there, we’re likely to damage community and to do damage to each other—like when we give advice and try to “fix” a person, or a situation, we don’t fully understand.

Questions? How to move forward…..

What do we do when there isn’t a way to fix a problem in your relationship with the conversation?

Probe by asking questions of yourself:

What is my part in this?
Is there a fix?
What questions could be asked to probe the situation?

There could possibly be other questions that would need to be asked of yourself while trying to get to a version of the truth before confronting the other party. Time is not on your side when contemplating these issues. A lot of time can be lost and you left in limbo asking questions of yourself. The time you take for yourself to propose and create these items of and for yourself be sure to use them “the questions”as soon as possible.

Conversation is still crucial and being in a calm and controlled manner is best. Anger and raised voices do nothing to help either side.

Wake-up Call

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Wake-up Call

. . . faith apart from works is dead—James 2:26

Imagine yourself, for a moment, standing before our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Imagine feeling, at first, a bit apprehensive. Imagine lifting your eyes to his. Imagine his face, when you meet his gaze. Imagine his strength, his goodness. Imagine the sound of his voice as he, like the master in his Parable of the Talents, speaks these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:14-30). How would that feel—from the one who sacrificed his life for yours—that he’s pleased with the life you’ve lived?

Each of us has work to do before weactually stand face-to-face with Jesus. “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing” (Ephesians 2:10 MSG). Like the servants in the parable, we’re too given resources for the Master’s work. They were given money; we’re given money too, but also time, energy, natural talents, spiritual gifts, and help from the Holy Spirit. We must waste these resources no more. We must spend them for his work—not just for ourselves.

We must also, though, check our hearts. Doing “good work” isn’t about earning our way into Heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). Rather, it’s about trusting our Master and following him into a better kind of life.

Nothing But Smoke

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Nothing But Smoke

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy—Matthew 6:19

This world, and everything in it, is characterized by defect and decay (Genesis 3:17; 1 John 2:17). Everything. Nothing is perfect—as much as we’d like to believe some things will be perfectly satisfying. Nothing lasts forever—as much as we’d like to believe some things can be with us always. Whenever we trust a created thing too much it lets us down, eventually. Whenever we put too much stock into a created thing it breaks our hearts, inevitably. We’ve all experienced this. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the ability of work to give us security. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the ability of achievement to give us meaning. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the ability of sex to give us comfort or adventure. Maybe we’ve trusted too much the abilities of houses or vacations or cars or tools or gear or gadgets to give us joy.

“Smoke, nothing but smoke” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 MSG).

Created things can be gifts from our Father God, of course (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19). Even those, though, cannot deliver everything we need. We’re to enjoy them during their moments, but our enjoyment is meant to be fleeting. If we begin to think the gifts themselves will fill us up, complete our lives, we invite grief. We’re meant to focus our lives, not on the gifts, but on the Giver. We’re meant to focus our lives, not on created things, but on the Creator. Only he is perfect and eternal.

Asking My Spouse These 2 Questions Every Week Keeps Our Bond Strong

My mother-in-law sent a text myself and my spouse this past week that contained this article. It was a great observation that many couples probably go through. I know me personally I have often asked my wife the same non-starter conversation starters. Even when I am really engaged in finding out about her day the opener really needs something.

Take a look at this article I have posted it below.

Hope you enjoy it too.

Arthur Poston Jr.

Recently, my husband, Marc, and I started testing out a new ritual. We are habit people and find that when we can put key aspects of our connection on autopilot — that is, we get them to happen without having to think too much about making them happen — we find each other more in the slightly chaotic, sometimes harried, often muddled, basket weave that is life.

For over a decade, we’ve carved the habit of a weekly date night into our family blueprint, amassing a dugout of equally delightful and reliable babysitters and teaching our kids that mom and dad time is the norm, no different than morning breakfast or nightly tuck-ins. It’s just what we do. This is simply how the Manieri family rolls.

Call us overly self-indulgent, but we find that after 13 years of marriage, we’d actually like even more couple time together (gasp!). Sure, we see each other every day, but the bevy of hurried, innocuous, and sometimes snippy interactions Marc and I experience throughout our busy day feel more like baton passes in a relay than anything close to a meaningful connection.

So we’ve started the practice of meeting once a week for tea (wine or seltzer works just as well if that’s your fancy). And rather than let the day’s headlines or our endless checklist guide our conversation (i.e. Did you call the roofer? Should I book the flight before it gets too expensive? Are you going to call the bank about those extra fees?), we anchor our interlude in two questions that have completely changed how we spend those 30 minutes together: “What would you like to be acknowledged for?” and “What would you like me to know about your life?”

Notice that these are different from “How are you?” or “What’s going on?” which usually elicit fairly standard and bland responses such as “fine” or “not much.” These questions require the responder to actually reflect, step inside themselves, and call something deeper to the surface. And when my husband asks me these two questions, the floodgates of my inner world literally break open.

What would you like to be acknowledged for?

For starters, this question immediately sends the message to me that the often thankless and mostly unnoticed work I do to keep our family and business humming matter to him. Being asked what I would like to be acknowledged for launches an internal inquiry that truly gives me pause. Hmm, what would I like to be acknowledged for? What is something I’ve done lately that deserves a little credit?

It’s not about praise or pats on the back, two things I care little about. In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, I place “Words of Affirmation” at the very bottom of my list of ways I feel loved. (“Quality Time” and “Acts of Service” are tied for top position for me.) I don’t crave recognition or get a sense of elation when I receive them. But I do want to feel seen. The opportunity to say what I want to be acknowledged for, gives me the chance to feel known, noticed, relevant, and appreciated, and that has enormous connective benefits for our relationship.

External appreciation has tremendous value, but here’s the thing: the real juice actually lives in the way that speaking my accomplishment out aloud (no matter how big or small) allows me to acknowledge myself. I get to unearth and underscore my tiny triumphs for the sake of my own recognition and notice. I’ve asked to be acknowledged for big things — like when I was nominated for an award! — and seemingly small things, like how I held my temper with the kids when they couldn’t find their shoes and we were already late. Marc speaks his appreciation for my feats, and then we switch so I can do the same for him.

What would you like me to know about your life?

In my experience, this question has such a different spirit from “What’s going on?” It’s not asking for a laundry list of to-dos. It’s recognizing that even married people, who live their lives in parallel, have their own distinct worlds they move in, and it invites each other into those worlds.

“I want you to know that I’m really worried about my dad, and it’s really hard to see his health fail.”

“I want you to know that I’d like to start spending more time with my friend Erica, and I wondered if it would work for us if she and I met for a walk on Wednesday mornings before the kids go to school.”

“I want you to know that I believe Elizabeth is having a tough time with your travel schedule, and I think it would be really good if you took her out for dinner, just the two of you, this weekend.”

“I want you to know that I’m so looking forward to getting away together next month. I really miss you.”

There’s a level of revealing and disclosure that this question seems to tap into. It offers me the opportunity to search for an answer I probably haven’t been totally present too. It’s amazing how worry or inquiry or concern or anticipation can hum away in the background like radio static. And then we look right at it, actually take stock of our life and all the balls we’ve tossed in the air, and boom, it’s like someone has tuned the dial perfectly.

It’s not always groundbreaking. Sometimes I want him to know that I think the cats have fleas again, that he really needs to move those boxes into the attic, that I’m really tired of how much chicken we eat for dinner, or that I started listening to a new podcast that I think he’d love, too.

Not every conversation is going to have us baring our souls, but some will. The point is the opportunity, the invitation, is there if we choose it. What bubbles or is beckoned to the shallows gives us the chance to reveal a glimpse into our world neither our partner nor even sometimes ourselves knew was incubating.

It all boils down to this: I matter. You matter. And even if we experience feeling truly significant nowhere else in the world but in the company of our spouse, the practice of being seen and known (even just by one single person) can be everything.


Who Are Your Fellow Conspirators?

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Who Are Your Fellow Conspirators?

For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I among them—Matthew 18:20

For many of us men, our default is go-it-alone. We prefer to work alone, make decisions alone, muscle through struggles alone, get credit for our accomplishments alone. Go-it-alone gives us control and allows us to avoid vulnerability. The problem is, our King, Jesus Christ, doesn’t think much of the go-it-alone approach, especially in the service of others. He didn’t go-it-alone during his time of ministry; he doesn’t go-it-alone now (John 10:22-39; 14:7-14). And when he sent followers to preach and do miracles, he sent them in pairs, so they wouldn’t go-it-alone either (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 10:1-12). Clearly this is important. But, why are pairs or groups such better units for service than is one man, on his own?

Well, the reasons are a few—and each is as compelling as the ask-for-help approach is counter to our nature. First, and most importantly, Jesus is uniquely present when two or more people join together in his name (Matthew 18:20). Moreover, two or more people, joined together, working together, in friendship and trust, are often more confident and more impactful, than is just one man (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). And, two or more people, joined together, who know one another, who pray together and pray for one another, are more supported and more protected (from sin and from opposition), than is that same man, on his own (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12; Hebrews 3:13).

He Calls Us Still

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He Calls Us Still

. . . for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God—Romans 3:23

As his men, we’re called to be like Jesus. We’re commanded to love just like he does (John 13:34-35). That’s a tall order. It’s easy to feel less-than-qualified, what with all our faults and bad choices, both intentional and unintentional. In fact, it’s easy to feel totally disqualified. Our mistakes—we carry their shame, we try to forget them. But we can’t forget. So we hide them instead, hoping, at least, to appear qualified. But they’re always there. And the thing is, when everyone else is hiding their mistakes too, it can feel like we’re the only ones with failings. So, not only do we feel disqualified, we can also feel separate.

But our mistakes don’t separate us from everyone else. They actually connect us. Whether we admit them or not, they’re one thing we all share (Romans 3:23). Our mistakes make us human. They also don’t disqualify us from the call to love like Jesus. You see, Jesus knows our mistakes; we can’t hide them from him. And yet he calls us still. We must confess and repent the mistakes we’ve made—and try to make fewer going forward—but Jesus doesn’t give up on us because of our mistakes (Mark 2:17). And, in fact, our mistakes (and the darkness that follows) can actually prepare us for his call. They can prepare us to love. They can teach us compassion and humility. They can also give us the authority to speak, as men who’ve been through darkness and pain, and who’ve returned.

What Moves Your Heart?

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What Moves Your Heart?

. . . give, and it will be given to you—Luke 6:38

When we begin following Jesus Christ, he shapes for us new hearts—just as God promised for Israel: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:17-24). These new hearts move more like God’s heart. They are not, however, all shaped alike. They still reflect our God-created and God-anointed individuality (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Notice when you view tough situations—sometimes your heart is moved, deeply. Notice also—sometimes it isn’t.

You see, we’re all created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). But, as individuals, we aren’t created for every work. We couldn’t possibly be. We’re all called to help those in need (Matthew 22:39; 1 John 3:17-18). But, as individuals, we aren’t called to every need. Near his death, St. Francis of Assisi prayed for his fellow friars: “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.” The movements of our new hearts are one way God teaches us what is ours. For our hearts are made to notice, to care, to move more for certain people and certain needs: when their needs are met, our hearts are satisfied; when they aren’t, our hearts hurt with their hearts. So here’s the good part—when we become aware of the movements of our new hearts, and begin working ourselves to meet the needs of people who are ours to help, we increase not only their joy, but ours too.