What would you do?

Today, I'm frantically working on my research proposal (studying motivations of Christian bloggers)  that is a major portion of my grade this semester, and I'm checking out some Christian blogs from a 2007 survey to see if they are still in existence. I click on Mark Kelly's blog Kainos and find this piece of news

Today, a federal court denied a request to halt enforcement of the abortion pill mandate which forces the Christian-owned-and-operated Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., to provide the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to $1.3 million dollars per day…

Hobby Lobby is the largest and first non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate. The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue covering preventive contraceptives for its employees. However, the Green family’s religious convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, the “morning after” and “week after” pills, which would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception. Retrieved from the Beckett Fund website.

There is something horribly wrong about this that just sticks like a boulder in my craw. I cannot imagine our forefathers ever dreaming this could happen in their beloved land that they gave heart, soul and shed blood to build. That isn't even close to what Jesus must be feeling right about now.

What so many do not realize, including Christians, is that God hates it when you mess with His children and that includes the brand new lives He has created in their mother's wombs. That He knits them together, and He knows their every twitch and move before their eyes even see the light of day.

I ache in my heart over this. Please God, forgive this country for this disrespect for human life. Forgive us Lord for not raising hands and voices in protest over the shedding of innocent blood. Help us Lord to get this mandate rescinded and help our country to move back from this insane precipice. 

Mark Kelly advises: You can take a stand for your faith freedom by learning more from the ERLC or the Manhattan Declaration websitesigning a petition, donating to a religious liberty organization like The Becket Fund, and contacting the White HouseHealth and Human Services, and your Congressman.

SEO killers

I subscribe to SiteProNews that gives me excellent advice on a lot of things Internet related such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization - helps other people find your blog or website through search engines like Google), web design, blogs, social media and other stuff.

I found something today that made my heart sing! Jill Whalen has studied websites for more than a year to discover whether SEO is actually dead or on life support. What she found is very encouraging and that is this little tidbit from her article:

Have a Real Content / Social Media Marketing Strategy
Forget about old-fashioned link building. Google now really does consider it to be web spam. (Yay!) If you can add a link to your own site just by submitting it somewhere, you can assume that it won’t count for much (or anything) by Google. In other words, forget about useless directory submissions, article directories, link wheels, forum signatures and comment spam. That’s all done, kaput, a useless waste of time. Read more...
 Hooray! That means all you people who are posting SPAM as comments on my site can pretty much use that time for something more useful because spam comments, and footer links just don't work anymore to drive traffic to your site. Besides the fact that I weed out all those by hand anyway.

Here's some more things that dilute your web presence to the back of the search, and as Whalen says, they are in no particular order.

1. Duplicate content
2. Keyword stuffing
3. Doorways
4. Footer links
5. Auto anchor text
6. Spammy comments
7. Low-quality pages
8. Poor presentation
9. Content below fold
10. Technical problems
11. Poor writing
12. No content
13. Splitting link pop
14. Merry-go-rounds
15. Unnatural links
16. Semi-hidden text
17. Rich snippet abuse
18. Trustworthiness (I'm sure she means lack of, here)
This applies to all web content, not just professional, company sites, but blogs and personal journals, too.

Engraved in His palm,

Great as an elephant, least as an ant...

Continuing from yesterday

Here are two creatures side by side: one of the world’s largest creatures and one of the world’s smallest. The elephant, even in all his great size and mighty strength is still meek in the hands of man doing his bidding and serving his master. The ant serves his whole life never stopping to think if his own life is more important than his brothers’ lives, he gives it freely to protect them and his queen. The ant, unlike most creatures of the earth, can carry up to 50 times its own weight. So many things we can learn from the elephant and the ant one being that serving others is a noble way of life.
One of the motivational spiritual gifts Paul talks about in Romans 12 is the administrator or organizer. Jesus was the greatest of these and exhibited a tremendous ability to organize and lead through all these characteristics delineated by Greenleaf. It is through Jesus’ teaching that we understand how great it is to be a servant leader. Last week we talked about Greenleaf’s first five characteristics of servant leadership. Today, we’ll consider the other five characteristics from the biblical perspective.

6. Conceptualization: Being able to see the big picture is a gift. People who can back up and see what a huge project should look like when it is finished has this gift, much like Nehemiah had when handing King Artaxerxes his wine cup. Artaxerxes asked him, “What are you so sad-faced, Nehemiah?” The king’s servant had prayed hard before speaking then told him about Jerusalem’s walls in ruins and the crouching enemies. Nehemiah was 700 miles away, but he could see the result of rebuilt walls with the authority of the reigning king who financed the whole project. Read more…

7. Foresight: Spears (2004) points out “Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant-leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind” (p. 9). We can see how Jesus exhibits this attribute so many times in his teachings one being from the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them..

8. Stewardship: This attribute has been defined as holding something in trust for another. Jesus taught about it in several parables both from a financial perspective (the servants being given one talent, two talents, and five talents), and from a people perspective with His continued dictum to love one another. What we do with what we are given by God determines how well we serve Him. Jesus reminded His disciples, “What you do for the least of these, you are doing to Me.” Treating employees, co-workers, and bosses with respect and love is crucial whether or not they are believers. “Others will see Me through your love for one another,” Jesus said. (John 13:35).

9. Commitment to the growth of people: How much this is like Jesus. He chose His disciples, and He taught them for three and a half years so they might receive the Holy Spirit and spread the Good News by following the Great Commission. Spears (2004) points out “Servant-leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers” (p. 9). This directly relates to stewardship, but also is an attribute intrinsic to the good leader. The goal of a parent is to train up her child in the way of the Lord and when he is old he will not depart from it. Good leaders train more good leaders, and guide workers to do great things.

10. Building community: The sense of community has been defined as “part of readily available, mutually supportive network of relationships on which one can depend … characterized by feelings of belongingness, interdependence, being needed, and identification with some common overarching values; and it counters loneliness and social isolation; and it is determined by shared emotional connections, integration and fulfillment of needs.” It is also characterized by a sense of contribution which Jesus has instilled within each Christian, just as He did in His disciples. “On this Rock I will build My church!” The declarative statement shows how Jesus is working to build the community. “We are joint heirs with Christ.” Our sense of belonging is depicted as not only God’s children, but as joint heirs of Heaven’s great riches. The servant leader will make sure each person feels connected through a sense of purpose and the mutually supportive network of relationships. The more healthy the network, the least likely a demonic or satanic attack will puncture through to the heart of the community and destroy it.

Servant leadership is a growing concept in the business world. While the arrogant would deem servant leader an oxy-moron, the wise see it as the only way to lead effectively. We are not like ants that are genetically programmed to perform one task; we are more like elephants in that we can be trained for different tasks. How much more wonderful it is that we have a Servant Leader in Christ Jesus who bestowed upon us the Holy Spirit who gives us our motivations to serve God without burnout and with great love for one another.

Spears, Larry C. "Practicing Servant-Leadership" Leader to Leader. 34 (Fall 2004)7-11.

Servant Leader

At LiveAsIf.org I wrote a column on Jesus as the servant washing Peter’s feet in an act of servantship as well as cleansing and forgiveness. What of the servant as leader?

In the 1990s Robert K. Greenleaf “discovered” the truth that “a leader is best experienced first as a servant” (Spears, 2004, p. 9). Jesus exhibited this axiom better than any other leader before or since He rose from the dead. While Spears does not bring out this biblical truth, he does point out ten of Greenleaf’s ideas about the characteristics of a good servant-leader, but he says nothing about the scriptural basis for these ten attributes. To explore each one, we’ll study half this week and the rest next week.

I point out here the biblical foundations for the attributes Greenleaf “discovered”.

1. Listening: A good leader is a good communicator. This means active listening. I wrote about the Art of Listening several years ago. There are two verses that stand out starkly: Luke 2:46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. This does not necessarily mean Jesus was asking questions to learn. Jews taught by asking questions. Teaching and listening, asking questions to get the mind cogs whirling was the way they taught. The fact that all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and His answers means He had an uncanny grasp of Scripture even at 12 years old. Proverbs 19:27 Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

2. Empathy: This attribute is not sympathy which implies pity. Understanding a person’s situation and identifying with it in a compassionate way is illustrated in James when he points out it really does no good when a Christian sees a person hungry and cold and says, “Be warm and be full!” without doing something to better that situation. From a leadership standpoint, Jesus was talking to a rich, young ruler (the story told in Mark 10:17-22). The young man asked what he could do to be saved. Jesus mentioned the six commands dealing on a horizontal level—human to human—and the man said he had kept all these commands. Jesus looked at him and loved him. This is the height of empathy and compassion: Despite the arrogance of the man and his assertion he had never broken even one of those commands Jesus loved him anyway. Jesus loved us while we were yet sinners. He put aside all the riches of Heaven to become lower than the angels so we might know Him, understand Him, and trust Him.

3. Healing: The ability to heal is crucial to a servant-leader. God gave us a body that miraculously heals itself given time and proper treatment. The lesson is that humans suffer tumultuous hurts both from self-infliction by deliberate sin, and from other-infliction from those who brutally use us for their own purposes mostly because they hate Jesus therefore they strike out at those in His image. The empathy attribute shines a light on emotional hurts, and the healing attribute in a servant-leader exerts to help make whole that which is broken. There are so many examples of Jesus healing, but one stands out that illustrates both empathy and healing. Luke 7:11-17 tells of when Jesus and His disciples went to the city of Nain. A funeral was happening and Jesus saw the plight of a lonely widow whose only son had died. He stopped and commanded, “Young man, I say to you arise!” The dead man sat up and Jesus gave him to his mother. Greenleaf writes: "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if implicit in the compact between servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share."

4. Awareness: Greenleaf is focused here on general awareness and even self-awareness. The attribute lends very well to knowing the true situation of each person involved. He notes, “Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed.” For instance when Jesus is overlooking Jerusalem, He breaks into weeping declaring, “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I wanted to gather you under my wings like a mother hen gathers her chicks. But, you would not allow me to; and you would have none of Me.” Awareness doesn’t mean that a problem will be solved, rather that the first step to solving a problem will be completed, and that is to recognize there is a problem.

5. Persuasion: Relying upon positional authority to make someone do their job or to give something to a task is not good leadership. It is bullying. The art of persuasion has been the topic of teaching since the first wheel was sold. The servant-leader seeks to convince others into an avenue of action rather than coerce into action. It is the very reason why Jesus said, “Come to Me ye who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest.” There is no coercion with Jesus. Agrippa told Paul, “Almost you persuade me to become a Christian.” How awful to come right to the brink of decision, and then like King Agrippa prefer this world over the treasures of Heaven; or like the young ruler go away disheartened because there is too much in this world that has you locked in its grip, like riches or power or foolish desires.

Proverbs 4:26 Study the track of your feet, then all your ways will be established.

Continued tomorrow.

Spears, L. C. (2004). Practicing servant-leadership. Leader to Leader, 34, 7-11.