Aphorism

Aphorism2018-07-15T08:07:45+00:00

“Hey Fletch” Sunday is for Aphorisms

From around the globe, people tune in on Fletch’s warm and sound advice. He’s a friend and “church doctor,” bringing an objective perspective, broad knowledge and vast experience. Your question will get a personal reply from Fletch.

‘Aphorism’ from the Greek φορισμός—a delimitation, distinction, definition. A terse saying, laconic and in memorable form, expressing a general truth or principle; an astute observation.

Where Was the Man when He Jumped off the Bridge?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Where Was the Man when He Jumped off the Bridge?

DRF—Prof. Norman Geisler introduced me to this logic riddle. If you answer, “on the bridge,” the retort is “that was before he jumped.” If you answer, “in the air,” the retort is “that was after he jumped.” 

The purpose of the riddle is to show that some questions cannot be answered. They contain mistakes of logic that prevent an answer. Not every question […]

I Was Standing There Following You When You Walked Away

Sunday, October 14, 2018

I Was Standing There Following You When You Walked Away

DRF—Sometimes you hear a phrase and it sticks with you. My wife and I were at Disneyland more than 25 years ago. We heard a couple loudly accosting each other. The man said, “I was standing there following you when you walked away.” 

It doesn’t make any sense and that is what caused it to stick with us. Either he was standing in […]

The Best Place in Life Is Not Being on a Church Staff

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Best Place in Life Is Not Being on a Church Staff

DRF—How can you say that? I was on a church staff for 35 years! Pastors often think that the only place that they can work is within the church walls. It makes sense because they have often trained and gotten extensive education in pastoral work. However, good ministry and service to others can happen in many other environments. Business people who […]

Don’t Hire Friends Because They Are Friends

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Don’t Hire Friends Because They Are Friends

DRF–Hiring a friend often occurs because you know and trust them. You like them. These are great attributes—knowing, trusting and liking. It certainly beats hiring people you don’t know, trust or like!

However, your judgement can be clouded when hiring friends. You can overlook or downplay their deficiencies. They may not be the best fit for the role or staff culture of your church. Sometime friends bypass […]

Hoops to Jump Through

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hoops to Jump Through

Sometimes in challenging conversations with staff, we fail to share real concerns about job performance or fit. Instead, we will set a high hoop for the person to jump through. The hoop could be the number of people in a program, an educational attainment, or some other such thing.

The problem comes when the person jumps through the hoop. Their area may grow or they may get a new educational […]

Insanity is Hereditary—You Can Get It from Your Kids

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Insanity is Hereditary—You Can Get It from Your Kids

DRF—Being a grandparent is an ideal place in life. We get all the benefits of loving on those grandkids without the responsibly. Parenting is serious business. You have to pass a test to get a driver license (and, yes, “driver license” is the way that government’s issue the licenses, not “driver’s license”). No license is needed for the biggest role in your life … […]

Happiness Is a Choice

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Happiness Is a Choice

DRF—This is an aphorism that I learned while in seminary in the 1980s but the truth is the same today. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier wrote a small book with this title and many have used the phrase.

All of us have plenty of headaches and challenges in life. These range from minor hassles to major crises. Our opportunity is to work through the challenges and accept the pain. […]

Artificial Dis-Intelligence

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Artificial Dis-Intelligence

At first blush, most of us would say, “I don’t rely on artificial intelligence.” Perhaps we do! I rely on the automatic spelling in my word processor so that I don’t have to remember the spelling of every word. Though I enjoy the machine working for me, this is artificial dis-intelligence.

I rely on terabytes of indexed information to sort trillions of pages of web data. Consider doing a search in Google’s […]

That is as Boring as Sin

Sunday, August 26, 2018

That is as Boring as Sin

I don’t know who created this aphorism. It is both true and false. The falsity is readily apparent. Doing “your own deal” with God’s moral precepts can feel like lots of fun. Few gossips who tear down the character of another will say that “it is boring.”

Solomon says that there is nothing new under the sun. Consider if we assembled a group of ten people. We then […]

130 Trillion Web Pages

Sunday, August 19, 2018

130 Trillion Web Pages

A vital principle that I learned in college was not to know all the data or read every book. The solution was to know where to find needed information.

A library in the Renaissance era might have contained upward of 1,000 books. It was feasible for a learned person to have read all of those tomes and literary pieces.

In my college years, a large library would contain 100,000 books. If […]

Crisis Defines Maturity

Sunday, August 12, 2018

I got one poor grade in High School, in Spanish. My memory recalls no other grades except that one. It was a defining moment. I had to accept that it was my fault for the grade and learn from my mistakes.

A poor grade is a minor crisis to an adult, but not to a teenager. Adults cope with not being able to pay a mortgage, being fired from work, a challenge in […]

Not Invented Here Syndrome

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Not Invented Here Syndrome

New governing board members can bring in the not invented here syndrome. It comes out with phrases like, “I wasn’t on the board when that decision was made” and “That happened before my time.”

What is meant is, “I don’t agree with that decision. I wasn’t in a position of authority so that decision doesn’t count.” 

There is a time to review, investigate and discuss prior board decisions. Often tens […]

Watch the News before Sleeping, Dream of Violence

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Watch the News before Sleeping, Dream of Violence

Sleep is the time when our minds sort through the memories of the day. What you mentally take in immediately before bedtime can affect how you sleep. 

How you gone to bed angry? The apostle Paul says, “don’t let the sun go down on your anger, lest you give the devil a foothold.” There is a mystical element of anger that allows evil to take […]

God In Your Crisis

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The typical foxhole prayer is, “God help in this mess.” That’s the equivalent of a 90 yard pass in the last seconds of a football game. It’s not a bad prayer but puts God at the margins of your life.

God wants to be at the center of your life. He wants to form your spiritual character in everyday events and the crisis. So, when we turn to him just at the critical […]

NMP—Not My Problem

Sunday, July 8, 2018

NMP—Not My Problem

As Christians we want to help others. As Jesus said, “love others …” There is a time when our desire to help can be meddling in another person’s issues. A fellow staff person may not want your input or help. The problem may be outside of your job description. 

At that point, it’s a good thing to back away. Say to yourself, “NMP.” Sticking your nose in other people’s business […]

So Much Junk on Television

Sunday, July 1, 2018

So Much Junk on Television

It’s always interesting to hear someone say, “there is so much junk on television.” One person said, “Who watches the Home Shopping Network?” Another said, “Does anyone watch the reruns of … (fill in the blank)?

Those who schedule programs look at data about their viewers. They measure how many people watch each show. Their advertising revenue depends on people watching their content. Shows are scheduled because people watch […]

That’s Not Your Water to Carry

Sunday, June 24, 2018

That’s Not Your Water to Carry

Ever have a discussion where you realize that you are trying to solve another person’s problem? You may soon take on their real or perceived problem as your own. It’s wonderful to help someone with their issues, but at some point we all have to realize that the problem is theirs, not ours. 

Speak your mind and give solid input. Then let the person do their work.

Overeducated Beyond My Intelligence

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Overeducated Beyond My Intelligence

Many folks will say, “I’m overeducated beyond my intelligence.” This oft misquoted phrase comes from a 1922 Harvard monograph in education by Dearborn, Lincoln & Shaw. Their exact wording was, “over-educated beyond their performance ability.” 

The context was that school children, “pass examinations and acquire knowledge, but are unable to use their acquired knowledge successfully in any occupation of high intellectual level.”

The problem with more and more education is […]

A Clean Desk

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Clean Desk

W.C. Fields had a great comic sketch from the 1935 film “The Man on the Flying Trapeze.” He had an enormous roll top desk that had hundreds of files messily deposited on it. Yet, he could find any document in seconds.

Most of us are not like that. When we get to work in the morning, a huge plus to productivity is a clean desk. In 1933, Ernest Hemingway wrote a […]

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Theme parks and museums have become experts in how people leave a ride or exhibit. The designers know that people will “buy stuff” when they exit through the gift shop. 

When Tami and I went through an art exhibit, it was both compelling and disturbing to exit through the gift shop. The good aspect was that we could easily purchase a book about the traveling exhibit. The down […]

Let’s not Confuse Facts with Feelings

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Let’s not Confuse Facts with Feelings

DRF—All of us can make a decision based on feelings. It might be that new car or that new dress. We decide on what ‘feels good’ in the moment. There can be nothing inherently wrong with an emotionally-based decision.

The price tag on that new car or dress might be hard to explain. Our spouse might want the reasons for the sporty car over the family sedan. At […]

My Favorite Rabbi is from Nazareth

Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Favorite Rabbi is from Nazareth

A Rabbi is a Jewish teacher. We often forget that Jesus is called a Rabbi in the Scriptures. We also forget that he was Jewish. His teaching amazed his listeners. It was stunning, nothing like they had ever heard before.

I like to say that “My favorite Rabbi said …” Then I like to quote something from the New Testament. It helps us remember the context of Jesus’ […]

Burn a Bridge When You Leave, Smell the Smoke Forever

Sunday, May 13, 2018

DRF—It is so easy to be upset and say the wrong thing when you leave a church. The problem with ‘burning bridges’ is that people remember what you said. Even more, you will remember your words for a lifetime. While you may justify those words to yourself, you know that they were wrong.

You will smell the smoke forever. Better is to leave well. Bless those around you. Have kind words. Speak the […]

Bitter in a Christian Sort of Way

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bitter in a Christian Sort of Way

DRF—Of course, this is an oxymoron. Yet, we see it all the time. A person is bitter and a regular church attender. They can’t let go of something in their past. They are bitter. But, as a Christian, they can express it in a ‘Christian sort of way.’

It might come out as a prayer request or a ‘thought for leadership.’ What is really being expressed in […]

Bitterness Is a Choice

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bitterness Is a Choice

We all have choices. Two psychiatrists, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, taught me at Dallas Seminary. They wrote a book, “Happiness Is a Choice.” 

There should be another book, “Bitterness is a Choice.” I couldn’t find that title on Amazon. It would probably never sell. However, we all know that it is true. People choose to hold on to bitterness. 

Sure, I get mad and bitter at things. […]

Set Event Horizon at Six Months, Minimum

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Set Event Horizon at Six Months, Minimum

DRF—Church leaders need to have a grasp of the day-to-day. More vital is that leaders plan and strategize for the future. How will today’s unemployment figures help or hinder hiring in six months? Will there be a glut or dearth of people who are looking for a job? What are the major activities that are planned or need to be planned for the next six months, […]

Digital Film Is Expensive

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Digital Film Is Expensive

DRF—I learned about photography when film was expensive. I shot with a camera that used 120 film and you only got 12 exposures on a roll. I carefully weighed every photo opportunity and only took pictures that had significance.

Now with digital “film,” we can take hundreds of “free” photos. Wired magazine reports that the world upload 1.8 million photos each day. The article says: “The mobile revolution that […]

The Check Is in the Mail

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Check Is in the Mail

DRF—Your church is about to receive a $100 million dollar donation from a prince via email. Your uncle is giving you his Ferrari. Your church wants to give you a 50% raise. Oops, it is April Fool’s day—just a week late (I could’t do an April Fool’s joke on Easter!) All of those get the same response, “the check is in the mail.” It just isn’t going […]

The Resurrection Changed Everything

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Resurrection Changed Everything

DRF—I can’t claim ownership of this adage. Somewhere in the depths of church history, someone first said this. For us mortals, death is still the great divide. It is a deep river to be crossed. Yet, we don’t look for a ferry man to cross the river Styx as the Greeks did. Jesus was resurrected. While the waters of death may be deep and troubled for our physical bodies, […]

Parenting is Simple—Any Child Can Operate One

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Parenting is Simple—Any Child Can Operate One

DRF—To get a driver’s license, you pass the state test. To get a High School or College degree, you attend four years of classes. However, to become a parent, just wait nine months. Often the only exams that are used are pregnancy and ultra-sound.

Kids sense this lack of skilled preparation. They are born with skills to get their parents to do what they want. Kids innately […]

Humor, Trace

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Humor, Trace

DRF—I’m guilty of having dry humor, sometimes arcane or zany. I can’t tell a canned joke to save my life. Spontaneous humor, puns, play on words, situational comedy … these are my bread and butter. Problems arise with newcomers in my life. They don’t know that I have shifted gears, going from the serious to verbally playful. 

Without a verbal clue, people think that my outlandish stretching of a story is […]

Laugh Today Because It Is Today

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Laugh Today Because It Is Today

DRF—We all have plenty of reasons for angst in today’s society. The tension that we feel is like that of the early church … we live in a violent society. The Apostle Paul said it so well in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think […]

The Apple Watch Won’t Make You Exercise

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Apple Watch Won’t Make You Exercise

DRF—There are two types of people in the world, those that love Apple products and those that hate them. A major news story criticized the Apple Watch because it did not make people exercise. This is confusing a tool with an action. If I buy a hammer, I shouldn’t carp, ‘that hammer didn’t build my new house.’ Tools only work when they are put into action. […]

We Failed with Excellence

Sunday, February 25, 2018

We failed with excellence

DRF—Many individuals and churches have the value of “excellence.” It seems that we often ‘fail with excellence.’ In Austin one year, I just didn’t fall off my bicycle, but I broke nine bones doing it. That is ‘failing with excellence.’ Accidents, mistakes and defeat are going to happen. Some fail because of valuing the wrong objectives. Some pseudo-wins are ‘pyrrhic victories.’ These victories cost so much that they are […]

Criticizing Others is a Reflection of My Insecurities

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Criticizing others is a reflection of my insecurities

DRF—Nick Carraway, the narrator of ‘The Great Gatsby’ quoted his father: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” God has given us all so many gifts. Why carp about others?

We are insecure and hope to feel better by belittling them. My sharp criticism says more about me […]

The Church Moves at Glacial Speed

Sunday, February 11

The church moves at glacial speed

DRF—This is so unfair to glaciers! Churches can move slower than sheets of ice. This is especially true when hiring staff or implementing changes. Weeks and months can pass and nothing happens. Then, like a glacier calving an iceberg, there is a flurry of action. With an announcing ‘boom,’ everything seems to happen at once. A better way is to set an orderly process of casting vision, planning, […]

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