On Punctuality (or, More Barber Stuff)

My barbershop uses an app to book appointments. The app allows our customers to rate the barbers and the barbershop overall. Recently I’ve seen a few reviews that have deducted a star for punctuality. Allow me a brief moment to speak on this subject and correct any misconceptions that people may have about how certain types of barbershops operate.

To start, at my barbershop we work by appointment while also accepting walk-in traffic. It is our sincere desire to be able to accommodate everyone who would like to get their hair cut. So in the midst of servicing our appointments we also have to squeeze in the occasional walk-in. This can, at times, cause us to run over and into the time that someone else has scheduled for a haircut. We don’t like to run late but it can and does happen. I can assure you that it’s not a case of not respecting someone else’s time or thinking that ours is more valuable than theirs, which seems to be how some people feel.

Secondly, I’d like to remind people that we’re dealing with people; real life human beings. We’re not machines and neither are they. So there’s no guarantee that every haircut will take the same amount of time for any number of reasons. For example, say that we have blocked out 30 minutes for a haircut but our client runs 5 minutes late. If it does indeed take us 30 minutes to do that cut then we are now going to run 5 minutes late and that will cut into the next appointment. If this happens a few times throughout the course of the day it can have a snowball effect that causes us to run much further behind than we’d like to.

But let’s suppose that our clients are on time, there’s still no guarantee that the haircut that is blocked out for 30 minutes will get done in 30 minutes. If it’s a new client we have to take the time to learn their head and hair. If it’s a returning client who wants to change up their style we have to take the time to make it look how they want. The lighting can be bad at any given moment. We can run into technical difficulty with our equipment. The phones at the shop may be ringing off the hook and we have to take time out to answer them (we don’t have a receptionist at my shop). The point is that there are any number of things that can cause a barber to run behind.

My boss holds to a philosophy that says an appointment guarantees a haircut, not necessarily a haircut at the time of the appointment. I understand that idea, and in truth it’s one that doctors and dentists have been operating on since the dawn of time, but it’s not necessarily my personal philosophy. I like to be on time, I really do, and to the best of my ability I try to be. I recognize that clients choose particular times for a reason and I try my very best to honor those times. We all do.

So I’d urge anyone leaving reviews online for their barbershops or salons of choice to take these things into consideration when talking about punctuality. Also take past experiences into account. I had one client deduct a star for the lone time I ran 10 minutes late. Never mind every other time when I was on time. I didn’t get rated for that, but rather for something that was out of my control. It’s not the end of the world but it is somewhat annoying.

B”H

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The Reckless Love of God?

Every now and again a song will come out that takes the Christian world by storm. The latest mega-hit is “Reckless Love.” It’s a good tune. The Bethel version sounds great. I just spent over 40 minutes watching Anthony Brown and a young adult choir doing a more gospel type version of the song and I’m not gonna lie, I felt the Spirit of God as they were singing it.

But I’m a lyrics guy. I’m also theologically minded. So when I hear something in a song that doesn’t quite sit right I tend to focus in on it; sometimes to my detriment. I’m sure everyone knows where I’m going with this. I’m not the first to point it out or discuss it. In fact, John Piper addressed it on his Ask Pastor John podcast a while back. It’s the word “reckless” in the song. Why is it there and how does it function?

I’ve heard various explanations, one being that God will do whatever it takes to get to his people. Okay, that sounds good, and I agree, but does that equate to recklessness? Let’s take the definition that comes up with a simple Google search:

reckless3

Now I want us to think about this for a second… Have you thought about it? Does the God we know, love, and worship fit the description of the adjective “reckless”? Does God act without thinking? Let’s look to a piece of Paul’s glorious run-on sentence in Ephesians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:3–10)

Look at the language Paul uses to describe God’s actions here. He says that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Choosing requires intentionality. Doing it before the foundation of the world requires premeditation. Let’s continue… He says that we’ve been predestined to adoption as sons. Again, predestination requires premeditation and adoption requires intentionality. No one was ever adopted on accident or without thought. And he did this according to the purpose of his will. Folks, there was purpose in this! And it was according to his will! Paul speaks of wisdom and insight and a plan to unite all things in him in the fullness of time! This is the polar opposite of recklessness.

The crucifixion was not an act that was carried out with no thought to the consequences of the action. Likewise with the resurrection. God knew exactly what he was doing. He still does. His love is many things, but reckless is not one of them. There is a way that God can do whatever it takes to get to his people without it being reckless. For God to cast light on a shadow or climb a mountain or tear down a lie, as the song says, he does not need to do so recklessly. He’s God! Leaving the 99 sheep to rescue the 1 is not a reckless act. It’s very thoughtful. It’s very intentional.

We could go through Scripture from Old Testament to New and point out example after example of God’s divine plan in action. How he had things set up that seemed one way to us but in the grand scheme of things were really another way altogether (think about Joseph being sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and unjustly imprisoned only to be called upon by Pharaoh to interpret a dream and rise to a level of prominence that would allow him to save his family from a sure death that would have resulted from famine). The point is that of all of God’s attributes, recklessness is not one of them.

Now let me say this: I like the song. In fact, after hearing the version I heard this morning I’d go so far as to say that I like it a lot. I just don’t like that one adjective. I’d prefer to say “endless” or “precious” or “relentless” love of God. I think that they’re all theologically correct. Endless and precious wouldn’t change the cadence of the chorus at all and relentless would change it minimally. I think for the point that the song is making relentless makes more sense than reckless. God will stop at nothing to get the one sheep that goes astray. He’s relentless in his love for us; never letting up. But that jives with God’s thoughtful, intentional, well planned out initiative for saving his people.

B”H

Not So Random Thought

I was just looking through one of my hard drives and found a folder of ebooks. iBooks allows you to upload the epub files so I added all that I had. One of the books was a MacArthur Study Bible. I went to 1 Corinthians 12-14 and perused some of the notes and it always amazes me how he seems to lose his exegetical marbles when anything remotely charismatic comes up. His comments are unconvincing to say the least. I just can’t wrap my head around how he can be such a faithful and consistent interpreter of the Scriptures elsewhere and then have this huge blindspot here. What happened to Johnny Mac to make him oppose the things of the Spirit so much? I guess only him and God know…

B”H

It Ain’t the Haircut

I don’t regularly talk about my job on the blog. I guess I don’t regularly talk about anything anymore, but I often have clients ask me what’s the hardest type of haircut to do. The answer is that it isn’t as simple as there just being a hard type of cut. There’s a lot that factors into the degree of difficulty for literally any type of haircut. We have to deal with varying head shapes; varying textures of hair; irregular growth patterns; scars; skin conditions; and a host of other things that you wouldn’t normally think of.

For example, I can do the same haircut on the same client two weeks in a row and have it be more difficult the second time around because he came in with bed head or hair product already in his hair. Or I can have two friends come in and both request the same style of haircut but one has Asian hair, which tends to be thick and pin straight (generally accompanied by a very pale scalp underneath) and the other have very fine thin blonde hair. The style is the same but the way I have to go about achieving the end result is different. And for the record, in such an instance there is no way possible that both cuts could look the same.

But aside from physical factors such as head shape, hair type, or the premature application of hair products, there’s a decidedly psychological aspect to the task that can complicate things. Sometimes we have to deal with people who border on obsessive compulsiveness with their high level of pickiness. They’ll notice the most microscopic detail and insist that it be fixed only to go on and notice something else that isn’t to their satisfaction. Sometimes someone will sit down and be incredibly vague in describing what they want (e.g., they’ll say, “just give me a regular cut,” not knowing that “regular” is relative). Certain people are simply jerks and you’d rather not deal with them in general. Others make things awkward by doing things like staring directly into your eyes while you’re trimming their facial hair.

The bottom line is that it ain’t the type of haircut in and of itself that’s difficult; it’s all the things that go into doing it that is.

B”H

Non-Coincidental

I started reading Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s conversion story Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism and in the opening chapter Scott tells a story in which he stopped by to see an old friend at random and caught his friend on the way out of the house. After a few hours of catching up Scott said that he noticed he had his jacket on and was leaving when he walked up to the house and asked him where he was going. His friend pulled out some rope from his jacket and said that he was on his way to hang himself. Scott’s visit had saved his friend’s life. What seemed like a random visit was divinely orchestrated.

This story is actually a familiar one. I manage a barbershop; my pastor owns it. A guy came in for a cut one day and as he sat in my pastor’s chair they got to talking and he basically said that doesn’t believe in religion and that he’s heard all the arguments for God and doesn’t find them convincing. He asked my pastor to make his case. His case basically went like this: “I know God.” The guy said something and my pastor’s response was, “I’m not telling you what I believe; I’m telling you that I know him.” He proceeded to give his testimony, which opened the door for him to minister to the guy concerning different things in his life.

When it was all said and done the gentleman paid and then asked to speak to my pastor outside. He broke down in tears and told him that this was actually the haircut was getting for his funeral. He was planning on killing himself. He’s now been a regular customer for nearly a year and he’s not talking about how he doesn’t buy into religion anymore. Again, what seemed like a random encounter was divinely orchestrated. He could have gotten his hair cut anywhere. He could have sat down with another barber that day. But God, who knows the end from the beginning, knew just where to put him and just what he needed to hear.

To God be the glory!

B”H

On Enduring Beliefs

God saved me nearly 16 years ago and in nearly 16 years of salvation my beliefs haven’t shifted a whole lot. Over the course of time I’ve been able to chip away some of the rough edges of certain things and a periphery doctrine or two may have changed but the core is the same. I’d attribute this to my formative years as a believer, which were spent reading the Scriptures for countless hours.

I didn’t come into the faith with all of my beliefs worked out. I came in knowing that I was guilty of sinning against God, that God provided the pardon for my guilt in Christ, and that I didn’t want to serve the devil any more. So as I read, and prayed, and fasted I came to believe what I understood the text to be saying. It didn’t happen over night. These beliefs weren’t the result of me parroting what my pastor said or jumping on the latest televangelist bandwagon. They were hard-earned beliefs.

Eventually I’d branch out and start to look at websites and books and I got interested in scholarship both ancient and modern. Some of that served to correct misunderstandings. Some of it caused a bit of confusion. Some of it was easily rejected because it was contrary to what was clear from Scripture. But that foundation laid for me in the Bible was always there.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians and spoke to them about moving onto maturity so that they’d no longer be tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine. I’m all for the spirit of semper reformanda but some folks take it a little too far and reform their beliefs and practices with the discovery of every new thinker. At a certain point we have to know what we believe and why we believe it. So when I hear people talk about how much their beliefs have changed over time I inevitably wonder how much time went into formulating those beliefs in the first place.

B”H