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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Prerogative of Belief

After Paul had his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, in what sense can we say he had the prerogative once again not to believe?  If someone is born again spiritually, in what sense can we say they have the prerogative to go back and view things as before--after their perception has been reset go about resetting and reversing it once again?  It is foolish in my opinion to suppose that this would be as easy as choosing hors d'oeuvre off a serving tray.

Similarly, if someone is a dyed in the wool Democrat in what sense is it their prerogative to forgo this disposition and suddenly decide to switch parties and become a Republican--or vice versa?

It is my opinion that beliefs of basic bearing are not facilely susceptible to change or fickle choice.  I doubt in many cases if choice is even an option--if there is any real and tangible prerogative for change.  A right to freedom of belief politically is a far cry from having it materially.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

John Wesley: Complexly Simple

How do you explain the ups and downs in your own spiritual life? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1520). 

I'm currently reading a book entitled The Theology of John Wesley: Holy Love and the Shape of Grace by Kenneth J. Collins.  While I am only in the first chapters of the book, I have seen an 80 minute lecture on YouTube by Kenneth Collins regarding Wesley. I must admit a considerable degree of wonderment because without explicitly being told "now this is what Wesley believed" during my years in the church, many of his ideas are inherited within the Fellowship by osmosis as it were and many of my own thoughts have been strongly influenced by the founder. These moments represent my up moments--especially his emphasis on holy love and practical theology. My down moments occur when reading books of theology it becomes evident to me that much of the various and extensive descriptions of God are in the last analysis speculative.  That is "the experience of God" kernel is evidential (maybe taking a paragraph to relate--such as Wesley's Aldersgate experience**) while the 500 page treatise on God is significantly speculative.  If there is to be a scientific view of religion, it will surely emphasize the experiential over the speculative while respectfully leaving room for the unknown and perhaps unprovable.

**"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death...." (

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Personal Touch

How does your fear of others and your love for Jesus sometimes conflict? (Serendipity Bible 10th anniversary edition, page 1523). 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelo (quoted in The President's Devotional by Joshua Dubois, May 25.).
Feelings of ambiguity, tentativeness,  uncertainty, withheld commitment are all readily perceivable in human interactions.  If the disciples of Jesus were to appear before me now, I would first want to know how Jesus made them feel. Unquestionably he was the leader of the group. In spiritual matters the disciples deferred to Jesus (with of course one major exception).  Each disciple was chosen by Jesus, so perhaps each felt chosen.  I suspect that would be a grand feeling--to have a master at something (as you perceive it) choose you as a cohort with friendship just over the horizon.

For most of us the challenge is to have people we meet and greet and befriend feel simultaneously equal and special – equal in the sense that we don't portray a hot-shit self-assessment while simultaneously telegraphing high regard and respect for the other – even that we expect great things from them--including the capacity to do small things exceptionally well (such as feeding a multitude one late afternoon).

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Relaxed Fellowship

Where do you go when you need to prepare yourself for a very stressful time? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1519).

Stress can cause us to isolate ourselves or it can impel us to interact with others.  A common denominator for all humanity is sexuality--especially so as maturation progresses.  No honest person can assert that he/she has never encountered stress due to it nor has uniformly dealt with this stress in a perfect manner.  The great paradox of sexuality is that something so private impels us to social behavior.  In the news recently is the story of a  young man who "snapped" and killed others after long-term loneliness and emotional isolation.  Clearly the sex drive in all its broad manifestations is not something that we can safely veneer over without serious repercussions.  Our desires are real, just as real as our fingerprints.  The challenge is to honestly express our desires without hurting ourselves or others.  I think we need to learn to disassociate our most outlandish desires from action--yet learn how to verbally own up to them.  I have expressed elsewhere my belief that many "deviant" desires, dreams, and daydreams are normal but we learn to repress them mercilessly not only in terms of action--which is appropriate--but also verbally (committing great dishonesties 0f commission and omission)--which is cravenly unethical.  I have stated that in my opinion many young men think they are gay simply because most other young men (also having homosexual dreams) prevaricate and outright lie about their own experiences.

To respond to stress with isolation is a dangerous thing even though it is often a characteristic of immaturity.  The quicker we learn to honestly confide and confess the better off we all will be.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Fast Fleeting Freedom

Sometimes we make permanent decisions when the situation is only temporary. 

This morning I discussed yesterday's blog with a friend of mine in federal custody due to a gun charge. He said that one of his counselors (in a drug treatment program) told him the following. She said "sometimes we make permanent decisions when the situation is only temporary." The phrase made an impression on my friend and he immediately committed it to memory. Certainly if we consider otherwise avoidable human tragedy, it most frequently falls within this category – people assume the decision like the situation is temporary; but unfortunately the decision in fact proves severely obdurate. Temporary situations seem to imply or suggest freedom and flexibility, and when we yield with an abetting blithe spirit we can make flippant and inconsiderate decisions carrying unintended long-term consequences.  (The fatal "joy ride" for example.)  Such faulty reasoning contributes to the general gullibility of mankind and can be traced back to the Garden of Eden.  Certainly "the right to bear arms" suggests some ultimate--even giddy--promise of absolute freedom in theory, but too often delivers the ultimate tragic and irrevocable fait accompli--especially when incited by fear within a transient paranoid moment.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why I Don't Carry a Handgun - By Way of the Backdoor

On a scale from 1 (smooth sailing) to 10 (furious storm), what is your peace quotient? Why? Where do you need Jesus' peace? Where can you find hope in this passage (below)? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition pp 1515-6).

John 14:1 NIV
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."


Today in Sunday school we discussed fear and how that can induce either action or inaction. For example the fear of scarcity can induce us to commit acts of greed. At one point Kunte went around the class and nailed each one of us with our most disruptive fear. When it came my turn he was at some pains to identify my greatest fear, so I helped with identifying what I consider a truly frightening matter.  Occasionally I will have a good and trusted friend over for a visit. In terms of honesty the friend can have a  sterling reputation beyond reproach or question. Nevertheless, after the friend's visit, I might discover that an item is not where I expected to find it. Without any mental self-control, an accusation of theft flashes through my mind.  I become incensed by this certain betrayal and treachery.  Luckily, they are always gone when I have this "paranoid moment" so I do not embarrass myself by impetuously confronting them.  Upon calming down which doesn't take but a minute or so I say to myself: "Wayne, you know you will find that item exactly were you put it – where you've mislaid it – you always do." And the fact of the matter is I always do.

Yet, this stands as a vivid illustration of why I never carry a handgun. Simply put, I know myself too well and know that a momentary flash of misjudgment can have terrible and irreversible consequences.

Interestingly Mitch (our class teacher) suggested that my real fear may well not lie with lack of trust of others, but with a subconscious fear of encroaching loss of my own mental capacity to keep track of things. Perhaps the real fear regards my own diminishing competencies--and to escape from this, I lash out at others instead.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Exclusivity Absent the Militia

In light of 14:6, how would you respond to someone who says, "there are many ways to God"? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1515).

John 14:6-7 NIV:
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." 

Many Christians filled with the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control - find themselves wishing a thousand times over that Jesus had not said "No one comes to the father except through me."  They sheepishly and secretly conjure up a thug telling a coerced shopkeeper "no one does business on this block except I agree."  The statement of Jesus sounds like an all too human power play.   All we have to remember is that Jesus died on the cross rather than amass a militia to enforce his view.  His Kingdom is of the willing heart and requires repentance and voluntary assent.  Jesus' power is redemptive, not coercive.  This understanding is requisite for the articulation of Divine exclusivity with felicitous tonal concordance.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

A Pastiche of Life Experiences

Did your parents ever tell you about your birth experience? What was it like for them? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1517). 

Mother would always quote a nurse who told her after I was born that I was all there and healthy from the crown of my head to my 10 little toes.  Mother wasn't sure what concern she had expressed during the birth for the nurse to tell her this so soon afterwards, but mother was sure she must have said something expressing deep anxiety over my health. 

How do you deal with change? Moves? Job transfers? Transitions from one stage of your life to another? How has pain helped you grow? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1518). 

My most painful move occurred in 1954 (I was 10) when our family moved from Oviedo, Florida.  In Oviedo I had attended the first through the fourth grades. I loved the church congregation and there joined the Methodist Church.  On our last Sunday, we all joined in a circle on the grounds after the service and sang "Blessed Be the Tie that Binds".

My most stressful job transfer was from Bayfront Center to Leisure Services. Even though my job title did not change, many of the task were job specific and the transfer raised considerable anxiety.

My most stressful life milestone occurred when I turned 40. At work at the time we celebrated birthdays individually and encircling me my coworkers presented me with a cake and sang happy birthday. It was all I could do perhaps not entirely successfully to keep from crying. I was 40 years old and in my own evaluation had accomplished so very little.

There is a redemptive nature to the question: How has pain helped you grow? For surely empathy and compassion are strengthened and reinforced by our own experience of painful situations.  Likewise, as in an old gnarled tree, character is made distinctive and solid – even in some ways more beautiful and resilient than fresh and lithe perfection.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First in Line

How are you at saying "goodbye"? Is it harder for you to be the one leaving home, or the one left behind? Explain. (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1517).

There is elemental justice in a line. That is why we feel so overwhelmingly aggrieved when someone butts in line. The injustice of it is stark and plain. It is in this light that I have compassion for the firstborn in any family. It is inevitable that some chagrin accompanies the birth of a second child who in many ways butts in line in terms of attention and solicitude--for the firstborn an understandable follow-up question is: "Do my parents now love me less?" Compounded with this hurt and sadness comes a feeling of being left behind. Such is the pain inextricably tied to the procreation of children.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Towards Identifying a Get-Real Protocol

Noun: protocol
1. (computing) rules determining the format and transmission of data
2. Forms of ceremony and etiquette observed by diplomats and heads of state
3. Code of correct conduct
4. A procedure for how an activity should be performed
(WordWeb Pro)

How do you handle people that are religious but not godly? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1517). 


We have an abundance of protocols that signal we are to submerge ourselves beneath a mode of social artificiality. Even should we encounter the most grotesque pantomimes of death, we are not to utter a peep but remain utterly unperturbed and uniformly behaved and totally silent.  Just this morning the Tampa Times reported on a local trial in which a drunk driver killed two people. Yet in America we have a protocol of acceptance regarding alcohol in which it breaks all rules of propriety and decorum to register a modicum of distress--much less vocal dissent--regarding the worship of inebriation in this country.  If clammy decorum rules with its glue-like grip even in such extreme and bloody matters such as this, in what many other ways are we behaving like anesthetize lemmings marching  zombie-like over a cliff?   In what ways are we ordered to shut down our five senses and acquiesce submissively within an unperturbed comatose state?

Clearly what is called for is a Get-Real Protocol.   Will someone – will anyone – get real, turn on their five senses, and see the realities before them?  And with a protocol of freedom and informality ask: "Do you see what I see?  How can we stop this madness? How can we move on from here?"  Let us pray there will be hands to shake.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Angry at Truth and Love

When have you found that speaking truth and showing love can lead to hostility from others? How do you explain that? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1517).

I would like to turn this question around a bit and address it in the following way: When have I found that I get hostile when others speak the truth or show love? I like to take examples that are beyond the pale because that makes it easier to understand the elements involved. Let us say that it is sometime after World War I.  I'm a counselor and a gentleman comes into my office looking for help. He launches into a diatribe against the Jews. He says, "You see Wayne that is the problem. I have a terrible hatred for the Jews, and I want to overcome it."  What would be my reaction to Adolf Hitler?  As you can see the context makes a world of difference as to my feelings in regards to his hatred and prejudices--indeed, as to him personally.  He recognizes he has a problem. He has come to me for help. Naturally I would have compassion for him and do my best to help him in a kind and humane way.  Thus, we can see that when it is accompanied by repentance even the grossest sins can met with kindness and sympathy.  It is another matter entirely when the truth arises not from repentance but from steely self-righteousness.  My reaction in this case is certain to be hostile even though in a moment of prayer I may have compassion for Adolf's unrelieved slavery to racial hatred.

Now the above addresses an occasion when I could respond with hostility on hearing truth.  What would be an occasion when love could arouse my hostility? From personal experience I'm very familiar with mixed motives and emotions. Therefore I am sometimes cognizant of them in others.  Let us say that I observe a mother who loves her child but because of mixed motives uses the child to fill emotional deficits in her own life; or a father who loves his son but uses the son to compensate for his own lack of athletic accomplishments as a youngster.  In both cases an amalgam of love and personal deficits produce unhappy--sometimes even cruel--results. Thus when love is found in amalgamation with tragically induced ineptitude my reaction is sometimes hostile.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Towering Trees and Undergrowth

What plant best describes you now: Towering oak? Weeping willow? Tumbleweed? Crab apple tree? Explain. (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1516).

You may think this is odd but when I was a young man in 1969, I was in federal prison.  I remember distinctly one fine day toying with the idea of being something of a tree of life with green leaves and branches and with birds singing among them. Somehow I thought this would be the ultimate ambition that I could possibly have for my life. In many ways I still think this is a desirable ambition for it is a picture of abundance, of life, of generosity, and friendship.

Now this is the ideal. What is the reality? Well some mornings there's no question but I'm a crab apple tree. On bad days I'm just a weed. But in truth I see myself on average as a vernal yet rather nondescript and volunteer shrub in the backyard-- neither towering nor scrawny, just vaguely somewhere in between.  Sparrows visit me daily. Next door is a tall oak where mockingbirds reside.  I am very much content and blessed with rain and sunshine and the chirp of sparrows.....and miss not at all the dark and mystic songs of nightingales. 

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Chief Among the Unforgettable Counselors

Who was the best counselor you ever had? Why was this person so special? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1515). 

This is a hard question to answer for I have had many counselors over the years many of them like Velma Albritton quiet and unassuming but indispensable in the end.  Nevertheless when I view this question it is impossible not to think of Alan Burry.  When I try to set him aside for others, it's like trying not to think of a blue cow.

Alan Burry was the chaplain of the Wesley Foundation when I was an undergraduate at the University of South Florida. Like me, I think he found the University something of a challenge, for the atmosphere was vibrantly secular. A spiritual or religious point of view was not the keynote of the institution. This points out that the purpose of the University greatly changed from its inception as basically a religious institution set aside for the allowance and reverence for the spiritual core of mankind. Alan navigated this somewhat alien environment with great aplomb, cheerfulness, and joy. He was thus a great and tremendous inspiration for me. Of course I have long since left the University, but I find that the environment in America is in many ways unfriendly to the perception of and reverence for the divine spark in each and every human being. I often remember a line from The Lake Isle of Innisfree (W.B. Yeats): "While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core."  I see the encouraging,  joyous face of Alan J. Burry.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Necessity: the Mother of Invention

First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The crucible of experience has revealed a stark and troubling aspect of the First Amendment.  The First Amendment seems to be in harmony with a widespread relativistic approach to life. The Declaration of Independence, however, clearly demonstrates that the American rebels were anything but relativists and would not agree in the least with such statements as: "You can't know anything for sure;" "You shouldn't judge;" "Nobody' right;" and "You can't know anything" (quotes from The Evidence Bible - Ray Comfort, page 349).

The challenge the First Amendment presents is that we must establish a civil religion on the sly for we perforce must have one. The prison system is one of many institutions dealing with the chaos created by the profligate assumption of relativism. My godson Ramon Green is soon to be released from federal prison. While there he participated in a program that attempts to deal with the chaos caused by relativism.  In fact, he became a tutor in the program. The civil religion that the federal prison system is establishing seeks to inculcate the following values: we are to live with eight operative attitudes: Caring; Responsibility, Objectivity, Willingness; Open-mindedness; Gratitude, Humility.

The City of St. Petersburg where I worked in the Leisure Services Department inculcates the following values: Self Discipline; Teamwork; Achievement; Responsibility; Respect; Honesty.(  In a sense the promulgation of either of these belief systems is unconstitutional. Both from my point of view share basic signal guiding principles of Christianity and Methodism.  As a nation we toy with the establishment of a civil religion for based upon the crucible of experience we find that relativism is not an option.  The absence of a civil religion breeds chaos on the street, in halls of government, and on Wall Street.

Neither the federal prison system nor the City of St. Petersburg is so bold as to include faith as one of its operative principles.  That is, they assume an ethical life follows rational projections and that doing the right thing will always be the rational thing-- the obvious "best" practical choice.   The question that remains to assess once a civil religion is firmly and explicitly established (which must be done) is to determine whether or not "in God we trust" is to remain a nonrational guiding principle during periods of ambiguity.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lost & Found Not Confined to Prisons

Can you remember a time when you got lost? What happened? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1515).

Considering the incarcerated, we find fundamentally two inmate approaches and a subset of two inmate modalities branching out from one approach. The two approaches are those incarcerated 1) who have a deep-seated urge to make a difference ("active players") and those 2) who had rather sit aimlessly on their bunk ("the aimless").  The aimless are distinguished from two "active player" subset modalities. These ambitious ones are of two types: 1) those who seek to positively redeem the situation by cultivation of peace through widespread cooperation and enlightenment and 2) those who seek to sensationally torpedo redemption through cultivation of war and rank domination. The latter engage in gang warfare while the former engage in various forms of developmental studies and other positive activities.  The mystery to be resolved concerns the nurture/nature drivers of these two fundamental approaches and crucially of the two "active player" subset modalities.  The resolution of this mystery has implications not only for the incarcerated, but for all inhabitants of planet Earth.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Audacity of Jesus

It was customary in Jesus' day for people's dusty, sandaled feet to be washed, usually by the lowest ranking servant, before a meal was served. (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1513).

Audacious defined:

Intrepidly daring

1. Invulnerable to fear or intimidation
2. Unrestrained by convention or propriety
3. Disposed to venture or take risks
(WordWeb Pro)

Jesus' washing of his disciples feet conformed in style to His audacious career and ministry. 

An unavoidable challenge for Jesus was to reveal himself to the world as the Son of God during His brief ministry of three years.  This required that He be audacious and unafraid. In fact, the one word that best sums up His ministry of disciplined love and healing is audacity.   If we are to walk in his footsteps we need to exercise audaciousness as a key discipline.  Spontaneity is an inevitable sidekick of audacity.   To the extent that we are generally inhibited, cautious and calculating; we should reevaluate our mission and ministry.  Paul too provides inspiration and directive in the assiduous practice of audacity.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dinner at 8

If you gave a dinner [party] in Jesus' honor, whom would you invite? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1511).

I qualified the above question with the phrase "dinner party" rather than "dinner" for I wish it to be a small gathering around the dining room table. If it were a huge affair, then there is no one that I would not invite.  In fact, I would wish to set up a televised arena event with call-in questions allowed from all over the world.  But here I like to envision something like the Last Supper – this time with our washing Jesus' feet.

With this in mind I would invite the following: my brother Bob; my sister-in-law Linda; my Sunday school teacher Mitch; the entire Good Shepherd class consisting of Brian, Dennis, Kunte, Carol, and DeAngelo; my longtime friend, Angelo; my pastor David; my prison support group leader, Joe.  This excludes several that I would like to invite but who are unavoidably unavailable at the moment.

No doubt during our supper Jesus will feel right at home being surrounded once again by a band of sincere sinners.  Now there just remain a few "very human" questions of protocol--like who gets to sit next to Jesus and how can we allay bad feelings?

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Blessed Assurance

On a scale of 1 (none) to 10 (completely) how confident are you that you will live eternally?  What evidence is there supporting your level of confidence?  How would you live your life differently if you were more confident?  (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1510).

One time as a nonbeliever in eternal life, I asked my mother what was the firmness of her belief.   Here response was immediate, absolute, and totally sincere.  She said "Oh yes, I do!  I know it is real!!"  As a skeptic, I could not help but admire and even envy her confident certitude.  Now by the grace of God I too am a believer--by blessed assurance: "On that very day you will be with me in Paradise" (re: Luke 23:43).  This certitude of belief followed an experience I have written about here;

The Experience:

Lyrics:  Glen Frey - Part Of Me, Part Of You

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rx for a Lack of Trust

The other day in a blog I discussed the seven deadly sins as essential to understanding the necessity of Christianity ( Today I would like to discuss the eighth deadly sin which in many respects is the root of all others.  The seven deadly sins are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.  The eighth sin and key to understanding all others is insecurity.  We are most careful to do nothing in the name of insecurity and thereby acknowledge it, yet that is surely the ultimate source of most every other sin.  The close and abiding companion of insecurity is fear; in the words of FDR in his first inaugural: "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror..."  But often rather than paralyzing us, this fear is converted into compulsive, sinful actions.

The first order of business, then, is to cope and preferably outflank fear and insecurity. Key in this regard is learning to trust in God and to implant oneself within a long-term perspective.  Much that afflicts us today is sourced in lack of faith and obsession with the short-term.  Billy Graham is surely right when he sees this as a national crisis.  We had best learn very quickly not just to say but to actually believe "in God we trust" and to rest in its assurances.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Servanthood or Servility?

What is the greatest challenge for you related to being assertive? Specifically, how hard is it for you to follow Jesus' example in the following areas:
a. not dropping everything to answer the request of others
b. not feeling like I should be everywhere, meeting every need
c. not always giving in when there is a difference of opinion

(Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1509) 

A key challenge for Christians is to understand the difference between fulfilling a responsible and constructive servant role as opposed to yielding to a servile, cravenly submissive role.  There is no question that the Christian calling is to helpfully serve others.  At the same time, when we abjectly abdicate our personal responsibility and human dignity, we negate our ability to be truly useful to anyone.  For example, a dictator would love to have servile, cravenly submissive people around him.  An American President imbued with Christian ethic realizes that such yearning to turn his advisors into sycophants violates their dignity and personhood--in fact, would constitute the President's own commission of several deadly sins -among them sloth regarding his own responsibilities and egotistical hubris.  Even worse, he is asking his advisors to do the same with their complicit perversion of the true nature of service.

I have met people very strong in the characteristics listed in a, b, c above.  I admit,  sometimes I have judged them unchristian and imperial.  Certainly all three of the characteristics could accompany arrogance at its worst.  On the other hand, paradoxically it is undeniable that the characteristics listed are essential corollaries of humble Christian service.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bearing Likeness to the Trinity


My blog yesterday detailed the means by which I have come to host three new male zebra finches in my study at home.  They are called the Trinity and bear a likeness to the following:



Since it is well into the night, they are currently at rest beneath a shroud in my study:


I praise God for all his creatures great and small.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Weird Stuff

What was the turning point for you in terms of hearing "God's voice" and responding? How do you discern his voice from all the voices that vie for your attention? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1507).

Sometimes I sense the urge to do what might be called humanitarian things. In these times it is difficult for me to say that these clearly are promptings from God.  The reason is because these are generally recognized "good things" to do.  I put them in the same category more or less as when I sense promptings from God to eat ice cream.  It may be promptings from God or it may be just a yearning to do or feel good.

Just the other day I awoke from a night's sleep totally persuaded that God had visited me during the night and told me specifically what I was to do.  Despite the fact that the idea regarding the required action had never entered my head in any way before that time, and coupled with the sense of betrayal I had when I tried to negotiate out of the directive, all together made it clear to me that this was a weighty directive that amounted to a test as to whether or not I would hear and obey the Lord's command.  I cannot tell you the exact way I heard the voice of God – whether it was in a dream, a vision, or a auditory summons. This is the thundering command I heard: "You are to secure a cage and a bird – very specifically a finch – and do so at once."  As I say, this idea had never even remotely occurred to me. I immediately thought of a dozen reasons why I did not want a pet of any kind – much less a finch which I had to look up on Google to see exactly what it looks like.  As I mentioned, I initially tried to negotiate out of this and played with the idea that this was not really a directive, but was a test of discernment as to whether or not I could filter out foolish ideas.  The answer was immediate and firm--this was nonnegotiable and I would have to deal with cavils--such as inconvenience or of problems arising from security motion detectors--as however I might.  Accordingly, I immediately went on Amazon and ordered a finch cage, a swinging wall hook, and an "S" hook.  These items are to arrive tomorrow, at which point I will duly purchase a finch (or two).  I have never in my life had a finch--but then commands of God are often weird--build an ark, speak to a rock, or sacrifice your son.

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