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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Gift of Caring Less

In what areas of your life are your actions governed by fear of what others think? How could Jesus help you? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1348).

There's a saying something to the effect that your true character is most evident in what you do when no one is watching. I think most people to a greater or less extent differentiate between their private and public selves.  Sexuality is obviously an area where this is true and sex is typically seen as a private matter between the parties involved and not to be trumpeted as page-one news for the simple reason that doing "the act" is redeemed from sensationalism by the dignity of privacy.  A common example of a public act is eating – which we frequently do in public within the company of many others.

Given this, I am significantly governed by what other people think. The other evening I attended a birthday party for a friend of mine at Hooters. At one point, the waitresses came over to sing happy birthday for my friend.  They fixed white cone water cups in his mouth to look like a beak.  Then they had him flap menus with his arms extended. It was called a happy birthday chicken dance. My friend ate it up fully enjoying putting himself on display as a dancing chicken. In contrast, I would have been mortified to have been in his place. Everyone would have had a lot less fun laughing because I clearly would have been embarrassed and restrained.  In sum, it is ridiculous the extent to which I try to avoid being ridiculous – to the extent that I care what other people think. The irony, of course, is they would think more highly of me if I were less self-preoccupied, could simply relax and care less.  This would indicate good-natured generosity and genuine deference--a trait highly valued by Jesus.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Be Aggressive to Win Peace

Which slogan fits how you maintain peace in your life (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1251).

To maintain peace it is necessary to aggressively seek peace. This starts off with aggressively seeking a positive attitude – an attitude that is proactive.  Peace does not come by accident and it certainly is not an indication of nothing going on. Quite to the contrary much has to be happening dynamically in context to maintain a peaceful  state of mind.  Conflict must not be avoided but must be engaged and resolved to the satisfaction of mutual parties. This requires demands upon self as well as solid expectations on the part of others.  Situations are seen as hopeless when fear banishes the ability to cope.  It is fear that must be banished by outflanking it with active goodwill and effective imagination.  In the last analysis peace depends upon happiness which in turn depends upon spirited human capability founded upon providential trust.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rhetorically Speaking

How do you respond to rhetorical questions....(Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 699).


Noun: rhetorical question
1. A statement that is formulated as a question but that is not supposed to be answered
"he liked to make his points with rhetorical questions"
(WordWeb Pro)

If I were running for president I would consider the following 15 questions rhetorical should I be asked them:

  1. Would you be in favor of raising the national debt to 2 trillion dollars?
  2. Can you please list the terrorist organizations in the middle east, name their leaders, map out their historical roots, and finally compare and contrast their interrelationships, ambitions and beliefs?
  3. What is the capitol city of Utah and its approximate population?
  4. Do you believe that Jewish Masons run this country--the world?
  5. Do you think Martin Luther King, Jr. would be as popular today if the had lived to advocate a fairer distribution of wealth among the nations?
  6. Do you agree that alcoholic beverages are on balance an unsurpassed blessing?
  7. Do you really believe the liberal spin that tobacco causes cancer and that economic enterprise has environmental impact?
  8. Do you think that egg beaters beat eggs or do people beat eggs?  As a follow-up question, do you equate egg beaters with assault rifles?
  9. Which do you think has had a more positive impact upon society, Jesus's Beatitudes or Trash-It-All Movies?
  10. Do you deny that the Fathers of our Country and of the Constitution were all-knowing with absolute final say on all matters?
  11. Do you really think that government has a shred of legitimacy other than for the ascent of military weaponry?
  12. Do you deny that pornography went undiscovered until the WorldWide Web?
  13. Do you agree that love among those of the same sex is no more than "Seein' me and Julio down by the schoolyard."?
  14. To be considered as great as Lincoln, would you freely foster war?
  15. Will you tag every major address with "God Bless America!...and All Other Countries of the World!"?

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Certain Itinerant Pastor

Who is someone you admire because they dared to give their life to a mission? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1438).

Missions statements can be more or less general or concise and specific.  I have always seen my mission as applying my faith to practical (worldly) affairs.  This is a very general mission statement and can applied in more specific ways over time.  My father's mission was to be a local pastor in the Methodist church. A college president once offered him a faculty position, but daddy saw clearly his mission was that of an itinerate minister. His humble certitude stood him well during the vicissitudes of time. I especially prize that a member of a church daddy once served told me years later that my father's remarkable humility was just what the member needed at that point in his life and prompted him to join and remain faithful.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

The Thought Is Father of the Deed

How will you claim your innocence before God when your "day in court" comes? Of what sins will you quickly claim yourself innocent? What sins (of omission or commission) will you, more than likely, not want to bring up? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 728).

Jesus made it clear that since the thought is father of the deed, no one is justifiably self-righteous.  This is so for human thought at will free-ranges over the entire frontier of iniquity. Since this is so, no one can claim righteous superiority.  So if we should sit down even with our enemy (one who, it is certain, has treated us unjustly and unfairly), we must realize that we too have been unjust and unfair in thought or action (omission or commission) many, many times (and in many ways as much or more egregious than the sins we are certain we see in others). We too have internal and intimate knowledge of stone chiseled hearts.  So when we sit down with an enemy to negotiate, we need appreciate our common infractions against the best within us.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Most Difficult Lesson

In your life, what has taken many years to get right? How do you account for the delay? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 655).

Whether relating to myself or to others, the central question remains:  How do I truly show love--how to be genuinely helpful rather than hurtful?  The question is not whether to love--something I knew by age 5 rightly brought a "yes" answer; but the big question that remains for a lifetime is how best to love myself and others?  There is a bias in love to grant extensive latitude and abundant resources, but a moment's reflection shows that excess can in fact be detrimental.  That is, misguided generosity can be the worst of all behaviors done in the name of love.  The persistent lesson presented to master is that from personal relations to how I vote on public issues requires prior active creative extrapolation of actual/eventual consequences.  Only then can it be determined if the action is hurtful or helpful--whether it is, indeed, a loving act.  Needless to say, this is a continuing challenge never to be completed as the complexity from which flow unintended consequences is dynamic and obdurate.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On Feelings and Meaning

Looking back over your life so far, can you see any special time in it when God made a difference? How? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 347).

On joyful occasions we seldom look for deeper meaning.  We tend to feel that is obvious why we are happy and having fun.  We seldom ask "why?" when celebrating graduations, weddings, births, vacations, intimate moments with family, or stellar achievement.  Yet, we can if pressed identify meaning in joyful occasions: love, celebration, community, or milestones of connection or accomplishment.

Unlike with pleasure and joy, we likely ask a second "why?' when a doctor explains we have an encroaching disease.  The initial scientific "why" is not satisfying; a material answer alone does not satisfy the very human need to map pain and suffering in a context of purpose and meaning (which in turn helps us cope).  Meaning makes the unbearable bearable by providing a virtual launch pad of purpose to dead-end, flat-out suffering.  A Christian can approach suffering the following way.  "The doctor informs me I have a terminal illness and have 6 months to live.  During those six months I will be a witness for Christ, not hardening my heart but showing compassion for others, by showing generosity, love and grace until the end.  I will redeem a painful period and fill it with empathy, love, and appreciation for all those that must help care for me. I will be called upon to be especially creative at this time in perceiving opportunity in the most constricting and limiting of circumstances.  I will not pretend to find pleasure in my pain--nor become a sick masochist--but I will find motive energy in suffering to serve and to lift up the cause of Christ (who was, like me, a suffering servant)."

Now cynics may well consider all this escapist mind games.  That's understandable, for faith is a priceless gift only to those who believe.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Principles of Decision-Making

What principles for decision-making do you see between the lines of [Joshua 18] that uses chance allotment, survey work, divine prophecy, circumstances and personal desires? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 340).

Principles of Decision-Making in a Creative Democracy
  • Cultivate open and creative minds through mutual respect and goodwill and the free interplay of ideas (fructify abundance through the practical/assiduous application of the Golden Rule).
  • Encourage frankness, honesty, and intellectual integrity.
  • Cultivate a forgiving environment with a "let's move on" mindset.
  • Enrich participation though the use of small groups.
  • Propagate friendly competition designed to stimulate mutual innovation rather than to stultify, manipulate, and fester ill-will.
  • Maintain a healthy regard for intuition, insight, hunches, and spiritual leadings.
  • Instill a sense of meaning and purpose for all peoples via deep regard for individual talent, creativity, and promise (while concurrently mindful of a shared mortality).
  • Minimize micro-management while accentuating accountability and responsibility.
  • Eschew the forces of darkness fueled by derogatory labels, fear, cynicism, and prejudice.
  • Recognize that love forms the most congenial environment for humankind to thrive.
  • Maintain a realistic acknowledgement of human limitations to help cope with mortal vicissitudes while deferring to the steady wisdom of Providence.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Presidency as a Baited Hook

What symbols of power do we worship in our culture? How so? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1292).

To be president of the United States is to be the leader of the most powerful country on earth and therefore inevitably becomes a symbol and focus for those seeking raw power. In some ways, those who yearn to be president are to be most pitied to the extent that their ambition indicates a hapless addiction to power (and it's ironic source--a sad and overwhelming sense of paralysis). Rather than strength, their driving ambition shows huge frailty at the very core of character.  One can yearn to be president to be a servant of the people, but we must beware (considering the glaring accoutrements of presidential power) that may well be the exceptional candidate.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Better Part of Memory

Which memory is harder for you to shake: rejection or guilt? Why? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 119).

By the grace of God the answer is neither. The memories hardest to shake – if I wished to shake them – are memories of acceptance and love.  I can name a few here – the caress of my grandmother, the warmth of my kin folks at reunions, a teacher that with kindness gave me a second chance, the patience of my parents, the expansive practical affection of my brother, the generosity of counselors, the empowerment given me by a chaplain, the love initially of strangers that evolved into lifelong friendships and endearments, the wonderment in which purely business relationships transformed into cherished attachments, and the special kindnesses of people I would never meet again but helped me on the highways of life. Compared with the indelible endurance of these memories; occasional offensive abominations lose focus, importance, power, and meaning. It's easier to forgive when there is so little to forgive.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Elusive Nature of Justice

If you were "king for a day," how would you speed up justice? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 828).

I would define justice in the broadest and yet most specific of terms.  Therefore, I would need to be more than king for a day, I would need to be God for a day.  This is the whole problem with political justice--the inherent and well demonstrated limitation of humankind to perceive and execute justice on a multidimensional scale.  While we concentrate on one aspect of justice, we ignore many others so that, in the end, justice in its widest sense is neither served nor accomplished. When we are thus faced with the insurmountable limitation of human perception, people of faith and goodwill of necessity pray daily for the guidance, wisdom, mercy, and grace of God.  We know we are a broken people, and freely acknowledge that human meekness is forever in order and well-deserved even after our best efforts to establish justice have been expended.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An Eschatological Look at Donald Trump

If you knew you were going to win, would that make playing a game more or less fun for you? Why? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1192).


May I speak each word as if it were my last word and walk each step as if it were my final step. If my life should end today, let this be my best day ever. Amen. (From "A Prayer for Starting the Day," God Guy Bible (Michael DiMarco), page 680.

Today on the news I heard Donald Trump say that if he should lose the election and not become president of the United States that he would consider the whole campaign "a waste of time."  I agree this would be his likely immediate conclusion knowing the drive to win that he has.  But I'm not so sure this would be his conclusion on his final day on earth when he looks back to identify why he ever lived – a query surely to include those moments of courage when he stepped out in faith following his best inner lights – those telling moments that reveal character and embellish life with purpose and meaning. On that final day, the test for us Christians is not whether we have won or lost, but whether we have been faithful in undertaking our mission (while leaving the final determination of success up to God). Today Donald may well consider this point of view that of a loser, but then the end has yet to come.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Born Again - The Ride of a Lifetime

What is the most significant crossroads event that separates the "before" and "after" of your life journey? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 217).


John 3:1-21 New International Version (NIV)

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”


A Christian Confederate Soldier's Prayer
(Anon - alleged  to have been found on a CSA casualty at the Devil's Den, Gettysburg)

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all people, most richly blessed.


Spanning  some 20 years from 1980 to 1999 I had repeated bouts with mental illness. It was first diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia and later evolved into a bipolar disorder. These were the diagnoses. With the lapse of time I increasingly have seen the spiritual dimension of these experiences. The Confederate soldier's prayer quoted above was the essential transition I made.  To my prayers for  strength, health, riches, and power; I would have to add a prayer for cool rationality combined with the neat compartmentalization of emotion.   My born again experience completely shattered this unrealistic fantasy. The mind clearly interrelates the rational and emotional in a hopelessly complex interplay that could care less about my will in the matter.

Other Lessons Learned: After my born again experience I have a greater appreciation for the tendency of  passably sane people to "connect the dots" while the pattern perceptually derived is completely illusory. Great and small matters are routinely  launched  based entirely upon "paranoia applied to management" and defended with the utmost gravity and rationalism.  A third lesson learned is that people are reluctant to step up and say they think you're crazy. People largely "play along to get along." A  fourth lesson for me resulted from my encounter with God. After such an encounter there is no turning back in the matter of belief. Finally I learned to trust other people. Coworkers took personal ownership of my condition and with great skill and compassion navigated me to mental facilities. And upon recovery, I returned to work with only one thing apparent – their steadfast love.

 So as the Confederate soldier – I am, among all people, most richly blessed.

To understand it all, please play this YouTube music video (Glenn Frey "Part of You, Part of Me" from Thelma and Louise):

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Broader Sweep of Victory

[An occasion (when in their turn people show kindness and loyalty toward us) reveals the] bonding our own actions should produce.... We may not benefit ourselves, but God's kingdom will be strengthened if we act in the name of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps we could pray each morning, "Lord, as I prepare for this day please help me respond to people as Christ has taught us." (Through the Year with Jimmy Carter, page 257).

In today's meditation Jimmy Carter pointed out that when we show kindness to others, we can help bond people to the Kingdom (regardless of whether or not we receive more direct personal benefits or recognition).  In times of possible discouragement, we need remember that our principal objective is to serve Christ and those he loves and grow the kingdom of God (and not to glory in racked-up ego points or score tawdry production line trophies).

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Entity Inertia

Whether Jesus or Caesar was Lord became a real issue for Christians. When has your faith in Christ led to conflict with other authorities claiming your loyalty? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1548).

Perhaps the easier question to answer would be when has your faith in Christ NOT lead to conflict with other authorities.  This is no particular indictment upon the authorities within which I have lived and moved.  If I had been in authority, I often no doubt would have been in a conflict with myself. It's the nature of authority to try to implement justice through code uniformity.  For example, where I now live there is a pet fee if you have a pet – say a cat or dog. The pet fee is $200 and is intended to cover any kind of cleaning cost necessary on your departure. Well, I have three finches which are always housed in a finch cage. Due to the need for code uniformity, there could be no flexibility in promulgation of the requirement and my three finches were treated exactly the same as if they had been clawed house cats or incontinent puppies.  Now from my point of view this of course looks absurd, but from the point of view of authority always mindful of uniformity, no exception could be made however ridiculous the result.

So a principal reason why authority seems unreasonable is that it is excessively reasonable.  I see no easy way out of this inherent conundrum.  Another source of conflict is the tendency to affirm self-interest whether on the part of the individual or the organization. Both seek to in retain their own integrity concurrently and inflexibility on the part of both parties results.  For example during the Vietnam War to retain integrity I went to prison rather than submit to the draft, while the government to retained its integrity imprisoned me.

A third matter that affects both parties – the individual and the organization concurrently – is precedent. We tend to rationalize our actions based upon our sense of who we are historically. Thus we bring into the current situation divergent legacies that can encourage conflict.

Overall I think it is clear that regarding Christianity specifically, its built-in bias to emphasize spirit over legalism and to emphasize substance over prejudicial labels is a legacy that runs roughshod over cherished tenets that can be held by both individuals and organizations.  

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Denying Fool

What is the tenderest expression of love your father has ever shared with you? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 106).

There are times I can be a denying fool. Just the other day I was having lunch with a friend and she said "You need to go take a nap." I was nodding off at the table. Somehow I think napping during the day is a sign of weakness, so I said – Oh no, I don't need a nap.... when the contrary fact remained obvious to my friend.

I can think of many tender moments with my father when we were all gathered together in the family circle. But here I would like to think of a time when we were one on one and he showed tenderness. We were sitting in the living room and he looked down at me (for I was sitting on the floor beside his chair) and he said "Don't you ever get lonely?" I was in my early 20s at the time and was unspeakably lonely. But my immediate and reflexive response to my father was "No, never am. I keep busy!" He let the subject go, but I often wonder what he thought of his son telling this obvious lie.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Rosy Mystique of the Road Not Taken

What is one of your biggest regrets? "If only I hadn't ... then ..." (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 99).

This question makes me think of the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken.." The hard but simple answer is that we cannot fill in the dots. We cannot know what would've been had we take taken a different route. As it is easy to be too optimistic about the future, it is even easier to be way too optimistic about what would have occurred had we taken a different path. We unavoidably can only speculate. That is why we need not dissipate energy over regrets, but instead spend our efforts redeeming the present.  

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Social Security

How did you feel when a public champion of peace and justice (Gandhi, JFK, Martin Luther King, Yitzhak Rabin) was assassinated? Do you hold any real hope that love is stronger than bullets? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1060).

Plato paints the picture of a Charioteer...driving a chariot pulled by two winged horses:

"First the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome."

The Charioteer represents intellect, reason, or the part of the soul that must guide the soul to truth; one horse represents rational or moral impulse or the positive part of passionate nature (e.g., righteous indignation); while the other represents the soul's irrational passions, appetites, or concupiscent nature. The Charioteer directs the entire chariot/soul, trying to stop the horses from going different ways, and to proceed towards enlightenment.


It is clear that the human race is driven by two complementary forces. Jesus distilled the first by saying "love your enemies." Indeed, love is an action verb.  But concurrent with this is an instinctual drive for self-preservation.  It is not a question of which of these distinct actions will eliminate the other. It is a question of which drive is stronger – sacrificial love on the one hand or yanking the bridle to serve only private interest on the other? Until the new Jerusalem, we must deal with this conundrum. I would gladly open my door to strangers if I knew for certain that a precedent would not be set and soon there would be thousands of strangers (or one insatiable stranger) at my door. Since limited resources are built into all economies, it becomes clear that the best way to cultivate love's beneficent generosity is to in some way ensure against resource attenuation.  In other words, the tenable solution points to an actuarial one--one in which risk is suffused realistically throughout the macro economy. Thus, it's plainly no accident that this is how love's risks are regularly met.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Praise Dividend

Psalm 103 1-5 (NIV)
Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Giving praise has a reflexive benefit: the more praise we give, the more sunlight illumines our day.  It is in our own solid self-interest to begin each day with praise and thanksgiving to our omniscient Creator.  The following Psalms are recommended by Ernie Dorrell (retired Methodist clergy): 100, 103, 19, 27, 32, 23, 8.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

True Believers

I have more confidence when:.... (recent study group fill-in-the-blank question regarding the parable of the talents).

True Believers of any ilk have the essence of unalloyed  confidence. True Believers lack doubt and fear and operate from an active stance of utter faith and commitment.

A True Believer is a term that raises cautionary flags immediately for history is fraught with sensational examples where extremism has been held to be no vice in the service of the most cruel and hateful of causes.

At the same time, however, it is clear that beneficent belief has showered the human race with unspeakable blessings by the actions of multifarious and countless creative Saints.

It is my purpose here to map out the function of True Belief in Christianity. Paul speaks of faith, hope, and love – with the greatest of these being love. Faith speaks directly to belief specifically in that Jesus is "the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6).  Jesus said: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV).  In other words, Christian True Believers believe that the life, teachings, and ministry of Jesus and all that it stands for and represents offers the only way to abundant life.  By its very nature total commitment to this belief excludes commitment to any competing avenue promising (but in the believer's view, not delivering) abundant life.  This belief leads directly to the assured hope that abundant life is completely possible, even present, and that love is the activity in which such belief finds its natural expression.

True Belief leads to absolute confidence which is further buttressed by the indelible worthiness Christ invests (even unto death) in believers through his unconditional love.   This sense of worthiness banishes doubts and fears that could threaten confidence and is mirrored in the behavior of Believers.  In short, True Belief is a high octane stimulus to the pursuit of Christian mission activated by love with the immediate and ultimate objective of abundant life.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Fruit of Belief

Why are God's commands "not burdensome" (v. 3)? What is the difference between something being difficult and being a burden? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1702).

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:3-5 NIV).

The above passage says that only those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will find the commands of God not burdensome. It is evident that this is not some formulaic understanding, but understanding based upon a rather extensive mapping out of the meaning and implications of the commands of God as they align with the life, works, teachings, purposes, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It makes no sense to ask me whether I "believe in a political candidate" unless I have a good understanding of the character, life, commitments, and convictions of this candidate.  Likewise, I cannot be expected to affirm whether or not I "believe in Jesus" unless I understand some basic things about his life and ministry and what he stood for. 

After consulting Scripture,  I can come to understand that Jesus looked beyond labels to the essential character and spirit that underlie human behavior. What is the intent – to be hurtful or helpful; to bring abundant life or to diminish it?  Relativism and subjectivism assert that truth is not absolute but depends upon one's point of  view.  Scripture clearly rejects this. What is almost impossible and a burden to do without the fruit of the *Spirit is a joy to do with it. In this sense, life can be filled with many difficult challenges that are nevertheless opportunities for expressions of goodwill and love...however mundane or exalted; however the engines of blood, sweat, toil, and tears.  


*But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Behind the Bandwagon Effect

If your pastor's or president's character were being smeared by outside accusers, would you and your fellow parishioners jump on the bandwagon, remain silent, or voice your objections? Why? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 550).

There is a driving need  to see oneself as worthy of acceptance. This need at times can even drive us to betray our own innermost convictions. Jumping on the bandwagon can represent one of those times when we are so eager for acceptance and evidentiary worthiness that we censor our best selves. However, we must likewise avoid the flip side of this desperate joiner behavior. We can feel worthy only if other people come groveling to us for our acceptance of them. We bask in a judgmental and prickly nature that gives us a certain rarity and makes us appear approachable only with difficulty and subservience. In other words, we require other people to jump on our bandwagon to find our acceptance.  Both of these tendencies are tragically sad for both indicate an inner ambivalence about our own inherent worthiness.  One of the principal functions of Christianity is to bestow indelible worthiness on individuals through the love of Christ.

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