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Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Prime Objective: To Maximize Control

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (Luke 22:25-26 NIV)

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.” (John 3:8 NIV)

Whenever I say that our prime objective should be to maximize control, it would be easy to assume that I speak of close and strict hierarchical control and a substantial degree of mistrust of those beneath that control.  Nothing could be further from what I intend by saying that we should work to maximize control. For it is in understanding that raw condign power is inherently self-defeating and limiting that we come to understand that maximum control in human affairs gets its genesis from conditional power conjoined with responsibility and accountability. Conditional power is born of goodwill and respect and is thus the power that engenders creativity, generosity, and loyalty. Thus we have a paradox (so it must be true), the more we try to hoard power and disenfranchise others, the greater power and effectiveness we lose.  A corollary to this regards timing.  The sooner we demonstrate that we exercise conditional power in the entrepreneurial process, the greater our effectiveness will be for it inspires trust and cooperation at the outset of production rather than its opposite...rebellion–a typical and predictable countervailing response to condign power that undercuts abundance.

One note in passing; if you have followed my blogs you will notice that I never mention the “Private Sector” but always the “Creative Sector.”  The Private Sector suggests an enclosed, static space whereas The Creative Sector most nearly describes the true dynamic interrelationships and functioning of a market economy. 

(My above power terminology is heavily indebted to John Kenneth Galbraith and his book Anatomy of Power.)   

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Freedom from Puzzlement

In your life, what do you see more of: Fate? Chance? Design? Destiny? Explain. (Serendipity Bible Tenth Anniversary Edition, page 699).

My faith in God saves me from an obsession with trying to explain the all too coincidental.  That is, the paranoid attempt to explain everything in human terms requires secret agents provided with impossibly comprehensive intelligence systems.  What a relief it is to ascribe to the unreachable workings of God the phenomenon and mystery of widely observed cohesively related events. That is, God plans and orchestrates the coalescence of the apparently unconnected that in years past drove man defensively to the explanatory invention of Fate, Chance, and Destiny to maintain simple sanity. Mankind has long appreciated the mystery of preternatural design.  Unfortunately Fate, Chance, and Destiny are not totally efficacious in preventing escalating paranoia whereas belief and faith in an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God effectively staunches the excesses of inquiring minds.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Terse Talk

Let me be terse–I detest calls for realpolitik whenever this call to “practicality” is thinly veiled cynicism and an arrogance that blithely assumes it’s cool to be ruthless so long as you are the actor and not the receiver.  The greatest challenge for humanity is to define the meaning and substance of nurture not only within the family, but for all other institutions–including the church, state and creative sector.  This is so, so long as the purpose of life is given as health and happiness–not always the central objective of human barracudas.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stand By Me

Are you more motivated to act by a clarion “call to arms,” or by a “war protest” movement? What does that say about you? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 379).

I do not want to be known as a pacifist or a war hawk.  There is no way that I would make a blanket promise to never, under any circumstances, act in self-defense. Neither do I wish to be perceived as a junk yard dog seeking to emasculate every intruder. The Golden rule often does not apply well to critical failures.  That is, the best time to apply the Golden rule is as soon as possible, as assiduously as possible, as often as possible.  Human affairs is characterized by escalating emotions and complications impossible to manage.  An ounce of prevention is worth many times more than a tragic conflagration into mindless madness.  Let us retain maximum control though proactively garnering actions that redeem rather than demean (as with computer documents, let us "save early and save often").


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

On Self-Evalution and Casting Stones

When has someone jumped to a wrong conclusion about you? How did you feel? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1489).

One must start this question with oneself. Have I ever jumped to the wrong conclusion about others? The answer to this question is obvious and painful. Therefore, I must temper any sense of outrage at an unfair judgment of me by realizing that I have often done the same. And I use "often" advisedly. In this regard it is much like when I'm on the highway and see someone make a dumb traffic maneuver. Even though it might have resulted in a close call for me, I must ask myself immediately "Am I a perfect driver? Have I not also put others in jeopardy by a selfsame foolish action?" It is amazing how a little introspection can be a quieting balm to outraged anger.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Ruminating Rules

From your school days, what rule seemed pointless or silly? Did you break it? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1488).

I respected adult authorities and although I found some of their decision points puzzling, I nevertheless continued in obedience and respect.  This tendency to “keep off the grass” without rebelling in some cases has not been the best thing–a little rebellion now and then is called for–but mine was always behind closed doors and expressed in grumbling.  A particular requirement comes to mind.  When I was in graduate school at Florida State, a particular professor insisted that footnotes always appear on the page where the citation occurred (endnotes were not allowed).  This was before word processors or personal computers.  In short, all composition was done on typewriter and this note requirement immensely complicated the task–I thought needlessly.  That is, around midnight after repeatedly failed attempts to get the text cessation and footnote commencement to behave properly, surely the Lord knew I was greatly agitated and completely disposed to dump tea leaves in the university fountain.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Covenant Service Delivered; Blogs to Resume

Wedding Party
Bob Standifer, Linda Standifer
Kunte Kinte Lueallen (Best Man)
Wayne Standifer and Connie Kline
Sue Marnelli (Maid of Honor)
Viney Myers (Played Amazing Grace on Harmonica)

Yesterday evening Connie and I were joined together in a Covenant Service.  The astounding thing I learned from the experience is the fantastic support residents at Westminster Suncoast receive from fellow residents.  We had originally planned for a gathering of some 35.  The actual number attending was over 100.  Many told us that it was one of the most beautiful and meaningful wedding services they had ever attended.  I have to give special thanks to Bob and Linda Standifer (my brother and sister-in-law both Methodist clergy) who traveled from north Georgia to officiate at the service.  They also devised the service.  Additionally Linda, who has a “Pottage” pottery workshop, handcrafted vessels for the sand ceremony (symbolically irretrievably uniting the lives of Connie and me.)  I was blessed by the attendance of longtime friends living outside the Westminster community.  Connie also welcomed beloved friends who traveled many miles to attend.  We intentionally did not plague anyone with the task of taking pictures.  We wanted everyone to “get into” and enjoy the service.  Immediately after the service we choo-chooed down the aisle swinging to the O’Jays playing Love Train.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Goose Eggs and Circles of Love

Does obedience to the Lord insure prosperity for an individual? A church? A nation? Explain. (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 640).

The sufferings of Job clearly indicate that the righteous can suffer.  We also frequently see that the unrighteous can prosper.  What good is it then to live in obedience to the Lord if it does not guarantee a gravy train? One answer lies in relation to time frame.  Since living in disobedience to the Lord is in essence adherence to  escapism outside the realistic principles of God and outside the parameters of true nurturing and love that we all need to thrive, then success outside of God’s plan is pitifully ephemeral and spiritually empty. That is, “success” can have a thousand faces, many of them leading to despair.  A realistic approach to life takes into view all the needs of man including the need to be centered and loved, not just admired for one’s wealth or flash in the pan razzle-dazzle.  We need be fascinated less with the size of one’s bank account and more with the quality of communion surrounding the breakfast table.  

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Covenant Program

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Anger as Health Indicator

Can you talk when you’re angry? How do you work through conflicts when you are angry at someone? Do you let anger out or hide it inside? Do you prefer to act like nothing happened? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 815).

Anger is the strongest evidence yet that we all have a sense of what is just–at least as it relates to ourselves.  From the earliest years, we can explode when we sense our rights are being needlessly stepped on.  When we determine such perceived rights’ violations are inescapable and unavoidable, we get no less angry but turn it inwards to a certain coldness and resentment.  This anger grows into bitterness and designs to “get-even” in whatever way possible.  The price of anger is very high–relationally, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. I have seen people without anger-- without a reachable sense of personal justice.  Their eyes are blank.  Their spirit is dead.  We must at least think well enough of ourselves to make anger possible.  The body vacated of a living soul is one of the saddest sights imaginable.  The trick of course is to educate our perceived sense of justice and allow it to mature under the boughs of the Golden rule so that our expectations have a firm ethical configuration.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

That Most Needed

What do you feel most in need of today: protection, guidance or forgiveness? Do you feel you will receive it? Why or why not? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 763).

From the springs of forgiveness flow life.  While in a defensive, unforgiven state we of necessity feel defensive (in need of protection) and at a loss (in need of guidance).  With forgiveness comes a peace and presence of mind that allows one to feel at home, grounded, and accepted. Therefore, a sense of forgiveness is essential for “loosening up” to a life of flexibility, accessibility, and openness. This in turn unlocks creative generosity and leads to abundant life. Such understanding is at the heart of Christianity and is the harbinger of greater productivity in any society.  

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Exiled Within Capitalism

From what self-imposed personal “exiles” have you had to recover? How did you recover? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 571).

Perhaps the saddest of all “personal exile” experiences is the alienation often felt by employees in their own place of employment.  Capitalism can be almost psychotic in its fixation on complete control–even over the lives and destinies of those who are the very wealth producers.  The management-labor dichotomy inherently in its structure dictates a certain inhumanity and coldness. There are occasional attempts to “soften” the rough edges of this inherent structure, but it is well demonstrated in human affairs that absolute power is absolutely corrupting and is never to be trusted.  Unless and until true, enforceable rights of employees are interwoven into the business structure, there will remain a certain tragic sadness in the heart of American business often taxing even to the psyche of compassionate management.  

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hi Folks! Here’s What’s Cooking

Am I the only one that’s noticed a few missing daily blogs of late.  I would like to share with you the reason why–“getting hitched” can require a lot of out-of-the ordinary stuff.  I would like to share with you a few things we’ve done of late. First below is a message we have on our answering machine when people call-in to RSVP for our (Connie & me) Covenant Service.  The next document after as you will see is for the person that books the venue.  In case you’re interested in refreshments, there’s something to the food service director about that.  Just wanted to fill you in and let you know that once in a great while something can be more important than doing a blog.


Thank you for your interest in our Covenant Service.  In just a moment, I will ask for your RSVP. First, in a few words, I would like to describe a Covenant Service.  Connie & I see this service as a wedding service in all religious and solemn vow respects.  In other words, we see ourselves "getting hitched" forever in the most fundamental, significant and important of ways. Incidentally, we did not apply for a Fl marriage license which we view as irrelevant and in some sense detrimental to what we wish to accomplish. Come and join us in our covenant service and celebration.

At the sound of the tone, please RSVP with your name, whether attending, and if so, the number attending. 


April 13, 2016

TO: Nan Colton, Lifestyle Coordinator, Quak Center
FROM: Wayne Standifer & Connie Kline Ext. 328
RE: Covenant Service, Quak Center 4/23 at 7 pm

First off, thanks so much for your initiatives and grace in helping us successfully plan our affair.

Here is a listing of points that may need further discussion regarding "staging" of event:

  • We are to deliver RSVP number of attendees no later than Wed. 20th
  • Questions specifically addressing placement of chairs
  • Access to stage (elevator). 
  • Visually determining whether best to hold ceremony on floor or stage level
  • Microphones (as 4 people will be talking at different times at one point or another) how best to distribute/operate mics
  • Reaffirm assurance that sound (music, dialogue) on site is monitored for quick adjustment if necessary
  • Suggestions as to best placement of guest book
  • We understand that you have generously agreed to handle flower arrangements. We are delivering $12
  • We understand that reception area set-up will include table and chairs
  • We can't believe–but deeply appreciate–no venue costs.
  • We intend to arrive approximately 6:15 - 6:30 pm

Below  follows our song selections.  We request artists as shown. (Thanks again for your suggestion of music!)   Please play music before service as people gather for the service on stage side (and of course later for reception.)

If possible immediately after "curtain drops" on Covenant Service could the first song played (immediately) be "Love Train" (followed by the other selections)?

Can music be automatically looped if extended play is needed?

We thank you again for your FANTASTICK assistance in making our event happen.

Song List

1. Try to Remember - Fantasticks 
2. Scarborough Fair - Simon & Garfunkel 
3. L-O-V-E - Nat King Cole
4. Memories - Barbara Streisand
5. You Send Me - Sam Cooke 
6. Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers 
7. I will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
8. Love Train - The O'Jays
9. Theme from Titanic  My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion 
10. Time In a Bottle - Jim Croce *** Lyrics of this song to be incorporated in service


April 13, 2016

TO: Jason Brunner, Dining Services Director 
FROM: Wayne Standifer and Connie Kline (Extension #328)
Regarding Covenant Service 4/23/16, 7pm, Quak Center
(Payment for services to be made by credit card.)

After some further thought, we've added a few things. We are to deliver to you RSVP count no later than 9 am, Wed. 4/20. (Let us know if our modifications necessitate on our part new deliverables or requirements.) Below spells out what we hope you will be able to provide. 

  •   Server (service includes preparation, set-up, and teardown)
  •   Serving and eating accessories and utensils
  •   Medium-size white sheet cake
  •   Variety of pastries
  •   Mixed nuts
  •   Cheese platter with variety of cheeses (served in cubes impelled with toothpicks)
  •   Fruit Platter (fruit portions impelled with toothpicks)
  •   Coffee, punch, water; (no alcohol whatever is being requested).

We really appreciate your help in providing service on such short notice.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Seeing Beyond the Label

The next time you pour milk from a store-bought container, I challenge you to look past the packaging to the cows, farmers, ranchers, and transporters that are all part of bringing this product to you.  Picture the families behind the product  and how they start their day in ordinary routines (such as dressing for work and having breakfast)–the fresh smell of shower soap and the quiet moment at table when the milk is poured.  Many of the products in my home are from countries I will never visit in person.  But even these items–such as the shirt I’m wearing–has family scenes behind it and even though the language is strange to me, we all know the gist of what is being said as people hurry to meet the day.  Let us join sometime today visualizing–even if with fleeting strobe light flashes–scenes of those like us living bustling lives, yet flecked with quiet shared sacred family moments.  In a real sense, they are our closest kin.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Inexorable Affinity

Since Connie Kline and I have inexorable affinity, we are planning a Covenant Service hopefully to be officiated by Chaplain Steve Coss, Pastors Bob Standifer and Linda Standifer.  The service will be held at Westminster Suncoast and open to all who may wish to attend. The conclusion of the service will begin with the following special reading:


I love you not only for what you are, but what I am when I am with you.  I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.  I love you for the part of me that you bring out.

I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart, and passing over all the foolish and frivolous and weak things which you cannot help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful, radiant belongings, that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.

I love you for ignoring the possibilities of the fool and weakling in me, and for laying firm hold on the possibilities of good in me.  I love you for closing your eyes to the discords in me, and for adding to the music in my worshipful listening.

I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life not a tavern but a temple, and of the words of my every day not a reproach but a song.

I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy.  You have done it just by being yourself.  Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Capitalism at Its Egocentric Worst

God had to take away Israel’s false hope before he could help them. Is God doing this in an area to you? How are you responding? Are you listening or gripping your hopes more tightly? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1181).

A false hope can be to accumulate vast wealth–to be a billionaire.  I think many Americans who are on the low end of the wealth spectrum are reluctant to give up this individualistic dream (which requires “free markets” with fantastic returns to make plausible a high octane fantasy).  One manifestation of this is that they faithfully buy Lotto tickets on state run gambling operations hoping against hope that their photo will be in the papers showing a typical American family that hit it big.  E pluribus unum.  Thus, interdependency proves to be an ad hoc sham–capitalism in full display at its egocentric worst.

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A Perspective of Contentment

What kind of head start in life did you get, materially, from your parents.(Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition).

My parents paid my way through undergraduate school. Before that I was never in great need for new clothes, school supplies, and occasional various “wants”–a transistor battery radio, a 22-single shot rifle, a bicycle and the like.  When I went to college I “inherited” the old family car–a ‘50 Chevrolet.

By far the biggest gift materially from my parents was the habit of living within our means.   This meant that we were materially content and had no active and persistent jealousy regarding the lives of others.  Of course, there was also ample evidence of others less well off than us, and this served to augment the need to be content.    

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Slamdunk Phenomenon

In what ways do you feel more vulnerable now than five years ago? What bothers you most about aging: (a) Declining health? (b) Loss of youth? (c) Loss of friends and relations? (d) The inevitability of death? (e) Slow narrowing of options and possibilities? Other? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 479).

What bothers me most about aging is that there will be those who perceive me as a “has-been” and not worth the time of day. Contrast that with how we typically see youth–full of promise and possibilities; life lies before and not behind them. It’s refreshing to be in their company.  It’s the difference between being on the receiving end of encouragement, investment, and opportunities as opposed to being seen as some type of hopeless urban blight.

The aged have their work cut out for them.  They must show promise in old age for their own benefit as well as for the recognition of others.  It’s just that now promise does not mean grandiose achievements–like winning the Kentucky Derby--but rather winning admiration for courage, optimism, and a positive spirit.  Shock and awe will be achieved not by stupendous Napoleonic acts, but by spiritual levitation amidst the challenges of aging.  Most people find the old who are genuinely happy and optimistic sort of an eighth wonder of the world–a slamdunk phenomenon.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Kaleidoscope of Interdependency

Is it good to rely on others or is it wiser to be as independent as possible?  How would you define: (a) Dependence? (b) Independence? (c) Interdependence? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1180).


Dependence: the state of relying on or being controlled by someone or something else (New Oxford American Dictionary “NOD”)

Independent: Free from outside control; not depending on another's authority (NOD)

Interdependent:  (of two or more people or things) dependent on each other: the increasingly global nature of human society, with interdependent economies. (NOD)


The idea of trade and market exchange automatically channeling self-interest toward socially desirable ends is a central justification for the laissez-faire economic philosophy, which lies behind neoclassical economics. In this sense, the central disagreement between economic ideologies can be viewed as a disagreement about how powerful the "invisible hand" is. In alternative models, forces which were nascent during [Adam] Smith's life, such as large-scale industry, finance, and advertising, reduce its effectiveness. (

By operating with a maximum subjective sense of independence, the more objectively dependent I am upon others through the process of socio/economic interdependency. For example, the more I have a sense of independence bestowed by a "consumer is king" mentality, the more dependent I am.  That is, increasing subjective independence has within it the ineluctable drive to dependency and interdependency.  Power and wealth generation are thus in actuality transferred from the individual to societal arrangements--the division of labor serving to intensify this phenomenon. The political affection for subjective libertarianism becomes increasingly frustrated by this hegemonic organizational principle.

On the supply side, a fundamental flaw of capitalism as an ideology is that it distributes wealth based upon fancied independency rather than perceiving wealth as the actual product of many dependent players operating within an essential interdependent infrastructure.  Distributing wealth based upon fictional independence leads to gross economic injustices and distortions.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ashamed of Jesus

Have you ever been ashamed of Jesus? When? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 1439).

It was not so much being ashamed of Jesus as being ashamed of myself and my humble roots.  Jesus had been a part of my life from the earliest years.  When I went to college, as an undergraduate I never studied about Jesus in Humanities.  Rather, we studied Greek and Roman mythology, and read Plato and talked about Aristotle and Greek drama.  Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey we surely studied, but never Jesus and his homely parables.  Naturally, by this exclusion of what I grew up with in favor of the sophisticated elevation of the classics made me a little ashamed of my roots and of Jesus and his familiar, everyday teachings. It is even yet for the individual to decide the most useful currency.     

The Story of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

The Story of the Good Samaritan by Jesus

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jesus as a Democrat

Is “reverence” necessary in work or worship? Do you like reverent folk? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 590).

Reverence: A feeling of profound respect for someone or something (WordWeb Pro).

Jesus had profound respect for human beings.  Yet this never meant for him not challenging people to live up to their best.  In other words, he occasionally criticized people.  It is clearly evident that they did not appreciate this criticism for in their own eyes reverence meant unquestioned obeisance rather than innate respect for individuals. They had supposedly earned high regard and blind acquiesce, but in Jesus’s eyes they had earned nothing.  Respect, as the US Constitution reflects, is innate–it is not earned.  Therefore, we are profoundly equal despite our pretensions to having earned special worthiness.  Since respect is given as a gift (right) from God and not earned, we are to respect all equally–as Jesus amply demonstrated much to the chagrin of those who had in their own eyes attained the heights of hegemonic regard.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Trust Me

For what reasons might someone be suspicious of you and withhold their trust? How do you win over those who are suspicious of you? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 583-4).

People trust you when they find you reliable.  But there’s a world of meaning in the word “reliable.”  Reliability need not be a positive thing.  A gang of bank robbers can be reliable in the sense that none will rat on their fellows should their robbery attempt be foiled.  They will also be reliable in that they will remain consistently dishonest to those outside the gang, however remain true and truth-telling to fellow gang members.  In this sense, “reliable” can mean both consistently dishonest (to outsiders) and completely honest (to insiders).  Lo, what a wide swath of organizational behavior such considerations envelope.

Now it is often assumed that a God-fearing man will be of highest integrity and reliability.  Note immediately that integrity and reliability need not dovetail.  Does one think for a moment that the establishment of the day found Jesus reliable?  Obviously not.  He was most unreliable from an establishment point of view laying bare its rank hypocrisy.  However integrity in the sense of being faithful to himself and his Heavenly Father, Jesus certainly had to the max.  But it was his very God-fearing nature and integrity that insured his unreliability and untrustworthiness. 

We must recognize a simple fact, a principal reason people are passed over for advancement (even acceptance) in organizations is that they telegraph too much integrity and not enough reliability.

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