Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

Remembrance of Wrongs

June 22, 2018

Do you carry grudges? Do you dwell on past hurts? The times someone metaphorically stabbed you in the back? When someone promised and didn’t fulfill or broke a contract?

We’ve heard forgive and forget. But can we really forget? More importantly, do we continually think of them?

John Climacus says, “Remembrance of wrongs comes as the final point of anger. It is a keeper of sins. It hates a just way of life. It is the ruin of virtues, the poison of the soul, a worm in the mind.”

Whom do you know with a ruined life because of the poison in the mind that just cannot get over the wrong done? I hope that isn’t you–or your spouse.

John also says, “The man who has put a stop to anger has also wiped out remembrance of wrongs, since offspring can come only from a living parent.”

Think on that sentence. There is deep meaning.

Such is the ninth step. Let him who has taken it have the courage henceforth to ask Jesus the Savior to free him from his sins.

Obedience As A Spiritual Discipline

June 11, 2018

Obedience is a term not heard often in America. Our politics are, and have been, a politics of rebelliousness.

We are told by people themselves in surveys and interviews that they see the parent’s role as that of friend, not one who guides and corrects their children.

Children mature physically but not emotionally lacking discipline and obedience.

John Climacus recognized 1,400 years ago a problem with men entering the spiritual life of the monastery. The next step after renunciation was obedience.

As spiritual seekers, obedience to God’s commands is crucial.

John includes an image. He discusses training for an athletic event. He paints a picture of an obedient seeker standing strong with one foot forward in service and the other foot anchored back in prayer.

The posture of an obedient disciple.

June 5, 2018

Elton Trueblood

The church is never true to itself when it is living for itself, for if it is chiefly concerned with saving its own life, it will lose it. The nature of the church is such that it must always be engaged in finding new ways by which to transcend itself. Its main responsibility is always outside its own walls in the redemption of common life. That is why we call it a redemptive society. There are many kinds of religion, but redemptive religion, from the Christian point of view, is always that in which we are spent on those areas of existence that are located beyond ourselves and our own borders.

Elton Trueblood is one of my theologian/mentors who helped me figure out the Apostle Paul. Since Paul wrote to early Christian fellowships, he included a variety of instructions that he said weren’t from God but were things that he instructed out of common sense for the good of the fellowship of these new Christians.

I presume well-meaning Christians have been tempted to lift a sentence, one instruction, from something Paul wrote and build their life around it, or build a theology around it, or build a church around it. They had been doing it for about 1,800 years, actually. And I didn’t like anything that I heard. I thought that in the light of Jesus’ teachings, this couldn’t be true.

Trueblood helped me broaden my view of Paul. N.T. Wright completed my journey.

I like this thought from Trueblood (which I received in the Daily Dig from Plough Publishing) in this day of people bringing their own agendas loosely based on a statement from Paul or otherwise into churches and denominations.

As a friend said yesterday, so many people go to church general meetings with an agenda.

And I replied, “Yes, an it’s not the one Jesus gave us.”

Our challenge…are we inward looking or outward?

Two Men Walk Into A Coffee House

May 30, 2018

And they get thrown out.

Not the beginning of a joke. Today Starbucks is closing stores to provide training to associates on how to interact with people of all races and genders.

The corporation has a policy. Not an unusual policy. I’ve experienced it in many countries and many establishments. Shouldn’t be a big deal.

It became one.

Morgan Freeman makes jokes and comments about the physical features of women. There was a time that was pretty common. Men never stopped to think about the effect of the comments on the women. It’s just “joking” around. But, who knows, maybe they’d “get lucky.”

It now became a big deal.

Roseanne cracks a crude joke on Twitter. There are lots of crude comedians–in comedy clubs. Not that I like those. Putting it out in the public for everyone to see? Within 12 hours she was dissed by a co-star, had her series cancelled, had the actions dealing with her confirmed by the CEO of the corporation, and she lost her agent.

It became a big deal.

We have ancient teachings that can guide us, if we but choose.

Jesus spoke 2,000 years ago and quoted something from 2,000 years before him. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Or we can look for guidance from the Apostle Paul who advised his friends in the churches in Galatia, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Time after time people in organizations are making decisions that they think upholds company policy but act in a wrong manner.

Following these guidelines (commands) you cannot be wrong.

Unfortunately those acts to not make the news. We only hear about loud-mouthed, bigoted “Christians” and acts of great insensitivity. As for me, I’d just as soon not be in the news.

Searching For A Little Humility

April 4, 2018

Teresa of Ávila

It is amusing to see souls who, while they are at prayer, fancy they are willing to be despised and publicly insulted for the love of God, yet afterwards do all they can to hide their small defects. If anyone unjustly accuses them of a fault, God deliver us from their outcries! Prayer does not consist of such fancies. No, our Lord expects works from us. Beg our Lord to grant you perfect love for your neighbor. If someone else is well spoken of, be more pleased than if it were yourself; this is easy enough, for if you were really humble, it would vex you to be praised.

Words from one of my favorite guides.

So often a couple of things seem to be missing from our discourse–social media or just social.

Responsibility and Humility.

I hear shouting about rights. But when it comes to talking about responsibilities that are the companion of rights, only ominous silence.

To this day, I hate writing the bio part of my Websites. It is meant to boast in order to bring me business. It seems like the “fake” part of an interview. “Tell us about a fault.” “Well, sometimes I work too hard.”

Right.

Or, “Honey, I took out the garbage.” Only to hear, “Yeah, you were supposed to. You’re expecting maybe a little doggie treat for doing your job?”

Maybe we pray along with Teresa, “No, our Lord expects work from us. Beg our Lord to grant you perfect love for your neighbor.”

It Is The Quality of Your Questions That Counts

March 26, 2018

“Bacon is the answer. Now, what’s your question?” So goes a popular quip.

“Jesus is the answer.” Seen on bumper sticker every day at the gym. It is implied, I guess, now, what’s your question.

If you begin with an answer, you will learn nothing new.

If you begin with an answer, you will be unable to help anyone.

I’m in the midst of recertifying in First Aid / CPR / AED. We begin with questions. May I help you? Please describe what happened. Where does it hurt?

Better than saying, “Jesus is the answer” is “How can Jesus help you?” This direction means that we must focus on the other person’s needs not on our “answer”. Maybe it is the need for food. Or shelter. Or peace. Or to be understood. Or it’s something you can provide in the name of Jesus. Now that’s a revolutionary thought! Maybe we don’t just sit back and shout “Jesus is the answer.” Maybe Jesus wants us to say, “How can we be the answer in the name of Jesus?” That is starting to sound like much of what happened in the Acts.

This is Holy Week. Reporting the details of this week from almost 2,000 years ago comprises a huge part of the Gospel of John. That must mean it’s important.

We could be asking better questions this week in our private time–and maybe even our discussions–than simply rushing from one event to the next.

How am I like the disciples?

How am I like the Pharisees?

How am I like the Jewish religious establishment?

How am I like the Roman soldiers?

How am I like Pilate?

What one thing would I like to learn from this Holy Week experience that had never dawned on me before?

Do Not Over Think

March 12, 2018

“Do not overthink. Call the simple fouls.” Advice to soccer referees preparing for the new season.

OK, this is odd advice coming from the guy whose basic life orientation is to think and analyze. But maybe it’s why I have liked the challenge of refereeing soccer for the past 30 years. When you focus on each challenge in a match, you don’t have time to think too much. It’s feel for the flow of the game, the reactions of the players, and what serves justice.

Do not overthink.

My morning reading in Romans. “The commandments…are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

When Jesus gave this command the Pharisees, those overachievers in thinking too much, started questioning. “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus responded with a story whose hero was member of a despised race of people–sort of like an illegal immigrant. In other words, everyone is our neighbor–even those we despise personally.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor.

Consider this when deciding what to do with your money.

Consider this with every person you come into contact with.

Consider this with your politics.

Consider this within your church and groups.

How do I live each moment as if Jesus and Paul actually meant for me to live this way? In the flow of the moment; without overthinking it?

Be Transformed By The Renewing Of Your Mind

February 20, 2018

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

–John Milton

I am in the midst of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson. This is not an easy read. (just a warning) But digging into it is worth the effort. I especially loved his rules regarding to parenting. Millions of people should read those.

In this chapter (rule), he says “Always Tell the Truth, At Least Don’t Lie.” Peterson, in his study of Milton (the English poet–if the name wasn’t familiar, get a book of English poetry and read him), says “Milton believed that stubborn refusal to change in the face of error not only meant ejection from heaven, and subsequent degeneration into an ever-deepening hell, but the rejection of redemption itself. Satan knows full well that even if he was willing to seek reconciliation, and God willing to grant it, he would only rebel again, because he will not change.”

Peterson practices and teaches clinical psychology. His book is full of examples. He further notes, “Those who have lied enough, in word and action, live there, in hell–now.”

Years ago I embarked on further study of depth psychology and brain science in order to understand one thing–how can people continue to tell themselves a belief even in the face of overwhelming evidence against it? This is something we still see today. And probably will tomorrow.

We allow our minds to be captured by emotions or by stubborn clinging to past opinions. We miss the opportunity for grace. We miss the opportunity for living a more full life filled with spirit rather than by narrow-minded law.

Paul quite consciously, for he was consummately logical, begins his section of the letter to the Romans (chapter 12) on how to live a Christian life in community by saying

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern the will of God–what is good and acceptable and perfect.

How To Read A Book

February 19, 2018

Only an open and empty jar is useful. Just so, our mind. In order to learn, we must empty it of preconceived ideas and open ourselves to new learning, new wisdom, new understanding.

I talked recently about praying with open hands. We must read with open minds.

It is important that we know the overall context of what we are reading, and the outline of chapters, then how the paragraphs fit within the argument (or story) of the chapter and finally how the sentence fits within the paragraph. Sometimes we must study the structure of the sentence in order to decipher the meaning.

When I was in high school, I was introduced to How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler. Amazingly, that book is still available on Amazon.

In Lent, perhaps we devote the 40 days to opening ourselves to God in preparation for understanding the death and resurrection of Jesus in the context of the Bible and world history.

Rather than grabbing at sentences as the “final answer,” let us devote ourselves to understanding and discernment. The Bible was perhaps only written and compiled over a period of 500 years, but it covers the context of people trying to figure out how to live with-God over a period of some 2,000 years.

It takes time to read in context. Great understanding comes from reading from the outline to the specific and then back to the outline. But only if we empty ourselves in preparation for God to speak to us.

Approaching God–with open hands and open minds.

Do This In Order To Understand

February 5, 2018

Søren Kierkegaard — Christ says: Do according to what I say – then you shall know. Consequently, decisive action first of all. By acting, your life will come into collision with existence, and then you will know the reality of grace. Nowadays we have turned the whole thing around. Christianity has become a worldview. Thus, before I get involved I must first justify it. Good night to Christianity!

Peter delivers a major evangelistic sermon reported in Acts 2. On the day of Pentacost when the followers of Jesus were given the power of the Holy Spirit, they attracted the attention of crowds of people who had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

Peter preached about the resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins. It was a moving and powerful sermon. It lacked one thing a great speech of this type needs–a call to action. There must be a “to do” or a “so what” to conclude. But the people listening supplied the question, “So what should we do?” they asked.

“Repent and be baptized,” Peter said.

There is something to do.

Paul wrote to the Romans (chapter 12) after talking about grace and the unity of Jew and Gentile, goes into a list 29 items long telling us how to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. A “to do” list.

I’m reading a psychologist currently. Just started the book. Chapter One–stand up straight. Change your posture and change your life.

We know that we can often act our way into believing, or act our way into changing our attitude. When we perform an action repeatedly, it becomes a habit. And a habit defines us. It pays rich dividends to choose our actions wisely.