Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

The Answer With The Fewest Possible Complications

March 2, 2023

Occam’s Razor guides us to seek explanations with the fewest possible set of elements. Often we paraphrase it as the simplest explanation is usually the best.

I went from one rabbit hole to another. First a discussion on LinkedIn where I thought the explanations missed the point. Which led me to a search for the meaning of Occam’s Razor. If you follow all the arguments by philosophers on the Wikipedia page I linked, you will find yourself in another massive rabbit hole. Funny that these philosophers take a maxim about simplicity or fewest elements and write paragraph after paragraph.

We do that when explaining Christianity, too. Or, too often.

When Jesus was pressed for an explanation, he cited his scriptures to love the Lord and he added from a different location to love your neighbor. At the end of his ministry he left one command for his followers–to love one another.

When the rich young man came to Jesus asking about eternal life, he said he’d followed all the commandments since he had been a child. Jesus saw still an impediment to his loving others and told him to give away all his wealth to the poor. He saw that this got in the way of the young man’s opening of his heart. Rule following and attachment to wealth weren’t enough.

I follow this line of reasoning simply to go to the argument with the fewest elements–Jesus clearly taught us to guide our lives by love. Why do we complicate things like the philosophers and theologians? Maybe because love is too hard.

Finding A Rhythm In Life Lived

January 27, 2023

Dad decided for whatever reason I don’t know to send me to a percussion teacher when I was about eight years old. I learned the variety of rhythms–marching, Bossa Nova, rhumba, waltz, and so on by the time I moved on to guitar at 20.

I thought of rhythms thanks to a new book I’ve begun reading this week, Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity, by Gloria Mark, PhD. She is a psychologist who has researched things such as focus.

I’ve only gotten through the first four chapters so far. She has gone through some research on flow, a topic popularized mostly in athletics but also in creative work. This observation is derived from that feeling you have when you are deeply immersed in something–a book, painting a picture, playing soccer–and time passes unnoticed.

She points out that much of our work, and indeed our lives, are not in flow. Rather there is a rhythm. Perhaps the daily circadian rhythm. There are points of a day where we are more alert and times when we need a break.

Reading through the Proverbs (my annual January refresher course) I sense rhythms. The wise person rises early, attends to the work to be done, helps other people, avoids fools. The fool’s rhythm depends on the whims of the moment, the vagaries of the moment, the suggestions of “friends.”

Our trick is to find our daily/weekly/monthly rhythms and live them out. Hopefully the rhythm of the wise and not that of the fool.

Ah, Now We Follow Jesus

December 26, 2022

We have now traveled through Advent. We have celebrated the birth of Jesus.

Now what?

Reading the “Christmas Stories” again for the hundredth time, something sank into my consciousness. There were just two predictions–Jesus would be filled with the presence of God; Jesus would be a new (and last) King (Hebrew Messiah, English Anointed One, Greek Christos).

Jesus message was in the basic form “repent and enter the Kingdom of God.”

And if we read carefully, we see that God’s Kingdom (where Jesus is King) totally upends the Roman way. And the way of probably every king before or since.

Rome was all about power. Ruthless. Bloodthirsty. Like Herod having every male child under two years old in Bethlehem killed so that the new King of the Jews told to him by the Magi would not live to take his (Herod’s) place. Like the way the Romans dealt with Jerusalem and the Jews around AD 70.

Jesus kingdom:

  • The leader must be a servant
  • The culture was love, not power
  • All are the same (see Paul–there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, and so forth)
  • People are healed, not destroyed
  • People’s lives are turned around, no longer sinners, but free

When we sign on to follow, it isn’t just to say a prayer and feel good…for a while. It is to enter the new kingdom and live a new life.

Starting now.

Hence, one of my favorite old folk songs

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back

Be Like Jesus

December 23, 2022

As Advent comes to an end and we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I’ve been contemplating the stories and legends surrounding Bethlehem and the shepherds and magi and escape to Egypt and all that. And we can speculate (fruitlessly) on what virgin birth means.

Then I asked Why?

Despite Luke going around the area interviewing people and compiling, we are left with sketchy information about what those first 30 years were like.

The birth was important. His ministry was more important–those stories fill the gospels and other writings. His death and resurrection was most important–without the resurrection the world would not have been changed and we wouldn’t be writing much about it.

Because of the resurrection, Jesus became more than a prophet or teacher. It makes his teachings all the more important to infuse into our lives. So, I remembered this list I’ve written about before.

This year I want to be more like Jesus:

  • Hang out with sinners
  • Upset religious people
  • Tell stories that make people think
  • Choose unpopular friends
  • Be kind, loving, and merciful
  • Take naps on boats

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Muscle Mass

November 3, 2022

Muscle mass is an indicator of health and longevity.

Therefore, resistance training with weights provides a tool and and a discipline to increase muscle mass for improved health and longevity.

We can view our heart as a muscle.

Jesus checked the state of our heart’s well-being–always.

Therefore, we must exercise our heart—not only from the point-of-view of our cardiologist, but also from the point-of-view of our spiritual cardiologist.

Perhaps resistance training for the heart consists of loving those whose views we disagree with. Or perhaps those whom we disdain. Say something nice to someone you wouldn’t normally socialize with. Perform a small act of kindness for the next person you meet. Exercise that muscle.

It’s an indicator of health and longevity.

Play on Words

November 1, 2022

Social media is anti-social.

Health foods are not healthy.

Thinking on these plays on words, I wonder:

How many Christians are not Christ-followers?

First century Jesus-followers were said to be part of The Way. It was the way of life—how they lived—that attracted more people to The Way. 

Living in a certain way led by Jesus’ teachings was the crucial truth. 

And still is.

Contradictory Advice

September 23, 2022

“They” told you that you need to walk 10,000 steps a day for good health.

Then, we find out that the number 10,000 came about to fit a design in Japanese which looked good with the Kanji character for 10,000.

Then, another study says that 7,000 steps is good.

Followed by another study that the number of steps isn’t as important as how fast you take those steps.

I received a newsletter yesterday that put the number back to 10,000.

I study health, nutrition, exercise and have training and certificates for whatever good that does me.

That’s the trouble. There is some science, but not enough. Some opinion, but way too much.

Sometimes I feel that way about biblical studies and religious advice. Too many opinions; not enough life.

And many of us who try to put spirit to life fall short.

But, we try.

Are You Smart?

September 21, 2022

I picked these ideas up from Seth Godin. He is an acknowledged marketing guru. But his thinking is broader than that. An example follows.

Smart is no longer memorization. It’s not worth much.

Smart is no longer access to information. Everyone has that.

Smart is:

• Situational awareness

• Filtering information

• Troubleshooting

• Clarity of goals

• Good taste

• Empathy and compassion for others

• The ability to make decisions that further your goals

The good news is that smart is a choice, and smart is a skill.

This thinking applies broadly. People memorize great amounts of the Bible. Yet, nothing in their lives reflects any awareness of this knowledge. Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his time on this very point.

The question for us today. Where have we stopped with mere memorization? Where have we acted like someone “smart” putting the knowledge into action?


September 9, 2022

As far as I can remember I have been on a journey seeking truth. I had not idea what it would be when I found it. But “it” had to be out there somewhere.

Even studying the sciences, that was in the back of my mind. When I describe God in terms of quantum physics, my poor Reformed friends just shake their heads. They know what truth is and have no need to explore.

I wasn’t satisfied.

I wrote a paper as a freshman in university about the concept of truth revealed in Henrik Ibsen’s play/poem Peer Gynt. It’s stuck with me ever since.

Truth isn’t a statement. A belief. Something that separates me from other people such that I can feel justified hating or killing them.

Truth was a journey. Sort of like the peeling of an onion. Layer after layer. Day by day. I live today for the day. I learn something new today. I serve someone today. I grow a bit today. Some days I’m closer to God; some days I’m farther away. But God is always around me.

Doing More Than The Minimum

September 7, 2022

A department of the US government establishes something called Minimum Daily Requirement for a number of nutrients.

(Poor) Students ask the teacher, what’s the minimum amount of work I need to do to pass this course.

Laws establish the minimum requirements for staying out of trouble.

Religious laws also establish the minimum requirements, as well as, offering means of comparison with others.

Some people in the workplace get by with the minimum amount of work to avoid being fired.

The Pharisees (rule-followers) asked Jesus what the minimum effort was to get them right with God.

Jesus continually told them that it would take their whole heart. Similar to Yoda’s words to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Jesus said, don’t look back. Do–with all your heart (and soul, and mind, and strength).

Jesus does not want followers looking for the minimum daily dose of goodness. He wants people whose whole life is immersed in that goodness.