Posts Tagged ‘Christian Living’

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Conflict Resolution: Which Path? – Proverbs 15:1

March 29, 2020

“A soft answer will turn away wrath,
but a word of trouble will stir anger.”

Imagine we have a difficult hike to make. Our destination is a community of peace on the opposite side of a mountain.  This mountain is large and formidable.  There are areas of instability, where a rock slide could sweep us away. There are vast stretches lacking any springs for refreshment.

Obviously, the shortest course will be to go directly over the mountain.  These routes are poorly marked and likely filled with all the hardship of an ill-advised expedition.  Many have tried these routes, but few parties ever arrived at the community of peace intact.

The other route is long.  It meanders along the valleys and ravines. The path is broad, following a refreshing stream.  Travelers wind past hazards while slowly gaining elevation.  

Often, the gains are imperceptible causing travelers to become discouraged and set off on more direct routes. Those routes rarely lead up the mountain.  Often, these impatient travelers find themselves once again at the base of the same mountain or a new one.

The patient traveler diligently stays on the long path with his destination firmly fixed in his mind.  The goal for these patient parties is not simply to overcome the mountain but to summit the mountain as a group, not as individuals.  The long route is the most likely path for the group to achieve their goal and reach the community of peace but it takes uncommon endurance.

I consider conflict a mountain.  Conflicts are barriers to peace and unity, just like a mountain separating you from your destination.  Conflicts are difficult with a lot of hazards which can result in even more barriers if not handled carefully.

Some refuse to deal with conflict.  They are like the travelers that never leave camp.  They sit at the base of a mountain and wonder why the conflict never goes away.

Some choose a direct route.  They say it like it is.  They don’t select their words carefully and rarely listen for a response without an interpretation.  These direct routes often include “words of trouble” that only stir up more anger.  Many, on a direct route, excuse their course as being part of their nature. As if, they had no other choice but a direct confrontation.  

In my experience, directness is not a personality trait.  The direct person is usually either impatient or selfish (unloving).  Those on the direct route rarely get off the mountain of conflict.  It is where they live.  They feel like the world is out to get them, never realizing that they are the ones continuing to raise more mountains (barriers).

Gentleness of tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it causes a break in spirit. Proverbs 15:4 

The long route is hard, mostly because it involves a lot of self-control.  Yet, gentleness takes time.  Soft words must be allowed to seep in and moderate the heart of a conflict.  Kindness has to be kindled and love often must be demonstrated through long-suffering.  Conflict resolution requires consideration, which will rarely be granted when there is a break in spirit. 

Travelers of the long route must value gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, and love.  I don’t see travelers on direct routes valuing those same attributes.  Is it any wonder that a world valuing direct, powerful, harsh, responses is a world mired in conflict?

Conflict is not fun.  However, the mountain will never go away until it is surmounted.  If you are ready to deal your mountain, what route are you going to take? May I encourage you to take the long way?

 Do nothing according to selfish ambition or according to empty conceit, but in humility considering one another better than yourselves, each of you not looking out for your own interests, but also each of you for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3–4

https://ref.ly/Pr15.1 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Do You Know Him? – John 17:3

March 28, 2020

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard criticism that people like me make too much of Jesus.  That people like me focus too much on the person of Jesus Christ rather than the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard arguments that the obsession of people like me, on the person of Jesus, is too exclusive of the beliefs of others.  That people like me should accept Jesus’s teachings on the intellectual bookshelf, amongst the other great moral philosophers of the ages.

I wonder do you know him?

I have heard reasoning that people like me have made too much of the great historical figure that Jesus was.  That people like me have been duped by history’s charlatans into believing that Jesus was something more than a mere mortal.

They don’t know him!

Jesus did not reveal himself to be studied. He revealed himself to be known.  I can study historical figures and learn about their actions, motivations, and philosophy but I will never say that I knew them. Jesus continues to be a topic in many lectures.  His teachings are analyzed in countless books. I can learn everything about Jesus but I will never know him until I actually follow his teaching and believe what he said about himself.

I wonder do you know him?

Faith is the prerequisite to knowing God and Jesus Christ, whom he sent.  God did not reveal himself for intellectual praise.  God revealed himself through his son, Jesus Christ, to demonstrate his mercy and grace by saving a people who believe in him, as he revealed himself.

I wonder do you know him?

God doesn’t save people who are intellectually aware of his historical teachings.  God doesn’t award merit to the strict adherence to rules given in the wilderness.  God saves those who believe in him, love him, know him.  People like me.  

I know him because he saved me. I cannot help making too much of Jesus. The person of Jesus Christ is worthy of too much focus because that is what love does.  God is exclusive.  He always has been exclusive.  He is a jealous God.  He is exclusive to those who receive his free gift.  He is exclusive to people who know him.

I wonder will you know him?

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” John 16:27

https://ref.ly/Jn17.3 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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What’s Your Job Description – John 11:47–48

March 22, 2020

“So the chief priests and the Pharisees called together the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs! If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 

Have you ever considered that the religious leaders of Israel were right?  

  • They lived upon a powder-keg of insurrection and rebellion.  
  • They lived in a conquered nation, ruled by the super-power of the age.  
  • They lived with the task of controlling a population, in order to preserve it.

Consider what happened when they failed.  The religious leaders of Israel failed to suppress the rebellions leading into 70 AD.  Their fears, expressed concerning Jesus, came true when the Roman General and future Emperor, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, effectively taking away their place and nation.

Israel was never the same. The concerns of the Pharisees and Sadducees were valid.

They could not have been more right while being more wrong.  Their job was never the practical machinations of political power.  Their job was to shepherd God’s chosen people in truth and love; the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments.  

They utterly failed at their true job description with the gravest of consequences.

Let’s not make the same mistake.  It is easy to get led astray by valid realities and misplaced responsibilities.  Those realities never overcome the truth of scripture and the power of God.

https://ref.ly/Jn11.47-48 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Bestial Stupor

March 21, 2020

I have been reading through Soren Kierkegaard’s exploration of Abraham’s faith in  “The Kierkegaard Collection”.

His description:

“People commonly travel around the world to see rivers and mountains, new stars, birds of rare plumage, queerly deformed fishes, ridiculous breeds of men — they abandon themselves to the bestial stupor which gapes at existence, and they think they have seen something.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

I have never thought of the myriads of social media accounts chronicling something “astonishing” as feeding my bestial stupor.

That might be a little harsh.  However, I am reminded of my own bestial nature of gaping at the creation without ever considering that which is truly amazing…faith.

“But if I knew where there was such a knight of faith, I would make a pilgrimage to him on foot, for this prodigy interests me absolutely. I would not let go of him for an instant, every moment I would watch to see how he managed to make the movements, I would regard myself as secured for life, and would divide my time between looking at him and practicing the exercises myself, and thus would spend all my time admiring him.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

ancient antique armor armour

Photo by Maria Pop on Pexels.com

There are “knights of faith” living amongst, which are testimony of what is more miraculous than any of God’s other creation.  That is worthy of a pilgrimage to see; a pilgrimage to gape into the infinite.  However, you have to know what you are looking for because a true knight is easy to overlook.

“He lives as carefree as a ne’er-do-well and yet he buys up the acceptable time at the dearest price, for he does not do the least thing except by virtue of the absurd. And yet, and yet I could become furious over it — for envy, if for no other reason — because the man has made and every instant is making the movements of infinity. With infinite resignation he has drained the cup of life’s profound sadness, he knows the bliss of the infinite, he senses the pain of renouncing everything, the dearest things he possesses in the world, and yet finiteness tastes to him just as good as to one who never knew anything higher, for his continuance in the finite did not bear a trace of the cowed and fearful spirit produced by the process of training; and yet he has this sense of security in enjoying it, as though the finite life were the surest thing of all.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

We once called a pilgrimage to observe and learn from a Knight of Faith, discipleship.  Unfortunately, we don’t hear that term very often and even rarely take that sort of pilgrimage.  We have social media after all.

We have allowed a bestial stupor to blind us to the truly remarkable; exchanged the creator for the creation.

Let’s open our eyes to what makes angels rejoice.  Look around, there might just be a Knight sitting beside you worthy of amazement… worthy of imitation.

“The Kierkegaard Collection” is free: http://a.co/6alGyrH

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The Fruit of Deception – Proverbs 6:12–15

March 20, 2020

“A worthless man, an evil man,
goes around with deceitful speech.
Winking in his eye, shuffling in his foot,
pointing in his fingers,
perversion in his heart, he devises evil;
at all times he will send out discord.
Upon such a man, suddenly shall his calamity come;
in a moment he will be damaged and there is no healing”

I recently had an employee who appeared to be a great “marketer”. He had a big personality; a fill-the-room type of presence.  In the world of consulting engineering, it is hard to find people who like to do the cold-call marketing.  This guy seemed made for it.

He had a great resume. He had great experience.  He had a philosophy for a great cultural fit.

Yet, with all that greatness potential, I fired him.

I fired him because greatness doesn’t trump deceitfulness.

It took me over a year of trying to work with him; trying to get his greatness to flourish without the discord that continued to fester.  It took me over a year to realize that there actually was no greatness.  His shtick was a deceptive illusion.

I had been deceived by a carefully crafted resume that masterfully gave false impressions.  I had been deceived into believing that a person who taught the principles of how I try to manage, would actually practice it.

So, I endured a year of discord.  A year of smoothing down ruffled feathers.  A year of confronting and encouraging the proper behaviour.  A year of scratching my head in hopes that I would not have to give up on someone.

But then came that last straw of deception and I had no choice but to fire him without warning.  

Upon such a man, suddenly shall his calamity come;
in a moment he will be damaged and there is no healing

I always hope when I fire a person that it will be a wake up call and they will change their behavior.  However, I don’t have much hope.  I recently saw his updated LinkedIn profile.  His description of his work while under my employment is…more deception.

Therefore, I conclude that Proverbs is as relevant today as it was in Solomon’s time.  This man has…

perversion in his heart, he devises evil;

This man needs Jesus.  Without Jesus, none of us can ever experience the greatness for which we were individually created.  Jesus is the only one who can cure a deceitful heart because a deceitful heart comes from a perverse heart, which is a evil heart.  

We all need Jesus, every day!  Therefore, this man will stay in my prayers for God to do a miracle and change his heart.  The same miracle He did for me.

https://ref.ly/Pr6.12-15 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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Who’s Your Daddy – John 8:47

March 19, 2020

“The one who is from God listens to the words of God. Because of this you do not listen—because you are not of God.””

  • Where do those who deny the words of God come from?
  • Who’s inspiration inspires the creative, deaf to the Spirit’s whispers?
  • What source motivates the over-achiever’s pursuit of praise?

Jesus never asked these questions.  If someone doesn’t listen to the words of God, then they are not of God.  

  • What are you of, if you are not of God?
  • What is your heritage, if not an heir of God?
  • Who is your father, if he is not God?

John 8:42–44 (LEB): Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I have come forth from God and have come. For I have not come from myself, but that one sent me. Why do you not understand my way of speaking? Because you are not able to listen to my message. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father!

There are only two options for spiritual father; God or Satan.  Our default is Satan and our desires demonstrate the reality of our spiritual patriarch.

I am reminded that there are no innocent pursuits.  Everything has a source, a motivation, an inspiration.  We live in a world of light and darkness.  Jesus told us that He is the light of the world.

Why would we think that works sourced from darkness are benign?  We don’t need to be afraid of the world but we also don’t need to be ignorant of it either.

It is reasonable to question, of all that we allow to influence us, “who’s your daddy?” .  We are called to live in the Light…Let’s not play around with the world of darkness.

https://ref.ly/Jn8.47 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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More Contagious than COVID-19 – 2 Corinthians 13:5

March 17, 2020

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are unqualified?”

Well, I have been infected. 

I have been infected by a foreign contagion but it is not the COVID-19 virus.  I was infected so long ago that I often forget that I am a carrier of this particular infectious agent.  

I have been watching the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has changed the very society on the planet in a matter of weeks.  This virus has changed what we do, how we do it, and when we do it.  

I have been reminded of the pandemic that changed my life.  I was infected by a contagion in my youth.  This contagion has a 100% mortality rate.  It is the most deadly foreign contagion the world has ever known.  

I caught this contagion from my family.  In fact, they deliberately exposed me to it.  It is transmitted by breath, words, and my parents breathed it upon me, repeatedly.  

Eventually, this foreign agent caught hold of me, changed my eyesight, and altered my mind.  The progression of this “disease” eventually resulted in my death.  

I did die, but no one moarned.  There was no funeral.  I did not become a statistic on the news.  The reason no one moarned was because the same thing that killed me, brought me back to life.  I came back to life but I now live totally dependent upon the same contagion that originally infected me.  

The pandemic that resulted in my infection has not ended.  It has been going on for more than 2,000 years.  There are periodic flare ups.   At times, those infected act like they are trying to infect others. Most of the time, those infected seem to be taking precautions to avoid the spread:

  • Covering their mouths to prevent the transmission.
  • Sanitizing all they touch to remove any trace of contagion.
  • Self-quarantine themselves with only the infected.

I realize that I often live according to the recommended measures used to control a pandemic like COVID-19.  Yet, the infection that killed me and brought me back to life is the best thing that ever happened to me.  

I want to infect the uninfected. I understand the breath that I try to breathe upon them, may smell like death but I can infect them if I use breath mints.  

Therefore, I am going to strive to live according to the counter -measures of a pandemic:

  • I will not self-quarantine myself within my communities of infected.
  • I will not cover my mouth in hopes of not offending the uninfected. I will breathe, sneeze, cough and maybe even vomit on as many as possible.
  • I will slather my contagion on everything I do, say, and think.
  • I will continue to touch my eyes with infected fingers to remove as many logs as possible.

I have been infected by Jesus Christ.  I would have died if that had not happened but now I am alive, eternally because there were people who did not follow the rules of a pandemic.

Therefore, I will follow the rules of the temporary COVID-19 pandemic but I will try to break every rule of the Jesus Christ pandemic. I would love to see another pandemic flare up (revival) in my lifetime but that starts with the infected being irresponsible with the contagion of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

So, go get tested to see if you’re in Jesus Christ.  You can do a self-help but if you don’t know how, then head to a local clinic (Church).  They can test you. If you’re not infected, hopefully, they will breath on you and you will become like me.  If you are infected, then go out and become an epicenter for this glorious pandemic.

Galatians 2:19–20 (LEB): I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

https://ref.ly/2Co13.5 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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