The Master Craftsman – Part 3

We look to the bibles for “proper parables”.

Yet so often God is much closer.

So much closer that we push Him aside to see properly.  He so often gets in our way and we never even realise.

And then Mark Myers comes along and, in this sequence of posts (this is the third post) brings everything into focus again. Puts things back in their rightful place. Brings God into focus again.

I wonder if the bible peeps went “Wow!” As they sat and stood listening to Jesus walking and talking. I like to think they did. It’s so often my response: “Wow!”

Because I think they saw with complete clarity again just like me.

Welcome to the parables of Mark Meyer.

Thank you –

Paul

(comments closed here)

A Generous Helping

“Why have we stopped?” asked the apprentice.

“We have a duty to fulfill,” replied the master craftsman. “The family who dwells inside this hut have a sick little girl and I have made her a gift. Please retrieve it from under your seat and accompany me.”

The apprentice did as instructed and followed the old man to the door. A woman whose face was worn with worry welcomed them into the hut where a small girl lay on a sweat-soaked mat. The young man could not take his eyes off of the sick child.

“Is she better?” asked the craftsman in a low tone.

“I am afraid she is not. Her fever is still very high and she seldom wakes to eat.”

Downcast, the old man grunted in a low sympathetic tone. He motioned for his apprentice to hand him the gift. “I have brought her this gift. It is…

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July 5 – Use Your Noggin

“God has given us creativity and intelligence and reason.  Let us use it to His glory. He has created an amazing and wonderfully complex world.  Let us explore it. He has made us social beings and set us in a community.  Let us engage with others as they explore and express the creativity, intelligence, reason God has given them.  Living a close-minded life is both disobedient and dishonoring to God. Worship Him by using that noggin He has gifted you with.”

Has the ring of The Beatitudes about that last paragraph. Love it!

 

See what you think.

🙂

Thank you –

Paul

(comments closed here)

THE RIVER WALK

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15)

Read: 1 Chronicles 1:1 – 2:17, Acts 23:11-35, Psalm 3:1-8, Proverbs 18:14-15

Relate: I don’t remember exactly what the conversation was about. Honestly, I don’t think I was even there for most of it. I had just made my way through the lunch line at one of the cafeterias at SUNY Binghamton and two of my friends were engrossed in a conversation that was still barely on the friendly side of becoming heated. The guy said something along the lines of, “You don’t really believe that, do you?” His female counterpart replied, “I try to keep an open mind about it.” He shook his head in mock disbelief and said smugly, “The problem with having an open mind is that everything keeps falling out.” She turned to him and responded deadpan, “The problem with being so close…

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The Great Furnace/AC War of 2018

“One of the more ludicrous assaults on the legitimacy of Christianity is the refrain: “But there are EIGHT MILLION DENOMINATIONS!!! iT’S ALL HOGWASH!!” No, there are not.

People aren’t the same, and we don’t like things in the same style, in the same way. The fact that you like to raise hands, and another does not….does not mean we are not all Christians; it means we like to serve and worship with folks with similar styles. We may not even like each other, so we serve in different places. Sometimes division and moving on is a good thing and causes the Kingdom to spread.”

We may not even like each other.

One of the oft-quoted “Christianese sayings” is … “by this they will know … ”.  And yet the reality is that loving each other can seem like the last thing “Christians” want to be known for.

We may not even like each other.

Wally caught my attention with this pearl of honesty and a story of their weird AC system (of which I would never have known! 🙂  ) enough to make me stop and rethink much I have grown to believe is bad about the established church.

“We may not even like each other.”

Have a read and see what you think.

Thank you –

Paul

(as always, comments are closed here)

Truth in Palmyra

Minds and Machines

For those who may not know it, Arkansas is brutally hot in the summer. I know there are places where temperatures get higher, but not too many where the temperature and humidity combine to create a perfect heat storm. Heat indexes of over 100 are just a way of life. Because of this, air conditioning is more than just a nice convenience; for some, it is a necessity to actually live. Gladly, we are not in the group, but NOT having it seriously compromises the quality of life.

For all of June, we had AC problems. It never went out, it just didn’t do a good job, and we never could get our house temp much below 75 or 80 degrees. Our unit ran 24/7 for the entire month and we were STILL miserable.

To add to the misery, we got the bill! Seriously, it was like two bills in…

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Choice to choose

You Don’t Have to Attend Every Argument To Which You Are Invited

Quote: “You don’t have to attend every argument to which you are invited.” – Unknown

Comment: A participant in one of my workshops gave me this quote, and I am impressed with how it reminds us that we have choices about how we interact with those around us. While this seems somewhat obvious, I would imagine that many of us find these interactions almost automatic (especially around arguments).

In other words, when someone “invites us to an argument” by criticizing some aspect of our lives, most of us find ourselves reacting in one of several very predictable ways. We either fight back, defend ourselves, or withdraw.  For those of you who are aware of my Top of the Mind philosophy, you know that this fight or flight tendency is driven by the lower, reactive 20% of the brain.  And further, when we are coming from this lower reactive brainstem, we don’t have access to the clarity, confidence, and creativity of the “Top of the Mind” that we need to be successful in life.  This is especially true when trying to be influential with others because if we are not clear about the value of our position, we won’t be able to deal with conflict from a place of confidence and creativity.

Of course, even if you are not familiar with how the brain influences communication, we all know that these fight-or-flight reactions rarely produce very satisfying results.

If we fight back, we have then matched their energy, and are now part of an ever-escalating cycle of conflict that can actually result in them becoming more argumentative.

If we defend ourselves, they will very likely attack our defense because they are generally not looking to understand our position, they are just trying to convince us of something.

If we withdraw, they will either chase after us (trying to engage us in the argument) or believe that they have “won,” which only goes to reinforce their belief that attacking others is the way to get what they want.

Now, I am not saying that one should never fight back or withdraw. In fact, if someone is unable to fight back or stand up for their rights in a situation, then learning this skill may be exactly what is called for. Similarly, if one always “has to” fight back and doesn’t have the ability to just walk away from a confrontation, then this skill might be worth developing. What we are talking about here is not what one “should” do, but what one chooses to do.

It’s all about choice.

Becoming aware that we have these choices, and then making them “on purpose” is, in my opinion, one of the crucial components in creating successful relationships or interactions.  Let’s look at how this week’s quote might help us with these choices.  For example, we could become more purposeful about how we respond to invitations to arguments at work.  We could decide whether the situation would be improved by our standing up for our position, walking away, or not attending the argument in the first place.  We could make these same decisions at home, with our friends, in our extended family, and even the strangers we encounter on a daily basis.

The bottom line is regardless who is inviting us to an argument, we are responsible for how we choose to respond to that invitation.

If we have concluded that arguments are not our preferred form of communication, we can either suggest a more functional way of discussing the situation or, having determined that the relationship isn’t currently open to change, just choose to wait until the person is willing to create a more respectful interaction.  Whatever the choice, the fact that we will be choosing “on purpose” should serve us in creating a more purposeful life.

In fact, the next time someone invites you to an argument, you might just send them a note:

“Sorry, I can’t make it… too busy living life. Feel free to start without me.”

Quotes from the Top of the Mind™

BILL CRAWFORD, PH.D. – SELF-HELP

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This is always a me thing

I have read many blogs written by those who have lived the reality of being seen and treated as a “them”. A lot of those blogs are of mental illness, others of suicide, some of this and some of that.  And all of them have one thing in common:

Love.

Love is the common thread connecting each of those blogs: the love of a parent, of a child, of friends and acquaintances and of strangers … Of love lost and love found, love that hurts so bad and love that builds, love that is the only thing keeping that person going … And love that lives beyond death …

One such post was “What IF?” – I reblogged it yesterday here because it asked the question:  “What if The Church of Jesus Christ was a leader in showing the world how to support those who are suffering from mental illness in the exact same way they lead the world in how to support those who are suffering from any other form of trial, tribulation or persecution?  What if I could feel at ease to raise my hand in a Sunday School class and say: “Please pray for me. I’m going through a very bad flare of my OCD, and I’m experiencing a great deal of mental pain every waking minute of every day.”

And then today I read this: “All the People who Didn’t Know Me”  “Truthfully speaking, the only real difference between me today is that I take care of more people and have a place to live. That is the only separation I had when I was homeless. Yet, the treatment I received then as opposed to now is like night and day. The only real difference is how people treated me (then) than now.”

This “treating people differently” is not exclusive to Church.

Church is people and people are the ones treating other people differently.  There are people of faith and no faith all over the world in every country and locality.  Treating people differently happens on social media, between friends, and frequently in families.

Treating people differently is not exclusive to “Church”.  But what is exclusive to Church is this …

“Love Me, love your neighbour (like “everyone and always and everywhere”) as you love yourself (like “all of you and always and everywhere).”  Because all else rests on this, all else grows from this, all else is this (or is not).

That is exclusive to Church … and the Church is people and only people can show the world (and each locality and street and family) that every person is loved, and all are inclusive of this unconditional love.

Because what is also exclusive to Church … THAT commandment IS quoted and idolised … THAT commandment IS the very essence of Church the building … Church the establishment … Church the people.

And what is also exclusive to “Church” … when that ownership and pride in THAT ”commandment” is shown to be a mask … of (fake) “Christian smiles” (changing to gossip and bad-mouthing) … of (public) “turn the other cheek” (really being private complacency) … of the reality of this commandment being a “switch it on and switch it off love”

Then trust is absent and integrity is absent because LOVE is absent … The very LOVE that Church exclusively names as its own in the “greatest of all commandments” (on which all else rests).

So treating others differently might not be exclusive to church …  But NOT treating anyone differently SHOULD BE exclusive to Church.

There is no hiding place.  Because God Jesus never set the bar too high.

Each Christian who reads the bible and thinks-says-preaches “this IS the greatest commandment of all” is “setting the bar” for themselves (and every other “Christian”).

I did that – I still do – because the greatest commandment of all is not work – neither burden – or ever sacrifice.   It cannot be switched on or off – because love has no switch to flick.

Which means this is not “a Christian thing” – it is not even a God thing.  This is always a me thing.

And it is an honour and a privilege to be entrusted with something so wonderfully connecting and liberating for, and with, each and every person.   Love returns much more than I can ever give.  That is why love is always the answer.

So will someone explain to me how THAT has that been turned into a heavy cross of burden to pick-up each day” – because that means there is a switch to flick.

And there isn’t.

There never was.

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What IF?

Have you ever thought this …

What if The Church of Jesus Christ was a leader in showing the world how to support those who are suffering from mental illness in the exact same way they lead the world in how to support those who are suffering from any other form of trial, tribulation or persecution? What if I could feel at ease to raise my hand in a Sunday School class and say:


Please pray for me. I’m going through a very bad flare of my OCD, and I’m experiencing a great deal of mental pain every waking minute of every day.
””

Why not pop over to ocdmitzi’s place and share your thoughts?

Thanks –

Paul

(Comments closed here)

The OCD Christian

WHAT IF?…. You were afflicted with cancer and raised your hand in a Sunday School class to ask for prayer and support and as a result, you experienced any or all of the following responses from your family in Christ?

“Have you prayed about this cancer thing yet? Because God will certainly take this away if you just pray with enough faith.”

Someone handing you a piece of paper with a bunch of Bible verses about being healed as if you’d never read any of them before.

“Well you should be thankful you’re not a quadriplegic or something like that which causes REAL suffering and pain.”

“Have you asked God to show you where there might be hidden sin in your life which might be the thing which is causing this?”

“This is a stronghold or a demon, and you need to get deliverance from it because if you don’t…

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The Garden of Eden (revisited): if we knew then what we know now

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

 

cliffhanger … suspense … come back for the next episode … 

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ADVERT BREAK

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part two is about to begin please take your seats

 

The man said, “Dear God, yes you did. You commanded us both not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.  And this little snake thought we were easy marks and he was right as well. We were easy marks. We did wrong.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is your part in this?”

The woman said, “You commanded us both not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die – and we didn’t. The serpent deceived me, and I ate and then invited Adam to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.  And he did.  I could have said no to the snake – except I was created innocent and devoid of all shrewdness because I hadn’t eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.  And now I have.  So I have just become aware of what “shrewd” means.  Just as I now know what “innocent as a dove “ means as well.”

Then the Lord God said to the man, “But you did wrong!”

The man said, “Yes we did.  We did wrong – we were commanded by You not to do something and we did that thing.  But I have a question, Lord God.”

And the Lord God said, “Go on.”

And the man said, “What is unconditional love, Lord God?  I have this sudden awakening that it is relevant here somehow – but as yet my thoughts are unformed and I cannot get the words out.”

And the Lord God sighed, “You really have come a long way in a short time haven’t you, young Adam!”

And the man said, “So unconditional love is part of this moment, Lord God?”

And the woman said, “Lord God, I get the same sense too. That unconditional love is not separate to “later” – but part of this “moment”.  That the serpent and the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die were all necessary somehow – all to allow unconditional love to be part of this moment – but not right now – which seems at odds with unconditional love as the thought forms in my mind – and the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die is particularly potent, Lord God.”

And the Lord God was lost for words.

And the woman looked at the lord God and asked, “What IS unconditional love, Lord God?”

And the Lord God looked at them both, “It was going to happen sooner or later … I guess sooner is okay …”

And the man and the woman looked at each with uncertainty.

And the Lord God said, “It’s okay – really it’s okay.”

And the man and the woman drew close to each other and said to the Lord God, “If we work really hard and do everything you tell us for generations to come – if we make the best religion and laws ever seen by mankind to follow – if we refine and hone this way of living by the law – will you forgive us – can you forgive us – will be ever be as One again?”

And the Lord God smiled and said, “Let me get you some clothes, and then we can all sit down around my little kitchen table and have a cuppa and cake together. If you want to talk about all that AND unconditional love, I might as well show you a kitchen, and a table, and chairs – not to mention putting coffee and cakes into the mix as well (thousands of years before I saw them as good).”

And the man and the woman were shown around IKEA by the Lord God, and they picked up a French Press and on the way back found the best carrot cake ever baked (which wasn’t hard as it was the very first ever carrot cake ever to be baked).  And then they all sat down around the Lord God’s kitchen table and had a very long chat about The Law and unconditional love and things like that.

And no one ever got cross again.

The end

(or is it?)

 

cliffhanger … suspense … come back for the next episode (you just know there will be a next episode – this franchise is too good to stop now) … 

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Acknowledgments:
a) The Lord God
b) Genesis & The Garden of Eden
c) Don Merritt (who might be wishing he hadn’t prompted the idea)

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