Too much excess?

I like to think I am a “make your point and move on” kind of guy.  I tire of repetition. Especially when I feel like it is repetition for repetition’s sake.

But this one thing bears repeating.

During this season of Lent, we are looking at excess and what to do about it.  We believe that we live in a culture of excess – voices around us, and in us, tell us we should want more, we should have more, we need more.
Jesus, on the other hand, calls us in the opposite direction.  Jesus recognized that stuff – money, food, clothing, power, media, friends, etc., cannot satisfy.  Only God and a relationship with God can satisfy the deep longing of our souls.
Yet, as much as we talk about excess and our mutiny against it, we are not being judgmental.  Let me repeat that: we are NOT judging you or your excess or other people in their excess.
We are not even judging ourselves in our own excess.
Our intent, during this season of Lent, is to open ourselves to God’s presence and God’s leading. Judging can be off-putting and conversation-ending.  We want to start the conversation or continue it.  We want to admit to ourselves and one another that excess challenges us and that following Jesus means getting all excess out of the way.
If all of it is too much for you right now, feel free to start with a little.
Too much excess?

How to beat a cold in 3 days

This 2-step method is guaranteed to work.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier.  Because I am not a selfish person, I share this information with you here, free of charge.

As we loaded up the car to leave for a brief Spring Break trip last Friday, I realized I was coming down with a cold. It was about time!  Every other person in the house had had a cold, or two, over the past month. I had avoided it each and every time.

Now, this time, it was my turn.

By Sunday, though, I was almost sure it was clearing out.  My cold only lasted 3 days!

With the right care and medication and exercise, you, too, can beat a cold in only 3 days.

Here is my method.  Help yourself.

1. Maintain good health.

No matter what else you do, when a cold virus meets your body, if you are in pretty good health, you will be better able to fight off the symptoms.  Sleep as well as you can, drink plenty of water, you know the drill.

2. Catch a virus that lasts 3 days.

Most colds I have had have lasted more than three days no matter what I did.  I think, honestly, that’s the way it works.

There is no trick, no secret, to making a cold last three days.  A cold is going to last as long as a cold is going to last.

Deal with it. Face it. Get over it (eventually).

There are a lot of people out there offering sure-fire ways (Just 3 easy steps!) to anything and everything.  While some of them may actually work, many of them are marketing schemes primarily designed to separate you  from your money.

That’s why this one is free.  You should pay what its worth.

How to beat a cold in 3 days

Free Speech Isn’t

I’m probably the 3 billionth blogger to chime in on the maddening murders in Paris yesterday. Last I remember hearing there were a dozen dead and the killing was centered on but not limited to the offices of a satirical magazine that dates back to 1969.

Though I am not marching or protesting, I am, like so many others deeply saddened at this horrible news.

I may be less inclined than average to toss in with the Free Speech Folks.

That’s what Charlie Hebdo was is all about, right? Each report I’ve heard about it, anyway, seems to be defending the satirical magazine with claims like, “But they made fun of everyone!”

Then I heard this: “One ought to be able to make fun of oneself, and of one’s opponents.”  And of course, “Within civilized society there must be room for satire, for free speech, for poking fun.”

All of these make very good arguments for those of us on the inside; for those of us, in other words, already convinced we are a part of this thing we call civilization and who think this is a good thing.

But what about those outside what we consider to be “civilized society”?  How many of us expect that simply referring to them as “uncivilized” or perhaps satirizing them ought to snap them out of their uncivilized-ness and awaken them to the reality we all know and love as civilization?

The problem is, of course, that civilization itself has some problems.  And you and I can see this from within what we call civilization! Can we allow for the possibility that, from outside our civilization, our way of life might not appear entirely desirable?

So, among the constraints you and I have agreed to on our way into “civilized society” is the notion of free speech.  It is not a natural law or right, existing amorphously somewhere until we claim it. It is, rather, an agreement at a large scale that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Except they do. Words do hurt.  Therefore, as we all learn in relationships and, one would hope, in society, there are things we don’t say, even if we have the right to say them, out of respect for other persons.

How much more ought we learn to respect those who haven’t even bought into the same understanding of “civilization” that you and I have?

I am not justifying the massacre in Paris.  I am also not arguing against Free Speech.  I am, rather, suggesting that satire for satire’s sake is, perhaps, not the greatest good.

Or, larger, free speech for the sake of free speech is not free, if free means without consequence.

Free Speech Isn’t

Pest Control and Evangelism

Last Saturday afternoon our doorbell rang as we were preparing to load the cars for dinner at the family reunion we hosted over the weekend.

A pest control company was in the development on behalf of one of my neighbors. The exterminator/door-to-door salesman wanted to make sure I had the opportunity while he was in the area.  For only $50 he would treat my yard, too!

I politely engaged in conversation while just as politely expressing that I was not very interested.  I know I turned him down at least four times.  It seemed he literally would not accept “no” for an answer.

I was probably not quite as polite at the end of the conversation as I was at the beginning, but he was wearing me out. As I stepped back inside the house and started to shut the door, I heard him say, “well, aren’t you awesome!”  in a clearly sarcastic tone. (I know sarcasm; having used it myself for more than 35 years now)

Here’s the deal.  When I am cold-called, I start from a place of being a very hard sell.  I feel I am at an extreme disadvantage.  When the salesperson has too-quick an answer to EVERY ONE of my questions, it doesn’t not build trust. No, it makes me step even further back.

My takeaway.  Well, first, perhaps I could have stepped back out and pursued his sarcastic suggestion of my awesomeness. That’s water under the bridge.

Second, Christians, we can glean from insight into how other might feel when we attempt to share Jesus with them.  Sure, you and I know it is not just another sales call, but it is reasonable that the other person feels like we are trying to make a sale.

The faster we respond with canned answers to sincere questions, the less interested the other person is in what we have to say.

In case you are ever told to “bug off” when trying to share your faith, consider the perspective of the other person.

 

 

 

Pest Control and Evangelism

Don’t Waste Time Reading!?

New, from Barna:  Barnaframes are designed to help you read important, worthwhile things without wasting all that time, well, reading. Watch this: BarnaFrames Or, as they put it, “Read less, Know more.”

Honestly, the idea is appealing to me.  There is so much more out there that I want to read than I have time to read.  Even my brother Richard, who reads faster and more broadly than anyone I know, cannot possibly read everything worth reading.

My suspicion is that a BarnaFrame by a certain author, well done, will entice me to want to read actual books by the same author.

Someone said once (I think it was Dennis Kinlaw, but I’m not sure) that we should not try to read all the good books or all the interesting books, but that we owe it to ourselves to read the great books.

I am open to the idea that BarnaFrames can connect me with some great books.

Feel free to start with anything from my Essential Readings page.

Don’t Waste Time Reading!?

We’re right there with you, Miley

Here I am, a week after all the other bloggers have had their say on the Miley Cyrus at the VMAs incident. I can’t say I have followed it all closely enough to comment.  I didn’t watch the VMAs and never have.  It’s not that I am opposed to music or music videos; they (music videos) have just never hooked me.

But when I saw this  this morning, I was intrigued, so I read it.  I wasn’t drawn in my the f word, nor will include it here.  The quote that got me, and that sprung “blog fodder” into my head, was this:

everyone does dumb stuff when they are messed up.

Yes, everyone does.  We are all right there with you, Miley.

Of course, few of us have lived most of our lives in the celebrity spotlight.  There are other details about your life that some of my readers will know because they grew up “with” you in a sense.

In the interview you gave, you acknowledge that your life has been very messed up.  While I likely cannot imagine the degree and specifics therein, I can empathize. I, too, have lived a very messed up life.

And here is where some want me to say something like: “then I gave my heart to Jesus and everything got better.”

Well, kinda.

Ok, not really.  Right after I gave my heart to Jesus things did get better.  But the shine wore off and had, for a couple of decades, and life that looked great but was still rather messed up.

What turned it around?  a couple of things, honestly.  First, therapy.  I admitted to myself that I needed professional help and found it is a therapist I could trust. Second, I began to live more honestly and openly in relationship with the community of people I had around me.

These people were my church. So, yes; to those of you who thought I shrugged off Jesus a couple of paragraphs above, I do credit Jesus for the community in which I have, over the past 15 or so years, been learning to deal with and find healing for, all the “messed up” aspects of my life.

Simply put, Miley: we ALL do dumb stuff when we are messed up, and we are all, or at least have been, messed up.

Here’s hoping and praying you don’t wait until your mid 30s to take on the work of finding healing.

We’re right there with you, Miley

Idiocy or Arrogance?

I’ve been studying for a message on self-denial by looking at the way various religions approach the topic.  It is a topic most religions hold central.

I have found not a few websites dedicated to the preference of the Christian version of self-denial over that of other religions. One drew my attention so I read through it until I got to this line:

Biblical self-denial must cost us something.

Not kidding. Not making it up.

One of the differences between a biblical account of self-denial and that of any other religion, according to this writer, is that it must cost us something.

I am trying to imagine an account of self-denial that does not cost the self anything.

Ok; honestly, what I am really trying to imagine is a world where people who follow Jesus don’t make up stuff about other religions. Like how their self denial doesn’t cost anything.

Are there valid differences between a Christian account of self denial and those of other religions?  Yes, there are. Some make for very interesting discussion.  As I look around the allegedly Christian culture in which I live, my first thought is that we could learn something from someone else’s understanding of self denial.

Idiocy or Arrogance?