SEVEN

Everyday In Everything

With Liberty and Justice for Some…and the Legacy of MLK Jr.

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In light of the unmistakeable reality of Man’s sin, we will never fully realize “Liberty and Justice for All.” So, should we despair with the masses, hunker down in our insulated nests, and distract our weeping souls with endless trivialities?

It’s an option, but not a satisfying one.

On this day, we celebrate a mere man who was animated by hope. Hope in the potential reality that oppression and despair can be alleviated by fellow human beings who refuse to accept present realities, and are willing to risk change by intentional acts of courage.

What limits other mere men or women, ordinary teachers, nameless lawyers, stay-at-home-moms, marginalized ministers, immigrant engineers, to take a stand for justice in our day? Has there been an erosion of confidence in Hope?

We witness bickering, finger-pointing complaints from all sides of society. But we rarely observe simple actions that cause ripples of good. Do you respect MLK Jr. for what he did? If not, why not? If so, what are you doing to help the “movement” cascade like a heavenly waterfall unto all the ends of the Earth?

On this day, I’m humbled by the sacrifice of a mere man, an ordinary sinner like me, who gave his life as a ransom for others. Why did he do it? What filled him with such certain hope that Justice could prevail? At the core of all his thoughts and actions was the settled belief that the Man of Sorrows knew his grief, knew it so intimately, that he too gave himself as a ransom. A ransom for all who cry out in despair for the light of Hope to fill their lives, and liberate them from the oppression of Sin, a cancer that has effected the whole human race and continually manifests itself in hatred.

On this day, the unmistakeable fact remains that one ordinary man lead a peaceful rebellion against the status quo, and an extraordinary event occurred. The world is better because of Martin Luther King Jr. Not perfect, just better. Our future rests in the hands of other ordinary efforts, and whether we see extraordinary good come of it depends on how many bickering complainers we allow to have the last word.

May God give light and hope to many more ordinary men and women, so the Light of the World will become preeminent in all things.

What does the legacy of MLK Jr. mean to you? How much of his Dream has been realized in your opinion?

Unplug. It’s The Season To Be Jolly

You really have to unplug if you want to enjoy this season at its own pace.

It’s Fall.

The temperatures have dipped, and the leaves are finding their way to the ground. The speed of Summer is grinding down to a restorative gait in nature.

Just as you begin to adjust to this flow of life, you can’t help but crash into an artificial calendar of commercial events beginning at the gates of vanity.

Costumes and cheap dancing Santas greet you with faithless grins as you slip through the lines to get a few eggs, bread, and coffee for the week.

Sometimes I wish I were sightless and could only smell. Fall smells good outside, and when I come inside late in November, I smell all the memories of Fall’s long gone by.

I want this to last, and I’m not in a hurry for it to pass.

Where Is Home?

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Home is where our memories are.
We mostly think that it is among our family, but it is also within a certain place. I have lived in a few other places besides my hometown, yet it is in Visalia I have developed my sense of home. I think of all our family events that took place through more than forty-five years, and all the relationships I have intersected with in that time. Visalia is home to me, and it is there I return to in my mind several times a day when I travel away from it.
I can never really ever leave home because home is where my memories rest.
Where is home for you?

You Are a G-Good Friend Pooh!

Pooh stood looking at his shadow while holding Piglet’s hand.

“Do you think I’m a good bear?”, said Pooh to his little friend.

“A good b-bear?”, said Piglet hurriedly. “You are a g-good friend!”

“Just wondering,” said the kind bear.

And off they went, whistling among the thistles and poppies.
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Pooh and Piglet

OK, I took the liberty of assuming A.A. Milne’s voice. I couldn’t help it.

I like Pooh. Don’t you?

Don’t we all? What is it about that bear that draws us in?

One of the wonders of Winnie-the-Pooh is the pure innocence and carefree nature of this gentle friend of many.

I imagined Pooh standing in the full morning sunlight, suddenly caught up into wonder by his simple shadow. “Do you think I’m a good bear?”, said Pooh to his little friend.

Simple minded but self-conscious, he sees only the outline of what seems to be himself. And he slips into a wondrous thought. “Am I a good bear?”

When was the last time your shadow caused you to drift into wonder?

Apparently stuffed bears are easily distracted by random wonderings.

“A good b-bear?”, said Piglet hurriedly. “You are a g-good friend!”

Piglet wasted no time in answering. A true friend never does.

We often wonder about the deeper things when we are alone. They can startle us; surprise us. Like a shadow in the cool morning light. But we never seem to come to any conclusions without a companion to test our thoughts on.

“Just wondering,” said the kind bear.

And that is how the conversation ends. Reassurance was granted, and contentment warmed his soul. It’s not the word count that matters, it’s the holding of hands, the smile, the unspoken “I like you’s” that makes a friend a friend.

And off they went, whistling among the thistles and poppies.

Whistling hand in hand, skipping together through life’s beauty and pain, illustrates the mysterious healing quality of companionship. A song, a compliment, a warm touch, and a never ending sunny day visits those who invest in it.

For a bear of little brain, he sure has a big heart. And a bear who has a big heart, will never wonder if he is a good bear, as long as he has a little friend like Piglet.

What have you learned about companionship? What is the nicest thing a friend has ever said to you?

Must The Sun Set On The West?

Vishal Mangalwadi has recently written a book entitled, The Book That Made Your World, published by Thomas Nelson. It is the result of years of research and public lectures relating the influence of the Bible on Western culture. It’s a fascinating read. As a result of his study, he has formed an organization to encourage a movement toward a return to valuing biblical revelation. I republish here an introduction he wrote for his website: http://www.revelationmovement.com, that gives background to why he has decided to champion this cause. One thing for certain, Vishal Mangalwadi is a very provocative writer and speaker. What is your response to his question, “Must The Sun Set On The West?

Why the Revelation Movement, Now!

America became the world’s beacon of liberty because its founders made Truth their ultimate authority.

In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776), Thomas Jefferson wrote,

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Jefferson’s words reflected America’s the then intellectual consensus that the Bible’s account of creation implied equal dignity and rights for every human being. That consensus began to be forged by evangelist George Whitefield. He was the revered revivalist who began preaching to the “Negroes.” In 1740, he began writing to explain why the Bible makes “Negroes” as precious to the Savior as any white person.

Establishing human equality as a fundamental dogma of its creed enabled America to honor in principle, though not always in practice, the dignity of every human being made in God’s own “likeness.” The Declaration became a covenant that the marginalized would not be trampled by the mighty. Yet, the seed of America’s current intellectual and moral decline was also planted during the editing of the Declaration.

Under pressure from a few skeptics, Jefferson’s word “sacred” (i.e. revealed in Holy Scriptures) was changed to “self-evident,” as though the great liberating ideas of human dignity, equality, and rights were not revealed by God but derived by man’s “Common Sense.”

“Common Sense,” was an epistemological myth invented by a Christian philosopher in Scotland, Thomas Reid, and popularized in America by Thomas Paine. Gradually, the myth led to the secular hubris that man could know Truth without revelation and, therefore, what was not discovered by human reason could not be true. Despite such philosophical arrogance, American presidents and British monarchs placed a hand on the Bible to take their oaths of office because Western civilization continued to derive its core assumptions and values from God’s revelation. For decades the West has lived on leftovers. Now even those morsels are hard to find, and an intellectual-moral famine is setting in. The whole world (except the West’s elite) can see that the king has no clothes on.

Now, however, the West has amputated its soul, including the revealed Truth that man is created with the unique dignity of being in God’s likeness. The move from creation to evolution, for example, has destroyed any rational basis to affirm that man is qualitatively different from animals – that every person is endowed by rights that are not social constructs but “inherent and inalienable.”

Without Truth, there are now no grounds for sustaining even the idea of liberty. Without Revelation, America has nothing to keep the government as an instrument of justice. There are sound reasons to fear that the voice of the people will increasingly become the voice of the devil and the government’s forces will become oppressive mercenaries of human greed. It is no longer hypothetical to ask: “Would America, the most Protestant nation in the world, become a terror to the world the way Germany, the first Protestant nation, was in the 20th century?”

As the world’s sole superpower bankrupts itself and deprives its people of the very truths and virtues which made it successful and strong, the world has good reason to panic.  As the US, the former champion of hope, becomes hopeless itself, the Revelation Movement seeks to renew the soul of western civilization. Our vision goes beyond the USA to bring the healing power of Truth to the nations that have never known the secret of building a great nation on the foundation of real truth.

– Vishal Mangalwadi

http://www.revelationmovement.com

Unless A Seed Dies: Ideas That Transform

Unless a seed ceases to be a seed, it cannot sprout. But if it sprouts, it has a capacity to become more seeds than anyone can count. If you plant the seed of an idea, and the conditions are right, humble though its beginnings are, one idea will lead to many.

Plants seeds then. Nothing in life has more potential to transform this world than a good idea.

Had any good ideas lately? What are the ideas that have transformed your life?

Three Reasons Plus One That Made My Summer.

My “sabbatical” will end this coming Monday as I welcome a new school year. This summer has been a wonderful refreshment of soul and mind. Three reasons for it:

1. Formed a Discussion Group that focused on the topic of Vocational Calling. It is very refreshing to study with adults who are interested in discovering their deep purpose for living and working.

2. Attended Acton University on scholarship for one intense week. Met scores of new friends from around the world, and learned from very distinguished professors on the value of religious liberty in building flourishing societies. I learned enough in one week to keep me reviewing and studying for a full year.

3. Invited to participate in an educational Summit on higher education. It was humbling to be in a room with seasoned educational leaders from around the world brainstorming and discussing cutting edge educational platforms. What they are attempting is quite possibly the most ambitious educational project in history.

Bonus: An unexpected joy was the chance to spend considerable time with Vishal and Ruth Mangalwadi. Their life experience, working with the poorest of poor in India, has deeply affected me. I have always been fortunate to have good mentors in life, and I now consider them part of that circle of influence.

Now it is my time to attempt to be used to affect one life at a time. As a teacher, I get a whole classroom full of insecure youth, searching for their own purpose in life. I would be a fool to think I have the power to give them that purpose but I can live a life before them that is true, stable, and full of joy. May God give me the grace to be that to them all.

Question: How did you spend your summer? Have you ever taken a “sabbatical” to refocus your life? What did it look like?

Rich Leaders in an Age of Starvation

HowPastorsGetRich_mainSomething I find ironic in an age of biblical impoverishment in America, is how financially well off some religious leaders are by contrast. Why are so many church members starving spiritually while a small number of church leaders get wealthy?

It rings of corrupted moral character when those who are given charge over men’s souls are themselves controlled by avarice.

How does this happen? And why is this not discussed more?

Is this one of the elephants in the room we care to ignore?

Many of these financially obese ministers have created a system that functions without any checks or balances. Little to no accountability is the norm. That should be the first big red flag to arrest attention.

Religious associations are built primarily on trust. Once trust is established, it’s easy to let your guard down. Vulnerability is part of being authentic. Openness is normative in church settings. Honesty allows personal growth to occur. But vulnerability can also be a point of entry for exploitation. Shady characters can manipulate at ease. Trusting individuals never expect to be fondled for personal gain.

Breaching this subject will bring obvious objections. Some will say that this is not very prevalent, so why mention it? Others may say that these leaders are worth every penny they receive, so why make a fuss about it?

Well, there is something in human nature that senses injustice.

Historically, pastors and priests have renounced worldly pleasures in favor of ministering to the spiritual well-being of their churches and parishes. They spent their time visiting each member where they lived and worked. They taught and prayed, and worked and played, alongside the families they served. They were the “gatekeepers” of biblical knowledge, and the model of Christian charity. Haven’t we lost that image in our day?

Too many ministers today are more concerned with their own images and well-being than the spiritual health of their congregations. What is the consequence of that? Spiritual starvation and mass disillusionment!

There are many reasons the American Church is in decline but one glaring misfortune in our day is the blind indifference contributing to the “robbing of the temples” going on behind closed doors. Disillusionment has set in, and a great falling away is the result.

Does this disturb you as it does me?

Wouldn’t you rather have, Poor Leaders in an Age of Spiritual Plenty than the other way around?

A very hopeful reality is that when people are impoverished, and they realize that their moral choices did not contribute to their poverty, they seek ways to alleviate their hunger by confronting the injustices that formed the exploitive system they live under. This not only frees them from calloused manipulation but sets future members free from suffering the same hardships.

It may be a real irony in our day but I believe a Spirit-filled Church will not tolerate it once they see it.

What do you think?

Earth Day And The Connection To Soul Faith

We’re only a few days away from Earth Day.

As I sit in my backyard wondering how our pet rabbit and the snails, that multiply faster than my middle school students, fit into the grand scheme of things, I realize that I do have some responsibility to care for the environment that produces so much vitality around me.

I read the history of this event, http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement, and though I don’t share the same worldview with many of the organizers of the movement, I think it is wise to be concerned about careful stewardship of natural resources.

I like clean skies. I like healthy food. I like the shade of trees.

And I like to think that I’m using less of the world’s resources so more of the world’s destitute can have enough to live.

God is summing up all things in Him. His salvation does more than save souls from sin’s pollution. It saves creation from being destroyed by sinful acts, one gesture at a time.

I hope more and more Christians see this, and take part in thousands upon thousands of glorified acts of environmental service. There has been too much compartmentalizing of faith, restricting it to just the work of the soul.

The irony of soul faith is that it is a working faith; it shows itself in visible ways so no one can criticize it for being a private affair with God.

God promised to redeem mankind, and free creation from the bondage it is under. He has redeemed multitudes of the world’s population, and it is within the realm of possibility to redeem much of creation as well. We, the temporary stewards of this Earth, should expect to do no less.

Question:

What acts of environmental stewardship have you been involved with? Do you think there is a rising consciousness among Christians to care for the environment? 

“One Hit From Home”: An Insider’s Story

MV5BMTg5MDMzNTYzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU2Nzc1Nw@@._V1._SX98_SY140_In keeping with my goal here at SEVEN to share solid resources that help integrate faith in all the communities of life, I want to point you to a story written by a good friend of mine who had the joy of acting in a film produced by two gifted young film directors in the Mid West. The film is: One Hit From Home, and can be found through Netflix, RedBox, and other outlets. Read what John Armstrong has to say about his experience acting in it, and the rich story surrounding it. ( http://johnharmstrong.com/?post_type=post&p=4288)

Artists who are Christians, have an open field to explore when it comes to wrestling with life’s deepest struggles. We need to hear from more of them as they push their art form, and seek to understand the mysteries of life. All of us will pay to enjoy a true work of art. It’s my hope to see more original works of art in the caliber of a Johann Sebastian Bach masterpiece that will shape our culture for the better for generations to come. It seems these young director’s are on their way toward this goal. Let’s do all we can to encourage this kind of artistic development.

Question: Does art have a profound effect on your life? What have you seen lately that has shaped or challenged how you view life?

The Exodus: Christian Youth Leaving The Church In Large Numbers

“By age 25 the overwhelming majority of young people have left the church.What is particularly amazing is that their leaving the church is much more likely if these young adults grew up in a church youth group than if they never participated in one at all.”

What? Young people are leaving the church because of what they experienced in church? Or more likely, what they didn’t experience?

That should arrest the attention of most, if not all, youth workers and pastors of local churches. There is an exodus going on, and it isn’t a reenactment exercise from an Old Testament Sunday School class.

It’s quotes like the one above that keeps my reading interest in what John Armstrong is currently chronicling on his Act3 Network blog. http://johnharmstrong.com/?post_type=post&p=4239  There is a sea change going on in American religion, and there are not many as informed as Mr. Armstrong to point out the origins of the change, as well as, the potential consequences of it.

Many American Christians can feel the effects of this change but can’t quite understand why they are losing interest in the traditional models of Christian ministry. While the youth are slipping away from the churches in large numbers, their Boomer parents are finding other ways to spend their Sundays communing with God. Armstrong has been developing a historical context of where the American church is today, and how it got there. This is very helpful because to see any hope in reversing this trend away from institutionalized faith, it will be necessary to understand what lead to the malaise in the first place.

It is always in the best interest of any culture to cultivate sound moral character in its youth. Churches have been intentional about that for centuries. Because of the massive rate of change and challenge within the wider cultural context, there are pressures on youth and their families that are unprecedented. These pressures are affecting lives in real ways, and most traditional ways of addressing them are no longer working. That calls for rethinking, and retooling with sensitivity and creative focus. We can be guided in this creative educational process by someone like John Armstrong, who has extensive knowledge about this subject. That is why I am alerting you to his work. He has a passion to rekindle hope in the present youth culture.

Let’s be honest, no church will exist a generation from now if the young who are currently growing up in them become thoroughly disillusioned and never return. It’s always the right time to do something that will reverse a disappointing trend. Let’s learn together what may be the best approach in capturing and nurturing the deepest passions of our young.

Questions: What are your thoughts on why the youth are exiting the institutional church? Do you have children affected by the lack of missional training John Armstrong points out in his article?

The Babylonian Captivity of the American Church: A Wake Up Call From A Seasoned Pastor

“I am inviting you to join me in a new kind of hope, a hope that is not found in the policies of the left, the middle or the right. (Once again, I am not calling you to withdraw from society or public life, as some will suggest.) I am very happy to be a citizen of the United States and realize that I have a responsibility to my earthly home. But here is where we get easily confused. Our last and best hope is not the United States, for all the good that our land represents in its unique experiment in democracy. As followers of the Son of God, our hope must in the Lord Jesus Christ alone!”

John H. Armstrong of the Act3 Network

http://johnharmstrong.com/?p=3794

John Armstrong is one of my mentors, in an informal sense, but also in an intentional sense. I agree with his assessments of our day. Not because I am some great scholar like him, nor because I am also a well-trained pastor, but because in all of my readings through the years, and my own experiences within the American Church, I have come to similar general conclusions. He validates what I have come to see, and does it in a very well thought out way.

John has been controversial at times. Not because he likes to be but because he is an honest questioner of the status quo. When you challenge the status quo, you usually run into opposition in places. The status quo needs to be called into question at times because when people settle into patterns of behavior, it often is formed by misguided views. The Church is lucky to have gifted iconoclasts in her midst, so icons do not become the norm and supplant the true image that only Jesus gives the Church.

I encourage you, no, I implore you to read his careful and heartfelt words so that you can be informed and awakened to the realities of our day. Then you can seek the Lord of the Church to see what he is commissioning you to be in bringing light to this dark world.

Questions: Do you feel the same darkness being cast over the American Church today? What do you think is contributing to it in your opinion? Do you agree with John Armstrong’s assessment? Why?

The Haman Complex: How To Betray Oneself (3)

I am continuing to pour over the ancient story of Esther in the Bible. This morning, I reread Haman’s “bad day”. (Esther 6-7)  Arrogant deceitfulness eventually has its day in court. To think that in the span of just a few hours, what was built to execute a fine man, was the means for divine judgement on a pompous, self-absorbed fool.

Many suffer injustices all over the world. It seems there is no end to their pain and misery. We often ask why this is. The truth is, the suffering does not go unnoticed. There is Divine justice in the heavens, and the One who sees all, will come to the aid of the oppressed.

The Jews faced annihilation by a conniving social climber. There were only two voices that could spare them, and they were providentially positioned in the King’s court. It is often difficult to see how the events of life are arranged by the Unseen Hand of God to bring the greatest amount of blessing to a particular region of the world, in a particular time and place. Esther and Mordecai display the risky faith needed to speak when the time is right, and trust the One who promised to bless them and use them to be a blessing to others.

Haman hung from a tree in his own backyard, in full view of his family and countrymen. Even the King was not fully aware of the significance of the event. One thing surely remains for history to trumpet loud and clear. The oppressed are seen, heard, and eventually rescued by Divine Compassion. Only the blind miss it.

Questions: Do you hurt for the oppressed? Have you ever wondered why some people’s suffering goes on for so long? Does the story of Esther renew your faith in the Unseen Hand of Divine Compassion?

Civil Rights Leader Comments On The Goal Of Education

Martin Luther King Jr. once said,“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

There is no area of life where that does not apply. Intelligence without character leads to arrogance, and a host of other failures. It follows then, that a person is never truly educated until character, good character, is developed. Think about it.

Question: Do you agree with these words from MLK Jr.? What is your definition of true education? Where does character fit in?

The Haman Complex: How To Betray Oneself (2)

” The light and careless way in which Ahasuerus handed away to Haman the lives of tens of thousands of his industrious and useful subjects is deservedly branded as ” perhaps the most shocking example of oriental despotism on record.” It ranks with the recent callous announcement of Nazi Hitler, that he was prepared to sacrifice the lives of a million Germans to invade England. Conscience and common sense alike protest the wrongness of such power being in the hands of any one man. A really sound and good man will refuse to bear such a responsibility singly. A bad man can only abuse it. Democracy may be beset with many complex difficulties, but it is immeasurably preferable to despotism or dictatorship.”

This is a quote from J. Sidlow  Baxter in reference to the book of Esther in Explore The Book, page 271.

Question: Have you ever face despotism in your life? What have you learned to avoid being controlled by it?

The Haman Complex: How To Betray Oneself

Are you familiar with “The Haman Complex”? It’s when someone plots the destruction of a person who poses a threat, yet dies by the same device they designed to silence their foe.

Never Be Deterred From Just Causes

“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” Abraham Lincoln

My Ten Resolutions Minus Nine

The secret of success is to make resolutions you can keep. This year, I resolve not to over resolve.

The Irony of Freedom

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln

Why Do We Have To Study Algebra?

One of the most frequent questions I get as an algebra teacher is not, “How do we do the algebra?” but “Why do we have to learn it?”

It’s a question I get at the oddest of times, and usually late into the semester.

Mr. Prosser, when will we ever need to use algebra in real life? My mom and dad said they never use it and they took it a long time ago.”

It’s a fair question, and an important one. All of us want to know the purpose of why we are learning something.

The answer to it is similar to algebra itself. There are several reasons, and some depend on each other.

Educator’s Response

The most popular response given by educators today is that algebra is the gateway course that leads students to college life, and/or into the work settings for the 21st Century. Why is that? Read this article from GreatSchools.org entitled, Why is algebra so important? http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/354-why-algebra.gs?page=all

Variables empower understanding of change

We all can see the exponential speed at which life changes in the modern world. It’s a world massively controlled and guided by ingenious technology. Some of the most astute educational experts tell us that we will not know what type of work life we will experience even ten years from now but it is certain to be influenced by technological advances. With change that fast, we need to have intellectual abilities that adapt to new ways of doing things. We will need to understand the concept of a variable. View the videos by Sir Ken Robinson, http://sirkenrobinson.com/skr/watch

Simplicity leads to wonder

Algebra, plain and simple, is an abstract extension of basic arithmetic. Yet at a deeper level, arithmetic flows into mathematics, which is a study of patterns and relationships. Algebra is built on top of these patterns. That may be too crude of an explanation for a team of mathematicians but it is satisfactory for parents of school children.

Algebra is arithmetic. Arithmetic is algebra.

So algebra is a way of seeing things. There is a bit of a mystery to it. To uncover the mystery requires careful observation. If observation leads to discovery of a network of ordered clarity and beauty, then part of the major reason to study algebra has been revealed.

We stop too soon

I think one of the reason’s students, and even adults question the value of learning algebra is that many of them have not moved from simplistic arithmetic to the more interesting level of mathematics where wonderful patterns can be seen. These patterns are found in many other areas of life, and are why mathematics has been characterized as “the language of the universe.”

Relationship of home to school

Our schools don’t always give enough time for this kind of pattern seeking, and our current assessment structures rarely measure the discovery of relationships of various kinds. That may change as the new national Common Core curriculum is rolled out but the real responsibility of learning falls within the family as they encourage their children to ever be looking for wonderful things, even in an algebra class.

Question: What questions do you bring to the algebra discussion? Do you see a purpose for this course beyond the popular answers being given? Why learn algebra?

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day !

Love is always better than hate.

Don’t envy the lovers. Just pray for more of them.

 

Reassessing Our Appetite For Violence

If we are going to reassess our view about guns, then we better include a serious reassessment of our national appetite for violence.  And while we are at it, why don’t we reassess the effectiveness of preemptive war? America should be known more for its charity than the raw power and filth we export in the name of security and free speech.

Bryan Prosser

Walk Slow Enough To See The Mysterious

Walk slow enough to see each stone along the path, fast enough to feel the breeze in your face, and deliberate enough to experience something mysterious.

Bryan Prosser

Stillness As An Anecdote To Restlessness

Many are skilled in achievement. Not many are skilled at purposeful stillness. That may be why there is so much neurotic restlessness in our day.

One Step At A Time: Walking Toward A Healthier Life

I choose the theme, “walking worthy” this year to help me focus on a few areas in my life that need to be refreshed. The most important is my spiritual life, and I recently published a blog entry about my intent there. The other area is my general health. I am thankfully generally healthy. What I need to spend more time doing is light and consistent exercise. Many of my aging friends are taking up running, and doing it quite aggressively. That is fine for them. I have chosen walking, hiking, and biking.

I have been walking regularly since the start of the new year. I try to get at least 45 minutes in each time I go out, which is about 2-2.5 miles. I’m averaging a good walk every other day. My hope is to walk or hike a minimum of 1000 miles this year. I don’t stress when I miss a day or two, as long as I keep the goal in mind. Consistency is what I’m aiming at. Steady progress is the target.

Why did I choose walking over running? It causes less impact on my body, and I still get a decent workout. Plus I enjoy the sights as I walk, as well as, the time to think.

To make the walks more interesting at times, I am planning urban hikes around my hometown to really slow down and see the community up close. I’m not in a hurry on purpose. I want to see and experience things from a different perspective and at a different pace. No marathons for me, no land speed records, just a leisurely gait, listening to great music, maybe an informative lecture, or just the songs of the birds.

Question:

Have you set some goals for the new year? Do any of them relate to improving your health? What is your chosen activity for exercise?

Walking Worthy: Finding Balance in an Imbalanced World

This is the first in a series entitled, SEVEN: A Guidebook Toward Intentional Living. Each entry corresponds to the seven days of the week. Our motto at SEVEN is Everyday in Everything. We hope to make everyday an intentional effort at enriching the community space we are called to. We believe it takes more than just being intentional. It also involves being empowered to live faithfully by the life-giving God of the universe. We’re not experts at this but we do desire to experience it by daily and weekly adventures in faith.  

A Guiding Thought:

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do…I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” Ephesians 4:1-3 The Message Bible

An Historical Link:

The English Puritans, though grossly maligned and character assassinated in their day and in our modern times, were on the whole, a people who sought to walk worthy before God, and before men. In an audio series by Dr. J. I. Packer on the subject of the History and Theology of the Puritans (https://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/history-theology-puritans/id378878741), Packer gives a sound historical study of the ways these Christian travelers worked out their faith on a daily basis. It is always easier in life if we have an example to follow, or a mentor to learn from. The Puritans were good examples in their time, and history, told truthfully, has established them as good examples for ours as well.

An Adventure in Faith:

Walking worthy involves honest soul talk. In the book of Ephesians, the first three chapters set forth the Call to walk with Jesus based on his spiritual triumph over the tyranny of sin. The last three chapters set forth the Commission to “walk worthy” in all we do as faithful followers of Christ. The writer points to the balance a believer has in thinking clearly about his position in Christ, and how he conducts his daily life as a result.

I want this year’s theme for my life to be “walking worthy”. I began the new year by giving intentional focus to the comprehensive teaching found in the book of Ephesians. I bought a new Bible in the English Standard Version to gain a fresh perspective of the text. I committed to a slow and careful reading through the five book series that Eugene Peterson has written beginning with Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places (http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Plays-Ten-Thousand-Places/dp/0802828752). And I am going to blog my growth on this under the title SEVEN: A Guidebook Toward Intentional Living.

Adventures often involve an element of surprise, and a venture into the unknown. It takes some risk to start. Where there is no challenge, there is seldom any personal growth. I don’t want to be strolling down some path that leads to nowhere. I’m willing to take a step, and even a leap if it means finding the road God has called me to walk on. And if that road is difficult, then I’ll try to remind myself to enjoy the beauty along the way.

A Question:

Are you beginning a new adventure in life? What caused you to look into the unknown and begin walking?

 

 

How To Do Everything Right And Get Nothing Done

electrical plugHave you ever worked methodically through the steps of a task, only to reach the end and realize you forgot the most important thing?

I have. More than once.

I worked my way through college. My parents helped a lot, and as much as they could. I made up the difference with part-time jobs.

As an Agricultural Science major, and a student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, I worked in the campus Dairy Creamery. I eventually did every job you could do there but at first I began by washing and sanitizing all the stainless steel machinery used to process milk into all its related products. It’s a meticulous process. Sanitary practices always are.

After a few years of practicing these procedures, I could almost do most of them in my sleep.

In the last year of school, I had a little more time to work, so I was able to move into some of the more “glamorous” jobs. I became the milk truck driver in the early morning hours, and the product delivery man in the afternoons.

The upside of being the morning milk driver was the chance to go hang out with the cows for a while. Outside work was refreshing. The downside was that I had to get up at four o’clock in the morning.

Now I’m getting close to the story I wanted to emphasize.

My alarm would ring several times before four ‘o clock. I’d hurry to put clothes on, then ride my bike to campus. I had to go inside the Creamery to get the keys to the milk truck. It was a bit of an old truck but it would fire up the first time I turned the key. When it was empty, it was easy to drive. When it had milk in it, it was an adventure.

It was only a few miles to the dairy from the campus. I would pull up to the tank filled with the morning’s collection. I transferred it from one place to another, waved goodbye to the cows, and drove away.

I tried my best to drive carefully to keep the milk from sloshing around inside the tanker. If I came to a stop too fast, the milk would come crashing to the front in a huge wave and send me ten feet forward even with my brakes on. The upside of doing this at four in the morning was that there were no other cars on the road.

When I pulled up to the Creamery, I had to follow a series of sanitary procedures before pumping the milk into the large holding tank. It took several minutes to hook everything up. I was proud at how efficient I got at doing this. I would press the button to start pumping, and nothing happened. Dumbfounded, I would back up and survey why it didn’t work, and on more than one occasion, found the electrical cord wound up in the truck, unplugged.

All properly hooked up and no power.

That has been a lifetime memory, used to remind me to make sure I plug-in to The Power Source before I begin working. For me, that source of power has been the living power of God, who has been energizing me for nearly 35 years. The power is always there, I just have to remember to plug-in.

Have you ever faced a similar situation? Where do you gain the energy to accomplish things during the day?  Share a comment below.

Teardrop Memories: A Poem

Tears of Sadness

Teardrops fall into an empty grave,

They are mine,

They are yours,

They are ours.

Absorbed into the darkened soil below,

My tears,

Your tears,

Our tears,

Give birth to timeless memories.

Add a line or two of your own. Feel free to share them below.

Feline Foibles: Case of the Royal Pest

Ziah type pic

More than any other domestic pet, cats have foibles. They are quirky.

Her Majesty Princess Ziah, our extremely emotionally needy house cat, greeted me one morning as always, whining for food. I looked her in the eye and said, “I am the King of this house and I am going to eat my breakfast and drink my coffee before you get fed.” Like any spoiled royal cat, she treated me with disdain, and began crying again. What did I do? What any spoiled royal King would do. I ate my breakfast, drank my coffee, and regally ignored the whining royal pest.

What is it about cats, especially female felines?

Ziah, and our other two rescued cats, are taken very good care of by my royal wife. They get fed better than any of the neighbor’s cats. How do I know? Because all the neighbor’s cats migrate to our house hoping to get in on the surplus.

When my wife is not around, I stand in her place as the Joseph of Egypt, carefully parceling out food to the hungry. They may have been emaciated looking at one point in their lives but no one can accuse our Kingdom of leaving cats to starve. 

So why all the whining? Why all the selfish cries in the morning?

It seems cats are like some sales people, you show a little interest and they purr and act like a long-lost friend. The minute you walk away, they trail after you, lamenting their desperate plight.

There is a mystery in all this. Not every wayfarer was openly grateful to Pharaoh’s noble servant for their few precious measures of grain.  It wasn’t kosher. It was too plain. There just wasn’t enough.

After Joseph gave relief to the famished, he returned to serve Pharaoh’s household. I wonder how many royal felines he fed each day? I can’t imagine even Joseph setting aside his morning meal to cater to the outbursts of regal snobbery.

Cats are eccentric. All of them are pesky sometimes. The fat ones can be royal pests…”What’s that Ziah? Food again?”

What is your experience with cats? Pests or grateful pets? Would love to hear your comments below.


Fresh New Look for 2013

7 clock

We’ve updated our design for 2013.

Why not?

Our topic focus has been refined, and we have some ideas in the bank for this year. Hope you will find them interesting, and don’t forget to give us a quick comment if you want to add to the conversation.

What are your plans for this year? Is there something you are focusing on in 2013? Feel free to comment below.

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