Of Cubes and Chaos: Stepping up our Game

134294One of the oddities of our day, or maybe every era, is that genuine Christians never seem to rise to the occasion. We wait to see what happens before we respond or step in. To my way of thinking we need to step up our game. We need to be leaders within our culture and community, not waiting to see how things go and then reacting.

     One of the causes of this is that we are too wrapped up in church work. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but if it keeps us from our primary mission of drawing people to Christ then something is seriously wrong. We create a comfortable confined faith imprisoning ourselves from the world out there. I never saw Jesus draw that us/them dichotomy.

     In the world, but not of it. Remember?

     So…, how do we step up our game?  Some thoughts—

     Start by cutting back. You are probably excessively frantic & over-committed. [Aren’t we all?]  You will never be able to have an effect on your surrounding community unless you make time for them— and that means cutting.

     Listen to people around you; friends, neighbors, work associates, waitresses. Learn from them. It may take a while before they open their lives to you, but there will come a time when you become a safe person for them. Wait for it. Wait for it.

     Up your silence before the Lord. Listen more before him than you ask for things. ‘Nough said.

     Find someone with a common mind and heart to yours; someone who shares your passion for this world and the people in it. Meet often. Talk about your discouragements too.

     Never forget that our Adversary prowls about like a roaring lion who wants to eat you up. [1 Peter 5:8]

     Finally, stick to it; stay committed. It is too easy to become distracted and exhausted when our Lord calls you to make a difference.

     There will always be challenges-to-complacency in life. Don’t give in to the illusion of safety.

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

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boxers or briefs

They say you can tell a lot about a man by whether he wears boxers or briefs—underwear, that is. REALLY!?! Well, first, how exactly do we know this, short of…, er, never mind. Anyway, let’s test this most curious hypothesis. Take me, for example. I’ve written just shy of 1,000 of these articles. From your reading, can you determine whether I wear boxers or briefs? My point exactly. You cannot tell. And I’m not telling!

We categorize or judge people on the most curious criteria; British tweed, pin-stripe suit, punk, business casual, dirt-bag, unkempt hair, southern-drawl, “blonde,” the metrosexual look. It’s been said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. How much less can you know the character of a person by their jockeys?!?

We need to learn the skills of interpersonal communication again. It takes some degree of effort to truly know someone. Learn to ask questions, good questions. Not questions that will yield a clichéd response of good or fine. Not helpful. Remember, open, honest relationships always require both parties to win the right to be heard. This can happen in a night or take a lifetime. While we’re at it, we might as well learn to listen more than we talk. Two ears, one mouth. Remember?

Dare we assume a rich relationship with anyone with no effort expended to nurture it? I try to take everyone at their face-value. They may prove trustworthy: they may not. But I assume that there is always more to a person than what meets the eye on first, even second, encounter. There has to be. How do I know that? Because they reveal more of their selves as they feel safer around me. And how do they come to feel safer? Simple. I take the risk and disclose who I am to them.

So, don’t classify someone on the basis of their appearance, accent, cultural heritage, or underwear. Listen for their soul in between the lines of your exchanges, whatever the topic. Listen for their frustrations, their concerns, their passions, even their political and religious penchants. Listen for the person within the outward skin. It may surprise you.

Finally, keep in mind that God looks on the inward person, not the external persona. And He doesn’t even care if you wear underwear at all! Go commando!

Have a nice week,

Gary

Tuning Forks

Zephyris

Experiences With Tuning Forks— High school Physics Class, a tuning fork in water, vibrating the water every which-way; the tuning of a grand piano; tuning a guitar with a set of mini forks, quartz watches. Then, tuning forks used in healing resonance on the head, feet, joints, & heart. Finally, electronic tuning forks in weapons of debilitating sound aimed at the enemy.

Tuning forks, invented in 1711, vibrate at various pitches producing perfect, consistent resonation. They help keep sounds in harmony, in sync with one another. Their vibration remains constant, certain, level; they keep things harmonious.

What is also for certain is that the human life-cycle, like musical instruments, needs a periodic tuning-up. Changes in life circumstance upset the rhythm of our life-music. We get out-of-sync with ourselves and the world around us. Sometimes we are thrown into the conundrum of already & not-yet; so we use a camouflage to cover-up the seething foment of internal fluctuations. We lose that cohesiveness necessary to function healthfully, integrating our inner and outer selves with the world around us.

There are some signs that reveal this discord. Our schedules get all out of whack. We forget what needs to be done next…, or, was that last?!? We respond to the moment more frequently than not. We forget the context for our goals, both immediate and life-long. Some of us even snap at others, isolating ourselves, shutting down. We become immobilized, directionless, indecisive.

It is precisely in these times we need to STOP! Take a breath…, and slow our heart-rate enough to regain some degree of composure. Why? Because we need deep perspective and peace more than at normal times of our lives. We need to cry out to the God who made us for strength…, and then accept it when it comes. Did I mention that it is difficult to hear God with a frantic heart?

As the crisis passes, consider a deeper reorienting of your life. A tune-up if you will. You dare not try this on your own: you will need an external resource for perspective & honesty. Find a Life-Coach, a Counselor, a wise friend, a loving spouse, an insightful parent— someone with whom you can be a safe.

Keep in mind that tuning forks vibrate and have impact on the airwaves around them. In the same way your tune-up will shake things up both within and without. Your life will go through a reorienting process with little direction for a while; just shaky. You will feel noisy within, unsure on the outside. This is normal. Go through it; tune-ups take time.

Have a nice week,

Gary

check points

March 31st was determined as the last day of the year under the Julian Calendar of the Roman Empire. But this set in motion a time-drift of approximately 11 minutes a year between vernal equinoxes. By the time church astronomers recalculated the loss in time 10 days had been lost since Roman times. When this was reported to Pope Gregory XIII, he signed a Papal Bull (Inter gravissimas) correcting the time-loss, establishing a new calendar in 1582 (named the Gregorian Calendar, appropriately) that also designated December 31st as the last day of the year. [Albeit, many Protestants, including the Pilgrims, continued to use the Julian Calendar in opposition to the Church’s injunction, insisting on March 31st as the last day of the year.]

In this postChristian era, New Year’s Eve has been elevated (or denigrated) to a time of Baucus revelry and celebration, including the consumption of liberal amounts of alcohol. For many, New Year’s Eve is a time of laying aside the mistakes of the past and making resolutions of doing better in the coming year. As we all know this doesn’t work out so much; though for 1-2 weeks it seems right.

Nonetheless, it is good and right to establish check points throughout life to measure the progress made toward our aspirations. New Year’s Eve is probably a more significant point as it also marks the shift in the civil calendar. So as you begin your celebrations for the New Year, you may find it enjoyable and enlightening to reminisce on your life-progress of this past year.

On a 1-10 scale, what progress did you make toward your aspirations in —

– Your awareness of who you are

– Your sense of integrity

– Resolving interpersonal crises

– Your work-ethic

– Being safe before God

– In making a difference in life

– In learning to lead by example

– Being gracious

– Trusting others

– Letting go

Please complete these check points BEFORE further consumption of alcohol.

Happy New Year!

Gary