NO TRUTH CONFLICTS WITH OTHER TRUTH

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I’m not a devotée of the “many paths, one God” philosophy because I know God cares how we live our lives. Part of discipleship is to discern how he wants us to live. The other part is deciding how much effort to make pleasing him. That being said, I do think God provides many tools for us to find it.

We all need something. Some people need glasses, some hearing aids, some a cane, some a prosthesis, some insulin, some anti-depressants, etc. In every case, the tool (or aid) is meant to return us to as optimal a level of health as possible. All tools have value if they improve your quality of life, but not all tools will speak to you. A pair of glasses would mean nothing to someone with 20/20 vision, and why take insulin if your pancreas is humming merrily along? Continue reading “NO TRUTH CONFLICTS WITH OTHER TRUTH”

PRAYER IS LIKE CHOPSTICKS

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Tell the truth. You’re just as insecure as I am. I am so freakishly self-confident most of the time that when I’m insecure, it’s freakishly debilitating. Lately, I have wanted someone somewhere to be my reality check: am I on track? is this the best I can do? is that a good topic to write about? are those the best colors for a book jacket? who do I think I am putting my ideas out into the public arena? do I look fat in these jeans?

I have quite a few reality checks in my inner circle; the problem is that they’re all checking/affirming a different reality. It’s quasi-pathetic that I need to find someone I respect who tells me enough of what I already know is true (I do look fat in these jeans) that I’m willing to trust them on everything else. I just want someone to spoon-feed it to me, where I can simply coast on his or her opinion of me. As you can imagine, that’s not working out so well. Continue reading “PRAYER IS LIKE CHOPSTICKS”

WE DON’T WANT EVERYBODY TO BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE

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I’m sorry, but we don’t. We think we want this utopia where the lion shall lie down with lamb and we all believe and worship the same way, but that would be awful. The number one killer of Christlike love is pride, and we all need a mighty check on our pride. It’s human nature to rationalize everything we believe, say and do as correct. It’s not a flaw. It’s the way we’re made so I assume it has some survival advantage. Meanwhile, it can quickly get out of hand.

It’s very similar to a man or woman who has no intimates to put him or her in his or her place. Unless someone feeds back to you that you’re being selfish, unkind, greedy or egotistical, you go on blissfully unaware that you are being selfish, unkind, greedy or egotistical. That might sound like a good thing (the blissful ignorance part), but it is soul-killing. A) You by definition have no quality relationships if no one ever checks you; B) You are wasting a good mortality for nothing if you don’t use it fully (and the only thing we take with us when we go is who we’ve become); and C) Nothing, but I like the symmetry of A, B and C. Continue reading “WE DON’T WANT EVERYBODY TO BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE”

RELIGION ISN’T ABOUT KEEPING SCORE

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You know how they say you can always find someone better off than you and someone worse off than you? The same is true of religion. You can always find someone living their faith more diligently than you and someone less diligently than you. The trick is to realize that because then you cease comparing yourself to other people (theoretically). We’re all somewhere on that continuum and probably move up and down depending on the day. (As an aside, I think we can be pretty sure that at least some of the people who live their religion more diligently than we do are miserable doing it, i.e., doing it for show. And now I’ll have to repent of that very unchristian thought. But it’s still true.)

So A) we’re lost in the pack of religion runners, but it doesn’t really matter; we’re all going to cross the finish line sooner or later, one way or another. Now B) is worth pondering. Whenever you’re feeling grumpy because you choose to watch tv shows that don’t technically qualify as making your home a temple; or you don’t sacrifice your lifelong goal of becoming an Olympic gymnast because the meet is on Sunday; or you sleep in instead of going to a church function, just remember, you’re still living your religion more diligently than someone. Now, this isn’t a way to excuse laziness, it’s merely an acknowledgement that we are all at different places in our gospel knowledge and we need to walk before we can run.

Back to living your religion more diligently than someone else even though you don’t live it half as diligently as the shiny people next door. If you feel this grumpy around the family that glows with gospel light, imagine how grumpy are the people who don’t live their religion half as diligently as you do. If Shiny Family was the only example available, it would be too high a bar to meet and the less than diligent would give up. By you striking a more middle of the road path, you make a bridge between not diligent and blindingly diligent. Someone who’s still barely walking in the gospel can see in your example that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It might be nice to hit the high notes all the time, but few of us do.

Let the Shiny Family shine if that’s their thing. You do your thing  as diligently as you can. Someone out there is more likely to keep trying because your level of diligence is realistic for him or her.

No slacking! But no guilt either.

BEWARE OF PRIDE

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I would venture to guess that if you didn’t wince when you read those words, you aren’t very honest with yourself. If you have not felt the hot, shame-ish flush of realizing you puffed yourself up only to discover you were wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, you are not fully alive.

Pride is the cardinal sin. (I’m just saying that. I don’t really know, but it fits my thesis.) I do know that pride covereth a multitude sins and that it goeth before a fall.

Should I recount the embarrassing fall I experienced the other day? Oh, why not. It will make me even more humble, which, apparently, is something I need. *wince* *wince* Continue reading “BEWARE OF PRIDE”

PREACH THE GOSPEL, AND IF NECESSARY, USE WORDS

This is a Best Of Faith post. It was originally published 7/3/16, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. My Justin Bieber joke never gets old. 

Teaching our kids the Gospel is not a data in-data out proposition. Too many parents make the mistake of thinking they’ve failed if Johnny and Susie fall away (or, if you’re in Utah, Ayebraeham and Aunisstee). What if it takes two to tango? Parents teach, kids choose; sometimes it’s like falling off a log, sometimes it’s like being rolled by a log. The kicker is that we almost never know—in real time—how our teaching is being received. Teenagers are spectacularly gifted in telling us what we want to hear and going through the motions right along with.

There are in reality four quadrants of the dance, each with an infinite number of combinations.

A – Parents who love the gospel and teach the Gospel to kids who love the Gospel and live the Gospel. – Your Abrahams, your Mitt Romneys, your Billy Grahams, your Joel Osteens. Good for them. I hate them. (Hate is not a Christian value, I know. But honesty is.)

B – Diligent, humble, and loving parents who teach the Gospel to kids who say, “No, thanks.” – Virtually every diligent, humble, and loving parent out there passes through this Refiners’ Fire at some point.

C – Justin Bieber. Continue reading “PREACH THE GOSPEL, AND IF NECESSARY, USE WORDS”

IF YOU’RE GOING TO BELIEVE HIM, YOU MIGHT AS WELL TRUST HIM

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Would a God who made such a beautiful world let you down? Would he allow you to suffer needlessly? No, he would allow you to suffer needfully. You, however, can reject the purpose in your suffering and render it needless all by yourself. The simplest way to do this is to require understanding of the purpose before you accept it. As for me, I want credit for the suffering. I’m going to suffer anyway; I might as well suffer with a purpose. The simplest way to do that is to believe there is a purpose to the suffering even if you don’t understand it.

Like all roads in the ancient world led to Rome, all lessons in the modern world lead to Job.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

Continue reading “IF YOU’RE GOING TO BELIEVE HIM, YOU MIGHT AS WELL TRUST HIM”

WHEN GOD SHOWS YOU WHAT THE TARGET ISN’T

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I can’t remember if I’ve shared my theory about Structural Obstacles, but it bears repeating even if I have.

Structural obstacles are situations in life where you have no choice but to change course. I’m not talking about the kind of course change where your doctor says, “If you don’t give up the Krispy Kremes and the Diet Pepsi, you’ll go to an early grave.” That course change was brought about by your own choices. No, I’m talking about the kind of course change that nothing you did, do, or could do would matter.

For example, your plane can’t take off because of bad weather and you miss your connecting flight; the City informs you they’re removing all the old growth trees in front of your house to make a sidewalk; you’re one of fifty people let go on the job; the love of your life marries someone else; you’re not able to have children; the list is really endless.  Continue reading “WHEN GOD SHOWS YOU WHAT THE TARGET ISN’T”

IF YOU WERE GOD FOR A DAY

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If you were God for a day, what three things would you do? Don’t worry about that pesky agency of others thing. Since it’s only for a day, you’re technically not co-opting anyone’s agency. Everything will revert back to the way it was before your God day; the only thing that will linger is whatever spiritual enlightenment the experience brought someone. Feel free to be as controlling as you wish.

I would: Continue reading “IF YOU WERE GOD FOR A DAY”

ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF

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To believe in the Second Coming is to believe we get one day closer to it every day. No matter who is tweeting what about whom at what hour of the night or day, we know how the story ends: Christ comes back. There’s no footnote in the Bible that says he comes back unless. There’s no footnote that says he comes back sooner if or later if.

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. – Mark 13:32

The truth is, we have no flipping idea when he’s coming. We do know that God prepares his children for the hard things he requires of us. So let’s assume that, since Christ isn’t back yet, our Father in Heaven is preparing us to handle the event.

I personally have never wanted to be here when it happens because it sounds sooooo hard. Don’t get me wrong—I’m all in—but it has always felt like it would be such a relief to miss that particular cataclysm.

Until now. Continue reading “ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF”