Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Soft Brain

A friends of mine keeps saying that her brain is going soft.  I hadn't heard that expression so I asked what she meant.  She said that her job wasn't challenging her anymore.  She wasn't having to think critically or creatively.  She wasn't being mentally challenged.  Things had become routine and she was going through the motions.  That's what she meant by "My mind is going soft."  I suspect that many of us are going soft mentally.  We find a comfortable place where we cease from the tension and struggle of critical and creative thinking.  We let others, even the media, do our thinking for us and the result is that our brains go soft.  Our goal or task is not a soft mind but a discerning mind which does the more difficult work of "testing the spirits" (I John 4:1) and "taking every thought captive...." (II Corinthians 10:5b.) 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Doing Our Inner Work

Too frequently when there is a significant problem or issue, we're tempted to want to change our circumstances.  We look for another job, automobile, house, city, spouse, etc.  We may even change the manner in which we dress or fix our hair.  Circumstances are important and sometimes we need to make appropriate adjustments.  However, the most significant change that is probably needed is to change our thoughts, attitude, etc.  This is called doing our "inner work" and it is difficult.  We tend to want to deny or avoid that part of the problem is within our self.  The book of Proverbs says, "As he thinks within himself, so he is." (Proverbs 23:7, NASV)  Other translations will translate this as "inwardly reckoning."  In other words we need to figure out what's happening inside of our mind, heart, thoughts, attitudes, feelings, behaviors, etc.  I believe that if  we do our "inner works" we'll usually figure an appropriate way to deal with the issue.  However if we think we can't, we'll find a reason not to try.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Beginning With The Ending

I recently read about an author who wrote the ending of the story first, after which he wrote the rest of the story to fit the ending.  This seemed backwards until I realized that what we do with many things in our life.  I pictured a career then found the appropriate studies to fit that dream.  As a cook, I picture the final meal, then make preparations that will enable me to place that meal on the table. I  wonder if most of us would not do better in life if we lived this way.  Get a picture of how we like our life to be, and then make choices that make our life fit that goal.  I heard an sermon that suggested we write our obituary and then live up to it.  Not a bad suggestion--begin with the ending and make the rest of life's story fit that ending.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Two Career Family Circus

My wife was employed outside of our home for many years.  I was also employed so we had a two career marriage.  Two career marriages are often like two clowns attempting a simultaneous juggling act while occupying three rings of the circus at the same time.  It was difficult and we "dropped a lot of stuff."  One of our main adjustments involved the use of our time.  We would have trouble finding time for the household chores, to be with our son as well as time for each other.  We had the tendency to try and do everything as if we really weren't a two career family.  However, that usually made us frustrated and weary workaholics.  It was more profitable when we adjusted our expectations of ourselves and each other as well as kept our humor.  We also learned that we had to share many of those household tasks.  For example, I can now do laundry without turning the white items a beautiful shade of pick.  There were some things that didn't get done which we had previously thought were absolutely crucial.  It was also helpful for us not to lose the Sabbath rhythm of work, rest and play.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Meaning and Purpose In One's Work

An individual needs to be very careful about applying for and accepting a job or position which doesn't give a genuine sense of meaning and purpose.  I suspect that the usual reason we accept such employment is financial, prestige and/or power.  We can be hooked by more dollars, titles such as Boss or Supervisor as well as the recognition that comes from 'being promoted.'  However, money, prestige and power are like salt water.  Salt water looks like fresh water; it is wet and cool.  Salt water, however, can't sustain a person.  Money, prestige and power, without a genuine sense of meaning and purpose in our work, not only doesn't really satisfy; they just make us want more.  Work, that is without a sense of meaningfulness and purpose, will dry up one's spirit.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pray As You Go

I'm not a person who has made much use of devotional literature.  My limited knowledge and experience with technology means that I haven't used any devotional items on any of my devices.  However, I'm now making use of Pray-As-You-Go on my cell phone.  Whenever I mention this to one of my friends, they look at me with that 'deer in the headlights look' and say, "You?"  Yes, me.  I was introduced to this apt by a friend who is doing excellent work through the twelve step-program.  He is making wonderful progress away from an unhealthy issue and toward a very healthy life.  I am pleased with the progress that he has made and will continue to make.  When I asked him about the various helps he has received, he made reference to this internet devotional apt.  I checked it out and have been hooked.  It is an Jesuit contemplation of scripture along with excellent music.  A Jesuit contemplation will ask questions that stir up your imagination and lead you into prayer, rather than tell you what you are to practice, believe, do, pray, etc.  For one who hasn't done much with devotional material, I recommend Pray-As-You-Go if you are looking for a daily devotion guide. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fear Casts Out Perfect Love

There is much violence in our world.  In the past few days, we've been shocked by the shootings of our Afro-American family by police and, now we're shocked by the sniping of police in Dallas.  Unfortunately, violence has been with us for a long time, i.e., Genesis 4, Cain and Abel.  Violence is in all parts of the world.  The Scripture teaches that "...perfect love casts out fear." (I John 4:18)  Verse 20 even says that we can't love God and hate our neighbor.  I believe our fear is casting out perfect love.  When I'm afraid I try to avoid that of which I'm afraid.  If I can't avoid it, then I try to get rid of it.  Attempting to get rid of a fear involves denying that I have fear and/or projecting that fear onto someone else.  When I project my fears onto some other person or people group, I make them an enemy a person, or people group, to be hated.  An enemy who might take my job, diminish the value of my neighborhood, change the way my Church "works", teach a theology other than mine, etc.  Indeed, fear casts out our capability to relate via perfect love.  My prayer is for the victims of violence, their families, their cities, their people groups, their nations as well as the perpetrators of violence.  I hope we pray for ourselves, as well as each other, so that with Christ we may face our fears, trusting that the Spirit of God will redeem them

Friday, July 1, 2016

Going To The Dark Side

I've heard the phrase that an idle mind is the Devil's playground.  I don't believe that theology.  I suspect, however, that my family used that phrase not because they believed it, but to keep me working, studying, reading, etc.  This is my same family that was fond of saying "Don't burn daylight" which meant get to work early.  Whatever they meant, I've become an excellent work alcoholic.  Although I don't believe that an idle mind is the devil's playground, I do know that an idle mind tends to go to the dark side.  By the dark side I mean that an idle mind will begin to dwell on the worse that can happen and imagine all kinds of unpleasant circumstances.  Imagination isn't always a good friend.  A friend, for example, has an appointment with a Neurologist in a couple of months and he has begun to wonder if he has dementia, perhaps even Alzheimer's.  If that is true, he dwells on what that will mean for the family's finances, where will they put a hospital bed, etc., etc.  I think it is a good prescription and advise to keep one's mind profitably engaged.