unplugged

Here you will find my short thoughts, proverbs and axioms, the small pieces of bright truth. They are collected under topical headings. There is an even more comprehensive and searchable collection of my proverbs at www.modernproverbs.net

Renewal

What could make you so excited that if you began it you could hardly wait to get up in the morning to complete it? Do that.

Artistry is often beautifully and powerfully fueled by psychic hunger, frustration, anxiety, anger, rejection and loss. Creativity sprouts  in devastation survived and turned into artistic fuel.

The good ahead is already sprouting from the seeds in the disturbed ground at your feet. The present contains the future. Look down and get excited!

The sun is bright and love is loyal; both still shine on cloud covered days.

Life’s disappointments? Diapause during which one may transform to the next level of maturity.

When you go through difficult experiences you don’t necessarily know something different; you are something different.

Are you offended unresolvably  Do this: right now, run  as hard as you can straight through the open door of the renewing future, super-charged by the nuclear energy derived from the melting core of your past debacles.

We want certainty; life is change. We will be happier when we change our want. Want change; it is certain that you’ll get that. 

Freedom is when you are no longer afraid.

Research shows that to be happy we should develop good social habits, volunteer, get married, pursue meaningful goals, enjoy small things and not take things so seriously.

Going to bed each night is each days greatest act of acceptance. We keep the Sabbath everyday by going to sleep.

Extemeophiles thrive in ice and fire,  the ouch but “Wow” way to thrive!

Do you think you aren’t changing because you can’t hear the wheels turn, the cogs clank or the keys click? Many great things, like the Redwoods, grow noiselessly.

Norse mythology: All glory ends in night.  Christianity: The night begins and ends in glory!

Discontent looms in the shadow of lurking resentment, undisciplined indulgence and unrestrained comparison. You? Run for the sunlight with forgiveness sunscreen in hand.

Ratiocination may betray imagination. Please never stop wondering and dreaming of more possibilities.

The best miracle is not a healed hand but a healed heart.

You can’t change your old history, but you can always make new history.

Paint something and you’ll need to paint it again in short order. Mental renewals — no different.

Semiotics isn’t a science; its a world view. Signs mark your way.

Redemptive prophets have only one message  — build.

It is much easier to accept something in another when we have first accepted it in ourselves.

Our penchant for safety entices us to think reductively. We ache for reality to be less complicated than it really is. Drop that; all the possibilities and options are fun.

A new butterfly flies only after drying and strengthening. Just because you haven’t flown yet, doesn’t mean you won’t. Dry and take on strength; the air yet waits.

Life prepares us for life. Be patient in your current stage; you have no idea of how useful what you learn today may be in the startling adventure coming tomorrow.

Nothing changes like a change of heart.

Do what you have always wanted to do now. You have probably waited  too much for what you have wanted for too long.  Start.

Anything you do today that repurposes something or someone broken, discarded, neglected or forgotten — that’s inspiring!

We are ephemera moving toward forever, a May fly moment and off to eternity.

One stumble doesn’t ruin a long approach march, not does a short fall end a climb. The peak is closer now than before, and may well be within reach. Don’t quit.

Two possibilities for tomorrow — you’ll live or you’ll die.  Concern yourself with the first. We’ll be glad to bury you, but what will you do if you live?

Being is at least as important as doing. True spirituality is first ontological.

Maturity is aware that it hasn’t arrived anywhere.

God’s plan for us is veiled in tomorrow; night is between us and the future. But we are always moving ahead into tomorrow’s adventure by today’s advance,  picking our way through what we can see to get to what we don’t yet know. Fun! 

Attempt what you ache to do that seems  impossible. This creates enormous energy and amazing results, even if you don’t do what can’t be done.

A cracked wall can be patched and painted; and a cracked life is not beyond repair.

Wall paint and makeup and new shirts — may we never lose such  powerful expressions of  hope.  

It doesn’t matter if you feel like it our not; do today exactly those renewing things you have in your heart to do. But beware that to do this you may well have to ruthlessly kill things frightful — apathy, laziness, selfishness or fear. Kill these, I command you and kill various other paralyzing temptations of monstrous shape and size so that you can do the beautiful things you were made to do. 

Looking back, some people only see loss. It is the mandate of Christianity to reverse that.

Famed reformation scholar John Calvin held that the Bible teaches a doctrine of “total depravity.”  But the Bible also teaches a doctrine of total forgiveness for those who ask.

We must come to terms with the people of our past so that we don’t destroy the people in our present.

We fix a thing by fixing the edge of the thing, again and again, until we have arrived at the center.

We forgive the past by constructing a  loving future.

A long life is a million stories, all overlapping.

Poverty and Wealth

Everyday ask God to give you something to give away.

This is how you should live: Everyday beg God for the opportunity to meet someone who has horrific need.

Poverty is the presence of absence.

Having everything and being nothing is a recipe for extreme insecurity and self-loathing.

Sometimes what we don’t get makes us what we want to be.

Too much wealth is too much for those who have to witness it from outside of it. It leaves them rattled, like a fast freight train going by too close.

Some say time is money. It is not. Time is time and money is money. Time is more valuable than money.  Time is not hurried or slowed by money and need be savored and appreciated for itself.  Treasure the time. These moments are yours free of charge and cannot be bought or sold.

Getting when we should have been giving is like taking a great photographic shot only to find we have included our own shadow.

Raise your children so that they grow up  thinking  that serving others is the most normal activity in the world.

If you saw what wasn’t in their house, you may have given more from your house. 

Acquisition based on need fulfills, based on envy or greed  creates more need.

The creation is a  mad rush toward consumption and reproduction. Missing is more instinct for communication and socialization.  One of the most operative principles of living systems is indifference. Most species  pass by each other in silence. Why don’t the Mourning Cloaks speak with the Cabbage Whites?

A beautiful house can become an isolating fortress,  a place a person retreats to as they abandon their extended family, those people in need who live outside of the automatic garage door,  lovely front room, pretty back lawn and protective back yard fence.

One should always carry with them an interior cry for others.  Having trouble internalizing  compassion? Think Haiti.

A nice home, a healthy bank account, a good job and a nice family is almost a sure recipe for a smug, contented mediocrity. Ease doesn’t usually inspire much greatness.

We don’t have chances to help people because we don’t want to help them. Willingness opens opportunity.

Making something old new is better than making something new old. Avoid new stuff you didn’t make.

 Stuff seduces us then rots. To avoid being taken in, we need to learn to speak to stuff directly and honestly. To shiny new cameras, new phones, new TV’s, new cars and new houses we need to say:  “I know you. You little traitors. You are so hot now, when you are young, but someday you are going to rust and rot on me, aren’t you?  You are all dolled up now,  but after I buy you, you little rats, you are going to let yourselves go, aren’t you? You are going to uglify and then someday you are going to leave me!” By speaking in just this way, we may keep a proper distance from things and protect our hearts from being sullied by them.

The philosophy of the supermarket: pile it high, sell it low. The philosophy of the Christian: don’t pile it!

The best things in life are simple: vanilla ice cream, holding hands,  a short apology, a gift with no strings attached, a thank you, a listening friend, a kiss on the cheek, a silence, a prayer, a ride home.

The resourced world thinks that rescue is in a shiny credit card, a nice house, a good job, a powerful army and a political power play.   It is not; our salvation is a ragged savior reaching down to a ragged people with the soft rags and ropes of compassion and forgiveness. Think Jeremiah in the cistern.

We returned from a hard day working to  improve an impoverished school in an impoverished city recently, and my daughter asked me, “What do we do with this?”  “We don’t ignore it,” I responded. We plan to go back.

Shop girls are taught to cross-sell and up-sell. Cross-selling is the promotion of additional, complimentary items, and up-selling is the offering of product upgrades. This is the ethos of a culture of greed; push more and better.

 Us

Seeing that none of of us have all the truth and that all of us have only our point of view, it is good when each of us are in close and qualifying relationship with all of us.

Discipleship is living together, not simply studying together.

The secret to a good marriage is to make ‘em laugh.

Everyone my kin, my choice. My experience of coinherence is up to me.

To have a deep relationship with everyone then you must realize that you are at everyones’ level and lower.

When we open our hearts, they open their hearts; when we open our lives, they open their lives, and it is in this way we come near to others.

A walk is a good talk spoiled.  Talking  deserves the privilege of only talking.

It is the American gospel to go it on your own; it is the American myth that this is possible.

Read any people lately? What is not said is what must be deciphered to really understand   

Lust is the loneliest sin because what is predatory, and carniverous and parasitic can never experience the deep bonding built into give-and-take relationships.

We profoundly need to bond with other people, and there are a thousand righteous ways to do that, only a few unrighteous ones. The good possibilities so far outweigh the harmful ones. Choose well.

Issues are nothing, people are everything; the facts  are only important as they exist within the  lives  amd  stories of the people we are involved with.

Groups of people eating and talking and laughing look happy. Do you know why? Because they are happy.  Do you want to be happy?  Get food and call people.

The noble will have no tyrants over them, even though ritual deference renders the pretense of servitude.

There are no little people, only small-minded views of people of different sizes and stations.

Downtown is a thrill and a romp through a wonder: tree-lined brick sidewalks, outdoor seating at cafes, towering glass buildings, coffee shops and Sushi bars and dress shops and trolleys and cars and beautiful people, people,  people. The energy, connectivity and possibility — it’s pure pleasure.

The rugged, self-reliant, self-sustaining, independent hero thing is a myth; most every soul on earth is held up every day by an army of cooks, tailors, builders, cleaners, healers, planters, haulers, fixers and protectors.

God’s sense of renewal is always plural: He decks us out in people.

75% of people consider themselves shy, inarticulate or uncomfortable around strangers and hesitant to place themselves into new situations. We would do well to approach each other gingerly, as we would a lost pet, with offers of shelter and food.

When people become a logistical problem then we have forgotten that we are family.

Start conversations by revealing one of your weaknesses;  everyone you talk to will bond with you.

A person in a relationship with someone who is the opposite of them must learn to function in a way opposite to their nature and preference. In this way one becomes more complete.

If you could take one thing with you to a desert island what would it be? I would take as many parentless children as possible and make them a safe, secure happy home away from neglect, abuse and harm.

It is said that woman came from man’s rib.  One of her main struggles involves not being absorbed back into him. Rib freedom — we were made to be happily independent,  accountable,  divinely free.

If you were deprived of something as a child, you may spend the rest of your life trying to force the people around you to give you that. Poor them.

When you are young you learn to speak up; when you get old you learn to shut up.

In our business, church and our home it is very healthy when we create a culture of honoring, an ethos of valuing and a milieu of stewarding the uniqueness of each individual.

Truth

Who you know not what you know is often the deciding factor; this is really unfortunate when what you know is the truth.

Harsh judgement is the normal order of things, mercy is the supernatural work of God.

God created the universe to be knowable, predictable and orderly — think the eliptical orbit of Mars. When we organize, this is our opus dei.

Orthodoxy, the straight up truth, is too often expressed in propositions three steps removed from the concrete. Then it touches only the stiff outer layer of the self. Story, drama, poetry, biography — these dress orthodoxy in reality and pierce the soul to its core.

Wisdom doesn’t reside in the head; it resides in the hands.

Blindness has been long feared as a dreaded disability. strange, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t suffer from some degree of it. Alas, most souls have so nicely adjusted to their myopia, that it is almost universally accepted that anything better shouldn’t be expected.

Trust the storyizers. They reveal truth in the details.

Teach one thing at a time; learners best learn one thing at a time.

40,000 tons of space dust falls  each year on the earth. What else aren’t you noticing?

Often a few bad potatoes to throw out when one prepares dinner. Usually a few bad days to throw out when one prepares ones philosophy of life.

Two kinds of truth: what everyone else is already saying; what no one else is saying but your own, soft  internal voice.  Listen — to both.

Words are born in trial and those who stay right in trial with have right words.

Amos trumps Blake when it comes to  creative imagination that gets it right.

A walk around the block brings to mind more truth than a long spell at the desk.

The wise men of Jesus’ day had to be warned in a dream to avoid King Herod. You would think wise men would have wisely decerned Herod’s evil motives through their own observations. They didn’t. Wise men take care in relying only on your own analysis; the really wise know that when it comes to detecting evil — dreams required.

In the courtroom, the boardroom and the backroom, justice sometimes goes missing. Fear and bias kidnap the facts.

God deposited his voice in the prophets. A repository, like a 1970’s library, isn’t always attractive, but the stuff inside — pure, phonic, classic beauty!

Don’t try to make a parable walk on all four legs. Parables hop on one point. One leg, not four works for them.

There is a tendency in Christianity to turn every teaching into slate, every living truth into a hardened code. This happens when  the organic, individual, person-specific application of divine wisdom is lost. Then truth dries,  doctrinal sediment accumulates, orthodoxy stratifies  and teaching turns into  thick, heavy slabs of dogmatic shale. Not good. The cathedral weight of such misapplied belief can crush the soft, living fragile children of God.  

Refuse clichés and you will be forced to say what’s  really on your mind.

The moment of disillusionment may yet prove salutary if we debride our torn values and gently bandage our ideals. In this way what we believe in is made ruggedly beautiful.

Coming down hard on one side of an intellectual debate can close your mind like a slammed and locked closet door.  Avoid the simplifications of complex issues so that you can explore the whole mansion of truth.

Nothing matters more than that we give injured ones a hearing. The main charge we might bring against ourselves is that we have hidden from the very voices that we should have been listening to.

Konstantin Stanislavski taught actors to,  “Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully.” So did Jesus.

Schools exist to take us beyond schools, to the place where we love to  understand  ourselves and others.

When buying a fine bike, fewer grams costs more money; when purchasing a wise answer from your mind, less is also more.

There are only a few weird questions, lots of weird answers.

You must keep thinking well. This means being…

Flexible and open to learn.

Looking ahead to the dreams God gives.

Action packed, full of energy.

Self-affirming, not negative and judgmental.

Holy, always moving toward holiness.

FLASH!

Emotions

Every group unconsciously establishes an emotional etiquette. Some emotions are in, some out. Cross into emotionally uncharted territory, and you will be brought to task by the uninitiated.

As blood is essential at the surfaces of our bodies, so also emotions are essential at the surfaces of our souls.

Night cools the hot earth, so a calm answer cools an angry person.

Trust means acting past feeling.

Trust is an ultimate eudaimonia.

Fear is the daughter of pride.

There is no steady state of self-esteem. Emotions fluctuate with health and strength and success. Emptiness and disappointment and weakness help us drop the myth of invulnerability and bond with all the other unstable beings on earth.

Our emtions are like dandelion puff balls:  not  much  permanence here.

 People sometimes tell you the opposite of what they are really feeling. Then it’s up to you to sleuth them out. If you discover them, and help them get what they don’t know how to get for themselves, they’ll adore you for life.

Love speaks up often about differences, asks questions constantly about feelings, processes hurts immediately with others and is ever vigilant for new offences that must be talked about and healed.  

In conversations reveal yourself, be free, be imperfect, be open; most everyone you talk to will like the experience of you.

Fear is transient. It quickly gives way to higher emotions. Banish it with righteous anger, passion and expectation.

Family
 
A family secret someday becomes one person’s open wound.         Men chiefly miss the most important criteria for picking a wife — the thermal factor.  Before marrying, check her radiation level. Over the long haul, keeping warm at night ranks higher and higher.        
                                              
Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine might have done better if they had adopted one of the Addams family’s values — develop a high tolerance for wierdness.                        
                                  
What is a family? It is a place where the sacred and the profane exist side-by-side and where we make choices both holy and unholy. Therefore, it is a place where, in the end, one thing must rule — forgiveness.
A long, destructive family dysfunction can can come to a sudden, neck-jerking end with your next choice.

Stay married; the food gets better.

Ask of every rule you make for your children, what value does it flow from? When the value becomes embedded in the child, the rule may no longer be needed. The goal is for our children to grow out of our rules and into our values,

There is one thing men should be able to tell women to do with their bodies — take them out of the bathroom.

Action

A head full of Christian ideas has infinitely less value than a life full of loving behaviors.

A job well done is a legal euphoriant.

Comebacks won’t substitute for a come back. Quit thinking what you might have said and do the next thing you need to do. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.

Recently, I cleaned up a disgusting mess for somone.  I am inspired to do more scrubbing. I don’t want anyone to have to clean up after me. 

Exhaustion is a spiritual feeling, the one you get after you have served someone else.

To love truth is not merely to hear, read, memorize, quote or teach it. To love it is to become it.

Nonproductive leisure is essential to a life of high productivity.

To read Kierkegaard is to submit to a much needed mental thrashing. When one doesn’t need Kierkegaard anymore, then one may actually be acting like a Christian.

Harmful Ones

The passively hostile smile and fawn, compliment and affirm  — until they blow. Then after the explosion, they return quickly to form, bringing their paint trays filled with the ropy thickness of social niceties, their paint rollers dripping with the glowing surfaces of personal patience, and their paint brushes thick with the colors of common decency. With these they paint over anger and  judgment and relational wreckage and guilt and shame. It makes harshness seem to not be so,  and in this way, life seems to gleam again.

Disclosure begets disclosure — mostly. But open your heart’s hurt to a closed heart, and you will find yourself bleeding alone along the side of the road.

“I didn’t mean to,” is usually a dodge.

Tacticus: “They terrify lest they should fear.” Who do you scare to keep from being afraid?

The most dangerous liars are those who always appear to be telling the truth. They are dangerous because they themselves don’t know that they are lying and neither do the people who listen to and believe them. 

Silence is the eloquent monologue of indifference.

One study showed that people with high self-esteem are more likely to be violent or racist. Thinking too much of self can make us think too little of others.

When I look at you I think of me. This is how far self-interest can go.

To understand evil one must look no further than their own borders.

Don’t forget to wash behind your years; some of the past is best scrubbed off and let go down the drain.

To be medieval was to crunch each other with long poles, to smash bone with huge clubs, to ring helmets with long swords. One saw the enemies eyes.  To be modern is to do such crunching  with a trigger and a button from a distance. Wham. Bam. their eyes? We never even saw their bodies before they vaporized.

Samuel Butler quipped that “Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.” One feeds the chickens until one day — boom. Get out the crock pot, “I love my chicken falling off the bone.” And in a like manner, one man feeds the psyche of another man, until, one day, bam. “Strike three! You’re out!”

A high motivation claimed does not justify a low blow delivered.

Jealousy acted on is like an AK47 trigger pulled hard and long at a person looking the other way.  

The blood of Jesus is chemotherapy; a regimen of Jesus kills hate cells.

Killing people solves problems while creating other various nuisances.

When we resent anyone for taking power from us, then we must be very wary.  We may begin to act  like the Jewish leaders who resented Jesus, and note what their resentment led to!

War is order to create disorder, a monumental effort to preserve while destroying. Plan and order and symmetry are marshalled to reduce a counterpart to disarray, chaos and  fragmentation.

The volcano you consider your inspiring front yard view wakes up and drives you from your home, so too, relationships morph.

The similarity between cats and humans is that both are born blind. The difference is that cats fairly quickly gain their sight.

When bad stuff happens, arm-chair Christian savants kowtow to the “God-must-have willed-it”  mantra. Did he? Or did particular people who made particularly bad choices cause it?  Best not to blame bad behavior on a good God.

The toxicity of resentment stunts the efficacy of rapprochement. 

If you sin against someone, you lose more than you might imagine. It  may render you incapable of  soothing and restoring them. To come close may only seem to  threaten more injury. If you have become the knife that hurt, how can you then be the ointment that heals.

A formulaic interpretation of psychologically painful events is like an amateurish freshman paper critiquing a novel partly read. It is a thing awkwardly cobbled together late, under the disabling influence of a deadline, a hodgepodge of unsupported quotes, blown transitions and an unproven thesis.

Be careful not to adopt a theology  to justify your behavior.  A theology that camps on predestination may be a justification for neglecting your responsiblity, excluding rivals and exterminating foes; a theology of free will may be a justification for an overblown sense of human responsiblity and the exaggerated use of power.

He who broods silently over slights and injuries and then explodes suddenly with judgmental vengeance is like a man throwing hand grenades through the windows of homes in the night.

Some people are wacked, I mean really wacked. This isn’t an insensitive criticism; it’s simply a raw reality.  Their twistedness may not even be primarily their fault, but nonetheless, they are still warped into something  mean, harmfully selfish, or perhaps even quite dangerous. The absolute wisest, best thing you can do is get far away from such people, even if other friends don’t or won’t.  Because of a real danger of harm,  it matters that you be vigilant, that you know when to set a protective fence around yourself, that you sometimes sink high poles, nail up tall planks and put up clear signs and fortify against harmful ones. Then you can enjoy the sweet ones you have been given to love and be loved by.

It is difficult to live or work with  someone addicted to pleasing others. They always need a fix. They exist for the compliment and the “thank-you.” They are insufferably nice, even falsely so; always available, despite the cost; always at the center of helping, even if it would be appropriate for someone else to help; always acting altruistically important, whether they are or not; always working, whether they need to rest or not. Take away their opportunity to be the super-servant and they’ll  abandon their disguise and beat you down quite harshly, only to rise with a smile and ask someone else if they need some help.

Hate rots and leaks from brains that house it. 

Judas wasn’t the devil incarnate, but merely another greedy person crushed by his own sin and bad decision making.

The smoothest, most social, most complimenting, most affirming people are sometimes the most profoundly dangerous. They are holding back their stored judgment and when crossed they fire it all at once.

As the saprotrophs feed on dead and decaying material,  so the relationally wounded feed on old sores and decaying resentments. Necrosis necrotizes.

Abusers condemn the misbehavior they cause. Cause a reaction and blame the reactor?

Revanchist motives usually deeply compromise a good heart.

The four horsemen of  unresolved conflicts are criticalness, stubbornness, harshness and the deep and pervasive need to win at all cost. They ride hard over the top of love and mercy.

We live in an era of unoriginal sin. Our generation  sins in the same old boring, uninspired way as the last.

Neither a problem borrower nor a problem lender be. It is dysfunctionally supererogatory to spread your personal offence or to receive one

By peremptory challenge a lawyer rejects potential jurors who have unfavorable biases, and in just this fashion the healthy mind rejects the misguided judgments of its enemies.  Justice and mental health are both well-served by fair judgments.

Down at the courthouse, having a past negative experience is often stigmatized as creating a bias, and it may keep a citizen from being selected to a jury; that same “bad” experience in the panel of everyday relationships can be the very element that allows one to deeply understand and bond with another suffering person. It’s called empathy.

We do everything with evil but admit that it is evil and deal with it.  We laugh at it, we ignore it, we call it beautiful, we give in to it, we say it is harmless, we make rules to guide it, we abhor it in others, we excuse it in ourselves, we get others to join us in it, and when  it eventually gets messy, as it always does, we call it somebody else’s business.

Church

When a church becomes a social club, it becomes a handholding for a few people who should know better. But when a church becomes an empowered people, it becomes a love,  justice and freedom for the whole world.

At moments of great public success in helping others, some church leaders meet a great personal temptation to help themselves. It is as if they can’t stand to succeed in being unselfish.

Heaven won’t be long church: an extended sermon, a lengthy praise set, a perpetual passing of the offering plates. How good heaven will be.

A  signs and wonders liturgy feels most at home for some saints; for others a liturgy that comes closer to our humanity feels safer. Both are needed.

The church traffics in truth as if it were medicine. Take two of these; you’ll get better. But who wants more meds? It the beautiful story of Jesus that is most curative, not its reduction to dry, hard, pill-like propositions.

Is there a Christianity free from culture? No, it was given in a culture, interpreted in a culture, preserved in a culture and made redemptive in a culture.

Conflict in the church is a by product of diversity as much as it is of hostility.  Hostility simply makes conflict more dangerous.

Abecedarians are seldom contrarians and make poor leaders.

Does your escatology include the rupture of the saints? Change it, we don’t need any more breaking and tearing in the kingdom?

Choices

A good life has a few bad choices in it; soldier on my brave ones. One dead weed means little or nothing among a field of a thousand beautiful flowers.

Sometimes the heart aches for what would cause a heartache.

Some decisions contain a thousand more within — having a baby.

When justice is intrinsic, the man with the invisibility cloak will be just when he is invisible.

NFL players sometimes compliment players on the opposing team after those players put on  particularly outstanding displays of athletic prowess.  To compliment the competition — it’s  the height of good form.  

Hold back because of fear and you are rewarded with temporary feeling of safety. The sadness in this? You may repeat this safe-dangerous cycle endlessly.

Making decisions that harmfully affect people without consulting those people’s thoughts and feelings is the modus operandi of some organizations. The result? A toxic waste disposal problem. What to do with the radiated employees?

All you have to do to slide back down the vertical wall you are now climbing  is nothing.

In Casa Blanca Humphrey Bogart talked like a crook and lived like a saint. It was an attractive combination. Who wants a man who is all saint or all crook?

The pet lion one day eats its owner, so obsession  one day swallows its proprietor.

“Only Christ acts Christ,” or “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, man” — which one you chose makes you a Christian or not.

Success can make a person arrogant or  thankful. The swing depends on who the successful thinks is responsible. 

Freedom is about owning your good choices  and not blaming others for your bad choices. Who are you? You are deciding.

Openness, honesty, transparency, candor, authenticity — these are delicious, hyperdelectible, supertasty treats to offer whatever guests happen at your door. They won’t soon forget such offerings.

The differences between us can threaten us or enrich us; it’s our choice.

Safety surrounds pleasure the way the garden wall surrounds the garden.  

The end leaves bits and pieces —  paper clips and dry pens in the bottom of drawers, old power cords and ink cartridges in boxes, stale snacks and windowed envelopes in cupboards, a lipstick, a scrap with a phone number, a crumb, a cracking rubber band. What was once a dream in a drawer ends up a jumble in the bottom of a trash can. Then a new collection of supplies is lovingly gathered in the same spaces for a new start. Our losses and our gains are acted out in our smallest cubbies and our most personal niches.   

Beauty

Beauty is  core and the core is drenched in beauty.

We live in a God-kissed world; his lipstick is all over the place.  This is why sunsets and Indian Paint Bush are red. God smears his reds, oranges and  purples everywhere — the divine smouching just never ends!

Keep looking around. Some of the most fascinating things in the universe live near you unnoticed — astroblemes and slime molds and verticils and flittermice.

Look panoramically, not too closely. There is always a flaw in the details. Peer in too closely and you’ll find something to be unhappy with. Step back and you’ll see something to be thrilled about.

Surfaces delight —  newly mown lawns, white stucco walls, the glassy water in garden ponds, the tops of  trimmed hedges, the surface curves of lips and of eyes and the soft, downy arc of baby cheeks.

Art is jumping up and down in all of us, eager at the door, dancing at the latch, past ready to be let outside to play.

Originality is overrated; good copying counts too.

The exploitation of an audience for an artist’s own ends is not art. To not be used by artists — this is to be pleased by art.

Banish the ugly; invite the beautiful — everyday.

A tree is a solar street light that shines in the day time.

Travel always  has it’s unexpected moments, no matter how good the planning. The thunderstorm that sends you for cover in a shop with a warm fire and the aroma of fresh bread may be better than the cathedral  planned in advance, ambled through and checked off the must-see site list.

Note the mannequins in the stores you frequent. These are the fantasized versions of yourself, your idealized image,  just what you are supposed to want to be, the pose and mood and attitude in vogue. Buy the look and you get your very own –posturing persona.

Lust is a form of dissatisfaction with something beautiful already possessed.

The Kilauea volcano oozes with hot, fiery red lava; in just this fashion molten goodness and holy beauty break out and cover the slopes of the hopeful.

A queen palm in the sun dripping silver light is a costal “Hosanna in the highest!”

The face is the house of the spirit, and the eyes are the windows we see it dancing in.

You  visited a highly acclaimed international art gallery today if you have noticed the variations of light and shadow on sidewalks and walls. Every ordinary day is an art  circle tour of the world’s most astonishingly beautiful works.

God

Someone told me recently that God is whatever we want him to be. Shortly after hearing that, I am almost sure I also heard God’s characteristically contented and unflappable chuckle.

What do we know of love, of truth and of holy? We know very little, and this is why it is such an incredible relief to have God to worship.

A cat purrs on a lap, so a psyche sings close to God.

Divine irony is often present in divine retribution. We receive in punishment the very same nastiness we deal out to those we harm.

The universe is calibrated for life. It looks as if someone did some very precise measuring early on.

Some think God loves his own glory most. If that’s true then why did Jesus give it to us?

Heaven will begin with a long, reflective and healthy silence. The human voice will be conspicuously absent. Then God will talk and we will listen. How unique heaven will be.

Some think God is impassable, not subject to any emotions or feelings. But scripture says that “God is love.” So much for Him being impassable.

God allows extremes. Dang!

God honors those who love, give, serve and lead, proprio motu. What a pleasure for him to see us initiate what he usually has to. Do this, you are his friend.

The ancients thought the fragrant flowers contained the presence of deity. But it’s not the perfumes that house God. We humans contain the presence as we dab on the divine fragrance of love and kindness.

Capsaicin, the alkaloid that makes chiles hot, can be detected in one part per million. Similarly,  faith, in the human soul, is also detectable by God in one part per million. Be encouraged struggler, it doesn’t take much.

Jesus disturbed people because he was the Prince of Peace. His  peace, which was based on righteousness was highly upsetting to the unrighteous. They don’t want to travel the route needed to get there.

The Holy Spirit is a person,  not a bucket of water. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an encounter with God, not an encounter with a drenching emotion.

God’s methodology? The Holy Spirit. That’s an exciting way to get it done.

To know God is to stand on the beach of a sea, the foot of a mountain or the edge of a river, and to be asked to cross over.

God has lower standards than we do; he accepts people who we reject.

Sulking, grouching, grousing, complaining and tantrum throwing — God won’t reward any more than any wise parent would reward. A wise God won’t reinforce behaviors he doesn’t want us to traffic in.

Moses asked God to show him his glory. This was necessary because if God had shown anything less, Moses wouldn’t have seen it. We are that myopic.

All the stars and galaxies account for less than 1% of the universe.  The unseen?  Larger than we think.

Sometimes after making requests of God, it is important to notice what doesn’t happen. What is circumvented, prevented, not done? Absence is a significant result.

The “Why” questions always anticipate more than God himself anticipates. Should a man anticipate more than God?

Novels often have circular structures; they come back to where they began. So do lives. Such design suggests an author.

God is omnipresent. Sometimes I feel intimidated by his everywhereness. God independent; I feel my separateness from him. God is omniscient; I am sometimes  embarrassed by what he knows about me. But I find there is another way to think about him. God is everywhere so he is always there to comfort me. God is not needy, so his love for me is unselfish and pure. God knows, everything, so he knows and understands my hurts and insecurities. What I know about God has become tempered by my awareness that God is always personal.

God is present everywhere, but completely seen nowhere. He is revealed and hidden. But he is passive, never, and when we act out justice and love, we have the greatest opportunity to see him present.

 When it comes to Sermon on the Mount, we are all driving up it with a learners permit.The presence is absent nowhere except in our awareness of it.

We  should take less offense from what we think that God is not doing and more offense from what see that we are not doing

Santa Clause, Bill and Melinda Gates, Rockefeller, Mother Teresa, Joan Krock —  mere shadows of generosity when compared to God.

God’s antidote for dullness is surprise. He has a penchant for astonishment.

God is the only model of himself. God relates to us independent of our ideas of say, fathers. He doesn’t conform to what we have previously experienced in human relationships. What a relief God is.

Some Christians speak mainly of Jesus; others seem chiefly interested in the Holy Spirit; still others are more comfortable with speaking often of God the Father. It should be remembered that it was determined long ago by very wise counsels that orthodoxy is about giving very significant attention to all three.

Kuala bears have their Eucalyptus leaves, grey whales their amphipods, and humans  their chocolate, root bear floats, cream puffs and frapachinos. The humans have the most reason to thank God.

Buckle your seat belt, grab firmly the door handle near you, place your feet squarely on the floor board and make sure your brain is lodged securely against the head rest – then read the words of Jesus.

When it comes to enemies, we think, “Get them!” while God thinks, “Love them.”

Judgment

We tend to think that the highest form of reason is judgment. It isn’t. The highest form of reason is mercy, which triumphs over judgment.

In the end, God will judge us all, the secret motives, the hidden intentions, the good  and the bad. For those who have been long judged by a nagging wife, a mean-mouthed husband or a critical co-worker, what a relief the final judgment will be. It will be such a mild and gentle alternative.

Essentialism is a doctrine that certain traditional concepts, ideas and skills are essential to society and should be methodically taught to everyone. One of these essentials is to teach people that there is no formula that decides every case, but that wise judgment is always needed to apply the so-called essentials.

Some organizations are fueled by hierarchy, judgment and harshness, others by equality, discernment and gentleness. What do you want?

Racism — an attachment disorder.

We all exist in a state of subnormality. Careful how you try to fix that. Who are you to define normal?

Tomahawk missiles go zoom — boom, and Galatians 3:28  blows up the individualistic, better-than-thou, hold you down, rise-above-you to the podium, gender exclusive, super competitive living thing. Boom — one in Christ. This word of God smashes national prejudice, social domination, and gender exclusion.  In Christ the only real nationality is humanity.

Beware those who are attracted to teaching about God’s wrath. What are they trying to justify?

When we make an exception to a rule are we going down a slippery slope of receding commitment to the standard, or are we graciously allowing for a reasonable and wise acceptance of legitimate difference? It depends on the rule and the exception. But wisdom knows; there is a time to be resolute, and there is a time to be flexible.

Does the internalization of the expert’s voice make you insecure; for in accepting an authority, you are admitting that you aren’t the one who knows?  Not if it is balanced and corroborated by your own experience and the experiences of your friends.

Those who most pound the rules are often those who most tragically break them. For such tormented ones the rules are a ruse. They secret their own weaknesses behind harsh judgments of others.

Our narratives aren’t finished, the plot we live not yet fully written. Hold judgment, happily there is more story to come.

If a letter comes to you in the mail that is addressed to someone else, you put it back in the mail box; in just this fashion do not receive the judgmental complaints of one person against another if  you are not in a position to do anything about them.

If we knew how to fix what is wrong with the world, I suspect that we would have to begin by making sure that everyone on earth was hugged by someone safe and good every morning, and that just before every person lay down to sleep every night, someone loving and tender would gently rub their backs and kiss them goodnight on the top of their heads, even if just for for a moment, close enough to hear each other breathe.

Theologians be advised: Let your soteriology inform your morality. The thing about morality is that we can be forgiven when we don’t practice it.

Our prejudices limit our pleasures.

Speak freely, speak honestly, speak openly. Don’t hold back! Deliver the beauty of your own unique perspective. We need the core, phonic, vocal, linguistic universality bound up in the particularity of you.

The gentle words we offer as our gift hint not at the furious battle waged within by which we made such words gentle.

“Want to stay married?”

“Yes.”

“Then don’t criticize your spouse.”

“What specifically should I avoid criticizing?”

“Anything!”

Friends

Good friends are among life’s most delicious entrees. Eat up; go back for more.

Finding new friends to love is like refinishing an old, oak floor — the beauty shines again.

Devotedly practice the art of making new friends; every stage of life will be richer for it.

People will pop on and off you like leggos, but a few will grab on to you like ring shanked nails and never let go.

A good day is a day adventuring in a new place, tromping a public pathway, ruminating with a true friend,  luxuriating with good food and vacationing ones’ mind from the cares of duty and work.

Friendship is one of life great joys and may even surpass the pleasure we take from children or spouses. So much of happiness is found in relationships — Jesus got it so right when he told us the greatest things were to love God and others.

Pain

Pain is like alcohol. The first couple of hits are noticed most by the recipient; after that the effects are the most obvious to the observer.

Hidden sin is a torment? How much of a torment? Read Hawthorne.

Pain can debilitate or motivate. Some let pain paralyze  them; some treat pain as fuel and let it power them to stratospheric levels of productivity.

God allows pitch black emotional darkness and shattered, broken moments, empty of everything, nothing left. Then grace runs through the cracks – dark light trickling in.

An extreme is a risk to itself. It generates the opposite extreme in someone else. Being an authentic self requires huge doses of courage and energy,  especially in making the first wobbling, ground breaking steps into the unknown.  But the freedom, the flying, the beauty realized — worth every gram of force expended.

When the baby is crying, we pick up the baby. Yet when our fragile, hungry souls cry …

Time is the gift we give the disabled; we wait patiently for them to move, to see, to understand.  And who will not have a time when they do not need the gift of time?

The image of God is found in the faces of the dispossessed, the sick and the broken. Never despise the grimace; it is the face of Christ.

Leadership

Fly the plane when a light bulb is out; do not let a small person’s objection keep you from your mission.

Stories rule. Remember that,  before you attempt the art of persuasion again.

One cannot simply administrate a vision; one must inspire it!

We are not responsible for all the emotions and reactions our own growth and development as a person creates in others. We are responsible to be true to the mission.

Misguided leaders think, “I am right, and you’re wrong.”  Enlightened leaders ask, “In what ways are we both right?” They know that truth often exists somewhere in the middle of differences.

Everthing good and pure and best will require a fight. Someone or something will oppose it. Soldier foward you brave warriors and warrior princesses who fight for what is right.

Being public is an epidermal issue. Go public with anything — your ideas, your personality, your reforms and you will be both poked and stroked.

People pleasing leaders have no enemies — that they know of. Leaders who are individualists know they have enemies and don’t mind.

Can a Christian live a Sermon on the Mount lifestyle in government? The sheep thrive among the wolves when they follow the shepherd.

Being responsible for a public trust and being overly controlling of that trust  are not that far apart.  Being responsible means protecting while still allowing appropriate access.  Such balancing is a fine art.

Behind most stonewalling, resistence or conflict is a belief system to address. You have several options to change that: attack the belief system or inspire another way of seeing things.  I’d recommend that you inspire something else!

Entrenched leaders with resources sometimes have the emotional intelligence of smart rocks. As they do their job, the things “we had to do,” they process people like they move paper, labeling, filing,  storing and discarding without awareness of passion, uniqueness, identity and above all — love.

Celebrate

 Go places that make you happy! Be with people that make you smile! Listen to music that makes you dance. Eat food that makes you feel good! Celebrate all that is fun and delightful and right with the world.

The rhythms of eating, laughing, listening, waiting, exercising, studying, working, praying, feeling, sleeping, waking hopefully – we must repeat these like drum strokes, consciously, regularly,  conspicuously. Such regular beats lay down base lines for the music. They keep our songs playing.

I will make a holiday everyday inside the day, and celebrate! Why not? The alternative is way not fun.

Obligatory emoting isn’t worship. Real worship is an intensely personal,  rational and emotional choice.

Some say “Hi,” some shake hands, some hug, some kiss on the cheek.  I’m for doing all of these, always! Every meeting is a celebration. “Wow, there you are again!”

Ecstasy has a security guard — morality.  

Blessed are the good cooks, for they shall inherit the happy eaters.

I’ve heard it said that sex was God’s idea. That’s not true; sex isn’t an idea. It’s a divinely inspired break from ideas.

 For the  unbroken there are two kinds of voices to speak in: the judgmental or the redemptive, the harsh or the kind, the condemning or the loving, and these voices weirdly alternate  like  flickering flourescent tubes.  But for the person crushed, scooped up and brought back to life, and there is often only one voice left, and it isn’t of the first kind.

 Love

The Apostle Paul once said that without love, profound understandings and gorgeous insights are nothing. The Apostle Paul was given to understatement.

Let love into everything and  everything will become something.

Love is ideosyncratically ideolectic. So love in quirky, personalized, specialized and custom-fitted ways.

Home should be a refuge, so calm down when you get there.

Pets are God’s best antidote for an overdose of humans.

Greatness is in service — me serving you.

Good isn’t simply what I like. Love defines it as what you like.

Love is a city. In the same way it is a garden. And just like that it is a dictionary. It is a parcel, a combination and a collection. It is a new skyscraper at every turn; it is a flower on both sides of the path; it is a neologism in every expression. It is the whole of hugging and listening and being there and serving. Love is never one thing but instead the largest composite known to mankind.

Is someone jittery around you? Perhaps the random reinforcement of your  inconsistent love makes them operate like a flat screen TV with a low refresh rate — they flicker and tear.

Love your neighbor as yourself  complicates during war. 

We don’t want complicated; we want simple. Complicated is “Thanks, but I was hoping …” Simple is “Thanks.”  Complicated is “I’ll take this, you take that.” Simple is “You can have all of it.” Complicated is, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” Simple is “I’ll do it now.” Complicated is “I’m sorry, but you …” Simple is simply “I’m sorry.” 

If you don’t love me, there is something wrong with you.

Immaturity cries easily for itself; maturity cries easily for others.

Prayer

Prayer is paddling, and paddling is a repeated, purposeful, disciplined behavior in the direction that we should go.

Prayer is not what we do to change God’s mind. It is what we do to change our minds. God is not sitting around, baffled, uncertain, in need of someone to tell him what to do.  We are. Prayer is primarily alignment, us lining up with him.

The question isn’t, “Does God answer prayer?” The question is, “Do we answer God?”

Prayer isn’t so much asking; it’s cheering.

Prayer for the new believer: “May she know,that she know, that she knows..”

As Yet, Unorganized Proverbs

Environmentalism sells — food, movies, clothes cars, all things that disturb the natural environment to be made.

When ones problems become ones whole life then one really does have a problem.

By handling things we heat them slightly, leaving heat prints on them when we are done.  Warm creatures, not things —  this is the best use of your thermal powers.

Don’t wait to retire, retire now. Retire from worry, retire from comparisons, retire from proving yourself.

Ones outer life of time and place is retrievable in the document and the witness — a birth certificate, a diploma,  the memory of a parent or friend —  things outside oneself. Ones inner life is often only retrievable through ones own memory and interpretations of memory –something most personal and interior and unreliable.

I once met a goat who kept saying, “It’s in my heart; it’s just in my heart.” They sacrificed him.  

Retirement for some means merely the maintenance of the past. They slave to preserve what once served them.  It is as if keeping something cleaned, painted and polished was an end in itself.  

Therapy culture isn’t a product of the elite; is is a product of the mess so many of us have made of our relationships.

One day I was in Mbabane, Swaziland,  a few days later in Oxford, England.  One day I was at a school for AID’s orphans, the next in a pub speaking to privileged students of Oxford University. The world — a place of shocking inequity.

When in another country, one is in another’s house. One should act accordingly.

Temporize but don’t compromise.

“Sometimes, I wish my shadow would carry me.”  And, are you sure it won’t? What sometimes might seem most unsubstantial may be so much stronger than one thinks.  Something travels along with us — most precious and strong.  

All of us, to the very strongest of us, will hear, “You have become weak, as we are; you have become like us,” when the grave rises to meet them.  Isaiah 49:9

Old age is when your future is all in your past.

1 thought on “unplugged”

  1. laurelhasper said:

    Here’s one from Babylon’s Ark:
    Draw a line in the sands of injustice and say, “This stops here and now.”

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