Posts Tagged ‘how to thrive’

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.”

Ecc. 4:6

I sat in the backyard today listening to the waterfall, watching the green summer leaves fall out of my Ficus tree, pondering the white waterlilies in my pond and  reveling in quietness. It took some time, to get quiet. I had to wait, and let the wind come to me, and it eventually did, off the ocean, San Diegoesque, the way I like it.

Thus and so I slothified, lazificated and specifically and intentionally settlified on a handful of quietness. Later I made up some fresh food, sat out back again, and firmly and resolutely decided not to sort the bills or paint the wall in the family room — both on the docket for someday.

Better a handful of quietness on a holiday at home than the hard-driving, high-output, hyper-accomplishification of my everyday life.  Sure, I love that too, my — work — but rest, home, garden, reflection, “Ahh, so very good. ”

I think of my artists, the ones I love, my beauty makers, Pizzaro, Monet, Chagall, Pollock.

Pizzaro estblishished a family home outside of Paris in Pontoise and later in Louveciennes, both inspired many of his paintings including scenes of village life, along with rivers, woods, and people at work.

Monet had Giverny, his lily pond and garden, and you know what came of that amplitude of quietness. Visit the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.

Marc Chagall had his Vitebsk in Russia, and it remained for life his little Jewish town, steeped in floating donkeys and flying Rabbi’s and levitating angels.

Jackson Pollock had his wood-frame house in East Hampton on the south shore of Long Island. For Jackson, that wasn’t enough. He tried, I’ll give him that but quietness wasn’t to be his.  Home may heal some insanity; it doesn’t heal it all.

A handful of quietness is a choice, to heal and to recover and to chew a bit too.  It’s better than chasing wind —  thus sayeth the seer — better than chasing accounts and awards and titles and fame, and if we chose it, if we stop doing and spend more time being, dawdling in patio chairs, lollygagging on lawns, lazing in poolside lounges then we just might, out of reverie, live more wisely — and also, eventually get up and go out and paint something wonderful.

My Infinity G37 stopped accelerating properly last week. I really like it to knock me back in the seat and roar from 0-60 in the low 5’s. It didn’t, and so it was a must-fix for me because very fast is stress therapy.

I took it to the Infinity dealer today. Fortunately it was still under warranty, so it was fixed for free, which involved reprograming the transmission. I waited for three hours — so it did cost me something — but on the plus side, they also fixed the motor mounts that were under a recall and tightened up a lose mirror, except that they couldn’t because it had been previous broken, and slapped back together in a make-shift fashion. Sounds like life. Sounds like me

Life lessens, leaks, lacks, loosens and putts and sputs and mirrors on imperfectly — except when it doesn’t — but it sometimes does with our cars and bodies.

Today my feet hurt. I should not have jumped off that scaffolding last week. Also my neck hurts. I should not have been hit from behind in a car accident a few years ago. Somebody wan’t paying attention. Yesterday my tooth may have stopped hurting— at least it is better — from the recent dental treatment.

And by the way, today, I got a cold.

But here is the amazing thing about this potentially gorgonizing mélange of imperfection. I have a car. I am mobile. I have a body. I have agency. I have eyes. I am sentient.

I have teeth. I can eat. I have feet; I can move. I have lungs and a nose — albeit a sore one. I can breathe.

It is such an incredible thing (a gorgeous, broken and somewhat fixed thing); it is such a good gift (a sick, sniffling, sensuous, torturous, italized sweetness) to have being, to have space and time, to have a brief, bright, barreling, biting 0-60 dash through the thin air of this amazing, spinning, sun-smacked, slap-dashed, broken and mashed, poxed and rashed blue planet, to live and move and stand and have our being within the joyful one, to lean over and into and beyond our imperfect lives and to be stunningly out of our minds, and wonderfully-terribly in, over our grace-filled, love-healed, God-milled heads.

We should all keep looking down, and up and out, and observing fastidiously the world we live in. We should see what is there, not what we want to be there or think is there.

Dealing in reality is so much better than dealing in comfortable fictions, fables, want-to-be resurrances, imagined interpretations, what we hope is true.

Reality, life as it is is fun, and you can learn a lot from it.

I just finished a biography of William Smith 1769-1839), the father of modern geology. What a hoot! The guy was high on what was low, the rocks, fossils and strata that were below his feet in Industrialized England.

Coal and canals to carry it gave him a life work, and it granted him access to the geological underworld and he went down into the digs and mines with gusto and figured it out.

Here is what he came up with, in his own words.

Fossil Shells had long been known amongst the curious, collected with care, and preserved in their cabinets, along with other rarities of nature, without any apparent use. That to which I have applied them is new, and my attention was first drawn to them, by a previous discovery of regularity in the direction and dip of the various Strata in the hills around Bath; for it was the nice distinction which those similar rocks required, which led me to the discovery of organic remains peculiar to each Stratum.”

This was the finding that became known as Smith’s Principle of Faunal Succession. Today it appears in geology textbooks the world over. The fossils and the layers they appear in give us a chronology for the millions of years it took for earth to come to it’s present geological state.

At the time, Christians were stuck with Archbishop  Ussher’s theory that the earth began in 4004 BC and was only about 6,000 years old. That was wrong. The Bible never said that. The Bible never gave us a chronology  for creation’s timeline. It told us that God did it; it didn’t tell how. And yet, believe it or not, there are still a few Christians who hold on to the idea that the earth is 6,000 years. There are tons of evidence, layers and layers of evidence to the contrary. All the evidence is to the contrary. God took a long time to make the universe and the earth. And afterwards, he didn’t create the appearance of age, (why would he traffic in smoke and mirrors) and it was aged.

I see this long, changing process of geology as giving God even more glory than a short and quick, wam and slam and bam creation. I could go on about this, but I won’t, because I just want to point out that there is a simple lesson here and it is very scriptural. “Consider the ant.”  

In other words, open  your eyes. See what is. Don’t get stuck in old mind-sets that don’t make sense, that lack common sense, that don’t jive with reality. Use you eyes, observe nature,  be the wisdom sage scholar the Bible recommends you be, commited  to truth, to empiricism, to observation and to reality — the best you can — and attempt to unbiasedly understand what you see.

Amen!

I like it best when they shut off the motor.

It is quiet and you can hear them breathing — a deep, low, misty exhale, coming from voluminous spaces within.

I especially like how their dorsal fin, that tall black triangle, comes out of the water first, then the slick, wet backs, the rolling to the side, a fin flopping, the salty water mounding on the surface in front, the smooth wave surging behind them, flukes showing as they submerge again.

The water in the Salish Sea was smooth and glassy that afternoon. We motored occasionally to keep up with the whales, a Canadian vessel opposite us, running in tandem with us, two other small boats, all of us keeping a respectful distance, all of us with the Orcas at center focus.

One of the juveniles rolled on its back near our boat, fins up and flapping — playful perhaps — then it slurped below the surface again.

For a few moments that sunny warm fall afternoon we were with them in the Haro Striaght of the Salish Sea — not with them as in we-were-in the pod — but with them as in living on the same planet, as in traveling together, as in not harming each other, as in being delighted with seeing them, as in appreciating them, as in respecting them.

I wish for more of this, this kind of podding-up with the creation, this sort of fluking-down, flipping-up, surging-on-together and especially the calm, quiet sitting with each other. And I like what it wasn’t, speciesism, killing, eating; and yes, perhaps it was a bit of exploitation, but not overly.

I like a large scoop of awe, a fair amount of reverence, a special blend of camaraderie — the kind that allows everybody to keep floating along calmly, the kind that keeps us all back just the right distance from each other’s teeth.

I love it when they cut, stab, drill and peer into me with their cruel machines. I literally exult. I consider myself among the most privileged persons on the planet. Later I remember their tortures with the greatest fondnesses.

She pulls my mouth open with her fingers, slides the needle into my jaw gently and says, “Relax.” Then she starts humming in the way that I like.

He takes the top of my head with both his hands, firmly rotates it, and then with his right hand he cuts me. “Excellent,” he says. I agree, as I always do regarding his work. It’s why I keep coming back.

“Put you hands here,” she says, “side-by-side on the machine. Then place your eye against the rubber until you see the bright green circle.”

I love them. I love their machines. Each instrument does for me what I can’t do for myself. Each one achieves a goal, and yet it is not consumed in the process. Each one — masterfully manipulated — and I am better. Dig, scrape, lift, hammer, screw, compute — good, better, best me and you

Instrument, utensil, implement, machine, device, and apparatus — tools and the people who skillfully manipulate them — these greatly improve our lives.

We who are resourced, we who have multiple, modern armamentariums at our disposal, we who can hire dentists, surgeons, hair stylists, mechanics and  optometrists, we live so well, better than any ancient royalty.

Healthy care, beauty care, eye care, car care, soul care  — if you have it, suffer it gladly, you proviledged elite, you resourced rich, you spoiled pampered. Complain not that you have to go to the doctor or dentist; that’s unenlightened. It’s ungrateful.

For every time they stick a needle or drill or scrapple into you, for every time you get your hair cut, for every pedicure and pill and partial panacea that blesses you — be thankful.

“In the front room her chair is now by the door,”  said Marilyn. “That big wood piece is at an angle in the corner. It is so much better!”

I looked down at the pictures of Elizabeth’s apartment that Marilyn was flipping through on her phone.

“In her bedroom, her dresser tops are all clear. You’ll love it. Here I can show you the picture.”

And there it was, a shot of the dresser, the one with the heart-shaped cut-outs in each drawer — the hearts that work as pulls — the dresser we had just recently bought for Elizabeth at a thrift store, the one Tasia had picked it out with a, “This one is Elizabeth! She’ll love the hearts.”

There it was now, as a small bright image on a glossy phone screen — the salient, physical, incontrovertible evidence of a stunningly gorgeous, transformative act of pure love — a perfectly arranged dresser top, a warm glowing lamp, a picture of Elizabeth and her mom and a perfectly placed nick-knack.

“Maria did that! She got it,” enthused Marilyn, gushing about the professional cleaner she had hired. “She understood what we were tying to do with Elizabeth, and she is teaching her how to do this herself.”

We both gawked. We dallied in time, we astonishicated. We dawdled, we puddled, we shamelessly muckified through the splashy shallows of the pervasively miraculous.

Elizabeth’s mom had died just a few years back, when Elizabeth was fifty. Then Elizabeth was alone, truly alone in an apartment that she and her mom had lived in for 30 years. There she was, for the first time in her life, left with all her mom’s stuff, left with piles of pack-ratted junk, left with a broken heart and a profound level of inexperience due to her own significant disabilities, her mom’s life-long, over-protective love and now her own, new grieving, depressive, suicidal outlook.

Elizabeth’s mom had been her everything — friend, confidant, protector and now she was gone. And what was left — the old medicine bottles, the faded bills, the cheap jewelry, the out-of fashion clothes, the dusty piles of junk on the dressers, the soft, sifting scent of memory, the scree at the bottom of the familial slope, the Sisyphean skein and the suffocating sadness of silence.

But now, now, now — totally different. Doctors had been consulted, brothers connected, counselor’s hired and friends found. People had been brought into play by the REFINERY Church — the church that found and was found by Elizabeth — and this found-community literally saved her life.

Medications, therapy sessions, Bible studies, lunches with friends, support groups, pastors, an adopted kitten, and finally, the professional cleaning and reordering of her apartment by her adoring church buddy Marilyn and one of her compadres, Brenda. By this and more, Elizabeth had been transformed.

Marilyn told us recently. “It’s like she is growing up” — in her fifties — “for the first time! She is finally becoming mature, a single woman who for the first time in her life, can actually care for herself.”

“Look at her kitchen,” said Marilyn pointing again at the screen again. The counters shone, they glowed — renewed, restored.

They look a like a lot like Elizabeth.

Gillian hit the ball with her father’s arms wrapped around her. Then she ran with his legs. Then she bounced in his arms, and then she ambulated according to his eyes.

It was all done with help, but when Gilly arrived at first base she smiled and laughed with her own face. For the moment she was the star of the REFINERY Church’s picnic baseball game. She had slugged a rubber ball with a rubber princess Anna and Elsa bat, she was on first base and she was absolutely delighted with it all.

I have noticed lately — by means of a couple of small observations of miniature people — that one of the best things we can do in life is to help a child get to first base.

Last week I walked into the REFINERY Church courtyard to find a bunch of gorgeous little children kicking balls, blowing bubbles, and running after each other. Their teenage moms and dads were their with them. I strolled on into the adjacent gallery, a large oak-floored room with pictures of beautiful orange, red and blue Mediterranean scenes. There I found more children and more parents, all around some tables doing crafts together. They were more stunningly gorgeous than the pictures.

What was it? It was the Incredible Families program from the San Diego County Department of Mental Health offering young parents who had lost their children an opportunity to reunite with them through supervised visitation, shared meals and prescribed parenting classes. If the parents follow the program, they get their kids back!

I was looking at nothing less than the restoration of the American family in a safe, sacred space. And I knew this counted. If you get somone back to first base, after they have lost first base, then they have more of a chance of getting to second base — and back home.

This matters. When we help a child, we save the future. When we help a parent we save a child.

Nothing much beats this — loving children, protecting children, empowering children, empowering their parents.

Love a child, save a child; create opportunity for others to love a child, save the world.

Let me blow your mind, and then I’ll you why it matters.

Psalm 145:3, “There are no boundaries to (God’s) greatness.”

God is limitless, no boundaries.

God is … infinite …

We see the infinity of God in three ways in scripture.

God is timeless. God has no beginning, no end.

2 Peter 3:8, “A single day is like a thousand years with the Lord. “

Secondly, God is everywhere present (we say he is imminent), or present in every point of space with His being, and yet God is also transcendent, not limited to any one space.

Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”

Nowhere.

Last Friday morning at 2 am my alarm went off.

I woke up and thought: My phone has taken over my life. I got up and drove out past Pine Valley on the 8. Just past El Cajon, still mostly asleep, sipping espresso, about 2:30 am, I realized why I was on the freeway when everybody else was sleeping.

I wanted to see the Perseid meteor shower. I did — 75 fiery lines in the night sky in about an hour.,Universal gravitation tugged the remains of comet Swift-Tuttle into my world. Looking up, I was so taken with the Milky Way arm — 100 billion solar masses. So vast, but God there, in me too, and in an infinite number of other places too.

I apprehended the hem of the physics of eternity.

God is infinite in time and space, and God has no boundary on his understanding

Psalm 147:5, “His understanding has no limit.”

God is limitless, unbounded, unlimited, unrestricted, without end regarding time, space and knowledge.

Matthew 19:26, with him “all things are possible.”

Let’s try to get a grip on this.

God’s Infinity, the concept of infinity, is not just a very, very big number – it’s a lot stranger than that.

Consider big numbers. A Googol is a very big number, a 1 followed by one hundred zeros :

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

To be happy imagine a googol of bowls of ice cream.

Then there is the Googolplex — ten, raised to the power of a googol.

Carl Sagan calculated that a Googolplex is bigger than the number of elementary particles in the known Universe so we can’t even write down that number because there is not enough matter in the universe to form all the zeros.

And yet a googolplex is nothing compared to infinity.

If something is infinite, it is endlessly bigger or smaller. Infinity is different than size. With infinity there is no finite counterpart in our numbering system to talk about it.

It is like seeing something you can’t see. Infinity is like caterpillars turning into butterflies. It happens when you aren’t looking.

Sometimes people (including me) say infinity “goes on and on” which sounds like it is growing somehow. But infinity does not do anything.

It already all is.

Consider the infinity symbol, the figure eight on its side. Like the symbol, infinity has no beginning, no end.

Consider fractals.

A fractal is a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry.

An example of this is the Menger Sponge. The box pattern repeats — infinitely.

The Koch snowflake is another fractal. Here the progression of open triangles at the perimeter diverges to infinity. The infinitely expanding snowflake is a reality that we cannot measure or count but we can imagine.

Do scientists apply infinity, or just discuss it? Some apply it.

The most popular explanation of our Universe is inflation, where the universe creates an infinite volume by stretching space indefinitely.

And some scientists theorize that perhaps black holes have infinite density.

Infinity is practical.

It is applicable to pragmatic theology too.

Consider with me how the concepts of infinity and God intersect.

God’s infinity, his limitlessness, is at the core of his very nature and one of the principal things that makes him different from us. It fact, it seems logical that God be infinite or he would have come from another source, had a beginning, and therefore not be God. If not infinite he would have an end and therefore not be God. His being infinite is that which ever makes him God.

Infinity draws the line between man and God. God is infinite, we are not.

And there are other ways infinity helps us understand and apply theology.

First, realize that infinity can make you happy! Immeasurably happy. Literally!

Infinity allows for the possibility of deep, lasting happiness because in infinity, happiness can go on and on, or better yet, always be.

You can expect not to be bored in eternity. Heaven will  not be boring harp music around the throne because there will be an infinite number of things to discover, sing, paint, invent, explore, see! Infinity will maintain excitement. If infinity goes in both directions, smaller and larger, and it will, then there will be infinite detail awaiting our research.

In contrast, the finite world we live in is full of ends, limits.  Ends cause feelings of loss.

My mom has dementia. I am losing her a bit everyday. Ends separate.

But infinity has no ends, and it contains the possibility for deep joy and ultimate recovery because the good will never end and what is sick and hurt will be swallowed up by it. Harm will not last! But the good, being infinite, will be ever-increasing and end all finite endings.

infinity will make us happy!

The second thing infinity does for us is that it helps us better understand and cope with the problem of evil and suffering.

How could God allow suffering? He only allows it temporarily. Evil is finite. Good will last forever; evil will end. God allowed evil within the finite universe.

Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Half the country’s pre-war population — more than 11 million people — have been killed or forced to flee their homes.

We known God hates this. He will not allow it to go on forever. We shouldn’t either, but do everything we can to help.

Taking in refugees, feeding refugees, stopping such things is God work.

The Top 4 Christian humanitarian organizations fighting poverty, slavery and world hunger are as follows:

Compassion International
Food For the Hungry
World Vision
Samaritan’s Purse

These organizations do great things to alleviate suffering.  Yes, God will himself ultimately set all things right so we should also get busy helping right now. You can give to these partners who are in the trenches working with God.

Let’s make this very personal.

Has someone hurt you? Your hurt is not infinite. Forgive them, as Christ commanded, and open an eternity of forgiveness. The hurt will pass, and the pain will pass, the forgiveness will remain.

What if the person who hurt you is a Christian? And they go to heaven? And you have an Eternity with them? Yikes! Part of the good news is that the  infinity of forgiveness will make it okay, and the infinity of space will allow you to live an infinite distance from them and yet remain in heaven!

Our sense of evil and suffering here seems long and horrible but within infinity God simply views it differently, as having already done what it needs to do to perfect and transform us.

He sees the beginning, middle and end of evil and suffering all in one glance and sees that it has no ultimate power over him or us.

In other words as said earlier, the infinite good, already all is and swallows up all evil.

Lastly, infinity has a soteriological component.

Infinity can save you.

John 3:16 For God so loved … he sent … his infinite son into our finite world.

The incarnate Son of God and his reconciling work is a bridge that God has established which enables the finite creature and the infinite God to have personal relationship. God, or part of God, for a short time, exchanged his divinity, or his infinity, for our humanity, so that we might one day exchange our finiteness for his infinity.

God has chosen to inhabit the finite universe, in Christ, therefore, we are saved from oblivion, through the expanding, fractal-like symmetry of God’s love … forever.

Zeno, the Greek, was born circa 490 BC. He was a philosopher, and he imagined some paradoxes of infinity, one being the paradox of the infinite path.

The paradox of the path is that by ever subdividing the distance left along the path, we never get to the end.  One-half, one-quarter, one-eighth, one-sixteenth left to get to the end of the path, etc … forever?

No. Not on life’s spiritual path, here we are not stuck with infinite divisability. Christ gets us unstuck from never getting there. All infinite subsets of difficulty exist within the infinite set of God’s salvation in Christ. We get to eternity through him.

Ultimate infinity is part of what God has saved us for, and living within the infinite salvific love of God we keep advancing along life’s path, we step over sin’s subset thresholds and in Christ become larger than life, universally infinite in motion, love and freedom. We get on down the road.

Infinity is real. God put the awareness of it within. The Bible tells us this.

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecc. 3:1.

God put eternity or infinity in our hearts. He put the idea of the reality of infinity within.

Recently, I weighed myself. I had been avoiding this, avoiding seeing myself heading toward infinity. Why? Getting larger can make you feel smaller.

But if I am infinitely valuable to God … and myself … then I have the power to change, to fight. So I redownloaded MyFitness Pal, and I am counting calories again. I am an infinitely empowered person in Christ!

You Christians are now in Christ  — whatever your issues — forever,  and thus infinitly. In Christ, you are infinite, and thus infinitely valuable.

God put infinity right here — feel it! — in your hearts, a sense of the possibility of it. This is empowering. Join him in it! Do stuff! Get spiritually better. You are headed that way. Even after you have gotten physically worse, and die, you are headed for better!

God made us to last and to grasp this is to have hope for something so much better than we now know. This matters because we matter — to God.  Something that is and will be ours forever has already been placed like a gift within us.

It is infinity.

Up close I could see dirt, some cracks and the cobwebs  — yuck!

Stepping back — beautiful!

It was our super attractive stone pavered outdoor stage at the REFINERY Church. Only a few months old, it already had the ubiquitous outdoor hodgepodge of collectivia, but if you stepped back only a few few — wow! The gorgeous parabolas, the symmetried tiers, the country manor brown stone and grey stone  — lovely.

It’s a simple approach to life, and it works, to keep us feeling better, moving forward, doing well, staying in touch with what is within but without the beauteous is.

It works — the step back —  on houses, gardens, organizations, communities, countries, the world — our brains.

A friend called me last night. She was traumatized  by  comparisons. I reminded her, “Yeah they this, but you — that!  Look at you, you gorgeous, much-accomplished, on-the-way mess!” Look how you have outstripped them all in this and maybe that. She stepped back, looked, laughed, and felt better.

Up close we see the flaws, the lack, the missing element — a man, a woman, a job, money, status, beauty, lunch  —  a little bit back and we set the overall shape, the puzzle pieces placed, the patchy, pitchy perfect panorama of the present.

Back off!

Your’ll feel better.

 

 

I want to solve all your problems — so read on.

I’d like to help you know who to marry, who to do business with, how to related to people you despise and who to elect the next President of the United States.

You will never have gotten so much from one blog post. Some of you will never come back.

Not really.

I want to focus here not on what to think, but how to think. I want to address Christians, and say that to be godly, we must learn to think and choose well, particularly in the emotional and divisive climate of this Presidential election.

So, what to do?

To be wise, first exercise self-control.

Practice a robust self-control.

Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control.”

If your follow Christ, if the spirit of God really lives in you, then you have the power to control yourselves. Self-control is the tasty fruit on the green branches of the true Christian.

Someone told me recently, that they were having trouble thinking negative thoughts at work. Then someone else said to them, “You know you are choosing that.”

Really!” They thought. “I choose what I think.

Yes, you do, and you can choose to put negative thoughts out of your head.

When your thinking gets fearful, negative, anxious, you can gently turn your attention to something positive.

Someone, a Christian, recently began to gush in front of me who they were going to vote for for President, and then why. It was awkward, not very well-thought out.

People are quite emotional about this election, and not very rational.

I didn’t agree with this gushing person, there was a lot of hate in what they said, but they had been drinking too much and they were ranting  and so I controlled myself, said a little and then shut up

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

All this, being pure, peace-loving, considerate, impartial  — it requires self-control. We Christians can do that. When someone says what they think in front of us about their politics, we should have the self-control to listen, and to withhold speaking too soon, to give our elves time to weigh a good response.

Let the quiet voice inside, the Holy Spirit remind you to stay calm, and loving. If you speak your opinion, speak simply, truthfully, respectfully, stick to issues. Avoid personal attacks. When you adamantly disagree, I recommend that you still exercise self-control, gentleness and respect so that you walk away able to talk with that person again.

And alway remain open — to rethinking your position.

Look again at James 3:17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is … “impartial.”

Christians, be impartial.

Wow! What does that mean, to be impartial? It means to weigh both sides, to avoid bias, to be fair, to be just, to not be prejudicial, to not be only for “your” people/

Take the current issue between the police and our black communities.

We Christians need to care and pray for both. And we need to try to understand. Why are blacks upset? Why are the police afraid?

We need to ask God to break our hearts over this issue, if we are not already grieving. What kind of thinking, training and behaviors would help change this horrible conflict? Let’s pray for protection, solutions, for understanding for both sides.

On political issues, most of us tend to get stuck in one mind-set, perhaps the same as what we grew up with. Some of us, who watch only our one, favorite news station may have become very bias. We are perhaps eating too much,  of our favorite political, one-sided ice cream.

Last week I brought home a bag of Brussels sprouts and also, a tub of vanilla bean ice cream. I ate both. Well, not together.

One of them made me gag.

I must admit, I have a bias. I prefer the ice cream. I really only love Brussel sprouts I if I put bacon on them.

So I told my wife, don’t bring home any more ice cream. What? Why?

Because my doctor told me to lower my cholesterol.

Just because I prefer something, doesn’t mean it is good for me.

I would suggest you read opinions the opposite of your own, Brussel sprout opinions, and weigh the issues as unbiasedly as possible. If your partiality is so strong that you find yourself ranting, and attacking others, and calling names, you have lost your Spirit-given self-control.

What we need right now are people who understand the differing sides of the issues, and who think of solutions that work for everyone, thus becoming the peacemakers of James 3:17.

Those of us who become overly one-sided and resort to emotional, personal attacks on others do not have the Spirit of Christ within.

Stay in control, be fair and then — very importantly — work at thinking Biblically. That takes work. Think like a Christian first — think like a Democrat, Republican or Independent second.

Do not let one other person or political party or pastor or spouse for that matter represent or control your mind.

How?

Now is the time to be reading your Bible at least as much as you are watching the news. The news might confuse you. Your Bible will clear your head.

So you might ask.

What is Biblical thinking?

That is a tough one. Many Christians limit it to thinking with Biblical morality.

That has truth to it, but I believe that true Biblical thinking is not so much about putting out a moral, legalistic formula that we then bash everyone else with. Biblical thinking is thinking like Jesus.

Jesus weighed every person and issue in front of him individually and fairly. The only group he much went after were those with a religiously legalistic platform. Jesus was always tuned into God, listening to what God was telling him rather than to the moralistic leaders on the national Jewish or Roman news.

And secondly, Jesus preached that the greatest Biblical, moral commandment is love. This election year, following Christ, we need to keep our love on.

If Jesus is your Lord, then remember that Jesus taught you that your political goal, your primary Biblical morality, is to love your neighbor as yourself. Listen, political Christians, no one adequately leads you except Jesus. Maintain a limited, parsed support for your preferred candidates and their worldly views. Put your main trust in Christ, and measure your candidates and their opinions with his yard stick of love.

Hebrews 12:1 Fix your eyes on Jesus. 

What else, what else is wise?

To be very wise in 2016, stay positive. There is a lot of fear and a lot of negative in our country today. This is causing lots of hateful, uncontrolled, fearful responses to others.

But Christians, “God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and self control.” Do not be driven by fear and by its sibling, negative thinking. Control your mind. You can!

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thing.”

Think about what is good in others, even those you disagree with, and what is good in our country. There is a lot of good, and a lot of freedom and protected rights in our country.

So now we come to the part where I tell you who I am going to vote for President.

I am going to vote for … whoever is most like Joseph.

Joseph?

Joseph is my favorite political leader in the Bible.

His brothers sold him into slavery, but he learned through this difficulty to rely on God. I love to follow leaders who have been humbled by God, who have been trained by  brokenness, who have been pruined by difficulty in such a way that they have given up their selfish motives and live primarily to serve others.

Joseph learned how to forgive, and how to rescue others, and how to think outside the box of his Hebrew roots.

Joseph, once in he came into power, a Hebrew, stored away grain for all the Egyptians, and the Bible says, “all the world came to Egypt.”

Joseph was a servant, a lover, and he even gave food to the very brothers who had previously betrayed him. Joseph was a unifier. He brought people together.

We need more leaders like this in American today, leaders who will bring people together, black and white, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, to feed us all the bread of forgiveness and the tasty, sweet dessert of togetherness.

Measure political candidates by Joseph.

Actually  I haven’t decided my vote for sure. I’m leaning one way, but I’m still hoping for a Joseph or an Esther to run onto the political stage. I would really like another option.

Lastly, to think like a Christian, let love rule you.

I want to repeat this, like a million times. Christians, let love rule! Measure every thought you have this election with the ruler of love. By their fruits you will know them said Jesus. The most delicious, tasty, godly Christian fruit is love.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. God is interested in the salvation of everyone. There is nothing xenophobic in Jesus. To vote like a Christian, is to vote for loving solutions for everyone.

Verily, verily I say unto you, you must even love those who vote the opposite as you. Perhaps they are balancing out your biases!

Last weekend I saw the musical Sense and Sensibility at the Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. It was outstanding. Funny! Witty! Entertaining.

At intermission I went to the bathroom. There were two old codgers talking there.

One said, “I couldn’t hear 10% of it.”

The other said, “Don’t worry it’s just a dumb chick flick.”

Why did they go? Their wives made them.

But it was more than a play for girls. One of the lines of the play stuck me as profoundly noble. Elinor, deeply hurt by a lover who betrayed her said, “I wish him (the betrayer). immeasurable happiness.”

That is so magnanimous. That is filled with such love.I took that line home with me and prayed for some folks who have deeply hurt me.

I prayed, “God, I ask you to give them, immeasurable happiness.”

As your think about your hurtful world, let love and forgiveness rule you.

1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 

Okay, let’s wrap it up, and put a red bow on it. Or is it a blue bow? Or another color?

I have tried to remind you of several simple wisdoms relevant to the times.

Christians, In 2016 please control yourselves. Be impartial. Think Biblically. Think like Jesus. Delight in what is positive.

And love, love love, love both the political Brussel sprouts you don’t like,  and your favorite political ice cream.

But not too much.