- July 18, 2017
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times! “It was part of God’s plan!”
I’ve heard it about someone’s bad luck! I’ve heard it about natural disaster leaving death and dying, devastation and material loss. I’ve heard it about good things like unexpected and unwarranted good luck. I’ve even heard it stated as God was just trying to teach a lesson to get our attention.
Yes, I too have thought that in the midst of searching for answers that do not exist. There are no answers to “why” some things occur!
I’ve concluded that to assign bad things to God and to God’s plan is to assign God power that the Bible doesn’t claim! To assign bad things to God is to turn God into a vile, vindictive, dictator, anything but Jesus’ image of God! It is to make humans constantly anxious about thinking God is close! I highly suspect it is why the Hebrews (who originally tended to view God thusly) chose to put God behind a curtain in their temple in a box called the Ark of the Covenant! Only the highest priest was permitted to go beyond that curtain and then only after ritual cleansing. They were afraid of retribution—even death! Remember, when Jesus died, that curtain was ripped from top to bottom exposing and making that holy space available to the public as had Jesus dealt with the public’s good and bad.
So, how do I think about bad and good things occurring?
God created humans FREE to choose! That is in Genesis 2! God told Adam he had to choose between obeying God or disobeying God about eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, if he wanted to live fully.
Notice that the choice was really about an ATTITUDE toward NEEDS that comes from the good and bad. God’s plan isn’t to cause either, but to empower us with self-control to be able to choose our attitudes toward good and bad occurrences. We can choose God’s Holy attitudes (like patience, kindness, generosity and gentleness) or un-Holy attitudes (impatient, unkind, stingy and violent) to meet the NEEDS of good and bad occurrences. This choice was the consequence of God creating humans to be FREE. FREEDOM was necessary for humans to be true, authentic beings like God, so we could relate with agape-type love rather than as robots, controlled by a dictatorial power. Without FREEDOM God would not be like Jesus, nor would we be able to use Jesus’ attitudes to respond to good and bad things to experience God’s intended Eternal quality of life! Choice empowers us to become the fullest quality humans that God made possible, for our sake and for others! How goes your ATTITUDE choosing?
- July 11, 2017
Baseball! The American summer sport! As I write, the annual All-Star game will happen tonight in Miami, marking the midway point in the professional season.
To me baseball is special because it elevates individual “honed” ability for the common good of a team (non-contact sports) over individual brute force of a team (contact sports) for the common good. Baseball elevates the Self-Control of patience and generosity of a player to sharpen natural abilities. But one can’t play baseball alone! Abilities must contribute to the common good of a team in order to win. Win not by force over other players, but by one’s individual abilities shared with others for a team or a community of persons’ benefit.
For this reason, I think Jesus would have loved baseball! Winning baseball is the result of the impact of Jesus’ image of God defined by Agape-type LOVE, which is motivated according to the personal experience of Jesus and of the Apostle Paul by meeting NEEDS using one’s gifts or abilities not to dominate others, but to work with others for the common good. Agape-type LOVE is loving action motivated by a human NEED. Paul described this to the Corinthian church-team. He told them to use their individual gifts motivated by “patience, kindness, generosity and gentleness” to meet the NEEDS of others for the Common Good of the church. This was in order to experience their individual fullest (or glorious) authenticity as a human being like God intended for them. Another word for authenticity is the Biblical word ETERNAL which is a quality of life, not only a quantity or everlasting life.
I see this being like an individual baseball player operating at his or her highest ability for the team to win. In baseball, the team depends on the individual players operating at his or her best for the NEED of winning. That places a player in a HUMBLE rather than arrogant position. A player can’t win without the team winning. The team can’t win without the player being their fullest or most authentic as a gifted person for the team’s sake.
Jesus rejected both individual and collective dominant force as the way to be the authentic Son of God. Dominant power just creates competition toward others for the dominant position. Some other sports live by winning by dominant force. Most of those sports elevate violence against players in order to win. But in baseball the only violence is against a ball! The most authentic or genuine baseball players develop their playing abilities so the team can win! That is God’s joyous and peaceful way!
Jesus came to redeem humans back from violence to be authentic. I hope that is why baseball is known as America’s sport! Winners for the teams’ good! Well?
- July 5, 2017
While Rev. Dr. Yawn is on vacation this week, we have provided him an UnRavelings vacation, as well. His “column” will reappear in next week’s Vision newsletter. Thank you.
- June 27, 2017
It’s traditional vacation time of year. I heard someone say, “Take it or lose it!” Vacation, that is! Take the time off or lose it is often in Personnel Policies.
But it may not be as true from an emotional or spiritual perspective. From this point of view the more accurate phrase might be “Live it or lose it!” From this perspective, how one chooses to “live” one’s time can determine whether one has the experience of vacation as a time of refreshing fulfillment of life. How and with which attitude one chooses to live one’s vocation can make one’s vacation exhausting or refreshing.
I think if we are honest, regardless of one’s vocation there are parts of it that exhaust and are drudgery. But there are also things about one’s vocation that one finds pleasurable, enticing, even fulfilling and energizing—though doing them over and over can make one tired or bored, even leaving one needing a break. But the things one finds fulfilling about one’s vocation (or, if you prefer, just insert ‘job’) often are even physically and emotionally energizing—like a vacation!
Take house work (which is even a paid vocation for many folks), I suggest that seeing the job’s parts, not just the whole, can make a world of difference in whether cleaning has vacation moments of fulfillment or is all just deploring work. All jobs physically exhaust from going “hard at it!” Yet, after cleaning and organizing a house, isn’t there the satisfaction of fulfillment and an energy “high” that is positive rather than just negative and depleting? Parts of the job do what a vacation is supposed to do. So live the job so as not to lose the vacation!
Aren’t there even parts of cleaning a house that you enjoy or are drawn to spend more time with to clean and do a better job, than with other parts? The bathroom is one part of the house I clean just because it has to be done. Totally, it is work, not a vacation! But I have to admit I even enjoy and find refreshing and vacation-like some parts of the bathroom more than others. Cleaning certain parts are more emotionally or spiritually satisfying than are other parts.
So, do you begin to get my drift? A time of vacation can be a time while living one’s vocation—even cleaning for which one is financially paid or for which one pays oneself by using the spiritual theme of this year’s Pentecost Season: Self-Control! Jesus said the vacation comes from this attitude that highlights the parts of one’s vocation that one finds energizing. So, do the other parts anticipating these vacation parts! These most rewarding parts of vocations are God’s hidden blessings. Unless spiritually adept, one can skip over the vacations in the vocations! But then, you already know this! Well? So?