Rage Against the Machine with Love

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“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:35

 

I recently read articles from two leading political writers on opposite sides of the spectrum. These gentlemen can often be found on talk shows or on the editorial pages of some of today’s leading newspapers and magazines, which is to say that I am told they are smart and worthy of my attention. Well they won’t get it.

One of them: “The experience of mass movements…seems to suggest individuals can do little to affect the course of events. When we do indulge our hopes and take seriously our wishes, they’re often frustrated by reality.”

And the other, “There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in [our] society — politics or some form of dictatorship.”

To these two writers I channel my inner Whitman and “sound my barbaric yawp!” I offer the pessimists an alternative: real change can occur if we love one another.

In business it is often said “don’t try to boil the ocean.” It is simply too insurmountable a task to unilaterally alter the course of world events. Besides, to my knowledge only one person has ever accomplished that and you are not Him.

When I was a young, eager banker I was given a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Life changing for me it was not, but I do recall one principle from that book that stuck: know your sphere of influence and live inside of it. It is a complete and utter waste of my time to concern myself with things outside of my control.

Concerning myself with labor utilization in Siberia does me no good because what in the world can I do about it anyway? Instead I should focus my limited time and energy on matters where I can make a difference.

Instead of turning up the heat in the Pacific, I could dedicate my limited time and resources to things that may truly make a difference. Instead of being a clanging cymbal (Cor 13:1) I might be a spark that starts a fire. Instead of changing the world I may start by improving my neighborhood.

On a walk this week I picked up a discarded can near my street and threw it away. Did I impact global climate change? No. Did I stand on the corner and rail against global polluters and Big Aluminum? Of course not. Did I even tell anyone about my deed? Not until now (and let’s commit to keep this between the few hundred thousand of us international friends, OK?).

Want to end global poverty? You can grow food for every starving mouth in Asia, or volunteer at Larimer County Food Bank. They feed hundreds of children right here in our community, every day. Do you care about abortion? You can try to overturn Roe vs. Wade, or you can learn more about Lutheran Family Services or any of the myriad crisis pregnancy centers serving women who need your help. Do you wish people were less crude and more generous? Then model that behavior at work, at home and in public.

I take second place to nobody when it comes to complaining about all of that out there. I would be better served spending my efforts on all of this right here.

I’m sure I am not telling you something you don’t already know. So then why don’t we do it? Patience.  Aquinas identified patience as a necessary virtue for earthly happiness (felicitas). If you want to be truly happy, according to Aquinas, who is smarter than you, you must possess patience. This is the main reason that happiness eludes me.

So let’s try this:

  • Be patient.
  • Be a model for patience to others.
  • That will certainly lead to loving one another, which will make it much easier to…
  • Love One Another

Exhaust and perfume…

Burnout

While we were raising our teenage son, one wise parent, who had been through it, told me that once boys get a whiff of exhaust and perfume… things are never the same. Even though it kind of fit, I knew that there was more to it than that even though I can remember experiencing the same thing as a teenager. Both were very distracting at that age! But there’s more to the story so… back to the topic at hand…

I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. There were times when my son would be the kid I had always known and then the next it was like a totally different person occupied his body. Good natured, caring, intelligent and then surly, angry, sullen, rebellious… within a 24 hour period! What in the world? The challenge was how to react, how to communicate and how to cope. Getting angry didn’t work. Being more strict didn’t help. Doing nothing seemed to make it worse at times! So… more research…

What I found was that the hormone levels in a teenager can sometimes swing 300% or more in a very short time frame and that can be a huge factor in mood swings and behavior. So the question then became… knowing that this was somewhat a physical issue… what do you do as a parent? You don’t want to let the behavior just go but you also know that there is somewhat of an uncontrollable in the midst of it. So I pulled out the parenting manual that came with my son and checked out the appropriate section… you didn’t get one of those? Sorry to say… I didn’t either!

So, what I realized… what I would encourage you to do… is to pray, practice grace and mercy, forgive yourself when you don’t get it, don’t take it personally, and make sure you have some sort of support! And… in the midst of all of that, balancing the control and authority needed during the teenage years. It’s not easy… but don’t lose heart… keep the long term picture fully in front of you! The parenting job is not to be friends, make your teens happy or to make sure nothing ever is difficult. Parenting is all about giving children and your young adult teens skills that will help them be productive, contented, spiritually mature adults who can deal with all that life throws at them… and it can throw a whole lot!

What can you do to help your children for the long run?

April 2016 Whetstone Newsletter

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the April edition of the Whetstone Newsletter. I think I’ve found some good stuff for you this month. Be sure to check out the Ransomed Heart podcast on seasons of fatherhood. Good stuff. Oh and by the way The Whetstone now has a logo. Spiffy.

Read

Fighting Lust With Lust Erik Raymond

“How do we fight lust? We fight lust with lust. That is, a ceaseless pursuit of the delight of God, which is a delight in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We all fight with lust. It’s not just a sexual type of lust, but anything that we put our own will and pleasure above God’s.

 

The Right Kind of ‘Code’ for Men to Live By Barnabas Piper

“A friend would be willing to go face the uncomfortable and push for things to be made right, to uphold the real code to which all men should hold themselves. “

What kind of “code” do you live by? Spoken or unspoken, we live by codes. A code is an  expected norm or behavior. These may (but shouldn’t) vary by context (ie locker room, work, church, etc). Do the codes you’re expected to adhere to agree with what you know is true?

 

Of Burner Phones and Busy Lives: Making the Best Use of TimeNathan Eshelman

“Time is something with which we all have a relationship. As in all of life, time is not neutral, but must be understood through the scope of Scripture. We must purchase, protect, position, and profit as we seek to make the best use of time.”

 

One of my favorite verses is “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 At times life feels as if it will go on forever, but it won’t. We need taught that our time on earth is short and God has made us stewards of that time. Time is as important as our finances to manage. How are you managing your time? By the way, You’re not too busy.

 

Do you Know Your Calling? This Might HelpJJ Peterson

“When I look at scripture I don’t see God pushing people into specific careers, I see Him calling people to a new way of living. He doesn’t call people to be doctors or lawyers, He calls them to be a specific kind of doctor or lawyer.”

 

To broaden this a bit, we might ask the question, “What is God’s will for my life?” I believe that at times God has specific, detailed plans for parts of our lives (see Noah, Jonah, et all). But I also believe that more often than not God has a general will for our lives (love God, love others) and whatever you do as long as it doesn’t violate those two commands is in God’s will. Sometimes we just need to push on and stop waiting for the “right” thing to appear.

 

The Title of “Brother” Means Something – Josh Buice

“As we see Brother Paul affectionately referencing Epaphroditus as his brother in Philippians 2:25, it’s clear that there is a unique bond between those who have been saved by the blood of Christ and adopted into the family of God. “

 

A interesting read on the use of “brother” in the bible and thoughts on how we might use it today.

Listen

Seasons of FatherhoodRansomed Heart Podcast

Three dads from the Ransomed Heart team swap stories about the various seasons of fatherhood.

 

Watch

Where We All Get StuckGary Barkalow

“So, don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.  Offer what God has given and developed in you with humility, gentleness and patience (Eph. 4:1,2) as He reveals a need for it.”

 

Stay Sharp

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A Steaming Pile of …… Sin

steaming pile of sin

 

I have a dumb dog. Maybe you can relate. I just

found her hiding in a corner of the back yard with a look of guilt and shame on her face. “Great – what have you gotten into this time” is the thought that races through my head as I go to investigate. Is it one of the boys’ socks that now has to be purged from your stomach? Or some plastic toy that’s been chewed to bits? Or a dead bird that’s been played with and torn apart?

No. It’s actually not that bad this time. In fact, it’s pretty harmless. It’s the remnant of a toilet paper tube that must have fallen out of the recycle bin in the back yard. Yes, she ate most of it, but I really don’t care. No need to induce vomiting, and no destruction of property involved unless you count the loss of potential recyclable material. But if she could talk, I’m sure she’d argue her form of recycling / biodegradation is more environmentally friendly. Whatever.

The beauty of this encounter is that it allowed me to reflect on my own sinfulness. Yes, you read that right – my sin. And no, my sin doesn’t include chewing up toilet paper tubes or swallowing socks (oh, that it were that mundane…..)

But I don’t want to cloud the discussion with my particular sin, because I don’t think it really matters for this discussion. In fact I think it applies to any sin that we try to hide from others, and even try to hide from God.

Do you see it yet? See yourself hiding in a dark corner hoping no one will catch you. Knowing all along it’s not good for you. Or at least knowing that your master has told you (over and over and over again….) NOT to do it. But you do it anyway. And you don’t really know why.

It, of course, is YOUR SIN. And your sin is far more destructive to you than chewing up a toilet paper tube, or even having to have your stomach purged of the sock you couldn’t keep yourself from eating.

Allow me another, albeit more disgusting, illustration. My dog also eats poop. This is, I think, a more accurate metaphor for sin. To us humans, this is a disgusting, stomach churning habit that infuriates us. How does she actually find that appealing?! But my dog keeps doing it anyway, no matter how many times I yell at her and chase her around the yard. The temptation appears too much for her to resist on her own. The only way I can stop her is to remove the source of her temptation.

Now I recognize this illustration starts to break down at this point, but I think it’s still a helpful way to see our sin as God see’s it. Completely unhealthy, destructive, and unnecessary.

Try thinking of your sin as a pile of poop in the backyard the next time you’re tempted.

And don’t be a dumb dog.