Binoculars, 25x100First, a recap. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is one continuous dissertation on 6 universal habits that sabotage love, presented in a specific order. Last week, we looked at Step 1: getting rid of habitual, willful anger and contempt. These always seek harm, which always returns harm.

By contrast, to love means to wish or seek good for someone. (This does not require affection. You don’t necessarily have to like people or their behavior to love them.)

Anger is a reflexive emotion triggered by an offended sense of internal justice. Its only purpose is to alert you to something that needs attention. Mercy is the antidote, an active force once it’s put in motion correctly.

You practice mercy by acknowledging the offense (not necessarily out loud), but temporarily suspending the sense of indignation until the anger subsides—a day, a month, whatever. Anger has done its job and can be put away. Now you can deal with the situation with a less scornful spirit. You’re thus empowered, in control rather than dragged along by every aggravation.

To most people, this sounds ridiculous or flat wrong, so they refuse to embrace it. But by giving up your “right” to be mad, not only do you break the grip of willful, retained anger over yourself, you automatically bless neighbors because they cease to be targets. Your new, more relaxed spirit feels greatly relieved, and the natural result is improved relationships.

But this takes intentional desire and planning ahead. It doesn’t happen by itself, nor does God do it for you. It’s how you love your neighbor as yourself.

Now then, as we move to Jesus’ second step—adultery and divorce—Step 1 must be in view. It is not a stand-alone. Remember, Jesus is a builder; his Sermon is not only sequential, it’s cumulative, like building a house. When the Sermon is chopped into bits in no particular order, it becomes nothing but a random collection of divine gripes instead of an intelligent Way to mend the soul.

Also, each new step assumes that the previous one is fairly well-established. Like learning ABCs before writing words, you don’t move on until you’re ready. God blesses and moves with you at your pace and ability. (more…)

La bildo estas kopiita de wikipedia:en. La ori...

The four forces on an aircraft: lift, weight, drag and thrust. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aerodynamics 101 says that when thrust overcomes drag, and lift overcomes weight, even a brick will fly. So it is with spiritual dynamics, as measurable as any physical science.

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isa. 40:31) New life is about joy in the midst of sadness, confidence in the midst of chaos, soaring in the midst of difficulty.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)

This is the beginning of repentance, the turning point where spiritual thrust and lift begin to overcome drag and weight to transform, or re-form, the entire person (soul). I wish I had known this decades ago! I’ll assume that others would like to know, too.

Re-Think

Let’s start with a good definition of faith/belief and see how that relates to body and behavior. Faith is more than acceptance or awareness; it’s confidence, certainty, even of things we don’t see with physical eyes. That’s because vision is rooted in ideas and images. This becomes action because faith always acts—good or bad—as if something were true. To put faith in Jesus means to put confidence in his ability, availability, and willingness to show us the Way to life.

Faith and belief are thus born in the mind/thought/emotion soul-ring of personhood. “Faith comes by hearing,” and, in modern times, by reading as well. The door that Christ knocks upon is the door of the mind, which we open to him. The mind’s eye catches his vision of life in the kingdom of heaven among us, for without that vision, no one can repent. (more…)

Signature of Dr. Seuss

Image via Wikipedia

A common job-interview question asks, “If you could have lunch with anyone from history, who would it be?” So many possibilities! Abraham Lincoln. Hellen Keller. Moses. But my top choice is a toss-up between Amelia Earhart and Dr. Seuss.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was a cartoonist and writer famous for children’s books infused with upbeat wisdom disguised as catchy rhymes. My personal childhood favorite was Green Eggs and Ham. Now, as an adult, I still love it.

With the latest Dr. Seuss book-turned-movie, The Lorax, joining The Grinch and Horton Hears a Who, I can actually appreciate and marvel at the man’s writing genius. If I could have lunch with him, I’d pick his brain on how to put things so simply and plain.

I’d also be curious to see whether he was as adventurous and humorous as his characters are or whether they were some part of him that could only be set loose on paper. Either way, I think I’d order green eggs and ham, and thank him for shaping the me that I am.

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.”

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Everyone needs a sense of value and possibility, the very essence of hope. The man has great messages for children and adults—maybe more for the adults!

Binoculars, 25x100

In this series from the Sermon on the Mount, my previous post looked at getting rid of willful anger and contempt—the #1 culprits that sabotage well-being. Willful, retained anger always seeks to do harm; and harm always returns harm. Thus, the primary benefit of Jesus’ seek-no-harm strategy isn’t for neighbors; it’s for ourselves.

It’s important to keep anger and contempt in mind as we move to the next step, adultery and divorce. Remember, Jesus is a builder and his Sermon is sequential. When we chop it into random bits in no particular order, it becomes nothing but a collection of divine gripes rather than an intelligent Way to personal wellness.

You have heard it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…“It has also been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress.” (Mat. 5:27-29, 31-32)

Although it’s not what we usually hear, the secret is to realize what “woman” and what “wife” Jesus is ultimately talking about. This is primarily about spiritual adultery and divorce from God. Obviously, there’s a corresponding physical aspect, and that’s what we usually hear about (as did first-century crowds).

But the “woman” we lust after is the spiritual harlot depicted in Scripture as Mystery Babylon. The “wife” we shouldn’t divorce is God’s faithful wisdom and “her” children—love, truth, peace, joy, and so on. (Luk. 7:35, Mat. 11:19)

The “adulterous generation” didn’t die with the Pharisees. It lives on in the world (and the church!) because it’s a mind-set rather than any specific act. The point is that all sin is adultery and all sinners are adulterers. “The whole world” chases after Babylon. Once we digest that concept, we can better understand this step.

What Are You Looking At? (more…)