Wisdom Day 7 April 2016: R-Rated T-Shirt

Hey, guys, collecting T-shirts can be great. There is one to stay away from though if you value your life. It is inscribed “I slept with Loosey Lucy!”

Loosey Lucy will take you down. You think it will be fun going down with Loosey? Think again. You are not the first. You will not be the last. But like all, you will pay the price. Loosey’s soul is linked to all the others who came before you. Your soul becomes linked through hers to theirs. She will have many after you. And for every one, a little of the best of your soul gives way to a little bit of the worst of the collective soul of a growing throng of  partners. And you will have no control over the choice of your new soul mates, just as you had no say in the choice of the ones who were before you. But they will gain more and more control over you if you choose this path. So what’s the take away? Paul of Tarsus puts it plainly:

16-20 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.(Paul of Tarsus, 1 Corinthians 6:18, The Message, biblegateway.com)

And whether you believe in God or not, at least honor yourself. Honor your body, mind, and emotions. Don’t go with Loosey. As I’ve heard, “Sin takes you further than you mean to go, keeps you longer than you mean to stay, and costs you more than you mean to pay.” Ever had that experience? Or maybe you don’t believe in sin? If not, at least consider that STD’s are real, regardless of your beliefs.

There is hope though. There is a way out and a way back.

13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. (Paul of Tarsus, 1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message, biblegateway.com)

And the way back? Admit you were wrong. Determine that you want to change direction. Realize you can’t do it by yourself. Ask for for help. And whom do you ask? I asked Jesus.

How to ask? Some people call it prayer. If you don’t believe in prayer, than just address your request to “Whom it may concern.” When I first got started with prayer, it was conditional: “If you are real, I want to know. I need help.”

Even stoics sometimes end up with problems their philosophy can’t solve. I did have to set aside some pride, but at that point my intense need to really be good was greater than my desire to appear good.

So happy hunting in your quest for good. Better and great are better and great, but good is not bad for starters. It surely beats bad. If, though, you happen to believe that good and bad are irrelevant or all the same, I can’t help you there, unless of course you ask.

Meanwhile here are some good resources on the path to good, better, and best:

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Slimline
Study
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Jocko Owns Evil

At first I was repulsed. Even now, I must take care not to listen to some things too late in the day. Why is Jocko Willink bringing the evil of human behavior in war to the front in Jocko Podcast after podcast? Won’t this turn away listeners?

Now, though, I begin to get it. Jocko is not toying with popular subjects. He is facing into the ugliest subject of all: evil. Jocko is owning evil. He is executing in keeping with the philosophy put forth in Extreme OwnershipHe is a leader owning his world.

First Principle: Great does not equal popular

The most important missions are not necessarily popular missions. In fact, quite to the contrary. That is the essence of leadership. If everyone knew where to go and how to get there, we would need no leaders. A true leader knows how to set the objective, get the right people on the forward team, charge the hill, and take it. Later more and more followers can occupy the high ground. So Jocko is aiming to seize, clear, hold, and build on that hill we all confront: Mount Evil. To do this, he clearly is not trying to pander to the masses, hence the second principle.

Second Principle: Gaggles rarely take the hill.

Weed out the lukewarm troops. They may make great occupation forces. Save them for that. Take the hill with Chosen Warriors. The story of Gideon provides an example:

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are too many people with you for Me to hand over Midian to them, otherwise Israel will boast [about themselves] against Me, saying, ‘My own power has rescued me.’ So now, proclaim in the hearing of the people, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men returned [home], but ten thousand remained. (Judges 7: 2-3, AMP, BibleGateway.com)

With 10,000 remaining, God ordered the final sort:

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many people; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water, and the Lord said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels down to drink.” Now the number of those who lapped [the water], putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men, but all the rest of the people kneeled down to drink water. And the Lord told Gideon, “With the three hundred men who lapped I will rescue you, and will hand over the Midianites to you. Let all the other people go, each man to his home.” So the three hundred men took people’s provisions [for the journey] and their trumpets [made of rams’ horns] in their hands. And Gideon sent [away] all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but kept the three hundred men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley. (Judges 7: 4-8, AMP, BibleGateway.com)

So what was the result of this counter intuitive move? The 300 routed an army of Midianites that were “as countless as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Judges 7:12, AMP, BibleGateway). Well, yes, even in the Bible war stories get “amplified.” And yes, there is more to the story. And, yes, it makes good reading, even if the Bible is not your favorite field manual. And yes, one asks why those who lapped water from their hands were chosen over those who knelt to drink. Well, somewhere I found the explanation that those who lapped water from their hands had their heads up and could drink while maintaining situational awareness. Those who knelt were for a few moments all engrossed in quenching their thirst and thus vulnerable. Check it out.

There exists another historic example of a great leader who weeded out his followers in preparation for battle, in this case prolonged societal and spiritual warfare. When Jesus talked about his body as real food and his blood as real drink, people were outraged. It’s still tough to take such talk.

60 When many of His disciples heard this, they said, “This is a difficult and harsh and offensive statement. Who can [be expected to] listen to it?”  . . . 66 As a result of this many of His disciples abandoned Him, and no longer walked with Him.

So only the die-hards remained. The result was a movement that persists today.

Conclusion?

It is the die-hards, the hard core who change society. These are the ones who lead and own their worlds. They are the ones who face into evil. Some die and some live. But the movement wins.

What’s the point relating to Jocko’s Podcasts? You can get more and more insight on this if you choose to listen to the podcasts. My interpretation is that Jocko is after an elite following, those who will own their worlds, lead, and win. He is not talking to make himself famous. He is talking to make a difference in an evil world. Just my take.

And the take away? Hang with the Jocko podcasts, even if you find them sometimes repulsive. I think you will gain much insight. I know I am. So I will keep on listening, albeit not right before bedtime.

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War in Our Time

Preface: The backdrop of this post is the terrorist attacks that rocked Brussels four days after Belgian and French security forces arrested Salah Abdeslam in the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels. The violence spreads.

You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars . . .  those things must take place. (Jesus of Nazareth in Matthew 24:6, Amplified Bible).

Do you remember the name Neville Chamberlain? He preceded Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Here is what he said to the British people on September 30, 1938 after landing at Heston Aerodrome upon his return from his meeting with Hitler:

The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. … We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.

Later the same day outside of 10 Downing Street, Chamberlain offered hope and comfort to the British people,

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

I am no government official, but please trust me when I say there will be no peace for our time. Those of you who know history know that Chamberlain was tragically wrong. I hope you can see that anyone who assures you peace and security in the face of the ISIS threat does so for their own benefit not for yours.

What Churchill offered his people after replacing Chamberlain at the political helm of the country was something quite different: “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. (American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank, text and audio)

You may be sure that what we face in ISIS and the various other Islamic terrorist groups constitutes an even more “monstrous tyranny” than that of the Third Reich, against which Great Britain stood alone until the United States entered the battle.

In the context of our present situation, you may find appropriate for your consideration and reflection a passage from the speech Jocko Willlink presented upon his retirement from the Seal Teams:

As long as man is, war will always be, always. And our great nation will always need men to do what is in our nature: Kill the enemy. Kill him as he sleeps. Kill him as he plots. Kill him as he hides. Kill him as he fights. That is our nature, and that is our solemn duty. (Jocko Podcast 11)

It is my belief that anything less than attacking our terrorist enemies with such complete vigor will leave our entire nation, our sons and daughters and everything we hold dear, exposed to violence such as we have never known upon our continental soil since our own Civil War.

And the take away? I believe that each of us must be the best we can possibly be so that collectively as families, communities, states, and a nation we will be strong enough to stand against the threat of all terror. I have found Extreme Ownership an unparalleled help in my life in this regard. May it be so in yours.

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Know God?

Know God?
Once you know
You never know God,
Then you know
You’ll always know God.
© A. Allen Rowe, 2016

How often do we trivialize the infinite and eternal? How often do we reduce all of creation to a pet system of rules and principles we can grasp? How often do we approach un-awed a vastness without end? For me that would be most everyday.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8, NIV, Bible Gateway

The great mystery is that what is totally beyond us in every sense can be totally with us and within us.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8, NIV, Bible Gateway

And the path through this mystery? Simply Jesus:

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10:10, BRG Bible, Bible Gateway

Tune Well

43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19, NIV)

Wow! This just shook me up. Not recognizing the time of God’s coming to us leaves us exposed to harm, terrible harm. I had never considered the personal take away of this word: I need to stay tuned daily to the right frequency to know when God has come to show the way out of danger. And might it be that God comes to me in the form of counsel from faithful friends? Do I stay in touch with friends? Do I seek their counsel? Do I heed it?

Self Centered

38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”

41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied,“how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” (Luke 9:38-41)

I have always wondered why Jesus came down so hard on this dad. This morning, listening to this passage in Spanish, it came to me. The dad’s words reveal his motive: “for he is my only child.” He could have said first off something about how much the child was suffering. He did not. His primary concern was about himself, his position in society, the continuation of his family line, and all the things which in that society were associated with having a son. Since the boy was an only child, he was his dad’s only hope for all these things.

I think Jesus was angry because this dad was thinking of his son as an item of property, a possession. His core motive was not love and compassion for another human being, his own son, in such distress. The son was an important possession, and the dad wanted him fixed, wanted him to function properly, behave properly, fit in with the dad’s plans, goals and societal aspirations. I think that is why Jesus said what he said.

The take away for me? I’d better be darn careful about my own  motives when I ask God’s blessing. Am I so focused on my needs that I disregard the sacred humanity of another person for whom Christ lived and died and lives today?

Source of Life?

52  . . . all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. (Luke 8: 53-55)

Lord, fill me more and more with your spirit. I want more and more life.

Two, one

Does your mind ever get clearer when you’re exercising? I was on my exercise bike just now. Love that bike. Dad left it to me. A classic Schwinn Airdyne. Gets arms and legs, lungs and heart pumping. Oxygen reaches my brain. Fog clears, ideas begin to link. Insight and clarity flit in and out.

I thought of last night and my post, Keep aloof. My wife didn’t  like it. So I need to stress that the sin, the failure was mine. What she did was understandable. She was feeling lonely and wanted company. What I did was out of proportion. I got angry.

Pumping along on Dad’s Schwinn, I thought of Jesus. Images came. A Roman solider pounding a nail through Jesus’ right hand into the cross. Christ loving that guy in that moment of unspeakable pain. Christ forgiving, not cursing.

Then came an image of two natures in Christ: one divine, one human. Images came of Christ up early and out praying alone, a young Christ studying the scriptures, a troubled Christ praying in Gethsemane and sweating blood. The image came of human nature englobed in divine nature. The word “consistency” came to mind.

My thoughts turned to the latest admonition from my friend Benson Agbortogo. Consistency, consistency in commitment, consistency in purpose, consistency in prayer, consistency in the Word of God.

Oh, Lord, may I be consistent in love. May your divine nature englobe my human nature. Where there are two, may there be one when the chips are down.