Tag Archives: positive

Subtle Algebraic

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.  They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”  6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  11 “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  (John 8:2-11 NIV)

The dreary skies outside have placed me in a musing mood.  Finding no reason to drive my thoughts towards some specified result, instead I am contemplating the diverse experiences I have had over the past week.  A few days ago I awakened at 4:15am, two minutes after sunrise, to the emergency alert on my phone screeching words I could not understand.  After I walked across the room and tried in vain to shut the sound off, I quickly learned what the alert was for.  The ground beneath me shook and the world outside of my window swayed back and forth for several seconds, and then again.  I thought, “Ah, earthquake!  Got it.”  Who knew I would learn something new from the effeminately delivered, subtle-toned linguistics known as jishin or ground shake?

Over the past 48 hours, all of my plans have been cancelled because a signal II Typhoon is gaining strength as it barrels across the entire region.  A few days earlier when I arrived here, I had the opportunity to spend the day with a long time resident as well as a short-term visitor like me.  It was a thought-provoking day, mostly spent at a local market where pleasant vendors worked extremely hard to sell their name brand look-alike accessories.  Interestingly, all of the vendors had tremendous feminine qualities; some innate, others inchoate.  As I understood the reality of the situation, I felt a little flush as my bigotry meter began to peg.  I thought, “Oh boy!  Why is this happening?  I thought I had worked through this and learned that kindness and respect are entitlements for all of His children.”  Suddenly, in a soft voice, God said, “Honey, replace your tension with My love.  No matter what doctrine dictates, you and I both know what you are here for.  Loving one or two at a time is how you make a difference.  Live what you have learned and authentically show Me to them.  Remember your favorite scene from the movie the Great Debaters?

Q. Who is the judge?            A.  The judge is God.

Q. Why is he God?                A.  Because he decides whether I win or lose, not my opponent.

Q. Who is your opponent?  A.  He doesn’t exist.

Q. Why does he not exist?   A.  Because he is just a mere dissenting voice to the truth I speak.

Now, don’t think about it; go be about it!  Be My love and show them the kindness they need.  Their choice in gender identity has nothing to do with you but your choice to be cold versus kind has everything to do with you.  The truth is that all of My people need love.  Yes, many of these guys are far more effeminately dressed than you will ever be.  But, stay focused and live out what I have called you to do.  Cold-heartedness is a personification of that dissenting voice.  The apprehension you are feeling is nothing more than molecular foolishness.  I have given you enough wisdom to overcome it.  Now, let go and let’s love.”

As I relaxed and engaged, I found the vendors to be extremely warm and nice.  The kindness I received from all of them was far greater than what I had the capacity to give.  I realized that I, like everyone else, grow with heart-felt positive human connection.  I then smiled because I entered the engagement believing that I was there to give.  I left understanding that I was the one in need and He saw to it that I received.  No amount of meanness, judgment, or other types of negativity would have caused a positive Godly outcome with the vendors.  I could have demonstrated my disapproval by leaving but I wasn’t in the market for what they were selling anyway.  However, my friends were.

I must have had a strange expression and been shaking my head as we were leaving the market because my shopping mates asked me what I was thinking about.  When I said, “it seems as though the difference in the weather experiences is a metaphor for the wisdom gained by being open to the lessons different people bring”, they gave me a bizarre look and began shaking their heads.

The experiences made me appreciate that there is a Master who has a plan.  The boxes labeled value or no value that we place people in have no real worth for anyone.  To the extent that categories are in any way appropriate, we are all a figurative series of binomials – ones and zeros whose sequence and interaction in this world have profound but well-designed meaning.  Where one represents light and zero represents shadow, we can find shade even on the summer solstice.  In this instance, it is all a matter of how and where He positions us.  Where one is black and zero is white, remember that black is a culmination, not devoid, of all colors and white is the baseline from which color starts.  In this instance, it is a matter of how open we are to seeing His lessons.  Where one is pure and zero is adulterated, life begins and then it happens.  In this instance, it is all a matter of how widely and deeply we are willing to feel those around us.  Where one is linear and zero is circular, each represents paths that all of us have taken.  In this instance, it is a matter of how we experience the world around us.  The lines and circle have infinite positions; many are neither good nor bad.  We each have both.  When life deals us a poor position, obscured vision, arrested feelings, or rotten experiences, we can choose to walk with Him and be a ray of His light to others.  When we work together in His name and remain positive, good things can happen.  He is the expert for turning tragedy into triumph.

Regardless of the circumstances, we have a requirement to ask Him what He would have us do today and then complete our mission.  By doing so, we have the potential to add to the sum total of humanity.  He has a knack for renaming the odd ones unique, multiplying the remaining negative products in an even way, and creating positive exponents.  It is not our calling to join the ranks of the malicious and mean-spirited.  Those who do, join the gang that tries to subtract from others.  Fortunately, they never gain the ability to divide them.  Their efforts simply underestimate the power of the elevated number because they focus on the zero and completely miss what is in front of it.  In this context, they miss The One – Yes, Him, 10 to the power of 10.  “When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance.”  Joel Osteen

What Do You Expect?

So frequently, my friends make fun of me because I do not watch TV or listen to terrestrial radio.  Often, they ask me what I think about local news events.  I have to ask them to educate me on the event before I can provide a thoughtful response.  Occasionally, I look up breaking news on the internet only to be bombarded by accounts of humanity at its worse.  When I looked at online news accounts today, terrorism, civil war, overdose, cannibalism, and racism are terms in the top five headlines.  That level of negativity cannot possible yield positive outcomes.  So, I quickly exited out of the news site because I want more positive experiences than negative ones.  That level of doom and gloom is stressful and erodes hope.  These types of bad deeds may be the world’s reality, but they are not affirming or encouraging.  But I struggle because I want to remain relevant and relatable.  I know that awareness of current events is a way to get there, but in this world without rails, I quickly get lulled into believing the worst and expecting the least.

Titus 3:1-8 lays out the promises and expectations of a Christian walk.  It says, “1-2 Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. 3-8 It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. (Message)

So how does this play out in everyday life?  Many people encourage the elimination of expectations simply to avoid disappointment.  What is missed with that direction is the understanding that choosing to live without expectation creates a life without inspiration.  An unstimulated soul that cannot feel is lifeless.  So…when we are surrounded by the challenges of negativity, low expectations, and malicious ways, how do we seek His promises and live in His light?  The answer lies in prayer.  With everything, go to Him on bended knee.

Driving my usual route to work the other day, I entered the on ramp to an elevated highway.  I began to merge left towards fast-moving traffic into a clear lane.  Suddenly, a three-axel euro truck accelerated and not only closed the gap but also switched from the main lanes to the right hand merge lane while looking left.  I quickly accelerated ahead of the truck to avoid a collision with the truck and the guard rail on an elevated roadway.  I thought, “Wow!  That was close.  Good, no one was hurt.”  I continued on.  Soon thereafter, traffic slowed to a standstill.  I glanced into my right side view mirror and saw the euro truck slowly approaching in the adjacent lane.  I then felt the driver’s eyes peering at me.  I thought, “Seriously dude?  You were the one who failed to maintain a single lane of traffic back there and nearly ran me off the highway.  I moved on but you can’t let it go?”  The peering was persistent.  I finally looked over at the driver expecting to see an expletive hand gesture or some other road-rage induced, mean-spirited body language.  Much to my surprise, with a very sincere looking expression, the driver mouthed, “I am very sorry.”  I smiled, nodded at him, waved to him and gave him thumbs up.  He then smiled and mouthed, “Thanks!”  My heart then filled with joy because it was extremely obvious that God is always at work and the Spirit is alive.

Yes, the encounter touched my emotional epicenter.  At first, I was shocked that an experience I thought was going to be bad, turned out so good.  I then felt shame that I expected so little of my roadway neighbor.  I was sad that I took so long to acknowledge him when all he was seeking was an opportunity to apologize.  I was delighted that when he realized he was wrong, he took the time to make things right.  I was grateful that my forgiveness of him was instinctive.  I was thankful that he made time to make my day.  His humility humbled me.  As Criss Jami says, “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”  In all of his humanity, my trucker brother exposed himself to build me up.

The encounter left me with this:

  1. Expect the best from others
  2. Forgiveness liberates all parties
  3. Regardless of others’ actions, we are called into specific action
  4. Look for ways to be positive and helpful
  5. When we blow it, work hard to repair it

None of us are perfect.  There should be no expectation of perfection in ourselves or of each other.  Building 429 tells us in Press on, I am a mess, I am a wrecking ball.  I must confess that I still don’t get it all.  Lord I believe that all Your words are true; Doesn’t matter where I’m going if I’m going with You.  I press on – When I still don’t get it.  Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I beg you…to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” (The Voice)