The Sermon on the Mount as Counterintutive

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The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark

The Sacredness of Questioning EverythingThe Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rocks the boat while holding firm to faith that Jesus won’t let it tip over. I’ve long thought that “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life” needed to be challenged. I want to pass the pond completely and go meet the guy who owns it. Maybe He will let us swim and cool off too. Hell, maybe some need to be tossed in. But one will never get there on the dock dorking around with the tackle box. It’s possible that I just like someone who validates my kind of thinking, but I don’t think so.

Dark is onto something. No, some things. Big, important things. He effectively demonstrates how humor paves the way to opening dialogue about uncomfortable subjects in a chapter entitled “Truthiness”, quoting Colbert’s “If Truth be beauty and beauty be Truth, then I look fabulous tonight!” (Ode to a Grecian Urn turned bumper sticker on a beer mug). He questions “offendedness” and the “talkaboutable”, reminding us that our witness sometimes begins with offending sensibilities. It is, after all, a kind of weirdness and going against popular opinion,that got people screaming “crucify him!”. He does this in several ways, including a reminder that Mark Twain and his ilk were not always given the honor and respect for candor we now value dearly.

Onion-Crying--215x300Every time I hear the cliche, “it’s like peeling an onion”, I’m reminded that onions make people cry and people don’t like to cry. When have you heard someone declare interest in the center of an onion or how the onion might feel about being peeled? Such a huge market for how not to cry while peeling onions exists, to my way of thinking. I love it when Dark reminds us that we, as a society/culture have crafted ways of insulating ourselves from each other. “Such a waste of emotion” is one remark about the movie industry. That we get our tidy catharsis in a theater setting where we don’t have to actually look at each other is an astute observation on his part.

Yes, you could call this book subversive, but overall I maintain that he’s trying to remind us that “The Bible isn’t a collection of voices that learned, over thousands of years, to stop questioning, to silence protests and lamentations. It is a relentless kicking against the status quo, even and especially when the prophets fear that it’s their one true God who’s somehow endorsing it.” Most of all, my take away is for those who mean to follow Jesus, this isn’t the adoption of quiescence.

He seriously calls into question “Love your neighbor as yourself” and what that might look like.

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Only bravery

Well….nothing to add to this! Beautiful piece!

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WordGunI’m a sittin’ and a stewin’ when this poem shows up in my mailbox. What timing!! There’s probably a message in here for me somewhere.

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Truth or Consequences: What’s Causing Your Discomfort?

Hhhmmmm…TRUTH or Consequences?
Are You Keeping the Peace?

Get Arrested and Take Your Mug Shot  Today!!

Think about all the scripture that says Christians will suffer for His namesake, and for the cause of Christ.  There’s bunches of it all throughout the Old Tesatment, Gospels, and the Epistles. Joshua, Jeremiah and Job. Mark, Matthew, and many, many others.  Peter, Paul and a plethora of followers.  If you are a Christian, AND you are suffering, is it all for the sake of Jesus?

As a new Christian I would often tell myself that whatever I was going through, homelessness, poverty, ridicule, was for Christ’s sake (well, at least I recall saying “for Christ’s sake! quite frequently).  To some degree that’s true because there are some quick easy (albeit temporary) ways out of that discomfort and one must decide to sit it out. Yet, as I matured in faith the Holy Spirit revealed some sobering truth that REALLY made me suffer. Although I had a right to claim comfort from those scriptures about criticism and suffering, not to confuse…suffering FOR THE TRUTH with SUFFERING FOR MY CONSEQUENCES!! Yikes.





I wasn’t on the outs with my friends because I stuck up for Jesus…I was on the outs because I was a bully and wrong and defending myself and not letting go of the need to be right.

Nope, not unemployed for evangelism but got the boss fired up for me royally f’ing up!

NOT homeless from donating the ole’ hamlet to the Holy…evicted as a spun out alcoholic/addict, having forfeited my already compromised ability to be a productive citizen.

My friends weren’t in jail as a result of risking their lives by preaching the gospel in a hostile hell hole.  It was because they got caught toting guns, driving drunk, slinging dope.

My son wasn’t lacking leadership and my daughter a motherless child  because I was out on a daring mission in a dangerous place…it was because I needed some righteous rehab.

No, the Holy Spirit didn’t say it’s wrong to comfort those in jail with scriptures about Paul being in jail, or comfort anyone suffering with any scripture…He showed me it was wrong to confuse suffering for TRUTH with suffering for CONSEQUENCES. That owning my part in the problems, would help me participate in the solutions. It was actually quite liberating!

Then He [thoroughly] opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures Luke 24:45

Jesus is there for you either way. Truth or consequences, whatever got you to be where you’re at is a mute matter to Jesus and His brand of Justice. He will relieve your discomfort, and the Holy Spirit will reveal the cause.  Why are you here and what to do about it. Ahem…yeah, right! No, it’s not always that simple. And it’s rarely easy.

Sometimes things aren’t always that polarized. Sometimes people are right for the wrong reasons and wrong for the right reasons.  What then?  Amazingly, God has all that covered too.  Two, three, four or more, all uncomfortable in their seats, faithfully and fervently believing they are champions for their churches, fighting for their families, wrangling against the wretched….it can get pretty heated. A whole lotta truth and a whole lotta consequence flying around.

Regardless of the source of your discomfort, one thing we humans tend to have in common when we get uncomfortable

Pay attention where you're going.

Pay attention to the little things, the details.

is to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room until it sits on us. Then you have elephant butt to deal with and might mistake that for truth or consequence when it’s neither. And that could be, well, just crappy.

I believe if we all put first a desire to make things right over a desire to be right, we have a better chance of identifying what really needs to be addressed in any given situation. Regardless of where you are in life, paying for truth or paying with consequences, God is there and you’re going to be alright.  But is is much more satisfying to know that regardless of truth or consequence, one doesn’t come without the other and you’re there for something you believe in. And it’s good to be in it with others that have a heart for the truth too.

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My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal

My life changed, literally overnight, when I started keeping a success journal.

This sounds like good advice. What else is there to say?

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On the Heels of a Hurricane Ephesians 4:29

On the Heels of a Hurricane

On the Heels of a Hurricane

Okay peoples, here’s a different take on Ephesians 4:29.  It’s about timing and being seasonable.  Have you ever said some truth without timing?  Candor without cause? Honesty without aim?  Well, join the club.  I’ve pulled some real doozies out and hurt people pretty badly.  With ill intent?  No. Without forethought and balancing against the totality of circumstances? Yes. Perhaps my morbid thinking started when I got all screwed up with a volcano for my birthday (more on that later).

I’m the dummy that will talk about Noah’s Ark when you send me to help hurricane victims. Maybe that’s why my church doesn’t send me on field trips, huh? I’m beginning to understand as I age how damaging bad timing can be. Probably not nice to show up anywhere in  the Northwest with a water bucket and pamphlets about Sodom and Gomorrah in late July. Could get you exiled from Idaho eternally. “So what does this have to do with Ephesians 4:29?” one might ask.

Although I spent years and decades thinking Philippians was written just for the Ahlstroms (my dad’s name was Phillip…uh, more on that later), Ephesians may very well be my favorite Epistle.  I believe in what I like to call 20/20 vision, where you go back 20 verses and forward 20 verses around a quoted verse to get some context. That being said, for the sake of brevity, it’s 4:29 for now:

29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear. ESV Ephesians 4:29

and my favorite……..

Ephesians 4:29Amplified Bible (AMP)

29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

This verse can be used to shut you up or shut you down if you’re talking corrupt or being corrosive.  That’s as it should be. My focus here is the bit about AS IS FITTING TO THE NEED OR THE OCCASION.

Not a good news story in late July following coverage of a forest fire

Not a good news story in late July following coverage of a forest fire

To all of those I’ve hurt with bad timing, cause or aim, I hereby apologize. I have speculated aloud about cause of death before a coroners report, given dastardly diagnosis before lab work came back, definitely tossed out some volcanic verisimilitudes (more later), and even had some sayings about Tsunamis that I’d be ashamed to say directly to the victims. I mean it! I’m sorry and I hope to continue this writing endeavor with honesty, candor and truth. My pledge is to listen for God’s timing, have the Holy Spirit confirm the cause, and for Jesus to take aim at just ONE reader (I know, not exactly a dangerous digit in the war against the devil, but one has to build readership).

Till next time!

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