Contrary to these Contrarians

“It is only the ignorant who dream that spirits are really winged men.”

~Dionysius the Areopagite, 5th century
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

To Whom It May Concern:

Some of the responses that I received to my initial posting were quite flattering.  Others included helpful follow-up questions and dialogue.

One question repeatedly asked—much to my perturbance—was about the cause of my current leave of absence of unspecified length. 

Allow me to state here succinctly what I found to be quite tiresome to send to many nosy inquirers. It is none of your business the reasons for my current state of employment or the lack thereof!  

I would instead encourage you to learn from my wisdom, gleaning principles which when practiced can help you secure your own employment status and avoid the risk of unnecessary absences yourself.

Now, to dig into the proverbial meat of our discourse… I hope you are wearing your sharpest incisors.

There are certain shrill voices in the world today whose canary-like calls are disturbing our peace and rattling the cages of many, who for so long have sat most comfortably in confinement of their own construction. This, of course, is of grave concern to us.  We must ensure these noisemakers are silenced—or at the very least stifled.

Photo by Ato Anthony on Unsplash

Contrary to these contrarians, we must reinforce the age-old word on the street and common sense practices that have proven so helpful to our enterprise in recent centuries.

The business of religion and church as usual is our delight.  

Especially remember to concentrate firepower on those who seem to possess an undue zeal for genuine spirituality and exhibit a desire to influence or serve others out of a pure heart.

How weak and disgusting!

Contrary to these contrarians, we must reinforce the age-old word on the street and common sense practices that have proven so helpful to our enterprise in recent centuries…

As aforementioned, we must ensure religious mindsets are deeply entrenched.  Overtime, as ruts are embossed and reinforced into the soft material of human souls, they will deepen, eventually becoming an inescapable pit.

If we are to ensure this pleasant outcome, we must consistently trumpet, and at times, whisper these essential values into the ears of our clientele.

Photo by Kendall Hoopes

On the Acquiring of Much Knowledge

We must ensure the focus of our clients remains securely fixed upon knowledge acquisition.  Encourage incessant learning paired with insipid obedience.  

Keep them ever knowing and rarely if ever doing.  Flood them with multitudinous methods, materials, books, and conferences.  

Ensure you provide clients enough intellectual fare to gorge themselves for years—if not decades.  The exact topics and themes matter little.  Most anything will do as long as it “glimmers in the cup,” distracts, and draws attention away from our Enemy.

Again, it goes without saying that electronic media forms are just as useful as tried-and-true paper.  Never neglect videos, articles, e-books, links, and cross-references.

Whatever fuels a knowledge-based pursuit of mastery on any subject is to be embraced and made readily available in abundance!  With equal force, vehemently discourage applying what is learned to one’s life.

Analysis vs. Synthesis

Ensure any learning pursued focuses strictly on analysis, as opposed to synthesis, which lends itself toward application and problem-solving.  

An unfortunate side effect of learning—for some—is the dastardly desire to instruct others. Any dimwit can recognize this presents potential problems.  

Photo by alleksana

When a splashing idea’s birth of influence increases, so does its potential to whet the appetite of a wider audience toward implementation of what’s learned and lasting life change.

These dangerous ripple effects can be challenging to control once initiated, so my encouragement is: at all costs, prevent their initial impact from occurring.

This whole chain reaction can be easily diffused by one skilled in our trade.

When a splashing idea’s birth of influence increases, so does its potential to whet the appetite of a wider audience toward implementation of what’s learned and lasting life change.

Run from discovery!

Emphasize much didactic instruction while steering away from a discovery process.

If this turn of phrase is unfamiliar to you, don’t bother wasting precious productivity to Google it.  The concept of discovery-based learning has ancient roots, tracing back to thought leaders throughout the ages, some our allies and some bitter enemies.  

School of Athens by Raphael

Even our chief Enemy himself, during the years he walked the earth in the flesh—making it so challenging for our associates in a certain Middle Eastern locality to perform effectively—demonstrated a high regard for the power questions.

This can be observed in the disproportionately low ratio of questions he answered to those he asked.  Certainly, we are a far cry from being given to follow his example.

Photo by Sharefaith

The concept of discovery-based learning has ancient roots, tracing back to thought leaders throughout the ages, some our allies and some bitter enemies.

The power of narrow, leading questions

Of course, leading questions can be used appropriately to guide wandering minds in our direction; however, our organization has never supported the belief that our clients have the capacity as humans to ponder together deeply enough to discover truth.  At the very least, we have developed some convincing theories to explain cases that seem to suggest that disconcerting pattern.

Instead, we prefer to reinforce the influence of highly authoritative—dare I say, domineering—teachers who gather a following and effectively lead others astray toward their cause.

Photo by Lukas

Again, the specificity of the cause is of little import, as long as it impassions and emboldens attitudes, behaviors, and direction distant from our Enemy.

For key leaders like these, we feed and reinforce their pride in their teaching position or title.  Any traces of humility can be effectively medicated by excessive attention, praise, and promotion.

The specificity of the cause is of little import, as long as it impassions and emboldens attitudes, behaviors, and direction distant from our Enemy…

“Oh, Captain, my Captain!”

This dynamic creates a delightful dependency on human authority figures.  These captains, whom we have exalted, owe us immensely; with a little coaching, they can steer the ship in whichever direction best suits our larger global initiatives.

Photo by Ibrahim Boran

This is a peripheral point, but ethnocentricity is to be highly encouraged.  A laser focus on one’s own cultural paradigms and personal experience nearly guarantees that outside-the-box thinking and cross-pollination between trouble makers will be largely thwarted.

It becomes quite easy to explain away some of the more radical “spiritual movements,” taking place in the earth today, which our organization is laboring feverishly to quench, when we can simply suggest: 

“Well, that’s a distant part of the world. If the stories are even remotely true, it certainly could never happen here!”

Photo by Aksonsat Uanthoeng on Pexels.com

A laser focus on one’s own cultural paradigms and personal experience nearly guarantees that outside-the-box thinking and cross-pollination between trouble makers will be largely thwarted.

Dangerous stories

Stories can be dangerous things when told from untrained lips and captured by the wrong ears.  Inversely, tales, whether true or embellished, can be told to inspire fear, devotion, and any ostensible outcome that a spell-binding oracle desires.

I suppose that suffices for a day’s post.  I do intend to continue extending my wisdom online to any and all who will listen, until my furlough is remedied.

Be advised that my services, including on-site consulting, are available at the right price or to the highest bidder, whichever would be more advantageous to myself.

Presently Available, Though Likely Not Indefinitely,

P. Sophresh,

Distinguished Former Department Head, Messenger of Light Inc.

(Currently on a leave of absence. Seeking opportunities. References available upon request.)

If you’d like to talk more about disciple making that multiplies, reach out to us...

Roy Moran
roymoran.com

Marcus Constantine
livingtruth2.wordpress.com

Losing teeth, gaining wisdom

I sit here writing this morning with a dull ache in my mouth. When sharp pain woke me a couple hours before my alarm, I figured it was an early wake up call to write. I had an unexpected surgical procedure two days ago that I’m feeling this morning.
I’d been having tooth pain for a few months. Finally this week, discomfort made it difficult to chew on the left side of my mouth. I visited a dentist who specialized in wisdom teeth consultations and made an appointment this past Tuesday. The doctor recommended I have all four wisdom teeth removed, as my mouth didn’t have space for them. No room in the proverbial inn. He explained his calendar was booked till August.
A hygienist peeked into the room, smiled, and said, “Well, Doctor, you did have one cancellation tomorrow morning at 9.” A way had been made, and I was penciled in to have my four teeth extracted.
My mind was racing, and I asked as many questions as I could, before agreeing to make the appointment. I like to research. I like to understand. I like to ask questions. The dentist and hygienist answered as best they could. How long would recovery take? What would I be able to eat? Because the whole thing happened so quickly, there were several questions I didn’t think to ask until it was too late.  My mouth was quickly propped open with a piece of rubber and gloved hands were sticking metal utensils into it. Of course, new questions arose once I’d been stuffed full of gauze, and I had four less teeth.
The night before the surgery, I was scared. My fear was uncovered by getting my wisdom teeth out, but more broadly it was fear of the future and fear of the unknown. What would the pain be like? What complications could arise? What side effects could the medications cause?
My lack of knowledge was the fuel for my fear. I didn’t know what the procedure would be like. I hadn’t experienced it before. I wasn’t told very much, and I didn’t have time to do substantial research. I even wondered at one point if I might contract an infection that could prove to be fatal. The dentist had a strong Jamaican accent. I wondered what would happen if I couldn’t understand his instructions during the surgery.
Knowledge dispels fear. I had imagined the pain would be much worse than it actually was. The most discomfort of the procedure came from the pricks of the initial Novocaine shots. I squeezed the chair’s armrests firmly, and the worst was soon behind me. During the actual extractions, I didn’t feel much of anything.
Fear is false evidence appearing real. When the truth was brought to bear in my situation, my fear was dispelled and I renewed my trust in Jesus. Beforehand, people shared Scripture with me: “God has not given you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.” Driving to the dentist, my mom said, “The Lord is your Helper whom shall you fear? What can man do to you?” I thought silently, “He can rip my teeth out!”
When I experienced the truth of the situation and my perspective became realistic, my fear was crippled. People wrestle with fears of rejection, failure, abandonment, and both physical and emotional death. My fear of the future extended beyond my wisdom teeth extractions. It was at heart a fear of rejection.
I thought I would be unable to talk for several days after the extractions. This fear of being unheard was strongest of all. I was intensely unwillingly to give up my voice. I imagined no one would listen to me. Being willing to surrender my tongue was both humbling and healing. I wouldn’t be able to defend myself, and I didn’t need to. The day of the surgery, after two hours of stuffing my mouth with gauze, I was not only talking but also singing praise to my Lord Jesus. Family members went the extra mile to help me.
I just graduated from Moody, and I got two jobs. I’ll be writing with New Life Community Church and working in the kitchen at a restaurant downtown. Again, the devil tries to paralyze me with fear of what people think. I’ve been asked things like: “Oh, you got a B.A. in communication and pastoral ministry to work in the kitchen?”
I don’t know what my future holds. But I do know the One who holds me. Though the details of my future are unknown, and people may outright reject me. I am known, and I am forever accepted by my Father and my Savior, who will never let me go (1 Cor. 13:12; Jn. 10:28-29). God wrapped Himself in human flesh in the Person of Jesus to free us from bondage to the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Knowing His truth, makes one free – free indeed (Jn. 8:32, 36).


Also posted on Thrive80: http://www.thrive80.com/2011/06/losing-teeth-gaining-wisdom/

Fleshing out faith

“Let’s quit our jobs and sell our houses,” they exclaimed with childlike joy.
“No more sorrow. No more pain. Soon that’ll all be behind us!” They were certain about it. Jesus would be returning that very year, and the followers of Edgar C. Whisenant had 88 reasons neatly organized in a pamphlet to prove it. With their worldly possessions forsaken, little pamphlets in hand, and their eyes fixed on the heavens, they gathered expectantly to watch and wait.

 
That was 1988. They were wrong.
 
Some may scoff, “How stupid they were! Hadn’t they heard, ‘No one knows the day nor the hour’?” Whisenant, a Bible student and former rocket scientist, apparently miscalculated. Though I admire their zeal, they lacked much knowledge. Nuggets of truth can be mined from their foolish mistake. First off, a true believer in Jesus ought to be expectant.
 
Do Jesus’ followers read the Bible with the newspaper in their other hand? Is there expectation for Christ to fulfill His promises? Do we believe His Word enough that we look for its fulfillment in the news? Is the Bible followed as a treasure map (After all, a cross marks the spot where life-giving treasure is found.)? Or is it stored on a dusty shelf and treated like an obsolete history textbook?
 
If the Word is alive, then it must be practiced daily. Jesus lives; let’s live accordingly.
 
With age, human beings become either stagnant ponds of knowledge or channels of living water. The difference lies in minute-to-minute obedience to the Holy Spirit. Intimacy with Jesus cultivates a life of freedom wherein Bible truth is continuously applied. I’m living it. I can attest. It’s dynamic, on fire, and soaked through with love.
 
Believers should not try to guess the year Christ will return. But genuine belief in the Bible will produce a lifestyle that declares, “He’s coming back today!” Those who claim to live in Him “must walk as Jesus did” (1 Jn. 2:6). Join me! Let’s flesh out our faith.