golden nuggets from Sirach (2)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the next installment. Read and consider.

Let those who are at peace with you be many, but let only one in a thousand be your advisor. (Sirach 6.6)

“Don’t seek political power from the Lord or a seat of honor from the king.” (Sirach 7.4)

“Don’t be timid in your prayer, and don’t neglect caring for those in need.” (Sirach 7.10)

“Don’t make fun of the uneducated, or your ancestors might be insulted.” (Sirach 8.4)

“Turn your eye away from a shapely woman, and don’t stare at beauty belonging to someone else.” (Sirach 9.8a)

imagine you, on food stamps (4)

 

Why?“, you ask.

“Why should I try to imagine myself living on food stamps?”

“Why live on a ‘food stamps diet’ for a week or a month in January?”

“Why subject yourself to such a potentially unpleasant and unhealthy set of circumstances as mimicking life on SNAP benefits?”

“Why call on others to join you in living on $4.00 a day for food for awhile?”

I’m glad you asked and I’ll be glad to give you four reasons, no, five why.

1. To help raise the awareness of us all to the needs of others. It’s all too easy for any of us to become unconsciously content to live in our own world and forget, and thereby push to the margin, those less fortunate than ourselves. This will do me, and all who know me, good by training us to be more aware of, and sensitive to, others.

2. To gain a more accurate and personal understanding of what life is like for others. That’s what always happens when I take a walk in someone else’s shoes. It helps me open my mind to the bigger scope of reality and helps keep me from limiting my understanding of life to my current perception of things and people.

3. To train myself a bit in terms of self-control and to put a better bridle on my desires and my fulfillment of them. Not only my taste buds, but the expectations in my head, get all too easily accustomed to the benefits I enjoy in life. I can all too easily morph “blessings” into being “rights” in my mind. I suspect you believe as I do that a bit of self-imposed austerity can be good for the soul at times.

4. To stretch myself a bit in the practice of what is commonly know as the Golden Rule. When Jesus said “… you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you” (Matthew 7.12), I realize he was talking to me. If my lot in life was quite difficult, I’d be thankful for someone to try and draw a bit of attention to my need and to try to do something practical to help me. That’s precisely what this project does.

5. Why not?

Care to join me?

this went thru my mind

 

Commission: Called and Commissioned by Rubel Shelly

“The idea of leaving God’s work in the hands of a few talented professionals just isn’t biblical or practical.”

Dogs: Canaan Canine Faces Threat in Israel

“First-century rock drawings in the Sinai and more than 700 fifth-century B.C.E. canine skeletons … attest to the historical prominence of the Canaan dog, a pointy eared breed that has lived in Israel since Biblical time. … An online petition is raising awareness to protect Israel’s official breed, but a court decision could mark the end of an effort to sustain the ancient pedigree.”

Health: 4 Critical Gauges for Your Life and Work by Michael Nichols

“… a friend introduced me to 4 health gauges to assess my life and work – Physical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional. For more than 20 years, Bill Hybels has talked about these 4 gauges, but this was my first experience with them.”

Military service, pacifism & the American Civil WarTolbert Fanning–Advocate for Peace in 1861 by John Mark Hicks. Links to parts onetwothreefourfivesix & seven.

“Fanning, shaped by evangelists associated with [Barton W.] Stone and mentored by Alexander Campbell … was David Lipscomb’s mentor. … Fanning was a unique theological combination of Stone and Campbell and this was the legacy he left to many leaders in Middle Tennessee. … Though … Middle Tennessee voted 88% for secession in June [1861]. In this climate, Fanning attempted to persuade his readers to choose peace.”

Parenting: Brainwashing our Kids with Religion by Jared Byas

“How do you teach your kids about Jesus but also teach them to think for themselves? … For our family, we have decided that we are Christians and that we will raise our children as Christians. But along with our personal beliefs and the Christian tradition, we will indoctrinate them with a Christian faith that (1) respects religious diversity, (2) respects Christian diversity, and (3) humbly accepts they might be wrong.”

Prejudice: Ethnocentrism & Politics by Richard Beck

“Ethnocentrism is a mental habit. It is a predisposition to divide the human world into in-groups and out-groups. It is a readiness to reduce society to us and them. Or rather, it is a readiness to reduce society to us versus them.”

Productivity: 5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day by Michael Hyatt

“Did you know those who take a midday siesta at least three times a week are 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease? Working men are 64 percent less likely!”

Questions: 7 Suggestions for Asking More Powerful Questions by Michael Hyatt

“If you are going to be a successful leader, you are going to have to learn how to ask good questions. Here are seven tips for taking this skill to the next level.”

Receptivity & success: When to Wipe Our Shoes: What Does “Receptive” Mean? by Dan Bouchelle

“Jesus gives us a number for what defines receptivity: one.”

Sabbatical: My Monthly Trip To The Monastery by Brian Jones

“I’ve found that if I don’t get away about once a month and “clear my head” by refocusing and reprioritizing what’s on my plate, I lose my mind.

Self-control & spiritual disciplinesWhat Neuroscience Tells Us about Lenten Disciplines by Rob Moll

“Neuroscience sheds light on how fasting and other spiritual disciplines work by training our subconscious mental processes. We think of ourselves as entirely the activity of our conscious thoughts. In reality, our brain has thousands of sub-conscious processes going on all the time.”

The tree of lifeThe Tree of Life by Richard Oster

“What one discovers is that nations of the Ancient Near East also had traditions about sacred trees, trees of life. … This reality does not “prove” that Israel’s understanding of the tree of life was borrowed from anyone else, but it does suggest at the least that the belief in the sacred tree was part of the religious lingua franca of both Israel and the Ancient Near East.”

this went thru my mind

 

American history & economic inequality: Radical Solutions to Economic Inequality

“For three years, government commissioners traipsed from city to city asking capitalists, union organizers, and reformers what it was like to work in America, and whether the spoils of industry seemed to be distributed fairly among the rich and poor.
The commission’s answer, released in a 1916 report, speaks volumes about the persistent dilemma of inequality in the United States, and about the intellectual timidity of today’s political responses.”

Cooking in the ancient world: * Baking Bread in Bible Times by Ferrell Jenkins * Cooking at 4th Century Qatzrin by Ferrell Jenkins

* “Ovens were often used by people of the Bible world, but some bread was cooked on a plate or griddle made of clay or iron.”

“Qatzrin was originally built in the 4th century A.D. and remained in use till the mid-8th century. I wanted to show you the oven that we have from that village. … a small clay oven placed within a mud-brick chimney. The chimney took the smoke out of the house and provided heat for the second floor bed room as well as for the kitchen. Not quite a microwave, but it wasn’t terribly different from the wood-burning stoves I knew as a child.”

Going paperless: Get Organized: Adopting Paperless Notes

“… being organized is like dieting …”

Leadership: * 5 Aspects of the Heart of the Leader by Ron Edmonson; * The Most Dangerous Lies Leaders Believe by Dan Rockwell

* “The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic. Here are the 5 qualities to seek in the heart of a leader: imagination … integrity … investment … intentionality … innovation.”

* “The most dangerous lie leaders tell themselves is, ‘I know.’”

Lent: * Worldwide YouVersion Community, Now More than 40 Million Strong, Making the Most of Lent; * Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright

* “During Lent, traditionally observed for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, followers of Christ all around the world sacrifice things important to them, intentionally drawing themselves away from desires driven by their five senses. Lent helps us become more focused on the spiritual part of ourselves, preparing our hearts to genuinely experience the passion of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross. Lent draws us closer to God through purposeful prayer, self-denial, repentance, giving, and time in the Bible.”

* “Lent for Everyone is a devotional created and written by N.T. (Tom) Wright. For each day of Lent, there is a reading chosen from the Gospel of Matthew, plus a reflection by Wright. … Plan length: 53 days.”

Self-control: Building Self-Control, the American Way by Sandra Aamodt & Sam Wang

“Effective approaches for building self-control combine fun with progressively increasing challenges. Rather than force activities onto an unwilling child, take advantage of his or her individual tendencies. When children develop self-control through their own pursuit of happiness, no parental hovering is required. Find something that the child is crazy about but that requires active effort.”

The Old Testament: Old News is Good News: 4 Reasons to Preach the Old(er) Testament by Clint Archer

“There are four reasons I can think of to pay concerted attention to the OT …”

fail

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came. With him was a large crowd carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss.” Just then he came to Jesus and said, “Hello, Rabbi.” Then he kissed him.

But Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him.

One of those with Jesus reached for his sword. Striking the high priest’s slave, he cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword. Or do you think that I’m not able to ask my Father and he will send to me more than twelve battle groups of angels right away? But if I did that, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?” Then Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come with swords and clubs to arrest me, like a thief? Day after day, I sat in the temple teaching, but you didn’t arrest me. But all this has happened so that what the prophets said in the scriptures might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Jesus and ran away. (Matthew 26:47-56 CEB)

Why does this Scripture trouble us so? I suspect it’s more than the fact that we know this is the beginning of the end for Jesus in the flesh. No, there’s more here that we don’t want to hear.

We don’t want to hear that Judas is the one who has that for which we thirst so often. Numbers are on his side, he has power in terms of might, and authority has his back.

We don’t want to hear that it’s one of Jesus’ own who takes him down, it’s one of those with Jesus who resorts to violence rather than faith, and it’s Jesus’ disciples who wuss out and bug out to save their own skin when things get scary.

We don’t want to hear that might doesn’t make right, that submission is God’s will, and that God’s way of getting things done contradicts our sound reasoning.

We don’t want to hear of heaven’s silence, the angels’ absence, or Jesus saying, “Let it be.”

We just don’t want to hear it. Probably because it all adds up to the fact that there’s only one in this narrative who doesn’t fail, and it ain’t us.

Thank God.

Thank you, Father, for making your strength perfectly known in our weak world. Thank you, Jesus, for your faithfulness in the midst of all our failures for our forgiveness. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for bringing us your truth to clear our minds of all false messages. Amen.