a 9-day hygiene routine in Romans

 

You shower or bathe daily, right? For this we’re all even more grateful, right? And yet, what about your ways with others? When was the last time you carefully washed away any filth and scrubbed off all of the stink that’s a part of the way you treat others? Has it been awhile?

You use toothpaste and/or mouthwash, right? For this, we’re all very thankful. But, do you do a brain and heart wash? Have you even done that this week?

To be sure – we all need it. And we dare not think we can “skip a day” or that we’re “good enough” for we all know that there are plenty of times that we think we pass “the sniff test,” but others would tell us, if prodded for honesty and they were true friend, that … parts of us, well, just plain stink or that there’s dirt in places we can’t see. For just as a person will never see 30% of their own body without the aid of a mirror, so there is no small percentage of our ways to which we will always remain blind, nose blind even, without the help of others.

And so, we all need others – especially the others we don’t think we need!

Remember: honest to God Christian faith is not about you and God. It is about God and your relationship with him and all others. Think “one another,” not merely “me and him.”

All of which leads me to note: there are several dozen instances of the phrase “one another” in the New Testament and a significant number of them – quite a cluster, really – appear in the latter part of Romans (ch.12-16). And while we’re reading through Romans right now, I’d encourage all of us to keep our eyes open for these passages.

And why is that? Because they speak clearly and directly to the heart of a very important matter – to use our common and terribly watered-down way of speaking today – how church members treat other church members. All of them. Take the time to seriously ponder what it would look like for you to carefully live these things out in your life, and deeply so. To the point that you became a walking, talking embodiment of each one of them in your ways with others, all others, beginning with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Each of these nine statements are exceedingly brief, so brief in fact that you could easily memorize one in the morning and turn it over and over again in your mind throughout the course of a day.

Be devoted to one another in love. (Romans 12.10a)

Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12.10b)

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. (Romans 12.16; cf. 15.5)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13.8)

… let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14.13)

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus … (Romans 15.5; cf. 12.16)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15.7)

instruct one another. (Romans 15.14)

Greet one another with a holy kiss. (Romans 16.16)

Think of these matters as floss for your heart and body wash for your behavior. And then imagine a church full of people practicing the same every day.

Courteous, to say the very least, no? Respectful, to be sure. In truth – beautiful.

golden nuggets from Sirach (8)

 

Here are five passages that especially caught my eye this go around in my reading of Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus).

Don’t come into the Lord’s presence empty-handed, since fulfilling the commandments means making offerings. … Every time you give, have a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe gladly. Give to the Most High as he has given, and give with generosity from what you have, because the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you seven times over. (Sirach 35.6-7,11-13)

Whoever acquires a wife takes his first step toward success. She will be a fit helper for him and a pillar of rest. (Sirach 36.29)

At times a person’s intuition keeps them informed better than seven sentries sitting high up on a lookout. But above everything else, pray to the Most High, so that he may make your path straight in truth. (Sirach 37.14-15)

When the dead are at rest, put their memory to rest, and be comforted for them when their spirit has left. (Sirach 38.23)

The scribe’s wisdom depends on the opportunity for leisure, and whoever lacks busyness will become wise. … But those who devote themselves and think about the Law of the Most High are the exception (Sirach 38.24,34)

this went thru my mind

 

Boredom & contemplation: A Boredom Revolution

“[James] Alison is making the argument that the world tends to function as a Nuremberg rally where everything around us–from political discourse to advertising to social media–is trying to whip us up into a frenzy. A frenzy that, more often than not, is directed against others. Cable news, talk radio and political blogging are basically a Nuremberg rally, an attempt to anger us and excite us with propaganda. In the face of all this excitement and frenzy Christian worship, according to Alison, should function as a sort of counter-propaganda, a place where we can become unexcited. Where others are whipped into an anxious or angry frenzy Christians should be bored.”

Church hopping: Church Hopping

“What’s driving this? For some, it’s simply the consumer mindset of our culture at work. .. For some, it’s insecurity. … For some, it’s spiritual gluttony. … For some, it’s refusing accountability. … For some, it’s avoiding stewardship. … For some, it’s emotional immaturity. … In truth, there can be times to not simply hop, but leap. … But for the typical hopper, it’s not time for self-justification, but loving admonishment.”

Gun control: The Waiting is Over

“What we need is a balance between the right to bear arms and the right to live in safety.”

Hatred & violence: Violence, the Bible, and the Sikh Temple

“We instinctually know violent murder is wrong, but besides our instincts, there is a real reason: if we violate the image of God we are violating God. Human identity comes from being made in the image of God. Human dignity is an unalterable truth because we are made in the image of God. Reverence for God compels us to respect our fellow human beings. Reverence and respect. Those two principles keep us on track in life. And respect for people because they are made in the image of God not only makes murder wrong, but hatred of every kind.”

Passion: The Untapped Secret of Creating Passion

“Just imagine possibilities.”

Productivity: Stop Beating Yourself Up; You Can Be Productive Without Feeling Guilty

” … no productivity system should be set in stone. Don’t feel so bad about not getting enough stuff done. Eat well, sleep well, say NO more often and try your best. Remember you can always make a small change in your system and try again tomorrow.”

Space exploration: * Should Christians Care About Space Exploration?; * Thank You, Space! How NASA Tech Makes Life Better on Earth; *Why Mars Matters

“… if our purpose is to love and serve the Lord, what need do we have of space exploration? Why bother sending rovers to Mars when there are children to be fed, diseases to be fought, and souls to be saved right here on Earth?”

“What do US citizens get from our space agency, NASA? The short answer is: quite a lot. Let’s take a look at where NASA funding–at present, less than 0.5% of the US federal budget–shows up in our daily lives, and beyond.”

Words: * Passive-Aggressive Postures & the American Middle Class by Tim Gombis [required reading]; * Do Evangelicals Pray Passive-Aggressively? * Words: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Signature … No Way [required reading]; * How To Speak The Truth in Love

* ” … the dominant mode of communication for middle class people is indirect speech.  We cannot bring ourselves to speak plainly and directly about relationships, what we would like, what we want, or how we’re feeling. … Speaking this way is subtly manipulative and often leads to disappointment and anger when things don’t work out the way we’d like.  Further, indirect speech frustrates other people who are in the position of never quite knowing whether they’ve done what is expected. … American evangelicalism, which is largely made up of white middle-class suburbanites, is part of this middle-class culture, and in evangelical churches, this seemingly polite mode of discourse predominates.”

* “Do evangelical Christians pray passive-aggressively? It certainly seems that we sometimes pray manipulatively, use hedging speech, and say things we don’t really mean, but do passive-aggressive relational strategies ever manifest themselves when we pray?  If so, how?”

* “Anonymous comments have almost no value and almost no place in a free society. … we are responsible for our words. We are challenged to take responsibility for the powerful words that fall from our lips and keyboards.”

* “… if our motivations are truly loving, shouldn’t it seem like love? Shouldn’t an impartial observer be able to look at our actions, hear our words, and easily discern that what we’ve done is loving?”

praying for a change (48; conclusion)

 

While the Change Your Heart & Life (CYHL) blog tour continues through May 27, today’s post marks the conclusion of my portion of the journey on this tour. To those who have enabled my participation in this tour I says, “Thank you very much for this has been a blessing to me!”

This has been quite a ride, hasn’t it? Over the course of the past forty-eight days, we’ve looked at a great many of the occurrences of the phrase “change your heart and life” in the Common English Bible. Invariably, the word “repent” has been the word of choice for English Bible translators for years to convey the thought of Scripture in these texts.

However, the word “repent” can be so easily misunderstood these days. Or, perhaps even more frequently, that word simply “bounces off” of us as we wall it off from our hearing it deeply. And so, I for one, am elated to not only see a contemporary English translation of Scripture boldly attempt a fresh way of communicating God’s will to us, but to succeed so well in giving us a spot-on definition of exactly what it means to “repent,” namely to “change your heart and life.”

As we’ve looked at these passages that call for radical change on our part, change wrought inside and out, we’ve attempted to do so with humility, transparency, simplicity and prayer. My prayer today is that God has used these moments in relevant and practical ways to assist you in your ongoing, daily conversation with, and living for, him. May the change in my life and your mine, to the glory of God, never stop. And so, may our prayers continue.

praying for a change (47)

 

The people were burned by intense heat, and they cursed the name of the God who had power over these plagues. But they didn’t change their hearts and lives and give him glory. (Revelation 16.9 CEB)

God,

I know literal, intense heat melts things. Even rocks melt and become lava.

But there is one thing that cannot melt: a heart and life hardened against you and personal change.

Lord, I fear fire. But I fear having a heart hardened against your development and transformation of me far, far more.

Deliver me from evil; all of the evil within me.

May my heart melt daily for you.

Amen.