Category Archives: Articles

Try Not to Make Things Worse

Life is messy. Birth and death are messy and most everything in between: children throw temper tantrums; teenagers hurl insults; terrorists hurl threats. And drugs and addictions are rampant. Half of all marriages end in divorce and chances are that before you die you will be a caregiver or need a caregiver. This is part of the messy world in which we live.

So, when problems show up at your door, and surely they will, what can you do to make the situation worse? What can you do to make life more difficult than it really is?

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Taming the Pharisee Within

We would do well to pay attention to what happened to Israel while in captivity, lest we repeat their nightmare in our own time. The Israelites should have been more vigilant about what they allowed to rub off on them from their captors. Before their sojourn into Babylon, men and women worshiped together in the temple; afterward they worshiped separately. What rubbed off from Israel’s new neighbors was that women were second-class citizens. They brought this unsavory idea home with them.

The Sabbath was also corrupted. Prior to their captivity, the Sabbath was “a day of delight,” a celebration of the covenant. There was feasting with festive attire accompanied by joyous music and singing. Husbands and wives were encouraged to delight in each other. After the captivity, the Sabbath was reduced to a sad list of prohibitions.
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A Paradox Sometimes Works Like Magic

Because the planned voyage of Christopher Columbus sounded so ridiculous, there was a paradoxical question ringing in his ears: “How do you expect to travel east by sailing west?” If you think the earth is flat, this is a reasonable question. And followers of Jesus could have asked him, “How is it that in giving you receive?”

A paradox is a thing of wonder. But on the surface it looks ridiculous. It begs you to take a second look, to ponder its implications. I believe Jesus delighted in paradoxical thinking: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake, will find it” (Matthew 10:39). Logic would tell you that in seeking the best possible life for yourself, you would likely find true happiness.

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