Jesus Chose the Gritty

The Scriptures are filled with the ruggedness and struggles of actual life. But in our teaching of the gospel we have sweetened or repressed the universal human qualities of our Lord’s stories almost beyond recognition. Jesus evidently talked about the things like people’s sexual escapades and crooked business deals to illustrate his message about the reign of God. And he furnished additional wine for at least one celebration. Read the parables. With the whole of human behavior from which to select, Jesus chose the gritty, earthy areas of life to illustrate the way God loves people. He was real! He expressed his own uncertainly and doubt in the midst of his faith. And he got very angry. Jesus talked about the same deep separation, dishonest and inner restlessness we experience in modern life. I had always heard the church saying the God prefers the poor, the despised, and the weak… Religious people have difficulty admitting that (Jesus) prefers sinners to the righteous. Those who call themselves righteous are not free from it but have repressed it. Those called sinners are aware of their guilt and are, for that reason, ready to receive pardon and grace.

Keith Miller, The Becomers

Battling Temptation

Many parents and teenagers, while in a cold, rational, Dr. Jekyll state, tend to believe that the mere promise of abstinence – commonly known as “Just say no” – is sufficient protection against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

A better strategy for those who want to guarantee that teenagers avoid sex, is to teach teenagers that they must walk away from the fire of passion before they are close enough to be drawn in. Accepting this advice might not be easy, but our results suggest that it is easier for them to fight temptation before it arises than after it has started to lure them in. In other words, avoiding temptation altogether is easier than overcoming it.

Either we can teach them how to say no before any temptation takes hold, and before a situation becomes impossible to resist; or alternatively, we can get them prepared to deal with the consequences of saying yes in the heat of passion.

One thing is sure: if we don’t teach our young people how to deal with sex when they are half out of their minds, we are not only fooling them; we’re fooling ourselves as well. Whatever lessons we teach them, we need to help them understand that they will react differently when they are calm and cold from when their hormones are raging at fever pitch (and of course the same also applies to our own behavior).

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational

Every Human Heart

“The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart."

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn endured many years in a Russian Gulag (labor camp) and could write that statement with conviction. Many men did not survive the terrible weather and the harsh treatment in the Gulag. Solzhenitsyn was slowing dying himself while he was interned-until a fellow prisoner showed him unexpected kindness and it changed his attitude and refreshed his spirit. He survived to become one of the most well-read and revered authors in Russian.

We each face will choose living on one side of the line or on the other.

Stephen Goforth

a Sickness unto Death

Man begins as an it. He is to become an I.  The fact that he is not necessarily so is the source of man's misery. Sin leads to a disrelationship, a separation of man from himself called despair. Kiekegaard says this disrelationship of the self to the self, this despair, this spiritual sickness unto death reveals not only man's separation from himself.. but his separation from God. To be rid of the despair, one must, choose it. A man will be enabled to overcome if he recognizes the sickness, accepts it, and through an act of his own free will, makes a leap of faith past it. The cure is to choose the good, to choose one's self, Kierkegaard tells us. It is in the act of becoming one's self, man moves from an it to an I.

Stephen Goforth

Murder confession tattoo

A Los Angeles gang member was convicted of murder because he had his crime tattooed on his chest. Seven years after the 2004 killing, the 25-year-old was arrested for another crime. That’s when a police officer noticed the scene inscribed on the man’s torso. It included a lifeless body and the outline of a liquor store. A law enforcement officer went into the man’s cell, pretending to be another member of the same gang. The confession given to the undercover cop led to the man’s conviction on first-degree murder charges.

Each of us has secrets hidden underneath carefully guarded masks. Whether or not we wear them as tattoos, their itch reminds us of how they have impacted our lives.

Stephen Goforth