Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Peace and Union

We have discussed peace at length already, and I recommend you continue your understanding of it.

Peace is many things; the state of two or more entities in league, or union.

What is union? Union is not only an agreement of peace between two or more entities. It is a confederation; a conglomeration.

Beyond state of the Unions, confederations, and agreements, “union” has mathematical implications as well.

As a quick example:

If set A={1,2,3} and B={2,3,4}, the union of the sets A and B, written A U B, would be {1,2,3,4}.

Notice that there is no need to list the 2 and 3 twice. This is because the union between A and B creates a situation where 2 and 3 are part of both sets as one unit each; not two.

The following image illustrates this.







Even though A may have started with its own 2 and 3, and B may have started with its own 2 and 3, when in union, they share 2 and 3.

What’s more, A brought 1, 2, and 3, and B brought 2, 3, and 4; which means that now the number 4 is ascribed to A, and the number 1 is ascribed to B.

Again, a) those elements that are similar to both are used and fused as one; it becomes one, and b) those elements that are dissimilar can now be ascribed to the opposite circle.

If peace is union, then it may be inferred that, though two or more entities may bring their own, individual elements to the union, it becomes shared; fused as shared elements.

In the Bible, Paul greeted many of the churches with the phrase, “ Grace and peace.” We are encouraged to act in peace. By acting in peace, we are unified.

But, with understanding the math definition of union, we can better understand what God was saying when He said that we are to be unified in Christ.

Not only should we be in ‘harmony’, as we are oft to agree we should be. We should understand that, though we bring our own unique elements, a) those elements that are similar to both of us are used and fused as one; you and I become one, and b) those elements that are dissimilar can now be ascribed to each of us.

If we are unified (in union with Christ), those elements of Christ that only He has, that we do not have, CAN NOW BE ASCRIBED TO US! In totality, everything that Christ brings to the union with us are ours!

This revelation can only be had by understanding the similarities of Peace and Union.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Peace and a Basketball

There is nothing more peaceful than a basketball in the morning.

On most mornings, I make my way to my prayer spot in the park. It is in the center of a silent field. The only trees are surrounding the field. It is open and clear, and the grass is always finely cut.

The grass is never visible until the sun comes up. Usually, I arrive in the dark of the morning, maybe half an hour before the sky turns from deep, navy blue to gray.

It is always silent. Even the one runner who arrives around 6 is far enough away that his feet fall silently. The only sound is the occasional bird being spooked in the field.

Having pondered peace for some time, I was particularly focused on how peaceful this morning was. It was so quiet. The breeze was ever so slight, but it was humid enough to be totally comfortable.

It was as I approaching that I noted the round ball, resting motionless in the direct spot I normally pray. At first, it seemed quite alien and out of place.

But, as I watched for any signs of life, I realized that it would not be rising out of bed any time soon. This place was so peaceful that even the sports equipment reclined.

It seemed apparent that the ball had arrived at its location from the day before. Perhaps some child from the school nearby gave it one last kick before the bell rang.

None-the-less, I made my way over to the ball. Despite it being a peaceful morning and the ball still not stirring, I placed my foot on it to rouse any signs of life. To my surprise, it was deflated as well.

It seemed that this sanctuary of peacefulness had withdrawn even the bounce from this ball.

I noticed how sharp the contrast was between this deflated pouch of rubber the robust, springy ball it was just a day ago. The contrast was distinct because of the images that this basketball drew up in my mind; kids running recklessly and wildly mimicking their favorite players, background noise of girls skipping rope and the slap of the plastic rope of the pavement.

These ringing sounds faded into the darkness of the morning and mist as I looked around and took my attention from the lone, silent, restful ball.

I looked around to see the first grey stretching the horizon. The grass was just now visibly becoming green, and the basketball sharing its red, white, and blue stripes ever so slowly.

‘He is waking,’ I thought to myself.

I turned my attention to the horizon, to receive the rest of the motionless morning and let my snoozing sphere sleep in.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Peace of Mind

What is peace of mind?

Well, if peace is the state of unity between two or more entities (people, nations, worlds, etc.), then peace of mind must be the state of unity between two or more mentalities, or thoughts.

This dilemma is well laid out in the letter that James, the brother of Jesus, wrote to the church.

“When a man asks [something of God], he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”


If that does not describe a mind at war with itself, I don’t know what does!

When I have read this in the past, I have thought, ‘Well, that makes sense; you can’t believe and doubt at the same time. It just doesn’t work.’

But in thinking about peace of mind, this caused another thought to arrive.

Several years back I read a book about getting things done and organizing that has stayed with me ever since. It presented the concept of ‘Mind Like Water’. This concept was originally taken from the martial arts.

The technique is to picture your mind as a pond. A person with a jumbled mind is like a wild pond, blown by the wind, choppy and unstable. A person with peace of mind is like a calm pond, smooth as glass.

Do you have this picture in your mind? Good!

Now, imagine throwing a rock into the pond. In the jumbled mind, you may see the splash, but that is all you may notice.

Now, picture your smooth mind, a peace of mind. Throw the stone into the middle of that pond. Not only do you see the splash, but you can even watch the ripples roll out toward the edge, bounce off and reflect and intersect with other ripples. You can see how your splash interacted and affected to rest of the pond.

This is the state of ‘mind like water’, the state of peace of mind.

How do we get there? How do we attain peace of mind? How do we turn from “an unstable man in all our ways” into a person with peace of mind?

In this fast-paced society moving at the speed of light, keeping hundreds of thoughts in our mind at one time, we can hardly see how any item affects the other. It is difficult to see how new tasks or requests affect others. Our minds are a choppy, heaving pond, and new needs from our families, ideas we have, or thoughts we are trying to keep are more splashes lost in the sea.

We need clarity! We need to take each wave (a task) and gust of wind (a thought) and each crashing wave on the pond’s shore (a need from family or friends) out of our head and calm our pond (minds) down.

Well, in this book, ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen (pick up a copy! you won’t regret it), he proposes the following.

Take a pad of sticky notes or note paper.

Now: DOWNLOAD.

For every thought you have running around your mind, write it alone on its own sheet of paper or give it its own sticky.

Put it in an inbox of some kind. Every e-mail you need to respond to, every errand you always wanted to run, every bill you need to write a check for, every room you need to clean; give them their own piece of paper or sticky and put it in the inbox.

Now: JUST KEEP GOING. Exhaust your mind. Take everything out of it. Put it all, and I mean ALL, in the inbox.

Take an entire day to empty your mind. Take 2 days. Take all day, as long as it takes, to download each thought from your mind.

Then, take a deep breath. Exhale. Let it out. Do you not feel better? Does it not feel good to see these things in a basket somewhere, and not clouding your mind?

Now, take a nap! Run around the lake. Go to a movie. Relax already! You should feel totally relieved.

When time comes, flip the inbox upside down so that you are dealing with the oldest items first. And one at a time, deal with them. (Read ‘Getting Things Done’ to see their flowchart of how to deal with those items.)

You have a system to deal with these things.

So, the question stands: can this help in spiritual issues? Can we achieve ‘mind like water’?

Well, don’t get so stinkin’ religious on me. James, the brother of Jesus, thought it was good to describe the mind like water, and we can, too!

So often, Christians have so much running around their brain. We think a lot of this is spiritual, and many times it is. But, there is also a ton of little non-spiritual items rattling around our brain.

First, get all of the non-spiritual stuff out of our minds. Once our mental ponds are smooth and glass, we are no longer “double-minded”. We are stable and at peace.

This means that we are ready to tackle spiritual issues. We are prepared to throw a rock in the pond and watch how the ripples will affect us. We can put a thought in our mind and think through how that affects our lives.

In the letter that James wrote, he was dealing with doubt versus faith. What is it you are dealing with? What should I do about thus and so? Can I deal with the potential outcomes? Am I thinking clearly?

Is ‘mind-like-water’ the only technique to being able to attain peace of mind? Certainly not! There are many other tools to help us think better.

This is just one of many various tools we can use to help us calm our minds, and achieve, peace of mind.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Peace Part 02

So, is peace made by circumstances? Do economic circumstances determine if two countries are at peace? Do religious events, political alignments, or any outside variable determine if an entity should act in peace or war?

If peace is a form of unity or order, then will the randomness and chaos of the human circumstances ever create unity, order, or peace?

I propose that no external series of events can create the proper circumstances to create any form of lasting peace. Peace, lasting peace, must be an inner choice made from an already-present inner peace in each entity, be it a person, a state, a nation or a world.

Peace is a choice alone. No natural circumstances can create peace (which is embodied as order and unity.)

Entropy will not do it, unless the entire universe finally comes to rest.
Manipulating human conventions like national economics, home economics, resources, or distribution will not do it, unless every other human being is agreed on which of those human conventions to use and when it is appropriate to use and to what degree. There are too many variables to be probable.

Peace, if it is alien to the human experience, must therefore by definition come from elsewhere. The rationality, unity and order that typify peace must, therefore derive from God.

Peace is an orderly ideal. Humans are capable of thinking of ideals, but not manifesting them on a lasting basis. It has yet to be observed that any other species of flora or fauna thinks of, creates, or imagines lasting peace.

Peace as an ideal is strictly a human trait. This uniqueness, the ability to think of something totally alien to the life experiences of randomness and chaos, lends itself to inquiry.

Where did the concept of peace come from?
Where did the ability to imagine an ideal, alien and opposite to the life experiences, in a random, chaotic creature come from?

Since ideals are typical of sentient beings, and peace is an ideal, it by necessity must come from a sentient being alien to the chaos and randomness of the universe.

The very act of thinking of the ideal of peace attests to the existence of God.

Peace Part 01

What is peace?

Is peace the opposite of war? If war is the state of two or more entities or nations in conflict, then is peace the state of two or more entities not in conflict?

Is peace defined by what it is not?
If peace were not defined by what it is not, then what is it?

Is peace ease?
Is peace comfort?

Is peace a form of unity?
Is unity a dynamic of peace?

When Paul says ‘Grace and peace unto you’, is he wishing them ‘God’s unmerited’ favor and ‘unity’? Is he wishing them ‘God’s unmerited favor’ and ‘ease’? ‘Comfort’? ‘Lack of war’?

Why is the goal to be at peace? What are the assumptions we are making about peace that makes it so much better than war?

Peace of mind
What is peace of mind?
Is it the opposite of when our thoughts are in conflict? Is it when our thoughts are in unity? Why is it not as good to have thoughts that conflict? Is that not critical thinking? Is it not good to have thoughts that challenge each other, whereby gaining a more wholesome understanding of the world around us?



Having studied out a dozen or so scriptures on peace, it seems that God highly values peace. “The Lord blesses His people with peace,” and “joy will come to those who promote peace” are just a few of the words written about God and His view of peace.

So, many of the questions above are moot on the simple grounds that God values peace. He seems to want us at peace.

But, what is peace today?
I have a friend who swears that he hears from the Lord all the time, yet this man does not have peace. At least, he doesn’t seem to be at peace. He is being moved out of his house because his community has just switched its charter to become a 55 and up living community. His dream is to work the mission field yet he rarely has the funds because he cannot find a well-paying job.

Are these indicators of lack of peace? What would be peace in his situation? It seems that he lacks peace in these areas. He is struggling and, by his own admission, not at peace about these things.

So, peace of mind, peace of God, peace, being blessed with peace, presupposes a form of provision. What purpose does that serve, though?

What purpose does it serve to have provisions for earthly things?
Perhaps God wants us to know that He is real and provides.
Perhaps God wants us to have provision for our vision.
Perhaps God wants us to be at rest.

Perhaps he is simply fulfilling his promise to provide.

….

Perhaps he loves us and wants us to be at peace like siblings in the back seat of a car.

Perhaps peace is a characteristic of unity. Perhaps these are part of an ideal we all carry in our minds. Perhaps peace is a characteristic of God that He wishes us to express. The more of Him there is in us, perhaps, would manifest more of his peace.

Peace would imply that we are not striving.
At peace, we would not struggle with one another for anything.
At peace, we would give and give and give beyond normal means.
At peace, we would not be panicked or worry.
We would not act out of fear of poverty, death, or starvation.
We would act only in opulence, abundance, and love.
We would be focused on one another, because at peace we do not have to think about ourselves, protecting ourselves and guarding against others. We would be at rest. We would be peaceful.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rob Bell on "Church"

Ringing Church's Bell

A poignant Rob Bell was recently interviewed in the Jan_Feb issue of Relevant Magazine.

For those who don't know, Rob Bell is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His church is actively involved in reaching what he terms "under-resourced" areas, partnered with the mayor of Grand Rapids on several programs, and even has a major push to make the church 100% recyclable.

He is the author of the popular Nooma videos, and continues to challenge traditional church thinking and presses the boundaries of our understanding (and misunderstandings) of who Jesus was.

When asked about what Mars Hill is trying to do to help reverse the trend of twentysomething Christians walking away from the church, he gave a response that made my jaw drop; not only because of how bold it was, but because of how much it bears witness with my spirit:

What a lot of people call church in America has very little to do with the Church Jesus had in mind. I think you just begin by acknowledging that [America's idea of church] is an absolute total failure. The whole system that says these few people, because of what they said, did, believe, etc. are going to Heaven and everybody else is going to Hell, is deeply flawed and must die. They system that says big growth and numbers are the goal must also die. The central metaphor Jesus uses is the Eucharist. His body is broken and his blook is poured out to the healing of the world. God is looking for a body of people who will break themselves open and pour themselves out for the healing of the world.

I think the problem is that when people say "church", many mean religious goods and services where you come and there's a nice inspiring talk, good coffee in the back, snappy music and everything ends up fine. Jesus speaks of His people who are willing to suffer and die so that the world can be healed-that's an entirely different proposition. For us [at Mars Hill], if you can resolve the sermon in the course of the church service, then the sermon has failed.


For the longest time I spurned the words of Rob Bell for being too radical. (If you know me you know that it is difficult for that to put me on pause.)

His boldness in declaring what so many young Christians bear witness to in our spirits has caused me to reevaluate his words, and reopen the book on this unassuming yet controversial powerhouse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NEEDED: Free Anger

"NEEDED: Free anger."

Why should these words be used? Honestly? Because from studying copywriting over the years, it has been found that those two words (individually) are known to be two of the most powerful pieces of copy in the English language.

‘Free’ is simply commonly accepted as the buzz word that the majority of our populace cannot resist. “Free toy in each box.” “Free sex.” “Free spleen removal.” Usually, no matter what follows, if we see a sentence with ‘free’ in it we will read the thing.

It is bizarre, yet sadder than that, it is a sign to the majority’s focus on consumption instead of production. Without fathoming too deeply into the abyss of an economic discussion, suffice it to say that the populace wants more. And more. And, if you pushed the issue, they would want yet more.

In the wise words of a Buddhist monk in the back woods of Vietnam I met once, “give ‘em what they want, boy.”

‘Anger’ on the other hand, was a new one to me. Recently listening to Robert G. Allen, he mentioned this one. At first I was surprised, but then felt the impact this word had on my state. Immediately I was curious. “What is causing this anger?” “Who is angry?” “Why are they angry?”

Along with curiosity, there is this deep, albeit dreadful, desire to hear the end of the anger. Since we know we shouldn’t feel this way, we have anxiety until we know if the anger has left, is concluded, or get relief from the tension of anger.

Again, this is a tell-tale of the sad state of the majority’s heart. Why do they seek to know it, like watching a horror film through to the end despite the negative affects on our biology and psychology?

Summarily, Free Anger is not so much “needed” as demanded by the public. “Give ‘em what they want,” says the marketer, “and leave the question of whether or not it is right to the philosophers.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Christian Networks and Collaboration


The church is in desperate need of Christian Networks and Collaboration. Recently listening to a speaker on Ted.com*, Howard Rheingold presented the need for heightened collaboration. He opposed the view that successful biology is at war with itself.

Along with Rheingold's discussion on collaboration, Robin Chase (founder of Zipcar, Inc) discussed wireless-mesh-networks.

Wireless mesh networks provide an excellent metaphor for the mode of operation that the church should operate under. Chase pointed out that each device acts as a wireless router and amplifies the wireless signal. (For tech gurus, forgive the simplicity of this explanation.) In Hurricane Katrina, the simple wireless mesh network in the French Quater was the only network still up and running after the storm. Though a few of the devices were destroyed or lost, the overall network sustained.

How appropriate an illustration that is for how the church should operate? With heightened Christian Networks and collaboration, the church would also prevail. Sadly, it is too often the case that Christians are operating as islands, not collaborating, or acting as a typical wireless-router system.

Is our signal strong enough to be picked up by those in need? Only by our interconnectedness will the body continue to prevail.

* - Ted.com is compendium of thinkers. Admittedly, much of their thought is based on an evolutionary belief of creation, which is not my belief. However, their commitment to expanding thought is worth of respect, and worthy to be mimicked by Christians as well.

As this blog is committed to expanding Christian thought and enlightenment to better serve the world into the Kingdom, we are always on the search for powerful thinking.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Executive Supremacy Overlooked

An excellent article on executive supremacy from The American Scholar caught my attention this weekend. Without delving into a debate on party, this article did raise a question in mind.
Why is there so little media or candidate attention given to the ever-expanding extent of executive control?
In 'Who Cares About Executive Supremacy?', Lincoln Caplan brings to light the dramatic expansion of presidential control, and the disturbing fact that no one is saying anything.
Lincoln states:
"If the scope of executive power were a burning topic of politics, the breakdown allowing the power to expand dramatically might not feel so momentous— whether you regard it as a breakdown in the American legal process or in the system of checks and balances."
Click here for more more.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Straight Talk with Jesus

Recently I was accused of not being a Christian...again.

You know, if you stick to the straight talk with Jesus, you will get accused of not being a Christian. Why?

Look, Jesus' teachings are not the teachings the religious folk today are teaching. It is close, but twisted in subtle ways.

For example, every time I have been accused of not being a Christian (not being saved), the "evidence" that these people present is usually something having to do with works. (Did I say the right things, or do the right things, or, in this case, write the right things on my blogs and website!)

These types of criteria for whether or not I am saved shows that the underlying belief of that person is that to be saved, or to be a Christian, to get into heaven, one must say the right things, do the right things, or, in my case, write the right things!

When you look at straight talk with Jesus, He really laid it out much simpler than that.

"They asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?'
Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'" (John 6:28-29)

Could it be said any more plain? It makes me wonder if accusers of the brethren anywhere, not just my own, have ever read the Bible, let alone the book of John.

Here is the funny thing, I believe that they are saved. Isn't that weird? Perhaps I shouldn't, because if you take the straight talk of Jesus further, you begin to see that he didn't let the religious people slide. But that is for another time!