Today’s Sermon Notes

Sermon Notes 7-23-17

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Thursday’s Leadership Lesson

If you

  • imagine yourself a leader;
  • if you have been elected to represent a constituency;
  • if you have been elected to serve as a governmental executive;
  • if you have been hired to supervise the work of others –

You had better quickly develop the ability to apprehend truth, and had better quickly develop a tolerance for it, if you hope to meaningfully succeed and accomplish lasting value.

If somebody tells you the truth, what’s happening is they’re risking the effort of bothering to communicate with a class of person not usually thought capable of apprehending, making, or communicating sense on the reckoned possibility that you are not an animal known for its tendency to cover itself with filth and feed upon garbage.

Mathew 7:6 Do not give that which is holy to the dogs, nor throw your pearls before the pigs, that they should not trample them with their feet, and turning they charge you.

Thinking About Facebook

This week I had contact through Facebook with an old friend I haven’t heard from in close to ten years.  I was delighted, and sent a friend request that was accepted.  It will be pleasant to be able to see photographs from her life, and hopefully she will not be horrified by photographic documentation of my own life on earth.

I make it a rule to “friend” only those people I would be willing to spend free time with in person, to invite over to the house for coffee, lunch, or dinner.

This morning the Facebook “home” page presented me with the suggestion that I “friend” somebody I knew years before I reached my majority on the basis of the fact that we have (now had) two “friends” in common.  I looked at the individual’s visible profile and list of friends, and realized they were not people with whom I’d choose to associate, although a number of them were known to me from my less than idyllic youth.  And I realized that one of those two “friends” in common was somebody I wouldn’t make the effort to call or otherwise contact if I were in that person’s city of residence on a visit.  In order to better conform my electronic circumstances with the reality I inhabit, I “unfriended” the individual.

Simple truth set me free to act in a reasonable manner.

Somewhat Disappointed

UpdateSite stats indicate you may have been looking for this post, but I wanted to update it.

I had already removed a Simpson’s cartoon character image that was simply unkind because I didn’t feel comfortable casting that aspersion.  With this update, I’ve edited out some profanity for no other real reason than that I found I”d offended myself when I looked at it again.

Having spent some time recently working with or in proximity to some the administrative types mentioned below, I wish to say that they for the most part impressed me as people trying to take sensible steps to make organizational changes that serve our clients while better enabling fieldworkers to perform their job tasks more efficiently.  To be honest here, I’m genuinely pleased when more information and experience allow me to revise a formerly held bad opinion.

What a surprise, my recent application for a state and federally funded master’s degree program was not accepted. Here’s an excerpt from the puff-piece biographical and personal goals statement that was required with my application. Excrement, they would have found out, anyway…

I am also interested in organizational leadership because an organization interested primarily in appearing to comply with mandates of the federal government in order to retain and acquire additional federal, state, and local funding is an organization that fails to assist in providing adequate outcomes to the population it was established to serve. Bureaucratic self-perpetuation isn’t a worthy goal. I want to exercise influence that has the effect of increasing power’s tolerance for, and, ideally, its ability to adjust policy and procedure to truth.

I honestly wasn’t expecting an acceptance letter. As I said previously, without management and administration sponsorship and support in the endeavor, it would have taken a miracle for me to get in to the program. Although unsurprised, I was somewhat disappointed by my rejection. On the other hand, as I inventoried my emotions and internal responses, I found myself pleased at another level because this frees me to pursue a degree in something I find more interesting. Because the universe I inhabit is personal and is governed by a personal, sovereign creator, I also take this as a sign from God that I should be focusing my best efforts on something other than the work I do for a government agency.

Not long after this past Easter on a paddling forum I wrote the following about working in government:

Yeah, about the real world thing…

I work for a smaller  agency that bases its goals on whatever policy fiction makes the ‘hats in administration and management feel good about their inability to manage, meaningfully direct, add any value to the process that no longer results in even partially successful outcomes for those who voluntarily seek the services we are reputed to provide. The real lives of our clients contradict the happy clappy politically correct cant of the memoes purporting to describe them, their goals, and their abilities.

When I paddle, I see contrast the bureaucratic “State” with the actual state – land, water, growing things, wildlife, other people, that comprise the state upon which a societal hierarchy has been superimposed. The one is better than the other. The one is free and the other is a model of soviet-style political correctness that enslaves to no good purpose those whose lives intersect its framework.

A lousy day on the water is better than a tolerable day in the office.

Wretchedness

Here’s something I read this afternoon on a short break. It’s from the magazine Modern Reformation, the New Atheism issue. The author’s Michael Horton, and the article’s entitled Are Churches Secularizing America? The entire article can be found linked here.  Stylistically, it’s not the guy’s best writing (In one short paragraph, I counted three uses of “nevertheless“). And normally, I think the guys at Modern Reformation and The Whitehorse Inn have too high a view of clergy and far too low a view of laity. Sometimes they’re spot-on, for instance in regard to tithing – they take the sound biblical approach to the matter by opining that it’s not anywhere mandated as normative for the Christian. On the other hand, they believe and teach what I think is heresy saying that God performs a creative work in the heart of the believer (literally creating faith) through the speech of the ordained minister who preaches the Gospel according to the canon of New Testament scripture. Nevertheless, Horton hit the ball outta the park with this:

People remain hopelessly trapped within their own inner psyche and resources, suppressing the truth about themselves that might drive them to Christ. No longer objectively guilty before a holy God, they feel only a sense of guilt or shame that they should deny by changing the subject to something lighter and more upbeat. No longer saved from damnation – which is the source of their deepest sense of anxiety – they are now saved from unpleasantness. We are the walking dead, forgetful that our designer-label fashions of religion and morality are really a death shroud. To paraphrase Jesus, we go through life like corpses with lipstick, not even aware that all of our makeovers and self-improvement are just cosmetic [Matt. 23:25-28]

Michael Horton, Are Churches Secularizing America? , Modern Reformation, Vol.17, No.2, P.46

I’m sure the form of my citation above is incorrect. Apologies. Sometimes I feel such a deep sense of shame and humiliation that I can only turn Godward with it. A brokenness runs through me that only God can make right, but he is apparently uninterested just now in doing so.

Horton goes on in the same article on the same page:

“It is the false prophets who ‘dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace’ (Jer. 8:11). ‘They fill you with false hopes,’ he adds. ‘They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace” (Jer. 23:16-17). It is not compassion for the people or zeal for God’s house, but their own thirst for popularity that renders the false prophets constitutionally incapable of telling the truth about the crisis.”

That phrase, “constitutionally incapable of the telling the truth” probably finds its provenance in the therapeutically deistic Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous which describes some alcoholics, those who cannot or do not recover as “constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” Nevertheless, truth matters. Speaking the truth matters. Knowing the truth about ourselves matters. Shame, guilt, and pain are, for me much of the time, the truth about me, sharing what passes for my core with loss, grief, and a free-fall sensation that may be worse than the impact at bottom. That’s the stuff that drives me Godward most often.

Sometimes there are moments of joy through which I glimpse eternity, but they have so far been fleeting compared with that other stuff.