Well I finished the job yesterday afternoon. Now the beard is completely gone. So in case you are relatively new to this blog, I’ll do another side-by-side just so you will know this is still me.
Interestingly, a good number of new readers have recently come on board. So I’m also going to take this opportunity to revisit my “statement of purpose.”
It’s a good exercise for me, too.
In a sense I take the same position Billy Graham did when he said, “I only have one sermon; I just keep preaching it!” There is an essential framework that anchors my thinking, and pretty much everything I write serves to annotate that perspective.
It is impossible to summarize the teachings of the scriptures in a short space (although Jesus did just that in Matthew 22 when he said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments…” But I am going to share five short passages that do a good job of pointing out what – for me – that essential framework is.
The first, from Philippians, was my touchstone when I wrote for The Tampa Tribune. The mantra “bad news sells” can lead to the false belief that society is on the brink of collapse. That is when the principle of self-fulfilling prophecy takes effect, and we head down a slippery slope. I aim to tell the truth about goodness.
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9
This next passage could stand alone if I had to chose just one. I love to write about getting so filled up with light and love that the goodness cannot be contained and spills all over everyone and everything around us. This blog is about that.
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. – Ephesians 5:8-9
The decision to celebrate and to be glad is – always – ours to make. The choice to rejoice. This is captured so succinctly in Pauls first letter. 1 Thessalonians is the earliest extant New Testament document. Good stuff!
Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Do, or do not. There is no try:
In my first book (GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men) I suggested that Micah 6:8 would have been a better choice when Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore spent a fortune having the King James version of The 10 Commandments chiseled onto a slab of granite in his courtroom.
Micah 6:8 would have cost less and been more understandable. It also sums up the spirit of God’s law and our responsibility to “do” rather than just talk.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
It all boils down to this:
In the final analysis, I want to communicate the same word Jesus came to deliver. When you strip it all down, and when you want to find the reduction sauce that holds the essence (distilled but undiluted, concentrated but not compromised) of the life and the goodness that is the gospel message, Jesus steps in and says the following.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40
This is why I write a blog. This is why I post almost daily. This is what I feel compelled to communicate. This is the essential framework on which “Re-set: a life observed” is built.