one tiny soapbox: April 2006
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Thursday, April 27

.Not Good Enough?

Days of Purpose: the current popular guide to discovering a sense of "Purpose" for one's life.

Hm...what's my take? Well, let me just share a bit of my story...

I still have a few friends who don't know this, but, I was a Professing believer for years before I became an actual Believer. During my time of empty profession, and particularly while attending Oral Roberts University (yep, that's right), I had several idols in my life ~ one of which was my "Purpose." You see, thanks to several Word of Faith (read: false) teachers, I was convinced there had to be more to life than simply living a life that glorified Christ.

According to these purportedly great learned men of faith, one cannot live an effective, ultimately satisfying life without having identified the vocational filter through which God wants to minister to the world through each of us. In other words, if you're not working in your ideal job or business ~ the one to which The Lord has called you and has purposed for you ~ you're living "beneath your privilege," and could ultimately risk a Divine "tsk, tsk, tsk," God's express disappointment and/or disapproval when you finally face Him and give account of how you spent your life; or, as one Inglewood, California pastor illustrated it: receive a big red "F" on your life's report card.

The vocational facet of this prevalent doctrine is, I believe, especially emphasized in black churches (with which I'm most familiar). Perhaps it's due to the excess attention paid to occupational and financial achievement we black folk tend to burden ourselves with in reaction to a history of economic dis-enfranchisement. But developing that point would take me beyond the intended scope of this post.

What I will say about this inherent emphasis within the discover-your-purpose movement is that it exacerbated my own laziness. How so, you might ask? Well, because during my days of "ill-providership" I was often unwilling to do what it took to adequately provide for my family. I was always a hard worker, but rarely willing to do the hard work of working smarter. That is to say that during times of unemployment, I allowed my motivation for "handling my business" to be seriously hampered by that overarching (or undermining) desire not to settle for work that wasn't well in line with my "Purpose." This led to a variety of problems, which I may detail at a later time.

I trust some of you fellahs reading know precisely what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Because I may lose some of my readers over the length of this post, I'll just close with some outright assertions:

  • Our desire to seek modern-day approaches to finding this answer is fueled by one or more of the following:
    • a high view of self
    • an insufficient (low) view God & His word
    • an underlying desire for self-fulfillment & self-affirmation
I recommend the following profitable reading, for those tempted to think that on this issue, the Word of God is simply not quite enough:

- Some reviews & analyses of The Purpose-Driven Life
- Some useful info for those facing the onslaught of Purpose-Driven-ism.

¡sbgtfa!
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Thursday, April 20

.Spoken Like a True Champ! ~ or ~ Cover Your Mouth! (CYM #1)

Read this and cover your mouth.

¡sbgtfa!
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Monday, April 17

.Favored Hymn.

Christ is Risen!
~

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

~
He is Risen, indeed!
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Friday, April 7

.No They Didn't.

According to a plethora of "news sites," a late-breaking discovery about Judas Iscariot could have a significant impact on Sancta Scriptura. Now, take heed, all Pomos, and sundry cult-ists to That wherein lies a Most Blessed and Potent Paradox:

Christ Jesus, the Ultimate Sacrificial Lamb, was pre-destined to be delivered to and executed by the authorities. This divine appointment was made by The Lord of Hosts, Himself, to satisfy His own Just and Holy Wrath, on behalf of the Elect.

God killed Jesus as payment for the sins of those He loves!

Yet Christ Himself declared the very nature of the one fore-ordained to make this vile delivery as possessed by Satan himself, indicating the punishment awaiting this man for choosing to be the one through whom this great offense would come.

Those who have not the spiritual illumination of mind, who have not been brought to Life by the animating work of God's Amazing Grace, will not, indeed cannot accept as reality this Penultimate Paradox between the absolute, undeniable Sovereignty of Yahweh and the (sin-enslaved) will of man.

¡sbgtfa!
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Wednesday, April 5

.Pardon Me, But... #1.

...what exactly does it mean when a person waves a friendly "hey, there" just after cutting you off in traffic?

...and why do many people seem to have an instinctual reflex to speed up when they see you ahead of them, signaling a merge into their lane?

...and just why do some folk seem to make an extra-special effort to let you know their ill-timed choice to share your spot on the road has landed you at the top of their "Most-Annoying Drivers" list?

I also wonder precisely which knucklehead delegate to the Legislative Nonsense Committe proposed that the extreme Elderly and Chronic Sunday drivers even be allowed into the DMV, let alone granted a license renewals?

Well, anyway, I would say these and other disturbing dilemmas will be solved once we step into eternity, but then, you and I both know we won't be thinking of such things, then.

¡sbgtfa!
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Monday, April 3

.Responsibility.

Ford lays off thousands of workers to keep lean. To improve efficiency, Nissan eliminates jobs. Enron's top execs are exposed as greedy charlatans whose actions ultimately sacrifice the incomes ~ both present and future ~ of all its employees, no matter the rank or tenure. What on earth will these poor folk do now to earn a living?

Well, you ask good questions, and I think I have some valid answers. But first, let me ask you: who, ultimately, is responsible for keeping these individuals employed. Is it the state? Is it the community or the church? Friends and family? How about their employer, past, present or future?

Now, if your dad's a faithful member of Jaycee Local #237, or if your mom or aunt's a loyal employee of the local school or county sheriff's office, or if you're personally a tenured school teacher, policeman forest ranger or traffic attendant, then your answer is likely to be something like: "well, that's why we have unions, so "big business" can't bully us around or bag us at will...or infringe on our right to realize our version of the "American Dream.""

I won't even take time here to comment on the validity of this age-old notion.

I will assert, however ~ with much vigor and conviction ~ that the responsibility for a person's life, that is: his livelihood, his earnings-power, his occupational "way" in life, lies squarely and undeniably upon his own shoulders. No union, no employer, no benevolent municipality is in the least bit obligated to serve as benefactor to the welfare of any well, able-bodied person!

Think of it: just 150 years ago or so, most folk in this country were opposed to the idea of working for some large employer, preferring, rather, to work for themselves in some sort of home-based business. Indeed, by and large most "big business" was quite unheard of. People simply tended to their own businesses, some useful, productive "cottage industry" that served to both supply the needs of the immediate family, as well as those of the surrounding community. Many nostalgically call these times the Farming or Agrarian Age.

Along came the Industrial Age; the age of machinery, mechanization, mass production, giving rise to the accelerating advancement of technology and a growing demand for the concentration of workers under one roof. I won't bother detailing the multitudinous complexities of this stage of American history...except to say that, pock-marked by corporate down-sizing in the 80's, torn by hostile mergers in the 90's, and sifted by the emergence of almost undreamt-of technological advancements, chief of which being the Triple Dubyah, that age has surely run its course.

Things have undeniably changed. Hello, Information Age.

Whereas once, it seemed only the most entrepreneurial, aggressive or desperate folks considered opening a business for themselves, now we see the gaining momentum of this great age of readily accessible information and rapidly cheapening technology reflected in the expectant faces of our neighbors and friends who've each got a product or service of their own they'd like to introduce us to.

It appears quite clear that things are coming full cirle. And I think it's great!

It's also very needful, because in this still new Information Age, the Industrial Age ideas of job security, retirement benefits and other such things are quickly going the way of the dodo bird. It's simply up to each of us to ~ by God's Grace and our own common sense ~ make the most of what we have... indeed do whatever it takes (within sound moral bounds, of course) to do what we have to do to earn our keep.

This is a lesson I've come to learn the very hard way, indeed. But, perhaps more on that later...

¡sbgtfa!
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.Spring Cleaning. ~or~ A Change of Pace.

Henceforth this blog will change. For the better, I hope.

For the handful of you who've read the short version of
my life till now, and the serious post immediately following that, you'll recall that I was pretty intent back then to make this an oh-so-serious place in blogosphere for only weighty theological content. In fact, the blog was actually called my "Pulpit," a name I'd chosen to communicate the fervor and earnestness with which I would put forth against error and excess frivolity.

Though I still take issue with folks who just don't know how to bridle their tongues (of which I'm occasionally guilty myself) I've come to realize, through the faithful blogging of some much better writers/thinkers/doers than I that I was likely taking myself (and this blogging thing ~ but especially myself) a tad more seriously than was necessary.

So, on that note, I've decided to lighten up this pit stop on the info superhighway a little. From now on, I'll allow myself to do little more rambling, a little more driveling, perhaps even indulge in the occasional thoughtful, tasteful and none-too-offensive (gulp) griping. Stay tuned...if you care.
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