Doppelgangers

June 28, 2016

Do you know the word “doppelganger?” I had never heard it until it became the rage on Facebook some years ago.  It actually has its origins in the middle of the 1800’s.  “Doppelganger” is a German word that literally means “double-goer.”  Originally, it had a “ghostly” sense to it but in English we use it to indicate “someone who looks like you.”  Hold that thought.

When I was in high school I played football, wore number 74, and tried to portray a defensive tackle. Because of that, a friend of mine called me “Merlin” after the great defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams; Merlin Olsen.  The number we both shared was the only thing we had in common regarding football!  He was a perennial All Pro, Hall of Famer and a fearsome defender and I was… well… I sort of played.  I had no idea in High School when I was still svelte and clean shaven that Merlin Olsen would play a continued role in my life for years to come.  You might recall that Merlin had two careers after football.  He was an announcer for NFL football games (an excellent one in my humble opinion) and he was an actor.  He played a character on the television show Little House On the Prairie and a monk named Father Murphy in another short lived show.

As the years went by and I became less… um… willowy (you like that?) and I grew facial hair… well the similarities between myself and Mr. Olsen became somewhat striking. He was my doppelganger… or I was his.  I was forever hearing from people:  “Do you know who you look like?  Merlin Olsen!”  “Really?” I would patiently reply.  I wonder how many times he heard: “You know, you look just like Bill Little!”  Many times I’m sure.  I should add that he was noted for one additional thing.  He was the spokesperson for FTD florists.  On one occasion I walked into a restaurant and passed a table encompassed by a group of elderly ladies.  One of them grabbed me by the arm as I passed and very excitedly said “You’re the flower guy!”  I respectfully said that I was not but that I had been told that before.  Neither she, nor any of the other ladies would believe me!  They insisted I was him.  Oh boy?!?!  I don’t know if this blog site will allow pictures but I will try to attach a photo of Merlin below.

So, here is a question for you. Who is your doppelganger?  But I don’t mean physically like Merlin and I.  I mean spiritually.  Who do you resemble in your faith?  Maybe the people who have cared for and discipled you over the years?  I confess I “look” much like the significant Christians in my life.  It’s hard not to, isn’t it?  I mean, I have learned my theology from them.  I have learned how to live out the faith through them.  I know Jesus because of them.  Have you ever noticed that there are certain Christian groups that you feel comfortable and at home with and others that feel like foreign territory?  That likely has something to do with who your spiritual doppelgangers are.

I have heard it said that if you ask the wrong question you get the wrong answer. Maybe the right question is not, “Who do you look like in the faith,” but “Who should you look like?”  Just because we come from certain traditions and life experiences does not mean they are trustworthy or correct.  Who “should” Christian people look like?  Well the answer is obvious, isn’t it?

In Philippians 2 verses 5-11, the Apostle Paul includes a hymn from the first century. It’s unclear if he wrote this song or if he is quoting it.

Philippians 2

Imitating Christ’s Humility

2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

The idea of course in this passage is that we are called to become “imitators” of Jesus. In particular, to be imitators of His humility.  Imagine… the Very God of the universe humbled Himself, left something behind in the heavenly realm so that he might become human while still remaining divine.  Yeah, I don’t get it either… but it is what we hold fast to in the faith.  Jesus… like us and yet… God.

At Mt Vernon church we have devoted the summer to reading and preaching through the Gospel of Mark. Why?  So that we might once again discover the Jesus of the Bible.  Not the Jesus of our traditions, Sunday school experience, or even our spiritual doppelgangers.  And for sure not the lethargic, confusing Jesus of the church… whether it be the traditional church or the contemporary “church of what’s happening now.”  We are looking to see what the most reliable source says about the One that we call Lord.  I would challenge you to do the same.

It is my hope and prayer that as the years go by we look more and more like our Lord and less and less like our past or even our present influences. It’s a difficult, threatening and confusing journey.

So, who are you looking like today?

The Driveway

June 21, 2016

We had our driveway resurfaced yesterday. It has needed to be done for quite a long time now.  Ellen has been nag… whoops, I mean “gently reminding” me for the past several years; “Can we get the driveway done!?  Huh, huh, huh, huh… can we, can we, can we… now… soon!”  Our house was built sometime in the early 1970’s.  I don’t know if the black top was put in then or not but I’m sure it has never been replaced after its original installation.  It was a mess.  Big holes and more crack’s than a politicians promises.  Honestly, I’m not good at asking other people to do things.  When the engine in my car went, I replaced it in my garage.  When my roof needed to be repaired, I got some friends and we put on a new one.  When our dryer or washing machine breaks, I go online and figure out the problem and fix it.  The downside of all of that is that there are more things to repair than I have time or the inclination to tackle.  The upside?  Well it does give me a certain sense of accomplishment.  But there are some things that are just not possible for me to do.  The aforementioned driveway was one of them.

This is somewhat of an aside. When I was in seminary all those years ago I worked for a construction company in the summer.  Primarily we dug foundations, installed sewer lines and water lines and many other jobs that required a back hoe.  On occasion we worked with companies that installed parking lots and driveways.  You may know that when the “hot top” shows up in the back of a dump truck it’s close to 300 degrees.  It can stay in the truck for quite some time before it begins to cool and thus harden.  I remember my astonishment when the men working with the black top would go out at coffee break and buy corn on the cob and bury it, husk and all, in the 300 degree hot top.  They would then dig it out at lunch time pull off the husks, pass around the butter and salt and have fresh corn.  “Doesn’t it taste like asphalt?” you might ask.  Nope… the husks protect it from all of that.  Pretty cool huh?!  (Dave Clark, if you are reading this… thank you along with Bob, Gordy, Wayne… for three of the best summers of my life.)

As they were paving over top of my old driveway (they don’t dig it out since it provides a “good base” you know) I thought “this has to be an illustration of something in the Bible.”  I mean, isn’t everything?  Keep in mind that my old driveway is still there with its cracks and pot holes.  It’s just “covered” with something new.  But it has not ceased to exist.  Okay are you ready, here comes the segue… one of the great theological questions in all of Christendom is this, if humanity is “saved” through the blood of Jesus, and if one cannot be “saved” without the sacrifice of Christ, then how were folks in the Old Testament saved?

Some might say “through the sacrifice of animals.” Well, not really.  The simplest way to put this is that the blood of animals was a temporary fix.  Sin was still present, but it had only been “covered.”  Not unlike my old driveway.  The only way to totally, fully reconstruct the driveway would have been to dig the entire thing up and lay a new base, then replace the top.  Not unlike what took place in order to make salvation possible.

Hebrews 10 – Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

So if they were not saved by the blood of animals… well… how were they saved? Look at what Paul says:

Romans 4:1-5

 4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.

The short of it is this… they were saved by faith in God. But that does not mean they didn’t still need the blood of Christ to be shed.  How can that be we ask, since Jesus came “after” them?  Ahhhh!!!  Great question!  “After” is a “time” question, i.e., it’s a designation of the passing of years, centuries, eons…  But God does not live in “time,” does He?  So “time” means nothing to God.  The blood of Christ applies to eternity both forward and backwards.

Back to the driveway (sort of). In the 7 Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, one of them is entitled The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace is one of the main characters in the book.  He is a wholly unlikable kid; a brat and a selfish deceiver.  At one point in the story, he is turned into a dragon.  One might think that would be fun, but that is not how it’s portrayed.  He is alone, in physical pain and everyone is wary of him.  The only way for him to be restored is for the Lion Aslan (the Christ figure) to literally tear his dragon flesh away so that he might return to his original form.  The tearing of the flesh is described below as Eustace recounts the story to his friend Edmund.

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

Eustace’s’ sin was so deep that dreadful pain had to transpire in order for him (us) to be restored and made new again. A mere shedding of skin wasn’t going to work.  In order for us to be “made righteous” in God’s sight, and in order for those in the O.T. to be made the same, something eternal, painful and dreadful had to happen.  Not the simple killing of an animal. It required nothing less than the torture and dreadful death of God Himself.

I’m sure my driveway having not been completely replaced will be fine. But outside of embracing the love and blood of Jesus we will not be.  Seriously, where are you today?

A LAWNMOWER STORY

I actually wrote this over 4 years ago. Honestly I don’t remember if I posted it anywhere but in honor of Father’s day… well here it is.

January 26, 2012

Sometime ago I was back on the street where I spent my high school years. When my mother died before I started 9th grade, I went to live with my father and stepmother. In the front of the house where we lived is a telephone pole where I used to play basketball on the backboard and rim mounted there. There is also a cable running at an angle from the pole to the ground to keep it stable. At the bottom of the cable from the ground up 3 or 4 feet is a steel shield/protector. You might wonder why it’s there. Well, I’m about to tell you… at least one use anyway.

When I was young, maybe 6 or 7 I desperately wanted to use the lawn mower. To a little boy it just looked like power and fun… noise and grass flying… my friends watching with envy as they also wanted to use their mowers. My father, however, wouldn’t permit me that chore until I was probably 10 or so. The mower we had was…well… how shall I say it… DANGEROUS! I don’t know what you know about lawnmowers, so let me fill you in. You might know that from the middle of the 19th century into the middle of the 20th century, push mowers without engines were used to cut grass. Do you know what I’m referring to? They were cylindrical with two wheels and a long handle that boys across the country cursed while they sweated to death on hot summer days shoving them across lawns all over the United States. Somewhere along the way someone figured out how to mount an engine on them and make them self propelled. Hard to believe there is no national holiday dedicated to that invention… but I digress. These were and are called “reel mowers.” Not “real,” but “reel.” The up side of these mowers (when engines were added) is the fact that boys and men didn’t have to develop hernias pushing them. The downside is they don’t cut grass or weeds that grow very high and they don’t always leave a nice smooth lawn behind. For those who are obsessive about their grass, they aren’t the best option. Frankly I don’t even know if they are made any longer.

In the late 1930s along came the development of the “deck” or “rotary” mower. These are the ones with which we’re most familiar today. The engine sits on a flat surface or “deck” and the blade rotates under the body spinning parallel to the ground while pulling the grass up, cutting it and throwing it out either into the lawn or into a grass catcher depending on one’s obsessions. How does the blade pull the grass up you might ask? Well there is a slight bend in the end of the blade that creates an air stream sucking the grass upward… not unlike the blades of a fan. Ingenious

Well, my dad built his own deck mower. I don’t know when he built it; sometime in the 1950’s I think, but I’m sure it was the talk of the neighborhood since everyone had people-propelled reel mowers at the time. So what was so DANGEROUS about it? I’m glad you asked. The “deck” was a piece of ¾ inch plywood on which was mounted 4 wheels, handles and an engine. There were no sides, know what I mean? On a commercial machine there are sides all around the deck going down close to the ground except for the opening where the grass is expelled. On the mower my dad built one could easily slip under the deck and have their foot or any other part of their anatomy shredded by the exposed blade. The mower threw grass (and anything else the blade might hit like stones, sticks, or bones from a roast given to the dog the night before) in a 360 degree circumference. You could hear over the roar of the engine a constant, “Ouch,” “dang,” “shoot,” and other four letter words when my father was walking behind it as the projectiles struck him in the ankles.

You know, the things in our lives that initially look fun can swiftly become the bane of our existence! When I was finally deemed old enough and responsible enough I got to yell, “Ouch,” “dang,” and “shoot” myself. I quickly learned to detest cutting the grass. I also learned by extension to despise the spring, the smell of spring, sunny days after rainy days… you get the idea, anything that caused the grass to grow faster, or that reminded me of the grass growing faster.

Now jump forward 6 or 7 years. I was now 16 or 17 and living with my father and stepmother, as mentioned previously. Of course, it was my job to cut the grass. We now had two mowers, both with sides I might add. One of the mowers had a wide deck and was able to cut more grass with one pass. Unfortunately there was a basic engineering flaw and the engine just wasn’t big enough to support the size of the blade and the subsequent cut, so it was powerless and frustrating to use. We also had a smaller mower. It was only about 20 inches wide and took FOREVER to cut the grass, “forever” being defined as 2-3 hours.

Whatever happened to the telephone pole cable story? I’m getting there! When I was recently visiting the aforementioned house I went and checked out the cable in the front yard. Sure enough there was a 40 year old gash on the steel protector. Now, back to my story…

One sunny afternoon I was cutting away with the small mower and was down near the cable. The small mower was built with a set of “teeth” on the front to allow the grass to slide under the mower without being pushed over. Well, do I need to tell you that the “teeth” were gone? Soooooo, there was no “side” on the front of the mower. As I pushed the mower up close to the angled cable and its steel shield/protector they went under the deck and hit the blade. Or the deck went over them and the blade hit… either way it made quite a sound along with leaving the gash previously mentioned and the mower began to shake like I did in the principal’s office in Jr. High. I quickly shut it down and instantly suspected that a serious rupture had occurred to the internal mechanism of the mower, i.e., it was broken. That wasn’t a big problem for me in terms of getting the rest of the grass cut other than the fact that I now had only one other option… Mr. Wide Deck/Gutless mower. The real problem was… you guessed it…! I had to go tell my dad I had slain the best mower we had. My father, like most dads, didn’t generally deal with this kind of news well. Yeah, that’s one way to put it… “didn’t deal well.” Another way of saying it is that I was fearful my father would be so mad he might have a stroke!

As it turned out, much to my surprise (and relief) he didn’t seem upset at all. We took the broken mower into the garage and removed the blade. He showed me that the blade on that particular mower was designed differently from other mowers. Rather than the blade being one thick piece of steel with sharpened ends this one was a hefty piece of steel with triangular shaped blades that were riveted onto each end. The impact from the steel protector covering the cable had knocked off one of the blades thus causing it to vibrate significantly because it was out of balance. I should have thought about this at the time but my father just happened to have a spare blade and rivets. You don’t suppose I was the first person to ever knock that blade off do you? Yeah, me neither! Since the rivets had to be inserted and then rounded off with a hammer, it took some time to get the mower ready for use. It started on the first pull. Amazingly, I did not bend the crankshaft!

I stood shoulder to shoulder with my dad that day at his hefty vice fixing that mower. He was not the kind of teacher that talked much or explained things. He just showed me what needed to be done and we did it. Mostly I was the “holder,” and the “tool getter.” But to be honest, recalling standing there with my dad fixing things brings back some of the best memories of my childhood. For years after he died I couldn’t look at his vice without tears welling up in my eyes or even look at the gash mark on a relatively meaningless piece of steel. Someday if I live long enough I will go there and discover that the pole and cable have been replaced. Maybe when they do someone will comment on the damaged steel shield and replace that as well. It won’t mean anything to anyone else. But it will be a day of great sadness for me.

It has been said that our perceptions of our heavenly Father are based on how we understand our earthly father. If our dad is or was kind, loving and open to us, we will tend to see God that way. If our dad is/was emotionally aloof, distant and tended to ignore us or even reject us, we might think of God as One who cares little for His creation and sits passively, powerlessly and watches. Or if our dad is/was angry, bitter, abusive and punitive, we might perceive God as One who simply waits in heaven for us to make a mistake so He can send lightning bolts our way. Regardless of how we might feel toward our earthly father, developing our thoughts of God based on our dad is at least naïve and for sure unfair; naïve as to who God is and unfair to imperfect human beings like our dads.

That being said, scripture is quite clear as to the nature of God. He is a God of love who cares deeply for His children. Of course we are all familiar with John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”

Do we remember that gave his one and only Son does not mean that he went on holiday to earth for 33 years? Do we recall that it means he humbled himself to become a servant and eventually “agreed” to suffer on a cross for us?

Maybe you are not as familiar with 1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…”

I know that for many the thought of their dad produces sorrow and sometimes anger. That is more tragic than words can express. But know this. Regardless of what transpires here in this temporal world YOU ARE THE BELOVED OF GOD.

A Voting Guide… sort of

June 7, 2016

I like the late Spring through the Fall much more than the Winter months but not for all the reasons you might think. I often meet with folks here at the church in the evenings… couples getting married, counseling sessions, committee meetings…  When that occurs I am generally the last one to leave the building.  In the Spring-Fall months I mentioned, sunset isn’t until 9:00 p.m. or so and it generally hasn’t gotten fully dark when I am exiting.  All of that to say this:  Because the Winter months bring sunset so much earlier, it is WAY CREEPY in the church building in the dark all by myself.  Seriously!  And… I don’t know what’s worse… that I’m 61 years old and I still find it creepy to be in a large empty building alone in the dark… or that I use the word “creepy.”  Oh wait, this was supposed to be about voting.  Sorry.

Okay, so let me help you with this presidential election. First of all let’s dispense with the alternative parties.  I mean you along with 5 other people can vote for the Libertarian, or the Communist, or the Green party, or anyone else who chooses to waste gobs of money on a hopeless cause.  If that is your choice then you can stop reading now and go cast your ballot.  But if you are trying to decide what to do about one of the two leading candidates, then immerse yourself in the wisdom found below.

There have never been two “perfect” candidates running for president, as best I can tell. It’s just that the level of imperfection this year has reached an all time disgusting high.  We are either going to elect an untrustworthy, lying, potential criminal who will say anything and everything to be President.  Or we will have a loose cannon, mean spirited, narcissist.  Pick your poison.

Christian people, stop talking about faith issues in regard to these candidates! Just STOP IT!!!! There is little point since neither of them should be mistaken for someone with a soul.  Pretty sure they both sold them a long time ago.

What to do, what to do? I could be wrong but it appears the conventional “wisdom” (I use that term loosely) for choosing candidates, or those for whom we will vote, has gone out the window.  Either way we are rolling the dice.  So we need to focus on a different issue.  Or at least we need to focus exclusively on something other than taxes, foreign policy, immigration, women’s issues, how “Presidential” someone might be (whatever that means?!?!), how much of a liar someone is…  You know…the usual stuff.

It should come as no surprise that in many ways the Supreme Court sets the moral trajectory for our country. In recent decades many who advocate for difficult issues in our land have bypassed Congress and have taken their cause to the “Judges Extraordinaire.”  The Court then has become a “law making” entity as opposed to a “law clarifying” entity.  Not the way the system was designed, but it is where we are in this day and age.

Are you ready? Here is the wisdom and the criteria.  Rumor has it the next President will appoint 3-4 new Justices.  A very real possibility for a moral swing.  So, if you feel good about the moral course of our country then I would suggest that you vote for the criminal; if not, and you think the Federal Government has overstepped its bounds in some moral sense then vote for the narcissist.  It’s actually that simple… or dreadful… depending on which side of the bed you got up from this morning.  And of course there are no guarantees with either candidate… NONE.  There is absolutely no way of knowing what either of them can or will do…  For those who find that frightening… let me say two things.  First, that’s the same as it has always been in these elections.  I am forever stunned by those who get sucked in by candidates who say outrageous things on the campaign trail and folks actually BELIEVE THEM!!!  Oh my goodness.  I want to find those people and sell them some property in the Everglades.  Second, trust our system to some degree (not fully).  We do have a few checks and balances left that might help a bit in warding off craziness.  Sort of.

So, whoever you vote for (And I would encourage you to vote. I know it’s like eating Brussels sprouts or liver!), you might want to keep it to yourself.  It could be that no matter who wins, a lot of people will need to be apologizing because they were too verbose about their choice.

By the way… any idea what the Bible says about all this? Here it is:

1 Timothy 2

2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

If you are not praying for those in positions of political authority (and I would think these prayers ought to be compassionate and positive… hoping those servants might seek God), then please don’t tell people about your faith. It just makes real Christians look bad.

Um… “good luck”… I guess?

Crutches

June 1, 2016

There are many reasons to be critical of Christians. I was recently at an event where one of the participants took the opportunity to express his cynicism of the faith to me.  Okay, I get it.  No doubt we deserve much of the condemnation that we receive.  You know things like; we don’t practice what we preach; we are forever squabbling or outright fighting with one another; we ignore the difficult parts of the faith; we can be oppressively conservative and irresponsibly liberal; we don’t know what “love” means; we don’t know what “forgiveness” means; we practice “cheap grace” (look it up); our faith seems to have little impact on our lives outside of the doors of the sanctuary; we use the Faith as a “crutch;” “etc., etc., etc.,” as someone from The King and I once said.

I think we are deserving of the bad press we have received for all of those reasons above… well, except for the last one. I have heard it said over the years that Christians use their faith “as a crutch.”  Yeah?  What’s your point?  Who doesn’t have some sort of crutch to get them through the difficulties and uncertainties of this world?  Some find their crutch in therapy; some in their families; some in a bottle; some in a syringe; some in their work; some in their bank account; some in their friends; some in their hobbies.  Seriously this crutch thing is just a little overdone as a criticism.  (This is not to say that all “crutches” are healthy.)  I do not deny for a second that my faith “helps” me or “assists” me through my life.  Why is that a problem?  And if you claim to not have a crutch, then start by examining your arrogance and pride because I seriously doubt you are a “rock” or an “island” as Simon and Garfunkel proposed in the 60’s.  Rocks and islands lead to depression, despair, brokenness and destruction.  They do not lead to a self fulfilled life.

I guess I would rather my crutch advocate kindness, love, peace and selflessness than the egocentric, narcissistic values of this world. You know… the “please me, please me, please me, fulfill me, fulfill me, fulfill me, give me, give me, give me” lyrics of a fictitious song that runs through too many of our heads.

Here’s what my crutch said about living in the world:

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The short of it is this – love God and love everybody else. Everything revolves around that.  And the short of that is:  You are not the first priority in your life.

Yeah I get it. We as “Christians” are not good at that.  I know that.  But at the very least we have a standard for which to strive; a model of excellence to emulate.  We are not left floundering in the caustic “crutch world” of “self” and “self” and more “self.”

So Christian people… maybe what we ought to do here is actually begin to live the life that our “crutch” told us to live. What would your world look like if you actually began to “love your neighbor as yourself?”  Yeah, I’m not sure either.  But I do know that on those few occasions when I have been able to pull that off it has been very fulfilling.  I know… that’s kind of the rub.  It makes it sound like “loving others” is about me.  I don’t know how to get away from that other than to say that maybe God designed us to find satisfaction in our care for others.  Whatever it is… we need to be known for loving other folks.  Seriously!  You can do it… just lean on your crutch.

Blessings.