Commandment

Commandment: (n) a divine rule, especially one of the Ten Commandments

Sometimes it baffles me.

If God is our Creator, and He knows that we have a strong streak of asshole right in the middle of our attitude, why would He think presenting us with Ten Commandments was a cherry idea?

I’m not saying He should have made it “suggestions” or “insights,” but if you tell anybody that sprouts human skin that there’s something they must do to acquire approval, they will not only do the opposite, but will also insist that you applaud them for doing it.

So I’ve never been clear on what a Commandment does.

For instance, I never understood why a bunch of old people in Dixie want to put the Ten Commandments out on the front lawns of courthouses all over the county. What do they expect? Do they think children are going to walk up, read them and say, “My God, if I knew what ‘bear false witness’ meant, I might consider it…”

And also–those Commandments have not done a lot to prevent screwing, stealing and murder.

What is the correct approach?

After all, we have another old saying, which concludes that merely leading a horse to water does not guarantee that it will drink, let alone bathe.

So how do we impact ourselves, other people and the world around us with great ideas?

Everyone knows the answer to this:

Just do them yourself until you start a fad and sell t-shirts.

 

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Burnout

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Burnout: (n) physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

One of the most interesting little stories in the Good Book, whether you hold to its authenticity or not, is the tale of Moses and the burning bush.

Although I’m sure most folks are greatly impressed by the fact that God spoke to Moses from the flames, the thing that strikes me is that according to the story, the bush was burning, but not consumed.

In other words, God wanted to talk to Moses, but being a great caretaker of His creation, He decided it was not necessary to kill a bush to do it.

Isn’t that amazing?

Yet there is a deep, abiding, adult attitude–that we prove our prowess by stressing out and warning people how “burned out” we are with our circumstances.

Can we teach ourselves that it is possible to produce light without fire? Because it is completely plausible to emit an incandescence from the soul, which pours out of our eyeballs with a sense of enlightened contentment.

I have a simple rule: if it gets hard, stop.

If it seems difficult, take five. And if I’m convinced I am being punished, quickly climb down from the cross.

The only light that is truly powerful is the one that’s generated from my own heart, as I comfortably, joyfully and simply live out who I am, realizing that I possess illumination.

 

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Baptist

Baptist: (n) a member of a Protestant Christian denomination advocating baptism only of adult believers by total immersion.Dictionary B

Baptists believe a lot of other things, too, besides dunking people in water.

If their only stance was immersion, then the endearing notion of being born again by the action of bathing in righteousness would be beautiful.

But Baptists often find themselves in the position of defending ideas which congeal the Old Testament and the New Testament in an uncomfortable and unfortunate gelatin of purposes.

Christianity becomes so much easier when you stop being Jewish.

If you insist on being a good Jew who follows the testament of Moses, and a dear Christian who pursues the philosophy of Jesus, you will often find yourself personally confused and incomprehensible to others.

On the other hand, simply to view Baptists as spiritual Neanderthals and socially retarded is to miss the blessing of simplicity that these folks often bring to an overly complex world.

For I will tell you, it is amazing what many Southern Baptists can achieve with a few moments of prayer and a platter of chicken.

So what am I saying?

I am saying that if you’re going to be a Christian, you must be willing to abandon Judaism while still loving the Jew.

For I do not believe in the Koran, nor Scientology, or even the teachings of Olympus … but still happen to love Arabs, Hollywood stars and Greek folk.

 

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Armageddon

dictionary with letter A

Armageddon: (n) in the New Testament, the last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgment.

I have this memory from Sunday School class of a verse in which God shares with Cain that the blood of his brother “cried unto God from the Earth.”

Pretty powerful image.

So every time I think about Armageddon, I’m a bit baffled.

I have never had a desire to go to the Holy Land–mainly because I do not believe that any particular parcel of dust and stone is holy–and especially when the landscape has been so stained by human blood, shed for meaningless doctrines and interpretations.

I am not certain that this position I have taken would be a popular one with those who want to go and see where Moses received the Ten Commandments, or where Jesus walked on the water.

But if I found myself in the unenviable position of being the President of the United States, I would never send any troops into a kingdom that is already crimson with blood.

I would never allow myself to be known as the conduit that initiated a battle over nothing, which destroys everything.

There isn’t much I can do about the Jews and the Muslims wanting to fight with each other. It is my belief that Jesus came to break truth off of tradition, so that we could be human beings with each other instead of tribes.

But I guess as long as we insist on honoring our cultures more than humanity, protecting our kin more than seeking reasons to call the people of the world our brothers and sisters, and debating the personality of a God which is far beyond our comprehension, we will gradually inch our way periodically towareds Armageddon.

When we do, look for me in the rear, turning around and heading the other direction.

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Append

dictionary with letter A

Append (v.): to add to the end of a document or piece of writing.

Much truth comes out through silliness.

I have found this to be very accurate and on point.

When we’re unable to speak our feelings clearly, we often cast to the wind a sideways remark, later insisting that we were “just kidding.”

For instance, certainly the people who wrote the books of the Bible had no comprehension that thousands of years later, souls would be poring over their thoughts, seeking eternal insights for their internal workings. If they had, they probably would have added an “append” at the end, or a P.S. which read, “By the way, when I wrote Chapters 4-7, I was grumpy and suffering from indigestion” or, “Just kidding.”

Likewise, the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention knew almost immediately that they had left out some very important ideas, so they added a ten-point “append,” which we now refer to as the Bill of Rights. (Also some of them from the Northern colonies probably wanted to take their quills and jot down an apology to the black race for the three-fifths assessment of their value.)

There isn’t anything I write each day in my columns and blogs that I would want to become everlasting “gospel” for humankind. Maybe I should close with T.I.C. (Tongue In Cheek). So I reserve the right to append all of my pennings almost immediately.

If we really believe that documents are divinely inspired, then we must clarify by saying that they are not divinely scrawled. Even in the process of inspiration flowing through the human being, it picks up some trash, ignorance and dirt along the way.

The truly intelligent reader of great manuscripts must possess the discernment of the spirit which inspired them.

  • So I listen to Beethoven not to worship his talent, but to appreciate the creativity and the frailty which make it human.
  • I read Thomas Jefferson knowing that he had higher ideals than his morals could acquire.
  • And I study Moses and the Apostle Paul from the Good Book, understanding that the yearning they had to be universal was somewhat stalled by their sheep-herder and tent-maker mentalities.

It doesn’t limit the beauty.

It just brings focus to it.

 

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Aflame

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aflame: (adv.) in flames; burning

I really don’t sit around and question if there was a Snow White and if she befriended seven short chaps with various personality quirks. I try to have enough sense to catch the essence of the story–the meaning of the tale–without having to verify the veracity of the characters involved.

I bring this up today because I was thinking of a story from the Good Book about a burning bush. According to the folk-lore, Moses saw one in the wilderness which also talked to him, relating the details of a mission and a great odyssey. I suppose if you are intent on proving that everything must have actually happened in order to acquire wisdom from it, you are probably so jaded that you mock this situation as completely implausible, and therefore worthless.

But since I tend to believe that the stories told in the Good Book were related to give us a quick snapshot of the heart and mind of God, I am able to read them without cynically rejecting them, because I deem some factoid to be ridiculous.

What strikes me about this story of the burning bush is that when God decides to speak to one of His children, He feels no compulsion to kill even a random bush to achieve His conversation. For that’s what it says: the bush was on fire but was not consumed.

I like that.

After all, in our day and age, it seems that people are unable to achieve the sensation of being “aflame with desire” without burning out.

Can we not agree that passion is passion–whether it’s emotional passion creating empathy, spiritual passion that generates compassion, mental passion, which pursues knowledge, or physical passion, which activates a lust for romance?

In all of these cases, if we learn from the story of Moses and the burning bush, we must realize that our Creator never intended us to burn out just because we’re aflame.

What I have become in the nature of things, through the pursuit of happiness and in the acquisition of multiplying my talents, is a crock pot instead of a barbecue pit.

In all areas of my life, I burn. I’m aflame. Whether I’m going to the grocery store or writing this essay to you, there is a heat and a passion that is involved and at work. But it’s a slow cooker.

  • I never take myself too seriously.
  • I never purge my soul with incrimination.
  • And I refuse to chase dreams without possessing good cheer.

I want to be a bush that burns without being consumed. I want to be aflame–to give off light and share my warmth without threatening others with fiery consequences.

There is much to learn from stories, whether they be from the Good Book, Mother Goose or Stephen King. And here’s my thought:  if we want to understand the heart of God, we will learn how to play with fire … without getting burned.

 

Aaron

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

1. Aaron: (in the Bible) brother of Moses and the traditional founder of the Jewish priesthood

2. Aaron: Hank (1934- ) U.S. baseball player, full name Henry Louis Aaron. He set the all-time career record for home runs (755) and runs batted in (2,297). Baseball Hall of Fame (1982)

What do these two guys have in common?

People don’t have to have things in common. It’s kind of fun if they do, though.

My understanding is that Aaron from the Bible had a really long beard. Hank Aaron didn’t. A beard might get in the way of hitting home runs.

Speaking of that, maybe there’s a tie-in. Hank hit home runs and Aaron from the Bible was always dealing with people who wanted to run home to Egypt. Matter of fact, Aaron was so weak that he built a Golden Calf for people to worship. That’s when his brother, Moses, came down, took the Ten Commandments and tried to knock the Golden Calf out of the park.

You see? Another connection to baseball.

Must have been tough to be Aaron–the Bible one. Because his brother stuttered or had some sort of speech impediment, he was selected to do all the talking in front of the Pharoah. That had to be tough. Moses whispered in his ear and told him a plague of frogs was going to be sent to the Egyptian people, but HE was stuck with saying it out loud. Tough room, huh?

Hank Aaron had the most home runs for a career. That’s pretty impressive. That’s no flash in the pan. That’s not like hitting seventy in one year. That’s like doing it year after year. So maybe the similarity between these two guys is how different they were.

Bible Aaron did fine when things were great and the pitches thrown his way came right across the plate. Hank, on the other hand, hit ’em out of the stadium regularly, no matter who was pitching.

I guess what we can learn from this is … absolutely nothing, which is often the end result of object lessons. A teacher will work very hard to make a point, which totally escapes the grasp of the student. The teacher becomes more emphatic and the student pretends to understand–to escape getting in trouble.

Peaceful co-confusion.