Compromise Paralysis, Part 2

Image result for arguing in congress
How can we move forward when we are always so close to “compromise paralysis”?
It is exactly here that I think our Christian faith helps provide a way forward. Our faith helps us clarify how we live and prioritize what is most important. “Being right” and “winning” are reinterpreted.
The bedrock Christian gifts of love and grace change everything. Our natural instinct is to see things in ways that make sense to us as we see them now. We prefer to justify our own position and have a tendency to believe that we are right until proven wrong. Yet Christian love calls us to put others first and focus more on the relationships. We are called to love one another, loving in a way that keeps the relationship first. Being right means still valuing the other, and winning means moving forward only when the relationships are preserved.
Love also means loving others enough to want better for them. This means we can’t just “keep our mouths shut”! It means truthing in love, speaking a different perspective than what they can see now. Yet be careful! The motivation is not to be right or preserve our perspective, but to really love them and preserve that relationship.


The Remedy for Darkness



John the Baptist was a strange duck.

He lived out in the desert, he ate insects, he wore camel hair, he dowsed people in a river.

John marched to a different drummer.  He was odd and society would not have him.  But John was a witness.  He knew something to which no one else was privy.  He had seen something and John did what witnesses do: He testified.

The Gospel of John (written by a different John) tells us in chapter 1 verse 7 that John the Baptist came to testify about light.

I am sure we have all cursed the existence of Legos as they sink into the bottom of our feet in the darkness of our child’s room. We have all broken a pinky toe on the stray chair leg as we fetch a glass of water in the middle of the night.  We have all had to catch our breath as we narrowly avoid a collision with a wild animal on dark country roads. 


Compromise Paralysis

Image result for arguing in congress
During our recent visit to The Capitol in Washington D.C., we watched a video on how, in a representative government, people with diverse ideas and values can come together “for the common good.” Our government is a system based on conversation and compromise. Each vested party shares in the conversation (often a debate) and over time (sometimes very slowly) a way forward emerges. Usually there are many who are not at all pleased with the outcome. Yet, as the saying goes, “the majority rules.”
There is an ongoing tension inherent within this system, which even the word “compromise” itself shows. The word can have a negative meaning, like, “Don’t compromise on your values.” In the wider conversation, it is important for people to “hold fast” to their ideas and not compromise, or “water down” on what strikes at the very core of their values. We often get very frustrated with our government officials who, in the name of coming to an agreement, seem to give way on a core platform or position.


Lay Aside Your Gavel


 One of the things I love about the Bible is its patent honesty.  Great heroes are shown to be flawed, and a righteous character is never too far from sin.  The book of Jonah presents us with a man who doesn’t even pretend to follow God.  He is considered a prophet, one who speaks the words of God, and yet when he receives a call to go and preach to the vile city of Ninevah, Jonah turns and flees in the opposite direction.

 Certainly we can all relate to such bald-faced disobedience.  Most often we know what we ought to do but sometimes we just don’t wanna do it.  We go our own way and do our own thing.  So it was with Jonah.  It is easy to assume that Jonah ran away because he was afraid of going to preach before an evil king of an evil nation.  But there is a twist in the story that reveals a deeper malediction in the human heart.  In chapter 4 verse 2 Jonah admits to the real reason he ran: “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Then he asks God to kill him.


God Bless Us Every 1%!



Of all the insidious evils that plague the heart of humanity, greed has staked its claim as one of the most duplicitous.  When people try to put a face on greed, they immediately think of big business corporations, the 1 %, oil companies and billionaires…our president-elect.  Many people decry capitalism as being fundamentally greedy.  After all, those who have seem to get more and those who have not seem to be stuck in an inescapable rut.  Capitalism keeps the rich, rich and the poor, poor.  Worse yet, it keeps the greedy, greedy. 


I would interject here with a little perspective.  Certainly, there are those who are rich who are also greedy, but does being wealthy automatically indicate greed? 


Veterans and Riots

“Love your neighbor as yourself” -Mark
I had breakfast with a number of veterans this morning. Thank you to all who served our country and gave sacrificially! Thank you for what you have done, and thank you for what you are still doing!
Yesterday it took me an hour to get to the hospital in St. Paul because of all the protesters angry about the outcome of the presidential election this week. Some claim that it was peaceful. From what I saw, it was not! There has been rioting and demonstrating in such a negative way that I-94 was closed. And the demonstrations have spread across the country. One particular hot spot is on Oregon, where explosives are being used by demonstrators! People are upset, anguished, and angry, and they have taken to the streets not just to protest, but to disrupt and to riot.


The Marshmallow Test

Years ago, Stanford University ran a series of experiments that involved preschool children and marshmallows.  Kids were individually shown into a bare room where a lone marshmallow sat to tempt them.  They were allowed to eat the treat at any time, however, they were also told that if they waited for 15 minutes, they would then receive two marshmallows.  It was a test of self-control, an inquiry into a child’s ability to delay gratification.  You can watch a funny video of how it all works


  The author of the trial, Dr. Walter Mischel, has said, “I’m not the first person to think willpower is very important. It’s been with us from the story of Adam and Eve and the loss of paradise.”


Godliness + Contentment = Great Gain

Even according to the most secular of minds, the Bible is an ancient book full of great wisdom.  Most people pick and choose the pieces they want to regard as wise and those they would rather discard, but as Christians, we affirm the authenticity and worth of the entire canon of Scripture.  It is not for us to comb through the Bible and lay aside teachings we do not like.  Our job is to embody and live out all aspects to the best of our oft-feeble ability.
This process of abiding by the word of God involves everyone’s favorite term: obedience. 


“Are you prepared to vote?”



I pass along to you an edited form of an excellent piece recently written by our church’s bishop. It really helps us understand better how our faith as Christians can help guide us through the election this next week. Let’s be in prayer!


Pastor David


“Are you prepared to vote?”

By Bishop Bruce R. Ough

October 18, 2016

At his installation serve in 2004, Bishop Hopkins (former bishop of the MN Conference) asked three questions:

            Do you love Jesus?

            Do you love your neighbors?

            Are you registered to vote?

Bishop Hopkins had everyone’s attention.

As people of the Methodist Way, we are called to scriptural holiness, which has both personal and societal dimensions and expressions. The question “Do you love Jesus?” is a call to vital piety. The question “Do you love your neighbors?” is a call to mission and evangelism. The question “Have you registered to vote?” is a call to advocacy and justice.


Our Methodist DNA is to be formational–“making” or shaping followers of Jesus into devoted, obedient, mature disciples. Our Methodist DNA is to be evangelical–inviting persons into a saving, grace-informed, and loving relationship with Jesus. Our Methodist DNA is to be in mission–extending abundant life to our neighbors far and near. Our Methodist DNA is to be advocates–standing with those who hunger for peace and justice, those who hunger for hope.


Fighting on Your Knees

In the less known but fantastic Dr. Seuss book entitled “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew”, we meet an everyman character who is inundated with obstacles and set-backs on his way to the city of Solla Sollew, “on the banks of the river Wah-Hoo, where they never have troubles, at least, very few.”  In his hope to live a trouble-free existence, our friend encounters many episodes, one of which involves him being enlisted in the army of Genghis Kahn Schmitz, where he is commanded to fight the treacherous Poozer.  He is provided with nothing but a bean shooter.  One Poozer however became many and our poor traveler had no choice but to retreat.  He was ill-equipped.  He had no prayer. I often feel the same in my own life. 



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