Whatever Is Pure

Cindi Gale

Phillipians 4:8 (NIV) –

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.

Consider this video by sisters Lennon and Maisy Stella — whatever is pure, whatever is lovely …

My prayer for you is that the things of this world which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable always outshine that which is not.

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Rehabilitation Basics

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Cindi Gale

When I was a graduate student of physical therapy, we attended lab classes to practice what we learned in lectures. It was during those labs that I realized not one person in our class of forty students personified textbook ideals.

We were all flawed.

When we had a unit on posture, nobody had perfect posture. During exercise physiology class, some had excellent aerobic capacity, some anaerobic; some had great lifting strength; some good endurance—nobody had it all. We each had weaknesses.

Most of us weren’t even aware of our problem areas. Abnormal felt normal.

Our professors taught us that weaknesses often lead to injury or dysfunction; strong muscles tend to get even stronger, weak muscles get even weaker; when tasks are especially demanding those imbalances make us do compensatory movements that put us at greater risk for injury. We learned patient education and exercise techniques to activate and strengthen underused, atrophied…

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The Art of Learning

Cindi Gale

I recently spent time with several ceramic artists who generously shared information about their craft. While the terminology and techniques will have to be revisited for me to grasp, other comments were immediately applicable to life beyond pottery.

DSCN1960. spotlight and frame jpgOn Early Learning. 

The affable man on the right was starting a new piece on his wheel when he stated, almost apologetically, “I’m new to this.”

Though I suspect he’s more experienced than he gave himself credit, I can relate to the insecurities that accompany early learning. It’s not easy being the relative rookie when surrounded by veterans. It takes courage to attempt something new when everyone around you is already accomplished. Especially with an audience.

But don’t we all begin with the basics? Isn’t it the nature of learning to start in kindergarten, so to speak, and advance by steps to graduation day and beyond? Advanced skills and creative results happen…

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Supply and Demand

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Cindi Gale

Many thanks to photographer, Lou Lourdeau, for providing the “water jars” photos. I asked and he kindly supplied.


God is a supplier whose provisions are limitless. His divine storehouses overflow infinitely. We open the flow to all that supply by our demand. He wants us to ask of him. He wants us to expect of him. Why? Because he’s unimaginably generous. He wants to give.

In the “water to wine” story*, when the wine was depleted at a wedding, Jesus’s mother asked him for a miracle. She expected one. Then she acknowledged Jesus’s authority. “Do whatever he tells you.”

Initially, Jesus said, “Why come to me?” His public miracles weren’t supposed to happen yet. “My hour has not yet come.”

We see it wasn’t Jesus who initiated the miracle that day, it was Mary. But when asked, he acted.

I’ve noticed in my own life that I’m motivated by the needs…

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When Safety Is Not In Numbers.

The conservative Christian church is celebrating. It contributed its solidarity, its endorsement, its resources, and its numbers to power the successful election of our next president. They say Trump represents them, that he represents God. They say God endorsed him.

Those of us who also call ourselves Christians but disagree with the growing voice of American Christianity have a choice to make: join the crowd or not. We could have safety in numbers if we join. We could immediately alleviate the criticism we are enduring if we do.

“Join in, and you’ll be accepted. Don’t join in, and expect our rejection of you. Expect our chastisement of you. You are out of line with God. You are out of line with the Church. Our beliefs are right. Your beliefs are wrong. Let me bash you , I mean, let me correct you with scriptures. You are clearly wrong.”

(Have you noticed the increased use of that word clearly in the church in recent years? It’s an effective word in addressing dissenters – it leaves no room for disagreement; they are clearly right and others are clearly wrong … end of discussion.)

“So acquiesce to us and do it now. Or not. But if you don’t, be prepared for God’s judgment upon you. We are certain of our rightness. Our growing numbers increase our certainty. Our victory by our candidate of choice validates us.”

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But, I wonder, should they be so certain? This particular branch of Christianity has blended the waters of politics and the waters of God, called it correct, and recruited others to jump in. The resulting river of blended waters is historically unique and especially potent.

The numbers of people within in it have swelled, and the election has hastened the current. They move along swiftly, focused on each other, on their victory, on their celebration party, on their common beliefs, on their perceived correctness. They give no ear to those on the banks who aren’t among them. Land-based warnings aren’t welcomed; by the time a word or two reaches them, the current has moved them beyond range to be heard anyway.

The very river they created that causes them to feel safe and empowered, causes me and many like me to feel alarm.

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Christians who are planted on the banks of that river are observing and pondering. I, for one, wonder about the vast numbers of people in the river. Do they realize safety in numbers is deceiving? I imagine it must feel good to be in that river celebrating their perceived correctness and invincibility, but from where I watch, I don’t trust it. More accurately, I strongly distrust it. Based on what its qualities look like now, I wonder where that river is headed. Will it flow towards righteousness, love, peace and truth? Will it please God? Will it serve humanity? Does God endorse them, as they claim, or …

Does He abhor their river? Has it drowned out His voice? Will He silence its clanging gongs of discord and pride so that His voice can once-again be heard? Has He allowed the river in order to ultimately flush wrongdoing from His Church?

Will he turn to the scattered remnant on the banks to gather together in His name? Will He ask them to represent Him? Will he find those who are willing, sanctified, prepared, trained, and who have sacrificed self for Him? Will He find those who have become less, so that He can become more? Will He find those who will let Him use them according to His will, direction, and leading?

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We each have to answer to God for what we do in His name. We have access to His Holy Spirit to teach us, to give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Will we let Him warn us? Will we let Him instruct us? It’s there, in chapters such as Matthew 7, if we will listen to the One who teaches as one who has authority, and not as the teachers of the law.

Judging Others

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Ask, Seek, Knock

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets

15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Where Is Humility?

It’s not the ongoing debating after Trump’s win two days ago that seems so wrong, or that people are unloading their frustrations on social media (if people offer a political post, expect the opportunity to be taken as long as people are in upheaval) … it’s the smugness of many “winners” that is so off-putting.

As if the win provides a sense of safety-in-numbers to perpetuate (and even increase) the uncivil atmosphere of the election season. As if the worst of ourselves that used to be kept in check by societal disapproval isn’t anymore – it has been lured out to engage in corporate cruelty.

Smugness feels so satisfying that people are unwilling to shut it off – why be gracious and good-sportsmanlike when you can feel so superior at others’ expense? Why allow “opponents” an ongoing opinion when you can use the “win” as validation that yours is right and theirs is wrong? As if a “win” finalizes all issues, and all must meld into the mentality of the winning side, and must do so NOW or be met with swift repudiation and public humiliation.

Smugugly, I’m calling it, and it ain’t good.


Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3
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When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 

 

Where Is Love?

I have been unable to express my thoughts and emotions while witnessing Donald Trump’s rise to the U.S. Presidency. I’ve looked to others to find the words I can’t, and discovered none that create more angst in me than those of many Christians and Christian leaders. I was beginning to think our entire faith has amassed to like-mindedness I don’t want to be a part of. Where were the voices that represent Christ’s love, His temperament, His purpose?

When I was out for a walk yesterday, soon after watching Clinton’s and Obama’s televised concession speeches, I determined to stay the narrow course no matter that of the Christian majority’s. Sometime mid-walk, I heard God’s still, small voice remind me of a blogger I follow: John Pavlovitz. Back at home, I quickly found his just-published post: 

Here’s Why We Grieve Today

November 9, 2016 / by John Pavlovitz / Pastor, blogger, author

I don’t think you understand us right now.

I think you think this is about politics.

I think you believe this is all just sour grapes; the crocodile tears of the losing locker room with the scoreboard going against us at the buzzer.

I can only tell you that you’re wrong. This is not about losing an election.This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world. 
Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.

 

Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation—and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed.

They have aligned with the wall-builder and the professed p*ssy-grabber, and they have co-signed his body of work, regardless of the reasons they give for their vote:

Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated. Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed. Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on.

Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American.

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.

We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

Those who have always felt vulnerable are now left more so.Those whose voices have been silenced will be further quieted.Those who always felt marginalized will be pushed further to the periphery. Those who feared they were seen as inferior now have confirmation in actual percentages.

Those things have essentially been campaign promises of Donald Trump, and so many of our fellow citizens have said this is what they want too.

This has never been about politics.
This is not about one candidate over the other.
It’s not about one’s ideas over another’s.
It is not blue vs. red.
It’s not her emails vs. his bad language.
It’s not her dishonesty vs. his indecency.

It’s about overt racism and hostility toward minorities.
It’s about religion being weaponized.
It’s about crassness and vulgarity and disregard for women.
It’s about a barricaded, militarized, bully nation.
It’s about an unapologetic, open-faced ugliness.

And it is not only that these things have been ratified by our nation that grieve us; all this hatred, fear, racism, bigotry, and intolerance—it’s knowing that these things have been amen-ed by our neighbors, our families, our friends, those we work with and worship alongside. That is the most horrific thing of all.We now know how close this is.

It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.

This is not about a difference of political opinion, as that’s far too small to mourn over. It’s about a fundamental difference in how we view the worth of all people—not just those who look or talk or think or vote the way we do.

Grief always laments what might have been, the future we were robbed of, the tomorrow that we won’t get to see, and that is what we walk through today. As a nation we had an opportunity to affirm the beauty of our diversity this day, to choose ideas over sound bytes, to let everyone know they had a place at the table, to be the beacon of goodness and decency we imagine that we are—and we said no.

The Scriptures say that weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. We can’t see that dawn coming any time soon.

And this is why we grieve.

Pavlovitz’s words remind me that not all of American Christianity thinks the same. The loudest voices are intimidating, as only the voices of large groups are capable of, but just as the still, small voice of God’s Holy Spirit was able to reach me through the brash confusion of the election, so too the quiet, small voices of followers of Christ can reach others with His love.