Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Lord is Near

Source: "The Lord is Near". Building One Another. June 23, 2009. Volume 8, No. 25
Key Words: Conflict, resolution, reconciliation

Do you know of Christians who disagree with one another? I know you do!

Writing the Philippians, Paul offers a word to Christians who disagree. He presses them to get it together and to do it with help from a friend: “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion help these women.” Philippians 4:2-3a*

Paul’s next four comments are often taken separately but they form a wonderful whole. First, after asking the women to reconcile he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” It’s a direct word to people who aren’t exactly rejoicing.

Second, he speaks to the spirit in which they are to deal with their disagreement, ”Let your gentleness be known to everyone.”

Third, he tucks this word in, easily skipped, with gigantic implications, “The Lord is near.” In other words he is saying, “Oh by the way, don’t forget, the Lord is near – near in location – close to you – and near in time – he is coming soon!” Christians in conflict often ignore this word! May the immediacy of our Lord’s presence motivate you to deal with your disagreements right now!

Finally is Paul’s famous promise about anxiety and prayer. While it does apply to any source of anxiety you may face, clearly it applies specifically to anxiety about an un-reconciled disagreement: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Have a disagreement? Deal with it! Get a third party to help you. With a gentle and joyful spirit pray to and literally trust the God who is near!

With joy - E. Stanley Ott

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Breaking the Chain Reaction

Source: Planet In Rebellion, George Vandeman
Keywords: substitution, salvation, chain reaction,

“It was May 21, 1946. The place - Los Alamos. A young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific atoll at Bikini. “He had successfully performed such an experiment many times before. In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction—scientists call it the critical mass—he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus instantly stopping the chain reaction. But that day, just as the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped! The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. Instantly the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze. Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and thereby possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and thus interrupted the chain reaction. By this instant, self-forgetful daring, he saved the lives of the seven other persons in the room. . . (A)s he waited. . for the car that was to take him to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, ‘You’ll come through all right. But I haven’t the faintest chance myself’ It was only too true. Nine days later he died in agony. Nineteen centuries ago the Son of the living God walked directly into sin’s most concentrated radiation, allowed Himself to be touched by its curse, and let it take His life . . . But by that act He broke the chain reaction. He broke the power of sin."

Love Your Neighbor AS Yourself

Source: No Longer Servants but Friends by Edward C. Zaragoza. pg 74.
Keywords: love, neighbor

"We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This little word 'as' is very interesting. 'As' means identification or equality. So if we love our neighbors as ourselves then we identify with another. Their joys are our joys; their sorrows are our sorrows; their needs are our needs; their dreams are our dreams. If we are to talk about loving our neighbors 'with' ourselves, we only mean cooperating with them. We may just work with them. Thus, unless we love our neighbors as ourselves, unless we identify with them, there is no real imperative to love them. We can help them or ignore them. Either way, we maintain a level of distance that makes friendship difficult."

Ministry as Friendship

Source: No Longer Servants but Friends by Edward C. Zaragoza. pg 86.
Scripture: John 15:15
Keywords: ministry, ordination, sacrifice

"The pastor who adopts the friendship paradigm is not only collegial, this pastor also does not need authority or control to be a pastor. To be fully alive is to be vulnerable and not to hide or deny one's own feelings and emotions of others. This pastor relies not on personal power or charisma but on the Spirit. He or she does not flaunt moral duty but lives a life of "head, heart, and hands" for the empowerment, healing and growth of others. This empowerment may not be easily measurable, and it is not synonymous with self-sacrifice. Human beings who are fully alive give of themselves, but they do not give themselves away. They give of themselves by being in relationship, not by remaining isolated so that when a relationship is needed it feels as if something was lost in the transaction."

Skinny House

Source: "Skinny House". American Home Shield: Inside and Out. June 2009.
Keywords: malice, revenge, friendship, neighbor


Can you imagine building your home out of spite? If either of the legends behind it is to be believed, Skinny House in Boston must be the narrowest, most spiteful home building project ever realized.

The house, more than 100 years old, is directly across from the front gate of historic Copp's Hill Burying Ground along Freedom Trail in the city's North End. The residence is so narrow - just over 10 feet at the widest - that the main entrance is located in the alley between the house and its neighbor to the left.

Local legends agree that the house was deliberately erected to block the view from the house to its right. But the players change depending on the legend. One story has it that the builder erected it in the late 19th century to shut off air and light from the home of a hostile neighbor over a dispute. Considering that Boston's North End has long been a densely populated working class neighborhood, it's not hard to imagine unrest between crowded neighbors spilling over.

Yet another story pits brother against brother, contending that a Civil War soldier had returned home to discover his sibling had built a large house on his deceased father's lot, leaving the veteran with only a tiny parcel of land, presumably too small to build on. Bitter at his brother's actions, the soldier then constructed on the remaining sliver of land a house just large enough to block the view and the sunlight from his brother's abode.

While the debate continues as to the correct theory, there's no doubting the dwelling's odd proportions. The house tapers to 9.25 ft at the back, and the interior walls are as close as 8.4 feet apart. The home's most narrow interior point is 6.2 feet across, (close enough for an adult to touch opposite walls at the same time).There are only five doors throughout this four story domicile, with the living room and bathroom - on the second floor - one of the few areas separated by a door.

It is somewhat ironic that a house originally built because of friction has ultimately fostered a sense of cooperation. According to modern-day owners, if they have a party with at least 10 guests and one person has to go to the bathroom, everyone has to shift.