Cutting. Shaping. Polishing.

You may not know this, but I’m pretty good at putting together tortured analogies.

So here goes …

This is how my first “pay-the-bills” job out of college, in a woodshop, prepared me to be an editor.

In the shop, I’d start with a rough cut of walnut, make the initial cuts, put the piece under a router, shape it, and then polish the final product.

Substitute “piece of wood” for “the first draft of a manuscript” and you should be able to get the parallel.

God does something similar with us:

Cutting. Shaping. Polishing. Repeat.

One famous writer captured this idea well … 

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”      

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity 

When you’re in a healthy relationship with someone, that person always wants what is best for your soul.

There is a great deal of comfort, and some dread, in the knowledge that God knows exactly what our souls need … 

 ”We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” ( C.S. Lewis )

Especially when,

Schmidt Happens

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Challenging Assumptions …

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“O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived.” (Jeremiah 20:7, NASB)

Why would God ever allow people to believe something that wasn’t true?

Why is it healthy to regularly challenge our assumptions?

High Internalization Potential (HIP) response …

If you can back up your assumptions with reasonable evidence, they’ll endure.

However, if what you believe is nothing more than a house of cards—the sooner it falls, the better (borrowed from C.S. Lewis).

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road … and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

Especially when … 

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Does the Church Have a “Rummage Sale” Every 500 Years?

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I got to ask Dr. Megan DeVore (a professor at CCU) a church history question and hear her response.

That conversation is going to make my 2020 highlight reel.

This was my question …

“Was Phyllis Tickle right? Does the church have a “rummage sale” every 500 years and “clean house”? Is that what’s happening now with Covid-19”?

Dr. DeVore said something like, “We see that 500-year pattern with God’s people, even in the Old Testament.”

[Abraham, 2000 BC ; Moses, 1500; King David, 1000; The Exile 500; Jesus, 0 … and then, Pope Gregory’s reforms, 500; The Great Schism, 1000; The Reformation 1500.]

She continued …

“Many were thinking that 9/11 would be the ‘cleaning’ event, but that didn’t happen. So, it’s ‘wait-and-see’ with Covid-19.”

“We are fairly certain of this: the Reformation would not have happened had it not been for the Bubonic Plague.

That pandemic pushed people to God and forced believers to start acting as each other’s priests because death came so quickly.”

And so, (this is my [Doug’s] conclusion) …

Covid-19 may be setting us up for the next “cleaning event.”

My prediction: if the current president is re-elected, he will say to China, “You’re reimbursing us for the costs of Covid-19” …  and they’ll say, “Fuhgeddaboudit” (whatever that is in Mandarin) … and that will start the rumblings of Armageddon.

And then — [and I say this with respect] — Jesus will turn to the Father and say, “I should probably get back down there” …

And if the Father says “Yes” … then that will be the rummage sale that ends all rummage sales.

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We Have No Idea …

Stars and dust

“Science is Real”  … until a human, with biases, interprets the data.

Then “Science is Literature” or “Science is Art” or “Science is a Crapshoot.”

When the word “scientific” is added to an opinion, then suddenly that perspective becomes indisputable.

As John Pinette was fond of saying, “Nay, Nay!”

When we consider all the possible knowledge in the universe, including what we don’t know about dark matter and dark energy, then the scientific knowledge we have available to us is less than 1%.

That’s like trying to figure out the game of baseball with nothing but a batting glove.

That’s hardly indisputable.

Especially when,

Schmidt Happens

Recommended book: We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

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What Gets Affirmed, Gets Repeated …

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“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV, emphasis added)

What’s your first reaction when someone points out something positive or effective that you’re doing?

What are some easy, upbeat things to spotlight—even with strangers?

High Internalization Potential (HIP) answer ….

I was once in a Barnes & Noble listening to a Dad (a stranger to me) affirming his young boys for their book choices.

Later I told him that I admired the way he interacted with his kids. His eyes welled up, and he said “Thank you.”

Never underestimate the power of making a person [who’s trying] realize, “Wow, somebody noticed.”

Especially when …

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Can You Create Meaning Out of Nothing?

Green and brown mountains under white clouds and blue sky

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.

Ecclesiastes 1:1, 9-10 (NIV)

Upon what do you base your meaning, purpose, and significance in life?

Is it possible to “create” meaning, even where none apparently exists? Explain.  

High Internalization Potential (HIP) answer …

I don’t think it’s possible to enjoy a genuine sense of meaning without a belief in the transcendent (which was something Solomon [the author of Ecclesiastes] temporarily lost toward the end of his life).

I do think some people [who have no belief in the transcendent] can be successful at artificially creating a sense of meaning that helps them to function. Sartre and Camus won Noble Peace Prizes for showing these folks how to do this.

Especially when,

Schmidt Happens

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The Perfect Relationship Trifecta

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

What is it about humility, gentleness, and patience that makes up the perfect “trifecta” when it comes to relationships?

What happens when one of the three is missing?

Why is it generally good to be kind to everyone, even those who anger or annoy us?

High Internalization Potential (HIP) Answer  …

Anger does not require character assassination and annoyance doesn’t require contempt. We are far more likely to resolve our issues with difficult people if we keep our interactions with them kind (at least as it depends on us).

Of course, this can’t go on forever if the other person won’t budge. Even then, you can distance yourself from this individual without needing to be a jerk about it. And you’re likely to feel better about yourself if you’re considerate.

Especially when,

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Life Question Bible (a New Patreon Project) (see video in sidebar)

How to Start a Difficult Conversation

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If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:18)

What are the two qualifiers in this statement?

When is it not possible to be at peace with someone?

What is often initially awkward about trying to resolve a conflict?

High Internalization Potential (HIP) Answer …

A good way to start a difficult conversation is to say something like, “When you said or did [fill-in-the-blank], it made an impact on me. Can you tell me your perspective on what happened?

Especially when,

Schmidt Happens

Life Question Bible (a New Patreon Project) (see video in sidebar)

This week’s tier rewards include Life Questions on anger styles, most-influential people in your life, and a “Behind the Scenes (into the dark recesses)” spotlight that focuses on why some unhealthy people may be attracted to us.

“I Could Be Missing Something”

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One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind (Romans 14:5)

Life Questions …

React to the following statement … “I have strong convictions about many things—and I could be missing something”

Why is it sometimes healthy in a relationship to say “Let me help you do what works for you”? Under what circumstances would you need to draw a line with that?

High Internalization Potential (HIP) Answer …

If something is true, it’s not afraid to be questioned. If I say to myself “I could be missing something,” then I create a space in my mind to engage someone else’s perspective. When I do that, one of three things could happen: 1. My conviction will strengthen; 2. I’ll modify my position; 3. I’ll change my mind. In any case, I’m better off in that I’m coming into closer alignment with what is true.

Especially when,

Schmidt Happens

Life Question Bible (a New Patreon Project) (see video in sidebar) 

This week’s tier rewards include Life Questions on delayed justice, how our parents shape our view of God, and a “Behind the Scenes (Subconsciously)” spotlight focusing on the relationship between kindness and truth.

Why Some People Say “No” to Healing …

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)

Life Questions …

In regard to an ongoing challenge, (mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, financial) … What would healing look like to you?

What would you lose if you were healed?

Would the trade-off be worth it?

High Internalization Potential (HIP) response …

In the John 5 story above, the man doesn’t answer Jesus’ question, but gives a mythological response as to why he hasn’t experienced healing.

The thing he’s been trying for decades isn’t working, (so, in his mind) – healing must not be possible.

Sometimes people can become so wrapped up in their long-term suffering that it becomes a part of their identity—and that’s not something they want to lose. So, as counterintuitive as it may seem, some people say “no” to healing.

This week’s tier rewards include Life Questions on I Corinthians 3:12-14 (on the final judgment of Christians), Proverbs 2, and a “Behind the Scenes (Subconsciously)” episode that talks about how a person might wrestle with these particular life questions

 

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