The Cattle of His Pasture

Bummer. The Bible doesn’t say we are the cattle of his pasture. It doesn’t say we are the buffalo of his pasture. It says we are the sheep of his pasture.

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3 NIV

Wait! Maybe the writers of the Bible didn’t know about cattle. … Oh, they did.

For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
Psalm 50:10 NIV

More comparisons of people to sheep. Double bummer.

For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Psalm 95:7 NIV

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
Psalm 23:1 NIV

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John‬ ‭10:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The reason it is a bummer to be compared to sheep is I have a ranch background and know a bit about sheep, cattle and buffalo. Cattle and especially buffalo can take care of themselves. I have been on horseback in a big pasture, far away from fences and trees, and had momma cows start looking at me through their nostrils. They were irritated that I was around their baby calves, and they were prepared to defend them. There isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind that if my horse had suddenly had a heart attack, the cows would have beaten me up really bad, and perhaps killed me. I couldn’t have outrun them, and there was nowhere to hide.

Sheep, on the other hand, are like meals-on-wheels for predators. They don’t protect themselves very well at all. They’re also the definition of followers, and are pretty, well, stupid. There was a blizzard and my dad and I were trying to get our small flock into the garage. We could not get them to go in. As the flock milled around it was as if each one looked in the warm garage, out of the wind-driven snow, and said, “Baaaa. I’ve never been in there. I’m not going in. Baaaa!” Then dad grabbed one and took it inside the garage. The rest of the sheep followed immediately. “Baaaa. It’s a good idea to get out of the blizzard. Baaaa!”

I will have a more successful life if I embrace my Biblical sheep-ness, and not try to pretend I’m compared to a species more capable of taking care of myself.

I’m a sheep. I need the Good Shepherd to protect me. By myself, I’m just dinner for predators. The closer I stay to the Shepherd the better off I will be.

As a sheep, I’m naturally prone to following the crowd. I’m very good at behaving like the rest of the crowd, just because they’re doing whatever they’re doing. Then we all decide that God is going to grade on a curve.

As a sheep, I’m a poor judge of where the good pastures are and how to get to them. I need to follow the commands of the Shepherd.

I might wish my survival didn’t depend so much on the Shepherd, but it does. I am created to require an intense personal relationship with God, where He is definitely in charge!

P.S. (July 25, 2017) The Strange Sounds web site has too many ads for my taste, but it has an interesting article you can read if you like. One sheep jumped to its death, and 79 others followed right behind. 80 sheep commit suicide in Turkey

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Two Things I Wish I Had Learned In School

50 years ago, it was the summer break between my 2nd and 3rd grade years in Richfield, Minnesota. I had either just been taught, or was going to be taught, that earth’s mountains were formed by the earth “crinkling” as it cooled. I now know this is ridiculous. Plate tectonics had been proposed before 1967. But it had not made its way into my 2nd or 3rd grade science textbook. I was taught utter nonsense.

The first thing I wish I had been taught in school is that there is nothing funnier than an out-of-date science book, and that all current science books are probably out of date, but we just don’t know it yet. I wish I had been taught to have a deep skepticism of science. I wish I had been taught to go ahead and use what we know of science, but be always ready to change when new facts and new understandings emerged. I wish I had been taught science is a good, but an imprecise and fallible tool.

Instead, I emerged from my K-12 journey somehow believing science is truth. Those scientists who got things wrong in the past, well, they weren’t as smart as us or something. Look at the funny clothes they wore. We modern folk got it right now, to the precision of our measuring apparatus. Where the Bible and science disagreed, obviously science had the correct answer. I didn’t believe in science, I believed in scientism! Science has the answers to life’s issues!

I believe public schools are still teaching scientism. In our quest to abolish Common Core, let us also re-establish teaching science as science, not science as a religion.

It’s been 40 years since I graduated from high school. I became a Christian 38 years ago. My feelings about science are very different now. For one thing, I’ve lived long enough to have noticed that many “scientific facts” changed. For example, what is “known” to be at the center of the earth has changed a half-dozen times that I’m aware of. It’s switched back and forth among molten rock, a solid sphere, a spinning sphere and some sort of nuclear reactor that’s generating the heat. In each case, the article or TV program didn’t say what was at earth’s core was a theory, they said it was a fact. If science really doesn’t know what’s 4000 miles straight down, what does it know?

I have come to believe science without God is downright dangerous. Potentially lethal! Take the case of Thomas Midgley. He developed leaded gasoline and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A one-line summary of his work could be, Thomas Midgley poisoned the earth with lead and destroyed its ozone layer with CFCs. While I don’t know his spiritual condition and I hope he was right with God, Jesus said it’s ok to be a fruit inspector.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Matthew‬ ‭7:15-20‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If Midgley wasn’t right with God, leaded gasoline and CFCs aren’t going to read well at this event.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
Revelation 20:12 NIV

After all, God has a dim view of those who destroy His creation.

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry,
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.
Revelation 11:17-18 NIV

Continuing on the science-without-God-is-dangerous theme, I think nuclear power plants will prove to be one of mankind’s worst ideas. We already have the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the Chernobyl disaster. There are 200+ more that could fail if things that “never happen” happen. Then, we have obligated future generations for tens of thousands of years to look after our radioactive waste. What could possibly go wrong with that? I don’t think there is a nuclear power plant in heaven, and I don’t think there should have been any on earth. Looking at the fruit, I don’t think it will be pleasant on judgment day for those who pushed for nuclear power plants.

On the other hand, there have been many scientists who worked with God and left a legacy of great, lasting fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
John 15:16 NIV

My all-time favorite good scientist is George Washington Carver. I wrote about him in this post. (Read the post to find out about compact fluorescent hand grenades.)

The first thing I wish I had been taught in school is a proper understanding of science.

The second thing I wish I been taught in school is why we learned about Ben Franklin and the Wright Brothers in school. Oh, sure, Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane. Franklin was a statesman and an inventor. I was taught those things. But I was never taught why I was taught about these three men, out of the millions to billions of possible people. I was an adult in my 40’s when I finally figured out why I had been taught about Ben, Orville, and Wilbur. My reaction was a mixture of ecstasy and rage. I was overjoyed to have discovered the secret to super-accomplishment, and boiling mad that no one had ever told me the very simple secret. The secret:

Make enough money so you can use your time and money to pursue your dreams.

Isn’t that brilliantly simple and powerful?

Make enough money so you can use your time and money to pursue your dreams.

One more time. Let it soak in a bit.

Make enough money so you can use your time and money to pursue your dreams.

Wow. I believe my life may have turned out completely differently if my 2nd or 3rd grade teacher had said something like this.

Boys and girls, we learned about Ben Franklin and how important he was to America’s founding and its early days. Many people believe that without him, there would be no United States of America. He was that important in America’s history. But there were many printers in Colonial America. Why do we remember Mr. Franklin? I’ll tell you why. When he was 42, Ben Franklin was successful enough he was able to retire. (1) He had enough income from businesses he had helped set up that he didn’t have to work. He had the time and the money to be an inventor, and the statesman our country needed. If he had had to stay at his printing press all day, he would not have had the time to invent things and be a statesman, and you would not have learned about him in school.

It is very much the same with Wilbur and Orville Wright. They had a bicycle shop. They made enough money from the bicycle shop that they could spend about six months of the year working on inventing the airplane. If they had not made enough money to buy the things they needed to make airplanes, and not take time off from work, they would not have invented the airplane. They would have been just two more people who lived a long time ago, that you didn’t learn about in school.

So remember this, girls and boys. I know you are all very smart, and there are things, special things, you will want to do when you are grown up. Remember that you need money to buy things to help you make your special things, and you will need time to work on your special things. Remember the lesson of Ben Franklin, and Wilbur and Orville Wright. You learned about them in school because they had the time and money to work on their special things!

But today, America’s Common Core indoctrination system does not want common people to achieve extraordinary things. I think George Carlin got it right. The powers-that-be want obedient workers, not independent thinkers who chart their own way to success.

Carlin obedient workers

(1) The Many Worlds of Benjamin Franklin, Second Edition, Harper & Row, (c) 1963, page 53.

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Why Not Return to 1943-Style Health Care?

I joined the US Army in 1985 and did not see another civilian doctor’s office for about 25 years. When I did go back, I was shocked. There seemed to be more people employed handling the paperwork than providing patient care! True, there were a lot of form-filler-outers in 1985, but not half the staff! When you have more people seeing the same number of patients, of course costs have to go up.

I think we have proved adding more bureaucracy has not decreased heath care costs. Why not try something radical, like less bureaucracy?


Screenshot 2017-07-16 14.51.09

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
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Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
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   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.

Which Version of the Bible Should I Use?

Use the version of the Bible you will read! I started my Christian walk 38 years ago using mostly the King James Version. I did so in part because I thought — and think — it is a very accurate translation. But eventuallyeth I-eth goteth tiredeth of myeth hardeth timeth readingeth iteth. I now use the New International Version most of the time, and there is a New King James Version close at hand. I still use the King James Version. Some passages just plain read better!

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Isaiah 55:1 KJV and other versions.

When I read Isaiah 55 in the KJV I hear poetry. In the NIV, it’s just prose to me.

“But aren’t you worried about missing the meanings of words, using a less accurate translation?” you may ask.

No. I have learned to rely on the Holy Spirit. Many times I have paused when prompted, and perhaps checked the verse in other versions. I meditate and think a bit, and I will come to understand the meaning in the original languages. This is part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
John 16:13 NIV

I begin all Bible reading and study sessions with a prayer where I touch my eyelids, ears and heart. I pray, “Thank you Lord, for opening these eyes to see by your Spirit (touching my eyelids), for opening these ears to hear by your Spirit (touching my ears), and for opening this heart to understand by your Spirit (touching my heart).” It works! It’s rather the inverse of this verse.

But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.
Deuteronomy 29:4 NIV

I learned about this part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as a young Christian, when I read about Smith Wigglesworth. If you are unfamiliar with him, by all means read about him. He had a tremendous impact and a powerful ministry. It took me a long time to understand this quote of his.

“Some people read their Bibles in Hebrew, some in Greek; I like to read mine in the Holy Ghost.”

Smith Wigglesworth considered the original languages crude and inaccurate, compared to the teaching of the Holy Spirit Himself.  🙂

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
      Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
   Are you ready to meet Him?
   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.

Some People Need an Addiction

Life got so much easier when I quit trying to run the universe. A whole lotta people didn’t do what I thought they should do, and a whole lotta circumstances were not the way I thought they should be. There I was, thinking I was a political conservative. In reality I was a modern liberal — I knew the way everyone else should behave! Things would be so much better if everyone would just do what I thought they should do! It was quite frustrating, to know what should be done, and see people consistently not doing what I knew they should be doing!

Though it did not seem so at the time, I was fortunate to encounter some personal situations I could solve on my own. On my journey on life’s path, so it seemed, I suddenly encountered a 20-foot high wall, stretching to infinity to the left and right. With my one-foot high step stool, my 6’3″ frame could jump and jump and jump till the cows came home. I would never be able to grab the top of the wall and get over it by myself.

I turned to God, and found out that knowing where I need help is the key to receiving help.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

Jesus’ burden is light. I think a main reason it is light is he has us quit fretting about stuff that was none of our business in the first place! While I think it is right and good to be concerned about other people, it is fruitless and foolish to carry a burden of feeling we can do things for them that only God can do. Oh, it’s true! They do need serious help. But I can’t provide the help they need. It’s beyond my power. I have to rest in the knowledge that God will take care of their need.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ‭‭
Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Oh, I know we’re to help each other. But I now know I’m to help as just another sheep of his pasture. I’m not the shepherd, and I’m not going to try to pretend that I am.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 NIV

Thinking we posses power that we don’t can lead to, well, insanity. The parents of a college friend of mine were killed in the 1972 flood in Rapid City, South Dakota. After the tragedy my friend’s older brother went off the deep end. He got in with a group of people bizarre enough they were probably a cult. The last time my friend saw his brother, his brother knew that he had caused the tragic flood that killed their parents. He had not been wearing his “power belt buckle,” or some such nonsense.

It is true we humans lack power. The biggest problem we face is death. We cannot solve the problem of dying, though some are desperately trying to achieve immortality by uploading their consciousness to a computer. Just a modernization of the lie in Genesis 3, Ye shall not surely die, the singularity will fail. Naturally, C.S. Lewis handled it in The Chronicles of Narnia. Immortality with an evil heart is not a blessing.

I ran into problems I could not solve on my own. I turned to God, and now even the problem of death has been solved. I know He is my shepherd, I am one of His sheep, and I am basically at peace with the universe. It is a very good place to be, working on things I believe I should be doing, and letting God worry about the rest. I’m just a sheep.

But I meet a lot of people who apparently have never encountered a situation or problem they could not handle. These people know what other people should do, and they take action when others don’t comply. I have witnessed the ultimate in senseless selfishness. I saw a group of people pick up their presents and walk out of a wedding — mere minutes before the ceremony was to begin. I also meet a lot of people who are nearly consumed by what somebody did to somebody else, usually a very long time ago. I guess they like getting bit, because that’s all that happens when you grab a dog by the ears.

Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.
Proverbs 26:17 NIV

I needed to have some problems I could not solve on my own to figure out my place in the universe. Maybe these people need the same. Be it gambling, eating, drinking, taking drugs, pornography, whatever. It is good to learn about the difference between one’s circle of concern and circle of influence. Getting Divine help to solve an unsolvable problem is one way to learn it.

As for me, I think I may need to become like one of those old time preachers I’ve read about, that many people didn’t like very much. If someone came up to them at a restaurant and tried to talk about a person not present, the preachers would interrupt them and stand up. “Let’s pray about that right now!” Then they would pray, loud enough for everyone in the restaurant to hear. Usually, everyone would stop eating and bow their heads.

“Father, in the name of Jesus I bring this situation my brother just told me about before Your throne. I ask you to, by Your power, continue to work all things together for the good of them that you have called. And I thank you for my brother’s heart. I see he is genuinely concerned for people. But it seems to me, Lord, that he may be a little like Martha, and is concerned about a great many things, most of which are not needful. If this is true, Lord, I ask you to help him be more like Mary, concerned only about the most important things, the things that will not be taken away. Father, give him more of the peace that passes all understanding. Give him Your rest. I ask these things in the Name above all names, the Name that will cause every knee to bow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Then the preachers would just sit and smile, waiting for the next topic. There usually wasn’t one.  🙂

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
      Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
   Are you ready to meet Him?
   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.

Bang! — The Big Bang Theory

I love the dialogue in the early episodes of The Big Bang Theory. A sentence expresses a complete thought. Sometimes the script’s sentences are long and complex, and sometimes they are short and to the point.

Sheldon: Ah, yes, well that may be the proximal cause of our journey, but we both know it only exists in contradistinction to the higher level distal cause.

Leonard: Which is?

Sheldon: You think with your penis.

I was one of the people who “got this” the first time. I then laughed at myself for missing the obvious punchline.

Leonard: What did Penny mean, you’d make a cute couple?

Sheldon: Well I assume she meant that the two of you together would constitute a couple that others might consider cute. An alternate, and somewhat less likely interpretation, is that you could manufacture one. As in, oh look, Leonard and Lesley made Mr and Mrs Goldfarb, aren’t they adorable.

Leonard: If Penny didn’t know that Lesley had already turned me down then that would unambiguously mean that she, Penny, thought that I should her, Lesley, out, indicating that she, Penny, had no interest in me asking her, Penny, out. But because she did know that I had asked Lesley out and that she, Lesley, had turned me down then she, Penny, could be offering consolation. That’s too bad, you would have made a cute couple. But while thinking, good, Leonard remains available.

Sheldon: You’re a lucky man, Leonard.

Leonard: How so?

Sheldon: You’re talking to one of the three men in the Western hemisphere capable of following that train of thought.

Leonard: Well, what do you think.

Sheldon: I said I could follow it, I didn’t say I cared.

The writers put a lot of work into the early episodes. I could believe Sheldon and Leonard had a combined IQ of 360. The style of speech matched some very smart people I have known. Short sentences slapping sentences Dickens would have to read thrice, with humor so dry it’s a fire hazard. Brilliant!

Leonard: Excuse me, if I were to give up at the first little hitch I never would have been able to identify the fingerprints of string theory in the aftermath of the big bang.

Sheldon: My apologies. What’s your plan.

(Leonard starts rattling the doors violently.)

Sheldon: It’s just a privilege to watch your mind at work.

Leonard: Come on, we have a combined IQ of 360, we should be able to figure out how to get into a stupid building.

(Two girl scouts arrive carrying bags of cookies. One runs her hand down the intercom, pushing all the buttons. The door is buzzed open.)

Sheldon: What do you think their combined IQ is?

Leonard: Just grab the door.

In later seasons the writers phoned it in, somewhat. The writing is not as good. But they added a couple smart, pretty girls, who are somewhat ignorant of their areas of incompetence. So the series stayed entertaining for me.

The Big Bang Theory became the DVD version of my Rex Stout Nero Wolfe paperback “sleeping pills.” Sometimes when I lie down for the night the hamsters in my brain are running 100 miles per hour in their wheels-to-nowhere, and I know sleep is at least a couple hours away. But if I give the hamsters something familiar, they get out of the wheels and lie down. I’ve read most of the Nero Wolfe books. I know them very well. But I like the writing, so I don’t mind rereading them. It’s familiar. I can fall asleep quickly while reading them, right in the middle of a paragraph, the hamsters having fallen asleep too.

I prefer to fall asleep in a dark room. But on nights when my brain was going and going, I’d put in a The Big Bang Theory DVD. With the volume very low (I know the dialog) the hamsters and I would usually be sawing logs before the 3rd episode.

But my own writing is convicting me. The setting of TBBT is modern. The characters have no objection to sex outside of marriage. In I Don’t Watch CNN I wrote about the importance of what we see and hear. By watching TBBT I was programming myself to fail via Lemming Theology. Fortunately I woke up in time and repented. I knew better, but did it anyway — like Adam I sinned with my eyes wide open. I ignored Romans 12:2, which is especially easy to understand in the Phillips translation.

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
Romans 12:2 Phillips

When I got saved in 1979 I had a lot of rock albums. I got rid of them. I’m going to do the same with my TBBT DVDs. Like the rock music, I can’t give them away: “Here. Have some mental poison to help you on your journey to eternal damnation.” Just getting rid of bad stuff is Biblical.

A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
Acts 19:19 NIV

Hebrews 12:14 is an interesting verse. Many translations use the word “holiness,” which connotes to me a state, a condition in which I play perhaps a minor part, if any. There is no one English language. Each of us has our own unique dialect.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14 KVJ

To me, sanctification suggests that I have a large role to play in the process the Lord uses to get Him reflected in me, for the benefit of others.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 NAS-1977

When I’m digging, I turn to the Amplified Bible.

Continually pursue peace with everyone, and the sanctification without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.
HEBREWS 12:14 Amplified

The Classic version uses consecration, which connotes to me the necessity of actions on my part that border on downright painful! It also has “and holiness,” confirming to me that there is a difference between consecration and holiness. Consecration is more what I do. Holiness is more the result. It’s “tion” v “ness.” Action v State.

Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 Amplified, Classic

The greek is interesting. Which leads to hagiasmos, and has this definition.

Definition: the process of making or becoming holy, set apart, sanctification, holiness, consecration.

Ah ha! It is a process! The word holiness connotes a more passive activity to me. Sanctification is a more accurate word in the Mark Jerde Dialect of American English.

In Bible Reading & Bible Study I say that I can spend a lot of time in Bible study, but not cover very much of the Bible. I thought I’d provide a sample. 🙂

Postscript. I took action. It wasn’t trivial.

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
      Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
   Are you ready to meet Him?
   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.

The Friendship Pyramid

Perhaps my high school was unique, but we had various cliques. There were the cowboys and the jocks. I was a nerd, one of those who took more math and science than was absolutely required for graduation. The groups were generally friendly; this was the 1970’s after all. Most boys always had a pocket knife (I did), and there were rifles and shotguns in the gun racks of the pickup trucks in the parking lots. But somehow we managed not to stab and shoot each other. Not even in the occasional but regular testosterone-fueled fights that broke out around the school grounds.

By and large, friendship were only with members of the same groups. There were exceptions — one of my good friends was a cowboy. Between groups, relationships varied from friendly to acquaintanceship, the exception being the very small group of druggies. With that group relationships varied from unfriendly to downright hostile, at least from my vantage point. But they didn’t matter much. They skipped school a lot, and were not in the elective math and science classes.

During the summer between my junior and senior year of high school I went on a week-long hiking and camping trip in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The hikers came from a wide area, but there was one guy from my school. He was not a nerd. So I was a little surprised we became very good friends on that trip. We talked a lot and had a good time together. Back in school in the fall, I guess we both thought the friendship would continue. But our first conversation was the last. “Hi!” “Hello!” “Done any camping lately?” “No, you?” “No.” (Uncomfortable silence.) “Well, bye.” “See you.” From then on we just nodded at each other in the hallways.

In the Army I developed a lot of very close, intensely-intimate friendships with other soldiers, out playing “Army” in the woods for a week. There is something about helping others get though a swamp at night, carrying M16 rifles and M60 machine guns, trying to stay dry above the armpits in 35-degree temperatures, that really demolishes the barriers of getting to know someone. Add to that shared misery, not showering for a week and victory in war games, and you have a whole group of happy, stinky people passing around pocket notebooks in which to write their permanent addresses.

Everyone, everyone, everyone always promises to write. No one ever does.

In my recent “time in the desert” I thought on these things, as well as my failed marriage. I have distilled the essence into the pictured friendship pyramid. I’m not sure the pyramid is fully correct or complete, but it’s what I have for now. From the top:

  1. True Intimacy. I want to have at least one friend who knows me intimately, who knows me as well as I know myself — maybe better. If I’m screwing up big time, like stealing or watching porn, this person could sit down and talk to me, and I’d listen. We would be that close.
  2. Genuine Friendship. These are people with whom I could talk about anything. Or not talk at all. Silences with these people are not strained.
  3. Comfortable Familiarity. Conversations with people at this level of friendship are pleasant, but are limited to topics relatively unimportant. Silences may start comfortable, but become uncomfortable.
  4. Shared Experience. I think you have to do things together in order to have a friendship. I also think it needs to continue. Two people sitting in a room, each surfing the web and checking Facebook, may be spending time together, but IMO this does not count as a shared experience.
  5. TIME Together. If I don’t spend sufficient time with someone, the higher levels of the pyramid are impossible to get to with that person. If someone is already at a higher level in the pyramid and we do not spend sufficient time together, the relationship will fail. I think this concept is 100% B.S. —>> “We only have 15 minutes together, so let’s make them quality minutes.”

This is how I came to realize how the close friendships I had with my high school pal, my Army buddies, and even my wife, came to ruin. Without TIME Together, there can be no Shared Experience. Without Shared Experience, there can be no Comfortable Familiarity. Without Comfortable Familiarity there can be no Genuine Friendship. And without Genuine Friendship, there can be no True Intimacy, the true, satisfying goal at the very top of the pyramid. All friendship is therefore based on spending time together doing things!

Given the nature of this blog, I need to relate the pyramid to a relationship with God. But I’m not quite ready yet. I’m getting closer. A few months ago, like Puzzle in The Last Battle, I was sorta hoping to just sneak into heaven and hope the Lord didn’t see me. Now I’m feeling much more confident to meet the Lord face-to-face, but I’m still a bit apprehensive. Some would say that’s a good thing.  🙂

I haven’t reached this level yet.

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
1 Chronicles 4:10 NIV

I’m certainly not at this level!

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Genesis 18:22-26 NIV

Are you following God's plan for your life? 
   You should.
      Your plan sucks.
      It really, really sucks.
      Suckage Maximus.

Most people are WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Jesus is coming.
   Are you ready to meet Him?
   Give your life to Jesus Christ.
   Time is running out.