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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Message- the ruts

So something I have learned in the weeks since I have done Sunday messages last is the existence of ruts.  No, not in the road, because it doesn't take much to discover them, but in my mind, perhaps in yours.  Ruts are formed when we go down the same pathways over and over again.  These pathways, I have learned, are destructive;  in psychologically addictive things like porn, the pathway wears wide enough that it becomes the easy path in the plinko game your thoughts play when you aren't really paying attention to them.

Imagine all roads leading to zero.

I remember on Star Trek TNG, Data once explaining "missing someone" as "the usual neural pathways not being used."  In the same way, we teach our minds to follow these pathways- some good, some bad.  That is the difference between Proverbs 22:6- "Train up a child in the way he should go,  And when he is old he will not depart from it"- and bad habits that last a lifetime.

But these pathways can be fought off.  Colossians 3 gives first a list of sins that you should have put off on becoming a Christian.  But then, Paul adds a list of actions that are more "sins of attitude" that we need to stop rationalizing away- anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lies.  He goes on to tell us to refill these "pathways" with new things- he says, "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. "(v2)

Some of this, as we have talked about before, is perspective- looking at the earth from the Big Picture.  But as I learned from a sermon not long ago, Hallowing His Name as the prayer suggests includes obedience- an obedience born of something that is a level higher than respect.  And to help with the obedience end of things, Paul adds on a list of characteristics that become our second-nature responses in place of anger, wrath, etc.  That list:

Mercy.  I find it interesting that the KJV version on e-sword calls it "bowels of mercies".  Bowels were their concept of where feelings come from, as the heart was considered the source of intellect.  So in essence this means not just a case of, "It's against my better nature to show this mercy", but actually being empathetic, even with those we have little emotion in common with.

Kindness.  Here the first two words in the translation are "Usefulness" and "Moral excellence".  More than just patting the kid on the head, this is putting heartfelt belief into practice.  Get the idea with these?  It isn't just your "church face" that's needed here.  To fill in the ruts, you have to change the paradigm of your life.

Humbleness of mind.  This one is more tricky, formed from a couple of base words that COULD be combined to indicate "suppress yourself".  Take your ego out of the game.  The combined word can be used to come up with "modesty".

Meekness.  If you chase this down through enough of the words that relate you see things like "gentle", "mild".  Where you might say that mercy is the antithesis of anger, kindness of wrath, and humbleness of blasphemy, this would be the opposite of malice.

Longsuffering.  I find the interesting thing here is that this word combines the concepts of "patience" and "fortitude."  Not just waiting it out, but waiting it out in STRENGTH.

Forbearing.  Literally, "to put up with."  Pretty much the same concept with people as longsuffering is with circumstances.  Again, doing it with strength.

And forgiveness.  That the peace that you offer to their face is the peace you show walking away.  A lot tougher, no?


This is a lot of work, right?  You betcha.And that may be the most important thing I learned these last couple of weeks.  If I want to fill in my ruts, I have to work at it, and quit giving myself the 'excuse mes' that litter my life.  (For a good example, not saying several of the things I just said in trying to convince a rather large spider that just went past to assume room temperature with the help of my shoe.)  One thing is to not give yourself "scriptural outs".  Like say, you have this problem, and you compare it to Paul's thorn in the flesh, and tell yourself it is there to keep you "humble", and then do nothing about it.  The thing is, it's the FIGHT that makes you stronger, not the fall.  If you do like me, and pat myself on the back and say, look how humble it's making me, but don't fight, you are NOT hallowing His Name.

Now, if you will excuse me, I've got some fairly deep ruts to fill.


  1. Chris:
    Now THIS is the kind of sermon that should be preached behind a lot more pulpits, my friend.
    Very well crafted and explained.
    Ruts...tell me about

    And I do agree that the FIGHT (which we, as followers of the Living Christ) seem to wage on a DAILY basis DOES make us stronger, yet there are those who can't seem to get back up (because being prone is more comfortable...aka "easy") and continue the fight.
    One of the first things we learn as toddlers is that we ARE going to fall, but we also LEARN to get back up. Perhaps that becomes our "first fight"?
    Preparing us for the "bigger picture", no doubt.

    Whenever I view our alley and the ruts IT has, I will view them (and myself) a bit differently.
    Again, a very good post.

    Do stay safe up there, brother.

    1. Yeah, now go get me Jimmy Cricket to stand on my shoulder and remind me.

  2. As I read this I kept thinking interesting and yes but did wonder what a rut has to do with a road as mentioned at the start of the post

    1. In the States, a rut is a worn patch in the road.

    2. And in Fort's most of the roads, ergo, a way of

  3. I know that this has a religious note to it (DUH) but I find that we all are in the rut of looking at what we don't have or focusing on what is wrong.

    IE: "It's such a beautiful day, if it wasn't so windy."

    If we could just stop at beautiful day, we'd find a whole lot more to be appreciative of and just maybe, we'd never even notice he wind. Maybe we'd even come to be thankful for the rut that acts as a barrier from it. :)

    1. Well, that WOULD be an example of a GOOD rut...

  4. I have been having some difficult struggles with a couple tough ruts, myself, as of late. Thankfully, I have been winning the struggle. Chris, you have had a positive influence on me in finding my path; I am very appreciative of your impact on me and I thank you for that.

    1. I am more than happy to do what I can for a good man and a good friend. Hang in there, we're all in it together.