0 – Religion Substitute

Christianity is a “substitute” religion. It doesn’t need priests because Jesus is the high priest who walks with us all. It doesn’t need rituals since Jesus finalized the rituals himself. It doesn’t need any kind of ceremonial sacrifices since Jesus offered himself as human sacrifice—the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices once and for all. It doesn’t require buildings since our bodies are God’s walking, living, breathing Temples—for those of us who acknowledge His name. It doesn’t require images since we were already created as God’s Image. It does not need any hierarchical order since the Bible is God’s direct message to all people for all times.

Christianity is not any kind of conventional religion. Those who treat it as one misunderstand it, whether from within or from the outside looking in on what they have never known. Christianity is mere truth of nature and nature’s God, who created Heaven and Earth along with all the molecules, photons, and space therein. Christianity substitutes what often occupies the space of conventional religion in people’s lives, even anti-religions such as Gnosticism, Agnosticism, and Atheism.

Because Christianity does not rely on any infrastructure, Christians can practice Christianity at any time. They can go anywhere, be anywhere, and change everything everywhere.

“Going to church” and the need for cathedrals made sense during a dark age when the world had technology neither for transportation nor communication. In those dark days, most people were illiterate and the only way to learn was to travel on foot or horseback to the one place at the one time when a teacher with knowledge would explain God and His ways. But, with widespread literacy, transportation, and global communication, that ancient system of weekly infrastructure is no longer necessary. It may be good or evil, but never necessary.

The only remaining purpose for weekly infrastructure would be for liturgy, but God’s mercies every morning are new. Jesus himself finished the need for all liturgy when he became our substitute for the sacrifices and rituals necessary to end our own self-oppression caused by our own sin. Jesus was the substitute for all because Christianity is and has always been a religion of substitution.

365 – God Saves the Best for Last

Many wicked people take shortcuts and impatient routs to amass luxurious plunder, but because they build their wealth on shaky foundations, everything collapses. They spend many years in their rich halls, but it all fails when laws of sowing and reaping swing back around to haunt them.

Somehow, it’s encoded into the heart’s understanding of satisfaction. However we go out is what matters. A long life of pain is somehow trumped if it ends in happiness, making the entire painful journey worthwhile because of the victory that the troubled path led to. A long life of luxury that ends in poverty makes the recipe for a tragic tale. Justice doesn’t always have the final say in the joy or pain of an ending.

Most signatories of America’s Declaration of Independence reached the end of their lives in sorrow and poverty. Living out a story with an unhappy ending didn’t prove that they were wrong, but that they paid a high price and are all the more heroic for taking the available step in their day to found a nation that would, a century and a half later, end the slavery that the British founded a century and a half before. Many Black slaves died still under the yoke of slavery, only having prayed for the freedom of future generations. Many peasants in Europe prayed for a literate society free of feudalism, later founded by the Pilgrims. Many Christians die in prison after giving testimony that opens up the way for the message of Jesus to spread to millions of people who are each eternally thankful.

Martyrs live lives that end in sorrow, making their lives sad, but just and fair in the eyes of Heaven. In that next life, they receive their Eternally happy ending, making their Earthly sad story worthwhile. But, not everyone needs to die a martyr. Many people see happy endings before their deaths, demonstrating justice in this lifetime. Justice works many ways.

Don’t give so much credence to temporary happiness. Pursue greater priorities. Respect the farmer who sows with empty barns. Eagerly press on toward whatever happy ending awaits you and you’ll find whatever light you need to guide your way.

364 – Repentance unto Hope

Saying, “Sorry,” is a good thing, but not everyone knows this—to say it or to hear it. Jesus taught in no uncertain terms: Forgive others, lest ye not be forgiven.

Repent, knowing that God wants to forgive. Come back to the light. Return from whence you fell. Repentance is a good thing; it is the basis is hope.

When someone makes a mistake, say so; it’s not an accusation. Accusing, pointing the finger of shame, calling a vote to throw someone overboard—all on account of error—is not any kind of teaching one would learn from the Bible or even tolerate. The purpose of calling out someone on a problem is to restore the person, granting the invitation to return to the simple, safe road that leads to Life.

The Bible’s view of repentance is that repentance leads to hope. An apology is not an admission of fault as legal testimony against oneself; it is a response to the summons issued by God Himself that we return to Him, even when we return to Him for the first time.

The first time a person walks the path of repentance that leads to hope, simply understanding at the heart-level that Jesus died at the Cross to cover the cost of our guilt, that person becomes a “Christian”. That’s all a Christian is—someone who repented to Jesus, accepting his hope in return. Becoming Christian is not about “church”, real estate, weekly schedules, or money given to the pastor. Becoming Christian is nothing more than the pure acknowledgment that Jesus is one’s personal, forgiving, hope-giving “Christ”—the Messiah who saves the whole world—thus, accordingly, believing the “Christ” already came to give hope to those who repent to him. “Christianity” is nothing more or less.

A non-Christian plainly does not believe that the “Christ” has already come, but still waits for some future hope other than Jesus.

Non-Christians are incapable of understanding the idea of repenting toward hope. Self-proclaimed “Christians” who shame others or can’t simply say, “Sorry,” without feeling overwhelming shame themselves might not be Christians since every Christian, by definition, has experienced Jesus’ gift of hope in exchange for us repenting to him.

Matthew 6:14-15

363 – Summers Work

Work over the summer is the reason for America’s tradition of a summer school break. Initially, most work was done on farms, but there are other parts of the economy that need seasonal labor during the summer months.

Strong, hard, manual labor helps familiarize oneself with the real world. This is especially important since most bad leadership stems from lack of connection with the real world—whether leadership in a company, government, or other organization. It’s difficult for an economist to understand the overall job market without ever having had an ordinary job. Unless you have had to deal with the normal conflict between management and the labor force, you may miscalculate whether a union strike will affect long-term stock value of which company.

One of the saddest arguments in the international discussion about immigration is the need for basic labor. It’s arrogant to think that car washing, housecleaning, harvesting, and manufacturing jobs are “beneath” citizens. Those jobs, especially for young adults, build necessary character for great leadership. Without that character, future organizations are doomed. No! It is not “beneath” citizens to have character-building jobs, in fact it is the dignity of all humans in every part of the world to take time for hard, hands-on work.

As for the problem of young people being too snooty to work on a farm or wash cars during the summer, all it takes is a little awareness in the hiring market. If HR interviewers understand that having worked on a farm makes for a lower turnover rate, suddenly the classroom theme will change from “go to school, get a good job” to “go to school, spend your break on a farm, keep an awesome job”. But, this is rather simplistic. People who do intense work over the summer won’t only keep a good job; they will better lead future companies and create more jobs.

One financial leader at a university, a friend of mine, always preferred to change the oil in his car himself. He said it was therapeutic. He helped that college enter the top 100 in the US, no doubt why.

Summers work well. Do it, teach it, hire for it, and hire from it.

Psalm 90:17, Proverbs 12:11, 24; 13:4; 14:23, 2 Thessalonians 3:10

362 – The Marvelous God of Science

Take a long look at the world around you. Consider science and exploration. Look at history and wonder. Don’t be biased—look at all science and medicine—traditional, Chinese, Western, homeopathic, pharmaceutical, herbal, spiritual… Everywhere you look, we find wonder and mystery and sensibility wrapped into one.

Never let anyone or anything convince you that our natural universe was not created by a benevolent and wonderful God.

Conclusions from observations must be properly ordered. The “Biblical” God is wondrous and immense and fascinating. How absurd of a claim that the universe is too immense, fascinating, and wondrous to have been made by the immense, fascinating, wondrous God of the Christian Bible! Such science is not scientific.

When God put His awesome splendor into creation, He was not merely giving us evidence that He exists and created all in Heaven and the universe; He was also expressing invisible parts of His Divine Nature—abstract nouns, if you will. The harmony and dance between simplicity, beauty, and functional fortitude throughout nature explain the character and ways of God. Being His Image, we can’t not find nature fascinating because nature also explains the original from Whom we came and reflect.

The Bible presumes that we can establish science and research on our own. As we look at the skies and whatever appears through a microscope, as we walk among the fields and even ponder the miracle of our hands themselves, the Bible offers additional explanation for all of it. We look and work in this world and make our own discoveries, while the Bible guides us to understand what we would never figure out on our own. These two work together.

Thomas Aquinas explained this, that “All truth is God’s truth.”

The one thing we always learn from science is that we can never learn everything. This is the same lesson we learn from theology—that knowledge about God is just as inexhaustible as knowledge of what He has created. Nature reflects His unseen character. Once a godless science or arrogant theology persuades our worldview, we also become so godless and our inner life force breaks down. A godly, thus thriving, life begins with a godly cosmology.

Joshua 3:5, Job 5:9; 9:10, Psalm 19; 86:10, Proverbs 11:2, Romans 1:20-21; 11:33-35, Ephesians 3:18-21

361 – Grade & Gauge Correctly

Never let instruments and labels lie. If the bottle says “iodine”, don’t take the dabber and touch it directly to your skin so that the bottle contains “iodine and dead skin cells”.

This is basic science lab conduct.

When you’re still angry at your father for yelling at you five decades ago—or however you exaggerate numbers and cling to your past—don’t remember him as a bad, evil monster that eats trees, rubber, and even asphalt. Just remember that he was your father and that he yelled at you.

When we level the charge it makes complaints much easier to manage.

When the car is low on fuel the dashboard doesn’t display a “low oil” light just to get our attention. Yes, low fuel is a problem, but it needs a petrol station not a mechanic to rebuild the engine. As anyone should know, by the time the “low oil” or “low coolant” lights comes on, the engine is probably already damaged.

Only a bad teacher would dare to think, “Students only do 50% of what they are instructed, so I will tell them to do 200% so they end up doing 100%.” A teacher who does this will only attract “fifty percenters”. Students who are serious need accurate figures to calibrate their efforts. Under such a teacher, students will rightly harbor resentment, something no one wants from people who give 100% without needing to be asked.

As a parent or supervisor, do not over-punish and never ignore good work. If your “children” do a good job at their morning assignment, but fail their afternoon assignment, don’t score a “FAIL” for the whole day, only for the afternoon. If a bad afternoon means that the morning doesn’t matter to you either, then people will give you the effort of a “FAIL” for the whole day tomorrow.

Accurate reporting is part of justice. If people don’t seem to care or lack self-motivation, deceiving them with an artificial reality of false physics won’t do anyone any good. Report accurately to yourself. If the truth can’t help you help people, then you either need to learn the truth yourself or you need to find the right people.

Leviticus 19:35-36, Proverbs 10:9; 20:23, John 8:32, Colossians 3:9

360 – Theology Humbles

Theology does not teach us that we know more, but that we know less. The more we know about God, the more we know how little we know. Martin Luther taught that the ultimate theological question is not about what we think about God, but what God thinks about us. Those who are with the Lord know far more about God—and what He thinks about us—than the greatest of all theologians because, for them, theology is no longer a belief or study, but sight.

God wants us to be humble, He delights in humility. Humility is the purpose of all theological study. It is the moral of the story, the lesson of every lesson on who God is. Just as the lesson from every scientific discovery is that science has not discovered everything, so does every lesson about God’s nature and His thoughts toward us—every single on—teach us how little we can ever know in this lifetime.

Those who become arrogant and overconfident after studying the Bible—who try to compare their own level of knowledge to the knowledge of others—have missed the whole point, proving that they may not have learned anything at all. If one truly believes that God is all powerful, then one won’t lord one’s position over others. If one truly believes that God is all knowing, then one won’t get a big head by learning so. Remembering the information while arriving at the wrong attitude indicates that the student wasn’t paying attention to any of the information, that the student’s understanding of the information is entirely tainted.

God’s love for us is immeasurably vast. Paul prayed for a supernatural experience for the Christians at Ephesus, just so they could understand God’s love. His love is that vast—we can’t understand it with any amount of research and diligence.

When we encounter real, unfathomable truth about God, that truth changes our hearts to a point where houses and careers and financial statements don’t matter to us anymore. God’s love drives us to continue to manage those things as responsible stewards and to love our neighbors, but only because we are humbled by His love for us.

Psalm 147:10-11, Proverbs 3:34, Ephesians 1:17-19, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5-6