"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:1
Ancient Zen Masters could be exacting… unpredictably harsh… with their novice monks. Example:
The Master Gutei always showed his thumb when he was asked what the Way was. When a novice from the same temple as Gutei was once asked later, 'What was his moralizing discourse like?,' he also showed his thumb in imitation of his master. When Gutei heard of the novice's action he cut off the novice's thumb with a sharp sword. The novice ran away weeping with pain. The Non-Logical Character of Zen, By Hajime Nakamura
Cruel! Yet, the lesson was learned: “think through what I meant… grasp the essential teaching… Do NOT simply imitate me!”
"And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach" Mark 3:14
As we reflect on Jesus and his first band of novices, do we have any idea what being WITH HIM was like? Think through the utter upheaval and constant challenge, the “24/7 on your toes” lifestyle of the first disciples. Would any of us survive such scrutiny?
Jesus was not a Zen Master. Good thing… else we might be known as the “thumbless” generation.
Truth before all! If I were to act like a Zen master, I might throw you out of the room if you merely "amen” me… the same if you come back with a preachy, catch-all phrase as if it were the last word on the subject. And if you have to raise the volume to make your point, I might never let you back in the room.
Connect the dots. Show me. Don't tell me what to think. Show me how to think. Or else, don’t waste my time!
Are we happy or sad about a roomful of people who take us at our word? Ministry is not just getting up and telling people things. Our job is to help people find their own way through their own study and experiences. Truth before all!
CAREFUL: this is not a call to be abusive, overbearing chest beaters... we have a surplus of those already. It is about accepting the challenge to be challenged for the betterment of the Kingdom.
"The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd." Ecclesiastes 12:11
God means to goad us (a goad is a sharp stick) to make us alert thinkers. He wants truth “nailed down” in our memory… like taut tent ropes with deeply driven stakes. He has no use for untruth, half truths, emotional catch phrases or lazy generalizations.
God’s end game is not about a bunch of right thinking worshipers. He wants to peg us to a secure, visible place... a place of honor. He would point people to us, trusting that we will point people to him. We should be exceedingly conscientious about how we use our throne of honor!
"And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house." Isaiah 22:23
I want to be a trustworthy truth conveyor… unswayed by the accolades of lazy followers… attuned to alert young minds that are eager and malleable... of the sort that would even risk a thumb to discover the Way!
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6