Last week, I tried to make the case that sports can be a self-righteous cause of problems in the same way as other bigotries. Just in case you missed it  – a big brawl occurred between Bears and Cowboys fans after their game last Monday. I rest my case.

I am writing on the occasion of my 77th birthday. I am enjoying a quiet day with Jeny in beautiful weather at the beach. My stroke has helped me more fully appreciate each day and my many blessings. I hope today finds everyone in good health and at peace in this mixed-up, needy world in which we live.

I only remember one birthday that I did not celebrate. The year I turned 30, I broke my foot and did not exercise for a year. On my birthday, I decided it was time to get back at it. I jogged a block and thought my life was over. I barely made it at a slow pace. In my youthful foolishness I was sure I was headed downhill with the end in sight.

But, here I am 47 years later, still evolving and still trying to learn and grow each day. One of my best blessings has been hearing from so many of you. Thanks for sharing your ideas–they have helped my growth. Last week I shared one excellent email I received from a friend regarding bigotry in his life.  I have had many other thoughtful interactions over the last few weeks. Today I would like to briefly share three of them.

Several weeks ago, I wrote: “It’s not about the rules we keep but the people we serve.” A friend asked what I meant by the statement.

In my formative years, I read Lord of the Flies. I do not remember the entire acclaimed tale, but I have one lasting impression: Even the best people will be reduced to savagery without laws. We need rules and laws for a civilized society.

By saying “it is not about the rules we keep” I am not implying rules and laws are not important. We must commit to the rule of law for survival.

What I mean to covey is that in my faith walk, I believe some factors are more important than rules. When I began my faith journey the rules to “not do this or not do that” were big factors in my faith.

As I have matured, I have learned I cannot keep all the rules. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus makes the bar very high—too high for me to keep. Lust not just adultery; anger not just murder are impossible standards for me. The claim in Romans “we have all sinned, all fallen short,” rings true.

Also I have found many rules are developed by humans for self-righteous reasons. For example, I have observed the following: I believe this and you do not — so I am better than you; my church, my beliefs are better than yours. To me that is a sad state of affairs.

In my old age I have come to emphasize relationships and service over rules. Jesus, in his wisdom, reduced the Laws and Commandments to our relationship to God, others and self. Later he said the sheep to his right hand will be those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and prisoners. He also called upon the rich to be willing to sell all and give to the poor.

In light of all this it makes sense to me to believe “it’s not the rules we keep, but the people we serve.” I might have better stated it by saying – “it is not so much about the rules we keep but more about the people we serve.” We live in a needy world, let us serve joyfully.

Another good friend was worried. He disagreed with one of my blogs. He was hesitant to point out our differences. I assured him and I assure you, any disagreement is not a problem. Any time you disagree or think I am wrong please call it to my attention. Not only am I willing to admit my mistakes, I learn and grow through thinking about other views.

In one of my blogs I disagreed with kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest. I believed kneeling calls attention to self, more than helping solve issues. He disagreed. He thought kneeling calls attention to problems in a non-violent manner. I am still thinking about my response—the great thing is he is making me think.

 I hope everyone will feel free to question and discuss any idea I bring up.

A final quick note—a good friend just finished a year-long daily devotional.  The book challenged her and taught her a lot. She thought it fit my goal for us to be life-long learners. She was kind enough to send a copy.

 The book is “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn. Each day is one very interesting page, and so far each day has been a new learning experience. Jeny and I have been using it and really enjoy the daily lesson. We highly recommend it.

I have more interactions to discuss but three is enough for today.

I am off to my birthday nap!

Peace

Jerry


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