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The verses that stand out for me in today's readings are the OT-Num33:55-56. The Israelites did not follow God's command and drive out the people fom the Promised Land. "Those wo remain will be like splinters in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in the land where you live." Thousands of years later, Israel is still being harassed in the land that God gave to them.

It is important to remember that Greek and Hebrew were crude languages (without even any punctuation) and that words like "their" often had to be added. That Jesus saw the faith in the man's friends in today's reading comes from only two words, “eido pistis” which simply means to perceive moral conviction.

Cloud and Townsend (we just talked about their series of books on Boundaries), however, showed in “How People Grow” that the four commonly used Christian counseling models of the Sin Model (Good is good, you’re bad… stop it), the Truth Model (just think it and do it), the Experimental Model (dig up pain for praying as in the popular but dangerous Theophostic therapy), and the Charismatic Healing Model never help as much as one might expect (generally only helping people be happy with where they're at rather than thirst for being more) and that only a Relational Model (with both checks and support) can get one past growth ceilings.

It therefore is only through a community of faith and moral convictions that there are any real opportunities for personal growth (also the conclusion of the psychiatry industry and the basis for the modern emotional intelligence theory). Even top management consultants like Senge come to the same conclusion.

But, a true environment of morals will not be peaceful - Jesus Himself wasn't the sort we would normally like to invite to a barbecue (Buddha had much nicer things to say, but then Buddha didn't get crucified). And, Social Constructionism shows, in fact, that diversity (in opposition to a third of companies today giving unscientific personality tests in foolish attempts to only hire people that “fit in”) and the free flow of information (based on the right rather than the need to know) creating actual tornadoes of energetic discussion rather than static “happiness” are required for true stability in any community.

Sadly, a major theme in most self-help books is only the new age concept of “positive visualization” (that Covey even has written is supposed to be able to reprogram us into being Gods - LOL) that again provides happiness without any real growth by wholly misunderstanding that the often quoted Proverbs 23:7 (“As a man thinks in his heart so he is”) has more to do with the source of our motivations and joy than just feelings of happiness.

In a similar fashion, we can distrust anyone suggesting an action is Godly because it simply feels good and makes them happy. All of the ten example conversions in Acts, for instance, involved audible instructions from God or a holy agent. Never did things “just happen” for good - good came from direct obedience. Too often today, we can't wait on a clear voice (which is speaking, but we're ignoring) and we simply don't fear the wrong answer (our own) enough to wait until we are still enough to listen. Amy Carmichael once said, “If you have never been hurt by a word from God, it is probably that you have never heard God speak.” And Jesus said, “And, he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:34-38

A quick comment about how much the Jews have been harassed over the millennia... throughout the times of the Bible, there were over ten million Jews and no Muslims - today, there are still only about 14 million Jews (almost half in Israel and almost half in the U.S. - being driven out of most other countries including Europe) while there are over a billion Muslims (many who want the last 12 million Jews gone). Moreover, every single one of my Jewish friends (dozens) were at some time in their youth sadly beaten up or taunted by Christian kids for being Christ killers (which, of course, we all did with our sins). God has insured His Chosen (the Jews) to survive even though most of the peoples mentioned in the Bible are now gone.

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