Category Archives: Practicing the Better

Practicing the Better: A Final Word

​I come to the end of this series feeling like a runner who must now pass the baton to the next person in the race. This series has been an extended one, but it could easily have been longer and deeper. … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Our Marching Orders, #2

​Rebuilding the foundations is the action we take to practice the better.  Using Jonathan Haidt’s moral foundation principles, we looked last week at caring and fairness.  We look at his remaining four foundations today. The third foundation is loyalty.  It … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Our Marching Orders

​It would be beneficial to continue to describe the practice of the better from the close of the New Testament until now.  Known and unknown women and men have practiced the better in every generation. We can learn much from … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Beyond Jesus

​Light, life, and love continued to be expressed in the first Christians.  The main evidence for their practice of the better was the inclusion of the Gentiles (Acts 15) and the sense of oneness that characterized their life together (Galatians … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Jesus–Instruction, #2

​The Kingdom of God was Jesus’ curriculum for practicing the better. [1]  Every word and act of Jesus was a revelation of some aspect of that Kingdom.  We can see this in the light, life, and love which came through … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Jesus–Instruction

​Just as there is too much in Jesus’ incarnation for us to explore in this series, the same holds true for his instruction.  Light, life, and love run through the length and breadth of Jesus’ teaching. It all comes together … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Jesus–Incarnation, #2

​Jesus came to show us how God intends for us to live in the world.  Far from eliminating or minimizing any other reason we might give for the incarnation, this one gathers, organizes, and unites the rest.  As John put … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Jesus–Incarnation

​When we come to Jesus, the connections between him and practicing the better are numerous. We can only hit the high spots in this series, and even then there is plenty to explore.  We begin with keynotes in his incarnation. … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: John the Baptist

​The bridge from the first covenant to the second covenant climaxed in John the Baptist, the one who broke the silence of a 400-year prophesy drought in Israel with his message to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 2:3). … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Nazareth

​It is impossible to write about practicing the better in those people and places leading up to Jesus without noticing Nazareth. Jesus spent 90% of his life there, and was undoubtedly influenced by his home town. In the larger context … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: The Magi

​[Note: as we begin September, we move into the last third of the 2018 Oboedire theme, “Practicing the Better.”  If you have become an Oboedire traveler recently, you can go to the righthand sidebar of the home page, click on … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Anna

​Anna the prophetess was also in the temple when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord.  She joined Simeon in praising God for Jesus (Luke 2:36-38).  Luke’s reference to Anna is brief, but it is enough to know she … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Simeon

​Simeon was surely a transmitter of light, life, and love. His incarnation of these qualities is seen in Luke’s description of him as “righteous and devout”–that is, a man of character who showed it in the way he loved God … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: The Shepherds

​In the line of those connecting the light, life, and love of the first covenant to the second, we must not forget the shepherds. They were the recipients of light–marvelous light–the glory of the Lord (Luke 2:9).  Their experience enlivened … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Zechariah

​Just as Joseph was an integral person in the story of light, life, and love–so too was Zechariah.  The parallels between the character of the two men is noticeable. They both practiced the better incarnationally. Zechariah adds additional instruction to … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Elizabeth

​On our way from the first covenant to the second, Elizabeth is another person who reveals the practice of the better  As Mary’s cousin and beloved friend, she incarnated life, light and love herself and was part of God’s work … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Joseph

​Light, life, and love were incarnate in Joseph just as they were in Mary.  The phrase that reveals it is Matthew’s description of him as a righteous man (1:19).  Inwardly and outwardly, he was a man of integrity.  Our practice … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Mary

​When I think of Mary, I see light, life, and love combined in her.  Gabriel’s description of her as “favored one” (Luke 1:28) uses the Greek word for grace.  She is a “graced one”–from which the Church declares, “Hail Mary, … Continue reading

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Practicing tbe Better: The Genalogies

​[Foreword–The posts for the New Testament will explore the themes of light, life, and love.  We will do this by looking at the Genealogies, Mary, Joseph, Zecharaiah,  the Magi, John the Baptist, Jesus, the early Christians (Acts), Paul, Peter, James, … Continue reading

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Prscticing the Better: The Very Good Gospel

​Lisa Sharon Harper’s book, ‘The Very Good Gospel’ provides the bridge for extending our look at practicing the better from the Old Testament into the New Testament. [1]  Her choice to use the phrase ‘very good’ is indicative of her … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Gathering the Fragments

​There is much more that we could explore about practicing the better from the perspective of the Old Testament, but creation, covenant, and sabbath are sufficient to reveal the recurring dynamics of light, life, and love.  The trajectory is set … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Covenant Goodness

​The Covenant continues the light, life and love set down in the creation, with sabbath being a key means for sustaining all three things in our lives. Light–Israel was to receive God’s light and to be a light to the … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Sabbath #5

​The rest we find in sabbath and the restoration it provides enable us to return to the regular responsibilities with a sense of freshness and invigoration.  Sabbath is not an end, but rather a recurring means to the end of … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Sabbath #4

​The restoration sabbath also includes the re-establishment of rhythm–the pace of grace we noted a few posts back.  It is the rhythm of engagement and abstinence, working and resting. Dallas Willard took the principle I gleaned from Susan Muto and … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Sabbath #3

Sabbath rest leads to restoration.  It brings things which get lost in the whirlwind of activism back into view.  We will look at two restorative aspects of sabbath–one in this post and another in the next. Restoration restores our perspective. … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Sabbath #2

​We begin our brief exp!oration of sabbath with its best-known component: rest.  God remembers we are dust (Psalm 193:14).  We are the ones who forget it.  In a world of machines, we try to act like machines.  We pay high … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Sabbath #1

​Even though we have only scratched the surface regarding the Covenant, we have linked the practice of the better to quite a few important things–so many, in fact, that we might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.  God must have sensed … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Liberty & Justice for All

​The Covenant frees us to live as God intends, and it shows us that one of the first movements in our freedom is working for justice.  We have captured this dynamic in one of our national mantras–“The Pledge of Allegiance”–in … Continue reading

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Practing the Better: Othering

​The Covenant opens the way for us to practice the better by delivering us from bondage, the greatest imprisonment being our confinement to self-centeredness.  Whether expressed individually (egotism) or collectively (ethnocentrism), selfishness works against life as God intends it. But … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Deliverance

​Nothing could be worse than to have the desire to please God, but be unable to do so.  So, just as the creation gave us the capacity to serve God (via the imago dei), so also the Covenant gives us … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Obedience

Of course, God includes in the Covenant the expectation that we will obey it.  Every relationship is honored, made real, and strengthened by obedience. Our relationship with God is no different. But in the Covenant (that is rooted in God’s … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Commitment

One of the first things we learn about Covenant is that it is not strictly speaking a contract.  It has elements that are contractual in nature, but it has one significant difference–it is not null and void if we default. … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: God, God, God

​The most important thing to say about Covenant is that it is created by God.  Just as God made the world, God made the Covenant.  The great danger in life is to forget the God-grounded nature of all things.  Covenant … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Covenant

We could spend more time in the opening chapters of Genesis, but the rest of Scripture awaits us, holding in its revelation pearls of great price with respect to practicing the better.  The next element is summarized in the word … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Formative Images

The preceding posts in this series have largely focused in the first three chapters of Genesis.  We have a lot more Scripture to explore and much more to learn about practicing the better, but from the opening pages of the … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: The Holy Value of One

​ Practicing the better is enacting love in the little things of life. That’s good news because we spend most of our time living in the world of small things.  It is what has often been referred to as ordinary … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Goodness Chosen

​Practicing the better is not a pure thing (100% all the time) after the fall.  But it is still possible–and possible as it always is, by grace.  Now it is not grace operating naturally, but grace operating by consent.  Practicing … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Goodness After the Fall

​We saw God’s goodness in creation before the fall, we see it after the fall as well.  God did two things after Adam and Eve sinned that help us see what practicing the better looks like. First, God went in … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Made for Good

We recognize that human beings were part of the original creation, but as we begin to explore practicing the better, we must do more than recall this, we must ponder it.  We do this by remembering we are made in … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Good at the Start

Practicing the better was God’s initial and repeated act in the beginning of creation.  Seven times the writer of Genesis uses the word ‘good’ to describe what God was making. In the Hebrew and Greek languages, ‘good’ is a many-splendored … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Good at the Source

The source for practicing the better is God, the One whose nature is love (hesed and agapé), and whose motivation is to redeem, rebuild, restore, and renew–as we say it in the liturgy, “whose property is always to have mercy.” … Continue reading

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Practicing the Better: Introduction

Richard Rohr stopped me in my tracks with these words, “The best criticism of the bad is a practice of the better.” [1]  From the moment I first read them nearly two years ago, they have attached themselves like velcro … Continue reading

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