Fenton Five

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5. The best evidence of character is not rule keeping but building and maintaining healthy relationships. We often assume that relationship building is easier for people with extroverted personalities. I am less sure of that than I used to be. It is easier to convey the image of caring as an extrovert and when our personality projects warmth, but building and maintaining relationships require effort and intentionality regardless of the personality type. I wish had learned this earlier in life

4. Anger is a virtue only when it leads to righteous redemption. Most anger is more about self-expression, which tries to shame people instead of trying to bring about a holy change. Pardon the very loose paraphrase, but a good character truth is, “Be ye angry and shame not.”

3. This presidential election appears to be more about taste than truth. I am not sure that the level of untruthfulness is higher during this presidential campaign than in previous national elections, but the level of hyperbole is off the charts. Both presidential candidates apparently define truth as anything that advances their political ambitions. This is not that unusual in politics, business, media, and even sometimes, in religious organizations. The card-carrying Clinton supporters appear to me to be the kind of folks who listen to NPR and assume that they are hearing unbiased, factual information. The diehard Trumpers are the kind of folks who watch reality television and believe it is reality. While the smooth and mellow tones on NPR are pleasant, their programming continually conveys a postmodern interpretation of life in which there are no absolutes. Reality television is entertaining, but it is also built on a postmodern interpretation. NPR and Springer reveal different taste preferences, but they both buy into postmodern relativity. The election is evidence of a seismic shift in the core value base of the American culture, yet that is no excuse to avoid voting or participating in the political process. More to come in future posts.

2. In the last thirty days, I have experienced corporate worship in churches of different sizes, with different worship styles, and in settings in which I had no leadership responsibilities. It appears to me, as a non-leading participant, that effective corporate worship occurs when the congregation is encouraged to think, allowed to feel, empowered to serve, and given the opportunity to connect with others. These four actions are possible in most any size congregation with any style of worship. For instance, fifteen people were present in the smallest worship service I attended, and yet, I sensed all four components in that service. Using these criteria can change how you evaluate corporate worship experiences.

1. The best book I have reread in the last two weeks is Surprised by Scripture, by N.T. Wright. While I doubt you agree with all of it, it will expand your thinking and increase your passion for the Bible.

May you take steps on the character path today.
Gary Fenton

You can order the devotional booklet, Short Steps on the Character Path, by contacting me at garyfenton@aol.com.

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