And we know that in all things God works ...
Heaven and Hell both have a long reach.
Their pull on the human heart stretches back to birth and uses each event to prepare the person for his or her future destination. We always are becoming who we will be. Heaven bound people use difficult events to cultivate eternal longing. Hell bound people allow difficult events to indulge their mistrust in God which hardens the heart. That means a heaven bound person and a hell bound person can experience the same event while interpreting that event in two diametrically different ways.
The concept of the future pulling on the past can be seen in all of life. Take Michael Jordan, his future greatness stirred in his soul early -- in his defeat he found his key to success:
"In 1978, Michael Jordan was just another kid in the gym, along with 50 or so of his classmates, trying out for the Emsley A. Laney High School varsity basketball team. There were 15 roster spots. Jordan—then a 15-year-old sophomore who was only 5'10" and could not yet dunk a basketball—did not get one. He went home, locked himself in his room and cried...Then he picked himself up and turned the cut into motivation. "
Adolph Hitler used his early poverty and personal loneliness to fuel his future hatred for most of mankind. Elementary teachers would say that even at the age of ten they could see "The Fuhrer" burning and scheming in his eyes. Twenty years before he even dreamed of wearing the swastika on the brown lapel of his jacket, he was stubbornly determined to rule over others. In the same way, heaven and hell start young.
Is this an issue of election? I am sure it is. But it is an existential reality as well. In the present moment of our mind, we only know choice. We can choose to see events either leading us upward toward heaven, or hardening us for a long descent into hell.
The heavenly heart is described as "contrite", sweetly broken, quick to repent. The hellbound heart is "proud", hard as stone, stubborn, unbendable. Heaven will never feel like home for the proud man. Isaiah says, "Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the LORD." Now that is stubborn!
Are you practicing repentance? Or do you let each slight, insult, and criticism reinforce your resolve to fight back? Are you willing to let the word of the critic land softly on your heart like a seed falling on plowed soil? Or is your heart "sun-baked" and dry, not giving an inch, fist clenched, face pinched, brow furrowed?
Hell begins now. You can see the fire of anger burn in the eyes of the stubborn. At the same time Heaven quietly calls to those who are kind, willing to wait their place in line, giving glory to others, walking in humility leaving behind a sweet fragrance as you exit the presence of another.
In Luke 16:19-32, the rich man, who feasted sumptuously while alive on earth, landed in hell. His hardened heart blinded him to the broken man begging at his gate. Torment and anguish was his lot from the start. Did he repent, did he wake up in the flames and see that his misery was self-inflicted? Not in the least...he still demanded and expected to be served, "Tell Lazarus to cool my tongue...send Lazarus to warn my brothers...do what I say." No humility, no repentance, no eternal peace.
Hell and heaven begin now: As you are, so you will be. Forever!
In the book "The Great Divorce," C. S. Lewis metaphorically describes the choice of both future dwelling places; its described as a bus ride to heaven leaving from hell. There is a point in the book where the characters step off the bus and get a taste of heaven. As they explore the new land the bus driver says to the people considering which realm they will choose, "You need never go back unless you want to...in fact, stay here in heaven as long as you please."
Stay as long as you please. Heaven can be your choice now. Do you want to live in the peace, joy and ease of the new world, or do you like the taste of bitterness and anger? Some people can't get enough of hatred - - they feed off of it. But for those who choose ,"thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven," they really can begin now. They learn to forgive, keep no records of wrong, and wait with great anticipation for God's Spirit to provide what they need.
I love how Psalm 45:10-11 puts the heavenly invitation, "Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord." Heaven embraces God's embrace. Hell shuns it.
Listen to one more quote from "The Great Divorce", "Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory, And of some sinful pleasure they say 'Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences': little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness."
It's your choice!
Just when you think you have caught it, you lost it. When you believe this virtue has been mastered, you must begin all over. The closer you actually get to it, the farther away you believe yourself to be. To reach this goal you must lose yourself.
Humility: the rarest gem, the righteous goal, and the mind of Christ. Do all you can to get it.
Reaching this goal is tricky, because as my dad's favorite office plaque says, "It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am." Do you see the problem? Being proud of achieving humility is the exact point when it starts to melt away. That is what makes it so rare. It's like capturing the wind in a bottle; once you think you have it, the wind is no more.
Something else makes humility a rare jewel: No one really wants it. Do you want it? I'm not sure you do? When humility becomes you, people take advantage. They enjoy having mastery over you. And humility says retaliation against them is not allowed - - and in our pride saturated world, non-retailiation is seen as agreement and acquiescence. Humility is kind, and kindness is easilty trampled over. And that hurts.
I want to be humble, I really do, but I want to fight back too. Humility will fight, it just doesn't retaliate. There is a big difference. Most people fight because they have been personally hurt, humility will only fight when truth is at stake. Discerning the difference is a daunting task.
Just today I was in an argument, and while I was trying to argue a point of logic, my personhood was attacked. I wanted to retaliate, I was angry, my pride was hurt. It is hard to be wrong, but it hurts to be confronted and belittled when the other side, influenced by pride, thinks you are wrong. Humility must respond with grace, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also."
People don't like to do this. It is hard to let others consider themselves better. It is hard to let others win. It is hard to deescalate the tension. Well, at least it is for me.
Jesus was a humble man. So humble he died.
He easily could have won: He was the smartest, the strongest, and the best. But he also was kind. He did call out sinners and Pharisees alike - but he also let them kill him. Humility does that, it gives up the win in the present so it will win in the future. Pride wants to win now! It also wants to humiliate and punish. It wants the other side to feel it's superiority.
Humility is aiming to win the heart of the hard, and understands that patience may be it's greatest weapon against the fury of the proud. Humilty is hard because it often dies waiting.
Boy it hard to be humble. when you are as proud as I am.
"If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."
1 John 4:20
Everybody knows "that" person.
I saw "that" person about a month ago. I was sitting in a coffee shop reading, and "that" person walked right in the door. I know "that" person saw me, but they drifted on by not even acknowledging that I existed. I acted like I didn't see "that" person either because talking to them is awkward, full of pregnant silence - - so I began reading my book, pretending to be engrossed. With my head tilted down and away from "that" person, I was stewing, furious that they occupied the same space, and world, as I.
"That" person is the one person that makes my blood boil. I don't like them at all, and I am pretty sure they don't like me either. If you were to ask me to say something nice about "that" person, one postive comment, it would take everything out of me to do so. I just can't. "That" person has hurt me badly in the past, and they arrogantly carry on not considering they have ever done anything wrong. "That" person has slandered me, turned other's against me, and I know they feel justified in doing so.
"That" person doesn't deserve my kindness.
When someone talks to me about "that" person, I try not to respond. I have nothing good to say. When people talk well about "that" person, I want to scream! I want to spit fire and say, "You don't know them like I know them!" I want to expose their faults and declare thier dishonesty and conceited ways from the rooftops so everyone will despise them as much as I. I want "that" person to fail.
"That" person is a threat to others, and I want them stopped.
Scripture says I should never hate, but when it comes to "that" person, I may have crossed the line? They hurt me, they have hurt people I love, they deserve to feel the hurt themselves...don't they? Eye for an eye? Reap what you sow? Feel the burn?
What is sad is that we were once friends. I actually liked "that" person - - but not anymore, the mercy I once had for them has run dry. I'm tapped out. . .
God isn't! God hasn't stopped loving "that" person. God even had his Son die for "that" person. So if God hasn't quit on "that" person, what right have I? But God hasn't been hurt by that person like I have, God hasn't been attacked like I have, God doesn't know how hard I tried in the past to be reconciled only to be rebuffed. God doesn't understand.
"More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?"
(Psalm 69:4 in reference to Jesus)
Let me ponder that again, "If God hasn't quit, what right have I?" But I don't want to try again, I am tired of being hated. It is easier to hate than reapproach in love, so much easier. But am I not a Christian, a little Christ? And if I am, do I not have an obligation to love?
"He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."
"That" person deserves another chance. "That" person needs to be loved too. "That" person once was you; "and yet while we were yet sinners, enemies, Christ died for us." He died for us while we were caught in rebellion. We were "that" person to Him. But he never quit on us!
Who is your "that" person? Who do you come close to hating? Who have you written off? If you claim to be a little Christ, you can't quit on them. You just can't. Allow God to turn your heart back toward "that" person. Name them, give them back their dignity as a person made in the image of God. Give them another chance.
This morning I asked God to forgive me and to help me pray for "that" person. He even brought to mind a few more "that" persons in my life. Everyone knows "that" person. But not everyone will give them another chance.
Maybe this is how you can tell if you really love God - - will you love "that" person again?
“Be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to grow angry.”
The phone rings. . .
“Pastor, I need to talk with you immediately, Can I come in?”
“Pastor, my wife just left the house with her suitcase packed; can I come over?”
“Pastor, the ambulance took my husband to ER...Help!!!”
When these moments come in your ministry, which they will, how will you respond?
(1) Not pick up the phone?
(2) Run immediately to help, leaving everything, to be the rescuer?
(3) Offer some trite statement like, “Don’t worry, God is still on the throne?”
I propose three ways to handle situations like this:
(1) James 1:19 - __________________________________
- Being a Savior isn’t your prime job, it is being a path to the
Savior, and that takes wisdom. So to get wisdom you must
first listen. As you listen get a pad and paper and write
down the obvious stuff. . .
A. Name, number and time of call.
B. List main points that they say, questions they have, feelings.
After a while, God will start showing you the degree of urgency...because often, selfish people make everything urgent. Like a mouse in the basement, an argument over what movie to watch, or a cut on the child’s elbow, they want to be rescued, NOW! When you respond to every moment of crisis, you may be forfeiting your important time with God and family for the selfish wants of others. How often did Jesus do what the people wanted him to do? (Luke 12:14, John 2:3-4, Luke 4:42-44)
(2) Proverbs 11:14 - ________________________________
Get advisors, use your elders, invite your fellow pastors to help. Too many pastors are mavericks, and when you enter into a hotbed situation you may be very vulnerable. Bring your wife with you when grieving women are involved; make it a habit to call wiser pastors. Too often it seems pastors are men who go running in the mess before they assess, and then they find themselves way over their head. (Remember, people mostly operate out of selfishness...they are not always telling the truth).
(3) Exodus 18:14-26 - ______________________________
Delegate, delegate, delegate! This is the only thing that will save and expand your ministry.
Question: How do I determine which cases I should take care of myself and what to delegate?
Level 1: Do your best to delegate the person who says, “I just want a friend!” Remember, you don’t have all the time in the world. Establish a friends ministry for people who just want to talk. (80% of problems)
Level 2: Crisis moment, and it is obvious I need to engage the situation. When it is an issue of discipleship, deal with it by (1) developing trained people in your church who can disciple, but (2) for smaller churches or more serious issues, this may mean you are the only one who can help. (Includes issues of Abuse, Divorce, Pornography, and Addiction).
Level 3: They need professional help. Be willing to admit your main job is the word, discipleship and prayer...you are not Sigmund Freud! Pastors are not super-heroes, there are people out there that have expertise you need to lean on.
The more you read, the more equipped you become. Here are some books that are necessary to help with issues of urgency:
- “Boundaries” By Henry Cloud (Issues dealing with healthy relationships)
- “When Love needs to be Tough” James Dobson (Issues dealing
with marital abuse and estrangement)
- “Where is God when it Hurts” and “Disappointment with God” Philip Yancey (Issues of despair and doubt)
- “Reason for God” Tim Keller (Issues on Forgiveness, Love and existence)
Be a reader, and fill your soul so you will be more equipped when life is falling apart.
GOD IS USING IT TO GROW YOU
Often, a crisis is used by God to make you a better pastor. When we are scared, God shows up. So wait on him, you don’t need to be the hero, he is.
Memorize this: Lamentations 3:19-33, it is what ministry is all about!
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence
when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust--
there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.
For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
If you have tracked along with me for the last eight weeks I hope this has been helpful. The goal was to get you to think and wonder what is required to minster. The final thought I have for anyone entering into the ministry is this, "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men."
Excellence is something rare. It is doing something extremely well, not just getting the job done; but doing it to such a degree that people will stop and notice. Excellence sparks appetite in those who are watching. It brings excitement to the task that is so often viewed only as mundane, routine, and frustrating.
Excellence is noticed.
People want to stay and linger when excellence can be witnessed firsthand. Excellence means you really believe in what you are doing, and as you do it, others are convinced of what you are doing as well. I want to be excellent. I want to be excellent for myself, and for my God. I want to do my job in such a way that people will linger to watch. I want to be excellent in relationships - - stop offering polite conversation for polite conversations sake - - but to speak truth in every whisper, cry and yell.
I want to be excellent in my connection with God. I want to be earnest in prayer, so when I pray I know God has heard. Or study the Bible to the point where I read it like the love letter it is. As Mortimer Adler once said, "Lovers read love letters for all they are worth. They read every word three ways. They read between the lines and margins...They percieve the color of words, the order of phrases, and the weight of sentences." Who ever thought you could read with excellence? Lovers do!
I want to be excellent because I know that I haven't been. At so many levels I am slip-shod, throw-it-together, "Get 'er done", and do it quick. I do have been doing it like this for years; and mainly for one purpose, "So I can relax." If I want to be excellent I must begin to see relaxing as my enemy.
Relax says I am done being or needing to do more to be better or excellent. Is relaxing wrong? It depends with what I want to be excellent in? Even as I write this piece, I am not so sure I mean it - - am I doing it to just get it done? Am I writing just to write? Existing to exist? Just getting by? Or am I writing because I really, really, really believe what I am writing? Excellence always asks why.
Is life to just get through or is it to make a difference? Is relaxing the pinnacle of existence? Or is creating something new, affecting the life of a friend, trying to do my work better so people will stop and notice, why I am here? What brings more honor to God: A man on the couch? Or a man in his study, workshop, front yard connecting with his kids?
If life is moving too fast, I think we need to start changing the speed. I think life moves faster for the people whose only goal is to relax. People who want to relax just want to get stuff over with. They never feel like they have had enough time to relax, so they have get the next thing over with so they can relax some more. Relaxing is like a black-hole; once you do it you want to do it more. Never enjoying the moment - only wanting it to be over makes for a quick life.
When you don't enjoy your work, your kids, your devotions, life flies by because those times are never recorded in the memory maker of your brain which places value on time. Life goes fast because you let life go by. But excellence savors each moment, even the time you once considered as a waste. All of life has potential - - not just the weekend.
Is life stressful? I find it is if you are just trying to get by. Why not aim for excellence?
- Do things different. Inject newness, freshness, a different pattern in the routine. I think we dont try to be or do
things different because we are stopped by the threat of dissapproval or failure. Never let the phrase, "It's the
way we have always done it," become the rule for why you do what you do.
- Be interesting, don't aim to be subtle, be noticed. Know that people don't really care as much as you think they
do. People would rather you try and fail noticibly than spreading more stale unnoticed boredom around.
- Spark appetite.
Can a person really be excellent? Or am I too old? I am too old not to at least try...I am dying soon so why not make some waves? Or do I want to go into eternity boasting about my relaxing?
In the movie "Cool Hand Luke" the main actor was a strange man. He enjoyed bringing excitement to the mundane. In one scene he was on a chain gain and his job was to throw sand on newly laid asphalt. It was a terrible job, especially when the workers had to spread the sand in 90 degree heat. For most of the men it was sheer misery. But "Cool Hand Luke" decided to bring newness and freshness to the moment. He decided to smile, throw sand as fast as he could, and run to the next spot. The other workers at first thought he was crazy, but he kept on going - - he didn't care what they thought. His excitement started catching on until every last guy was running, smiling and feeling alive.
That was a wierd kind of excellence - - but that is what I want to be this year. Wierdly excellent. Will you join me?
“Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said.”
What does the word Sabbath mean to you? ______
Did God really get tired when he made the world? ______
God used his rest as an example for us to stop because we really are not as important as we think we are to the workings of the world. Sometimes, as a pastor, I think we forget this. If we could be honest, this is what we really believe:
- the ministry would die if I quit working.
- what would people do without my leadership.
- I don’t want to let go of control because they will mess it up
Be very careful when these thoughts start creeping in, because they could eventually start to ruin your ministry. Never forget this. . .
1 Corinthians 10:12 - ________________________
This truth will save your skin. And the best way to guard against thinking too highly of yourself is ‘taking rest,’ or enjoying Sabbath.
WHAT SABBATH IS NOT:
Sunday: for the pastor, Sunday tends to be the day that he works the hardest. Sunday is not the replacement of Saturday on the Jewish calendar. Sabbath is not a day in which you are quiet, and sleep and make sure no body does anything. So often the concept of Sabbath is seen as a day of complete boredom and seriousness. How do you feel about the word Sabbath? _______
WHAT SABBATH IS:
Well then, what is the Sabbath, especially for the pastor?
(1) State of MIND: it is allowing your reputation and success to rest solely on the work of God. If you really believe you are fine in the eyes of God than start resting. . .if God is in your corner, stop working, you have arrived! Think about this a minute. Our striving usually comes from trying to meet some unspoken series of expectations, but if God is fine with you than rest in him.
Never forget this verse, it may save your ministry: Gal.1 :10
What does it mean to you? _______________________
So if you are pleasing to God, than rest!
(2) a DAY set aside: I believe the original intent of Sabbath was
designed so people would be forced to stop. Out of a non-
legalistic perspective, stopping one day still has merit. The human body
needs to stop, and if you don’t plan it you will not do it.
One day of the week is crucial to stop your work and let
resting in God be your pursuit. As a pastor, what day is good
for you? Some people advise not to take Monday because
you are not your best, but for me it is the day I need to stop
the world and enjoy God.
(3) a SEASON of refreshment: this is not vacation, this is a period of time where you get away and focus on God. It could be a Sabbatical, or a time to pray, think and stop. You need to try to find a good chunk of time each year when you can free you mind up to be with God. Very few pastors do this, that is why very few hear from God.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON THE SABBATH:
My simple answer is this: ENJOY GOD!
Sabbath is intended to be blessing not drudgery. And you need to do those things that bring you to points of :
* Gratitude: Gratefulness to be alive and fyou must find those things that allow you to do this.
* Refreshment: What allows you to rest and get the wrinkles out? This isn't selfish, it is necessary.
* Awe & Inspiration: Where can you go, what can you read, what can you do that brings you to wonder?
FIND IT, AND DO IT.
If you take Sabbath you will be a different person, a changed person, a person that walks with God.
* Genesis 5:22 - __________________________________
Are you ready to enjoy God? _____ So Go! __________
"Cynicism lacks any real conviction. It doesn't like the game as it is being played - - and so it spoils it."
J. Cameron "Sound of Paper"
For a few short years of my life, I wanted to become a Ping-Pong master. My dream was to be so good at the game that I could finally beat my dad, my brother and my older nieghbor Mike Kristoff. As the youngest brother of six kids, I hated being left in the dust...especially when it came to anything competitive. For awhile there, Ping-Pong was our family's favorite past-time; and my personal obsession.
When my dad came home from long weeks of travel for work; to relax he would grab a short glass of white wine and invite all of us kids downstairs for hours of Ping-Pong fun. It wasn't fun for me, I wanted to win! My dad was the type of father who believed the only way to play fair was to play your best, no easy breaks. So more times than not he would tear us apart. I can remember him saying after an easy match, "Like taking candy from a baby." It made me furious, but he knew it pushed me to be better.
My brother Don became very good at Ping-Pong, then the rankings were my nieghbor MIke Kristoff, my sister Gina, and then me. I was 5th in the family standings, and I didn't like it one bit. Oh sure, I was better than my mom and sister Steph, but that isn't anything to brag about - - they both really didn't care about the glories of Ping-Pong. I wasn't content with 5th place, I wanted to get better. And to get better I had only two options to work on my game:
(1) Fold the Ping-Pong table in half and play against myself. This helped a little bit when it came to improving my skills - - I learned paddle control, and how to put a spin on a serve - - but when you played this way you could never really let loose and smash it. When you served a hard shot against yourself the Ping-Pong ball would crash against the stiff surface of the upright table-top and then it would come screaming back at an odd angle totally missing your side of the table. There is nothing worse than chasing Ping-Pong balls around a hard tile floor. Usually the ball would roll under our large, heavy old-fashioned stereo/record console. It reminded me of a wooden coffin. You had to crawl on your belly and reach through jungles of cobwebs and dust to grab the ball. Occassionally our hyper dog "Buff" would snatch-up the rolling white ball in his mouth and "crunch" - - his sharp teeth would rip the celluloid sphere into two gnarled pieces.
(2) There was only one other option to help me play and get better - and when desperate - I figured I had to at least try it. This option was asking my sister Steph to play. This was a dangerous proposition because you never quite knew what mood Steph would be in. Sometimes you would get the "fun & co-operative" Steph who would give Ping-Pong a jolly good try. Or you would often end up playing the "cynical & bored" Steph who saw Ping-Pong as a foolish game that supported the unfair system of patriarchal honor which favored those of us in the house who were gifted with good hand-eye coordination. When in this cynical mood, Steph could be heard murmurring under her breath, "This game is so stupid."
But there were those rare times when Steph and I would get into some good, back and forth matches. Every once in a while she would send a zinger of a serve your way, and when it would zoom past you she would say, "Point for me!" But if the game started going south for Steph, for instance the time I scored 10 straight points on her, cynicism started creeping in.
It was easy to spot. Cynicism is always easy to spot.
Instead of trying to return my serve to keep the volley going, Steph would hit the ball as hard as she could and send it flying against the back wall of the room. "Oops, sorry Chris," Steph said smiling. Like a home run hitter at Fenway Park, Steph would wind up her paddle and unload on the little white ball with everything she had. When cynicism fully-kicked in, the game, for all intensive purporposes, was over - - it was spoiled. "Wham!" There goes a shot up to the cieling hitting the light, rebounding to the side-wall, and then landing in the poopy cat litter.
"Sorry Chris?!?! (smirk-smirk-giggle-giggle)."
When her cyncism reached the point of no return, the only thing left to do was ask her if she wanted to go to Lake Erie and skip some rocks. Steph loved it outdoors away from the irritation of Ping-Pong. To get away from the from the game, cynicism would rather spoil it than perservere through. That is what mockery often is, a sophisticated form of quitting.
I find this to be the underlying problem with most cynicism: If the game isn't being played the way I want, I will often ridicule or ignore it. This is especially true when it comes to living under the rule of God. To believe in God you must adhere to his system of righteousness - - it is how he designed the world to bring peace and harmony. There are boundaries we are not to tresspass and thoughts that cannot be entertained. For many people, this kind of living requires skills they are not used to using - - holiness, purity and self-control. Self-control for many is flat-out, "No Fun." Living a life under moral constraint brings a certain amount of pain to the person who doesn't like to be told what to do.
Did you know, most of us don't like to be told what to do? John 3:19 says, "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."
The reason your average atheist, agnostic, and non-church goer is so cynical is because he doesn't want to play the game of life which requires you to "live by the rules." They don't like the game as it is, so they snark. Many independent thinkers who have cynical undertones shaping their words, often would rather spoil life for others than try to be civil. Did you know it is easier to tear something down than build? It is easier to quit than to learn self-control and excellence?
This year I personally am hoping not to be so cynical - - sad to say, I think it shrunk my heart a bit last year. I found myself mocking more than helping. As my dad would often say, "There are only two options in life: (1) To complain about the darkness (cynicism, mockery, ignoring), or (2) Light a candle for others to see." Which one will you choose this year?
Now, it's your serve.