Change of Copyright
Before we start this essay, please note the change in the footer of all the webpages on this site: the copyright has been changed from copyrighting the entire site to only copyrighting the Content Management System being used to manage the content and presentation of the website. The essays are being placed in the public domain. As a computer programmer, I am very aware of the implications of this change of policy. The process by which I came to this change of policy is the subject of this essay. My intent is for you to be able to duplicate that process at will after you finish this essay.
We have a good idea of what "management" means, but what does the word "variance" mean?
A variance is a deviation from a desired standard. For instance, the desired standard for a washer may be that it be made of a certain alloy of stainless steel an eighth of an inch thick, an inch in diameter, and with a hole one half inch in diameter with the center exactly centered on the center of the washer, with the main faces perfectly flat. A deviation from that standard could be many things. For instance, a deviation is that it would bemade of copper, tin, or an alloy of stainless steel with more or less carbon in the mix that would change its durability and resistance to being deformed. It could be thinner or thicker than an eighth of an inch across the main face, not making it perfectly flat. It may be thinner than an eighth of an inch in one part and thicker in another part. It could be bigger or smaller in diameter than an inch, or not perfectly circular. If measured across one side, it could be less than an inch, while it could be bigger than an inch across if the other side was measured. The hole could be bigger or smaller than a half inch, or oval shaped and not circular. Also, the hole may not be exactly centered or the inner face of the hole may not be perfectly flat. The face of the outer edge may need to be flat as well. All of these differences from the desired dimensions or make-up of the washer are variations or deviations.
And I bet you didn't think that defining a washer wasn't complicated, hmm?
Now, unless you are able to enter Plato's Realm of Ideals and bring back into this world The Perfect Washer, there is, in fact, no Perfect Washer. There are many causes of variance, and each cause creating one or more variances. The key to the Industrial Revolution was the realization that, for parts to be mass produced and interchangeable, they had to be precisely fabricated within tight specifications. The key to higher quality was the realization that one had to progressively manufacture those parts to tighter and tighter specifications. Eli Whitney is credited with the first attempt in the United States to introduce a manufacturing process that was precise enough to create interchangeable parts for a rifle. His first contract went beyond schedule and 400% over budget, and the parts were not entirely interchangeable, but subsequent contracts were awarded and fully met. His problem was that, in order to manufacture precise and interchangeable parts for a rifle, he had to manufacture precise machinery to create those parts, and those machines required different machines equally precise to manufacture their parts. Precision is not free: one has to bootstrap oneself up "the precision branch of the tree of technology". All the high-precision machinery of that day was in Europe: France had already succeeded in mass producing rifles, and it was Thomas Jefferson who saw the potential and recommended that the manufacturing process be replicated in America. Whitney may have copied the idea of precise mass production from France, but he had to invent every machine his business eventually used to produce every part that went into the rifles.
What does higher precision machining of parts have to do with quality? A good illustration of this is the toilet paper roll holder in your bathroom (or water closet if you're British). The roll of toilet paper goes on the shaft that is held by the two mounts at either end of the shaft. Everything is built with very generous margins of space when it comes to the diameter of the shaft and its length because the design requirement is that the toilet paper roll should roll freely. However, note that one can take the toilet paper roll and slide it sideways so that it alternately hits one mount, then the other. This can represent a part in an engine. It should be easy to see that the large margins allow the roll to "gain speed" while flying sideways between the mounts. The damage comes when the roll hits the mount, since the damage is caused by the energy transferred from the roll to the mount. The energy is kinetic energy, whose magnitude is proportional to the square of the velocity. That is, doubling the velocity quadruples the kinetic energy in the object that is moving. The large margins necessary to allow the toilet paper to roll freely work against a reliable engine since the part would be "rattling" between its mounts. But, if there was only a quarter of an inch of margin, so that the space between the sides of a centered roll and each of the mounts is an eighth of an inch, then there's less space to allow the roll to "gain speed", meaning that when it hits the mount, less energy is transferred to it, resulting in a reduced magnitude of "rattling". When that happens the relationship between velocity and energy works for you, not against you, since reducing the velocity by half reduces the energy, and resulting damage, by three quarters. Reducing the velocity by two thirds reduces the energy by eight ninths. Thus, an engine manufactured to tighter specifications is more reliable since it suffers less internal damage from the internals striking each other while working together.
The process of controlling the amount of variance in the parts being manufactured so that they can fit together with the desired margin so as to attain the desired level of quality is what I call variance management. The methods for designing and manufacturing such parts, acquiring or creating all the machines required to do that, and the training and direction of the workers tasked with the job, requires a lot of planning and direction that is properly a function of the management of the manufacturing firm.
Why talk about the problems and benefits of manufacturing high precision parts? If one likens parts to thoughts, and the human heart as a generator of those thoughts (machine), then the simliarity in the problems becomes evident, so maybe the solutions for one would work for the other.
My research, and experience, indicates that this is true.
The Role of the Thought Life in Spirituality
It should be granted that all our sin and all our faults start with the thoughts coming out of our hearts. It is an advance for us to see that the generation of thoughts is independent of the "I", the "inner man" of Paul, and to recognize our essential helplessness in controlling the process. We can attempt to train the mind by practice and study, making it react and cooperate with us as we, the "inner men", select thoughts to feed back to the heart. As I pointed out in "Hack Yer Mind!", we can get the process to work quite quickly. This is especially true of knowledge workers whose products are reports, recommendations, investigations, and computer programs. Such individuals have well-trained minds that react quickly and appropriately to what the "inner man" selects, presenting extremely appropriate mental thought menu choices. Yet, I think we all, at one time or another while at work, got distracted by someone or something that irritated us, got under our skin, worries us, or makes us want to be someplace else. Although we intend to concentrate on our work, these thoughts keep getting added to our menu of thoughts and we seem to pick them more often than we should. This is especially true of those caught in compulsive-obsessive behavior that most people would call an addiction. Thoughts and cravings (which are thoughts interpreting the body sense) related to the compulsion seem to spring out of nowhere and are difficult to manage.
Let's ask a really fundamental question about such thoughts: why do we think such thoughts are wicked, evil, bad, or undesirable, thus requiring control and/or suppression? Mainly because we, as individuals, are committed to a certain kind of behavior that is opposed to those thoughts. We know that the thoughts are not in accordance to our commitments because indulging them leads to the working out of the compulsion in behavior that is not consistent with, and often the opposite of, the kinds of behavior that are consistent with that commitment.
How are those commitments known? For a Christian, those commitments arise from a desire to follow Jesus Christ as expressed concretely in the Scriptures. James speaks of the Law as being a mirror that shows us our faults. The religious and concrete manifestation of the goal of the commitments we make are embodied in what Paul called, in Romans 7, the Law.
Now, this is a very subtle question: How are the commitments related to behavior-related thoughts (i.e. temptations) expressed? We know that the Law is embodied in a book, but it obviously has no effect in that form: if putting a rule in a book made people behave, then they would, well, behave. They are not, which is why there are all these calls in the Bible urging the people to follow the Bible. The Bible makes the commitments known. They are expressed as thoughts themselves.
Thus, when we look at the actual conflict as described in Romans 7, we are not looking at a conflict between a Law in a book and a temptation: we are looking at two thoughts competing for selection, one of which is the thought "from the flesh" (the unconverted heart) and a thought that expresses the expectations of the Law that is thrown up by the Spirit. Galatians 5:17 states "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." This states that the conflict could be so great that it causes one mental pause, unable to go in either direction because the battle between these two thoughts is so intense.
Making people adhere to a rule of behavior is a great concern in other belief systems. Some resort to violence to enforce behavior, but the majority see the benefit of a mental "buy in" by the believers that would naturally produce the desired behavior. However, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are belief systems that emphasize correctness of the thought life in addition to conformance in external behavior. All three recognize that accountability comes only from a mind informed and educated of the standard, so all three have systems and traditions of education. And like Christinaity, Judaism and Islam also have problems of believers not conforming to the desired standard. How each has dealt with the problem is covered in Paul's writings. They appear to be based on the Jewish model of the heart, but with variations.
Human Solutions to Thought Life Modification and Control
In Islam, it was seen that the heart generated thoughts mainly based on the external senses. They saw the world as full of "triggers" that produced unclean thoughts, and so have created a system of laws and customs to limit the stimuli coming in to the minds of the believers. In Colossians 2:20-23, Paul said this of such a system:
20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
This sort of regime was tried during the Middle Ages and in pre 1900 America as well as Islam. A focus on the external sense inputs and the reaction from the Body sense ignores what God said in Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" In a sense, they ran into the same problem that the designers of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge ran into: not accounting for all the sources of wickedness.
The Old Coventant Solution to Thought Life Modification and Control
Judaism did not make that mistake, and opted for a "two track" approach that, while imposing a system of laws and regulations based on "Touch not; taste not; handle not", also emphasized the training of the Human heart. I alluded to this when I commented on Hebrews 5:11-14 on the benefits of a trained heart that fools people into believing there is a "conscious mind". While the Priests, Pharisees, and Lawyers relied on regulations, laws, and traditions to create a form of righteousness, they also emphasized knowledge of the law, saying with disgust that "... this people who knoweth not the law are cursed" when Jesus' popularity was brought up. Who taught you the Law was a vital question, with Paul boasting of being taught by Gamaliel, while the Jews took offense at Jesus' knowledge and power because they were unable to trace who "taught" him how to do it.
The problem, of course, is that, although the Law is perfect, the Law was also limited. The Jewish Heart Training Regime worked beautifully. It HAD to, because it was based on a correct model of the human heart correctly interpreted. Where it went wrong is that the Law, when viewed as a mechanical means of generating righteousness, was limited because it could only specify what was not desired. It could only forbid the wrong, not encourage that which is right. Let's take a look at Galatians 5:19-21:
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Law was great in regulating everything not bolded: the problem was with the bolded sins. When it came to hatred, wrath, varianace, and envyings, the Jewish leaders and the Pharisees had them in abundance when it came to Jesus and his ministry.
This huge hole in the coverage of the Law is hinted at in the question the Lawyer put to Jesus in Mark 12:28-34, and in the response.
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
Now, those particular statutes had been in the Torah for thousands of years. Yet, if their "greatness" had been so obvious to the Lawyer, why ask the question in the first place? These guys put such stock on the Law, it was not possible that these had been overlooked all this time. The problem these verses posed were that they were "mushy": they could not be put into a "by the book" set of fixed rules that could be enumerated and followed as easily as the rules for determining clean from unclean animals.
The Solution of the Spirit: The Law as the Foundation
How did Christianity address the question? The first thing we should note is that they did not dispose of the law. This may surprise some, for after the observation of Galatians 5:17 that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.", it says in verse 18: "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."? Does this not dispose of the Law?
Actually, no. Being "under the law" has nothing to do with being subject to the Law's moral requirements. It only means no longer being guided and under the instruction of the Law. Paul was a good Pharisee, understood the process of Jewish education, and understood the coverage gaps in the written Law, while being quite aware that the Law of God could not be exhaustively enumerated. There are times when knowing Pi to 8 decimal places is 'good enough', and times when 800 places is not good enough, because Pi is, in actuality, bigger and more complex than a number that could be perfectly defined by writing it down to the correct number of decimal places of accuracy: it is inherently different than those kinds of numbers. It was the intractability of Pi that led to their initial classification as "irrational" numbers. Wiser heads prevailed, and they are now called transcendental for very good reasons. The Christians used the Jewish education principles as a foundation, but went a step further. Galatians 3:19-29 is an earlier passage that says, in verses 23 to 25:
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
The phrase "under the law" in Galatians means being under the Law-As-Schoolmaster. This is a direct reference to the educative aspect of the Law, as viewed in light of the way the Graeco-Roman world educated high class children. The schoolmaster was usually a slave who had been a member of the upper class of another society, and was set over the child, and who was given permission to educate and discipline the child in the early stages of their education. Immediately after the above passage, in Galatians 4:1-7, Paul says:
1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The Heir will use, in daily life, many of the skills and facts of knowledge that the slave-turned-schoolmaster taught him, but only because many of the issues of life are complex assemblies of very simple things, which simple things the schoolmaster taught. However, there comes a time when the slave must cease to be the schoolmaster, not because the slave did not teach the child well, but because leaving the child under the schoolmaster makes the future heir subject to the slave, and not the other way around. Alexander the Great was taught by Aristotle, unarguably the greatest educator of the Greek culture and a free man, not a slave. But despite those credentials, Alexander eventually had to cease being under Aristotle, lest the kingship of Macedonia fall to Aristotle, not Alexander.
It is essential to see how the Law fitted into the Early Christian education system. Recall the most striking fact of the Early Church: all those who worked miracles were Jews or Hellenist Jews. Put another way, Only Jews worked miracles. Put another way, the pure Greeks and Romans, the gentiles of Judaism, did not work miracles. Certainly, this is not an accident or a coincidence!
Of course it isn't. Part of the education of a good Jew included the Old Testament books of history. Those books are full of stories where the course of events decisively turned for the better when the Spirit came on the scene by entering into a person bodily. One should imagine a creative story teller recounting the story of Samson to a group of Jewish kids who would paint a dire picture of the Hero's straights, pause dramatically, and then saying "Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson!". All hell breaks loose. Little boys leap up and curl their arms to show off their biceps. The girls squeal in anticipation. These kids are raised in such a way that when there is a hint that the Spirit of the Lord is on the move, they think "I GOTTA GET ME SUMMA DAT!" Hebrews 11 is not in that book by accident: it would have been educational malpractice on the part of the writer not to have had it in there. If you were a Greek in Greek culture, getting siezed by a spirit leads to you either getting locked up as insane, taken to the local temple to serve as an oracle to make money for the priests, or made a slave to make money as a diviner for your owner. If you were a philosophical Greek, you'd be skeptical (if not downright greatly offended) that any Spirit (being so pure and holy) would care to occupy a sinful and evil husk of flesh. Big difference in culture attitude. For all his faults, Simon Magus was the smartest non-Jew around, for if the Spirit of God was for sale, you'd see the Jews running toward the booth waving bags of gold, fighting against the waves of Greeks running in the opposite direction, with Simon Magus being the sole exception. Peter and John heal a crippled man in front of the Jewish temple, and more Jews join the Church. Paul and Barnabas heal a crippled man in a Greek city, and a riot starts that ends up with Paul stoned by the Greeks. Which culture, Jewish or Greco-Roman, would be more fertile ground for growing suitable hosts for a symbiotic Holy Spirit?
It was never the intention of the Apostles and Paul for the Christian Church to be separate from Judaism. It would be Judaism-Lite to the Gentiles, while giving every Jew what their heart desired , the Holy Spirit within them to help them walk in the Spirit. At the same time, there was a strong effort on the part of the Apostles, and all the evangelists, to urge the believers not to obey the law in a legalistic manner. Living was to be done lawfully, but not legalistically.
For centuries, this has been seen as an educational high-wire act on the part of Bible teachers. How does one properly teach the Law in light of the Gospel without improperly disposing of it or slavishly following it into bondage? At some point in people's lives, the Law has to exist, but at what point does the Law's instruction end and the instruction of the Spirit of Life begin?
Here is my attempt at an answer.
Variance Management On the Japanese Production Floors
Deming distained the idea of fully automated factories, where "robots painted robots". He insisted that workers should not be regarded as machines, even though they were as essential to production as the machines. He recommended a change in management attitude that where machines were seen as sources of errors and variances of various kinds that the workers should be trained to recognize and control. Management managed people, while people managed machines.
Managing the machines actually proved to be the easiest thing to do: Walter Shewart had done a lot of work in statistical analysis that showed that variances in machines were a mixed lot: some were controllable, and some were random. He developed state charts, which were methods of interpreting plotted and tracked variances to determine, as the workers adjusted the machine, which errors were within their "sphere of control" and which were purely random. Deming advocated an acceptance of variances that were random (and explicit allowances for those errors in product designs), while stating that management had a right to demand of workers an attitude of zero tolerance for controllable variances using the state charts of Walter Shewart to implement it. This was embraced by the Japanese, because the state charts could be produced as proof of what was controllable and what was not.
But the state charts did more: With careful notation and training, a worker could adjust the machine, measure the results in the product, plot the results, and create statistical charts that allowed smarter operation of the machine as time progressed. How? Because the charts included the old and new settings of the machine, and better results were tied to settings. At the beginning, adjustments would be slow, and sometimes the product variances increased as the worker tried out the machine. Eventually, however, the system of machine, worker, and state chart knowledge would eventually converge until, if a variance started cropping up, the worker could be able to go to the state charts, look up that specific variance, and know to turn a dial two tick marks to the left to eliminate it.
What was essential was that, during the learning process, although the intermediate product was awful, progress was being made toward meeting the standard because there was, on the part of the worker, a determination to stamp out the errors because he had an attitude of zero tolerance toward them. Because he had that attitude, and had the state charts to show he was making progress, management gave the worker permission to go through the man-machine-state chart learning process, knowing that, in the long run, the charts and worker would attain higher levels of production with the benefit of the product being of high quality.
Variance Management in the Hall of Dreams
We Christians can apply these lessons by looking at the heart of man as a machine producing thoughts. Like the Japanese, we have to start the process of controlling variances in our thought life by adopting an attitude of zero tolerance toward inappropriate ones. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about learning and maintaining state charts, because we are paired up, permanently and for eternity, with the Holy Spirit, who can keep track of all that just fine. We, that is the "inner men", cannot control the thoughts coming out, but the Holy Spirit can. We can learn the core basics of the Law so that the Holy Spirit can throw them up when appropriate.
However, we do not fight the variant thoughts presented to us. Our recognition that they are wrong is, in itself, also a thought generated by the Holy Spirit, and evidence that he's in potential control: If he threw the thought in, its evidence he can control the heart-as-thought-machine.
What we do is take the variant thought, compare it with the Perfect Law (expanded to include the laws of love), and apply that attitude of zero tolerance by saying "This thought is unacceptable. It is here, and I need to be there. Holy Spirit, you have permission to eliminate the difference between where my heart thoughts obviously are, and where the standard says it should be." The Holy Spirit takes that as permission (as agreed) and starts the adjustment process. He rinses and washes, you decide how often to repeat. Keep at it. The process stops when you stop saying the results are unacceptable.
Pointers from One Monitor to Another
This section is subject to expansion. Come back from time to time. I may make it a separate page available via the menu bar.
The more conscious and aware you are that you are cooperating with the Holy Spirit, believing Him to be in control of the process, the more efficient the process becomes. The nature of the bootstrap process is that its similar to learning a language: tough at the beginning when you've got next to nothing to work with, but gets easier as you progress and acquire new knowledge, skills, and capabilities. Stuff that took months to grasp will eventually take days, if not hours. Keep at it. The results are worth it.
The heart will not want to be controlled. Expect an initial fight that seems to make things get worse before they get better.
The Holy Spirit is not the flake in this process: YOU are. If it takes time to become effective, its the Holy Spirit wanting you to be sure, within yourself, that you are committed to the process. He's the one stuck in you, literally, and has suffered quite a bit from your cluelessness.
Never expect to never get a mental menu option to sin: That's the Holy Spirit being brutally honest with you, letting you know what IS in your heart. There is an option available that you can punch that cooperates with the Holy Spirit. You'll know its working when the intensity and footprint of the temptation gets smaller and smaller.
You're not any better off if you're a legalist with a disciplined heart: those guys tend to think they can control the process, and the Holy Spirit is more than happy to disabuse them of that delusion, and easily implements the lesson by doing precisely nothing.
Zero tolerance is the key. We don't believe it because we've failed too many times before. We failed because we had no clue as to how the process really works. We do now, so try again.
Read your Bible. Know the Law. Its your job to know what's in and out of tolerance, be aware of variances, identify them, and mark them for liquidation. Yes, I picked that word deliberately. If you treat sin like Stalin treated dissidents, who never saw a human relations problem that couldn't be solved by shooting people, you'll do just fine. At the same time, Stalin never shot most of those people personally, knowing the value of delegation. Leave the controlling to the Holy Spirit. He's Your Man In The Situation, and definitely knows what he's doing.
Keep your eyes and ears open for pointers from everywhere. I just thought up the Stalin analogy. Whatever it takes to get to zero tolerance for sin.
Truth speaks in many voices. The Holy Spirit can use those voices to lead us to all truth by using the body sense to tell us which voices to initially heed amid the cacaphony of the irrelevant and the false. Pay Attention! "Oh, that song blessed me!" "I was reading in my bible today and came across a verse that blessed me!" "I received a word of encouragement from a friend, and it blessed me!" "Wow! That sermon really moved me!" True enough, so dig deeper: what was it about that song, that verse, that word, that sermon, that moved you? Toss the dross and find the gold, even if its a single phrase, verse, sentence, or word. The choice you make to search deeper will be the feedback signal to the Holy Spirit that you're paying attention. That will result in Him tossing breadcrumb thoughts into the bitstream that you have to follow to get to the truth. You can take that to the bank, because that's His job.
Sometimes, the best menu option to punch happens to be tied to your feet.
Zero tolerance is for your own sin, not sinners or the sins of others. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Extend the privilege of tolerance to others as well as yourself. Symmetry is built deep into the core of the universe. Physicists go insane/crazy if they suspect that symmetry is violated. Personally, I cease processing. Embrace symmetry.
Stop thinking like a Greek. The Later Greeks feared the thought of Spirits from the Gods within them. They thought they were unworthy. Pentecost fizzled because people thought they were unworthy of the Spirit that is the fire at the core of the universe occupying them. That's the core of Gnostic thinking, and the Apostle John fought the gnostics like a tigress protecting her cubs. Stop thinking that the Holy Spirit can't possibly truly, really be within you. Believe that He is in you, and that the pursuit of intentional communication with Him will be rewarded. Conscious Cooperation is the key.
Start thinking like a Jew. Embrace the Spirit. Believe that things will change when He arrives on the scene in you. Cooperate and expect big things while practicing your part by working through the small things with him. Together. Recall the illustration of how good little hebrew boys and girls react while hearing the story of Samson when the Holy Spirit entered him. Be as those little children. Go and do likewise.
The best environment for the Spirit to work is brutal honesty. Eschew deliberate lies and self-deception. The Spirit blew away Ananias and Sapphira because they lied. Don't live a lie. Trust me on this one.
If you're part of a 12 step program and find that Symbiosis is working to defeat your weakness, then for all that is holy, DON'T QUIT! Stay in it! You need the honesty and self inspection it brings, the zero tolerance for the weakness you have, and the re-enforcement of zero tolerance for self-deception. The opportunities to pass this message on will be countless. Pass it on. It'll feel great. Trust me on this one too.
Getting serious means going to the next level.
Getting serious means to stop thinking in terms of "you and I", and to start thinking in terms of "we". You're really stuck together, so act like it. The best analogy is the best marriage: there is no "your stuff" and "my stuff". Its all "our stuff". Try it. The Spirit'll love you for it.
Getting serious means coming to a realization of how "precious" that Deus symbiote residing within you actually is, and really living out that realization. How should you feel, act and think about Him? Take Gollum and the Ring of Power: Move the ring off the finger and into the wearer so they never lose it. Change the effect on the wearer from bad to good. Change the Ring's influence from wanting to return to Sauron to wanting to help the wearer at all costs. The Nagzul are watching your back, not putting a knife into it. Change Sauron's attitude from "Dude, where's my Ring?" to "I made it just for you!" That's all. What doesn't (and shouldn't) change is Gollum's attitude. His "evil" came from the Ring being evil. He was ugly because it deformed him, not edified him. Emulate his drivenness, his passion, his focus, his single-mindedness. Blessed are you if you are proactive about this, for I had to discover this the hard way when I had to temporarily suppress that connection. You. Have. Been. Warned.
Don't limit yourself to reducing gaps between the bad and the acceptable. Go positive. Getting serious means seeing gaps between present performance and the Perfection of Jesus Christ, identifying them, and asking the Holy Spirit to reduce the performance gap. Only way to do that is to increase performance. Punch the holes in the washers harder, without sacrificing precision.
Going positive means getting new thoughts thrown into the bitstream by the Holy Spirit. Look up George Washington Carver, the greatest scientist who not only was a Christian, but leveraged it into a stunning performance of highly productive servanthood. He swore he saw and heard plants telling him what they could do, having asked God to enable him to hear them. I admired a lot of scientists while I was growing up, but I've found my hero. He and the Spirit drove the process forward. It was done once before. It can happen again.
You have problems believing you can get results? Peter was criticized by Jesus for doubting while he walked on water. Peter stayed above water because he didn't doubt that Jesus could save him, and getting saved meant his faith had to keep him above water long enough for Jesus to get to him. Great and little faith is not based on how much or how little faith you have, but on how much or how little you think God can do for you and through you (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8). Got doubts that hinder your faith? Then variance manage your doubts.
Can you take it? Only if you're really serious. Count the cost. I have. See you at the finish line.
What's on the next page is what is possible. Symbiosis is real.
Keep your eyes and ears open. Aslan is on the move.
It was the early afternoon of June 19, 2008, and I was on-line using my game computer. My internet connection was feeling wonky, so I decided to reboot, since when it comes to Windows, 90% of most problems solve themselves after a reboot. Unfortunately, I didn't connect the problem with the internet with the decision I made to go ahead and install an update from Microsoft: these updates are downloaded via the internet, so if my internet connection has a problem, the update will get screwed up. Well, after waiting for a half hour on what looked like a stalled update, I manually cycled power. When Windows came up, it stayed on the Windows splash screen that comes up while the operating system is loading itself. For a long time. I rebooted again, twice, and the Windows boot program didn't throw up the splash screen, but displayed a message on the boot console display (white teletype text on black background) that some system files were missing and to reload Windows XP from the CD-ROM. No problem. I pulled out the CD, selected the recovery option, and was promptly dumped into the recovery console, which is Windows' way of saying "This install is so screwed up, only someone from the Microsoft OS division can fix it manually, so here it is. Go to it!"
Now, providentially, I had done a backup the previous Saturday evening. I normally do one every couple of weeks, but I had waited two months before doing that one. I say "providentially", because at the time I decided to do it, I happened to note that the urge to do so happened to come from the Holy Spirit's direction, not from the part of me that plays the prudent computer geek. To be blunt, I have been concentrating on these essays so much that I had entirely forgotten to do the normal monthly backups. Having not only done a backup, but had verified that the new backup software I was using was able to restore the image without anything on it, I confidently pulled out the CD with the backup software on it, put it into the DVD drive, and rebooted. It came up and located the backup I had saved with no problem.
Problem was, it could not find the DESTINATION hard drive. The one that had that broken Windows operating system. I rebooted several times, with the same results. Well, that's no problem: I could RELOAD Windows XP and do the restore using the Windows version of the program. So I rebooted the Windows XP Installation CD and tried to have it load a fresh copy of the OS into the partition.
And Windows REFUSED to recognize the partition as useable. AFTER I deleted it. Several times.
Now, I am a computer geek. I have good cause to believe that my quad core, 4 gig of memory, one terabyte storage, two video card game computer is unequalled in the part of Georgia that is north of US 280, south of Interstate 16, and between the municipal borders of Savannah and Macon. Three months ago, I'd have been in a raging panic at this time. I'd have been yelling curses that, if granted by God, would have Melinda Gates on the other side of the country calling 911 to get someone out there to rescue her husband Bill from the strange collapse he would have suffered. I got a very horrible temper from my dad, and I would have shown it! If I still had my old boss, I'd have called him up and said, "Boss! I can't come in tomorrow! My Baby's dead!" "Which boy are you talking about?" He'd ask. "Not my boys, but my quad core baby!" "No problem!" he'd say, and after hanging up, would have marked the day on my time sheet down as "sickness in family" rather than "vacation".
But I was cool, in the French sang froid sense. I was calm throughout this time, even though it was starting to look as if the hard drive would have to be replaced due to a software problem (software is NOT supposed to kill hardware). I went to bed on time, and slept better that night than on the previous three. I woke up feeling rather good despite having dreamed of seeing a column of purple smoke coming from a motherboard: If I had dreamed during my sleep, that meant that I had slept well, so I thanked God more for that than about the computer. I decided to delete all the partitions before re-installing a fresh copy of Windows that morning, but that didn't work either, both for the recovery program or the Windows XP installer. If I was non-communicative that Friday morning, or slightly grumpy, it was from the computer geek inside of me wondering what was causing the problem and not coming up with any good ideas. It was about mid-morning that Friday when God finally got through to me to point out how different my reaction was.
I realized that, of all the ways for God to really get through to me the realization that the Holy Spirit had really changed me, this one was the best possible one. I mean, I could have had a medical emergency. My wife could have been diagnosed with cancer. One of my boys could have gotten into a terrible wreck. The house could have burned down. The computer could have actually gone up in a puff of purple smoke. Instead, He decided, out of an abundant and truly amazing grace, to put only bits into peril to show how much the Holy Spirit had changed me. The distance between "My Baby" and Gollum's "My Precious" (as David, a Christian brother, later pointed out the following Sunday morning) was not spacious, and previous reactions to similar occurrances in earler years were all predictably the same, and uniformly non-Christian in character.
My reaction this time was different. And it definitely did not come from me.
Once I had gotten the message that I was different, and it did not come from me, I got a revelation of what to do to restore the backup. I say revelation, because I was beginning to be able to tell whether a thought is coming from the Holy Spirit within, or from my natural heart. I had thought of some other reason during the morning drive to work so, fool that I was, I tried that one first. An hour and a half later of no success, I decided that it was time to try fixing it God's way.
The backup was streaming to the hard drive within ten minutes, and the computer was fully restored an hour later. And well before bedtime.
Now, I had to tell you that experience to tell you the experience that motivated the change in copyright policy of these essays.
I have had such a foul temper for so long, and which pops up so suddenly and almost beyond my control so many times, that this experience really had a personal impact on me. There was no question in my mind that this was due to the Holy Spirit working symbiotically in the human heart from where the Bible assures me such rages spring, acting to moderate, modify, suppress, replace, and strengthen the various thoughts being generated therein. "This stuff really works!" I thought, "I really have stumbled onto the beginnings of a real revolution in the way Christians live their lives!"
Now, several weeks before this, I was worrying about my sample size. It was slowly becoming apparent that this was definitely working for me, but what about everyone else? Simply put, it would be less than desirable to have a method for living the Christian life more perfectly and happily that works only if one has the mentality of an engineer and a scientist. Having some people living the high life is certainly better than having no one living the high life, but dang it, we're ENGINEERS! We make stuff that everyone can use. And having a dual level Christianity, with one group of people enjoying the benefits and the rest struggling along because they haven't the right mental equipment is not acceptable. In fact, it's downright gnostic. If Moses refused to compromise with Pharaoh to the point of not leaving the single hoof of a Hebrew Cow behind in Egypt, then by golly, this revolution is not going to leave any brother or sister behind either.
It was while thinking about this problem in the back of my mind that, while I was relating my witness to Kathy, a church member, that the thought suddenly popped into my head, "Hey, get back into prison ministry and practice on them to get the message right! If it helps them, it'll help everyone!"
I started taking steps to do so. This incident happened just before I was to attend a qualifying class to get into the prison that Saturday, and which I had just become aware of by an "amazing series of coincidences".
The long and the short of it is, I was pumped up. I felt sure I was on the ground floor of the biggest thing to happen to Christianity in two millenia. I was so amazed at my reaction that I told Ken Fuqua, a co-worker who has been following these essays and giving me feedback, that probably the only thing that might upset me would be if I wrote a book, sent it for publication, and had the ideas stolen from me. As a programmer and a former professor, attribution of credit is a big thing in those circles.
Well, guess what happened. The Holy Spirit told me, "Guess what? You sent out a manuscript to a publisher, who sent it famous writer Xyz Abcdef! He xeroxed it, panned it so it wouldn't get published, and just wrote and published a best seller on living the Christian life that really works, totally based on a rewrite of your stuff! He now appears before Conferences stumbling through explaining it and being lauded nevertheless. HOW DO YOU FEEL?"
To be blunt, despite knowing this was merely a simulation of a book I had only been thinking about writing after finishing these on-line essays, I felt furious. Betrayed. Used. Exploited. I even felt the same way in my physical gut that I felt when I lost my first lady love, and I couldn't sleep at all for days when that happened! When I reacted by deciding to stop this line of research, the Holy Spirit immediately intervened and said, in no uncertain terms, that I had to go on. I got visions in my head of this individual checking my website several times a day for updates and new essays and ideas to steal and use in the next conference, seeing the fear of being discovered as a fake while doing so.
I tried beating it down, only to have the Spirit "shake" his head and state "That's the truth of what's in your heart. For all it knows, all this has really happened, and this is how it will respond. And this is how you'll feel when that happens. What are you gonna do about it?"
It was about six that Monday night when the Spirit "helpfully" suggested that I actually APPLY what I had theorized about variance management, "Time," he seemed to say, "to put into practice what you've theorized."
So I pulled up my hurt and resentment, compared it to the law, and stated in my mind "This is how I feel, and this is how I ought to feel. This is unacceptable. It is wrong. Jesus says I should turn the other cheek and love my fellow Christians, despite what they do. I don't know if I can manage love, but I know hating this person is not acceptable, and I want it GONE."
In short, I used the Law of Love, and the teachings in the New Testament, to compare the output to the standard, found it wanting, isolated the variance, and sent a request to correct the output down to the Holy Spirit.
After two hours, I began to feel it less. Still there, and still not acceptable, but making progress.
By bedtime, the pain in my gut was small enough to allow me to sleep. By the next morning, the pain had subsided to a very minor nusiance. Small, but I was determined to work it to zero. I tried to provoke it by posing other people as the criminals, and got little response. I got a mild response from my heart when I began considering putting these essays in the public domain, essentially allowing anyone to copy them word-for-word and publishing them as their own for profit, counting on my silence after reading this very essay. I kept working at it, specifying the variance, stating it was unacceptable, and leaving it to the Holy Spirit in my heart to reduce the variance.
By that afternoon, I was unable to detect any pain in my gut that represented any resentment or anger to the simulated offense.
That evening, I changed the footer so that the essays are now in the public domain, squeezing the resentment down to near immeasurability. I later modified the footer when I realized I didn't have to release the Content management toolkit to the public domain. I did this, despite knowing that, after eliminating in 24 hours a set of feelings that had formerly taken several weeks to make barely manageable, I knew I had a real solution. And that knowing came from the experience of eliminating a real resentment to having these essays being ripped off without attribution.
Let's get one thing straight, though: ripping these essays off without attribution is wrong. My change in attitude doesn't change that fact. What's changed is that I won't honestly resent it if anyone does. However, keep in mind two things: During my struggle, the Holy Spirit did contribute this: "Why do you think I won't fight for you if someone does this to you?" My spiritual dive buddy, Ken Fuqua, pointed out "If they rip it off, how could they possibly do it right? How could they make the progress you've made if their claims are built on a lie?" I summarize what they both said, to point out that this whole process deals with working with the Holy Spirit, and requires working with the Holy Spirit to propagate. Eventually, to do it right, you'll have to face the Holy Spirit while living a lie. Look up Ananias and Sapphira on how well the Holy Spirit tolerated lies in Christians.
Today is July 4 while I'm writing these last few lines. While doing so, I realize that, by putting it in the public domain, I have made it easier and quicker for 12 step programs, and their derivatives, to adapt and incorporate these principles to improve the performance of their members. I have always respected and supported such programs, so PLEASE do so, with my blessings, my prayers, and my time and help to help you do so. A 13th step? Certainly you jest: it'd be best put into the "big book" as one option among many. I'm taking the attitude here of a consulting engineer being paid by the government to counsel its agents on a cost only basis. That's the best kind of arrangement that a consulting firm could give the government short of giving it away free. The US government itself doesn't want any stuff free: they know the oxen need to eat of the grain that they are treading out, so they mostly negotiate cost plus contracts.
While I struggled through the above process, I had no idea that this stuff could be put into 12 step programs, taking the attitude of "I don't care!". Now I see the wisdom and foresight of the process, and hear the amused chuckle of the Spirit within as I got this clue.
I had the delusion that I was liberating the brethren this Independence day. Now I see that *I* have been liberated as well.
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