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with Common Sense 4 Uncommon People

April, 2015


The God Affect ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 28th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower, Inspirational, Jesus Follower, Love | Comments


Like pretty much everybody walking the planet, I have very specific likes and dislikes in music. I suppose that’s good because the people who make the music, all seem to have very different tastes too. I’m not sure if such tastes in music fall into the nature or nurture category, perhaps a little of each, but somehow the thoughts and melodies find their way into our hearts and souls. It really doesn’t matter much what my mood is, the music that I like is a constant and it tends to keep me in a constant state of mind when I play or hear it. I must admit that I’m not a big fan of most worship music, the intent is great but it rarely takes me to the same place as my chosen worship music does. The thing is, that my worship music wouldn’t be considered worship music by many other people anywhere. I really listen intently to the lyrics but I can never imagine any angels wailing out the lyrics or melodies of my songs and they are certainly not harp compatible. I even have a workout song list, that I call my “God music.” It brings my heart and God’s heart into an uplifted state of rhythmic unison, pulsating with excitement. And that is really what worship is all about with me, alignment with God. I want my spirit and His Spirit cruising wingtip to wingtip. Lifting and lofting, sinking and diving, turning and rolling on a dime and then touching down in perfect unison. I believe that if we are aligned like that, the Spirit can feel the swelling of emotional love within me, then I can better feel the love that He has for each of us, individually and collectively. You see, my God music is all about love, I just substitute God for the other party in the lyrics, regardless of who the lyricist might have had in mind when the song was first written. I do believe that music is an emotionally spiritual pathway and the kind of music we choose leads us to where we want to go, good or bad. I’ve been listening to the same kind of music, different songs certainly, but the same love theme all of my life.

There is a song that I’ve always liked, which is like an amnesia cure for me, for the times I’ve forgotten to check in with God. The song is “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn, which was released in 1991. I never think about Elvis or Memphis, TN when I hear that song, despite the lyrical references. I think about God. Here’s the line which snaps me into alignment, spot on each time. “Now, Muriel plays piano, every Friday at the Hollywood, and they brought me down to see her, and they asked me if I would, do a little number, and I sang with all my might, she said, “Tell me are you a Christian, child?” And I said, “Ma’am, I am tonight!” I can’t hear that song and not get lovesick for Jesus, every single time, with all of my might. That’s about the only time that I can even remotely imagine how the chosen Apostles must have felt when Jesus returned to them (and us) as promised. I hope that every Christ Follower has one or more similar songs, one that just melts their heart into a puddle of love. That’s not the only one for me, there’s a complete list of such songs and when I pile them on, one right after another, they form a cumulative, hard connection to God. Often my response is driven by some overwhelming emotion, when I spontaneously begin to weep joyfully. Very few of the people who know me, can even imagine me weeping joyfully, it’s completely inconsistent with my natural persona, which appears very subdued and stoic. The right music is a one way ticket to God for me and I only return to this life when the music ceases. However, when that happens I return as a better, kinder, gentler person. That’s the God affect. “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely” (Galatians 5:22,23 Message). Place that as a song in our hearts and let our souls sing it everywhere they lead us. On this day we returned to the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, just for a few uplifting moments.


The True Power of Love ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 24th, 2015 | Category: belief, Christ Follower, Faith, Hope, Inspirational, Jesus Follower, Love | Comments

If there is one pivotal theme in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, it has to be love. Not love in just the emotional & physical senses which most of us think about it, rather a universal force which determines the fate of lives and history. Love offers paths which each of us choose or avoid and which inevitably stamp the passports of our lives, travels, stays and departures. God equipped each of us with an invisible, nearly unexplainable capacity to… read more

Spiritually Alive ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 19th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower, Hope, Inspirational | Comments

There was a time, perhaps for each of us, when the idea of God speaking to us, any of us, appeared to be nothing more than nonsense, some manifestation of need over the obviousness of reality. If we don’t get it, then it can’t be gotten, kind of summed up our arrogant thinking. Well, when I walked into my first high school Spanish classroom and the teacher greeted us in a language which meant nothing to me, I didn’t dismiss… read more

God Will Be Applauding ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 17th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower | Comments

There are two main groups of people, believers and non-believers. Within the believer group there are two sub-groups, which I’ll call the selfies and selflessies. Those who help themselves and those who help others respectively. Of course most in the believer group have a footprint, at least occasionally, in both of these believer sub-group camps, helping both self and others. That’s our new normal and it’s pretty hard to do more than that for many of us, because there simply… read more

Catching Up ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 16th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower | Comments

Jesus was very good at old stuff with a new twist. Many of us struggle with religion, because religion has rules which even it’s sellers don’t follow. Rituals are emphasized and practical rules are not, how can this make sense to anyone? Very often, religions offer rules which matter more to their keepers than they do to God. God spelled out His rules for living, where religion too often spells out it’s rules for pretending to live. Religion is for… read more

Trivial ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 15th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower | Comments (1)

Jesus said, “Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.” (Matthew 5:19-20 MSG). Who do you think He was talking to and about? We’ve been in the business of trivializing God’s Law… read more

Too Comfortable With Sin ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 13th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower | Comments

Unless we live with our heads buried literally in the sand, it should be blatantly obvious that we, of every culture around the world, have become WAY too comfortable with sin. The current rage seems to be an offshoot of homosexuality. Namely same sex marriages, which have become society’s way of seeking to legitimize one particular act of sin. It is not however limited to what (Leviticus 18:22 MSG) says  “Don’t have sex with a man as one does with… read more

Paths ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 11th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower | Comments

There is always another path. No matter what our circumstances may be, we always have a choice even though to many it often doesn’t seem that way.  We come to many crossroads in our lives and we make choices at each, some of which we regret, while others we treasure. One of the keys to a productive life is to not overly focus on the bad choices we’ve made because they can become like anchors on a rocky lake bottom…. read more

Change ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 7th, 2015 | Category: Christ Follower | Comments

Do you tend to be an early-bird, a go-along or usually just a tiny-bit-late? I might also ask that question using the synonymous terms planner, acceptor or reactor? The complicated nature of life and this world which supports it, requires many of us, most of the time, to  be successful planners. To go-along is OK,  but it’s never directionally predictable nor is that approach highly rewardable. While late might be socially tolerated, even envied by some, it’s never gladly accepted…. read more

Close Enough ~ John C. Calkins

Posted: April 5th, 2015 | Category: belief, Christ Follower | Comments

Why is it that the practical, rational, intellectual mind works so tirelessly to find holes in the Gospel? Somehow during our holy days and weeks, when the love which believers possess, so easily overflows, even more of the doubters among us are revealed than during the majority of our secular times. Pastors sometimes miss this obvious factor because only believers and seekers show up regularly in their pews. Pews which are rarely filled. I understand that faith to many doubters… read more