Climbing Rainbows

"Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all the living creatures of every kind on the earth." -Genesis 9:16

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Location: Ohio, United States

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Would you abridge the plan of God
To fit in your agenda?
Or whittle at the universe
Until you understand it?

We do not know the hidden blueprints
Describing how we blend,
But every piece must play its role
Within God’s perfect plan—

The souls that you’re condemning now
Will not be overlooked;
’Tis you who are the fool, as you
Try to rewrite the book.


Blogger Lisa Mikitarian said...

Thoughtful and astute.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A blueprint isn't a formula?

11:39 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...

Hi Tragedy!
It all depends on how you define a "formula".
When I speak of God's "hidden blueprints", I'm talking about the plans that He has for the Church. God is all wise and all knowing, and certainly has a beautifully designed plan for each one of us. But He created each of us to be unique and special individiduals, so this plan looks different for each one of us.

When I speak against formulas, what I am suggesting is that our lives should not be identical. This might seem obvious, but over and over again I've seen someone have a good (or bad!) idea for how they should live, and then try to get everyone else to live the same way. God created us all to be different, with different strengths and weaknesses, and there is no "formula" that describes how every one of us should live.

Does this mean that there aren't principles that guide all of our lives? Of course not! We should all be living out the fruits of the Spirit, but they will unfold in our unique personalities in different ways in each one of us. Does this mean we can't learn from each other? Of course not! There are important principles that we can learn from each other, as we all seek to live by faith. But instead of building a "blueprint" from what other humans say (which is what we always do), we should go to the Holy Spirit for an understanding of how we should live, and how we should implement what we learn from others.

Does that make any sense? I have never meant to say that there aren't godly principles that apply to us all; I have advocated following the Spirit instead of following human laws, traditions, and "formulas".

Blessings to you!


6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I'm asking is does God change?

If God has formulae, they have a good purpose. If God uses them to good purpose, so can his children.

Your formulae that you used to form always looked like this: "If I do good, good will come to me." You keep forgetting that you were born in sin. The wages of sin is death. This formula is: "I sin, I deserve death."

And then you have Christ: "Christ did good, Christ died." If your formula is incongruant with this formula, how can it be true?

Your formulae never took into account that Christ did nothing evil, he was persecuted and killed. Christ tells us to follow him. How does your perfect formula explain that?

Christ told us to follow him. How? We follow his example.

Christ died for sinners those who hated him. Are we to do less?

The Christian life is not about marriage. It is about Christ. There is no formula for marriage, or burying, or eating, or anything else. The only formula is Christ. A christian dies to all, but Christ. How is it you still desired a spouse, was Christ not enough?

Then you have the nerve to tell others there is no formula because "I ignored the truth which is I deserve death. And I told myself that all that Christ deserved, I deserved."

Your formula was a lie, because we never deserve more than death.

God's blueprint gives us something we don't deserve at so great a cost we cannot understand.

I think once the formula: "Christ received what I deserve, therefore I will accept whatever he gives." The formula is: "Do what I know is right and good, because Christ gave up everything for me."

It has nothing to do with temporal gain and transient pleasure.

Do I desire ? Yes. But that is a gift of God not to be demanded by me. If God demand my life, is it not his?

8:58 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...


I like what you said, except that I would argue that Christ is not a formula, nor is following him. It is a RELATIONSHIP. A formula is something that every person must follow to a "T", while a relationship is a living and growing part of lives. And every relationship looks different, because every person is different, therefore every person's relationship with Christ looks different. I would argue that God doesn't change, but He interats with us differently, because WE change.

I am not sure what you are arguing against. What have I shared that grates against the way you view life? I don't have a problem if you want to define what a "formula" is differently than I do. But if you take the definition of a formula which I have used, do you still have a problem with my perspective?

I now know that it is a lie that there is one "right" way to pursue marriage. That is why I speak out against lies. I look around me and see most Christians trying to live their lives based on this same lie (or similar ones). I am trying to share the freedom of Christ. What in that do you react against?

Thank you for your thoughts!


11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Formula is an expression of truth. The expression can be debated on its merits whether true or false.

It really bothers me that somehow expression of truth and procedural protocol are confused.

Procedure or protocol is the correct way things are done. As you can tell, I hardly ever use proper protocol.

Words mean things. When y'all just redefine things to suit y'selves, without so much as an, "oh yeah, formula is not an expression, now, but a procedure. 'Cause that is what I was sayin', but I'd like you to feel stupid. Rather than correctin' m'self."

That is how you define formula: Procedure. No, I have no problem with different procedures for different people in different circumstances. Well, I may have problems, but that's just a definition issue with the difference in how we define "problem."

I can't define words properly.

Thank you, for your time, I appreciate your explanation and patience. I can be pretty dense at times.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I love your poetry. It is emotion to me.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...

Hi Tragedy!

Thank you for the conversation. I found it thought-provoking and a good chance to consider why I believe the way that I do.

So, if I understand correctly, you just don't like the way I define a formula. That's fine. I certainly never meant to offend you or make you feel "stupid" because my definition of a formula is different from yours.

I'm a math guy. I've grown up using what we call "formulas" in math. You plug in values to an equation, and always come up with the same answer. This is what I see people trying to do with their lives. They try and do x and y to get the result z. Most people I talk to know what I'm talking about when I encourage people that there is no perfect "formula"; you are the first person who has ever had a problem with my definition. But then, different words come to mean different things in different parts of the world.

Why do you think your definition of a formula is more valid than mine? Webster's gives the following definition: "formula: 3 fixed form, esp. of words used on social or ceramonial occassions". "Fixed form" is exactly what I have been talking about.

I certainly never meant to offend you, and I'm sorry if I did. I never meant to make you feel stupid; I just was not sure what you were disagreeing with in what I was saying. I think I was just as confused as you were, about what you were trying to say. :-)

I'm glad you appreciate my poetry - I am a very visual person, which is why I love the use of metaphors!

Blessings to you!

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I show you a "fixed form" in math that doesn't work, will you agree all mathematical formulae are wrong?

5:09 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...


I'm confused. What does that have to do with what we were talking about? The whole point is that there are no formulae (fixed forms) that guarantee a specified output in the lives of humans, like there are in math.


9:28 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...


If you don't mind my asking again, what are you trying to convince me of? I feel like we're going in circles, and I think it would be more profitable if we both knew what exactly we are discussing.

Are we discussing the definition of the word "formula"? If so, could you tell me why do you think your definition is better than mine? I gave Webster's definition, and it sums up what I mean when I use the word.



9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with the definition. I think it is much more concise, than the one I was using.

I disagree that there are no formulae in relationships.

I think the idea is a lie.

I think that telling people there are no formulae in relationships is deceitful. I think that God has a plan, and people doing what they know they ought to do without knowing the whole picture is important.

The mathematical equations are established for a particular objective [e.g. the area of a circle.] There is no established equation for the objective of math. I think that when you say there are no formulae in a relationship, you don't mean there are never any particular objectives in a relationship that can be attained by following a fixed form.

But if you don't mean that, what you do mean? You may mean there is no established fixed form to take you to the objective of a relationship.

I think there are many fixed forms that we have, and we use them in every contact we have with others. We don't even realize we are using a formula, because we use so many simultaneously without concious thought of what we are doing.

What you said is "there are no formulas in relationships." Darcy said it, too.

You may mean there is no set formula, formulated by man, guaranteeing the objective of your relationship.

I don't think we know what the point of relationships are. We have reasons why we want to be in them, but that is not the same as the objective of relationships.

Does that help or confuse more?

1:49 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...


Thank you for clarifying. That makes a lot more sense.

I believe that there are principles that can be applied to every relationship. These principles should shape and guide our hearts. These principles are the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.

However, I also believe that these principles will look different as they play out in the lives of each individual person. Thus, we must seek to follow the spirit instead of following a plan/procedure/formula laid out by another human.

When I argue against formulae, I am arguing against fixed forms defined by humans. I do not believe that there are any fixed forms created by humans that guarantee a specified objective. Thus, your second conclusion is correct.

I also believe that God doesn't provide strict formulae for us to live by. He wants a relationship with us, not for us to live by fixed forms. There are still principles from God's heart that we will all live by (as I said above), but they don't have a "fixed form" in our lives - they play out differently in our unique personalities.

On a practical level, what does this mean? I believe that love will play out in similar ways in each of our lives, but not identical. There are still ways that we can encourage each other to live lovingly. But I think it is dangerous to give people a fixed form (formula) for how they should live their life. Because then they rely on the formula instead of the Spirit.

Blessings to you!


6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your understanding of formula [Not its definition, but what it is.] is limiting.

In mathematical equations the symbols: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, x, +, =,-, /, n, and all the rest represent principles.

Equations are expressions of principles in use. They are fixed forms.

Not all equations are true. Nor are all formulae true. We evaluate certain formulae as true and reject others.

There is no fixed form for math. Math is subjective.

We use various fixed forms in math in the form of equations to express a truth. Then we evaluate the equation attempting to find a counter example. If we find a counter example, the equation is determined to be false.

Each equation has a specific objective in mind: area, trajectory, velocity, and so on.

Whenever we express an idea we use words as symbols for principles. These are fixed forms. The reason we use fixed forms is to obtain an objective. Any expression of how the objective is attained is a formula. Its form is fixed.

If its form was not fixed, we would not be able to evaluate it.

The problem is relationship, itself, is subjective. It has no fixed form. It only has a definition.

Any expression for obtaining an objective in a relationship is a formula. You cannot evaluate ideas concerning your relationship without developing a formula to express how your principles work in situation with a specific objective.

To me formulae are expressions that can be evaluated for truth. In relationships there is truth, and I believe it can be expressed and evaluated.

I don't believe the point of creating a fixed form is to make something to follow, but to evaluate whether what I believe is true or false.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Graber said...


I appreciate your perspective. I agree that we must evaluate what is true and what is false. This is essentially what I mean when I have said that we must discard formulas. We must be willing to sort out what is good (what fruit is born from good principles) and what is bad in the way others live, and seek what we can learn from others; what I see far too often is that we take the fixed form that others live by and apply it directly to our lives, in a hopeless attempt to keep ourselves safe. The only safety we have is in the love of Christ.

Yes, there is truth in formulas that can be evaluated and considered. But it MUST be evaluated and considered. I don't see many Christians doing that! My concern is that we follow the traditions of men instead of following the Spirit. We've been doing this since the days of Moses, when the people of Israel wanted Moses to intercede for them instead of relating to God themselves.

We could go back and forth on the definition of a fixed form/formula/procedure/whatever, but I don't really find that very helpful. My passions are these: (1) that people THINK about why they do what they do, (2) that people consider what the Spirit has for them, personally, instead of following human tradition, (3) that people recognize that they are a unique and special individual and their relationship with God can and should look different from anyone else.

I sometimes use the word "formula" to share my passions. More often, I use metaphors, because I'm a poet, and that is how I express myself.

Thank you for the conversation! It has helped refine my beliefs on the topic.

Blessings to you!


7:45 AM  

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