Semper Reformanda.

Newt Gingrich was on “The Daily Show” recently. Stewart to nudging Newt to announce his intent to bid for the GOP’s nom in 2008, but like a good politician, he not only refrained (and redirected) but pointed out that the LAST guy to announce on Stewart’s show finished FOURTH! Before he did that though, Gingrich said something true, interesting and genuinely insightful about our political climate. Talking about how entrenched the two big parties are, he said our country needs reform, and it won’t come from WITHIN Washington–that it MUST be a grassroots approach from outside the beltway.He’s right. I don’t know about all that Washington and political talk at all. But he’s right about how “reform” happens at the ground-level, OUTSIDE of the thing that’s been established. Of course, I’m lifting this and applying it to church. But isn’t it true? Doesn’t the way we do church need reformed? And wouldn’t you agree that when change occurs to an “institution” it has to be from the outside-in, without a “Church Council” meeting handing down the changes or the paid Pastoral Staff doing it, but the through humble external sources convicted and brave enough to do so? I am certainly preaching to myself with this thought.I recently and finally finished [“The Call”](…) by Os Guinness. Two quotes, I want your take on:

“Without individuals, nothing happens. Without institutions, nothing survives.”

So, I concede that we MUST have both: clear-minded, spirit-led individuals AND malleable progressive corporate bodies. And both need to be HEALTHY, which means, constantly changing, moving forward, shedding dead cells, building new ones.Second Os quote:

“Semper Reformanda (Always Reforming). We are always in need of reformation. Today our deepest need is not just for reformation, but for reformation of reformation.”

It was his use of the latin *Semper Reformanda* that snagged my attention. It’s means*Always Reforming* and I love what that means. You might know the US Marine Corps credo “Semper Fidelis” often shortened to “Semper Fi” and meaning, “Always Faithful.” Some years ago, my buddy Todd Leinberger was explaining the core value that his staff at [Spring Hill Camps]( has written: “Change is a part of our fabric.” I think the use of “fabric” is important–that imagery of woven threads which as the sum of their parts or individual strands form an altogether NEW material to be used as an ingredient in another plan.Of course, I LOVE the idea of change in THEORY more than in practice. And of course I wan others to change much more than I’m willing to change myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be as lazy as I am, I wouldn’t be overweight, and I’d have TONS of money dilligently stashed away in the bank. The thing is I don’t WANT to change as much as I think I do. I truly don’t. Or maybe it’s that I CAN’T–or it’s just plain natural for me NOT to change in any way. What I’ve noticed though, is this mechanism where I change because I have no other choice. I don’t decide to make changes because of my whimsy to wear glasses instead of my contacts or wear the blue shirt instead of the black one. I change because it evolves into a matter of survival. Not life and death, but if I want to CONTINUE to survive (without serious detriment or setbacks that would mean ADDITIONAL changes) I need to affect change in my routine, my lifestyle, even my belief system.I saw this hand written quote on a note card a couple months ago: “We only change when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of changing.” Sounds like the path of least resistance to me. Honestly, the pain I’m tired of dealing with is the fact that tying my shoes was a lot easier without a chubby gut. I’m not CRAZY overweight, but when I’m AWARE of the mass that I carry and realize I don’t HAVE to carry it, I want to change it. To bad I love cooking. I’m okay with it if I don’t ever lose the extra weight. Like I said, it doesn’t really inhibit me, I just know where I SHOULD be and am not there. I’m sure there are PLENTY of other areas in my existence that could use as much change.The past few years, I’ve noticed myself feeling comforted whenever I’d meet someone else who “gets it.” You know what I mean? *Getting it* most likely means something different to you, but I’d bet my hat that you have some presumption that your definition is the universal one. I know I think that way. I haven’t even said yet what I think people are getting. Well, I haven’t in this post, but if you scroll down a bit, you know I’m pretty obsessed with noticing whether or not other folks around me “get it.”Defining it’s a moot point. For one, the definition is always changing (semper reformanda!). For another, I can boil down ALL OF OUR definitions with this one: WE WANT EVERYBODY ELSE AROUND US TO THINK THE WAY WE DO. Problem is, if we actually achieved it, that day would mark the beginning slide into a long season of depression, I believe. It would be VERY disappointing to not have anybody challenging your thinking.I know for a FACT that some of you literally depend on that conflict. Not with hostility, but you NEED others to think differently than you just to give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I can empathize. I’ve also met people who have been SO beaten by other people’s opinions that they clam up in the face of such opposition. It’s truly a threat.I think about those closest to me whom I know are resistant to change and I’ll admit it causes a knee-jerk reaction in me where I resent them a bit for that. That’s my natural response. It’s a deliberate effort on my part to know that their hesitancy is NOT a detractor from their character. That I don’t have to take their resistance personally.And as I think about wrapping up this article, my mind is already more consumed with the knowledge that I really ought to go get a workout squeezed in before this evening’s dinner plans. Consider it a pre-emptive effort, not a reduction tactic.


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