Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ashes Like Snow

Can a house burn up while it's burning down?
This fire has taken up more than half the town

I calm myself down - I say a prayer
When I breathe, I can taste the smoke in the air

Black orangish clouds creep across the whole sky
The wind blows too fast, too hot, and too dry

Fear grips my chest - smoke - I can't breathe anymore
The world starts to spin, as, I sink to the floor

"All I hold dear is gone now" I cry
As ashes fall softly like snow from the sky


It's wintertime here, and Christmas is coming
With holiday songs about drummer boys drumming

I hear jingling bells and see Christmas decor
Kind people wrap presents to give to the poor

Wreaths and holly will hang from each door
Fresh gingerbread man - and the children want more

The gift that I bought her, pies that I would bake
When it comes to mind, my heart starts to break

Something Christmas is missing, I'm not going to lie
I ask for a white Christmas, and what's the reply?
Just ashes falling like snow from the sky


To buy me that house, I saved all my life
That house was a home, not one bit of strife

I gave up my todays for her tomorrows
I gave her a home to protect her from sorrows

Up in the hills, where the weather is drier
Our house was one of the first to catch fire

The firemen tell me beyond a doubt
That my girl didn't even try to get out

She hated her pain, she wanted to die
I feel so angry and sad - she didn't even try!
And the ash it now falls like snow from the sky


My past and my future have gone up in flame
My hope, my heart, my house, my dame

This life - what's left - this ash - it's my fate
I wanted to save her, but I was too late

This nightmare I wish was just a dream
If I could speak, or breathe, I'm sure I would scream

She was scared of the dark, so I held her at night
I comforted - told her things would be alright

I told her that Christmas would be quite a sight
Said we could go see trees all dusted in white
But only ash falls like snow tonight


So Christmas is here - the cheer and the laughter
The reading of stories and happy ever after

At least I'm sure that's how some people feel
Far away from this fire, where pain seems unreal

When carols are sung, and stories are read
To me it all seems so empty and dead

The lights are so bright, the beauty of night
I hear someone saying things will be alright

Then I try to breathe, but the air is too dry
I hold on to hope, at least, I do try
But inside of my soul, I've started to die
There's nothing left in me - I can't even cry
And the ash like sweet snow still falls from the sky


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Poetry, For the WIN

The following is a set of two poems. The first poem contains a covert message, and the following poem, which was sent in reply, is encoded in the same way. If you search and study and cannot find the hidden messages, then you can select the area under the poems where I will have written the key to deciphering them.

Ice caps melt slowly, as time still ticks on


Long moments glide by, like a beautiful swan

Of all the things I could possibly do


Valiantly fighting all darkness in view

Each day that I have, I want you by my side


Year by year, you and I firmly allied

Of all the dreams we have, still so bold


Ultimately, the end of our story is yet 'to be told'


I am impressed by your glorious talent!
Love is evident, and heaven-sent
On wings of an angel, that came and went
Victoriously despite the energy spent.

Enough about that, I want to hold
You close in my arms 'til we're both old
On retirement plans we were each sold
Until (due to Democrat schemes) they fold.

Today's not the time for that however!
Or if it is, it's time to sever
Our thoughts relating to times of never.
! Yes, let's focus on forever!


Key: Read the first letter of each line (but ignore the lines within parenthesis)


God & Apple Technology

I read this blog post about how Steve Jobs and Apple technology inadvertently empowered the persecuted church, and helped to spread of the Word of God in cultures that don't have a written language. It's a fascinating and encouraging read, and so here is a link to the original post: Tribal Technology

Monday, August 22, 2011

"You do not believe because you are not my sheep"

The following verses from the Bible are awesome, true, and also a point of much misunderstanding and confusion in the Calvinist/Arminian debate:

John 6:37

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

John 6:44-45

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”

John 6:65

He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.’”

John 8:43-44, 47

Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. . . . 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

John 10:26-29

. . . but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

John 17:1-2, 6, 9, 24

Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. . . . 6 I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. . . . 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. . . . 24 Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am.”

For an excellent discussion of the Arminian perspective on these verses, I would recommend that you each . read the following article:

The Order of Faith and Election in John's Gospel

It contains some very clear and powerful ideas concerning the transition from the Old Covenant before Christ, and the introduction of Jesus as the perfect revelation of the Father and His official representative. Those throughout Israel and the world, therefore, who truly knew and loved God the Father already, those who were in right relationship with Him, would also come to Jesus and embrace the Messiah, when He was presented to them. It's a great opportunity to really dig deeply into the Word of God and to gain further understanding of the aforementioned passages.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Unwanted Advice

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Door at the End of the Staircase

Suppose you're in the Twilight Zone one day. You're walking down a staircase, and there's a door at the bottom, but before you open the door you realize that it's not just any door. It's a door to the most traumatic situation from your past.

If you could walk through that door, into your worst nightmare, bringing with you power, love, wisdom, and any other resources or people that you need -- If you had the chance to bring safety into that situation, power/protection, and a chance for true communication to be happening -- would you do it?

Is it worth it to resolve that overwhelming nightmare once and for all, or is it better to turn around and walk back up that staircase?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Snark & Divisiveness within Doctrinal Debates

People are always going up against the ideas and beliefs of other people, trying to prove them wrong. Some think that any form of public disagreement or debate is divisive and/or a complete waste of time. I would disagree with that, especially within the Christian community. As Christians, we need to know what we believe, and why we believe it. We also are called to build up others in truth and in doctrine, and to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. It is important, then, to stand for truth – to teach it, and to defend it by debate should others be teaching false doctrine against it. [Of course, one must always have the humility to keep in mind that what they themselves believe to be the truth might be the false doctrine. Sometimes, both sides of a doctrinal debate are missing pieces of the truth.]

However, what is sad is when these doctrinal debates do became decisive. By this, I mean it's sad when groups slip into an “us versus them” mindset and start treating their opposing brothers and sisters gracelessly. For example, when one party starts to proclaim “anyone who does not agree with us about [insert specific non-essential-to-salvation doctrinal point here] is not saved, and is espousing heresy!” Or when one side of the debate claims, “well, they treated us poorly first, so whatever we feel like saying to/about them is justified since what they said/did is worse.”

Sometimes, people get into judging motives: “The only reason those people would disagree with this doctrine is because of [insert ungodly motive here].” What nonsense, though. There are plenty of reasons to disagree with any doctrine – it's possible that the other side has a part of the truth that you don't have, or else you are completely correct but they don't understand your position yet, or if they have an evil motive (doubtful) I'm sure that there are many different ungodly motives they could have for rejecting correct doctrine. To say that there is only one reason is ridiculous, in addition to being judgmental. These sorts of claims and statements are what bring divisiveness into the picture.

The worst type of argument against an opposing position is an argument which does not seek to put forward facts or reasoning, but sets out to put forward a tone.

This includes statements and writings where it's not about the argument, but about the atmosphere created. An argument might be something like this: “Your position states X, but X is shown to be false by A, B, and C.” A snide comment which is creating atmosphere of mockery toward the opposing position might sound more like this: "a person would have to be really stupid to believe X."

As an Arminian, I'm going to comment on some quotes from the Arminian/Calvinist theology debate. These were published by a prominent Calvinist against Arminianism, and I will not include his name here simply because my main point is not that he needs to change. My main point is that ALL Calvinists, and Arminians too, should avoid this type of assumption-based rhetoric which is entirely unhelpful to the debate in that it creates a negative atmosphere about the opposing position rather than creating specific claims or arguments about the relevant facts. [Note: It is important to keep in mind that I am not saying or implying that all Calvinists use this type of condescending language. Most Calvinists are godly, humble Christians. Arminians are also guilty at times of speaking in ungodly ways to their opponents.]

The quotes are very divisive, I believe, full of put-downs, mockery, and judgment of motives. Humility charges us to keep in mind that we may be missing part of the truth, or that our opponent's may not have evil motives, but when humility is lost from a person's heart, practical love and peaceful speech also seem to disappear as well. In my comments below, I disagree with much of what he writes through use of sarcasm, because that's how I respond to insults in books that I find humorous and illogical. :-) [If I were interacting directly with such a person, rather than simply reading a book, I would use a more direct approach and avoid sarcasm.]

"The apostle describes God as working 'all things after the counsel of his well.' This is a truth that human religion cannot abide. Surely the Scriptures do not mean all things! (Emphasis his) Surely this means that God created all things but now sort of lets them run on their own, does it not?"

Notice the obvious snide humor there, intended to mock the Arminian.

"Those who are in rebellion against Him fight and chafe against this divine truth."

Wow -- it's amazing how well this Calvinist understands my rebellious motives! I thought I had him fooled with my veneer of actually submitting to God in my life and seeking the truth wholeheartedly!

"Much can be determined concerning our true subjection to God by asking if, in fact, we love God as He has revealed Himself to be, the divine ruler of all things (and by this he means Calvinism's interpretation of diving ruling) or whether we seek to 'edit' Him down to a more 'manageable' and 'manlike' deity."

Here he does not even directly call Arminians out. No, he just subtly suggests that we are *seeking* to edit God, to be a more *manageable* and *manlike* deity. Now of course he couldn't make the argument directly, or it could be contradicted, but he merely suggests it in a way that leads no doubt that us Arminians are worshiping a manmade image, which we have intentionally created for ourselves. He strikes at the motives. He does not create an argument for the Calvinist understanding of what "diving ruling" is, but just creates an atmosphere -- a tone of derision toward those who would reject The Truth (which is, of course, implied to be his interpretation and understanding of God's revelation).

Again, he does not put forward an argument against Arminianism here. He just creates a tone.

"Aside from the fact that there is not a shred of biblical basis for such a concept..."

Really? Really now?

"Sadly, we must conclude that the only reason this teaching is promoted is to give the proponents a way 'out' of having to the deal with the reality of..."

Yes. That is the ONLY reason anyone teaches that. We just need to make up a lot of things to avoid these clearly obvious truths and realities, and Lord knows we're good at coming up with escapes and ways to get *around* the clear meaning of verses! But why would we do such a thing?

"Despite the constant misrepresentations of the opponent's of God's sovereignty...."

We don't just mis-represent Calvinist beliefs, apparently. No. We misrepresent because we oppose God's sovereignty. We are rebelling against the Most High here. And again, this man gives no logical or Biblical reason that those who disagree are opposing God as LORD and KING over the universe, but rather puts down everyone who disagrees with His definition of Sovereignty, by painting them as opponents of God.

But back to us skewing verses...

"The manifold attempts to get around this passage are far beyond our scope at this point..."

Notice that they are not alternate or even wrong interpretations. They are intentional attempts to Get Around a passage.

"Opponents of free grace have tried every conceivable means of getting around the plain teaching of this passage..."

It must be so frustrating for him to deal with us proclaimed-believers who in actuality oppose God's grace... I wonder that God's gives him the patience! And what can one do, really?

"But as long as people continue to look to their traditions rather than the exegesis of the text, they will not see this divine truth. There is really no way to make people see the truth when they are looking the other direction."

And why do they look in the other direction? Love of God perhaps? They might be just dumb ol' people who love Him and don't understand these mysteries, right? Nope.

"So why insist that faith is a capacity available to all, including the natural man? The answer is simple: Because without that assertion, God must be sovereign in salvation and man utterly dependent on Him."

Ahh yes! There we are again! Trying in futility to throw God off of His rightful throne. I tell ya... I learn so much about myself from reading this guy. :) He has such insight -- such clarity -- into my deeper motivations here.

"As long as we remain faithful to the sure teaching of Scripture that 'salvation is of the Lord,' we will not be able to profess this synergistic, 'God is dependent upon the creature' kind of theology that is so rampant in today's church."

Notice the wording: "Rampant." Strong negative connotations right there. Not to mention it's a complete and total strawman. Salvation IS of the Lord. HE saves according to HIS good pleasure. But here I am, again, just not remaining faithful to the sure teaching of the Scripture – which are the obvious meanings that I'm just trying to get around in my attempts to edit God down because I oppose His sovereignty. Am I ready for more mockery? But of course.

"Are we to imagine God wringing His hands, wondering what He was going to do now, since the very missionary He was going to use to bring the message to a major portion of the world just refused to 'cooperate'?"

Yes. That's *exactly* what all us Arminians are imagining, and if that image doesn't convert you to Arminianism, I don't know what will! lol


As they say, though, it's not worth it to take snarky put-downs very seriously. Love your opponents, bless them, learn from them, and ultimately treat them graciously as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ (even if they annoy you).

With issues above a certain level of complexity, it doesn't take bad motives for disagreement or misunderstandings to result.

Related posts:

A Tribute to Calvinism

Two Brothers (Civil War)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chrismas Canon (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

Usually my blog posts are full of words. Thoughts, translated into words, strung into complex sentences which hopefully make sense when linked together with all the other sentences. Today, though, I just wanted to share a beautiful piece of music. Canon is D is a piece that is very well-known, of course, but the two TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) versions of it are the best that I've ever heard. It's not just a breath-taking melody anymore, here, it has lyrics. They are not very complicated lyrics, there are only a few lines to remember, but they are deep.

The song ties together Christmas night (the coming of Christ), with our daily lives and prayers for more grace so that our lives will show what is that perfect and acceptable will of God, and with our hope, our waiting, for His second coming.

The first rendition is sung by a children's choir, and the second rendition is done slightly differently, and is equally incredible. I have included links to both below, along with the lyrics.

(Link To) Christmas Canon

This night we pray
Our lives will show
This dream He had
Each child still knows

This night we pray
Our lives will show
This dream He had
Each child still knows

We are waiting
We have not forgotten
We are waiting
We have not forgotten

On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night
On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night

On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night
On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night

On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night
On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night

On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night
On this night, on this night
On this very Christmas night

(Link To) Christmas Canon Rock

Monday, August 8, 2011

Imporant Note: Please Read




Just sayin.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jesus Died for You

Earlier this week I heard the same claim that I've heard a myriad of times before: If Jesus died for anyone, then everyone's sins are paid for, and they should go to heaven. If they are sent to hell still, it's double jeopardy!

This is a criticism of the doctrine of unlimited atonement – the belief that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind – and the basic premise of the complaint against it is this claim: according to this doctrine, whatever Christ accomplished on the cross, he accomplished for all alike: those who are finally saved as well as those who are finally lost. (Theopedia) If you take this as a given, then you run into a problem because you only have two possibilities:

1 – Jesus provided the offer of redemption, but does not atone for anyone's sin.

2 – Jesus procures atonement of sin for everyone. (So you have either universalism, or people being punished for sins that were already paid for)

The first claim seems pretty ridiculous, since everyone agrees that some people are actually saved and that there sins were atoned for by Christ! Calvinists do make this claim about the doctrine of unlimited atonement, though. “Universal (or unlimited) atonement is the view that Christ's work makes redemption possible for all but certain for none.”(Theopedia) However, the doctrine of unlimited atonement still holds that the sins of some people are atoned for, and that their salvation is made certain through Christ. Paul the Apostle, for instance, I think we can all agree that Christ atoned for his sins, that he is with the Lord now, and that his salvation had been made certain by Christ.

The second claim doesn't represent the position any better than the first. Those who hold to the doctrine of Unlimited Atonement and believe that Jesus died for all most certainly do not believe that everyone goes to heaven. Nor do they believe that the sins of non-believers were paid for. When a non-believer is lost for eternity, it is for their own sins, which have not been atoned for, that they suffer.

If neither possibility described the beliefs of those who hold to Unlimited Atonement, then the problem is clearly with the premise.

The claim was that “whatever Christ accomplished on the cross, he accomplished for all alike.” I'm going to blatantly deny this claim. This is not what Arminians believe. This is not an accurate portrayal of the position of Universal Atonement. I've tried many times to explain that Christ accomplished two goals on the cross. Not one. Two. He provided salvation for all, and procured salvation for those who would believe on him.

3 - Jesus provided the offer of redemption for all, and actually paid for the sins of believers.

I've written on the topic before and explained the importance of this concept, along with explaining the difference between providing and procuring salvation. Usually I use the analogy given in the book of John – the reference to the serpent raised up in the wilderness to provide healing for all who were bitten, and only to actually heal those who looked upon it.

Very likely, people get confused with the phrase “died for." When a Christian says “Jesus died for (provided salvation for) everyone,” someone is bound to hear “Jesus died for (paid for the sins of) everyone” and will object! Again, a Christian will say “Jesus died for (provided salvation for) everyone,” and someone else will complain, “What? You don't think that Christ actually procured salvation for anyone at all?” Standard American lingo is so imprecise, it's no longer everyone believes strawman positions about opposing views.

In any case, perhaps a more modern analogy would help to make the point clear and memorable. Before I begin describing the analogy, though, please bear in mind that this analogy only applies to describe the difference between providing and procuring a benefit for someone. It does not address the issues of natural ability or the lack thereof.

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

The analogy involves money. Most of us probably use credit cards. We know how those word. Probably all of us have at some point used cash to pay for stuff. Some of us, at least, have also used personal checks. Now, giving someone a check is different from paying someone cash. If I hand you $10, you have the money. I no longer have the money. I have procured money for you. You have the benefit of having that money

If you hand me a check, though, there is first the question of whether the check will go though. Let us assume, though, that you are an honest person, you have enough money in your account, and if I cash the check, it will go through just fine. When you hand me the check, you have provided me with money. I don't have that money yet; I just have the opportunity to have that money. It isn't until I actually deposit or cash that check that I receive the benefit of having more money. If I burn the check instead, I will never receive the money that you provided for me. I had opportunity to have that money, but I never actually took advantage of that opportunity.

To recap: when you give me the check, money is provided (but not procured), and when I cash the check, the benefit is actually procured for me (given that the check goes through like you said it would).

So, to tie this back in with the initial thought, salvation is provided for all, but only procured for believers. The offer of salvation – like the offer of money when you hand someone a signed and valid check – is God's gracious gift to all. This offer is available because of the atonement of His Son. Actual redemption – like the actual benefit of having more money – is only procured for those who believe. (Reminder: This is not addressing the concept of total inability. This is JUST about the provide/procure comparison. Additionally, this analogy is NOT addressing the actions of the giver, but just the difference between experiencing provision and experiencing the actual benefit of something.) This redemption is accomplished through the atonement of the Son.

Provision of salvation for all: Jesus died for all.

Salvation procured for believers: Jesus died for the elect.

Both goals were accomplished. This is the doctrine of Unlimited Atonement.

The Society for Evangelical Armianism describes it this way:

“While God has provided for the salvation of all people by Christ's sacrificial and substitutionary death for all, the benefits of Christ's death are received by grace through faith and are only effective for those who believe.”

P.S. So please people, if you have a sudden urge to claim that those who hold to Unlimited Atonement believe either that Christ's death made no one's salvation certain or that everyone's sins were paid for, feel free to re-read this blog entry before making that claim. If you are going to argue against the doctrine at all, at least make a solid point about it.




See also http://christiancompletely.blogspot.com/2010/03/addressing-boettner-quote-about-limited.html

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Introduction to Positive Manipulation


I think that most people would agree this word comes laden with all sorts of negative connotations. Personally, I use the word more loosely than that. But first let's look at what Dictionary.com has to say about the word:

Manipulate (məˈnɪpjʊˌleɪt)

— vb

  1. to handle or use, esp with some skill, in a process or action: to manipulate a pair of scissors

  2. to negotiate, control, or influence (something or someone) cleverly, skilfully, or deviously

  3. to falsify (a bill, accounts, etc) for one's own advantage

  4. (in physiotherapy) to examine or treat manually, as in loosening a joint

Now, feel free to discard my thoughts about the word manipulation itself, because I know and accept that I use the word differently than most people use, but I find it very useful. You see, I believe in positive and negative manipulation. Manipulating objects, for example, may or may not take skill. It's easier to manipulate a steering wheel to the desired result than to manipulate a violin to produce the sounds you want to hear.

Manipulation always involves some sort of end goal. The one nice thing about inanimate objects, of course, is that they tend to be very predictable and therefore are easier to manipulate than animate substances like people or animals. (The obvious exception to that statement is computers. They get moody.) I can easily manipulate a chair to move to the right simply by pushing it gently. Although manipulation gets a bad rap most of the time, it clearly doesn't apply to the manipulation of objects, since there are no negative connotations associated with that. In fact, if a person made it a point to never move any objects, they would find it very impractical.

Manipulating people is slightly harder, since they can actually make decisions and choices, and takes a lot more understanding, skill, and patience. Unlike the chair. I realize that “manipulating” people sounds bad. When I say “manipulation,”though, I am referring specifically to manipulation other people to act or think in a certain way. That concept scares people, because when people think of others trying to manipulate them, they usually think of salesman, con men, or pushy, passive-aggressive acquaintances.

"You can trust me completely."

The general feeling seems to be that “If someone is trying to manipulate you, it's sneaky, deceptive, and it's for their good and not yours.” That is one type of manipulation, but I would add that there are many other types of manipulation as well. Whether manipulation is good or not depends on the end goal. Quite simply, manipulation (when it comes to manipulating people) can be defined as follows:

Manipulation is making a certain choice easier for someone.

This definition certainly includes the above mentioned negative examples. If a conman lies to you, he is making it easier for you to make a bad decision which would benefit him. If a salesman offers a payment plan, he is making it easier for you to buy now (and pay later). If someone pressures you emotionally into giving them a ride somewhere, they made it easier for you to choose to just get it over with and drive them to their destination.

On the other hand, this definition also includes many positive interactions. If I hold the door open for someone, I am making it easier for them to decide to go ahead of me. If I offer to pay for dinner, I am making it easier for the other person to decide to have dinner with me. In fact, much of social etiquette is about acceptable manipulation. It is polite to say “come on in” when a guest arrives at your house, and that makes it easier for them to decide to come in. You could just walk toward your living room, and if they are your friend, they will probably know to follow, but that's just not as polite. Asking “would you like some help with that?” makes it easier for the other people to request assistance.

Now, there are also a couple other ways of achieving a goal that involves another person. Let us take for a given that you wish to change someone's behavior. In this instance, let us suppose that you wish for your best friend to go through the door before you do. Let us suppose also that you have a good motive; you think that having someone go first shows respect for them. Now, how can you achieve that goal of getting them to go first? I would say that you have three general options: Power, Influence, or Manipulation. Here are three ways it could go:

Power (force or command): “You need to go in first.”

Influence: “I think that you would enjoy going in first, so go ahead.”

Manipulation: (Opening the door for them)

Positive manipulation is usually referred to as “influence,” which has no negative connotations. However, I think that the word “manipulation” fits better to describe a skillful, subtle, and understated form of graciously making a choice easier for someone. Yes, I do think that positive manipulation is a lot like grace. I'll explain:

Temptation is bad manipulation - it makes it easier for a person to say yes to sin

Grace is good manipulation - it makes it easier for a person to say yes to God

To give another practical example, bad manipulation would be to manipulate you into giving me all your money; I gain, you lose. It's bad because of the end result that I'm shooting for. Good manipulation would be manipulating you into accepting money for food, when you're feeling too proud to accept help. Helping people is gracious. When a Christian confronts someone about sin, they are called to speak “graciously.” This doesn't mean avoiding the ugly truth, it simply means that we are to speak in a way that makes it easier for the other person to make a certain decision (repent).

Obviously, because manipulation is not control, though, people are always free to make the opposite decision. And this is where skill comes in. I mentioned previously that it's easier to manipulate some objects (like pans) to a certain goal than to manipulate other objects (like rockets). Manipulating people also takes a lot of skill. Suppose that you want to influence a person to accept help, but you don't know how. You would need the knowledge, skill, and even practice to make that process a smooth one. It's much easier to accidentally manipulate people to do the wrong thing, actually.

I would go as far as to say that most of the time, when we are around other people, we are unconsciously manipulating them in some way. The more conscious our goals and efforts are, though, the more likely it is to turn out in a positive fashion. We are always making this or that choice easier for people, and the question of whether that manipulation is good or bad must turn to the question of the end goal: Are we manipulating people to their disadvantage, or to their advantage?

Some people are very unpleasant, and behave rudely toward the people around them. They get to the end of the day and wonder “why is everyone always so mean to me?” It's very simple. It's because they accidentally manipulate everyone to be mean to them. I don't mean that being rude and unkind forces people to be rude and unkind to you, but it certainly does make that choice easier to make! On the other hand, those who are genuinely warm, helpful, and even humorous to the people around them sometimes manipulate all those people into a good mood. Most everyone likes to be around those who manipulate them right into a good mood!

Hugs usually manipulate me into feeling happy and cared for

If you want to manipulate someone into doing you a favor, sometimes it helps if you do favors for them when they ask it. If you want to manipulate someone into refusing to help you, all you have to do is sabotage their work a few times, and do them no favors. That will make it a lot easier for them to refuse to help you.

As for personal application, I believe that only certain types of manipulate are acceptable, and only certain types are actually helpful. Personally, I try to only manipulate people honestly, and for their own good. I wouldn't use deceit to make a choice easier for them, because that would be wrong and unloving. That would not be very trustworthy. Also, I don't think it would be right if I manipulated people into making choices that would benefit me and would not benefit them. If a choice is not best for them, then I would not try to manipulate them to make that choice. (Of course, I don't have a whole lot of skill at influencing people in a smooth fashion... but maybe someday my people skills will improve.)

Dimensions of Manipulation: