Testing all my connections today! How are you?
One day, I picked up a penny on my desk - mostly due to lack of inspiration in any other area and I asked myself what messages that small coin might give me.
It is round. Maybe I should lead a better-rounded life.
It says we trust God - or like to tell people that we do. This, the smallest of coins, calls me to the greatest of faith.
As Kipling said of his nation, puffed up with power:
"If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!"
It tells us that we as a people value liberty. How sad when we are tempted to sacrifice liberty for expediency and safety. Inconvenience for the greater good is expected. To accept long lines for the wellbeing of all is a virtue. However, we must be vigilant to guard our freedom and remember the words of Patrick Henry, proclaimed in my own hometown of Richmond, "I know not what course the others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."
Men and women have been willing to die for it and have died for it. Let us never take it lightly.
The penny reminds us of the nobility of character of a man like Abraham Lincoln who failed many times on his road to success, but kept getting up again until he, the most unlikely of candidates came to the place of leadership where he would steer this nation through one of its greatest crises.
Whitman called him, "Oh Captain, my Captain ... fallen cold and dead."
His legacy tells us that greatness can come from humble beginnings and that great trials, both internal torment and circumstantial heartache can fashion great people. Lincoln loved a joke. His face on the coin reminds me to never take myself too seriously. He could laugh and make others laugh.
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." - Proverbs 15:13
What could be more humble and insignificant than a tiny penny? Yet it is intricate and beautiful and pennies accumulate. Some people do not value small things, but have you ever been just a penny short?
"Do not despise the day of small beginnings." (Zechariah 4:10)
Everything magnificent starts off small. In certain markets, a once cent fluctuation can make a huge difference in the economy.
On the back of the penny is spelled out, "One Cent." That means it is one part of one hundred cents that add up to a dollar. Everything is a part of something else. You are a part of something greater than yourself. We are made for community and collaboration. Every cent counts. Believe me, they count them at the bank.
If you keep your penny, you will never be broke - not flat broke anyway.
Ben Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."
The Lincoln Memorial is on the back reminds me of The Gettysburg Address which I memorized as a child. My great grandfather was at Gettysburg where so many died. It was part of a process to insure that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" would not “perish from the earth.”
Our nation was founded, as Lincoln said, “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
It took a civil war to solidify that idea and prepare the way for it to be institutionalized at the next level where slavery simply could not be tolerated. There is slavery in the world today and we cannot tolerate it. There are continuing residual effects of American slavery and the work of healing continues. There are indignities and cruelties perpetrated on men, women, and children made in the image of God. My little penny tells me that I must care and I must do what I can to stop it and help make the world a better place for all humanity.
My great grandfather was fighting on the wrong side of that tragic war, but Lincoln's legacy and the resilience of the American ideal healed the nation and we are one people once more with one currency and one great dream.
Lincoln was prepared to forgive the South and treat her people generously. While those who came to power after his death were not as open handed as him, they did bring the nation together again.
This penny reminds me that there are stronger things than our many differences, that America is greater than her partisan politics, and that we can heal if we focus on what we share in common.
We are diverse and in that diversity is our strength because it forces us to focus on what is truly at the core of our nation's identity. We unify, not around peripheral concerns, but around core values. The message on the penny brings us back to what the great American experiment in representative government and self-determination was and is all about.
That penny represents opportunity and everyone has an opportunity for success. You can play the game and win.
And we will need some of your pennies for the common good. You know that; April 15 is much too recent to forget!
"E Pluribus Unum," it declares, “out of many, one.”
These are the words from our national seal of which it has been said, "The center section of their shield has six symbols for ‘the Countries from which these States have been peopled:’ the rose (England), thistle (Scotland), harp (Ireland), fleur-de-lis (France), lion (Holland), and an imperial two-headed eagle (Germany)."
There are many more that are missing. We come from so many backgrounds, cultures, languages, nations, and families. We are representative of many regions of this country with varying customs, dialects, and histories. Yet, we are one people, one nation under God.
For the church, caught up in the mission of God in the world, that is very significant. We are a strategic center of influence.
The penny was once made of copper and now of a mixture of metals that mean nothing to me except that I find the penny to be the most beautiful and appealing of coins because of its bronze color.
It is still one cent, no matter what it is made of.
Emblazoned across the top of the second side of the coin, we read, "Untitled States of America."
We are states with powers that are sovereign in their spheres.
We are united so that we surrender some of those powers for the sake of the whole and for the possibility of interstate commerce. Here we are on the Internet because people can do together what no one can do alone.
We are "of America" which means that a guy named Americo Vespucci did a very good job of creating a map of a new and largely unexplored continent and that our forefathers put aside their fears and apprehensions to come and explore it.
We are still explorers charting new courses and embarking on adventures into the realm of success and significance.
I can look at this penny and know when it was minted - 1978, and where - Denver.
I know where I was in 1978, finishing up my 6th year of college, married since 1975, pastoring two small churches in western Virginia, and still swelling with pride in America in the afterglow of the Bicentennial celebration of 1976. In fact, cyclists were still stopping at our little church along the Bicentennial Trail to rest and refresh themselves.
It was a great time in our nation's history.
In 1978, I was preparing to come to California in 1979, but I did not know it at the time. I would move from one coast of this nation to the next and I would need every penny I could find and that God's people would generously bestow upon me to make it.
Here, at the Western edge of our Continent, I have planted my life and ministry and worked on my American Dream alongside my wife of almost 40 years. We have raised two sons and are enjoying our grandchildren.
We try to teach them the value of a penny, to earn it honestly, invest it wisely, give it generously, save it judiciously, and spend it frugally. My wife is better at that than me.
I have only been to the airport in Denver, but I know there is a Mint there and my penny came into its present form there and was disbursed from there.
I don't know where it went from there, how many times it has crossed this land, whether or not it has traveled overseas, how many people have lost it and how many have found it.
It has traveled, as have you and your ancestors. Now you are here and the choices you make from this moment forward will determine where you are going.
This penny has been in many pockets, heard many stories, perhaps even been carried into battle. It has used for good and most likely, for evil. It has years of usefulness left as well.
It is faded, so it has not been pampered.
Oh the stories it could tell.
Oh the stories you can tell.
It is a good thing someone left a penny on my desk. I might not have had an article to write.
If I can get all of that out of the tiniest coin in our economy ... and I could go on much longer, how do you say that you have no story to tell?
You are a person of great experiential wealth and intricately interwoven complexity. You have a fascinating past and a wonderfully mysterious future.
Tell your story; fight for your liberty; be all that you were made to be.
When we act out of gut reactions, we often say and do things we either regret or should regret. Acting on instinct does not say much about setting us apart from other mammalian creatures. Instincts are useful, but are not dominant for us as human beings. The psalmist gives us three ideas that can help us and protect us from stupid, rash behaviors.
1. Know who you are - You are a person set apart for a higher purpose and a Higher Person. "But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;" This is one you can consult about the matter as well: "the LORD hears when I call to him."
2. Know what you feel. Go ahead and be angry, but divorce that anger from your next decision. By acknowledging your anger, you dis-empower it from control. "Be angry, and do not sin ..."
3. Know what you know - Ponder on your bed. That means, from a place of rest and removal from the world, consider your options, commitments, and the implications of your actions. When you that the time to "ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent, " you gain perspective.
4. For ultimate perspective, give the matter to God completely and wholly. "Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD."
Take these steps and you will be far less likely to fly off the handle and act or speak rashly or make truly stupid, angry choices.
" But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him."
"Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD."
(Psalm 4:3-5 ESV)
(John 20:8-9) Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
He came first to the tomb, but he did not enter at first. Whatever held him back, it was Simon Peter who ventured first into the dark place and emerged again with evidence that the Master was no longer there.
He paused. Was it for fear or disbelief? Was he frozen with shock or just unsure of what to do?
Perhaps there are people today who do not know what to do with the resurrection. It is scandalous. It is ridiculous in mere human terms. It is unbelievable and inconceivable. This disciple had been present when Jesus had predicted it, but he still had no understanding of it.
They were just words.
Then he walked in. He stared into the mouth of death and entered the sepulchre. It was not an easy thing for him to do, but he did it and I am sure, he never regretted that moment, because it was in that moment that another miracle took place.
It was the miracle of believing. He saw and believed.
Notice that he believed before he understood. Understanding would take some time. Believing took one moment.
It was a moment of encounter, a moment of realization, a moment of remembering, and a moment of seeing with his very own eyes. He had not yet seen Jesus, but he had seen enough. The miracle of belief was a spiritual transformation of his heart. It would prepare him to understand and receive all else that God would give - perhaps even to write the book of John, for many believe that this account is autobiographical.
"... These are written that ye may believe ..." he would later conclude.
Step into the tomb for just a fleeting moment. Gaze into the mouth of death and you will see. It is empty. It is devoid of power. The Lord is risen. Believe!
Happy Pi day. In the right circle, you can leverage your way to real success and there is a formula for building that circle.
π (pi)r squared ....
It is articulated by the same guy, Archimedes who explained leverage and declared that he could move the world with the right pulley and fulcrum upon which to stand.
The right place to stand in order to leverage success is in a circle, an ever expanding circle of influence, powered to the power of 2 and then 2, and then, 2, and again and again as the circle expands ....
Not by our efforts, but by the efforts of those into which we pour our lives ...
3.14.15 and 92 etc ... etc ... etc ...
Here is my PI formula for leveraging our way to success.
3 People into which we invest ourselves intensely and weekly with no thought of return, but knowing that others have invested and continue to invest in us. While mentoring 3, continue to be mentored by 3. If we outlive our mentors, draw insights from the young and from authors of the past. Also have 3 close peers with whom to be yourself. 3!
14 (or so ...) others with whom we regularly associate and into whose lives we more generally we contribute ourselves. It is our core group(s). Multiply that by 3: Have 14 more peripheral peers,14 more proteges, and 14 teachers.
15 (or so): Meet at least 15 new people each week. Just do it with no motive except to add value to their lives and encourage them to be all they can be. But be humble enough to listen and learn from them. Admire them. Show interest in them. Connect them with others you meet. Find ways to push them forward. Have 15 big ideas floating around.
Then there is the R. It is the radius of our reach. It it farther than we think and shorter than we hope. It has limitations, but we should reach as far as possible to the end of those limitations and then, watch them squared ...
Squaring multiplies. It starts to get out of our hands. It is squared again. Archimedes also articulated the notion of the infinitesimal .
Once our influence is squared through those we influence, they square it too and it gets out of our hands. It becomes a geometric progression of infinite possibilities.
Success about leveraging our influence through others to change the world. It is constantly redefining itself through the success of others as we drop our demands for receiving credit or worldly fame, fortune, and power.
Pi Day, 3-14-15 is a once in a hundred year opportunity to recommit to changing the world God's way, by loving and serving others into the fullness of who they were made to be.
It is built into the mathematical structure of the cosmos.
Peering eyes barely opened, recognized his mother from a bed of straw. He squirmed, tentatively exploring his world, not knowing it would so soon reject him or that for it, he would lay down his life. Yet to discover what in eternity he knew, that he was the Savior-Sovereign, he whimpered as any infant would and cried out for suckle. So vulnerable was the Son of God, so frail the Son of Man and we did esteem him stricken, smitten, afflicted by God.
Crucified from the foundations of the earth, he emptied himself of glory. Yet, glory pursued him. He took on the form of a servant as angels stood by awaiting his slightest summons. He subjected himself to temptation, but shunned sin. He walked among men as a man, but his divinity could not be hidden. He prayed as we must pray and taught us in so doing to embrace the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. There he lay, a bundle of need who had hitherto known no need. Packaged in his person, the potent possibilities of reconciliation and redemption.
Here lay an offering, wiggling beneath swaddling clothes, wrapped up and carefully placed under every family's tree.
Here lay the concentrated reality of all God's love for humankind.
Here was a promise fulfilled, a hope realized, a purpose unfolding before our very eyes - and we esteemed him not.
How we have marginalized this child. How we have assigned him but a season of sentimental reflection and generalized good wishes. How we have misunderstood, misrepresented, or misappropriated the meaning of his coming. God manifest, he was and is and nothing less. Emmanuel - more than a pleasant sounding melody - is the miracle of incarnation. God is, absolutely, irrevocably, undeniably, and unambiguously, with us.
A child - weak and hungry – he was born into a world without incubators or Pampers or formula. He was born into a world of high infant mortality with an elevated threat on the Herodian horizon. For each who welcomed him, there were companies of soldiers seeking to snuff out his life. Soon to be on the run, a fugitive from his own people, he would return again and again and ultimately in a final show of death-defying atonement.
He is the Lord we laud, the Master we magnify, and the Savior we salute on this night of nights. We have no gold, frankincense nor myrrh to bring as acts of homage. We bring empty hands extended toward him that he might fill them with his own gifts. We fall down before him and worship with broken and joyful hearts, celebrating the power of the pregnant paradox - they that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Gaze upon him in wonder this night. Sing to him a lullaby of praise. O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
This is a pretty bodacious request to make up God. He tends to choose when and where He will lift His hand, but sometimes, we have had enough and we get tired of waiting. So we call upon Him to straighten things out."Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.Do not forget the helpless.Why does the wicked man revile God?Why does he say to himself,“He won’t call me to account”?But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;you consider their grief and take it in hand.The victims commit themselves to you;you are the helper of the fatherless.Break the arm of the wicked man;call the evildoer to account for his wickednessthat would not otherwise be found out. - Psalm 10:12-15, NIV
This is a "Halloween" re-post from 2012 with some corrections:
What costume are you wearing?
Yes, it is Halloween - not my favorite holiday - not my favorite season as a rule ---- getting used to things getting darker quicker. It always gets better. All these weird costumes. I can cope with Halloween, baptize it, shake it around, redefine it, and utilize it. Do what you will. It is what it is. We are what and who we are no matter what we put on and pretend to be. It is the day of alter-egos. It is the day of confronting fears and turning them to humor. It is also Reformation Day. Luther finally, reluctantly, and fearlessly came to a line that he could not cross and declared, "Here I stand; I can do no other."
Where do you stand so that you can do no other?
What in you or me needs to be re-FORMED. God is forming us and we can cooperate if we will - be pliable, flexible, and movable.
People put on costumes for Halloween. I used to dress as a hobo when was a kid. We are usually just putting on a show. We don't really become goblins and hobos and zombies. But there are things we put on that form us and we become because we are always becoming.
Some stuff needs to be put off . They tend to stick to our skin and form us wrongly:
Ephesians 4:22: ... put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Colossians 3:8: But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Colossians 3:9: Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
Other things, according to scripture, Jesus followers need to PUT ON. It is more than a costume. These things shape us:
Galatians 3:27: put on Christ.
Ephesians 4:24: And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Ephesians 6:11: Put on the whole armour of God,
Colossians 3:10: And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Colossians 3:12: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Colossians 3:14: And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
Halloween, pagan, earthy, sometimes offensive, fun, opportune, present in-your-face, and not really going away reminds me to check my costume with regard to my own reformation. What am I putting on and what am I putting off. Is it only a PUT ON or and I being REFORMED.
Something is shaping you right now. What is it?
This comes from a Facebook posting on John 11
We have a ministry of life and resurrection, initiated and modeled by the one who is ever present as resurrection and life. A few observation on that from a remarkable encounter with death in John 11:
First, Jesus waited for the right moment to arrive and everyone else considered, as any person driven by logic would, that it was too late.
Martha felt it was late, but not too late. She has a sense that God would answer Jesus' most outlandish prayers.
Jesus tells her that her brother would rise again. She thinks he is speaking about the future resurrection of all the dead. He knows he means today.
Does she think he is being dismissive or hyper-spiritual as some folks receive us when we are being, well, dismissive or hyper-spiritual ?
Is she saying something like this?
"I know that, but it only helps a little bit now. I want my brother back."
Jesus does not, immediately, clarify or correct that misconception. Rather, he refers to the power and hope of his presence and turns death on its head, spins it around, and sucks all of the power out of it.
"I am ...." is present, now. It is a present reality.
It is not yesterday, or tomorrow when spiritual life ignites a fire of life and obliterates the ultimate power of death to disable us and lay us in the ground of despair and hopeless termination. It is not even today; it is a deeper, more powerful, "NOW!"
I am THE resurrection and THE life!
Such an audacious claim he makes. Eternity is present and to prove it, he is about to do something amazing to human eyes, but relatively trivial from an eternal perspective. He will restore physical life to his friend.
Nothing is trivial to God when God incarnates Himself into our experience of sorrow and mundane pan. He incorporates all that he is into a package of vulnerability and transcends.
Here is how A. T. Robertson exegetes verse 25:
"I am the resurrection and the life (Egw eimi h anastasi kai h zwh). This reply is startling enough. They are not mere doctrines about future events, but present realities in Jesus himself. "The Resurrection is one manifestation of the Life: it is involved in the Life" (Westcott). Note the article with both anastasi and zwh. Jesus had taught the future resurrection often ( Luke 6:39 ), but here he means more, even that Lazarus is now alive. Though he die (kan apoqanh). "Even if he die," condition (concession) of third class with kai ean (kan) and the second aorist active subjunctive of apoqnhskw (physical death, he means). Yet shall he live (zhsetai). Future middle of zaw (spiritual life, of course)." (http://m.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/robertsons-word-pictures/john/john-11-25.html)
Then, Jesus makes a claim that requires something beyond mere ascent, "Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."
Never die? Live when dead?
"Do you believe this?"
He drives the arrow of faith inquiry into her heart of grief and probes for her "buy in."
In Greek, the probe is two words, "pisteuei touto."
She buys in, hook, line, and sinker - with more than he even asked of her, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."
Yes. Lord (Nai, kurie).
Again, Dr. Robertson observes, " She had heroic faith and makes now her own confession of faith in words that outrank those of Peter in Matthew 16:16 because she makes hers with her brother dead now four days and with the hope that Jesus will raise him up now. I have believed (pepisteuka). Perfect active indicative of pisteuw. It is my settled and firm faith."
It is all about who he is and who he is when he is present makes a huge deal in any circumstance.
Where he is present, there is life.
Mary comes and there is a crowd of consolers, well meaning, good hearted, and he is touched by grief and agitated by their howling.
Something powerful happens. Knowing what he knows and who he is, he enters into the crowd of mourners and groans in spirit (v33).
Robertson observes his own reaction and the word for groaning as, "to snort with anger like a horse. It occurs in the LXX ( Daniel 11:30 ) for violent displeasure. The notion of indignation is present in the other examples of the word in the N.T. ( Mark 1:43 ; Mark 14:5 ; Matthew 9:30 ). So it seems best to see that sense here and in verse 11:38 . The presence of these Jews, the grief of Mary, Christ's own concern, the problem of the raising of Lazarus--all greatly agitated the spirit of Jesus (locative case twi pneumati). He struggled for self-control. Was troubled (etaraxen eauton). First aorist active indicative of tarassw, old verb to disturb, to agitate, with the reflexive pronoun, "he agitated himself" (not passive voice, not middle). "His sympathy with the weeping sister and the wailing crowd caused this deep emotion" (Dods). Some indignation at the loud wailing would only add to the agitation of Jesus.
He has a deep, emotional response to everything that is happening, all the pain, confusion, misconception, hopelessness --- all of it. It is an inner upheaval and he struggles with it and expresses it.
So, in verse, 34, he asks, "Where have you laid him?"
We have started with the very present, eternal reality of life that transcends death. We have passed through the crowd and experienced the emotions that are so overwhelming in the hour of despair and death. Now, Jesus confronts the physical reality of death. he wants to be taken to the tomb.
Then, Jesus wept!
"... (edakrusen o Ihsou). Ingressive first aorist active indicative of dakruw, old verb from dakru or dakruon, a tear ."
It was not wailing. That would be cultural and sometimes, contrived. Anyone could be employed or recruited to wail and howl with or without emotional engagement. Everyone in the community showed up and did that. It was expected.
Jesus' weeping was real. It was deep. It was personal. It was engaged. It welled up from within and flowed out through his eyes and his voice.
It was with strong crying and tears that he confronted the tomb.
It is the shortest verse in the Bible, but it is never short on meaning.
We have one to weep with us. His weeping and engagement in our humanity is in light of the reality of his life-giving presence. He knows our hope, but also our feelings of hopelessness and enters in. He avoids nothing of our human experience - spiritual, emotional, physical - He is present for us and with us.
The observation of the crowd was how much he loved Lazarus (epilei) with depths of affection and brotherly love.
Is that, perhaps, how we might be present for others in their pain?
We must be present in love.
Jesus said very little that day, but he said so much.
He used few words.
He did much.
He loved much.
"Lazarus, come forth," was a pretty powerful statement - short, sweet, and to the point.
He prays. It is a powerful and "desperate" prayer of faith to his Father to whom he defers to exercise the power through him and his words. But he does not wrestle in this prayer. in fact, he gives thanks for being heard, which indicates he has probably been praying all along.
In fact, his groaning was a prayer (See Romans 8:26https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A26&version=KJV).
Surrounded by doubters - legitimate doubters, one might argue, he steps out on faith. After all, Lazarus was a fourth-day dead man. That was the tradition point of no return. He was grave-yard dead and beyond hope.
It must have been by design that Jesus allowed his friend to get to that point. His Father would make a similar sacrifice of His Son in a a few days.
He calls us forth to life where there is no expectation or hope of life. We may also call life forth from the tombs of despair all around us.
"Again groaning in himself ..." in that context, he calls for the stone to be removed ... still groaning, still praying, still experiencing the pain and doubt around him.
That is always the context of the priestly ministry of presence in a doubting and despairing world.
" 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone."
He wants people to see the glory of God!
He wants us to experience glory in the midst of the valley of the shadow of death.
He calls us to be an embodiment of his very presence of life in the world show forth the glory of God.
""Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
Robertson says there is a "purpose clause" here embedded in the Greek. (Of course, he is speaking Aramaic and we don't have that quote as such).
"Lazarus, come forth!"
" (Lazare, deuro exw). 'Hither out.' No verb, only the two adverbs.
Quickly! Out of there!
It does not take many words. It doesn't even take a complete sentence! It takes much presence and engagement.
He says it with a loud voice.
He wants to be heard now by the crowds.
It can drain us, but it can also fill us.
" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'"
Living people need not be wrapped in grave clothes.
There is still work to be done to help people realize that they have life after resurrection.
There is a process to realizing freedom and walking around in it. The liberation process is an ongoing ministry.
We are told that a polarization was the response. Many believed, "but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done ..."
Their reaction had nothing to do with whether or not they believed in what had happened. Their reaction was, "What will this do to our position of power? How will the Romans react? Will we lose our status? Will we lose our favored position?"
In the ministry of liberation, life, and resurrection, many will be believe, many will be set free, and some, in power, who do not care about the dead and dying, but only their own power, will react and try to kill the movement of life.
Count on it and do it anyway!
"Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.'"
(John 11:21-27 ESV)
Philippians 4:6-7: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
On July 4, 1776, a company of farmers, merchants, scholars, and business men gathered to ratify and sign a document to which they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Most of these men paid a heavy cost for that signature. They were not crippled by undo caution or timid in the petition that they brought before the King of England.
In the realm of the Spirit, we have also been called to affix or signatures upon an invisible document of faith with visible repercussions. In it, we declare our absolute loyalty to Jesus Christ. We lay everything on the line without the constraints of care or caution, without reservation or regret, without whining or complaint.
We come in complete trust rejoicing, thanking, and bringing our petitions before God. And we find in God, not an insecure despot lashing out at us, but a loving Father whose greatest desire is that we come to Him.
As we come, He gives us His peace and that peace becomes the security of our lives standing guard over our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
In 1776, there was great conflict in store for the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In our day of declaration, we may also find conflict ahead, but in the midst, we are surrounded by the peace of God that is completely beyond our comprehension.
Let us boldly declare our liberty and surrender our hearts to the One who sets us free indeed.
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (Matthew 25:32)
This is a dramatic and overwhelming scene that Jesus describes. As far as the eye can see, the nations are gathered before the throne. There are sheep and there are goats at a time when only sheep are truly welcome in the flock. There has been considerable blending up until this point, but now the shepherd is dividing them.
And there is one criterion by which He judges the nations. How did you treat me when I was among you?
He is not talking about His incarnation here, but His presence among His people many of whom were the poor, the lowly, the imprisoned, the hungry, and so forth. He is identifying with the powerless that He described in Matthew 5 and, from their perspective, evaluating the powerful.
What did you do with all your influence to positively touch the people I love? That is His question. It is the test of a nation's greatness and the test of greatness for every institution or individual that has been entrusted with power. Were you just? Were you fair? Were you generous? Were you compassionate? Were you righteous? Were you aware that I was there in the midst of my brethren?
This is one dimension of judgment in the heavenly kingdom and Jesus gives us a preview. It is but a glimpse. We could not understand more, but we can understand this much: We must always be aware of Jesus and receive others as if we were receiving Him.
The greatness of America has always been in her central idea: the dignity of every human being under God. It is the basis for freedom, laws, and our system of government. For the Christian, that means looking for the image of God in every person we meet and treating that person as we would treat Jesus.
We have a place in the story, whether we are great or lowly. It is a long and patient story with twists, turns, and gaps in reporting, but it is a story with miraculous continuity and eternal clarity.
In the midst of the story, we have only a limited perspective. We cry out the prayers of the Psalms such as:
"For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." - Ps. 69:33
Then, we turn to narrative for hindsight and to the words of Jesus and His apostles for insight.
"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph."
This is going to happen.
Joseph has his time. We have our times. He did his job. He elevated his people and all the people. He was well known and respected and he made a major contribution to the world.
Then, he died.
And he was remembered.
And then, he was forgotten, slowly, gradually, not completely, but enough so that honor and glory and strength of influence evaporated.
Generations had passed and the person of influence simply did not know Joseph. All he saw were people he perceived as a threat.
He lashed out with irrational and indiscriminate violence to commit an act of mass genocide. It was horrific and yet, it was the story of emergence. A new leader would emerge from the bulrushes who, 80 years later would stand before a king and lead a people to freedom.
And he would be reminded of the story of Joseph and he and those who later reflected upon his life and legacy would somehow, connect the two stories to make one continuous story.
That was the story of resurgent and emergent leadership in a world where leaders come and go and crises grow and recede.
Our stories may seem isolated, disconnected, intermittent, and separated by decades and more of discontinuity, but they are actually part of one story.
We are known, remembered, and forgotten. Then, years, decades, and sometimes centuries pass and some sliver of memory is passed to the next wave of God-work in human frailty and greatness. A new story grows out of the old story and something lost in memory comes again into memory and some tiny tentacle grows to connect the new to the old.
And it is one story from Joseph to Moses and to and through so many stories to our own generation, having passed through the cross and resurrection, the story continues and we cannot know how many more chapters shall be written before there is some grand tension that shall bring us to that last page that grips us with anticipation and then, The End and then, we turn to page for ...
an Epilogue ...
for the "logue" is "logos" and the Word goes on and on and on ...
... and on ...
This is our time. What shall we do? How shall our story join the great ongoing story?
The story connects vertically AND horizontally.
"And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”"
"And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again."
Greatness and honor may come at a price too high for us to be willing to pay. Leadership is not about receiving accolades. This is demonstrated for us. Our place in the story, if we follow the Story Teller, is sometimes more humiliating than congratulatory. But it is the story and we are a part of it as well as beneficiaries of it. It is easier to read the first and last paragraph of every chapter and the first few words of every paragraph and skim over the gory details, but the big story includes some real pain, suffering, and sacrifice and most of that is done for us. Our place in the story is to take our place in the story and to want nothing more than for the Storyteller to finish it His way.
Have a lovely day!
One set of muscles and tissue are injured and need rest.
So rest them.
Then ask, "What can I exercise?"
Isolate the muscles that need rest and exercise the rest.
Something hurts. So what?
No twith a sneer, "so what," but a sincere question: What will you think or do next?
"An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." - Newton's First Law, "The Law of Inertia".
One cannot remain an object at rest nor an object in meaningless motion. One must be moved and purposefully so.
So move something. Now!
Steadfast love, justice, and music! What a wonderful package to unwrap this morning!
I must ponder and take great care about the way that I walk. How can I do this in a rush? How can i do this if I do not rise before the demands of the day overtake me and the cares of this world absorb my attention? I must arise in time and devote the time to knowing what to do. By taking this time, I will save much time that will otherwise be spent flailing and failing, faltering and floundering. It is the blameless heart I seek, the heart that, in integrity, seeks not its own ends but those purposes of God for which it was awakened. Then, I begin where I am, in my own house, within the confines of my closest and dearest relationships, among those I have neither need, desire, nor ability to impress, to walk with integrity of heart. So, the psalmist tracks the beginning of successful person's day - Begin with God, continue with family, and branch out from there. Then, in verse 3, he reminds himself not to be drawn away by setting any vile thing before him. It is a good reminder that even the blameless heart can be distracted and diverted by the temporal temptations of decadent beauty.
Psalm 109 is harsh. It is the song of a king who vows to recompense those who walk over others and persecute the poor, who disregard God and disrespect their neighbors. We are tempered by grace from acting harshly. We are called by Jesus toabsorb and resist injustice at the same time. But we must not grow numb to the indignation that the psalmist expressed. We ought to cringe with such indignation and it ought to begin with those remnants of wicked motives within our own hearts and lives. Let us be so disgusted with that within ourselves that degrades and destroys that we set out to purge our own hearts regularly of their creeping decay that we might be singular in our love, sincere in our devotion to God, and simple in our service to humanity.
May Your Words unfold to me today.
"The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple."
"Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me."
"Let no iniquity get dominion over me."
This is the prayer of any person who fears addiction to anything. It is the cry of anyone who knows the danger and potential of anything gaining that sort of dominion. What might it be? How might it disguise itself? What attraction might it offer?
More important is how we might resist and a prayer of resistance and remedy is offered, "Keep steady my steps according to your promise."
What promise? It is the promise to keep our steps steady. NIV translates it, "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word." The NLV renders it, "Guide my steps by your word," and The Message, "Steady my steps with your Word of promise."
At verse 140, he says, "Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it."
These promises have indeed been well-tried. Some, we ourselves have tried. Some we have not, but others have. The results are that they work and ....
Today can be a day of triumph and victory!
1 O God, listen to my cry!
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
3 for you are my safe refuge,
a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Interlude
Tom – I need to pray like that. I am praying like that today. It is a matter of my relationship with God.
1 I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
9 Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind,
and the powerful are not what they appear to be.
If you weigh them on the scales,
together they are lighter than a breath of air.
10 Don’t make your living by extortion
or put your hope in stealing.
And if your wealth increases,
don’t make it the center of your life.
11 God has spoken plainly,
and I have heard it many times:
Power, O God, belongs to you;
12 unfailing love, O Lord, is yours.
Surely you repay all people
according to what they have done.
Tom – I am a common man who often gets proud and puffy. I need a God-perspective on myself and on God. Scales do not compliment me. Wealth cannot be the center of my life. God is everything. My relationship with God defines me.
In the Genesis reading, Joseph’s brothers showed up needing bread, but first a relationship needed to be reestablished.
In Corinth, Paul was dealing with a serious relationship problem.
1 Corinthians 5:1-8
8 So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old breadof wickedness.
Tom – I need to do some sorting in my life too --- daily sorting.
20 One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said.
31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothersare outside asking for you.”
33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Tom – I want to be a brother of Jesus today and that is all I need to be.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
"But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people. - Psalm 22:6
Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
... he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him."
- Psalm 22:9-11 14-15, 19, 24
"...'We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.' And Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.'"
- Genesis 40:8
1 CORINTHIANS 3:16-23
"Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future - all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God."
"So he brought his people out with joy,
his chosen ones with singing."
- Psalm 105:43''
We read the emotions of yesterday's people, their longs, aspirations, and questions with a sense of immediacy. They are who we are. We are who they were. We yearn for the same answers and presence. We want what they wanted, an assurance of God being with them and purposefully guiding their paths.
We want to not be abandoned.
We want to know who we are and to be who we were meant to be.
In those times when we feel like worms, we want to know we are more.
We want to be beloved and to live in beloved communities.
We want to dream and when we dream, we need to know that only God can fully interpret our dreams.
We must know that we cannot accomplish all we desire for ourselves or those we love simply through our own efforts. We need to know that we cannot cleverly devise constructs that will always be true and go to the depths of understanding.
We need God, long for God, and find our completeness in God.
We are sitting by the sea, going about our business when Jesus comes. We are not that well thought of, even by our own estimations, but He sees something in us and calls us. He calls and we follow and rejoice.
GOSPEL READING MARK 2:13-22
13Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.14As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him.
15And as he sat at dinner in Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples - for there were many who followed him. 16When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 17When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."
"18Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, 'Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 19Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.'
21'No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.'"
He is with us and we rejoice. We think new ways and see the world through new glasses.
There are times of fasting, but they lead to times of rejoicing.
We are worms no more. We have cried out of the depths and He has head. Our deficits and iniquities, which are many, have been resolved by His mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus (which is, ultimately, the sacrifice of God demonstrating love and grace). We are redeemed. We are forgiven. We are new. We need new clothes and winsekins because this is a new day!
EVENING PSALM 130
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.
Morning Psalms 22; 148
First Reading Genesis 40:1-23
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Gospel Reading Mark 2:13-22
Evening Psalms 105; 130
There are costs to following Jesus and excuses for not doing so.
Everything of value costs something.
We can think of endless excuses to procrastinate, obstinate, and prevaricate. We'll do anything but drop whatever we are doing and change directions.
It is a control issue - we want to be in control.
Mostly, we want to add - faith and devotion to whatever else we cling to in life.
But discipleship is not an "add-on" to our lives. It is a new center of existence and a new direction for everything. Everything passes through the filter or this new commitment.
It costs everything.
I was ruminating over all this as I drove to the gym before church one day and I heard the report on NPR that 38 people had died over a given weekend in bombs designed to disrupt the elections in Iraq.
In spite of this, and, by some reports, because of it, record numbers of people came out to vote - defying the threats. Some died.
Later, I heard the Vicar of Baghdad report that the same thing was happening his his church. One year every one of the over 50 people who were baptized died a martyr's death.
Sometimes we have a hard time trying to get people to show up in this country when it costs us nothing.
I wonder - If it is too cheap, do we lose any sense of the value of it?
If Jesus needed something, I probably need it too. He needed to check in with His Father and deal with whatever was working in and on Him. He needed it often. Sometimes, He needed it spontaneously. Frequently, He needed it in little slots of time between interruptions. He did not always get seclusion and solitude, but He built it in.
He knew it would not last forever. He would be called back into the fray, back among the hurting masses. He would be drawn back into the indignities of suffering, oppression, and spiritual drought and He would engage.
We are talking about our Savior, but also, our Master, our leader, and our role model.
We are following Him.
David knew His frailties. Jesus, after emptying Himself, became vulnerable to those same frailties.
Every saint has been a sinner and has needed confession. The sinless One, however, bore the sins of the people, not His own. It was an even greater burden.
He needed prayer and so do we.
Below are my reflections on this day of Lent and some of the suggested scriptures.
Three things I must do in the morning if nothing else (Psalm 5:3):
1. Make my voice heard before God.
2. Lay my requests before God.
3. Wait expectantly before God.
Which of these three is the greatest challenge for you? Which brings you the greatest joy?
I am a fool who has found a bit of precious wisdom and that wisdom has transformed me.
It is Day seven of the season of reflection. Let us not become so reflective that we fool ourselves into thinking we are wise in our ingenuity.
You can read ot listen here and gain more than you could ever gain by listening to my feigned wisdom or commentary on the subject. Psalms 45, 47, and 48, Genesis 37:12-24, 1 Corinthians 1:20-31, and Mark 1:14-28 speak well for themselves. All I can offer is reflection and I shall.
God chooses the foolish things of this world of confound the wise --- or the presumably wise.
God calls simple dreamers who sing the maskil songs of contemplation and envision futures off the charts of logic to infuse with extraordinary wisdom not of this world.
God calls the humble to acknowledge the kingdom, turn around, receive the good news, follow Him, become more than they can be, and join Him in His work of liberating those oppressed by the powers of evil.
That is the call.
It is OK to be a foolish thing because the message of the cross is confounding to the minds of those who insist of boxing in their thoughts and boxing out the possibilities of wonder and redemption.
There is a letting go to following Jesus. There is a complexity in the simplicity and a simplicity in the complexity, but mostly a singularity in it all.
"The kingdom is here. Repent and believe. Follow me. Let me make you more than you think you are or can be."
That is how Jesus calls those discarded by the world and deemed to be foolish things.
That is how we become wise.
To reflect on the whole, one would conclude with tentative reluctance, that the real, raw truth is that we cannot count on anyone including ourselves.
We walk, we share, we talk, we stare and those around us are prone to a failure we interpret as rejection. Our hearts are betrayed in our own estimation.
We are a broken people who yet dream even though our dreams are ridiculed.
Yet, we dream.
But we bicker ... and bicker over that which is less than ...
Less than value.
Then there is a cross. It makes no sense to the masses mulling over meaning and arguing about semantics. It is just a cross born by a Spirit Baptizer who somehow steps into our mess.
He steps in and stands by the dreamer as well as the downtrodden and betrayed.
If one is looking for a season with a reason ... this is it.
It is the fifth day of Lent, the lengthening of days, and this is a long one. It is literally later than you may think if you did not adjust your clocks.
It is always later than we think if we do not adjust our lives to God.
If we think we are too bust for a "daily office," then we had better stay away from the office, because we are going to be scattered and bothered all day. This is the "pause that refreshes."
"Daily office" comes from the Latin "officium divinum" meaning "divine service" or "divine duty."
The scriptures for to day can be read here at Bible Gateway. I've prepared a page that has KJV, NIV, and The Message. Take your pick or read them all.
The common thread is God's judgment and mercy. Judgement is what we bring on ourselves. In fact, Jesus removes His volition from the judgment equation and puts it all on our response to His words with out words and choices. He extends mercy.
It is a recurring theme today:
Psalm 98:3: "He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God."
Psalm 103:5: " Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies."
The harsh reality is, according to Daniel 9:7, "We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments."
Nevertheless, verse 9 proclaims, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him."
Hebrews 2:17 calls Jesus, "a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."
The Message puts it this way in Hebrews 2:16-18, speaking of the life and death of Jesus on our behalf, "It’s obvious, of course, that he didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed."
No wonder, Psalm 63:1 exclaims so eloquently in The Message,
"God—you’re my God!
I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts."
There is judgment for sin and we have sinned, but neither sin nor God's judgment were ever God's purpose. Neither was it the purpose of Jesus to condemn the world. He said, "I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (John 12:47b)
It is going to be a long day. It could be even longer without the gentle reminder of the mercy of God. Your officium divinum stops you for a moment to face the fact that, in your business, stress, and frantic pace of life, you, as I have, may have neglected or rejected the voice of God. It carries its own judgment and condemnation, but we need not carry either.
We need time to soak in the mercy of God. This is that time. It is a time to reflect and bathe in the love of the Father and the Son, in the very presence of the Spirit. It is a daily office and it is one we need to heed.
We are not blind to the complexities of our lives and surroundings. We are not naive about how difficult this world and this life can be. I dislike the disrespect afforded Pollyana because she was not as pollyanaish as she has been characterized.
She was an optimist who played the "Glad game" until it was not game at all. It became a lens through which she interpreted her world.
The psalmist could see the crud and mud of life and still seek God and rejoice in hope.
Ezekiel knew the devastation of captivity and looked for the deliverance and restoration of the people. He was glad to serve a God who could both judge and forgive.
Paul knew degradation and imprisonment and understood that all people suffer. He was more than an optimist. He was an overcomer.
Pollyana was also an overcomer and wherever she went, people were infected with gladness.
So be it in and through our lives. Let us be glad in the Lord.
The readings for today are here (Day 52o) and the excerpts that grabbed my heart are below:
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11-12, ESV)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you. (Psalm 32:8-9, ESV)
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:10-11, ESV)
Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 39:28-29, ESV)
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20, ESV)
The full movie:
Our readings for this morning were from the ESV on their Daily Office Page - Day 519.
We have some cause for regret. It is not what has been done on our behalf or to us that has corrupted us. It is what we have done.
We have not bowed down before God, acknowledged God, nor shown justice and mercy to our neighbors. We have sought our own selfish ends and we have bickered for our own causes.
At some point, we must take personal responsibility for rejecting God and when we do, we shall regret it. But regret is of no great ultimate value. We must return.
The door of returning remains open, but we are not facing it or moving toward it. We have to turn to return and that turning is called repentance.
Repentance is a joyful possibility because it's message to us is that we can change and that we are welcome back.
God is God whether we ignore Him or not. He has no pleasure in our destruction, death, or ruin. He calls us to return.
"Why will you die ...?"
It will not because our fathers ate sour grapes. It will because we choose to refuse the invitation to return.
God desires to bring us to the place of rejoicing. Jesus prayed for us that His joy would be complete in us as we are sanctified in truth?
Let us join Him in that prayer for our own souls today.
The Readings and My Comments for the Second Day of Lent
My comments will be in italics. I will call them Take Aways and you will be encouraged to consider and add your own.
27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.
11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Take-Aways: God is everything I need, but I need to seek God and wait on Him for strength. That sort of seeking and waiting does not come easily for the highly distracted, but it must come. So, we orbit around it and keep coming back to it as a center for our very being. This is a prayer I could pray daily and meditate upon so many of its deep sentiments and desires. I would also have fainted without hope. So be it, Lord, Amen. What are your "take aways?"
12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
13 For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee.
14 He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly.
16 He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.
17 He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?
18 He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
19 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord.
Take-Aways: God certainly has the capacity to send forth fierce and harsh judgment. He has it and He has the right to it, but He has never send forth the full fierceness of His warth. He has always restrained His own hand in judgment because of His great love, mercy, and grace. What would be our state if all that we have set in motion were to return to us in judgment? What are your "take aways?"
3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
2 O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.
5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.
6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
8 Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation?
9 Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
12 Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.
13 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah.
14 Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly.
15 Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Take-Aways: The faith and hope of this prophet stop me in my tracks. He declares that when everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, still He will rejoice in the Lord. Perhaps, what we are missing, is the commitment to rejoice in the midst of anything and everything . May we rejoice in the Lord and glory in the God of our salvation. So be it, Lord, Amen. What are your "take aways?"
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Take-Aways: Every sentence of Paul to the believers in Philippi resonates with where I live and who I am in life. We keep pressing and we do so with hope. What are your "take aways?"
17 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Take-Aways: This is truly "The Lord's Prayer" in John 17. Plumb the depths and let these words and this prayer shape you and not just inform you. Amen. What are your "take aways?"
For Evening: Psalm 126
126 When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.
3 The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
4 Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
For Evening: Psalm 102
102 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.
2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.
3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.
8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.
9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.
10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
12 But thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
I was just testing if the whole "bacon" myth still works in gathering attention to tweets. We shall see. Whether it does or not, something is sizzling in my mind about how we gain enough attention to communicate whatever message is burning within our hearts.
I actually do not eat bacon anymore or any other meat, but its sizzling sound and sensual smell draw me to the kitchen whenever it is being prepared.
It still influences me.
I don't know exactly why, but it does. Sometimes I eat veggie bacon and I like it because it is crisp and salty and it successfully stimulates my senses.
We are a sensual people with activated right brains that inform the rest of our thinking that we cannot always be logical.
Is there a lesson?
Do I have to speak to something other than a person's intellect if my goal is to get their attention and reason with them?
Something needs to sizzle before it can be successfully introduced. We need some sort of bacon to grab people's attention.
So, here is my slice of bacon for you:
B - Beacon. We have to shine in order to draw attention to what we want to communicate. Excuse me a moment while I take a bite of the sizzling platter they just brought me at Denny's - egg whites, avocado, salsa, zucchini, and other vegetables --- and it is sizzling. Vegetables sizzle. It is a beacon beckoning me. I'll be back in a paragraph. OK - Now I am back - Your beacon is the signal you send out. Choose it carefuly and creatively.
A - Appeal. Once you have someone's attention, what they see must have something appealing to keep that attention. The One who had "no form or comeliness" also created beauty and celebrated beauty everywhere. His power of attraction was a spiritual appeal. There is something creative and artistic in each of us that we can let the world see. In other words, offer something that appeals. If you cannot create it, borrow it (with permission and proper attribution, of course).
C - Content. You have to offer something other than an appealing label. You have to give people something in your communication that adds value to their life or work. You can be a content creator, a content distributor, or a content networker, but you have to offer something of value on your page or blog, in your speech, or in whatever presentation format you are developing. It is not ALL about the package. Eventually, someone will want to actually EAT the bacon.
O - Oats - OK, that is not obvious, and oats may or may not be the breakfast of choice for you, but they actually beat a steady diet of only bacon with all of its appeal. The bacon brings the kids to breakfast, but it is not the main item on the menu. It is not the entree; it is a side dish. Once you have actually engaged people in conversation, which is always two way, then you can introduce some healthy choices for their bodies, lives, and communities. You have earned trust and you have offered value that they can see. Now you can make your point and introduce concepts they have never considered -- like whole oats with almonds, fruit, and maybe even some flax seed!
N - Never misuse your power to draw people, manipulate, and influence. Always be truthful, respectful, and cautious, knowing that you have tools that can draw the masses and speak to their hearts. The more your charisma sizzles, the more careful you need to be to enable people to think for themselves and to empower them to use the tools you offer at their own discretion.
We all want followers whom we can influence, but remember that with influence comes great responsibility.
Let your bacon sizzle in the ears of the sensuous seekers among us and may you enjoy great success in getting your message out.
The scriptures indict me today. You can read them here. Psalm 5 reminds me, as does Psalm 147, of the greatness of God and, at the same time, of my own sinful pride. My haughtiness is brought low in view of His holiness.
I identify with the psalmist this morning, that I can only approach a holy God on the basis and invitation of His mercy.
Amos, 5:6-15 points out the disconnect between my self-righteous confidence in my own piety and the contradictory behavior in matters of justice. God wants us to do the right thing.
We are dust, and to dust we return. That is God's indictment, evidence, and judgment with regard to fallen humanity. We are dusty, frail, withering shells of what we were made and intended to be and if we choose a life that is only that, then that is all we shall be. That is the state of our souls if we suck out the spiritual dimension.
Hebrews 12 is somewhat more encouraging, and yet, it reminds us of the inner struggle we have to resist sin and to run our race with patience. Sometimes, we can expect to suffer.
Then, there is the gospel. Two men went to pray. Which one am I? Am I the religious guy who presents his resume to God and pats himself on the back? Am I the fellow who knows how low he has fallen and cries out only for mercy? One went away condemned and the other justified.
On Ash Wednesday, we humble ourselves before God.
Yesterday was a special birthday. 110 years ago, Theodor Seuss Geisel was born March 2, 1904.
The world is a happier place because he was here.
He had no children of his own. In fact he said we could have them and he would entertain them, which he did.
Along the way, he tapped into feelings and issues with which children struggle. He acknowledged their questions and became a fellow explorer with them. He mastered the art of writing books that could speak to children and adults at any stage of life.
Dr. Seuss took us to many fascinating places, but left it to us to explore the rest.
I have been doing so since I was a child.
"OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
THERE IS FUN TO BE DONE! THERE ARE
POINTS TO BE SCORED. THERE ARE GAMES TO BE WON."
Theodor Geisel died, September 24, 1991.
The world became a little less for a little while ... but since every generation has rediscoverd the Dr., the Cat in the Hat, and all of Geisel's friends, it has continued to expand ...
... and so have we.
How many places have you been and where are you going?
Maybe you will go somewhere today .... if only in your imagination.
What is keeping you?
"Your mom will not mind at all if you do."
"This is a test of the Emergency Blogging System. The bloggers of your area in voluntary cooperation with Google, Yahooo, Facebook, and other platforms and whoever is evesdropping at the N.S.A. have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an actual blog post."
And thus, we introduce, for you platform builders and blog posters, the number one secret to increasing traffic to your various locations in cyberspace ... drum role ....
Are you ready?
Here it is:
I have experimented with this in the last few days and it works.
Of course, there are issues of context, social media integration, and key words, but I can confer with you on that one-on-one.
The real secret is to keep the content flowing
"If this had been an actual blog post, you would have been instructed to tune to one or more of my other hangouts online."
One day some cute kids broke up Jesus’ party. He had been doing serious teaching and had been telling all sorts of stories about what it meant to enter the Kingdom of God and follow Him. No one was really “getting it,” but everyone was enjoying themselves and listening hard.
They were straining to understand and reveling in their proximity to such a profound teacher. They were still thinking that the first thing was to be really wise and serious and to be able to pat themselves on the back for their spiritual discernment.
They were having a piety party.
Then some irresponsible parents lost complete control of their kids and they started climbing all over Jesus, distracting Him, giggling, and wanting to play.
The disciples knew what to do. This was serious business. These kids were breaking up the piety party. So they intervened.
Then, Jesus did something unexpected. He rebuked the wrong people. "Don't stop them! Let them come to me!" Jesus demanded, "This is what my Kingdom is all about. They are what constitute the Kingdom of God. If you want to be part of my Kingdom, you must become like them!"
They are what the party is all about. It’s not a piety part or a pity party or even a pretty party. It’s a preschool party!
FIRST – The very first thing you need to know is this: Cute Kids Are the Core of the Kingdom!
Yes, they are cute, but they are also CORE.
Yes, they are kids, but they are also KINGDOM kids.
They are CUTE because they are:
They are CORE because of some qualities that they alone can teach us, which reside in us in some sort of repressed state waiting be released by grace. They are:
This is the stuff of the kingdom, the cute part and the core part. Our calling is to live on tiptoe, to welcome interruptions, and to go with God's flow. If that means that we sometimes feel out of control and off-course, so be it. It comes with the call and it calls forth the kid in all of us.
With deepest apologies to those who have go crazy over context shuffle, "If pigs can fly, then why oh why can't I?"
Pigs can fly the same as you.
You get on an airplane with your pig and you both fly high, fly low, fly anywhere you want to go.
You've got to be careful about syllogisms that they don't get tangled up with your non-sequitur-ist similes.
We've got to be consistent - literal when we are literal, logical when we are logical, and levitating when we are exercising levity - which brings us back to flying pigs and ...
a deep reality:
I am being silly.
It is Saturday - Silly Saturday.
But, really, pigs CAN fly and SO CAN YOU ... So SOAR!
"At twenty a man is full of fight and hope. He wants to reform the world. When he's seventy he still wants to reform the world, but he knows he can't." - Clarence S. Darrow
I guess I'll have to wait a few more (11) years to find out, but I do not believe that is true in all cases.
I know people who have truly awakened for the first time at 70.
Nelson Mandela was nearly 72 when he was released from prison and began to reshape South Africa. Into his 90s he was still reforming the world.
Harlan Sanders did not start Kentucky Fried Children until he was 65 and invested his Social Security check. Sanders allegedly had 1,009 rejections when trying to establish his franchise.
Others remained active well into their golden years.
Big dreamers never stop dreaming and hoping. They do so because they believe they can make a difference.
Darrow may have been right about a couple of things:
However, that is no reason for discouragement because real dreamers have visions that extend beyond themselves and their lifespans.
The scriptures say that David fulfillled God's purposes in his lifetime and then, he died. May it be so. Let us live with purpose and wonder every day of our lives.
Growing old is and can be a wonderful thing.
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"
- Robert Browning
Excerpts from recent musings ... Skip if you've been keeping up.
Praying for Realness
Oh God, who sees me, knows me, and loves me while seeing through my pretensions. There is nothing I can tell you about myself that you do not already know. I am laid bare by your penetrating gaze and your Word divides by thoughts and attitudes, sorting them out in ways I cannot even comprehend. You know all about me and still I have the urge to hide and cover myself with the leaves of shame. Crack my facade, dissolve the masks I wear. Give me the grace to be real today, real and vulnerable, and open and compassionate with myself and others. Your love validates my existence and your mercy gives me courage to embrace the ugliness I see in myself, the impurity of my motives, the haughtiness of my words, the impulsiveness of my poor choices.
They are a part of all I have been and am becoming and I am not stuck in them, nor do they define me.
You define me and in freeing me to be me and become more, Your message from Jesus to me and through me that there is a possibility of joyous repentance and kingdom purpose ring true.
You know me and yet you choose me, in love, to be one of yours! I cannot wrap my mind around the grace of it, but I receive it that I may give it.<Deep, mystical, penetrating prayer of heart and scripture from the pen of Mendelssohn. When the solo cries out, the singer alone, there is mournful pathos. As the prayer progresses and the chorus joins in agreement, there is a movement of confidence and even joy. So it is when others meet us before the throne of grace, whether near or far, joined in common prayer. We are lifted and we become a force with which to contend. God enters into the prayers of His people and assures them of His presence and grace.Make me, like Francis, an instrument of your peace today. I am not worthy, but I am available.
Because I follow Jesus, I ask this in His Name. Amen.
Deep, mystical, penetrating prayer of heart and scripture from the pen of Mendelssohn. When the solo cries out, the singer alone, there is mournful pathos. As the prayer progresses and the chorus joins in agreement, there is a movement of confidence and even joy. So it is when others meet us before the throne of grace, whether near or far, joined in common prayer. We are lifted and we become a force with which to contend. God enters into the prayers of His people and assures them of his presence and grace.
Mendelssohn/ Liszt - On Wings Of Song - Mendelssohn composed and brought the depths of his soul to bear upon the essence and Liszt arranged for piano. Gentle and reassuring - Just what I need for the day
Spiritual Disciplines for Highly Distracted Souls - That is my next book ... well, one of the next ones --- if I can concentrate enough to finish it .
Seriously now, some of you know exactly what I mean.
And you are the folks who are my kin in this particular skin.
We struggle to focus, but we must focus to struggle.
We know the deep value of grace in our lives be because we guzzle it like cool water on a scorching day in the sun. It is cooling balm to our blistered flesh. It is food for our souls when we are starving.
God, if my concentration is what is required to seek and find you, I am in trouble. Actually, I am in trouble ... have been ... will be, but I am not hopeless.
My concentration comes through distraction, through poly-focus, and through serendipitous discovery.
I see you in the commonalities of multiplicities.
I hear your voice arising from the cacophony of sounds in a dissonant chorus of groaning cries.
I see your face in the contorted faces of broken people.
I grasp your Word in the recurring themes of unlikely sources that echo your truth and highlight the verses that I read just yesterday or this morning as I struggled to keep my mind from wandering.
I sit as long as I can and listen. I walk as far as I can without veering off the path. I keep coming back to you and you are always there.
It is neither my mood nor my mind that guide me, Oh Lord of clarity, but your ever present hand and upon you, I lean.
I will follow you today. I commit my day to you.
I am easily distracted and often torn. I am likely to bounce from thought to thought and project to project, but I know that you are present in the midst to order my days and my moments ....
And in the precious, fleeting stillness of this moment, I commit all my moments and days ... and this day, in particular, to You.
Buy your food carefully, cook it properly and whenever possible, grow it yourself.
Drink good clean water and herbal teas with local honey.
Eat natural foods, raw or nearly raw vegetable.
Eats lots of fruit.
Get your protein …
It is that simple, but it is also complicated. We love to eat. We also desire to live long and healthy lives, being productive and alert until the day we die. We live in a valley of abundance and contrasting abundant need. There is no food shortage, but because agriculture is also agribusiness, our economy demands that most of the food we eat gets shipped and processed and shipped some more. We have food access, food justice and food quality issues .. Read More at Kings River Life: Forage and Grow
Experiencing God's Love in God's Word
"Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word." Psalm 119:41
We are about to commemorate Valentine's Day, the holiday devoted to the celebration of romantic love. The word used in the psalm for mercies can also be translated, "unfailing love." It is the love of those who are in covenant together. It is the Hebrew equivalent of "agape," love that is unfailing, unconditional, and unbounded. It is the highest and best of love and that to which all human love aspires. It is the grandest romance of all, for God is the suitor wooing His people unto Himself through His precious love letters in the scriptures.
The romance of scripture gripped King David so profoundly that he had to sing about it. He sings the praises of God's salvation through His Word. In the next few verses he describes God's salvation revealed in scriptures.
By embracing the mercies of God found in the scriptures, we are filled with confidence and have an answer for every critic according to verse 42. We can speak His Word freely because our hope is in Him according to verse 43. Finally, because of His Word lovingly imparted to us and embraced in obedience, we can walk about in freedom according to verse 45.
Imagine any human love bringing such benefits to our lives. It would be the stuff of ballads ... and it is.
Such love is something about which we cannot keep silent and we will speak of it before kings according to verse 46. As human love is the topic of so much art, so many novels, and countless musical compositions, so God's love becomes the topic of conversation as David meets with kings. At the bottom line of God's love for us communicated in His Word and our love for God in receiving His Word is delight:
"And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes." (verses 47-48)
Adonai, above all powers, above all rulers, above all my thoughts and hopes and dreams, LORD of my frailties and Dreamer of my dreams, Giver of life, Author of hope, First Cause, Final Conclusion, Ultimate Concern, Lover of humanity, Creator of all that is, Mighty God, Everlasting Father ... my Abba ...
To Thee, I come and with Thee, I stand. In Thee, I rest. Through Thee, I live.
You are, יהוה , the Great I AM. I hesitate to speak Thy Name lest I speak it for naught and yet ...
You invite me, to call Thee, Abba, Father, Pappa ....
Our Pappa in Heaven, ours, and not just mine, They name is hallowed for Thou art holy with a sanctified Name.
Grant unto to be enveloped in a cloud of reverent awe at the sight and sound of Thy Name.
Hallowed be Thy Name.
In every segmented concern of my life, my family, my concentric circles of sanctified souls and saintly sinners of which I am chief of sinners, Thy Kingdom come! In every gathering where my brothers and sisters find shelter, Thy Kingdom. In every city through which I pass and nation that enters my conscious awareness and those that escape my notice, among all people and powers, Thy Kingdom, Lord. Thy Kingdom of joy and grace, and righteousness.
I turn, repent, and renounce my kingdom and every other kingdom which has enslaved me and to Thy Kingdom, Christ's Kingdom of peace and justice and love I run.
"The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!"
Thy Kingdom come where there is injustice and hatred, and bigotry, and violence, lust and debauchery, dehumanization and demoralization, contention and bitterness, exploitation and humiliation, poverty and homelessness, hunger and famine, disease and addiction, loneliness and lostness, oppression and desperate, despairing sin. Thy Kingdom come.
Reign, King Jesus, reign!
Thy will be done ... for Thou knowest best.
We know not how to pray. It is not that we shrink from desiring to know. We do desire to join Thee in knowing prayer, knowing that we shall not know all. We know that we do no know and in that ignorance is the bliss of trusting.
Abba, what we know, we hold loosely in our hands and minds, awaiting instruction and correction. We approach Thee, Thy world, Thy creation, with very large question marks and interrogative wonder. Tomorrow is in Thy hands with every yesterday and today and so, override our own desires with Thy perfect will ...
Because what we know is Who we know and we have come to love and trust Thee and pray that Thy Spirit will pray Thy will through us and that Thy will will be done here and now, apart from us and beyond us, and all around us ....
.... on Earth as it is in Heaven!
Give us today, this day, our daily bread.
Thou knowest our needs, OUR needs, not just mine. Free me from my slavery to selfishness and introverted focus on myself, Dear God. Provide what Thou knowest we need and see us through this day with ...
food and clothing,
healing and health,
love and affection,
mission and service,
and more ...
and sometimes less,
our daily bread!
Forgive us our trespasses, our debts, our sins. Forgive us to the extent that we are able to loosen our grip on those debt for ourselves and for others.
Make us debt free in the realm of sin and free of holding others to the obligation of their trespasses against us. Teach us to loosen our grip for in that grip of bitterness, we hold ourselves as well for the same hand that gives forgiveness, receives it.
Liberate us from the power of darkness and guilt and retributive desire, Abba, by Thy love and mercy and grace.
We forgive our debtors.
We need to be led. We shall follow. We desire to go where Thou leadest, Oh Lord.
Remember, Dear Father, that we are dust and we are susceptible to the vilest thoughts and deeds, and are so easily tempted. Please lead us away from those things that tempt us most ... and least and ...
Lead us not into temptation, yet, should we encounter evil, and we shall, for such is our fallen, broken, hurting world, then ....
Deliver us from evil.
You have in the past; You do daily; You shall in the future.
"Yeah, though I walk through the valley of dark shadows," the shadow of death, "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me."
Remind us that neither darkness nor death can overcome us with evil when Thou art present with us.
Hear us, Oh Adonai, for all that we have and are and ever shall be, is Thine.
Indeed, Thine is the Kingdom.
It is all Thine!
Thine is the power.
Thou canst (You CAN because YOU ARE, oh great I AM!) bring all of this to pass. Thine is the power!
Thine is the glory!
Glory, honor, and praise to Thee, Thou great Jehovah!
Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever and ever and ever.
Amen and Amen and in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I pray, we pray, amen and amen!
We must become weak to be strong.
Lots can be said about the tragedy of Philip Seymour Hoffman who was sober for decades and died of addiction related events/behavior. He was neither a bad example nor a role model. He was a great talent and he had many valuable insights when he was at his best. He was a human being and a child of God and he died like each of us must die and too soon and of challenges that are common to each of us. We are all subject to the same human frailties as he was.
It doesn't really matter what paradigm you employ (well, it does, but not for this application), a great talent can be lost, a great light extinguished, and a precious life ended by giving an inch. I am reminded in my own life, at each level of progress over the sins, addictions, and negative attitudes that are a part of my past, that I am not too strong to slip. If I give an inch, a mile will be extracted.
The secret of great strength is in knowing our own vulnerability. I hate to have to preach this and know this at Hoffman's expense. His personal pain, disappointments, and tragedy are his own and only God knows his heart..
None of us is such a great role model that we do not need help beyond ourselves. None of us is so far gone that we have no hope. Some of us live high profile lives; some of us go through our days virtually unnoticed, except by God who gives us undivided attention. We must walk through this life with a humble confidence and a fearful faith - not the fear that terrifies, but the kind that holds our choices and destinies in deep reverence and knows that every move we make matters.
We can be "cured" and we can "relapse." We can stand and we can fall. We can be taken down by a microscopic virus or a minuscule choice.
Or we can have great victory and end this life well.
Paul wrestled with this in two places. Romans 7 is very familiar, but also @ Corinthians 12. The Message (Click here for 2 Cor. 12:9-13) gets in our face with the humanity that Paul experienced coupled with and overwhelmed by the power greater than himself, the power of God. He walked and we must walk in constant and continuous dependence upon that which makes us strong ...
... because it is not our own sheer willpower, our fame, our fortune, our success, or even our self-righteousness.
When we are weak, then we are strong.
King James Version (KJV)
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Sermon Notes from Sunday, Feb. 2: Hebrews 3:7-19 contrasts rebellion and rest. Rebellion flows from and results back in a hard heart. Rest is that place of fulfillment, satisfaction, and trust. Resistance to rest is the struggle we all face. I'll be unpacking some of this and we will be partaking of the Lord's Supper at 4141 Ministries . All are welcome at the table who come to partake of the symbols of grace! I will be continuing some bible studies on prayer at 10 for those who wish to join our small group bible study.
Benediction and Blessing : May it be a day full of grace for you and may you taste the grace of each moment upon your tongue and may your tongue speak grace to all you meet. May God's grace be within you and flow through you. Amazing grace, grace greater than all our sins, sweet grace, transforming grace, amazing grace.
Challenge: "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8 (New International Version (NIV))
Inspiration: We don't always "feel" inspired, but we keep on doing what we did when we knew the experience of inspiration and motivation. We keep on because that which inspired us is still within us. We keep on because in that moment on the mountain we looked around and saw the big picture ... and it was truth. We keep on because the vision and the cause is greater than our own mood and desire. We keep on because we know that in the movement toward the prize, the inspiration will come again and we shall rise. We keep on. Keep on. Listen Now
And a wonderful new bluegrass tune to bring it home to the heart. Listen Here.
Access is not charity. Neighbors just act like neighbors and assume, " if you're here, you're family" - like Olive Garden #FresnoBRT
Exactly what does "Love your neighbor as yourself" mean to you? #FresnoBRT
Tom Sims #FresnoBRT The ultimate social engineering = ROADS.
Building roads through cities always involves social engineering. Also - Interstate System -- Roads=Social Engineering #FresnoBRT
Retweeted Christine Barker (@cmichellebarker): reminder of what #FresnoBRT is about. "We have built this city for cars. We have 2 start building this city 4 people" Click for More!
Retweeted Rebecca Plevin (@rebeccaplevin):
Thanks @FresnoBee for featuring my @KVPR story about air pollution and kids' health on today's editorial page! Click to Read.
"Jesus repudiated the weapons of force and substituted the weapons of good will. " - E Stanley Jones
Jesus repudiated the weapons of force and substituted the weapons of good will. The world must follow him at this point or perish. The Spirit of Christ as the dynamic of this new Kingdom repudiates force and uses the healing forces of love. But that does not mean acquiescence to evil. Evil is resisted from a higher level. Mahatma Gandhi gave the world a glimpse of the possibilities of this weapon . . . He has shown us a technique by which evil may be resisted and how a group or nation may attain its objectives without recourse to the barbarities of war. -From "Christ's Alternative to Communism" by E. Stanley Jones
"Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength." ― Ralph W. Sockman
Tom Sims shared Frederick Buechner's status.
“In the early centuries of the church, leprosy meant isolation, uncleanness, and death.
A church father named Basil had an idea: "What if we build a place to love and care for lepers? They don't have money. They don't even have to pay for it. We'll raise the money."
"One of the most famous sermons in that century was by his brother, Gregory of Nyssa (also a church father), and it was to raise money for this place to take care of leprosy. This is what Gregory said: "Lepers have been made in the image of God. In the same way you and I have, and perhaps preserve that image better than we, let us take care of Christ while there is still time. Let us minister to Christ's needs. Let us give Christ nourishment. Let us clothe Christ. Let us gather Christ in. Let us show Christ honor."
"That was the beginning of what would come to be known as hospitals. The Council of Nyssa (the same council that affirmed the Nicene Creed) decreed that wherever a cathedral existed, there must be a hospice, a place of caring for the sick and poor. That is why even today many hospitals have names such as "Good Samaritan" or "Good Shepherd" or "Saint Anthony." They were the world's first voluntary, charitable institutions.” - Buechner
"Many people have their consciences trained to be sensitive to the very marginal sins and shortcomings, and not be at all acute to central and fundamental sins." - E. Stanley Jones
A little bit of sweet bluegrass for your heart this morning. Do what you can today to take care of your hobos and others. Give some love away and let your heart bleed a little - That's what hearts were designed to do.
"Hobos In The Roundhouse" by Monroe Crossing 25Jan2013 - Listen!
The years go by so much faster than they used to. Days start with great expectations and we accomplish less than we set out to accomplish and sometimes more and usually more than we think and we step back and scratch our heads with wonder. We've come farther than we think and somewhere along the line we've learned to live with the paradoxical, quizzical, quintessential mysteries of coming and going, gaining and losing, moving and standing still. We lose track of time and find ourselves at curious peace with the situation. We live in the flow and know that we cannot set the course of the river. We can resist or we can rest in the grace of the moment, the grace of God. We can breath deeply of the awesome vastness of limitless possibilities and inevitable mortality. We are so tiny and we are so large. We were lost, but we are found. We wandered and now we are at home. We do not know where the time goes, but we have been blessed to be found in this time and to live out our purpose in time as part of a greater dream.
JUDY COLLINS - "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?" LIVE 2002 - Listen!
Perspective, like maturity, cannot be rushed. We see "Both Sides Now" once we've had the time and attention to pay attention and ... when we really see, we know that there is much more to see than we know or can know. And by the way, once you've been in the cloud and see it for what it is, you can still step back and enjoy the illusion and allusion of it because we really don't know the clouds as well as we think we do. Live with wonder. Embrace the mystery. Stand in awe of God today and all that God has made. Life is good and we really don't know it yet, at all!!!
JUDY COLLINS - "Both Sides Now" with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops 1976 - Listen!
The hard and soft sciences are vital to our infrastructure, understanding how things work, and how to sustain our lives. The social sciences inform and instruct us on how to interact and coexist. Philosophy and theology answer or raise questions about our big "WHY" questions and connect us with ultimate truth. However, the arts touch something deep within us that connects to our joy, how we express our reason for living and our total engagement in life.
Much of what we study in academia helps us live, but without the arts, there is a vaccum in the arena of our reason for living.
That is one reason why I enjoy writing about the arts in our local area as I have for this article in today's Kings River Life Magazine:
Are the performing arts alive and well in Fresno?
They are alive and thriving and the next generation is catching the fire and setting the world ablaze with brilliance.
From the age of five and upwards, young people and families can learn to dance in any style from ballet to tap, jazz, ballroom, Irish, or hip hop and more. They can explore the possibilities of visual art, gymnastics, or cheering. They can take vocal and instrumental music lessons, study acting, or combine any of these skill sets in the context of the performing arts at California Arts Academy. Read More
You can stroll through Fresno, veer off to the mountains and cities of Laos, and never leave your chair. As long as local photographer, cinematographer, and author, Joel Pickford is your guide, you can travel far and experience new worlds through his keen eye. What you see through his eye, is a combination of lights and images that evoke awareness, emotion, and a call to notice. Continue Reading ...
When I stroll, I am aware that the things I see along the way are only a small part of the picture of the neighborhoods through which I walk. On the surface, I see the faces of people passing by, the facades of buildings, traffic in the streets and whatever landscape is presented. Everything seems to be working in one way or another. Continue Reading.
It seems so small to say, “Merry Christmas,” and leave it at that. It is merry. Our hearts are at their best when dancing between the realities of brokenness and giddy joy. We are warmed, we are delighted, carols surround us, lights invite us; we are caught up in the season of hope. Continue Reading.
There are several things you notice when you walk through the door of Kuppa Joy on Clovis Avenue in Old Town Clovis. One is that there are people present, working, conversing, and sipping coffees and teas in a welcoming atmosphere that is rustic and contemporary. You notice that there is community gathering in the room creating community. Continue Reading.
More of my articles in Kings River Life Magazine : TOM SIMS SECTIONS
Not everyone reads Facebook. I meet folks there and often, they squeeze thoughts, ideas, and words out of me that I write on the spot. They don't always make it here. So, I picked out a few from the last week and re-posted them.
On Saying Goodbye to Pete
Let's Sing Together Today! What I most loved about Pete Seeger was how this gentle man with a banjo could get any group singing and usually harmonizing. He just won them over.
Even after his voice was gone, with his banjo and presence, he could get people singing.
Tom Paxton said that he looked them in their eyes and connected. All of us who try to communicate in one way or another could learn from that.
I know I did a long thing on him last night, but want to add this bit and more and more and more because I want the singing to continue.
So .... How about this tribute to Pete: Can we find some people to sing with today .... or tomorrow?
What if we could all start by starting to sing together?
I celebrate M.L. King Day every year like, to some extent, I celebrate the liberation struggle of every oppressed people through history and today. At one time or another, we are all the oppressed or we may be the oppressor. Our task is always to align ourselves where God is aligned, with the oppressed. We are called to be the voice of Moses in every generation whether we are among the "privileged" or whether we, like Fannie Lou Hamer are just "sick and tired of being sick and tired." It is never about one man or one voice or one people. It is about all of us and, for me, it is about following Jesus.
The American Dream for All
Langston Hughes said it with compelling insight. The American Dream is a great dream, but the dream is only worth its full weight if it is available to all to pursue and all are encouraged to pursue it.
The dream is bigger than the dreamers or the founders or any who have ever pursued it or expressed it. It is bigger than all of us ... and it is a great dream.
"O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be! Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers. The mountains and the endless plain— All, all the stretch of these great green states— And make America again!" - See more at:http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15609#sthash.zjkimOtg.dpuf
Music in a Rest
“There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it.” ~ John Ruskin
And further, he says ...
“In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by rests, and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the theme. God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator."
"How does the musician read the rest? See him beat the time with unvarying count and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between."
"Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not to be dismayed at the rests. They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God himself will beat the time for us.” - John Ruskin
How does this apply to your life today?
Where in the score are you? Are there multiple measures of rest or is something at a grand crescendo? Perhaps you do not have the whole score and the conductor is only giving you a page at a time ...
There is the making of music in a rest.
Come to the table
Grace calls gently, firmly, stubbornly.
You are not able,
Flesh weak, willing, needy, humbly.
Look in the stable,
A baby wimpers, helpless child of destiny.
He comes to lead us
Tableward, forward, beyond ourselves.
- Tom Sims
I don't know if you realized it or not, but for you old timers and new timers, CompuServe Forums - the original nation-wide/international, live message boards/social networking sites (not to bypass BBS systems and the packets that moved overnight between them) - are still alive and well. That is right. For 25 years, I have been involved in two of them - one I originally opened with Georgia Griffith : the Religion Forum and The Christian Fellowship Forum.
Since Georgia died a few years ago, I have held the contract for these.
They are moderated communities where people can come together and freely discuss ideas as long as they agree to respect each other and live by the rules.
You are invited. You will have to join AOL to participate, but it is free.
We have a couple of Hot Topics at the moment.
In the Christian Fellowship Forum: Should Duck Dynasty Walk Away?
Would you like to weigh in on the controversy? Remember to respect each other as you disagree.
Reuters & Pew Research say 1/2 of Americans see it as mostly religious holiday. Your opinion?
Yesterday, I spent some time cleaning up and "redesigning" my Blog, "The Dream Factory." I like the new look. It is a bit fresher, cleaner, and more navigable. I noticed that there were quite a few dead widgets and irrelevant feeds. Most are gone now. It will take some monitoring in the next few weeks, but I hope that it will be easier for people to visit.
In fact, my statistics soared overnight.
We are in the last stretch of 2013. It is an a milestone, in one way, but a real geo-cosmic one as well. 365 days ago, one rotation around the sun, we were right here artificial
What needs to be cleaned up, discarded, redesigned, and beautified in our lives? It is worth the time and effort.
Our "statistics" might just soar.
Here is a digest of some of my posts on Facebook on a variety of subjects over the last week:
"...in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old." - Isaiah 63:9 (NRSV)
This is the personal involvement of God in the distress of His people.
We continue to celebrate Christmas on the Christian calendar and in life, the message of the incarnation is one of God's personal involvement in the pain and passion of people.
It is our clarion call to be personally involved, with passion in the pain around us ... present.
We must be present for God is present.
We cannot stand back and gaze upon suffering and injustice with nods and sneers and detached prayers. Our prayers must to attached to our lives and the lives of others.
Isaiah will be read in churches across the world this Sunday, the first Sunday after Christmas. We will praise God from Psalm 68. We will be taught from Hebrews 2 that it was fitting for our champion to be made perfect through sufferings to bring many sons to glory. We will see this lived out as the homeless Jesus becomes a refuge in a foreign land, an alien among a strange people.
It is personal involvement. What will you touch in the coming year?
In the early days of this country, if a person needed a home and had none, he or she could just move to the wilderness, hunt, fish, forage, or grow something, build a cabin, and live in peace. Then, we had homesteading and that is where many Americans started owning land. It is in relatively recent years that people who could not "buy into" the economy had absolutely no options except to be invisible or enter a program -- whether they were program material or not. One of my relatives even owned a "poor house" in Virginia where people could go, live, and work with dignity, take their families, and build community. Just wondering ... just wondering if, in this day of strict building codes, high land and housing prices, high unemployment, disparity between living wages and costs of living, and other obstacles to stable housing ... just wondering mind you ... if we could all get a bit creative together, develop a new homesteading plan ... or do something that does not judge people or render them wards of the state in order to help people become stable home owners or renters again. I saw so many good families Sunday who were not drug-dazed or lazy or indigent --- hundreds of them who wear the label "homeless" for one reason and one reason alone: They do not have a home. There are thousands in Fresno. http://youtu.be/RvzkWam1PRE
“Just viewed "It's a Wonderful Life" for the 3 millionth time, and also saw America becoming Pottersville. 1.3 million jobless are two days away from losing their extended unemployment benefits, Congress is readying another cut in food stamps, and 1 in 5 of our children is in poverty -- at the same time the rip-roaring stock market has made the nation's wealthiest some 15 percent richer than they were this time last year. Who's your candidate for Mr. Potter of 2013? (The Koch brothers? Ted Cruz? Paul Ryan?) Your nominee for this year's George Bailey?” - Robert Reich
My response to Robert Reich is not meant to be cynical, but sincere:
"If I could find a George Bailey in the group, I'd support him or his sister, Georgia. No one is entirely Mr. Potter. No one is 100% George (not even George was). Remember that George was reluctant and had no ambition to do what he was called to do --- so we might have to draft someone. I'd actually like to see that."
What if we could find a leader who was truly compassionate, wise, fair, just, conservative about what needs to be conserved, liberal about what needs to be shared, progressive about innovation and progress, regressive about decline, libertarian about personal liberties, utilitarian about necessities, pragmatic and idealistic, optimistic and realistic, firm on non-negotiable things and flexible enough to negotiate wherever possible, friendly and dignified, human but above reproach, honest, but diplomatic, strong yet vulnerable, self abasing yet confident, cheerful yet solemn, appreciative of counterpoints, yet able to make a decision ...
and lots more? ... Well ...
That person might be the Son of God and Son of man and ...
He/She would probably not want the job, but would consider what he/she was already doing to be more important ... and ...
Would not look good on camera ... and ...
Would be torn up by the left media or the right media or the centrist media or all combined ... and ...
Could not be nominated or elected ... and ...
Would appeal to virtually no one ... and would do nothing to change that image ... and
"I knew George Bailey, Senator and you're no George Bailey ..."
Not even George was!
So, given that scenario, let's just do the best we can, find a human being who can do the best he/she can, give him/her as much support as we can, pray for that person as much as we can ... and realize that's the way it has always been with leadership: There has never been a perfect leader of any nation ... and that includes the best of them.
New Research Suggests Our Sun Won't Form a Planetary Nebula
“You have probably heard that the Sun will turn into a red giant in about 5 billion years. And you probably know that this will result in not-so-fun times for any being still on planet Earth. As it transitions from a main sequence star into a red giant, the outer layers of the Sun will expand across the solar system. When this happens, our life-giving star will turn into an object of utter destruction. The Sun will expand beyond Mercury. It will expand beyond Venus. It will sweep across the entirety of the inner solar system in a mere 5 million years. When it finally stops its expansion, the searing tips of the solar surface will rest beyond the bounds of Earth’s orbit. In short: if we aren’t knocked out of the solar system as the Sun expands, or moved into a larger orbit as it loses mass...we will be consumed.”
“But what happens to the Sun after it becomes a red giant? We have a pretty good handle on the fate of our own world...but what about the Sun itself? “
“We once thought it would turn into a planetary nebula, but we might be wrong on that one.”
Read More: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/new-research-suggests-our-sun-wont-form-a-planetary-nebula/ Image Credit: ESO/S. Steinhöfel - from http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com
The ancient prophets spoke of the earth ending in fire, but the scholars and common folk could not deviate from their assumption of permanence. Nothing is permanent. The bible recognizes the transience of existence and the transcendence of eternity. The predictions are similar, but the scriptures imply a shorter time span and offer an explanation of intentionality with a promise of hope beyond the veil.
There is no conflict between religion/philosophy and science, nor do they operate in entirely different spheres. They have complimentary functions and sometimes travel parallel paths ... but they ask different questions that sometimes have the same answer ... at other times asking different questions with different answers ... and rarely, but sometimes, ask questions that have differing answers ... just different interpretations and applications.
Both deal with vast unknowns and deep mysteries. In the realm of faith, there is one Great Known and that is enough ... but within Him are a quintillion universes of unanswered questions for which He holds the answers. Henry Ford said that he did not have to have all the answers ... he just needed to surround himself with the sorts of people who knew them or could find them. That is what faith in God does for us.
Thank God for the inquisitiveness of science that evokes such awe and wonder.
What a great prelude to the worship service.
Wrapped in vulnerability,
Love descended ...
exposed to the elements ...
exposed to threat
and danger ...
invisible divinity and
an open target ...
a viable opportunity
to align or malign and yet
Present with us,
One of us,
Like us ...
in all our infirmity ...
every pain and passion,
poured upon Love!
Welcome, Presence and Power of God,
Emptied and embodied in
We are your body now.
All that you were among us,
We are called to be.
Let us be who you were and let us
give as you gave and let us
speak as you spoke and let us
love as you loved.
You, who are the Prince of Peace have made us ...
Peacemakers and called us ...
And we are ...
Welcome, Lord Jesus.
Welcome to our hearts and lives and
Joy to the World!
The Lord has come.
Let earth receive her King!
The babyhood of God -- a reflection by Oswald Chambers. BTW - A major goal of my life would be to be like him and others I admire and still be encouraging deep thought and extraordinary living long after I am gone. I think when I have that possibility in place and operating, then I will be ready for my call home. At the moment, I still have quite a bit of work to do as His life is incarnated in mine and I seek to reflect Him in all I say, do, and write. It is a journey and I have only yet begun. Yet, I am encouraged in the knowledge that He started small and He is with me!
"The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God—God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh. God has undertaken not only to repair the damage, but in Jesus Christ the human race is put in a better condition than when it was originally designed." --Oswald Chambers, in The Shadow of an Agony from the Quotable Oswald Chambers.
A wonderful reminder of what it means to align with the child in the manger on Christmas morning. To follow this man, Jesus, means to adopt His program, to enter His kingdom as a child by turning from everything else (repentance). When we make that turn, grace and mercy cover every failed attempt we have ever made to make life meaningful or bearable. Every sin is obliterated because He carried this entire program to the final degree of obedience unto death. Following His is freedom to bring this same good news of release, sight, liberty, and Jubilee to all for, as the Spirit was upon Him, He is with us and within us to accomplish these purposes. Our hearts and our lives are in lockstep with His heart and life for the poor, the captive, the blind, and the bruised. We can change things. We can make a difference. It is not all on any of us, but it is upon us all as one people with Him. We will have multiple failures, disappointments, and quite a few successes .... but the walk behind Him is a walk of grace and joy and peace. Welcome, Jesus! We shall follow you!
“When we analyze the program of Jesus, set forth in Luke 4, we find:
1. Good news to the poor -- the economically disinherited.
2. Release to the captives -- the socially and politically disinherited.
3. The opening of the eyes of the blind -- the physically disinherited.
4. The setting at liberty the bruised -- the morally and spiritually disinherited.
5. The Lord's Year of Jubilee -- a new beginning on a world scale.
6. The Spirit of the Lord upon me -- the dynamic behind it all. “
From "Christ's Alternative to Communism" by E. Stanley Jones
As I reflect upon the friends who have lifted me in life, some lean right; some lean left ... and some lean so far in one direction or another that it is amazing that they could share the same circle of friendship and love, but they do. I am glad they do. In my circle are all sorts of folks. I sure do love you all and value your perspective. Your range of thought keeps me coming back to my center. Thank you for what you all mean in my life.
I will shake anyone's hand who extends it and will extend mine to those who do not. I will speak to anyone who will speak with me and listen to anyone who will ask for my ear. That is was Jesus does and did do and calls me to do. It endorses nothing except their humanity and mine and I hope the whole world will start shaking hands with one another. In the name of the One who ate with publicans and sinners and took a lot of heat for it, Amen.
Today, I saw it was the birthdays of some preachers, as it often is. In this case, one was a man who mentored me for a while from a slight distance. The other was someone I had a small role in mentoring for a time. Somehow the continuity of it just struck me as wonderful. We are always being mentored and we are always mentoring.
It seems so small to say, “Merry Christmas,” and leave it at that. It is merry. Our hearts are at their best when dancing between the realities of brokenness and giddy joy. We are warmed, we are delighted, carols surround us, lights invite us; we are caught up in the season of hope.
We are merry as we ought to be.
Merriness is necessary to our emotional health and we must sing.
Yet, we must remember before there was a Christmas at all, the world was dark. Read the rest of the article at Kings River Life to see how light makes a difference.
To all of you ....
Whatever you believe ...
From whatever direction you come ...
Right or left ...
North or south ...
East or west ...
Whoever you are ...
Good News has come!
May your day be bright ...
And merry ...
May your life be filled with all good things ...
Your table spread with bounty ...
Your home filled with love.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas!