Violence and Solidarity

Photo by Chip Vincent on Unsplash

I frequently see comments I have written that protest violence as I browse the memories sections of my social media platforms. Without doing some checking, I usually have lost track of the event that prompted my comment.

It is a sad state of affairs when they all blend together.

This was such a comment:

As we read the news, we are overwhelmed with sadness because of the violence of our humanity.

If we have any sense that we are evolving rather than devolving in maturity, it must churn within our collective gut.

We do not consider such things normative.

We wretch within and our hearts go out to grieving families and suffering injured .

Outrage at the insanity or evil or whatever prompts such deed is of lesser comfort than the call to pray for the well being of those whose lives have been so irreversibly invaded.

Yet, we do, also, pray as we act:

God grant shalom that passes understanding and the truth that the communities crave.

There are no adequate words.

— — — — — — -

Photo by Zinko Hein on Unsplash

I found this as well.

I found this among my memories and thought I’d revisit it at bit:

There are days to make comments on the issues of the day and there are days when the issues are too personal, painful, and powerful to come down on one side or the other. Those are the days when we become channels of grace, love, and compassion and enter into the pain of every man, woman, and child with a sense of common humanity, common concern, and common commitment to some core values we all share.

Such are days when we overcome our fear that others will use the day to their advantage.

Such are days when we resist the temptation to take advantage.

Though our convictions are strong, we respect that those of our neighbor are just as strong, sincere, and based upon personal integrity and perspective.

In the end, this world and nation will not rise and fall on our politics. We have survived many a shift and will survive many more.

We will survive on our good will and God’s grace and nothing we say or do about our opinions will bolster or alter that.

We are one people and we stand in sympathy and solidarity with our neighbors.

— — — — — — — — — — — —

Born this day in 1935, Diahann Carroll and died October 4, 2019. She was an American actress, singer, model, and activist. Remember her in g Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959). In 1962, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for No Strings. In 1974 she starred in Claudine and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Here she is with James Garner in the 1963, March on Washington.

“Carroll was a founding member of the Celebrity Action Council, a volunteer group of celebrity women who served the women’s outreach of the Los Angeles Mission, working with women in rehabilitation from problems with alcohol, drugs, or prostitution. She helped to form the group along with other female television personalities including Mary Frann, Linda Gray, Donna Mills, and Joan Van Ark.” (Source — Wikipedia)


Pastor

The lord is my pastor

I just got off the phone praying with someone who thought that my prayers with them might be meaningful and helpful.

Whether they are or not is not for me to say.

I think all prayer is meaningful and helpful.

Am I a pastor?

Well, I had the title, job, and role for 47 years and I still have that as one of my roles on a more part-time basis. I might be semi-retired. Whatever that is.

This is me. I really do not think pastor is primarily a title, job, and role. It is more of a function and a gift. If I am watching a flock of sheep and have to excuse myself a moment, I might grab you and you walk by and ask you to watch them till I get back.

I do that with a certain confidence that you can handle it till I arrive and take over.

Keep them together.
Don't let the wolves get them.
The dog will help.

But I will keep coming back, because it has become more than just a temporary function for me. It permeates everything. It informs my thinking, prayers, and compassion - soul care, community care, care for people.

As long as you are out there and reach out to me in that function, I guess will be pastor someone.

I can't resign because there is no person or organization to whom I can submit a letter of resignation.

So, it is more than a function also, because that function comes and goes.

The same word does not always mean the same thing in every context, not even every biblically context exactly.

So, I say this loosely, humbly, and tentatively. For me, pastoral ministry is a calling and one that I sense I will have until I take my last breath and present myself before the Great Pastor.





PACE Yourself and Other Words of Advice for the Day



Photo by Fynephoqus on Unsplash
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” — Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)

This may seem like a rather strange admonition, but it is absolutely necessary to remind ourselves of its truth. Many people simple do not succeed in the race to riches because they wear themselves out in the first lap or two. Or they accumulate some quick wealth and lose health or life itself and never get to enjoy it. Short sprints in life’s long haul are necessary for competition of the marathon. Pacing oneself, taking breaks, knowing limitations, setting boundaries, and balance are some of the secrets of maximum effectiveness.

PACE yourself.

P — Practice restraint. Solomon urges us to hold back some effort. Usually it is unproductive, frenzied, thoughtless activities that we need to curtail in order to be more effective.

A — Assign yourself times to work and specific tasks to do. Also assign yourself times for rest, refreshment, and recovery. Assign and follow through. Keep your life in balance.

C — Create spaces for thought, reflection, renewal, and creative thinking. Create space for family. Money is not the most important thing in your life. It is the freedom to pursue what is valuable that makes money attractive. Do not lose that perspective.

E — Excuse yourself from attempts to overload you (by others) or yourself by yourself with good things that rob your energy from the things that are best. Make wise choices.

I also recommend The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.

“When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair.. Don’t say “I have to start all over again.” This is not true. What you have gained you have gained.. When you return to the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started.” — Henri Nouwen

A Case of the Pace

For people of faith who have a history with God, even when we doubt, we cry out to Him. Even when we waver, we never stray far from faith. Our teetering, pathetic faith is in a strong and good God and the mustard seeds of belief that we toss into the ground continue to move the mountains of despair.

“ Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
 Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
 Why do you hide your face?
 Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
 our belly clings to the ground.
 Rise up; come to our help!
 Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”
(Psalm 44:23–26 ESV)

How is this for making a case with God? I’ve been really bad; so please help me. Yet, that is what is happening here. Under the weight of his sin, the psalmist is suffering and cries out for healing. His acknowledgment of sin is not the case for just deserts, but a statement of need. His only case is the righteousness and goodness of a gracious God.

“ As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
 heal me, for I have sinned against you!””
(Psalm 41:4 ESV)

Make Someone’s Day

Let me start by saying that if you chose to open this posting and read it, that is a good sign that you are on the right track and your heart is in the right place. You have already moved from the realm of unlikely positive outcome to likely positive outcome. You have identified making someone’s day as an intention in your life and that kind of intentionality is a real key to accomplishment.

Proverbs 18:1 says,

“An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; 
 he defies all sound judgment.”

It is in the pursuit that our judgment is magnified.

So I may leave it at that for today. To be friendly and to desire the good for someone else today will move you far down the road of being a blessing. When you wish someone well, it is communicated in your attitude, your words, and your deeds. you cannot help but be an encouragement to all who are receptive and in need.

The very desire to make another person’s day is an indicator of character and a predictor of success in that endeavor.

Today, I will start to spell out how to do that by examining the word, “D-A-Y.” First let us look at a proverb for today, Proverbs 19:1:

“Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. “

To apply that to our theme, we might paraphrase it this way: “While wealth and prosperity can open doors, create opportunities, and enable us to do much good for others, it would be better to do without it if it meant that our words wounded rather than healed, deflated people rather than inflating them, and discouraged rather than encouraged.”

Words are powerful and how we use words will determine much of our success in making someone else’s day.

And the god news is that if you make the day of enough people, it will eventually lead you on the path to success.

We don’t have to choose between our success and that of others if we are willing to put our primary focus on helping others succeed.

Now, here is the D-A-Y

D = Decision.

You make a decision about the kind of day you will have. You make it early; you make it firm. You decide that whatever comes your way, “The is the day that the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” It is always a decision and if you make it, it will rub off on others. While you make the decision, early in the morning, to have a great day, decide to bring others along as well. Pray for opportunities to encourage, lift, and serve people. They will come!

A = Attitude.

It is aways about attitude. Attitude can make or break your day and will affect others. Positive attitudes are contagious, but so are negative attitudes. If you walk around all day with the attitude that is selfish, angry, resentful, and bitter, that will take the wind out of people’s sails who are living on the edge. Not everyone has learned the power of a positive decision. They need to see a living example of positivity — YOU! If you carry your decision to have a blessed day with you throughout the day and reflect that in your attitude, those same people will see and catch some of your spirit. Smile at frowns; speak gently to harsh voices; deflect criticism; be kind when you are treated without kindness. Be the master of your moments and your emotions. Elevated your attitude and you will elevate others.

Y = Yes, Yes living.

It is a no-no world. All around us, people are looking for reasons to be critical, to disagree, to complain, to gossip, to make other people feel small. You have chosen to live the opposite way. You are looking for areas of agreement. You are searching for the YES. You are endeavoring to find things you can compliment and affirm, people you can encourage, and lives you can touch with God’s love. You are actively giving out smiles. Your goal is to build and what you are building are people.

The only two things that will last forever are the Word of God and the souls of people. One builds the other.

Make a decision to have and promote a great day. Put on the attitude of positive thinking and living, the attitude of love and grace. Put it on the same way you put on a cheerful shirt in the morning. Look for yes every where and build upon each yes you find. Decision — Attitude — Yes = DAY.





Black and White

Black and White


Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

There is an old joke:

What’s black and white and red all over (real spelling — read)?

Drum roll.

The newspaper.


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

WHITE is the color of milk and fresh snow. Not very descriptive, but beautiful in contrast with other colors.

BLACK is the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; opposite of white. Again, contrast adds delight.

While both are beautiful alone, they are seldom seen alone and difficult to perceive when they are.

In PHYSICS, it is the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; opposite of white.

I never met either color of person.

Our colorfulness is what makes us part of a wonderful human family.

Our varied cultures are given to be gifts.

Our histories, painful and joyful bring color to our music and art as well as to our shared values.

We have culture because we are multi-cultural.

Otherwise, we rob ourselves of our wealth.

I have met some dead people who had extreme colors — — but those who are alive, no matter how colorful, are neither all or nothing of anything.

I have met many on a continuum as we all are … descendants of common ancestors and cultures. We absorb many colors and lights. That is good.

Any claim to superiority is misinformed and ignorant.

Our uniqueness is good, but so are our commonalities. All enrich what is already rich.

Race, as we define it today, is an allusion designed to separate or to dominate.

Celebrate your own heritage and that of your neighbors.


PACE Yourself and Other Words of Advice for the Day

Photo by Fynephoqus on Unsplash
“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” — Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)

This may seem like a rather strange admonition, but it is absolutely necessary to remind ourselves of its truth. Many people simple do not succeed in the race to riches because they wear themselves out in the first lap or two. Or they accumulate some quick wealth and lose health or life itself and never get to enjoy it. Short sprints in life’s long haul are necessary for competition of the marathon. Pacing oneself, taking breaks, knowing limitations, setting boundaries, and balance are some of the secrets of maximum effectiveness.

PACE yourself.

P — Practice restraint. Solomon urges us to hold back some effort. Usually it is unproductive, frenzied, thoughtless activities that we need to curtail in order to be more effective.

A — Assign yourself times to work and specific tasks to do. Also assign yourself times for rest, refreshment, and recovery. Assign and follow through. Keep your life in balance.

C — Create spaces for thought, reflection, renewal, and creative thinking. Create space for family. Money is not the most important thing in your life. It is the freedom to pursue what is valuable that makes money attractive. Do not lose that perspective.

E — Excuse yourself from attempts to overload you (by others) or yourself by yourself with good things that rob your energy from the things that are best. Make wise choices.

I also recommend The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.

“When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair.. Don’t say “I have to start all over again.” This is not true. What you have gained you have gained.. When you return to the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started.” — Henri Nouwen

A Case of the Pace

For people of faith who have a history with God, even when we doubt, we cry out to Him. Even when we waver, we never stray far from faith. Our teetering, pathetic faith is in a strong and good God and the mustard seeds of belief that we toss into the ground continue to move the mountains of despair.

“ Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
 Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
 Why do you hide your face?
 Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
 our belly clings to the ground.
 Rise up; come to our help!
 Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”
(Psalm 44:23–26 ESV)

How is this for making a case with God? I’ve been really bad; so please help me. Yet, that is what is happening here. Under the weight of his sin, the psalmist is suffering and cries out for healing. His acknowledgment of sin is not the case for just deserts, but a statement of need. His only case is the righteousness and goodness of a gracious God.

“ As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me;
 heal me, for I have sinned against you!””
(Psalm 41:4 ESV)

Make Someone’s Day

Let me start by saying that if you chose to open this posting and read it, that is a good sign that you are on the right track and your heart is in the right place. You have already moved from the realm of unlikely positive outcome to likely positive outcome. You have identified making someone’s day as an intention in your life and that kind of intentionality is a real key to accomplishment.

Proverbs 18:1 says,

“An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; 
 he defies all sound judgment.”

It is in the pursuit that our judgment is magnified.

So I may leave it at that for today. To be friendly and to desire the good for someone else today will move you far down the road of being a blessing. When you wish someone well, it is communicated in your attitude, your words, and your deeds. you cannot help but be an encouragement to all who are receptive and in need.

The very desire to make another person’s day is an indicator of character and a predictor of success in that endeavor.

Today, I will start to spell out how to do that by examining the word, “D-A-Y.” First let us look at a proverb for today, Proverbs 19:1:

“Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. “

To apply that to our theme, we might paraphrase it this way: “While wealth and prosperity can open doors, create opportunities, and enable us to do much good for others, it would be better to do without it if it meant that our words wounded rather than healed, deflated people rather than inflating them, and discouraged rather than encouraged.”

Words are powerful and how we use words will determine much of our success in making someone else’s day.

And the god news is that if you make the day of enough people, it will eventually lead you on the path to success.

We don’t have to choose between our success and that of others if we are willing to put our primary focus on helping others succeed.

Now, here is the D-A-Y

D = Decision.

You make a decision about the kind of day you will have. You make it early; you make it firm. You decide that whatever comes your way, “The is the day that the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” It is always a decision and if you make it, it will rub off on others. While you make the decision, early in the morning, to have a great day, decide to bring others along as well. Pray for opportunities to encourage, lift, and serve people. They will come!

A = Attitude.

It is aways about attitude. Attitude can make or break your day and will affect others. Positive attitudes are contagious, but so are negative attitudes. If you walk around all day with the attitude that is selfish, angry, resentful, and bitter, that will take the wind out of people’s sails who are living on the edge. Not everyone has learned the power of a positive decision. They need to see a living example of positivity — YOU! If you carry your decision to have a blessed day with you throughout the day and reflect that in your attitude, those same people will see and catch some of your spirit. Smile at frowns; speak gently to harsh voices; deflect criticism; be kind when you are treated without kindness. Be the master of your moments and your emotions. Elevated your attitude and you will elevate others.

Y = Yes, Yes living.

It is a no-no world. All around us, people are looking for reasons to be critical, to disagree, to complain, to gossip, to make other people feel small. You have chosen to live the opposite way. You are looking for areas of agreement. You are searching for the YES. You are endeavoring to find things you can compliment and affirm, people you can encourage, and lives you can touch with God’s love. You are actively giving out smiles. Your goal is to build and what you are building are people.

The only two things that will last forever are the Word of God and the souls of people. One builds the other.

Make a decision to have and promote a great day. Put on the attitude of positive thinking and living, the attitude of love and grace. Put it on the same way you put on a cheerful shirt in the morning. Look for yes every where and build upon each yes you find. Decision — Attitude — Yes = DAY.




From the Singer of Scared Songs, Psalm 38


Let’s reflect on Psalm 38 together a little bit this morning from the singer of sacred songs, the psalmist.

Let’s hear what he is praying and see where it may allow us to find a deeper place of prayer.

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; *
do not punish me in your wrath.
For your arrows have already pierced me, *
and your hand presses hard upon me.
There is no health in my flesh,
because of your indignation; *
there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.
For my iniquities overwhelm me; *
like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.
My wounds stink and fester *
by reason of my foolishness.
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; *
I go about in mourning all the day long.
My loins are filled with searing pain; *
there is no health in my body.
I am utterly numb and crushed; *
I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.
O Lord, you know all my desires, *
and my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, *
and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.
My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; *
my neighbors stand afar off.
Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; *
those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin
and plot treachery all the day long.
But I am like the deaf who do not hear, *
like those who are mute and who do not open their mouth.
I have become like one who does not hear *
and from whose mouth comes no defense.
For in you, O Lord, have I fixed my hope; *
you will answer me, O Lord my God.
For I said, “Do not let them rejoice at my expense, *
those who gloat over me when my foot slips.”
Truly, I am on the verge of falling, *
and my pain is always with me.
I will confess my iniquity *
and be sorry for my sin.
Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, *
and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.
Those who repay evil for good slander me, *
because I follow the course that is right.
O Lord, do not forsake me; *
be not far from me, O my God.
Make haste to help me, *
O Lord of my salvation.”

At the end of the psalm, the singer turns and begins to pray slightly differently from a place of hope, a desire for release and relief, a place where he is asking for help and even retribution against his enemies.

I often quote Pogo looks in the. Water and sees a reflection of himself thinking it is someone else, fierce and mighty and ready for battle. He says “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

I understand that my worst enemies are within, and I think the psalmist must understand that in his isolation. He begins with his own sense of his own failure and his own sin and his. He has a sense of being separate, being thrown out, being alienated from God and from himself and then from others He is alone. He is deaf and mute.

He is unaware and people are unaware of him, but then those who are aware of him, are antagonistic against him, or at least he senses that he feels their antagonism. He feels that they’re plotting against him everywhere around him, and within him there’s a sense of isolation and alienation.

It manifests itself in physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, mental symptoms. He is over whelmed by. The things in his life that have brought him to this place — To the place where he is worried about the anger of God.

Now why is that? It is because he is intensely aware of the holiness of God and the purity of God and the might of God. He is not a man who is living in unawareness of God and he is holding his own life up to the standard of God. That standard is, by the way, not a bad thing, but by comparison, our level of failure is profound. It is overwhelming.

The singer says. “For in you, O Lord, I fixed my hope.”

I fixed my hope. I have driven it into the ground.

“You will answer me. Oh, Lord, my God.”

This is a confidence that he comes to God with. I have driven the stake of hope into the ground that you God, are my God. You will answer me?

He’s honest. This is the prayer of an honest man. This is a prayer of a man who is authentic and real and real about himself and pulling no punches that he’s.

His OK-ness comes from God and any enemies that he may have are not given the opportunity to gloat over him.

I made mistakes in recording this. I left all my mistakes in the recording, because if we’re not human, we’re nothing. If we’re not human before God, who mix up words or lose our place in our own thought process? How are we going to be able to talk about confessing our iniquities?

And about our sin, how are we going to be real with God? How are we going to let it hang all before God and before humanity?

We are not finished products. And so he says. I will confess my iniquity and be sorry for my sin.

Here is his prayer. Here is his conclusion. Here is what he longs for. Here is what he hopes for. It is expressed in four lines. “O Lord, do not forsake me. Be not far from me. Oh my God. Make haste to help me. O Lord of my salvation.”

If you could pray those four lines today in the light of all that went before in that same level of honesty and pouring out your soul before God, you would have really prayed something powerful.

Somewhere between lament and desperation, somewhere between confession of our sin and confession, of our confidence and faith in God.

You come to those last four lines and repeat them in your soul to God. Here, you meet God. Suddenly the alienation dissolves. The sense of isolation is nullified. You know that you are neither deaf nor mute. When you speak to God, God hears, and when God speaks to your soul, you hear through the still small voice.

God says, “You were my child. I love you. I’m with you.”

May the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and be gracious unto you and give you peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.







What Could Make America, or Any Nation Great?

Great Nation
The Test of a Nation's Greatness

The question of the day for those who want their nation to be great is: What are the criteria? What defines a great nation?
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 (KJV)
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 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 welcoming?
Were you righteous?
Were you aware that I was there amid 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.

Another Thought on Verse 32

There is a question for self-examination emerging from this passage. Such examinations are painful, but the process is necessary for our growth.

Am I among the nation of sheep or the nation of goats? How do I align myself with what God values and those with whom Jesus identifies?

Leo Tolstoy spun a tale about a cobbler who was given to believe that Jesus would visit him on a particular day. He made simple but elegant preparations. One by one the poor came to his door, and he served them, but he came to the end of the day without the visit for which he longed.

Then he realized what had happened and he heard the voice of Jesus with the words of this passage.

So, the real question is this: Am I seeing Jesus where Jesus is? That one question separates the sheep from the goats.

We are at a turning point today as people and as nations. Are we here to serve ourselves or others?

Do we orient our lives and our policies toward to good of humanity using the best analyses and data and the brightest minds? Or do we serve immediate, temporal, shortsighted self-interest? Are we all in the same boat or do we live in silos of naivete?

For the disciples of Jesus, it is more, but it is also simpler. Do I see Jesus in every person and people group, especially the disinherited, dispossessed, discouraged, and disenfranchises?

If I see Jesus, how will I treat Jesus?

Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSVU)
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'
And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'
Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?'
Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Happy Birthday to the Parking Meter

Parking meter hall of fame

On this day in 1935 – The world's first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Roger W. Babson had filed the first patent for such a device on August 30, 1928. As well as being an entrepreneur, he was an academic who founded three colleges, two of which still exist: Babson College and Webber College, now Webber International University, in Babson Park, Florida.

An opportunist, Babson had 10 Commandments for Investing.


1. Keep speculation and investments separate.

2. Don't be fooled by a name.

3. Be wary of new promotions.

4. Give due consideration to market ability.

5. Don't buy without proper facts.

6. Safeguard purchases through diversification.

7. Don't try to diversify by buying different securities of the same company.

8. Small companies should be carefully scrutinized.

9. Buy adequate security, not super abundance.

10. Choose your dealer and buy outright (don't buy on margin).


Remember those the next time you put money in a parking meter.


Parking meter evolution

I pulled my car into a space.

It was a double seater.

Alas, my claim, I'd soon erase.

There was a marking meter.

I had no coin inside my purse.

No Paul to rob nor Peter.

The news from bad, grew worse and worse.

Unwelcome parking greeter!

I drove away. I'm driving still.

I totter and I teeter.

I can't afford another bill

To pay the parking meter.


Note: It was in 1932, that "Carl Magee began to work on the parking meter and since his parking meter was the first to be installed for actual use on July 1935 in Oklahoma City, Magee is known as the inventor of the parking meter." (Wikipedia)


Leaders and Children of Issachar,

Isacar


"And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…" - I Chronicles 12:32

What is a leader? Is it someone who already has all the answers? Is it someone who is stubborn, arrogant, and confident in always being right. Or, it is someone who looks for the right people to be advisors and confidants.

We need children of Issachar today, leaders who can interpret our times, not to satisfy our curiosities, but to advise us on what we must do.

The Bible is a timely book. It transcends time and is timeless, but it steps out of its own context to speak to every generation with freshness and awareness of its own specific challenges.

There are two characteristics of leaders and counselors in this tradition. In the first place, they are grounded in truth. Their thinking has been saturated by the Word of God and they are sensitive to the Word and the Spirit.

This sensitivity is manifested in seeking. Their antennae are always scanning for some word of truth, for guidance, and for leadership through the voice that speaks to their hearts with clarity.

The second is that they observe and study the times. They do not bury their heads in the sand and disengage from the culture. They live in the real world even as their lives transcend the world. They suffer with hurting humanity and yet, maintain the capacity to step back and look on with analytical detachment.

They then come to us with their observations and counsel and, with clarity, and integrity, speak to our conditions and conundrums.

They think.

They process.

They ask questions.

They come to reasonable conclusions. Then, they share their insights.

We are now engaged in a process of sifting and choosing. We are looking for men and women of Issachar to lead our nation. We are looking for such leaders who are also gathering other children of Issachar around them with a willingness to receive their counsel. As we do so, we come to realize that we must also possess their gifts as we are called upon to choose.

We pray in this season that we might exercise our own Issachar-like qualities and be taught by God to understand our times that we might know what to do.

There is something else as well. They had a king who was ready, eager, willing, and able to listen to them. He was humble enough to seek their advice and take it to heart.

That is leadership.



Watch the Pigeons! Wake Up! Pay Attention!

Pigeons

 LA2-NSRW-3-0536.jpgKarl Wagner  (1864–1939) 

"Watch them pigeons,"  my father-in-law would say as the punchline of a joke flew over my head. It was a good natured reminder to wake up and cautiously avoid being head on the head by the stuff that pigeons often drop.

Watch out!

I can think of a number of idioms for the phrase:

Look out!

Stay on your toes!

Take heed!

Keep your eyes open!

Watch your step!

 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom and five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them …” – Matthew 25:1-13

When I had to learn memory verses as a child, “Jesus wept” was a wonderful standby. That was simple and was only two words to remember.

Here is another, more to the point: As a Boy Scout, our motto was as easy, “Be prepared.”

The Marines have “Semper Fidelis”

We do not know the day when the Lord will come and settle all accounts.  But He demands that we live in a state of watchful expectation rather than fanciful speculation.  We are to be ever looking unto Jesus. We are to be ever watchful, ever faithful, and ever ready for His return.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:2)

That is the great challenge of our lives.  It is with seeking wonder and faithful awareness that we stand on tiptoe as watchmen in the night. 

His coming, whenever it will be and however, he will manifest himself, will be a joyous and awesome occasion and our privilege is to be at a state of present readiness. It will be a grand party, like a wedding feast.

 Every challenge in our lives comes down to this great challenge: To be found faithful when He come again.

But that future hope must not obscure the present reality that He is here now, present with us and that our call to readiness involves listening for His voice and observing what He is doing in our midst.

It summons us to be ready for His call in every life situation and prepared to act upon His command at any moment.

Let us be watchful.

Let us be faithful.

Let us be expectant.

Let us be hopeful.

Let us be standing on our tiptoes.

Maranatha!



The Haunting of Herod

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Herod_(Hérode)_-_James_Tissot_-_overall

Herod was a haunted man. But, like all haunted people, he was not haunted by ghosts, but by illusions in his mind.

Herod was a character.

He really loved his power and authority and thought a great deal of himself.

He shared a name with others who were addicted to power, position, and wealth.

Though his ego was over-sized, his heart was not cold enough to be frozen. He held a fascination with John the Baptist. He was able to recognize that something in him that was different from other people.

It confused him. His ignition switch for God-consciousness was shooting out some sparks, but the conflict within him always kept the engine from turning over.

He had fear and fascination and they could have led somewhere ... they could have led to faith and repentance, but it would have cost Herod more than he was willing to pay.

John merely lost his head from his shoulders. Herod lost everything.
" for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly."  -Mark 6:20 
Question - What is the fair market value of power, position, and wealth? What is the personal cost? What does it cost others for us to crave it?

Bigger Question - What is it really worth?

Question -What delusions must we cultivate to accumulate these fleeting commodities?

Bigger Question - When "all" is lost, what will you have gained?

It might depend on your definition of "all."

Herod held a fascination with John the Baptist. He was able to recognize that something in him that was different from other people.

It confused him.

His ignition switch for God-consciousness was shooting out some sparks, but the conflict within him always kept the engine from turning over. He had fear and fascination and they could have led somewhere ... they could have led to faith and repentance, but it would have cost Herod more than he was willing to pay.

John merely lost his head from his shoulders. Herod lost everything.
"...for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly." - Mark 6:20 
“For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” – Matthew 3:3
Every prophetic function with its fulfillment has its counterpart in our lives and it is up to us to seek it. What does it mean for us, as the people of God, to prepare the way for the Lord? How have those who have gone before us prepared a straight path for Him in our lives?

How have events and people shaped us so that we could be ready to receive His Word?

God’s ways always involve preparation. He does nothing haphazardly or without thought and planning. When He desires to speak, He prepares the message, the messenger, and the hearer. When He is about to act, He informs His servants the prophets. He is a God of precision and perfect order. He does all things well.

John the Baptist was God’s man in God’s timing. His life was his ministry and he learned to look beyond the obvious and to seek God deeply. He patiently awaited the coming of the messiah and faithfully proclaimed the message God had given him through the days of waiting.

God never wastes time or calls us to bide our time. Everything, all time, all preparation is meaningful and purposeful.

God is working His purpose out
As year succeeds to year;
God is working His purpose out,
And the time is drawing near.
Nearer and nearer draws the time,
The time that shall surely be,
When the earth is filled with the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.
(Arthur C. Ainger, 1894)

Again ...
"But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. "- Mark 6:16
Herod caught wind of the reports of Jesus' ministry, miracles, and message and it terrified him.

He thought he had solved his big problem with John the Baptist. As reluctant as he was to behead the prophet who kept pointing a finger at his chest, he must have assumed that the matter was settled once and for all.

Anyone who has tried to put a stop to cockroaches in their house knows that they breed quicker than we can kill them.

The God Movement that John had proclaimed, and that Jesus was propagating, would not die. No one could behead it. Nothing could stop it. They killed John, but there was Jesus. Jesus died, but he arose. He ascended, but he multiplied the movement r through his Spirit-filled people.

It certainly seemed that way to Herod.

John, whose indictment Herod had sought to silence, seemed to be back, haunting and taunting him.

We have had similar experiences when we have used our crude methods to silence the sound of our own consciences. We have felt haunted when we have exerted energy to avoid the still small voice in our souls urging us to take another direction in life.

We have been haunted by our guilt, our shame, our regrets, and our knowledge that our lives are not what either God or we ourselves want them to be.

Our response to that is more avoidance, terror, and greater haunting.
Herod cowered in his cold, dark, room,
Haunted by the rumors of a seer,
Trembling at approaching doom,
Overwhelmed with guilt and fear.
Herod could have responded the grace of God at any time. So can we. We can choose, to be haunted by the rumors of Jesus or drawn to his embrace. It is a choice.

What will you choose?

The old hymn says:

Jesus is tenderly calling thee home.




Buying Time


Clock & Calendar


If time is given to all, why do we need to buy it?

Perhaps that is a bit of a misnomer, but since we have often wasted, squandered, a sold time to the lowest bidder, we often need to buy some back. We need to redeem time, invest time, and save time as we use it wisely.

Every good thing takes time.

There is the time where you are putting in the hours and efforts. There is the time where you are waiting for results. There is even time when there is nothing you can do to improve on your efforts or rush things along.

“Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Earl Nightingale

More at:


Climb Your Mountain

Photo by x ) on Unsplash


CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN GOD ALLOWS TO BE IN YOUR PATH ON THE ROAD TO YOUR ULTIMATE DESTINATION.

We have not been created to stumble through life
We are equipped to traverse purposefully and deliberately on the path to God's vision for our lives, our ultimate destiny and that of all humanity and creation.
"They (WE) have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, "See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." - from Romans 9:19-33 (excerpted from closing words)
"But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come." Excerpted from Matthew 24:1-14
  • Do not be alarmed. These things will happen, but we are not abandoned or forgotten.
  • Do not give up. Endure till the end.
  • Keep spreading the good news of the Kingdom. There will come a day when all wars shall cease.
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. -Matthew 24:3, 44
Jesus presupposes that we understand a basic truth. He came once to show us the Father, announce the Kingdom, make the way of salvation, and commission his servants to spread the good news of God’s ultimate triumph.
He would come again to usher in that Kingdom in power and glory once and for all.
That is why we sing a Second Coming hymn in anticipate of Christmas.
Joy to the world, The Lord has come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room And Heaven and nature sing. He rules the world With truth and grace And makes the nations proves The glories of his righteousness And wonders of his love. -Isaac Watts
When know, roughly, when he came the first time.
We have no idea when he will come again.
What we know is that it is always just around the corner and Advent reminds us to always be standing on tiptoes, ready, joyfully expectant, diligently faithful, and always full of wonder like a child at Christmas.
That is because the very best Christmas is yet to come.
And for that, we can be thankful in advance.
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns Let men their songs employ. While fields and floods, Rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy Repeat the sounding joy.
In the meantime, because that is where we are — in the mean of time:
We have mountains to climb and prayers to pray.
 
Father of Lights,
Lord of Glory,
Master of the Universe,
Arbiter of Covenants,
Leader in Battle,
Thou Who stillest the storm and declares peace,
Giver of good gifts,
Creator of all,
God of Heaven Whose footstool is earth,
King of Glory,
God of Peace in Whom is peace,
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Father, Son, Holy Spirit,
to Thee we come ...
I come,
empty,
troubled,
wondering,
wandering,
confounded,
complicated,
confused,
committed to Thee,
waiting upon Thee,
ready to speak Thy Word and do Thy bidding ...
this day.
I come.
I stand.
I wait.
May I bring Thy Word of peace to troubled waters today that they may be stilled.
May Thy presence be in my presence and may that presence speak peace to a world at war with itself.
In Jesus' name.
Amen.
--------------------------
Climb that Mountain and Prepare to cross over and take possession of the land of promise
"... Go up to the top of Pisgah and look around you to the west, to the north, to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, because it is he who shall cross over at the head of this people and who shall secure their possession of the land that you will see." Excerpted from Deuteronomy 3:18-28
Climb every mountain God allows to be in your path on the road to your ultimate destination.




The Hamburg Massacre

No photo description available.

Hamburg was a market town populated by a majority of freed blacks in Aiken County, across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia.

The Hamburg Massacre (or Red Shirt Massacre was just prior to the last election season of the Reconstruction Era.

It was the first of a series of civil disturbances planned and carried out by white Democrats (Keep in mind that there was a mass exodus of Southern conservatives from the Democratic part in the 1960s/70 and similar reversal among Republicans).

The Edgefield District as majority Republican and progressive. The goal of the rioters was the suppression of black voting, disruption Republican meetings, and suppression of black Americans civil rights, through violence and threats of violence.

Over 100 white men attacked about 30 black servicemen of the National Guard at the armory, killing two.

Over 100 black people were killed during several days.

94 whites were indicted by the coroner's jury, but no one was ever prosecuted for the Hamburg murders

During the remainder of the century, laws were enacted
calling for single-party white rule, legal segregation, "Jim Crow," and disenfranchisement of blacks from voting and office-holding with a new state constitution adopted in 1895.

READ MORE:

"Official Report of the Battle of Hamburg", Attorney General of South Carolina, 1876.: http://henryshultz.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/official-report-of-the-hamburg-massacre/

Review of "Tightening the Noose." https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/00/05/21/reviews/000521.21dewlt.html


Dive In — Prayer from Deep Within that Takes Us Deeper | by Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas | Jul, 2024 | Medium


Into the Depths OF THE MYSTERY OF PRAYER

Prayer is the human experience of a deep spiritual mystery.

Mutual communication with God is going on far beneath the surface of our lives. Not only do we often not know what to pray, we often know not what we are praying.

Red more at Diving In


Dive In — Prayer from Deep Within that Takes Us Deeper - Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas·Follow16 min read· Just now--Share

Into the Depths OF THE MYSTERY OF PRAYER

This is not said that we might disengage our minds, but that, with engagement, we might also release our spirits to commune with the Holy Spirit who knows, overcomes, and even uses our weaknesses in prayer even as He does in our outward lives.

The friend link, if you do not have a Medium Account: https://medium.com/@tomsims/dive-in-prayer-from-deep-within-that-takes-us-deeper-cf7feaefd20e?sk=79ba514fa7ff9f46f6ff6945e31993cf


Hometown Jesus

Subversive jesus

Mark 6:1-12  New International Version

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

 “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

 Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

They went out and preached that people should repent. 

We have known Jesus in the American church for a long time. Have we known Him well? Why then is it that we cannot recognize Him when He shows up in different garb?

Matthew 13:53-58 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

We have become the 21st Century hometown of Jesus where we think we know Him and can control Him and He will not comply.

Just being in the presence of Jesus is compelling to the garden variety sinner and offensive to the self righteous. We still drive Him away.

Without raising His voice or asserting His position, the strength of His words and the power of His love cause offense.

No wonder we are offended by Jesus. He won't behave the way we want Him to. He won't sit quietly in a corner and be religious.

He disturbs our thinking, disrupts our comfort, disengages our biases, and distances us from our respectability.

What if our boxed-in, over-defined, socially acceptable Jesus is a our attempt to avoid the real Jesus who disturbs our thinking?

How much more could we be experiencing if we did not take such offense at the one we have grown accustomed to calling, "Lord?"

Matthew said he worked miracles at home, but called them few, implying that there could have been so many more.

Has the American church become the familiar & contemptuous hometown of Jesus where few signs are wrought for our lack of faith?

Jesus keeps showing up in the culture in ways we don't expect Him and we continue to reject Him. Sadly, that rejection usually comes first from His own people.

Our problem is not that we know Him too well; it is that we have known Him so long and only superficially.

What sort of faith in Him might bring again the mighty signs?

F - Faith that takes us FARTHER than we have been before in our capacity for imagination and service.

A - ACCEPTANCE of His authority to do more than amaze us.

I - INTENTIONAL resolve to continue our quest to discover the depths of who He is in intimate relationship.

T - TESTED faith that is constantly putting itself to the test.

H- HONOR, the quality sadly lacking in Jesus' hometown. 

Does Familiarity Breed Contempt?

" The expression familiarity breeds contempt was first used in English in the 1300s by Geoffrey Chaucer, in his work, Tale of Melibee. The first use of the phrase is credited to Publilius Syrus, a Roman citizen who began life as a Syrian slave and lived around 50 B.C. His master was so impressed with his intellect that he freed Publilius Syrus and educated him." - https://grammarist.com/proverb/familiarity-breeds-contempt/

 Son of Mary

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.“ - Mark 6:3

 Some folks are motivated by a deep, sometimes pathological desire to impress the people of their hometowns, families, and neighborhoods. All the folks who once put us down will have to acknowledge that they were wrong. The critics of our childhoods and youth will eat their words.

“Don’t count on it,” Jesus says.

"Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." 

Mary was flesh and blood and Jesus was her son, flesh, blood, and connected with her people.  We think very highly of Mary through the window of sacred history, but others saw the designation of Jesus as her son to be a justification for derision.

It was not her reputation for having conceived him out of wedlock at this point that framed their curses. That would come up at some point, but this was subtler. They accused him of being common and familiar. They knew him and his brothers and their familiarity bred contempt.

He was common and He was uncommon.

As the son of Mary, Jesus had history and culture, family and traditions. He was given the gifts of language, nuance, familial customs, memories, and relationships, but he was always, also the Son of God and that reality was easily obscured to those who knew Him best as a carpenter.

We must be careful not to allow familiarity to obscure holiness to our view. The ordinary may not be so ordinary at all. Our familiarity with the things of God can be a liability if we forget to seek the sacred amidst the profane. 

So They Went Out

And they went out and preached that men should repent. – Mark 6:12

On July 4, 1776, a group of men gathered in a room, to sign a document that, under the laws of their motherland, would be considered an act of treason. They decided to rebel against England and start a new country with new laws and a new way of governing. That was fine for the moment, but it would be followed by years of commitment, bloodshed, war, and action. Then, when the war was over, it would take decades to build the nation for which they were declaring independence. If it had all ended with the signing ceremony, we would not have been celebrating ]each Independence Day.

What comes after a call, a decision, and a commissioning ceremony?  A reception with glad hands, punch, and cake? A warm feeling?

What about the next day? Activation! You, like the disciples who were sent, go out. You embark on your journey.

That is what sending is all about. Disciple, pastor, missionary, teacher, minister, servant, and leader are not just titles. They are not honorary designations. An "apostle" is literally one who is sent.

The one who is sent must, then, go. It is in the going that we find our purpose and effectiveness. It is in that activity that we find the fountain of meaningful activity. It is through that initial movement in faith that we tap into resources we never knew we had.

When we go, doors of opportunity emerge in front of us. Conversations turn into moments of great significance. We become engaged in the work of God. But we must move, out and move forward.

It is very hard to turn a vehicle of any sort that is not moving. Lives on the move turn with greater ease. Jesus was usually walking when he asked people to follow him. You had to move to keep up and you had to keep up to hear what he had to say.

This time, he is not asking them to come to him but to go out from him, later to return with reports of men and women who have joined their following.

Because they were turning, they could encourage people to turn. That was their key message, "Repent," That means "Turn around."

Turn around and start moving in God's direction. That is what they were doing and inviting others to do. This strategy has not changed in 2000 years.

Offering

Today's Offering Appeal - as God leads and enables:
City Without Orphans
https://pastortomsims.typepad.com/the_dream_factory/2024/07/city-without-orphans-a-plea-or-help-for-a-great-cause.html





City without Orphans - A Plea or Help for a Great Cause

I do not think I have ever done fund-raising on this blog However, I am doing so now.

I am passing on this appeal to my friends as chairman of the CWO board. The work that CWO does is vital to our community and so many young people and families.


Find out about CWO here.


There's No Stopping God - And Other Short Thoughts of a Big God

Jonathan and his armor bearer

So... here is Jonathan's inventory ...Audacious, if yet, tentative faith in God to save by many or by few.

One sword.

A friend.

That was it and that was enough.

What is in your inventory?

" Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” "  (1 Samuel 14:6-7 ESV)


Worry like a rocking chair
Worry like a rocking chair
Worry like a rocking chair
Worry like a rocking chair
Worry like a rocking chair
Worry like a rocking chair



Beyond the Years

 
Photo by Rehan Syed on Unsplash

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years.”

America is not a static entity. It is more of an evolving organism. Its DNA is encoded on our collective consciousness, but is not stable. It is subject to the whims and wished of each generation and that generation’s level of investment and understanding of America’s principles.

And what are those principles?

In many ways, they are the natural next steps of the Enlightenment mixed with elements of Jewish tradition, Christian Humanism, the Protestant Reformation, frontier individualism, European exceptionalism, and the tenacious thinking of an elite class of scholars, farmers, lawyers, and clergy who actually sat down around tables and through correspondence, developed a philosophical rationale for a new system of government that reflected their emerging values.
The things they wanted for themselves, many of them, in theory, believed should belong to all.

They envisioned a classless society, but could not come to agreement about that because the states were so heavily invested in another modern and evil institution of chattel slavery. Because of that dependence, outdated notions that male landowners made better “governors of the body politic,” and their own intellectual elitism, they did not have the faith, courage, or will to enfranchise all into the American promise.

But they laid the philosophical foundation for universal enfranchisement.

They created a foundation for those universal rights to evolve.

They built a constitution that Jefferson believed should be revisited from time to time. It was a patchwork of compromises with a surprising unity of thought. It was built with a tension between representative and democratic rule with democratic values at the core.

It was a system where the tug-of-war between localized and central powers was anticipated.

The American experiment seemed, at the time, to require a bloody revolution. Such a revolution expedited a transition that would eventually be replicated, sometimes without war, in other nations on most if not all continents.

Whether through war, resistance, or persistence, the urge for humanity to be free, self-determining, just and cooperative in a fair and just government of the people seems to stir a common theme in the hearts of citizens.

Yet, it must evolve, expand, and include more and more of those who have been excluded explicitly or implicitly.
To summarize the poetic words and sentiments of Langston Hughes, America has not been America for everyone, but it can be.

That requires every generation to exercise its citizenship and influence, to be informed, and to be philosophically reflective. People who may not be able to define political science must, nevertheless, be engaged in it.

To be an American in the fullest sense requires a plurality of the population who reads history in a larger context.
To be an American requires a larger worldview of the community of nations.

It demands, at its core, what President Carter placed at the center of his presidency, a passion for human rights for all.
I believe that the preservation and realization of the American dream requires constantly looking for ways to do things better and make the dream available for more and more around the world.

Frederick Douglas once explained why he could not afford the luxury of celebrating the Fourth of July. Yet, know one of his generation did more to work within the system to make its promise a reality.

I have love problem with sentimentality, but their comes a time when the work of democracy in a republican system demands more than warm fuzzy feelings. It requires engagement and commitment to make it work.

It requires vigilance to insure that the core values that were not fully realized are moved advanced and developed. It requires thinking and acting, holding the line and moving the line when necessary. It requires challenging authority and laws while upholding laws for all.

It always requires holding our leaders accountable as well as a willingness to step into leadership when the mantle falls upon us.

America is not a cultural identity. it is not a common language. It is not a common ethnic heritage. It is not just a place. It is not a stationary set of policies.

It is not even one religion, not even a civil religion, which is a poor excuse for real religion. Those of us who believe in God, see God as the source of the principles that provide the foundation of creation and revelation for our big idea, but that foundation is wide enough for all people to stand upon it.

And people of faith give God credit for that kind of plurality as well.

America is an emerging idea based upon a philosophy of human dignity, freedom, and a desire for common good.
We lose that, and we lose America.

We lose that, and no flags, symbols, or songs can hold us together.

Happy birthday, U.S.A., a grand experiment in opportunity, welcoming, growing, and working out lots of kinks that create dissonance between what we aspire to be and what we are.
The key is in the becoming.

We are not static. We have had some wars.

Our wars have not defined us, but have, at times, refined us.
We have had disagreements, inconsistencies, and contradictions, but we have an essentially righteous philosophy that has been articulated and is waiting to be fully applied.

The core structure is laid so that we can work these things out.

We are a community of communities.
We are not perfect, but we are capable of fixing our imperfections.
We are diverse.
We are changing.
We are free.

We thank our thinkers and our protectors, our builders and our critics today. We join hands and sing of our common love. Let us be one people. 

“America, America,
God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law.”
https://www.purpleheart.org/static/forms/AmericaTheBeautiful.pdf

Hear the songs at This Location.


Phony Bologna

Full of phony bologna
No Good Thing
(THAT IS, IN MY FLESH)
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” – Romans 7:18
As I struggled with my humanity this week, I was confronted with some important truths. There is no way that my flesh will ever improve to the place where God can use it or be pleased by it. In the flesh I am selfish, irritable, weak, un-spiritual, spiritually lazy, hungry for flesh-satisfying stimulation, unreasonable, stubborn, and emotionally volatile -just to name a few of my “charming” characteristics (They certainly “charm” me into deception).

My "flesh," as Paul is using the term here, is an imposter. It is the "phony bologna " version of me. It is the parasite of sin that has attached itself to me and dwells in me.
My flesh is not getting better and shows no prospects of getting better. Read Romans 7-8 to get the picture. We all face Paul’s dilemma and we are all disappointed when we discover that we cannot become what God wants us to be by doing what we think God wants us to do. So, what’s the point? The point is that, through grace, as God makes us what He wants us to be, we will desire to do, also by grace, the things that God wants to do through us. And, as we trust Him and turn our dials toward the Spirit and begin to walk in the Spirit that will all happen.

We’ve all been disappointed by people who we thought were strong Christians, but let us down. Those disappointments have been shocking at times and have caused us to question ourselves. That is not a bad thing. What is dangerous is if we ever start feeling so proud of our “efforts” and “successes” that we forget we are vulnerable and weak and that we are capable, in the flesh of the same falls that we have witnessed in others. We are totally and absolutely dependent upon God for the Christian life and God is totally and absolutely dependable to accomplish His purposes in and through us. He will never let us down. Trust Him and commit your moments and days to His care.
That Saved a Wretch Like Me
“ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” – Romans 7:24
“ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: - Revelation 3:17
No one aspires to wretchedness. All resist the implication that they are wretched. No one wants to be known as a wretch.

However, to be a recipient of grace, the soul must know its great need and acknowledge that it is depraved and lost in a sea of sin.

The sound of grace, the voice of God, the Word of the Gospel, that Word which was made flesh has sounded forth from Heaven into the realm of time and space. It has declared with unambiguous truth, “Thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and bind, and naked.”

And without a breath or a rest in the song of grace, it has declared to us, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve that we shall be called Benjamin, for we are “the beloved of the Lord.”

Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, wretched in his righteousness, zealous in his misguided legalism, vengeful in his passion to please God. “Why persecutest thou me,” our Lord inquires. And grace came to Brother Saul and the wretched one became the instrument of proclaiming grace to the nations, even “the least of the Apostles” and the chief of sinners who would declare,
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”_ I Corinthians 15:10
How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

We must know our state apart from grace that we might fully appreciate what God has wrought in us and done for us. It evokes in the heart of an honest soul both gratitude and hope, flowing from the fount of humility.

We are not who we truly are apart from grace. We present ourselves to God and to ourselves, as well as to the world, as imposters. The imposter wants to rule, but God desires for us to be real, whole, fully actualized without any of the phony bologna of sin.

To be eligible for great grace, we must know how great our need is.

For All Nations

All Nations Worship

"I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations." - Isaiah 56:7

"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the Lord." - Jeremiah 7:11

"Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, 'It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.'” - Matthew 21:12-13


Jesus is indignant that the greed of the coalition of Herodian-Roman surrogate political powers and religious priests of His people and faith has conspired to exclude the people God chose to include from worshiping at the temple. By design, there was an area designated for the nations to come and worship YAHWEH. The temple establishment had created a marketplace there for the express purpose of profiteering off the temple taxes, offerings, and religious obligations of people who were coming to meet God.

This was, to him, a desecration of both what was holy and of people who were who were being invited by God, to pray.

God is never impressed with our greed or disregard of the dignity of people or of His sacred spaces.

-


"I Apologize"

I’m Sorry

Basic Policy Standard on Personal Apologies:

1. Never ask for one.

2, Never reject one.

3. Always assume it is sincere.

4. Watch what happens next to see if my assumption was correct." I Apologize"

5. Be glad if I was right.

6. Revise my assumption if I was wrong.

7. Resume correction if #6.



Who Told You that You Could Do That, Jesus?



Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

By What Authority or ….

WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU COULD DO THAT?

or … Who Gave You Permission?

“By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

The church is part of a brand new order in God’s Kingdom where human authority is not required to legitimize its message and deeds. It is neither required nor desired, recognized nor sought. It is a strange and wonderful movement where everything is turned upside down in order to land right side up. It scandalizes our notions of worthiness when the prostitutes and tax collectors enter before the religious folks who ask for authority and legitimacy from the world and honor from the religious institutions that title them. God, let us be the sons that do what you tell us to do and don’t just talk about it and posture ourselves for position.

“And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”
And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.””
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them,
“Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.”
“For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”(Matthew 21:23–32 ESV)

If I asked you how many groups Jesus described, you might say two.

However, I would suggest there were three.

The first two were in the parable. The third was in the application. First, there were those heard the call and refused, but later, they changed their minds, answered, and obeyed. Second, there were those who heard the call, gladly embraced it with commitment to go to the vineyard. Later, however, they were nowhere to be found. Finally, Jesus said, there was his audience of critics. They heard, refused, and never changed their minds. They persisted in their harness of heart, disbelief, and disobedience to the call.

These, Jesus said, would trail behind the dregs of society entering the Kingdom of God.

Belief, Jesus says, is about changing our minds.

As wise person gave us some advice once as we were adoptive parents of children who met many of our directives with bold, loud, and defiant objections. She said, “Don’t engage with the words; wait and see what they do.”

We tried it and it worked. The kids worked though their objections and we all avoided a pointless argument.’

God lets us vent, but His call remains to come and labor in His vineyard.

Faith and obedience are far more about what we ultimately do than what we immediately say.

“Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.”

That is because they got the point?



More on This Gospel Reading — Take It or Leave It

https://pastortomsims.typepad.com/the_dream_factory/2019/12/take-it-or-leave-it

Photo — On Amazon. Order the Tin Sign




Seizing the Opportunity

About ice cream
Sin Is an Opportunist

"But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness."
Did sin take advantage of the commandment to create all kinds of covetousness or is Paul saying that sin is inactive without the law?. It seems that both statements are somewhat true, but must be considered in light of the whole body of teaching and a larger context.
Go for the point that Paul in making: We are now free, not to do wrong, but to live rightly. We have a clean slate and a new beginning.
But what about sin?

DO NOT THINK ABOUT ICE CREAM

What did you just think about?
I thought so.
May I suggest something else?
Be aware of your options and the forces working within you and take charge of your choices?
You now have a choice.

Yes, sin is an opportunist, but so is righteousness. God's power can help you make the right choices today. That is the power of living under grace rather than merely law.

Seize the opportunity!


Romans:1-12

Do you not know, brothers and sisters-- for I am speaking to those who know the law-- that the law is binding on a person only during that person's lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

For God's Goodness and More


Simon Simon


What Did We Learn in Egypt?

Questions for me to ponder from the text:

1. What can I learn while I am in "Egypt?" What am I in danger of forgetting?

2. Do I have unrealistic expectations when I suppose people will see the hand and deliverance of God in things that happen?

3. How much do I need that? Is their affirmation required?

4. What does it take to send me fleeing to the mountains?

5. When I flee in fear, can God still use that recovery time until I am ready for the burning bush?

Ponderables.

Acts 7:17-29


"But as the time drew near for the fulfillment of the promise that God had made to Abraham, our people in Egypt increased and multiplied until another king who had not known Joseph ruled over Egypt. He dealt craftily with our race and forced our ancestors to abandon their infants so that they would die. At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. For three months he was brought up in his father's house; and when he was abandoned, Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds. "When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his relatives, the Israelites. When he saw one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his kinsfolk would understand that God through him was rescuing them, but they did not understand. The next day he came to some of them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brothers; why do you wrong each other?' But the man who was wronging his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' When he heard this, Moses fled and became a resident alien in the land of Midian. There he became the father of two sons.

Hometown prophets are without honor according to Jesus. Why such contempt for the familiar?

No photo description available.

No photo description available.

Why I repost Tidbits

I need reminders of what I have learned.

I cannot remember the sorrow or the circumstances, but I am reminded of the words and reaffirmed in this spirit of the plea.

There is sorrow here today. But we are all OK and the mood here seems calm amidst the anger on both sides. I find opinions are sometimes unhelpful in such times. Prayer and concern are always helpful. Peace begins with me as I follow the Prince of Peace into a turbulent world.


Three Healings

Who are you

Mark 5
-------------------------

Each of these had an identity crisis. One man was so torn by the forces within him that he no longer knew his true name. A woman had allowed herself to be defined by a persistent illness. A little girl was being defined by a death that would not ultimately prevail.




Get Up Little Girl


"Little girl, " he called, "Damsel," indeed, a damsel in distress, ""Talitha cum," he cried, “Get up!"

And she got up.

There can be no reign if death when Jesus comes.

There can be no victory of infirmity when Jesus is present.

There is no harshness or cold indifference. There is no unsympathetic dismissal of the pain of the moment.

Jesus will speak to us whether we are dead or alive and, inside of ourselves, we will hear and rise.

Little boy, little girl, little man, little woman, hear the voice of Jesus, "Get up."

He speaks with affection, compassion, and absolute authority.

“Get up!”

You who have fallen asleep in sin and discouragement, in despondency, disease, and disheartened detachment from God, yourself, and others, arise!

This is the voice that that called light into being, whose Spirit brooded over the face of the deep in creation. The is the voice of God through a man, the God-man, Jesus, the Word made flesh.

And that voice cries, "Arise."

There was a damsel in distress.
When Jesus came to see her.
He came to bless, and nothing less,
From Death, he came to free her.

Artise! Shake off the chains of death and live. Arise. Be free. Arise, follow the one who raises you, heals you, forgives you, and calls you.

Arise, Little Ones!

----------------------


If you prefer to watch on YouTube:


They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.



Full Proof of Ministry

Full Proof of Your Ministry

Working pastor


“… make full proof of thy ministry.” – from II Timothy 4:5


Ministry is a full and rewarding life. Every day can be different and exciting and working with people can be a heart-warming and gratifying experience. I love the ministry and wouldn’t trade it for any other work on earth.

Are you ready to sign up, quit your job, and go to Bible College?

Great, but maybe I should be completely honest with you first.

Ministry can be tiring. It can be boring doing the same things that have to be done week after week. It can be emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining. It can mean long hours and unending demands. People can voice unreasonable expectations (no one in this church). Bill collectors want to know when to expect a check, and questions are asked for which one has no answers. Mostly, one can be one’s own worst enemy and sharpest critic.

Ready to have second thoughts? Go ahead, but whatever you do, follow God’s call – because it is not about self-fulfillment, self-gratification, self-image, or anything else about self. It is all about God, His purposes, and His calling.

And besides, it is the most wonderful, joyful, blessed life I can imagine. I love this work because God called me to it and constantly equips me for it – and because He reveals Himself in and through me. You are a minister if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Discover your gifts, calling, passion, and purpose under God and live it.



---------------------------

II Timothy 4:1-8


In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully. As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.




Lingering, Longing, and Living

May be an image of text

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep."
-Robert Frost

Something in us longs to linger.
Something in us loathes to labor.
Something draws us to a quiet place.
Something peaceful, musical, and calm.

The sirens sound their sweet soothing songs and that longing deep within us longs to settle in.
But, we are on mission.

We are driven.
We have work to do.
We have a day to live.
Balance is taking time to rest,
But balance is, as well.
Work with purpose, well done,
That we might rest netter at the end of the day.


Balancing My Feet in a Stream of Consciousness

Hermon banias
Hermon Stream - Banias

Balance is that quality that keeps us from falling over ... most of the time.

No photo description available.

Assume less than you suspect.
Inspect even what you expect.
Squint the eye examining minutia.
Ask more questions than you answer.
Preface your declarations with wiggle room for change of mind and heart.
And yet, somehow, live with confidence.
Learn trust.
Relax and believe hope.
----------------------------

Only a few things are true today that were not true yesterday.
Some are getting more attention.
Nothing was true yesterday that is not still true today.
That's true - now about TRUTH:
IT has always been the same and always will be no matter what is "true" at the moment.
------------------------------
I sure hope you do not agree with everything I say.
Think for yourself.
God gave me my brain and God gave you one that works equally well ...
Maybe better,.
But I know one thing, if one of our brains was enough,
one of us would not need to be here.
And we both are.'

So there!
---------------------------
Whatever that is you said is very interesting; tell me more.
---------------------------
The shortest distance between any two things in time and space seems to be the synchronous relationship between Twitter and Facebook posts. Apparently seamless - or seemingly seamless or seem-less.
---------------------------
We need better people. We need to treat people better. We need to be better people. I need to focus on the 2nd and 3rd. We need help with that. God help us.
--------------------------
"My life changed for the better by falling in love with poetry. It made me a better student, made me a more alert human being. And I'd like to try to bring the gifts of poetry to the broadest audience possible." - Dana Gioia
-------------------------
Retweeted Bʀɪᴀɴɪᴀᴄ® (@BGH70):
Twitter is what happens when you throw a library and street graffiti in a wood chipper.
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Everything comes from somewhere on its way to somewhere else.
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The Cheese in the Trap

No photo description available.

Don't Eat the Cheese in the Trap

Don't Eat the Cheese in the Trap

Where there is free cheese, there is sometimes a trap.

"Don't envy the rat for the cheese in his trap," Lecrae reminds us. 

That cheese is the lure of old realities and our addiction to them. 

Entrepreneurs can create new realities. 

We are not lab rats or unwelcome guests in a proper home. We are creators and co-creators in an infinite labyrinth of creativity and boundless hope. 

We are creating new cheese, better cheese, sustainable cheese. 

We are not trapped by the past or by our passing urges. We have been captivated by the big picture, the blue sky, and uncharted future. 

Chart your own path and follow with commitment and energy. 

Start thinking outside of the box, the trap, or whatever is confining your thinking. 

Use your imagination to paint on a new canvas with fresh paint. Take your brush and bring a vision to life that can be seen, refined, colored, and emboldened for a future that is yet to be. 

Abandon every notion of fatalism or determinism. Whatever truth they may hold outside of this sphere, they presuppose our choices and activities within it. Think like a person with feet in multiple realities, choosing the reality that has harnessed your calling in this life. 

Live as if you have free will and you will at least to the extent that it matters or we can conceive of it. Do not get bogged down with theories when it is time to take action. 

Don't just live your dreams; design them; craft them; decorate them; advertise them; present them to the world. 

Don't be conformed to the system; build the system around your  vision of a better future for all. 

Don't pursue anything with total devotion that only benefits you. Thinking big means bringing others along to share in the blessings of all that you accomplish. Think bigger than big. Be a global thinker and extend that thinking beyond your own lifetime. 

Anything else is a rat trap. 

If someone is out there setting traps, dishing out the food pellets, calling the shots, or manipulating minds, be aware and reject their efforts. Be an entrepreneur in business, in society, and in the realm of the spirit. Be a creator who bows only to the Creator. 

And never, ever, envy the mice, the rats, or the masses. 

And do not eat their cheese.

------------------------------------


For Discussion:

#Questionforgroup

How do we drive this point home to ourselves?

How do we release ourselves from our own traps?

How do we help the people we coach, mentor, or lead to think more freely?

What are some good questions to ask ourselves or others?

I guess that is more than one question.

Oh well!

"Questions are the answers" - Allan Pease

Excerpt:

Entrepreneurs can create new realities. 

We are not lab rats or unwelcome guests in a proper home. We are creators and co-creators in an infinite labyrinth of creativity and boundless hope. 

We are creating new cheese, better cheese, sustainable cheese.

Mt cheese

Read at  https://amzn.to/4cAd0Fc


#fate #fatalism #determinism #vision #dreams #visionarythinking #coaching #mentoring



To Be Fair

Truth like a lion

I really do want to be fair, so I am going to examine one or two of my assumptions - yet again. I do that every time I am challenged ...

... well, most every time.

We are not primarily critics of culture as citizens of God's Kingdom - but we are not outside of culture. We are participants and decision makers. We are the kings. We are in authority over this dominion. That brings a heavy responsibility upon us to listen, think, and speak.

I do think it is fair to let public people speak for themselves. We can read what they say in context or listen to their speeches in context. We can try to include context in our quotes and quote accurately. We should try to do that. We may come to some of the same conclusions, but at least we will do so with understanding and sometimes, we will correct ourselves.

Ultimately, it is about the idea.

For the Christian, it is about the intersection, contrast, complement, or enlightenment that is present in the space between idea and gospel. The gospel is the bigger idea for us and it includes some presumptions about a Great Commission and a Great Commandment as well as a fundamental ethic that is not shared by all in society - the ethic of the Kingdom of God.

I have no basis for arguing Kingdom ethics with those who do not share that presumption. I do not require or expect people to buy into my assumptions without that presumption in place.

I am not a big fan of exploiting momentary Freudian slips or fleeting hashtags as the sole basis for criticism of public policy, but sometimes people really do say what they mean in a few sentences - maybe within 280 characters ... at least what they mean in the moment.

How does that translate into policy and what is my responsibility as a citizen two kingdoms?

I think we might also want to pay attention to the relationship between words and actions. In the final analysis, most ideas and prevailing narratives are much bigger than a few individuals, no matter how high profile they may be.

So, I find that going from specific to general and then, back to specific is often necessary to insure that the magnetic north pole is tuning my compass.

I will be working this out for quite some time.

When I stop, please do not send flowers to my grave, but make a memorial gift to some worthy cause.

A Bouquet of Flowers


Conflicting Views within Us and among Us

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"When conflicting viewpoints arise in a circle of trust, we arrive at a critical moment. Now we can easily slip back into business as usual ... trying to talk each other into, or out of, some opinion. Now we may forget why we are here: ... to help each person listen to his or her inner teacher." Parker Palmer

It is not what I say or teach that matters. I am a prompter. I present the scriptures, as they are, with suggested applications and clarifying illustrations, but I have no power over what goes on inside the listener/hearer/disciple of Jesus.

That Voice inside of them is their true Teacher. That is the promise and that is the deal.

Eli sent Samuel back to his room to listen. His direction to little Sammy was to say, "Speak, LORD, your servant is listening." As it turned out, it wasn't very good news for Eli, but oh well ... Eli's task was to make space for Samuel to hear. Elijah needed that space many, many years later. Jesus required that space often.

I found myself really enjoying a chuckle. I completely disagreed with the political premise, but the humor was brilliant.

Hopefully we can get back to laughing at ourselves someday.

Here is something about which, I think we can all agree:

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God Speaking to Us in the Darkeness


"I believe in God as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." -CS Lewis

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In I Kings 19, Elijah is on the run, tired, discouraged, depressed, afraid of dying and wishing to die. He has crashed after a great success and does not know what to do next.

He has some real issues with God and expresses them honestly. Three words come to Him ... simple words with big meaning: Eat. Stand. Go.

It is surprisingly yet, not without expectation, wonderful, how all the readings feed the central truth of the day.

" ... Get up and eat for the journey is too much for you." (7)

Psalm 42 presents us with the notion of "panting spirituality" that longs for the water of life.

"... Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." (11)

Of course, that presence did not make Itself known in any ways that Elijah might have expected. The kind of faith-listening Elijah needed defied norms and his own boxed-in ideas of how God might speak.

" ... Go back the way you came..." (15)

He still have a mission and purpose. In Luke 8, the recently delivered demoniac wanted to hang out with Jesus and His disciples and Jesus sent him back to his home on a mission.

Eat, stand, and go or get up, go out, and go back.

Either way you group them, it culminated with a GO!

Elijah was fashioned for a mission ... one larger than himself .... one for which his own emotional, physical, and spiritual strength were inadequate. Yet, his call was to go, and in order to go, he'd need to be fed and he'd need to listen for direction.



First Church Controversy - Equity

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The first great controversy in the early church was over making sure all people were treated fairly and equitably.

This led to the first appointment of official servants whose job was to administer ministry (service) and this, in turn, led to the first martyrdom, Stephen.

It was a season of firsts. The last become first and the first become last.

Read about it in Acts 6:1-15

“When the need to be cared for is dishonored, threatened, or undermined, the individual cannot experience his own self as a unity and his life may become deeply fragmented and splintered. In its extreme form, the disturbance upsets the balance of the mind so that a man gradually loses his sense of identity.” - Howard Thurman, The Discipline of Reconciliation


I Stand Amazed

Tempest (1)
Kathleen Peterson, https://www.kathleenpetersonart.com

Filled with Awe

“And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” -Mark 4:41

It was when Jesus brought calm that the disciplines found the space to experience the fear. What they had been experiencing before that was the terror and dread of being shipwrecked in the storm. Now, however, it was a kind of holy fear, an experience of the unknown for which they had no frame of reference.

What do you do with that?

So, the fear that the men had when Jesus calmed the sea was not terror, it was breathtaking awe. It was that overwhelming disorientation that comes when you realize that you control nothing.

It is coming to understand, with Anselm, that there is a God who is greater than anything we can conceive of or imagine.

We are knocked off of our feet by the magnitude of the divine presence. We are enveloped in glory. We are struck down by power. At the same time, we are healed and comforted as we settle into trusting that power and the one who possesses it.

We use words like “awe,” “wonder,” “reverence,” and “amazement.”

God defines God’s own glory. God creates it and God shows it in the Lord Jesus Christ. What manner of man is this?

That is the right question. It is always the right question for any who are weighing the wonder of Jesus Christ. It is the right question for every seeker who might be considering his life, ministry, words, and calling?

There lies Jesus, asleep on a cushion in the stern of the boat, resting easy through the squall. Was he so unaware of the ricking of the boat? Could he not hear the crashing of the waves? Could he not sense the panic of his friends?

Was it, as they questioned, that he did not care that they were about to perish?

Doesn’t Jesus care for his companions with whom he shares the boat? Doesn’t he even care about his own wellbeing?

He is, after all, in the same boat, with us. That is incarnation?

He is with us. He is vulnerable. He has determined to go down with us. Yet, in that moment, he knew that no one was going down. At least it seems so.

“Where is your faith?” That is what he asks.

They ask why he is not afraid. He asks why they are?

They ask if he cares. He asks if they believe.

Should believing make that much of a difference in a storm?

He speaks to the storm and calms the storm. Many of us have experienced that in a more esoteric encounter. Many have experienced it in actual time and space miraculous intervention by God at the word of Jesus: “Quiet. Be still.”

Sometimes that word is spoken to the storm. Often, it is spoken to our hearts. There is always something that can be settled in the stormy moments of our lives.

They ask:

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Nature obeys him.

Who is he? What sort of man is he? How do we size him up? How do we respond to him? Who is this man who is showing himself to be more than a mere man?

What do we do with him? We have no box for him. We have no preexisting definition for him. We cannot label him or package him. He is who he is, and it is more than we can describe.

We stand amazed and in awe as we stand, bow, kneel, or fall in his presence.

On this day, he set out to amaze. At least he seized the opportunity to do so.

We all need some amazement in our lives. If God is with us, there is nothing ordinary about it. God is with us in Christ and the reality of it defies explanation or understanding.

Something remarkable has happened among us and to us in Jesus Christ.

The peering gaze and penetrating voice of Jesus, after all the teachings and all the signs and wonders, all the miracles, all the observation, is asking, “Haven’t you yet come to believe? Don’t you trust me? Haven’t you found in me a higher purpose, calling, and grace that overcomes these storms?”

It is as if belief is to be the new norm of our lives.

It is never true that Jesus does not care. Jesus always cares and that care reflects God’s loving concern for us. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in that deep caring.

But Jesus models what it looks like to believe and to trust by taking a nap.

What if we, in our amazement and awe, could learn to nap in the boat with Jesus no matter what was happening around us?

It is an amazing thing to be aligned with one whose power calls forth the obedience of the forces of nature. He doesn’t do that every day because those forces are good and nurturing. Yet, there come times when they must be defied and overridden. If it needs to happen in order for God’s purposes to be accomplished and God’s people to be delivered, it will.

Sink or swim, we are protected and guided by the awe-inspiring presence of the Lord in Christ,

In 1905, Chris Gabriel, who wrote over 7000 compositions, must have been feeling some of these emotions when he penned this hymn:

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus, the Nazarene,

And wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous, how wonderful!

And my song shall ever be:

How marvelous, how wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me!

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Mark 4:35-41
New International Version

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”

Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

-------------------------------------------

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Art Attribution: Peterson, Kathleen. Tempest, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56574 [retrieved June 20, 2024]. Original source: Kathleen Peterson, https://www.kathleenpetersonart.com.


My Biases

My biases

I've fallen down the rabbit hole into a dystopian "wonderland" of bizarre relativism.

Can someone pinch me back into reality or has the whole world set aside any perspective on truth and compassion?

"Truth is whatever supports my world view?"

Is that it?

All else is bias?

The audacity of me saying that everything that I perceive to be true is truth because I see it that way!

I have biases. Yet, not all bias is irreparably divorced from truth. It just becomes less true when it is not seen for what it is and acknowledged.

My bias?

At least it has been, this, among other things:

People, though flawed and fallen, are also good-hearted, reasonable, and still yearning for truth, justice, compassion, and connection.

People want to think and do right and live the Great Commandment.

Prove me right.

We will need some grace.

Another bias: Humans have the ability to think ... but it takes a lot of effort.

Yet another bias: We can be easily duped by any side of an argument, but we also have the responsibility not to be led along.

We accumulate evidence to support our next argument unless we are actually open to finding truth. That is not to say that we throw out all our premises and principles, but that we acknowledge them as filters & stay aware of the ambiguities and challenges to our ideas of reality

Just because a piece of evidence is too weak to support your world view, it is not necessarily a threat to that view ... it is just not your best argument.

In every court, including the court of public opinion, there is evidence on both sides to be weighed and evaluated. The jury decides (in criminal court, beyond reasonable doubt, in civil court, preponderance of evidence). You are the jury. Do your job.

We are tempted to rely on weak evidence and arguments, sometimes, to support very valid viewpoints. We should not resort to that. We can come up with better points.

Sometimes thinking - sound thinking - requires an appreciation of basic arithmetic.

Good thinking is not enough.

Symbols are easily misinterpreted.

Sound decisions are marks of true wisdom.

I was going to say not to let anyone label you as this or that. But realistically, you cannot stop them. You cannot regulated what they call you or how they think about you.
But you do not have to wear the label.

If it doesn't fit, then quit letting it stick.

Your life.

Your call.




A Few Pieces of My Mind

Let scoffers scoff - beth moore

It is true that we have been informed and inspired by some folks who did some horrible things, things from which we may have benefited, things that destroyed other people and their societies. Our thought processes must be balanced if we are going to learn from history and make a better history for those who study our times.


Ford and carter 2

Father Greg has proven that love, acceptance, respect, and trust can turn lives around.


Ford and carter 2


No high school government teacher could ever fill a board like Harvey Margolis.

He was prolific and he was inspiring.


Ford and carter 2

Let scoffers scoff - beth moore


Let scoffers scoff - beth moore

Let scoffers scoff - beth moore
Let scoffers scoff - beth moore

Let scoffers scoff - beth moore


Juneteeth - A Celebration for All

Juneteenth 2

Why do we say that Juneteenth is a celebration for all when it applied to formerly enslaved people of African descent in Texas?

It is because, when we learn to love freedom, the freedom of one is the freedom of all. We all share in its blessings when received and in its deprivation when it is withheld.

On Juneteenth, we remember the initiative  to inform and enforce the liberation of slaves in slavery's final frontier of the rebel states. Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas at the end of the American Civil War.

The date, June 19, 1865, refers to the day when enslaved African Americans, basically, in Texas, learned of their emancipation. The star represents Texas, the Lone Star State, as well as the freedom of African Americans in all 50 states.

Read More at

https://socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/issues/discrimination/celebrating-freedom-juneteenth-and-emancipation-day-commemorations-richmond-va/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2024/06/18/a-proclamation-on-juneteenth-day-of-observance-2024/

https://www.juneteenth.com/

https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/historical-legacy-juneteenth

Move Forth in Freedom - A Spiritual Application

Let us all seek to be better people


God has not forgotten any of the folks under these skies

.

Emancioatuon day
Emancioatuon day
Emancioatuon day


Embedded Posts Resting Here on My Bed of Nails


Resting here



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As I get older, my patience listening to news and commentary gets thinner. That is why I prefer reading news and transcripts. Thank God I learned speed reading early in adulthood.

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Retrospect would be pretty useless same for this fact There is a future in which we are called upon to act And if the past, with failures and some Yet - there are times I long for a vacation from thinking and knowing. Times, I say, some, I say. Not all, not often, not for long. I do not enjoy having points of view - not always. I just do and everyone is entitled to my opinion, I suppose. Or not. Your choice. God bless you.

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Some days I weary of having a point of view. I can change my vantage & expand my view, but I haven't figured out how to -unknow what I know, -unsee what I see, -unhear what I hear, or unshackle myself from the compulsion to cry out and invite others to know, see, hear, think.

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So I comment, cry out, question probe, agitate, irritate, & think out loud for myself, for others, for what I sense is the call of God, & for truth to broaden my own understanding & those of others for the core principles I embrace & the sometimes subtle truths that refine them.

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I love Uber, but must budget & prioritize. I love my wife, but I have to work into her busy schedule. I live 10 miles from the nearest bus. I really don't like to beg for rides. I'm not driving for your safety & mine. If I don't show up for something, forgive me. I love you too

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"From heaven you pronounced judgment; the earth was afraid and was still; When God rose up to judgment and to save all the oppressed of the earth." - Psalm 76:8-9

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A customer shared an oft-repeated response of surprise when I told her that we weigh the books at Joseph's Java Junction to determine their price (5 cents an ounce). It is either light reading or heavy reading.

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Contention or contemplation? I contend we cannot be ultimately contented with either out of balance.

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Love threatens and intimidates us down to the core where we must authentically contend with it or not at all

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Am I willing to sacrifice intimacy in order to never be intimidated?

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The vulnerability of one laid bare before the presence of pure love is both intimate and intimidating

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How many "have-to"s can we turn to "get-to"s today? What will it change (other than our own attitudes and capacities)?


4 years ago, I recorded this message from the hospital.


Principles to Premises - A Short and Sweet Statement

The Start of an Honest Conversation or a Simple Assertion 


Photo by Dan Clear on Unsplash

It is true in any realm of thought. One must know and state one’s principle clearly as they form the foundations of all we think and say with intellectual integrity.

A principle is a truth that is universally true regardless of context, implications, interpretation, or application. It can be stated and allowed to sit there, or people can choose to wrestle on their own, or with others about how to interpret or apply it.
 
 While it cannot be taken for granted that all will accept the principle as a premise, it does not need to be argued or defended in debate. It does need to be stated, however, out of respect for those with whom we dialogue as in what the framers called, “a decent respect for the opinions” of mankind.
 
 Knowing and stating one’s premises and identifying the principles that underlie them, is an honest approach to any conversation.


Truth Quest - Sometimes It Is Not

Why Give an Answer?

Why give an answer when all potential answers have been predetermined by the questioner to be indictable and misunderstood?

Jesus told his disciples to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. He models this.

He would not let his detractors set the agenda for his mission, ministry, and message. Neither should we.

His teaching was outside the box and he did everything a human could do to make sure no one built a box around it. I say, “anything a human could do,” because that was his chosen self-limitation at the time. He would not magically manipulate thinking.

There is more to this dialogue than I am taking the time to discuss here including the implications of “authority” in the setting, but what it boils down to is that Jesus is making a claim to authority that the questioners were predisposed not to accept and he is saying, “Take it or leave it.”

Now, what about you?

Are you subject to being baited, manipulated or backed into a corner?

It has been said that the person asking the questions controls the conversation. That is why the smart-alec detectives on television respond to their subjects’ inquiries with, “I’m asking the questions here.”

Of course there is no law that says outside of court, who can ask questions or who must answer or how they must answer.

Sometimes either an affirmative or dissenting answer will be equally a lie or a half truth. The intention of the interrogator is to lock you in to something that is not the full truth.

You are free to reject someone else’s agenda for your life or convictions. Jesus provides an example of that.

Of course, we should always be open to dialogue with honest seekers and earnest conversation partners in a mutual exchange and quest for truth.


Photo by Ozan Safak on Unsplash

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Luke 20:1–8 (NRSV)

One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?” 
He answered them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” 
They discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.”
So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 
Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Do You Love the People - All the People?


Congress

Here is some guidance from the Hebrew scriptures on how to vote.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20, 17:14-20

Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.
The bottom line was that Israel, in choosing its leaders, was to find people who would not oppress them or practice the same old business as usual, greedy rulers acquiring wealth and wives for themselves.

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Judges were to be just.

Kings were to be fellow countrymen - citizens with a governing function.

That was the reason for appointing one of their own, a former slave, a leader with the best interests of the people at heart.

It was not about some since of ethnic superiority. The king was to be a man who loved God and loved the people.

I have never heard anyone asked, in a presidential debate, "Can you tell me about your love for the people you want to serve?"

What about such a platform? "I love the people. I love all the people. I am their servant and will continue to love them and act on their behalf."

How will we believe such candidates?

We will listen to their words and we will watch their lives.

Can the principles of that specific situational advise be applied to our times and circumstances? How do we find the transferable concepts and practice them?

We are always being called to read, analyze, and do theological reflection on our times. That is what ordinary, every day theologians do. Not to do some keeps us wading in the shallow, mucky water of knee-jerkiness where we miss our divine appointments and fail to capture the meaning of the moment.
'' And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.'' (Matthew 16:1-4 ESV)

Public service is both public and service. It is a service that we do for the public, the people.

Absent of love, it is very difficult.


Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash


He said, “‘Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him.”

Only the last laugh counts!

“…he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him” — Matthew 9:24

The Last Laugh is the laugh that counts.

The last laugh LASTS.

It lasts a long time. It gets funnier with each telling and with each passing year. The pain subsides, but the story survives as the lesson thrives in our lives.

The last laugh AUTHENTICATES.

it authenticates the veracity of our words, the credibility of our ideas, and the integrity of our deeds.

The last laugh SWEETENS.

When we laugh last, the laugh is sweet. It soothes us. It affirms us. It amuses us. It affirms us within

The last laugh TURNS TABLES.

When we get the last laugh, it is because justice and truth have prevailed. We do something far better than win an argument; we win the day.

The last laugh can be SHARED.

The joke does not have to be on anyone. It does not have to be cruel. All can be embraced in it and invited into the celebration.
 — — — — — — — — — — 
50 Years ago, when I graduated at the auditorium where last night’s shooting took place in Richmond, I sang a solo from a choral piece, with our choir:

“O Lord God to Whom Vengeance Belongeth.”

That has always puzzled me. It was chosen by our wonderful choir director, Richard Izquierdo, for whatever reason, I still do not know to this day.

It may have been his way of saying that he was not bound by tradition or his wink at the world, or his announcement that the class of 73 was being turned loose on the world.
 — — — — — — — — — — 
We were going forth in the hope of getting the last laugh of verified truth, the triumph of justice, the proclamation of hope, and the possibility of a new day.

In our day, we are preoccupied with winning the small victories, a point here, a quip there, a cruel joke somewhere else and someone’s expense.
 — — — — — — — — — — 
Someone asked me:

“Would you say you “give as good as you get” or do you let most things slide by without feeling a need to defend or attack?”

If I “give and I get,” then I am surrendering control of my life to someone else’s behaviors and choices. I am letting the other person run my life and emotions.

If I must defend myself at all times, then I am saying that what someone else thinks of me or says about me changes who I am or determines how I feel about myself.

Frank Sinatra said that the best revenge is success.

Build your life as if your critics do not exist. Become a beacon of truth for them. Show them that you are stronger than their attacks by having a good day in spite of anything they say or do. That is my philosophy.

Am I always successful at it?

Mostly — not always. I am a work in progress.

However, when I don’t practice it, things don’t go as well as when I do.

I would much rather be proactive in my life than reactive. The Golden Rule is as much for us as it is for “them.”


How to Find a Missing Sock or Anything Else



Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

What happened to all the missing socks?

They are in the Twilight Zone.

There they formed a coalition of mix-matched socks and were animated by a race of invisible shape-shifters. The symbiotic partnership is a thriving example of how entities can work together to form the formless and inform the clueless.

That is my current theory, but it is in flux.

How I Find Lost Things:

  1. First, I look around.
  2.  Then I try to visualize the last time I remember having it and where I was.
  3. I look there.
  4. Then, I retrace my recent steps.
  5. Somewhere along the line, I pray for guidance.
  6. Then, I ask people when they last saw me with it or if they borrowed it.
  7. Then I listen to their advice about where to find it — usually stuff I’ve already done, but sometimes it is helpful.
  8.  I walk away and do something else.
  9. I come back and do all of those steps again and ask deeper questions of myself.
  10. I start looking in all the illogical places like the floor around the toilet (where I have often found my wallet) and places like that. 
  11. I walk away again. 
  12. I start looking for something else.
  13. Eventually it turns up in either some (a) really unlikely place that suddenly makes sense or (b) some likely place where I have looked before.

Keep in mind.

Everything is somewhere.

Things that you left somewhere are most likely where you left them.

Your memory, which was never fool-proof, has a lot more information to handle than it used to — which is a nice way of saying that you are becoming forgetful.

So, how do you find your missing stuff?

Try my list or someone else’s list. When that fails, take a break. Relax and replace.

Remember that it is just stuff.





That Being Said

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I the past, it was always my practice to to forget what red and blue are as designations for political persuasions and states.

I have been losing the game because these colors are constantly in my face.

I still now know how to recognize them to some extent, but I am not always successful and  forgetfulness prevails. I have no need or desire to correct that deficiency.

Seriously, I can't always keep track of other political and ideological tags and usually don't wish to.

Principles transcend labels.

The problem is that some who embrace the labels closely to their chest have often elevated them above principles in these days.

That being said. if I know where something is coming from, I might detect the attachment of an unspoken or unwritten agenda and I might keep my eyes open and my nose clear to sniff out the peculiar smells of being led in the direction of a sewer -yet with an open but aware mind. 

I have found myself agreeing with someone and nodding enthusiastically many times and then realizing that I have wandered into a position I do not hold -- by accident (or manipulation).

So ... while I cannot afford to dismiss an idea, I can examine it carefully.

I don't care what the branding is on a good idea. If it is a good idea, it is a good idea -- same with a bad idea. The camp from which it comes is less important than where we can go with it and whether or not it propels truth or truth-seeking.

Mark Twain said, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." 

Absolute certainty, set in stone is a cruel myth. It is debilitating when it comes to cultivating new ideas.

We need some tools.

Here are:

Three Crucial Questions For Making Moral Choices

It is all about the questions when making the right choices.

The answers are contained there.

I Corinthians 10:23-24, 31-33 informs us.

1. Is it beneficial?
Is this choice God’s best or just a concession to the moment? Will it help?

2. Is it constructive?
What are the positive results of this choice for the Kingdom? Does it build or destroy?

3. Is it good for others?
How will my choice affect and effect other people?

One Absolute Principle: So, whether you eat or drink, or what ever you do, do it for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble...

Off and On Topic

"I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." ~~Socrates

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." - Paul, I Corinthians 2:2

In larger context, translated by J.B. Phillips (vv. 1-5):

"In the same way, my brothers, when I came to proclaim to you God’s secret purpose, I did not come equipped with any brilliance of speech or intellect. You may as well know now that it was my secret determination to concentrate entirely on Jesus Christ and the fact of his death upon the cross. As a matter of fact, in myself I was feeling far from strong; I was nervous and rather shaky. What I said and preached had none of the attractiveness of the clever mind, but it was a demonstration of the power of the Spirit! Plainly God’s purpose was that your faith should not rest upon man’s cleverness but upon the power of God."