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The Spirit Says, "Come."

The authentic church has always expressed its presence in the world with great variety as well as some core unity.

But, it has always had a one word message, "Come."

Welcoming spirit

The authentic church has always expressed its presence in the world with great variety as well as some core unity.

On a given day of worship, one will hear various musical forms, experience a variety of liturgies and styles. Emphases may vary. Languages will include almost every language where there is writing and many where there is none. Some congregations will meet in traditional buildings while others meet in coffee shops, bars, and living rooms.

The political spectrum may range from Christian socialists to right wing conservatives, each convinced that their perspectives follow their spiritual commitments. But among the most genuine, a common sense of love for all people and acceptance of this diversity that brings us all together over all the earth.

It is the day of Pentecost.

Barriers come down with a resounding thud. We can accept one another in a new way! The Spirit has come. The church is born. It is not bound by ethnicity, nationality, or religious background. All can come to Christ and be one in Christ.

Language is no longer a barrier because at Pentecost everyone, from around the world, heard the gospel in their own language. God's name is confessed among the gentiles, and they join in the praise of God.

The eternal choir is not short on harmony for all the parts are filled and nothing is out of balance.

There is no barrier to joy and peace.

Jesus said that when He sent His Spirit, we would do greater works than He and I take that to mean in the area of Evangelism. The Jewish feast of Pentecost  was a memorial day and a harvest celebration. It commemorated the giving of the law at Sinai, and it celebrated the end of the Spring harvest.

So the Christian celebration of Pentecost celebrates the new law of love written on our hearts by the Spirit of God who breaks down cultural, language, and national barriers to usher in a new harvest of souls.

This is a day of unity and mission. We remember so that we may look forward. 

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

 No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;

and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

The word of the day is variety.

But the second word of the day is “same.”

We have great diversity and great unity.

We have variety and continuity.

We have gathering and dispersion.

We have many languages, but one central message.

 Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.

 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

 Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 1 Cretans and Arabs--in our own languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."

 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

 But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."

 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say.  Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning.  No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.  And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.  The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.  Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

It would seem that everyone was preaching. It throws us back to Numbers 11:24-30

Barriers of all sort come down when God moves in unity with diversity and diversity with unity.

So Moses went out and told the  people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent.  Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.

And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."

And Joshua, son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!"

But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!"

And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

Religious class structure is dismantled along with all forms of class structure, superiority, and elitism.

No longer will men and women be chosen based upon nation, ethnicity, and birth. There were and may, from time to time, be functional calling, but to be chosen is declared to be a an open welcome by and of the Holy Spirit.

We sing with the psalmist:

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.

There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.

These all look to you to give them their food in due season;

when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works--

who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.

Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!

Again, we affirm, as a manifestation of this newly revealed reality, the words of 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit.

Here is the great unity of our confession. It is a spiritual declaration prompted at a deeper level than mere intellect. It is whole life pronouncement of commitment and dedication.

To that place, we come from a variety of backgrounds and from that place with a variety of gifts, service, and activities.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;

and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

Having affirmed the grand notion of diversity, we then return to the shared unity. It is the common good.

To amplify, verses 8-13 takes us into the weeds of specifics:

To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,

to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,

to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Different classes and nationalities, rich and poor, slave and free, without regard to gender or socioeconomic standing, all are invited to come.

What better place to drive this home than Jerusalem among the ethnically and linguistically Jewish people who had been scattered and gathered some many times? What better time than a harvest feast, a measured time 50 days after Passover?

They were present from all over.

Notice how it happened.  We have read Acts 2:1-21. Let me point out a few things.

When  the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. …  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem.

And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? …. we hear them speaking about God's deeds of power."

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

 Let me pause to say that this is a good thing. Any religious or spiritual experience that does not leave us, at least somewhat amazed and perplexed will fall short of a powerful and overwhelming encounter with the Living God.

The we try to tie it up and explain with sneering words like:

They are filled with new wine."

 That signals the time for someone like Peter to stand to explain the unity and diversity and meaning of the moment.

This is what Joel was trying to tell you hundreds of years ago

'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.

 You will see a variety of manifestations of the One True God through a variety of people and you will hear the gospel of love in a variety of languages and forms. The Spirit will show you the character of God through a variety of gifts, services, and activities.

There will be diversity and variety, but one thing will be the same:

 … everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

Moses tried to tell his inner circle that this would be so.

Joel proclaimed it. God will use a variety of people proclaiming the same news of hope and deliverance

Jesus prepared his disciples for the day of Pentecost in John 20:19-23

 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

This is massive. We are filled and sent at the same time. We are equipped and pressed into the service. We are not all the same. We do not have the same backgrounds, perspectives, color, language, culture, or gifts. But we are all gifted by the same Spirit-Giver.

We will not be sent, all of us to do the same service, but we will all be sent to serve.

We will not all do the same thing in the same place. But each activity will be a spiritual activity, and each will be vital.

We will all be working for the common good. Because out of our vast diversity, we are one people.

I had heard so much about the separation of Palestinians and Jews in Israel, but it was refreshing to see one place where it was not being observe. It was at a park along a river with some of the best swimming I had ever experienced.

A river … and in that river, Jews, Muslims, and Christians enjoying picnics and fun with their families. The only tension I saw was an argument between two family members for whom the heat or the beer had gotten to much of them.

The Holy Spirit flows like a river through our world pronouncing peace and announcing good news, quenching thirsty souls and enlivening his witnesses.

John 7:37-38

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,  and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

Come, thirsty soul.

The water is pure and fresh.

There is enough for all.

Step in and be renewed.

Immerse your soul in sweetness.

Spirit breathes and we are revived.

You are welcome, friend.

Never mind your old assumptions,



Your place at the table is here.

We have been waiting for you.

Holy Spirit calls to to come.

Sit here, next to Jesus under the canopy of a Father's love.

You family is here.

We all all so glad to see you.



Dink freely.


Cloven Tongues of Fire


And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. - Acts 2:3

Sometimes the word God has for others or for us comes and sits on us. Then, it does its work and we are as amazed as the listeners. We jut don’t know where it came from or how we could be used so mightily – except that God did something spectacular. Often, we don’t know what to say or how to say it. We do not speak the “language” of an acquaintance. We may share a common tongue, but we do not know the language of his or her heart.

Words are like triggers sometimes. Careless, even innocent use of some words can push the play buttons on “old tapes” sending the listener into a rage of defensive posturing. More often, we overuse words and speech patterns. The ears of listeners grow dull to the repetitious sound of our religious platitudes and spiritual utterances. What we say is true, but the truth does not penetrate or take root because it is not heard. So, either a wall of defense is build to keep the gospel out or a wall of apathy. Either way, a fire is needed to burn away the walls.

At Pentecost, all heard the gospel in their own languages. More important, each person heard the word in the language of his or her heart. It penetrated deeply and cut to the quick. It burned away resistance and complacency with the heat of its passion and the clarity of consuming fury.

We need tongues of fire today as well. We need our own souls set on fire by the Holy Spirit who alone can burn through the rubbish of noisy distractions and set the world on fire with the ”buzz” of God’s good news. Do you deeply desire to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ? Give yourself over to God and ask Him, in faith, to speak through you, believing that He will. You will be amazed and people you never expected to pay attention will hear the life-changing message of Jesus.

Now, let us tilt the view a bit and look from another angle.

“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”– Acts 2:3

The tongue holds a prominent place in scripture – sometimes for the evil it can do and other times as a tremendous force for good. In the New Testament, it is the purveyor of the good news of Jesus Christ. By the foolishness of preaching, the gospel is spread throughout the world regardless of the languages of the people.

Fire burns away dross and every superficial thing that vies for attention and distracts from the message of truth. Fire burns in the hearts of those who are entrusted with God’s message so that the message spreads without hindrance and impacts all who are in its path.

At Pentecost, God placed His message of grace in the hearts and on the tongues of every believer. Consider the each and the every, the individual and the collective in the experience of Pentecost. God calls us each to worship Him and that is very personal, intimate, and individualized. But He also calls us, everyone, to be part of the whole, to be joined as a body in the ensemble of harmonic voices lifted in unified praise in and through the Holy Spirit to the glory of His Name and the proclamation of His Word.

Today, as we come together, we are many and we are one in the celebration of the mystery of the Holy Spirit in the majesty of the Body. We are here at God’s invitation and sent forth with His commission because of Pentecost.

The Guide

"...he will guide you into all truth..." -John 16:13b

There were many things that Jesus could have said, wanted to say, and needed to say to the disciples, but it was not the right time.  It was not the right time because they were not ready. They could not hear those things. They could not bear those things. They were not ready.

They would be ready later. They would be eager later. It would be the right time later. Their hearts would be prepared. Their lives would have been transformed later.

We must be ready to receive. We need a guide.

Jesus used more than one term to describe the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of Truth.  He is the Counselor, the Comforter, the Paraclete who walks beside us.  He is the Spirit of the Living God.  He is the wind that blows wherever it will.

Now, in this setting, he is a guide. His role is to guide Jesus' disciples into truth. Not only is it truth where he guides, but Jesus says that it is all truth.

He transforms the hearts and minds of the disciples and prepares them to receive truth. Then he imparts truth to them. He guides. He directs. He counsels. He coaches. He illuminates. He helps them to apply that truth to their lives.

He answers questions we have never asked before.

Jesus says that he will not speak of himself. He has not come to exalt himself. He hears and he speaks. Furthermore, he shows us what is ahead of us.

The bottom line, Jesus tells the disciples, is that he glorifies God in the Son of God. He glorifies the Christ.

He does this, According to Jesus, by taking what is Jesus’, namely his words and thoughts, and revealing them to us. He shows us the things of God. He discloses God's wonders. He unveils the riches of God's Word.  He frames God's wisdom in a way that we can understand it and live it.

There is a partnership between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It is a partnership of fellowship. It is a partnership of truth. All that belongs to one is shared with the other.

When the Spirit comes, Jesus teaches, we will be ready. That is because the Holy Spirit invites us into the fellowship where we experience the Holy Trinity. In that fellowship, we are prepared, and we are ready to receive the things the Jesus wanted to teach his disciples, but they were not ready to hear.

That is the beauty and the wonder of Pentecost, and it is why we celebrate it today.

A Digest of Truth on a Saturday in May

Saturday Truths

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
— Flannery O’Connor
These thoughts and observations have one thing in common, they are all being reposted here on a Saturday in May.

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"Pride makes us artificial; humility makes us real." – Thomas Merton

"The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it!" – Pearl S Buck

"Pride makes us artificial; humility makes us real." – Thomas Merton

The narrow way is a wide place. Yes. It is a paradox. Chew on it.
"... and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts."
(Psalm 119:45 ESV)

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We honor, as the song says, "young men who died for old men's wars."
Young men and young women.
It is up to the old to make it less necessary.
As we remember, honor, and care for them, let us also do all we can to make a peaceful world.
It starts here and now.
Often, the most disturbing lies are the ones we tell ourselves until we believe them.
Just because we have been wearing our excrement long enough to stop smelling it, does not mean its not still there.
We really sometimes need a complete wardrobe makeover ...
... and a bath.
Real prayer has an open-ended quality to it.
We cannot come to God to present our agenda with an assumption that He is in complete agreement with us and that He must do what we want our way.
We must be willing to change and be changed in the process.
We must come to say and hear.

We do not raise a stink over injustices and offenses to the compassion of Christ because we are addicted to odorous indignity, but because we are hopefully and prayerfully convinced that our voices can make a difference and have an influence over power.


The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write. The illiterate of the future will be people who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. The question for us is, ‘ What have we learned that we need to unlearn.” - Alvin Toffler


Build Your Platform; Say Whatever You Like



Here's a lesson I learned as a Sysop and Forum Contractor on CompuServe:

Free Speech is a guarantee from the government that the government will not stifle free speech. Businesses and the press can enforce any censorship they choose.

CompuServe & social media were/are businesses.

Of course ... we did NOT censor ideas and controversy because that would have been bad for business. Controversy WAS our business and how we made money.

We enforced rules of decency and decorum, however, because it was the right thing to do (and also good business).

I did not allow crude sexual remarks, profanity, insults, or personal attacks on my forums unlike the broader social media today. That was my choice and that is their choice.

The services I use also give me the choice on my personal pages, groups, and feeds.

Whenever I hear about restrictions on free speech from private businesses, I am reminded of this lesson.

As I often told people: If they would like different rules, they were always free to start their own forums.


"Their Last Full Measure of Devotion"

Abraham Lincoln quote: It is rather for us here dedicated to the great...

As I enter the Memorial Day weekend, I am preparing to remember and to honor the dead who died for our country and our best ideals.

As one who believes most wars are preventable and are the results of greed, power grabbing, and injustice, I know that none of those motives define those who serve out of a sense of duty and love of country.

We must differentiate.

The sailor, soldier, or others in uniform do not and should not make policy in that capacity.

How do we best honor them?

I think the little things and small gestures matter - the songs, the symbols, the spoken words, the patriotic sentiments, but sentimentalism is empty if it is not rooted in meaning.

We must work for justice and labor for peace. We must advocate for what we believe is right and what promotes quality of life and dignity of humanity. We must exercise our freedom to participate in the decisions that affect the lives of those who serve and all other lives.

We honor, as the song says, "young men who died for old men's wars."

Young men and young women.

It is up to the old to make it less necessary.

As we remember, honor, and care for them, let us also do all we can to make a peaceful world.

It starts here and now.


Today (Tom's Occasional Digest of Aforementioned Years) - May 26


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A Chaplain/Theologian Reflects on Psalm 102


Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

Empathy is a priestly function.

I only spent five minutes with Sylvia who was struggling with her post-surgical respiratory therapy. She could not keep the little ball in the middle of the device into which she was blowing.

I listened to her frustration. Then, I prayed it back to God. My words. Her sentiments.

The next week, I checked of her and she told me how much courage she had received from that visit, to keep trying and succeed in the exercise. 

I had done nothing but listen non-judgmentally and pray with empathy. Yet, it had made a difference in her life and had given her what she needed in the moment.

Five minutes.

Over the decades, I have been a volunteer hospital and hospice chaplain. These have been some of my most meaningful moments in personal ministry.

I have prayed with thousands of people at their besides.

However, I have never specifically read this psalm with them in prayer. Perhaps I should have.

For scripture, Psalm 23 has been my standby.

On the other hand, I have voiced the sentiments of the psalm.

My "technique" is no technique at all. I listen to them tell me their story. I listen behind the words. I listen for the prayer they are trying to pray.

Then, with their permission, and without actually saying so, I try to pray their prayer, the prayer of their heart, to God in the light of and against the backdrop of God's love, acceptance, and grace.

Then, they sometimes express wonder at how God seemed to speak to them through that prayer.

And it was them all along, God's voice speaking to their inner voice.

All I ever did, was listen and articulate what they were trying to pray.

Read this psalm slowly against the backdrop of this little glimpse. It has helped me to understand the meaning of what Carlyle Marney described as God's people being "priests to each other."

Read "Priests to Each Other" at - https://amzn.to/43sAY0x

Psalm 102
Domine, exaudi

Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; *
hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.

Incline your ear to me; *
when I call, make haste to answer me,

For my days drift away like smoke, *
and my bones are hot as burning coals.

My heart is smitten like grass and withered, *
so that I forget to eat my bread.

Because of the voice of my groaning *
I am but skin and bones.

I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, *
like an owl among the ruins.

I lie awake and groan; *
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.

My enemies revile me all day long, *
and those who scoff at me have taken an oath against me.

For I have eaten ashes for bread *
and mingled my drink with weeping.

Because of your indignation and wrath *
you have lifted me up and thrown me away.

My days pass away like a shadow, *
and I wither like the grass.

But you, O Lord, endure for ever, *
and your Name from age to age.

You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon her; *
indeed, the appointed time has come.

For your servants love her very rubble, *
and are moved to pity even for her dust.

The nations shall fear your Name, O Lord, *
and all the kings of the earth your glory.

For the Lord will build up Zion, *
and his glory will appear.

He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless; *
he will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for a future generation, *
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord.

For the Lord looked down from his holy place on high; *
from the heavens he beheld the earth;

That he might hear the groan of the captive *
and set free those condemned to die;

That they may declare in Zion the Name of the Lord, *
and his praise in Jerusalem;

When the peoples are gathered together, *
and the kingdoms also, to serve the Lord.

He has brought down my strength before my time; *
he has shortened the number of my days;

And I said, “O my God,
do not take me away in the midst of my days; *
your years endure throughout all generations.

In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, *
and the heavens are the work of your hands;

They shall perish, but you will endure;
they all shall wear out like a garment; *
as clothing you will change them,
and they shall be changed;

But you are always the same, *
and your years will never end.

The children of your servants shall continue, *
and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson and Writing


Born this day in 1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet and philosopher (d. 1882).

I once thought I would love to write like Emerson.

That would require some things that cannot be acquired:

To live his life and cultivate his memories.

To see what he saw and hear what he heard.

To encounter the Other as he did.

To experience  the world as he did.

To know and love those whom he knew and loved.

That is just the beginning.

We are left, then, with all we need, to read Emerson and let him take us on an occasional journey into his thinking with his words.

Then, we can gain our own experience of life and, from that experience, write our own story, having read his.

Here Are Some Samples

"There are two classes of poets — the poets by education and practice, these we respect; and poets by nature, these we love."

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered."

"The cup of life is not so shallow
That we have drained the best
That all the wine at once we swallow
And lees make all the rest."

"The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's."

"He who is in love is wise and is becoming wiser, sees newly every time he looks at the object beloved, drawing from it with his eyes and his mind those virtues which it possesses."

"If the colleges were better, if they … had the power of imparting valuable thought, creative principles, truths which become powers, thoughts which become talents, — if they could cause that a mind not profound should become profound, — we should all rush to their gates: instead of contriving inducements to draw students, you would need to set police at the gates to keep order in the in-rushing multitude."

"Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words, and, in proportion to the inspiration, checks loquacity."

The Big Picture

Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash
You do not just have a right to speak your mind; you have an obligation.
No one else has your point of view, namely your vantage. That is your advantage. It defines your responsibility to participate in the democratic process.
Without your point of view, we have a blind spot.
You did not come by your convictions lightly and you likely will not walk away from them lightly.
If they are misinformed, that can be fixed, but not by hiding or denying them.
This is not comfortable and it makes you vulnerable, but it is necessary. I do not enjoy disagreement at all, but it challenges me and sometimes, sharpens me. Sometimes, it even helps me change my perspective.
Do not deprive us of your perspective. We may not see things your way, but we need to be able to see though your eyes to develop a vision of the big picture.
What is in a picture

Define "Neighbor."

image from artsandculture.google.com

The good Samaritan (after Delacroix) - Vincent van Gogh

Do Likewise

Luke 10:36-37 – Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

 We all know the story. It was prompted by a question and occasioned by a teaching in response to a greater question. What we have here is the application: Go and do likewise. One question led to another, then to a story, and then to the lesson Jesus desired to imprint upon every heart: that everyone is our neighbor and that loving our neighbor is about making a practical and active decision to do so and following through regardless of our feelings.

A legal expert who sought to trap Jesus in His own words asked Him what was necessary to inherit eternal life. He turned the question back to him and to his knowledge and interpretation of the law.

Love God and love your neighbor” was both the answer he gave and the one that Jesus Himself gave on another occasion when asked what the greatest commandment was. Jesus commended him and told him to go and do likewise.

That wasn’t enough for the lawyer. He needed an escape clause, something that limited his liability and reduced his responsibility.

“Define neighbor,” was his retort. So, Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan and put him in a real bind. He made the hero of the story an outcast from the social and religious life of the Jews. He told the story in such a way as to make the answer to the question obvious.

Who was the neighbor? Was he one of those who left the poor man stranded by the road or the Samaritan who gave of himself and his means to help him?

The lawyer answered generically, and Jesus responded specifically, “Go and do likewise.”

Go; live like an outcast among outcasts if you must, but practice love as you go. Love is not revealed in the words we speak or the sentiments we feel, but in the actions, we take in being neighbors to our neighbors.

Go forth and live it.

Row, Row, Row

Team-building is an essential people skill and predictor of success.


Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

We measure many qualities when choosing our leaders. Among these are ideology, ability, intelligence, character, and team-building skills. One that might be easily overlooked is temperament.

Let's add it to the mix:

" A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
but he who is slow to anger quiets contention."
(Proverbs 15:18 ESV)

Another is ability and willingness to seek and utilize wise counsel... especially from those who disagree with you.

" Without counsel plans fail,
but with many advisers they succeed."
(Proverbs 15:22 ESV)

And a few other qualities....

What kind of leader are you preparing to be?

" Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.''
(Proverbs 15:21 ESV)

" The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things."
(Proverbs 15:28 ESV)

Look at these pictures ... If you are not familiar with this sport, can you tell who the captains are?

Who is captain

From Commission to Culmination and on the Consummation

Reasons to Rejoice

The Commission

Luke 10:3 – Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

The costly commission to follow Jesus and to go forth as His ambassadors is so controversial as to appear adversarial. Jesus warns us to expect hostility and opposition. He does not say this to discourage us, but to encourage us. He does not intend to frighten us away, but to have us brace ourselves in the embrace of His grace and power.

“Go your ways,” He says, knowing that each of us has a path that is uniquely and wondrously ours. No two paths are exactly the same though they often intersect and frequently follow parallel courses. We may hesitate to go our ways because it is less risky to continue as we have been, sitting at the feet of Jesus in the cloistered environs of our religious retreats. But we must go. It is His commission.

“I send you,” He says and that gives us courage to go forth, knowing that we have been authorized and mandated we bear His Name and represent His kingdom. It gives us confidence and joy to know that we are not staggering through the darkness of meaningless humdrum. We have been sent.

“I send you forth as lambs,” He says. We are like baby sheep. We still need our shepherd. As we go from Him, we develop a new relationship with him. We discover that He has come along in a new way.

“Lo, I am with you always,” He assures us.

“… as lambs among wolves.” This is the scary part. It is dangerous out there to the extent that we really could lose some things along the way. And if the things we can potentially lose are dearer to us than the commission, we could lose everything. However, if we have relinquished our hold on the things of earth so that they “grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace,” then we have absolutely nothing to lose. We have died, as the scriptures say, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Don’t be afraid of the wolves. Beware of them, but don’t let them stop you. Whatever you do, don’t miss the mission.

Real Rejoicing

Luke 10:20 -  Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven

The disciples on an early Kingdom mission had not only survived hostility, but had thrived in the process. To their delight and surprise, God had come along with them and had wrought miracles of healing and deliverance. Even demons had been subjected to them and they were excited. It was at that moment that Jesus had to remind them of an important lesson. It is in our moments of intense religious exhilaration and enthusiasm that we must learn the same lesson.

It is great to enjoy the frills and thrills of practical discipleship and divine manifestations, but that kind of rejoicing pales in comparison to the joy of redemption. A stirring worship service inspires us to face a week of temptations and challenges, but it is not the main impetus to our spiritual success. Inclusion in God’s purpose is the greatest cause of rejoicing of all.

It is true that spirits are subject to the believer as he or she prays in the name and authority of Jesus Christ.  It is a reality that when the Holy Spirit chooses to work through us, He can leave us as breathless as a roller coaster ride – and more so. All of this is true, but it is not our cause for real rejoicing.

We rejoice, no matter what is happening around us, that God has inscribed our names on the rolls of Heaven. No earthly joy and no spiritual fulfillment come close to the felicitous flame that glows in the heart of a redeemed soul. In the darkest night, it burns bright and warms the heart of the child of God.

It is why we rejoice now and rejoice evermore. Our names are written in heaven.

Written on Palm Sunday for Fools Like Me

Luke 10:21-22 - In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

Let us celebrate Palm Sunday because it was on that day Jesus received praise from the people who really did not understand the full magnitude of what they were experiencing.  Let us celebrate April Fools Day for on this day, we recognize how vulnerable each of us is to folly.

The book of Proverbs defines a fool, not as one who has a low quotient of intelligence or one who cannot learn, but as one who will not learn and who shuns instruction, rejects discipline, and turns his back on God. Many such fools consider themselves wise and sophisticated. Paul says that God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and the foolishness of preaching to proclaim the life giving message of the cross.

On Palm Sunday, hundreds of people who might have been deemed foolish in the eyes of the scholars of their day, gathered alongside the road to welcome the Messiah to Jerusalem. They did so almost instinctively, not knowing what was to come, not comprehending the magnitude of the moment.

Earlier, it was Jesus’ turn to rejoice. With all that He was about to face, He could see beyond the pain and suffering of the cross to the glory that would be revealed. He could see what others could not, what He had but given glimpses of to His disciples. He could see that some of His words were getting through as God revealed what was hidden to babes and He revealed His Father to them.

Those who deemed themselves wise and prudent would reveal themselves as fools and those who were thought to be fools, who waved palm branches to welcome a common King, would speak with unlearned wisdom and profound inspiration.

So, shout Hosanna without regard to how the world views you or evaluates your sophistication. God has revealed His Son to you and He has revealed the Father. Rejoice!

Blessed Are the Eyes – Easter and Always

Luke 10:23-24   And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

A great teacher and writer, T.W. Hunt once said that upon arriving in Heaven, he’d want to see Jesus first and behold the Lord upon His throne. After that, he said, he’d like to see two things in Heaven that no man ever saw on earth. One would be a full holographic replay of creation and the other would be the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.

For those living in Jesus’ day, it was a greater privilege than they realized to experience Him in the flesh as first-hand witnesses of His teachings and of His Passion. Those who saw Him after He was raised from the dead had mixed reactions which almost always exploded into joy once they finally “got it.”

Jesus looked back on those who had believed and hoped over the centuries for the day of His coming. How they would have given everything just to live in that particular moment of history, the dawning of redemption!

We ourselves look back to those days and often pine for that experience, wishing we could have lived in that day. Yet, we do live in that day.

We have seen what even those who lived in Jesus’ day have not seen. We have heard what they have not heard. We have two thousand years of history and a bible that interprets that history for us in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the promise of His coming again.

I agree with Dr. Hunt and would rejoice to see replays of those great events witnessed only by God and the angels. However, I would not trade one bit of what we know and celebrate this day for all the knowledge in the world. Namely, what we declare today is central to all else and we are blessed to see it and hear it:

The Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed!



He felt like a deer in the headlights.

Photo by Rebecca Prest on Unsplash

"We would do well not to be enamored by the kind of leadership that is so prized by politicians and CEOs, the kind that is conspicuous and, as we say, "effective." Forget about charisma, go for character." - Eugene Peterson, The Unnecessary Pastor (adapted)

When I encourage people to be vulnerable, they sometimes look at me with a curiosity that makes me wonder if grass is growing out of my head or my face has turned purple.

Vulnerability, authenticity, and honest abandon to the truth of who we are is as foreign as any undocumented alien wandering the streets of Arizona in this environment, desperately seeking to avoid police contact.

In fact, we are just as desperate to avoid being found out for who we truly are.

So, we camouflage our characters, paint our faces, and hide our vulnerabilities from a would we suspect will reject or deport us or worse. If they knew us, we think, they would reject us. If we disclose ourselves, we will never get ahead. If we are real about who we are, we will be left alone in an abyss of insignificance.

We don't like ourselves as we really are, and assume that neither God nor man can like us, much less love us, employ us in service, or include us in a larger plan.

How deluded we have become in deluding ourselves.

It is the very act of disclosing ourselves and being real that causes us to become likable, lovable, and usable. It is the very act of faith in getting real with God that informs our souls that we are already loved, cherished, accepted, and graced with a grace with could not earn nor deserve.

It is in coming to the Christ who gave Himself for us that we find ourselves already welcomed by Him. It is in dropping our guard, that we are embraced.

Our true character is that real self we were made to be. It is the true nature of one transformed by the Word and the will of the one who created us.

Just be yourself and allow your character to be shaped by the most creative force in the universe.


Only the fear of the Lord begins a process of wisdom.

There is no wisdom in any other sort of fear, only poor choices that seem right in the moment.

All other fears are cast out by that awe-some, jaw-dropping, knee-popping, head-bending, body-trembling unveiling experience of His power, holiness, and love.

Then, in that love, all fear is cast out.

So, fear of anything or anyone else produces bad decisions whether personal or policy driven.

We live by the liberating law of love. Fear and love cannot coexist equally in our attitudes toward others.

Fear imprisons us and constricts us. Love sets us free. God's love intervenes when we are inclined to retreat from Him and the hand of Jesus draws us toward Him.

His Spirit fills us and we come. And we come that we may go, fearless into the world.

Without Your Wound - In Love's Service

In loves service - wounded soldiers

Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.

Wilder plunged personally, and introspectively into one of the deepest of all philosophical and theological questions.

Yet, he gives neither philosophical nor theological answer.

Why do the righteous suffer?

Neither does Job for that matter. Rather, Wilder plumbs the depths of human experience, his and that of others. He emerges with a new question:

How can I find purpose in my suffering?

Not, "How can I find the purpose of my suffering?"

One becomes content to know that meaning can be found in the muddle and that one can live a purposeful life regardless of any circumstances.


The Angel That Troubled the Waters

An Excerpt


The Pool.—A vast gray hall with a hole in the ceiling open to the sky. Broad stone steps lead up from the water on its four sides. The water is continuously restless and throws blue reflections upon the walls. The sick, the blind and the malformed are lying on the steps. The long stretches of silence and despair are broken from time to time when one or another groans and turns in his rags, or raises a fretful wail or a sudden cry of exasperation at long- continued pain. A door leads out upon the porch where the atten- dants of the sick are playing at dice, waiting for the call to fling their masters into the water when the angel of healing stirs the pool. Beyond the porch there is a glimpse of the fierce sunlight and the empty streets of an oriental noonday.

Suddenly the angel appears upon the top step. His face and robe shine with a color that is both silver and gold, and the wings of blue and green, tipped with rose, shimmer in the tremulous light. He walks slowly down among the shapeless sleepers and stands gazing into the water that already trembles in anticipa- tion of its virtue.

(A new invalid enters.)

the newcomer: Come, long-expected love. Come, long- expected love. Let the sacred finger and the sacred breath stir up the pool. Here on the lowest step I wait with fester- ing limbs, with my heart in pain. Free me, long-expected love, from this old burden. Since I cannot stay, since I must return into the city, come now, renewal, come, release.

(Another invalid wakes suddenly out of a nightmare, call- ing: “The Angel! The Angel has come. I am cured.” He flings himself into the pool, splashing his companions. They come to life and gaze eagerly at the water. They hang over the brink and several slide in. Then a great cry of derision rises: “The Fool! Fool! His nightmare again. Beat him! Drive him out into the Porch.” The mistaken invalid and his dupes drag themselves out of the water and lie dripping disconsolately upon the steps.)

invalid: I dreamt that an angel stood by me and that at last I should be free of this hateful place and its company. Better a mistake and this jeering than an opportu- nity lost. (He sees the newcomer beside him and turns on him plaintively.) Aïe! You have no right to be here, at all events. You are able to walk about. You pass your days in the city. You come here only at great intervals, and it may be that by some unlucky chance you might be the first one to see the sign. You would rush into the water and a cure would be wasted. You are yourself a physician. You have re- stored my own children. Go back to your work and leave these miracles to us who need them.

the newcomer: (Ignoring him; under his breath.) My work grows faint. Heal me, long-expected Love; heal me that I may continue. Renewal, release; let me begin again without this fault that bears me down.

the mistaken invalid: I shall sit here without ever lifting my eyes from the surface of the pool. I shall be the next. Many times, even since I have been here, many times the Angel has passed and has stirred the water, and hundreds have left the hall leaping and crying out with joy. I shall be the next.

the angel: (Kneels down on the lowest step and meditatively holds his finger poised above the shuddering water.) Joy and fulfilment, completion, content, rest and release have been promised.

the newcomer: Come, long-expected Love.

the angel: (Without turning makes himself apparent to the newcomer and addresses him.) Draw back, physician, this moment is not for you.

the newcomer: Angelic visitor, I pray thee, listen to my prayer.

the angel: Healing is not for you.

the newcomer: Surely, surely, the angels are wise. Surely, O, Prince, you are not deceived by my apparent wholeness. Your eyes can see the nets in which my wings are caught; the sin into which all my endeavors sink half-performed cannot be concealed from you.

the angel: I know.

the newcomer: It is no shame to boast to an Angel of what I might yet do in Love’s service were I but freed from this bondage.

the mistaken invalid: Surely the water is stirring strangely to-day! Surely I shall be whole!

the angel: I must make haste. Already the sky is afire with the gathering host, for it is the hour of the new song among us. The earth itself feels the preparation in the skies and at- tempts its hymn. Children born in this hour spend all their lives in a sharper longing for the perfection that awaits them. the newcomer: Oh, in such an hour was I born, and doubly fearful to me is the flaw in my heart. Must I drag my shame, Prince and singer, all my days more bowed than my neighbor?

the angel: (Stands a moment in silence.) Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.

(He swiftly kneels and draws his finger through the water. The pool is presently astir with running ripples. They in- crease and a divine wind strikes the gay surface. The waves are flung upon the steps. The mistaken man casts himself into the Pool, and the whole company lurches, rolls, or hobbles in. The servants rush in from the porch. Turmoil. Finally the no longer mistaken invalid emerges and leaps joyfully up the steps. The rest, coughing and sighing, follow him. The angel smiles for a moment and disappears.)

the healed man: Look, my hand is new as a child’s. Glory be to God! I have begun again. (To the newcomer.) May you be the next, my brother. But come with me first, an hour only, to my home. My son is lost in dark thoughts. I—I do not understand him, and only you have ever lifted his mood. Only an hour . . . my daughter since her child has died, sits in the shadow. She will not listen to us. . . .


Sent Out

Sheep and wolves

The Commission
Luke 10:3 – Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

The costly commission to follow Jesus and to go forth as His ambassadors is so controversial as to appear adversarial. Jesus warns us to expect hostility and opposition. He does not say this to discourage us, but to encourage us. He does not intend to frighten us away, but to have us brace ourselves in the embrace of His grace and power.

“Go your ways,” He says, knowing that each of us has a path that is uniquely and wondrously ours. No two paths are exactly the same though they often intersect and frequently follow parallel courses. We may hesitate to go our ways because it is less risky to continue as we have been, sitting at the feet of Jesus in the cloistered environs of our religious retreats. But we must go. It is His commission.

“I send you,” He says and that gives us courage to go forth, knowing that we have been authorized and mandated we bear His Name and represent His kingdom. It gives us confidence and joy to know that we are not staggering through the darkness of meaningless humdrum. We have been sent.

“I send you forth as lambs,” He says. We are like baby sheep. We still need our shepherd. As we go from Him, we develop a new relationship with him. We discover that He has come along in a new way.

“Lo, I am with you always,” He assures us.

“… as lambs among wolves.” This is the scary part. It is dangerous out there to the extent that we really could lose some things along the way. And if the things we can potentially lose are dearer to us than the commission, we could lose everything. However, if we have relinquished our hold on the things of earth so that they “grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace,” then we have absolutely nothing to lose. We have died, as the scriptures say, and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Don’t be afraid of the wolves. Beware of them, but don’t let them stop you. Whatever you do, don’t miss the mission.

A Time for Rejoicing
And the seventy returned again with joy ... (Luke 10:17)

Our people were full of energy and excitement. Though physically exhausted, they could not contain themselves after returning from a one-week mission to another country. What they had seen, heard, and done affirmed their callings and assured them that God's hand had been upon them. They had ventured forth into the unknown and had been touched by the Spirit in the process of touching others.

They returned again with joy.

Have you ever had this experience? Have you ever answered the call to get out of your "safe place" and move out on faith? Perhaps it was to cross the street and speak with a neighbor. Perhaps it was to help serve food to the needy or sit with an elderly person. You were apprehensive and unsure of yourself, but as you answered the call and moved out at the command of Christ, you sensed His presence with you and were exhilarated by His power flowing through you.

There is an energy that is created whenever we venture forth in obedience to Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. Once we get the taste of personal ministry, evangelism, and proclamation of the good news, we want to do it more and more. We return to the place from which we have been sent with rejoicing and enthusiasm to report all that God has done through the likes of us.

If you have never ventured forth in ministry, now is the time to do so.

Please Pray?

Please pray

As I was sharing some local emergency news I entertained a thought.

Do I have to ask people to pray?

I do not think so. That is the first response of praying people to tragedy and danger in the news.

In longer term issues, the need to be informed and prepare for action is present, but the first, quickest, and easiest thing a person of faith does is pray.

Saying, "Please pray," may be the response of our heart, but it may also go without saying.

As for the great "thoughts and prayers" debate, it is irrelevant. Thoughtful prayer must always lead to thoughtful, prayerful action when one is fully engaged as a person of faith in God.

The problem is when they are divorced or when we just say we pray as a reason not to pray or act.

That being said, this was prompted by the children being swept away in the river. Concerning that horrible picture in my mind, at the moment, all I can do is pray for the rescuers and for a miracle.

And I did that before I posted.

The rest is up to you.

How do you handle critics?

Handle critics

How do you handle critics? I have a few suggestions that may work. Sometimes I use them and often they work :)

1. Thank them for sharing their perspective.
2. Tell them you will consider it. That is all you need to or should say unless you feel it is worthy of a follow-up/clarification question.
3. Consider it - maybe just for a second - long enough to know if there is something that can help you and long enough to do what you said you would do.
4. If it has some validity, incorporate it into your thinking and decision making process. Later, if it really proves to be helpful, go to the person and thank them again.
5. If it is not helpful or does not seem valid, file it in a short term file.
6. If, after a short-term, it is still not something usable, file it in a long-term file.
7. After about 10 years, clean your files.
8. If the person brings it up again in the meantime, say, "Yes. Thank you. I remember that conversation and I gave some thought to your suggestion. By the way, how are the kids?

That is it! Their criticism is simply information about their perceptions of something you do, say, or think. If they are not directly effected by your choices (which is an entirely different discussion and post), take it as information. You do not need to report back and, in many cases you should not. Neither should you allow it to spoil your day or your potential relationship with the person.

How you respond to critics and how they effect you is 100% in your hands.

A Compelling Figure for Those on a Journey of Deconstruction

"I am very glad that neither Jesus, the Gospel, nor the Kingdom of God are dependent upon Christianity or any other labeled system or institution for their credibility. They stand on their own authority and credibility. The rest of us would do well to get in line behind Jesus."


Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

What did I mean by this statement  four years ago? What prompted it? How is one different from the other?

If you add, "ian" to "Christ" or "ity" to that, does it change the meaning essentially or by perception?

Do these words matter?

How do our lives and actions change definition or perception?

I know this:

I would follow Jesus with or without a clear definition or theological propositions'.

I would desire the Kingdom of God and embrace the gospel even if the messengers were flawed.

They are that compelling.

Some of you are on a deconstruction journey, and that  is quite alright and may be necessary for you.

Like the Winchester Mystery House, there  may be stairs in your house that lead nowhere.

I just want you to know that there is a Jesus who is neither Christian nor partisan. His words and, call are still compelling. You can follow him no matter what you call yourself, with or without institutional endorsement.

Keep an open mind and I invite you to walk with me for a conversation and shared moment any time as I follow him any time.




Faithful Under Siege

Readings for a day in May and a year in the 21st century

Faithful under siege

Psalm 89: Part II

Asterisk (*) indicates a new verse.

God makes a big promise to David and his progeny. He has chosen someone to lead his chosen people. We have a chosen leader for a chosen people who are on a special mission in the world. The promise is embellished here and intended to promote vast expansion of the influence of God-worship.

You spoke once in vision and said to your faithful people: *

 “I have set the crown upon a warrior
and have exalted one chosen out of the people.

I have found David my servant; *

with my holy oil have I anointed him.

My hand will hold him fast *

and my arm will make him strong.

No enemy shall deceive him, *

nor any wicked man bring him down.

I will crush his foes before him *

and strike down those who hate him.

My faithfulness and love shall be with him, *

and he shall be victorious through my Name.

I shall make his dominion extend *

from the Great Sea to the River.

In response to the promise, David responds with a declaration of faith. He affirms his relationship with God as a son and a father.

He will say to me, ‘You are my Father, *

my God, and the rock of my salvation.’

God agrees regarding that relationship. God reaffirms the covenant and all that it entails. It is permanent. It is passed on from generation. The choice has been made. The instrument of declaring divine glory has been entrusted to a nation with a special leader.

It is rooted and grounded in love and God is the guarantor.

I will make him my firstborn *

and higher than the kings of the earth.

I will keep my love for him for ever, *

and my covenant will stand firm for him.

I will establish his line for ever *

and his throne as the days of heaven.”

Yet, there is a warning. This intimate and familial relationship means that the Father may discipline the child. The old adage, “This will hurt me more than it hurts you” seems like hyperbole, but it is real.

It create agony for God to harshly punish, but if that is what is required to bring back the straying sheep and protect them from danger, that is what will be done.

“If his children forsake my law *

and do not walk according to my judgments;

If they break my statutes *

and do not keep my commandments;

I will punish their transgressions with a rod *

and their iniquities with the lash;

 There is a limit to this judgment and chastisement, The limit is love. God’s love will never fail for God’s chosen ones. Nor will that love allow God to forget the enduring promises.

But I will not take my love from him, *

nor let my faithfulness prove false.

I will not break my covenant, *

nor change what has gone out of my lips.

Once for all I have sworn by my holiness: *

When God says David’s line will endure, then David’s line will endure. God’s people, God’s abiding witness – these are done deals.

‘I will not lie to David.

His line shall endure for ever *

and his throne as the sun before me;

It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon, *

the abiding witness in the sky.’”

If you are looking for some type of security, you have come to the right place. God has placed the integrity of eternity on the line.

But covenants are two ways. Here we find that this psalm has a place for lament. David and David’s people have broken faith with the covenant that keeps them secure. It is a mournful matter.

So, the complaint is that God, who promised to never cast off the chosen leader and chosen nation has done so.

Why, because the chosen ones have forgotten the One who chose them.

The people are singing their part and God’s part in this hymn.

They are trying to look at their plight from their perspective and from God’s perspective. It creates a point and counterpoint.

We are rejected, they feel.

You are not rejected; you are being chastised. Chastisement is often experienced as rejection. That is the short-term experience only.

But you have cast off and rejected your anointed; *

you have become enraged at him.

You have broken your covenant with your servant, *

defiled his crown, and hurled it to the ground.

You have breached all his walls *

and laid his strongholds in ruins.

All who pass by despoil him; *

he has become the scorn of his neighbors.

You have exalted the right hand of his foes *

and made all his enemies rejoice.

You have turned back the edge of his sword *

and have not sustained him in battle.

You have put an end to his splendor *

and cast his throne to the ground.

You have cut short the days of his youth *

and have covered him with shame.

The people pray.

The people plead.

Life is short.

Show us your lovingkindness.

We long for the good old days of our relationship.

Stop hiding. Get over your anger. Show us your love again.

We are dying. We need you and we worship you.

Please turn the lights back on.

How long will you hide yourself, O Lord?
will you hide yourself for ever? *

how long will your anger burn like fire?

Remember, Lord, how short life is, *

how frail you have made all flesh.

Who can live and not see death? *

who can save himself from the power of the grave?

Where, Lord, are your loving-kindnesses of old, *

which you promised David in your faithfulness?

Remember, Lord, how your servant is mocked, *

how I carry in my bosom the taunts of many peoples,

The taunts your enemies have hurled, O Lord, *

which they hurled at the heels of your anointed.

This is the experience of a people in pain, chastised, disciplined, yet loved.  They are seeking to understand present reality against the backdrop of eternal renewal.

Thus, they say and sing:

Blessed be the Lord for evermore! *

Amen, I say, Amen.


 Now, here comes Ezekiel, but its centuries later. This must seem like rejection on steroids. Jerusalem is under siege. The people are going to be marched into Babylon.

The upheaval of circumstances will send their faith into spasm and God’s answer is a man laying on his side in the dirt for months and months and then, not getting up, but turning on the other side.

The God of surprises who appears to be rejecting us, but is truly preserving us, is going to do a new thing in the next seventy years.

God is going to deepen the understanding of what the covenant has been about and fashion a fresh Judaism out of the old. Every new thing is built upon something old, the religion of the desert, of the conquest, of the United Kingdom, and now, siege.

Faith under siege!

Hear the words of the prophet.


Ezekiel 4:1-17

And you, O mortal, take a brick and set it before you. On it portray a city, Jerusalem; and put siegeworks against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a ramp against it; set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around. 

Then take an iron plate and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it.

This is a sign for the house of Israel. 

Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it; you shall bear their punishment for the number of the days that you lie there. 

For I assign to you a number of days, three hundred ninety days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment; and so you shall bear the punishment of the house of Israel. 

When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah; forty days I assign you, one day for each year. 

You shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and with your arm bared you shall prophesy against it. 

See, I am putting cords on you so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have completed the days of your siege. 

And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread for yourself.

During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred ninety days, you shall eat it. The food that you eat shall be twenty shekels a day by weight; at fixed times you shall eat it. And you shall drink water by measure, one-sixth of a hin; at fixed times you shall drink. You shall eat it as a barley-cake, baking it in their sight on human dung. 

The Lord said, "Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread, unclean, among the nations to which I will drive them."

Then I said, "Ah Lord God! I have never defiled myself; from my youth up until now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by animals, nor has carrion flesh come into my mouth." 

Then he said to me, "See, I will let you have cow's dung instead of human dung, on which you may prepare your bread." 

Then he said to me, Mortal, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with fearfulness; and they shall drink water by measure and in dismay. Lacking bread and water, they will look at one another in dismay, and waste away under their punishment.

The writer of Hebrews, whoever he or she may be, Barnabas, Lazarus, Phoebe, or most likely someone of whom we have never heard, that person takes the imagery of these Hebrew scripture, covenant encounters, and spiritualizes them so that we get this message:

The church can relate to all these promises and struggles.

There is a broadening of the covenant reach and an unfolding of the promises.

There are new meanings to explore. There are depths to plumb. There are promises to embrace, but don’t get muddled in the basics.

Move on to completeness.

This is a process. It is a process in our individual live and it is a process in the thousands of years of salvation history.

It is a personal journey, and it is a generational and multi-cultural journey. Completeness does not happen in our lives overnight. Nor does in happen in God’s unfolding of humanity’s journey, in one generation.

Yet, the requirement is consistent.

Since God is faithful to us, we must respond by being faithful to God.

Who is chosen to lead the way in David’s line?

How do we sort this all out as we see the concentric circles of who is chosen expanding?

How can we understand the impossibility of renewal coexisting with the impossibility of it being impossible?

Hebrews. 6:1-12

Therefore, let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this, if God permits. 

 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt. 

 Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over. 

Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. 

And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises

Don’t get stuck in the weeds.

Move on to completeness.

It is not about settling all controversies or getting all the details right. It is about inheriting the promises through faith and patience.

I like to go back to Jesus in these matters.

Jesus stands at the dead center of human history to point the way to completeness and his principle demand is to follow him.

The writer of Hebrews, whoever he or she may be, Barnabas, Lazarus, Phoebe, or most likely someone of whom we have never heard, that person takes the imagery of these Hebrew scripture, covenant encounters, and spiritualizes them so that we get this message:

The church can relate to all these promises and struggles.

There is a broadening of the covenant reach and an unfolding of the promises.

There are new meanings to explore. There are depths to plumb. There are promises to embrace, but don’t get muddled in the basics.

Move on to completeness.

This is a process. It is a process in our individual live and it is a process in the thousands of years of salvation history.

It is a personal journey, and it is a generational and multi-cultural journey. Completeness does not happen in our lives overnight. Nor does in happen in God’s unfolding of humanity’s journey, in one generation.

Yet, the requirement is consistent.

Since God is faithful to us, we must respond by being faithful to God.

Who is chosen to lead the way in David’s line?

How do we sort this all out as we see the concentric circles of who is chosen expanding?

How can we understand the impossibility of renewal coexisting with the impossibility of it being impossible?

Every generation of faith has its own kind of siege and call to be faithful

Again - Don’t get stuck in the weeds.

Move on to completeness.

Let us remain faithful to our faithful God.

Luke 9:51-62

 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Sieges Within Us


And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Luke 9:58) 

A certain man wanted to follow Jesus as have many through the centuries and into our time. Perhaps he thought it would be an adventure – and following Jesus is.

 Perhaps he thought discipleship would bring a new dimension of meaning to his life – and it does.

Perhaps he longed for the camaraderie and acceptance that was so evident among the disciples of Jesus as it often is today in authentic Christian communities.

He may have been attracted by the laughter and awe of the other followers as Jesus taught them with such vivid realism.

But he was failing to consider one very important point: to follow Jesus would mean leaving all that he had ever counted on for security.

Follow Me ... But

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. (Luke 9:59) 

“I want to follow you, but...”

Was it an excuse, a delaying tactic, or a simple statement of ignorance? Have you never interjected, “but first” into your commitments with God? How often we have come to the Master with non-negotiable conditions.

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:60) 

Jesus’ answer to the man who cried, “but first” demonstrates the profound contrast between life and death. Discipleship is about dying to the old that we might live to the new.


“And another said, ‘Lord, I will follow Thee, but …” – Luke 9:61a

Erstwhile followers of the Master make a series of irrelevant statements in this great movement of scripture. They are irrelevant because they are merely excuses, postponements of discipleship, weasel-ways of saying “no” without having to actually commit to the word.

In the world of promoting where ones lifeblood is getting people to show up somewhere for something, there is an adage: A “no” is a “no;” a “maybe” s a “no;” and a “yes” is a “no” half the time. Nothing is as reliable as a rock-solid commitment and even that may falter. Humanity is infected with a disease for which David Schwartz coined the phrase, “excusitis.”

Moses had them: “ I am unworthy; I am unlearned; I am unable; I am unbelievable.”

But then he got to his bottom line, “Send someone else.” In other words, “I am unwilling.”

Here is the question: Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere and in any way – NOW? If not now, when? Will it be as the old despot told the Apostle Paul, at a more convenient season? Are we “almost persuaded?”

Jesus has no time for nonsense. He calls to us through the waves of time, “Follow me.” And He means for us to drop everything – every excuse, every fear, every reservation, every other aspiration of our lives and follow. Half-hearted commitment is no commitment at all. Every reason Moses gave for not doing what God was calling him to do was basically true, but God’s power made them irrelevant.

No Looking Back

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62) 

All the man wanted to do was say, “goodbye.” At least that is what he said, but Jesus knew what was in his heart and that he was not truly ready to say, “goodbye.” Otherwise, he would have and would not have just talked about it. He was looking back with the longing gaze of one who was not truly leaving.

We have followed a progression that has led us from a thousand years and plus before Jesus to a hundred years, give or take, after Jesus and the message is clear: Look forward to follow. Go deeper; go to completion; keep going; persevere in faith; set your life in covenant context and live there in faithful faith.

There is much to consider, much to explore, much to receive. It can be overwhelming, but rest in this, the just still live by faith. Under whatever siege, faith and faithfulness.

Keep on keeping on.

More Thoughts on Thinking and Opinions

Random order

"Love the light for it shows me the way. Yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars." ~ Og Mandino

Are all opinions of equal value?

No - People have equal rights to have their opinions. Some of my opinions are informed and have greater value than other opinions I have which possess very little value. For better or worse, I have a right to the whole sorted continuum of them.

Yet - if I am wise, I will keep most of my uninformed opinions either to myself or within a small circle of trusted friends to test and be corrected.

True friends will challenge my ill-informed opinions and may save me from much public embarrassment.

Like most people who are labeled "ADHD," I express my thoughts to see what I am thinking, test my thinking, and, sometimes, revise my thinking.

Even this thought is subject to revision. "Nothing is more dangerous than an enemy with nothing to lose." - Eragon


Help your enemy have something to gain, which, if lost, would be a loss.

Mutual self-interest, acknowledged, is the first step in negotiation and, trust.

Looking out for the other person's interests in to your own advantage.

I have thousands of such friends in these "private" havens of social community.

Not everything I say has great value. Make that a matter of public record in this private place.

There are not two sides to every issue. There are at least 360 ... One for each degree around it and infinite in between each.

Only divinity has the full perspective and shares bits and pieces with humanity. We need to talk to each other.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make a mistake." ― Elbert Hubbard

I do change my mind, but sometimes modesty prevents me from doing it in public

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth .. most .. pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." ~ Churchill "

"Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror." Rabbi Shai Specht

"If you step in a puddle, don't blame the puddle." - Rabbi Shai Specht:

“Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.”- Georges Erasmus Aboriginal leader from Canada

"Avoid judging yesterdays choices through the lens of todays knowledge and resources. We all did the best we could with what we had at that time." www.twitter.com/@jennwatts

An example of where disagreement can go wrong because it is actually agreement.

Retweeted Martin Yirrell (@MYirrell): @tomsims There is no chaos, just the outworking of God's plan.

I wanted to disagree with him because he thought he was disagreeing with me.

But, I agree that he is right depending upon where one stands, either in the small snapshot of time and space, we we are, or the larger view of the realm of physicals and cosmology ...

Or the eternal realm where none of us has fully come to call home as yet, unadulterated by the laws of nature.

Here, there is chaos and yet, none... Looking for something to happen and rushing it?

I posted this a year ago.

We have to hold government accountable .... especially those we supported. Justice is never about partisan politics.

Partisan politics is simply one of the tools that just people employ for a greater cause while others use it to gain power and favor.

Your candidate is not perfect and will not always make the best choice.

The right thing is always the right thing even when we cannot all agree what it is.

Elections are just a start and never a finish. The more important jobs of citizens are to listen, learn and lobby.

This much, I am committed to: Stand up to those who exploit the poor --- At least, set some limits and apply the same sort of zoning restrictions that other businesses have to live with.

Sometimes the struggle to assign or deflect blame can get in the way of actually solving a problem.

What we need is often a broader perspective.

Acts 1:1-11 (NRSV) In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"

He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

There is an upside and a downside to being responsible for our own messes, decisions, and general junk.

The downside is that we are responsible and we have to pay our own price.

The upside is that we are not automatic victims. Our parents' bad choices do not relegate us to a life of bad choices.

We can break the cycle. Of course, there is the matter of our own sins and this snippet of scripture does not tell the whole story of the good news of how they can be put away.

Sometimes we have to hear the bad news first ... but good news is coming.

"The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:1-4 ESV


On an entirely unrelated not: Am I the only one who uses emoticons for punctuation marks? I do not have one for a question mark, but I've been known to use the smiley as a period if I am writing another sentence 🙂 Perhaps this is like creating my own personal grammar.

Unshaken and Unburdened - Cares Cast Off

Casting cares

"... Casting all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.” - I Peter 5:7

Hear the message:

Imagine yourself adrift upon a sea of trouble, tossed furiously by its waves and sinking under the load of care. Along comes Jesus inviting you to cast every care upon Him and guide your ship into the current of His protective care. What nobility would there be in continuing your present course, in being capsized by the waves, or sunk by the load? It would be presumptuous and foolish to refuse His rescue, but we refuse throughout the course of our lives preferring to carry our concerns alone as if there were some reward for useless anxiety at the end of the journey.

No one is totally exempt from anxiety. Some people have learned to manage it while others ignore it. Still others labor under its oppressive load and are haunted by its tormenting voice. Anxieties, worry, and care haunt those who lives are dominated by worry and compulsively dwell on “negative faith.” It is negative because it focuses on the worst. It is faith because it believes that no matter what, that which is most dreaded will come to pass.

The answer to anxiety is neither management entirely, willful ignorance nor oppression. The answer is to cast it upon the loving, strong arms of a God, who cares for us and is adequate to meet all of our needs in spite of us,

This great word of comfort is preceded by verse 6 and can be accomplished only by first doing what it commands.  It is a call to humble those of us who are under God’s almighty hand so that the lifting up can and will be done by Him.

When I walk among the wonders of nature, I become aware of two great theological truths. First, there is a God.  Second, it’s not me. I must come to understand my inadequacy to change the circumstances that are beyond my control and agonize my soul. Once I have come to grips with that reality and humble myself in His presence, He can lift me above the fear to positive faith where

I can know the joy of the companion verse to this: Psalm 55:22.

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.

The psalmist knew that when the humble person casts his or her burdens on God, His sustaining power kicks in and the righteous simply do not fall. We may be shaken, bombarded, assaulted, beaten, bent, swayed, scarred, and wounded, but we remain standing.

Might bad things happen? Of course. You can pretty much count on them. Will they defeat us? Never!

Cast those cares on God. He cares for you.

Scripture Readings for Sunday, May 21, 2023

First, an Opening Hymn

Acts 1:6-14
New International Version

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

Psalm 68:1-10
New International Version

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

Psalm 68:32-35
New International Version

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

1 Peter 5:6-11
New International Version

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

Cast All Your Cares on God

Laid Bare


The essence of our communion with God is being laid bare before Him. God, throughout scripture, is disclosing Himself to us. It is called "revelation" when He does it. In prayer, we are disclosing ourselves to God and receiving His own revelation in a fresh and intimate way.

But you may say, "God already knows me - inside and out."

True, but that knowledge is not an intimate relationship any more than a stranger reading your profile on the Internet. He does know you, but that is only His half of the relationship.

The psalmist invited God to know him.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious
thoughts." - Psalm 139:23

God did not need to be better informed. The psalmist needed to be known.

You might also say, "I can know all that is to be known about God by reading the Bible."

The word, "about" is telling. Again, it reduces intimacy with God to second hand knowledge and passive awareness.

Moses prayed for more in Exodus 33:13.

"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and
continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your

He could not bear the thought of the leadership responsibility upon his shoulders without an intimacy with God.

In "laid-bare-prayer," we get personal. God invites us into relationship that is real, personal, and enlightening. In order to be so, it must also be honest - embarrassingly, brutally, and ruthlessly so.

How do we "do it?"

Perhaps that is the wrong question. We love "how to" and "just do it" solutions which work in certain dimensions of life. But they do not always take us deeper with God. In that dimension, we begin with desire and follow desire with becoming that we may be.

We start, by laying ourselves bare before God and seeing where that leads.

Art by Photo by the blowup on Unsplash 

The Kind of Jesus He Is

The kind of jesus
"I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery. " - Brennan Manning
It is always a good sign when the kind of anything we want is the kind of anything that it is - or anyone.
Manning expresses a desire for the kind of Jesus that I see in the gospels, the kind that I know from experience, and the kind I see reflected in the lives of people who know Him.
He is, at the same time, soft and rugged, kind and tough, non-judgmental and brutally honest. He is the incarnate one who can be known and wholly Other who is beyond our reach.
When Word becomes flesh, it is an entirely new ballgame with which there is no comparison to aid our understanding.
And that's the way I like it!

The "Why Not" Step

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Asking “WHY NOT?”

It is STEP ONE in Your Innovation Journey

A question was raised about innovation and innovators at one morning.

It put my brain in gear theologically and entrepreneurially. I moved from the “creatio ex nihlo” to James Weldon Johnson’s” Creation.”

It triggered the concept of co-creativity among those made in the “imagio Dei.”

So, naturally, an acronym piped into my warped brain: WHY NOT?

It started with WHY.

But it is “why not” that is so often on the lips of innovators who quickly move past the “why” questions as George Bernard Shaw observed and Robert Kennedy often quoted him.


W = What the

H = Heck

Y = Yall!

When you say, “What the heck, yall,” it throws caution to the wind and envelopes a universe of possibilities. You no longer fret about what others will think about your big idea.

You are afraid, but you refuse to turn the steering wheel over the that fear.

You launch the ship into deep waters.


N = Negate
O = Old
T = Timidity

Negate old timidity and the accompanying boundaries that are arbitrarily imposed by tired paradigms and limited thinking.

Having taken those steps, one is free to think new thoughts. “Why not” is not the same as innovation, but it is a necessary preliminary step in that direction.


The Optimist

Are you optimistic?

You will either be optimistic, pessimistic, or indifferent in your outlook on life.

Which are you?

The Online Etymology Dictionary is my friend, confirming my quasi-informed suspicions about words and their origins such as "optimism."

When I say I am optimistic, I want to know that what I think I mean is what I am really saying. Here is their take on the word:

"1782, from Fr. optimisme (1737), from Mod.L. optimum, used by Leibnitz (in Théodicée, 1710) to mean "the greatest good," from L. optimus "the best" (see optimum). The doctrine holds that the actual world is the "best of all possible worlds," in which the creator accomplishes the most good at the cost of the least evil."

The greatest good, the least evil, the best of all possible worlds.

These are lenses through which I choose to view life and goals which I have in every challenge, circumstance, and problem.

I am an optimist.

A pessimist, by definition (pessimus =  for 'worst' in Latin) looks for the worst. That being said, I think that there is another self-description that becomes an enemy of the optimum or best in our lives. It is being a minimalist.

I am not making a value judgment about art or design here. There is a value to minimalism, especially with regards to consumption and excess. I am talking about the potential of every situation. I am referring to the outlook of a person on life and growth especially regarding the call to overcome our obstacles and to become all that we can be in life.

Two people can exist in the same milieu of circumstances, suffer the same limitations, face the same challenges, and be buffeted with equal opposition and one will succeed while the other fails. There may be any number of factors involved in these outcomes, but one thing we know given the scenario is that they are internal and volitional. In other words, they involve the choices that each person makes.

Of course, there is no way to duplicate identical circumstances, but we can approximate them. Each of us is imbued with our own distinct mixes of gifts, strengths, weaknesses, genetic predispositions, family backgrounds, and belief systems, but even with those, we all have choices.

I think that one of the great deciding factors in our lives is in our choices to believe the best, the worst, or the least about where we are and where we are going. Brain science, behavioral research, and the worlds of business and performance motivation fall into line with anecdotal illustrations of the power of belief and attitude to determine what will be made of the "givens" in our lives.

These fall into alliance with the scriptures as recorded in such passages as Proverbs 23:7,

" For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he ..."

Optimism is not fantasizing about a desired future. It is believing in its possibility and rallying our thoughts, prayers, and actions toward the realization of that future. It is acting on what we believe in and pray for. Proverbs 28:19 (NLB) distinguishes between wishful thinking and positive thinking resulting in positive actions:

"A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty."

To work in the field, the farmer must believe that the process can and, most likely will, bring results. To have any validity to his beliefs, he must do the work. Believing and doing go hand in hand and both exist with the realm of the knowledge of God's sovereignty and love.

For those who like acronyms on which to hang their rhetorical hats, here is one for the optimist:

O is for

Over the top thinking as opposed to under the circumstances thinking.

P is for

Positive about the possibilities of proactive beliefs and action.

T is for

Truth - The optimist is not hiding his head in the sand, but standing in the sand and seeing beyond.

I is for

Inspired and inspiring others.

M is for

Makes the best of things rather than surrendering to the worst or the minimum.

I is for

Initiative-taking rather than waiting for things to work out.

S is for

Sacred values are important to the optimist who stakes everything on them.

T is for

Time expended and energy invested are what it costs and what is multiplied in a true optimist.

It is your choice. I get a little shaky sometimes, I must confess, but in the end, I always choose optimism because anything less is simply unacceptable.


The Great Reversal

Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man."

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven."

"For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets."

“But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."

Sandwiched between the beginning and end of Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount are those teachings from Matthew’s account that overlap: Love your enemies; do not judge; know a tree by its fruit. The Beatitudes are similar but add a twist of meaning and Luke records a woe for each blessing.

As in Matthew, Luke remembers Jesus admonition to put His words into practice because, in so doing, you are building your life on a solid foundation.

Here is the great reversal:

  • Poverty now is no great loss in light of riches in God’s Kingdom; however, self-sufficient riches now can be reversed if that is all you are looking forward to.
  • Hunger in the present is a predictor of ultimate satisfaction whereas premature satisfaction is a predictor of ultimate hunger.
  • Those who weep deeply in this present age can take comfort in a future of laughter because superficial laughter today will give way to deep sorrow tomorrow.
  • Don’t worry if you are hated and maligned for Jesus sake. In fact, rejoice! A great reward is coming. Worry if everyone speaks well of you because that is a mark of false prophets.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”


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"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step;

only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road."

--Dag Hammarskjold

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All I did was point the camera down and discovered an entire universe beneath my feet.

What wonders are right there waiting to be seen.

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Even our kitten found wonder in dust, and we, in her.

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You have to climb higher to go deeper.

Years Ago ...


Photo by Allison Sung on Unsplash

The Open Road

My friend, Kirk, from MySpace posed this question in a 2008 conversation.

"Well, maybe I missed the point....if that road to success has all those hazards...i would take another road to success, yes roads to success have these things only if we create them. There are super highways in our own souls that can take us to new destinations ,,,,,,much faster just by feeling how it will feel when reach what we are looking for. Because once you can feel that emotion.....the road becomes shorter and not even a road at all."

Good question, Kirk!

No, you didn't miss the point, Kirk, but you made a good one which I neglected to emphasize. If the dream is visionary, clear, and compelling, it can make all of the obstacles that life brings seem lesser and the goal, greater. Potholes, bumps, and curves become part of the grand adventure and, at times, a genuine joy.

You are right to suggest that we must engage ourselves fully - including our emotions - in the process of moving along the super highways of our souls to a destination that is fulfilling and rewarding.

My objective yesterday was to encourage folks not to let the obstacles, difficulties, and necessary efforts become excuses for quitting or becoming discouraged.

"Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them ..." Mathew 5:1-2 (NIV)

In Jesus' ministry, there were multitudes (thousands), crowds (hundreds), smaller crowds of followers (tens and scores), future apostles (12), and an inner circle of 3. When referring to disciples (learners, followers), Matthew is probably talking about something more than the smaller crowds and less than the crowds. But it may have been an even smaller group.

You see, not everyone wants positive change badly enough to do what it takes to get it.

Matthew said that when it was time to get to the really meaty, life transforming teaching about the "upside-down kingdom" where radical thinking creates people who can rejoice in any circumstance and overcome any obstacle, that Jesus climbed a mountain, assumed the teaching position, and let folks climb to Him who really meant business and wanted the good stuff.

They were the folks who had a glimpse of the vision and imagined the possibilities so vividly that the effort was worth it - in fact, may have seemed like no effort at all. That mountain climb and the time spent listening and learning was an investment in a bright and limitless future.

You have to climb higher to go deeper.

You have to dig deeper to get higher.

Strange, but true.

That climb was one round of their road to success. It was worth it and, thankfully, some folks listened carefully enough to have preserved what was taught that day so that those of us who want it badly enough can climb high enough and put forth the effort to "get it."

Success is worth the extra effort for those who desire it. But for those who both desire and envision it, the effort seems far less troubling than for those who have only a foggy vision and passing desire for the destination.

That is true of every good thing in life.

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There are things happening all around us that we cannot control.

Other things always have been and always shall be within the realm of our control or influence. We should work on them.

"Where there is hatred, let me sow love."

It takes courage to be a peacemaker. Peacemakers stand in the middle of the hostilities and deflect the bullets and blows with their own bodies, souls, and reputations. They seldom emerge unscathed.

Where are the instruments of God's peace in the world? Are we praying to be counted among them?

When Do We Start Learning?

This Day In History: 18 May 2018 - 2SER

How did they figure they could do this in the name of a Jewish carpenter and rabbi?

There is no rational or legitimate religious basis for hate-mongering or racism

On this day in 1096 – First Crusade: Around 800 Jews are massacred in Worms, Germany.

It started with a rumor, misinformation, and outright deceit.

800 to 1,000 Jews were killed in all. Others died by suicide. Still others forcibly baptized

One of the victims was Minna of Worms, a Jewish businesswoman. She was an influential Jew, being a significant moneylender with clients and friends among the Christian nobility.

Among those who died were some who had been given sanctuary in Bishop Adalbert's palace. The Jews were in the midst of reciting the Hallel prayer for Rosh Chodesh Sivan when the marauders broke in to slaughter them.

Hallel consists of six Psalms (113–118), which are recited as a unit, on joyous occasions

The leader of these atrocities was Emicho, a count in the Rhineland whose hatred of Jews was notorious.

Of him, Mainz Anonymous said:

"He was our chief persecutor. He had no mercy on the elderly, on young men and young women, on infants or sucklings, nor on the ill. He made the people of the Lord like dust to be trampled. Their young men he put to the sword, and their pregnant women he ripped open."

This was one of a number of attacks against Jewish communities perpetrated during the First Crusade (1096–1099).

Hatred, religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, racism, and religious nationalism continue in our time. You would think we would learn something, sometime.

Do You Have 15 Minutes to Grow?

15 MINUTES to a Better You!Identify 4 areas of life where you need to work.Take an hour a day in 4 - 15 minute slots. Devote one of those slots to each of those areas.It could be reading, exercise, family time, or anything not getting done - things most likely that need more than 15 minutes but areas where that would be a good start and a major improvement.What difference could 4 minutes to 15 minutes a day make in some area of your life?This took less than 5 minutes.We still have 10 to go.ExerciseWhat are you writing in slot one? What goal will it accomplish?Why is that important to you?What action or actions will you take today on that?

We always need to grow. To grow professionally, we must always be growing personally. As writers, speakers, and communicators, our material and our insights depend upon our commitment to grow. The same is true in spiritual work, community deveklopment, and business leadership. This is not a fast-action formula. This is more of a self coaching tool useful for writers, artists, speakers, coaches, mentors, entrepreneurs, leaders, and anyone committed to improving themselves for themselves and for the world. If you have 15 minutes and can multiply that 4 times, you can make some amazing leaps and bounds in your personal and professional growth. #coaching #growth #leaders #entrepreneurs #writers #speakers #sales #workshops #habits #leadership #personaldevelopment #mentors #selfempowerment #goals #goalsetting #spiritualgrowth

Too Broke to Pay Attention?

It was an old joke, "I'm too broke to pay attention."

Make an installment for starters.

Paying attention

This is a pay-as-you-go situation.

You can only pay attention in the moment. You can reflect on the past and imagine the future, but you can only pay attention now.

Where Will Your Focus Be?

You have a limited supply of attention to give and you can only really pay attention to one thing at a time. There will be a focus and everything else will be peripheral.

You decide where to focus.

You get to choose where you will spend your attention.

Things that deserve my attention today, this day. Tomorrow may vary slightly:

#1 - Being in an honest and transparent relationship with God and with the people in my life.

#2 - Making positive change in the world in those areas where I have influence  where I am with what I have to offer.

#3- Paying attention to issues that involve correcting justice in PUBLIC policy, international diplomacy, matters of war and peace, issues of oppression and other areas where my influence, vote, or comments may count.

4- Encouraging, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting people.5 - Doing my work and minding my own business.

6 - Listening to God speak to me through the voices of other people and through their helping hands.

7- #19,976 - A variety of things because there will always be a variety and some things cannot be anticipated.

#19,977 (if that high) - The personal scandals of high profile people (apparently somewhere between 1-4 on many peoples lists).

These are mine.

What are yours?

What if you paused for five minutes and wrote them down.

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"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Where and how you focus attention, conversation, thought, and vision mean everything to the course of your day and, ultimately, your life.

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On this day in ....

946 – Emperor Suzaku abdicates the throne in favor of his brother Murakami who becomes the 62nd emperor of Japan.

1204 – Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders is crowned as the first Emperor of the Latin Empire.

1364 – Hundred Years' War: Bertrand du Guesclin and a French army defeat the Anglo-Navarrese army of Charles the Bad at Cocherel.

1426 – Gov. Thado of Mohnyin becomes king of Ava.

1527 – The Florentines drive out the Medici for a second time and Florence re-establishes itself as a republic.

1532 – Sir Thomas More resigns as Lord Chancellor of England.
1568 – Mary, Queen of Scots, flees to England.

1584 – Santiago de Vera becomes sixth Governor-General of the Spanish colony of the Philippines.

Which of these events between 946 CE and 1584 CE has most effected your life?

Maybe you say that none of them have. If you sat that, I would like to enroll you in a Philosophy of History class.

Maybe you pick one. Why?

Maybe you say they are all equal. Again, why?

Maybe you are with me and say, "I do not know."

After all, it is one day. There were thousands of important events and choices leading up to these and thousands subsequent to them that effected their effect.

History is a hoot. Interpreting history is hootier still.



Sometimes I feel spiritually soiled, dirty, and generally unclean.

Not guilty.

Not sinful.

Not shameful by my actions.

All of that is also true of me and I need that sort of washing as well.

But sometimes, I am just soiled by life. I have picked up the dust and the mud of the world. I have mingled life's germs with my own chemistry.

I need to clean up.

Sometimes a hand washing will do. Sometimes it requires a full bath.

The holiness code in Leviticus answers the question of how we can approach God when we have collected all the defilement of the world. How do we pay attention to the utter holiness of Divinity and enter the sacred spaces when we are coming out of the common spaces.

For the Covenant people who were given a Tabernacle and an altar to meet God, there was an actual worship practice prescribed to answer that question. they would physically prepare to spiritually meet God.

The code of Leviticus was a constant reminder of the "Otherness" of the Holy One. It was not meant to shame the worshipper, but to lift that one and prepare that one to enter the presence of God. We have no such altars today. There is no sacrificial system at work in the Christian faith or even in Judaism as it existed in the past. We are washed by the water of the Word and prepared by the Spirit.

But the same needs and principles propel us and for that reason, Leviticus still speaks to us. Be it for sin and guilt or for ceremonial uncleanness, we still need atoning restoration and the good news we proclaim reminds us of how it comes to us, once and for all in Christ and continually as we enter God's presence.


Leviticus 16:1-19

The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died. The Lord said to Moses:

“Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the cover that is upon the ark, or he will die, for I appear in the cloud upon the cover. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bull for a purification offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic and shall have the linen undergarments next to his body, fasten the linen sash, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy vestments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. He shall take from the congregation of the Israelites two male goats for a purification offering and one ram for a burnt offering.

“Aaron shall offer the bull as a purification offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and offer it as a purification offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.

“Aaron shall present the bull as a purification offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall slaughter the bull as a purification offering for himself. He shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of crushed sweet incense, and he shall bring it inside the curtain and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may shroud the cover that is upon the covenant, or he will die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the cover, and before the cover he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times.

“He shall slaughter the goat of the purification offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the curtain and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the cover and before the cover. Thus he shall make atonement for the sanctuary, because of the uncleannesses of the Israelites and because of their transgressions, all their sins, and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which remains with them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one shall be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the sanctuary until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement on its behalf and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on each of the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times and cleanse it and sanctify it from the uncleannesses of the Israelites.

Prayer in C Major

C major scale

I can pray to hear and I do.
I can embrace the peace and I do.
I can receive the salvation and anticipate the glory.
I do.

But ...
Let me not turn back to folly for folly follows my soul.
Therefore, I must walk around with these words more intimately and ...
I must walk with the Word who breathed them first into the soul of the psalmist.

" Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land."

-Psalm 85:8-9 ESV

A Singer's Prayer:
Father, tune my heart to be
in tune with Thine eternal C .

Prayer is no time to take sides with man's institutions, agendas, nor power grabs.

Prayer is the time for alignment with the heart of God.

It is a time to be generous with our perceived adversaries, enemies, and friends.

It is a time to seek and be sought.

It is a time to adjust our heart attitudes to a place of caring genuinely for the well being of a neighbor.

It is a time to come with an open slate on which God can imprint His law of love as He did on the mountain tablets.

God does not need to hear us preach to Him in prayer, but we desperately need a word from God.





Ready or Not


Photo by Angelo Moleele on Unsplash

We awaken in a state of unready readiness.

God of readiness,
of constancy,
and of mystery,

Invade me,
overthrow my stubborn reluctance

Disperse my stagnant sentries
who stagger the soul

And stalwartly resist that which you insist will set me free.

Mercy and grace be Your weapons of invasion,
My only defense is pretense.
Lower the flag that flies
over the castle of my heart
Declaring autonomy and replace it ...

Raise the flag of liberation and spontaneity!

Raise the flag of serendipitous joy!

Raise the flag of righteousness and peace!

Raise the flag of readiness
for I am ready to be made ready!

I am ready and I am rising from this place
to go to the next place ...

And then .......


Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash


We do not have to be understood.
We do not have to be popular.
We do not have to be validated by everyone.
We must be consistent and integrated, which is the heart of integrity.
We must be faithful to the calling we have received from on high.
And, occasionally, we must be brave.

We must also be kind and generous with those who do not see things as we do.

BUT ... our kindness and generosity may not (and sometimes, must not) take the "edge" off of our words.

Most of us need to be taken to the "edge" from time to time to see the larger view.



We Heard It on the Mountain

Voice on the mountain

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them …” - Matthew 5:1-2:

The sermon on the Mount is the greatest description of kingdom living ever spoken. It’s ideals are high and unattainable in the flesh. It lifts values and principles which go for the heart of God’s desire for the behavior of kingdom people.

To examine ourselves in their light is an arduous task. It would be discouraging and debilitating apart from grace. However, it can serve as a benchmark for progress is our spiritual growth.

It can also remind us that no matter how far we have come, God can take us farther.

Matt. 5:1-10
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Kingdom of God is the highest and best of all that can be offered us under Heaven. It is the loftiest of values upon which each value is grounded. It is the loveliest song; it is the noblest theme. It is the most blessed gift of all.


From the Heart - #fromtheheart

Henri - red cross

On the birthday on Henri Dunant , born in 1828, we celebrate World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Dunant was the founder of this great international organization.

When I was just 16 years old, I became a Red Cross Volunteer and was elected by my school chapter to represent them on the citywide Youth Disaster Team. I took the leadership course led by the city youth director, who would become a dear friend, Miss Ann Wood and by the time I was 17, I was vice chair and then chair when a disaster struck my town.

It was my first major leadership assignment outside my church and I found myself working around the clock and directing the activities of 300 volunteers.

Red Cross along with the Baptist Training Union made me a leader.

I will always be grateful to them.

Henri Dunant, was a Swiss humanitarian. He was also a businessman, social activist and the co-founder of Red Cross movement.

Because of a business scandal that tarnished his reputation, he was forgotten, ostracized, and impoverished for decades. A journalist became interested in his story and revived interest in the legacy he had created.

For his lifetime of service he received the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Rather than allow his life to be defined by one of his worst moments, the Nobel committee wrote:

"There is no man who more deserves this honour, for it was you, forty years ago, who set on foot the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefield. Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian achievement of the nineteenth century would probably have never been undertaken."

For years, the Red Cross has brought together thousands of volunteers determined to not allow some disaster or atrocity forever define any person or people.

Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Humanity - The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

Impartiality-It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

Neutrality-In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Independence-The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.

Voluntary Service-It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

Unity-There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

Universality The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide


The Passing of a Leader and the Passing of Torches

H at work
Thoughts on the Death of H. Spees
Pastor, Mentor, Friend, Public Servant, Community Leader, Compassionate Advocate for the Marginalized, Strategic Thinker.
I am working on a thought in these moments after news of the death of our friend, H. Spees who have been one of Fresno's great servant leaders for over thirty years. 
When community loses a leader who has exemplified so much of the Jesus qualities of leadership we all feel some of the emotions that the disciples must have felt as Jesus was leaving them.
Jesus said two things to comfort and encourage them:
1. I am with you and
2. I am sending you.
Leadership is about both.
When we mentor, coach, train, disciple, and encourage, we are planting ourselves in the lives of those we have nurtured. We never leave. It is not quite like Jesus indwelling us through the Spirit, but there is overlap and compliment.
Then, as we mentor others, we are sending them. We are investing in investors. We are perpetrating a legacy that has been perpetrated in us.
In the case of H. I am hearing from so many who he has mentored in our community. I know he is so proud of all of you. I know he left this world fulfilled.
Beginning with his own outstanding children and continuing through all of you, his spiritual children, I am comforted by the reality that legacy of service, love, compassion for the poor, and commitment for Jesus is still being perpetuated in Fresno and beyond.
You are great leaders and are taking his legacy to the next level.
I can only home that in some small or smaller way, I am living my life that way.
While we were still praying for him to recover, Steve Skibbie posted this wonderful picture of H with his mentor, Dr. John Perkins. It tells it all.
May be an image of 2 people and people studying
May be an image of 2 people
It reminds me that if I want any significance at all in my life, it will come from investing in the next generation.
Yesterday we lost a dear brother to our family. H Spees went to be with the Lord. He was like a son to John and Vera Mae and a brother to the Perkins children. We are deeply saddened and heartbroken. H entered our lives when he was 19 and brought so much love and joy to our lives. He will be deeply missed. Please keep his wife and children in your prayers during this time.
The beat goes on.


Spirit, Stones, and Sight

Stonin g stephen'


Acts 7:55-60

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

"Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"

But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.

Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.



Spirit, Stones, and Sight

Stephen was a member of the early church in Jerusalem. He had shown himself to have certain qualities that were prescribed when it came time to choose seven men to take care of the widows, to administer a program which was really a ministry of the Church to feed those who were a part of the church who were not able to take care of their own needs tor really be their family.

Full of the Spirit, before the court and being stoned, Stephen had 20:20 vision.

  1. He could see history as a whole.
  2. He could see beyond the moment.
  3.  He could see beyond his pain.

Unedited Transcript 



My Place

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The Place Where God Calls You

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." — Frederick Buechner (Wishful Thinking: A Seeker's ABC)

God calls us to space, place, face, and at His own pace to and through grace to meet Him and one another.

"The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 'I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.'" - Genesis 12 1.

This was a far more significant turning point for Abraham that he or we could know. The place and land He will show us may be a mystery where we are likely to touch the misery of humanity in a way that we can face it, doing more than occupying space, but imparting grace.

It is the pace of it with which I sometimes argue.

Yet, that is not my place. My place is where I am placed.

May my deep and abiding gladness in being accepted, loved, embraced, and forgiven overcome all my reservations and meet, with contagious joy, the hunger of a broken world.



I went on a retreat and God spoke to me.

But He also had a word for me while I was waiting.

I was surprised at how impatient I grew as I waited for the page to load. I was tempted ... strongly ... to flip over to another "task" while I waited.

The point at that point was that there was not to be a point.

My "task" in that moment was to be without a task and wait .. just wait.

In the silence, I was prepared for the message I received.

People Who Need People

Rainy day friends

A church full of rainy day people is what the world needs today,

a church where there are no walls, windows, or doors,

a church where there is more going than coming,

a church with a heart that bleeds and love that spills out into the world.

Gordon got it,

I hope I get it too.

"Rainy day people always seem to know when it's time to call
Rainy day people don't talk, they just listen till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell 'ya they've been down like you
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two
If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love
Rainy day people all know there's no sorrow they can't rise above
Rainy day lovers don't love any others, that would not be kind
Rainy day people all know how it hangs on a piece of mind
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell you, they've been down there too
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin' a tear or two.
Rainy day people always seem to know when you're feeling blue
High stepping strutters who land in the gutters sometimes need one too
Take it or leave it, or try to believe it
If you've been down too long
Rainy day lovers don't hide love inside they just pass it on
Rainy day lovers don't hide love inside they just pass it on"


I need you to sit when you don't know what to say.

I need you to stumble over your words when you feel you have none.

I need you to lose your control when you feel I cannot bear to see you cry.

I need you to sit in silence and be my friend.

I need your nod more than your advice.

I need your presence when you have nothing to give.


This is why the Holy Spirit is called the "Paraclete."

"One Who Comes to Walk Alongside"

If My People


If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

If my people

It is always difficult to take the admonitions of God to the nation of Israel and make direct application to contemporary peoples. That is because there are no God-ordained theocracies in the world today.

The world has a tragic track history with nationalism. It almost always leads to abuse and oppression.

Even modern Israel is multi-cultural, secular, and eclectic in its religious views.

Nevertheless, all nations are a part of God's purpose and promised blessing (Genesis 12:3, Psalm 22:27, Psalm 72:11&17). All nations are likewise subject to judgment (Isaiah 40:17). In Matthew 25, we are told the primary basis of that judgment - how nations respond to the poor and powerless.

God's people remain scattered throughout the globe - wherever they are called by God's name.

So, for nations and individuals, there is a blessing available - a conditional blessing.

The first requirement to which the promise is attached is humility. Humility is the first characteristic of strong leadership - among people or among nations. Humility before God and others enables us to walk under God's watchful gaze and alongside our fellow human beings. Humility precludes chauvinism. It discourages imperialism. It condemns pride.

Humble leaders do not need to justify their every deed, but can admit failures. Humble nations can strengthen their standing by doing the same.

The greater the nation, leader, or organization, the greater the need for humility.

The second requirement for the blessing is to pray. The sort of prayer that we need is not the sort that exalts us or boasts or impresses listeners with our eloquence. It is needy prayer, humble prayer, listening prayer, and loving prayer. It is honest. It is seeking. It is prayer without agenda. It is prayer that asks God what we must do. It is prayer that extends our concern to friend and enemy alike.

That leads to the third requirement - seeking the face of God. To seek the face of God implies that we have not grasped a complete vision of God already. The revealed truth we have received is sufficient to save, but not to suspend our seeking. To seek God's face is not to seek information about God, but to seek God Himself with awe, wonder, and childlike readiness to receive.

The fourth requirement is to turn from our wicked ways. It is no sign of strength, power or righteousness to assert we have no wicked ways in our lives or in our nations. Pride weakens us. Self-righteousness stifles our potential for growth. God is not looking for PR people as leaders. He is looking for people who are willing to look at their choices and change if necessary.

Those four requirements have been recited, amplified, and subjected to exegesis until we can hear them without being moved. We have heard them so many times that we have built up walls of resistance around our favorite sins and defined what other people ought to do to comply.

They are always about someone else.

Like a much maligned preacher in the news during the presidential election, our most fundamentalist preachers have all said, "God damn America." They have. I have heard them. Most white conservatives have said, "Amen" as long as it was other people's sins that were being condemned. No one accused those preachers of being anti-American.

But when a descendant of slaves dared to suggest that racism, blind nationalism, and greed were among our national sins to which we had to give account to God, the critics went wild.

The same message with a different application got different responses.

The truth is that God still dislikes all the "traditional" sins, but He also has issues with those that seldom make the list - those in which nice people participate.

We are expected by God, as individuals and as nations, to behave ethically, morally, compassionately, fairly, cooperatively, and righteously. We are expected to live by Matthew 25:31-46 as nations and the Sermon on the Mount as individuals.

Is there someone out there who wants to argue that America and American Christians have done so flawlessly in recent decades?

I would like to hear that case. The political right and the political left in America both agree that it is not true. They both agree that we have embraced wicked ways.

They just have different lists of wicked ways.

Is America good?

America is great! I love America. I love the Constitution and the people of America. I love the Republicans, the Democrats, and the independents that balance out each others' craziness.

Is America perfect, sinless, and innocent of innocent blood?

No. No nation is.

Are others worse?

Maybe some are, but we can't do their repenting for them. We are only responsible for our own repentance.

You can't point at your neighbor down the street when God calls you to turn from your wicked ways.

We cannot do so nationally either.

Nor can we frame our foreign policies simply around our own selfish interests and call that "Christian."

I am writing to Christians here. I don't expect anyone else to buy into my presuppositions blindly. This is about our consciences. It is about the stewardship of our influence.

There has not been a national party platform in this country in 30 years that should not have given Jesus' followers a great deal of heartburn.

But we pick a horse and run with it because we have not been called to isolate ourselves.

Can we have national repentance?

Perhaps to some extent - but for certain, we can repent and turn from our own wicked ways. Again, your list may differ from that of other fine believers, but you have to work on those things about which the Spirit convicts you.

The benefits are impressive.

In the first place, God says He will hear.

In the second place, He promises to forgive. Unlike humans, God does that quickly and without hesitation.

In the third place, He promises to heal our lands.

And we need healing.

These are days of sinful bickering, disrespect, incivility, disregard for life, unbridled anger, bitter divisiveness, euphoric drunkenness,  moral ambiguity, sexual manipulation, greed, lack of compassion, disregard for the poor, bigotry, bullish power grabbing, broken boundaries, coldness, hardheartedness, slander, self-centered self-promotion, stubbornness, corruption, and deep need.

Somehow, I believe that if the leaders of our nation would get off of their political platforms, forget the colors of their states, turn off their cell phones, forget about polls, stop calling each other names, quit demonizing each other, and listen to each other and to God, it would be a step in the right direction.

If they would cultivate humility, they could learn to pray. If they would pray, they would seek God's face (and be very surprised at what they found). If they would seek God's face they would want to turn from many of our nation's wicked ways.

We can wait for that ... or we can do it ourselves.

Originally published on 


Thought and prayers

I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. – I Timothy 2:1

I am as put off as any by the empty words, “thoughts and prayers” whenever those words are empty and used to dismiss one’s own responsibility to act with justice, mercy, and resolve.

Thought, however, is a very good thing, especially compassionate thoughts about others. Likewise, prayer is good, especially when one opens one’s life to being used by God to help others.

With echoes of II Chronicles 7:13-14 in the background, Paul is not calling for extraordinary prayer, but for daily, ongoing, consistent, persistent, passionate prayer for the lives of men and women and the welfare of society.

This call to prayer is for all people first. Then Paul becomes specific in commanding us to pray for people in civil authority that the church might enjoy, with the larger community, quiet, peace, godliness, and honesty.

Furthermore, we are adjured to pray because it is God’s will to bring all men to salvation and truth. God invites our cooperation, participation, and conversation in task and mission of rescuing the world.

It is sad that we need special days to remind us that we ought to be praying all the time.

I have some pills that I must take every day by prescription. I try to minimize these with good nutrition and vitamins, but because of the wear and tear of the years, my body needs these medicines to function properly – at least for now.

If I forget to take a pill for a particular malady, I can get by with it for a few hours, but at least by the second day, I will be hurting, and the reminders will be evident.

If I forget my blood pressure pill, however, I will have no symptoms whatsoever. In fact, I might be able to take my blood pressure that day and notice extraordinarily little difference. I will have no symptoms over time, but my blood pressure will begin to creep up and I will place myself in danger of a sudden heart attack or stroke down the road.

God has prescribed prayer for our own well-being, for others, and for our society. If we live in sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, we will most likely notice it if we miss a day of prayer. But the larger implications may show no symptoms at first.

We will lull ourselves into complacency and false comfort. In the meantime, our spiritual lives, and the spiritual climate around us will erode until there is some great catastrophe as the natural result of the absence of supernatural intervention. 

God’s message to us on this matter is that prayer matters.

It makes a difference.

Think. Pray. Act.

Do all three, but always, also, pray.

Then, be willing to act on your prayers.

Raw and Rugged

Raw rugged prayer
Sometimes, this is the best prayer you can muster.
It is not pious, in the vernacular, but in intrinsic reality.
It is raw.
It is self-conscious.
It is guttural.
It is real and authentic.
It is basal and honest.
It may be your prayer of the moment.
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Psalm 38
New Revised Standard Version
A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.
My wounds grow foul and fester
because of my foolishness;
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all day long I go around mourning.
For my loins are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am utterly spent and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
O Lord, all my longing is known to you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction,
and my neighbors stand far off.
Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek to hurt me speak of ruin,
and meditate treachery all day long.
But I am like the deaf, I do not hear;
like the mute, who cannot speak.
Truly, I am like one who does not hear,
and in whose mouth is no retort.
But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
For I pray, “Only do not let them rejoice over me,
those who boast against me when my foot slips.”
For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.
Those who are my foes without cause are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
Those who render me evil for good
are my adversaries because I follow after good.
Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, do not be far from me;
make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation.
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You Grew

Go get em

Good morning or afternoon.

It is a new day.

Whatever you worried about last night, that kept you tossing and turning ... that glitch. that stitch in time, that hitch in your get-along, that which you dread ... it's still there but something happened in the night.

It shrank.

That's right. It is not as big as you feared.

And something else happened in the night. You grew!

So now, with God's help, you can face that thing because you must and because you should and because it is still shrinking and you are still growing.

Go get 'em, Tiger!