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February 2017

Today's Acronym for TODAY


T - A TIC on the tic-toc scale, a TIPPING point in TIME, TO-BE written.

O - OPPORTUNITIES abound, obstacles obscure, but do not overwhelm.

D - DOING is immediate. I cannot just being materializes into doing. I must DO.

A - ALL we have in time is today to ACTIVATE our dreams.

Y - YES is our answer to the day's invitation to live, YES to all that God has in store.




Bible in the Raw

Bible in the Raw

To be honest, there are parts of the Bible I sometimes wish would go away. But, to be honest, those are the honest parts --- where someone lets his or her humanity hang out and be viewed and scrutinized.

In the midst of the beautiful, majestic, and celebratory Psalm 139, are these angry and somewhat hate-filled words:

 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies."

And I think, "Why did he not stop while he was ahead and sounding spiritual?"

He is speaking from his soul, maybe not his true heart, maybe not his spirit, but from that part of him that is repulsed by evil, disgusted by sin, against "againstness," and ready for change. He wants to destroy what destroys and take his stand opposite the opposition to God and God's people.

The prayer gets answered, but he has to wait a thousand years (roughly).

It becomes a part of the nuclear reaction of prayer in the Garden, embraced by Jesus and absorbed by Jesus. All these cries for vindication, justice, retribution, and rectification must be answered. But how can a God who loves even the enemy (whom he also "hates" in the sense of hating his "eneminess," do what needs to be done?

That is God's problem and God's solution.

Once my son did something so bad and dangerous as to need a strong statement of indignation, punishment, and correction from me.

I turned him over my knee, lifted my right hand high, and came down with decisive force ... upon my left hand which I had placed, as a shield, over the rear end of my son. He flinched at the sound of the "spanking," but never felt its force because I took it and he got the point.

The cross!

The psalmist knows that he can bring every thought to God and that his cries for righting of wrongs and for punishment of wickedness are rooted in something right even if they are distorted by his own self interests and humanity. He asks God to see if there is any wicked way in him and lead him in the way everlasting.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts! (. Psalm 139:19-23 ESV)

We are human and our humanity is distorted by sin, but every emotion, reaction, and yearning is rooted in something real. It is fodder for prayer. It is legitimate discourse with God. He figures out what to do with us if we humbly offer it all for scrutiny and are willing to see it resolved His way - the cross of Jesus.

Strive to Rest

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Whatever it takes, let us enter rest.

I am philosophically, and paradoxically amused by the concept of striving to enter rest and still, I get it. I get it on the day before every day off or vacation. I get it every day when I try to get my ducks in a row so that I can go home and not think about work (which does not always "work."). I get it; we concentrate, focus, and strive for rest because rest is not defined by the absence of activity as much as the enjoyment of fulfillment when everything for which we have be striving comes together.

The key is subtle. We do not achieve our rest. We enter it.

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." - (Hebrews 4:11-13 ESV)



Prayer of One Who Is Known


KnownOh God, who sees me, knows me, and loves me while seeing through my pretensions.

There is nothing I can tell you about myself that you do not already know.

I am laid bare by your penetrating gaze and your Word divides by thoughts and attitudes, sorting them out in ways I cannot even comprehend.

You know all about me and still I have the urge to hide and cover myself with the leaves of shame.

Crack my facade, dissolve the masks I wear.

Give me the grace to be real today, real and vulnerable, and open and compassionate with myself and others.

Your love validates my existence and your mercy gives me courage to embrace the ugliness I see in myself, the impurity of my motives, the haughtiness of my words, the impulsiveness of my poor choices.

They are a part of all I have been and am becoming and I am not stuck in them, nor do they define me.

You define me and in freeing me to be me and become more, Your message from Jesus to me and through me that there is a possibility of joyous repentance and kingdom purpose ring true.

You know me and yet you choose me, in love, to be one of yours!

I cannot wrap my mind around the grace of it, but I receive it that I may give it.

Make me, like Francis, an instrument of your peace today.

I am not worthy, but I am available.

Because I follow Jesus, I ask this in His Name.


Prayer of the Distracted Soul


I shall write this book, and have begun: Spiritual Disciplines for Highly Distracted Souls.

I shall finish if I can concentrate enough to do so .

Some of you know exactly what I mean.

And you are the folks who are my kin in this particular skin.

We struggle to focus, but we must focus to struggle.

We know the deep value of grace in our lives be because we guzzle it like cool water on a scorching day in the sun. It is cooling balm to our blistered flesh. It is food for our souls when we are starving.

God, if my concentration is what is required to seek and find you, I am in trouble.

I am in this trouble ... have been ... will be, but I am not hopeless.

My concentration comes through distraction, through poly-focus, and through serendipitous discovery.

I see you in the commonalities of multiplicities.

I hear your voice arising from the cacophony of sounds in a dissonant chorus of groaning cries.

I see your face in the contorted faces of broken people.

I grasp your Word in the recurring themes of unlikely sources that echo your truth and highlight the verses that I read just yesterday or this morning as I struggled to keep my mind from wandering.

I sit as long as I can and listen. I walk as far as I can without veering off the path. I keep coming back to you and you are always there.

It is neither my mood nor my mind that guide me, Oh Lord of clarity, but your ever present hand and upon you, I lean.

I will follow you today. I commit my day to you.

I am easily distracted and often torn. I am likely to bounce from thought to thought and project to project, but I know that you are present in the midst to order my days and my moments ....

And in the precious, fleeting stillness of this moment, I commit all my moments and days ... and this day, in particular, to You.


Reflections on Aging and Living


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Beyond our opinions of others or their opinions of us as we live in our own times, is the boisterous internal argument about the significance of our lives. More than the legacy that we shall leave and the memories that shall be evoked by our names, we are driven by our own speculations and, as time passes on and gains momentum, there is a gnawing urgency to build something that will last.

Then, we encounter the roadblocks of our own flaws and weaknesses.

They are accompanied by the taunts of all forces that oppose our quest.

" Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you."

(Psalm 71:4-6 ESV)

I wonder if I could apply this prayer to ask God to rescue me from myself - my own worst enemy. I am unjust and cruel with myself. My capacity for wickedness rivals the Charlie Mansons of the world. But I have hope, trust, and leaning -- and while leaning on the Everlasting Arms, I am restrained and retrained.

I never expected to get this old this soon. There is more time passed than there is before - not enough time ahead, it would seem, is there for the lofty dreams and apirations I have long cherised but feebly implemented.

Not that I am old, but there are limitations and failures that I thought I would not experience for decades to come. They are not insurmountable, but I can see how people with less of a sense of unseen Center and the guiding hand of divine Purpose might get discouraged, and feel forsaken or spent. He who renews our youth like the eagle causes us to run and not be weary to walk and not

"Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent." -Psalm 71:9 ESV)

There is a purpose statement buried in these words - a purpose for our final third or fourth of life:

"... until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come..."

We may have entered the time when we are not primarily building our own ministries and legacies, but those of the next generations. In many ways, that is always the case at every stage of life ... but it becomes more of a priority as we age.

We say, "but I am not done building our own," and God says, "It never was your own in the first place."

That becomes clearer with the years.

It never was mine to build for myself.

And then, there comes great joy in proclaiming to another generation.

That is where I want to invest the next phase of my existence on this planet.

" O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again."

(Psalm 71:17-21 ESV)

But time!

I am a dues-paying member of the impatient club. I get impatient with myself, with individuals, with slow service, with shoddy service, with life, and sometimes, with God. I get impatient when people's attitudes don't turn on a dime, when people don't see the world the way I see it (and think that God does), when people are impatient with me, and with about anything else I have the capacity to be impatient with ...

Lack of funds ...
Criticism ....
My own critical spirit ...
Long lines ...
People just being human and flawed ...
My own flaws ....
With technology ...
With lack of technology ...
When technology out-guesses me ...
When technology does not know what I am thinking ...
Injustice ...
Justice without mercy ...

It is a lose/lose situation and, when I am most impatient, it looks like I have lots of enemies stacked up against me.

I can name many ... and most are headquartered in my head. My club dues are paid .

The dues are priced very high.

I can pray/sing with the psalmist the same prayer/song he prayed/sang. It is sometimes a hurried prayer for God to hurry. I just pray that I come to the same point of resolution. Amen.

"Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”"

"May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!"

- Psalm 70, ESV

God's Honor Is Not at Stake

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God is perfectly capable of defending God's own honor. We struggle with it. We can't even agree on what it is. We are multi-polar in our emPHASes. We are indignant when the world does not give proper respect to the things we revere. We protest to God and we wrestle with it in His presence. In the end, we land where the end, we land where the psalmist landed, "God's got this."

We have been in just as perilous times and worse before. If we really study history from more than just our own perspective or the perspective of our own group, we can see that. There have been many dark days and many wicked rulers, but none have ultimately prevailed.

So, weep, wail, and work for righteousness, but understand that, in the end, God's got this.

"O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!"

"Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land."

"We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!""

"Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter."

"Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever."

"Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name."

"Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!"

(Psalm 74 ESV)

Heart First

Heart first
Heart first this morning, every morning, overflowing with a pleasing theme, a sense of centering, and longing for that which is ultimate, eternal, and true, for God. This is the beginning. It is not emotional, but it emotes. It is volitional rejoicing. "This is the day that the LORD hath made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it." It comes from the heart.

It moves toward intentional, intellectual, spiritual, creative worship. What defines it as worship is direction. Direction defines devotion. If I address my verses to the king (and, in this case, and earthly king, but in ours, a Heavenly King), then I am praising that one to whom I direct my thoughts and words.

Then, we move to content and with tongue and pen and tongue as pen words form that we scribble and inscribe. We observe and then, we repeat. We hear and we say. We listen and we share.


"My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;

I address my verses to the king;

my tongue is like the pen of wa ready scribe." - Psalm 45:1


On the One Hand and on the Other

The other hand
On one hand, is the mighty man, boasting of evil.
On the other side is God, whose steadfast love remains and endures.

 "Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day" - Psalm 52:1 (ESV)

On one had is the one or the part of ourselves that loves and plots evil.
On the other, God, who brings our evil schemes to naught and all that is within or among us against that love is uprooted.

God, the warrior, God the judge, God the mighty One is the God who loves.

“See the man who would not make
God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches
and sought refuge in his own destruction!” - (Psalm 52:7 ESV)

It is not the failure of love and compassion that we see in judgment. It is the triumph of love, the victory of compassion.

" The righteous shall see and fear,
and shall laugh at him ..." (Psalm 52:6 ESV)

God lets us in on the joke of poetic justice. It is some serious slapstick, but, from a cosmic perspective, it is tragic comedy. Evil boomerangs.

Love and justice are not too sides of the same coin.

They are the same side of the same coin!

God rushes to the rescue of the oppressed and sometimes the oppressed and the oppressor are the same person.

So, God also loves the oppressor because the oppressor is oppressed if only by himself ....

God waits and watches ... actively engaging in loving pursuit of the oppressor even while rescuing the oppresses who knows he is oppressed.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” - Martin Luther King

"Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!" - Psalm 85:10 (New Living Translation)

And we cry,

'But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever." (Psalm 52:6 ESV)

God brings down evil plots, systems, structures, and workers of oppression in time and God is actively working to bring down those strongholds of evil in our own lives that are destroying us from within. Both is the world of human interactions and within ourselves, that often involves letting nature take its course --- the boomerang!

God has done it!
God is good!
We praise the name of God"!


Getting Stretched into Shape

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We are being stretched by the challenges that extend us and strengthened by the storms that beat upon us. Lent is coming, but it feels like we are already in it.

Pre-Lent is a bit of a an enigma, yet I find myself preparing for the time of preparation.

Lent represents a lengthening of days, with hope of renewal, with sorrow for our offenses to God and others, with the joy of repentance and reconciliation toward God and others, with fresh commitment to give our lives in a cause greater than ourselves, in a holy relationship of trust that envelops and enlarges us.

We turn ourselves, with Jesus, toward Jerusalem and the cross, we position our hearts and lives for service. 

We are getting ready for a storm. We are in a storm.

That storm is shaping us. God is working His purposes out in us as we stand through the storms of life and history.

John Wesley said, ""There are many men who take some pleasure in knowing God's will and word, and yet do not conform their lives to it."

Let us conform our lives to our calling.

It will not be mere cultural Christianity or institutional conformity, but radical vitality that follows Jesus into the streets and walks among the broken, wounded, oppressed, and robotic souls sucked dry of life, but living on. It will breath life, justice, peace, and passion into stoic statues of stalwart saints-to-be, reviving and enlivening. It will keep us on the edge and expand us, lengthen us, with the days for all our days.

Watch out! This is some ride! There is rough weather ahead, but you are ready and you are marked for redemption, chosen for significance, and called to be part of something bigger than yourself.


By the way, he tells the conclusion of the sweater story later ... READ IT HERE.


Who Can I Lift Today?

Who can I lift today
From dregs or rags or rubble?
"Who will lift me?" replies the bit of me within me
Whose focus, inverted and cross eyed causes me to 
Stumble over unexpected opportunities.
"Refocus!" Shouts the me within me that can see,
Refocus and move forward and ask again the first question.
Who can I lift today and in the lifting, lift myself.
Who can I encourage?
Who can I bless?
Who can I walk alongside and with that one,
Share a burden?
Who can I love?
To whom can I give myself?
Who will be my brother or sister,
Or lifelong friend,
Whom I have never met?
Who will you bring along my path today, Oh Lord,
By divine appointment to change my life
As I give myself away?
I stand before you on tiptoe, Oh Lord,
With childlike anticipation and wonder,
Waiting for the moment and the person
That you will bring along my way
To lift today.



Words Matter

Words Matter

Words matter because, in some mysterious way, they are alive.

"Logos," is defined most often as "word," but it is also "principle," "idea," "truth," or "the things spoken of." It is also the act of speaking.

It is both in-transient and dynamic.

You speak a word, with or without intent, and the DNA of that word plants itself in the soul of the hearer. There, it is influenced by biases and that soul's own hunger. It takes root and bears fruit.

We ought to choose our words so that they are clear, compelling, compassionate, and consistent with what we truly want them to convey and accomplish.

We ought to choose them before we speak them. Choose them with intent and purpose. Choose them knowing that after we release them, we will no longer have control over how they are received or what they will do in the lives of others.
We need to remember that words matter and that they can build up or tear down.

Let us speak to edify.

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." - Proverbs 25:11

Love Edifies through Words.

One implication of the fact that love edifies is manifest in our use of words to communicate knowledge.

Knowledge, of the sort that puffs up, is shared with the goal of aggrandizing ourselves and asserting our superiority over ideas and people.

Love, when shared in words and deeds, is for the good of others.

We weigh what we say to determine the potential benefit and share on that basis.

When there is no benefit, it may be that silence is the order of the day.







Teach Us to Number Our Days


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A few years ago, reflecting on the news of a friend's death, I wrote:

So many deaths ... My wife said to me last night, "It's going to be more and more," as I informed her of the death of death of a friend and colleague of 20 plus years. "We are getting older." So true. It is the end of life that gives so much meaning to our younger years which remain so vivid in our view like yesterday. Our children do not comprehend this, cannot fathom how quickly life passes and how one might begin to find attachments to a better world. We love this life, embrace this life, and live it with gusto and great dreams, but we know also, of a better place. We can find ourselves at home even now, in the eternal embrace that gives meaning to our days and hope to our future. In that loving embrace, we come home ... and gratefully, so did my friend .

The prayer of a maturing heart to be prayed in our youth, that we would be aware of the fragility of time, the shortening of days, and the seriousness of our sinful wastefulness, that we might embrace our suffering and discipline as part of God's love and our maturing process, that we would learn to be glad, that we would see with a broader deeper, and more eternal perspective, and that we would be satisfied with God's love. The result, by grace will be the favor of God as shown in His blessing upon our work, His power in and through us. Amen.

"So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!"
(Psalm 90:12-17 ESV)






Prayer of the Weak


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I am weak, Lord. I am lowly.

I bring nothing in my hands.

 offer no credentials, no reputation, no resume worth reading.

My track record is checkered.

My focus is scattered.

My mind is here and there and everywhere.

I am easily distracted and frequently tested to the core.

Yet, God, you are my God.

Yet, God, you love me, value me, invest in me, and show grace and mercy to me daily.

I am unworthy. You are worthy.

All my value is that you regard me.

Why, oh why?

It does not matter why because You are the Why of all things and of my existence and You have engraved Your love into the fabric of the universe.

Your love, Oh LORD, is the only true reality, standard, and truth that bleeds through all of our opinions about ourselves and others.

Your wrath is against all that is not love.

Why then, if I am not judged, can I ever stand in judgment against my neighbor?

I shall not. He and she are Yours.

You see in them that which is precious even as You see something precious in me.

Give me glimpses today of the wonder in my neighbor’s eyes and the love in his or her heart that I may view my neighbor through the lenses of Your redemptive and reconciling grace and lay all of my prejudices and agendas aside.

And may my neighbor join me in this cause and his neighbor and her neighbor.

I pray this, as the only solution to our divisions in the Name of Jesus who divided us in order to unite us, who showed us hard truth in order to reconcile us to Himself and to one another, who bore all pain, sin, and alienation upon Himself in order to introduce us to You as Your long-lost children who have come home.

Give us the heart of the prodigal's father.

Give us Your heart and the heart of Jesus, Your Son. Amen.

Friend of the Friendless


I call you friends
Friend of the friendless,

May I be
A friend,
A friend,
A friend to Thee.
May I friendly
Friendly be
To one who,
Lost at sea 
May somehow,
Be set free
By just one human touch,
Of grace and love
That is
Thy touch
Through me.
To this end, I come to Thee,
Homeless me
With just One Friend with
Many faces,
Many faces ...
Many faces on the streets I roam.
Friend of them, Friend of me,
Friend of the friendless,
May I see ...
In them,



What a friend we have in Jesus - The Gospel According To Saxophone - David Kocijan

Lincoln, the Unlikely Hero


Yesterday was the birthday of the sixteenth president of the United States. He was an imperfect and flawed man, but he was the man of the hour, accomplishing what no one thought he could accomplish and things that, perhaps no one else could have accomplished.

He was a man of sorrows and a man of great humor.

He was an evolving man who grew in office.

He was humble and savvy and presidential in his own awkward way.

He is my hero because of his greatness, but also his weaknesses, his blind sides, and his ability to change, adapt, and grow.

He is my hero because he overcame inner turmoil and outward adversity.

He was the brunt of jokes, the object of derision, and the subject of brutal criticism, yet he rose to the occasion. His heart broke for every Union and Confederate soldier lost in the war.

He gathered a cabinet of political enemies because they were the right people for the jobs and worked with them, making them a team.

He dearly loved a wife who was difficult at best. He was accessible and wise. He worked hard, suffered much, and was finally recognized for the man and the leader he was.

Abraham Lincoln - one of a kind. I wonder what he might have become if he had lived.

I wonder what we might become.

Prayer of the Day

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Abba, today, I pray.

I pray with words that elude me and with scattered thoughts.

I pray out of the distractions of my soul.

I pray out of profound need to connect with loose strands and slippery handles.

I pray with little to offer.

I pray without knowing that I can claim the purest of motives or ...

That I can even know my motives.

But still, I pray.

I pray knowing that everything hinges on this connection and ...

That everything hinges on You.

I pray with a a long history of saying the same things  ....

Over and over and ...

Of making grand declarations and commitments and then,

Seeking Your forgiveness when I have failed.

I come to You in prayer unprepared, unwashed, unsure of myself.

I am sure of You in my own unsure way.

I come needing a touch and more.

I come on behalf of a world for which I really do not know how to pray.

I come this way because it is the most authentic way, in this moment, for me to come.

I come on behalf of millions who will gather in the next few hours ...

Some to speak and some to hear.

May the hearers speak and the speakers listen and may each do both and ...

May Your word break through.

Troubling word.

Truthful word.

Transforming word.

Take Your community of the called out today and ...

Fashion them into the body of Christ ....

Adorn them as the bride of Christ ...

Strengthen them as the temple of the Spirit ...

Challenge them as the apostles of Jesus ...

Fill them as vessels of grace ...

Unite them as Your family ...

Send them out as ambassadors for Christ.

Remove the impediments.

Fill the emptiness.

Heal the flaws.

Display the scars and marks of solidarity with Jesus.

Teach us and equip us to love one another.

Call us again to love the broken and marginalized.

Fill us with courage and hope.

May we be both pastoral and prophetic.

May we be priests to each other and to the world.

May the words we speak and the meditations we ponder be pleasing to You.

May this prayer be lifted from the faulty vessel that prays it and ...

Amplified before You as an offering of love.

In Jesus; Name.



What Is Truth? Come and See


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If you are like Pilate, and to some extent, we all are at some point, you just don't get it. We can't get it when we try to impose our own or society's definitions of power, might, prestige, and influence on a kingdom that is not of this world.

We ask the same question he asked. With truth standing before us, staring us in the face, trying one angle after another to explain truth to us and to shake us out of our tired definitions, "What is truth?"

The truth is that truth is ....

And it is not what we think it is.

It never was and never can be.

Truth that transcends and transforms enters the world as a blinding contrast to our values and false passions. it challenges our insecurities and control mania. It challenges our notions that we must resort to violence to achieve non-violent ends or that we must coerce in order to convert.

It shouts in our ears and lives out before us the radical notion that sometimes it is enough, and more than enough, to stand and bear witness.

It leaves us dumbfounded with the uncomfortable feeling that we can find no fault in him, but that we cannot figure him out either.

And we, who would follow, hear his simple, "follow me," and his playful, Come and see."

John 18:33-38 New International Version (NIV)

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.


Prayers of the Moment

image from

I am no giant of prayer. As a student, I am a mind-wanderer. My distraction threshold is low. My depth is shallow and my shallowness is deep. I am constantly, daily praying, "Teach me to pray."

Prayer warrior? The greatest war is inside me and with me.

In my most despairing moments, when I am least confident in my ability to pray, I pray, "God, you do the praying. I will just be Your megaphone from you and to you and involve me any way You choose."

And the Spirit of God prays and I trust it and I trust Him and I let go.

Sometimes I write prayers. Sometimes, i am guided by the prayer He taught us to pray. Sometimes I am guided by other great prayers of scripture and history. I need props. I think God is OK with that since He gave us so many. Like Andrew Murray, I feel that I am with Christ in the school of prayer.

Here are some of my prayers of previous days that are, today, my prayers of the moment:

Adonai, above all powers, above all rulers, above all my thoughts and hopes and dreams, LORD of my frailties and Dreamer of my dreams, Giver of life, Author of hope, First Cause, Final Conclusion, Ultimate Concern, Lover of humanity, Creator of all that is, Mighty God, Everlasting Father ... my Abba ...

To Thee, I come and with Thee, I stand. In Thee, I rest. Through Thee, I live.

You are, יהוה , the Great I AM. I hesitate to speak Thy Name lest I speak it for naught and yet ...

You invite me, to call Thee, Abba, Father, Pappa ....

Our Pappa in Heaven, ours, and not just mine, They name is hallowed for Thou art holy with a sanctified Name.

Grant unto to be enveloped in a cloud of reverent awe at the sight and sound of Thy Name.

Hallowed be Thy Name.

In every segmented concern of my life, my family, my concentric circles of sanctified souls and saintly sinners of which I am chief of sinners, Thy Kingdom come! In every gathering where my brothers and sisters find shelter, Thy Kingdom. In every city through which I pass and nation that enters my conscious awareness and those that escape my notice, among all people and powers, Thy Kingdom, Lord. Thy Kingdom of joy and grace, and righteousness.

I turn, repent, and renounce my kingdom and every other kingdom which has enslaved me and to Thy Kingdom, Christ's Kingdom of peace and justice and love I run.

"The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!"

Thy Kingdom come where there is injustice and hatred, and bigotry, and violence, lust and debauchery, dehumanization and demoralization, contention and bitterness, exploitation and humiliation, poverty and homelessness, hunger and famine, disease and addiction, loneliness and lostness, oppression and desperate, despairing sin. Thy Kingdom come.

Reign, King Jesus, reign!

Thy will be done ... for Thou knowest best.

We know not how to pray. It is not that we shrink from desiring to know. We do desire to join Thee in knowing prayer, knowing that we shall not know all. We know that we do not know and in that ignorance is the bliss of trusting.

Abba, what we know, we hold loosely in our hands and minds, awaiting instruction and correction. We approach Thee, Thy world, Thy creation, with very large question marks and interrogative wonder. Tomorrow is in Thy hands with every yesterday and today and so, override our own desires with Thy perfect will ...

Because what we know is Who we know and we have come to love and trust Thee and pray that Thy Spirit will pray Thy will through us and that Thy will will be done here and now, apart from us and beyond us, and all around us ....

.... on Earth as it is in Heaven!

Give us today, this day, our daily bread.

Thou knowest our needs, OUR needs, not just mine. Free me from my slavery to selfishness and introverted focus on myself, Dear God. Provide what Thou knowest we need and see us through this day with ...



food and clothing,



healing and health,

love and affection,


mission and service,

and more ...

and sometimes less,

our daily bread!

Forgive us our trespasses, our debts, our sins. Forgive us to the extent that we are able to loosen our grip on those debt for ourselves and for others.

Make us debt free in the realm of sin and free of holding others to the obligation of their trespasses against us. Teach us to loosen our grip for in that grip of bitterness, we hold ourselves as well for the same hand that gives forgiveness, receives it.

Liberate us from the power of darkness and guilt and retributive desire, Abba, by Thy love and mercy and grace.

Free us.

Forgive us.

We forgive our debtors.

Lead us.

We need to be led. We shall follow. We desire to go where Thou leadest, Oh Lord.

Remember, Dear Father, that we are dust and we are susceptible to the vilest thoughts and deeds, and are so easily tempted. Please lead us away from those things that tempt us most ... and least and ...

Lead us not into temptation, yet, should we encounter evil, and we shall, for such is our fallen, broken, hurting world, then ....

Deliver us from evil.

You have in the past; You do daily; You shall in the future.

"Yeah, though I walk through the valley of dark shadows," the shadow of death, "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me."

Remind us that neither darkness nor death can overcome us with evil when Thou art present with us.

Hear us, Oh Adonai, for all that we have and are and ever shall be, is Thine.

Indeed, Thine is the Kingdom.

It is all Thine!

Thine is the power.

Thou canst (You CAN because YOU ARE, oh great I AM!) bring all of this to pass. Thine is the power!

Thine is the glory!

Glory, honor, and praise to Thee, Thou great Jehovah!

Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever and ever and ever.

Amen and Amen and in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I pray, we pray, amen and amen!


I pray, today, for the rhythm and rhyme to keep step.
I get ahead; I get behind; I get out of sync.
I want and need to catch the pace of the Spirit in Whom I live.
I want to keep step.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. - Galatians 5:25

Welcome to the morning!

Kyrie eleison!

Lord, have mercy!
Have mercy on me.
And grant that mercy and grace
Like soothing oil and
Refreshing water
Sweetened by Thy love
Shall flow through me into
The lives of all who come to drink,
Of all who come to be renewed.
May I be another light,
Another window, mirror, conduit,
Any metaphor that, materialized,
Brings this mercy to those
Who feel abandoned, lonely, discouraged, and alienated
From Thee, themselves, and others.

Thou who hast given me mercy
So freely and abundantly,
Show forth that same mercy in me
To all who are longing to receive.

I know not how to pray this other than
To offer myself as a receptor and reflector.
I who am needy, come.
I, who am filled and forgiven, go.

Kyrie eleison!

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34 (New King James Version)





Torn Between Two Poles


It one corner, we have the pressure to conform to the gods of this world that govern the marketplace of necessity and pleasure. On the other, we are pressured to conform to systems of religion and pseudo righteousness that have frozen grace into a form of rigid compliance that does not resemble the good news of God's grace.

Both poles require resistance and from both, Jesus offers liberation.

We are caught up in a tug of war over what it authentic discipleship and what is extra baggage that we have inherited from our culture, our desire to fit in, and our fear of standing out and being persecuted. It requires constant reexamination of the claims and call of Jesus in every fresh context as we wrestle with timeless truth and shifting concerns. It is not new to our generation. It was happening in the early church and decades later among the band of ragtag disciples who had begun to follow Jesus.

It is as if we are constantly being torn between the poles of secularism and religiosity.

Galatians 6:11-18 (NRSV)
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-- only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

There was a brief moment in the history of the early church where a protection against Roman persecution existed. It was circumcision as a mark of one’s Judaism. The Romans had thrown up their hands in frustration and had relented in their push to introduce polytheism and emperor worship in all parts of their domain.

Every other conquered nation had complied, but the Jews would not, no matter how much pressure was applied, fall down and bow before the shrine of the imperial cult.

So, Rome made an exception. Everyone had to comply except Jews. As long as the Jesus movement was a sect of Judaism, the church was safe. Once it came out from under that protection, she was subject to harsh treatment, pressure, and even death.

As the gospel and the movement moved into the gentile (non-Jewish world), the question first came from the Jewish Christians and the church had its controversy internally. Do followers of Jesus first have to become Jews, be circumcised, and submit to the law before becoming Christians or are they exempt.

Once that was settled in favor of the latter option, the pressure came from Rome. No longer seen as a branch of Judaism either by Jews or by Rome, Christians, who held the same monotheistic convictions as their Jewish brethren, were not longer protected by affiliation. They were expected to make their sacrifices at the altar of the imperial cult, worship Caesar, and acknowledge the gods of Rome.

To declare that Jesus was Lord and not Caesar was cause for persecution. Even short of death, the state could close the doors of commerce and apply great hardship on vast numbers of believers. Some among them would go to prison and some would die.

I think this is what Paul is referring to when he refers to the pressure to submit to be circumcised as way to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

It was also being held up as a cause for boasting and pride.

“See! I am a five star believer! I have all my bases covered!”

Paul takes everyone back to the cross and obliterates any cause for boasting, pride, self-righteousness, or nationalism.

“I won’t boast about anything but the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through it and Him, I have died a crucified death too everything else and it has died to me.”

He reaffirms his love and blessing for Israel and shakes off the criticism of the self-righteous church folks.

In so doing, he raises a banner of defiance and embrace.

He defies all fear of persecution from the world and embraces the possibility of suffering from Christ. He will not hide who he is and what his core commitments are. The easy way out is not an option.

He defies the internal pressures of the church to conform to anything but what God has called the followers of Jesus to do and to be. He rejects any cultural, racial, nationalistic, or ritualistic identification of what it means to be a Jesus follower and goes for the essential commitment of the gospel – Jesus Himself, crucified and resurrected.

He backs up everything he says with the credibility of his own life, even his own body, marked with the scars inflicted upon him by the whips of his persecutors. What he says is verified by his life and his own suffering. Even as a circumcised Jew, he refused to call upon his affiliation as a way of denying his faith. He took the blows and he gloried in them.

Today, we are still pressured from outside and inside of the church to conform to some standard other than the call of Jesus. On one hand, we are pressured to deny Him. On the other, we are shamed into squeezing into boxes not of His making.

What Jesus is calling us to do, is to lose ourselves in Him, be who he has made us to be, and follow Him in total identification, sold out to His kingdom, and relying only on His grace. It is a dangerous adventure, but it is an adventure indeed.

Now, look back to a scene from Jesus’ ministry.

Rather than looking back on the cross as a defining moment, He is looking ahead with his original disciples. He is warning them of suffering. He is preparing them for its inevitability. He would go first and He would die at the hands of men.

Mark 9:30-41 (NRSV)
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.”

Even as He is seeking to engage their hearts in this radical teaching, whenever they had the chance, they began to engage in petty disputes over trivial concerns.

One of those concerns was which of them would be the greatest!

Pride, competition, boasting, power. None of these ever have been compatible with the Jesus walk, but they are the way of the world.

What Paul dealt with was just another manifestation of what Jesus encountered. It was a clash of cultures and values. The culture of power and human greatness was coming face to face with the gospel of peace, of love, and of service.

The suffering servant as king of the kingdom flew in the face of the prevailing view of the culture. It was an insult to the sensibilities of godless Romans and godly Jews. All had been drinking from the same well of grandiosity.

“You have to be more like children,” Jesus admonishes them. “You have to be more like slaves.”

“You have to give up this notion that you can be great by putting others down or dominating them. The greatest among you will be the one perceived, by the world’s standards, to be the least.”

And if you want to really serve me and identify with me, start handing out water.

In a simple rebuke and encouragement, He turns the tables on everything and rights the course of our thinking.

But that thinking must be renewed often. It had to be renewed with every new context such as Paul’s circumcision controversy in Galatia and it has to be renewed today as we confront our gods of materialism, safety, comfort, American exceptionalism, and parochial bigotry.

We are always having to shake loose extra baggage we accumulate along the grace highway. Some of it has become deeply embedded in our psyches, our rituals, and our conversation. It has become intertwined with our way of speaking truth so that it is not easy to extract from the truth. It has permeated our culture and defined our false boundaries, but it is not the gospel and it never will be.

Like Paul, we must be daily crucified with Christ to the world and to that, which is of the world, but disguised as Christianity.

It was costly then and it is likely to be costly today.

Now, the Psalms:

Morning Psalm
Psalm 80 Qui regis Israel (NRSV)

1 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock; *
shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2 In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, *
stir up your strength and come to help us.
3 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
4 O LORD God of hosts, *
how long will you be angered despite the prayers of your people?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears; *
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6 You have made us the derision of our neighbors, *
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
8 You have brought a vine out of Egypt; *
you cast out the nations and planted it.
9 You prepared the ground for it; *
it took root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered by its shadow *
and the towering cedar trees by its boughs.
11 You stretched out its tendrils to the Sea *
and its branches to the River.
12 Why have you broken down its wall, *
so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
13 The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it, *
and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.
14 Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven; behold and tend this vine; *
preserve what your right hand has planted.
15 They burn it with fire like rubbish; *
at the rebuke of your countenance let them perish.
16 Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, *
and son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
17 And so will we never turn away from you; *
give us life, that we may call upon your Name.
18 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 77 Voce mea ad Dominum (NRSV)

1 I will cry aloud to God; *
I will cry aloud, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; *
my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire; I refused to be comforted.
3 I think of God, I am restless, *
I ponder, and my spirit faints.
4 You will not let my eyelids close; *
I am troubled and I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old; *
I remember the years long past;
6 I commune with my heart in the night; *
I ponder and search my mind.
7 Will the Lord cast me off for ever? *
will he no more show his favor?
8 Has his loving-kindness come to an end for ever? *
has his promise failed for evermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? *
has he, in his anger, withheld his compassion?
10 And I said, "My grief is this: *
the right hand of the Most High has lost its power."
11 I will remember the works of the LORD, *
and call to mind your wonders of old time.
12 I will meditate on all your acts *
and ponder your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy; *
who is so great a god as our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders *
and have declared your power among the peoples.
15 By your strength you have redeemed your people, *
the children of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, O God; the waters saw you and trembled; *
the very depths were shaken.
17 The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; *
your arrows flashed to and fro;
18 The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; *
the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, *
yet your footsteps were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock *
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 79 Deus, venerunt (NRSV)

1 O God, the heathen have come into your inheritance; they have profaned your holy temple; *
they have made Jerusalem a heap of rubble.
2 They have given the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the air, *
and the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the field.
3 They have shed their blood like water on every side of Jerusalem, *
and there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a reproach to our neighbors, *
an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
5 How long will you be angry, O LORD? *
will your fury blaze like fire for ever?
6 Pour out your wrath upon the heathen who have not known you *
and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your Name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob *
and made his dwelling a ruin.
8 Remember not our past sins; let your compassion be swift to meet us; *
for we have been brought very low.
9 Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name; *
deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name's sake.
10 Why should the heathen say, "Where is their God?" *
Let it be known among the heathen and in our sight that you avenge the shedding of your servants' blood.
11 Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, *
and by your great might spare those who are condemned to die.
12 May the revilings with which they reviled you, O Lord, *
return seven-fold into their bosoms.
13 For we are your people and the sheep of your pasture; *
we will give you thanks for ever and show forth your praise from age to age.

The Radicalized Church #thejesusthingtodo


The time has come for shouting and not holding back. The prophetic moment has arrived. The Word of God is laser focused on our day in history and upon us who profess to be the people of God. God is calling out a new radicalism (radix = root), rooted in His heartbeat for justice, mercy, and compassion. Those who would follow the prophetic, pastoral, praise/liturgical, and  priestly/gospel word to the church today will be considered a peculiar people.

The Word bears down upon the hearts of the religious, the practitioners of holy days and sacred fasts. It points to the hearts of men and women who are pious, devout, and diligent about sacerdotal duties. It pierces and it indicts.

It raises the question of what sort of fasting and religious exercise pleases God and what sort does not.

God is contemptuous of our religious activity if, while we practice it, we are contemptuous of the poor, the powerless, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, and the broken people of this world. If we practice or benefit from the practice of marginalizing groups of people or individuals, He is not impressed with our most heartfelt cries of devotion or sacrificial acts of self-denial.

God wants to see action and it looks a lot like justice, mercy, and compassion.

The fast He chooses and that which honors Him and pleases Him, is the kind that liberates people. It is the kind of fast that mobilizes His people to make a difference in the world.

He wants us to leave our houses of worship with a renewed commitment to stand with “the least of these,” and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He wants us to walk away from our transcended moments and enter into the pain and suffering of the world. He wants us to walk out of our assemblies to stand by those who stand alone or a targets for insult, persecution, bigotry, or any other form of injustice.

This will convince God that we have truly fasted and truly worshiped.

Here is the PROPHETIC word.

Isaiah 58:1-12
“Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

We need repairers of breaches and restorers of streets today.

Who is happy then? Who walks in great joy and fulfillment? It is the person who throws in his or her lot with the poor. The one who freely lends (a Hebrew euphemism for giving it away) is free. The one who is merciful and compassionate enjoys giddy pleasure here and eternal reward beyond this place. Light shines in the darkness for them. They irritate the wicked masses who grind their teeth in anger and malign them for their intentions and their deeds, but God honors them and they stand fast forever.

Here is the PRAISE/LITURGICAL word.

Psalm 112:1-10
1 Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord *
and have great delight in his commandments!
2 Their descendants will be mighty in the land; *
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches will be in their house, *
and their righteousness will last for ever.
4 Light shines in the darkness for the upright; *
the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.
5 It is good for them to be generous in lending *
and to manage their affairs with justice.
6 For they will never be shaken; *
the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.
7 They will not be afraid of any evil rumors; *
their heart is right; they put their trust in the Lord.
8 Their heart is established and will not shrink, *
until they see their desire upon their enemies.
9 They have given freely to the poor, *
and their righteousness stands fast for ever; they will hold up their head with honor.
10 The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away; *
the desires of the wicked will perish.

Happy people are people who have encountered the living God and it has radicalized their understanding of the world and revolutionized how they treat people.

How then, does one proclaim the mystery of God? How does one find the words or conceptual ideas to express that which is known only through a curtain of wonder?

If our words were loftier and our intellects keener, would we be able to wrap our minds around the vastness of God? Would clever speech assist us in expressing the inexpressible?

No. Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard. The heart has not absorbed it all. More is unknown that known. It is deep. It is wide. It is profound. It is mysterious.

Yet. It is simple and it is knowable in Christ, whose mind we have been given through the Spirit.

We are invited to enter into His presence, not to be made smarter or more intellectual in our understanding of God, but to experience God. We are not elevated by the same criteria as the powers of this age. Just as our wealth and privilege do not impress God, neither do our erudite ideas nor eloquent speech. In the same way that God honors the poor and those who honor the poor, He elevates those who humbly enter into His presence through the simplicity and nakedness of prayer with more question marks than exclamation marks.

The Mind of Christ!

Here is the PASTORAL word.

1 Corinthians 2:1-16
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Speaking of the Mind of Christ, He did speak His mind.  The words of Jesus are uncomfortable for us to hear. They challenge our assumptions and rock our views of the world.

He wants us salty and bright.

He does not lower standards for us as He interprets the law and its intent in light of His presence and Kingdom call. To the contrary, He raises the bar. He demands total allegiance and radical re-identification of His followers as citizens of a new governing authority.

Identification and orientation are turned inside out, and upside down, spun around, and resettled as something that resembles nothing the world has ever seen, a truly salty torch of light in a dark and flavorless world.

Jesus redefines life, religion, society, and everything else and takes us on the wildest right of our lives into the adventure of genuine discipleship. He invites us to dance and He leads.

It is life changing and world changing and it is the only reality, once we are in it, that makes any sense at all.

Here is the PRIESTLY/GOSPEL word.

Matthew 5:13-20
"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

So then, by grace and through faith, with a new commitment to give all, we embark today, on the next leg of our journey, knowing we shall fail again and again. But we also know that with each failure, we have a new opportunity to be renewed, forgiven, and recommissioned to God's kingdom mission. No one has this perfected but the One who leads us and invites us, but we can begin and then, begin again.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.


Controlled by Love #thejesusthingtodo

Love compelled

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." 2 Corinthians 5:14

It is a rather broad statement that Paul makes. Love controls us because of what Jesus did for all people. As a result, we see people differently. All forms of prejudice, bigotry, and bias are obsolete. No criteria by which we ever judged our neighbor is relevant. There are no categories of nationality, ethnicity, or even sin that can label or collectivize another person.

All have died.

That is the stance of love. It may not be fully realized in each person, but it is intended that, in God's eyes, all distinctions shall be vaporized and all faults shall be forgotten as dead.

Verse 15 goes on ...

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."

We live on, compelled by love, viewing each man and woman as objects of God's love and Christ's redemption, we start seeing our calling differently as well. Our mission is not self-service or exclusive self-interest. It is not loyalty to our cause or anything with which we identify. Our loyalty is to love God and love our neighbors.

We see people differently (Not like the creepy kid in the creepy movie that said, "I see dead people.") We see them as dead to the junk of the world and alive to the Creator and Redeemer of the world. Verse 16 continues the thought.

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer."

No one can be categorized, marginalized, or minimized. There are no illegal people. There are no marginal or expendable people. There are no "those people." We can't even find a human, worldly, earth-bound definition for Jesus. There are only people who are the objects of God's love ... and ours if we love God.

Loving God and neighbor tempers our words and judgments. It mutes some of our criticism, tempering our desire to lash out or condemn.

Everyone was made to be a new creation and that is the vision God has in His heart for every person - to become who and what they were created to be:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (v 17)

It is about newness, begotten in love, actualized in Christ. Old is gone, gone, gone. Newness has come.

Verse 17 says that God initiated this, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:"

Initiated and activated.

God does not sneer at us, frown at us, or make jokes about us at our expense. He pays and keeps paying and His heart is breaking over our brokenness and He is angry about every creepy thing that keeps us down and He shouts at us, "I love you!" And He shouts louder and louder and sometimes wants to shake us to our senses and that is His wrath against "againstness."

We have the ministry of reconciliation. That is our service. That is our calling. That is our mission. It is not the mission of judgment or indignation or offense. It is not the mission of asserting our rights and privileges or drawing a circle of protection around the people we perceive to be ours and excluding everyone else. It is about reconciling all people to God.

In the Greek the word "all" means ALL!

Verse 18 continues this climb to crescendo!

"that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

That is what the Christ event was all about: God doing the reconciling to Himself in Christ. But here is the challenge. He is not speaking through a megaphone in the clouds now. He is speaking through you and me and all that we do or say.

His message is "committed," entrusted to us. We represent Him and discredit Him if we, in His Name (and we can never shake that mantle) spend more time being negative or harsh or judgmental than we do loving and wooing and witnessing>

Sometimes we speak hard truth in love, but only in love.

Sometimes we stand, with the poor and oppressed, against powers and unjust systems, but we cannot do it without love, which controls us. For in every system, there are oppressed people who are not identified in God's heart as "them," but as among the dead for whom Jesus died who He desires to live in newness.

They are also downtrodden; they just don't realize it. Their power has enslaved them and we must love them too.

And verse 20 sums it all up, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."

Live as ambassadors of Christ, controlled by love. Live that way in your actions, your words, your attitudes, and even in your Facebook postings. You are an ambassador, under constant scrutiny by the world and under orders from the King ... who loves you very, very much ... and trusts you more than you can imagine.

Faith - Object, Practice, and Help


Is there a common thread in the first three scriptures of the daily office? First, there is the admonition against the seduction of a the false and addictive god of pleasure and lust. Then, there is the call to live a life of humble service in the Spirit. Finally, a boy tormented by a demon is brought to Jesus by frustrated disciples and a man of fragile, simple faith for deliverance. Perhaps they are all about faith and belief in some way. In Isaiah, we have a false and destructive object of faith. In Galatians, we have a faulty practice of faith. In Mark, we have a faith that needs an infusion of strength through prayer to the God who supplies our faith.

In the psalms that follow, we pray and celebrate.

Reflections on the Daily Office for February 4

The object of our faith matters. The character of God! We are still creating and worshiping our useless idols..

The false god, Molech delivered temporary pleasure to people in exchange for their souls. He sucked the life, the integrity, and the decency from all his subjects. They would indulge in his pleasures and then, be left languishing in misery, only to wake up and go for more. No matter how much the experience of Molech worship sapped the strength and vitality from its worshipers, they would must just enough energy to participate again and then, again. As their worlds fell apart around them, the God of truth and reality, Yahweh watched on. He is gracious and patient, but He is no enabler of destructive and addictive behavior. He waits for us to say, “It is useless.” He is not impressed with our religious overtures as long as our hearts are still serving the false gods of our own making, the gods of pleasure, materialism, lust, power, or whatever triggers the hormonal rushes in our brains. We are addicted to our own lies and bound for destruction, but God’s voice continues to whisper, “But whoever takes refuge in me shall possess the land and inherit my holy mountain.”

Isaiah 57:3-13 (NRSV)

“But as for you, come here, you children of a sorceress, you offspring of an adulterer and a whore. Whom are you mocking? Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not children of transgression, the offspring of deceit-- you that burn with lust among the oaks, under every green tree; you that slaughter your children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks? Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion; they, they, are your lot; to them you have poured out a drink offering, you have brought a grain offering. Shall I be appeased for these things? Upon a high and lofty mountain you have set your bed, and there you went up to offer sacrifice. Behind the door and the doorpost you have set up your symbol; for, in deserting me, you have uncovered your bed, you have gone up to it, you have made it wide; and you have made a bargain for yourself with them, you have loved their bed, you have gazed on their nakedness. You journeyed to Molech with oil, and multiplied your perfumes; you sent your envoys far away, and sent down even to Sheol. You grew weary from your many wanderings, but you did not say, "It is useless." You found your desire rekindled, and so you did not weaken. Whom did you dread and fear so that you lied, and did not remember me or give me a thought? Have I not kept silent and closed my eyes, and so you do not fear me? I will concede your righteousness and your works, but they will not help you. When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But whoever takes refuge in me shall possess the land and inherit my holy mountain.”

How we practice our faith matters.

We need people to live fully in the Spirit and we need the Spirit to live fully among people. Competition, envy, pride, harshness, laziness, and weary acquiescence in resignation to the current of negative thinking and living are sown seeds of destruction and loss. The life of the Spirit is that joyfully generous sowing of seeds for eternal benefit as we sow them into the lives of others. We need the world and all of its people and we need community of faith in order to have the soil for seed-sowing. We need people to challenge us, stretch us, and bestow us with opportunities to live a life of service in the Spirit. As we live this life in the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, we are refined and others are built up. It is the genius of God and the genesis of eternal bliss.

Galatians 5:25-6:10 (NRSV

If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

We need help with our faith.

"I believe; help my unbelief!"

Here is the key to the lesson Jesus is teaching His disciples when they asked why they could not help the man and his boy. After all, they believed and Jesus had said that all things were possible to those who believed.

But the man did more than just believe. He believed and prayed.

Jesus said that deliverance from the oppressing demon that tormented the boy required prayer. Some manuscripts include, “and fasting.”

Prayer requires belief, but in this case, belief is verified and amplified through prayer. After all, the man declares, in His prayer to Jesus, that he does indeed believe, but he doubts the power of his own, weak, feeble, capacity to believe. He is honest, but he is also desperate. His trust is like the one who believes enough to jump into the darkness even though he is still trembling with shades of uncertainty.

What took his belief beyond its own ability to believe was the declaration, “I believe,” followed by the prayer, “Help my unbelief.”

Mark 9:14-29 (NRSV)

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" Someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so." He answered them, "You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us." Jesus said to him, "If you are able!-- All things can be done for the one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!" After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "This kind can come out only through prayer."

Psalm 75 Confitebimur tibi

  We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, *
calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds.
  I will appoint a time, says God; *
I will judge with equity.
  Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking, *
I will make its pillars fast.
  I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more, ' *
and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns;
  Do not toss your horns so high, *
nor speak with a proud neck.'"
  For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west, *
nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains.
  It is God who judges; *
he puts down one and lifts up another.
  For in the LORD'S hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out, *
and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs.
  But I will rejoice for ever; *
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10   He shall break off all the horns of the wicked; *
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Psalm 76 Notus in Judæa

  In Judah is God known; *
his Name is great in Israel.
  At Salem is his tabernacle, *
and his dwelling is in Zion.
  There he broke the flashing arrows, *
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of battle.
  How glorious you are! *
more splendid than the everlasting mountains!
  The strong of heart have been despoiled; they sink into sleep; *
none of the warriors can lift a hand.
  At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, *
both horse and rider lie stunned.
  What terror you inspire! *
who can stand before you when you are angry?
  From heaven you pronounced judgment; *
the earth was afraid and was still;
  When God rose up to judgment *
and to save all the oppressed of the earth.
10   Truly, wrathful Edom will give you thanks, *
and the remnant of Hamath will keep your feasts.
11   Make a vow to the LORD your God and keep it; *
let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared.
12   He breaks the spirit of princes, *
and strikes terror in the kings of the earth.

Psalm 23 Dominus regit me

  The LORD is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
  He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
  He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
  Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
  Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 27 Dominus illuminatio

  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? *
the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
  When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh, *
it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.
  Though an army should encamp against me, *
yet my heart shall not be afraid;
  And though war should rise up against me, *
yet will I put my trust in him.
  One thing have I asked of the LORD; one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;
  To behold the fair beauty of the LORD *
and to seek him in his temple.
  For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling and set me high upon a rock.
  Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.
  Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
10   Hearken to my voice, O LORD, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.
11   You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face." *
Your face, LORD, will I seek.
12   Hide not your face from me, *
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.
13   You have been my helper; cast me not away; *
do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.
14   Though my father and my mother forsake me, *
the LORD will sustain me.
15   Show me your way, O LORD; *
lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.
16   Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries, *
for false witnesses have risen up against me, and also those who speak malice.
17   What if I had not believed that I should see the goodness of the LORD *
in the land of the living!
18   O tarry and await the LORD'S pleasure; be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; *
wait patiently for the LORD.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When Challenges Arise #theconfidencefactor


Perhaps there are other choices. But this is the only one that makes sense to me.

Call it adaptability.

Call it resilience.

Call it courage.

Call it pragmatism.

Call it faith (because it requires faith and hope and a lot of love).

Call creativity.

Call it whatever you like.

I call it living.


I actually created this quote while making my broth and attempting (Jury is out until taste test) to make some homemade strawberry juice, There are hundreds of possibilities for flavor without without viscosity. This is not to be confused with "flavor without substance" which might be a commentary on the current state of superficiality in the world today. 


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Awake #livingontiptoe

image from

I am awake.
What a delightful surprise,
A twist of events that I embrace.
I would say shocking, but that would mean a stopping.
It is a stirring.
I greet this morning with wonder and anticipation.
For those who wondered, I am well.
For those who assumed it was so, it is.
For those who gave it no thought ...
Why should you have?
To you, I smile and say, "Good morning."
It is, you know. It is a very good morning.
We do expect to wake up, after all and
We expect all around us to do so with few exceptions.
But sometimes, rare moments, we see it for the gift it is and,
More than a gift,
A calling.

"Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn." - Psalm 108:2, NIV


The Pain and Joy of a Meaningful Life for Others

image from

What is the meaning of it?
Why do I suffer?
Why do good people have so many problems?
Why do the wicked Prosper? (the psalmist question)
Why me?

Are they surface questions or pathways to the deeper question of "meaning in the midst?"

Does an atonement perspective with a redemptive, priestly, missional mindset re-frame the question itself to plumb the depths of possibilities?

To some extent, measured and meted for each,  pain is our common denominator: physical pain, emotional pain, relational pain, generational pain, and spiritual pain. It is our existential battleground where we are surrounded by fellow strugglers, but often so blinded by our inward focus that we do not see them.

We see them superficially, but we do not really see them ... not through their face and into their hearts.

Then, comes Jesus, a faithful high priest.

Hebrews 2:14-18
"Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested." (NRSV)
Through suffering and testing, Jesus became like us, His brothers and sisters. We are all like each other in that we suffer. He became like us in the same way. That suffering has been for us, a testing, luring us into slavery to the fear of death. In entering into our testing and conquering both death and the fear of death, He became the atoning and merciful high priest who helps us and liberates us from slavery. Suffering is powerful and redemptive. As we enter into His suffering and embrace our own, with His help, we are also, as a priestly people, able to help others. This is the deepest meaning of our pain, a life offered for others in Jesus' Name. 

Mother Teresa said,  “A life not lived for others is not a life.” 

Even Einstein knew this reality in observing that only a life lived for others is worthwhile. 

The atonement embraces our sin and suffering and overcomes them by sharing their sting. Then, it liberates us to be fully alive participants in the ministry of liberation.

But we must enter into our own pain, and then, into the pain of others. Until we see possibility of the attraction of this, we remain self-absorbed and sad slaves into a web of meaninglessness. 

The sacrificial life is the life of greatest pain and joy. It is the priestly life, where we follow Jesus into the realm of a common humanity with good news born out of the compassion of One who died for us that we might enter into the fullness of life.