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March 2017

How to Be Rigidly Flexible About Time


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Let me start by saying that I only have a few minutes to compose this entry.

The fact that I have any time flexibility at all is because I was rather rigid about planning my day today. Having said that, i have already made several revisions in the schedule - lowering expectations in some areas and increasing them in others, moving arbitrary deadlines and getting ahead on a few projects.

So, here I am with about 5 or 10 minutes to blog.

The title is a bit deceptive because I cannot really tell you how to do this. Having a time management program like Outlook fully operational is helpful. Making attempts in the direction of realism is a plus. Commitment is necessary. Margins are indispensable. Grace is crucial.

Having things to do during the gaps is a useful tool - especially small jobs. Otherwise we slip into a pattern of time-consuming thumb-twiddling - which can be both tiring and frustrating.

Well, here are a couple of list items which are not meant to be exhaustive.

1) No matter if it does seem to be a waste of time, take time, and plenty of it to really think about your week and your day and what you really want to accomplish and plan it analytically, realistically, and rigidly, knowing that you will have to be flexible in order to cope with the unexpected.

2) Plan margins. That means you do not back up appointments on top of each other without allowing a little room between them.
3) Plan projects that can fit into those margins.

4) Plan breaks and do not negotiate these away. If you are like me, plan changes of focus regularly.

5) Raise your expectations of yourself in some areas and lower them in others.

6) Use that infuriating alarm bell in MS Outlook or on your smart phone. For instance, mine just went off telling me it is time to pack up and go - which I am going to do - even though I am not done.

I said this would not be exhaustive or plenary in nature - just some passing observations.



The Long Way Around

Dr Who the Long Way

In a climactic episode of Dr. Who, the Doctor travels, quite literally and metaphorically to the end of the universe in a quest to find and revive his sweet friend, Clara whom he has lost to curse of death. When he arrives at the dying place where all things are dying, he meets a little boy and he tells him to go to the city, find someone important, and tell them he has arrived and that he has come the long way.

The great "time-lord," time traveler, "fixer," doctor, and, sometimes, Christ-figure, who can leap through time is his own unique way, could only save Clara one way --- he had to travel through the eons the long way and the hard way.

That was the most powerful and spiritual Dr. Who I have ever seen and it will stay with me for a long time.

Lent is about God doing things the hard way and taking the long way to redeem.

It trickles down to us to invite us to eliminate the shortcuts in our lives and we seek to be redemptive and reconciling forces in the world.

Some journeys cannot be taken the short way.


Brilliant Simplicity

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Forest Gump was thought by most to be a man of limited intelligence. When his drill sergeant in basic training declares him a genius, it is a moment of irony in the film. For the sergeant, it was obvious that he was a man of superior military intelligence because he was able to adapt to a system and follow simple instructions.

Why did you do that so well and so quickly?

His response was, “Because you told me to…”

Sometimes we call it "dumb simple."

To over complicate things is not brilliance. To simplify the complex is.

Chance the gardener in "Being There" with Peter Sellers becomes Chauncy Gardner by saying little and looking interested.  He is sought out for advice and even considered for high office even though he cannot write his own name.

Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue .”

It is not that we need to be uninformed, naive, simple minded, and dull of thought, but we must humble ourselves to realize that our ingenuity may not be required for the some of our challenging tasks as much as our perseverance, faith, hard work, and ability to take a system and not make it something that only we can do because we are so infatuated with our own creativity.

In business, marketing, ministry, community benefit organizations, and any form of organizational development, real brilliance is in duplication. We rely on our skills at transferring skills in such a way as to enable the person to whom we are transferring them to transfer them to others.

If you can't duplicate it, you must service it forever - yourself.

We are in the business of building and releasing people who will build and release people. There is a place for your creativity and unique brilliance, but there is also a place for utter simplicity that can be passed on through generations of down-line and bring hope to the Forest Gumps of the world ... who I think truly was brilliant.

In and Out of Control

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It is "I Am In Control Day" commemorating the "mis-speak" by then Secretary of State Alexander Haig on March 30, 981 after the attempt on President Reagan's life.

We  we can control some things and manage others, while there are still others we can only observe and about which we can pray, muse, meditate, and adjust our attitudes.

It is up to us to assess and respond accordingly.

  1. What do you "control" today?
    2. Over what have you no control?
    3. What can you do about either?
    4. What will you do about either?
    5. How will that affect/effect your day?
    6. What steps can you take to develop better management in your life?
    7. How does that make you feel?

More of National "I am in Control Day."







Dad hug

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15)

Little Sarah was only three years old. All day long, she had been home doing what little girls do. But as the sun began to go down and the smell of hot rolls filled the house, he tiny heart began to sing with anticipation. She knew that evening meant one thing. He daddy would soon walk through the door. The love of her life would come home from a hard day at work and she would run to meet him, jump in his arms, and be embraced with joy and love.

"Daddy, I missed you," she would exclaim. "You’re finally home! I'm so glad you are here."

At that, her father's heart would melt.

The Spirit of God invites us to pray as Jesus prayed, Abba, or Daddy. We are drawn into a relationship of warmth, acceptance, and love with our Heavenly Father. Those of us who have enjoyed such relationships with our earthly fathers have a glimpse of what our relationship with God can be. Those of us who have not had such relationships can take comfort in the knowledge of His absolute love and unbridled joy when we call out to Him and jump into His arms.

Thank God for those dads who provide such glimpses of grace.



We Are Dust

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We are dust.

Our frame barely holds together.

We are flaky and falling apart on our good days.

No surprises to God.

He knows our frame and dustiness.

He looks down and says, "I can use that one."

"I can shape him."

"I can pull her together."

"That one is perfect for what I want to do."

"I'll take him; I'll take her."

Hands form us. Breath enlivens us.

We become. Bless the Lord, oh my soul.

"For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14 ESV)




Fearless Fear


Fearless fear
We do not live by fear. But the complete absence of fear from our repertoire of emotions or the backdrop of our lives is foolishness. Those who respect, revere, and fear nothing are fools and understand nothing of the awesome power of what is beyond them cosmically as well as spiritually. The utterly fearless will not check their parachutes before jumping; they will move recklessly through life. Those who are overcome with fear will, on the other hand, be paralyzed. So ... where does the balance lie?

The fear that casts out all fear and enables us to live by faith is the beginning of wisdom - NOT the END of wisdom.

It is a starting place where we come to understand that we are not in control of everything ....

But ....

Since it is the fear OF THE LORD, we know that "the mighty reckless fury that we call the love of God (Rich Mullins)" is also the gracious, loving, and benevolent Creator who cherishes us and will stop at nothing to woo us to the place of safety in Him.

That is where wisdom begins.

" The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!"

(Psalm 111:10 ESV)



Make It Count


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Man is like a breath. Every breath counts, but no one breath lasts forever. Though our last breath may be short and shallow, labored or easy, or long and deep, it shall be our last. We are not here forever. Let us regard the days as passing that we may fine-tune each moment as precious and opportune.

"Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow." - Psalm 144:4, ESV



Digging Deeper in an Emergency


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What is emerging from this frenzied emergency?

Is it focused action built upon predetermined objectives, rooted in enduring principles? Or is it reactive and mindless flailing after perceived winds of crisis?

Is it urgent? If so, what is the source of the urge? Is it essential? Then of what is it the essence?

Things are not always as locked in as they seem. This is the soil in which I will prayerfully dig at the crest of a new day. Perhaps I will hit bedrock and build my day on that. Perhaps I will still be digging at midnight. If so, there will be hope for a fruitful tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm going for today.

God is with us as we think and that awareness lays the foundation of prayer. It is bringing God into our thoughts, though He is never far off, and thinking in concert and conversation with God. Prayer focuses us and directs us as God grounds us.

With enough prayer, we can know our urges, sort them, trust them, and be guided by them without allowing them to rule us.

With enough prayer, essentials will be discerned more clearly based upon the essence of what and who we are in relationship with Him who is eternal in nature and purpose.

With enough prayer, something enduring and purposeful will emerge from each emergency in profound contrast to the knee jerk reactive thinking of our precarious times.

With enough prayer, we will waste less time and accomplish more than we thought we could.

So, while there are no guarantees of immediate results, I am going to dig a bit in prayer, assured that the emergency is just part of the process of something being born through me and may not be what it seems on the surface.


D = Dig for DEFINITION. If we can't name it, we can't claim it. If we can't wrap our minds around it, we need to keep seeking. Definitions must be held loosely in our hands and minds, but even a tentative definition of our issues can focus our attention on positive outcomes. It can also help us sort through the fluff that tends to dominate and waste less time, energy, and resources on lesser goals.

I = Dig for INSIGHT. Just as there may be far more dark matter in the universe than known and observable matter, there is far more that we are yet to know than we now know and far more that we will never know in this life than is possible to grasp. However, a glimmer of insight into ourselves, our times, other people, and the meaning of our circumstances through the knowledge of the Holy Other can catapult us to far better decisions today than the ones we made yesterday.

G = Dig for GRATITUDE. When prompted by crisis to act and act now, focus often diverts to self-interest and survival. We might be very successful at survival while utterly failing at the purpose of our survival. We have lived another day without really living at all. We have added nothing to our world. Real accomplishment is rooted in gratitude for what has been given. Gratitude is the human response to divine grace. It receives, gives, and gives thanks. It loosens our belts without letting our slacks fall to our socks. It relaxes us while it energizes us. The attitude of gratitude seasons our legitimate and holy discontent with enough flavor to make our work palatable and productive. If I am having difficulty being grateful at the beginning of this day, I just need to dig a little deeper.

So that is what I. have been given this day to direct my day.



Picture Credit: “DIG IT!” by Paul Irish is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Springing of Spring

Spring Sprung

The last drizzles of winter,
Barely detected
Easily deflected
We have rejected the splinter
And welcomed the plank
Take it to the bank
Though weary hearts sank
Let spring now enter
Our sphere of existence
Half-hearted resistance
Dogged persistence
The stride of a sprinter
Seasons always change
Emotions run the range
And we rearrange our thinking and our habits
For every new, yet patterned reality.
It is going to be a great day earthside
Brace yourself for a grand rotation



Keep On


Keep on
The key to not throwing in the towel and quitting on your dream may be as simple as one simple action following a decisive choice.

Decide to do something and then, do something.

In so doing, you will have taken a step. You will have closed the gap between inaction and action and you will have stayed in the ball game for one more inning.

You are staying alive. Sometimes staying alive to fight another day is enough. It's called, "hanging on."

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. " Franklin D. Roosevelt


The opposite of keeping on is not so much turning off as it is neglect. Keeping On suggests vigilance and attention. "On" is certainly across the chart from "off", but the pathway to off is inattention. It is not taking the next step of vigilance.


Pace yourself, relax, give yourself a break, but do something for your business or ministry today. Do it consciously and give yourself credit for it. You may fail. When you do, keep this in mind:

"When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time.""
- Author Unknown

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (New International Version)

The pathway of perseverance may not always be dramatic action or massive results, but it will always involve a choice and a response. On that pathway, there is hope. Where there is hope there is joy. Where there is joy, there is energy.  God is the source, but if we are not open to trusting, we will dam the source of our power. The keep on we must move forward.


K - Kinesthetic  - The Free Dictionary defines this as The sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints. Applied to learning of behaviors it is about doing a behavior until it becomes a part of our lives. Some people call this habit formation. Keeping on involves developing behavioral patterns that become a natural part of our lives.  Trusting is often manifested in touching. Touch your dream; touch the project; touch the challenge. Keep your hands on what you are keeping on.


Touch it with your TIME - Spend time thinking of the desired outcomes. When you are tired from the task, take time to think about why you are doing what you are doing.

Touch it with your OPTIMISM -  Peak to yourself and others with wholesome, uplifting, and optimistic words and ideas. Ephesians 4:29 (New International Version) reminds us:
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful  for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Touch it with your UNDERSTANDING - Be a student of your mission, dream, and vision. Study it with a passion to learn and grasp the reality in your mind. Get details and concepts. Mull them over and over. Become an expert on your own life mission.

Touch it in COMMUNITY - Stand alone and fall. Stand with others and you keep standing. One of the easiest ways to fall into discouragement and loss of vision is to disassociate ourselves from positive people who build us up. Hang around some people who are on the road to making it and some who have almost . Associate with people who can serve as role models so you can see the fruit on the tree. Talk and listen to people who consistently say, "I can" and keep those who "can't" in the periphery of your circle of influence or outside it altogether. This is one of the inherent geniuses of network marketing and of the church.

Touch it with HOPE - Never lose hope. Always keep hope alive. This is the Spirit's function in your life.

E - Enthusiasm - Literally, from the Latin, enthusiasm mean having God within us. You must remain enthusiastic and nurture the spark of life and passion within you even when you are emotionally and physically drained. That requires connecting to God’s power at the very depth of your being, His Spirit within you. It takes faith and lots of it.

Paul's prayer for the Romans was based upon the reality of their relationship with God and he trusts that God is in them through the Holy Spirit and that God has the capacity to fill them with these qualities.

The person who experience real enthusiasm would be advised to make the dreams and goals of his or her life matters of intense and satisfying prayer - not only when thinking about the outcomes, but when strength is needed for the daily grind.

God is present and God will help and renew your enthusiasm

E - Elevate - There is much to elevate. Elevate your feet a bit for one thing; take a load off and relax.  You must also elevate your mission in your own thinking. Elevate the importance of what you are doing in your own thinking.

Dale Carnegie said, “Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs.  Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger.  If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. "

And never feel ashamed of who YOU are. You are a person of significance. Never let anyone make you feel small because of your dreams or life mission :

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

P - Persevere - Press on with consistency and commitment. It is all in the PRESS.

Press on with the POWER of God. Apart from that power, we do not have the strength to press anything. Press without stress.

Press on with RESOLVE - Sing with the old spiritual, "A'int nobody gonna turn me 'round." Press or regress.

Press on with ENERGY - Energy is a strange thing. If you don't use it, you don't conserve it. You lose it. If you're not pressed, you'll get depressed.

Press on with SINCERITY - Have a sincere and purposeful focus at all times. We will scatter without sincere and pure goals. Press or digress.

Press with SUCCESS - The real success is in the journey. Press toward success.

President Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."


O - Orientation -  The scriptures point us to a righteous life. Righteousness is about right relationships, especially about being rightly related to God and about moving in the right direction. Check your compass spiritually and in every other dimension of life and makes sure that your movement is oriented toward your goal. You are on a path. You are not at your destination. Don't judge yourself by where you are, but by progress and vision. Orient yourself in the direction of God's best for your life and keep on keeping on - even if today's step is a baby step.

Ella Fitzgerald said, "It isn't where you came from, its where you're going that counts."

N - NEVER - Never quit. Create momentum in your life by simply not quitting. Make that a decision and even if you can’t do much, do something. Perfectionism is not your friend. It will whisper in your ear that because you are not the best yet, there is no point. Don’t listen. Listen instead to Sir Winston Churchill:

Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.

There will be some setbacks and step backs. There will be some mistakes and failures. Never mind them.

You were made for a purpose. Keep on keeping on.



Days as Grass


“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” – Psalm 103:15

For our season, whatever it may be, we flourish. Then comes the wind and we are gone. Soon, the very memory of our lives fades from the consciousness of our successors and we are thought of no more.

Such a thought might be deemed depressing were it the whole story.

The rest of the story teaches us that from everlasting to everlasting, God’s love is a constant toward us. His covenant people are never forgotten.

It goes on to tell us that God’s throne is never abandoned and that He rules over all.

He it is, according to Psalm 103, who forgives all our sin.

It is He who heals our diseases. Not one of them disappears apart from His wise intervention or creative genius.

He redeems our lives, crowns us love and compassion, satisfies, renews, and administers justice.

How comfortable it would be for us to remain as a grassy flowering meadow, but that is not the way of life. We come and go. Soon we will fade.

Our privilege and responsibility is to bloom in every place we are planted for as long as it is springtime in our lives. It is to be as inwardly beautiful for God as we can be for as many days as we can and to move through the seasons of life with grace and trust.

We may not always be green, but we shall always be loved.


Grace to You Today


Grace to you
Grace to you this day.

Free flowing, fresh, thirst quenching, life altering, mind bending, countenance lifting, laughter evoking, heart wrenching, heart mending, sweet, precious grace to you.

Grace to you that is greater than sin, disappointment, and fear.

Grace to you that is so flavored with giddy God joy that no bitter words can shatter its confidence and all swords of disparagement pass through it like knives through Jello.

Grace, grace, grace to you.

Grace to you that lifts you and challenges you.

May grace that cannot be contained in you, be in you and flow through you to others today.

If you do not believe as I do, that grace can come in a person and dwell within you, may grace still surround you and may people of grace be gracious unto you. sing grace; dance grace; live grace.

Grace to you.

Singing Complaints to God, Surrounded by Critics


Some songs to God are full of complaints, pleas, and desperate cries resolving themselves in faith.

That is especially true when the psalmist is weighed down by the burden of assaults by his critics.

The temptation is not to sing those songs because they are not holy enough, not pious enough, rough, raw, guttural, and bleeding from the soul.

Yet the example of wisdom literature scripture is to let it out and let it resolve itself in the singing and praying of it.

God can deal with our detractors.

God can also deal with our attitudes toward our detractors.

It is not our battle - at least it is not ours alone - not ours primarily.

The haughty critics may have you by the throat, but God is about to turn the tables.

" I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, “Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it!”
(Psalm 35:18-21 ESV)

Charting Greatness

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Volumes have been written on greatness. There is not shortage of quotes, quips, and clever levers. When challenged to chart, assess, and assign the quality of greatness, Jesus said that the one who would be greatest among the disciples would be the one who became servant of all (Matthew 23:11).

The quotes that follow do not contradict that one overarching truth. In fact, they expound upon it. They are to be seen against the backdrop of servant leadership

Since I often use acronyms as memory devices, I will try my hand, heart, and head at this one:

G - Greatness begins with GOODNESS. God is good. God creates and emanates goodness. Without goodness, there is no greatness.

R - RESPECT precedes and follows greatness. The person who understands his or her own potential as a leader and exercises it has an extraordinary respect for the people he or she leads/serves. The servant heart beats with reverential respect for people made in the image of God and that includes self-respect.

E - EAGERNESS to EXTEND oneself in selfless service is a mark of greatness. The great man or woman takes the initiative to do and be more and to reach out to others. The great person does not wait for an invitation to act.

A - AFFECTION is active in the life of a great person. He or she knows and experiences the full range of human emotions, vulnerabilities, joys, and sorrows. The great person loves deeply, laughs heartily,  weeps freely, and is never deficient in the area of affect. As the Servant-Model, Jesus exhibited what is is to be fully human, so every great man or woman is authentic in his or her humanity.

T - TENDERNESS marks greatness, for the great person is never a bully. The great man or woman leads by example, service, and love.

N -  It is NATURAL, nothing phony or pretentious. The great person comes to greatness NATURALLY. It is not contrived or strained. It flows from essential nature infused with the love, grace, and power of God.

E - EFFORT is required in every area of character development and every human endeavor.  A dream without effort is a fantasy.

S - SERVICE, though stated in several ways, is the true mark of greatness. Examine the lives of those whose legacies endure, and you will find this thread.

S - SACRIFICE is always a component of true greatness. Time, convenience, money, and sometimes even life itself is sacrificed on the path to greatness.

Finally, Jesus said that a great citizen-servant in His Kingdom, would look a lot like a child.

When did you ever see a little child who was not eager to help and serve?

Now, let us see what others say.

"No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men."  - Thomas Carlyle

"I can't believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary." -  Lou Holtz

"Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Recipe for greatness — To bear up under loss, to fight the bitterness of defeat and the weakness of grief, to be victor over anger, to smile when tears are close, to resist evil men and base instincts, to hate hate and to love love, to go on when it would seem good to die, to seek ever after the glory and the dream, to look up with unquenchable faith in something evermore about to be, that is what any man can do, and so be great." - Zane

"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

" . . . I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow." - Abraham Lincoln

"If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both." - Horace Mann

"The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. "  - Mencius

"Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinarily well."  - Henry David Thoreau

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."  - Winston Churchill

"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." -  Hyman Rickover

"Great crises produce great men and great deeds of courage."  - John F. Kennedy

"He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lives a great street-sweeper who did his job well'" -  Martin Luther King Jr.


Hard Time Teachers

Hard time teachers

There is a stinging indictment here that I, and thousands of preachers can do well to heed today. Jeremiah conveys a sobering issue. Prophets who declare their own dreams and interpretations infallible and speak words of false assurance that do no profit the people. Those who speak to us and say that suffering is bad on the surface and that we can be completely rid of it if we speak the right words or have the right faith, may be short-circuiting the faith process in someone's life.

Those who tell us that no matter what we think, do, or speak, everything will be OK, and are not talking about ultimate, but temporal outcomes, are setting people up for disaster.

Those who assure us that our choices do not matter because there are no consequences, are not being loving in their declarations.

What we do matters.

The choices we make take us down paths that lead somewhere. Grace enters in. Mercy is ever-present, but laws of sowing and reaping are built into the very fabric of the universe to teach us how to live.

Syllogisms such as, "if A=B and B=C, then A=C" are divine principles that can only be defied by divine intervention and such intervention is most generally, not in our long-term best interest.

Anyone can make up anything. It can be made up in our subconscious and believed in our consciousness. Then, when communicated with "authority," it is believed by others.

The prophetic role is a dangerous role, not just for the prophet, but for the listener.

Vain hopes are harmful and unnecessary in the light of the solid hope we already have. We might have tough times ahead, but we will ultimately make it. Just don't despise the hard times or dismiss them as non-existent. They are also our teachers.

" Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”"

"For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD
to see and to hear his word,
or who has paid attention to his word and listened?
Behold, the storm of the LORD!
Wrath has gone forth,
a whirling tempest;
it will burst upon the head of the wicked.
The anger of the LORD will not turn back
until he has executed and accomplished
the intents of his heart.
In the latter days you will understand it clearly."

"“I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their deeds."

"“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the LORD. Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the LORD.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD."

(Jeremiah 23:16-32 ESV)

Retirement from What?

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We are here today, standing on a rolling ball, trying to maintain our balance yet balanced by an unseen hand.
We are suspended between the ground beneath and the sky above and somehow unimpressed.
We are ever bumping into one another and looking the other way with muttered apologies for living.
We see through and around and over and under with the illusion of our own invisibility.
We are witnesses to what we are and what we know and who we know and choose to live in anonymity.

And we live on, day after day, moment after moment in the drudgery of routine and the ritual of sameness moving steadily toward some undefined goal we call "retirement."

Retirement from what?
Indeed we are tired, but not from engagement, not from work.
Work never wearied a soul engaged in purposeful pursuit.
Work invigorates, regenerates, and illuminates our lives for what they are and are to be ...

We ...
We are called, chosen, and unfrozen to be instruments of peace,
God's peace, to sow seeds of love, kindness, joy, and healing.

And if we ever get caught up with that, we can talk about retirement.

So get up, get connected, feed your face, wash your teeth, and move out.

Good morning folks!



Passion on a Shoestring


Living and working on a shoestring, we are often drawn into a mood of want, breathing the air of scarcity, and singing the song of a beggar.

Developing big dreams on a shoestring requires an elevated level of commitment. When you are short on resources, you must draw on something else, something deep and limitless.

Passion is that indispensable quality. It is at the at the root of our energy for ministry. It is that God-given drive that enthuses us with clarity of vision and depth of conviction. Without passion, we whither. With a vibrant passion we can overcome obstacles and rise above our moods.

The linguistic source of passion is pain.  As compassion is the ability to suffer with another person, passion itself is that profound discomfort with things as they are that propels us toward the exhilaration of changing them.  Passion reminds us of our essential purpose and drives us forward. Some characteristics of passionate people are:

P—Positive Priorities—Instead of avoidance behavior, people with passion move toward their commitments aligning themselves with those activities that support the causes for which they are passionate.

A—Active Attitude Adjustments –Passionate people are constantly adjusting their own attitudes and actively tuning their minds in the direction of their goals and objectives.

S—Sincerity— There is no faking real passion. It bubbles up from within and is nurtured by our committed actions.

S – Simplicity—Passionate people can explain their mission to you in a few short sentences. Since it is clear to them, they can make it clear for you.

I—Inspiration—People with true God-given passion for ministry know the reality of God breathing His purpose through His Spirit into their lives. The calling is His and they are driven by that knowledge.

O—Open “Outwardness”— Not necessarily extroverts, passionate people love to talk about their mission and cause. It splashed out of their lives and is contagious.

N—Non-Negotiable— People with passion are not easily deterred from a mission. It becomes one of the non-negotiable values of their lives.

At some point, we join Alfred E. Newman in declaring, "What? Me worry?" We do it for different reasons but by following the same logic trail, ours on the premises of truth. The answer is that nothing can be done to us by man that can destroy us."

" The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me."
(Psalm 118:6-7 ESV)



Today and Always

Today and always

May your God-given dreams envelope you in a sea of wonder. May your goals be ever before you to get you up and get you going.

May you celebrate your successes and embrace your failures as cobblestones on the road to success.

May the joy of this season of hope lift you to higher planes of grace and deeper levels of commitment.

May your view be always fixed ahead and above while you live with awe in the present and in peace with the past.

May the One who gives life and health guide you over the storms of this present sea of danger and opportunity steadily into the port of purpose.

May each day of your life be filled with glorious manifestations of infinite possibilities.

May your home be a reservoir of love overflowing into the streets of your city. May your life be a lighthouse of hope and integrity.

May your words be well chosen food for the souls of many

May your thoughts be seeds of greatness for yourself and others.

You have it in you and I am honored to be called your friend - whether near or far, whether well-known or new.

Keep up the good work. You are making a difference in this world and the world to come.


Life Academy


You are special
We dream; we grow;
We move; we flow;
We laugh; we glow.
While here below,
We live in anticipation
Of pomp and circumstance
And graduation.
We are matriculated in the school of life
Articulated by toil and tears and strife.
We are students of all that passes
Work and play, day by day, our classes.
We are classmates with our fellow creatures.
These also are our students and our teachers.
And this is our assignment:
Absolute and total realignment.
And someday through the pain and stress of it.
We will celebrate the gain and success of it.
We dream; we grow and
by God's grace we move and flow
And laugh and glow
While here below,
We live.

Live well.
Live Long.
Prosper and overcome.
Be all that you can be.

You are more special than you know and it is an honor to be considered among your friends.

-          Tom Sims

Dying to Deadsville - a Morning Prayer

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"It is in dying that we are born to eternal life." - Prayer of St. Francis

So, let me die today and die daily.
There is nothing in my instincts to pray such a prayer.
But then, there is nothing in my instinctual drive to cling ...
... to extinct-ual or
... extinguishable
"living" that
lives beyond the moment.
I pray to resist that drive, that urge, that urgency to
survive that
extinguishes life.
Some day, that will mean laying down my body, but,
today it means ...
laying down this body of sin,
of self,
of sensual necessity that says,
"I am thee," but
is not me.
Nor is it Thee in me, Oh God who knows
and gives
and lives
in and through
all who die this way.
I prayed, "Kill me," and
Thou didst not...
and would not.
You said, "Just die and live," and
I tried it and I did and there You were!
You handed me a cross and said,
"Go carry it."
And I asked, "What is it?"
And You said,
"It is the pain and suffering and pain and disgust,
and ugliness, and bad choices, and bitter gall,
and nasty words, thoughts, and accusations,
and hateful hurts of those You will meet today."
And I said, "Why should I?"
And You said, "Because I did and do and you said that
You wanted to follow me and this is what we carry."
And I said, "The burden is too heavy."
And You said, "I know."
And I asked, "So?"
And You said, "Go ... I am with you."
And so ...
I did ... at least that day and then I asked,
"What do I do with them?"
And You said, "Bring them to me,"
and I replied, "But You already have all of these,"
and You said, "Mind Your own business, I've got it handled."
I said. "OK, You are the Master,"
and You smiled and said, "I know."
Master, this really feels and lot like living and You said,
"I know. I told you so. What you though was living,
was not.
It distorts your view because the lens is sprinkled with mirrors
always pointing back at you and
seeing life and events and people from
ego and self-interest and it is not in your
self-interest to be
that interested in yourself.
Die to Deadsville and live!"
In so many words :)
And so, Lord, I die today,
I nail Deadsville and my citizenship there with all my credentials and investments to
Your cross.
Thanks for my cross. It fits me.
I sort of like it.
I know I love this new life You have given me and
I really love these people You keep bringing into my life.
Help me to bear their burdens until I can get them to You and
Thank You for bearing them and mine.
I am starting to get it ...
It is in dying that we are born
To eternal life.
I look forward to seeing You face to face some day,
When I have laid down this body of flesh and this cross.
Thanks for the invitation and for paying the admission price.
Thank You, my Jesus,
My Lord, my Savior, my Friend, and My Brother,

On Judgment and Judging Not - Not Even Our Judges


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Judge - The defendant will rise.
Defendant - Yes sir, Your Honor.
Judge - This court finds you not-guilty of the charge of Grand Larceny.
Defendant - Thank you, Your Honor. Does that mean I can keep the watch?

Beloved, you do not ultimately answer to me for who you are. I am not your judge.

I was reflecting on judgment and our tendency to be judgmental from the Psalms about two years ago, and I posted what follows.

(I said that then, I say it now – No one who reads this need to answer to me.)

I am not your judge and if I try to be, I stand the chance of being wrong. I cannot even judge my judges. I cannot know your motives. I cannot know theirs.

We have all been victims of unfair judgment and we have all dished it out.

If you ask me about you, you are giving me more information and seeking my accountability. We need to be accountable. It is healthy. I will prayerfully and tentatively give you a reflection of what I see.

When I must comment of social behaviors, trends, evils, and corporate sin, I surely will, but I know little of the heart state of the individual sinner. I am not gifted with that sort of prophetic gift.

Are we speaking truth to power or just about power?

To "know them by their fruits" does not give me license to go beyond necessity in this task. Even church discipline is highly regulated by scripture. If I am indignant about someone's exercise of power over the powerless in the public square, I must leave open the possibility that I do not know everything about it.

With that in mind, David tells us what it feels like to be the brunt of unfair criticism,

"More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?"
(Psalm 69:4 ESV)

The higher your profile, the more likely it is to happen.

But here is the deal: If you are being criticized unfairly, that is bad, but there is probably something for which criticism is due .... by God.

" O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you."
(Psalm 69:5 ESV)

The psalmist is transparent before God and willing for God to scrutinize his heart.

He is a leader, but he knows he must be led.

He has already prayed:

"Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God."
(Psalm 69:1-3 ESV)

This is personal and he pours it out before God. The song is one any can sing.

This man in leadership knows that in high profile leadership, we can lose friends and family, disappoint followers, discourage others, and dishonor God.

" Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord GOD of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother's sons."
(Psalm 69:6-8 ESV)

He does not want that to happen, so he prays against his mortal enemies in subsequent verses. He is praying for protection and vindication.

He knows his own motives and they seem right to him. Yet, he is unfairly maligned for doing what he thinks is right.

" For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
it became my reproach.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me."
(Psalm 69:9-12 ESV)

He is skewered on late night TV, lampooned in comedy and raked over the coals by both Fox and CNN.

He prays.

He knows that he cannot vindicate himself in the eyes of his detractors. He knows that he cannot make them ashamed of their behavior. Only God can put them down and lift him up.

But he also knows that God can help and he is in the position of having to deal with the only wise judge who is also our advocate.



The God of Unhurried Haste

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I was looking back over some notes I made on the scriptures for this day several years ago. I was in a bit of a hurry. It is one of the things I deal with.

Sometimes I am inclined to hurry God.

Seldom have I prayed, "No hurry God - no need to rush."

I am more like the Psalmist who asks God to be in a hurry.

"Make haste!"

I have often prayed, "Hurry up, God?"

How do I hurry a God who is in no hurry, who has time absolutely under control?

"I am poor and needy," I join him in that saying, and it is true. He knows that.

"In you, I take refuge."

That's really all the refuge I ultimately need. This is not to discount the need of community, but if all else fails, He will not.

Then, I flipped to the story of Joseph and his brothers were having their own, hurried, "come to Jesus meeting." I will leave that one for you.

Paul chimes in and reminds us that "hot stuff" that we think we are, we've been bought with a price.

So, how could we think that God would forsake us? He would not even discard the treacherous brothers of Joseph. It took over a generation for them to find the opportunity to repent.

Jesus teaches us in Mark that everything big was once small, The Kingdom of God, at its essence, within us and within the world, can be as tiny as a mustard seed. That which begins small, has great potential.

God's in no hurry, but He will make haste to deliver us ... only to teach us to trustfully wait for the accomplishment of His purposes.

Psalm 70,71, 74
Genesis 42:29-38
1 Corinthians 6:12-30
Mark 4:21-34

Entering the Mystery

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Prayer is a deep spiritual mystery. Mutual communication with God is going on far beneath the surface of our lives. Not only do we often not know what to pray, we often know not what we are praying. This is not said that we might disengage our minds, but that, with engagement, we might also release our spirits to commune with the Holy Spirit who knows, overcomes, and even uses our weaknesses in prayer even as He does in our outward lives.

" Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

(Romans 8:26-27 ESV)

Don’t Give Up Today

Do not quit today
At this very moment, out of the thousands receiving this post, someone is considering quitting.

It is not their job that they are tempted to walk out on, or necessarily their marriage, or anything that anyone will immediately notice. It is something far more important ... their dreams.

Someone is about to give up on their dreams and it will show gradually and in very subtle ways.

They are discouraged and hopeless and the rewards just are not coming from their efforts.

I have one word for you, dear friend, and it is not necessarily brilliant. There will be tomorrow. You will have countless opportunities to quit. Quitting will always be an option for you unless and until you come to the place of deciding that it is not.

Here is the word: WAIT.

I am just saying, wait. Don't quit today. Give it another day and get back with me. You have no idea what inspiration, burst of energy, word of encouragement, seed of an idea, or a Word from God is right around the corner for you.

You just don't know. You still have some strength; use it to get through the day. You still have some faith; apply it. You still have time; you don't have to quit today.

Down time is OK. In fact, it is sometimes necessary. Down time is waiting time - time to "not quit."

There is always tomorrow to throw away your hopes, dreams, ideas, and the investments you have already made. You don't have to quit today.

I know you can do that. While you are waiting to regain your belief in yourself, use a little of mine because I believe in you.

You can …

“We can do anything we want if we stick to it long enough.” Helen Keller

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” - Walt Disney

“Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin now!” - Goethe

“Humanity cannot forget its dreamers. It cannot let their ideas fade and die. It lives in them. It knows them as the realities which it shall one day see and know. Composers, sculptors, painters, poets, prophets and sages these are the makers of tomorrow. These are the architects of heaven.” - John Donne

“Commit yourself to a dream. Nobody who tries to do something great but fails is a total failure. Why? Because he can always rest assured that he succeeded in life's most important battle; he defeated his fear of trying.” - Dr. Robert Schuller

You Have Today!

You have today to do, to be, to experience, and to share whatever it is that burns within you heart to do, be, experience, and share.

You have today, and while it may not be enough for you, it is what you have for as long as it lasts.

You have already begun today as you read these words. You have stepped into the stream of life in the division of time that we name as individual days and you have begun to participate in this one day that is absolutely unique, It has never been before and never will be again.

You have it and, if you are like me, you have already wasted part of it.

You will probably waste a bit more, but just thinking about how precious the day really is, you have also already begun to consider how you will make the best of it. You are plotting a course for what you will accomplish and how you will enrich other people because, having considered the remote possibility that this is your only day, you want it to be significant.

You have today - at least part of it because you are already in it. If it should be cut short, you will have lived this day. If you make it to the end, you will have tomorrow. Within one short second of completing a day, we have another.

This is not rocket science. Nor is it breaking news, but it is very, very important.

You see, days tend to slip away and as they slip, they fall into an abyss of neglect and despair. We look back and wonder where they went and wish that we could recapture them and redeem all of our lost opportunities.

We cannot - except in the sense that what we accomplish today can bring meaning to yesterday. We can slowly transform what is lost into something of meaning and hope. It has some of the benefits of time travel without all the messy risk.

TODAY is …

T - Temporal, temporary, and tempestuous. It is fleeting, but it is also unpredictable and partially unknown. All we know for sure is that it will end and that it will move in some way toward our intentions while having a mind of its own and a tendency to surprise us.

O - Our Opportunity to do something about our lives, enrich the lives of others, reinterpret the past, and reinvent the future. It is one of a kind and it is pregnant with possibilities.

D - Definite. We definitely have today, right now to do something. Perhaps this is an incentive to avoid procrastination of that thing that is burning in our hearts. Make the D into a DO and DO the thing that you know you Desire and need to do, that thing that relates to your Dream, that which your fear has prevented until right now.

A - About Attitude. I use the word "attitude" repeatedly in my acronyms, not because I can't think of any other A words, but because it is so crucial to everything about today, tomorrow, and the future. It determines our course; it drives our dreams; it infects our motives; it orients our thinking; it makes us or breaks us. We must see TODAY with an attitude of joy, wonder, optimism, and responsibility as we embrace its power for good.

Y - YOURS! It is yours. What will you do with it?

May your today be wonderful and may you have many, many tomorrows. You do have today.


"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

Peace, Justice, and Gospel

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The thirst thought I have is to eliminate the "and" because an adequate definition of "shalom" includes "well-being" of all and that includes justice. Furthermore, an adequate definition of justice implies well-being and the righting of wrongs.

Peace is not the absence of conflict. That is an inadequate definition of peace. There is plenty of conflict on the road to and in the quest for peace. It is how we manage conflict that shows whether or not we are at or in peace.

Peace is not at odds with truth and justice. It is a byproduct of both and a means to both.

We cannot let detractors define what peace is. Real peace is a spiritual reality first, but it is also a social reality and both dimensions are the concerns of God and God's people.

Peace is hard, complex work. The easy road does not lead there. The militaristic road does insure it. The political process does not fully facilitate it. I am not denying the place of simple thinkers, politicians, or military powers in the process or at the table. They are just not the ones who will get the hard work done of sorting out the complexities.

It is hard work because, usually, everyone is right and everyone is wrong. All interests are valid and some interests can be laid aside. All parties are human and all are endowed with dignity as a gift from their Creator. It is complicated and it is simple.

Peace is a goal because peace is just and comprehensive. Peace protects all people's rights to life and liberty as well as the pursuit of happiness as long as peace is properly understood and defined.

Peacemaking is a calling for followers of Jesus and cannot be denied. It is a primary calling that we have in the ethical realm. When we speak the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of peace is part of the package. We speak of and offer peace with God through Jesus, we declare a Kingdom message as well.

Did I mention that peace is hard work? It is, but it is also a grace-gift. The capacity for peace is available to all individuals and peoples.

Peace and peacemaking align us with a cause greater than ourselves and place us in the realm of the miraculous where all things are possible, even those things that are un-imagined and unimaginable. When we actually follow Jesus and obey His lifestyle demands in our relationships, things happen that defy logic.

Of course, we could get beaten up or we could die ....

... but our survival (I speak now only in the context of following Jesus) is not an ultimate value for our lives and choices. We have died already and the life we now live is by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. So, if our bodies are sacrificed along the way, we have gained.

That is not to say we invite abuse.

It is to say that we shall not abuse in order not to be abused.

Peace and Justice are not two sides of the same coin. They are both on the same side of the same coin.




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We set urgent goals, make urgent plans, play urgent roles,
Pray urgent prayers, seek urgent interventions for urgent cares.

God quietly, silently, patiently hears our cries, our fears, our sobbing tears.

God speaks and cage-rattles as silently and patiently to our rage- battles.

And urgency gives way to intentionality ....
And rush to order ...

And we step into a different time-line where all that was slow
Is fast
And all that was fast
Is slow

And everything
Is right on time.

"Hear my prayer, O LORD;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!"

(Psalm 143:1 ESV)

The Forgiving Avenger

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"O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forg
iving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings."

- Psalm 99:8

The psalmist sings another paradox.

Paradoxes make great poems and songs. They are also, often, along with other arts, the only way to convey great truths. God forgave the men, but avenged their wrong doings. How? He just does. Jesus demonstrates how in the painful painting of the cross, the most grotesquely beautiful and paradoxically truthful expression of realism in salvation history. Go accomplishes ultimate justice on His own back. God is the suffering servant who bears our iniquities and carries our sorrows, as Isaiah puts it for, "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him."

Part of the meaning is that, this God of grace does indeed punish and discipline us, but it is not enough to nor designed to settle the score. It costs God to discipline His children. Every parent understands this. The easy route is to ignore a child's misdeeds. That is bad parenting. Good parenting takes time, effort, and resources.


God is a good parent.

Room at the Table


Let us delight the heart of God and make room at the table for all who will come.

My tribe has a checkered history with forced conversions, violent power-grabbing, and militaristic exercise of religious dominance. To deny that is to deny history. To not care is to ignore scripture. We are flawed in our common humanity and sin with a lust for power that we are willing to exercise with violence and coercion.

Our religions, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate can be illegitimately co-opted as an excuse for that power-lust and every evil methodology we can muster to acquire what we want and think we deserve. At the moment, the world is experiencing an extreme and frightening expression and demonstration of this. It is not the first in history and probably will not be the last.

Everyone has a different name for it and the names are debated, but it is all one thing throughout history. There are political and military battles that shall be waged, but the most important battle is unseen; it is timeless; it is the most real. It is waged in the secret place of prayer, the public place of speaking truth in love, and the relational place of living the life of faith to which we have been called - to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

We must live with a sense of finitude in a universe of infinitesimal possibility. We are in a string of dots connecting and crisscrossing to weave a fabric of canvas upon which the drama of history is painted in brilliant colors with compelling artistry. But our role in the whole is time-stamped and today is important and precious.

Let us live it.

Let us delight the heart of God and make room at the table for all.


My Anguish and Hope - Lenten Words


Jeremiah cries out in anguish and writhes in pain for his people and for his world. He did not have the newspapers, television, radio, or internet to inform him of the precarious state of his world. He could see it and he did not divorce himself from it.

This pain is from two directions. He embodies, to the extent he can, the pain of God at being rejected. Likewise, he experiences the pain of the people. 

It is truly priestly pain.

He sees disaster looming ... disaster and destruction.

He cannot bear it.

Jeremiah 4:9-28

On that day, says the LORD, courage shall fail the king and the officials; the priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded. Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD, how utterly you have deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, 'It shall be well with you,' even while the sword is at the throat!" At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem: A hot wind comes from me out of the bare heights in the desert toward my poor people, not to winnow or cleanse-- a wind too strong for that. Now it is I who speak in judgment against them. Look! He comes up like clouds, his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles-- woe to us, for we are ruined! O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness so that you may be saved. How long shall your evil schemes lodge within you? For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim. Tell the nations, "Here they are!" Proclaim against Jerusalem, "Besiegers come from a distant land; they shout against the cities of Judah. They have closed in around her like watchers of a field, because she has rebelled against me, says the LORD. Your ways and your doings have brought this upon you. This is your doom; how bitter it is! It has reached your very heart." My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Disaster overtakes disaster, the whole land is laid waste. Suddenly my tents are destroyed, my curtains in a moment. How long must I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? "For my people are foolish, they do not know me; they are stupid children, they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil, but do not know how to do good." I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no one at all, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger. For thus says the LORD: The whole land shall be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end. Because of this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above grow black; for I have spoken, I have purposed; I have not relented nor will I turn back.

Paul takes up the spirit of the moment in today's lenten reading from the Epistles. He identifies the problem as the human condition of sin and universalizes it. It was not just the Jews. It was not just the pagans. All participate in the cursed crux of the matter. All have entered into the realm of sin and signed on the dotted line.

Romans 2:12-24

All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all. But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Then, we hear from Jesus, who came not to condemn but to save from that which has condemned us already. He steps into the agony and destruction with a simple word of redemptive love, reminding us that God is working and that appointed our Savior and defense attorney as our judge.

John 5:19-24

Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

The Highest High priest, like Jeremiah, enters into the arena of Divine and human pain and absorbs it all with an intent to liberate and bring life out of death.  He is no stranger to disaster. He is not oblivious to the destructive nature of our attitudes and behaviors. He is neither blind nor death to our bombastic declarations of nationalistic superiority, our utter disregard for the poor, our stupor-driven, staggering advance toward destruction, nor our frenzied grabs for power and lustful accumulation of useless stuff.

He knows and yet, He declares a call to hope and salvation  that is clear enough to lead us to prayer and praise through this morning's Psalms:

Morning Psalms

Psalm 70 Deus, in adjutorium

  Be pleased, O God, to deliver me; *
O LORD, make haste to help me.
  Let those who seek my life be ashamed and altogether dismayed; *
let those who take pleasure in my misfortune draw back and be disgraced.
  Let those who say to me "Aha!" and gloat over me turn back, *
because they are ashamed.
  Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; *
let those who love your salvation say for ever, "Great is the LORD!"
  But as for me, I am poor and needy; *
come to me speedily, O God.
  You are my helper and my deliverer; *
O LORD, do not tarry.

Psalm 71 In te, Domine, speravi

  In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; *
let me never be ashamed.
  In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; *
incline your ear to me and save me.
  Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe; *
you are my crag and my stronghold.
  Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, *
from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor.
  For you are my hope, O LORD God, *
my confidence since I was young.
  I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother's womb you have been my strength; *
my praise shall be always of you.
  I have become a portent to many; *
but you are my refuge and my strength.
  Let my mouth be full of your praise *
and your glory all the day long.
  Do not cast me off in my old age; *
forsake me not when my strength fails.
10   For my enemies are talking against me, *
and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together.
11   They say, "God has forsaken him; go after him and seize him; *
because there is none who will save."
12   O God, be not far from me; *
come quickly to help me, O my God.
13   Let those who set themselves against me be put to shame and be disgraced; *
let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.
14   But I shall always wait in patience, *
and shall praise you more and more.
15   My mouth shall recount your mighty acts and saving deeds all day long; *
though I cannot know the number of them.
16   I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord GOD; *
I will recall your righteousness, yours alone.
17   O God, you have taught me since I was young, *
and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.
18   And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, *
till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.
19   Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; *
you have done great things; who is like you, O God?
20   You have showed me great troubles and adversities, *
but you will restore my life and bring me up again from the deep places of the earth.
21   You strengthen me more and more; *
you enfold and comfort me,
22   Therefore I will praise you upon the lyre for your faithfulness, O my God; *
I will sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
23   My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, *
and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.
24   My tongue will proclaim your righteousness all day long, *
for they are ashamed and disgraced who sought to do me harm.

The Refreshing Waters of Ein Gedi


Ein gedi
Sometimes you just need to refresh yourself in the cooling waters of Ein Gedi.

King David did.

On a hot summer day in Israel, I did too.

So often, God has brought me to such a place, space, and moment.

As he was hiding in the desert, pursued by King Saul, David found the strength to move above those springs to take safe cover in the craggy rocks where only the wild goats could skillfully traverse. (1 Samuel 24:1-2)

He must have waded in the waters along the way.

He must have stood under the waterfall and found refreshment in the waters from the spring.

It must have brought him courage and renewal.

His son, Solomon would find renewal there and have the memories of that placed fixed in his mind.

Between Masada and Qumran is such a surprising oasis.

In the deserts of your life, if you are careful to look and see, you will find a surprising space, place, and moment of refreshing that God has designed just for you.

David, Solomon, and I found it and I find it again so often. May you, who are traveling through deserts this day, find it too.

"Ein Gedi (Hebrew: עֵין גֶּדִי‎, Arabic: عين جدي‎, translit. ‘ayn jady‎: literally "spring of the kid (young goat)" is an oasis and a nature reserve in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves." (Wikipedia)





Be Still


"Peace, be still."

Mounds of trouble in the world ...
Mountains of turmoil ...
Soil of fear ...
Toil of tears ...
But my soul can be still,
Sided with by the One who walks beside.
When I cried, He heard.
When I sighed, He spoke the Word.
Nothing has changed.
I am not shaken.
These are days of grace.


(The melody is Finlandia by Sibelius, and the words are translated from the German work of Catharina von Schlegel, a Lutheran who wrote during the Pietist period of the 18th century.)


"Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

"Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below."


Oh, to Soar

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“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” – Psalm 55:6

It was November 21, 1783 in Paris, France. Physicist Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes fulfilled the dreams of generations when they became the first humans to fly. Rising to a height of 3000 feet, they drifted for 25 minutes before landing 5 miles from where they started in a hot air balloon.

For as long as human memory has been recorded, men and women have admired the great birds of the sky and wondered what it would be like to soar above the clouds.

Helen Keller said, “One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar.”

The psalmist mused about the possibility of soaring above the cares of life, above his circumstances, and above his limitations until he came to a place of rest and fulfillment.

Soon after the Paris flight, ballooning became a popular recreation. Yet still today, it is cause for amazement and imagination. To fly away and see our little worlds below from the vantage of eternity is a longing that God has placed in our hearts. To rise above our impossibilities is a God-shaped and God-sized dream.

Where places a longing, God plants the possibility and the power within us. He has not made us to be ordinary, sedentary, or earth-bound. He has made us to soar.

Update on My Health Journey - I Am Back!

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During this period of time, two years ago, I took an ambulance ride. I had not been feeling my best for a year. I had been growing increasingly sluggish for a few months. I was losing balance. A few times, lost consciousness. Working in the garden one day in March, 2015, I had all the symptoms of a heart attack.

But, I had no heart attack.

I would discover that I did have a heart condition, a precarious and rare gastric condition, a deteriorating spine condition with nerve damage, major nutritional deficiencies and anemia, neurological complications, and an array of possible conditions which needed to be tested.

I was grateful that I had been able to get good insurance through Blue Shield, by way of Covered California, in spite of pre-existing conditions.

I became good friends with doctors, physical therapists, nurses, emergency rooms, receptionists, hospitals, and the staff of surgical suites from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

I became more aware of the power of prayer to sustain and heal.

I became more intimate with the God of grace and the grace of God.

From December of last year to February of this year, I had two trips to the emergency room, five extended hospitalizations, 3 major surgeries, 1 minor procedure, and multiple complications including a DVT, out-of-control bleeding, and the process of getting used to using a gastric tube.

I missed about 3 Sundays from church, but I continued working, even from my hospital bed.

God sustained me.

I am back.

I have energy.

I am seeing medical people, but it seems that most of this is maintenance ... at least for now.

I gave up the hope of eating for enjoyment, in my mind, forever.

Now, I am delighted to report that I can eat - not enough for my nutritional needs and not all the right things. But I can eat and that is more than many can do. In  spite of an esophagus that does not really do it's job and because of two operating stomachs, I get what I need and I get to enjoy some of it as a bonus.

My future may include some spinal surgery, possible procedures on my stomach (or not), and ongoing monitoring of my heart rate, physical therapy, and who-knows-what. Ultimately, I will die like everyone else ... hopefully from old age.

But whatever ... I intend to live until I die.

As far as I can tell, I can travel, dream, grow, preach, teach, write, lead, and have great conversations with friends for a long time.

We are building a great work at 4141 Ministries and the horizon is bright and bold.

I have deep gratitude for all who have followed my journey, prayed for me, helped me, encouraged me, or even just followed me and wished the best for me. 

I may not be as young as I used to be. I have learned to pace myself. However, I say with a strong degree of confidence that I am back!


Tom hanging out


Reluctant Heroes

Moses was so reluctant to do fulfill the mission for which he had been shaped and to which he had been called. When confronted with the urgency and the possibility of being the catalyst to lead a nation from slavery to destiny he came up with a series of excuses.

I am unlearned.
I am unable.
I am unbelievable.
I am unwilling.

Each one was answered except the last.

At the end, God kicked him in the hind parts and said, "Get going. I am not asking you; I'm telling you."

Here are some of the actual words:

" But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”" (Exodus 4:10-17 ESV)

Have you ever uttered such sentiments or at least felt them?

There is an answer to each, but in the end, the real answer is, if you know what to do, then do it! Get started and all of your objections will be handled.



Happy PI Day - The Circle of Success


Happy Pi day. In the right circle, you can leverage your way to real success and there is a formula for building that circle.

π (pi)r squared ....

It is articulated by the same guy, Archimedes who explained leverage and declared that he could move the world with the right pulley and fulcrum upon which to stand.

The right place to stand in order to leverage success is in a circle, an ever expanding circle of influence, powered to the power of 2 and then 2, and then, 2, and again and again as the circle expands ....

Not by our efforts, but by the efforts of those into which we pour our lives ...
3.14.15 and 92 etc ... etc ... etc ...

Here is my PI formula for leveraging our way to success.

3 People into which we invest ourselves intensely and weekly with no thought of return, but knowing that others have invested and continue to invest in us. While mentoring 3, continue to be mentored by 3. If we outlive our mentors, draw insights from the young and from authors of the past. Also have 3 close peers with whom to be yourself. 3!

14 (or so ...) others with whom we regularly associate and into whose lives we more generally we contribute ourselves. It is our core group(s). Multiply that by 3: Have 14 more peripheral peers,14 more proteges, and 14 teachers.

15 (or so): Meet at least 15 new people each week. Just do it with no motive except to add value to their lives and encourage them to be all they can be. But be humble enough to listen and learn from them. Admire them. Show interest in them. Connect them with others you meet. Find ways to push them forward. Have 15 big ideas floating around.

Then there is the R. It is the radius of our reach. It it farther than we think and shorter than we hope. It has limitations, but we should reach as far as possible to the end of those limitations and then, watch them squared ...

Squaring multiplies. It starts to get out of our hands. It is squared again. Archimedes also articulated the notion of the infinitesimal .

Once our influence is squared through those we influence, they square it too and it gets out of our hands. It becomes a geometric progression of infinite possibilities.

Success about leveraging our influence through others to change the world. It is constantly redefining itself through the success of others as we drop our demands for receiving credit or worldly fame, fortune, and power.

Pi Day, 3-14-15, two years ago, was a once in a hundred year opportunity to recommit to changing the world God's way, by loving and serving others into the fullness of who they were made to be.

But we can recapture that every year and every day.

It is built into the mathematical structure of the cosmos.

Neither Were They Thankful



Romans 1:21 - "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

This indictment is about what we do with what we know. It is an offense to reason  to know that God is the source of our blessings and not to be thankful to God and glorify Him as God.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday because even non-believers have enough understanding to know that they did not create all the blessings of this world.

There will always be more left unknown than grasped with our mortal minds. We do not know all there is to know about God. We don't know a fraction. What we do know is enough to call us to worship.

People have known God through the centuries. Those who have not known God, have often suspected some god or god-like force. They have known enough to treat Him like God. How is that? Worship-fully, doing what we call "glorifying."

To glorify is to recognize the extreme weightiness of a matter. In this case, it is to take God so seriously that we stand in awe, are struck down by the sheer magnitude of His power and are overwhelmed with the right kind of fear as we behold Him.

The right kind of reverence is the stuff that makes our jaws drop, that leaves us speechless, that causes us to tremble, that turns on the lights and lets us know that if we get this part right, we don't really have to worry about anything else.

Take a moment and let your jaw drop as you relax in the beauty of glory and glory in the sweet rest of beauty, thankful and reverent in the presence of The One.



The Gift of Giving

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“…without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be    But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto thee. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” - Romans 1:9-11; 15:24-26

To what extent would Paul travel to impart a spiritual gift and receive a material gift for others? The answer is that he would make great sacrifices and suffer untold hardships to be a vessel of giving. To impart a spiritual gift enriched the lives of those receiving the gift. But it also enriched the life of the church. Receiving a monetary gift would enrich the church. But it would also bless the giver and the recipient of the gift. Paul himself would be encouraged by the opportunity to participate in this process. When true Spirit-filled, God-directed giving takes place, no one loses and everyone gains.  In the tangible expressions of our submission to God there is no subtraction, only multiplication.

To view life this way requires that we step out of ourselves and understand our significance as part of something larger than our own interests. We must deny ourselves to the extent that our hopes, dreams, and preferences are of lesser importance than the Kingdom of God.

From whence comes such a radical attitude? It comes from the place of prayer where we learn to say, “the will of God” with deep reverence and joyous anticipation. It comes from the exercise of His presence in devotion and contemplation of His Word. It comes from earnest seeking in the closet of solitude where He changes our heartbeat to pulsate with His own rhythm. In short, the attitude that embraces the twin Christian graces of giving and receiving comes from God Himself.

Come, See a Man

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“And the woman left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, ’Come, see a man, who told me all the things that I ever did. Is this not the Christ?’" – John 4:28-29

Are we too attached to our water pots to carry the call of Jesus to our cities? Are we so fixated on our trivial tasks that we cannot leave them to bear witness to His power, grace, and truth?

Here was a woman with the worst reputation in the village and she went to the very people with whom she had made her reputation. To the men of the city, with whom she had no credibility at all, she declared the credibility of Jesus. At least they would talk to her. And she did it without the slightest hint of intimidation and completely undistracted by the unfinished mission that had taken her to the well in the first place.

Who cares about two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen when you can have living water? Washing clothes can wait. Cooking can be done later. Even drinking water can be postponed. It’s not everyday that you have a chance to meet a man who can tell you everything you have ever done – and in such a way that you feel love, forgiveness, and acceptance rather that shame, guilt, and fear.

This woman had been summoned to a new mission, a higher calling. She received the call and bore the call with passionate conviction and urgency. The call is upon us and on our lips, but if it is to be heard by the people of the cities, we must leave our water pots and deliver it in person.

By Presence Surrounded

Our deepest desires lead us and draw us into His presence to discover that His presence has already surrounded us.

Self-talk/God-talk - Dialogue/Trialogue -Interactive

It becomes unclear sometimes in the cycle of the central verse who is speaking because the WORD is embedded in each word and even the longing complaint of the heart is met with the reassuring comfort of the Presence.

It is especially evident when we pray,
"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God."

This is our song when we are preparing our hearts to come before God and discover that God is already with us.

Our panting turmoil does not go unheard. Hear and pray with the Sons of Korah:

"Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?"

"To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah."

"As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival."

"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God."

"My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar."

(Psalm 42:1-6 ESV)


"Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name." - Psalm 86:11

I need to be taught to walk with a united heart to this end: reverence, deep reverence, respect, awe, and wonder.

Let me be PRESENT: I need to be taught, therefore, here I am, teachable and reachable.

Let me be PRACTICAL: That I may walk. It is is not enough to just know; I only fully know in doing.

Let me be PERSISTENT: In this matter of knowing God in a deeper way where I walk in wonder and awe, let me persist for I am easily distracted and far from united in my heart,

Let me be PURPOSEFUL: The purpose of it all is my walk in fear/reverence/awe/ where there is no other fear and where life is a grand adventure of hope and wonder each moment.


If You Feel It, Pray It


When people tell me that they have an issue with God, sometimes a complaint, sometimes real anger, I often ask, "Have you discussed it with God? Have you told God how you feel?"

"I could not do that," they might respond.

"Why not?" I ask.

"I am afraid to do that. God might get angry back at me."

Not so, not for that. God's anger is what we experience when we resist the fierceness of unrelenting love. We are in a storm and we can ride the storm or wage war against the storm, but we cannot ignore the storm.

Nothing is resolved between people who love each other when  one gives the other the "silent treatment."

God has a word for you in your most troubling emotions, but if you silence God by turning a deaf ear, it will be difficult to receive that word.

Jeremiah, like the psalmist, invites us into the arena of honest prayer where we wrestle with ourselves and speak honestly with God. He prays throughout the book his scribe recorded. It is not always pretty, but often comes to this:

" I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Correct me, O LORD, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing."

(Jeremiah 10:23-24 ESV)

He puts it out there and is willing to be corrected. He trusts God that God can correct Him in justice and not in anger.

I want to be corrected. Don't you? Why would I ever want to continue in a course of unproductive, destructive thinking or behavior? I want to be set upon the right track. My days, like yours, are numbered and I want them to count.

Looking back a few verses, he prays the prayer of as disillusioned man:

" Woe is me because of my hurt!
My wound is grievous.
But I said, “Truly this is an affliction,
and I must bear it.”
My tent is destroyed,
and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
and they are not;
there is no one to spread my tent again
and to set up my curtains.
For the shepherds are stupid
and do not inquire of the LORD;
therefore they have not prospered,
and all their flock is scattered."

(Jeremiah 10:19-21 ESV)

Prayer is a process. Indeed we pray with the news around us in one hand and the Bible in the other and we are shaped by our dialogue with One who hears and cares.

Whatever you feel, pray.

Don't give God the "silent treatment."


See Also - 

How to Pray When You're Pissed at God Christianity Today article.

Angry at God from Ignatian Spirituality

Life's Roller Coaster and the Landing Place

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Have you ever been on a roller coaster? It is where you land that is most important. The singer of songs landed on, "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving." (Psalm 69:30 ESV)

Yet, he had a lot of anger, angst, and avarice mixed with gratitude and joy to work through in the process.

Emotional roller coasters are not the problem. The problem is only when we do not turn them into prayer and allow them to come to a landing place in the grace of God.

"Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.
You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.
Lord, the Lord Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;
when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.
Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.
But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.
Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
Come near and rescue me;
deliver me because of my foes.
You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect me.
I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,
for God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there."

Psalm 69 (NIV)




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Our bodies are professors of truth and life.

There is much we can learn philosophically, theologically, ecologically,and poetically from the human body.

he body is made up of multiple systems, but no system can be compartmentalized in complete isolation. Physically, we are a system of systems.

Then, there is the integration of the physical and the emotional which is less tangible, but observable.

Moving outward while moving inward, the spiritual dimension is least measurable or controllable, but no less real.

From there, we move into our immediate environment and beyond the immediate where everything is connected by implication and integration.

Nothing operates in a vacuum and nothing and no one is an island. It is great territory for meditation and a vast battleground for mediation.

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Not Shaken

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"Peace! Be still!"
Trouble in the world 
Turmoil at every turn
Soil of fear
Toil of tears
Still, this soul is still
Sided with by the One who walks beside.
When I cried, he heard.
When I sighed, he spoke the Word.
Nothing has changed.
I am unshaken.
These are days of grace. 

Putting Us in Our Places

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Pride can be pretty destructive to our perspective, especially when it leads us into complacency and superiority.

When we travel the road of self-righteous blindness, we forget what righteousness is. We  sugar coat our failures. We gloss over our sins.

Then, our feelings of manifest destiny and entitlement trigger attitudes that evoke injustice and misuse of privilege.

God told the people through Moses that they had better not make too much of their feelings of righteousness. It was never about them. In fact, they had been pretty rebellious.

The world was a mess that needing some cleaning. The people of the covenant were instruments for that season of correction and for a purpose in that bigger plan. Their ongoing participation in the covenant of God was about Him, His grace, His work, and His desire to be exalted in all the nations.

Nothing releases any people or person from the call to submit to the will of God and remain true to the Covenant God who calls us by His grace to be His instruments of justice, peace, and truth.

But we so quickly turn away in our nationalistic fervor, chauvinistic pride, and misguided expressions of superiority.

When Jesus cleansed the temple, it was because the money-changers, with the approval of the religious power brokers, had desecrated the Court of the Gentiles. They had obstructed the path of prayer dedicated to the people of the nations. They were saying, in their hearts, "These people do not matter. We are the only ones that matter."

Whenever that happens, we need to be reminded of our origins.

We need to be put in our places.

Deuteronomy 9:4-12

"When the LORD your God thrusts them out before you, do not say to yourself, "It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to occupy this land" it is rather because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the LORD made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, then, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to occupy because of your righteousness; for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; you have been rebellious against the LORD from the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place. Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. When I went up the mountain to receive the stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water. And the LORD gave me the two stone tablets written with the finger of God; on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken to you at the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly. At the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, "Get up, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have been quick to turn from the way that I commanded them; they have cast an image for themselves."

Hebrews 3:1-11

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also "was faithful in all God's house." Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God's house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.' As in my anger I swore, 'They will not enter my rest.'"

John 2:13-22

"The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."

From the Pits


In the pits
Here are some loose reflections from the pits.

You might be in a pit

"Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close..." - Psalm 69:15 ESV

"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task ..." - Psalm 73:16 ESV

There is a point of turning and re-energizing, close to the edge, just shy of the precipice. Where the power of our reasoning and quest for personal justice and meaning is frustrated and wearisome, we move to the next verse. Do not stop at this verse.

There is a redemptive word that is accented by the intensity of our opposition. Our enemies may be formidable, but if God draws near, they are rendered impotent.

For me, it is good ...

"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, ..." - Psalm 73:28, ESV

We wander about and wring our hands in despair and confuson.

"... UNTIL... "

"... until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end." - Psalm 73:17, ESV

"Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but... " - Psalm 69:20, ESV

These are words for those despairing today. Reproaches have broken your heart. There is none showing you pity. Good. Their pity is not what you or we need. We need this wrestling match of faith. We need this introspective, theocentric deep prayer time. It forms us. I include me. It is a common journey if we will take it. The surface of it can be observed, but the depths of despairing and heights of hope that wage war and that stretch the soul are militantly personal. The empathy we need is not within the capacity of our neighbors, friends, or foes. You are in the right arena today. At your point of extremity, something is about to break through. This is advanced prayer. This is nitty gritty, down-to-business "sorting out" time. You are n i t going to emerge unmarked by this, but you will emerge as more of the real you than you have ever been. This is a grace moment.

"Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them ..." - Psalm 69:24, ESV

For me, the "them" are mostly my inner enemies and those "personalityless" personas that immitate life. These, I assign to God for destruction, shaking them off and consigning to God with a "You handle them" sort of prayer that liberates me from their power in the process. These elements of my own character are doomed. They might as well be doomed, in me, now. It is time to move beyond. I am moving toward the eternal embrace.

Thus word comes back to us. Let it encourage your soul as it does mine.

"For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." - Psalm 69:33, ESV

Psalm 73 (NIV)
A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.
They say, “How would God know?
Does the Most High know anything?”
This is what the wicked are like—
always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.
If I had spoken out like that,
I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.
How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!
They are like a dream when one awakes;
when you arise, Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

Psalm 69 (NIV)

Save me, O God,
    for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
    where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
    the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
    looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
    outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
    those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
    what I did not steal.

You, God, know my folly;
    my guilt is not hidden from you.

Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    may those who hope in you
    not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
    may those who seek you
    not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
    and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
    a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
    and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
When I weep and fast,
    I must endure scorn;
when I put on sackcloth,
    people make sport of me.
Those who sit at the gate mock me,
    and I am the song of the drunkards.

But I pray to you, Lord,
    in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
    answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the mire,
    do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
    from the deep waters.
Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
    or the depths swallow me up
    or the pit close its mouth over me.

Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
    in your great mercy turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
    answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
Come near and rescue me;
    deliver me because of my foes.

You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
    all my enemies are before you.
Scorn has broken my heart
    and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
    for comforters, but I found none.
They put gall in my food
    and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

May the table set before them become a snare;
    may it become retribution and a trap.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.
Pour out your wrath on them;
    let your fierce anger overtake them.
May their place be deserted;
    let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
For they persecute those you wound
    and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
Charge them with crime upon crime;
    do not let them share in your salvation.
May they be blotted out of the book of life
    and not be listed with the righteous.

But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
    may your salvation, God, protect me.

I will praise God’s name in song
    and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox,
    more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
The poor will see and be glad—
    you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The Lord hears the needy
    and does not despise his captive people.

Let heaven and earth praise him,
    the seas and all that move in them,
for God will save Zion
    and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
    the children of his servants will inherit it,
    and those who love his name will dwell there.


A Prayer for Our Week's Work

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Like many of you, I value work. I like to work. I enjoy the results of my work. I put my heart and soul into my work. I see God at work in my work. I want to keep working as long as I possibly can. I desire to see the work of my hands make a difference. It is always good to find a prayer with which I can agree in bringing these desires before God.

" 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 90:17 ESV)




The Fury of God's Love


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In light of the fury of God, the mighty and sweeping holiness of God's brilliance, the angry wrath of all that defies truth and righteousness, the intense unwillingness of God to allow anything to remain out of balance, we bow before Him with trembling hearts and knees.

How then, do we see, not in spite of, but through His wrath, His love, grace, forgiveness, mercy?

These are not contrasting counterbalances within the character of God as we have tried to understand them in our limited human perspectives. These are necessary and natural complements to the faithful love of God whose determination to redeem is relentless and fierce.

He is, at the same time, storm and shelter from storm.

God is the complete package of all that is.

God's voice is loud and reverberates with power, shaking the foundations of all that is. God's movements as He intervenes in time and space rattle the fabric of the space-time continuum. God's whispers echo.

All speak of God's love for God is love.

We are not able to survive the fury, and yet, we do. We are not capable of calming the storm of God's presence, and yet, we are made calm. We are not in possession of any ability to appease the wrath of God and yet, we are being made whole and we are passionately sought and sacrificially redeemed.

We have not the slightest idea of the magnitude of grace or its eternal implications. We are given glimpses.

But we know this is serious and that we have but a few days here to make the difference we were made to make - to redeem our own days and influence - to stake our claim on what is eternally significant and abundantly available to us, freely bestowed.

Days are short, but they are insignificant. Our ability to know and experience God and God-Truth is limited, but it is not non-existent. What is provided is enough -- as are the glimpses and hints into God's holiness and love.

" 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)

 Photo Credit:  Michael Hildago