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April 2017

"Sirs, We Would See Jesus ..." "Now is the Son of Man Glorified..."

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“Now is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in Him.” – from John 13:31

You have to take it all as a package or there is no glory. Jesus understood that these final days were one great redemptive event – from mingling with the crowds and teaching them, to provoking the Sanhedrin with His very presence, to the upper room, the washing of feet, the prayers in the garden, and on to the cross. It was the process of God glorifying Himself in His Son. It was all part of the package: His life, death, and resurrection were one magnificent demonstration of the power of God.

Jesus had spoken similar words when some gentiles had come looking for Him. He responded that the coming of these men was an indication that He was soon to be lifted up from the earth and to draw all men unto Him. Lifting up could mean exaltation or crucifixion. In this case, it meant both. He moves from tragedy to triumph in a split-second intersection of time and eternity.

This time he speaks of being glorified as He confronts the one who will betray Him. This is strange to our warped thinking. But this is Jesus who donned the apron and wiped His disciple’s feet. This is the one who taught that the path to greatness is servanthood. This is the Master of great reversals.

Our Lord never lost sight of the big picture. He didn’t stop with cross in His panoramic view of His mission. He didn’t even end the story with rising from the dead. He taught His friends that He was going to the Father through this path of glory and that He would come to them in a new way to indwell them, that they might do even greater works. He promised further that He would come again visibly to introduce a grand new eternal day. It was about glory. It is still about glory.

Take a walk in the garden this morning where there is an empty hole in a rock, a barren place where death once dwelt. What do you notice but emptiness? He is not there. He is risen! The work of redemption is done. It was worth it all. The pain and the suffering have accomplished their ends. He is alive and we can live also. What name do you give to your pain of the moment, your struggle of this hour? Call it suffering or call it glory. It all depends upon whether you view it from the present or from the resurrection.

Now is the Son of man glorified


A Word in Season

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"The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary …"  – Isaiah 50:4

As we celebrate the beginning of spring, we do so with hearts ready for a change. We have grown weary of winter and anxious for a change of seasons. Spring is the season of hope and new life. It is a season of encouragement.

God’s Word reminds us often of the power of the tongue to build up or to destroy.

What a gift to be able to use the tongue of the learned, as a gift from God, to encourage and strengthen a weary brother!

He goes on to exclaim that God awakens him every morning with new instructions and wisdom.

You can have the tongue of the learned as well if you will listen to God, read His Word, keep an open heart and mind, and be willing to share a word of blessing with those who have grown tired of living.

The greatest privilege in the world is found in lifting someone else up and moving them forward on their road to spiritual success. There is no greater honor or joy than to be a part of someone else’s life story of God’s blessings through grace.

Often, all it takes is a word to bring spring time to someone’s winter of discontent. To give it, we must be willing and ready to receive it from God, to listen intently, and share generously.

Feed Your Dreams

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Feed your dreams; starve your fears.
Whichever one you feed will grow.

Fears will grow to control you and clip your wings.

Dreams will consume you and cause you to soar.

It is your choice.

You will feed that to which you give the most attention and credit.

If you live by fear, you will live a crippled and limited life. Your best work, your highest aspirations, and your most enchanting creations will go to the grave with you.

If you live as a person of vision, you may not attain all of your goals, but you will attain many and they will live on after you are gone. They will inspire others to dream and create. You will create a ripple that will grow into a mighty tidal wave of dreams and accomplishments.

Feed your dreams and starve your fears. That is my recommendation and below are some ideas for how to feed dreams and starve fears.

FEED Your Dreams

F = Face them. I mean, put a face on them. Find something that represents them that you can gaze upon and be reminded of them.

E = Enliven them. Create activities that remind you of your dreams, move you closer toward them, and let you experience "foretastes" of what it will be like when they come true.

E - Elicit support. Ask people who are positive dreamers to be part of your dream building community. Build them up even as they build you up. Get folks on your team. Someone said that if you ever see a turtle at the top of a telephone pole and he tells you he got there by himself he is either lying or he doesn't understand the nature of things.

D - Determine to pursue them, work for them, and never let them go. Determination will take you from today until tomorrow. It is essential.

STARVE Your Fears

S = Saturate yourself with positive words, thoughts, and deeds. Give negativity no quarter. Make no room for it. Your prior decision to go for the dream has shut out all possibility of fear finding a resting place in your life. You are just too occupied with where you are going.

T - Time them. Go ahead and nod at your fears. Stare them down. Look at them for 30 seconds, a minute, whatever it takes to understand them. When the time is up, say,  "Time's up. That's all I can give you." Then walk away. If there was something valid about the fear, you took time to see it and make provisions. The rest is fruitless.

A - Attack your challenges as one who has the upper hand. Be the aggressor with your fears. Be proactive. Get fear on the run by taking charge of the situations that feed it.

R - Rest in God's promises. He has not given us the spirit of fear. He alone is worthy of our reverence and fear (awe). Reverence Him and let Him take care of all the other fears.

V - Value what is valuable. Your dreams are built upon principles you value. Your fears are largely irrational and based upon a concern that you will be severed from something temporal and fleeting. Focus on what endures and has infinite value. It will starve fear because it will take away all of its "junk food" nourishment.

E = Eliminate that which makes you fearful. I don't know what it is in your life, but there is something that feeds your fears. Identify it and eliminate it.

That is your assignment today!

Thanks for the picture, Sandi Krakowski 

Writing in the Public Square

Coffee and words

Even though I wrote about writing in public seven years ago, I was doing it long before and I am still doing it. So, here is the recycled version of Writing in the Public Square.

The title could mean at least two different things.

To write in the public square might mean to write something that is meant to be widely read and discussed among the public. That is a good thing. However, success depends upon writing well, addressing timely topics, creating interest, and attracting attention.

I may or may not be doing that right now.

Yet, I am certain that I am writing in the public square because I am sitting in a public place and writing.

That is the other meaning.

And where I sit informs my writing because, as the world passes by my private seat, some of their questions, hurts, conversations, and energy get inside me and inform me and the questions I ask and answer.

I often need privacy to write, but at the moment, I am getting all I need in the public square.

Now, will anyone read it?

O Magnum Mysterium

Lifted beyond the skies
I am no devotional giant, but little triggers propel mighty forces of thought.

Just as the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," it is true that we become wiser as we learn that we cannot be wise enough to fathom God.

"Great" is a strong, but inadequate adjective for God. All superlatives in our language dissolve into the glory of His presence.

I cannot know all there is to know of Him and knowledge of lack of knowledge informs me that He is God and I am not.

I may not be able to fully know Him, but I can know Him because I am known of Him and He draws me closer daily.

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." (Psalm 145:3 ESV)

Evocation of elocution with none to listen.
Expectation of invocation with One to hear
And none to fear.
Oh Fearful One who sees and knows and hears,
My ears, my eyes, my heartfelt cries
Are lifted beyond the skies.
I hear and see and behold the beauty of the earth
And what earth hath built upon earth.
Oh Fear who erases fear and eradicates dread,
My head, my heart, my all I bring
And with all I have I sing though none may listen,
Thou dost listen.
I have rested for the moment with Thee
And I am free.



A little effort is like eating a potato chip. Once you start, the next one just seems natural and then the next and the next and the next. The difference is that the potato chip saps you and leads to lethargy and obesity while effort energizes and brings rewards.

You don't fill your plate with a huge helping of effort and force yourself to consume it all in one sitting. You graze on it. you take small bites and baby steps. If a little is all you have to give today, you pat yourself on the back and rest with the fulfilling knowledge that you have done something toward your goals.

But small efforts lead to large surges of energy and productivity.

Yet, they are simply made up of multiple little efforts.

We are not big block people. Most of us can only carry small loads, but we can keep coming back for more,. Soon the work load begins to organize itself and we start to see results. The results, even small results, give us such a lift that we can keep going.

For five years in a row, our church built houses in Mexico one week every summer. When we would arrive on the site, the task would always seem daunting. The first day always involved mixing cement by hand and laying a foundation. It was seemingly endless, tiring, back breaking work, but we could complete it in one day and one wheelbarrow at a time.

We went home late on those Mondays and slept well in our tents after a well-earned dinner.

The next morning we would return to the work site and were immediately invigorated by the sight of a hard, smooth, finish foundation.

Laying the foundation is always the hard part and every bite of effort is worth it. Give the effort, even in small segments, and reap great rewards.

Here is an acronym for effort:

Energy - Effort is spending energy - little or much. You decide, but there is always something to spend.

Faith - The word comes from the Greek, "pistis," from which we get, "pistol." faith launches us in much the same way a pistol launches a bullet.

Fulfillment - Well spent energy has its own sense of fulfillment built in. the reward is present in the deed.

Optimize - It pays to be wise and to spend energy and effort where it is most useful. However, we should not use this as an excuse for delay. Efficiency will reveal itself in the course of doing the deeds.

Reward - There will be rewards for effort. Some are immediate and  most are eventual.

Time - The results of effort are cumulative over time and they are like a geometric progression branching out in all directions beyond our control.

Put out some effort today and expect some results.


An Optimist Reads the Book of Ecclesiastes

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Is it possible for an optimist to read ...

"Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless ..."

... or in a different translation ...

"Vanity of vanities; all is vanity and a striving after wind ..."

... and remain optimistic?

The possibility of meaning in our moments and movements through the morose and moody maneuvers of a masochistic existence is sometimes our link with hope and sanity.

Solomon seems to have abandoned that hope for the bulk of the book that is attributed to his hand and his experience/

Anything can be meaningless if we are not connected with meaning.

That was the dilemma of Solomon as he reflected on his life journey.

Meaningless work is not satisfying work. The grief and pain bear no fruit.

That is not the end of the story, however. That is the heart-cry for meaning that every human shares. That is the kind of pain that nags us with the message that there must be more and can be more.

With all that, I sense a nudging to start working on a book of reflections: An Optimist Reads the Book of Ecclesiastes.

"All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. "

Not the end of the story!

Do You Know?


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I imagine that you know this, but in case you have forgotten, you are a very important part of something that is far bigger than yourself.

You are integral to something that without you is not complete and without which you are incomplete. I know it is a mind bender of a concept, but your life and success are interwoven with the lives and successes of the many upon which you rely to encourage and equip you for greatness.

We are a part of each other. In giving we receive; in encouraging, we are encouraged; in helping we are helped; in lifting up another, we are lifted up. It is a timeless, eternal, and enduring principle with divine authorship and perpetual power. And it is for you to exercise.

In affirming your own place in the greater scheme of things you are not abandoning humility; you are applying it. You are not becoming prideful; you are overcoming pride.

In letting God love you through you, you are not becoming narcissistic; you are accepting a gift that is being freely, graciously, and extravagantly offered by one who desires nothing better than for you to receive it.

You are qualifying yourself to be a conduit of love, acceptance, encouragement, and empowerment for others. Not to accept such love and affirmation is to take yourself out of the roll that others disparately need for you to embody this very day. As you pass through the maze of responsibilities that are yours within the next 24 hours, there will be divine appointments which have been calendared for you so that you can add value to the lives of others.

Someone is waiting for what only you can give them. If you have not first received it, you will be ill equipped to give it. And if you do not give it, you will not be open to receive the one they have been entrusted with for you.

In case you did not know or have forgotten, your success at being the you that you were made to be is vital to someone else becoming the person he or she was made to be. It is your calling to be yourself, fully, faithfully, joyfully, and successfully.

It is not just about you, but neither is it without you. I have shirts that never leave the hangers in my closet because they are missing one tiny component - a button. You are never so small or insignificant as to not make a big difference.

You are you and you are special.



Credit for Art:

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One of the first lighthouses ever built, certainly one of the most famous, was the Lighthouse of Alexandria in 280 BC. Situated on the Egyptian island of Pharos, it was at one time thought to be the tallest structure on earth at 383 - 440 feet. Many lives were rescued because of its existence. Its purpose was the same as that of all lighthouses: to warn ships away from dangerous shores and guide them in the night.

No ship’s captain ever complained about a lighthouse getting in his way or inconveniencing him in his journey. Many a lighthouse has saved many a life.

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Man-made lighthouses point us to the reality of God’s gracious willingness to warn us and guide us because He loves us. He desires life for us and in His light we see light.

Philippians 2:15 says, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Not only does God provide light for our journey, but He appoints us as His people to shine in a dark world where there are many unseen dangers and unmarked shores. By taking this stewardship of light seriously, the church and its people have helped to lead many a lost ship and crew into a harbor of safety.

What could be a greater blessing than to be in God’s light and, in that light, to see light. Surely, it is a fountain of life.

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” – Psalm 36:9




Just Get on the Bus

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It was 1961. Laws were different then. Some were inherently wicked because their sole intent was to keep people down. That is happening all over the world today. Jim Crow had a franchise on the South. Businesses could decide, based upon genetics, whom they would serve and whom they would exclude. To defy these laws and break these barriers was risky. It would require some folks standing together, sitting together, and moving together. It would require some blood, some bruises, some jail, even some death mingled with a lot of uncertainty, much fear, and even more faith.

It would require getting on a bus and riding in the freedom ride to the heart of darkness, deep into Alabama.

There would be joy and singing on the bus, but the looming reality of danger was always present. It would change the lives of those who took the ride, but the courage it took to get on is beyond imagination!

It took a decision. Once the decision was made, that decision informed a person's feet and one got on the bus. Then the bus itself moved the travelers along.

But they had to get on ... and many did.

Recently, an historical researcher asked the question of some students, "Would you have gotten on the bus?"

The answers were mixed.

I heard this report in those moments between sleep and awakening with the news in the background and they startled me to wakefulness. The question was personal and much in line with the season of Lent.

Would I get on the bus?

Will I get on the bus?

Jesus got on the bus.

" And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem..." (Luke 9:51, King James Version)

What is the bus I need to board today? What sort of courage and resolve will it take? What will be the risks? What will be the joy of it? What songs will I sing? Who will be on the bus to share the ride? What will it change in me?

Will I get on the bus?

Will you?

Lessons from a Chimney Sweep

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Where on the ladder of life are you? You can be a happy bloke in the ashes and smoke. It's all in the handshake. It's all in the attitude. Bert loved his work, his life, and his friends? In these, he found joy and purpose. What could be better than to find that Place of Grace, joy, and calling today and live in this moment we have been given?



A Prayer for Help


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"Help me ..."
The prayerful cry of the broken heart.
The peaceful rest of the weary soul.
The quiet resignation of the stubborn will.
The blessed resolve of the discouraged traveler.
The hope of all who breath its prayer.
Help me to do Thy will.
Oh God of grace and mercy, God of truth and justice,
God of strength and power,
God of Love and Love Incarnate,
Hear my prayer.
Help me today, to see you with new eyes,
To hear you with greater clarity,
To know you in each moment and in each trivial thing.
Help me to love as You love through me.
Help me to help others.
As I till the soil, as I tend the tasks of daily life,
As I meet others along the way, Help me.
Help me to be salty and bright.
Help me to be gracious and kind,
Help me to think and pray before I say a word.
Help me.
Teach me to pray along the way,
To step in the footsteps that lead to the destination that ...
You have prepared for the close of this day ...
And the beginning of the next.
Help me, because without Your help,
I cannot face today
Or any day.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen (for now).



Here is your god
Here is your God, a God who gathers masses of outcasts, who gets personally involved with individuals, and manages the universe at the same time.

The same attention God gives to atomic structures and cosmic operations is directed toward your hurts and broken heart, the same attention and care.

" The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names." (Psalm 147:2-4 ESV)



Can these bones live


"God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun."

"He said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?'”

Ezekiel 37:1-2 (The Message)

Can these bones live again?

 It is the old question. It is new. It is real, It is ours.

We own it.

Even our own bones seem and feel dried up, but the bones around us ...

Oh, the bones around us!

We can psych ourselves up artificially and temporarily and we can walk around, but their bones have no visible life. And, when we are truthful with ourselves, we understand that our days of faking it through life are numbered.

It is when we speak to the dry bones around us that we know it is Spirit that brings life.

Flesh decays.

This is spiritual work and this is hopeful work.

We do little but speak. God breathes and when God breathes, life happens.



Random Dust, Magnetic Must

God comes 2

I often think in themes for a morning or a day or for even a week.

Themes develop and fade as quickly as they emerged ... fade into those mind files where they may or may not be efficiently labeled for retrieval, but are always present and sure to emerge again when needed.

I don't look for these themes; I just sort of gravitate toward them as if there is a magnet drawing the little specks of scattered metal dust into a meaningful center of thinking where a message might emerge if there is anyone to hear, discern, and apply it.

God comes ... into the scattered dust of our existence and there is something metallic in us and magnetic in Truth that draws us from randomness to reality and purpose. Sometimes, it is an angel voice that calls and sometimes our own random seeking that draws, but always, always, always, there is an invasion of divinity into our little conclaves of humanity that speaks with clarity.

.... If we will hear, we will hear.




Making One Day Count

Ten Strategies for Making the Most of Every Day

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We start each day with hope. At least I do and most positive people I know do the same. There is an occasional "dreaded" day, but it is the exception and is usually combated by positive self-talk and prayer. The rule is that we begin our mornings expecting to exploit our effectiveness and embrace our opportunities. Our "to-do" lists are full and our hearts are ready to meet our challenges until something happens. We don't finish our first task in the time we have allotted. We are now behind.

Then there is another glitch ... and another ...

And we begin to lose hope and heart.

How do we make the most of our days ...

Here are some suggestions. Since the sound of my thinking is sometimes "mmmmmmmm," I will use "m"s to gather my thoughts.

Marginalize - Build margins into your life and into your calendar. Don't overcrowd your day. We just don't allow enough space for the unexpected and serendipitous interruptions of "aha moments" into our time. Allow space in your planner and in your life to wander, wonder, and discover.

Maximize - Accomplish more than one task at a time. Consolidate trips. Listen to books in your car. Think efficiency in your planning. Take work to the coffee shop. Focus on the moment you are experiencing so that you accomplish more in less time. Prepare to use 5-15 minute slots effectively by having some basic tools ready to use and with you. Learn to use time wisely.

Minimize - Be ruthless in eliminating the time and task demands that will not advance your mission, purpose and goals. Set a specific amount of time for tiny and minimally consequential tasks each day. Do what must be done first first. Then, when the time is over, move on and take the list back up tomorrow.

Manage - Take charge of your own schedule. Politely excuse yourself from many good things that are not centered on where you are currently going in accordance with your mission. Give your time to people, but do so with wisdom and set appropriate boundaries. Invest your life where it will bear fruit. Your time is the only space in which you can live your life. Manage it.

Mature - You won't get this all at once. Grow a little in it every day. Keep a journal of what you are learning. Keep track of what is effective and ineffective and learn from yourself.

Minister - It is a word that means "serve." PLAN to serve people some every day. Build service into your schedule. Organize your time so that you have time to do things for others that will not benefit you in any predictable or tangible way.

Master - Master some skills that you will use frequently. Some things you do well take less time because you have eliminated your learning curve. Also, discover who or what masters you so that you will always have a compass to help you decide the direction you will take each day and all your days.

Move - Movement in life is essential. Apply grace as you proceed through the day and move things around in your schedule. Life takes unexpected turns. Have a planner with enough space to scratch through some things and insert new ideas and plans.

Muster - Gather other people to assist you in the days you cannot accomplish at all or accomplish alone. Delegate where that is in your power and enlist when your only power is influence. In order to do this, you'll need to cultivate good relationships daily. People are willing to help friends. So make friends.

Meet and Meditate - Start every day with a meeting. If you meet with God, which I recommend, prioritize that meeting. Prioritize it; don't categorize it or compartmentalize it. Let it envelope everything else in your life. If you are not there in your practice or belief, at least meet with yourself. Focus first on "being" issues, but bring your calendar to the meeting. Sometime, before it is done, go over it with God, your Higher Power, or yourself. Do it devotionally and openly and don't rush the time.

One could go on all day, but then one might start wasting time. What are your strategies?

There is more to do than can be done.

There is a smorgasbord of fun.

The race is longer than can be run.

Face it; we are under the gun.

So ... do what you can while you can.

"As long as it is day, I must do the work of Him Who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

John 9:4

I Am for Peace

Maybe you have felt this way before.

When the city erupts in violence, when the culture cries out for vengeance, when nations are quick to take up arms, when men love war more than peace, and when those who speak for peace are marginalized as soft, impractical, or disloyal, we cry out to God:

"Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!"

(Psalm 120:6-7 ESV)

But, As for Me (and other reflections)

But as for me

"But as for me ..."

It is my response to truth for which I am either culpable or commendable. I am not in charge of anyone else's opinions or choices. I can care, but I cannot control. I can converse, but I cannot coerce. I can seek to convince the mind, but I cannot convict the heart. Neither need I be swayed by the resistance of another. I need not the validation of peers in order to believe that which resonates truth in our hearts. We can relax in this because trust is resting in God and waiting for Him.

" But as for me, I will look to the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me."

(Micah 7:7 ESV)


"Why should the nations say,
'Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.'"
(Psalm 115:2-3 ESV)

The longer we live in and with faith, the less we feel compelled to justify, prove, or vindicate God for being God. We come to rest, not only in God's goodness, but in the unshakable reality of the truth God embodies and exercises. Truth shall been known and shall not be tilted nor shifted by our words or opinions. Sometimes we just need to wait until it is made known and not be rattled by the rantings of nations or pseudo nations.

" O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Exalt the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy!"
(Psalm 99:8-9 ESV)

God does not let us get by with our sins; He forgives them. That is two different things. Being forgiven is not "getting by" with something. It is a mystery that, for the follower of Jesus, makes sense in the drama and reality of the cross and which always leads to awe and worship.


Even Moses doubted in the midst of the mission.

"But the LORD said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.'" 
(Exodus 5:22-6:1 ESV)

Even while performing signs and wonders, having seen what he had seen and having experienced what he had experienced, he doubted and questioned God.

But he dealt directly with God about the matter. He did not skirt the issue or complain to others. He took the matter to YHWH Himself and this was also a part of that later reflection that he would speak to God like no other had before, face to face.

When he brought the matter to the Almighty, he was heard and he was answered. Greater glory would come by letting the process play itself out.

"Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, 'O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.'"



With the Judge as Your Attorney, You Cannot Lose

Fixed trial

We fall; we rise.

We are adjudicated and found guilty and then ...

The Judge steps down from the bench to plead our case.

It is as if we cannot lose; every loss becomes a win.

"Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication."

(Micah 7:8-9 ESV)

Silver and Gold - We Have None

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We cannot do everything, fix every problem, solve every issue, or finance every great cause. We do what we can with what we have ...

... and we have something very powerful, a word of healing and encouragement that can be applied to every crippling malady of the human condition.

Let us not become discouraged over what we cannot do...

Let us do what we can and speak what we can:

"In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”


"But Peter said, 'I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!'” - Acts 3:6 (ESV)




We Cannot Turn Away

Where there is pain

There is no political ideology or argument that can justify compassion. There is no dialectical point and counterpoint that will result in a prevailing decision to act with love, compassion, and good-news justice in the world. It is an ethical component of faith systems which I am not competent to represent. It is essential to mine, to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Where there is human pain, suffering, injustice, ostracism, inequality, or bigotry, I cannot turn away in apathy or judgment against the suffering. I must allow my heart to be broken and my body to be activated.

I cannot call myself a disciple of Jesus and turn away.

Political persuasion plays no role in my decision making or motivation. It is merely one tool to accomplish what I am compelled by conscience and the love of Jesus to do.

This is a self-confessed bias and I am as connected to it as my extremities are to my body. It does not matter if doing the right and compassionate thing makes me and those with me -- or even my country (if we happen to do what is right) look ridiculous or be at a disadvantage. What is right is what is right.

If we have faith in God, we cannot and need not calculate on the basis of expediency as the main criterion for decision making.


(Maybe, we are more broken than angry, but this song comes to mind and reinforces my courage!!!!)

Honest to God, Honest to Ourselves

Honest with God

The psalms teach us to pray deeply and honestly without pretense or presumption. They just let it out and then let God sort it all out.

What if we did not judge or measure our prayers before we prayed them? What if we just let all of our negative junk out and laid it on the table before One who is wise, good, patient, loving, holy, and true and then .... well, then, we let that One deal with it.

"This stays; this goes; deal with this; I can handle this; don't worry about this; you might want to rethink this; I hear you. I understand I love you."

What if?

That is how the psalms sound to me. All the vengeful, angry feelings are brought before God before anyone else. All of the despondency we experience is brought to the front so that it can be addressed. All of our hopelessness and fear is exposed and God meets us where we are.

We see all of those heavy bricks of guilt and bitterness hanging on a cross and being demolished.

He knows we harbor hate in our hearts that is weighing us down. He knows that we struggle with temptation. He knows that we feel persecuted and alone. He knows and wants us to bring it to Him.

When we do, we are transformed as we are released from the power of those feelings. They only rule us when we cherish them in our hearts and guard them with all our might.

We may be afraid for people to know we are human, but it is useless to to try and hide that reality from God. He knows.

"Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away."
(Psalm 31:9-10 ESV)

"Hey Moses, the bottom line is ... I'm not asking, I"m sending and I know what you can and cannot do and have already taken that into consideration and made provision for it. You will do and be much more than you think you are and can do. Just get up off your hind parts and get going!" (Sims Un-standard Version/Paraphrase)

Now the ESV:

"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)

The mystics have "studied" the works of the LORD. They have engrossed their hearts, minds, and eyes in the intense delight of sheer observation. The reverence of a John Muir, the childlike joy of a St. Francis, the eager eye of an artist studying the works of the LORD humble me. More delight and less compulsion to be right may be the path to insight. Today, LORD, may I bask for a few moments in the light of Your revealed glory and simply worship.

" Great are the works of the LORD,
studied by all who delight in them."
(Psalm 111:2 ESV)

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have fa good understanding.
His praise endures forever!" - Psalm 11:10

If the fear, awe, and reverence of God provide the starting point for wisdom, it would behoove me to begin there daily with simple acknowledgement and soul-deep realization of God's vast, impenetrable majesty.I must melt before I can be molded. If I can come unformed, unrefined, raw, and ready before the presence of God, then He can shape me.
Then, in practical practice, understanding shall come.

That is why it is so inadequate to start these moments with all of my questions and a sense that they need answers now.

I am so prone to getting things in the wrong order because of my own impatience and drive to acquire knowledge, insight, wisdom, and strategy. It is such a lure to hit the ground running spiritually, intellectually, and in performance.

God's ways are different. Sometimes, often, always, it is best to begin by sitting, standing, kneeling, all falling on our faces in the presence of God ... and just being there.

I have often availed myself of the wide place. I was having a moment of gratitude the other day when I realized that I was not wobbling, staggering, and swaying as I had been some months back. I was sure happy for the wide places when I was.

" You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip."
(Psalm 18:36 ESV)

Killing Birds While Doing One Thing

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If you like this clip art sample, order it from the link above.

That is an example of killing two birds with one stone: I used some art to make my point and I advertised the clip art company.

But. let's start with this: I like birds and I don't want to kill them. So, "killing two birds with one stone" is a metaphor that is unfortunate, but descriptive.

I also like to multitask and I plan certain things in life to maximize effort by combining task and building multiple purposes into one activity.

Yet, it seems, without a primary focus, it is very easy to lose all sense of purpose and the activity itself becomes primary rather than what it is, a tool.

I can't find the word "focus" in the bible translations I normally use, but the word "seek" is very prominent.

So, I have spent some time seeking on certain days. When it seems that I've been playing on Facebook and Twitter, those activities have been peripheral to the primary focus. (I also PRAY on Facebook - I have found it a powerful too-l for intercessory ministry without getting in anyone's face about it).

I am seeking through the things I read, through prayer, through meditation, through what I write, and through thinking. 

I woke up with all of this on my mind one day because there is so much to do and so little time. Because of the rush, I felt led and compelled to slow down and build this space into my day. I am expecting lots of birds to fall - poor little birds.

I am not sure we often have the luxury of doing one thing at as time with full concentration. When those times come, savor them and embrace them. In the meantime, we need to focus on the primary and include the peripheral. That is life.

Take comfort, birds, I am not going to kill you. It is just an unfortunate expression.

In the meantime, we have to find the One thing of the moment and let that be our compass.


I'm prayerfully musing over multi-tasking with multiple purposes and the benefits versus dangers of losing one or both in the process of serving both. I feel a blog entry coming on. I think we can accomplish more than one thing at a time, but one thing will be primary focus and the others, peripheral and bonus. The key seems to be settling on focus for the moment which require a strong sense of primary for life.

Hard Times

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Hard times are creeping all over.

Everyone looking for a four leafed clover.

Life as we know it isn't so easy.

Verses like this getting mighty cheesy,

Days are long. Rewards come slowly.

More time to waste, less time to be holy.

Everywhere I go, huddled masses huddling

Folks talking about hard times and muddling.

They're just trying to make it, fake it,

Shake it, bake it, and rake it in.

Preoccupation with lack of occupation

Lots of people on a forced vacation.

Where two are three assembled be

There's an "Ain't It Awful" assemble-ly.

(or a discussion of the economy

with a large dose of "woe-is-me")

Here's the challenge as I see it play out.

And you can either agree or call it way out.

When hard times come, we can let them define us ...

Or ... we can lean in, leap forward, and let them refine us.


Isaiah 48:10
"See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."




Three Fingers Pointing Back

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Psalm 109 is harsh. It is the song of a king who vows to recompense those who walk over others and persecute the poor, who disregard God and disrespect their neighbors. We are tempered by grace from acting harshly. We are called by Jesus to absorb and resist injustice at the same time. But we must not grow numb to the indignation that the psalmist expressed. We ought to cringe with such indignation and it ought to begin with those remnants of wicked motives within our own hearts and lives. Let us be so disgusted with that within ourselves that degrades and destroys that we set out to purge our own hearts regularly of their creeping decay that we might be singular in our love, sincere in our devotion to God, and simple in our service to humanity.

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I must ponder and take great care about the way that I walk. How can I do this in a rush? How can i do this if I do not rise before the demands of the day overtake me and the cares of this world absorb my attention? I must arise in time and devote the time to knowing what to do. By taking this time, I will save much time that will otherwise be spent flailing and failing, faltering and floundering. It is the blameless heart I seek, the heart that, in integrity, seeks not its own ends but those purposes of God for which it was awakened. Then, I begin where I am, in my own house, within the confines of my closest and dearest relationships, among those I have neither need, desire, nor ability to impress, to walk with integrity of heart. So, the psalmist tracks the beginning of successful person's day - Begin with God, continue with family, and branch out from there. Then, in verse 3, he reminds himself not to be drawn away by setting any vile thing before him. It is a good reminder that even the blameless heart can be distracted and diverted by the temporal temptations of decadent beauty.

The Addict's Prayer


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"Let no iniquity get dominion over me."

This is the prayer of any person who fears addiction to anything. It is the cry of anyone who knows the danger and potential of anything gaining that sort of dominion. What might it be? How might it disguise itself? What attraction might it offer?

More important is how we might resist and a prayer of resistance and remedy is offered, "Keep steady my steps according to your promise."

What promise? It is the promise to keep our steps steady. NIV translates it, "Direct my footsteps according to Your Word." The NLV renders it, "Guide my steps by your word," and The Message, "Steady my steps with your Word of promise."

At verse 140, he says, "Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it."

These promises have indeed been well-tried. Some, we ourselves have tried. Some we have not, but others have. The results are that they work and ....

Today can be a day of triumph and victory!

Prayer of the Destitute

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Eugene Peterson calls Psalm 102 "A Prayer of One Whose Life Is Falling to Pieces, and Who Lets God Know Just How Bad It Is."

The brother is broken, downtrodden, depressed, angry, and abandoned ...

Go to the Garden of Gethsemane and to Golgotha.

It is all there ... poured out in prayer and answered in reconciling redemption.

It is there, where, according to v. 16 in the ESV, "he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer."

Until we know we are among the destitute, our impoverishment is perpetual.

These prayers are carried to the garden and born to the cross with hints of hope:

" he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer.

"Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the LORD."

(Psalm 102:17-22 ESV)

Hints become clearer, the vision more compelling, and the Message resounds,

"God sovereignly brought me to my knees,
he cut me down in my prime.
“Oh, don’t,” I prayed, “please don’t let me die.
You have more years than you know what to do with!
You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago,
and handcrafted the very heavens;
You’ll still be around when they’re long gone,
threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
but year after year you’re as good as new.
Your servants’ children will have a good place to live
and their children will be at home with you.”

Living in Ordinary Amazement

Do you not perceive

We see something amazing and set it aside as if amazement is not the way we are to live each day. What is amazing must be some sort of aberration or inclusion. 

We cannot cope with what we cannot explain. We cannot chart our course by impossibilities.

We say such things to ourselves.

What is amazing is rare and fleeting.

It is this true or is amazement the common, ordinary, extraordinary, daily way we are to live this life of faith and expectation. Daily miracles in small doses are those movements of God that we must come to perceive and understand for what they are.

They are not out of the ordinary in the sense of being rare. They are rare only to the extent that they are not appropriated and appreciated.

It is a simple thing to find amazement. The strength to arise and face another day is extraordinary for some.

To find grace and provision in a time of turmoil is to walk by faith and not by sight. Spiritual perception is the goal of spiritual reflection and it is for fishermen and other every day disciples to discover as they walk with the Master.

We are ordinary people living extraordinary lives in ordinary ways.

Every day is a victory march.



God of Day and Night

Hope trigger

We walk among "perpetual ruins,"

reminded of what once was.

Were we born at the wrong time?

There once was glory.

All we see is decay.

Where is God?

Is it all yesterday's story for yesterday's people?

In the lament, there is a hope-trigger. 

" Yet God my King is from of old,
working salvation in the midst of the earth.
You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
You split open springs and brooks;
you dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter."
(Psalm 74:12-17 ESV)

Stop Picking on Atheists and Look Inward

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What does it mean to make a heart declaration that there is no God? I get tired of the lazy tendency to explain Psalm 14:1 as a description of atheism. I am not defending atheism; I am just saying that there were not enough atheists in the psalmist's day to be the subject of his declaration. He was not talking about them. He was talking about us.

I have often quoted "The fool hath said in his heart 'there is no God.'" with this reminder. It is not mental anguish, doubt, and struggle to believe that consign a man or woman to the realm of fools. The very word, "fool" is not an intellectual assessment in Hebrew wisdom literature. It is a moral designation.

Moral foolishness is the result of disregarding the ultimate truth that one knows to be true. The rejection of God by the fool here is not an intellectual rejection, but one of the heart. The psalmist describes a person who is generally convinced in his or her heart of the reality of God but who does not care or act upon that conviction in faith and obedience. Foolishness is what happens when we do not integrate what we know to be true into our heart/life choices.

Many very religious people, even professing Christians, are practical atheists. They do not honestly doubt the existence of God; they just do not care. They practice the works of foolishness with not reverence for what is holy and true.

We risk being foolish, shallow, and defensive when we deflect the observation of moral godlessness to others rather than considering our own ways.

Here is the whole verse in context:

Psalm 14:1 - "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good."

Corrupt character and vile deeds are the manifestation of irreverence and disregard for God here.

While it might be clever and make a great t-shirt slogan to declare April 1 to be "National Atheist's Day," it is not theologically accurate. Worse, it sucks the prophetic power out of a statement that was intended as a warning to those of us who know that there is a God and that God is to be revered.

Here are some observations from the Proverbs:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

Proverbs 3:35 The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.

Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Proverbs 10:14 The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.

Proverbs 11:29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Proverbs 12:16 Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.

Proverbs 12:23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

Proverbs 13:16 All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.

Proverbs 13:19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Proverbs 14:3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

Proverbs 14:7 Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.

Proverbs 14:9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.

Proverbs 14:16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.

Proverbs 14:17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.

Proverbs 14:24 The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.

Proverbs 14:33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known.

Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.

Proverbs 15:7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright.

Proverbs 15:14 The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

Proverbs 16:22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.

Proverbs 17:16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?

Proverbs 17:24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him.

Proverbs 17:28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Proverbs 18:2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

Proverbs 18:6 The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.

Proverbs 18:7 The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives.

Proverbs 19:1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.

Proverbs 21:20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.

Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.

Proverbs 26:6 Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.

Proverbs 26:9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

A final observation is that Paul turns the tables on all of this and let's some early believers know that to follow Jesus is to risk being called a fool. The Romans even called the Christians "atheists" because they did not participate in the worship of the multiple gods of the empire. Paul affirms the simple and obedient faith of the people of the Way as being at odds with the world's power structures and thought patterns, warning them that they will appear foolish and stick out like sore thumbs:

1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.