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May 2017

Sincere Love

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Romans 12:9 – Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

There is much in the world that disguises itself as love. Out of the noisy menagerie of voices declaring what true love is, there comes a call to sincere, undiluted, unpolluted love.

The clarion cry is the music of agape love. It is God’s purist and best favor toward undeserving and non-reciprocating sons and daughters of our first parents who unceremoniously turned their backs on their Maker.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be. (George Matheson)

Two characteristics of such durable and relentless love are that it abhors what is evil and cleaves to what is good.

Abhorrence of evil means that sincere love rejects every enemy of love and all that sets out to destroy the object of its love. If it is not good for us, God despises it and calls upon us to despise and reject it. Whatever destroys our potential and our intimacy with God is to be hated with extreme prejudice.

In like manner, to cleave to what is good is to practice the sincerest form of love. It is to embrace everything that nurtures, challenges, encourages, and purifies the child of God.

In this season when so many shall be promising undying love at the altar of marriage, let us encourage within ourselves that divine quality that flows from the heart of God.  Let us reject all that destroys and embrace all that builds.


We sit ... and wait for something to move us.

But nothing does.

We wait some more.


Then it occurs to us that maybe, just maybe, we have to move ourselves.

Then, in moving, we figure out what we are doing and where we are going.

It is really hard to move anything with the brakes on.

It is time to get up and get going.

"The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!" Proverbs 19:20

Post Memorial Day - We Must Continue

"He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored... His truth is marching on."

And may it march on.

Thank you to the young men and women who have paid such high prices.

May we never send you into needless battle.

May we highly value you.

May we always honor and respect you and you.

And should you come home wounded in body or soul, may we heal you and restore you.

Venture Forth and Return with Joy

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And the seventy returned again with joy-(Luke 10:17)

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

They returned again with joy.

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

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

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


For the Sake of the Call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opinion Anxiety (and other thoughts about thoughts)

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I keep some of my opinions to myself.

Some would ask, "Which ones?"

Others would comment, "Not many!"

I would chuckle.

I do. I really do ... and I would have many reasons:

It takes too long to explain them and I lose you in the - There are just too many steps on the journey to developing them (a lot like the first reason, but nuanced).

  • We may or may not share the same premises, world views, or assumptions.
  • They are just not that important in the larger scheme of things or ...
  • They may be important, but not AS important as other things ... but in expressing them, I might give the impression that they are.
  • As a result of the last factor, they might assign me a label or identity with which I am (a) uncomfortable or (b) I find inaccurate or distorted.
  • Fear that you might not like me anymore or might reject me ... which is a pretty lousy and dysfunctional reason.
  • I am not always all that sure of the validity of my opinions.
  • Sometimes, it just isn't worth the bother.

There! I have given you a full disclosure of my opinion anxiety. Do you ever have the same feelings? What do you do about them?


Deep thoughts ...
I have them ...
They are quite deep ...
And, they are covered with hard pan ...
Many pounds ... tons of hard pan ...
I need something stronger than a shovel to get to them ...
Never mind.


My tongue became en-lodged in my cheek in a recent posting ...
It took some doing, but ...
We were able to extract it ...
Though still a bit sore ...
And gravitating toward the cheek ...
I think it has learned from its errors ...
And will lead out in a more serious post ...
Next time.


Profundities - Number 1
If I ever write a book of profound thoughts, it will be a collection of deep thinking collected in unlikely places like the thought that passed through my hollow, shallow brain the other day in the locker room at the gym. Mark it down as "words to live by."
"If you are wearing high top shoes and your pants are long enough, it really does not matter what color your socks are."
Now, take that to the bank.


Vastness ... Heavens declaring the glory of God .... Wonder ... Magnificence ... Mind boggling awe ... Playful grace ... Awesome power ... I'm glad to live here too ... wherever we are ... centered in His love!


To Bless

God bless you!

Are those empty words rolling off dismissive lips or are they heartfelt expressions of prayer and giving?

What does it mean "to bless?"

How do we bless?

Here is an acronym for what it might mean for us to bless others; BLESS

B = Being. We first bless by being who and what we are. It is our lives that must be channels of blessing as we are authentic, vulnerable, and transparent.

L = Living Out. We bless others by living out our lives, living out-loud, living in love, and letting who we are find expression in our actions toward others.

E = Expressing. We can bless others by how we communicate with them, verbally and non-verbally. Expressions of grace, mercy, love, and peace can encourage and uplift if that is our intention.

S = Salt. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth." For these purposes, that is the stewardship of our positive influence in the world. That is what Joseph exercised in Egypt and it resulted in a nation being saved from and through famine.

S = Sharing. We bless by what and how we give as we use our resources for the good of others.

So, the call to bless is a call to authentic being, good deeds, gracious communication, positive influence, and generous giving.
What a difference those five things could make in our communities!

With Whom Will You Run and Who Will Run with You?


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Who is doing the giving here? On one hand, I am where I am today because others have run with me and cheered me on.

On the other hand, I have chosen to run in my own hard places because I have taken courage from those I have encouraged and cheered.

Everyone gains from the cycle of courage and encouragement.

Everyone has big challenges, doubts, fears, and just enough faith to begin.

What will you attempt today. Who will you encourage in their attempt?


Another Memorial

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“Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, [this] also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” - Mark 14:9


God wants us to remember some things. Some memorials are mandated in scripture, but the principle is always active. Lessons from life that are worthy of learning once are worth remembering and revisiting again and again. We remember because in remembering we grow in grace and in character.

This woman did what she could in remembering Jesus. For that, Jesus said she would be remembered. Hers was an act of simple devotion and profound love. We remember her because she reminds us to remember Him.

“Greater love hath no man …” Those who have laid down their lives on the battlefields of the world for friends and country need to be remembered for their sacrifice and because their sacrifice points to His.

We take courage from them as we take courage from Him. They challenge us as He challenges us. The values for which they died, freedom, justice, peace, are the values that we cherish to this very hour. If the call came, would we lay down our lives for them … from Him?

How great is our love? How great was theirs? How great is His?

Let us set aside some silence for remembering and reflecting. Let us remove us from the noise and madness of the world to a quiet place of gratitude. Let us renew our own commitments to the things that count. Let us ask our God what we can do today to love our neighbor more and preserve the freedom for which so many died.

Let us remember.


How to Pray in Times of War

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It seems we have been at war for decades with only short respites of illusory peace.

In reality, we have been in a state of war with Korea since the fifties and that state shortly followed World War II. Since we are always at war, perhaps some of these guidelines apply on how to pray.

Memorial Day: How to Pray in Days of War

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled …”  - Matthew  24:6a,

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6

I jotted these down in 2001 in a different war ... or at least a different phase.

As I write, our nation is at war against terrorism. Perhaps, by the time you read this that war will have paused and we will be between conflicts. Each time we go to war, there are some who feel it will be the last, but Jesus reminds us to expect more and not to be troubled because the time may not be yet.  Paul admonishes us that the cure for anxiety is prayer. The whole counsel of scripture gives us lessons on how to pray during times of war.

  • Pray for policy makers and military commanders that they will be guided by God and by truth.
  • Pray for the sergeants and chiefs that they will be able to maintain discipline and morale.
  • Pray for the soldiers, sailors, and airmen that they will be strengthened by God's grace and protected from harm.
  • Pray that we will have our understanding of what God's blessing is tempered by God and accept His definition of His blessings to us.
  • Pray for a minimum number of casualties on all sides and that civilian populations will be protected from harm.
  • Pray for righteousness, justice, and peace and for the success of every righteous cause including an end to terrorism and that many will turn to God, for worldwide revival.
  • Pray for our enemies that God will bless them. This is a non-negotiable command from Jesus. This includes praying that terrorists will voluntarily submit themselves before the bar of divine mercy and human justice and that they and others will be saved - this is what blessing ultimately means.
  • Pray for the will of God to be done in every dimension of human affairs and for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven, for repentance and forgiveness regarding our individual and corporate offenses against God and other human beings.
  • Pray for oppressed people wherever they are to be liberated and dealt with in a just and merciful manner.
  • Pray for comfort and healing for victims and their families and for families that are sending their sons and daughters to war.
  • Pray that we will hear whatever God may be saying to us in this hour.

In the meantime, Mark Twain gives us a great example of how NOT to pray in The War Prayer:


And a contemporary musical offering comes closer.



A Memorial Day Prayer for the Sunday Before

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A Prayer of Remembrance

God of all creation,

Father of life and love and truth,

Our One and only Master,

Your grace, mercy, and peace have sustained us through these days.

We have been touched by deep sorrow and burning anger.

Our hearts have been shaken.

Our lives have been bruised.

We have looked into our times as a mirror

And the reflection we have seen has made us shudder.

In fear and emptiness,

We have walked among the ruins and felt alone.

Yet we were not alone.

Weeping among the wretchedness of burning embers,

You were there.

It was but a glimpse through the rising smoke, but ...

We saw Your Son

Still weeping at the grave of Lazarus,

Still mourning with those who grief tears at their souls.

You were there, reconciling the world unto Yourself.

There, You stood with us, there.

We can only faintly remember now the laughter

Of our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, and companions,

Silenced by the violent hand clasped across their pale blue lips.

We mourn them and we remember.

And Jesus weeps.

We have nearly lost the vision of his smile, the warmth of her embrace.

We mourn them and we remember.

And Jesus weeps.

We find it hard to hear the sound of that once familiar voice,.

It is impossible to be comforted by that once constant presence.

We mourn, we remember, we weep and He weeps with us.

We shall not forget and You shall not forget.

We consecrate that place in our hearts ...

That sacred space that is more enduring than any earth-bound memorial.

There we shall be nurtured by memories,

Challenged to be more than we are,

Yet accepted as we are,

Consoled by the thoughts of those whom You also hold dear in Your heart,

For You are there also and there we see Jesus, weeping.

He is weeping and laughing and weeping ...

And lifting us up beyond our reach.

There we meet Jesus speaking truth to our spirits,

“I am,” says He, “I am the resurrection,”

He assures us, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

“Believe in God, believe in me.”

And there, in that place of tears,

He paints a picture Of  His Father’s house.

And there, He extends His hand,

His way, truth, life hand,

His loving, bleeding, wounded hand,

His tear-stained, blood-stained, tender hand,

His strong and steady hand of grace,

Ands we take it ...

Confused, unsure, trembling, we take that hand.

Lord, we take Your hand, knowing nothing but Your love.

And taking Your hand,  we hear You ask,

“May I have this dance,”

And we embrace life

And our feet begin to move to the rhythm of wonder

And we remember them with whom we also danced through life

And weep and laugh and dance and dance and dance

In memory

In tribute

In love.

God, for those who are yet broken,

Bring healing.

For those who are bitter,

Show mercy.

For those who are jaded and cynical,

Grant great grace.

For those who are laboring under guilt,

Hold forth the gift of repentance and forgiveness.

For those who are misguided, blinded, and battered,

We pray for a vision of your truth.

For those who are at war within,

Give peace.

For those who walk in the darkness of hate,


For those who are dead inside,

May resurrection take its rightful place ...

As their prevailing reality.

We yet weep ... and Jesus weeps.

We yet mourn ... And He mourns.

We remember ...

And He never forgets.

Thank You for the gift of their presence

For even such a short while

And for their enduring memory.




Worship with the Fellowship of Joy at 4141 Ministries - Online Service

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Welcome to worship. This is a virtual version of the order of service, scriptures, songs, and prayers we shall share together on Sunday, May 28 at 4141 N. Fresno St., Fresno, CA. 93726. You are welcome to join us there or here.

Let us begin!


God, our Father, Lord of life and love and hope, of forgiveness, grace, mercy, justice, and peace. We gather this morning across time and across the miles, in this corner of cyberspace.  By Your wisdom and power, knit our hearts together as one people in a virtual moment and space, to praise You, to seek You, to experience You, and to fellowship with one another. Touch the hearts of all who participate this day and beyond and the hearts of those who gather with them at 4141 Ministries. These things we pray to You, who with Whom there is all glory, power, and honor. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Scripture - Acts 1:6-14  

1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"

 1:7 He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.

 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

 1:9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

 1:10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them.

 1:11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away.

 1:13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

 1:14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (NRSV)



Glory Be to God on High

Glory be to God on high. Alleluia.

Glory be to God on high. Alleluia.

Praise the Father, Spirit, Son. Alleluia.

Praise the Father, Spirit, Son. Alleluia.

Sing  we praises unto Thee. Alleluia.

Sing  we praises unto Thee. Alleluia.

Glory be to God on high. Alleluia.

Glory be to God on high. Alleluia.

Jacob’s Ladder

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder. (3x)

Soldiers of the cross.

Every round goes higher, higher. (3x)

Soldiers of the cross.

We are climbing higher, higher. (3x)

Soldiers of the cross.

If you love Him, why not serve Him? (3x)

Soldiers of the cross.

Holy Spirit, Thou Art Welcome

Holy Spirit, Thou art welcome in this place.

Holy Spirit, Thou art welcome in this place.

Omnipotent Father, have mercy and grace.

Thou art welcome in this place.

The Bond of Love

Love through Christ has brought us together,

Melting our hearts as one.

By God’s Spirit, we are united,

One through His blessed Son.

Refrain: We are one in the bond of love.

We are one in the bond of love.

We have joined our spirits with the Spirit of God.

We are one in the bond of love.

Now, dear Lord, we join in worship;

Thank You for all You’ve done.

Thank You for this love You gave us;

Thank You for making us one.

Refrain: We are one in the bond of love.

We are one in the bond of love.

We have joined our spirits with the Spirit of God.

We are one in the bond of love.

Responsive Reading - Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35    

68:1 Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.

 68:2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, let the wicked perish before God.

 68:3 But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.

 68:4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds--his name is the LORD-- be exultant before him.

 68:5 Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

 68:6 God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land.

 68:7 O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

 68:8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

 68:9 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished;

 68:10 your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

 68:32 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, Selah

 68:33 O rider in the heavens, the ancient heavens; listen, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.

 68:34 Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; and whose power is in the skies.

 68:35 Awesome is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel; he gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God! (NRSV)

Songs of Praise and Prayer

Lord, I Life Your Name on High

Lord, I lift Your name on high.

Lord, I love to sing Your praises.

I’m so glad You’re in my life.

I’m so glad You came to save us.

You came from Heaven to earth to show the way,

From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay.

From the cross to the grave,

From the grave to the sky.

Lord’ I lift Your name on high.

Spirit of the Living God

Spirit of the Living God,

Fall fresh on me.

Spirit of the Living God,

Fall fresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.

Spirit of the Living God,

Fall fresh on me.

Let Us Pray ...

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'" Luke 11:2–4 (ESV)

Scripture from Epistles - 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11


4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

 5:8 Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.

5:10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

 5:11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

Prayer Song - Standin’ in the Need of Prayer


It’s me; it’s me, oh Lord,

Standin’ in the need of prayer.

It’s me; it’s me, oh Lord,

Standin’ in the need of prayer.

Not my father, not my mother,

But it’s me, oh Lord.

Standin’ in the need of prayer.

Not my sister, not my brother,

But it’s me, oh Lord,

Standin’ in the need of prayer.

Prayer Time - Please send your personal prayer requests to us via email.

 Father, we seek Your face this day.

We know that we are unworthy and we stand in the need of prayer.

We have sinned and come short of Your glory.

We have been stubborn, prideful, ungrateful, rude, unkind, and full of our selfish desires and ways.

We have moved to the front of the line when we ought to have served.

We have spoken when we ought have been silent and listened.

We have remained silent when we ought to have spoken.

We have sinned in ways that our hearts confess to You today with shame, embarrassment, and sorrow.

And we repent.

And we seek Your mercy and forgiveness.

We present our lives anew and afresh to You and we seek You.

We love You.

We need You.

We are burdened for our world, our nation, and our city.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our President and Cabinet.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our Congress and Courts.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our Governor and Legislature.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our Mayor, City Council, and Board of Supervisors.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our Chief of Police, Sheriff and their officers and deputies.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our military leaders and members of the service.

We are grateful for them and sorrowful for those lost in battle.

Comfort their families and grant that we may remember them in solemn gratitude tomorrow.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our first responders.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our business leaders.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our church and missional leaders and our congregations.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of our friends and family and the needs we name before You.

We stand before You and kneel before You on behalf of ourselves and our own need for strength, guidance, and holiness.

Have Your way in us and among us.

Hear our Spirits as they pray in Your Spirit.

Lead us today in Your righteousness and be exalted among us.

In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Prayer Response - Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying


Lord, listen to Your children praying.

Lord, send Your Spirit in this place.

Lord, listen to Your children praying.

Send us love.

Send us power.

Send us grace.

 Reading  John 17:1-11

17:1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

17:2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

 17:4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.

 17:5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

 17:6 "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

 17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you;

 17:8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

 17:9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours.

17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

 17:11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. (NRSV)


 What is in your hand to give today? What is burning in your heart? What great cause is God speaking to you about, moving you to share of your life and your material goods? What is the commitment to give that you shall make today? Make your offering in simple prayer to God now.



“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” - John 17:3

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” -Matthew 22:37-38.

The meaning of life is relationship with Jesus Christ. We have rendered such a statement trite by insincere overuse, but it is, nevertheless, true. For every lifeless, lonely soul, the message of joy and hope is found in one word: Jesus.

“This is life eternal,” Jesus said and His words were unambiguous. He defined knowledge of God always in terms of relationship and relationship always in terms of love.

Loving God is our highest calling for through loving Him we come to know Him more and life takes on a deeper meaning. As we love Him with every dimension of our being, we find significance and structure for framing our lives. We come to center and find balance and direction.

Don’t waste your time searching hither and yon for meaning. Look unto Jesus. You can travel the world and invest in hundreds of teachers and come no closer to truth than you will at the foot of your bed in prayer, meeting Him face to face. He is not hiding from you but is ready to enter into your struggles.

Many have found Him and then searched for more. You can go deeper in love, but you can never go deeper than love. Return to the place where you began. He is the meaning of life for time and for eternity.

Lord Jesus, You are the very meaning of my life. Lead me into a deeper, more intimate relationship with You in spite of my resistance and wandering attention. Amen.

Jesus prayed for Himself and for us. He prayed for GLORY and UNITY.

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

Background – the essence of the GLORY

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

  1. There is the prior glory that Jesus enjoyed with the Father in Heaven
  2. There is the glory that Jesus has brought to the Father on earth.
  3. There is the glory of the present hour – His death, resurrection, and accession.
  4. There is the glory of eternity in the Father’s presence.

Background – the essence of His REVELATION

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. “

  1. He has revealed the Father to us.
  2. He has revealed the Father’s Word to us.
  3. He has revealed Himself and His purpose to us.

Background – the essence of the His INTERCESSION

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

  1. Jesus prays for Himself and for His disciples: Glory and Unity.
  2. Jesus prays, later, for those who would believe through their witness (US!).
  3. He prays for protection for us.
  4. He prays for unity among us.

IMPLICATION of His INTERCESSION – How do we receive and live out this prayer?

  1. This means we can move through life knowing we have the PRAYERS of the SON and a PATTERN for Prayer – Glory and Unity.
  2. This means we can move through life knowing we have the PROTECTION of the Father in the Name of the Son. What sort of boldness would you have in living to the glory of God, if you truly believed you were ultimately protected?
  3. This means we can move through life knowing we have the PRESENCE of the Spirit who calls and equips us to be as ONE as His people as the Father and Son are one. In this, He continues to be glorified,

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


Decision and Benediction

Right Now

Right now, right now,

Commit your life right now.
Decide to live your life for Him,

Right now, right now.

‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
- Number 6:24-26


Be a GABber!


What if we all became GABbers?  

I propose a philosophical predisposition for ministry, business, and now politics which I will call GAB - Goodwill Attitude Bias.

Simply put, we check our attitudes regularly to access the level of bias toward goodwill in our actions, reactions, responses, and overtures toward others whether they are clients, constituents, coworkers, associates, parishioners, or people on the street.

Are the words we are about to speak and decisions we are about to make effecting and affecting them bathed in the sweet water of goodwill? Do we have the best interests of our hearers and the subjects of our comments at heart? Are we genuinely interested in lifting them rather than tearing them down, in building them up, and giving them tools for becoming all they can be?

Without exercising any control over people's lives and respecting their autonomy, are we concerned about them? Are we allowing God's love to flow through us toward them?

It is a well used cliche, worthy  of greater exposure that no one cares how much you kn ow until they know how much you care.

Don't fake it as a GABber; be one.

You can gab and gab and gab, but unless there is goodwill in your heart toward those to whom you are conveying your message, it is meaningless.

I included politics because , for over twenty years, we have operated in an environment of disrespect and uncivil childishness, no one is speaking to anyone. Political operatives talk over people, about them, through them, and around them, but John Danforth is correct about the loss of the center in American  politics and the abandonment of civility when there is an illusion of certainty in  our polarized positions. See his new book, Faith and Politics.

It is not enough to have a great message, a great cause, a great product, or a great business opportunity. if we don't love our neighbor and genuinely care about his or her well being, wishing that person well (which is the essence of goodwill), we really have nothing worthy of saying or hearing.

Cultivate goodwill as your attitude bias and live by your convictions. Not everyone will sign on with you, but many more people will be willing to hear what you are saying.

Maybe this is about people and animals, but it can be asked about people and people:



Preparing for Memorial Day

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It is not yet the day of remembrance, but we are preparing, leaving town, firing up our grills, and assembling our families and friends. We need such times; we create them; we transform them with the shared love of those who gather and with our stories, laughter, and feasting.

Yet, there will be many empty seats around the tables.

Yet their presence will be felt.

Yet we will have to work at doing what the day calls for: remembering.

Therefore, this shall not be the last post on the subject.

We remember those who followed their deepest sense of duty, loyalty, patriotism, and love of their countrymen. W

e remember them, honor their courage,, and pray for peace. Nothing is ultimately lost, no moment, no tear, no memory. Everything moves, transitions, and finds a new place of meaning, but all that ever was, is, in some way.

Love flows through the conveyances of generations. The laughter of yesterday still tickles our ribs.

The words and deeds of our ancestors still ripple through time and all choices create new streams of consequences and more choices. In remembering, we stir up that which was noblest and best in those who sacrificed for us.

We gather those qualities to ourselves, take them to our hearts, and live them out in our own unique ways.

Wars are political. Warriors do not start wars. They take orders. They stand and advance without considering personal cost in the decision. They do our bidding.

Let us be grateful for them; let us love and support them; let us be careful to build a world where their sacrifice will not be necessary on battlefields and let us make choices to sacrifice little things so that their precious blood will not be required of them.

Let us remember so that we will never forget. We


THE VACANT CHAIR Words by H.S. Washburn Music by George F. Root (1820-1895)

We shall meet but we shall miss him. 
There will be one vacant chair.
We shall linger to caress him 
While we breathe our ev'ning prayer.
When one year ago we gathered, 
Joy was in his mild blue eye.
Now the golden cord is severed, 
And our hopes in ruin lie. 

CHORUS: We shall meet, but we shall miss him.
There will be one vacant chair.
We shall linger to caress him
While we breathe our ev'ning prayer. 

At our fireside, sad and lonely, 
Often will the bosom swell
At remembrance of the story 
How our noble Willie fell.
How he strove to bear the banner 
Thro' the thickest of the fight
And uphold our country's honor 
In the strength of manhood's might.


True, they tell us wreaths of glory 
Evermore will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only, 
Sweeping o'er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, O early fallen, 
In thy green and narrow bed.
Dirges from the pine and cypress 
Mingle with the tears we shed. 




Think - Write - FAST


Take the shot
Do you need to think/write quickly. Use the FAST method:

F - Face it. The job isn't going away. It isn't getting easier. You will never get a perfect inspiration. Face the task and start.

A - Act on it. Start thinking and writing. Just put your fingers on the keyboard and see what they do. The finger bone's connected to the brain bone.

S - Say whatever comes to mind as you begin. Don't edit yourself - at least not yet. There will be time for that later.

T - Terminate. Whatever you have when  the time is up is what you have. Walk away and come back to it at another time. If it isn't obscene, ridiculous, or illegal, post it.

That is what I am doing right now. I had no idea what I was going to write 5 minutes ago. I made this up and I practiced it and I am going to click the SAVE button now and head out to my next appointment. I'll clean it up later. FAST - Face, Act, Say, Terminate.

Tom Out!

I wrote and posted this 10 years ago. The next day I came back and had about 7 corrections to make - NO BIG DEAL! I made them and  said, "I will probably find more to make tomorrow."



Flip the Greatness Switch

Flip the switch

When you dream great, worthy dreams,
you connect to a place in your heart
where you flip the switch
that turns on an attitude of expectancy
and wonder,
thus activating imagination
and motivation.
When this happens,
you engage your mind and
your feet
and your hands in the pursuit of your goals.
You rally all of your resources and,
if you will, by faith,
Greatness is yours for the believing,
and acheiving
when dreams partner with
thoughts, deeds, and
You are ready for an explosion of
and I am
your cheerleader!

S.A.L.E.S. - an Acronym for Success


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"What are you selling?"

I ask that question to the well dressed, smiling young person who has asked for ten minutes of my time, sitting across from my desk. I get a look that suggests I have demoted them to scraping scum off the bottom of a sewage pipe with a toothbrush with all the status and dignity they associate with that.

"I am not here to sell you anything," they insist. In a way, that is correct.

They are exposing me to information I don't have, opportunities of which I am not aware, and a relationship I do not have with them and their company. They are educating me. They are listening to me. They are trying to connect me with what I want and need.

But they are also selling something they believe in in a way that is mutually beneficial and that is honorable.

Sales is not a dirty word or a dishonorable profession - especially when you spell it right.

Here's a little spelling lesson. Here are some principles that are vital to your success in sales, but not exhaustive:

S = Sincerity. You cannot disguise some other motivation as sincerity and fool people. You must believe in what you are promoting, representing, preaching, teaching, or selling.

A = Attitude. It doesn't matter how often I talk about attitude, it is not enough, because your attitude will make or break you in any kind of sales. Bad attitudes lead to poor results. Positive attitudes put you on the road to success.

L = Laughter. Your sense of humor makes you likable and someone who is easy to relate to. I am not talking about being silly and unprofessional, but your ability to laugh with people shows that you are relaxed and confident. Among other things, it is a metaphor for transparency and authenticity.

E = Ethics. You need to be honest. No one does business with a cheat more than once. Whatever you do, do the right thing. Even if it means losing a sale, do the right thing.

S = Spirit. I mean your spirit, not God's. You need that too and ultimately. I mean life and energy, enthusiasm and motivation that comes from the depths of your being, that gets you up and going and keeps you going. I mean finding that inner voice that encourages you, that drive that moves you, and that courage that keeps you keeping on. Come to think of it, I am talking about the Spirit of God working with your spirit.

What are you selling? 

I appreciate it when you can tell me in a few words and with the right approach and I want you to win every time you help me win. Go out and sell something worth selling!

But first sell yourself to yourself!



Love Through Me

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Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

There is a prayer that has been part of my life, ministry, and business activities for many years. I pray it as I am preparing to speak, teach, or perform in any capacity before people in large or small groups. It is the prayer for love. I ask God to help me love the people with whom I am about to work and where my love is deficient, to love them through me.

If I can have that prayer answered in and through me, everything else takes care of itself. There is no way to fake it when I do not love. There is no way to hide it when I do.

There is much in the world that disguises itself as love. Out of the noisy menagerie of voices declaring what true love is, there comes a call to sincere, undiluted, unpolluted love. The clarion cry is the music of agape love. It is God’s purest and best favor toward undeserving and non-reciprocating sons and daughters of our first parents who unceremoniously turned their backs on their Maker.

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
(George Matheson, 1882)

 Two characteristics of such durable and relentless love are that it abhors what is evil and cleaves to what is good.

Abhorrence of evil means that sincere love rejects every enemy of love and all that sets out to destroy the object of its love. If it is not good for us, God despises it and calls upon us to despise and reject it. Whatever destroys our potential and our intimacy with God is to be hated with extreme prejudice.

In like manner, to cleave to what is good is to practice the sincerest form of love. It is to embrace everything that nurtures, challenges, encourages, and purifies the child of God. Let us encourage within ourselves that divine quality that flows from the heart of God. Let us reject all that destroys and embrace all that builds.

This is the prayer of every encounter whether in ministry, the public sector, business, or sales. Is it possible for those of you whose ministry is launched from the arena of a sales profession to practice this prayer as well as those of us who are in full time church based ministries? I think so. I first learned to practice it intentionally while teaching traffic school. Love is pervasive and its value is all consuming. Loving people is the very heart of integrity and good business.

Jesus said that when we love God with all that we are and have and our neighbor as ourselves, we have found the hook that all the law and the prophets hang upon. Let us love and be a people of love.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35



How to Handle Critics -with extra material! #turnitaround4good

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How do you handle critics? I have a few suggestions that may work. 

1. Smile and thank them for sharing their perspective.

2. Tell them you will consider it. That is all you need to or should say unless you feel it is worthy of a follow-up or clarification question.

3. Consider it - maybe just for a second - long enough to know if there is something that can help you and long enough to do what you said you would do.

4. If it has some validity, incorporate it into your thinking and decision making process. Later, if it really proves to be helpful, go to the person and thank them again.

5. If it is not helpful or does not seem valid, file it in a short term file.

6. If, after a short-term, it is still not something usable, file it in a long-term file.

7. After about 10 years, clean your files.

8. If the person brings it up again in the meantime, say, "Yes. Thank you. I remember that conversation and I gave some thought to your suggestion. By the way, how are the kids?

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

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

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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Here is a good video talk on criticism and mission .

Here is another:


Finally and Number 9 - Encourage yourself. So, watch and listen to THIS: 



Dialogue with Hope

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Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me ... It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD's hand has gone out against me!"  Ruth 1:12-13

"What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?  - Job 6:11

Did I ask you for a son, my lord?" she said. "Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?"  - II Kings 4:28:

... in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.  - Ezra 10:2

Without hope, we shrivel up and die. We atrophy from the inside out. We formulate no goals, develop no objectives, formulate no strategies, and launch no action plans for our lives. We stop dreaming dreams and seeing visions. Without hope, we cease to seek God and God actually becomes an irrelevant sideline to our lives.

Without hope, we die.

Hope is illogical. We can think of any number of rational reasons for discrediting hope in our own lives or the lives of others.

Hope is risky. At the worst, we lose time and money; at the least, we lose face. But without hope, we lose everything.

With all of that in mind, there is one solid, indisputable reason for having hope: Jesus Christ. While the “facts” may argue against hope, the Word of God says, “there is still hope.”  Hope is based upon irrefutable truth. It is founded upon ultimate reality and rooted in in dynamic power. If there were no evidence to support hope the still small voice of God’s eternal Spirit would whisper it into our hearts. But there is evidence. Millions of transformed lives through history and alive today attest to it.  Embrace hope and live.

Let us resolve to be people of hope. As we are becoming hopeful about God’s bright future, we will be contagious. The hope that spoils from our lives into the lives of other people will infect them for a lifetime and encourage them to rise up and accept the challenge the Lord brings into their lives.


Hope of the ages,

Breathe hope into my faltering heart.

Rebuild the foundations of faith

Within my troubled soul

That I may bear witness to Your

Constancy and faithfulness

As long as I live.

Love the Process

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Do you love the results of wisdom, but hate the process?

Wisdom is key to success in any endeavor. Without it, we falter at some point. For that reason, we all want it - and we want it right now. We want to be wise and successful. We want it immediately.

We all want good results, but it is the few who are willing to embrace the means by which good things come who actually receive the benefits.

Proverbs 12:1 says in the KJV, "Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish."

In the NIV, the word "instruction" is rendered, "discipline." The word for "brutish" is "stupid."

The meaning is the same. If you love the results, you will learn to love the process. It is "stupid" to expect  to grow without discipline and instruction.

It takes a degree of humility to submit to mentors, teachers, and coaches. It takes a truckload of open-mindedness to ask questions when we think we know the answers. It takes great wisdom to listen with the admission that we don't know everything.

Those who are willing to make such an admission are those who acquire greater wisdom and more useful knowledge.

Learn to love the process even if it stretches you beyond your ordinary comfort zone. Don't just endure it; enjoy it. Make it an adventure.

There are some other proverbs in chapter 12  that help me understand the reluctance of people to learn while they profess the desire to know.

Verse 12 says, "The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit."

"Net" means "plunder." Plunder is something you take from someone else after they have done the hard work and gained it through effort and application of truth. Plunderers gather up the fruits of war that others have earned.

We tend to plunder the surface fruits of other people's discipline, but real fruit comes when the search for truth goes deep in our lives.

That is why it is the "root of righteousness" that bears fruit.

Plunder will last until the first scorching heat or freezing rain, but that which is rooted in sound discipline and the natural processes of growth will last and continue to bear fruit.

So do your own work with the people that have come into your life to guide you. Study, read, listen, ask questions, observe the masters, allow them to observe you, and accept correction.

Verse 15  says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."

You can be right in your own eyes and still not prosper because your eyes have blind spots. Hating the process of discipline often manifests itself in an unwillingness to submit our ideas to the scrutiny of others and listen to their counsel.

The fool is not lacking in confidence, but it is false confidence based upon false assumptions that he is always right.

Verse 24 - "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute."

Verse 27 - "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious."

The lazy man may actually gain something and not be willing to do the follow-through to apply what he has gained.

Maybe you have been to a workshop and have taken meticulous notes - even made to-do lists to implement the moment you got back home or to work. Then, you put the notebook in a drawer and forgot about it.

You have not roasted your game. It just rots.

Our problem is that we have been conditioned toward laziness and we reject the process of discipline and learning because it looks too much like work. Follow-through is even harder.


It is hard work, but it is work that produces positive results and continues to do so. Wisdom perpetuates itself because it never stops loving the process and never stops desiring more and investing in growth.

What is the PROCESS?

P - Perpetual learning. You are a student of life for the rest of your life.You will never come to the place where you are not a student no matter how many people call you, "teacher."

R - Receptivity . You can't pour water into a container with the lid on. Take the lid off of your attitude and drink in what is being offered. Keep your knowledge to yourself from time to time so that you can gain the knowledge of others. Proverbs 12:23 says that a prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself all the while a fool is blurting out folly. There will be plenty of time to tell what you know and impress the socks off of people. Don't waste the time for learning by spouting what you already know.

O - Observation. Part of the process of learning is observing the world and people around you. Be a student of people and their behaviors. Imitate successful people. hang around so that you can observe. Sometimes it is just being there. Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

C - Counsel. Wise people who are getting wiser are always seeking advice and counsel. The are checking our their own impressions and not relying on what they already know. They seek counsel from the old and the young, from teachers and students, and from God.  Has it ever occurred to you why lawyers don't represent themselves in  court (or doctors don't operate on themselves?). There is a saying among those in the law profession that goes like this: A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for an attorney."

E -  Eagerness. Loving discipline implies an eagerness for it. It suggests that the individual seeks out mentors and teachers, opportunities to learn, workshops, audio lectures, books, journals, Internet sites, and companions who can help him learn and grow. The eager learner embraces correction and accountability and wants to know when he is on the wrong track.

S - Simplicity. While the process may seem complex, it is in the sense that it organizes itself as it is lived out in life. Discipline applied from the outside is not complicated. We are given instructions and assignments and we do them. We sign up for an entry level course and are given a text book. We look at the book and think it is to simplistic for us. So we go out and gather material that is out of sequence rather than submitting to the simple discipline of the course. The result it confusion. Don't despise the simplicity that is presented to you in order to consider yourself deep or advanced. Every new discipline starts out at the beginning for us. Don't skip first base.

S- Stages. All learning takes place in stages and some of us like to skip them. Don't. Take your steps one at a time. Occasionally, you may be able to skip one, but more often that not, you will discover later on that you missed an important building block and you will have to go back to that stage to get it.

Love the process and the process will bring you the results you desire.

Sins of the Fathers



Why should we confess and repent of our communal and historic sins?

After all, if we did not participate intentionally or in actuality, how can we be responsible?

Sin is personal at its core and there is a sort of sin that is by intention, not "mistake."

While we may not personally intend our participatory sins, the sins of our fathers,  we indirectly or directly reap their fruits to our advantage and as a "curse. "

Confession and repentance allows a community to break shackles of historic sin and move toward reconciliation and the doing of justice.

It is good for all of us - those of who have inherited the generational pain and those who have benefited from generational privilege. It may be that we are all some of both.

"Both we and our fathers have sinned;we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness."

- Psalm 106:6

Love Lenses

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It is very difficult to love our neighbors if the only lens through which we view them is the lens of fear. There are dangerous people in the world, but not all people are dangerous. Most are not. We need to change our glasses and view our neighbors through the lenses of love.

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

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

So, fear of anything or anyone else produces bad decisions whether personal or policy driven. We live by the liberating law of love. Fear and love cannot coexist equally in our attitudes toward others. Fear imprisons us and constricts us. Love sets us free.

God's love intervenes when we are inclined to retreat from Him and the hand of Jesus draws us toward Him. His Spirit fills us and we come. And we come that we may go, fearless into the world.


God, grant that, this day, I serve no idol, nor become ensnared by any god of my own or my culture's invention.

You know the ones that attract me most and I commit to You and Your help to avoid them like the plague and brutal masters they are.

In Jesus's name. Amen.



When You Pray, Say ...

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And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them,

When ye pray, say,

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

Give us day by day our daily bread.

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:1-4 -  1

Jesus teaches us to focus our hearts on the real issues in prayer: relationship with God, reverence for God, Kingdom concerns, practical needs, personal purity, and victory over sin.

“Our Father,” He allowed us to say with confidence and love. It accentuates our intimate and loving relationship with God. He rejoices to receive us into His presence and hear our prayers.

“Hallowed be Thy Name.”  No matter how intimate we are with God, He is God and we are not. He deserves our reverence and worship. We are not only His children, but His subjects.

His kingdom and will are our deep concerns in prayer. Kingdom motivation is the heart of praying in Jesus’ Name. We seek and request His will as we submit ourselves to His Lordship. This sort of praying pleases the heart of God.

We pray for daily bread because God wants to provide for our needs. He also wants us to ask. We bring our practical needs to God knowing that He is more concerned about our needs than we are

When we seek and offer forgiveness, we place ourselves on the altar of personal purity. We are asking God to remove any hindrance to what He desires to do in our lives, be that our own sin or our bitterness toward those who have sinned against us.

Finally, in Luke’s account, Jesus reminds us to keep our eyes on the prize and pray for victory over evil and temptation. The fact that we are authorized to pray this way gives us more than a clue that it is God’s intention to give us the victory.

So, our Master taught us to pray and so we ought to pray. In these few sentences all the prayers we will ever need to pray are included.



Glitches and Switches

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“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.” – James 1:17

Little Billy Clutz was so excited. His birthday brought more gifts than he could have ever requested. One caught his imagination more than any other. He had seen in advertised everywhere. It was a brand new, shiny red “thingamawidget.” It could do just about everything and with it, he would be an A-1 invincible kid. He tore open the package and inserted the batteries and – nothing happened. Dad, grandpa, Aunt Myrtle the engineer, and several cousins read and re-read the instructions, fiddled, cogitated, and scratched their heads all afternoon., Frustration simmered. The congregated Clutzes were unanimous in their disdain for this toy.

“Whoever designed such a ridiculous piece of junk?!?”

“I did.” It was Cousin Henry who had just walked in. “My company made these based on my design. Here … did you turn this switch as it says in Step One of the instructions.”

Zoom! The “thingamawidget” was now widgetting around the red-faced members of the Clutz family.

We are beset with two extremes. One is to take God’s gifts for granted and never think of the grace with which they are bestowed and gratefully cherish them. Another is equally insidious. That is not to read and follow God’s instructions on how His gifts are to be received and used.

For those who have grown dependent upon computers, glitches are never welcome. We store our notes, our records, and our very memories on magnetic disks counting on systems and machines to perform predictably whenever we need to retrieve our priceless information or do some task that we no longer know how to do any other way. There is no human power or technology that is infallible. God is unchanging and we can count on Him.   

Our trust must be in God and He must be our most cherished treasure. It is the giver who designs the perfect gifts for us and can instruct us best on their use.

Bold Praying, Gracious Giving

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened… If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? - Luke 11:9–10, 13 

Jesus raises two issues. One is concerning what sort of praying people we ought to be. The other is what sort of God is it to whom we pray.

We are called to persistence and consistency in prayer. We are to be like the desperate and audacious friend who goes to his neighbor at midnight seeking bread to feed his guest. That kind of boldness gets God’s attention. He wants to develop that in us.

If we ask, we will receive. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, the door will be opened. E.M. Bounds says that God has placed himself under the law of prayer. He is Sovereign. He can do that. It is His choice. He has chosen to respond to prayer for His own reasons.

One may be the change that it affects in our own lives and the intimacy that is facilitated when we enter into partnership with God concerning the things that concern Him.

Jesus says that the neighbor, who is just a man and subject to sinful motivations, responded to the boldness of his friend and not to his friendship. By contrast, God is our Heavenly Father who is always waiting up for us. His light is always on and His delight is to give us good gifts.

That is who God is and His greatest delight is to give us the Holy Spirit, who incidentally, teaches us to pray from within and prays for us and through us.

We have two very major reasons to pray boldly: because bold prayer gets action and because we have a generous God who happens to be our Heavenly Father.

Bullet Biting Behaviors

Bite the bullet

You know the way it goes. Some jobs take 3-6 months and two hours,  and sometimes only five minutes over the initial gearing up period. However, they require some significant teeth marks in some hard metal bullets. The tasks are just extremely difficult to contemplate and somewhat disappointing to brag about while deeply gratifying to have completed.

Cleaning my desk, for instance, has required a holster full of bent bullets with  tooth impressions profound enough to constitute a complete dental exam. I was, frankly, overwhelmed and that was the first battle. Moving from despair to hope is such a leap of faith, but it is 90% of the battle and takes 99% of my time. Once I started, I began to sense of snow-balling of hope.

Now I sit at a clean, well organized desk.  Ambiguous items are stuffed in a box for later examination and a more emotionally detached decision.

I wonder how long it will last - probably not as long as it took to make it happen.

This seems to call for an acronym. Therefore, I will attempt one: BITE the B (The bullet, that is).

B - Bury your apprehensions. Whatever is holding you back seems worse than it is.

I - Inhale. Come rested and just decide to do it.

T - Take time. Give the task a reasonable, but not overly extended block of time. In fact, a bit of a deadline could be helpful.

E - Energize. Start your engines. Feel them rev up. You are tuning your mental faculties toward your physical demands.

T - Test the waters. Start with a small piece of the task that you could do and it would be enough if you decided to quit for the day.

H - Hands on. Touch your project with both hands.

E - Enter into the "doing it now" zone with your whole body and soul.

B - Begin in earnest. There is no substitute for starting. Once you have started, really started, you are less likely to quit.

Bite the B!

Do It


What is that on your heart?
Is it just another attachment,
Or is it part of the whole?
Can it be severed as part?
An incidental detachment ?
Or must it remain as your very soul?

I think it is more than you know
More than you suspect
More than you can part with.
I think it is ebb and flow,
Something you must protect,
That which you must daily start with.

It is - Is it not, your dream?
It is that essence you embrace,
That core of being driving you on.
It is the radiant, pulsating beam
That neither time nor trouble can erase.
It is what keeps you striving when hope's gone..

You are a dreamer, fashioned with purpose.
You are a schemer, designed for greatness.
You are a believer, infused with boundless hoping.
Live your dreams surrounded by the circus,
Under the big top with crowds predicting a fate less
Wonderful than what you know as groundless coping.

Reality is what you dream.
Activated by what you do.
Empowered by who you are.
You are far more than what you seem.
Your reach extends beyond your view.
Do it now and you will go far.

God be with you as you dream and do.

Just a thought to encourage you to embrace your God-given dreams with your God-given resolve, passion, and love and go for it.

I am cheering for you today.

Who May Dwell? Psalm 112

Here is a man who blends fear and delight, reverence and giddy joy into one holy holistic package of emotion.

He is blessed as he walks in humble awareness of God.

Light dawns for him.

He has riches that most would never recognize.

He has faith and confidence.

He is stable.

He is at peace no matter what comes on the news.

He is steady, brave, generous, righteous, and kind and he really ticks off his enemies because they cannot, through their grabbing power plays, come close having to the shalom and joy he has.

Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!

(Psalm 112 ESV)

Still Standing

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“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.” – Psalm 77:5

“Can you believe that old church is still standing?”

Harold shook his head. He had been sure that it would have toppled over by this time. It had been in disrepair 40 years ago, the last time he had darkened its door. Now, here it was, just as he had left it behind along with his faith so many years ago.

It still stood as a beacon to its community and a reminder of the days of old and of a Savior who was and is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

We must often look back to look forward. The past informs the present and fashions the future. It prepares us to trust the God we have known in times of old to be as faith today as He was then.

We stand on the shoulders of the pioneers of faith, those who tested the Word of God with confidence because they had nothing else upon which to stand.

We come to the ancient monuments to be reminded why our clever schemes have so often gone awry and the Word of God endures.

We see that the Church of Jesus Christ still stands in spite of onslaughts from without and dissensions from within. We cry to God for help. We stretch out our hands. We sing the songs we sang as youngsters with simple trusting belief. We groan; we faint; we inquire.

And we come home to what is unchanging, God Himself.

Eventually, every edifice shall fail, even those dedicated to His glory. Yet, he shall never fail. His Word and His Truth shall endure through eternity.

He has called us to remember and to use that memory to move forward.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is still standing.

... and so can we ...



Bad New, Good News


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

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

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

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

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

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

(Ezekiel 18:1-4 ESV)

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God's "Thing" for the Oppressed


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God has this great "thing" for the poor and oppressed.

Don't take my word for it.

He upholds the cause
of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets prisoners free,

 the LORD gives sight to the blind,

the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves
the righteous.

The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless
and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Psalm 146: 7-9,  NIV

God loves the broken of this world.


If God seems to have this decided bias for the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, the righteous, the alien (Yes, the alien), the orphan, and the widow, ought not we? If He frustrates the ways of the wicked who oppress these, ought we not be cheering Him on?

Whose side are we on when we align ourselves only with those who can improve our own standards of living and who work only for self-interest?

We must follow our dreams. But we must hold our dreams up before God and ask if they are aligned with His dreams. We must focus on goals, but we must allow God to scrutinize our goals. Perhaps our dreams and goals are too measly for us. perhaps we have settled for something less than God's larger dream. Perhaps our circle of hope is too tightly woven around our own personal desires.

Isaiah said it first in Isaiah 61:1-2 and it is then quoted by Jesus as His life mission in Luke 4:18-19. It is the calling to be God's instrument of peace to the most vulnerable of the earth:

The Spirit of the
Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good
tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them
that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of
our God; to comfort all that mourn ...

Jesus stopped at, "...the acceptable year of the Lord ..." not because the rest was not true, but because He was speaking of His own mission in that moment, His dream, His goals, His calling.

Then, in John 20:21, He declares,

" ... Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent
me, even so send I you.

If our dreams, visions, and goals are to be aligned with His, we must be sent as He was sent and go as He went to live our lives for the Greater Dream.

You can claim that He is only referring to spiritual deliverance if you like, but you will be taking great hermeneutic liberties. Of course, it is spiritual. And of course, we are all poor and broken if we get honest with God. The richest among us is needy and poor. But there is no room for dismissing the obvious and simple application that God is concerned for those who are oppressed by wicked people and institutions in this world.

He is biased toward those who are downtrodden. He takes the side of those who do not have the power to take their own side.

For that reason, I am neither a loyal Republican or Democrat. The politics of Jesus is such that is a bit simpler and, at the same time, more complicated. Both parties are sometimes right and often wrong. That is OK because they are human and doing their own thing.

But there is no party or political philosophy with which a Christian can and ought to be entirely comfortable.

For the same reason, I cannot view my goals and dreams for success, be they in business, ministry, social enterprise, or political action, as merely secular pursuits. They are part of a larger view and a bigger dream.

I encourage people to think positively and move toward success as part of this understanding that God wants to lift people and wants to use us to lift people as well. But it is in the context of a deeper understanding and wider perspective.

It is wrapped up in God's grace, in Christ's redemption, in the call to repentance, in the invitation to personal salvation, and in the call of Jesus to follow Him to those places where people are needy and hurting. I cannot be convinced that there is some division between a social conscience and an evangelical message, between a concern for the needy and principles of personal success. They must must be integrated and they must be understood in light of God's big picture.

He is personally invested in the business of lifting people who are broken ... and so must we be, whether our primary calling is ministry through the church, through business, or through public service.

I filter my thinking about many issues through this understanding of the Word and heart of God.



Everything Means More Than It Seems

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" And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.'”

(Matthew 12:7-8 ESV)

Shadows are shallow shades of  deflected light imitating substance.

They are a sub-reality reflecting a more tangible reality which may, itself, be pointing to a deeper reality.

God has stepped into our reality illuminating the essence of every marker of meaning, crisscrossing the circuits of the sun, casting shadows in places and casting light in others, pointing and appointing.

God speaks and the words themselves are substantive.

God breaths and life is born.

God moves and every movement is word and truth.

God shines and that truth becomes clearer.

Everything means more than it seems.

May you find a Sabbath blessing this weekend and a space of rest and fulfillment.


The Inaugural Address

He won no popularity contest that day, but He did define His mission without ambiguity and with utmost clarity:

* to proclaim good news to the poor.
* to proclaim liberty to the captives
* and recovering of sight to the blind,
* to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
*to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

" And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. "

(Luke 4:16-30 ESV)

Eat Well, Train Well, Run Well

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For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11, ESV

We don't like discipline much and that is fine.

It is painful. We like pleasant things. When we allow our preferences for that which is pleasant and comfortable to rule, we suffer in the future.

Look at our bodies. Do they reflect an embrace of discipline or an acquiescence to convenience and comfort? If they have been coddled and treated to excess, they will serve us well as time passes on.

The physical life mirrors the spiritual life in this way.

Hebrews 12:11 compares the moment to the eternal and paints the canvass of the future with images of the beatific and peaceful fruit of righteousness eternal abundant at the table of grace.

What will it be?

Cheap, calorific, processed junk food here and now, a high fructose corn syrupy spirituality or a feast of unimaginable delicacies in the presence of the best company we could ever think to invite down the road?

Sitting in a recliner, guzzling beer and chips which watching the world go by is an option. They don't call that piece of furniture a "Lazy Boy" for nothing.

Another option is to ingest quality spiritual nourishment, train vigorously, run the race, and finish well.



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

Hebrews 12:1-12, NIV

Consider the cloud of witnesses. We live in a day when we have taken the word, "cloud" to refer to some shared space in cyberspace where information, networks, and representations of humanity, personality, and community reside and collide. The cloud consists of banks of computers all over the world and in orbit around the globe. It is definable, but difficult to know in full. But the cloud is Hebrews is vaster and even more challenging to locate except by faith. Yet, it is real and somehow, all who have entered the cloud have become a cheering section for each of us who runs the race of faith in real time. Let us run. Others have and they are our witnesses that there is a finish line and the One who ran before us with suffering and sacrifice awaits us at the finish line.

It was joy set before Him and it is joy set before us. We don't like the shame we endure. He despised it but did not allow it to define it or to define him. He endured it; he did not let it defeat or distract him, but turned it into a means of glory. Learn to endure what you despise. Shuck the shame and run for your life, not away, but toward the goal. Everything that would defeat or distract becomes a means to glorious end if you don't stop. Keep on! Look to Jesus!


The Triple Threat to Discouragement - Romans 12:12

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Romans 12:12 – Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.

Part 1– The Forward View

Discouragement has met its match. Romans 12:12 has a devastating affect on discouragement by wielding a weapon I call "The Triple Threat." It is a formula and I am generally suspicious of formulas. However, this one is built upon core realities and it not only works, but it propels us to the next level of maturity, preparing us for challenges yet to come. They can be summarized as:

Rejoice in hope.
Be patient in affliction.
Be persistent in prayer.

In these three statements, our brother, Paul summarizes the essentials for overcoming obstacles that are ever-present in our lives by taking three views of reality: the forward view, the inward view, and the upward view.

The forward view defies stagnation in the bleak present of immediate circumstances. "Be joyful in hope," is the rallying cry of the Christian optimist. We gravitate toward poles like the twins in Ronald Reagan's favorite joke. The pessimistic brother was despondent as he gazed upon the multiple gifts he received for his birthday, prophesying that they would all soon be broken. The optimistic twin, however, was exhilarated by a room full of hay, exclaiming to his friends that with all that straw, there must be a pony in there.

We see everything through the eyes of hope and we process everything we see in the spirit of joy.

Hope is always unrealized potential. It is always visualized with something other than physical eyes and it is always a matter of choice. Hope can be unrequited, but the hopeful person is never bereft of all benefit because hope is its own reward. It wakes us up in the morning and gets us on our way. It is futuristic and positive.

The spirit of joy is rooted in the essential nature of its linguistic cousin, grace. The gracious giddiness of a hopeful soul is contagious and compelling. We have no need to engage in a grand cover-up of our foibles and failures, because God loves and accepts us with our warts and widgets. Therefore, we can chuckle at the prospects of whatever lies ahead. We're moving on and the destination is wonderful!

 Part 2– The Inward View

Romans 12:12b - … patient in tribulation …

The forward view teaches us to rejoice. The inward view is our companion through the common experience of pain and hardship. No human being is exempt from affliction. One day, one of those afflictions will escort us from this waiting room we call life into a wider place of grace we call eternity. Then eternity will redefine life. Until then, we suffer - some more, some less, all some. Patience is our guide through this process. It is the little voice that reminds us that we are people of hope and that we can face this trial with God's help.

We are not blind to the trouble. As we practice patience, two truths balance our inward view to create a whole picture. First, we are aware of the realities that surround us. Second, we are stabilized by the roots that ground us.

The realities that surround us are what they are. What is ... is. We are not Pollyanna imitators - although, I must admit that a fresh look at the much maligned little girl's character in film left me more on her side than on that of her critics. Pollyanna was on to something. She wasn't oblivious to the pain; she transcended it. Nor are we, as Christians, called to an opaque window through which we might gaze upon a glossed over concept of all that is. We see the tribulation around us, acknowledge it, engage with those caught in it, and seek to make a difference.

At the same time, we balance it all with the roots that ground us. Because we believe in purpose through divine providence, we know that "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." We likewise know that faith is substance and evidence and that the evidence points to an unseen reality that is as real and far more substantive than what we can quantify in the world around us. We are grounded by revealed truth and heavenly hope. Patience builds upon hope, the inward view upon the forward view.

Part 3– The Upward View

Romans 12:12c - … continuing instant in prayer.

In the first two parts, we have looked at the forward view of rejoicing as a fatal blow to discouragement, especially when accompanied by the inward view of patience in the midst of tribulation. We come, then, to the upward view. It is the energizing and guiding force behind the first two. It is prayer. E.M. Bounds said, of preachers, but it is equally true for all, that "we need real, live, heart praying by the power of the Spirit."

He went on to describe that needed prayer as direct, specific, ardent, and simple. Two observations that reflect an overcomer's prayer, powerful enough to fuel the weapons of our arsenal battling discouragement are that true prayer is a partnership and that it is expressed in persistence. Paul says that we are to persist in prayer.

That prayer is partnership is a matter of definition. A wide angle view of prayer in the scripture will unveil a tapestry of dialog between man and God where each opens his heart to the other and where silence is often as powerful as words. Romans 8 teaches us about groanings that cannot be uttered which are sung by the Holy Spirit within us. Prayer brings us into a life long partnership with God where we can begin to breathe together in an ever deepening love relationship in which no subject is off limits and no time is the wrong time to pray.

It is, therefore, persistent. We don't stop. Quitting is not an option. There will be ebbs and flows as the tides of our lives and moods mingle with the challenges of our times, but we keep praying and we do not lose heart. We pray as individuals and as a community. It is the strength of our praying that will inform our hope and infuse our joy. It is the persistence of our prayer lives that will bolster our patience in the inevitable struggles of our lives.

Discouragement has met the triple threat of three broader views of life. It has no hope. We do.



How many (Fill in the blank)s does it take to change a (Fill in the blanks.)? What? Change?!!!!!

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If we don't want change, all change is intimidating.

George Carlin said he put some money into one of those change machines and nothing happened.

Sometimes, I'd be happy to find a change machine that actually produced transformation in any number of areas of my life and community.

That is one of the appeals of the Jesus movement through history. Those who embrace it and proclaim it know it to be a message of transformation. The human side of transformation is a word that sounds like a Bible thumper's theme, "repentance." It calls forth memories of muggy nights, loud preaching, stern looks, and harsh threats to all who will not repent.

It really means "change" and the gospel writers paired it in the preaching of Jesus with the good news of God's Kingdom.

Why good news?

The good news is that, because there is a new regime and order of things with the coming of a new king, change is possible. It is mandated because it is no longer futile.

A man asked the Zen Buddhist merchant for change for a dollar and he replied, "All change comes from within."

True. It does. It comes from the indwelling presence of a power greater than ourselves who possesses power and personality and who deeply desires for us to come a be a part of His kingdom of joy.

How about an extreme makeover - spiritual edition?

Change from the core

We will start with the CORE of our lives - our spirits, ignited to life by God's Spirit and radiating out into four dimensions of living:

Community, Occupation, Resources, and Emotions

Yes, that spells, CORE.

Another key word is related to the construction of a life that is strong and resilient in the midst of the culture quakes, economic tornadoes, circumstantial floods, and faith explosions of our times. That word is STAND.

To STAND, we must Shore up our foundations, Take a Team approach, Act purposefully, Name our resources, and Develop our souls.

The last time I taught it, it took five weeks to consider and a lifetime to implement.

Change is possible and we can stand and withstand the onslaughts of overwhelming problems in uncertain times if we will develop from the CORE.

Poor, Broken, and Beloved

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As for me, I am poor and needy,

but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God! - Psalm 40:7, ESV

Indeed, I am poor. Indeed, I am needy. Indeed, I am known, helped, and delivered.

Oh Lord, You know my frame. You know my shame. You take thought of me and I find that humbling, comforting, and embarrassing all at the same time. But I am grateful and I would have it no other way. Here I am, flawed and flagrantly so. Here I am. Thanks for the thoughts!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. - Psalm 51:17, ESV

How can we ever justify despising the broken heart?

We cannot despise it in others. We cannot despise it in ourselves.

It is a sacrifice. It is a sacrament.

Broken and contrite we come crawling to be lifted by the surprising mercy of grace. We are never turned away when we are must vulnerable and most likely to think we shall be rejected.

The open arms of God welcome us.

The broken heart of God heals our broken hearts.

We are far more beloved than we know.


Be still and know

Focus is what we so often miss. as our eyes dart in multiple directions.

We cannot seem to stay on theme, on message, or on task.

We create alternate realities with alternate facts and individualized interpretations of the indisputable realities all to maintain some comfort with our paradoxically static stasis.

We want direction, strategy, a vision, and plan, a sense of purpose, but we are too busy with life to receive it.

We talk to much, think too much, calculate too much, eat too much, and fill our lives with too much to get a simple sense of direction.

Moses emptied himself of every other concern and went to the mountain to listen.

While he was there, isolated and settled, something happened.

 And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” neither ate bread nor drank water. And he twrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. - Exodus 34:27-28, ESV

In that short time, forty days, the silence and stillness would produce a few words of direction that would guide a people for thousands of years and change the course of history.

But he had to FOCUS on what HaShem (The ONE) had to say.

Where is the focus?

I know that I am lacking in it.

Are you?

Stop and listen. Sometimes we call it Sabbath.




Strangers Here


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We are all from somewhere and ...
Somewhere along the line our people have been invaded, oppressed, enslaved, and, victimized or ...
Been invaders, oppressors, slave "owners," and those who victimize ... or/and

AND/OR/AND ... looking for a place of opportunity and willing to contribute to the community where we have settled down.

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God, forgive us for the injustices of the past. Your Word calls us to confess collective sins in which we may not have directly participated. But we have benefited from the suffering of others and continue to do so. Show us the way to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you in a new vision of a new and beloved community that welcomes the stranger and honors those whose toils have tilled the soil from which we sow and reap.

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.  -Leviticus 19:34 NKJV

That's the BIBLE!

And it gets a little stronger when you start following the words of Jesus!

"Love thy neighbor as thyself."

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Prayers of the Day Today

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land. - Psalm 85:8-9 ESV

I can pray to hear and I do.
I can embrace the peace and I do.
I can receive the salvation and anticipate the glory.
I do.
But ...
Let me not turn back to folly for folly follows my soul.
Therefore, I must walk around with these words more intimately and ...
I must walk with the Word who breathed them first into the soul of the psalmist.


 Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.  Psalm 86:11, ESV

I pray, today, for a united heart.
A divided heart is dysfunctional and unproductive.
A healthy heart is a united heart.
Teach me, your way, O LORD.
Teach me your way.


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

Steps and Stones

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Walking in His Steps

Three Words

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake … Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.  For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully .. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.  - I Peter 2:13, 18-19, 21

In a recent study of I Peter I underlined three words in the text over and over:

Submit, Servants, and Suffering.

As we examine ourselves today and consider walking in the steps of Jesus, Peter is trying to help us do so in the through the lens of these qualities. They will transform how we give, live, and walk in faith. If we understand submission in the light of our call to present ourselves to God and honor His Name, we will find dignity in subservience.

If service is a quality of our lives based upon Jesus’ example, we will never be degraded by it, but will embrace our opportunities joyfully and with great anticipation. Finally, if undeserved suffering is connected to our Lord and His sufferings, we will be blessed beyond our imagination. The bottom-line issue for us is that we belong to Jesus Christ, lock, stock, and barrel. Everything that we are and all that we have is His.

He lived that way among us in relation to His Father, and we are given the honor of walking in His steps.

In your life, there will be times when you must submit to someone or something you may be tempted to resent it. There will be times when the service asked of you in disproportional and out of balance in your view. And you may be called upon to make sacrifices that are uncomfortable and painful. In these situations, first examine your own heart and come to the place of proper relationship with the Master.  

Submit to Him, let your service be to Him, and see your own sacrifice in terms of His great sacrifice for you. Walk in His steps.  If you can arrange your thinking in such a manner, you will live with joy and freedom.

Take the Challenge - Being the Temple

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being builtinto a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”


“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

- 1 Peter 2:4-12 (NIV)

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Ancient temples were made of stones fitted together with care and purpose. They were often magnificent and elegant because they were intended to house deities. Christian houses of worship are not temples. They are not places where God lives. God lives within and among the people. However, there are some parallels in house we view simple houses dedicated to worship and, ore importantly, how we live and present ourselves to the world. As new covenant believers, we are the temple of God both individually and collectively.  Our church  is not a building, but a living organism, a lively house of God that assembles in a specific place but is not confined to that place.

Our challenge is not to build God a better physical house, but to present all that we do and say as testimony to His power, love, grace, and beauty.

If we meet in a building, we should care for that building. As He lives in our bodies, we should present our lives as an offering to Him that brings Him honor in the world. As we gather as His people, we should seek His magnificence and elegance in all of our relations, ministries, and worship. Our challenge is the same today as always: to acknowledge Jesus Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, in all things. And it is to live in the worlds as both priests and stones of the temple so that the world will take note and glorify God. We were not always so noble. Where lost people were in relation to God, we once were. There is no effort too demanding and no challenge too great. We must declare His praise and draw others to Him.



How Can We Know the Way?

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Picture the upper room and the somber mood of twelve friends hearing the ominous words from their Master that He will soon die and that they will soon fail Him.

“Not I,” protests Peter.

“You will,” declares Jesus, “But let not your heart be troubled …”

And then He offers hope, that He is going to prepare a place for them, that He will come again to receive them to Himself, that He will ever be with them and they with Him, and that they really do know where He is going.”

At that point, Thomas interrupts, “No we really don’t know where you are going. How can we know? Show us the way.”

Thomas felt that in order to follow Jesus, he must become more of an expert in navigational theology to traverse the diverse paths leading to God. It was a frightening prospect,

“How can we know the way?”

Indeed, how can we?

Jesus simplified the answer. He would be their compass. He would be their guide. It was not necessary for them to know anything more that Him. If they would follow Him, He would provide the way, the truth, and the life within His own person.

The message of Jesus to us as we stumble in the darkness of uncertain ambiguity is, “Follow me.”

He will lead us through the darkness. He will lead us to our eternal home. We can trust Him and follow Him.



Grace Will Lead Me Home

Elvis many mansions

(John 14:2)  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Home! Home, sweet, home! That’s where we are going. That is where we belong. Anything short of home is still part of the journey. Anything that is part of the journey is subject to dangers, toils, and snares. But after the journey is complete, those things will have no power at all.

Jesus went away to prepare a place for us, a place with plenty of room and place where He Himself will be present.

He promised to come get us when He is ready for us to join Him. We don’t have to keep checking on our reservations and we don’t have to worry that we will miss the summons.

“Let not your hearts be troubled,” He said.

There is no room for fretting; just trusting. There is no way to become worthy; it’s all by grace.

I was lost once. I didn’t think I’d ever find my way home. I didn’t. Home found me. So it is with grace leading us home. So it is with Him coming for us. Wherever we are at the time, He will find us. We may feel we are buried under a mountain of ambiguity and complexity, but if we are His, He will find us. We may sense that we are not ready; our ducks are not neatly lined up in a row. Yet, if we are in the faith, it is not our preparation that counts, but His.

He prepares the place; we trust Him and follow Him wherever the journey leads, meandering through dangers, toils, and snares. We follow without certainty as to duration or difficulty. We follow and sometimes we get sidetracked, but He puts us back on the path.

Where we are, He is and where He is, we will be.

And grace will lead us home.



Old Mothers

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Proverbs 23:22b – “… despise not thy mother when she is old.”

Your Mother When She Is Old

We need as many “old mothers” as we can get in the church and in our lives. We need to honor the older mothers among us and change our thinking about the word, “old.”

For some reason, we have attached a stigma to old age such that people do not like to be called, “old.” Yet, in the scriptures, it is a badge of honor and a sign of God’s blessing.

Perhaps some thought ought to be given to reviving the old custom of honoring the eldest mother in the church on Mother’s Day. In the New testament, older women were all considered mothers of the church. That had something to give and the church was tuned to receive it.

One can think of three reasons why we might learn from and honor the eldest among us and they spell O-L-D.

O – Older mothers have gotten OVER some things. There is no substitute for experience. The most important and valuable advantage of experience is that it teaches us that wherever we are in our journey, we are stuck. We might be going through some difficulties, but we can and will get through them. We might be laboring under some burdens, but we can and will get over them. We can know this because our elders could and did get over theirs.

L - Older mothers have LEARNED some things. Life has taught them some lessons and most are willing to share those lessons. We all know more today than we did yesterday. The longer we go, the more we potentially learn. We can honor our mothers by listening to their perspectives. They know some things we do not know because they have had time to learn them.

D – Older mothers have DONE some things. They have had time to accomplish some goals, to have a few failures, and to enjoy some victories. When we look at their lives, we take courage in knowing that we can also accomplish some things. In fact, they sometimes did what seemed impossible, but with God’s help, they did them anyway. We need them as role models.

These are three reasons to honor our older mothers and to strive to someday be old mothers and old fathers.

Mother's Day Worship and Sermon

Sunday Worship at the Fellowship of Joy -  May 14, 2016

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Stoning of Saint Stephen from Sant Joan de Boí



God of Life and Love, we join our hearts and minds to focus on You, Your praise, Your presence, and the truth that You desire to convey to our hearts. Teach us to sit and listen and to rise and serve. Forgive us of our sins and failures. Grant us Your peace. Be honored in these moments. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Scripture - Acts 7:55-60 B

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.

 Hymn – Be Not Afraid


Responsive Reading  - Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 

In you, O LORD, I seek refuge;

do not let me ever be put to shame;

in your righteousness deliver me. 

Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily.

Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. 

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;

for your name's sake lead me and guide me, 

take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 

Into your hand I commit my spirit;

you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. 

My times are in your hand;

deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

Let your face shine upon your servant;

save me in your steadfast love.

Songs of Praise and Prayer

 Scripture from Epistles - 1 Peter 2:2-10

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Honoring of Mothers

Prayer Time for Mothers, Families, and Others

    Join us by praying in your own way

Gospel Reading - John 14:1-14

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Offertory Hymn – The Call 


Sermon – The Way, The Truth, The Life (at the Fellowship of Joy )

Sermon Online:
A Mother’s Day Tribute:  A Mother of Israel

The Love of God

The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.” (Judges 5:7) 

Deborah was no stereotypical mother. But a mother, she was. 

She was a leader in Israel. She was a wife. She was as tough as nails and yet, sensitive to the things of God. Her prayer and song of praise tell her story and God’s story. 

God raised her up for His purposes and used her mightily. She did what Barak would not do and received honor that he might have received. 

She was a woman of courage, a woman of faith, a woman of praise, and a woman of wisdom – a lot like many of our mothers. 

We need mothers with courage today because times are hard and the attacks on our families are profound. Sometimes, it is only the mother who will stand up for her families. Some fathers have defaulted in their responsibility. All fathers need her by their sides. 

We need mothers of faith today because our children need to learn it. What better place to be introduced to faith than at a mother’s knee? 

We need mothers of praise today who fill our homes with songs of praise, objects of praise, and occasions to praise the Lord. We need mothers who will turn off the televisions and radios and turn on the gospel. 

We need mothers of wisdom today who will take the time to teach their children. Parents are the best wisdom teachers that God made. That is why we are told throughout the book of Proverbs to listen to them so carefully. 

Buried in the sometimes dark stories of Judges is an example of a mother who can point us to some qualities of motherhood that we need to encourage in our young women today. Our pews are full today of exemplary models of motherhood. Let us honor them today. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Decision and Benediction

Scriptures from NRSV 

Love of Truth - The Benefits

I love your lawLove of truth precedes comprehension of truth and stirs up a desire to acquire. 

It results in three levels of superiority in wisdom and one great outcome of wisdom.

"Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way."

(Psalm 119:97-104 ESV)

The three areas of "superiority" are:

1. We can be wiser than our enemies, because real wisdom is moral at its essence and to win the moral upper hand is to outsmart those who place no value in ethics and essential truth.

2. We can be wiser than our teachers, because the accumulation of knowledge or positional authority does not automatically make a person wise.

3. We can be wiser than the aged because mere years do not make us wise; it is what we do with our years, the depth of our meditation and consideration, and the application of truth that creates wisdom within us.

The great outcome is that, by applying God's Word and developing a decided and profound preference for living a life that embraces good and shuns evil, we can become successful in that dimension of living and that dimension of living will define real success.