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May 2017

Grace Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far


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He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. -Psalm 40:2

I tread cautiously on the subject of safety, for safety is an ultimate value, not a temporal one. It is often misunderstood as the absence of danger or trouble or even risk. That is not the characteristic of the Christian life. Rather, Christianity promises ultimate safety and the safety of ultimate things. He has brought us, by His grace, through dangers, toils, and snares. These we have experienced fully and yet, safely, unscathed spiritually by external circumstances and with the confidence that His grace will lead us home to eternal safety.

And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. - Ezekiel 34:27

There is a time and a place for safety without ‘playing it safe” throughout life. It is grace, God’s grace that brings us to the safe place for He Himself is the rock of safety for our lives. The struggles are present to teach us the source of our strength. The hardships train us to know that He is the LORD. We have come this far to realize that we must trust Him for our deliverance.

  I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. - Psalm 4:8

The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD. - Proverbs 21:31

While we look for false and temporal assurances, we miss the full impact of what peace, sleep, and safety in Him really are. When we trust in what we can control, we falter.

Grace has brought us safe thus far. Nothing else could. We neither earned it nor deserved it. It was simply grace, unmerited favor toward unworthy human beings whom He happens to love passionately and unconditionally.

What a blessing to be counted among them.

On Reorganizing the Seats and Mixing Things Up

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When I originally wrote this , it was six years ago. Much has happened since then. The climate has changed. The polarization has become more severe. The contrasts have become more remarkable and pronounced.  Some issues may transcend my concern for mutual understanding. However, for sustainability and transformation, I think we must still
find meeting "places" where hearts and minds can convene and common ground can be cultivated.

There is much talk about the rift in American life - left and right - blue and red - on and on.

I was watching a report from a major news source where the commentators were suggesting that it is irreparable and deep. Furthermore, according to them, it goes to our deepest values so that we have no more shared values, principles, and worldview.

Right AND wrong.

In one sense, it has always been so. Jesus Himself said that the good news of His kingdom was divisive - but that is not what is dividing America at the moment. This is no God versus the world thing. The division between light and darkness has always been present -- but there is light on both sides of this rift. There is also darkness.

This is a division of perceptions, political philosophies, and priorities. Some are profound. Some are vital. Some are not. Some breaches can be mended. Some can be tolerated. Some can be celebrated. Some must be endured.

It is not accurate to say that we are divided on every crucial concern. Since the rift in American political philosophy cuts across religious convictions (perhaps not evenly, but nevertheless, genuinely), it is not an ultimate rift. One cannot identify God's Kingdom with either "side" of this division. At least I cannot.

Who says we are two Americas? I have dear friends who are Democrats and dear friends who are Republicans. We can talk. We agree on many, many important things. We all love our families. Many of us love God and embrace the same moral values. We all value honesty, integrity, kindness, concern for broken people, and many other things.

We may differ in implementation or perspective, but we differ without being all that different.

I have valued friendships across the lines of faith and non-faith. While my faith is an ultimate value in my life - actually THE ultimate value in my life, it touches to commonalities of humanity that I share with all humans. From my perspective, each of us is made in the image of God and thereby reflect common questions and yearnings. From the perspective of my non-believing friends, the cause for our commonality is described differently, but acknowledged nevertheless.

Why can most of us get along with people who differ in opinions from ours and our leaders find it so difficult - at least publicly?

While I believe that common folk drive culture in our world (or should), leaders have the high profile positions that enable them to set the pace by setting examples.

I probably cannot influence representatives of an opposing party as well as those of my own, but I can influence whatever party with which I affiliate. So, here is my challenge:

Forget the nastiness, unfairness, and unwillingness of the other side for a while and reach out. Insist that your representatives in Congress and Senate, those of your own party, reach out to the other side in friendship.

Reach out and keep reaching out. Reach out when the reach is rejected. Reach out when the criticism is unfair. Reach out when the issues are deep, divisive, and bitter. Reach out when the other side is perceived as uncooperative, unbending, and ruthless. Reach out and don't stop reaching out. Make friends with your opponents.

Don't look for the speck in your neighbor's eye. Look for planks in your own.

Make friends with your opponents "on the way to court."

Jesus said to do it.

You can do it, as He did, without backing down from principle, without compromising truth, and without losing your negotiating edge.

Here's where I would start if I were king of the legislative universe: Reorganize the seats! End this custom of parties sitting together. Mix and match. How ridiculous to institutionalize a divide like that. There are no parties in the Constitution. We should not be organizing the seats that way.

I expect our leaders to set an example to heal this artificial divide. If they don't, we'll start moving into red and blue neighborhoods and shopping at red and blue stores.

If we can be friends on Facebook, Congress can make friends in Washington!

Let's insist on it.

Living in Readiness to Be Made Ready

God of readiness, of constancy, and of mystery,
Invade me, overthrow my stubborn reluctance and
Disperse my stagnant sentries who stagger the soul
And stalwartly resist that which you insist will set me free.

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

Raise the flag of liberation and spontaneity!
Raise the flag of serendipitous joy!
Raise the flag of righteousness and peace!
Raise the flag of readiness for I am ready to be made ready!

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

And then .......

Living and Marching Under a Banner of Truth


“Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. “ - Psalm 60:4

We all march under one banner or another.

In a battle, it takes a courageous soldier to carry the banner, flag, or ensign. To do so, one becomes a target for the enemy always wants to take down the symbol of the opposition.

Why? Because the enemy knows that the banner gives the army its moral strength, determination, and encouragement. The army’s tribal flag is its rallying point. Around it all gather. Beneath its furls, they march.  Under its signal they fight to the death.

The banner waves in the breeze to announce that the people still stand as one with determination and fortitude for a common cause.

Our nation’s flag has great significance for those who love our land and the principles by which it is governed. For Americans, it has often been a symbol of freedom, constitutional democracy, and justice under law.

It points to our governing documents which declare that government is of, by, and for the people.

As significant at the stars and stripes banner is to Americans, there is a more meaningful banner under which the people of God come together. It is the banner of God’s truth, the flag that announces that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  It is the hope that whatever we face, God is with us.

God’s banner, for those who reverence Him, is a reminder that we are not and never shall be abandoned, that we have a purpose and that we are led by an invincible leader.

The spangled banner of God’s truth waves still over the land of those who have been set free by Jesus Christ, the truly free and the truly brave.

Worship as Evangelism

Mighty God Has Spoken

The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.  - Psalm 50:10

The call to worship that resounds throughout history is an evangelistic call. It is a summons to recognize that God is Sovereign over all things and that He is worthy of our worship. But that message also recognizes and publishes the truth that fallen man can bring no offering that God can accept except as he or she has been cleansed by the loving, gracious, and merciful redemptive act of God Himself in Jesus Christ. God's love compels the worshiper to propagate the message of grace. God's passion for the lost to come into a loving and worshiping whole-life relationship with Him is the driving force of the mission of Christ and of the early church.  He will not be contained in temples made with hands, but has chosen to make sanctuaries of the human heart and declare that reasonable worship extends beyond recitations and prostration to the presentation of our bodies as living sacrifices.

Then, when we come to sing, kneel, bow, shout, and lift our hands, it is a continuation of whole-life worship, which include discipleship, evangelism, and ministry to hurting humanity. When the benediction is pronounced, there is no cessation of worship - only continuance at an even deeper level because we have been equipped, inspired, and sent forth.

The evangel declares:  

"Come, let us worship the Lord, for He alone is worthy. Come before Him all you people of His making, whose souls are restless until they rest in Him. He has loved you with an everlasting love and calls you into relationship with Him. Hear the truth and receive the Spirit. Come freely and without reservation for the table has been set. Jesus Himself, God's Son, is your host. He has blotted out all your sins by His own sacrificial death. Come, all you who are poor and feeble, who have no offering to bring to the altar; the price has been paid, the offering made. Bring only your sins and your selves. Come and receive mercy and grace. Come with thanksgiving. Come with tears. Come with laughter. Come, consecrate your lives to His praise and glory. Come; find reconciliation with God and with one another. Come, come, come.”

And so, the worshiping community invites to the world, constantly, fervently, and passionately to the assembly of praise for God's own sake and for the sake of them whom He loves so profoundly. The Son of Man came, not to be honored, but to seek and to save that which was lost. And so, He is worthy of all honor. Having emptied Himself for the mission, He has a Name that is above every name. All will bow; all will declare His Lordship - but God has expressed a decided preference that all come by grace rather than by ultimate coercion. He would far rather invite than demand. He will employ every persuasive means that might somehow touch the hearts of men and women. He will move upon His servants to become all things to all men so that by all means, some might be saved.

Comforting Word

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member the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.”  - Psalm 119:49-50

God’s Word brings us life and in the gift of life, we find great hope and comfort in the midst of affliction.

Affliction is common to our humanity. It bears down upon us. It burdens us. It discourages us. It tempts us to lose focus and concentrate on our circumstances rather than the hope that is in us.

Hope runs dry in affliction and we need an infusion of new hope. That hope is found in the Word of God and brings great comfort to our souls and life to our spirits.

We feel so dead under the load of suffering. We feel alone and dismayed.

Comfort is the opposite of aloneness. The comforted one knows that someone has come alongside us and is consoling us in that deep way that companionship affords. God speaks to us and His words are words of hope.

We know it is God so we can believe what He says.

How do we know it is God?

Familiarity is the answer.

Having met him frequently in the pages of scripture and at the altar of prayer, we have come to recognize His voice and when He speaks, we know it is His assurance that is consoling us. It is His promise that is quickening us and restoring us to life.

We hear His comforting word and we sing,

“Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. “ (Verse 54)

P1192002.07-G (1) Listen to
Psalm 119 G
Frederick Steinruck

A Cappella (The Witmers)

And Sing Along!
Ps 119 G - p1 Ps 119 G p2

Random Remarks, Reflections, and Readings

At the end of this post is a link to the daily scriptures for this day. First, some random remarks.

I do hate violence. I hate it enough to want to shake some sense into perpetrators . I do get the irony of that and I will not act upon the urge. Suburban. Urban. It is the same thing. Our inner city neighborhoods are terrorized though. Parents are locking their kids in. Kids are being pressured and groomed to carry out the violent intents of their handlers. Citizens are being duped into thinking counter violence is the only solution. Violence always begets violence, even in our righteous fantasy life. Something stronger, steadier, and longer-lasting rises.

Prayer is often very difficult. Connecting seems tough. Distance. Cold indifference. Lifeless words. Soulless sentiments. Mundane moments. Routine. Ritual. Obligation. Distractibility. Guilty self-flagellation longing for relaxed intimacy and immediacy. Then, in just a moment, realization. It has been about me ... even the efforts at devotion and upward focus - MY depth of spiritual sensitivity. Arrogance wrapped in self-loathing. How about a conversation about something outside of me? How about a shared concern with an Eternal Friend whose love for our common friend is calling me to intercession, even mention?

Since this is not a current issue, I will ask a question that has always puzzled me about governments interacting. Can anyone explain to me how refusing to talk to a government with whom you have serious issues is an effective form of diplomacy? Yet, it does seem effective as a political distraction at home. I am sure it will come up.

What do these three paragraphs have to do with each other? I don't know except that they were all three posted on Facebook on this day in previous years. I was reminded in my feed. One was about violence; one about prayer; one about diplomacy. None had easy answers - just feelings and questions.

If we want answers, we need to look through and beyond our musings, but we cannot avoid them.

So prayerfully and inquisitively, I come to the scriptures today and each day. In them, I find curiosity, clarity, continuity, and consolation -- and more questions.

Today, they are: Colossians 1:24-2:7, Luke 6:27-38, Psalm 119:49-72, Psalm 49, Psalm 50

Living in a comfort zone is like pulling off at a rest stop on one's journey, pitching a tent, and calling it home while the world passes by on the way to multiple destinations one will never reach. It's comfortable, but it is going nowhere. 

Praised by the Wrath of Man

Wrath of man
How can the wrath of man praise God?

It happens when God turns the tables of our worst intentions. Our power plays do not impress nor intimidate God.

Nor do they honor God unless God enters in to exercise His sovereignty -- which He ultimately does.


Don't worry so much about the wicked kings. They shall not prevail in the end. Give your allegiance to the King of kings.

Let nothing keep you from worshiping with full engagement.

Align with that which transcends darkness, death, and defeat.

"Surely the wrath of man shall praise you;
the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.
Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them;
let all around him bring gifts
to him who is to be feared,
who cuts off the spirit of princes,
who is to be feared by the kings of the earth."

(Psalm 76:10-12 ESV)


Who We Are

What is man

We are where we have been ...

    and who we have been ...

       and we are who we are 

and where we are,

but ...

we are also

where we are going ...

and who we are when we arrive.

Chew that.



Come, Ye Needy!


Poor and needyOur sense of timing is not only finite, it is also narrow within that set of parameters. We think in small segments of time. Our sense of a long time reflects our parochial view of understanding of history. The best of times or the worst of times, we declare and name with only a limited knowledge of what we mean. A longer view gives a different picture. So, in our poor neediness, we cry out to God for haste.

We cry out with an impending urgency that may not fully realize the span of His grasp of history.

His delays are not delays at all; they are perfection. They are patient restraint awaiting the culmination of all that must culminate before everything comes together as it should.

Still we cry out and our cries are heard and encouraged.

There is no illegitimate prayer of the heart that is seeking God and our sense of urgency is a melody of full engagement to His ears.

"But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying." - Psalm 70:5



When My Strength Is Spent

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"Do not cast me off in the time of old age;

forsake me not when my strength is spent."
- Psalm 71:9, ESV

The day comes when we have no strength.

Old age can be a recurring theme even in our youth.

"I'm sick and tired of ..."

We've declared it and we have experienced it even as young people.

We have also feared being cast off and forsaken, used up, worn out, tossed aside, marginalized, and shelved.

We want to finish strong even if we are weak. We want to continue to have significance even after our vitality is depleted. We want to be used by God even after our prescribed days of usefulness are thought to be passed.

This is not only the prayer of our aging years, but of every passing year as life passes by.






Weak "Faithers" Welcome

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"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions."
- Romans 14:1, ESV

We sometimes pounce on the weak with our own opinions.

They are struggling to believe, to find their places in God's purpose, to discover some definition of themselves in Him, and to understand His calling.

Then we start scratching at some area of weakness or prodding at some point of contention, sanding the rough spots of their growing edges. We discourage them with our quarreling and crush their spirits with our compulsion for absolute accuracy over every fine point.

It is as if we do not believe that the one who began a good work in them is capable of completing it.. Paul says that we should embrace a spirit of welcome, especially for the weak of faith.

Is the weak "faither" welcome in our community?

For each of us here, the word, "welcome" is a preview of a great welcome to come.



Sabbath Rest

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I am rested from the week before thanks to a wonderful day at home yesterday. I am ready to start a new week with a gathering among the people with whom I share a common life in Christ, where I can be ordinary, vulnerable, and real --- as well as accepted for who and what I am.

I shall be as refreshed by their presence as I was by yesterday's Sabbath.

A few years back, our  grandson asked, "Was I born before Christmas or after Christmas?"

Poor kid -- asking an esoteric thinker such a question!

"Both," I said in a way he is used to being answered by me, stretching his thinking.

"You were born after Christmas of the year before you were born which was closer to Christmas than the year you were born and you were born before that particular Christmas."

"But was it before or after Christmas?" He insisted on the simplistic.

"I already gave you a nuanced answer," I replied.

Grandma quipped, "Look it up," both of us knowing that he would and would soon be using it on us.

Do I rest on the first or the last day of the week? Yes.

My body and spirit seem to demand Saturday off -- like I am wired for Shabbot as we all are. Sunday is not my Sabbath. That is when I work and worship. Calendars are man-made and have changed with time, but God makes 7 day cycles of the earth and the sun and every seventh cries out for rest and refreshment -- whatever that is to you and me (Sometimes a meeting -- usually not --- but whatever it is). I am not a legalist (as you know) but moments of legalism tend to point us to higher law, rooted in relationships and principles.

When is it? Well, it depends on when you start counting, but I have always figured that a weekend was a great way to start a week AND a great way to end one as well.

And I have found my Sabbath Rest in the One who said "Come unto me ... and rest." 

And I continue to find it among the people who are, for me, a Fellowship of Joy!


The Kind of Jesus He Is

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"I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery. " - Brennan Manning

It is always a good sign when the kind of anything we want is the kind of anything that it is - or anyone.

Manning expresses a desire for the kind of Jesus that I see in the gospels, the kind that I know from experience, and the kind I see reflected in the lives of people who know Him.

He is, at the same time, soft and rugged, kind and tough, non-judgmental and brutally honest. He is the incarnate one who can be known and wholly Other who is beyond our reach.

When Word becomes flesh, it is an entirely new ballgame with which there is no comparison to aid our understanding.

And that's the way I like it!



The Place Where God Calls You

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“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC


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

Genesis 12:1 was a far more significant turning point for Abraham that he or we could know. The place/land He will show us may be a mystery where we are likely to touch the misery of humanity in a way that we can face it, doing more than occupying space, but imparting grace.

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

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

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

Dream Work Is Team Work


"You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone."- Exodus 18:18, ESV

No matter how good what you are doing, is, what you are doing is not good if you are trying to do it all alone.

Dream work is team work! Build a team; accomplish more; and have more energy left for the next day.

This is a word from the wise (a fellow named Jethro) to the wise and getting wiser (a fellow named Moses).

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” - Andrew Carnegie



Constituted Prayer ... We the People

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On this National Day of Prayer, oh God ... we pray ...

We the people…

The people, we are.

United people of

United States,

States united …

Of people …

By People ...

For people

The people.

Oh, the people,

The masses, the broken masses

Of broken bodies and spirits …

Oh, the people,

We the people.

We are they and

They are we and

We are united

In order to form

And be formed

And reformed

A more perfect union

Of we.

A more perfect union …

Establish justice.


Just is.

Or is it?

Or must it be established?

Established again and again by the people,

We the people,

A just people.

We, we the people,

The people we are insure

Domestic tranquillity.

Tranquillity, tranquil civility

Amidst incivility.

We are the people, tranquil within,

We. Who we are we must be.

Provide for the common defense,

We declare …

We, we the people,

The people we are.

We stand together.

Oh the people,

The masses,

The broken, wounded, hurting masses

We failed.

All of us have failed

All of us. We are the people,

The people we are,

The we-ness we defend.

We promote,

We the people,

We promote the general welfare -




We are the people,

In general and specifically, we are.


Oh the poor, hopeless, vulnerable people -


We are they

And they are we.

We secure …

Are we secure ?

We secure blessings …

Generally, specifically,

The blessings of liberty …

We …

We the people,

A secure, blessed, and free people,

The blessings of liberty for ourselves,

For ourselves are we

And we are ourselves and

Our posterity,

For they are we and

We are they.

Our posterity …

The people to be,

The we to be

For whom the we .. we are today


We …

And establish … we …

A Constitution …

Constituted by we and they who were we

When we were yet to be …

Of a United we …

A united states of we, the people

The people of America …

Oh the people ….

We the people,

Free, secure, blessed, vulnerable

Tranquil people.


United in strife,

United in life,

United in ideal,

United in struggle,

United in hope.



This is our confession, our yearning, and our prayer, constituted and offered this day as we pray together.



Jimmy Carter - Inaugural Address

The following is the text of his inaugural address:

For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.

In this outward and physical ceremony, we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation. As my high school teacher, Miss Julia Coleman, used to say, "We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles."

Here before me is the Bible used in the inauguration of our first President, in 1789, and I have just taken the oath of office on the Bible my mother gave me just a few years ago, opened to a timeless admonition from the ancient prophet Micah: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

This inauguration ceremony marks a new beginning, a new dedication within our Government, and a new spirit among us all. A President may sense and proclaim that new spirit, but only a people can provide it.

Two centuries ago, our Nation's birth was a milestone in the long quest for freedom. But the bold and brilliant dream which excited the founders of this Nation still awaits its consummation. I have no new dream to set forth today, but rather urge a fresh faith in the old dream.

Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of both spirituality and human liberty. It is that unique self-definition which has given us an exceptional appeal, but it also imposes on us a special obligation to take on those moral duties which, when assumed, seem invariably to be in our own best interests.

You have given me a great responsibility--to stay close to you, to be worthy of you, and to exemplify what you are. Let us create together a new national spirit of unity and trust. Your strength can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes.

Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.

The American dream endures. We must once again have full faith in our country--and in one another. I believe America can be better. We can be even stronger than before.

Let our recent mistakes bring a resurgent commitment to the basic principles of our Nation, for we know that if we despise our own government, we have no future. We recall in special times when we have stood briefly, but magnificently, united. In those times no prize was beyond our grasp.

But we cannot dwell upon remembered glory. We cannot afford to drift. We reject the prospect of failure or mediocrity or an inferior quality of life for any person. Our Government must at the same time be both competent and compassionate.

We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our national beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.

We have learned that more is not necessarily better, that even our great Nation has its recognized limits, and that we can neither answer all questions nor solve all problems. We cannot afford to do everything, nor can we afford to lack boldness as we meet the future. So, together, in a spirit of individual sacrifice for the common good, we must simply do our best.

Our Nation can be strong abroad only if it is strong at home. And we know that the best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation.

To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is essential to our strength.

The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples more numerous and more politically aware are craving, and now demanding, their place in the sun--not just for the benefit of their own physical condition, but for basic human rights.

The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit, there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to undertake on this day of a new beginning than to help shape a just and peaceful world that is truly humane.

We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat--a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal but on the nobility of ideas.

We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice, for those are the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.

We are a proudly idealistic nation, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness.

Because we are free, we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clear-cut preference for those societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all people.

The world is still engaged in a massive armaments race designed to ensure continuing equivalent strength among potential adversaries. We pledge perseverance and wisdom in our efforts to limit the world's armaments to those necessary for each nation's own domestic safety. And we will move this year a step toward our ultimate goal--the elimination of all nuclear weapons from this Earth. We urge all other people to join us, for success can mean life instead of death.

Within us, the people of the United States, there is evident a serious and purposeful rekindling of confidence. And I join in the hope that when my time as your President has ended, people might say this about our Nation:
--that we had remembered the words of Micah and renewed oursearch for humility, mercy, and justice;
--that we had torn down the barriers that separated those of different race and region and religion, and where there had been mistrust, built unity, with a respect for diversity;
--that we had found productive work for those able to perform it;
--that we had strengthened the American family, which is the basis of our society;

--that we had ensured respect for the law and equal treatment under the law, for the weak and the powerful, for the rich and the poor; and
--that we had enabled our people to be proud of their own Government once again.

I would hope that the nations of the world might say that we had built a lasting peace, based not on weapons of war but on international policies which reflect our own most precious values.

These are not just my goals---and they will not be my accomplishments-but the affirmation of our Nation's continuing moral strength and our belief in an undiminished, ever-expanding American dream.

Thank you very much.





The Desire for Holiness

Be holy

We seek from God what we must give to God. It is a presumptuous request and an audacious expectation that we I could be what we seek to be, holy.

Holiness is fully integrated wholeness before God and within ourselves. It is sincere, focused attention and utter consecration.

It is being that flows through doing.

It is knowing who we are and Whose we are.

It is belonging.

It is availability.

It is the capacity to stand in awe and chuckle at the twists and turns of life as God intervenes in life.

It is what we lack and what we have at the same time.

"Be holy, for I am holy ," (Leviticus 11:44) is a formidable assignment. Yet, every asSIGNment is a sign of hope and possibility.

By God's grace and incarnate sacrifice, we are holy because we have been bought with a price. We are holy in spiritual reality, but we may lag in actualization.

I do.

Dear Fanny Crosby, whose only light was the light of God within her, blind to the world, but ever so perceptive to the Spirit, penned her hearts desire this way. I make it a prayer today as well:

image from    I am Thine, O Lord

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

This is my personal devotion for the day, the focus of my attention as I set out on my various tasks of living. It is my meditation as I seek to integrate the loose strands of life's demands and make myself available to God and the world as a follower of Jesus.

It is my prayer. It is my intention. It is my heart.



Go, Get 'Em

Go get em

Good morning. It is a new day.

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

It shrank.

That's right. It is not as big as you feared. And something else happened in the night.

You grew!.

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

Go get 'em, Tiger!

Urgency and Focus

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Luke 4:43 - And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.

The phrase, “I must” appears 16 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Jesus said, “I must preach” in Luke 4,  “I must walk …” in Luke 13:33,  and “I must be about my Father’s business” in Luke 2:29.

John the Baptist said, “He must increase and I must decrease" (John 3:30).

These were driven by something greater than the urgency of the moment.

Urgency is a poor substitute for purpose and priority. When we establish an understanding of what is truly important based upon God’s abiding principles and mission, we need to stick with it. The reality is that the moment we prioritize our ministries, diversions will emerge, distractions will appear, and urgency will shout in our ears, “Stop and take care of me NOW!” 

We need to be able to say “no” to urgency any time it steps outside the boundaries of our priorities as given to us by God. Yes, there will be emergencies that must be faced as they arise. There will be extraneous details that must be handled. The problem arises when every urgent matter presents itself with the same emergency motif and both ministry and the spiritual life become one great series of emergencies.

We have fire departments to put out fires.

What is your focus? Make sure it receives a prominent place on your calendar and that you do your best to follow your calendar. Leave time for incidentals. Leave cushion for emergencies. Live by grace because you won’t meet all of your goals. But, know this, if you heed every urgent cry, you will meet none of them because your life will be controlled by something far less than your God-given priorities.

Live on purpose, directed by God’s master plan for your life.


A Personal Prayer for the National Day of Prayer


Tomorrow is a national day of prayer, called, curiously enough, the National Day of Prayer.

Most of the time and in most places, there will be gatherings with litanies of specific prayers that will be heart-felt,   well-prepared, and sermonic.

With all of its limitations and opportunities to pontificate, corporate prayer in the public square is a good thing and most events will be inspiring and encouraging times for people of faith to pray for their leaders and fellow citizens.

For this year's  National Day of Prayer, I have many things on my intercession list.  Mostly, I pray for a manifestation of the four qualities I find in Psalm 85:10 - Mercy, truth, righteousness, and peace.

"Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."

I must start with my own circle of influence after I start with myself.

God grant that I might receive, show, and give mercy (Chesed - love, grace, and mercy all wrapped together).

God grant that I might be a man of truth who speaks truth to power, truth to the lowly, and truth to myself.

God grant that I might live a life of righteousness - doing the right thing and heading in the right direction, rightly related to You and to my neighbor.

God grant me peace, that I might be at peace with you through my relationship with Jesus and at peace with my neighbors, friends, and family. Grant that I might be a peacemaker in my community and my life.

God grant these these requests for me and for all who can join me in this prayer in their own way. I pray in the name of my Savior and Master, Jesus. Amen.

The Lights Along the Shore


Lower lights

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

One of the first lighthouses ever built, certainly one of the most famous, was the Lighthouse of Alexandria in 280 BC. Situated on the Egyptian island of Pharos, it was at one time thought to be the tallest structure on earth at 383 - 440 feet. Many lives were rescued because of its existence.

Its purpose was the same as that of all lighthouses: to warn ships away from dangerous shores and guide them in the night.

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Story Behind…Let the Lower Lights be Burning

What Is It? Manna It Is!

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Have you ever received a portion of "what is it?"

Blessings sometimes come packaged it it.

It is your meat. "You asked for it. You got it."

Now, eat. It is a blessing.

It won't be any good tomorrow morning.

It is your daily portion.

It is manna.

It is for today. 

"When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”
For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat."

(Exodus 16:15 ESV)

No Calling to Coddling

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The church that aspires to being coddled by the world, that whines for preferred status, that complains in the wilderness that it only has manna, and that expects great privilege has, perhaps, not read Peter's epistle enough or Jesus' admonitions on the mountain in Matthew 5 and following.

We are to live graciously, truthfully, and faithfully and to expect hostility, receiving even that, as manna and honor and returning only love in the name of Jesus.

"For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." (1 Peter 2:20-21 ESV)

His steps are the steps of suffering.

The Power of a Prior Commitment

Prior commitment

Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.  Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. ” Psalm 119:33-37

If you want to see God’s Word come alive in your heart, decide ahead of time to obey whatever it says, prior to even knowing what that is.

It will be like approaching a tree filled with gifts on Christmas, knowing that there is something for you there, but not knowing exactly what it is. Your heart is filled with excitement and wonder. You know you will love it. You can’t wait to find out what it is.

It is like waiting for the birth of a child. You already love him having never laid eyes on him. You are absolutely committed to years of child rearing without seeing his face or knowing his disposition. It is a prior commitment and it empowers your seeking and inflames your heart.

“Teach me,” is the great prayer here. “I shall keep,” is the promise of prior commitment.

It is followed by a heartfelt petition that could be paraphrased this way, “Now that I have promised to keep your Word, observe it with my whole heart, and delight in all of your commands, HELP ME!”

He prays for a heart that is inclined toward God’s will, eyes that do not focus on vanity, and quickening energy to keep on keeping on.

Prior commitment does not mean that you have all the resources already to do what you are promising. It means that you intend to do so, without even knowing what God will require, and that you trust Him for the ability to keep your promise.

Read the Bible that way and see what a difference it makes.