Previous month:
October 2018
Next month:
December 2018

November 2018

Mental Notes

A mental note isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

You can make mental notes all day long, but they lack the safety features of paper and digital notes. For one thing, you lose them. They exist, but they are floating out there is a closet of cerebral clutter and are only retrieved when looking for something else and usually after a deadline has long expired.

A basic problem with mental notes is that they are subject to the distortions of time. It has been demonstrated by neurological researchers that eye-witness accounts are often unreliable and altered by time and intermingling with other memories.

Perhaps that is why the Bible required two eye-witnesses before a person could be convicted of a capital crime.

Mental notes are often relegated to lists of lesser leverage in our thinking simply because we did not render them important enough at the moment to write them down.

Entrepreneurs eat ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Good ideas are worth remembering and writing down. So are not-so-good ideas. They can be sorted out later or even trigger good ideas.

Make a note of that.


Burn the Ships

 

image from i1.wp.com
There are two roads to life. They have many expressions and characteristics, but I want to focus today on one dimension of choice: Playing it safe or risking everything.

Most people agree that “stupid risks,” those made in a stupor of pleasure seeking irrationality, are worthless and possibly evil. That is because they have no meaning, purpose, or long-term advantage. 

Risking what is not yours to risk is likewise beyond any redemptive purpose. There is no honor is taking three drinks, getting in a car without buckling one’s seat belt, and driving 110 miles per hour down the road against oncoming traffic.

There are no monuments to men who caused multiple fatalities in 100 car pile-ups because they were brave enough to take a risk.

When Jesus says that we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him, He is calling us to live sacrificially, redemptively, and adventurously for a purpose.

That is why He so strongly utters these words in Matthew 16:24-26:

“ Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

We can lose life by clinging to it.

William Barclay said, “The man who plays for safety loses life.”

There was a very cautious man

Who never laughed or played,’

He never risked, he never tried.

He never sang or prayed.

And when he one day passed away,

His insurance was denied.

For since he never really lived

They claimed he never died.

- Anonymous (quoted by John Maxwell)

 

Irrational clinging to what we think is life is as without merit as throwing it away needlessly and foolishly.

We fail to move forward and conquer what lies ahead.

Julius Caesar landed in England about 2000 years ago to conquer the Celts, numbering about a half million with 50,000 Roman warriors. His men were not fully committed and many would have retreated given the opportunity and overwhelming odds that lay ahead. So Julius Caesar burned the ships.

The Romans stayed, conquered, and established a long-term Roman presence and permanent influence in England.

In  1519, Cortez did the same thing off the coast of what is now Veracruz. Now, all of South America speaks Spanish.

In the book of Exodus, the children of Israel were tempted to return to slavery rather than face the hardships of the desert. 40 years later they entered the promised land and well over 3000 years later we have a nation called Israel, a people called Jews, and a heritage that brought our Savior into the world.

Jesus went before us and gave us the gift of assurance after His death that life can extend beyond the grave. Because He died and rose again and gave His disciples 40 days of constant contact to verify it, They bore witness to it and we have the biblical record today.

And we have the Holy Spirit within us.

Yet, following Jesus is risky.

John the Baptist was imprisoned in a dungeon, dark and cold. He had been the first to identify Jesus as the Lamb of God, but in that dank place, he doubted and sent word to that he needed reassurance. "Are you the One or do we look for another?"

Jesus met him in the darkness and reassured him.

Sometimes we cry out to God from dungeons of despair. As we wait for an answer, we keep on keeping on.

C.S. Lewis gave us a great gift in the fantasy land of Narnia with the Christ-figure, Aslan to point us to truth that even emerges in fiction.

In “The Silver Chair,” by C.S. Lewis, one of the characters says.”I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I am going to live like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

We have assurance and hope, but we still need faith and we must decide to exercise it and live by it.

We can win by losing.

That is Jesus’ message.

Whoever loses his life FOR HIM will find it. One might also say that losing one’s life IN Him means finding it … not just for now, but for eternity.

After ignoring a warning, Homer’s  hero, Odysseus and his men launch their ships on a voyage that is certain to end in doom. They had no experience with losing, but this day would be different as they crashed between some unmovable rocks in a harsh current. While his ship and all his men are being sucked into the sea by a whirlpool, Odysseus is somehow propelled upward and grabs hold of a fig tree on one of the crags nearby. He was washed ashore on the island of the enchanting Calypso, a strange and powerful woman who compelled him to remain as her lover for seven years before escaping.

Then, his journey continues … but first he had to be stripped bare of everything upon which he falsely depended. All he had left was who he was … his character.

Sometimes we have to shed our false dependencies.

Stalin is said to have taught his Communist operatives, during the Cold War, to think of themselves as dead men on furlough. As long as they thought of themselves that way, they would have nothing to lose.

Jesus teaches us to think of ourselves as men and women who cannot ultimately die and whose final outcome is victory, and who will see the His glory.

It is a pretty good trade-off.

So ...is it worth the risk?

 


Out of Despair

"Where there is despair, [let me sow] hope." - Prayer of St Francis

Oh God, there is so much despair in the world.
Desp-AIR, taking the wind out of our sails, the bounce from our steps,
The rhythm from our souls.
Airless we gasp for something to breath ...
Let us breathe in hope, Oh God of hope.
Let us, then, breathe it out into the world where we all ...
Share the air 
And out of despair, repair our own resolve to live ...
One more day,
And then another and another until ...
You take away our breath and ...
Breathless, we stand before you.
This is our hope eternal,
Eternal God.
Amen.


"Don't bank on the power brokers of this world"

 

Keys rawpixel-797128-unsplash
"Don't bank on the power brokers of this world" is what the compiler and editor of the psalms identifies as the core message of Psalm 146.

They can neither make you nor break you.

God is on the side of the powerless.

The powers of this world are temporal and finite. The best they can do is bestow upon you some fading glory or wealth.

The worst they can do is kill you.

They cannot destroy you.

Nor can they preserve their own power forever.

God's power is over all and He sets prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, loves the righteous, watches over the sojourners, upholds the widow and the fatherless, and frustrates the ways of the wicked bringing them to ruin.

Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!"

 - Psalm 146 (ESV)

 


 
 
 

rawpixel


How to Live a Life that Really Irks People

 

Blessed
This is the description of a man whose very life irks people. Wicked people get angry with him. They gnash their teeth. Their feelings about him are visceral and consuming. His life holds up a mirror to their greed and avarice and they do not like what they see.

Yet, they continue.

Look as some of the things, among others, that can be said of this person.

He is gracious, merciful, and righteous. Because he knows who God is and stands in awe of God, he seeks to imitate those qualities of God that God discloses to him.

He deals generously and lends. An Orthodox  Jewish friend once told me that lending was essentially giving from his perspective since he did not expect and could not expect to be repaid. So, when the psalmist says that he lends, it is mean that he gives.

He conducts his affairs with justice. This is a person of integrity. Life is governed by a deep commitment to truth.

He lives his life with confident faith. This is a person who might be deemed successful, but his real success is deeper than material wealth. Unmoved by circumstances, fear, or intimidation, this soul lives with quiet strength.

He lives, trusting in the LORD. Light dawns upon him. Hope wells up within him. Delight for God's ways shines through him.

He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor.

The way he lives irks his enemies because God shows Him favor. But that is OK with him because he does not live for their approval. 

He is blessed.

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)





Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Robert_Louis_Stevenson_Knox_Series

I memorized this as a young teen and it burned a home into my soul where it has lived, thrived, and nurtured me for fifty years.
 
Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson
 
"Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will."
 
"This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."

Download Requiem Robert Louis Stevenson

 


I Believe

 

I believe in God when he is silent
I run, I leap, I fall, I plunge into the mystery.

Certainty with redundancy has lost its radiance.

It retains no power to attract my heart.

Mystery envelops divinity and

Divinity envelops mystery.

Into that cloud

I must go without hesitation

In trepidation.

I shall be at home there, drawn to God

By God.

And I cannot tell you what I shall find.

Nor can I describe what I see there.

I cannot tell you how or why I know except that

In God's embrace, I am known.

And the love that has taken hold of me has held me tightly

In the grip of mercy.

And being there and going there and sensing that destiny,

I can somehow remain here

And be here on purpose

And in community celebrate the joy

Of another world

That makes sense of this world.

I do believe it God.

I believe in God even when God is silent.

And I rest in that peace that passes understanding.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Despicable and Chosen

Gru

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10

Gru, is a super-villain, in the 2010 film, "Despicable Me," who adopts three girls. His motives are entirely self-serving, but something happens. The little girls love him into being and he grows to love them.

Love transforms the villain.

Gru was lost and, through the love of other humans, image-bearers of God, he becomes a different man. He is found.

"I have come to seek such as him," Jesus still says.

This simple word from the Master answers the criticism of stale gate-keepers of religion that He was spending too much time with sinners like Zacchaeus whom he had called down from the sycamore tree. Zacchaeus was climbing higher to see Jesus, but Jesus was already looking for him.

Not only did Jesus call him, but he invited himself over for a celebratory meal.

In a world where we are known by the company we keep, Jesus refused to be selective and did not care what anyone thought. If the very righteous were to criticize him, so be it. He had not come to rescue people who did not need to be rescued.

“Of course I am spending time with them” is His implied reply to their biting words.

“That is why I came!”

The news is good for sinners and bad for those who fancy themselves above such a description or call.

First, for the sinner, touched by God’s grace, it is the assurance that something better awaits our lives, that we are not beyond the reach of the gospel, and that we can change. It is good news.

The Lord is entirely ready to remove our defects of character when we are entirely ready to have Him do so.

He comes to our table as the friend of sinners and waits for our agreement with Him in prayer and for our humility in the asking. He is our friend, but He wants to make us His friends through conversion. He is patient and compassionate and understands the frailty of our faith and commitment. He does not demand a great eruption of energy or resolve from us, but the humble act of petition through surrender.

If we will present our lives to Him where we are and as we are, He can work a miracle of grace.

Are you ready to ask?

Second, it’s bad news if we are complacent and self-assured, if we feel we are better than everyone else, or if we sense no responsibility for bearing the cross of a witness. He has sent us as the Father sent Him.

That means that our hearts must beat as His beat – for the lost. It also means that when He sits at our table, it is not because we are worthy; it is because we too are needy and He came to seek and to save us as well. Humbling thought, isn't it?

Whether you are Gru or Zacchaeus or even if you are a religious purist, Jesus has your number and you have his attention. He sees the value in your and is inviting himself over to break bread with you.

It is an example we in turn might learn to follow.

 

 


You Have Enough Faith Already

 

Alex-radelich-605219-unsplash (1)
Let me see if I get this flow correctly from Luke 17:1-10. If we follow the implications, the conversation might be something like this:

1) First - Jesus says to avoid sin, never be a stumbling block for others, and seek reconciliation and offer forgiveness as many times as necessary whenever we are offended.

2) Then, the disciples say. "We need more faith for that; give us more faith."

3) Jesus replies, "You have enough faith already; if you used all you had, you have no concept of all you could accomplish; you just need to obey and do as you are told! Then your faith will increase and you will do mighty things."

We need to stop making excuses and start rebuilding reconciled relationships!

The Scriptures from Luke 17:

"And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”"

"The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you."

"“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”"  - Luke 17:1-10 (ESV)

Where does that leave us?

It leaves us with enough faith to do what we need to do: love and respect people, live as reconciled brothers and sisters, seek and give forgiveness, and be careful not to get in the way of someone else's progress of faith.

Yes. It takes a faith, but Jesus says we have enough and what we are asks to do is the least we can do.


Alex Radelich

 

 


Refracted Glory

image from en.wikipedia.org

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." – I Corinthians 3:18

Refraction is a process that takes place when light changes mediums, passing through a less dense medium to a denser medium and through that medium; often back into a less dense sphere with awe inspiring results. As the light is bent, brilliant colors often present themselves to the eye and turn our sight toward God.

While this may not be the best scientific explanation of what takes place in the natural realm, it illustrates some elements of the spiritual refraction of God’s light as it passes through mediums of His choosing to change us into authentic representations of His image.

That is what we were always intended to be from the time we were made in the image of God. We were created to be reflectors, refractors, and beholders of His glory.

As the rays of the sun pass through the stained glass of our church windows, they are bent and shaped and exploded into glorious colors, invading those houses with kaleidoscopes of beauty. They point our hearts and minds toward the God of the rainbow. They thrust us to our knees in worship. They draw forth our exclamations of praise and inspire us toward the transformation of the Spirit.

As glorious as the light of the sun may be, it is a dim reflection of the glory of God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. He is the true light come to illuminate the world.


Justice and Righteousness Like an Ever Flowing Stream - Updated

Image result for let justice roll down

“But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” – Amos 5:24

It is as if Amos were here with us today. His words sing out the song of “judgment” or “justice.” It is a strong word for what happens in a community or a nation when God works through people and leaders to set wrongs right and to create a society of fairness, equity, and compassion.

It is a stream that does not terminate in any time or place.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached with such a calling to leaders and vision for the future. Echoing the words of Amos, the prophet, he portrayed God’s judgment as refreshing and cleansing.

And so it is.

Whatever the time, place, or office, Amos 5:24 is the highest calling for the leadership of this or any nation.

Without our prayers and encouragement, the task is too awful and daunting for any man or woman.  If a man or woman leads a people who pray for, work for, and long for justice, truth, and righteousness, that leadership can be like that of Dr. King who called himself nothing more than a “drum major for justice.”

Let us encourage our leaders, while holding them accountable,  by walking in step with the rhythm of truth and swaying to the sweet song of a compassionate society, rooted in God’s call and founded upon the law of love that Jesus taught us.

We are commissioned and challenged to ask ourselves what that means in our context, moment by moment, day by day.

As we speak truth to power, let us do so with our own deeds, choices, and lives as well as with our words.

 

 

 


Leaning Worship

Jacobs staff

"By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped, leaning on top of his staff." - Hebrews 11:21 (NKJV)

He worshiped, leaning ...

Faith, in itself, is a kind of leaning. Blessing others, we lean into them. Proclaiming the blessing as if already accomplished, is a leaning into the future with faith. Worshiping is leaning into God.

"Leaning on the everlasting arms," we need a bit of support. Jacob had a staff.

It worked, but still, he was dying.

But aren't we? We live with dying and we die with living.

Jacob chose faith in his dying days, he envisioned a future, and he fell upon his staff and found God supporting him. Thus he worshiped.

I am not exactly sure how this or any day will unfold, but I am leaning toward a faith that shall not falter with faith that cannot fail because it leans forward on a Father who receives my faith as an expression of worship.


"he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

The secret of endurance as discovered by Moses ... "he endured as seeing Him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27b, NKJV)

Seeing the invisible God. It really goes to the heart of faith for people of faith. We deal in that realm that an outsider might legitimately view as subjective ... and yet we see.

All people of vision, whether people of faith or not, see things that others do not see.

Some see the future. Some see possibilities. Some see realities too small or far away for the naked eye to surround.

If it can be captured and perceived through the optical nerves, it may not be faith and it may not be enough to produce endurance.

If it requires a leap into the uncharted unknown, one has lengthened the distance of vision and shortened the gap between what is and what can be through the Eyes of the One Who Is.


Truth to Power

  Microphone - elliot-sloman-199291-unsplash

What is speaking truth to power? And what are the characteristics of it and the people doing it?

It is always non-partisan even though we all have our own affiliations.

It sometimes means criticizing your own candidate.

It is about accountability and people who speak truth to power know that the people are the authorities to which elected servants must answer.

It does not calculate, but it does negotiate.

It does not equivocate, but it does recognize that we live in a broken world with broken people.

It recognizes that God uses broken things and people. Therefore, we pray for hearts to turn and lives to change.

It praises the good things opponents do and encourages them to do more of the same.

It is usually dangerous and often decisive, but it seeks neither decisiveness not frivolous danger. It aims toward reconciliation.

It stands with the oppressed, disenfranchised, and unpopular people.

It makes us unpopular, but if we are consistent and truthful, we will be heard. We will make friends with our opponents because, out of respectful dialogue may common solutions.

It need not be rude or disrespectful. It may require civil resistance and disobedience to unjust laws, but those resisting will not seek the harm of others and will not resist the consequences of their stands for righteousness.

It listens to other voices.

It is rooted in love.

It aims for love.

It is bathed in hope. It is difficult to sustain despair. We believe that change is possible.

It is our calling as citizens and as followers of Jesus.

unsplash-logoElliot Sloman

 

 

 


Prayer for Others with Love and Gratitude

 

 


Praying_Germanic_man_1890

 


I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. - 1 Timothy 2:1-7 New International Version (NIV)


In this excerpt from the epistle, we see a list or a progression of spiritual responses to people entrusted with civic leadership. The fourth is thanksgiving.

Following these, there is a very human motive - that our own lives might be peaceful and quiet as we seek to live out godliness and holiness. We are seeking space to become who we are becoming in faith.

Then, there is a deeper motive embedded in the heart of God. God is pleased with this endeavor because God wants two things for people.

First, God wants everyone to be saved.

Second, God wants everyone to know the truth.

Then. we are told that God, in Christ, has personally and actively interceded for this. Christ is the mediator. Mediation is a sort of bodily prayer and it was a prayer to the death followed by a resurrection.

Are we reading that the passion was also a matter of prayer, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving?

Perhaps. This is the witness. This is the testimony the apostle bears and we are called to bear.

As we give thanks for people in power following prayer, petition, and intercession for them, we are participating in a process that may bring benefits that give us space to grow in grace while serving God's purpose to bring masses of humanity to faith and truth.

The progression of motivation begins with duty, leads through self-interest, and culminates in love for God and all humanity, where it must ultimately begin and end.

To pray for others with the heart of God is to pray with love and gratitude.

 

 


Nearer

Waves mourad-saadi-314319-unsplash

 

Waves sweeping,
Ship sinking,
Footholds giving way,
Still the music plays.
Resistance tempers strings,
Prompts the resonating vibrations. 
Art without pain,
Music without suffering,
Oxymoronic monotonic
Silence.
Titanic dangers surround the emerging sound
Of sweet assurance ...
Nearer, my God, to Thee.

 

 

 

unsplash-logoMourad Saadi


 

Awareness of moral dilemmas and ethical ambiguity is an indicator of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual maturity and health, serving as a counter-balance to superficiality and slogan driven oversimplification of complexities. (Reflections on book of Job)

 

 


Prayer of the Afflicted - Hear My Prayer

Hear my prayer ovinuchi-ejiohuo-1066053-unsplash

The afflicted soul is tormented within and without. The heart is troubled. Anxiety keeps the mind and body on edge. Life is unsettled. The complaints of personal injustice and abandonment bubble up inside and must find release, but body, mind, heart, and soul grow faint. Strength fails to even complain. Prayer seems far removed from possibility.

Psalm 102 is called "A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD."

Surely, many here have had days when the cry sounded something like this, first to be heart, and then to be answered:

" Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!"

(Psalm 102:1-2 ESV)

"Do not hide ..."

How do you know that an invisible God who rarely manifests His presence directly and obviously in your life is really hearing and answering? Sometimes it is in the subtleties; often it is in the coincidences; frequently it is in the irrational peace or the unexplained strength and faith that arises in our hearts as we trust and follow.

So often, it is in joy and in the joyful reality of community that becomes the presence of God to us.

We experience God's presence as we brutally pour out our hearts to God in the full range of human emotion, despair, and frustration:

" For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;
I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass."

(Psalm 102:3-11 ESV)

You know through hope and you know through the acting on feeble faith. This God who regards and hears the prayers of the destitute will not despise your prayers:

"But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
For the LORD builds up Zion;
he appears in his glory;
he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer."

(Psalm 102:12-17 ESV)

This God manifests Himself and, in due season, manifests Himself to you. He appears in His glory, even if only in glimpses and hints, even if only in flashing moments of self-disclosure, He lets you know.

Furthermore, He reveals Himself in worship as one who attends to our prayers and in the words of those who record His deeds and share together, in community, their experiences of grace:

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

(Psalm 102:18-22 ESV)

It is our witness of one another of His witness to each of us.

Comparing our notes, we realize that there really are no coincidences.

" He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
“O my God,” I say, “take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!”"

(Psalm 102:23-24 ESV)

He has His ways of bring us to the place where we can experience His grace in healing ways, but they sometimes seem like the breaking of our strength in the middle of our lives. We are moving toward a grand goal and suddenly, we are interrupted.

Perhaps our interruptions are necessary for refocus - at least sometimes ....

But in the meantime, go ahead and register your complaint to God.

Our struggles with faith land on faith. Believers' doubts, fears, and frustrations are real, but they are differentiated from the ordinary because they land on faith. They settle on solid ground. They come to rest where they have always rested in that confidence that simply will not go away, that stubborn trust in the one who upholds all things including our own feeble lives:

" Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you."

(Psalm 102:25-28 ESV)

 

 

 

unsplash-logoOvinuchi Ejiohuo


Sometimes you have to hear the logic of the logical exercising their role as "cautioneers" and naysayers and acknowledge that the safest and most reasonable thing to do is one thing and then, do the opposite because our loyalty is to the law of love and the Lord of love.

We can do the thing that protects and preserves us or we can follow Jesus. It is not a criticism of those who warn us or disrespect to reject their warnings. We already know that this path has danger when we choose it.


Purple Robe

image from commons.wikimedia.org

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple … - Luke 16:19

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! – John 19:5

When I see purple I think of Lydia who, in the book of Acts, was known as the dealer of purple.

Purple was a precious commodity, the garment of royalty, the symbol of wealth.

Purple is a featured color in the Lenten season as we meditate on the road to the cross that Jesus trod.

It is also an element of two of Jesus’ teachings, one that he spoke and another that he lived. One was a parable and the other was a reality.

Jesus spoke of a rich man, clothed in purple, who died and discovered that all he had valued and cherished in life was worthless in light of a Godless eternity. This man begged for a drop of water and someone to warn his brothers. He was simply called, “a certain rich man.”

Later, Jesus would also ask for a sip of water, from the cross. Just prior to that pivotal event in salvation history, Jesus was paraded before Pilate clothed in purple. The soldiers were mocking His message of a spiritual kingdom that transcended all human kingdoms.

Jesus wore the purple unwillingly on His willing path to bear the shame of the world for our salvation. The rich man wore it with a prideful heart proclaiming his superiority and gaining nothing.  One exalted himself and was humbled.  Jesus humbled Himself and was exalted.

And both wore purple.

 

 


"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices... " Meditations on Psalm 15

 

REJOICE

Psalm 16:1 - Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.

Never separate the two parts of this prayer or you will diffuse its power. The first part is a request made in faith. The second is a declaration of faith upon which every request is made and in which our confidence resides. Safety, in and of itself, is of limited value. We are safe from what and for what?  The end and the means are the same here. We are made safe by abiding that we might safely abide in Christ. If God is our refuge, that is enough to say. It is an end in itself. To be in Christ is the end that brings every new beginning. Where is your principal residence in this life? Every anxiety and discomfort is addressed by the answer of faith. If you reside in God and take refuge in Him, then rest in Him and abandon all concern for safety from that which you cannot control. God is in charge.

Psalm 16:2 - I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

This is so very important! First, we must recognize that to say “Lord” is not just to utter a religious word or to speak with respect toward our chosen deity. In the naming of God as Lord is a relinquishment of every other value, treasure, and prize. It is to acknowledge Him as Supreme Master and to render everything else in our lives as valueless apart from Him. It is in acknowledging Him as the source of every good gift that those gifts have worth. It is in knowing Him that every other vision fades in importance and takes its place in His court as subservient to His will.

Psalm 16:3 - As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

One of the great privileges of the new birth is that we are born into a family of saint with whom we can associate and in whose fellowship we can delight. To be a saint is to be separate, holy, and dedicated to a particular function. That function, for the Christian, is the praise and glory of God. In one sense, it is not a mysterious or otherworldly thing to be a saint. In another sense, it is to profoundly embrace a mystery that we can never fully understand and be apprehended by a world far beyond our reach in these mortal bodies. If one is a saint indeed, one loves other saints because, in them, we see God’s face as clearly as possible in this life –even among those who dwell in the land.

Psalm 16:4 - The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.  I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.

Today, we join the eternal chorus of welcome as the Lord Jesus Christ enters into our consciousness as the King who comes in the Name of the Lord. He is the Prince of Peace and righteousness. His Kingdom comes with glory and praise, but also with a cross of pain and disgrace. Yet, He willing enters into the sphere of time, space, and judgment to face whatever stands between Him and His mission to bring all who welcome Him into eternal fellowship with the Father. Let us lift our voices in worship as we worship Him.

Psalm 16:5  - Lord, you have assigned my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.

God is righteous. That means that everything about Him is fully integrated into His holy character – He is 100% pure truth, love, goodness, and holiness. There are no contradictions in God – except those that we contrive in our own misunderstanding of Him. He loves justice. His heart delights in seeing things set aright. He loves consistency in our lives. He takes joy when His truth is integrated into the loose dimensions of our lives and we come into right relationship with Him. There is a promise in this verse, that the upright will see His face. What a glorious affirmation! The more we seek Him, the more our hearts are changed by His power within us and the clearer our vision of Who He is becomes. We can see God. His grace in Jesus Christ removes the scales from our eyes so that we may have a glimpse in this life and the hope of full disclosure in the life to come. Let that truth sink into the pores of your being today and celebrate it as you walk through the maze of confusing messages and distorted truth. You can see God.

Psalm 16:6 - The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Do you feel alone in your spiritual journey? Do you imagine that you are the only person in your school, workplace, or neighborhood that desires the things of God or seeks after His will? Do you wonder if there is even one other person who will stand with you for truth and righteousness? Are you overwhelmed by the loneliness of solitary seeking? Do you even wonder if the psalmist was somehow transported out of his time to speak of ours? Things have not changed that much have they? We all look back on better times when we were sure that there were more righteous and earnest people living among us and compare those times with our “todays.” We conclude that we are alone and that no one else is godly or faithful. While that is not true in every sense, it is in one. “There is none that is righteous, no not one.” We are indicted by that statement and must include ourselves among the number of the “no more” who have “vanished from the earth.” From God’s perspective and standard of perfect holiness, no one measures up. Then Jesus Christ enters the picture and He alone stands for truth. Our only hope is in Him and in Him we are not alone. Consciously align yourself with Him today and allow God to flush away that sense of “aloneness.”

Psalm 16:7 - I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

If you can’t trust a compliment, what can you trust? The psalmist has had it with flattery. He is discouraged over the tendency of his neighbors to use speech only to manipulate and deceive. We ought to develop that same level of disgust with untruth because all lying and falsehood are at odds with a God who is truth. Pretty lies are no better than ugly lies. Lies are lies and they are dark and dismal. Ask God to fill your heart with truth today and with a love for that truth so that whenever you would tell yourself a lie, you would immediately appeal to the God of truth and be rescued. Whatever urge you may have to be hard on your neighbors, start first with yourself and let God’s grace fill you and change you.

Psalm 16:8 - I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

First, consider this on Maundy Thursday – praise and flattery met Jesus upon His entry into the Holy City.  “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,” they cried and most likely meant what they said. Is it possible that some of those who praised Him on Sunday cursed Him on Thursday evening when He was arrested and brought to trial? Could it be that some who praised Him were seeking to manipulate Him for their own ends and to triumph with their tongues, even to co-opt Him for their own causes? Is it even possible that some that welcomed Him with their lips retained no sense of responsibility for their words beyond themselves? We see ourselves as masters of our words whenever we refuse to submit ourselves, body, soul, and spirit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the upper room and took the role of a servant. With His words and deeds, He offered His body and blood for the redemption of lost men and women. He emptied Himself and held nothing back. His words are truth and love. Let us bring ourselves and our words to Him in that same spirit. If possible, find a place this day to partake of communion with other believers and remember the sacrifice of Jesus and be reminded of His gracious words.

Psalm 16:9 – Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

God saw the oppression of the weak and heard the groaning of the needy, bound in the chains of sin and wickedness. Thus, He came to us as a man among men. He arose and took upon Himself of a lowly servant, He emptied Himself and became obedient unto the death of the cross. (Philippians 2) He identified with us completely, yet without sin and became our protector and  deliverer from sin. God has always been the champion of the weak and needy. The Christ-event and the passion of the cross make it clear that every man, woman, and child is in need of a savior. We are all oppressed – even if we are oppressors. We each writhe in agony for someone to intervene in our darkness and bring us into the light. Friend, the cross, was, is, and always will be for you. Spend some time today meditating on it. Seek out other believers with whom you can worship in wake of Calvary. Get alone with God and thank Him for remembering you on the cross. Do not let this day pass as any other.

Psalm 16:10 - because you will not abandon my to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

Oh, precious words, flawless, pure, beautiful in their refined glory. God’s words stir the soul, comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, and pierce the heart with divine truth and brilliant light. On that dark Saturday between the cross and the resurrection, the disciples had only the remembrance of His words. What would they have meant to you in such an hour? What have they meant to you in your darkest hours. After the resurrection, Jesus would meet men on the road to Emmaus and remind them of His words and those that the Father had spoken over the centuries through the scriptures. He would bring them new meaning and their hearts would burn within them. Let Jesus apply all of God’s words to your heart in the darkness of death from the place of resurrection. We can never fully visit the despair of that bleak Saturday, but we can enter into our own darkness with the flawless Word of God to comfort our souls.

Psalm 16:11 - you have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

What a pointless prayer this would be divorced from resurrection truth! Without the resurrection we are exposed, vulnerable, and unprotected. If Christ were not raised, we would be as Paul said, “still in our sins (I Cor. 15).”  We could not expect help in the onslaughts of wicked and violent people or non-human forces from a dead and powerless God. Prayers would be futile attempts to feel better about our miserable circumstances. Compliance with ethics would be fruitless acts of legalistic compulsion if not overwhelmed by a dynamic conviction that God can raise the dead and thus, protect, deliver, and save. God raised Jesus from the dead and pronounced the death sentence on death. He is alive and brings to life all who trust in Him. Celebrate! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

"Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -- Saint Francis of Assisi

 

 


Stop Worrying and Start Moving Mountains

 

Worry whoislimos-265482-unsplash
Enough with the hand wringing.
Enough with the despair.
Enough waiting for someone else to have enough faith ...
Enough to change the world ...
Enough ...


Enough waiting on Republicans or Democrats or Independents.
Enough waiting on public opinion.


Enough complaining and waiting and procrastinating as governments do ...
What they do best ...
And worst ...
Wait and do nothing ...
Or worse ...


Enough passive hope and more active hoping.
Enough finger-pointing, shouting down, name-calling ...
Enough!


Today, the little faith we have is what we bring to our active cry.
That little faith says the impossible and ...
Activates the impossible.
"Move, mountain of hate!"
"Move, mountain of fear!"
"Move, mountain of injustice!"
"Move, mountain of oppressive sin!"
"Move, mountain of terror, intimidation, bigotry, and torment."
"Move, mountain of convulsing hopelessness."
"Move!"


Our faith is small, but ..
What faith we have, we bring to this mountain and cry, "Move!"

Do something bold today.

"And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”"

Matthew 17:14-20 - (ESV)

  

unsplash-logowhoislimos


Get Moving. Others Will Follow

 

Feet stairs charles-deluvio-703853-unsplash
No one is going to come along with you until you start moving.
Now one is going to see it, get it, or understand it until you live it and demonstrate it.
Do not wait for a vote of your peers or critics to start living a life of faith, compassion, or obedience to God.
If you are going to follow Jesus, it will be a counter cultural move.
Do not expect applause or ease.
Do expect to be called names -- it does not matter which ones.
You may be called a "liberal" by some or a "fundy" by others.
Forget it and move on. Some will call you fascist and others, a communist.
Neither will be true and it still does not matter.
They do not get it. They cannot get it. They have never seen it.
It is a different paradigm.
You are neither liberal nor conservative and you are, at the same time,both.
Let them scratch their heads in utter confusion over you.
You are like the wind that blows here and there, said Jesus, moved by the Spirit.
Let the Spirit move you and hear the word, "Move!"
No one is going to come along with you until you start moving ...
But ...
Once you start moving ...
Some will.

They are just people ...
They need to see it to get it.

Don't judge them... just do what you were called to do ...

Follow Jesus.

unsplash-logoCharles Deluvio 🇵🇭🇨🇦

 

 

 


Our Father in Heaven

Clouds katie-moum-313715-unsplash

Lord of this morning,
Light of this day,
Master of the darkness that daily dies,
God of night and light and all that is,
I come ...
Empty handed, I come.
I bring to the morning and the day, nothing,
Nothing,
Nothing, but me ...myself .... my self,
Undone, unfettered, unconditionally empty.
I come.


Our Father ....
My loved one's Father .... Ours ...
Father of my dearest friends and most adamant enemies if I have any ....
Ours ... Father of the nations scattered,
Father of the stranger ...
Ours ....


Hallowed be Thy Name.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God Almighty. Thy name is Holy.
Thy Name ... vast, uncontainable, unfathomable, yet ...
Revealed to us as "I Am." 
You ARE ... Hallowed be THY NAME.


Thy Kingdom ... Thy rule .... Thy dominating, liberating, rejuvenating Kingdom of Love, of Life, of Wonder ...
COME!
I come. Thy Kingdom Come ...
Come to this house, to this body, to my church, my city, my nation ...
My world. 
WE come, OUR Father ...
Send forth Thy Kingdom in us and through us.


Thy Will, which we know in part, in tiny part, Thy will, perfect and all-knowing will of grace and power, of holiness and kindness,
Thy will be DONE!!!
DONE!!!!
DONE!!!
Start here and now with me, Oh God.


Straighten up my calendar. Schedule my appointments. Prepare my words. Master my thoughts. Guide me in Thy paths. Thy will be done.


On earth ... on the ground upon which we walk as in Heaven.
Heaven! "Eye hath not seen, nor ear hear, neither hath it entered into the heart of man ..." what You have prepared for us who love you.
Heaven! Your will! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!


Give us, this day, our daily bread ....
As You have every day of our lives.
Thank you!


And you will again! Thank You!


I trust you. I don't know how you are going to do it ...
And I am not sure when, but You always provide.
Thank you.


And You are OUR Father, so,
So, Dear God ...
Daily bread of healing for my friends who are sick ...
I name them before You...
For those in prison....
In distress....
On the streets ....
Struggling with decisions ...
Burdened with depression ....
Tortured for their faith ...
On battlefields ...
On mission fields .....
Just far afield ....


And those waiting for a word of encouragement ... maybe from me ...


And those waiting to hear the good news of repentance possible in Your Kingdom of turn-rounds ...


And those ...
Lost in a wilderness of ambiguity.
You are our provider.
You provide for Your work and for Your people.


Thank You.


And lead us not into temptation ....
Not that you would lead us into it...
It is a jungle out there and there are many snares.
We need You to handle some of those for us and the rest ...
In us and through us.
People are tripping up all the time, discrediting Your name and work.
I could, God forbid, be one of those.
I am weak and susceptible to temptation.

Deliver me for Thy Names' sake.


Give us strength and deliver us from evil.
I will not be preoccupied with such. You are my deliverance.
I will not fear for You, Oh Lord are able to ....
Deliver us from evil.


And again I ask ... lead me away from those snares that have snare us in the past ...
Lead us away in the future You have prepared for us ...
And handle any evil that may threaten me.


Thine is the kingdom! It is not mine ...
Except that Your Son has invited me to participate.
Thine is the Power ...
And You have shared much of that with me! 


Thank You! I praise Your Name!


Thine is the Glory!!!!


Glory!!!! Glory!!!! Glory !!!!


And this part amazes me Lord of Amazing things ....
FOREVER .... and ever ... and ever .....
Amen!


And I pray in the Name of the One who taught me to pray this way ...
And teaches me daily ...
And today ...
In Jesus' Name.

 

 

 

unsplash-logoKatie Moum


You Failed - OK

You failed yesterday or this morning.

Good not that you did, but that you know it.
We all do well and sometimes blow it.
You lost some hours, perhaps even more.
Now its time to dust it off; its time to soar.
You have wings & you can rise.
You have this moment; you have new skies.


God's Watching - and That's a Good Thing

  Owl andy-chilton-104266-unsplash

People say "God is watching" as if it were a reality from which to recoil in utter dread, as if it were a threat.

I do not recoil. I take it as a promise. I am ever aware that God is watching my every success, failure, strength, and flaw.

It causes pauses of reverential fear, but it is of the sort that brings weight and glory to every moment, even the moments of frivolity and folly that come so often. Grace. Mercy. Peace.

These are the comforts and joys of His knowing gaze, watchful eye, and guiding hand. He sees and breathes purpose into my scattered days. I am known. I am loved. Like the experience of Peter before and after his major failure and denial, Jesus knows all things about me and He knows, even better than I do, that I love Him.

We are bundles of contradictions, but thank God He is watching.

And when I feel utterly unworthy to feed sheep, I remember that.

 

unsplash-logoAndy Chilton


Lost and Found

In the woods ramdan-authentic-679682-unsplash

unsplash-logoRamdan Authentic

 

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost… - Luke 15:6

And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost… - Luke 15:9 

… Let us eat and be merry. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. - Luke 15:23b-24 

“Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”  - John Newton

“We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus Saves! Spread the tidings all around. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

So that grand hymn of faith calls us to “give the winds a mighty voice.”

"Amazing grace! How sweet the sound," exclaimed John Newton, a man who, by his own testimony, was thoroughly lost and gloriously found.

How sweet the sound? Oh yes.

The lost has been found. It is the sound of laughter and merriment. It is the sound of praise. It is the sound that rings through the streets of Heaven and even the angels sing. It is the sound that warms the heart of God. It is the sound that ought to flow from our voices daily and throughout the day, the song of gratitude, of joy, and of love.

Whereas I was lost, I am now found. I am no longer lost, no longer hopeless, no longer guilty, alienated, or dispossessed. I am no longer unworthy, no longer useless, no longer an orphan. God no longer sees me as a sinner, but as a son. I have a hope. I have a future. As He did with Jeremiah of old, He knows the plans He has for me.

I am found.

Do you know the joy of being found?

Or have you forgotten.

The truth can be seen in your attitudes toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, whether you are patient and forgiving or irritable and judgmental? The truth is revealed in your attitudes toward the people who feel lost and broken.

Are you charitable and seeking or critical and aloof? The truth is seen in your attitudes toward new believers. Do you rejoice or rebuff? Do you step aside and move over or do you guard your established territory? Do you join the celebration, feasting with the friends of the father or do you stand afar off as the son who feels he never left home?

You will never be at home as long as you cling to the notion that you never left. You will never experience the full joy of redemption if you forget that you were lost in slavery to sin when grace found you. You will be unmoved at the singing of Amazing Grace if you forget that the wretch saved was you and the lost one who returned was also you. You have been found!

Rejoice, but keep this also in mind. All three of these parables have one thing in common. Someone has lost something and then, find it. It is the person who loses the coin, the sheep, or the son who celebrates the most. Others join in. The son benefits, but it is the Father who finds what he last lost and loves the most.

The greatest joy in the finding is God's and God shares that joy with us.

"I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am” ― John Newton

 

“I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon. (his last words)” 

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now i see.”
― John Newton, Amazing Grace

 

 

John Newton's tombstone reads:

"John Newton, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy!"

 


Beholding Beauty

Beholding Beauty

"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple." – Psalm 27:4

The Greeks had a curious concept of beauty. It had to do with the relationship between the common word for beauty and the word for hour. Something truly beautiful had come to its hour much as the fruit is most fragrant and delectable at the hour of its ripeness.

David understood that the beauty of God was eternal. It transcended time and space. If he could linger in the presence of God all the days of his life, none of God’s beauty would diminish. There would be no decay.

God is consistently beautiful and is the very logos behind all beauty. All that we consider lovely in the arts and in nature finds its perfect form in Him.

For that reason every work of art or music that is offered to God is to be a reflection of His loveliness.  Every edifice of architecture, every sonnet, every work of literature, every dramatic presentation or dance, all of these and more are to be the best we can give that He may be honored and His beauty, through us made manifest.

We are to give God our best and trust Him to supply the rest.

For David, beholding the beauty of God was a step toward inquiring of Him. He knew that he could gaze upon God in whatever way He disclosed Himself as a means of meditating upon His truth.

In doing so, David could meet God and so can we.

 

 


Are You Still Waiting?

Train station waiting - alex-sorto-272651-unsplash

unsplash-logoAlex Sorto

 No one is going to come along with you until you start moving.

No one is going to see it, get it, or understand it until you live it and demonstrate it.

Do not wait for a vote of your peers or critics to start living a life of faith, compassion, or obedience to God.

If you are going to follow Jesus, it will be a counter cultural move.

Do not expect applause or ease.

Do expect to be called names -- it does not matter which ones.

You may be called a "liberal" by some or a "fundy" by others.

Forget it and move on. Some will call you fascist and others, a communist.

Neither will be true and it still does not matter.
They do not get it. They cannot get it. They have never seen it.

It is a different paradigm.

You are neither liberal nor conservative and you are, at the same time,both.

Let them scratch their heads in utter confusion over you.

You are like the wind that blows here and there, said Jesus, moved by the Spirit.

Let the Spirit move you and hear the word, "Move!"

No one is going to come along with you until you start moving ...

But ...

Once you start moving ...

Some will.

They are just people ...

They need to see it to get it.

Don't judge them... just do what you were called to do ...

Follow Jesus.

 

BUT YOU HAVE TO DECIDE AND START!

 

 

 


Did You Mix and Match Your Socks Today?

 

image from goo.gl
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 one 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.


We Cannot Love Our Neighbor If ...

Love your neighbor nina-strehl-140734-unsplash

unsplash-logoNina Strehl

We cannot love our neighbors as ourselves if we refuse to take the effort to see the world through our neighbors' eyes or try to imagine life in his or her skin.

We cannot love our neighbor without learning to sing the songs of lament and the entire book of Lamentations.

We cannot love our neighbor by telling him or her what he or she should be or not be feeling.

We cannot love our neighbor without tears. We cannot love our neighbor by having an answer for every word our neighbor speaks in fear or frustration.

We love our neighbor more with our ears than our words. When we do use words, we love our neighbor more by what we speak on behalf of our neighbor than what we say to that neighbor.

We cannot love our neighbor by taking our scripts from Job's friends and having all the trite answers organized and ready to spout.

We cannot love our neighbor without working at it and putting aside our own interests and opinions long enough to understand.

We cannot love our neighbor while belittling our neighbor. And ... we cannot love God without loving our neighbor.


However You Voted, You Are on the Outside

I voted

unsplash-logoCasey Robertson

 

The world has always been indifferent and often hostile to the values of those who center their core convictions in the prophetic and merciful Word of God.

That will continue and so will our mandate to speak truth to power, stand with the oppressed, be misunderstood, be in a minority, and be faithful to truth.

No political system represents us, We are sojourners, We are peculiar people. We pray for our leaders and pray with hope that hearts and policies can be shaped by truth. We also must hold every system accountable for justice in unpopular causes and for marginalized people who are mistrusted and hated.

Whoever you supported leading up to last week's election, you have a big job ahead if you will truly follow Jesus in the areas of His biases - to pray - act- speak - and sometimes resist. Our King is in the midst and He is King.

"God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
'How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.'"
- Psalm 82:1-4 (ESV)


Old, New, and Radical

Radix2

Consider the juxtaposition between "tired old ideas" and "fresh new thinking."

It is often true that "tired and old" refers to what was once fresh and new and is rather ancient, rooted, and thus, "radical" from radix, but has became trite and life-less through repetition, loss of "rootedness," institutionalization, and "spirit-leak."

It also becomes dulled around the edges and distorted by our own misuse of language and loss of conviction
Likewise, what is fresh and new may refer to the ancient truths that are coming alive in a new way, a return to the roots/radix of centered truth, breathed-upon by the Spirit.

Their radical applications are not avoided and deep, soul-searching accompanies the awakening.

Thus, that which is old seems new and that which is new seems old and that which is authentic and timeless seems rather strange and that is why the Jesus Movement is associated with a "peculiar people."

They are "edgy" and they just don't fit anywhere.

It is always a good idea, from time to time, to clear our minds completely, and pick up the bible to read as something we have never read before and to just let it speak.

Just a musing observation.

And then, what if .... ?


 




Babylon Is Falling Down

Babylon ruins 800px-thumbnail

"After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haun't for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.'"
- Revelation 18:1-3 (ESV)

Here is an angel, a messenger of God, speaking truth to power - power that you are either attracted to or that you resist --- or both.

What is your Babylon? What is that seat of power that attracts those who also want power and hope to get it through association, conspiracy, and sinister collaboration that oppresses the weak and the righteous? We are attracted to that bright, beautiful, lively, ostentatious "city of influence," its sensual pleasures and its facade of wealth, luxury, and illegitimate power.

It intoxicates and it draws in those who are inclined to be drawn.

And lest we lift our own heads in pride, something in it is inclined to draw something in us and it can intoxicate us as well --- for a season or for a lifetime --- our choice if we remain conscious enough to make choices.

For Babylon is fallen. It is an eternal reality in Heaven where all is accomplished already.

Every false god and every pretender to every throne has eventually been vanquished and neutralized. It has been; it shall be. Ultimate rectification is reality, but in the meantime, the dance is repeated throughout history.

The only history that immediately matters for us is the one we are living, the choices we are making, the alignments we are activating, and the loyalties we are forming.

It is an angel, a messenger by definition, that has the authority to put power in check and glory gathers around the sound of his mighty voice.

That says that it is truth that brings powers to their knees. It is the voice of truth, the message of God that humbles the proud and pronounces judgment upon oppressors.

Let that be an encouragement to all of you who daily, and without apparent reward, consistently and faithfully, speak truth to power.

"I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with haughty neck.’”
For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs"
- Psalm 75:4-8 (ESV)

The picture of judgment is telling. It is not poured down the throats of the proud and haughty. They lap it up. Warned not to be proud, they lust for more and it is judgment they consume that judges them in the end --- and judges us daily. Pride of heart and haughtiness of spirit are not our friends. When we choose not to walk humbly before our God and graciously among our neighbors, we lap up judgment to ourselves.

"And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls." - Revelation 18:11-13

More on Babylon because at the end of the list is the real "cargo" of unscrupulous commerce in a marriage of convenience with illegitimate and oppressive power. It is the slavery of human souls.

This subversive circular is calling out power for its tracking of humanity. The test of authenticity, legitimacy, and righteousness in any system of commerce and government with all their entanglements may well be --- Does it profit from the enslavement of human souls?

If it does, and that includes the enticements of systems of addiction, then red flags go up everywhere. This one is "Babylon" and it is going down.

 

 

Picture Credit: By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson. - This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 030529-N-5362A-001 (next). Public Domain, Link 

 


Crowd-Sourcing Truth

Social media rawpixel-651368-unsplash (1)

unsplash-logorawpixel

 

Can truth be crowd-sourced?

Years ago, people urged caution about the use of Wikipedia in research, fact-checking, and source-citing.

Why?

For one thing, Wikipedia urged caution, but mainly because it was crowd-sourced information on an open source platform.

Anyone could become an editor. Anyone could contribute. Anyone could correct things.

That remains a cause for caution, but it is also a cause for confidence.

People have started to care, utilize, share, and depend upon Wikipedia and other open-source forums for a starting point of information gathering. Because they care and use the source, they also take the reliability of the information seriously.

Documentation of information is sometimes pages long, detailed, verifiable, and disputable.

The crowd keeps the forum honest and each individual reader is equipped to check out the sources and arrive at truth. It is a public trough of knowledge from which we can all drink. We just have to stay on our toes and participate.

This is where we are with news today - news, public information, policy data, statistics, and political claims. We drink from public troughs in which we can participate. We do not have to take one source at face value. We can check and double check.

The wisdom and knowledge of the crowd can question the motives behind the dissemination of disinformation. The crowd can be activated as brokers of truth. They can mine primary sources. They can verify. They can stake their own credibility. They can hold pundits, politicians, policy makers, power-brokers, and people in power accountable for what they say.

That is the greatest and most demanding job between elections - the in-your-face, relentless, and fearless pursuit and proclamation of truth.

It requires our participation as contributors and consumers.

If ever there was a time that necessitate our commitment to this task, it is now. We cannot allow anyone in the public eye with the public's ears to get by with any misrepresentation of truth. We must ruthlessly and skeptically evaluate even (and especially) data that supports our ideologies.

Check; double-check; check again; pass it on.

We will need to use existing platforms and perhaps, create new ones, but we must do this with commitment, energy, and consistency.

There are many who want to manipulate our minds. Only we can keep them free.

It is up to the crowd.

 


Envy of the Arrogant

Be still my soul

"But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." - Psalm 73:2-3, (ESV)

 It is funny what will trip us up.

Envy of the arrogant will do so most efficiently.

We are always at work subconsciously and consciously to get around in the physical world without losing balance and landing on our backs. What we hear, our vestibular functions and what we feel, our proprioceptive functions, work with our vision to keep us on our feet.

If we take away clear vision, we must adjust to using the other two senses or we will fall over.

Envy interferes with vision. When we envy the arrogant, we do not see clearly. We distort our view of reality and the world. Out values lose focus and we are blinded by lies and false perceptions.

The truth is that the arrogant model nothing worthy of envy. All they achieve and possess is fleeting and faltering. Their accumulations of adulation are delusional and temporal. If we invest energy in envying them or seek to emulate their philosophies or methodologies, we will be disappointed.

Their prosperity is a deception.

The psalmist declares that God's  commands through the Torah gave him clarity in the most difficult times, times of taunting, times of injustice, moments of distress, hours of anxiety.

The Word of God brought him stability when everything else was conspiring to throw him off center.

In days when the cacophony of voices screeches arrogance, hate, vain competition, false priorities, God speaks calm and balance to our souls.

Without that word celebrated in the 119th Psalm, we would fall.

 

 


Thoughts on Fear, Faith, Politics, and Negotiation For Tomorrow Morning

 

United States Capitol west front edit2.jpg

If you fear me
When you see me
And I, in turn, fear you, 
The spiral of
Communication
Downward
Would be the envy
Of roller coaster
Engineers.

------------------------


As I was walking to St Joe,
I met a man with a broken toe.
He knew some things I did not know,
Which I suppose just goes to show ....

-------------------------------------

There must be some detente if there is going to be any negotiation. Negotiators do not compromise principles. They start with common ground.

If I say that Z is an unprincipled ignoramus, but Z is holding cards we need for a mutual win, I've gained nothing by winning that battle.

f we can agree we have a problem and agree on some part of what it is and agree we want to solve it, we have made much progress. 75% maybe.

There's no shortage of clever slogans to obscure, marginalize, fragment, & distort the truth they purport to underscore- including this one.

If I represent Jesus, it may require that If I cannot recognize the name you are calling me, how can I know you want me to listen. Name calling accomplishes nothing of good ever.I keep my own opinions within the laboratory of my own mind until they are better formulated.

I cannot hear the voices whose volume exceeds their content or whose hyperbolic pronouncements outdistance their capacity to listen.

Politics at its best: collective, collaborative, courteous, and civil communication to solve problems as a people of differing perspectives.

To distinguish between
Opinion,
Preference, 
Emotion,
Perspective,
Prejudice,
Inspiration, 
&
Insight
Is no small task.
Speak.
Listen.
Be.

---------------------------

My opinions are like underarms. 
Like most, I have two.
Others are offended by their emanating aroma before I notice
I need opinion hygiene.

Standing one"s ground may lead to necessary impasse, but one never knows until common ground us sought and all voices have been heard.

Meetings of minds are superfluous among clones, but essential to the fluid thoughts of intersecting individuals crisscrossing life's journey

---------------------------

Starting tomorrow, folks are going to have to start having face-to-face conversations, negotiations, and commitments to productive and cooperative governing - no matter who wins.

 

 

 


image from i1.wp.com

"All things are your servants."

All things ... all people ... all ideas ... all truths ... all atomic relationships and realities ... every universe of energy, matter, or thought .... everything ... all things.

 

 


How Odd

We see no relationship, in our addictive blindness, between our persistent choices and our consistent consequences. We swim in the river of denial cursing the God of heaven rather than changing our course to float with the flow of grace. How odd.

" ... People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds."

- Revelation 16:10-11 (ESV)


A Moment Well Done

 

Image result for this is the moment

There is great power in a moment well done.
Moments create momentum without being obvious or ostentatious.
Momentous moments motion us over and envelop us like a cloud and then ...
Pass over.
Missing moments is a mournful sorrow.
Magnificent moments multiply in some invisible space called influence, but ...
Muddling moments may move us on to the next and the next and the next ...
Move in and with the moment or meddle with the muck.
Lots of luck with that ...
Rather, just be in that moment and be what you are intended to be for you ...
You were made for this moment and ...
This moment was made for you.
Who knows what it will bring to you and more ...
What it will bring through you and by that, I mean ...
YOU MAY NEVER KNOW ....
But KNOW that NO moment well lived is ever lost and
Nothing, nothing, nothing is ever lost to God.