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February 2020

The unseen footprints of God are not absent because He is absent.

He is present and stepping in the sands along the shore and those in the desert every

They are just quickly covered by the waters  and winds of time and life.

Yet, the ripples they cause and the current God guides are ever present.

" Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great minute waters;
yet your footprints were unseen."

(Psalm 77:19 ESV)

Strive to Rest

Rest area

"Strive to enter rest."

I am philosophically, and paradoxically amused by the concept of striving to enter rest and still, I get it.

I get it on the day before every day off or vacation.

I get it every day when I try to get my ducks in a row so that I can go home and not think about work (which does not always "work.").

I get it, we concentrate, focus, and strive for rest because rest is not defined by the absence of activity as much as the enjoyment of fulfillment when everything for which we have be striving comes together.

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." - Hebrews 4:11-13 (ESV)

The Meaning of Life

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

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

The meaning of life is relationship with God through Jesus Christ. extending to our neighbors.

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

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

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

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

He is not hiding from you but is ready to enter into your struggles.

Many have found Him and then searched for more, but there is no more.

Eternal life is far more than living forever. Living forever is a nightmare if that living is without meaning and without love. Eternity can be encapsulated into a moment and if that moment is filled with love, we will never want it to end. Knowing God is knowing love and that love so enlivens us that it cannot die.

You can go deeper in love, but you can never go deeper than love. Return to the place where you began. He is the meaning of life for time and for eternity.

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





Art Credit - The Ladder of Divine Ascent is an important icon kept and exhibited at Saint Catherine's Monastery, situated the base of Mount Sinai in Egypt. The gold background is typical of icons such as this, which was manufactured in the 12th century after a manuscript written by the 6th century monk John Climacus who based it on the biblical description of Jacob's ladder. It depicts the ascent to Heaven by monks, some of whom fall and are dragged away by black demons.

Meditations in Ashes

Wood ash

Laurentius - Own work

"At that time the LORD said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’"

"So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly."

We have taken the law, written once on stone, and broken it. But if we will provide the stones, God will rewrite it so that we will understand. However, if we will bring our stony hearts to the mountain.

He will write His covenant and law there and our hearts will become softened and enlightened and we shall be transformed through truer, deeper knowledge and understanding of His ways.

"And the LORD gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the LORD commanded me.” - Deuteronomy 10:1-5 (ESV)

Yet, we seem to be caught in cyclical history of repentance and wandering.

Lamenting over the magnitude of injustice, oppression, and wickedness was leading the troubadour to despair. He recounts the agonizing moments that were not left to dangle in meaningless resignation and then, the psalmist declares ...

" ...But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end." - Psalm 73:15-17 (ESV)

My problem is a cold and bitter heart. It needs to be pricked. When it is, I am awakened.

"When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you."

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Psalm 73:21-26 (ESV)

It is how we learn, grow, and are transformed from what we were to what we are becoming. Hard times bring us to our senses and awaken our dissatisfaction.

We see an invitation to come to God for help. We come and are delivered --- again and again.

" You have made your people see hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger."

"You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!" -Psalm 60:3-5 (ESV)

We live from our guts. Ancient peoples believed that the gut was the seat of emotion so that to love from the heart indicated intention but "bowels of mercy" spoke of warmth and compassion - emotional responses to humanity. We make lots of choices from the gut and we believe our "gut feelings."

The psalmist prayed from the gut - tough, agonizing prayer - engaged and real:

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

But the struggle continues.

If it feels good, we so it. If it seems true, to us, we say it.

Such is the unrestrained life.

Such is not the disciple life.

It walks over people and offends God. If that does not bother you; go ahead and live that way. There will be consequences, but that is your choice.

It is just good to be reminded that we are making that choice lest we feel righteous in our slander and consider it something other than sin. I like to know I am sinning before sinning. It makes the choice clearer. Sometimes I kid myself.

“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother's son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you." -Psalm 50:19-21 (ESV)

God, write Your law of love, again, upon my heart. Grant me a deep desire to know it and to do it. Grant me the strength. Grant me grace.

In Dust and Ashes

Photo Credit - Rev. Neil Willard - This file is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Ashes to Go at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church


"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

"... she sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying." - II Samuel 13:19

" "O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes" - Jermiah 6:26

"... I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes...." - from Job 42:3-6

 "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" - Daniel 9:3

Oh God, who sees me, knows me, and loves me while seeing through my pretensions, here I am.

There is nothing I can tell you about myself that you do not already know.

I am laid bare by your penetrating gaze and your Word divides by thoughts and attitudes, sorting them out in ways I cannot even comprehend.

You know all about me and still I have the urge to hide and cover myself with the leaves of shame.

Crack my facade, dissolve the masks I wear.

Give me the grace to be real today, real and vulnerable, and open and compassionate with myself and others.

Your love validates my existence and your mercy gives me courage to embrace the ugliness I see in myself, the impurity of my motives, the haughtiness of my words, the impulsiveness of my poor choices.

They are a part of all I have been and am becoming and I am not stuck in them, nor do they define me.

You define me and in freeing me to be me and become more, Your message from Jesus to me and through me that there is a possibility of joyous repentance and kingdom purpose ring true.

You know me and yet you choose me, in love, to be one of yours!

I cannot wrap my mind around the grace of it, but I receive it that I may give it.

Make me, like Francis, an instrument of your peace today.

I am not worthy, but I am available.

I repent in dust and ashes.

Because I follow Jesus, I ask this in His Name.




The Impatience Club


 - Own work - Impatiens scapiflora 

I am a dues-paying member of the impatient club. I get impatient with myself, with individuals, with slow service, with shoddy service, with life, and sometimes, with God. I get impatient when people's attitudes don't turn on a dime, when people don't see the world the way I see it (and think that God does), when people are impatient with me, and with about anything else I have the capacity to be impatient with ...

Lack of funds ...
Criticism ....
My own critical spirit ...
Long lines ...
People just being human and flawed ...
My own flaws ....
With technology ...
With lack of technology ...
When technology out-guesses me ...
When technology does not know what I am thinking ...
Injustice ...
Justice without mercy ...

It is a lose/lose situation and, when I am most impatient, it looks like I have lots of enemies stacked up against me.

I can name many ... and most are headquartered in my head. My club dues are paid .

The dues are priced very high.

I can pray/sing with the psalmist the same prayer/song he prayed/sang. It is sometimes a hurried prayer for God to hurry. I just pray that I come to the same point of resolution. Amen.

"Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”"

"May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!"

- Psalm 70, (ESV)



Defending God's Honor

Photo-1541006193461-85edba8083fe (1)

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

God is working His purpose out.

God is perfectly capable of defending God's own honor.

We struggle with it. We can't even agree on what it is.

We are multi-polar in our emPHASes.

We are indignant when the world does not give proper respect to the things we revere. We protest to God and we wrestle with it in His presence.

In the end, we land where the end, we land where the psalmist landed, "God's got this."

We have been in just as perilous times and worse before. If we really study history from more than just our own perspective or the perspective of our own group, we can see that. There have been many dark days and many wicked rulers, but none have ultimately prevailed.

So, weep, wail, and work for righteousness, but understand that, in the end, God's got this.

"O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!"

"Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
they set up their own signs for signs.
They were like those who swing axes
in a forest of trees.
And all its carved wood
they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.
They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
they burned all the meeting places of God in the land."

"We do not see our signs;
there is no longer any prophet,
and there is none among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!""

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

"Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
and a foolish people reviles your name.
Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
do not forget the life of your poor forever."

"Have regard for the covenant,
for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name."

"Arise, O God, defend your cause;
remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!" - Psalm 74 (ESV)



"... until I proclaim your might to another generation ..."

Might Miguel Bruna

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

" Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you." - Psalm 71:4-6 (ESV)

I wonder if I could apply this prayer to ask God to rescue me from myself - my own worst enemy. I am unjust and cruel with myself.

My capacity for wickedness rivals the Charlie Mansons of the world.

But I have hope, trust, and leaning -- and while leaning on the Everlasting Arms, I am restrained and retrained.

"Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent." -Psalm 71:9 (ESV)

I never expected to get this old this soon.

Not that I am old at sixty five, but there are limitations and failures that I thought I would not experience for decades to come. They are not insurmountable, but I can see how people with less of a sense of unseen Center and the guiding hand of divine Purpose might get discouraged, and feel forsaken or spent.

He who renews our youth like the eagle causes us to run and not be weary to walk and not faint (a phrase that has become more real to me in recent years since I first encountered some serious health challenges.)

There is a purpose statement buried in these words - a purpose for our final third or fourth of life:

"... until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come..."

And we continue to ruminate:

" O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again." - Psalm 71:17-21 (ESV)

We may have entered the time when we are not primarily building our own ministries and legacies, but those of the next generations. In many ways, that is always the case at every stage of life ... but it becomes more of a priority as we age.

We say, "but I am not done building our own," and God says, "It never was your own in the first place."

That becomes clearer with the years.

It never was mine to build for myself.

And then, there comes great joy in proclaiming to another generation.

That is where I want to invest the next phase of my existence on this planet.


My Friends

Friendship El_cuentito

Public Domain - Friendship by Petrona Viera (1895-1960)

"... I have called you friends ..."  - John 15:15

Barely have we comprehended what it means to be servants, much less children of God, when Jesus rocks our understanding at its very foundations and calls us His friends. Friends of Jesus we are, for whom He showed the greatest love by laying down His life.

With that is the implication that we are willing to lay down our lives, obey His commands, and share in His purposes.

Chief among these is that we love one another.

It has been the sad duty of some to go through the motions of worship in a loveless church, even a church filled with animosity and vengeful attitudes. Such is not the case in this place, but as loving as we are to one another, are we truly being made complete in that love and selflessness to which Christ called us?

On a typical Sunday, we gather to worship and sing God’s praise. When we sing, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” we remember that our love relationship with God is based upon His rock-solid truthfulness and unrelenting grace.

When we sing about what it means to gather in the Name of Jesus and experience the Spirit's power within us, we will, in love, declare the majesty of God and be reminded that we are one body in the Spirit, in praise, and in service.

When we ask God to open our eyes in a new way to see Jesus, our friend, savior, and Lord, we also confess that people need the Lord and remember that a love relationship with God that brings about a love relationship with each other, teaches us to love a lost world that Jesus loved and died for - friends who have never met Him.

Finally, we will be dismissed with the affirmation that we are one in the bond of love.

Jesus is our friend who has called us to befriend one another. We are a circle of friends.



The Last Battle

Excerpted from The Confidence Factor

and from a devotional originally intended for Memorial Day

Confidence factor

"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." - Philippians 3:20-21

Let us take a walk among the gravestones.

Citizens of Heaven that we are, we have been sent forth as ambassadors (II Cor. 5:20) and as soldiers (II Tim. 2:3). We are in a battle – not with people, but with spiritual forces, with evil and with the prince of darkness. We at war with death and the one great encouragement we have is in our upward, forward look to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of Light, the Prince of Peace, the King of Righteousness. We represent Him and we go to war at His command.

Walk among the gravestones and read the names of the fallen. Among the markings there will be names of young men and women who have paid for our liberty with their lives. We honor them and we take courage from their sacrifices in the wars of human governments. We are grateful for what they have given that we might be free.

And we learn from them. We are reminded that we are also, as believers, in the midst of hostilities. We are reminded that we cannot sleep through the battle; we must be on guard. We cannot become attached to our lives in this world for this world is not out ultimate home.

The good soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who died for our country did not set out to die, but they were willing to lay down their lives if that was what it took to accomplish their mission. Their example and that of the Christian martyrs serve as a lesson for us who stayed behind.

If we must, we can lay down our lives as well, because of two great promises in this verse. The first is the promise of a new body and eternal life. Death is not the last word for the believer. The second is the promise of ultimate victory. We have read about the last battle; its outcome is secure. Christ Jesus wins! And He shall subdue all things unto Himself.

Let us remember the fallen today and let us take courage from their example for the battle that is before us.



The Replacement


Saint Matthias from the workshop of Simone Martini

It is the first and last we hear of him in any canonical references. Traditions vary and speculations abound. Yet, all we really know about  Matthias comes from Luke in the book of Acts in 1:15-26.

Here is what we know:

There was a vacancy among the 12 apostles because one, Judas, had failed miserably and hung himself.

It was important to have 12; so a replacement was needed.

Two men were qualified and available. Both had been disciples of Jesus from the start of his ministry. Both had been witnesses to the resurrection.

God chose one of them, "and the lot fell on Matthias."

Traditions differ in the Western and Eastern branches of the church, but both suggest that he did his job, planted churches, bore witness to the resurrection, and lived until somewhere between 70 and 80, CE.

Today, I am thinking of him as the patron saint of transitional leaders - pastors, missional leaders, and others, who step into a role that has been either disgraced or compromised.

The unsung replacement is best known for being unknown.

He or she steps in as a witness and an auxiliary to fill a gap and complete a team. This person is not in it for the glory. The success of the team and the other team members is of greater importance than his or hers.

Mathias did not corner Matthew, Mark, or Luke to interject his memoirs into the record of Jesus and the early disciples. The only book bearing his name as a gospel was deemed inauthentic by the early church.

He just did his job, served, and spread the good news.

He was a replacement. His life not only reminds us that anyone can be replaced, but that we can be replaced by an unknown person who is willing to serve.

That is Mathias. Anything else is speculation.



My Endorsement


Election day is coming soon in California. Here is my recommendation:
Vote Love.
Love is the highest commandment on which all others hang.
Click here for more of my endorsement that I posted a couple of years ago.

To my Republican friends: I love you.
To my Democratic friends: I love you.
To my Libertarian friends: I love you (and I want you to know that it is of my own free will)

To my atheist friends: I love you (and yes, I do think you have a moral center and some valuable ideas - many)

To my Christian friends: I love you, but some of you need to act a little more like Jesus. And some of you are so much like Him that you put me to shame. But you really are family and I need to act a lot more like Him too - and because we are family, we can talk tough love with each other.

To my Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, New Age, and everything else friends - I love you. And some of you teach me a few things about how to be a better Jesus-follower.

I love my friends here and in 3-D.

It really does not matter whether or not we agree on anything. If we can make this kind of "meeting" of differing minds work here, maybe Congress could try it. No one ever has to give up their convictions in order to love and respect and even, like people with entirely different views. Respect for others does not mean you reject what you believe. It means you are confident enough in what you believe not to be threatened.

So, be free to share freely. I am and I will. What a wonderful opportunity we have to understand each other better and share our deepest beliefs.



Where to Get Material for Writing and Speaking


There are more stories to tell than there are story tellers and there is no shortage of material for the story tellers to use.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Sometimes I am asked where I get material about which to write and speak, assuming I do not have a text to expound.

The answer is that I gather it all the time from multiple sources and with all of my senses.  I am a hunter-gatherer for interesting bits of information, insights, and ideas. Then, I collect it, try to organize it, and wait for it to be needed.

I did think of an acronym for MATERIAL and, while it is not exhaustive, it might propel some ideas for you. So here it is.

M - Meet people.

People are your best source of great materials. Their lives, stories, and thoughts can inspire, inform, and illustrate. Meet them daily. They are everywhere you go.

A - Attend.

By that, I mean, pay attention. Do not be mentally or emotionally absent when you are physically present. Experience the moment you are in with your eyes,m ears, hands, and heart.

T - Take notes.

Don't trust your memory to retain every thought you have or everything you see or read. Write it somewhere that is semi-permanent in a way that you can retrieve it.  You can use paper, a notepad on your phone, or even an email or text to yourself. But take notes.

E- Exercise.

There are two kinds of exercise that I recommend for gathering, considering, and assimilating material.

  1. Exercise writing daily. You remember things and get new ideas as you write.
  2. Exercise physically. Take breaks to walk. Many great thoughts are formed while people are physically active and the mind is allowed to be free to think.

Practice reading and reflection at least daily.

R - Read'and Reflect.

Here is another two-part recommendation, but they are related.

Writers and speakers need to be readers. If you do not read well, listen to audio books, lectures, speeches, and documentaries. In your mind, dialogue with them and catalog what you learn.

Then, reflect on what you gather, but also, reflect on life itself. Dedicate some "think time" into your life. Without reflection, all you write and speak might be shallow and hollow.

I -Investigate

This has gotten so much easier than when I was in college and graduate school. Information is at our fingertips. The only thing that prevents us from beginning a good investigation is a lack of curiosity. Start online, but be willing to venture out, visit locations, interview people, and dig.

A - Ask questions.

There is nothing like an inquisitive mind to attract good material. Ask and ask some more. Ask people to tell you their stories. Ask specific questions and ask open-ended questions. Ask and keep asking.


When you ask, listen. When you don't ask, listen. Listen to those talking to you and listen to the voices around you. Look and listen in a world where we are too likely to want to be seen and heard. Be a fly on the wall and observe life all around you. You will find enough stories and ideas to fill volumes of books and hours of talks.

Start with these ideas and add to them.

You will never, I mean never, I guarantee, never run out of material.

There are many stories to be told and you are just the person to tell some of them.





Under the Fig Tree


Mountain fig tree in Zibad

There is always a next day.

Here was a very productive day when some common words rang so true as to resound in our hearts through time and into eternity.

One says, "We have found him" and is met with honest doubt and objection. "Nothing good comes from THAT town!"

Jesus compliments him for "being real," and calls him anyway. In the transaction we enshrine these words of calling,"Follow me," and "Come and see," and "I saw you," and "You shall see amazing things."

"The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”

And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”" - John 1:43-51 (ESV)

A congenial and compelling exchange, it is.

One question grabs me in this moment of reflection upon the whole: How did you know me?

How does anyone know us?

How does God know us, much less any other person? What can they tell by seeing us sitting under a tree? Does John see significance in the sort of tree under which Nathanael sat? Or is it just another fig tree?

Was Nathanael just another man who happened to be called to follow? Would that be so bad?  Are not most of us rather ordinary?

In fact, I have seen some of earth noblest souls, men and women of high esteem and accomplishment, come to the close of their days, alone, forgotten, and rather helpless. They, who have been extraordinary, have become rather ordinary.


Jesus, the Master of common people, calls us out as uncommon.

He knows what we are doing or thinking as we sit, seeking, under the fig tree. He know our yearnings. He knows our devotion.

He sees the honesty of our souls and the core of responsiveness that really wants to follow someone and something that is significant. He knows who is willing to come and see, even if the one to be seen comes from a common and unlikely place.

Such a seeking soul is likely to see the uniqueness and kingly quality of the One who calls. Such a soul is most likely to become a follower and learner. Such a soul is captivated by the possibility of seeing greater things. Such a soul will not settle for less.

If you are sitting under your fig tree today contemplating the vastness of the unknown or just thinking about your grocery list, you are seen; you are known; you are about to be called. Are you ready? what will you do?

What will the next day of your life be like?


Give Them a Common Enemy

CompositeJesusPublic Domain Images

What does it take to bring sworn, bitter, ideological enemies together?

A common threat.

Jesus was the common threat to the Pharisees and the Herodians.

What did the Hasidim, the holy, separate, pious ones have to do with those who collaborated with Rome? They both valued the equilibrium and stability of their measured, static, and adversarial rivalry. They knew each others' self-interests and limits and were unwilling for anyone to upset things with a radical and compassionate lifestyle message that could catch hold of the hearts of people and upset their carefully weighted system.

Jesus rocks some pretty big boats and those who take the calling and implications of Jesus' calling seriously today, do the same, and can expect to be attacked from all sides of the status quo.

If you want to bring some folks together, tell a truth that threatens their power, presumption, prejudice, and preeminence.

If you want to encourage them to be friends and allies, let them perceive you as an enemy.

I am not suggesting that this is an enjoyable exercise or an end in itself. It may just be the byproduct of doing and saying what is right. It may be the cost of justice for you - that those sworn to oppose you will unite ... because they hate you more than they hate each other.

"Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.”

And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?”

But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”

He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him." - Mark 3:1-6 (ESV)



Intentionally Remember - Yesterday's #DayofRemembrance



We remember so that we will not forget.

We intentionally resist forgetting because it is in forgetting that we endanger ourselves and others by divorcing perspective from our present and future decisions.

Then, we blame some leader or party for injustices which we, ourselves, allowed, applauded, or tolerated as necessary evils.

This is ...

Not New ...

So, what is it in us that drives us to exalt ourselves and our kind over others, to draw these artificial lines, to define ourselves by who we hate and exclude?

Certainly sin (literally and specifically, in Greek,  "missing the mark" as in archery), but more. Sometimes, we don't even aim at the mark.

Sometimes we aim at nothing, but shoot from our biased hips.

If there is anything worse than sin that perpetuates sin, it is this thread of generational, corporate ignorance and malice that runs through our history. It is the whole package of implicit and explicit bias that propagates racial, religious, and nationalistic injustice.

It is injustice that breeds suffering among those we are commissioned to love and for who we are called to advocate.

Last year, this posting appeared on Facebook:

"Today is (Yesterday was) Japanese American Internment Remembrance Day. On this day in 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which authorized the federal government to incarcerate thousands of Japanese Americans. More than 110,000 American citizens and immigrants of Japanese ancestry were forced to leave behind their homes, businesses, and ways of life. Today let's remember internment survivors and all the communities that continue to have their civil liberties violated today. -DW  #DayofRemembrance "


Perhaps we will find it more comfortable to forget. It gives us plausible deniability. It affords us the luxury or our own limited pragmatism. It rescues us from potential guilt and disgust. I allows us to hide behind the presumed wisdom of our leaders, our penchant for "law and order," and our blindness to the plight of people who are not like us and do not have our perspective nor experiences ... as we do not have theirs.

Apply as you will and as you may, but do not forget.

Intentionally, remember.

Image result for present day internment camps

Here is a video compiled by a high school student.



Today, We Live


Chris Packard - Own work - The characteristics of living things.

Today, we live.

What does that mean to you? To live? To really live? Live fully; live well; live abundantly; live free.

Deep thoughts?

Deep words?

Life has certain characteristics that define it, drive it, and develop it, but raw, biological life does not consider and contemplate itself. It just lives.

Contemplation is good. Self-awareness is good. Introspection is good. It is happening here.

But it can be overdone at the expense of living and communing with God in the quietness of disorganized thought.

How much time have I wasted looking and waiting for something deep to say or think when the deep waters are everywhere and everything that exists has unfathomed depths beyond the imagination to be explored?

And how much has been expended in judging the quality of one's prayers and contemplation as if there were a scale by which to evaluate them?

Today, we live.

Today, we think.

Today, we pray.

Today, we are.

"A prayer life doesn’t have to be mystical, beautiful, or inspirational. Even to seasoned pray‑ers this spiritual habit often seems quite ordinary and uneventful. What is crucial is the prayer’s importance to the one doing the praying. All that matters is that a person pray a little every day in order to grow closer to God, who very dearly desires to grow closer to that person."

"In the end, what I say or what I think God says, what Scripture passages I use, or what positions I sit in don’t matter very much. What matters is that I am reaching out to God. I can trust that God will take care of the rest."

--Excerpted from God’s Voice Within by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ

So, don't worry about making it happen. Live. Think. Pray. Live fully; live well; live abundantly; live free.



I Was Blind ... Now, I See


This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library.

Was Blind
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth." - John 9:1

They asked a silly question as they looked down on the blind beggar, “Who sinned?”

Was it his parents? Or was it him?

They had read parts of the scriptures, but not all. They had left out vast portions that spoke of the mercy of God who, while having the right to inflict pain and suffering upon disobedient people, had so often, in mercy, relented.

And they had not read the book of Job or so many passages that revealed the suffering of the righteous.

But Jesus knew that this blindness, unlike the blindness of those who were critical, was so that the glory of God might be revealed in a poor beggar man. Other eyes, spiritual eyes could also be opened, but it would require a miracle from God and the willingness of the recipient.

That man had his eyes opened, but other eyes remained closed. There is a blindness that is, without a doubted, rooted by sin, perpetuated by sin, and symptomatic of sin. That is the blindness that obscures the vision of grace, that clouds our view of God’s nature, and causes us to stumble through life without direction or purpose.

It is that blindness that Jesus is ever ready to heal.

He does so regardless of our theological sophistication or worthiness. Of course, the man was a sinner, but that fact was not relevant that day, because Jesus was viewing him through the eyes of mercy and grace. His new sight would bring glory to the Father even as yours will evoke the praise of men and women for Him.

“I don’t know,” was the answer the man gave to the question of Jesus’ authenticity. “I just know I was blind and now I see.”

Later, with new eyes, a willing heart, and deep gratitude, he would joyfully believe and follow. Like this man, you did not become a believer because of your wisdom or theological sophistication. All that you are today comes from a time when a gracious Lord opened your eyes.

But Now I See
"He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." - John 9:25

“I see,” we say, and we mean that we understand.

“I see,” we say, and indicate that something which was formerly behind a cloud has had the light of day shine upon it.

“I see,” we say, and breath a sigh of relief because the struggle to comprehend has ended and the fog of confusion has lifted.

“I see” we say, sometimes with slight embarrassment because it was so simple all along. That with which we wrestled is no longer an obstacle, but a friend. That which was such a barrier to truth has become the key to all mysteries.

“Now I see,” and we do not speak it, but sing the joyful news.

No longer need we wander. No longer must we be the slaves of those who lead us along, but who are also blind. No longer must we repose in darkness without the light of blessed hope.

Why do we crawl back into the darkness now that Christ has brought us light? Why do we sleep through the daylight hours? Why do we act as if we have no direction? Why do we keep bumping into the same obstructions on our path to truth? Why do we shut our eyes and flounder in a haze of existential ambiguity? Why are we attracted to dark things?

We have a choice. There is still within us the memory of blindness and sin and it holds some sort of nostalgic appeal to us. But we must remember that the misery of it all was always greater than its perverted pleasure. It was pleasurable for a season, but those seasons got shorter and shorter and less and less pleasurable.

We can see now, and we can choose. We can say to Jesus, “Tell me who He is and I will believe in Him.” He will point to Himself and we can follow Him. He has opened our eyes and we are without excuse.

I was blind, but now I see.

And that is just the beginning.



Stepping in the Light


Public Domain - Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford (U.S. armed forces) - This Image was released by the United States Air Force with the ID 101229-F-3682S-242 

"We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-- we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete."

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.ship of light and vision as the blood of Jesus washes away our darkness of sin." - 1 John 1:1-10 (NRSV)

The original prayer walk is walking in the constant, brilliant, and abiding light of the One Who is the Truth. 

It is a grace -walk whereby our sins are cleansed. 

It is a truth -walk where we deal honestly with our shortcomings. 

It is a light- walk where we need not stumble or grope for guidance.

In the natural world, vision requires light and light brings awareness of what is in focus as well as peripheral objects. 

So it is in the spiritual realm as we walk in the light of Christ. 

He is our focus and His vision is our view of the past, present, and future.  But we also become aware of those around us in more than a casual way. 

We enter a partnership of light and vision as the blood of Jesus washes away our darkness of sin. 

All barriers that existed in the darkness are made moot in the liberating vision of light. 

There is no denial; there are no secrets.  As we deal honestly with God, ourselves, and others, we can embrace His vision.



Choices at the Crossroads


Church, Frederic Edwin, 1826-1900. Moses Viewing the Promised Land, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Choose Life

“… I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Moses brought the children of Israel to a crossroads. It was a place of crossing and a place of choice. The cross of Jesus is a crossroads of choice for us as well.

Whatever happened to the cross?

To the Romans it was merely another two pieces of wood that could be used again until wear and tear rendered them useless for their grotesque purpose.

To the believer, they represented an intersection of time and eternity, death and life, hope and despair. The two timbers are for us, the symbols of a crossroads in our lives – a place of choice.

Life is a choice.

That is part of the message of the resurrection. That is the message of repentance. That is what makes the gospel good news.

We can choose to reject sin, death, and hopelessness and embrace life. We can make a binding, decision to embrace the future that God has planned for us. There is no darkness so deep the light of the resurrection cannot disintegrate it, but we must choose.

It is like A-B-C.

  • We must Acknowledge that we have not always chosen life. In fact, we have chosen the opposite. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and we have chosen all three: wages, sin, and death.

We have chosen wages because we so full of pride as to believe that we must earn everything that is coming to us when in fact we can only deserve condemnation in our own efforts.

We have chosen sin because the comforts of pleasure and the familiarity of our rebellion is less threatening that trusting God with everything.

As a result, we have chosen death over life because life divorced from God’s purpose and peace in our lives is death and denial of who we were fashioned to be

  • We must Believe. We must believe that some other choice is possible; that the message of Christ’s death and resurrection is real and that it is for us.

We must believe that repentance is an option and a mandate and that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We choose a gift we cannot earn or deserve, a relationship where He is Savor and Lord, and as a result, we choose life.

  • We must Confess. Start today.

If you believe it, confess it at the first opportunity. Confess before men and women that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, that you have chosen life over death, significance over meaninglessness, and hope over despair.

Don’t wait; do it now and then live out your confession daily in discipleship loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.




Vinaceous Traveler


Ron Knight


The vinaceous rosefinch peched upon my windowsill and stared inside with a curiosity normally reserved for our feline acquaintances .

Yet, she evoked mine and I met her on the porch for a chat.

"What are you doing here?"

I inquired because I needed to understand.

"I came to shatter your preconceptions," she replied with a wisdom that took me off-guard.

"You belong in the far east," I protested with deepening interest.

"Exactly," she said.

"How did you get here?"

"I don't know," she conceded. "I just started flying one day and, seeing no borders from the sky, I just kept flying until I was drawn to you. A little voice whispered in my ear that you were a bit too certain of yourself and you needed a visit from me."

"I think you might have taken care of that," I sighed, completely unperturbed by the reality that I was having a two way conversation with an aviary creature and still processing the geopolitical implications of its immigration status.



Love Is the Key



Fellowship mural ACT0066a
Fichter, David. Potluck, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved February 15, 2020]. Original source: - Lorianne DiSabato.


For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

When we come into the Body of Christ, we lose our lives as they once were. 

Does this mean that we are no longer unique and separate?

No. It means that our uniqueness and separateness are celebrated in the larger context of Christian community. 

We willingly and joyfully, without coercion, relinquish our ruggedly individualistic rights for the sake of others.

This is far different than the manipulative techniques of cults because we do this consciously and constantly.  We are not hypnotized into group “think” but are aware of our brothers and sisters in love.

As we make choices, we no longer just ask, “What’s in it for me?”.

We ask, “How does this glorify God and edify the Body?”

 Selfishness has no place in Christ’s Church. 

Love is the key element of all our relationships.

Paul says it better than me:

Romans 14 New International Version (NIV)
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike.
Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.
Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.
All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.
Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
New International Version (NIV)
Prendergast, Maurice, 1858-1924. Picnic, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved February 15, 2020]. Original source:

SAVE - A Sermon Outline, for you to flesh out ...


The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn

2 Timothy 2 

Read it Here

Here is another sermon outline you are welcome to develop and use if it fits.

Save the day. Save your influence. Save your effectiveness and ministry.

S- Strong
A - Aware
V - Vigilant
E - Eager

I . Be Strong:

1-You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2-And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3-Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4-No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. 5-Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6-The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7-Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

S – Simple –It is simple and, simply stated.
T – Tested – Witnesses (v. 2) have heard & testified.
R – Reflective – V.7 says to reflect on this teaching.
O – Overcoming – V.3 encourages us to endure.
N – Needle-Eyed - VV. 4-5 - needle-eyed focus.
G – Generous – V. 6 - the pay-off for faithfulness.

II. Be Aware:

8- Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 - for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. 10 -Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
11 - Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 - if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13- if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Remember Jesus.
Remember your calling.
Remember to remember.

III. Be Vigilant:

14 - Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 - Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 - Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 - who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 - Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his,"and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."


IV Be Eager for Holiness

20 - In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 - If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 22 - Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 - Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 - And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 - Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 - and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

A Holy Instrument
A Holy Lifestyle – Flee. Pursue, Reject










The prayer of a maturing heart to be prayed in our youth, that we would be aware of the fragility of time, the shortening of days, and the seriousness of our sinful wastefulness, that we might embrace our suffering and discipline as part of God's love and our maturing process, that we would learn to be glad, that we would see with a broader deeper, and more eternal perspective, and that we would be satisfied with God's love.

The result, by grace will be the favor of God as shown in His blessing upon our work, His power in and through us. Amen.

" So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!"

Psalm 90:12-17 (ESV)




An Odd Sort of Empowerment


" Bless them that persecute you; bless and curse not." - Romans 12:14 

When you bless your persecutors you are taking control of your own life.

There are those even among Christians who consider anyone who takes these seriously to be weak and ineffective. The most commonly watered down words of Jesus in American pulpits are those from the Sermon on the Mount where he teaches against retaliation and urges His disciples to go the extra mile and turn the other cheek.

What people seldom understand is that the scriptures are empowering believers with these teachings.

The world system believes that it is possible to push peoples’ buttons and cause a predictable reaction in the form of behavior and attitude. Jesus taught us to be led, controlled, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Paul expounded upon these lessons and admonished Kingdom people to be above the control of those who would manipulate them by words and attacks.

Whatever anyone does to us or says to us, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and liberated by Jesus Christ to have choices in every circumstance. If the situation seems to call for response in kind, the Christian is free from that law. He or she is free to return love for hate, blessing for curse, and grace for harsh judgment. There is nothing that your enemy can do to rob you of that choice.

They can’t beat you down and they can’t stop you from loving them, no matter how hard they try. Under Jesus Christ, you have taken control of the situation by taking control of your choices.

You have won!

Energized Living - A Triple Threat to Discouragement

Jude-beck-vXxPNk8QIsA-unsplashPhoto by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Energized Living

 “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” - Romans 12:11

Half-heartedness is the curse of mediocrity. It is the spirit of lukewarm faith that so offended Jesus about the church of Laodicea in the book of Revelation. It is the polar opposite of the wholehearted worship, devotion, and service that is called for among people who know and love God.

In a recent sermon, I used a word that may or may not exist:  "pyrocardia," a heart on fire. That is what Paul is talking about as he describes the red hot spirit of the believer serving the Lord. It is energized, vitalized, and emblazoned with passion. That passion ignites every dimension of the Christian’s life so that he or she is doing everything as service to the Lord.

Romans 12:11 lays it out and can be translated, “never short on zeal, always abounding in spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

Lacking in zeal is literally getting a case of the "slows." Spiritual fervor is "heat."  Some have pointed out textual variations for “serving the Lord” so that some translations render it, “serving the time.” Most scholars agree that the best texts render it “serving the Lord,” it is not difficult to see how a few scribes might have gotten confused. All of our service to God is in time and space and requires seizing opportunities.  To understand that time is fleeting is to light a fire beneath our feet. To serve God is to serve time as well.

Energized Christian service with an eye on the clock is contagious and significant. The passionate devotion of one man or woman can light a fire that cannot be extinguished by discouragement or hardship. One person set afire by the Holy Spirit can inflame an entire community for Christ.

Half-hearted service will simply maintain. Whole-hearted service will affect transformation.

As we come to common table of the Christian experience in the church, may we catch and pass on a good case of “pyrocardia.”

The Triple Threat to Discouragement - Part 1– The Forward View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Triple Threat to Discouragement - Part 2– The Inward View

" … patient in tribulation …" - Romans 12:12b

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

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

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

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

The Triple Threat to Discouragement - Part 3– The Upward View

… continuing instant in prayer.”  Romans 12:12

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

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

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

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

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


Love in Action

Agape The_Century_dictionary_and_cyclopedia

Sincere Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Christian Affection

"Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love;" - Romans 12:10a 

There are three kinds of love described in the New Testament through the use of three different Greek words. The first is mandated in Romans 12:9 and portrayed as sincere love that abhors evil and embraces goodness. The next two are found in the very beginning of verse 10. They are affectionate love and familial love.

Affection is a warm and comforting emotion. It can also be painful because it is tender. It is manifested in kindness and in the “one another” qualities of the church as the body of Christ. It is something to be cultivated. There is an expectation that Christians will enjoy each others’ company, that they will laugh together, cry together, and share moments of intense togetherness.

Perhaps you have had the experience of lingering over dinner into the late hours of the night or closing a coffee shop with the conversation still alive just because you are enjoying the company of a fellow believer and cannot bear to part.

Likewise, you may have known the pangs of loss that come when the hour of parting comes through death or separation.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain,
But we shall all be joined as one
And hope to meet again. (John Fawcett)

There is also the expectation of familial love – the kind that a parent has for a child and a child for a parent. It is the kind of love that is expressed in belonging and feeling at home. It has been said that home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.

Thus is the church. It is home. It is the family of God. It is where we belong.

Not only is such love expected of us, it is one of the great privileges of belonging to the Lord.


Surrendering First Place

“… in honor preferring one another.” - Romans 12:10b 

You don’t have to have all the honor. Leadership is about giving the credit for great accomplishments to others. Any leader worth is or her salt in business or public life understands that in order to build morale and promote productivity, he or she should be far less concerned with receiving honor than with giving it.

The business world learned that principle from people who practiced the biblical teachings of preferring one another above self.

Everyone knows the saying, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” What we are likely to forget is that the team that functions as a healthy church functions is made up of people who go out of their way to build each other up and shrug at the possibility of self-glorification.

That is why superstar Christianity is such a contradiction.

I recently heard an international superstar celebrity who happens to be a Christian speaking about this issue. He lamented the wrong side out, upside down phenomenon that he called, “celebrity” as being at odds with the gospel. He asked why a rock star should get more glory than a teacher or a nurse. Finally, he conceded that since it was a reality, he would simply treat it as currency and be responsible for spending it in such a way as to do God’s will and promote causes that were dear to His heart.

It is hard to be humble against the backdrop of thunderous applause, but that is our calling, to always be pushing people out in front of us and lifting them higher than ourselves.

Jesus taught us that the way up is down, and it is still true.




Unload It and Travel Light, Following Me

Gold bars

Stevebidmead - archive copy

There was a young, influential, and wealthy man who approached Jesus about becoming a disciple and being part of the God movement as a Kingdom heir..

Jesus challenged him.

He went away. I would not say he was turned away, but he was confronted with some requirements that were unique to him and his situation.

What makes his life different is that the calling to follow Jesus is not something that ought to be part of our lives. It is, rather, the totality of our lives. 

We do not need God in our lives. We need our lives in God. 

We are not called to passivity or conformity. We are called to radical following. We are not called to accumulate, but to disseminate. We cannot hold back, make excuses, look over our shoulders, or be bogged down by what we have or think we have.

If we think we already have much and we love it too much, it is too hard to let go.

You can only take one carry-on and one personal item on the plane these days and you cannot take a truckload of spiritual luggage on your journey with Jesus.

It is hard for the rich man, Jesus says ... or the man who perceives himself as rich and unable to travel light.

But who can be saved if it is so hard for us to let go?


How. Because we are already in the realm of the impossible where with God everything is possible.

We are not as rich as we think we are.

The call is still there.

He can help us lighten our load.

Hear the story of "The Rich Young Man."

"And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 

And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 

Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."

"And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 

And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 

Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”"  - Mark 10:17-31 (ESV)

Prayer of the Weak




Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash

I am weak, Lord.

I am lowly.

I bring nothing in my hands.

I offer no credentials, no reputation, no resume worth reading.

My track record is checkered.

My focus is scattered.

My mind is here and there and everywhere.

I am easily distracted and frequently tested to the core.

Yet, God, you are my God.

Yet, God, you love me, value me, invest in me, and show grace and mercy to me daily.

I am unworthy. You are worthy.

All my value is that you regard me.

Why, oh why? It does not matter why because You are the Why of all things and of my existence and You have engraved

Your love into the fabric of the universe.

Your love, Oh LORD, is the only true reality, standard, and truth that bleeds through all of our opinions about ourselves and others.

Your wrath is against all that is not love.

Why then, if I am not judged, can I ever stand in judgment against my neighbor?

I shall not. He and she are Yours. You see in them that which is precious even as You see something precious in me.

Give me glimpses today of the wonder in my neighbors eyes and the love in his or her heart that I may view my neighbor through the lenses of Your redemptive and reconciling grace and lay all of my prejudices and agendas aside.

And may my neighbor join me in this cause and his neighbor and her neighbor.

I pray this, as the only solution to our divisions in the Name of Jesus who divided us in order to unite us, who showed us hard truth in order to reconcile us to Himself and to one another, who bore all pain, sin, and alienation upon Himself in order to introduce us to You as Your long lost children who have come home.

Give us the heart of the prodigal's father.

Give us Your heart and the heart of Jesus, Your Son.






Image may contain: 1 person

What I have often said that I admire most about Lincoln is not the myth, nor the notion that he was perfect, but that he was very human. It is the fact that he was scarred, flawed, and broken, yet, pliable and open to change, growth, and compassionate suffering.

He rose to leadership through some back doors. He stumbled into our nation's greatest crisis, and crisis squeezed greatness and leadership out of him, revealing some essence that could be shaped into something more than he had ever revealed to himself or others.

He was willing to change his mind and was able to change the hearts and minds of a people.

His motives, tactics, and predispositions will be argued among scholars and historians for years to come --- but the fact that he continues to be the subject of such debate, verifies the significant place he holds in our history.

He will always be one of our most complex, confounding, and contradictory character and those things, in my opinion, convince me more and not less, of his greatness.

Remaining Faithful - A Sermon Outline

2 Timothy 1 Remaining Faithful to Jesus Christ

1-2: "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."

I. Turn Timidity into Tenacity. (3-7)

"I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. "

  • There is evidence of FRAILTY. (tears – v4)
    There is evidence of FAITH (v5)
    There is a call to FAN the FLAME (v6)

II. Turn Taunts into Testimony. (8-14)

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. "

"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."

  • Verses 8-11 show us PURPOSE in our suffering.
  • Verse 12 shows us PROVISION for our suffering.
  • Verses 13-14 show us a PATTERN for overcoming.

III. Turn Time into Tenderness. (15-18)

"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes."

"May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus."

  • RESIST selfishness (verse15).
  • REACH out to REFRESH others. ( verses 16-17).
  • RECEIVE the mercy of God (verse 18).

OK - There you go preachers, you'll have to do the rest of the work. This won't preach on its own.

One Word of Encouragement


Thumb up-1580914992608-c56d555d0b7e
Photo by Fat Lad At The Back on Unsplash

Just a Word of Encouragement

How is it that a small word or two of encouragement can make all the difference in a person's day?

One compliment can turn the tide for another person's day or week.

One blessing softly and sincerely spoken can lift a downtrodden spirit.

A brief prayer can evoke the release of a flood tide of emotion cleansing the soul of a broken life.

One "You can do it" can be heard and acted upon to catalyze change in an entire community or world.

One hand placed gently and firmly on a shoulder can transfer courage and strength.

One compassionate gaze into the eye of a lonely heart struggling to express what is hidden deeply inside can bring relief and hope.

One word or two. That is all it takes. One moment of caring. One pause to refresh another.

It costs us so little and gives so much.



Yet we wonder, where God is.


God blessing the seventh day
, a watercolor painting depicting God, by William Blake (1757–1827)

Our spiritual droughts and sense of distance from the Holy One may not be derived from a lack of religious activity or belief. They may emerge from our collective insensitivity to injustice and participation in what brutalizes people.

We need to hear the news, process world events, and pray for our world through the missional lens God's intention to build His Kingdom of love and righteousness with justice and shalom.

Instead, our first lenses are usually our own rather immediate temporal interests, our own security and, if peace, then peace within our own borders.

This is not a hopeless admonition.

Nothing had shortened the hand of God -- only our perception of how far His hand can reach.

But we are separated, collectively and for some, individually because of collective and individual iniquity. We have blood on our hands and most of us are not intentionally drawing it' we are oblivious to it.

Yet we wonder, where God is.

I'd suggest reading the comments below for a word of hope!

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
They hatch adders' eggs;
they weave the spider's web;
he who eats their eggs dies,
and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
Their webs will not serve as clothing;
men will not cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
Their feet run to evil,
and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace."

-Isaiah 59:1-8 (ESV)



In His Musings ...


Musing Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

"“O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!" -
Psalm 39:4-6 (ESV)

In his musings, the psalmist wandered around the dusty trails of his own existence, traversing over his own struggles and victories, glancing upon the outgrowths of wickedness that tormented him and the grace that attended him.

He paused to pray a reflective prayer over his fleeting existence for perspective and resolve, assessing his own need of assessment.

Oh, that my end, God of new beginnings,
God of origins,
God of grand conclusions,
Oh that my end
Might inform my thinking,
Might enliven my moments,
Might caution my movements,
Might guide my steps,
Might evoke reverence in my meditations,
Might amuse my musings with
Sacred music
That marinates my soul
In holiness,
In worship,
And in the quest for justice,
and Mercy.
May Thy presence,
Yesterday and Today,
Lead me toward that inevitable
When I shall draw my last breath
And awaken to life.

Tom Sims




Ecce Homo

Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_(1)Antonio Ciseri, (1821-1891) Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), Pubic Domain

Pilate said to him, 'What is truth?'

If you are Pontius Pilate, and to some extent, we all are at some point, you just don't get it.

We can't get it when we try to impose our own or society's definitions of power, might, prestige, and influence on a kingdom that is not of this world.

We ask the same question he asked. With truth standing before us, staring us in the face, trying one angle after another to explain truth to us and to shake us out of our tired definitions, "What is truth?"

The truth is that truth is ....

And it is not what we think it is.

It never was and never can be.

Truth that transcends and transforms enters the world as a blinding contrast to our values and false passions. it challenges our insecurities and control mania. It challenges our notions that we must resort to violence to achieve non-violent ends or that we must coerce in order to convert.

It shouts in our ears and lives out before us the radical notion that sometimes it is enough, and more than enough, to stand and bear witness.

It leaves us dumbfounded with the uncomfortable feeling that we can find no fault in him, but that we cannot figure him out either.

And we, who would follow, hear his simple, "Follow me," and his playful, "Come and see."

"So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, 'Are you the King of the Jews'” Jesus answered, 'Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?' Pilate answered, 'Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?' Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.' Then Pilate said to him, 'So you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.' Pilate said to him, 'What is truth?'

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, 'I find no guilt in him.'"

-John 18:33-38 (ESV)



Secret Wisdom and Hidden Glories


Swanson, John August. Festival of Lights, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original source: - copyright 2000 by John August Swanson.


“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory … But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” – I Corinthians 2:6 and 9

The hidden wisdom of God, revealed in Jesus and discerned by spiritual men, is offered to those for whom it is prepared. It is the wonder of God’s purposes and glory. It is shared on a “need-to-know” basis, as we need to know.

And what we do know is that there is much that we cannot know.

We have a glimpse if we have gained it through spiritual sight. We have the earnest of the Spirit. We are gladdened by promises from God Himself. But still we see through a glass darkly. Only dim reflections illumine our insight into eternity for as yet, it is still far beyond us, above us, and other than us.

It is not that God does not want us to know or desires for us to remain in the dark; it is that we simply cannot receive the fullness of this knowledge while confined to time, space, and physical body. That is why what relatively little we know, comes by other than intellectual receptors. In the meantime, He is preparing us for the day when we can know perfectly as we are known.

There is coming a time when all the secrets will be revealed. In that day, in a finite immeasurable moment, our eyes will be opened and we shall be eternally with the Lord. Whatever we imagined about God and eternity, Heaven and glory in this life will not compare to what He has purposed to share with us.

Oh wondrous, glorious, mystery and bliss,
By grace, the moment we shall not miss,
Beyond the veil of time and space
When by His side we take our place.


To Pray Out of Our Weakness


Pray as you will ...

... standing, sitting, eyes closed, eyes open, head bowed or heads raised to Heaven, hands folded or hands open.

Pray in church, in nature, in your room, in the shower, on the bus, but pray.

Pray out loud or silently.

Pray in song or from a prayer book. Pray scripture or pray spontaneously.

Pray with Spirit-led improvisation or pray with deep and coherent thought.

Pray the "right words" or pray no words or any words that come to mind, but pray.

When asked how to pray, Jesus gave us the simplest conceivable prayer of all.

Keep it simple.

Keep it real.

Let it go deep. Pray.

Do not judge your prayers.

Do not try to impress God or yourself.

Certainly, do not pray to impress others.

Prayer gathers our scattered thoughts and hidden anxieties.

Prayer gives voice to the voiceless within us.

Prayer centers us in God prayer opens the door for the possibilities we may not readily see.

Prayer is God's invitation to participate in what He is doing.

None of us are really ""good at it," but the good news is that we do not have to be. We just need to enter in and meet God.

Let us pray.

Father, I gather with my friends who choose to gather with me this morning to meet you.

I come in the name of my Master, Jesus who invites all to meet you. I am grateful for the invitation.

I bring the souls and lives of many whom I love, who suffer, who are confused, depressed, broken, destitute, and overwhelmed with opportunity. They are with me, Our Father, in my heart.

I do not know what to say or how to intercede for them, so I bring them to You. You already know and love them so much and are already working in and around them.

Thank you for your welcome, You who are Mighty and Holy and Other than myself.

Your grace, You have showers upon me.

By Your mercy and sacrifice, You have saved and forgiven this poor sinner.

Thank You.

Thank you.

Keep me free of the strong inclination than draws me into self indulgence and narrow thinking of myself.

I view the day before me with more questions than answers.

I do not need to have each question answered, but I need to be set upon the right course for the day.

Help me dive into the stream of Your perfect purpose and live purposefully as a redemptive, gracious, loving, forgiving, and encouraging soul this day among the people I meet.

Cause me to measure my words, center my thinking, temper my actions, and be energized in my being to do Your will.

I rest in Thee and I rise in Thee.

Help me to meet the right people today who will be encouraged by having walked a mile by my side and then, I will leave them in Your care.

Measure my movements that I might close this day and mark it fruitful.

My heart, my soul, my life, my family, my dreams, my goals, my day, I bring to You and trust to Your care.

In Jesus' Name. Amen.



Issues of the Day



This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. User:Economicrealist.

In order to comment on some issues, one must define what the real issues are.

If one is inclined to believe that no "position" can define the "issue," then it is difficult to find any basis for conversation.

First, there must be definition and, when definition is established, it is often found that there is no issue.
But that requires quite a bit of un-boxed thinking and a "radicalism" that goes to the radix/root - a process that is much too difficult for most of us whose roots go too deeply into the mud of traditionalism and the sands of connotation.

For others of us, the strange, the rabble-rousing few, no position is comfortable because all seem essentially off-center.

So, keep seeking, digging, asking, reflecting, and redefining everything.

And, occasionally ... 


Primary_and_secondary_cotton_rootsPrimary and secondary roots in a cotton plant - Public Domain

To the Boastful, "Do not Boast."


 - Own work based on File:Shofar-16-Zachi-Evenor.jpg by Zachi Evenor and File:Sky In Israel.JPG by User:Etta

The horns of the wicked and the horns of the righteous are made of the same sort of stuff, but reveal different approaches to what they represent: honor and power.

The righteous seldom strut their stuff.

The wicked seldom cease.

One shall come to naught and the other shall be exalted.

The powers of this age and the ruthlessness of power-grabbing, power-wielding personages and entities shall ultimately fail.

Those who seek truth and justice at each junction of choice and each crossroads of intent, regardless of the assessment of rewards, losses, and posturing, shall find that their accounts are being taken care of.

They can relax in the sweet rest of righteousness.

"We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds."

“'At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
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.''

''But I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.'' - Psalm 75 (ESV)

In the meantime ...

Life is not fair. Thus goes the lament. Evil people prosper. There is no justice. That is the lament of those who tag it all with this question:

"Why bother?"

The psalmist cried this often-cried cry and then,

"But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end."  -Psalm 73:16-17 (ESV)


Until he went before God to gain perspective - the perspective of the whole of their lives, the whole of his life, and the vastness of God's purposes.

Some insights are simply unattainable outside the presence of God.



When They Go High, You Go Low.


Photo by Luis Fernando Felipe Alves on Unsplash

Go low.

In a world where we strive for prominence, prestige, primacy, and predominance, we excel at personal kingdom building. We long to be the kings and queens of our own domains and spheres of influence.

Everyone wants to go high.

People of the Jesus Way are called to go low.

We aim high, for our own ends, ambitions, and  rewards and , as a result, we miss the big mark.

We strive to be on top and find out that top/ is bottom, bottom is top, and everything is inside out.

Kingdom is governance. Entering a kingdom means coming under that governance. Like you, I have let many different things govern me.

Nothing governs as legitimately, compassionately, or effectively as the rightful King of God’s Kingdom.

We talk about entering into that Kingdom as if it were about getting into Heaven and only about getting into Heaven.

But Heaven is, I would suggest, a different matter. The Kingdom of God is now.

The extent to which I've entered the Kingdom of God is not about whether I am saved, but how much I'm governed by the King.

We serve a King who came to serve.

"I came not to be served, but to serve." - Jesus

The “style” of the Kingdom of God is service. It is the model and the pattern. It is also its most essential qualification,

Kingdom style change comes from people switching from a governance of self centered thinking to one of servant-centered living.

We would love to see other kingdoms come under this authority and adopt this style of being and governing. We want to wield our best influence to insure it and we grow frustrated when it does not happen.

No great changes have ever resulted from head shaking bobble heads murmuring "ain't it awful" and never moving beyond.

One more time: The extent to which I've entered the Kingdom of God is not about whether I am saved, but how much I'm governed by the King.

I must start with my own place as a Kingdom subject, a servant-disciple, and a servant-leader. To what extent am I functioning as a Christian?

The term, "Christian" was originally a term of derision associated with persecution. How did we make it so tame and respectable? How did we ever associate it with entitlement, privilege, or personal rights to be free of harassment?

Let us enter into the Kingdom and continue to enter in through the narrow gate of service, tiny eye of a needle, and the humble abdication of our feelings of superiority. Then we can represent and convey the compelling call of Jesus to a new order of justice, peace, grace, and love. 

Then we can help change the world into a place where no one is vying to be king, but where the King of Kings reigns supreme.

Nuance and Substance


Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash



  (no͞o′äns′, nyo͞o′-, no͞o-äns′, nyo͞o-)
1. subtle or slight degree of difference, as in meaning, feeling, or tone; a gradation.
2. Expression or appreciation of subtle shades of meaning, feeling, or tone: rich artistic performance, full of nuance.
tr.v. nu·ancednu·anc·ingnu·anc·es
To treat or consider with nuance; give nuances to: new information that nuanced their understanding of the situation.

[French, from Old French, from nuerto shade, cloudfrom nuecloudfrom Vulgar Latin *nūbafrom Latin nūbēs.]

These nouns denote a slight variation or differentiation between nearly identical entities: sensitive to delicate nuances of style; gradations of feeling from infatuation to deep affection; subtle shades of meaning.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
No. I did not watch the State of the Union. I was on an Amtrak bus and the internet was poor. I read most of it later.
Then, I read the social media posts and none surprised me. They were rather lock-step with the presuppositions of those who could have prepared them before the event. No minds were changed, swayed, moved, nor convinced.
That is the state of our union: disunion. 
It is also the state of our national conversation, a dearth of substance and an absence of nuance.
We ascertain the intentions of those who deliver information and then decide if what we are about to receive is authentic, fake, or tilted. Few of us are interested in information for the sake of information. Information has become ammunition.
If you are an accomplished eavesdropper with a passion for ideas, Peets Coffee in Westwood Village at UCLA is the place to be at 6:30 A.M. on a Tuesday.
A stream of consciousness conversation beginning with macroeconomics in light of the State of the Union speech touching to the tension between free enterprise and regulation, in light of the mood swings of the populace, the outbreak of new viral threats with immunization, and two or three latest books is riveting.
I cannot tell what these two old professors are professors of, but they profess something and grasp far more of the subtleties of the dialogue than most folks.
Meanwhile America is more concerned with who snubbed whose handshake, who showed up, who stood, who sat, who clapped, and who tore up what paper.
Style over substance.
Reactions across America are rather predictable and predictably non-nuanced.
Issue by issue.
But in this cafe, nuance and substance are the topics and I find that refreshing.
By the way, listening further, I think they are economists.
An economist is someone who observes:
An economist returns to visit his old school. He's interested in the current exam questions and asks his old professor to show some. To his surprise they are exactly the same ones to which he had answered 10 years ago! When he asks about this the professor answers: "the questions are always the same - only the answers change!"
More here.
And by the way, they seem surprisingly interesting, good humored, relaxed, and ordinary for geniuses.


a. That which has mass and occupies space; matter.
b. material of a particular kind or constitution.
c. drug, chemical, or other material (such as glue) that one is dependent on or uses habitually and that is often illegal or subject to government regulation: Which substance was he abusing?
2. The most important part or idea of what is said or written; the essence or gist: the substance of the report.
a. That which is real or practical in quality or character; practical value: plan without substance.
b. Significance or importance: Did he accomplish anything of substance?
4. Density; body: Air has little substance.
5. Material possessions; goods; wealth: person of substance.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin substantiafrom substānssubstant-present participle of substāreto be present : sub-sub- + stāreto standsee stā- in Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: substance2coregistpurport
These nouns denote the essential import or significance of something spoken or written: the substance of his complaint; the core of a scientific article; the gist of her argument; the purport of a document.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
And now, a piece by "The Subtle Composer,"  Éric Alfred Leslie Satie

Faith - Substantive and Evidential



Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team 

Faith, according to Hebrews 11:1 is substantive and evidential in and of itself.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Does that suggest that faith in anything proves the thing?

Yes and no.

Yes, faith, because of divine and universal principles set in motion from the time when God first created wisdom, dictates laws of belief and reality. No, because some things are real and other things are not. Truth is not relative, but it is dynamic.

There are realities that can be changed by our beliefs. Mountains can be moved. Circumstances can bend. Choices made in faith between a positive or negative outlook on the moment can change the meaning of the moment. Faith can change the individual who is doing the "faithing." Often that is enough to change the truth of the moment itself.

On the other hand, there are eternal truths and realities outside of our influence that simply are what they are and cannot be manipulated by our beliefs about them. God and His Word are constants in the universe and not even the universe and universal principles can alter them.

In the case of God and His Revelation, the only valid faith response is to conform, by faith to faith in Him and His will. It is unchanging and persistent and greater than our own realities or beliefs about them.

You may call it limits without limitations - the kind of freedom I give my 18 month old grandson when I define parameters within which he can wander at will and in which he feels absolute liberty to explore, express himself, and grow while enjoying, often without his own ability to understand, the safety of my watchful eye and protective gaze.

If he transgresses the limits into the realm of unknown dangers, I am there. As he grows older and more accountable for himself, he will venture forth into areas where I do not guide him. He will hit some walls and consequences which are real. Love compels me to let him grow and discover these for himself.

Even now, I must be willing to let him fall down on occasion. when he does, the ground below him does not move.

Grounding is real whether we believe in it or not.

The faith that the author of Hebrews addresses is faith founded on foundational fundamentals and in the person of Jesus Christ. With Him are infinite possibilities but also, unbending truths. "Faithing" is what we do when we embrace the reality of God's sovereignty and filter everything we believe through faith in Him. It becomes the substance of all that we embrace and the evidence of all we proclaim in spite of all other indicators to the contrary.

Ask me how I am. I am great. It doesn't matter how I feel in the moment. By faith I know, it is well with my soul.

Go move a mountain!



Peace Be with You


Leonard Nimoy by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg - Created: 27 May 2011

Leonard Nimoy said he was inspired to create the Vulcan salute after seeing the priestly blessing sign in his Synagogue.  Deuteronomy 5:33 (NIV), includes the phrase "live and prosper" as part of Moses' admonitions to the Hebrew people prior to entering Canaan; other translations include the notion of long life as well.


Live long and prosper!

Some Random Thoughts Woven Together

This is a stream of consciousness. Jump in and let it take you along. May you find the water refreshing.

We are weak, weak in body, weak in strength, weak in resolve, and weak in spirit.

We are powerless to change, even our own minds, much less the minds of the masses.

In weakness, He is strength. In helplessness, He is help. At the point of our extremities, God is sufficient. At the limits of our power and mobility, we rely on Him. His grace is enough. When we are powerless, we can know His greater power. When chaos bellows, shalom rules.


Now that we know and affirm that, let us exercise our axioms of the day.

We are up against some thick, hard walls of resistance to truth and the search for truth.

People with strong opinions tend to collect evidence that reinforces those opinions even if it contradicts them. It's all in perspective & interpretation. People who seek truth also have strong opinions, but constantly question them and even question their most treasured teachers.

We know that only God is always right.

"As a lawyer for God, putting up his case, I was a failure. As a witness for God, telling what he had done for me, I was a success." - E Stanley Jones

God does not need me as an attorney.

Yet ...

"We are thick into idolatry." - Walter Brueggeman

We are thick, also, into our prejudices and narratives of the way things are and ought to be.

The dominant narrative does not produce life, only the alternative narrative of the gospel.

Egypt is all we have known. We have not envisioned the promised land. All we imagine, we compare to a land of bondage.

"Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!" -Isaiah 31:1

Let us awaken our hearts and minds. Today is a new day to embrace new grace and truth so old that it is fresh and new.

I am awake.
What a delightful surprise,
A twist of events that I embrace.
I would say shocking, but that would mean a stopping.
It is a stirring.
I greet this morning with wonder and anticipation.
For those who wondered, I am well.
For those who assumed it was so, it is.
For those who gave it no thought ...
Why should you have?
To you, I smile and say, "Good morning."
It is, you know. It is a very good morning.
We do expect to wake up, after all and
We expect all around us to do so with few exceptions.
But sometimes, rare moments, we see it for the gift it is and,
More than a gift,
A calling.

Now, we must speak truth to power, to people who vote, people who influence others, people who drive the markets, and people who wield authority in the name of other people.

A word to them:

World leaders -

Love your people.

In return, they will love you. You cannot win them by oppressing them. You can build statues to your own honor with bricks and mortar, but you cannot build respect without building people.

Come to think of it, this may work in business, civic affairs, churches, and families. Thanks for the material, despots of the world!

You aren't useless. We can use you as bad examples.

But we'd prefer to use you as good examples.

And to all:

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. " - Hebrews 13:20-21


Peace be with you.



A Prayer for Leaders at Any Time in History - Plus Some Orphaned Ideas

image from
Illustration by Avi Katz

Prayer for Leaders
I prayed this eight years ago today, and will renew it today without alteration:
Lord, God, I pray for our leaders and potential leaders, for our President and anyone who may come into that office. May they be blessed and guided, refreshed and equipped. You know no party and affiliate with none of our artificial labels.
May those who make critical decisions consult wise advisers and weigh the consequences of their decisions.
May they act with compassion toward the poor and powerless and with fairness, justice, and pragmatism tempered with truth.
May they be seekers, whether they be elected or candidates for election.
Temper their speech.
Grant them the grace to agree with their opponents when their opponents ring true.
Grant them the courage to speak truth when no one else agrees.
Grant them the confidence of their convictions and the humility of those who are willing to test those convictions.
May we, who occupy the highest offices of the land, citizens with the power to vote and speak, listen deeply, ignore rhetoric, and inform our consciences.
Then, when all the votes are counted, may we continue to speak truth in love and pray for those whom we have called to office, loving them and respecting them as our leaders, but also challenging them to greatness and righteousness.
Help us to appreciate those who differ with us, who challenge our own presumptions and assumptions.
Teach us to listen to one another and respect our differences.
Help us to embrace those who do not share our faith and appreciate the insights they bring to bear upon our minds knowing that You can speak to us through them.
Center us in truth. Thy Word is truth and you love truth wherever it leads us.
This is my prayer of the moment.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Thoughts on Others

It is about to become a season of contention.

So many opinions are about to be voiced.

Others will be swallowed, intimidation, indifference, or fatigue will drive them into the oblivion of silence.

Nevertheless, there will be judgment and thought. 

I have opinionated friends
Not opinionated fiends.
I love them on the right.
I love them on the left.
That is because they keep me centered.

I have opinions too ... I pine.
I whine.
I dine.
And I often cross the line ...

Leaning to the left ...
Leaning to the right ...
Silent sometimes ... vocal other timesssssssssssssss ....

Times. It is about times and sometimes,
Sometimes it is about time to speak and sometimes,
Time to be silent.

I just may not tell you my perspective and let you tell yours.
Some times ... you say it better or
I am still thinking or linking ideas.
I see it your way, mine, and the other way.
There are no fiends here,
Just friends with differing views.

I am trying to decide what to do this hot, decisive, nasty political season with so many unfair and unkind accusations, but also, really important ideas that divide us.

We shall see. I may stick to principles and leave personalities alone.

Sometimes, I think it is best to stay slightly confused, uncertain, and tentative rather than getting locked into boxes that no great thoughts or inSpriation can unlock.

Yes. I spelled it that way on purpose.


Orphaned Ideas

Place of anger in choice making - low.

Place of anger in energizing positive choices to right wrongs - high.

Anger as an emotion that must be subject to the conscious will and our values.


Ending a sentence in a preposition is something, up with which, we shall not put.


And while we are on language that makes sense:

"May I help whose next?"

It only makes sense if it is two separate questions.

Better, "May I help the next customer?"


and now, some music for you to think by ....



The Gate of Worship - Psalm 24 and 15


Pontificake @ enwiki - en:Image:LionsGate.JPG

The God We Worship

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1

Everything belongs to God. We have known this most of our lives as a theological truth. It is in the dimension of application that we are challenged to confront our ignorance on this subject. We have constructed exception clauses to make room for self-ownership and control over this and that. We want to think that some little ditty of a thing is ours and that we can have power over it. To this deception, the voice of God speaks clearly and forcefully, “No. It is mine. It always was and always shall be.

“For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” - Psalm 24:2

For starters, it is all His because it was His idea from the drawing board to the factory. He thought of everything, planned everything, made everything, and retains sovereignty over – your guessed it – everything. He made the world and all that it contains and filled it with wonder and surprise. He is the owner, but that is not the whole story. He is a generous God who shares all that He has and is with us and invites us to discover the wonder of it all and celebrate creation with Him.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? ” - Psalm 24:3

When a soul discovers the wonders of God and His Sovereignty in creation and stands amazed at the glory of His Lord, there is but one response that rings true: worship. “I must worship this great God,” is the heart cry of the honest seeker,” I must know Him! I must come into His presence! I must some how get connected with the source and object of my being.” And things, brings for the question of the ages, “Who can come before Him? Can I?” You can, but you must come His way.

The People Who Worship

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. ” - Psalm 24:4

There is a lifestyle connection to worship. We cannot tolerate inconsistency in our lives that draws an arbitrary wall of separation between our relationship with God and those that we maintain with others. Nor can we divide our loyalties between false gods that give us temporary gratification and the only True God who has rightful claim to the world and all that is. Our hands are dirty and our hearts are divided. We are in dire need of the mercy and grace of God and His power to transform us into worshipers.

“He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. ” - Psalm 24:5

When one is qualified by God through grace to enter into His presence, a blessing follows. In a moment of immediate transformation, we are fashioned into pure-hearted worshipers with clean hands and we enter into a new era of our lives that makes all that came before moot. God’s vindication covers our record and we simply stand before Him in awe. Our voices are lifted in worthy praise and we are blessed.

“This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:6

There is something powerful that happens in our lives when we seek God. Jesus promised that all those who truly seek will find Him. This requires an open heart. Purity of heart and cleanliness of hands means that we bring no other motive or agenda, nothing in our hands or hearts, save the yearning to know God and worship Him in His fullness. Seek His face today as you begin and as you continue. In every face you encounter, seek His, in every circumstance, in every thought, word, and deed.

The Way We Worship

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ” - Psalm 24:7

Expectancy calls for preparation. If our awareness of God’s glory is deep and our desire to worship, desperate, we will be anxious to lift up our heads to behold His face, to open the gates of our hearts for His anticipated entry. We will welcome Him wholeheartedly into the center of our lives and will exalt in His coming. The spirit of celebration and joy characterizes Old Testament worship, likewise, authentic Christian worship. The presence of God calls for singing and dancing. Lift up your heads!

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. ” - Psalm 24:8

“Who is this King of glory?” We tend to grow smug as we “mature” in the grace and knowledge of God. We hear the questions that we ought to be posing ourselves and point to the pages where we answered them in our notebooks years ago. We have gone shallow and are settling for yesterday’s encounter with God. If we think we really have a grasp on God, we are far, far away. Let us keep seeking and, as we seek, meet God in worship where the encounter is always new.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ” - Psalm 24:9

It is a refrain and we could simply overlook it and move to the next verse for commentary, but that would be an exercise in shallow worship. Something has changed in the last few days. We have a new way of singing this song, a fresh encounter with the Living God. We have deeper insights into what it means to lift our heads and open the gates. We have a more intimate relationship with the King of Glory having sought Him. We can never sing the same song twice the same way and call it worship.

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:10

Don’t assume that you know the answer just because you read a few sentences of devotional comment or thought the matter over. The Lord is Almighty – we shall never begin to fathom the riches of who He is or plumb the depths of His character and love. Glory annotates weight – a weight so heavy that is transcends gravity and displaces everything that comes across its path. He defies definition and demands reverence. When given the choice between shallowness and depth today, choose to go deep.

Psalm 15:1 - Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?

The grand question introduces the next set of lessons from the psalms and sparks the imagination of all earnest seekers. As believers in Christ, we have the answer in the gospel, but the very asking of the question is a matter of opening to God for all that He desires to teach us. Do not take truth for granted or treat it as if it were not ever new and renewing. Allow the question to move you to the next level of seeking as you go before the Father in prayer today.

Psalm 15:2 - … He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart…

Here we have an answer to the question posed yesterday, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary and live on your holy hill?”

Consider this: not everyone wants that. For some, the price of letting go of blame and embracing righteousness is too much. Truth is too threatening and the lure of sin is too great.

The psalmist however, longs for the presence of God and that is what it means to desire eternal life and heavenly bliss. It is not the beauty of the hill that captures the heart, but the beauty of God Himself.

To desire God is to desire the qualities that God brings to our lives: blamelessness through forgiveness, righteous behavior through the power of grace, and a heart of truth by the transformation of the Holy Spirit within us. Let us pray for that heart change that redirects our focus from sin to God and then, our very longing for heaven will be indicative of our readiness to enter in.

Psalm 15:3 - … and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong, and casts no slur on his fellow man.

The man or woman who can stand with joy and confidence in the presence of God and fully embrace the wonder of His fellowship is in constant touch with his or her fellow human beings. Those relationships matter. They have affect upon and are affected by our vital and honest relationship with God.

It is not possible to claim footing on the holy hill while usurping the place of a brother or sister.

Slander, malice, and simple disregard for the feelings of a neighbor are indicative of shaky spiritual grounding and contribute to spiritual trembles in our fellowship with the Lord. Let the love of Christ enter your heart at the choice level in all of your dealings with those around you and express your deep desire to love God by loving others.

Psalm 15:4 - who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,

As we have so often noted, we must begin with the vile man within each of us and register our disgust with the vileness of our own sin natures. But we must go beyond that point.

If we will despise the vileness within us, we must also honor the new man or woman recreated in God’s image that reveres God and loves truth. That person lives inside of us as well and that person is fashioned by grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.

He or she is the Christ-life gifted to us through new birth. There are new values and a new integrity that is constantly going for truth no matter what it will cost because God is truth and nothing else matters more than God.

If we will value and honor that person, it will grow and take over our lives. That is the person God has made you to be.

Psalm 15:5 - who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

What some have, in the past, called social gospel, the scriptures call justice and righteousness. It is a very clear matter to the earnest student of the Bible that one must deal fairly, honestly, and uprightly in every horizontal relationship if the vertical relationship with God is to flourish.

Allow dishonesty, greed, malice, and bitterness to enter into your heart in any dimension of your being and it will undermine your footing before God upon the holy hill where you presume to stand erect.

The key to unshakable spiritual growth is to despise that which is vile and embrace that which is holy and true and to never compromise our purity of purpose in seeking God – whether our eyes are fixed toward His sanctuary or upon His face in the eyes one of His children.



Presentation of the Lord - The Bread of Life

Presentation Latimore-IMG_5045

Latimore, Kelly. La presentación de Cristo en el templo, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.  [retrieved February 1, 2020]. Original source:HERE.

“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst…“ - John 6:25

What child is this?

During the season of Epiphany, it is a legitimate question.

Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple for dedication where they met Anna and Simeon who look upon him adoringly and blessed him.

They were not among the lofty, the powerful, nor the famed. They had spent decades doing one thing, awaiting one hope.

They represent all of the downtrodden, broken, wounded, common, poor souls who long, with hunger, for a bread that satisfies.

Then a baby showed up, tiny, vulnerable, and common.

Neither Christmas nor any Sunday of Epiphany is “International Babies Day” where we affirm the essential goodness and hope that gathers around each new birth. That would be fine, but we are dealing with something far more significant than that.

Our lives are at stake.

We are starving.

We celebrate the advent and source of life itself. Jesus is the Bread of Life without whom we slowly whither into lifeless shells of animated emptiness. He is the food that sustains. He is the source of our energy, the giver of nurture, and the fount of health. He feeds us and we grow.

He has always been the bread of life. Through Him, the Father created all things and through Him, all things have come into existence and continue to exist.

And He is the bread that is broken for us. Not only does He impart life to us, but He lays down His very life for us.

What child is this?

“This, this is Christ the King,” the essence of “beingness,” and the glue that holds the universe together. He is no mere cute, cuddly baby. As wonderful as that may be.

He is the Bread of Life.

As you celebrate Presentation Day and consider your own quest for satisfaction, consider Jesus Christ, the source of fulfillment.