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July 2020

The Case for Civility and the Search for Common Good


1024px-Jimmy_Carter_greets_residents_of_South_Bronx _New_York_-_NARA_-_176402
 Public Domain - Unknown author or not provided
 - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

I have recently been hearing rants to the effect that these are days in which too much is at stake to be civil. We must be forceful, confrontational, and prophetic.

I have heard other calls for a return to decency, respect, and civility in public discourse. That, of course, assumes that it was ever a widespread commitment among political practitioners.

It has been so in the public eye, but not everything meets the eye. 

Also, there was the small matter of the Civil War.

It is hard for a guy who has been barking up the civility tree for years to snarl at any movement toward disagreeing without being disagreeable.

I cut my teeth on such adages as "You can attract more bees with honey than vinegar."

I learned those lessons, believe them, and practice them as much as possible. Losing friends to win arguments has never had much value to me because the win is merely an arbitrary point count and no one has been convinced, convicted, or converted to a different point of view.

The question might be whether or not civil behavior promotes thoughtful dialogue. Further, does thoughtful dialogue promote good thinking and even better decisions? 

We can be more forceful speaking to each other within a tight nit group of like-thinkers, but that does not affect change.

We can avoid subjects that are uncomfortable with people who hold opposite viewpoints and that is equally unproductive in promoting understanding or shedding light on a subject.

That leaves us with respect, and courtesy - values that always assumed were conservative and old fashioned, yet liberal at the same time. Ideas and press coverage should always strike a balance of sorts. We need a conservative and skeptical approach to wackiness. We need a liberal approach to considering a broad spectrum of ideas.

But not all ideas are equal. And not all ideas deserve equal respect. People deserve equal respect. So do their rights to express weak, ill-considered, poorly reasoned ideas.

Disputed and disputable matters may not exist within the territory of any political or religious persuasion - but certainly ought to exist within the framework of the message of Jesus, my bias and commitment. Love of neighbor remains the driving force and rationale of our thought formation in the political arena.

Civility is a move in the right direction -even if our motives are not fine-tuned to the A-440 of truth's tuning fork. Sometimes just acting the right way - even for the wrong reasons - can teach our brains new tricks.

This season will take a lot of courage to go against people whose respect we crave to stand up for our convictions. It will take patience to out up with people saying things we deem to be ridiculous and ill-informed. It will, mostly, take love, to keep us on track and define, in our minds, what it truly means to win.

For the foreseeable future, we are going to be living in a divided and contentious country, and world.

We are going to have to figure out how to get along in such a world and work with our neighbors to solve problems for the common good. 

And there is a start ... if we can agree to agree on a search for the common good.



A Blessing for Explosive Times

Nonnoe - only one life
God of hope in the midst of explosive sounds around us, may we refuse to be broken by breaking news. 

May we only be broken by Your tender touch upon our hearts and the brokenness of those for whom You are broken.

In our own brokenness, may we not be shaken.

As we are dismantled by time and circumstance, may we be reassembled as a people who are useful in your mission of healing and grace.

May we remain pliable and reliable, gracious and sweet even when the world around us is filled with bitterness and the stench of decay.

We would be all that we can be and more that Your reputation for putting people together would continue to be a testament of grace and possibility.


May we live for You.




Common Ground


What is common ground and why do we need to cultivate it?

Finding common ground never means having to surrender the ground where you feel you must stand based upon principle. It is finding and recognizing the ground you share that overlaps the irreducible minimums of core beliefs.

More so, it is recognizing and respecting the human beings who share that ground and finding language to communicate commonalities as well as uniqueness.

For the "good-news-ist" (evangelist) it means finding and exercising an opportunity, with integrity, to communicate our good news and listening to the message of the other.

The antithesis is answering questions our neighbor has not asked or assuming presuppositions that they do not hold. Our words fall on deaf ears and interactions create an atmosphere that is opposite of the Kingdom of God.

Photo by Gear5.8 by Roberto R. on Unsplash


Becoming a ROOTS Church, Part 3 - Obedient

Roots churches are obedient to the commands of Christ.

O—Obedient—All roots churches are driven by their purpose “...for this cause...” Acts 6:7 illustrates the priests becoming “obedient to the faith.” We are a subversive people with a radical message, called to a radical lifestyle that does not imitate the world, but Christ.

Whenever I attend a memorial service for a great follower of Jesus, I ask myself what I am doing to make my life count.

How will I spend the next 35 years if I live to be 100?

How will I redeem the time?

How will the church redeem the time it has? "

For this cause," Paul says in Ephesians 3. We must live for a cause - obedience to Jesus.

Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."

He said the greatest commandment was to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves (the second - like unto it). He commissioned us to teach disciples to observe all his commands.

Radical churches are radically obedient.



Becoming a Roots Church, Part 2 - Relational



Extended Family Cape Town
Henry M. Trotter
 at English Wikipedia
 - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. - Public Domain

A little boy of three was having a tummy ache and he cried for his Mommy. She had done all she knew to help him and had put him to bed with some medicine, knowing that he would soon feel better. Then, she went about her work, preparing the evening meal for the family.

He cried, "Mommy, please come sit with me so I will not be alone. My tummy hurts."

She replied, "God is with you, Honey."

He came back, "I know, Mommy, but I need someone with skin right now."

We all need folks with skin ...

... and skin in the game.

Paul prayed for his friends with skin.

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:14-21, New International Version

Human beings were built for community.

Made, in the image of God, as we are, we look to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity for the foundation of this spiritual reality. Namely, God exists in a family and community before God even created the first humans and placed them in that kind of relationship.

All authentic human relationships are founded upon the spiritual reality intrinsic in the nature of God and intrinsic in our own true natures as people made in the image of God.

We need people. We need each other.

We need our vertical relationship with God as Father, Son, and Spirit. We need the internal integration of the various aspects of our own humanity, relating in a healthy way. We need our horizontal relationships of family, community, and commerce. And we need the church, the Body of Christ, the Family of God, the Temple of the Spirit, the Gathering of Saints, and every other reality reflected in the many metaphors for the church.

The church is the living point of gathering where we can work out the ins and outs of what it means to be in relationship with God and people.

R—Relational—Roots churches are about relationships.

Paul prays for the Ephesian followers of Jesus that they will be “...rooted and grounded in love ...”

I John 4:11 reminds us of Jesus' own teaching that we are e called to “love one another.”

Our core relationship is vertical, with the Father, through Jesus and our horizontal relationships radiate outward from the core.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

That is Paul's benediction to it all.

What is difficult for humans is something God is able to accomplish.

Relationships are tricky and messy, but God can help us build them in health to nurture one another.

Elsewhere he prays,

"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ ..." Colossians 2:2 recounts the story of one of my favorite hymns:

"An orphan at the age of twelve, John Fawcett (b. Lidget Green, Yorkshire, England, 1740; d. Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, 1817) became apprenticed to a tailor and was largely self-educated. He was converted by the preaching of George Whitefield at the age of sixteen and began preaching soon thereafter. In 1765 Fawcett was called to a small, poor, Baptist country church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire. Seven years later he received a call from the large and influential Carter's Lane Church in London, England. Fawcett accepted the call and preached his farewell sermon. The day of departure came, and his family's belongings were loaded on carts, but the distraught congregation begged him to stay. In Singers and Songs of the Church (1869), Josiah Miller tells the story associated with this text:

"'This favorite hymn is said to have been written in 1772, to commemorate the determination of its author to remain with his attached people at Wainsgate. The farewell sermon was preached, the wagons were loaded, when love and tears prevailed, and Dr. Fawcett sacrificed the attraction of a London pulpit to the affection of his poor but devoted flock.'"

"Fawcett continued to serve in Wainsgate and in the nearby village of Hebden Bridge for the remainder of his active ministry."

The words of the hymn have been sung at the breaking of the bread and the taking of the cup at communion. I have sung them at graveside services. They have always touched my heart and expressed a deep affection that I have for the People of God.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship our spirit finds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one—
Our comforts and our cares.

We share our mutual woes;
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

From sorrow, toil, and pain,
And sin we shall be free;
And perfect love and oneness reign
Through all eternity.

So, the R in ROOTS for being a ROOTS church is RELATIONAL.

That is where it begins and that is where it ends.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Becoming a ROOTS Church, Part 1 - Introduction

image from

Becoming a ROOTS Church

Romans 11:16 - "For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches."

My generation was captivated by the drama of Alex Haley’s Root’s saga and thousands of young adults like myself discovered a new hobby in genealogical research.

Now, we are serenaded with the lilting sounds of roots music that carry us back to an earlier time in American life before the assault of electronic music and the pulsating excretions of rap, rock, and rave.

The Latin word for root is “radix” from which we derive the adjective, “radical.” If something is radicitus it is characterized as “by the roots, utterly.”

When I hear the deeply rooted laments of rhythm and blues, the joyful jesting of bluegrass, and the gutsy gospel of the back country,

I think of our rootedness in Jesus Christ. I am led to consider what radical and transforming truths are at the heart of what it means to be the church.

As we confront the challenges of of our time against the backdrop of COVID 19, emerging awareness of inequities and injustice, 9-11 despair, global warming, and sharp divisions ideology, the church must adapt in methodology and delivery without compromising the heart of its message or the core of its identity.

In times of radical change, we must become more rooted and more radical in the essence of who we are and what we are called to be.

Coming out of Ephesians 3:14-21, the idea of being a ROOTS Church that is established in the ancient truth of God’s Word and relevant to the moment emerged


Roots churches are about relationships. “...rooted and grounded in love ...” I John 4:11 reminds us that we are called to “love one another.” Our core relationship is vertical, with the Father, through Jesus and our horizontal relationships radiate outward from the core.


All roots churches are driven by their purpose “...for this cause...” Acts 6:7 illustrates the priests becoming “obedient to the faith.” We are a subversive people with a radical message, called to a radical lifestyle that does not imitate the world, but Christ.


Roots churches are not just seeker-sensitive, they are made up of seekers who continue to seek God with open hearts for as long as they live. “...that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ...” Thus, the open-faced “beholders” of the God’s glory in II Corinthians 3:18 being changed by degrees. This is worship and seeking—awe in the presence of His glory!


Roots churches are agents for God’s immeasurable power to transform lives, and communities. “ Him who is able ...” Acts 17:6 describes “... These who have turned the world upside down...


Roots churches have keen receptors to God’s love at work in the midst of their times. “...may be able to comprehend ...”

Jesus indicted the people of His day for not being able to discern the times. (Matthew 16:3) and speaks to us from Heaven saying, “He that hath ear, let Him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:7 ... And repeated)



Picture: Aaron Escobar, Exposed roots on a mango tree, Wikipedia Commons

I Cannot Make God Smaller by My Unbelief


Your god is too small
The trouble with many of us today,  is that we have not found a God big enough for our modern needs. In varying degrees we suffer from a limited idea of God. - J.B. Phllips (Read More ... Full Boo on GoodReads)

Diminishing God
"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." - C. S. Lewis
So, there is no referendum on this issue. It either is or it is not.
What we believe does not alter reality. What we refuse to believe does not nullify it.
Are we angry with God then, or with people who profess a belief in God? Are we anger with books and sermons and institutions because we do not like the character that they describe?
The importance of personal belief lies in what happens inside of me when I believe and identify with that which is ultimate. The current flows with overwhelming and sometimes invisible force in whatever direction it will.
I cannot change that. What I can change is whether it will sweep me away or if I will flow with it for the ride of my life.



Make a Friend Tomorrow.

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Before you go to sleep tonight, you will most likely review your plans and appointments for tomorrow. Perhaps you will mentally prepare for them or pray about them. You will think about what you will wear based upon your tasks and appointments, what time you will need to get up, perhaps even, what you will have for breakfast.

May I suggest an assignment for tomorrow?

Make a friend.

Go out of your way to meet someone you do not know and establish a relationship. It might be more challenging in this world where going out requires going online, but you can do it.

Do it without ulterior motives or a sense of "prospecting." Do it with an open mind and heart. Do it for no other reason than the knowledge that this could be a significant and mutually beneficial relationship.

Make it a goal and a commitment. Otherwise, it most likely will not happen.

Get excited about it.

You may be about to meet the person who will come into your inner circle of social or business relationships. You may meet the person who needs exactly the kind of friendship you offer or whose insights will take you to the next level of achievement.

You will meet a person of infinite value, wonder, and potential.

You are about the meet someone made in the image of the Creator, someone that God has arranged for you to meet.

All it takes is your willingness and resolve.

Decide to make a friend tomorrow.

Big Day

God has a very big day in store for you tomorrow.

You will conquer fear, despair, and sorrow.

You will rise to heights you've never known.

You will sigh and laugh, and sing and grown.

You will live and celebrate your inspired humanity.

You will rise above the dull, monotony of senseless insanity

To soar, to roar with the voice of the lion, to score.

The door is before you, the voice of God whispers, "There is more!"

Tomorrow is yours to face and embrace with wonder.

It is for your voice to shout the victory, to thunder,

"I am here and I have come to conquer this day!

There is no fear that can sway me or turn me from this way!

I am a soldier or love, a warrior of peace, a child of God.

My strength is from above. My joy shall not cease. I stand on the sod

Of a new day ... tomorrow.



Quotes for a Friday


image from
Here are some collected quotes.  Here's one of mine to get us started:

The only thing that is consistently predictable in the universe is the consistent persistence of chaos...

And in that, we behold the emergence of divine order at a magnitude that stretches our minds ...

Beyond their capacity. - Tom Sims

"God put me on earth to do a certain number of things ...Right now I'm so far behind I'll never die." - Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Waterson

"Grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life." - Brennan Manning, Abba's Child

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams

"You can observe a lot by watching. " - Yogi Berra

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." - Mark Twain

"How will I know what I think
until I see what I write?"
- Lewis Carroll

"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, 'Why me?'  Then a voice answers, 'Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.'" -Charlie Brown in Peanuts, by Charles Schultz

"Give more than is asked. Serve more than appears necessary. Help more than is expected. And Love more than is the norm." - Cory Booker

"Prophets do not come from cities, promising riches and store clothes. They have always come from the wilderness, stinking of goats and running with lice and telling of a different sort of treasure." - Andrew Lytle,

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Willingness implies a surrendering of one’s self-separateness, an entering into, an immersion in the deepest processes of life itself. It is a realization that one already is a part of some ultimate cosmic process and it is a commitment to participation in that process. In contrast, willfulness is the setting of oneself apart from the fundamental essence of life in an attempt to master, direct, control, or otherwise manipulate existence. More simply, willingness is saying yes to the mystery of being alive in each moment. Willfulness is saying no, or perhaps more commonly, ‘yes, but…’"

"But willingness and willfulness do not apply to specific things or situations. They reflect instead the underlying attitude one has toward the wonder of life itself. Willingness notices this wonder and bows in some kind of reverence to it. Willfulness forgets it, ignores it, or at its worse, actively tries to destroy it. Thus willingness can sometimes seem very active and assertive, even aggressive. And willfulness can appear in the guise of passivity. Political revolution is a good example." — Gerald May

"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time." - Abraham Lincoln

"The best vision is insight."  - Malcolm S. Forbes

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." -Theodore Roosevelt

"We live in a busy world but there's a difference between empty fatigue and gratifying tiredness. Invest in the things you deeply care about." - Eugene Cho 

"When you forgive, you in no way change the past--but you sure do change the future." -Bernard Meltzer

" ... all true believers proclaim compassion, not competition, as God's way." Henri J. M. Nouwen

Another of mine to close:

"What you believe about a circumstance colors that reality and creates a filter through which you respond. It determines whether you will use an obstacle at an opportunity of a stumbling block. What you believe is vitally important to becoming who you are." - Tom Sims




Authentic Church


Photo by Febrian Zakaria on Unsplash

Sometimes I brood over inconsequential trivia. Sometimes I wrestle with big questions, issues, and calling. I cannot lead someone else's tribe. I cannot even throw stones at it or its leaders. I really will not because stones are always reciprocated back and forth and, as they fall, they only build walls. I think we ought to be walking in the direction of more projectiles that can hurt us with nothing in our hands. Authentic church is not about protecting ourselves from attack.

Authentic church welcomes outside criticism and neutralizes it with love and truth.

That takes courage and conviction.

Authentic church is about being the body of Jesus in the world the way Jesus was and is in the world. I can criticize my tribe because they are my stewardship, because they listen, because I love them, and because I believe in what they can be.

So --- I may have a word to say about decaying and declining elements of culture, but understand me --- they are the backdrop of our discipleship. We are not shaped into who we must be , we cannot be shaped, by our reactions to culture.

What we are becoming, by grace, if we are so becoming, is what we were becoming yesterday and the day before. The contrasts look different depending upon the shapes and colors in the background, but we are who we are becoming ... not just what we are and were.

We --- the people of God, individually and in community.

Now ... my brood :

How do I get that across and involve more people in being authentic church and shaping our lives by the example, presence, redemption, and life-giving power of God in Jesus Christ?

Easy answers --- not needed ... simple intention, affirmed .....

Fellow brooders, WELCOME!

I am feeling both frustrated and

Brothers and sisters, let us love God and ...

Let us love one another and .... Hopeful.

... our neighbors as ourselves.


We are not hopeless.

Our chairs and tables are not empty ... just in different places.

Authentic church can and is happening all over the world.

Otherwise, we would have much to lament.



Discipleship Is Risky


Loic Leray unspash rs
Photo by Loic Leray on Unsplash  

Here is a risk worth taking!

 ... men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:26) They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. (Romans 16:4)

 Real  discipleship is risky business. It brings us into the realm of adventure and uncertainty where there is sometimes danger of persecution or failure. But the risks are worth it as we follow Jesus.

There are two main approaches that people take toward risk in the extreme. The first is to avoid it at all costs. The consequence of this approach is that nothing great is ever attempted and nothing beyond the ordinary is ever accomplished.

The second approach is to take risks for their own sake with no other purpose than an Adrenalin rush or a cheap thrill. Folks who take this approach will also fail to accomplish anything of significance for their objectives all lie in the exhilaration of the moment.

There is a third approach that allows us to be productive and positive people in a world of uncertainty where our only certainty is in God Himself. It is embodied in the man or woman who takes no great pleasure in risky behavior, but neither fears it or retreats from a challenge because it involves the possibility of danger or defeat. This was the attitude of the believers that Paul commended in his epistle to the Romans. An acronym might be helpful in understanding the positive qualities of risky discipleship. 

  1. Reaching for something beyond your reach
  2. Investing in something with no guarantees except God’s own Word.
  3. Seeking only the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
  4. Knowing only that God and His will shall, triumph in the end.
  5. Yield your life to God.

 If you are going to take a risk, make sure you have a sure foundation.

The Man Who Was Stuck


Unknown sixth-century AD mosaicist of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna - mosaic from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna  - Public Domain

There once was a tormented man with a tormented mind.

He was tormented and he brought terror upon himself.

Chained, he was bound; unchained, he was still bound.

Even an entire herd of pigs could not bear up under the burden he bore. The anguish of his soul was great.

He sought to drown out the voices of incessant pain with the sharp stones with which he tore his own flesh.

He wailed and cried and, frightening and disconcerting was his presence, so much so that he was relegated to the tombs. He was a dead man walking ...

... and then, Jesus came ...



They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.

He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him.

Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.

And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”

For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”

And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.”

So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea."

The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.

And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled."

- Mark 5:1-20 (ESV)



Ten Lessons from the Earlier Days of Social Media

Cyberspace before
Several years ago, after we  lost another CompuServe forum participant and community member and it caused me to recount some lessons I learned on that now defunct, but once dominant forum platform.helped 

I was a part of the management team of a number of forums: Issues, Religion, White House, Education, Religious Issues, and Christian Fellowship and my tenure was over 25 years.

Since I only go back to the 1990s as a sysop (system operator), I will restrict myself to that period.

Lesson #1

People seem to love hyperbole, but other people become very skilled communicators. Some overstate their cases, but,when engaged, can be reasonable.

Lesson # 2 

Never type in all caps. It is called screaming and no one can hear you.

Lesson # 3

If you said something harsh, there was a"<g>" statement you could attach to made anything easier to take. <g> was for "grin."

Lesson #4

Real people read remarks we direct toward them. They can have their feelings hurt.

Lesson #5

Diplomacy works. It always has.

Lesson #6

Push-back only creates more escalating push-back. You can often gain more ground by backing up.

Lesson #7

Not every challenge requires an answer. Not every insult requires a response.

Lesson #8

Some people are nicer in person than they are online. Give them a chance to reveal their true charm.

Lesson #9

This medium is a gift and provides a level footing for people to share, negotiate, create mutual understanding, and build relationships. It must be used properly and with integrity, but it can be a blessing.

Lesson #10

Online friends are real friends. We meet in public, on the phone, in airports, at regional gatherings, in prayer, and online. We sometimes do business. We often encourage. We sometimes argue. But we are friends.

But we are real.

There were so many lessons. These are just 10.





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Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

We stagger through life encumbered by the pressures of everyday problems and phantom concerns.

We are sensitive to slightest slight and the subtlest gesture.

We are quick to take offense and slow to receive healing when offended, much less to extend forgiveness.

We step gingerly into new experiences and tremble at the very suggestion of risk or danger.

We take our cues about our self-concepts from other people's words and evaluations.

We speak our minds and hearts with question marks. We timidly go where many have gone before and wouldn't think of venturing where none have trod.

We live as if we serve an impotent God who is far removed from our life experiences and the daily challenges that come our way.

Our lack of confidence provokes our guilt and that makes us even more timid. We have an unhealthy fear of God that has no resemblance to the reverential fear that He demands. And that fear extends to other people and to the realm of unknown tomorrows.

God, on the other hand, calls us to hold Him in reverence and receive His love with the understanding that if He before us, none can be against us (Romans 8:31).

What If We Tried?

. Kindness is mutual

I realize that that we must, especially now, be prophetic, vigorous, and unrelenting in calling out injustice, collective sin, and corruption in the arena of the body politic. That is a responsibility of citizenship. However, it does not have to drive how we treat our neighbors. 

We must be critical when evaluating our leaders in thought and in government.

However, we can be critical without being unkind.

Or can we?

What if we simply had a self-imposed moratorium on saying anything unkind to or about anyone or any group of people?

What if we tried it for a week or a month?

What if, when tempted to harshly criticize a group or a person, we looked for seeds of that same fault in ourselves and started working on it?

What if, when feeling the need to talk about temptation and sin, we used our own struggles as the illustration of how God can help us overcome?

What if we were willing to take the worst seat, be slighted, spend and be spent, and practice all the other calls to simple, humble, gracious living that Jesus and the apostles taught?

What if we simply decided not to take offense and not to seek retaliation in any form ... for a season? Maybe a month? A year?

I think it might work so well for us and the peace that it brought to our hearts might be so compelling that we might decide to extend those times until it became a lifetime lifestyle?

And what if, when we saw a brother or sister on a path of self-destruction, we refrained from discussing that with anyone else, but took first steps to go to that person and offer our help out of the trap?

What if?

What if we tried it in our speech and then, in our actions and decisions?

What if?

I think we could render lots of discussions and debates moot and find that lots of logjams would simply break loose and let the water flow.



One Race, Many Colors


Calypso rose
In the beginning God created everything: The structure of an atom the genetic codes, one race of humanity, a way for humanity to perpetuate and develop various genetic characteristics, more similarity than difference, and a mandate to work out our humanity together.

Somewhere along the way, our bodies developed various forms of pigmentation.

After Babel which is briefly described in Genesis, we developed languages, cultures, and geographic demographics.

But we remained human with mostly interchangeable blood, organs, and with what some humans have erroneously called, "race."

WHITE s the color of milk/fresh snow. It is not very descriptive, but beautiful in contrast with other colors.

BLACK is the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; opposite of white. Again, contrast adds delight.

While both are beautiful alone, they are seldom seen alone and difficult to perceive when they are.

White black

In PHYSICS- the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light is black; opposite of white.

I never met either color of person.

Our colorfulness is what makes us part of a wonderful human family.

Our varied cultures are given to be gifts.

Our histories, painful and joyful bring color to our music and art as well as to our shared values.

We have culture because we are multi-cultural.

Otherwise, we rob ourselves of our wealth.

I have met some dead people who had extreme colors --- but those who are alive, no matter how colorful, are neither all or nothing of anything.

I have met many on a continuum as we all are ... descendants of common ancestors and cultures. We absorb many colors and lights. That is good.

Any claim to superiority is misinformed and ignorant.

Our uniqueness is good, but so are our commonalities. All enrich what is already rich.

Race, as we define it today, is an allusion designed to separate or to dominate.

Celebrate your own heritage and that of your neighbors.

It is what makes us wealthy and fully human.



Reputation Management in a "Judgy" World



Film poster of My Reputation (1946) - Fair Use

Let us celebrate our differences.

Let us celebrate our commonalities.

Let us guard our reputations among those with whom we share so many other things in common.

In this life, there are some things that set us apart from others, our differences, and there are things that we have in common with all humanity.

What sets us apart is the reputation we build through our choices and relationships. There is an entire field of business consultancy called "reputation management."

It is that important!

What draws us together is the reality that we have all been created by God with an equal dispensation of His love, grace, and creativity.


Let us consider reputation

You Can't Buy a Reputation

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." - Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)

You cannot buy a good reputation, but a good reputation is like currency. You can spend it. It will open doors and create the trust and good will necessary to transact business in a cynical world.

Perhaps that is one reason Solomon said,"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold."

"First things first" is an axiom that applies in so many ares of life. Getting rich quick does not promote a good reputation. Getting rich or successful systematically in such a ways as to be transparent and to help others along the way creates reputation and esteem.

If you are consistently honest in your business dealings, the word will get around. You will develop a reputation for honesty, fairness, and quality work. You cannot buy that, but with it, you can make a number of purchases.

Isn't that what a credit report is? Isn't it a formal statement of a person's reputation for keeping commitments?

Have you ever tried to get a loan with a lousy credit report?

There is no dollar figure on a good name. You earn it over a lifetime and it is well worth every minute invested in it.

Now, let us consider common ground.

Common Ground

"Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is Maker of them all." - Proverbs 21:2 (NIV)

There is an equality in the essential meaning of what it means to exist as a human being in this world. Each person is crafted by God. There is no birth distinction between rich and poor, no genetic predisposition dictating one's economic prospects. While people differ in talent, intellectual aptitude, and certain personality leanings, each is offered the possibility to become fully what they were made to be.

To be rich is to come into one's own.

It is to fully develop all of one's potential and live out one's purpose on this earth. It is to, through a process of trial and failure, to succeed and prosper according to God's design. It is to follow the Maker's dream implanted in the heart and to pursue that dream all the way.

What are you doing this very day to that end?

I would like to make some simple suggestions for today as you travel the road to success:

1. Avoid potholes, pitfalls, and speed bumps. Approach life's highway as a defensive driver.

Proverbs 22:3 - A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Don't live in utter oblivion to danger. wake up from denial. Plan for contingencies. You were made by the same Creator as those who get caught in traps every day. You are special, but not special enough to be exempt from the laws of nature.

2. Humble yourself before God today. Worship Him. Take some time for worshipful reflection.

Proverbs 22:4 - By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

Perspective comes when we hold ourselves up against the template of divine holiness. With perspective comes the realization of our God given potential for a full and meaningful life of purpose.

3. Pay your debts and avoid future debt. Do something today to move you closer to debt free living.

Proverbs 22:7 - The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Debt is slavery. Use it wisely and rarely and only to accomplish goals that cannot be accomplished without it.

4. Be careful what you plant. Think about your deeds and consequences.

Proverbs 22:8 - He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.

All of your choices matter. Make good choices today, righteous choices.

5. Practice generosity today.

Proverbs 22:9 - He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

You only save in this life what you give away. Do something for the poor today.

6. Overcome the temptation to be lazy and half-hearted today. Take initiative.

Proverbs 22: 13 - The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

You will find many excuses for NOT doing what needs to be done. Take action to overcome that. Make momentum your friends by creating it with positive action.

7. Be just and wise.

Proverbs 22:16 - He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Don't do something that will harm people who are poor already and don't harm yourself by giving away unnecessary gifts to people who don't need, want, or appreciate them.

8. Guard your good reputation.

Proverbs 22:26 -Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts.

One of the best ways to lose a good reputation is by cosigning other people's debts. You may be tempted to lend your good name today. Be careful.

9. Respect agreements from the past. Have a long memory. God does. Be lawful and full of integrity. If there is some doubt about whether something is right or wrong, err on the side of caution to do the right thing.

Proverbs 22:28 - Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

10. Be diligent. There is no substitute for faithfulness. Stick with your assignment and work hard.

Proverbs 22:29 - Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

God has created us with a measure of equality. We have this in common. What sets us apart is what we do consistently and faithfully in His grace and in obedience to His truth to build a reputation that is ours alone.

The deeds we do to build a good name will also help us build a life and a business. Practice these ten principles today on your road to success.


Having said all of this, do not let it get out of balance to where we care too much about what others think and say about us.

All we really need to concern ourselves with is doing our part. Essentially, this talk is rather pessimistic with some elements of hope. Yet, I offer it as balance.

I like this - "through the eyes of love."

Notice that he points to a huge problem that develops when we decide that God is a fiction.



How to Make Someone's Day


image from
Let me start by saying that if you chose to open this posting and read it, that is a good sign that you are on the right track and your heart is in the right place. You have already moved from the realm of unlikely positive outcome to likely positive outcome. You have identified making someone's day as an intention in your life and that kind of intentionality is a vital key to accomplishment.

Proverbs 18:1 says,

"An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends;
he defies all sound judgment."

It is in the pursuit that our judgment is magnified.

So I may leave it at that for today.

To be friendly and to desire the good for someone else today will move you far down the road of being a blessing. When you wish someone well, it is communicated in your attitude, your words, and your deeds. you cannot help but be an encouragement to all who are receptive and in need.

The very desire to make another person's day is an indicator of character and a predictor of success in that endeavor.

Today, I will start to spell out how to do that by examining the word, "D-A-Y." First let us look at another  proverb for today,

Proverbs 19:1:

"Better a poor man whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse. "

To apply that to our theme, we might paraphrase it this way: "While wealth and prosperity can open doors, create opportunities, and enable us to do much good for others, it would be better to do without it if it meant that our words wounded rather than healed, deflated people rather than inflating them, and discouraged rather than encouraged."

Words are powerful and how we use words will determine much of our success in making someone else's day.

And the good news is that if you make the day of enough people, it will eventually lead you on the path to success.

We don't have to choose between our success and that of others if we are willing to put our primary focus on helping others succeed.

Now, here is the D-A-Y

D = Decision. You make a decision about the kind of day you will have. You make it early; you make it firm. You decide that whatever comes your way, "The is the day that the Lord hath made; I will rejoice and be glad in it." It is always a decision and if you make it, it will rub off on others. While you make the decision, early in the morning, to have a great day, decide to bring others along as well. Pray for opportunities to encourage, lift, and serve people. They will come!

A = Attitude. It is always about attitude. Attitude can make or break your day and will affect others. Positive attitudes are contagious, but so are negative attitudes. If you walk around all day with the attitude that is selfish, angry, resentful, and bitter, that will take the wind out of people's sails who are living on the edge. Not everyone has learned the power of a positive decision.

They need to see a living example of positivism - YOU!

If you carry your decision to have a blessed day with you throughout the day and reflect that in your attitude, those same people will see and catch some of your spirit. Smile at frowns; speak gently to harsh voices; deflect criticism; be kind when you are treated without kindness. Be the master of your moments and your emotions. Elevated your attitude and you will elevate others.

Y = Yes, Yes living. It is a no-no world. All around us, people are looking for reasons to be critical, to disagree, to complain, to gossip, to make other people feel small. You have chosen to live the opposite way. You are looking for areas of agreement. You are searching for the YES. You are endeavoring to find things you can compliment and affirm, people you can encourage, and lives you can touch with God's love. You are actively giving out smiles. Your goal is to build and what you are building are people.

The only two things that will last forever are the Word of God and the souls of people.

One builds the other.

Make a decision to have and promote a great day. Put on the attitude of positive thinking and living, the attitude of love and grace. Put it on the same way you put on a cheerful shirt in the morning. Look for yes every where and build upon each yes you find. Decision - Attitude - Yes = DAY.

Better than anything I can say, watch this awesome young lady's awesome video:




The Tyranny of Urgency


François Gérard  The French people demanding destitution of the Tyran on 10 August 1792
François Gérard
, The French people demanding destitution of the Tyran on 10 August 1792

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

We need to be able to say “no” to urgency any time it steps outside the boundaries of our priorities.

Yes, there will be emergencies that must be faced as they arise.

There will be extraneous details that must be handled.

The problem arises when every urgent matter presents itself with the same emergency motif and ministry life becomes one great series of emergencies. We have fire departments to put out fires.

What is your focus?

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

Follow Rick Warren’s advice and lead a purpose-driven life.



Don't Let People Pull Your Strings




Or push your buttons ...

An Odd Sort of Empowerment

Photo by pixpoetry on Unsplash

 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!



The Band of Buddies


Photo by Ravi N Jha on Unsplash


Who did Jesus call? Those he desired. He took his best buddies to a high mountain and called them out to something great and adventurous, dangerous, and intimate. He called them to be his closest followers and friends. He called a band of buddies.

Later, we would call them "sent ones (apostles)"

Here, they are "the called who came."

He called them to him to send them out.

And then, they would come back.

And then, sent out again.

He gave some of them new names --- two of them, teasing names ... "Sons of Thunder!"

I wonder what those guys were like.

And one ... was a betrayer.

There is at least one in every crowd ... even in a band of buddies.

"And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him." - Mark 3:13-19 (ESV)


Weary Bones



Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

What say your tired, weary bones? Soul, are you depleted? Have your resources dried up? Are fresh out of all you need to keep going?

It is a good place, not a comfortable place, yet, a comforting place. It is a hard place, this school of reliance and trust. It is a rocky path with curves and tunnels, uncertain trails, and slippery slopes, but it is a prestigious school.

You cannot afford the tuition and you bring nothing of value to the bargaining table. Your enemy is too strong for you. He robs you of all you have left.

You are drained dry.

Your bones ache and you cannot move another inch.

Then ... you start singing with the ancient singer,

" All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”" - Psalm 35:10 (ESV)


Going for Essence



Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In 1 Samuel 21, David eats holy bread and shares it with his hungry soldiers. It is a clear violation of law and tradition, but he does it and convinces the priests to help him do it.

He makes a good case, but the essence of the argument is need.

Later, Jesus cites David as an example when the nit-pickers are nit-picking his disciples' lax attitude toward picking food to eat on the Sabbath.

It is not that Jesus is disrespecting law and tradition; nor was David. He was going for essence.

To what does law and tradition point? Indeed, what is the point?

God's glory is primary, but God's glory is manifest also in God's goodness, grace, love, and attention to humanity.

Fallen Leaves from My Poet Tree

The_Poem_Tree _Wittenham_Clumps
The Poem Tree, Wittenham ClumpsOxfordshire. Photograph by Jonathan Bowen.

When he awoke from his despair,
Daylight spoke; the sky was fair.
April pierced the winter night.
Faith had come, restoring sight.


Jesus, hope of dying men,
Mover of the heart and pen,
Move my heart to pen some phase,
That may return to Thee as praise.


At the crux of the cross is the Christ,
Rising above culture,
Towering over civilization,
Crying out the crisis
Of choice.


Content over context contextualizes conviction consistently.


Seeking stride paused before restless pride ...
And determined to move on.


Sullied soteriology nullified his sanctimonious theology.


Something small
Tripped him up
in the night.

Something smaller
Trained his steps
In the light.

Something minute
Transformed his stride
To near flight.

And something in him
Took off soaring.
What a sight!


Upon thinking that his thoughts were words,
He thought again and thought that none existed
Apart from thought so that ...
The thinking of them might have created them and
That in thinking not of them, they might
Become as naught, but then, he thought
That he could not undo a thought and thus
A word once spoken would exist whether he thought it
Or not.

Just musing.


I think that I ...
Should not begin ...
So many thoughts ...
Or sentences ...
With "I."


Turning from Worthless Things


Ryan Hagerty


You might be feeling a little dead these days, perhaps bored, maybe all dried and drained inside, lifeless, listless, and a bit depressed ... and you are not given to depression and are not clinically and medically depressed.
What are you watching?
What are you doing?
Where are your ears trained?
What content is entering your mind?
Perhaps we all need to pray the Psalmist's prayer here:
"Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in your ways." - Psalm 119:37
So, having prayed it, how do you "put legs on those prayers" and thus, restore life?
(Credit to my Sunday School teacher - Emily Daniels for that phrase)
  • Replace the worthless content with something worthwhile.
  • Engage in worthwhile projects.
  • Cultivate healthy curiosity (not prurient).
  • Share what you learn with others.
  • Let more light into your house.
  • Let more music into your ears.
  • Exercise.
  • Do little jobs like washing dishes with joy and imagination.
See if that lifts your spirits some.
In case you need something to help you get started, try this:


Hope in the Desert


The Central Intelligence Agency - The World Factbook - Algeria   Sahara dunes at sunset. Public Domain

Sometimes, it is hard to find the oasis.

Sometimes, the tree is not in view.

Sometimes, hope is illusive.

Perhaps this can encourage someone who is passing through a personal desert or living through a profound drought of dream and drive.

But, there is life beneath the surface and it pops up in the most unlikely place. It has. It does. It will.

There are some mighty oaks around you that can speak to your soul, "You can do it; you can be it; you can!"


Deserts Green

For every river flowing free
There is a desert with a tree.
Unknown waters make it green,
Mighty rivers, never seen.
Deep within the dry, parched earth,
Roots run deep beneath the dearth.
Though the sky suspends its rain,
Sun beats down its scorching pain ,
Though none other blooms in sight,
Nothing robs it of its might.
It knows sources only few
Have known, afresh and new .
It has found the secret place,
Cooling streams, refreshing grace.
God speaks from that one lonesome tree
"Come to the stream, come unto me."
God's sentinel in deserts grim.
Drink from the stream that flows from Him.

Reset Your Jesus Browser for Surprise


Hieronymus Bosch  1510 - 1515 - Public Domain

We Never Saw Anything like this before!

Have you lost the element of surprise?

Sometimes, we need to reset our browsers to see what he is saying.

" Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”" (Mark 2:9-12 ESV)

Weighing Evidence in the Court of Public Opinion

Evidence verdict

We are being bombarded from all sides with information. Some of it is partial information; some in information we do not have tools to process; some is deliberate or accidental misinformation. 

But ... it is important know some things because we have some decisions to make. We have verdicts to reach; we have positions to take.

We have choices.

In this blog, I will not be giving you many tools for doing that. My purpose here is caution not to believe everything you see, read, and hear without careful examination, fact-checking, source checking, and reexamination.

I recommend that even for the things you observe daily.

A. Do not trust all of your perceptions without question.

B. Do not insist that the way you saw or heard something was the absolute truth of the matter.

C. When making a strong statement of fact, check and double check.

D. Don't be so sure that eye-witness testimony in court or on the internet is reliable even if the witnesses are good, decent, and credible people (I threw that in the pollute the jury pool).

Do your homework.

There is no one else to do it for you.


In Perilous Times, Do Not Lose Sight of Hope

Hope is a living thing

The Lord is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. - Psalm 9:16 

 Have you ever considered the reputation of God?

That fact that He is known by His justice is a telling sign. 

Before we encounter the love and grace of God, we already understand that He is fair and righteous and truthful. We also know that in the grand scheme of things, poetic justice dictates that their own devices ensnare the wicked. 

If the world already understands this dimension of God and His ways, we have good news for them. Jesus came to brings us, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”

That story is that this same God passionately and jealously loves us with a love so deep that mercy and grace flow in unbroken succession from His heart.

Do not wince at the justice of God, for it is His justice that leads us into His arms.

There is great hope for the righteous in that knowledge.

But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish. - Psalm 9:18

We have a God whose ways are not our ways and thoughts not our thoughts. He reverses the power of conventional wisdom and defies the accepted truisms of society to make His own order. 

God simply does not forget the needy. He has a bias for them. He will not abandon the afflicted.

For those who are hopeless, He offers hope. Let us proclaim hope daily – first to our own defeated souls, weighed down with the worries and cares of life, discouraged in well doing, spent and depleted.

Then let us proclaim the same message with the authentic credibility of a person who has embraced hope in his or her own life to a needy and broken world.

May hope exude from our pores. May it be the aura that surrounds our lives, the given pitch that tunes our voices, the color of our countenances, and the tenor of our words. The good news of hope is the one word that broken people cannot create from wishful thinking. It is not denial; it is reality.

May we live it and speak it daily.

(Excerpted from Pastor Tom's Musings on the Psalms)



"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.'

God Moves in a Mysterious Way - by William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill;
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.



Integrity and Accountability in Public Life




Public integrity is a big deal.

It is not just a vague concept of an arbitrary way of assigning a label to a leader. It is far more than that. It is vital.

It insures freedom, morality, truth, justice, fairness, kindness, and the well being of the community. It values the whole community, leveling the playing field and making justice accessible for the least powerful as well as the most powerful.

When systematized and institutionalized,  it minimized disenfranchisement and brings the whole community to the table of governance and participation. 

It is very difficult to maintain public integrity without accountability. That is true even if all the players are essentially honest people of good will.

It is impossible to maintain accountability without  a separation of powers. In our system of government this involves:

  • a legislative branch that passes laws and oversees the executives through advice and consent as well as exercise of the power to question and to impeach
  • an executive branch with a sub-function of independent prosecution of violations of laws.
  • a judicial branch that is independent and impartial.

When these function well, there are checks and balances.

As a non-profit executive, I learned that multiple eyes, signatures, and functions in handling money, overseen by a board of directors, insures integrity and accuracy.

Whatever the arena, there are places and functions where an executive must keep hands off the process in order to insure that things function with impartiality, fairness, and honesty. It prevents conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety.

How does that work in government?

Let's say, for instance, that an executive's activities come into question because of the actions of his or her associates. That executive,  confident in his or her behaviors and integrity, allows the agency set up to investigate and prosecute, function without his or her interference or influence or the direct influence of his or her political appointees.

If a prosecution is deemed appropriate, the leader of integrity and accountability will stand back and let the process run its course.

Then, the leaders will trust the judiciary branch to do its job, adjudicate guilt or innocence, and administer appropriate correction.

In a government like ours, there is recourse if the leader feels it is appropriate to exercise it, he or she could commute a sentence or pardon an offender, but would, in almost any case, refrain if there is an appearance of conflict of interest or connection between the offense/offender and himself or herself.

In a rational world, this would be true.


There are so many sentences that could be commuted:

  • people incarcerated with long sentences for relatively minor drug offenses,
  • women incarcerated with life sentences for defending themselves from  abusers,
  • instances where there was a gross and obvious miscarriage of justice,
  • and so forth

Of course, this is all quite hypothetical.


I suppose it would be very difficult for us to conceive of a leader of integrity who values accountability subverting this process for self-interest.

That is a relief.


"I think the prosecution [of Roger Stone] was righteous and I think the sentence that the judge ultimately gave was fair." -- Attorney General Bill Barr, July 8, 2020


Meditations on Psalms of the Day: Psalms 16, 17, and 22

An audience with God

Use these to launch your thinking and praying to do own work.

Meditations on Psalms of the Day
Psalms 16, 17, and 22

Take what you will and then do your own work.

How can these prayer songs inform and refine your own honest and raw prayers today?

Psalm 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Psalm 17

Psalm 17:1 - Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer-it does not rise from deceitful lips.

One might think that the psalmist had stepped out of his time and looked upon ours to offer his commentary. The repulsive sight of the wicked strutting about in impunity is and always will be a source of grief to those who love God and His truth.

The deeper indignity and affront to God is that what is vile is honored among men as noble, good, true, artistic, or benevolent.

Little has changed. The values of society, left to its own devices, have always been at odds with God. We must carefully examine all that we place upon our cultural pedestals and pay homage to. God’s standards are different than those of the larger world.

We value what may contain a grain of truth, but it is so often distorted and ignoble.

The numerology of apocalyptic literature takes the number 6 and repeats it three times in contrast to the holiness of the complete Trinity. Thus, 666 represents the fullness of evil. The curious thing is that the number 6 is only one whole number shy of 7 – the number of perfection.

The lesson is almost hidden, but clear: That which is repugnant may be something that is very close to the truth (for instance, the devil quotes scripture and believes in God), but veers off the path of truth in a small way that is significant enough to altar everything.

It should be easy for the Christian to detect the blatant and flagrant abuses of truth, but be cautious that you are not caught up in the frenzy of honoring that which is popular just because it has an outer veneer of righteousness.

Psalm 17:2 - May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right.

In the first place, we must note that he is wrong about being abandoned and forgotten by God.

That is how he feels, but not the truth of the situation – and he most likely knows it in the depths of his being.

In the second place, it is OK for him to express this feeling to God because it is about emotional disclosure – not about theological accuracy.

Do not allow your desire to be theologically sound inhibit your honest prayers to God in the secrecy of your heart before Him.

Trust Him to correct any misconceptions you have.

He can do that as you address Him. You are not praying before an audience – not even an audience comprised of yourself and God.

Get out of the way of your prayers and pour out your soul before God.

He can hear you whenever you earnestly seek Him. He knows your heart, your frailties, and your strengths. He loves you and has not left you alone. If you feel He has hidden His face from you – tell Him. He loves the fact that you long for Him and desire to know Him, see Him, and experience Him at a deeper level. Get real in your prayers and God will transform your life through them.

Psalm 17:3 - Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.

Unfortunately, we sometimes have to wrestle with our thoughts and we are not exempt from sorrow of heart. Sometimes, for the moment, our enemies triumph over us and the pain of it seems open-ended.

“God,” we pray,” how long will this go on? I have nearly reached the end of my rope.”

And God either gives us more rope or extends our patience, or, in some cases, gives us a glimpse of an end in sight. Our defeats are temporal and transient. Our victory is eternal.

Our wrestling thoughts and deep sorrows do not overwhelm us for we have rest in Jesus. He is our comfort. The psalmist is not lecturing us about how to deal with eternal pain, doubt, and conflict; he is modeling it. He shows us the way out by living it out.

He prays – honestly and frankly to a God he trusts and knows. The author is identified as David, so we know that these are his sentiments, and this is his prayer. He was called a man after God’s own heart. Imagine that - God loves to hear from His children even when they are bringing Him their deepest conflicts. Pray.

Psalm 17:4 – As for the deeds of men-by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the ways of the violent.

This is the desperate plea of a man who knows that His only hope is in God. It may be true that our prayers will never be highly effective until we come to terms with this reality in our lives. The submission to God’s will is present in the mode of address, “O Lord, my God.”

The relationship is personal and vital. The prayer is for light. Eyes never see without light. David goes further – no light, no life.

“I cannot live without you,” he implies.

“If I cannot see from your perspective, I will simply die.”

He longs deeply for truth and for God. We cannot learn to pray like that from outside instruction; we begin with that part of our soul that knows it is weak and desperate and begin – and God teaches us to dig in and cry out to Him. Ask Him to be your teacher: “Lord, I don’t know where to begin with You, so begin with me where I am. Teach me to pray, O Lord, my God. Teach me to pray.”

Psalm 17:5 - My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

We need to get used to the fact that our enemy does not have our best interest at heart. Satan knows that we do not always believe this and capitalizes on our naiveté. He suggests thoughts and deeds that seem pleasant and alluring and, when we fall for the temptation, shouts with glee, “Ha! I’ve got him (or her)”

And then he throws a party to rejoice in our fall.

Enemies cannot be trusted. Evil cannot be trusted. If we flirt with sin, we will find ourselves entrapped. People may look at us and watch for an opportunity to ridicule us in our weakness because our stand for righteousness is so strong and open.

Do not be afraid of their laughter for our defeat is not final and their approval is not necessary. Only God is necessary for our lives. Affirm that in prayer today and notice with indifference the scorn of the wicked.

Psalm 17:6 – I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.

Yes! This is the resolution.

Whatever the trouble, doubt, or scorn of enemies, God’s love does not fail, and His salvation is sure.

From the same lips that cry out with impatient agony before God, the psalmist reaffirms his joyful faith in God. As a response to this joy, we are reminded to REJOICE.

Philippians 4:4 calls us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

And then, Paul emphatically repeats himself, “I will say it again: Rejoice!”

God, all that He is and all that He does, is enough for us. His salvation lifts us out of the doldrums of defeat and translates us into the kingdom of His dear Son.

There is not enough we can say about the wonder of this level of comfort and assurance. To rejoice in the midst of persecution is the greatest statement of defiance we can make in the face of evil. It declares, “You have no power over me!”

Take some time to rejoice today.

Psalm 17:7 - Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.

Go ahead and sing.

So, you think you have no voice. Very few people – whose larynxes have been removed for instance – have no voice. You most likely do – and the voice was made for singing. Everyone can sing. Everyone is called upon to sing to the Lord.

Worship through singing is not an optional exercise for trained soloists; it is a mandate for every believer. If you feel that your singing is offensive, learn to sing naturally without offense, but do not withhold your praise from God.

This business is intrinsic. God’s goodness brings a song to our hearts. If you have a song in your heart, simply release it. Do it without fanfare or expectation of praise. Do it without a motive to be accepted or admired – sing unto the Lord and unto Him only. Begin in your devotional time alone with Him. He has been good to you. Sing to Him.

Psalm 17:8 - Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings…

There are many reasons why this statement is so obviously true.

Denial is not a river in Egypt. Denying God will not make God go away. Whether or not you believe in God or confess Him as God will not change who He is and that He is the sole determiner of what is wrong or right, corrupt, or authentic, pure or vile.

The fool, according to the psalmist, is not a theoretical atheist or philosophical agnostic. It is not someone who is struggling with the existence of God on the intellectual level, but the man or woman who has, in his or her heart, determined to be a practical atheist – to live as if there were no God or as if His existence did not matter.

He is concerned with how this statement of the heart manifests itself in our lives. Now the question: Is there some area of your own life, where in your heart, you are declaring, “There is no God?”

Have you pushed Him to the side in your deliberations and decision-making? Have you excluded His influence in areas where there is conflict with your own desires and lusts? God calls that foolishness and identifies the results as corrupt and vile- rotten and degraded to the core. Do business with God today in this area of your life and allow Him to scrutinize you and bring you healing grace.

Psalm 17:9 – from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.

Well, what does He find in me?

That is the question I must answer. That is the question you must ask yourself. When he looks down upon me, does He find understanding and seeking?

Some do not understand and don’t know that they don’t understand. Some understand and have locked their understanding into a formula and have stopped seeking. Others know that they don’t understand but have acquiesced to a position of irrational hopelessness and have given up seeking.

None of these responses pleases God when He looks down upon the sons of men. There are others who both understand and seek. They understand enough to know that there is much that they do not understand and so they seek in those areas.

When God gives some understanding, they do not stop seeking and become self-satisfied with their limited knowledge, but they keep seeking – even more earnestly. That pleases God so very much. Examine your heart today using this criterion and keep seeking God – more and more.

Psalm 17:10 - They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.

It is the universality of the fall and of sin that the psalmist is struggling with here. We were not designed to be corrupt. We were created in the image of God. But sin corrupts us to the very core. The rottenness of perverted intentions stains our lives beyond repair.

We cannot fix ourselves.

Our attempts at doing good to win some favor with God are also corrupt and drive us deeper into separation from God. Not even one person does good. That is amazing. But it is the reason why Jesus came and died, rose again, and returned to the Father to send His Spirit to indwell us.

We need the righteousness of Christ to be imparted and imputed to us. And we need His presence within us to work His goodness out through us.

These words are a reminder to long-term believers not to become proud, boastful, or self-righteous. If our salvation and acceptance by God depended upon our own goodness, we would be hopeless. But God sees us not looking down from above. He looks upon us directly through the face of His Son. Thank God today, as you pray, for His mercy.

Psalm 17:11 - They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground.

We are flabbergasted at the inability of some to learn the futility of their ways. We are surrounded by masses who do not call upon the Lord and who devour believers in many ways The temptation is to bulge out our chests and lift our noses in pride proclaiming, “I’m glad I’m not like that”

That’s the wrong approach. The response of faith would be to look within with the searchlight of God’s truth and pray, “Lord, is there an area of coldness and rebellion in my heart where I am refusing to learn? Am I devouring the person you made me to be?”

What distinguishes and delivers the believer is that he or she calls upon the Lord.

Psalm 17:12 – They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a great lion crouching in cover.

Sooner or later, even the wicked come to their senses, sometimes too late, and realize that God is present in the company of the righteous. That realization brings dread unless the message of God’s love and forgiveness intervenes.

Some will fight it. Others will flee from it.

But there will be some who, out of the fear and dread of judgment, will come into the flow of grace through repentance and faith.

The plight of the oppressor is far worse than that of the oppressed. Therefore, we must pray for sinners to come to a knowledge of truth and live out the credibility of the gospel so that we never bring discredit to Name of Jesus. Pray today for someone who is overwhelmed with dread and examine your own life as well.

Psalm 17:13 – Rise up, O Lord, confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword.

The complaint of the poor man is often that, as hard as he tries, he just can’t get ahead. Something or someone is always thwarting and frustrating his efforts. So, it is with anyone who tries to “get ahead” spiritually on the clout of his or her own spiritual reserves.

Our plans come to naught because they are wrought in the flesh and human effort. God is our refuge. That is a constant. In Him we have hope and a future. In Him, we are rich beyond our dreams. His resources cannot be depleted. Jesus said, “blessed are the poor.”

The poor in Christ know where the riches lie and rely upon God’s storehouse to supply all that they need. They trust all their plans to Him and rely on Him for every breath.

Psalm 17:14 - O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children.

The psalmist prays for His people and, perhaps unwittingly, all who will be blessed by them.

Indeed, the salvation of Israel and all people has come out of Zion and David’s longing prayer is answered in Jesus Christ.

Today is a day of worship and praise. We pray for the day when Jesus comes again to set all things right. May the words of this psalm evoke deep praise and anticipatory joy in our hearts, and we lay ourselves bare before God.

What fortunes of spiritual treasure would you have Him restore for you today?

What is the longing for His presence in you that is most personal for you as you pray?

Psalm 17:15 - And I-in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

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 22

In its own context, this psalm has a history, but poetry and prayer is timeless and the Jesus and the gospel reflect on these sentiments and prayers in light of his experience of the Passion.

Psalm 22:1 - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

We have the retrospective luxury of knowing the messianic significance of this psalm in. It is messianic because the Messiah took these words to the cross as He identified with the sinfulness and despair that were already resident in humanity. He expressed the root of our hopelessness: abandonment - the awful sense that the God whom we ourselves have forsaken has forsaken us. To be separate from God is to be isolated and alone. It is the very terror of the night and it is the chief horror of the cross, which Jesus bore for us that this statement might never need to be ours again.

Psalm 22:2 - O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

It is the hallmark of persistent prayer that it perseveres in silence. It is neither required nor assured that the believer will always “sense” the presence of God. What is called for is that we will remain faithful and not be silent when God is silent. In fact, God is not quieted. He is merely speaking on a frequency that we are not, at some given point in time, receiving. Keep praying – even amidst despair and doubt. Faith is found in the persistence and assurance and awareness emerge from the process. No matter how you feel about life, yourself, God, or others today, pray on!

Psalm 22:3 - Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

Immediately, out of dark despair, the worship leader of the psalms teaches us what drives persistent pray: It is the knowledge of the Holy One who is Other than us, enthroned, exalted, and worthy of praise. God does not need to earn our faithfulness in prayer and praise by making regular payments of blessings to our accounts. The starting point is that praise is due Him because He is the praise of Israel and the United States, the world, and the universe. If we can but come to some understanding that God is God no matter what we think or feel, we will begin to become messianic people.

Psalm 22:4 - In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

History is an anchor that stabilizes faith by reminding us that God can and does act to deliver His people. He, who never changes, takes a personal interest in those who trust in Him. He is a faithful God. We can count on Him to do again what He has done before. The heritage we receive from our believing fathers and mothers is a legacy we must pass on to our own children. It is an intergenerational gift that passes through our hands. Take courage from the experience of others, but never let that experience substitute for one of your own relationship with God. Build on their stories.

Psalm 22:5 - They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

What was it that our fathers did that brought them into the experience of God’s deliverance? It was very little and very much. It was very little of human effort or initiative. However, it was a great expression of faith in two parts. First, their attitude was one of trust – that resolute act of resting on God’s grace. Second, the volitional action was crying out for mercy, help, and salvation in desperate resignation. We who scatter ourselves about in frantic frenzies of futile flailing exclaim, “Is that all? It can’t be!” It is. Unless it becomes that alone, nothing we DO matters. Only God saves.

Psalm 22:6 - But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

Maybe today is your worm day. You have adopted the vision of yourself that you perceive others to have of you. You have resigned to the world, the rather than to God. It has become vitally important to you what others think of you and you are devastated. If, at any time, you allow yourself to be defined by others or even yourself, you will be depressed. Jesus identified with our struggles to understand self but overcame the temptation through a strong sense of who He was in relationship with His Father. We have the same mirror to our souls available, filtered by grace and the love of God.

Psalm 22:7 - All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

Consider Jesus today as you evaluate the evaluations of others and deflect their insults. Rather than lash out in reactionary anger or retreat in despondent silence, look to Him who endured. He was never shaken within by the opinions of people. He never lost His sense of standing with the Father or His assurance of His mission. He did not come down off the cross, nor can we. Our lives are nailed there, and our identity is securely fastened to His. Bathe in His love and acceptance when friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers mock your motives. You are cherished by Him.

Psalm 22:8 – "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."

You can expect to be attacked in that area where you are most vulnerable – your faith. The world will taunt you with that which troubles you most within – the nagging suspicion that God will not come through for you. This is the real test of faith whether the taunts come from within or without: Can you withstand them and find your trust deepened? Your lips may declare firm belief that God can deliver you from and through any trial, but do you believe it for this current trial? The answer is that faith is, also, a gift delivered amidst fire. Receive it today in your present circumstances.

Psalm 22:9 - Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.

We started with a capacity to trust God because we had no other choice. As we experienced autonomy and choice, we chose to go our own ways as did our first father and mother. But the starting place was childlike trust. It is our first and greatest capacity and our one and only connector to God within our souls. It is the essence of the image of God within us - the plug through which He reconnects us in relationship within by His mercy, grace, and love. When we first chose to sin, we pulled the plug by trusting ourselves. Let God revive your trust today and choose to trust Him.

Psalm 22:10 - From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.

This is the psalm of the cross, which our Master chose to identify with us as He bore our sins. There were three great acts of emptying in His earthly life. The first was His birth. He divested Himself of all His self-sufficiency as God and became dependent upon God –even in Mary’s womb. The second was His baptism-temptation where He conspicuously stood in the place of sinners to face every life temptation and overcome only by the power of the Spirit and the Word. Finally, the cross – and there, He remembered who He was and who He trusted. We must trust God also.

Psalm 22:11 - Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

You will find yourself in circumstances, as did our Lord, where there are no solutions, alternatives, or assistance. There is no one and nothing to help. You are empty and alone. You cannot even depend upon yourself because your resources are depleted, and your energy is sapped. You can presume nothing in that moment. No one hears your plea, but God and your only non-negotiable request is that He remains near you. That is a powerful place in our lives. We cannot go on spiritually until we have been there. Embrace it and from that place, call upon God. You will find Him all-sufficient.

Psalm 22:12 - Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

The imagery may not be familiar, but it takes little imagination to see the precarious nature of these circumstances. What are yours? The idea of bulls surrounding you does not bring to mind the thought of a passive environment with benign enemies. These are angry bulls, poised for attack. They are frightening and intimidating, and they can do you great physical harm. But they cannot touch your soul. Only you and God know the depths of the battle you are in but know this: Jesus was there on the cross and He is with you now.

Psalm 22:13 - Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

You can see the lions devouring their prey and their eyes are now on you. You envision yourself being eaten alive by the forces within you and outside you that attack without mercy. It is a helpless feeling. Jesus experienced it fully on the cross. He placed Himself in that position willingly. He emptied Himself and “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” We cannot choose our end, nor can we know if this crisis is our end, but we can know God in the midst of it and trust in Him. There is no lion, no problem, no weapon of Satan that can defeat God or destroy His child.

Psalm 22:14 – I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

What do you trust in a practical way to make it through the day? Do you count on your human resources, talents, ingenuity, or personality? You can be poured out like water. Do you trust your physical strength and fitness? Every bone can be dislocated from the others. Do you trust the strength of your character, perseverance, courage, and inner strength?  Your heart can melt like wax and you will be left with nothing but God. This is the cross and Jesus has gone before us to show us that we can bear through His resurrection. Do not despair. You may be empty, but you are not alone.

Psalm 22:15 - My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

The cross is not a position of personal strength. It was not for Jesus and is not for us. We come to the cross and are emptied as Christ Jesus emptied Himself. Speechless and helpless, we lie in the dust of death and somehow realize that a God of love has allowed this experience in our lives and brought us to this place that, out of death, we might find life. If you will know resurrection, you must be laid out as dead before God. There is no other way.  Any attempt to circumvent this process renders the cross as useless in your life. Trust God in the dry places and you will live.

Psalm 22:16 – Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

Onlookers, men and beasts, are waiting for your last breath. They are convinced that you are defeated. Around the cross, they all gathered, certain that they were about to hear the last of Jesus. Your enemies assume that personal failure and death will overcome you as well. Pain, it is felt, will conquer the spirit of any person. Not so with you. You are dead already and your life is hidden in Christ. In Him, you live. Whatever the enemy could throw at Christ was thrown, but He “arose a victor from the dark domain” and so will you in Him.  Cast off despair and celebrate life!

Psalm 22:17 - I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

Have you ever counted your bones? How emaciated from the struggles of life, temptation, and sin have you been? Have you ever felt like such an oddity that people would stare? Have you ever been so humiliated that your enemies – especially those within, would gloat over your seeming defeat? When God made the choice to incarnate Himself into human flesh, He knew that He would be casting aside His glory for the lowest state of all. Hebrews 12 reminds us to consider Jesus who despised the shame but pressed on for the glory set before Him. Let us press on as well.

Psalm 22:18 - They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

We like to think that we will have death with dignity. We must redefine dignity then, for what Jesus experienced can only be described in human terms, as humiliation. Nevertheless, human definitions do not rule the spiritual realm, nor can they rule our lives. If we must face such a cross where even our clothes are bartered among our enemies, then so be it. Either we can scream and protest for our rights and “dignity” or we can enter into a deeper experience of trust and obedience. It is a crossroads that we face. If we are to die to self that we might live, we cannot set the terms.

Psalm 22:19 – But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

We are moving from first to second to third person intentionally in these thoughts – keeping the focus on God. That is where Jesus kept His focus in His lifetime identification with humanity. He asked only that His Father be near and trusted only in His strength. When we are empty and helpless, that is all we have and that is a very fine position for our lives. All other strength is an illusion and the sooner we understand that, the better. We have only God – He is all we ever have had, and we did not realize it. Perhaps now, we are coming to understand. Perhaps, we are coming into real life.

Psalm 22:20 - Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Did you know that your life was precious to God? Grace yourself with the thought that God cares more for you than you care for yourself. Why then, do you exercise the exhausting effort of worry? God knows all about the sword. He sees and hears the dogs. He is not removed from your suffering and He intimately acquainted with your struggles. He has never abandoned you and He has a plan for your deliverance that He has already set into motion. Call upon Him. He is ready to take your hand and walk with you through this present fire.

Psalm 22:21 - Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Once we have come to terms with the reality of our circumstances and ceased our fruitless debates over the fairness of our surroundings, we can get down to the relevant business of petition. God does not keep us out of the lion’s den or the path of wild oxen; but He delivers us.  Deliverance is far better than avoidance because God gets the glory and we get the victory. Beside that, the world gets to see a demonstration of the power of God that exceeds the expectations of limited minds. Daniel’s victory did not rest in avoiding the conflict, but in God’s salvation in the midst. Resurrection!

Psalm 22:22 – I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

We glory in the cross. We glory far more in the resurrection. Jesus came forth from the trial of the cross and the resurrection with a message of victory, redemption, and praise. We also emerge from our spiritual battles and, more importantly, the process of dying to self and rising to new life, with a message of hope. The faith-act of identifying with Jesus is what makes us evangelists. Good news permeates our beings so that our very lives are transformed into the gospel message. Like St. Francis, we preach everywhere and, when necessary, use words.

Psalm 22:23 – You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

Praise, honor, and reverence are the responses of all who know God as God. This fear of God is recognition of His utter divinity and absolute sovereignty. It is an awareness that is burned into our life through struggles and seared onto our hearts in crisis. It does not come easily. Do not associate praise with giddiness or shallow emotionalism. When it is refined, it flows from the very deepest places in our lives and transcend the moment, rises above circumstances, and soars to the heights of Heaven.  It is a gem of great joy forged in the furnace of trial.

Psalm 22:24 - For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

The God we praise is a God of loving compassion. He knows. He cares. He heals. He listens intently to His people and He is near the broken. Jesus identified with our pain intensely and passionately. His participation in our suffering and affliction goes far beyond empathy. He entered in and continues to enter in. You can trust Him because He already understands and have your very best interest in His heart.  When we back off from God., we do so in irrational ignorance. To really know Him is to trust Him profoundly.

Psalm 22:25 - From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

It all originates with God. If we think that we might like to organize our praise of God around ideas that intrigue us, we have missed the point. The very theme of praise comes directly from Him. It is about Him, from Him, and to Him that we praise. And, as we gather among those who know Him, this is understood. There are always personal and corporate dimensions to faith. There are individual vows that you make and fulfill to the Lord, but you do so in community among those who share a common vision of the God who is worthy of our praise.

Psalm 22:26 - The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him-- may your hearts live forever!

This is the grand turn-around. God feeds the poor. He fills the hearts of those who seek Him with praise. He brings life out of death and joy out of pain. He infuses our lives with such abundance that we cannot fully receive it. He lifts our spirits to heights we have never known. He fills our lips with praise and grants us eternal life. The present darkness is never absolutely dark because the light has already come to fill every crevice. We live now and always in the present reality of the resurrection and the future hope of Christ’s second coming. Seek Him and know this reality for yourself!



Precision and Grace

Punch cardSource: Wikipedia

Dateline: 1975 - Virginia Tech computer lab.

A stack of punched cards 9 inches high or higher is in my hand, each with one statement of code. After waiting in line at midnight, I insert them into the feeder for the giant computer.

Within a few minutes the printer sends out pages and pages and pages of repeated text ---- error --- error --- error .

It would not even read my name.

Somewhere, along the line, early on, I had made a syntax mistake or some other kind of error.

The computer was unforgiving ... and even into the days of DOS and, to some extent, even today, requiring precise language

Thank goodness Google often knows what I mean these days ... but intuition has its downside too.

Truth and precision seem to matter in the mathematical realm.

It sure makes me appreciate grace.

Nevertheless, it is still true that ...

" You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently."  -Psalm 119:4  (ESV)

In case you want to know more about the age of punch cards:



Winning an Argument Is Not Always All That

Mic drop

Photo Credit - Amazon

I read news and posts and I find such clever, biting, and witty things (in my own mind) to say - argument breakers!

It is then that it hits me that maybe, sometimes, it takes more courage to remain silent than to speak.

More important, I am reminded that the law of love is the highest law and that I am a steward of my words, that they are to be used to build up rather than to tear down.

Sometimes my tongue gets sore from biting it and a lot of really cute words end up on my clipboard and, eventually, in the recycle bin, but probably not enough.

God, remind me of why you gave me words in the first place.

Revisiting the Matter of Philando Castile

On July 6, 2016,, a 32-year-old African American man, was shot to death during a traffic stop by a 28-year-old police officer from St. Anthony, Minnesota as he was cooperating with the officer's orders. The officer was exonerated criminally, though fired. A lawsuit in the matter was settled for 3.8 million dollars.

This brought together two issues that are hot button items in our culture and strangely, created cognitive dissonance:

  • The Second Amendment right to bear arms and
  • The disproportionate danger that black men seem to face from police.

I will never tell you that you do not have the right to carry a gun though I do not and will not - ever do so myself.

I will never say that most police officers are corrupt or that they should be disrespected (or anything less than appreciated), nor that all of my friends who disagree with me are consciously and overtly racist.

That is not my point or anyone's point.

Racism is not just about your personal attitudes, morality, or conscious choices.

I have long been confused after following Mr. Castile's story.

My friends who advocate carrying firearms because it makes them and other's safer seem to be missing some fine points -  or I am.

Mr. Castile had a gun and a permit and seemed to be complying with what he heard (and what his girlfriend heard) the officer say. He was not safer with a gun. So, maybe you are safer if the following things are true:

1. The officer speaks slowly and clearly.

2. You hear the officer perfectly.

3. It is not late at night.

4. The officer is not nervous.

5. You don't have something wrong with your car or anything that prompts officers to pull you over.

6. You don't look like someone who ... (fill in the blanks)...

7. The officer does not "fear for his/her life," (ie .. perceive a threat). Now, I perceive a threat from anyone carrying a gun, but that is a different story and my problem.

8. You are not non-white.

That is the way it looks anyway. So, the moral is ... I don't know. Take your pick.

  • You are not safer with a gun.
  • You are not safer with a gun if you are black.
  • There must be more to the story and some dirt to dig up on this guy in order to devalue his life or justify whatever.
  • I am just another soft-headed, idiot who doesn't understand how things really are and how calling authority figures on abuse of their authority endangers all authority figures, diminishes the rules of law, creates disrespect and danger for good and decent authority figures, and creates racism against white people.

OK, that rant is over.

I remain really confused.

I do not think the African American men that I serve or who are my friends are as safe on the streets as I am. I do not see how more guns in their hands would help that either.

In fact, it could prove to be a real disadvantage.

But that is not a subject that I am qualified to debate.



Self-Talk in the Midst of a Mess

So many thoughts, words, emotions, and promptings converge and none localized around me ... or does one kid oneself?

Is altruism an illusive and allusive fantasy?

All anger bleeds acid.

Sadness breeds sorrow.

There are remedies.

Remedies require energy from tired brains.

Love leaks leaky hearts.

Hope demands engagement. It is costly.

Grace provokes disgrace. But every alternative to love and grace is unacceptable.

So take a short break to regroup and get back to work. You did not call or hire yourself and you have no right to quit.

Peacemaking is turbulent, messy work.

Get messy.

This is Kingdom work and it is not your kingdom.

This is a note to myself. There now. I am glad I got that off of and back onto my chest. I am ready to face the day.


Trust in Princes

Prince electorsBalduineum_Wahl_Heinrich_VII

"Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish." - Psalm 146:3-4 (ESV)

In Psalm 146, there is a litany of leadership qualities that sets God apart from most human leaders. Granted that God is God and we are not, these are leadership benchmarks, against which, we might evaluate our own effectiveness as leaders and the effectiveness of our elected leaders.

Perhaps it could inform how we think about our voting responsibilities.

Here is what God does:

  • The LORD sets the prisoners free (America leads the world in mass incarceration.).
  • The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. ( a high regard for truth and more)
  • The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down. (builds up rather than tears down people)
  • The LORD loves the righteous. (always on the side of justice and truth)
  • The LORD watches over the sojourners. (welcomes the stranger and refugee)
  • God upholds the widow and the fatherless. (bias for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized)
  • God brings the way of the wicked to ruin. (stands against corruption and wickedness)

It  is a model for people, and specifically leaders who want something to survive after their plans perish with them.

We either treat our leaders with blind trust and awe or with disrespect, contempt, and disgust.

It is hard to find the middle ground where we honor them, recognize their limitations and humanity, and see them as temporary occupiers of a role that they will one day surrender to another.

FDR did not finish the New Deal; LBJ did not complete the architecture of a Great Society; Nixon did not give us a Just and Lasting Peace; they all left office, dead or alive, with unfinished plans.

So will we.

So will every leader. Our plans perish when they depend upon us.

On the other hand,to the extent that these and others offered plans that were part of a larger plan of God and invested in other people who caught a vision and took them to the next level with God's help and guidance, they survived.

It was not about faith in humans, but it God who guides, leads, and brings to pass.

Even, and especially, Jesus, understood and modeled this. He spent most of His ministry teaching His plan to the "next generation" of leaders and then, completed His work by dying and rising. He returned from death, gave His final lessons, and commissioned the church to take His plan and vision to all future generations.

He commissioned only a church, not a government, prince, or corporation, to execute, propagate, and lead His not-of-this-world kingdom of grace.

That is how plans survive.


Psalm 146 New International Version (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

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


Trust in Princes

Prince electorsBalduineum_Wahl_Heinrich_VII

"Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish." - Psalm 146:3-4 (ESV)

In Psalm 146, there is a litany of leadership qualities that sets God apart from most human leaders. Granted that God is God and we are not, these are leadership benchmarks, against which, we might evaluate our own effectiveness as leaders and the effectiveness of our elected leaders.

Perhaps it could inform how we think about our voting responsibilities.

Here is what God does:

  • The LORD sets the prisoners free (America leads the world in mass incarceration.).
  • The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. ( a high regard for truth and more)
  • The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down. (builds up rather than tears down people)
  • The LORD loves the righteous. (always on the side of justice and truth)
  • The LORD watches over the sojourners. (welcomes the stranger and refugee)
  • God upholds the widow and the fatherless. (bias for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized)
  • God brings the way of the wicked to ruin. (stands against corruption and wickedness)

It  is a model for people, and specifically leaders who want something to survive after their plans perish with them.

We either treat our leaders with blind trust and awe or with disrespect, contempt, and disgust.

It is hard to find the middle ground where we honor them, recognize their limitations and humanity, and see them as temporary occupiers of a role that they will one day surrender to another.

FDR did not finish the New Deal; LBJ did not complete the architecture of a Great Society; Nixon did not give us a Just and Lasting Peace; they all left office, dead or alive, with unfinished plans.

So will we.

So will every leader. Our plans perish when they depend upon us.

On the other hand,to the extent that these and others offered plans that were part of a larger plan of God and invested in other people who caught a vision and took them to the next level with God's help and guidance, they survived.

It was not about faith in humans, but it God who guides, leads, and brings to pass.

Even, and especially, Jesus, understood and modeled this. He spent most of His ministry teaching His plan to the "next generation" of leaders and then, completed His work by dying and rising. He returned from death, gave His final lessons, and commissioned the church to take His plan and vision to all future generations.

He commissioned only a church, not a government, prince, or corporation, to execute, propagate, and lead His not-of-this-world kingdom of grace.

That is how plans survive.


Psalm 146 New International Version (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

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


Come, Rest

Not That Easy

The Master bids us come,
Come and find sweet rest,
Come and find a burden that is
Not burdensome
And take a yoke that is
Neither too tight
Nor too loose,
But fitted for us
Who have been fitted to follow
And learn
And serve.
Jesus, the gentle,
Jesus the lowly,
The strong and humble,
Bids us come
And learn
And find rest to our souls.


Prayer for nation


The Unfinished Idea - For All the People


We the people
However you came,
Whatever you left behind,
Whatever you bring to the table
Whatever your name
Or ties that still bind
Together, we must be come able

To build a more perfect union
To speak with one voice and with many
To hear the heartbeat of neighbors
To walk as a people and love one another.

We hold these truths as essential
That all are created equal
That God has bestowed indisputable
Rights that cannot be abridged
or abandoned.

The idea of America is the
Ideal of America
A reach that exceeds
Grasp or our vision.
It's bigger than us,
Greater than our collective wisdom,
Greater than our history,
More precious than our blood,
More to the core,
And oh, so much more
Than our recollections
And our recitations.

Self-evident truth that confounds
Its most articulate voices.

Neither conquest nor manifest destiny
Can define us.
All our flags, brags and symbols
Cannot refine us.

It is the idea, the ideal
And commitment to make it real.
That is America's genius and genesis.

And it must be for all or
It is meaningless for all.

Of the people,
By the people,
For the people.
All the people.

Here and Everywhere.



Introduced in 1900 as a poem by African-American educator and activist James Weldon Johnson to mark Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and later set to music by John Rosamond Johnson. It remains a powerful hymn of love and prayer for country as well as the struggle of African Americans for liberty.



Inventory Your Arsenal



Jonathan decided to climb a mountain and take on a sleeping army alone.

First, he needed an arsenal and he he took inventory of what he had.

So... here is Jonathan's inventory ...

- Audacious, if yet, tentative faith in God tp save by many or by few.

- One sword.

- A friend.

That was it and that was enough.

What is in your inventory?

" Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” "+ Samuel 14:6-7 (ESV)



Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

Do we place obstacles and roadblocks in the path of people seeking God? Jesus seems to be thinking that it happens and he takes action against those hindrances.

First, we see God's intention.

"I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations." - Isaiah 56:7

Then, we see God's lament.

"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the Lord." - Jeremiah 7:11

Then, we see Jesus echoing that lament in his day.

"Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, 'It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.'” - Matthew 21:12-13

Jesus is indignant that the greed of the coalition of Herodian-Roman surrogate political powers and religious priests of His people and faith has conspired to exclude the people God chose to include from worshiping at the temple. By design, there was an area designated for the nations to come and worship YAHWEH. The temple establishment had created a marketplace there for the express purpose of profiteering off the temple taxes, offerings, and religious obligations of people who were coming to meet God.

This was, to him, a desecration of both what was holy and of people who were who were being invited by God, to pray.

God is never impressed with our greed or disregard of the dignity of people or of His sacred spaces.



Basic Policy Standard on Personal Apologies:

1. Never ask for one.
2, Never reject one.
3. Always assume it is sincere.
4. Watch what happens next to see if my assumption was correct.
5. Be glad if I was right.
6. Revise my assumption if I was wrong.
7. Resume correction if #6.

Why I Continue to Choose Civility

Photo-1551393016-a6064d573de5 (1)

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Civility is important to me because of who I am-not because of who anyone else is.

I can't force it on anyone.

It doesn't mean I don't tell the truth or believe lies.

It doesn't mean I approve or pretend to approve.

It doesn't mean I stop resisting wrong.

It does not mean I cannot speak with passion, sarcasm, or great force.

It does mean that I maintain a decorum and attitude of respect for my ideological opponent.

It's my choice.

I may find your point of view slanted, tilted, misinformed, or even repugnant, but you .... you did not crawl out of the slime one day. You were made in God's image and you are the object of God's attention and affection.

I cannot forget that

So, I'll continue to try and be civil because my basic conviction about the dignity of every human cannot change just because I find it hard to respect their choices or views.

That is a predetermined conviction and if it does not work out, oh well.

There will always be a way for me to express my feelings of repulsion or resistance to a tide of culture that offends my sensibilities. But I choose to treat people as kindly as I can without criticizing those who find that difficult or impossible.

And ... I will choose my indignation toward what might be uncivil very carefully, in context, and with a sense of balance... respectfully.

In the end of it all, only love wins.



No Good Thing


Untamedyouth.jpgFrom  Untamed Youth, copyright,  Warner Bros. Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. Use of the poster art in the article complies with Wikipedia non-free content policy and fair use under United States copyright law

Out of control, wild, unruly, impulsive, volatile, and rebellious, like those described in the movie from 1957.

I am not talking about you or them. I am talking about myself.

God's good law, held up as a mirror to my soul has shown me that and it has been verified by my experience. It is frustrating.

Did what is good, then, bring death to me?

By no means!

It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin.

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.

For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin. - Romans 7:13-25 (NRSV)

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” – Romans 7:18 (KJV)

As I struggled with my humanity some time back, I was confronted with some important truths. There is no way that my flesh will ever improve to the place where God can use it or be pleased by it. In the flesh, as Paul understands the flesh,  I am selfish, irritable, weak, spiritually bankrupt,  spiritually lazy, hungry for flesh-satisfying stimulation, unreasonable, stubborn, and emotionally volatile -just to name a few of my “charming” characteristics (They certainly “charm” me into deception).

My flesh is not getting better and shows no prospects of getting better.

Read Romans 7-8 to get the picture.

We all face Paul’s dilemma and we are all disappointed when we discover that we cannot become what God wants us to be by doing what we think God wants us to do.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that, through grace, as God makes us what He wants us to be, we will desire to do, also by grace, the things that God wants to do through us. And, as we trust Him and turn our dials toward the Spirit and begin to walk in the Spirit that will all happen.

We’ve all been disappointed by people who we thought were strong Christians, but let us down. Those disappointments have been shocking at times and have caused us to question ourselves.

That is not a bad thing.

What is dangerous is if we ever start feeling so proud of our “efforts” and “successes” that we forget we are vulnerable and weak and that we are capable, in the flesh of the same falls that we have witnessed in others. We are totally and absolutely dependent upon God for the Christian life and God is totally and absolutely dependable to accomplish His purposes in and through us.

God will never let us down. Trust God and commit your moments and days to God's care.

Grace That Saved a Wretch Like Me

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? - Romans 7:24 (KJV)

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: - Revelation 3:17 (KJV)

No one aspires to wretchedness. All resist the implication that they are wretched. No one wants to be known as a wretch.

However, to be a recipient of grace, the soul must know its great need and acknowledge that it is depraved and lost in a sea of sin.

The sound of grace, the voice of God, the Word of the Gospel, that Word which was made flesh has sounded forth from Heaven into the realm of time and space. It has declared with unambiguous truth, “Thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and bind, and naked.”

And without a breath or a rest in the song of grace, it has declared to us, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve that we shall be called Benjamin, for we are “the beloved of the Lord.”

Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, wretched in his righteousness, zealous in his misguided legalism, vengeful in his passion to please God. “Why persecutest thou me,” our Lord inquires. And grace came to Brother Saul and the wretched one became the instrument of proclaiming grace to the nations, even “the least of the Apsotles” and the chief of sinners who would declare,

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. - I Corinthians 15:10

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

We must know our state apart from grace that we might fully appreciate what God has wrought in us and done for us. It evokes in the heart of an honest soul both gratitude and hope, flowing from the fount of humility.

To be eligible for great grace, we must know how great our need is.



Now Is the Time


I agree with what John Denver wrote and said, that there is time to turn around.

We are given the time and the very specific moment in time. It is this moment? What shall we do with it?

Shall we build walls of resistance around our hearts and minds?

Shall we harden and calcify our capacity for compassion and understanding?

Shall we dig trenches and build walls?

Shall we regroup around tired old notions and narratives.

Shall we try to fix shattered glass?

Shall we tap into our anger or shall we tap into God's love?

Now is the time for new thinking and dreaming, for creating new systems and building new houses with bi tables.

Now is the time for listening, hearing, and understanding. It may be painful, humbling, and frustrating, but it is breakthrough time.