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February 2021

Song of the Forsaken


Forsaken - ps 22

Psalm 22:1-8 in the St. Albans Psalter. The first words of the Psalm in the Latin Vulgate are "Deus, Deus meus," abbreviated here as DS DS MS.


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, our 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!


Spiritual Disciplines for Highly Distracted Souls

And Other Pretty Shiny Things

Adhd brain
Spiritual Disciplines for Highly Distracted Souls - That is my next book ... well, one of the next ones --- if I can concentrate enough to finish it .

Seriously now, some of you know exactly what I mean.

And you are the folks who are my kin in this particular skin.

We struggle to focus, but we must focus to struggle.

We know the deep value of grace in our lives be because we guzzle it like cool water on a scorching day in the sun. It is cooling balm to our blistered flesh.

It is food for our souls when we are starving.

God, if my concentration is what is required to seek and find you, I am in trouble. Actually, I am in trouble ... have been ... will be, but I am not hopeless.

My concentration comes through distraction, through poly-focus, and through serendipitous discovery.

I see you in the commonalities of multiplicities.

I hear your voice arising from the cacophony of sounds in a dissonant chorus of groaning cries.

I see your face in the contorted faces of broken people.

I grasp your Word in the recurring themes of unlikely sources that echo your truth and highlight the verses that I read just yesterday or this morning as I struggled to keep my mind from wandering.

I sit as long as I can and listen. I walk as far as I can without veering off the path. I keep coming back to you and you are always there.

It is neither my mood nor my mind that guide me, Oh Lord of clarity, but your ever present hand and upon you, I lean.

I will follow you today. I commit my day to you.

I am easily distracted and often torn. I am likely to bounce from thought to thought and project to project, but I know that you are present in the midst to order my days and my moments ....

And in the precious, fleeting stillness of this moment, I commit all my moments and days ... and this day, in particular, to You.


Trois Myopic Rodents

Three blind mice

Trois myopic rodents
Trois myopic rodents
Observe how they traverse
Observe how they traverse
They all pursued the agronomist's spouse
Who severed their appendages with a culinary implement
Have you ever observed such a startling phenomenon
As trois myopic rodents

Lest you stop there, note that many of the nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and fable are encrypted and politically charged messages understood best in context.

For instance, the "three blind mice" were said to be Protestant loyalists who, in 1555 were accused of a plot against Queen Mary I. They were who were burned at the stake for their "blindness," namely their Protestant beliefs. The farmer's wife in this scenario, is Mary.

The words have changed and become more innocent over the years

In 1609 when the first written version of the song was published by Thomas Ravenscroft in “Deuteromelia” or “The Seconde part of Musicks melodie”.

Today, it is just. "Three Blind Mice."

Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?

What remains is the reality that language can reveal or obscure and sometimes, it does both at the same time.



Three blind mice score


I am indebted to Bill Holohan for background in his excellent article on this subject:


God Grant You Success


Sour or soar

I know many unhappy people, soured of soul through their taste of failure and disappointment, derailed by disasters in their lives, detained by their fears, and distracted by anything and everything but the one thing they must do to succeed.

God grant you success by planting the vision of real success in you and empowering you to become the person you were made to be. Then, you can do what you were fashioned to do.

Ultimate success would be finding your purpose and pursuing it. It is more about being and becoming than achieving and accumulating.

When I pray for and encourage your success, it is for something bigger than even I can imagine for you.

First you must define what success will be and it better be worth the effort because some successes are rather fleeting and not fulfilling.

Success(etymology)="come after." L- "succedere " It is an outcome of effort and choice. What's your desired success? All choices have outcomes

I have been praying for success in the lives of new friends this morning. What is success to you?

The Bible weighs in with pointers to spark our thinking.

Psalm 20:4, NIV
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

Genesis 24:12a, NIV
Then he prayed, “LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.

Psalm 90:17, NIV
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 118:25, ESV
Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!

1 Chronicles 4:10, ESV
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.

Romans 15:13, NIV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:19, ESV
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Amen)



We are in a progression and procession toward succession. Successful people are not in it for themselves alone but for a greater cause and future generations - succession!

That way, we do not grow sour, but we soar!

Successful people

Orients our
Attitudes and

That kind of thinking changes the way we perceive, act, evaluate and live. It predisposes of sour discouragement and sets us on a path for ultimate value and eternal significance.

Invest your time and life today in the progression and as you proceed, think beyond your own personal achievements and security - even beyond your lifetime. Adopt the Native American philosophy of thinking 7-8 generations forward.

I bid you success!


The Next Day

That will be the day
All days end and new days begin. Some are more personally significant for us than others.
There is always a next day.
Here was a very productive day when some common words rang so true as to resound in our hearts through time and into eternity.
One says, "We have found him" and is met with honest doubt and objection.
"Nothing good comes from THAT town!"
Jesus compliments him for "being real," and calls him anyway.
In the transaction we enshrine these words of calling, "Follow me," and "Come and see," and "I saw you," and "You shall see amazing things."
"The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”" - (John 1:43-51 ESV)
It was not just another day for Nathaniel. Everything changed.
What will today be for you?
Don't answer yet. Tell me tomorrow.

Leaning Not on My Own Understanding


I think that people, who may not have regard for the Bible as scripture or believe in divine direction, may often practice the principle of Proverbs 3:5 without knowing that they are obeying the scripture,

"Lean not on thine own understanding."

Every intelligent person I know bows in the presence of the unknowns of the universe. There is a common sense of awe at the wonder of the cosmos and the paradoxical nature of truth.

We tune our harps to what we know and set our compasses by given understanding of the polar realities and magnetic forces that govern us. We do that daily, but we also throw up our hands and surrender to the persistent gnawing of undiscovered forces and undefined principles of physics, mathematics, and even more mundane concepts that we know to be true without knowing why.

We comply and we continue to seek those universal theories of everything.

I know of no single thinking person inside or outside of the realm of faith who leans entirely on his or her own understanding ... except in areas where pride overcomes good sense.

We all take direction, follow laws we do not see the sense of, and follow orders we have not devised or whose meaning we have not discerned.

We do so because we often know that our lives are bettered in the process and we appreciate the finite nature of our own understanding. That is why we have experts who spend their whole lives studying minutia and sharing tidbits of their discoveries with the rest of us who are either generalists or specialists in other fields of intellectual or practical pursuit.

And every expert will inform us that there is more yet to discover than has been, as yet, grasped.

Somehow, in the sciences, this is seen as a great adventure.

It is, likewise, in the pursuit of spiritual discovery and the great adventure of knowing God.

We know enough to trust and so, the first part of the verse says,

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart."

That is a bigger leap of faith for many folks than the first affirmation. We are all on different paths and places along our journeys. This is something we must accept in each other. However, in my life, verse 6 has shown itself true, over and over again:

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

So, once I do know something, and know it with humble tentativeness, I go with what I know and wonder at the unknowns, trusting God, leaning not on my limited understanding, but acknowledging His leadership, caring guidance, and benevolent faithfulness to direct my paths.

That is what is working for me.


For more, see The Limits of My Understanding

Two Arguments for Prayer

Wiki lawyering
Two arguments for prayer directed to God for people in power are given by Paul.
It is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good summary of two categories, the good prayer does us and the kingdom value for aligning with God's purposes:
 Our Benefit
"... that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity..."
God's Benefit 
" ... who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth..."
So, it benefits us to pray so that our lives can be more stable ad it benefits God's purposes so that He can save as many people as possible and manifest His truth.
1 Timothy 1:18-2:8 NRSV
"I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all-- this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument..."

A Bit or a Byte of Encouragement

Photo-1507652955-f3dcef5a3be5 (1)
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash
Just a Word of Encouragement
How is it that a small word or two of encouragement can make all the difference in a person's day?
One compliment can turn the tide for another person's day or week.
One blessing softly and sincerely spoken can lift a downtrodden spirit.
A brief prayer can evoke the release of a flood tide of emotion cleansing the soul of a broken life.
One "You can do it" can be heard and acted upon to catalyze change in an entire community or world.
One hand placed gently and firmly on a shoulder can transfer courage and strength.
One compassionate gaze into the eye of a lonely heart struggling to express what is hidden deeply inside can bring relief and hope.
One word or two. That is all it takes. One moment of caring. One pause to refresh another.
It costs us so little and gives so much.

Pray Unedited Prayer


Doctor pray

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

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

Pray out loud or silently. Pray in song or from a prayer book.

Pray scripture or pray spontaneously.

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

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

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

Keep it simple. Keep it real. Let it go deep. Pray.

Do not judge your prayers.

Do not try to impress God or yourself.

Certainly, do not pray to impress others.

Prayer gathers our scattered thoughts and hidden anxieties. Prayer gives voice to the voiceless within us. Prayer centers us in God prayer opens the door for the possibilities we may not readily see. Prayer is God's invitation to participate in what He is doing.. None of us are really ""good at it," but the good news is that we do not have to be. We just need to enter in and meet God.

Let us pray:

Father, I gather with my friends who choose to gather with me this morning to meet you. I come in the name of my Master, Jesus who invites all to meet you. I am grateful for the invitation. I bring the souls and lives of many whom I love, who suffer, who are confused, depressed, broken, destitute, and overwhelmed with opportunity. They are with me, Our Father, in my heart.

I do not know what to say or how to intercede for them, so I bring them to You.

You already know and love them so much and are already working in and around them.

Thank you for your welcome, You who are Mighty and Holy and Other than myself. Your grace, You have showers upon me. By Your mercy and sacrifice, You have saved and forgiven this poor sinner.

Thank You. Thank you.

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

I view the day before me with more questions than answers. I do not need to have each question answered, but I need to be set upon the right course for the day. Help me dive into the stream of Your perfect purpose and live purposefully as a redemptive, gracious, loving, forgiving, and encouraging soul this day among the people I meet.

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

I rest in Thee and I rise in Thee.

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

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

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

In Jesus' Name. Amen.


What Is Truth?

"So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, 'Are you the King of the Jews'”
Jesus answered, 'Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?'
Pilate answered, 'Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?'
Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.'
Then Pilate said to him, 'So you are a king?'
Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.'
Pilate said to him, 'What is truth?'
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, 'I find no guilt in him.'"
(John 18:33-38 ESV)
If you were Pilate, and to some extent, we all are at some point, you just don't get it. We can't get it when we try to impose our own or society's definitions of power, might, prestige, and influence on a kingdom that is not of this world. We ask the same question he asked. With truth standing before us, staring us in the face, trying one angle after another to explain truth to us and to shake us out of our tired definitions, "What is truth?"
The truth is that truth is ....
And it is not what we think it is.
It never was and never can be.
Truth that transcends and transforms enters the world as a blinding contrast to our values and false passions. it challenges our insecurities and control mania. It challenges our notions that we must resort to violence to achieve non-violent ends or that we must coerce in order to convert.
It shouts in our ears and lives out before us the radical notion that sometimes it is enough, and more than enough, to stand and bear witness.
It leaves us dumbfounded with the uncomfortable feeling that we can find no fault in him, but that we cannot figure him out either.
And we, who would follow, hear his simple, "follow me," and his playful, Come and see."

What Good Is Your Religion?

Bible Chat with Pastor Tom

Is your faith alive and transforming?

Is it making a difference in your life, in your community?

Is it making you kinder, gentler, more likely to engage with the broken, and more likely to heal the hurt of the world?


Isaiah 58:1-12 (NRSV)
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
Galatians 6:11-18 (NRSV)
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-- only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh.
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
Mark 9:30-41 (NRSV)
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again."
But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?"
But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."
Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us."
But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
Psalm 80
To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches;
it sent out its branches to the sea,
and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
The boar from the forest ravages it,
and all that move in the field feed on it.
Turn again, O God of hosts;
look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
the stock that your right hand planted.
They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Morning Prayer for the Afternoon



Adonai, above all powers, above all rulers, above all my thoughts and hopes and dreams, LORD of my frailties and Dreamer of my dreams, Giver of life, Author of hope, First Cause, Final Conclusion, Ultimate Concern, Lover of humanity, Creator of all that is, Mighty God, Everlasting Father ... my Abba ...
To Thee, I come and with Thee, I stand. In Thee, I rest. Through Thee, I live.

You are, יהוה , the Great I AM. I hesitate to speak Thy Name lest I speak it for naught and yet ...

You invite me, to call Thee, Abba, Father, Pappa ....

Our Pappa in Heaven, ours, and not just mine, They name is hallowed for Thou art holy with a sanctified Name.

Grant unto to be enveloped in a cloud of reverent awe at the sight and sound of Thy Name.

Hallowed be Thy Name.

In every segmented concern of my life, my family, my concentric circles of sanctified souls and saintly sinners of which I am chief of sinners, Thy Kingdom come! In every gathering where my brothers and sisters find shelter, Thy Kingdom. In every city through which I pass and nation that enters my conscious awareness and those that escape my notice, among all people and powers, Thy Kingdom, Lord. Thy Kingdom of joy and grace, and righteousness.

I turn, repent, and renounce my kingdom and every other kingdom which has enslaved me and to Thy Kingdom, Christ's Kingdom of peace and justice and love I run.
"The kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!"

Thy Kingdom come where there is injustice and hatred, and bigotry, and violence, lust and debauchery, dehumanization and demoralization, contention and bitterness, exploitation and humiliation, poverty and homelessness, hunger and famine, disease and addiction, loneliness and lostness, oppression and desperate, despairing sin. Thy Kingdom come.

Reign, King Jesus, reign!

Thy will be done ... for Thou knowest best.

We know not how to pray. It is not that we shrink from desiring to know. We do desire to join Thee in knowing prayer, knowing that we shall not know all. We know that we do no know and in that ignorance is the bliss of trusting.

Abba, what we know, we hold loosely in our hands and minds, awaiting instruction and correction. We approach Thee, Thy world, Thy creation, with very large question marks and interrogative wonder. Tomorrow is in Thy hands with every yesterday and today and so, override our own desires with Thy perfect will ...

Because what we know is Who we know and we have come to love and trust Thee and pray that Thy Spirit will pray Thy will through us and that Thy will will be done here and now, apart from us and beyond us, and all around us ....

.... on Earth as it is in Heaven!

Give us today, this day, our daily bread.

Thou knowest our needs, OUR needs, not just mine. Free me from my slavery to selfishness and introverted focus on myself, Dear God. Provide what Thou knowest we need and see us through this day with ...

food and clothing,
healing and health,
love and affection,
mission and service,
and more ...
and sometimes less,
our daily bread!

Forgive us our trespasses, our debts, our sins. Forgive us to the extent that we are able to loosen our grip on those debt for ourselves and for others.
Make us debt free in the realm of sin and free of holding others to the obligation of their trespasses against us. Teach us to loosen our grip for in that grip of bitterness, we hold ourselves as well for the same hand that gives forgiveness, receives it.

Liberate us from the power of darkness and guilt and retributive desire, Abba, by Thy love and mercy and grace.

Free us.
Forgive us.
We forgive our debtors.

Lead us.
We need to be led. We shall follow. We desire to go where Thou leadest, Oh Lord.

Remember, Dear Father, that we are dust and we are susceptible to the vilest thoughts and deeds, and are so easily tempted. Please lead us away from those things that tempt us most ... and least and ...

Lead us not into temptation, yet, should we encounter evil, and we shall, for such is our fallen, broken, hurting world, then ....
Deliver us from evil.

You have in the past; You do daily; You shall in the future.

"Yeah, though I walk through the valley of dark shadows," the shadow of death, "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me."

Remind us that neither darkness nor death can overcome us with evil when Thou art present with us.

Hear us, Oh Adonai, for all that we have and are and ever shall be, is Thine.

Indeed, Thine is the Kingdom.
It is all Thine!
Thine is the power.
Thou canst (You CAN because YOU ARE, oh great I AM!) bring all of this to pass. Thine is the power!
Thine is the glory!
Glory, honor, and praise to Thee, Thou great Jehovah!

Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever and ever and ever.

Amen and Amen and in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, I pray, we pray, amen and amen!


Artwork: Mn 28 822, Cologne



The Super Bowl of Life

Psalm 147

This morning's message was to encourage those who are in the arena for the superbowl of life, to keep patient and waiting on the LORD, to rise up with the wings of eagles, to run without becoming weary, to walk without fainting!




Scriptures from NRSV

Isaiah 40:21-31
40:21 Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

40:22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in;

40:23 who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

40:24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

40:25 To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

40:26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.

40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?

40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

40:29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

40:30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;

40:31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
147:1 Praise the LORD! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.

147:2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

147:3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.

147:4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

147:6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground.

147:7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre.

147:8 He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills.

147:9 He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.

147:10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;

147:11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

147:20c Praise the LORD!

1 Corinthians 9:16-23
9:16 If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!

9:17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission.

9:18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

9:19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.

9:20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law.

9:21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law) so that I might win those outside the law.

9:22 To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.

9:23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Mark 1:29-39
1:29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

1:30 Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once.

1:31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

1:32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.

1:33 And the whole city was gathered around the door.

1:34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

1:35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.

1:36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him.

1:37 When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you."

1:38 He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do."

1:39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Location logos liberation

Humble or Haughty

"You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."
The horns of the wicked and the horns of the righteous are made of the same sort of stuff, but express different approaches to what they represent, honor and power.
The righteous seldom strut their stuff.
The wicked seldom cease.
One shall come to naught and the other shall be exalted.
The powers of this age and the ruthlessness of power-grabbing, power-wielding personages and entities shall ultimately fail.
Those who seek truth and justice at each junction of choice and each crossroads of intent, regardless of the assessment of rewards, losses, and posturing, shall find that their accounts are being taken care of.
They can relax in the sweet rest of righteousness.
"We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds."
“'At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with haughty neck.'’”
''For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.''
''But I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.''
- Psalm 75 (ESV)

Life Lessons from a Super Bown

Life Lessons from the Super Bowl
1. You can't rest on the laurels of your first half of life.
2. You can't get discouraged by a slow start.
3. Keep playing till the end, even into overtime because: YOU ARE ALWAYS IN OVERTIME.
4. Your second half may be better than the first.
5. You may run out of time-outs. Adjust.
6. Expect turn-overs and play them.
7. It's not over until Lady Gaga sings - and then it's only half over.
8. Spectators, commentators, and wagerers have no effect on the outcome of the game. It is up to the players to play it.
9. Your opponents will offer as much resistance as they can. Expect it and resist it.
10. Keep playing and moving the ball.

“Help my unbelief.”

"I believe; help my unbelief!" (See the text in Mark 9:14-29)
Here is the key to the lesson Jesus is teaching His disciples when they asked why they could not help the man and his boy. After all, they believed and Jesus had said that all things were possible to those who believed.
But the man did more than just believe.
He believed and prayed.
Jesus said that deliverance from the oppressing demon that tormented the boy required prayer. Some manuscripts include, “and fasting.”
Prayer requires belief, but in this case, belief is verified and amplified through prayer. After all, the man declares, in His prayer to Jesus, that he does indeed believe, but he doubts the power of his own, weak, feeble, capacity to believe. He is honest, but he is also desperate.
His trust is like the one who believes enough to jump into the darkness even though he is still trembling with shades of uncertainty.
What took his belief beyond its own ability to believe was the declaration, “I believe,” followed by the prayer, “Help my unbelief.




We are thirsting for something and may not know what it is.

We think we know.

We think it might be a righteousness that we can produce with a little more effort. It might be a holiness that requires that we say just the right words and do just the right things.

We might imagine it to be a secret recipe for ecstasy or a prescription for pleasure.

Could it be some mystery that we can discover by squinting our eyes more strenuously or reciting deeper and more profound incantations?

Or could we do some sort of harm to ourselves in penance for our wickedness and exact revenge upon ourselves to prove our sincerity before God? What can we pay or produce to bring us closer to God and satisfy the longing in our souls?

Isaiah 55:1-13

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Big question here: Why do you waste time, energy, and money on those things that bring you no relief and satisfaction? Why do you expend yourself for no added value?

Don’t you know that you have been invited to shop at a market where there is no charge to your account? Don’t you know you have been offered genuine and first quality wine, milk, and bread by grace and grace alone?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

The invitation is to freely partake.

It is to receive.

It is to come and eat what is good. God’s delight at God’s table is our delight. He does this because of our relationship with the one in whom he delights.

For Isaiah’s listeners, it was David. But we can claim our place at the table because of our relationship with the Son of God, Jesus. Those things that are said about David can be said even more of him.

See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.

What was it about David, the leader and commander?

It is this: He was a witness. God rose him up for that purpose and sustained him for that reason.

He has called all of His chosen people to be such witnesses.

See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

It is not a futile thing.

We shall call and the nations shall come. It is God’s doing and God brings it about.

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

This message is for us to hear and for us to deliver.

Seek the LORD. Do it now. Do it quickly. Do it while He is near.

Indeed, He is near.

He is near now. Call upon Him.

There are ways for us to forsake, ways and thoughts that have led us astray. We are not hopeless. We can turn because we have been invited and admonished to return.

When we turn, we find mercy because mercy is all that we find when we turn to God, mercy and pardon in abundance.

Why would we not turn?

Why would we not invite all to turn.

There are two options in life. One is to turn away from God and that is to turn away from mercy and pardon.

The other is to turn toward God. That is the way of grace, love, and abundance.

It makes no sense to us. It is beyond our understanding. It baffles us. That is because of this truth that God expresses:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God thinks and acts differently than us.

Mercy, love, grace, righteousness, truth, and holiness are His domains. Eternity in His dwelling place and nothing less except that He comes to dwell among and within us.

As such, He can place eternity within us that we might catch a glimpse of His purpose and find enough of His thinking to be radically transformed in our own.

This word is powerful. It changes things:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

When God speaks, everything shakes. Existence is watered and nourished. Truth blossoms. Life is created. God’s purposes are accomplished in time and space.

And the people rejoice:

For you shall go out in joy,and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

 What more can we say than,


This is true freedom and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles tries to translate it into our thinking and understanding:

Galatians 5:1-15

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you.

Grace is not, as we have seen, a New Testament invention.

It is the eternal nature of the Eternal God, known more and more through the progressive process of revelation as God discloses Himself.

Grace frees us from bondage so that we may clap our hands like the trees of the field and go forth in joy, song, and peace.

To make our faith a dark and dismal burden is uncalled for. To translate our song of joy into a dirge is an offense. To take the dance out of our steps with a message of gloom, salvific uncertainty, and doom is to deny the nature of God as Love.

Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

We take a beautiful message of liberation and corrupt it when we announce it as a new legal system of obligation to an impossible letter of law.

We are called to a righteousness that comes from faith, a righteousness that begins on the inside and changes our behaviors and thinking through our connection with Christ.

It is a spiritual work.

For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

We do not dread this. We are eager for it. We have been made for this relationship which informs and creates our lifestyle of hope.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

Faith working through love – that is what counts, nothing more, nothing less.

You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty.

All good things are subject to the potential for denigration.

Movements become institutionalized and the things we once did for love, we start doing for credit and recognition.

Our hearts grow cold, but we keep repeating the behaviors that we think produced the joy. Then, we wonder what happened to the joy.

Paul knew joy and operated from a baseline of joy. Yet, he was persecuted.

It did not rob him of joy. Nor did it cause him to revert to a teaching that would claim that we had a chance to impress or please God with empty formalities.

But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

It just would not make sense.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

We were called to freedom.

That freedom was not a license to revert to selfish, hurtful, indulgent, competitive, and bitter behavior. No need!

We have one commandment, and it is all-encompassing.

It is love.

It is the love that God expressed to the people in Isaiah, the love that took Jesus to the cross, and the love that God has bestowed upon us and nurtured within us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

And that is the contrast. To argue and fight over who is a “better believer” is to do and to be the antithesis of what grace produces in us through faith.

It is faith that acknowledges that God's way of brining us into His fold is grace, expressed in His mercy, flowing from His love, freely given and freely received.

Mark 8:27-9:1

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."

 He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"

 Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah."

 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

 He said all this quite openly.

 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."

We come to Jesus, the Son and delight of the Father.

He knows who he is.

He knows why he has come.

He knows what people say and it does not matter.

He knows what he must do.

He wants his followers to know and, to some extent, Simon Peter does.

But Simon is also an “accuser,” who, those his motives are to spare Jesus rejection and death, would terminate his mission by diverting him from it.

Grace, mercy, peace, and love do not come without a price and God pays the price.

To turn to God by turning to Jesus is to face the way of the cross.

It is to deny self which is to deny self-indulgence as well as self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. It is to deny both the pleasures of a God avoiding life and responsibility of setting ourselves up as demi-gods.

Jesus knew how difficult it would be for Peter and the friends to understand this.

His ways and thoughts were not theirs, but theirs would be transformed and enlightened. They would see things that would amaze them and give them a new perspective.

And so, shall we if we follow.

Let us pray with the psalmist this morning and receive the mercy that God so deeply wants to bestow upon us.

Psalm 70 Deus, in adjutorium

  Be pleased, O God, to deliver me;
O LORD, make haste to help me.
  Let those who seek my life be ashamed and altogether dismayed;
let those who take pleasure in my misfortune draw back and be disgraced.
  Let those who say to me "Aha!" and gloat over me turn back,
because they are ashamed.
  Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
let those who love your salvation say for ever, "Great is the LORD!"
  But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come to me speedily, O God.
  You are my helper and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not tarry.



Awake and Awakened


I am awake.
What a delightful surprise,
A twist of events that I embrace.
I would say shocking, but that would mean a stopping.
It is a stirring.
I greet this morning with wonder and anticipation.
For those who wondered, I am well.
For those who assumed it was so, it is.
For those who gave it no thought ...
Why should you have?
To you, I smile and say, "Good morning."
It is, you know. It is a very good morning.
We do expect to wake up, after all and
We expect all around us to do so with few exceptions.
But sometimes, rare moments, we see it for the gift it is and,
More than a gift,
A calling.
By the way, when I wrote this some years ago, I did expect to wake up, but after telling the story of a recent mishap, some did wonder about how I would be.
Surprisingly, I am was as stiff as I anticipated and I was happily not ""a stiff.' My head did not I could focus. I can still type. I may or may not have made sense.
That was for others to decide.
Even today, like the former demoniac, I am clothed and in my right mind ... I think ... and I think, therefore, I am.
We are called to wakefulness, even when we are waiting for something to transpire or emerge. It is in the waiting, that we may be awakening.
That is my report.

Opinionated FIENDS

Making fiends

Not FIENDS, now that I have your attention, but FRIENDS.

The polarization of our times and positions has widened the gap between us in this country to the place where we are finding it increasingly difficult to discern the logic and good intentions of our intellectual and ideological adversaries. We do not even want to talk to each other sometimes.

Some views offend us so deeply that understanding them and attributing goodwill to those who espouse them seems to be a betrayal of all we believe and, even a betrayal of God Himself, assuming we believe in God.

These are difficult times to work on understanding because we perceive, and rightly so, that so much is at stake and lives, even society itself, hang in the balance.

There are things, it seem, that need our vigilant conviction, voice, and work for the well being of humanity.

Yet, we know, it is for good will that we ultimately fight and for the good of others and for all.

Love was, is, shall be, and always has been, the highest value of all.

So, when I scribbled this post twelve years ago, it was true for me.

Just because circumstances have intensified, can I abandon it?

It is based on enduring principle? If so, it must still be true.

Is it subject to revision? Explanation? Refinement?

I know that some people are warped in their thinking. I know that there have always been purveyors of ill-will and hate in the world. I am a realist.

Yet, I also believe and must believe, that no matter how biased, bigoted, tunnel visioned, selfish, and angry we may be, most of us have slow-burning campfire of grace and love in our souls whose embers are keeping the image of God alive within us.

Only the love of God will ignite that into a blaze and we can be the wind that fands the fire in each others lives.

This is what I crudely wrote:

I have opinionated friends
Not opinionated fiends.

I love them on the right.
I love them on the left.
That is because they keep me centered.

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

Leaning to the left ...
Leaning to the right ...

Silent sometimes ... vocal other timesssssssssssssss ....

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

I just may not tell you my perspective and let you tell yours.
Some times ... you say it better or
I am still thinking or linking ideas.

I see it your way, mine, and the other way.

There are no fiends here,
Just friends with differing views.

I am trying to decide what to do this hot, decisive, nasty political season with so many unfair and unkind accusations, but also, really important ideas that divide us.
We shall see. I may stick to principles and leave personalities alone.

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

Yes. I spelled it that way on purpose.


Prayer for Leaders Present and Future

Prayer for leadersOur community has recently engaged in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  It was a wonderful time. we had 21 nightly virtual prayer meetings in a variety of churches across our city.

Thousands attended and prayed across denominational, ethnic, cultural, and geographical lines.

That emphasis closed out Sunday night, but it does not mean we are finished.

This has been a rather consistent prayer in my life for leaders over the last almost ten years when I first articulated it.

With a new administration, new cabinet members, and new members of Congress as well as our local governments, I find it appropriate to renew it.

Prayer is a constant.

It is a constant need. It is a constant call.

It is as constant and instant as breathing.

It is as vital to our vitality as nutrition and water.

It is the very character of our relationship with God and our dependence upon God.

It flows from the depths of our being and makes a full circle to Heaven and back again to and through us.

Let us pray for those who lead our nation:


Lord, God, I pray for our leaders and potential leaders, for our President and anyone who may come into that office. May they be blessed and guided, refreshed and equipped. You know no party and affiliate with none of our artificial labels.

May those who make critical decisions consult wise adviser and weigh the consequences of their decisions.

May they act with compassion toward the poor and powerless and with fairness, justice, and pragmatism tempered with truth.

May they be seekers, whether they be elected or candidates for election.

Temper their speech. Grant them the grace to agree with their opponents when their opponents ring true.

Grant them the courage to speak truth when no one else agrees.

Grant them the confidence of their convictions and the humility of those who are willing to test those convictions.

May we, who occupy the highest offices of the land, citizens with the power to vote and speak, listen deeply, ignore rhetoric, and inform our consciences.

Then, when all the votes are counted, may we continue to speak truth in love and pray for those whom we have called to office, loving them and respecting them as our leaders, but also challenging them to greatness and righteousness.

Help us to appreciate those who differ with us, who challenge our own presumptions and assumptions. Teach us to listen to one another and respect our differences. Help us to embrace those who do not share our faith and appreciate the insights they bring to bear upon our minds knowing that You can speak to us through them.

Center us in truth. Thy Word is truth and you love truth wherever it leads us.

This is my prayer of the moment. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Every Hour

Kneel in prayer
We are demonstration laboratories for the truth that we embrace, internalize, and profess.
What we add is conviction, attitude, and action.
These gather under the broad yet specific category of faith. They, in turn, by the grace and power of God, contribute the twin evidences of credibility and authenticity through the thin filter of transparency.
Our struggles are the testing grounds where the quality of our truth is either refined or shown to be faulty.
My life goal, in this respect and at this stage, in this set of circumstances, is to authenticate and verify, as credible, the core Truth of my life that I have chosen to follow.
I am weak, but God is able.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Start Typing



And then you figure out what you are thinking!

I was asked a question a few years ago and  I was surprised at my answer. Someone asked if we wanted to be remembered when we were gone and I answered what follows.

I must say, I was somewhat influenced by conducting a graveside service in an old cemetery the past week and reading some of the gravestones and not recognizing any names. 

Yes, I want to be remembered, but I also know that eventually, I will be forgotten.

That is OK. What I really want is to contribute something that blends with other somethings and makes a difference in the world for good. T

hen, I want that new something that is blended with other somethings to take on a life and identity of its own and grow and be remembered for what it is, something positive, affirming, and compassionate.

That is what I really want to be remembered.

Then, if someone thinks of Old Tom, I hope they will think of that.

My stone will read the day of my birth and the day of my death, but all the living will have been done in the tiny dash between.

How would you respond? Leave a comment 

Readings for Today

Readings: Isaiah 51:17-23, Galatians 4:1-11, Mark 7:24-37, Psalm 56-58

Isaiah 51

Some days, it is enough to just post scripture and let it speak without our agenda, without our opinion, without our interpretation, and without our application. I do not know how it fits together for you, how it applies to you, or how it touches your heart, but I pray that it will instruct, encourage, and inspire you to the next level of seeking and living. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Isaiah 51:17-23 (NRSV):

Rouse yourself, rouse yourself! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggering. There is no one to guide her among all the children she has borne; there is no one to take her by the hand among all the children she has brought up. These two things have befallen you-- who will grieve with you?-- devastation and destruction, famine and sword-- who will comfort you? Your children have fainted, they lie at the head of every street like an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of the LORD, the rebuke of your God.

Therefore hear this, you who are wounded, who are drunk, but not with wine:

Thus says your Sovereign, the LORD, your God who pleads the cause of his people: See, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; you shall drink no more from the bowl of my wrath. And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, "Bow down, that we may walk on you" and you have made your back like the ground and like the street for them to walk on.

Galatians 4:1-11 (NRSV):

My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father.

So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.

And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted.

Mark 7:24-37 (NRSV):

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.

Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin.

She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."

But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."

Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go-- the demon has left your daughter."

So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.

They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.

Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, "Ephphatha," that is, "Be opened."

And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

They were astounded beyond measure, saying, "He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."

Psalm 56-58
New Revised Standard Version

To the leader: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. Of David. A Miktam, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;
all day long foes oppress me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?

All day long they seek to injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk,
they watch my steps.
As they hoped to have my life,
so repay them for their crime;
in wrath cast down the peoples, O God!

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will retreat
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?

My vows to you I must perform, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
and my feet from falling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of life.

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until the destroying storms pass by.
I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me. Selah
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.

I lie down among lions
that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongues sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam.

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge people fairly?
No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.

The wicked go astray from the womb;
they err from their birth, speaking lies.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.

O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.
Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

The righteous will rejoice when they see vengeance done;
they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
People will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”