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March 2021

To Speak a Word in Season to the Weary


The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary …  – Isaiah 50:4

As we celebrate the beginning of spring, we do so with hearts ready for a change. We have grown weary of winter and anxious for a change of seasons. Spring is the season of hope and new life. It is a season of encouragement.

God’s Word reminds us often of the power of the tongue to build up or to destroy.

What a gift to be able to use the tongue of the learned, as a gift from God, to encourage and strengthen a weary brother!

He goes on to exclaim that God awakens him every morning with new instructions and wisdom.

You can have the tongue of the learned as well if you will listen to God, read His Word, keep an open heart and mind, and be willing to share a word of blessing with those who have grown tired of living.

The greatest privilege in the world is found in lifting someone else up and moving them forward on their road to spiritual success. There is no greater honor or joy than to be a part of someone else’s life story of God’s blessings through grace.

Often, all it takes is a word to bring springtime to someone’s winter of discontent. To give it, we must be willing and ready to receive it from God, to listen intently, and share generously.


image from images.unsplash.comPhoto by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash


“Now is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in Him.” – from John 13:31

You must take it all as a package or there is no glory. Jesus understood that these final days were one great redemptive event – from mingling with the crowds and teaching them, to provoking the Sanhedrin with His very presence, to the upper room, the washing of feet, the prayers in the garden, and on to the cross.

It was the process of God glorifying Himself in His Son. It was all part of the package: His life, death, and resurrection were one magnificent demonstration of the power of God.

Jesus had spoken similar words when some gentiles had come looking for Him. He responded that the coming of these men was an indication that He was soon to be lifted up from the earth and to draw all men unto Him. Lifting up could mean exaltation or crucifixion. In this case, it meant both. He moves from tragedy to triumph in a split-second intersection of time and eternity.

This time he speaks of being glorified as He confronts the one who will betray Him. This is strange to our warped thinking. But this is Jesus who donned the apron and wiped His disciple’s feet. This is the one who taught that the path to greatness is servanthood. This is the Master of great reversals.

Our Lord never lost sight of the big picture.

He did not stop with cross in His panoramic view of His mission.

He did not even end the story with rising from the dead.

He taught His friends that He was going to the Father through this path of glory and that He would come to them in a new way to indwell them, that they might do even greater works. He promised further that He would come again visibly to introduce a grand new eternal day. It was about glory.

It is still about glory.

Take a walk in the garden this morning where there is an empty hole in a rock, a barren place where death once dwelt. What do you notice but emptiness? He is not there. He is risen!

The work of redemption is done. It was worth it all. The pain and the suffering have accomplished their ends. He is alive and we can live also.

What name do you give to your pain of the moment, your struggle of this hour? Call it suffering or call it glory. It all depends upon whether you view it from the present or from the resurrection.

 Now is the Son of man glorified




Second Half


Do you remember when the San Francisco 49ers were known for their ability to come from behind after half-time and win a football game in the second half?


"It seems, in fact, that, the second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half." - Fyodor Dostoevsky

As much as I love Dostoevsky, I am not buying that ... at least not for my personal collection of life artifacts.

I can see where one might make the observation and where it might be the norm. However, I want to defy it.

One must grant that the resistance to reinventing oneself is heavy and the force of habit is strong. The road to establishing new patterns of thought and practice is uphill and treacherous. But there exists such a path and one can choose to take it.

We preach resurrection hope this Sunday. That means that we do not have to be defined by inertia whether we are objects at rest or in motion.

Centrifugal force is only as strong as our commitment to break free while relying on a Power that is far greater than ourselves.

May your second half be your best.


Palm Sunday Reflections

Entry into the city
Palm of Rejoicing
“ … Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” – John 12:13
It was not the first time that the children of Israel had employed palms in their worship of God. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the palm was to be one of other implements for rejoicing and celebrating the goodness of God.
”And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.” - Leviticus 23:40
One day, the King came to Jerusalem to prepare for His crowning with a crown of thorns. One sort of tree would welcome Him. Another would suspend Him between earth and Heaven and time and eternity as the sacrifice for our sins.
But as He entered the city, the people welcomed Him as a hero and so He was and is.
Before the week could end, He would die.
After the Sabbath, He would rise again.
And then, ascended into Heaven, His people would remember the Sunday of Palms throughout the generations and even till today. We remember why He so resolutely set His face toward Jerusalem and what He would face there. We remember that He knew far more about His fate than the masses, yet He entered without hesitation or reservation.
We see palms again in the scriptures as history begins the process of coming to fruition. It is in Heaven that the palms are waved in rejoicing and praise. This time, no crucifixion or contradiction of sinners awaits Him. This time, He is the genuine object of the praise of those who understand fully who He is and why He came.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;”- Revelation 7:9
Worship with The Fellowship of Joy
Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021
Jesus Did Three Things:
  • He Portrayed a Vision of Servanthood
  • He Predicted Victory as the Sovereign Savior
  • He Presented Himself as the Vicarious Suffering Servant

But This Is an Emergency!


Photo by Erik Kroon on Unsplash

What is emerging from this frenzied emergency?

Is it focused action built upon predetermined objectives, rooted in enduring principles? Or is it reactive and mindless flailing after perceived winds of crisis?

Is it urgent? If so, what is the source of the urge? Is it essential? Then of what is it the essence?

Things are not always as locked in as they seem. This is the soil in which I will prayerfully dig at the crest of a new day. Perhaps I will hit bedrock and build my day on that. Perhaps I will still be digging at midnight. If so, there will be hope for a fruitful tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm going for today.

God is with us as we think and that awareness lays the foundation of prayer. It is bringing God into our thoughts, though He is never far off, and thinking in concert and conversation with God. Prayer focuses us and directs us as God grounds us.

With enough prayer, we can know our urges, sort them, trust them, and be guided by them without allowing them to rule us.

With enough prayer, essentials will be discerned more clearly based upon the essence of what and who we are in relationship with Him who is eternal in nature and purpose.

With enough prayer, something enduring and purposeful will emerge from each emergency in profound contrast to the knee jerk reactive thinking of our precarious times.

With enough prayer, we will waste less time and accomplish more than we thought we could.

So, while there are no guarantees of immediate results, I am going to dig a bit in prayer, assured that the emergency is just part of the process of something being born through me and may not be what it seems on the surface.



If we can't name it, we can't claim it. If we can't wrap our minds around it, we need to keep seeking. Definitions must be held loosely in our hands and minds, but even a tentative definition of our issues can focus our attention on positive outcomes. It can also help us sort through the fluff that tends to dominate and waste less time, energy, and resources on lesser goals.

I = Dig for INSIGHT

Just as there may be far more dark matter in the universe than known and observable matter, there is far more that we are yet to know than we now know and far more that we will never know in this life than is possible to grasp. However, a glimmer of insight into ourselves, our times, other people, and the meaning of our circumstances through the knowledge of the Holy Other can catapult us to far better decisions today than the ones we made yesterday.



When prompted by crisis to act and act now, focus often diverts to self-interest and survival. We might be very successful at survival while utterly failing at the purpose of our survival. We have lived another day without really living at all. We have added nothing to our world. Real accomplishment is rooted in gratitude for what has been given. Gratitude is the human response to divine grace. It receives, gives, and gives thanks. It loosens our belts without letting our slacks fall to our socks. It relaxes us while it energizes us. The attitude of gratitude seasons our legitimate and holy discontent with enough flavor to make our work palatable and productive. If I am having difficulty being grateful at the beginning of this day, I just need to dig a little deeper.


Perhaps. the most positive response to an emergency is to dig deeper than the actual emergency and urgency of the moment and discover our longer and livelier challenge for the next lap of our race, the next phase of our journey.

Let your emergencies prompt you toward greater significance.


Meaning of the Moment


Photo by Grant Jacobson on Unsplash

What is the meaning of my moments and movement beyond the movement of the moment?

In Genesis, the story of Joseph crescendos with this dance he choreographs to reconnect with the brothers who dealt so treacherously with him years before.

Perhaps they have tried daily to forget, but they cannot. Nor can they know fully the pain and possibilities that were pregnant in their choices.

When Joseph "sets them up," they are confronted with a question that is deeper than the moment:

... Joseph said to them, "What deed is this that you have done?" - Genesis 44:15 

In fact, the deed they had most immediately done was none - none that would indict them. They are different men at that day than the men who sold their brother as a slave, but their transformation is not complete until the reconciliation is transacted and Joseph was confront them as much as they must be confronted ....

And they must confront the question that has ultimately brought them to this moment, "What have you done?"

It is, in the long run, a redemptive question and it is ours. It is mine? What is the meaning of my moments and movement beyond the movement of the moment?

What is the meaning of my life in an honest and full assessment of my life?

What would it mean apart from redemption?

What does it mean in the light of redemption?

This is our moment for reflection.


May this be your day!

You may not realize it, but all your life, you've been waiting for this day.
It may be after 4 PM where you are, or after 7 if you are elsewhere, but whatever the time of day, this is still, the day for which you have been waiting and preparing your whole life and ....
... the good news is ...
You can play this again tomorrow and ...


Born in Dying

Sarah m prayer of francis
"It is in dying that we are born to eternal life." - Prayer of St. Francis
So, let me die today and die daily.
There is nothing in my instincts to pray such a prayer.
But then, there is nothing in my instinctual drive to cling ...
... to extinct-ual or
... extinguishable
"living" that
lives beyond the moment.
I pray to resist that drive, that urge, that urgency to
survive that
extinguishes life.
Some day, that will mean laying down my body, but,
today it means ...
laying down this body of sin,
of self,
of sensual necessity that says,
"I am thee," but
is not me.
Nor is it Thee in me, Oh God who knows
and gives
and lives
in and through
all who die this way.
I prayed, "Kill me," and
Thou didst not...
and would not.
You said, "Just die and live," and
I tried it and I did and there You were!
You handed me a cross and said,
"Go carry it."
And I asked, "What is it?"
And You said,
"It is the pain and suffering and pain and disgust,
and ugliness, and bad choices, and bitter gall,
and nasty words, thoughts, and accusations,
and hateful hurts of those You will meet today."
And I said, "Why should I?"
And You said, "Because I did and do and you said that
You wanted to follow me and this is what we carry."
And I said, "The burden is too heavy."
And You said, "I know."
And I asked, "So?"
And You said, "Go ... I am with you."
And so ...
I did ... at least that day and then I asked,
"What do I do with them?"
And You said, "Bring them to me,"
and I replied, "But You already have all of these,"
and You said, "Mind Your own business, I've got it handled."
I said. "OK, You are the Master,"
and You smiled and said, "I know."
Master, this really feels and lot like living and You said,
"I know. I told you so. What you though was living,
was not.
It distorts your view because the lens is sprinkled with mirrors
always pointing back at you and
seeing life and events and people from
ego and self-interest and it is not in your
self-interest to be
that interested in yourself.
Die to Deadsville and live!"
In so many words.
And so, Lord, I die today,
I nail Deadsville and my citizenship there with all my credentials and investments to
Your cross.
Thanks for my cross. It fits me.
I sort of like it.
I know I love this new life You have given me and
I really love these people You keep bringing into my life.
Help me to bear their burdens until I can get them to You and
Thank You for bearing them and mine.
I am starting to get it ...
It is in dying that we are born
To eternal life.
I look forward to seeing You face to face some day,
When I have laid down this body of flesh and this cross.
Thanks for the invitation and for paying the admission price.
Thank You, my Jesus,
My Lord, my Savior, my Friend, and My Brother,

Prayer is a deep spiritual mystery.
Mutual communication with God is going on far beneath the surface of our lives. Not only do we often not know what to pray, we often know not what we are praying.
This is not said that we might disengage our minds, but that, with engagement, we might also release our spirits to commune with the Holy Spirit who knows, overcomes, and even uses our weaknesses in prayer even as He does in our outward lives.
" Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." -Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

Keep On! Keep On!


Sand dune
The key to not throwing in the towel and quitting on your dream may be as simple as one simple action following a decisive choice.

Decide to do something and then, do something.

In so doing, you will have taken a step. You will have closed the gap between inaction and action and you will have stayed in the ball game for one more inning.

You are staying alive. Sometimes staying alive to fight another day is enough. It's called, "hanging on."

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. " Franklin D. Roosevelt


The opposite of keeping on is not so much turning off as it is neglect. “Keep” suggests vigilance and attention. "On" is certainly across the chart from "off", but the pathway to off is inattention. It is not taking the next step of vigilance.


Pace yourself, relax, give yourself a break, but do something for your business or ministry today. Do it consciously and give yourself credit for it. You may fail. When you do, keep this in mind:

"When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time.""
- Author Unknown

"Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“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.” – Romans 15:13 (New International Version)

The pathway of perseverance may not always be dramatic action or massive results, but it will always involve a choice and a response. On that pathway, there is hope. Where there is hope there is joy. Where there is joy, there is energy.  God is the source, but if we are not open to trusting, we will dam the source of our power. The keep on we must move forward.


K – Kinesthetic

The Free Dictionary  defines this as “The sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints.” Applied to learning of behaviors it is about doing a behavior until it becomes a part of our lives. Some people call this habit formation. Keeping on involves developing behavioral patterns that become a natural part of our lives.  Trusting is often manifested in touching. Touch your dream; touch the project; touch the challenge. Keep your hands on what you are keeping on.


Touch it with your TIME - Spend time thinking of the desired outcomes. When you are tired from the task, take time to think about why you are doing what you are doing.

Touch it with your OPTIMISM -  Peak to yourself and others with wholesome, uplifting, and optimistic words and ideas. Ephesians 4:29 (New International Version) reminds us:

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful  for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Touch it with your UNDERSTANDING - Be a student of your mission, dream, and vision. Study it with a passion to learn and grasp the reality in your mind. Get details and concepts. Mull them over and over. Become an expert on your own life mission.

Touch in in COMMUNITY - Stand alone and fall. Stand with others and you keep standing. One of the easiest ways to fall into discouragement and loss of vision is to disassociate ourselves from positive people who build us up. Hang around some people who are on the road to making it and some who have almost . Associate with people who can serve as role models so you can see the fruit on the tree. Talk and listen to people who consistently say, "I can" and keep those who "can't" in the periphery of your circle of influence or outside it altogether. This is one of the inherent geniuses of network marketing and of the church.

Touch it with HOPE - Never lose hope. Always keep hope alive. This is the Spirit's function in your life.

E – Enthusiasm

Literally, from the Latin, enthusiasm mean having God within us. You must remain enthusiastic and nurture the spark of life and passion within you even when you are emotionally and physically drained. That requires connecting to God’s power at the very depth of your being, His Spirit within you. It takes faith and lots of it.

Paul's prayer for the Romans was based upon the reality of their relationship with God and he trusts that God is in them through the Holy Spirit and that God has the capacity to fill them with these qualities.

The person who experience real enthusiasm would be advised to make the dreams and goals of his or her life matters of intense and satisfying prayer - not only when thinking about the outcomes, but when strength is needed for the daily grind.

God is present and God will help and renew your enthusiasm

E - Elevate

There is much to elevate. Elevate your feet a bit for one thing; take a load off and relax.  You must also elevate your mission in your own thinking. Elevate the importance of what you are doing in your own thinking.

Dale Carnegie said,

“Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs.  Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger.  If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. "

And never feel ashamed of who YOU are. You are a person of significance. Never let anyone make you feel small because of your dreams or life mission :

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." - Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

P – Persevere

Press on with consistency and commitment. It is all in the PRESS.

Press on with the POWER of God. Apart from that power, we do not have the strength to press anything. Press without stress.

Press on with RESOLVE - Sing with the old spiritual, "A'int nobody gonna turn me 'round." Press or regress.

Press on with ENERGY - Energy is a strange thing. If you don't use it, you don't conserve it. You lose it. If you're not pressed, you'll get depressed.

Press on with SINCERITY - Have a sincere and purposeful focus at all times. We will scatter without sincere and pure goals. Press or digress.\

Press with SUCCESS - The real success is in the journey. Press toward success.

President Calvin Coolidge said,

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."


O – Orientation 

The scriptures point us to a righteous life. Righteousness is about right relationships, especially about being rightly related to God and about moving in the right direction. Check your compass spiritually and in every other dimension of life and makes sure that your movement is oriented toward your goal. You are on a path. You are not at your desitination. Don't judge yourself by where you are, but by progress and vision. Orient yourself in the direction of God's best for your life and keep on keeping on - even if today's step is a baby step.

Ella Fitzgerald said,

"It isn't where you came from, its where you're going that counts."


Never quit. Create momentum in your life by simply not quitting. Make that a decision and even if you can ‘t do much, do something. Perfectionism is not your friend. It will whisper in your ear that because you are not the best yet, there is no point. Don’t listen. Listen instead to Sir Winston Churchill:

Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense”

There will be some setbacks and step backs. There will be some mistakes and failures. Never mind them.

You were made for a purpose. Keep on keeping on.


Bonus Quotes on Perseverance

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams

Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties

It is the curse of talent that, although it labors with greater steadiness and perseverance than genius, it does not reach its goal, while genius already on the summit of the ideal, gazes laughingly about.  – Robert A. Schumann

Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.  - Plutarch

 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

 Genius is divine perseverance. Genius I cannot claim nor even extra brightness but perseverance all can have.  – Woodrow Wilson



Fears Relieved

Fears relieved
And Grace, My Fears Relieved
"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last …" Revelation 1:17
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." – Romans 8:15
It is not enough to learn to fear. Once we have learned the hard lesson of reverence, grace relieves our fears and comforts our troubled, weary souls.
First, we fall as dead before His magnificence; then He touches us in compassion and commands us to fear not.
First, we go down into Egypt and experience bondage. There we learn to know Him, and, in the wilderness, we learn His Name. We are slaves to sin and then to the law, but we are redeemed and released. And we are adopted. And in that adoption, we learn to cry, “Abba.”
Bondage brings fear and God uses the bondage of the law as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Bondage informs us of what we are missing because our longings become the pangs of want. Somewhere in the process of learning fear, we come to grips with the deepest desire of our hearts. If we are honest and open, we realize that our desire is for God who alone can meet our needs and grant us redemption and freedom.
Grace taught my heart to fear, and my fears relieved many years ago. Yet, I must return to that turning point again and again, sometimes in the singing of the song of Amazing Grace. There I remember. In that moment, I give thanks. In those chords I am realigned with his purposes communicated through His loving kindness which is better than life.
Grace, my fears relieved. I cannot begin to describe the relief, the pure, sure calm that has come over my soul. That can be yours as well.
"... ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."-Romans 8:15
Little Sarah was only three years old. All day long, she had been home doing what little girls do. But as the sun began to go down and the smell of hot rolls filled the house, her tiny heart began to sing with anticipation. She knew that evening meant one thing. He daddy would soon walk through the door. The love of her life would come home from a hard day at work, and she would run to meet him, jump in his arms, and be embraced with joy and love.
"Daddy, I missed you," she would exclaim. "You’re finally home! I'm so glad you are here."
At that, her father's heart would melt.
The Spirit of God invites us to pray as Jesus prayed, Abba, or Daddy. We are drawn into a relationship of warmth, acceptance, and love with our Heavenly Father. Those of us who have enjoyed such relationships with our earthly fathers have a glimpse of what our relationship with God can be. Those of us who have not had such relationships can take comfort in the knowledge of His absolute love and unbridled joy when we call out to Him and jump into His arms.

What Is Required?


Checkered history
My tribe has a checkered history with forced conversions, violent power-grabbing, and militaristic exercise of religious dominance.

To deny that is to deny history. To not care is to ignore scripture.

We are flawed in our common humanity and sin with a lust for power that we are willing to exercise with violence and coercion.

Our religions, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate can be illegitimately co-opted as an excuse for that power-lust and every evil methodology we can muster to acquire what we want and think we deserve.

At the moment, the world is experiencing an extreme and frightening expression and demonstration of this. It is not the first in history and probably will not be the last. Everyone has a different name for it and the names are debated, but it is all one thing throughout history.

There are political and military battles that shall be waged, but the most important battle is unseen; it is timeless; it is the most real. It is waged in the secret place of prayer, the public place of speaking truth in love, and the relational place of living the life of faith to which we have been called - to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.


PS - Win a High Five by Finding the Spelling Error

Peace, Be Still


Peace in the Valley - Photo by Blogger from the Galilee Region of Israel
To be for peace is a choice and not always an easy choice. Surrounded by war cries and hostilities, the voices calling for calm are often muffled and maligned.
Dissonant is the music of the drumbeats. Thunderous is the rhythm of the boots upon the ground marching forth to battle for land, for prestige, for power, for dominance, for supremacy, and for wealth.
It may bring all forms of harsh criticism and your motives may be questioned if you advocate for peace.
At best, you may be considered unrealistic. At worse, you may be accused of disloyalty.
" Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I had my dwelling
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace,
but when I speak, they are for war!"
Psalm 120:5-7 (ESV)
A sure way to invoke the wrath of those who are for war is to be for peace.
It will take all of your prayer and strength not to break with your resolve, not to lash out, and not to wish ill upon your tormentors for their anger can be strong and their condemnation can be chilling. But you have your marching orders from a higher commander and you are declared to be blessed by the Prince of Peace.

"Peace! Be still!"
- Mark 4:39

Lots of trouble in the world ...
Lots of turmoil ...
Soil of fear ...
Toil of tears ...
But my soul can be still,
...Sided with by the One who walks beside.

When I cried, He heard.
When I sighed, He spoke the Word.
Nothing has changed.
I am not shaken.
These are days of grace. - Tom Sims

Be Still, My Soul
(The melody is Finlandia by Sibelius, and the words are translated from the German work of Catharina von Schlegel, a Lutheran who wrote during the Pietist period of the 18th century.)

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.



Who Do You Tell?


When people tell me that they have an issue with God, sometimes a complaint, sometimes real anger, I often ask, "Have you discussed it with God? Have you told God how you feel?"

"I could not do that," they might respond.

"Why not?" I ask.

"I am afraid to do that. God might get angry back at me."

Not so, not for that. God's anger is what we experience when we resist the fierceness of unrelenting love. We are in a storm and we can ride the storm or wage war against the storm, but we cannot ignore the storm.

Jeremiah, like the psalmist, invites us into the arena of honest prayer where we wrestle with ourselves and speak honestly with God. He prays throughout the book his scribe recorded. It is not always pretty, but often comes to this:

" I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Correct me, O LORD, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing."
- Jeremiah 10:23-24 (ESV)

He puts it out there and is willing to be corrected. He trusts God that God can correct Him in justice and not in anger.

I want to be corrected. Don't you? Why would I ever want to continue in a course of unproductive, destructive thinking or behavior? I want to be set upon the right track. My days, like yours, are numbered and I want them to count.

Looking back a few verses, he prays the prayer of as disillusioned man:

" Woe is me because of my hurt!
My wound is grievous.
But I said, “Truly this is an affliction,
and I must bear it.”
My tent is destroyed,
and all my cords are broken;
my children have gone from me,
and they are not;
there is no one to spread my tent again
and to set up my curtains.
For the shepherds are stupid
and do not inquire of the LORD;
therefore they have not prospered,
and all their flock is scattered." - Jeremiah 10:19-21 (ESV)

Prayer is a process. Indeed we pray with the news around us in one hand and the Bible in the other and we are shaped by our dialogue with One who hears and cares.
Whatever you feel, pray.

I hope you're getting a little something you can use today, friends, a little something to gladden your souls for God today. Scroll for that goal - for your soul. Pass by the negative and land on those words that build and lift and then, share them!

Our deepest desires lead us and draw us into His presence to discover that His presence has already surrounded us.

Self-talk/God-talk - Dialogue/Trialogue -Interactive

It becomes unclear sometimes in the cycle of the central verse who is speaking because the WORD is embedded in each word and even the longing complaint of the heart is met with the reassuring comfort of the Presence.

It is especially evident when we pray,

"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God."

This is our song when we are preparing our hearts to come before God and discover that God is already with us.

Our panting turmoil does not go unheard. Hear and pray with the Sons of Korah:

"Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?"

"To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah."

"As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,

“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival."
"Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God."
"My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar."
-Psalm 42:1-6 (ESV)




Smiling Jesus


image from

Click to order from Fine Art America - Art by Steve Gamba

What the gospel writers did not and, sometimes, could not record, but first century readers knew, was the smile on Jesus' face, the chuckle in his voice, and the irony in his words as he provoked the faith response of an unlikely faith-heroine, and opened the ears of the deaf man with spit. Jesus was dramatic because drama drives home more than didactic teaching can communicate.

Grace is a very, very big deal.

Speaking of grace, there is grace that is specifically designed for our hours of deepest trial.

Few things happen TO us. Many things that happen do involve us. Most of those things provide and opportunity for us to step out of our subjective skin, look on, and learn from that character that looks like us and wears our skin.

If i am going to be ready to receive grace, I must prepare myself.

Three things I must do in the morning if nothing else (Psalm 5:3):

  • Make my voice heard before God.
  • Lay my requests before God.
  • Wait expectantly before God.

Which of these three is the greatest challenge for you? Which brings you the greatest joy?

When we are open to grace, I believe that brings a smile to Jesus' face.



Good Grief




Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Did you ever wonder where the term, "good grief" came from?

Some might ask, "What so good about grief?"

Those of us who have studied thanatology (the study of death and related issues) and have served the dying and those they leave behind might be able to talk around this subject.

Those who have experienced grief and healing through grief and morning can speak with even deeper insight.

One day, actually his last day on earth, I visited a friend and asked him, "Are you in pain?"

He replied, "Yes. But good pain."

Go ahead and scratch your heads, but since he was communicating with me verbally and nonverbally, I got it. It made perfect sense.

Some varieties and depths of goodness do not come easily into our lives, but when they do come, they take deep and authentic root into our broken soils and produce fruit that is sometimes bittersweet, but oh, so nourishing.

Good grief!




It Costs Too Much


What will it cost for you to be your best you?

Everything of value costs something.

We can think of endless excuses to procrastinate, obstinate, and prevaricate. We'll do anything but drop whatever we are doing and change directions.

It is a control issue - we want to be in control.

Mostly, we want to add - faith and devotion to whatever else we cling to in life.

But diving into our life purpose is not an "add-on" to our lives. It is a new center of existence and a new direction for everything. Everything passes through the filter or this new commitment.

It costs everything.

I was ruminating over all this some years ago as I heard the report on NPR that 38 people had died over the weekend in bombs designed to disrupt the elections in Iraq.

In spite of this, and, by some reports, because of it, record numbers of people came out to vote - defying the threats. Some died.

Sometimes we have a hard time trying to get people to show up in this country when it costs us nothing.

I wonder - If it is too cheap, do we lose any sense of the value of it?



Stand in the Gate


“Stand in the gate of the LORD's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD.” - Jeremiah 7:2

Hear the Word of the LORD!

All over the world, on a typical Sunday, when there are no quarantines, millions of souls will enter through the doors of houses of worship. Most of them will be greeted by some unsung hero who stands in the doorway and hands them a worship folder. They will receive a smile, a handshake, and a greeting.

Later, someone will rise to the platform and utter words like, “Welcome to worship!”

There will be a call to worship, a prayer of invocation seeking the presence of God, and a song of praise exalting the Lord. At some point, someone will rise to read from the scriptures and may declare these words of the psalmist, “Hear the Word of the LORD.”

Are you ready to hear?

Are you ready to act on what you hear?

When we enter the gates of God’s house whether at home, at church, or in nature, it is the readiness of our hearts that determines whether or not we truly hear what God has to say. It is as much a matter of choice as our willingness to receive a good meal.

The extent to which we hear, internalize, and are changed by scripture depends more on our receptivity than on anyone’s delivery.

As you sit and prepare for worship and for hearing the Word of the Lord this morning, willingly make yourself available to God for what He has to say to you.

For those who would hear that word through Jeremiah, it would be an indictment against the incongruence in their lives between what that professed with their mouths and what they possessed in their lifestyles. They came to the Temple to reinforce a false narrative of their own security.

Fort those who would hear the words of Paul, it would be a call to genuine faith. He admonished them to draw a distinction between outward forms and reminders of true worship and the inward experience of grace.

Jesus would speak at the Temple about hypocrisy, inconsistency, and Messianic hope.

The psalmist would lead a song of praise and prayer calling on God to restore His people.

To each of these voices would be afforded a listening ear and a response of one kind or another.

Say with Samuel of old, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”

What Is Challenging You Today?


The Challenge Today

Perhaps you'd like for me to tell you what it is, this challenge of today - the big one, the definitive one, the one that, if you conquer it, you conquer everything.

Perhaps you want it, but you are unlikely to get it ... not from me ... not from any who tell you they can deliver it ...

Because we don't really know.

I don't know what your big challenge is today. I could boil it down a bit to some vague, pontifical essence, but that would merely cloud the specifics in a haze of philosophical esoterica.

What you are facing is here and now, pressing, and guttural. It is your tailor made challenge. There are some enduring answers, but without framing your questions, you will not be able to apply them with any finesse. 

I predict that you will know what to do with your challenges as you prayerfully and conscientiously consider them, address them, embrace them, and act to respond to them. I predict this because your whole life has been a preparation for this day and the challenges of this day. You possess a unique blend of human and divine resources that God has brought into your life. 

You will know what to do with those resources at the right time.

When you do, I believe you will have the courage to exercise them and that is my prayer, hope, and belief for you.


Photo Credit -  Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash


Now, here is a challenge, or just some fun!!!


February 29What if you lost a day, a month, a year, or more?
Simple answer? You start where you are now and start over ... or resume where you left off.
Life can be tricky. Life is always a challenge if you fully embrace it and if you lean fully into it. Here are some meditations on challenging times.
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You may be moving into some new, unknown, precarious, and frightening territory in your life. You are proceeding with caution and trepidation. It is a place where you must go, but you do not know the terrain or the hidden agendas of these new days ... All you know is Who is with you and leading you ...
... and that is enough.
" And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, 'Jacob, Jacob.' And he said,'Here I am.' Then he said, 'I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes.'"
"Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him." - Genesis 46:2-5 (ESV)
It was all the assurance that Jacob needed to set out and follow. 
It is all we need.
God bless you in your NEW journey ... for each day is a NEW JOURNEY!
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A few years ago, I was preparing a message on judgment when I was struck with a surprise - It was a message of hope.
--- Even when there are no signs of life in the tree, the Gardener gives another year --- and lovingly tends the tree to eke out the life that no one else sees but He still believes may be there.
In a message of judgment and destruction, imagine this main message is: God still believes in you.
You might consider returning the favor!
We have rights and prerogatives that we do not exercise. We are free to do so, but we are also free to let them go because our loyalty, our values, our marching orders, indeed, our very purpose for existence is focused on something higher and better than our comforts.
We set aside our preferences for the good of others because that good is in the heart of the One to whom we have pledged our total loyalty --- to love whom He loves and to care about the desires of His heart until they become the desires of our hearts as well.
" If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?"
"Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ." - 1 Corinthians 9:12 (ESV)
Judge by seeds planted
In times of decline, we seek the Divine Incline.
Perceived or received, something declines for us,
And lofty edifices of our pride sink low.
Yet we ...
The "we" that is truly "us ..."
Shall not decline His inclination toward restoration.
Poor and needy
When greedy fires are consuming the underbrush of our lives,
From hesitation to preservation, His salvation
Rescues our souls.
From sadness to gladness we are lifted,
By grace, gifted ...
For God is good! In this we have stood!
God is forgiving! Thus, our living!
God is abounding in covenant love!
Give ear, Oh Lord.
Give Your full attention and intervention
To our plea for grace!
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!"
It is the day of trouble ...
For me ...
For many ...
We stand upon the precipice.
We cry for mercy.
Oh LORD, answer, please.

"Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me." - Psalm 86:1-7 (ESV)
Job or joy
We flinch against a new norm that normalizes the tendency to exchange value for worthless pursuits. Thus is the description of idolatry. On one hand is a God who is a fount of fresh, cool water and, on the other, leaking cisterns.
And we gravitate toward the leaky novelties.
" Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water." - Jeremiah 2:12-13 (ESV)
No photo description available.
Consider reordering your priorities so that you measure your success more on the basis of how you help others with your success that on how you achieve your own goals.

Proud Teacher Moments

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash
Welcome to Life Gym.
We are all here as students, building mental, spiritual. emotional, and physical muscle.
We are also here as coaches and teachers.
As teachers and coaches, we will rejoice to see our proteges pass us by and leave us in the dust.
It strikes me as true that any great teacher would love for it to be the testimony of a student that ...
"I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation." - Psalm 119:99  (ESV).
May misplaced ego never get in the way of me sharing the wonders of Truth and letting Truth work in the hearts of my students to take them farther and deeper than I could ever go.
Speaking in a specific context, Paul lands on a very general and abiding principle:
"Now concerning .... [the subject at hand] ... we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' This 'knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God." - 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (ESV)
Are we:
Puffed up or Built up?
As we commit ourselves to building up others, we will find ourselves built up in the ways that truly matter.



Meme Me - Collected Shorts from My Feeds by Me

Giving and receiving



“…without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be    But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto thee. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” - Romans 1:9-11; 15:24-26

To what extent would Paul travel to impart a spiritual gift and receive a material gift for others? The answer is that he would make great sacrifices and suffer untold hardships to be a vessel of giving. To impart a spiritual gift enriched the lives of those receiving the gift. But it also enriched the life of the church.

Receiving a monetary gift would enrich the church at large. But it would also bless the giver and the recipient of the gift. Paul himself would be encouraged by the opportunity to participate in this process.

When true Spirit-filled, God-directed giving takes place, no one loses, and everyone gains.  In the tangible expressions of our submission to God there is no subtraction, only multiplication.

To view life this way requires that we step out of ourselves and understand our significance as part of something larger than our own interests.

We must deny ourselves to the extent that our hopes, dreams, and preferences are of lesser importance than the Kingdom of God.

From whence comes such a radical attitude?

It comes from the place of prayer where we learn to say, “the will of God” with deep reverence and joyous anticipation.

It comes from the exercise of His presence in devotion and contemplation of His Word.

It comes from earnest seeking in the closet of solitude where He changes our heartbeat to pulsate with His own rhythm.

In short, the attitude that embraces the twin Christian graces of giving and receiving comes from God Himself.

Wouldn't you love to hear that actual tune, "A Dove on Distant Oaks?"

Some things will just have to wait.
Make your own tune and make it a heart song.
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you...
What can mere mortals do to me?"
Psalm 56
New International Version
For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David.
A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.
Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down.
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
February 29
Word of the Day Poem - Deference
For February 28-29 (Should It Ever Come)
I would defer to the word of tomorrow
But I must report, that much to my sorrow
Such deference to reference a day that won't be
Is lost in torrents of a bottomless sea.
This twenty-eighth day of month number two
Is the last of it's kind and that's bad news for you
If you had planned to get done some task incomplete
In this month of February, you'll go down in defeat.
It's over my friend, finished, exhausted
And your goose is cooked, completely defrosted.
Tomorrow is March and the year marches on
The best you can hope for is a new start next dawn.
But I will show deference to all who forgot
And congratulate all who somehow did not.

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May be an image of flower and text that says '"Don' judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. -Robert Louis Stevenson'
May be an image of text
May be an image of 1 person, sky and text that says 'Are you down in the dumps? Lift someone else up. Your own feet will be lifted off the ground in the process as you jump for joy! Tom Sims'
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Lamenting over the magnitude of injustice, oppression, and wickedness was leading the troubadour to despair. He recounts the agonizing moments that were not left to dangle in meaningless resignation and then, he declares ...
" ...But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end."
(Psalm 73:15-17 ESV)
" When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you."
"Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
(Psalm 73:21-26 ESV)
I am almost caught up now. A few more and I will be.
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