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May 2021

O, See! Can You Say?

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“Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.” – Joshua 4:7

If, with star spangled enthusiasm one might gasp, "Oh say, can you see," might one also find an opportune moment to ask, "Oh see, can you say?"

Stones and flags and monuments are built with the best of intentions to remind future generations of past events that have lasting impact. Days are set aside so that we may not forget times and people who have shaped our present reality.

I am most likely to speak what I see and express what is temporally or metaphorically visible to my consciousness. I fix my eyes upon a flag to be reminded of the principles it attempts to symbolize. I gaze upon a facsimile of the cross to focus my attention on the cross of Jesus.

We set aside a day of remembrance to show our grief, love, and appreciation for men and women we must not forget because their sacrifices have reinforced a hedge of protection around our fragile freedom.

Can we see it? If so, can we say it? If I can get it, I can give it. If I can grasp it, I can pass it on. If it inspires me, I can use it to inspire others. Let us not allow our songs of patriotic fervor to be reduced to nostalgic sentimentality or rote formality. Nor let us pledge empty allegiance to the flag that flies over the land of the free.

Can you see what has been given you? Can you visualize the fruits of the labors of those who have given their lives? Can you grasp the full measure of the undeserved benefits that have come your way through their efforts and bloodshed?

We are the recipients of great gifts purchased at great cost in the realms of the Spirit and the flesh. Tomorrows is a significant day of remembrance and refocus. Don’t miss it. Oh see! Can you say?

_______________________

That being said, here is a tribute to our nation's Memorial Day as we continue to reach for the fulfillment of the aspiration of liberty and justice for all.


It's About Time

Pavel-kalenik-MKVLy5BlIEc-unsplash

 

Photo by Pavel Kalenik on Unsplash

 

How to Be Rigidly Flexible About Time

First Posted in 2006

Let me start by saying that I only have a few minutes to compose this entry.

The fact that I have any time flexibility at all is because I was rather rigid about planning my day today. Having said that, I have already made several revisions in the schedule - lowering expectations in some areas and increasing them in  others, moving arbitrary deadlines and getting ahead on a few projects.

So, here I am with about 5 or 10 minutes to blog.

The title is a bit deceptive because I cannot really tell you how to do this. Having Outlook fully operational is helpful. Making attempts in the direction of realism is a plus. Commitment is necessary. Margins are indispensable. Grace is crucial.

Having things to do during the gaps is a useful tool - especially small jobs. Otherwise we slip into a pattern of time-consuming thumb-twiddling - which can be both tiring and frustrating.

Well, here are a couple of list items which are not meant to be exhaustive.

1) No matter if it does seem to be a waste of time, take time, and plenty of it to really think about your week and your day and what you really want to accomplish and plan it analytically, realistically, and rigidly, knowing that you will have to be flexible to cope with the unexpected.

2) Plan margins.

3) Plan projects that can fit into the margins.

4) Plan breaks and do not negotiate these away. If you are like me, plan changes of focus regularly.

5) Raise your expectations of yourself in some areas and lower them in others.

6) Use that infuriating alarm bell in MS Outlook. For instance, mine just went off telling me it is time to pack up and go - which I am going to do - even though I am not done.

I said this would not be exhaustive or plenary in nature - just some passing observations.

"Gotta go.'

 


Just Living - A Play on Words

 
Living Justly in an Unjust World
 
The blog I've not written, but know that I must has a title and a theme thus, a thrust
... to be just.
 
In a word it is to love that which is above us, surrounds us, envelops us, has created and is creating us and to love those who also are created and are being created ...
But it is an unjust world, you cry, protest, and flail.
 
We can try, resist, and ultimately fail to live justly in such a world ... and I say, "Hogwash!"
 
If it were not possible to swim against the tide, there would be no more salmon on the planet.
 
Grant it, it is hard and our charred, scarred, burned and battered selves must energize, prioritize, and optimize, but we can live justly in an unjust world.
 
In the end (and at the beginning), it is all we can do
 
... and what we cannot be stopped from doing.
 
It is just living, after all, and it is living justly.
 


Awesome!

 
 
Greg-rakozy-oMpAz-DN-9I-unsplash
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
 
The congregation of Israel in the desert knew that the sun was hot and bright. yet, God warns them not to worship the sun, or anything else in creation.
 
"I am a consuming fire," God iterates.
 
Is God jealous?
 
He says so, but we really do not know what that means because our human jealousy is petty, self-serving, and immature.
 
God's is unrelenting, honest, and persistent. God IS and does not back down from who and what God is. God does not share God's godness with anything in the material world.
 
Is God hot like fire?
 
It is a metaphor even as the reference of the face of God is a metaphor. God has no face and God is not a manifestation of the laws of physics.
 
But the metaphor is overshadowed by the reality. The reality is greater than the language used to convey that reality. And that is the point.
 
The point is that there is no substitute for God and trivialities like those associated with ancient idolatrous practices do not approach the magnitude of God.
 
Moses is telling people to take God seriously and to remember the covenant.
 
The covenant was the intervention of God, the holy, mighty, overwhelming, awesome, and consuming one into the affairs of humans. It was the outreach of a God who was Other into the community He was redeeming. It was God breaking through time and space to show the essence of His love to those who could only see the small glimpses of the fire that surrounded Him. It was grace shining through the wall of wrath. It was mercy breaking through the relentless tide of unbending truth.
Don't forget the covenant. It is your lifeline.
 
Be careful to remember the covenant; it is your point of contact.
 
Cling to the covenant that clings to you because it is your hope and redemption.
 
Our God is a holy God and a God who does not share His glory in any way that would diminish or define Him ... but He desires to be known, experienced, and worshiped because, in those ways, He chooses to manifest His love and connect with us.
 
Moses warns the people, "For your own good, do not trivialize God."
-----------------------------------
 
Since you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire, take care and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not act corruptly by making an idol for yourselves, in the form of any figure-- the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth.
 
And when you look up to the heavens and see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples everywhere under heaven.
 
But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.
 
The LORD was angry with me because of you, and he vowed that I should not cross the Jordan and that I should not enter the good land that the LORD your God is giving for your possession. For I am going to die in this land without crossing over the Jordan, but you are going to cross over to take possession of that good land.
 
So be careful not to forget the covenant that the LORD your God made with you, and not to make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God. - Deuteronomy 4:15-24 (NRSV)

Knowing Where and Nowhere

 

Nowhere_man_single
Nowhere or Know Where

Back in the day, on the old  MySpace platform, I posted a bulletin with an error severe enough to change the meaning of a phrase.

In my flawed messages I said that something was going "know where."

I meant "nowhere."

I was only a few letters and a space off, but the meaning changed.

Never one to let a good lemon go wasted without making lemonade, I pondered the deeper meaning of the contrasting terms.

If you are going to where you know where then you can't be going nowhere.

That was not excellent grammar, but I think you get the point. If not, let me rephrase.

If you know where you are going, you can't be going nowhere.

You must be going somewhere.

While I can't tell you where nowhere is, I know that somewhere is real and worthy of your efforts.

So there!

Now then, what is the difference between nowhere and know where?

Nowhere

N - Negative because it is kNee jerk. It is reactive rather than responsive or proactive.

O - Oblique because of its lack of clarity or definition.

W - Worthless because it is the product of a void of values.

H - Hopeless not because it is so awful, but because it was not born of hope.

E - Effortless and effort accompanies value.

R - Redeemable if we are willing to stop and recalibrate our intentions.

E - Efficient. If it is your goal to go where, you will always succeed.

Now .... KNOW WHERE you are going ...

Know

K - Knowledge is the key word. You have given this some thought and gathered wisdom.

N - kNees engaged - Not kNee jerk, but born of prayer.

O - Obvious - There is so much clarity that others can see where you are going.

W - Worthy - your destination is a worthy and worthwhile goal.

Where

W - Will - Your will is engaged. You have made a decision and are following through.

H - Hopeful - This dream is born of hope, bathed in hope, and built daily with hope.

E - Energized moment by moment. You put in the effort and see the fruit.

R - Reachable - It may be lofty, but you can do it. You can get where you are going.

E - Extraordinary - Efficiency is not enough. You were created by God for an extraordinary life!


You Have a Reason to Smile.

 

WHY SMILE
You need a big WHY for your SMILE today.

It is true that you can smile without one, but it is better if you have one.

It makes smiling so much easier and it is makes your story so much better.

Then, when the smile causes the release of your smile hormones, the energy and motivation you feel has a basis in truth and hope. Then, you smile because you are smiling because you have a reason for smiling.

Did you track that?

WHY?

W - We

H - Have

Y- Your Reason

It is your smile and it is your reason for smiling, but here is my suggestion.

Smile because:

S - Someone or Something made the Sun to Shine today.

That is right. The sun is shining. Whatever chemical reactions caused this miracle and placed this planet where it is, the miracle of life was born here. We have just enough of the stuff of life and the exact right conditions for life to flourish. When you have not-too-much and not-too-little of the right stuff, it is a perfect day.

M - Matter Matters.

Energy has reached just the right temperature so that your surroundings have materialized into matter. You've got "stuff," and lots of stuff, starting with your body. That is a miracle in and of itself. Then, you have stuff to put in your body and on your body. You have stuff to sit on and a place to sit in. You are surrounded by stuff and that matter matters because you have what you need to succeed.

I - Insight and Inspiration from Ideas that Ignite you Invite you to change the world.

Sure, there are things that need changing, but you are entertaining great ideas today and gaining insight. These ideas that you are acquiring are inspiring something deep within you and igniting the fire you need to make the changes and be the changes that the world needs to get its smile back. Smile about that.

L - Leverage is yours for all you Lack.

You don't have everything you want. You may not have all that you think you need. Yet, where there is lack, you have leverage. You can leverage the gifts of other people around you, ideas you have not considered, resources you can borrow, and hopes that have not been fully realized. You have leverage that will cover all you lack.

E -Everyone has Enough Energy.

It may not seem true, but everyone here on this ball of carbon-based matter has enough energy to get done what needs to be done today. You may be weary and worn, but you have managed to get moving and awake enough to read these words and be encouraged by them. That took energy. It came from the sun and the sun's Source and it has been given to you to give back to the world.

So do it! And start with your smile!

 

 




Where Are your Rocks?

Big rocls

Photo by p j on Unsplash

Big Rocks

In "First Things First," Stephen Covey tells a story that was told him. I don’t know the sources, so I will embellish a bit.

There was a speaker who was called upon to address a group of young people. As a prop, he pulled out a wide-mouth gallon jar and placed it next to a pile of fist-sized rocks, another pile of gravel, a jar of sand, and a glass of water.

“Who believes I can get all of this into this one gallon jar?” The question evoked some chuckling. No one raised their hand.

After filling the jar to the top with rocks, he asked, "Is the jar full?"

The group replied, "Yes."

He then took the pile of gravel and began to pour it in. He jiggled the jar until the gravel filled the spaces between the rocks.

Again, he asked, "Is the jar full?"

By now, the group cautiously replied, "Probably not."

The speaker then added the sand and asked, "Is the jar full?"

"No!" shouted the group.

Finally, the speaker filled the jar to the brim with water and asked the group the point of this illustration.

Someone replied that you could always fit more things into your life if "you really work at it."

"No," countered the speaker. The point is, if that if you don't put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get any of them in.

What are the big rocks in your life? I’d like to suggest a few for your consideration:

Do not neglect the rock of FAITH:

Have faith in the power of TRUTH – and by that, I suggest to you, ultimate truth, a higher power, God if you will.

Have faith in the power of TENACITY. Keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. Persist and insist on a successful outcome and work toward it.

Have faith in the power of TENURE – By that I mean, time invested and time passed. Be patient with temporary setbacks and inconveniences.

Have faith in the power of TEAMWORK. Work together. TEAM stands for – Together Everyone Accomplishes More!

"Gettin' good players is easy. Gettin' 'em to play together is the hard part." - Casey Stengel

"The strength of the team is each individual member...the strength of each member is the team."- Coach Phil Jackson Chicago Bulls

"Men have never been individually self-sufficient." - Reinhold Niebuhr

" All winning teams are goal-oriented. Teams like these win consistently because everyone connected with them concentrates on specific objectives. They go about their business with blinders on; nothing will distract them from achieving their aims. " - Lou Holtz

Teamwork counts and teams count. Gather the right team, nurture it, and deploy it.

Let your team be one of the biggest rocks in your life.

THE WOLF

"Now is the Law of the Jungle---as old and true as the sky;

And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back---

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."
- Rudyard Kipling

Do not neglect the rock of FAMILY:

You are here because you believe in family and have committed yourself to strengthening families. You have been sharpening your skills for that purpose. You are already heroes and deserve praise. Now, do not neglect your own family.

CREATE family.

If you do not have a warm family, CREATE it! Gather folks around you with whom you can be accountable, authentic, and supportive. If your family is dysfunctional, you will also be in creative mode by setting and observing strong boundaries and creating a safe zone of functionality around yourself. When Rich Mullins, the song writer and leader of the Ragamuffin Band died, there was a traveling funeral that moved from city to city, mostly on university campuses because it was said that Rich created communities wherever he went.

CULTIVATE family.

Like a garden, a warm and nurturing family must grow. To grow, it needs the sunlight of truth, the food of love, and the water of life.

COMMUNICATE family.

Third, we must all make it a point to COMMUNICATE as families and develop healthy communication skills which we can pass on to our children. Strong and nurturing families that resolve conflict with healthy communication, fair “fighting,” and unconditional love are the hope of society because the skills children learn in families, they practice in the larger community and world.

Do not neglect the rock of the FUTURE.

Become futurists. That means to begin to live a life of hope and optimism in a dark world.

Have a WINNING attitude. Your future will rise or fall on your attitude.

Translate I WANT to I WILL! Then, will it and do it!

Then, WORK toward a brighter future for, after all is said and done, the big rock of success, which is a journey and not a destination, is a four letter word spelled simply: W-O-R-K.

Don’t forget the big rocks in these difficult times and be blessed:

Times are tough.
You are tougher. Face the times.

Life is hard.
You are resilient. Keep moving forward.

The future is uncertain.
God is already there. Do not be afraid.

Hope is a rare commodity.
Hope is within the grasp of your imagination. Let it soar.

Money is scarce.
You have all you need in a seed. Plant it and watch it grow.

You are discouraged.
There is a great dream within you. Feed it, follow it, fulfill it.

You deeply desire a blessing.
Be a blessing.

You lack courage.

Encourage someone else.

You have nothing left to give.
Give what only God can supply.

You are frightened of failure.
Risk everything to be all you can be.

These are not idle words. This is how you must live if you will live above your circumstances.

Weighing all possible outcomes of the choices you can make right now, to do nothing, risk nothing, and give nothing will insure that nothing will come back to you. You will be a success in the art of failure by default.

However, if you risk extending yourself, you may also fail, but you will fail with the satisfaction of trying and with all the lessons you can only learn by climbing out on a limb.

But you might also succeed. Out on that limb, when circumstances cut it from under you, you may discover that you can fly.

You'll never find out without taking the big risk.

Take the risk, get the big rocks in place, and be blessed.

 

And keep this in mind:

 


The Courage to be a Peacemaker

Levi-meir-clancy-LheHIV3XpGM-unsplash

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace."

"Where there is hatred, let me sow love."

Where are the instruments of God's peace in the world? Are we praying to be counted among them?

It takes courage to be a peacemaker.

Peacemakers stand in the middle of the hostilities and deflect the bullets and blows with their own bodies, souls, and reputations. They seldom emerge unscathed.

Narcissism does not lend itself to peacemaking leadership.

Narcissism is a heavy burden to bear in any place of leadership. It cripples credibility, curtails collaboration, crushes constructive criticism, and cancels cooperation.

Not only that, it obscures vision, muddles thinking, and distorts perception.

So, how does one shake it? How do we abandon our self-absorbed decision-making and walk away from our self-destructive tendency to imagine the world as something that exists to serve our ambitious pride? Is there a cure?

When he came to Jesus, Nicodemus seemed to hint at the perplexity and impossibility of starting over. But starting over was the courageous and miraculous answer.

Jesus responded that it was a Spirit thing. Maturity does not happen overnight, but new beginnings can happen every day... for the willing.

God, the peacemaker is making peacemakers out of self-serving narcissists.

He is making wholistic thinkers out of compartmentalizing knee-jerkers.

"In academic life the temptation to worship the Part instead of the Whole is subtle and rationally appealing. In the sciences—natural and social—in the humanities, we learn an enormous amount of invigorating truth. We know this search is valid. And therefore it is an aspect of the search for God himself. " - Gordon W. ...Allport, Waiting for the Lord: Meditations on God and Man

Peacemaking is an exercise in considering the whole and the holy. It is a brutal plunge into an ocean of honesty and where realism, optimism, and idealism meet.

"There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are." -Brennan Manning

Peacemaking happens when someone is heartbroken over broken peace, tormented by hostility, and devastated by injustice. Yet, it is embodied in the mission and lifestyle, only, of those who have been brought to life by the grace of God, enlivened by hope.

It looks like compassion.

"Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It's the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. " — Frederick Buechner

Where are God's peacemakers?

Start with the mirror and a willing heart.


What's Trending?

Small minds

 

Things that deserve my attention today:
 
#1 - Being in an honest and transparent relationship with God and with the people in my life.
 
#2 - Making positive change in the world in those areas where I have influence.
 
#3a - Paying attention to issues that involve correcting justice in PUBLIC policy, international diplomacy, matters of war and peace, issues of oppression and other areas where my influence, vote, or comments may count.
 
#3b - Encouraging, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting people.
 
#4 - Doing my work and minding my own business.
 
#5-1976 n- A variety of things.
 
#1977 (if that high) - The personal scandals of high profile people (apparently somewhere between 1-4 on many peoples lists).
 
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt
 

How Many Changers Does It Take to Change?

Light bulb

What?!!! Change?!!!

If we don't want change, all change is intimidating.

George Carlin said he put some money into one of those change machines and nothing happened.

Sometimes, I'd be happy to find a change machine that actually produced transformation in any number of areas of my life and community.

That is one of the appeals of the Jesus movement through history. Those who embrace it and proclaim it know it to be a message of transformation. The human side of transformation is a word that sounds like a Bible thumper's theme, "repentance." It calls forth memories of muggy nights, loud preaching, stern looks, and harsh threats to all who will not repent.

It really means "change" and the gospel writers paired it in the preaching of Jesus with the good news of God's Kingdom.

Why good news?

The good news is that, because there is a new regime and order of things with the coming of a new king, change is possible. It is mandated because it is no longer futile.

A man asked the Zen Buddhist merchant for change for a dollar and he replied, "All change comes from within."

True. It does. It comes from the indwelling presence of a power greater than ourselves who possesses power and personality and who deeply desires for us to come a be a part of His kingdom of joy.

What about an extreme makeover - spiritual edition?

We start with the CORE of our lives - our spirits,  ignited to life by God's Spirit and radiating out into four dimensions of living:

  • Community,
  • Occupation,
  • Resources, and
  • Emotions (Yes, that spells, CORE).

Another key word is related to the construction of a life that is strong and resilient in the midst of the culture quakes, economic tornadoes, circumstantial floods, and faith explosions of our times.

That word is STAND.

To STAND, we must:

  • Shore up our foundations,
  • Take a Team approach,
  • Act purposefully,
  • Name our resources, and
  • Develop our souls.

If it is a sermon or lesson series, it will take five weeks to consider and a lifetime to implement.

Change is possible and we can stand and withstand the onslaughts of overwhelming problems in uncertain times if we will develop from the CORE.

 


Ready or Not

 
 
Ready or not here i come
I am in a state of unready readiness.
 
God of readiness, of constancy, and of mystery,
Invade me, overthrow my stubborn reluctance and
Disperse my stagnant sentries who stagger the soul
And stalwartly resist that which you insist will set me free.
Mercy and grace be Your weapons of invasion,
My only defense is pretense.
 
Lower the flag that flies over the castle of my heart
Declaring autonomy and replace it ...
 
Raise the flag of liberation and spontaneity!
Raise the flag of serendipitous joy!
Raise the flag of righteousness and peace!
Raise the flag of readiness for I am ready to be made ready!
 
I am ready and I am rising from the place to go to the next place ...
 
And then .......
 
And then, Amen
 
And Amen again.
 

Old Mothers

Old_Mother_Hubbard_and_Her_Dog_1889 (1)

“… despise not thy mother when she is old.” -Proverbs 23:22b 

Your Mother When She Is Old


We need as many “old mothers” as we can get in the church and in our lives. We need to honor the older mothers among us and change our thinking about the word, “old.”

For some reason, we have attached a stigma to old age such that people do not like to be called, “old.” Yet, in the scriptures, it is a badge of honor and a sign of God’s blessing.

Perhaps some thought ought to be given to reviving the old custom of honoring the eldest mother in the church on Mother’s Day. In the New testament, older women were all considered mothers of the church. That had something to give and the church was tuned to receive it.

One can think of three reasons why we might learn from and honor the eldest among us and they spell O-L-D.

O – Older mothers have gotten OVER some things.

There is no substitute for experience. The most important and valuable advantage of experience is that it teaches us that wherever we are in our journey, we are stuck. We might be going through some difficulties, but we can and will get through them. We might be laboring under some burdens, but we can and will get over them. We can know this because our elders could and did get over theirs.

L - Older mothers have LEARNED some things.

Life has taught them some lessons and most are willing to share those lessons. We all know more today than we did yesterday. The longer we go, the more we potentially learn. We can honor our mothers by listening to their perspectives. They know some things we do not know because they have had time to learn them.

D – Older mothers have DONE some things.

They have had time to accomplish some goals, to have a few failures, and to enjoy some victories. When we look at their lives, we take courage in knowing that we can also accomplish some things. In fact, they sometimes did what seemed impossible, but with God’s help, they did them anyway. We need them as role models.

These are three reasons to honor our older mothers and to strive to someday be old mothers and old fathers.

 


A Day of Prayer - Reflections on This Day

Peter marshall prayer
 
This is prayer.
 
We move in the direction of God.
 
The movement itself is far more important that the words we use or the sentiments we experience. It is the movement that expresses the true intentions of our hearts.
 
The movement is the most honest and reliable indicator of our spiritual progress ... whether we know it or feel it or not.
 
Let us move toward God today.
 
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." - Hebrews 4:16,  New International Version (©1984)
 
When I say I pray for you, I do. I come beside you, stand with you, and bring you before the God I serve. It is my way of loving you.
A three letter word for prayer: AWE!
 
"I stand amazed in the presence ..."
 
Another word for prayer: WONDER!
 
"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) - not quitting and maintaining the attitude and constant awareness of One who is Other.
 
I do pray for America today and invite others to pray in whatever way they pray. For those who don't, do what you and wish America well.
 
I am not just praying for our nation today. I am praying for our larger community on the planet - No permission or sanction needed - but encouragement welcome and concerted effort celebrated.
 
Do we NEED a national day of prayer? I think so - DAILY!
 
I am amused by the fuss we make over symbols and language when prayer and gathering to pray is always legal. If it is ever not, we still will.
 
This is a day of prayer. It matters little whether it is declared or not (It has been). It is always legal in any jurisdiction, to pray.
 

Holiness

 

Leviticus holiness code

Shai Halevi on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority - Enlargement of image at Wikimedia-Commons https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/1039-1_for_screen.jpg

Close-up of paleo-Hebrew Leviticus scroll, now at the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem

Today, I seek from God what I must give to God. It is a presumptuous request and an audacious expectation that I could be what I seek to be, holy.

Holiness is fully integrated wholeness before God and within ourselves. It is sincere, focused attention and utter consecration.

It is being that flows through doing.

It is knowing who we are and Whose we are.

It is belonging.

It is availability.

It is the capacity to stand in awe and chuckle at the twists and turns of life as God intervenes in life.

It is what I lack and what I have at the same time.

"Be holy, for I am holy ," (Leviticus 11:44) is quite an assignment. Yet, every assignment is a sign of hope and possibility.

By God's grace and incarnate sacrifice, we are holy because we have been bought with a price. We are holy in spiritual reality, but we may lag in actualization. I do.

Dear Fanny Crosby, whose only light was the light of God within her, blind to the world, but ever so perceptive to the Spirit, penned her hearts desire this way. I make it a prayer today as well:

I Am Thine, O Lord

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

This is my personal devotion for the day, the focus of my attention as I set out on my various tasks of living. It is my meditation as I seek to integrate the loose strands of life's demands and make myself available to God and the world as a follower of Jesus.

It is my prayer. It is my intention. It is my heart.


Eventually ...

 

 

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The church that aspires to being coddled by the world, that whines for preferred status, that complains in the wilderness that it only has manna, and that expects great privilege has, perhaps, not read Peter's first epistle enough or Jesus' admonitions on the mountain in Matthew 5 and following.

What is now, is momentary.

What will be, eventually will be.

We are to live graciously, truthfully, and faithfully and to expect hostility, receiving even that, as manna and honor and returning only love in the name of Jesus.

"For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." -1 Peter 2:20-21 

His steps are the steps of suffering, not coddling.

World Context

"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene," - Luke 3:1

It sounds like "too much information to some ears.

Yet, it is vital information. It sets the story in time and place so that understanding time and place, the message can be timeless. The truth can transcend its historical setting.

In the arena of God’s activity, there are always multiple events transpiring at the same time.

Everything happens in context.

Christian awareness has a true north focus on the activity of God in the world, but it cannot ignore the world around it. To do so would be to deny that God uses world events to establish a context for His message.

God is aware of our world. He knows its culture, politics and trends. When His Word comes to us, it is in context. The Christian who shuts his or her eyes to the world is going to miss part of what God is addressing in time and space.

Not to acknowledge context is to make God’s Word simply an esoteric nicety with no punch.

At any given time in history, our context might be privilege or persecution or anything in between. It might be hardship or ease. It might be high favor or no favor, but there will always be flavor and ...

God will always be at work in the dead center of things.

Be of good cheer.