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June 2021

Unfailing Compassion


Photo by Antón Jáuregui on Unsplash


It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. -Lamentations 3:22

Compassion combines the concept of deep feeling with the idea of sharing (com=with). God feels with us, deeply and profoundly. That means that He shares our passion, pain, and emotion.

Passion if the at the root of our energy for ministry. It is that God-given quality that enthuses us with clarity of vision and depth of conviction. It moves us when we see the suffering of other people. It drives us when we understand what is to be done about it. Without passion, we whither. With a vibrant passion we can overcome obstacles and rise above our moods. Passion reminds us of our essential purpose and drives us forward. Some characteristics of passionate people are:

P—Positive Priorities

Instead of avoidance behavior, people with passion move toward their commitments aligning themselves with those activities that support the causes for which they are passionate.

A—Active Attitude Adjustments

Passionate people are constantly adjusting their own attitudes and actively tuning their minds in the direction of their goals and objectives.


There is no faking real passion. It bubbles up from within and is nurtured by our committed actions.

S – Simplicity

Passionate people can explain their mission to you in a few short sentences. Since it is clear to them, they can make it clear for you.


People with true God-given passion for ministry know the reality of God breathing His purpose through His Spirit into their lives. The calling is His and they are driven by that knowledge.

O - Open “Outwardness”

Not necessarily extroverts, passionate people love to talk about their mission and cause. It splashed out of their lives and is contagious.


People with passion are not easily deterred from a mission. It becomes one of the non-negotiable values of their lives.



Bonus Video - this Morning's Online Service from

The Fellowship of Joy

God of the Oppressed

God of the oppressedOrder Here


Reflections on Psalm 9:9-20

Psalm for June 20, 2021


Confession: I am not James Cone. I cannot hold an intellectual or theological candle to James Cone These are just my meager reflections on a great Psalm of justice I have collected over time and moments of musing. 

Psalm 9:9 - The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

The oppressed are very dear to God. A rabbi once said that God must truly love the poor because He made so many of them. So it is with the oppressed. And the story is bigger than we imagine on the surface. We are all among the oppressed. Temptation, sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil oppress us on all sides and from within. When Israel was at the sea and the Egyptians were in pursuit, God called on Moses to lead His people into a wilderness of refuge. There appeared to be no walls and no shelter, but God had a plan to protect His people. He was their refuge and stronghold and He is ours. We, like them, must move toward Him in faith even when what is ahead looks like a vast wilderness without wall. God is your protector from all that oppresses you today.

Psalm 9:10 - Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

One of the gifts that God gave to Israel was His personal name. It was a secret that was not available outside of the covenant. It was a source of power, strength, and belonging. It was so sacred that no Jew would pronounce it or even consider it without the deepest reverence and awe. And yet, every Jew knew His name and to know it evoked a profound trust and stirred up memories of His faithfulness throughout the generations. To know His name was and is to know Him. We have, through Jesus, free access to our Heavenly Father and know Him by that name. In knowing Him, we trust Him. In trusting Him, we seek Him. And He never forsakes us. Nor shall He forsake you as you seek Him in trust today.

Psalm 9:11 - Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.

We must proclaim, not only amongst ourselves, but also among the nations all that our God has done. As we praise Him openly, we practice worship evangelism. Our sincerity, exuberance, and devotion all bear witness to His glory and His mighty deeds. Praise holds up His character, grace, and love for all to see. Praise declares the sovereignty and reign of God and announces His Kingdom with authenticity and believability.  If we will praise Him with our whole hearts and let His joy and power flow through us, we will bear witness in a manner that is compelling and truthful. Many do not know. As we worship Him transparently and openly, they will see and hear of His wonderful works and be drawn to Him. But remember this is not a show that we produce for the world. It is real praise that we direct to Him with the world looking on. If we keep these first things first we won't be able to avoid the fruit of evangelism.

Psalm 9:12 - For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

Who can forget the image of old Jewish elder, disgusted with the injustices of the world, shaking his fist in prayer to the God he loves and adores, demanding God's attention and justice? And God does not strike him dead. In fact, God hears his cry for it comes from one of his faithful servants. Perhaps we would recommend an attitude of greater humility before a holy God, but we would not forget His willingness and determination to hear the cry of the afflicted. God forgets no injustice without remedy. He does not sweep the blood of martyrs under some cosmic rug and wipe their pain from His memory. God deals with it. Look at the cross. God is dealing with it there. He is remedying the injustice. He is correcting the wrong. He is answering the prayers of the afflicted for restoration and He is hearing your prayers as well.

Psalm 9:13-14 - O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up form the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation.

When we are burdened and persecuted, is this the nature of our cry that of this psalmist? Are we seeing an end result in God's mercy merciful rescue that culminates in greater and more heartfelt praise for Him? Do we envision rejoicing that ultimately honors Him and brings glory to His name?  How wrapped up are our own wishes, emotions, and requests in His purposes, will, and desires? How deeply do we long for His will to be done and His reign to come on earth as it is in Heaven? Let us not cease to cry for mercy and deliverance - for we are in great need - but may we grow to see that our salvation is something intimately connected with the worship of God.

Psalm 9:15 - The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

Like the nations, we have often fallen into puts we have dug or have become entrapped in nets of our own making. This probably does not come as news to you since it is so common to our human experience. If we are honest, we will admit to our contributory role in our own troubles. Whenever we devise clever and sinister plots it is we ourselves who enter into forced servitude to the very forces that drove us to ambition. So powerful are the snares and false promises of success and competition among humans that we are lured into their captivity by a wink, a nod, or an image. The antidote is focus - clear and centered upon God through Jesus Christ. We face grave danger today if we lose our focus and untold possibilities for blessing if we keep seeking Him.

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

 Have you ever considered the reputation of God? That fact that He is known by His justice is a telling sign.  Before we encounter the love and grace of God, we already understand that He is fair and righteous and truthful. We also know that in the grand scheme of things, poetic justice dictates that their own devices ensnare the wicked.  If the world already understands this dimension of God and His ways, we have good news for them. Jesus came to brings us, as Paul Harvey says, “the rest of the story.” That story is that this same God passionately and jealously loves us with a love so deep that mercy and grace flow in unbroken succession from His heart. Do not wince at the justice of God, for it is His justice that leads us into His arms.

Psalm 9:17 - The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.

 There is no future for those who forget God. There is nothing that godlessness offers us but death. Even if we are saved by grace, nothing that we invest in sin will stand the tests of time of eternity. God will not circumvent His own ways in our lives to achieve His purposes. He is consistent and true to Himself and to His Word. Count on it and count on Him to be trustworthy and scrupulously committed to integrity in His dealings with us. If He declares that X + Y = Z, then we can plan our lives around the principle. That is not to say that He cannot and will not intervene in His grace, but we must not presume upon His character. He loves us and pines for us, but He will not force His love upon us. If we reject it and to the extent we reject it, we are left to our own devices which lead to death.

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

We have a God whose ways are not our ways and thoughts not our thoughts. He reverses the power of conventional wisdom and defies the accepted truisms of society to make His own order. He simply does not forget the needy. He has a bias for them. He will not abandon the afflicted. For those who are hopeless, He offers hope. Let us proclaim hope daily – first to our own defeated souls, weighed down with the worries and cares of life, discouraged in well doing, spent and depleted. Then let us proclaim the same message with the authentic credibility of a person who has embraced hope in his or her own life to a needy and broken world. May hope exude from our pores. May it be the aura that surrounds our lives, the given pitch that tunes our voices, the color of our countenances, and the tenor of our words. The good news of hope is the one word that broken people cannot create from wishful thinking. It is not denial; it is reality. May we live it and speak it daily.

Psalm 9:19 - Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph; let the nations be judged in you presence.

Man’s ways can be very frightening. The history of mankind is peppered with incidents of mob violence and injustice that was condoned by the crowd. Majority rule has often ruled out righteousness and minorities have been oppressed by masses simply because they had the power to do so. The prayer of the righteous man or woman always includes the desire for justice, for limits on evil, and for God’s restraint and ultimate judgment of all that goes against Him and His ways. We can pray this way with confidence because we are assured of the character and promises of God to set all things aright in His own timing and according to His purposes. Do not grow discouraged and do not stop praying for the right and for God’s will. And do not be alarmed when the evil one seems to be directing the political forces of the world. Evil shall not prevail. God wins – always.

Psalm 9:20 - Strike them with terror, O Lord; let the nations know they are but men.

There is a kind of terror that is to be desired within us and among men and women. It is that terror that absolutely melts our souls under the glaring reality of God. It is that terror that teaches us that we are but mere men. As we grow in grace, may we keep a sense of that terror. Even as we flourish in the wonderful awareness of God’s love, acceptance, dignity, and value of us as His children, may we avoid the conceit that marginalizes Him and maximizes our own importance. We are only human. That is not an excuse and not a put-down; it is basic truth. We do not overcome sin in our own strength. We do not grow in Christ because we have the best motives, the purest thoughts, and the most attractive personalities. We are absolutely, utterly dependent upon God. We are but men – male and female. It is a life-affirming and esteem-building exercise to realize this in the light of the truth that God, who also knows this, chooses to love and to grace us.


Bonus Content - The Video of My Sermon This Morning

On and Off Topic, Come to the Table

image from

The_School_of_Athens__by_Raffaello_Sanzio_da_Urbino  -  This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons


Quotes to Catch You Off-Guard
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." Albert Einstein
"No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens." - Abraham Lincoln (according to some reports)
"A man's life is what his thoughts make it." ~ Marcus Aurelius (Sounds kind-a like Proverbs 23:7)
"No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens." - Abraham Lincoln (according to some reports)
"Don't believe everything you read on the internet." - George Washington
"Not everyone on the internet is who they claim to be." - Aristotle
No photo description available.
"Reich Church" and the "Confessing Church"

When religious gatherings turn into patriotic rallies, one remembers when Christians were called upon to choose between the "Reich Church" and the "Confessing Church" led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Pastor Martin Niemöller.

Gospel integrity will always conflict with nationalism.

This is not to say that patriotic rallies are bad. Just do not confuse them with religious gatherings or confuse religion with patriotism.

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." — Paulo Freire
On and Off  Topic
You can come to social media as a student, teacher, commentator, advocate, seller, consumer, organizer, agitator, friend, community builder, entertainer, predator, gamer, or more or any combination. But whatever you choose, ask, "What can I contribute to others while here?"
Social media is, in part, a library of classics and current literature for me . I cannot learn everything from the titles, but I can make notes for future reading and build a bibliography.
Those who consistently comment on Twitter and FB headlines and summaries without reading the linked articles remind me of students who show up for class discussions without doing the reading homework. They usually get the whole class off topic.
Revival Prayer
We pray.
Lord, send a revival.
Show us our sinful ways.
Purge our hearts.
Shake our false foundations, dismantle our pride.
Send us running to you.
Something stirs.
We pray against the stirring.
"Lord, send a revival."
"I am trying to."
"That is not what we meant."
"What did you mean, then?"
"Well, not that."
"Oh, well I thought you might have wanted the full dose."
Be careful about complaining about the tides.]
They may be in answer to your prayers.
Lives that Matter
You do not have to love anyone less in order to love others more.
You do not have to give up your own story in order to hear and embrace the story of another.
You do not have to convince everyone in your tribe of the righteousness of the truth you are finding in order to keep hammering away at it.
This season of conversation is going to be a lot about exposure, relentless exposure to buried truths.
There will be a great deal of monologue and listening.
There will be talk of dismantling and fearful resistance, but everyone knows that dismantling comes before rebuilding and restoration.
Just watch “This Old House.”
There will be ignoring of criticism to be done.
You will have to repeat yourself many times.
You will have to accept that your good arguments will fall on deaf ears for the most part ... but you do not have to win every argument.
You must be true to what God is showing you.
You must participate.
“Send word to my brothers,” cried the rich man to Father Abraham.”
“They already know and have already heard,” replied Father Abraham. They will not believe, my son,” he said, “even if one comes back from the dead.”
Do not love less, those with deaf ears and hard hearts, but neither wait for them to understand and a agree.
Broaden your heart of love and sharpen your focus for what God is doing in this hour.
He has set a national table of conversation and invites all who will come.

All in the Family

La_nausee 2

In 2009, when I first published this, I knew a number of people who told me they were sick of Christians. They were not sick of Jesus necessarily. In fact, if they had seen more of Jesus in Christians, it would have helped.

Has any of this changed?


I think that, perhaps,  intensified or has been more openly articulated.

Here is what I wrote then:

Sick of Christians?

The pot is being stirred and there is a lot of spillage. The church is struggling with its identity in a rapidly changing world. Everyone, inside and outside, has an opinion - maybe more than one. Sometimes we are fighting the world. Sometimes we are fighting each other. Sometimes we put our collective feet in our mouths.

Sometimes I get sick of Christians.

Sometimes I get sick of myself.

Many recent conversations have not brought out the best in me.

It is hard to hang out with people who have more answers than questions. This has been building up. Others are making definitions of who is what  and codifying them with really long and specific lists.

Sometimes I find it easier to relate to non-Christians who don't claim to have all the answers than to my brothers who are sure that they do.

"Are you biblical, traditional, emergent, liberal, conservative, seeker-sensitive, or what? Careful. Consult the list of criteria before answering."

"Pick a category. Hurry!"

I take Jesus' words, "Seek and ye shall find" to point toward an ongoing process of seeking and finding and seeking some more and finding some more and never being settled and done.

So I come to most conversations with a mixture of dogmatism and ambiguity, a tentative confidence grounded in solid faith, but flexible from the ground up.

I get frustrated with friends who want to finish every conversation with a hard and fast pronouncement. I want to say, "That tree is still alive and subject to quite a bit of movement as it grows upward."

What I know is that as it grows upward, its roots sink deeper - and that is what accounts for my peace and confidence.

If we put most of our focus on the roots without ignoring what is seen, we can do whatever it is we do with trees with the rest of our time and energy.

But it is the root of things that matters most and I see a lot of attention being given to leaves and bark.

What occurs to me is that Jesus said He was the vine; we were the branches; God handled the pruning; and our task was to abide.

I suppose I need to let Him handle the outgrowths that keep annoying and embarrassing me with their references to imprecatory prayers against anyone with whom they disagree or that they see as a threat to God - who has a pretty good track record of being able to take care of Himself.

And thank God He ignores ridiculous prayers where we presume to know who should live or die.

Maybe He chuckles at our assumptions that we must desperately rescue civilization so that his Kingdom will not die from our neglect. It is not that we are not called to engage, transform, influence, and preserve culture. It is a matter of balance and of seeing the larger Kingdom picture which includes thousands of years of chaotic world history and a big world that stretches far beyond our Western orientation.

It is not just the really obnoxious and grotesque examples of mean-spirited distortions of Christianity, but the more subtle things that are bothering me.

Everyone seems to know where things need to be pruned and I see a potentially lopsided bush forming. Many  Christians are just so sure of themselves and what they have "found" in their brief forays into seeking territory.

"We ought to do this and not that. We should be doing such an so. Everyone should stand up for this and against that and we all need to pull together and stand against sin and this is the sin we should be focusing on and isn't it awful that some people don't see it quite the way we do and don't you know that it is us against them and what we need is courage and courage is doing what I say you ought to be doing and please don't question it. And we have to get back to the Bible and these are the verses on which we should focus and this is how it should be done and don't forget to use the right words and slogans and we are right and everyone else is wrong and on and on and on."

So thank God that as much as it seems one party or another is setting God's agenda, He has not relinquished that prerogative to us. It really does not matter what we decide in our back and forth and circular conversations. God will do what God pleases and will continue to make all the definitions.

And God will prune and feed the vine and lead His servants and correct them when necessary and even use us in the process whenever He can trust us to love the sinner like He does.

Yes. I get sick of Christians sometimes - just people with the same personality quirks they would have if they were not Christians - people just as ornery as I am ( or less so because I have a big dose of it).

We get ticked off and opinionated and harsh and then we crash from time to time and ask a lot of questions and then we come back to center - but all the while, our roots are planted in the strong bedrock of God's grace and truth.

I get ticked off and harsh when I perceive people are ticked off and harsh and I judge judgmental people and I am just as human as the rest.

Jesus said He would not feel like spitting us out unless we went lukewarm. He can steer us when we are moving. He can guide us when we are seeking. He can change us when we stay open to change. He can bend us and mold us, and break the resistance of our hearts and He does.

Does Jesus get sick of Christians? When we just don't get it? When we act the same as the folks He was calling to repentance but with Bible verses to justify our rigidity and graceless living?

Maybe, but He doesn't give up. Surprisingly, He loves us passionately and is infinitely patient with us. He uses our crude attempts at service. He includes us in His purpose whether or not we get it.

I have not given up on the church because Jesus has not given up on the church or on me.

The Vinedresser has not retired.

The church has no corner on the market for dogmatism, rigidity, or critical judgments. Humanity is a common "disease" and a common blessing as well.

If I am ever sick of Christians, it is because they are my family and families get on each others nerves from time to time. I really love Christians and other people as well, but Christians are, with all their peccadilloes, my people and God's people.

We are called to be peculiar and even odd.

We are thrown together with our personality issues and commanded to "work it out" with God's help and guidance. We have to struggle and grow in our capacity for relationship. We march to a different drum and, in doing so, we don't flaunt it or push our weight around. That is the plan anyway.

Sometimes it works very well.


Searching Me

Edison and searchlight

The Importance of Self-Examination

Edison and his searchlight cart in 1915, from the Smithsonian. Public Domain

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you …” -II Corinthians 13:5.

“… Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.…  -Psalm 26:2

When we were children and we went to the doctor, we could be comforted by the words, “Don’t worry, its just an examination."

As we grew older, we came to understand that such examinations could be quite uncomfortable. Furthermore, we began to express concern over what the examiner might find and what the course of treatment might be. We have even deceived ourselves into thinking that if we could ignore a problem, it might go away. That does not work in the physical realm or the spiritual.

The tragedy of avoidance is that in trying not to hear the bad news, we miss the good news as well. 

Let God do the examination and show you what He wants you to know.  He has some things to say to you today about you and one is how much He loves you. He may also wish to show you some areas where He wants to work in your life to help you grow, to overcome some obstacles, and to exercise faith at a new level.  Nothing is too frightening.  He loves you and can transform even the darkest places with His light of the truth and love.

Listen, seek, and wait on Him.

Our task is to examine ourselves. The ultimate question for us to ask is the question of faith. Are we in THE faith and are we acting and living on faith?

If the answer is affirmative, there is no limit to what God can do in and through us.

Let God search your heart and life today and reveal Himself and yourself to you. Then, commit to taking whatever step of faith that He leads you to take with His help and in His strength.

We Have Heart Problems

Bp cuff


Healthy Heart

We have a heart problem.

That means we do no heed the heart of the matter and hurt ourselves and others as a result.

We have no problem with details sometimes; it is the reason for the details that causes us to balk.

We can abide by the letter, but we use the letter to carefully avoid the principle and implications of the law.

We somehow think that God should be impressed with our religiously observant our words and rituals are as we stomp people into the ground and harshly judge their lives while doing whatever we please outside the walls of our carefully constructed "isms."

What kind of Healthy heart does real faith aim us toward?

Let's focus on the word, "HEALTH."

H - Healthy relationships with God and people. The healthy heart produces healthy life in all its dimensions.

E - Engagement with the meaning of our rituals - a willingness to look deeper than the words and symbols to the essence of what God is saying to us through them.

A - Attitudes of grace, and gratitude, free from the strident bondage of a faith based on rules and rigid judgmentalism.

L - Living what we profess so that God is honored and people are lifted, granted justice, offered compassion, and set free to live abundantly.

T - Testing the results of our beliefs in the crucible of how they effect our behaviors and the well-being of people.

H - Humility that causes us to examine our own lives before pointing the finger at other people.

Now, hear the Word of the LORD:

Matthew 15:1-20 The Message (MSG):

After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?”
But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules.

Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:

"These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they’re worshiping me,
but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”

He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”
Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”

Jesus shrugged it off. “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”

Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


Interfaith Friendship without Milk Toast Theology

The image was chosen to get your attention, not to imply that all religions are the same. Everyone knows that while most have some common themes, they are unique and have their own theologies, concepts of God, and core teachings, and values.
This image, which was originally posted to Flickr, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on  by Russavia. On that date, it was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the license indicated. Temple of All Religions in KazanRussia
People of different faiths periodically fast and seek God as they understand God.
When this happens, two blessings I pray.
One is that they will be successful in that effort of seeking and finding.
I know that the reality is that God seeks us. It is the greatest reality, but there are also calls in Jewish and Christian scripture to seek God.
God spoke to the Magi as they sought truth through a star. They did not have a Yahwistic theology or concept of God.
May God surprise us all.
God taps me in the shoulder when I am not even paying attention, much lest being theologically on target.
May all who seek, find.
The second is that my Christian and even non believing friends would practice fasting or some other form of spiritual discipline to seek God and/or truth more deeply and to pray/empathize more effectively for themselves, for others, and the world.
May those efforts be blessed.
I do not surrender my faith in Jesus when I wish my neighbor well. I do not have to endorse or adopt the faith of another to find encouragement to go deeper in my own faith because of the commitment he or she has to his or hers.
God invaded my life though Jesus almost 60 years ago and radicalized me forever. I am unashamedly a Jesus follower and, a such, a friend to people.
"Seek and ye shall find," is a rather simple statement when applied to a sincere heart.
May God, who loves all people, give us all sincere and seeking hearts whatever the season and draw us all to Himself.
I am willing to give Him rather broad leeway to accomplish that and desire to make myself available to Him for that purpose.
Our theology does not have to be perfected before we can be met by God. He will help with that as we move forward in relationship.
Much love to all my friends today. Blessings.

The Culture of Giving


Tim mossholder

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Now it is not necessary for me to write you about the ministry to the saints, for I know your eagerness, which is the subject of my boasting about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.

But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you may not prove to have been empty in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated-- to say nothing of you-- in this undertaking.

So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you, and arrange in advance for this bountiful gift that you have promised, so that it may be ready as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion.

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.

Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 

- 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 (NRSV)

A Lifestyle of Giving

In a world of getting, Paul suggests a lifestyle and a culture of giving.

He suggests that it flow out of something deeper than obligation. In fact, he uses the word, "cheerful," which is rooted in "hilarity."

Giddy givers get greater gratification, gaining grace by granting grace.

Eagerness is cited.

Readiness is recommended.

Follow through is essential.

Thanksgiving is predicted and mandated.

Abundance is the atmosphere of generosity. It is the expectation rather than the exception. It is the flow from source, through force, and all along the course of it from the receiver who gives to the receiver who gives and perpetually moving in a n endless river of God's provision.

Sowing and reaping point toward the reality of the matter.

The church is planted to perpetuate a culture and atmosphere where giving becomes the norm and is seen as a joyous expression of the life of grace.

It is intrinsic to the gospel.

It is endemic in the nature of God.

It is reciprocal in our relationships with God and with other people.

Thanks be to God for God's unspeakable gift!


High Grounded Politics

High ground
If I do not tell you when I wrote this or who was in power, will it help?
It should not matter. I have lived through thirteen administrations and this has always been my approach.
People, like me , who often have serious moral issues with policies, philosophies, and words of government, do not need to resort to cruel pranks, hurtful attacks, or suggestions of violence to dispute, resist, and bear witness.
The "other side," whatever it might be at any time or place in history, generally delivers enough primary-source material that can be openly and objectively disputed in the light of day without embellishment.
It always weakens our arguments to call people names or gloss over the details and subtleties of debatable topics. It always dilutes our arguments if we use our energy to assign motivation.
I do not wish to see good arguments weakened or important issues marginalized by questionable behavior by mean-spirited actions of our allies.
If I don't like the deeds done to my side, I can't accept them from my side.
We need to take the high ground.