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August 2021

Shake, Rattle, and Roll!

Made to be awesome

"See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah 1:4-10 is resonating in my heart today.

Some folks seem to be appointed to pluck up, pull down, destroy, and overthrow so that they may build and plant.

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy.'"

Read it! Here it is in NRSV:

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

To be known, consecrated, and appointed is an awe inspiring insight into our own selves under God. It was never, "Will you go?" It was "You shall go."

It was never, "Figure out what to day." It was "You shall say what I command you to say."

But I am a very young boy?

Yes, that is me speaking at 66 and more than a half. I have much to learn and much growing to grow and I am a boy.

"Fooey!" God says in better words.

'"Don't say that. I am with you."

With me? Yes, with me.

That is a big deal. Do not gloss over it.

"Do not be afraid."

Could I be afraid with that reality etched into my consciousness?

Has your mouth been touched and words implanted? Has your courage been strengthened and your resolve reordered?

Words ... pluck up, pull down, destroy, overflow.... with PURPOSE: To plant and build!

Go and say ... today.

"In you, Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame." (Psalm 71:1, NRSV)

"Our God is a consuming fire,: (Hebrews 12:29)

"Awesome," the dudes on the street corner utter, "Awesome!"

He shakes things up.

He shakes me.

He shakes you.

And here we are, just boys and girls and we are shaking the world.

God shakes!

We shake!

The earth shakes!

What a dance!

God has to clear away some debris and old broken down buildings of our own contrivances and the rubble of our rusty rubrics.

There needs to be some bulldozing of old orders for the new order to take hold.

Jesus, by His sprinkled blood, the mediator of the new covenant (Hebrews 12)!

He too, was just a boy!


Just nothing ... but JUSTICE!

Yes! just-ice!

He came and healed on the Sabbath and exposed the rubric realm of reigning religiosity. (Luke 13:10-17).

But He was not just a boy! He knew the whole story. He knew what it was all about before we started messing with it, over-structuring it, and supervising it as supposed "deputies of God."

Why do we need anything but the words in our mouths and the God who is with us?

Jesus did not despise the Sabbath. He loved it, celebrated it, and restored it?

He did not come to tear down anything of essence. He came to clear the rubble around it so that it might be seen again, afresh, anew.

What have we come to? (Hebrews 12:18ff.) AWESOME!

There is fire ... always fire.

But there is also festal gathering! Mostly that. That is the THAT!

What cannot be shaken shall remain!

Acceptable worship with reverence!

At that time, a voice shook the earth and it is almost always ...


Hello there, all you Jeremiahs!

You are not just anything.

You are known, consecrated, and appointed! You shall go! You shall speak! God is with you and His words are in your mouth.

Go shake a few things and see what remains!

There are treasure out there to be unearthed of God's own planting!

Shake, rattle, and roll in your role!

Grace, peace, and joy to you.


Living in the Gap

Blank plus
Eleven years ago I was at the cemetery officiating the service of a man who had regularly attended our church. He was a quiet, decent, hard working, and interesting man with a deep commitment to Christ.
He found himself satisfied with very simple pleasures, few possessions, and a small circle of close friends.
He was a very good friend of Bill W. and participated in the groups that met at our church and helped many people as a sponsor.
I would not have considered him wealthy. He had a job that could not have paid a great deal of money. He walked almost everywhere he needed to go.
Yet, I am told, he left a small fortune behind.
It was not that he made a lot of money. He was just frugal and conscientious about savings and investments.
As I often do, I chose to talk about the space, dash, or gap on our tombstones between the date of our birth and death. We cannot control the dates, but we can control what happens in the gap to the extent that we are in charge of all of our choices.
It caused me to reflect on how I wish to spend my time in that gap.
Growing in grace, gratitude, and giving.
Acting so as to accept what is, acknowledge what is not, and attempt what can be.
Pursuing a purpose that provides peace and promotes the positive, and produces fruit for God's kingdom.
How am I living in my gap between January 3, 1955 and that unknown date in the future?
Live the life you were placed here to live. Live boldly! Live large and loud!  Livew!

Final Frontier

Galaxy cluster cornucopia
It is here. It is within us. It is beyond us. It is within our reach and far beyond.
Final Frontier
Spreading forth to the west,
   The east,
      The north,
         The south,
Vertical and horizontal
Waves of
This is
   Universal unfolding,
      Unfettered movement,
         Undeniable understanding.
These are birds flying,
   Dreams soaring,
      Thoughts set free,
         Potential compressed and


To Label Is to Negate

image from

"Once you label me you negate me." - Soren Kiergegaard

That one simple observation, that we know intuitively, provides the best argument against hard and fast labels that I know.

It may also be the reason why people are so prone to use them ... on others.

When our arguments against issues or for our own positions are weak, we feel we can score an easy "win" by putting our adversaries into boxes of someone else's making.

Once we have categorized the person, we can dismiss him or her and that person's words as party lines from some villainous sect or persuasion.

It works except for one annoying reality. It is wrong.

And it counts us out of one of those groups that Jesus commended – truth seekers.

If we cannot seek truth in every situation, we cannot seek it anywhere.

Negate nothing but negativity and negate no one … ever.


Step Back

Step back for a wider view.
Sometimes I write things that seem very clever, insightful, and truthful to me and then ...
I delete them before I post them ...
... because they could hurt someone at a level that would be or seem to be unkind ...
... whether I intend it that way or not ... and then, sometimes, I miss.
Today, I caught two and deleted them.
The secret?
I stepped back and read them as a third party.
Try it.
have another cup of coffee while you read yourself.

How Sweet the Sound

Notes musical

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103

 Do you remember the moment? Can you go back to the time? Can you recall the emotion when you first heard the word of grace in your soul?

Into what fertile ground was the word of grace planted in your life? How deep was your misery or despair? What secret wretchedness was hidden in your heart? How hopeless were your aspirations of a better way? How unacceptable did your life seem to yourself and to God? Was there a place in you that felt unloved, unwanted, and unworthy?

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” – Luke 7:47

Do you love much or do you love little?

It is the heart that was broken and burdened and then relieved by grace, mercy, and forgiveness that receives the word with gladness. To such a one, His voice, the voice of grace, is sweet. It soothes the troubled soul and sweetens the bitterness of guilt and regret.

There is no sin, no disappointment, nor groaning that is out of the earshot of grace.

There is no dissonance that cannot be brought into harmony when the overwhelmingly sweet sound of grace crescendos on the stage of personal history.

Grace notes swell against the chorus of our experiences. All other voices must tune themselves to the fundamental of grace. The instruments of destruction are transformed into the instruments of mercy. Grace takes center stage and all bow before Him who sings the song of the ages.

How sweet the sound of grace to those who have been forgiven much. Jesus opens His mouth and begins to sing to us. It is at the same time a lullaby of peace and a rousing call to arms. Yet, to the one receiving that sound as His Holy Word, it is always sweet. There is no sweeter sound.

Hear the Word of the Lord, dear sinner friend. It is the sound of grace. It is the sound of mercy. It is the sound of forgiveness and hope.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Chew That



Adams California Fruit Gum 1910s USA chewing gum sweets #AdvertisingArchives, Public Domain

Quick question," my friends say as a preface.

Absolutely. Ask away, but here is a warning, "Have you ever known me to give a quick answer?"

For instance, "Where do you want that box?"

"Hmmm ... there are multiple shades of meaning to the question and numerous possibilities available with multiplied consequences not to mention the unknown unintended ones. Let us explore ...."

"Yawn, never mind."

But I come to God this morning with such quick questions and quick prayers and He really understands all of these contingencies, possibilities, opportunities, consequences, and unfolding repercussions resonating from one stroke of a tuning fork of choice.

And I want a quick answer to a quick question with a quick fix.

Slow down, Tom! Are you a "laborer together with God (read: partner)" or are you just looking for a handout or a mindless assignment?

God has called us to participate in His kingdom and I would suggest that such participation might require allowing some time on my calendar for a few longer meetings.

Thank God He is open to quick questions and answers because He is so patient with me. He gave us Psalm 100, but He also gave us Psalm 119.

As I have taught some of my bible study students to say and do when they get a chew-able biblical vitamin: "CHEW THAT!"