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October 2022

A Pro in Motion


Photo by Hamish Weir on Unsplash


Lately, I have posted some messages that might be largely considered promotional in nature - meaning, "to move something forward."

The specific etymology is:

1429, "advancement," from O.Fr. promotion (14c.), from L. promotionem, noun of action from promovere (see promote). Meaning "advertising, publicity" first recorded 1925. Promotional "relating to advertising" first recorded 1922. (Etymology Online)

Motives (also from motieonem and movere) are always mixed. From that reality, they derive their power and complexity. From that equilibrium, we derive the genius of win-win scenarios and shared vision. When all who come to the table have the opportunity to win, everyone is PRO-MOTED, moved forward, advanced, and encouraged to the next level of accomplishment.

I encourage you to always be promoting something and/or someone. Always be looking for ways to win by helping others win. always be advancing an idea, a cause, or an event that will advance people.

In that sense, we are all advertisers:
c.1430, "to take notice of," from M.Fr. advertiss-, prp. stem of a(d)vertir "warn," from L. advertere "turn toward," from ad- "toward" + vertere "to turn" see versus). Original sense remains in advert "to give attention to." Sense of advertise shifted to "give notice to others, warn" (1490) by influence of advertisement, which meant "public notice (of anything, but often of a sale)" by c.1460. The modern, commercial meaning was fully developed by 18c.
We are calling attention to people with the idea of turning them toward an idea, opportunity, or issue they may not have fully considered in the past.

You might balk saying that all this promotion and advertising is too commercial. Consider the roots of commerce:
1537, from M.Fr. commerce, from L. commercium "trade, trafficking," from com- "together" + merx (gen. mercis) "merchandise" (see market). Commercial is 1687 as an adj.; as a noun meaning "advertising broadcast on radio or TV" it is first recorded 1935.
It means sharing merchandise together. Would that future generations would look back on the early days of the Internet and remark that it helped restore a sense of community and togetherness to business, that it leveled the playing field, and opened doors of opportunity to ordinary people.
With all this togetherness, I am reminded of the remark of a business associate once who said that what he liked best about network marketing was making new friends. "However," he said, "if I never made another new friend, I'd stay with it ... for the money."

Money is not everything, but it is useful! 

Keep advancing great ideas, great people, and great opportunities! PRO-MOTE!
Simply put, it is: MOVE FORWARD!
We can do much together.
For a complimentary coaching session to explore this idea and others, go to my scheduling page.
Stay in touch on LinkTree.


Vanishing Leadership


It is one of the tasks of a great leader to vanish.


There are many leadership skills involving our hands: the hand up, the extended hand, the hands on demonstration,  the hand on the shoulder and the hand off.

That's right, the hand off with its accompanying attitude of "hands off." It is also called, "the hand over."

In business and ministry, we will find ourselves endlessly serving one task, one location, and one small group of people if we are unable, unwilling, or uninspired to duplicate ourselves and vanish into the woodwork.

Vanishing leadership is real leadership. It mentors, prepares, and duplicates itself in others with the specific goal of giving away a role or task and all the credit and accolades that go with it.

Great leaders are always grooming successors.

By the way, into the woodwork does not mean unavailable for counsel, accountability, and encouragement. It just means that the leader is generous and intelligent enough to know that his or her effectiveness is either severely limited or profoundly enhanced by the willingness and ability to duplicate and vanish.

To develop this idea, let us examine the concepts of "Hands On" and "Hands Off" to ascertain when each is most appropriate in leadership.


We need to keep out hands on a task while we are training new leadership. The extent to which we keep our hands on will be informed by the following factors:

  • H - Help is needed in learning skills, concepts, internalizing the mission, and getting the job done at a minimal level.
  • A - Assimilation of the philosophy and values of the organization are still in formation.
  • N - Negative attitudes, behaviors, and conversational patterns are being "unlearned."
  • D - Dependence on the mentor/coach is constant.

  • O - Optimum performance comes with close supervision.
  • N - Necessity dictates that the tasks be closely monitored for quality assurance.


  • H - Help is still needed, but it can be offered more often from a distance and  at broader intervals.
  • A - Assimilation of philosophy and values is beginning to take hold. The work has moved from head to heart.
  • N - Negative factors are less pronounced, easily recognized, and managed.
  • D - Delegation  of entire projects is taking place.

  • O - Optimum performance is enhanced by trust and disengagement.
  • F - Formation of a sense of ownership by the new leaders in the organization, its reputation, its future, and its excellence is becoming evident.
  • F - Formal recognition of the new leader's leadership abilities and skills has instilled a sense of confidence and accountability.

Each of these requires further explanation and development, but you can get the point. The transference of leadership may be gradual, but it must also be a constant commitment if an organization, ministry, or business is to grow in number and influence.



Cleaning Up My Folders

Bridget Holmes was a necessary woman for a series of five monarchs, from Charles I to Mary II and so was one of the longest-serving royal servants.
Did you ever notice this frustrating reality?
You clean up, fix up, or straighten up and it goes well for a while and then ... you relapse into a worse state than before.
There is a futility in constantly cleaning up and not dealing with the roots of what pollutes us, corrupts us, and manipulates our thinking into even deeper futility. An interruption in a cycle that is empowered by its own forces will only be temporary. Christian faith and spiritual transformation are not about momentary behavior modification or immobilization of peripheral demons.
To repent is to recognize the difference between where we are going and where we can go and to change direction.
We have been invaded by the Kingdom of God and the King Himself has come to invite us into transformation, liberation, and deep significance. This is no passing matter or minor deliverance. The enemy that seeks to entrap and destroy the soul is sinister, persistent, and patient. We can choose a different master and step away from the "generation" bent on destruction. We need more than subtle reformation. We need re-FORM-ation in all of its implications.
Jesus speaks to the frustration of the human condition and its resistance to transforming grace when He says,
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” -Matthew 12:43-45 ESV
Caricature of Newman by "Spy", published in Vanity Fair in 1877
"Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our
lives may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us that every soul we
come in contact with may feel your presence in our souls...
Let us preach You without preaching, not by words
but by our example, by the catching force, the
sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident
fullness of the love our hearts bear to You.
-John Henry Newman's Prayer which was prayed daily by Mother Teresa and her workers
May be an image of text that says 'I was just griping about the proliferation of texts and emails requesting me to participate financially, verbally, & virtually in campaigns & initiatives leading to election day. I repent. Isn't this what I want? More participation by small donors, silent voices, viral messages, & ordinary folks. IfI love democracy, how can I complain when asked to participate? RENDNO'
On Another Matter
I was just griping about the proliferation of texts and emails requesting me to participate financially, verbally, & virtually in campaigns & initiatives leading to election day.
I repent.
Isn't this what I want? More participation by small donors, silent voices, viral messages, & ordinary folks.
If I love democracy, how can I complain when asked to participate?
Goodness and Affliction
Do you relate to the Psalmist's sentiments here?
"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes."-Psalm 119:71
I have always found them extraordinarily insightful, mature, and far-sighted.
At the same time, they are strange and alarming apart from the perspective of sharing his experience.
It takes time, distance, and reflection to come to this place. It is the place where we appreciate our hard schooling. We become grateful for our adversities only by stepping out of them, maybe even stepping out of ourselves and then stepping back to look on.
That outside look is from the point of view that I have achieved through time and realization that the blessings of the day were purchased, in part, with the currency of yesterday's afflictions.
Who would I be without my suffering, my pain, nd my hardships?
Where would I be?
What would my capacity be to face the challenges of today.
I do know this: I would change nothing. I would not time travel to alter the past. I would not erase or replace a single memory.
Some are still painful and some need more processing. I do have regrets, but not enough that I would reverse anything.
I will move forward in healing and in grace.
There is one thing I would add however and it is a vision. It is a vision of reality that I may not observed at the time. I would gain a new awareness that God was with me all along, suffering with me, guiding me, teaching me, comforting me, strengthening me, and upholding me with the everlasting arms.
"Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word."
- Psalm 119:67
I have learned his statues and am still learning his statutes.
"The law of your mouth is dearer to me than thousands in gold and silver." - Psalm 119:72
Some things are just of greater value than anything else.

"Your statutes have been my songs
in the house of my sojourning."
(Psalm 119:54 ESV)

Part of the secret is learning about how life is a sojourn. In what ways have you uncovered that for yourself? Here's a little "think-about-it" music from Keb Mo .



The Prayer that Justifies

A prayer for mercy

There are messages today for two kinds of people:

  • For those who are humble - God's mercy is for you and God will justify you.
  • For those who are prideful-  Do not trust your own righteousness and look on others with contempt.


YouTube Version of the same message:

The Jesus Prayer Chanted

All The Scriptures for Today Read with Comment on II Timothy 4

The Prophetic Word Spoken Through Joel

Joel 2:23-32
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

O children of Zion, be glad,
and rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army that I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days I will pour out my spirit.

I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Psalm 65
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

To the leader. A Psalm of David. A Song.
Praise is due to you,
O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed,
O you who answer prayer!
To you all flesh shall come.
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,
you forgive our transgressions.
Happy are those whom you choose and bring near
to live in your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
your holy temple.

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow;
the hills gird themselves with joy;
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks;
the valleys deck themselves with grain;
they shout and sing together for joy.

Psalm 84:1-7
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise. Selah

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

Jeremiah 14:7-10
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Although our iniquities testify against us,
act, O Lord, for your name’s sake;
our rebellions indeed are many,
and we have sinned against you.
O hope of Israel,
its savior in time of trouble,
why should you be like a stranger in the land,
like a traveler turning aside for the night?
Why should you be like someone confused,
like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?
Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us,
and we are called by your name;
do not forsake us!

Thus says the Lord concerning this people:
Truly they have loved to wander;
they have not restrained their feet;
therefore the Lord does not accept them;
now he will remember their iniquity
and punish their sins.

Jeremiah 14:19-22
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Have you completely rejected Judah?
Does your heart loathe Zion?
Why have you struck us down
so that there is no healing for us?
We look for peace but find no good,
for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.
We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord,
the iniquity of our ancestors,
for we have sinned against you.
Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake;
do not dishonor your glorious throne;
remember and do not break your covenant with us.
Can any idols of the nations bring rain,
or can the heavens give showers?
Is it not you, O Lord our God?
We set our hope on you,
for it is you who do all this.

2 Timothy 4:6-8
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:16-18
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.





Luke 18:9-14 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Prayer of the Humble Soul

Two men went to the house of prayer to do their religious duty.

For one, it was an exercise in religious pride.

He had no sense of shame. He had no regrets. He had no humility before God and no humility before humanity. He considered himself the poster child for religious piety. He fancied himself a role model for righteousness and a prime example of what it meant to be a favorite of God.

He was a prideful bigot.

The other man was a sinner. Everyone knew he was a sinner, and he knew he was a sinner.

He could not even look up. His shame was so great. His regrets were profound. His sin weighed heavily on his heart. He entertained no pretense of righteousness. His piety was in the deficit column. He was disgraced and disheartened. He prayed with no illusion of worthiness.

He sought only mercy.

God, be merciful to me.

I am a sinner.

That is all he could pray. That is all he prayed.

God heard both prayers and God heard both men. God heard both hearts. God justified only one.

Which one? Who comes away justified when people pray in these two ways, one prideful and one humble?

Jesus calls out the honest prayer. It is the humble prayer. It is the cry for mercy.

If you exalt yourself, you will end up embarrassed before God. If you humble yourself, you will come under the Sovereign’s merciful grace.

Once God lifts you, you are truly exalted.

“Nothing in my hand I bring.
Simply to Thy cross I cling.”
-Augustus Toplady, Rock of Ages



Previous Messages



Big Hat


Photo by Alexandra Tran on Unsplash

We have a huge event in my town called, "Big Hat Days."

I am not sure what my big hat is some days.

I had a "what have I learned" assignment a few years back thanks to a wonderful and relatively new friend's invitation to speak to a group of peers.

It behooved me to remove my "expert hat" and be a fellow traveler.

That hat never fit too well anyway.

In fact, I have never really liked wearing hats much. I find them functionally necessary at times as tools, identifiers, shades from the sun, or ... well ... that is all I can really think of.

Hats - I have so many, role-related identifiers.

Whenever I introduce myself I have to do a reality check. What hat am I wearing today? What is the "so what" of the crowd that is my ticket in the door? Why was I invited? What are the needs of the people that I have been sent to serve?

I am not switching between one authentic self to another; I am just turning the side of me that is relevant to the side of the crowd that cares.

And yet, everything relates, integrates, and colors everything else.

I have been a pastor, preacher, teacher, writer, blogger, community manager, non-profit (public benefit organization) board member, executive director, coach, toastmaster, encourager, singer, chaplain, "barrista", entrepreneur, husband, son, brother, father, GRANDPA (!), disciple of Jesus, human being, friend .....

See, I did not, could not list them in order. The order changes with the setting.

If you ask me what I have learned I have to ask what about! And I have to ask who is asking and what they need/want to know. What have I learned in what context? Under what hat? As a what? How will it help?

"What is the big banner? What is the big hat?"

It is not about having a changing persona; it is about function. All functions serve a greater purpose. I only become all things to all people for the benefit of others. I do that for the sake of a message of good news which is greater than anything that I am. As a result, I get to share in the benefitss ... like Joseph who, for all of his gifts, designations, and complexities, a servant who lived out his life for the benefit of a people not his own in a land not his own ... and came to share in the benefits of life giving service he had offered.

Fellow traveler is a pretty good hat.

What have I learned?

I have learned that I have a lot to learn.


Here is a lesson from someone who learned that life's greatest calling is to serve.



Do Likewise

The-good-samaritan vaan gogh

The Good Samaritan, 1890 by Vincent Van Gogh. More of the story at  Vincent van Gogh

 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. - Luke 10:36-37 

We all know the story. It was prompted by a question and occasioned by a teaching in response to a greater question. What we have here is the application: Go and do likewise. One question led to another, then to a story, and then to the lesson Jesus desired to imprint upon every heart: that everyone is our neighbor and that loving our neighbor is about making a practical and active decision to do so and following through regardless of our feelings.

A legal expert who sought to trap Jesus in His own words asked Him what was necessary to inherit eternal life. He turned the question back to him and to his knowledge and interpretation of the law.

“Love God and love your neighbor” was both the answer he gave and the one that Jesus Himself gave on another occasion when asked what the greatest commandment was. Jesus commended him and told him to go and do likewise.

That wasn’t enough for the lawyer. He needed an escape clause, something that limited his liability and reduced his responsibility.

“Define neighbor,” was his retort. So, Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan and put him in a real bind. He made the hero of the story an outcast from the social and religious life of the Jews. He told the story in such a way as to make the answer to the question obvious.

“Who was the neighbor? Was he one of those who left the poor man stranded by the road or the Samaritan who gave of himself and his means to help him?”

The lawyer answered generically, and Jesus responded specifically, “Go and do likewise.”

Go; live like an outcast among outcasts if you must, but practice love as you go. Love is not revealed in the words we speak or the sentiments we feel, but in the actions, we take in being neighbors to our neighbors.

Go forth and live it.




I think I will include this scene from Dr. Who.



The Point of No Return

Face toward jerusalem

No Turning Back

And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. -Luke 9:51

When did the passion of the Christ begin in earnest? One might suggest that it started in eternity or at His birth or even later, intensifying in His baptismal identification with sinful man as the sinless Savior. However, if we are talking about that segment of His life where all of time begins to crescendo into an explosive event of redemption, it might be at this moment of turning. He set His face toward Jerusalem and all those who would be His disciples began to follow Him there. It was a point of no return.

There was no turning back for Jesus. The time had come. He knew what He had to do and He knew where He had to do it. Even though it meant suffering the likes of which no man had ever known, He would face it. He would follow the Father’s plan. They had planned it together and agreed from eternity that this would be the way.

It was the way of the cross.

“Jesus walked this lonesome valley;
He had to walk it by Himself.
Oh, nobody else could walk it for Him.
He had to walk it by himself.”

In the most profound sense, He was alone, even though others followed Him there. Though He taught us all to follow in that costly way of the cross, He led the way alone. There comes a point of no return in our lives where we must choose to stand along with Jesus whatever the cost.

“You must go and stand your trial;

You have to stand it by yourself.

Oh, nobody else can stand it for you.

You have to stand it by yourself.”

We know we are never alone in the most profound spiritual sense. God is always with us. As we follow Him steadfastly and with resolve, we are His yokefellows. Yet, we come as individuals and we make the choice in the same lonely place of our individual hearts as He did. We will go it whether or not our friends come along. We will do so with or without the support of our families or the favorable treatment of history.

Let us set our faces toward Jerusalem.


And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.  -Luke 9:58

A certain man wanted to follow Jesus as have many through the centuries and into our time. Perhaps he thought it would be an adventure – and following Jesus is.

 Perhaps he thought discipleship would bring a new dimension of meaning to his life – and it does.

Perhaps he longed for the camaraderie and acceptance that was so evident among the disciples of Jesus as it often is today in authentic Christian communities.

He may have been attracted by the laughter and awe of the other followers as Jesus taught them with such vivid realism.

But he was failing to consider one very important point: to follow Jesus would mean leaving all that he had ever counted on for security.

Follow Me ... But

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. -Luke 9:59 

“I want to follow you, but...”

Was it an excuse, a delaying tactic, or a simple statement of ignorance? Have you never interjected, “but first” into your commitments with God? How often we have come to the Master with non-negotiable conditions.

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. -Luke 9:60

Jesus’ answer to the man who cried, “but first” demonstrates the profound contrast between life and death. Discipleship is about dying to the old that we might live to the new.


“And another said, ‘Lord, I will follow Thee, but …” – Luke 9:61a

Erstwhile followers of the Master make a series of irrelevant statements in this great movement of scripture. They are irrelevant because they are merely excuses, postponements of discipleship, weasel-ways of saying “no” without having to actually commit to the word.

In the world of promoting where ones lifeblood is getting people to show up somewhere for something, there is an adage: A “no” is a “no;” a “maybe” s a “no;” and a “yes” is a “no” half the time. Nothing is as reliable as a rock-solid commitment and even that may falter. Humanity is infected with a disease for which David Schwartz coined the phrase, “excusitis.”

Moses had them: “ I am unworthy; I am unlearned; I am unable; I am unbelievable.”

But then he got to his bottom line, “Send someone else.” In other words, “I am unwilling.”

Here is the question: Are you willing to follow Jesus anywhere and in any way – NOW? If not now, when? Will it be as the old despot told the Apostle Paul, at a more convenient season? Are we “almost persuaded?”

Jesus has no time for nonsense. He calls to us through the waves of time, “Follow me.” And He means for us to drop everything – every excuse, every fear, every reservation, every other aspiration of our lives and follow. Half-hearted commitment is no commitment at all. Every reason Moses gave for not doing what God was calling him to do was basically true, but God’s power made them irrelevant.

No Looking Back

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. -Luke 9:62 

All the man wanted to do was say, “goodbye.” At least that is what he said, but Jesus knew what was in his heart and that he was not truly ready to say, “goodbye.” Otherwise, he would have and would not have just talked about it. He was looking back with the longing gaze of one who was not truly leaving.

There would be no turning back. There is no turning back, There is no longing look back.

The following is forward, wherever it leads.


"I Have Already Come"


Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

Through many dangers, toils, and snares," Newton wrote ...

"I Have Already Come"

"Grace has brought me safe thus far...

Grace will lead me home."

 “And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”. – Revelation 7:14 

There are two powerful words joined together in the scriptures – two prepositions that together bring us hope in our trials and tribulations: out of.

We catch a glimpse of Heaven and behold the saints, on display as examples of potential victory and ultimate triumph. These are they who have come out of tribulation. You might as well say, “through.”

Years back, my wife underwent surgery for breast cancer. The next day she was visited by a survivor. While she had already made up her mind to be more than that – even an “overcomer,” the visit was an encouragement. Someone had come out of the struggle, through the difficulties, and over the hurdles. And out of those tribulations, there emerged good.

“I have already come.”

When we hear those words and when we speak those words, we get courage. Whether it is our experience or someone else’s, there is precedent for victory. We affirm again with Paul that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We draw upon past victories to nurture belief for present and future challenges. We recognize the power of God’s grace in our lives up until this point. We see where we were, what we had to face, and how we emerged and we know that if we have to, we can do it again.

We don’t want to do it again, but we can.

Then we think of the saints around the throne and know that we have really faced such little hardship compared to them. And from there we look to the cross and know that we have not even approached Christ’s suffering. Then we go back to our Bibles and underscore the words, “out of,” and back to our hymnals and highlight the word, “through.”

I have already come.



Where Is the Resolution?

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LordIn those days they shall no longer say:

“The parents have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of the one who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LordBut this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.

Excuses are as old as humanity.

Why are we in this predicament? Why are we facing these times? Why are our inner and outer oppressors getting the upper hand? Why are things are such turmoil? Why are we suffering? Why is there no justice or resolution?

We can blame our parents. We can blame our circumstances or our leaders or our times. There is a collective reality to that, but their is an individual reality as well.

Flip Wilson's character, Geraldine Jones was known for saying, "The devil made me do it."

The fact of the matter is that Geraldine had a choice.

We have choices and our state of affairs is the result of collective bad choices over time.

Jeremiah speaks of a day when everyone will have to own up to their own choices. All people will have to stop blaming their parents or anyone else for their sins. In that day, our choices will be deemed our choices.

But there is good news that goes with that prophecy of judgment. Everyone will have the opportunity to have a relationship with God that renews the conscience. They will have God's law on their hearts and know God if they choose to receive the gift of such knowledge.

Lineage will not matter.

Heritage will not matter.

All may know and forgiveness will be available to all people.

Those who dwell under God's government will enjoy days of peace, justice, goodness, and joy!

Yet, our present story is often one of wrestling with God or running from God.

Surprisingly, it is not always depicted in a negative light. Take the story of Jacob. 

Struggling for a Blessing

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 

Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 

So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed.” 

Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”

But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?”

And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, yet my life is preserved.” 

The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

Thou Hast Prevailed

And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. -Genesis 32:28

One night Jacob had a struggle. There was no sleep that night. There was a lot of wrestling.

Have you ever had a night like that when restless thoughts turned over and over in your mind and your heart was deeply disturbed? Have you ever been tossed about on your bed until you could almost float in a sea of perspiration?

What was the outcome?

When morning cam, Jacob insisted on a blessing and received one, but he also received a reminder and a new name. His reminder was a limp and his new name was Israel. It was only in the morning that he discovered he had wrestled with God and had prevailed.

Of course, in letting Jacob prevail, God and His will had prevailed.

God is calling men and women who are willing to struggle. Jacob was no stellar character from the start. He was not a ready-made saint. He did not come into his princely role through the path of least resistance. It was a path of much resistance.

He had struggled with God and struggled with man and that became the fountain of his personal power: the struggle.

Oh how we desire, in our feeble flesh, a life of ease and comfort. It shall not be so for those whom God uses in mighty ways. It shall not be so for leaders and prayer warriors. It shall not be so for the fathers of nations and princes among men.

God forms us in the crucible of struggle and through nights of wrestling with His will as we toss upon our beds. When He prevails, we prevail and then we rest.

Oh friend, do not flee from the struggle. Let it form you. Let God touch you in the thigh with such force that every step reminds you of the encounter. Let Him give you a new name and wear it with honor for it is a mark of His hand upon your life and His purpose for you.

Jeremiah foresaw a law written on our hearts and a face to face encounter with God. Jacob wrestled with God, not even knowing that it was with God that he contended. Yet, he prevailed as if in a season of prayer and fasting.

Jacob's life changed in a night as he met the God he resisted.

Israel's outlook changed after 70 years of captivity, but centuries before, the nation's ancestors encountered God in the wilderness. Coming out of captivity where they were ruled by lawless masters who could do as they pleased, they were promised a structure. They were insured rights, privileges, boundaries, and a means for forgiveness through a law that they called, Torah.

It was their declaration of independence from slavery and oppression. It was the subject of joyful singing in later temple worship services.


Oh, how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all day long.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
    for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
    for your decrees are my meditation.
I understand more than the aged,
    for I keep your precepts.
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
    in order to keep your word.
I do not turn away from your ordinances,
    for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way. 

How Sweet the Sound

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?

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.

It is sweet. It is available. it is real. It is present.

Yet, we flip through the news feeds and it does not seem that way. 

Righteousness eludes us. Justice is delayed. Evil prevails. Violence is amplified. Truth is obscured. Corruption festers.

We seem to be wrestling in a perpetual contest with our worst natures. Then we declare that the devil made us make those poor choices.

We feel like we still in Egypt as slaves or Babylon as captives.

We long for the time that Jeremiah predicted.

Paul writes to Timothy as a father, mentor, and example. He instructs Timothy to hold out the message of hope consistently even as it is resisted and ignored. He warns Timothy that there will be days of injustice and unrighteousness. There will be more times of wandering.

But in all of this, the hope of ultimate triumph of good over evil will not be diminished. The message of truth will always be relevant. God will prevail and all of our hardships will be worth the patience we spent enduring them.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have known sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the person of God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience in teaching. 

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound teaching, but, having their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, be sober in everything, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

In t the meantime, we must work at maintaining an outlook of hope and persistence, We must cling to that hope and proclaim it faithfully.

The Work of the Ministry Is Work 

“… make full proof of thy ministry.” – from II Timothy 4:5

Ministry is a full and rewarding life. Every day can be different and exciting and working with people can be a heart-warming and gratifying experience. I love the ministry and wouldn’t trade it for any other work on earth.

Are you ready to sign up, quit your job, and go to Bible College?

Great, but maybe I should be completely honest with you first.

Ministry can be tiring. It can be boring doing the same things that have to be done week after week. It can be emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining. It can mean long hours and unending demands. People can voice unreasonable expectations (no one in this church). Bill collectors want to know when to expect a check, and questions are asked for which one has no answers. Mostly, one can be one’s own worst enemy and sharpest critic.

Ready to have second thoughts? Go ahead, but whatever you do, follow God’s call – because it is not about self-fulfillment, self-gratification, self-image, or anything else about self. It is all about God, His purposes, and His calling.

And besides, it is the most wonderful, joyful, blessed life I can imagine. I love this work because God called me to it and constantly equips me for it – and because He reveals Himself in and through me. You are a minister if you have met God in Jesus Christ - even if that meeting followed a wrestling match, slavery, or exile.

Discover your gifts, calling, passion, and purpose under God and live that purpose out. There are many people still being held in captivity who need to know some good news for now and the future.

When will all be made right?

Do not grow discouraged. Keeping working, praying, believing, trusting, hoping, and living. The time is coming.

Do Not Lose Heart!

Luke 18:1-8, J.B. Phillips New Testament

Then he gave them an illustration to show that they must always pray and never lose heart.

“Once upon a time,” he said, “there was a magistrate in a town who had neither fear of God nor respect for his fellow-men. There was a widow in the town who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Please protect me from the man who is trying to ruin me.’ And for a long time he refused. But later he said to himself, ‘Although I don’t fear God and have no respect for men, yet this woman is such a nuisance that I shall give judgment in her favour, or else her continual visits will be the death of me!’”

Then the Lord said, “Notice how this dishonest magistrate behaved. Do you suppose God, patient as he is, will not see justice done for his chosen, who appeal to him day and night? I assure you he will not delay in seeing justice done. Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find men on earth who believe in him?”

The New Testament in Modern English by J.B Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J. B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. Used by Permission.


Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. “...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" -Luke 18:1,8b

A woman was the victim of injustice. She could get know relief. She knew Torah. She knew the history of her people. She knew the hope that the prophets proclaimed, Yet, she got no relief. She had no resolution. She must have wondered when it would come.

She did not give up.

That is the setting of a parable where Jesus describes someone seeking justice from a self-serving, lazy, corrupt, and wicked judge who has no fear of God.

Luke tells us the specific purpose of the parable up front. He also tells us the character of the people in the story. The woman was persistent, and the judge had no interest in justice. He clearly does not represent God. He is the opposite of God. Yet, even he can be moved to bring justice and resolution,

In sharp contrast to the judge in the story, Jesus tells about a God who loves justice and loves people and their prayers.

The purpose of the story is to encourage disciples to keep praying and not get discouraged.

That is the purpose of this extended lesson today.

The woman had no fear of the judge but annoyed him night and day. She persisted until he acted just to shut her up. Finally, he acted. In the end, all was resolved.

Jesus knows that his vision of and teachings about God are different.

God is Abba.

God loves to hear the prayers of people.

God loves people.

God is patient.

God is good.

Unlike the judge, God cares about the oppressed. God cares about the slave and the captive. God loves the sinner trapped in sin. God values the wanderer who is lost.  God is love.

Don’t stop praying is the message of Jesus.

If persistence works with those not inclined to hear and act, imagine how God is with you? If the unjust will finally act justly, how much will a just and caring God do so?

God is not avoiding your prayer nor is God ignoring them. God is not feeling bothered. God is simply working behind the scenes for the right time to act in history. All of history is moving toward resolution, guided by the hand of God,.

Truth and justice will prevail, but when that moment comes, will the Son of Man, the Messiah, find faith on earth?

It is a question for now. Do you have enough faith in the God to whom you pray to keep praying even when it seems that God is silent and withdrawn?

Keep praying.

Keep praying and do not lose heart.


God of Unfolding Wonders

Greg-rakozy-oMpAz-DN-9I-unsplash (1)
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
God of all that is without Whom there is not,
God of all that was, without who nothing has been,
God of all that can be and should be and might be,
God of all that shall be.
God of unfolding wonders and unfathomed waters of wisdom,
God all who live, who have lived, and shall live,
God of me .... my God, our God,
God of Jesus, Savior, Friend,
God revealed in Spirit and in Flesh,
You are here with us, and for that, we are ever grateful.
Hear our morning prayers.
Hear our heartfelt cries for mercy.
Hear our burning, yearning groans for those deep needs we cannot express with words.
You know our wounds, our open, oozing sores.
You know our stubborn, egotistical ugliness, but ...
You also know what beauty lies within us, that which is of You, that which You would nurture inside of us.
With penetrating eye and skillful hand, root out our sin and heal our shame.
With gentle hand, guide us into Your purpose for our being.
Arrange our lives today and supersede our presumptions.
Grant us divine appointments and the spirit of serendipity to embrace them.
Laugh with us today; weep with us; look with us upon your world with love.
Oh, Master Designer, design our lives, my life, to conform with your vision.
Fill our hearts with peace, with joy, with holy love that we might serve you in serving others.
May not a moment be wasted of this day, not a thought lost, not a word vainly spoken.
I come, Father, referred by Jesus, Whose name I gladly take as the banner over my life.
I come willing to die to self today, but weak in the flesh, I identify with Jesus and express my desire to You, to follow Him ...'
Wherever He leads.
I have no other agenda worth attending to ...



Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash 

Imagine the last word of your biography being an adverb, a modifier that describes an verb. It is the quality of the action and description of the activity itself.

Paul's story in the book of Acts, ends with an adverb, unhinderedly.

It is so open-ended that it predicts the history of the church from the first century until today.

"μετὰ (with) πάσης (all)παρρησίας (boldness) ἀκωλύτως (unhinderedly)."

With these words, the book of Acts ends.

The ending has been the subject of dissertations and monographs.

Some have considered it a truncated ending because it seems awkward.

Others have noted that it is a perfect prelude to chapter twenty-nine, the unwritten ending that we are living out every day.

Unhinderedly, is an awkward way of expressing the reality, but it is also, exceedingly hopeful. It is, likewise, challenging,

Most of us would consider Paul's hardships to be major hindrances. In the same way, we consider our hardships, inconveniences, and discomfort to be hindrances. Luke would not; nor would Paul.

We cannot approach opportunity from the viewpoint of our limiting beliefs. They create false boundaries and definitions for our lives.

For Paul, many of the things we would names as hindrances were open doors. Because he viewed them that way, he responded to them with boldness.

What circumstances are you considering to be hindrances in your life right now.

Is their another view you can take of them?

What difference will that make?


Acts 28:17-31
Three days later he called together the local leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, "Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, yet I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to the emperor-- even though I had no charge to bring against my nation."

"For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is for the sake of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain."

They replied, "We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. But we would like to hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against."

After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets. Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe. So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving,

Paul made one further statement: "The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, 'Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn-- and I would heal them.' Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen."

He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Forward through the ages




Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

This is an affirming and encouraging gesture.

We should all practice it..

Thumbs up givers encourage my jokes, my observations, my attempts at wisdom, and my streams of consciousness.

He (or maybe SHE) does not know what I am talking about - But it does not matter.

You need a "THUMBS-UP-GIVER" in your life, even if you have to draw one and animate it. It can be an inner voice.

The shortest and surest way to find such a person is to be such a person.

Thumbs up giving is contagious and attracts like-minded people to your circle of encouragement.

Listen to this song and keep on keeping on!



A Big Fish Story - Part 1 of Jonah

Fight, Flight, or Flow? - Jonah 1

There are four keys words and three key principles looking at Jonah 1. I will explore: Flee, Storm, Sleep, and Fish.

The three principles are that you can choose, lose, or cruise.

First, God called Jonah and Jonah fled from God. At least he attempted to flee. God never leaves us without choices. we can choose fight, flight, or flow with His purposes. Fight becomes less and less of an option the more we know God. Flow requires surrender of our will to His. too often, we choose to FLEE.

The principle here is


John was given a mandate from God. It was a call. It was not really an option, but, like any human, it presented an opportunity for choice. jonah's firs choice was to FLEE.

F - FROM God.

The flight is always away from Gid.  You can't resist God's will and enjoy the same fellowship as ever.


It is an absurd idea that we can run from Him. The psalmist said that even in Sheol, God was there.

E - EFFECT on others.   

 As Jonah endangered others, so do we when we disobey. We create chaos all around us.

E - EVIDENT - You can't really hide it. It all hangs out.

There is another acronym possible that helps us understand some of what causes us to have a flight impulse and run from God.:

    F - FEAR - We fear what we don't know and what we do know.
    L - LISTENING to the wrong voice within/
    E - EGO that has gotten out-of-control.
    E - EFFORT- We just don't want to give it.

Fight, flight, or flow, YOU CAN CHOOSE.

Second, when Jonah fled, God sent a STORM. God wasn't being vindictive. He was being insistent and persistent. The principle of YOU CAN CHOOSE must be understood in conjunction with a second principle: YOU COULD LOSE! But you still have choices. God uses storms sometimes to influence our choices. They may come in various ways:

S - SINKING SAILOR SYNDROME - You could go down.

T - TEMPESTS - Sometimes rocking on the waves gets attention.

O - OUTCRY - Sometimes others notice first and cry out to you.

R - REBUKE - Sometimes those same people come to you and speak truth.

M - MAYBE - God will help attitudes around you.

Jonah ignored the storm and went below to sleep. He was oblivious. Unlike Jesus' sleep of perfect peace through the storm, Jonah's was the sleep of denial. look at it. How do we resist the voice of God in storms? The text tells us:

S - SLUMBER -It was real, literal retreat into unconsciousness.

L - LYING to self and others.

E - ESCAPE from reality, but it is not possible.

E - EJECTION becomes the only option.

P - PEACE comes only through surrender.

Note that Jonah, with the option to CHOOSE, would rather LOSE than go to Nineveh.

Third, we see a FISH. the fish is a reminder that while we can always CHOOSE and we may LOSE, we can also CRUISE with the flow of God's purpose and will. You can choose to cruise.

Jonah had resisted profoundly and he was in for a grace cruise. Having been ejected from the ship by his own choice and the reluctant consent of the crew who, by the way, became his first unwitting converts, he is flailing in the water. Then God prepares a FISH and Jonah was on its menu!

F - FIRST time we have ever seen it happen - and the last.  Besides that, Jonah has just had his first converts - the crewmen.
I - IN the water and going down. Jonah was hopeless.
S - SOVEREIGN God decides to give him another chance.
H - HEAVENLY intervention rescues John for a time of refocus.

What is your FISH? You can cruise in it for a while by grace, but even it will bring you back to the point of choice. will you choose fight, flight, or flow?


What is your fish story and how has it transformed your life?

"President Jimmy Carter grew up in awe of nature's wonder. But it wasn't until he first paddled the Chattooga River that he understood the power and majesty of a wild, free-flowing stream. The Wild President tells the story of Carter's pioneering tandem-canoe descent of Bull Sluice Rapid and how the experience transformed his life and politics. "



The 10th Leper - Audio and Video

 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

For the director of music. A song. A psalm.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”

Come and see what God has done,
    his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
    his eyes watch the nations—
    let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant forever—
    holy and awesome is his name.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him,
    we will also live with him;
if we endure,
    we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
    he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot disown himself.

Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.


Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

With a Whole Heart

God grant me wholehearted prayer, be it cry or sigh 
or, perchance, a shout of joy!
I come with
whole heart, undivided, undeterred, un-distracted 
Grant it, LORD and may I ...
I cry.
You hear.
I call.
You save. It is 
well before dawn and my heart is awakened.
May I hear your testimonies and statutes and 
I rise.
I cry.
I hope.
'With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD!
I will keep your statutes.
I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words."
- Psalm 119:145-147 ESV


With a Whole Heart

God grant me wholehearted prayer, be it cry or sigh 
or, perchance, a shout of joy!
I come with
whole heart, undivided, undeterred, un-distracted 
Grant it, LORD and may I ...
I cry.
You hear.
I call.
You save. It is 
well before dawn and my heart is awakened.
May I hear your testimonies and statutes and 
I rise.
I cry.
I hope.
'With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD!
I will keep your statutes.
I call to you; save me,
that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in your words."
- Psalm 119:145-147 ESV


A Sacred Scandal of Forgiveness, Faith, and Gratitude


Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee by Rubens, c. 1618.

Forgiveness can be controversial.

Jesus is at the home of Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7. a woman comes and, with weeping, pours a bottle of expensive perfume on his feet and proceeds to ritually wash his feet. This causes an uproar of disapproval which occasions a powerful lesson.

Who better the artistically capture the scandalous nature of this story than Peter Paul Rubens?

Look with me at three concepts in this passage, set in the context of an act of extravagance, murmurings of criticism, and a story of debts obliterated.

The first and most central is forgiveness. The story tells of a debtor who has been forgiven much and is profoundly grateful. In two cases, debtors owed what they could not pay and the lender initiated the act of forgiveness.

Specifically, he cancelled the debt.

Gratitude followed.

The woman represents the man with the greater debt. She is grateful.

Jesus declares her forgiven.

"Your sins are forgiven."

That stirs the critics' fire. Who can forgive sin? Who is this rascal, the charlatan?

"Your faith has saved you," Jesus says, not to the critics, but to the woman who had extravagantly anointed him with perfume and with tears.

That is the second concept: faith.

Jesus actually answers his critics with this statement. She was not saved because she anointed Jesus, but because of why she anointed Jesus. Nor was she saved at the moment of his declaration. He implies that her saving faith was already present.

Something had convinced her that she had been forgiven. There was something about Jesus' presence that radiated love, mercy, grace, and acceptance;

We do not know what it was; we just know that it was.

The third concept is gratitude.

Her act was a demonstration of the faith that had already taken up residence in her heart. She already knew she was forgiven and her heart was filled with thankful joy. That is why she performed this irrational and spontaneous act of scandalous love.

She was thankful.

She never is recorded as having asked for forgiveness.

She prayed no special prayer that we know of.

She confessed no creed.

She was forgiven simply because God forgave her. In Jesus, she saw the forgiving and accepting God. By faith, she believed it and acted upon it. She acted like someone who was forgiven and that showed in her gratitude.

All Jesus had left to say was, "Go in Shalom."

Go in peace.

Is it any wonder that the church's observance of the feast of forgiveness, the Lord's Supper, is called Ευχαριστώ ?

It means, "Thanks."


Luke 7:36-50 GNB

A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus went to his house and sat down to eat. In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life. She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee's house, so she brought an alabaster jar full of perfume and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them. When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself, "If this man really were a prophet, he would know who this woman is who is touching him; he would know what kind of sinful life she lives!"

Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Yes, Teacher," he said, "tell me."

"There were two men who owed money to a moneylender," Jesus began. "One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. Neither of them could pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Which one, then, will love him more?"

"I suppose," answered Simon, "that it would be the one who was forgiven more."

"You are right," said Jesus. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your home, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You did not welcome me with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing my feet since I came. You provided no olive oil for my head, but she has covered my feet with perfume. I tell you, then, the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven. But whoever has been forgiven little shows only a little love."

Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."

The others sitting at the table began to say to themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?"

But Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."


The Words Will Come


Farewell Discourse depiction from the Maesta by Duccio, 1308–1311.

"Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." - Mark 13:11

Few of the people I know have had to put this verse to the test.

Jesus knew that some of his listeners would face that. Mark included it in his gospel because, in his day, it was already happening.

A friend of mine who was raised in the Soviet Union in a pastor's home recounted to me how her father hugged his children each morning as he left home as if it were their last goodbye.

"We just never knew if it might be the last," she told me.

But, what if you are arrested, or even challenged, accosted, or cornered. What do you say?

Do you rehearse for the moment?

Jesus reminds his disciples, who will all be stopped in their tracks and challenged, not to worry.

Again, I repeat, do not worry.

Do not worry because God will give you the words in the moment for the moment.

Every day of your life is such a rehearsal. Every time you meet God in scripture, you are preparing. Every prayer is a readiness prayer.

One way or another, you will be challenged and sometimes in a manner that seems hostile.

But the Spirit of God will give you the right words in crisis.

Preachers and teachers, prepare you sermons and lessons. All disciples, prepare your lives. Be in a state of readiness for opportunity.

Live in joy and peace, not worry.

Believe in God.

Follow Jesus.

Trust the Holy Spirit.

A Kingdom of Non-Conformists

Pied piper

The God-Movement is a Kingdom on non-conformists.

John the Baptist was a non-conformist.

Jesus was a non-conformist.

Citizens of God's kingdom are non-conformists.

John was criticized as an ascetic.

Jesus was criticized as a libertine.

Jesus said that the greatest person on earth is surpassed by anyone in the kingdom.

We are not called to dance to the tunes of the village pipers.

The proof of God's pudding is in the eating. Wisdom is reveal and justified in our actions, our deeds, in the fruit of our lives.

We march to the tune of another piper.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Pipers pipe and true prophets and children cannot be manipulated.

God is the ultimate non-conformist.

Idolatry is the urge to manipulate God. True religion is acknowledgement that God is Other and is thoroughly beyond our manipulation. He does not dance to our tune.


Extra Note

In the post-Reformation phase of English Christian history, there was an interesting progression of movements to the emergence of the Baptists.

First there were Puritans who wanted to make the Church of England purer. Then came the dissenters and Separatists who felt that the only way to revive Christianity and express it was to get out. A number of groups emerged from that. Then came radicals like Quakers and Baptists. They all emerged from a sense of non-conformity. They were among the Nonconformists. 




When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”


Spelling Out the Passion that Drives You

Passion - drive

Have you ever heard someone say, "You seem very passionate about that?"

How about compassion? Has anyone ever commented on your CQ? Your Compassion Quotient?

Did you know that they are related?

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

Compassion from the Divine, for instance, prevents our destruction. When you live your life with passion and compassion, you help solve problems that can be very destructive to people, institutions, and society.

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.



Trust in the LORD

Trust in the lord sermon


Lamentations 1:1-6  How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies. Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations, and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress. The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter. Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the LORD has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe. From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer. 

Lamentations 3:19-26 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw. O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrong- doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous-- therefore judgment comes forth perverted. I will stand at my watch post, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.


Psalm 37:1-9 Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrongdoers, for they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday. Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices. Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret--it leads only to evil. For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

Art Correction - II Timothy

2 Timothy 1:1-14  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God--whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did-- when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self- discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Luke 17:5-10  The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. "Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'" New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary  Daily  Readings  copyright  ©  Consultation  on  Common  Texts  admin.  Augsburg  Fortress.  Reproduced  by  permission.


Or from YouTube


Trust mountain


We Are All Time Travelers

Time machine 2
The ultimate science fiction is time travel in my view. It stretches the mind, twists it around, turns it inside out, and harvests the imagination,
Time is a relative construct and, in some arenas beyond our own, irrelevant.
On occasion , I have been a time traveler, moving between zones, chasing the sun or just ahead of the sun setting.
Time is different in space or in orbit around other bodies or gasses. If time is so changeable in space, what of time in eternity?
Solomon declarers in the Ecclesiastes that God has made everything beautiful in its OWN TIME and, furthermore and henceforth, set eternity in our hearts.
Walk around with that today and see what insights come.
This all started when I came to the computer during some travels about ten years ago. I looked to see if anyone had received my emails and there were still no responses.  I wondered why. and then realized that no one is at work yet. I was in a different zone.
I was three hours off from my normal time.
Once in a different country, I received a call at 3;00 AM. Fortunately, I was up, sitting on a balcony, overlooking the Sea of Galilee.  My caller was in California, obvious to our gap in perspectives.
If such mundane thoughts as time zones between calls and emails (what I call, "mundanities") can occupy the vacated mind (thus "vacation"), imagine what possibilities might emerge as you ponder the earth and the eternal in a dance reminiscent of the "Virginia Reel."
Middle English mondeyne, from Anglo-French mundain, from Late Latin mundanus, from Latin mundus world, First Known Use: 15th century (Marriam Webster).
Earth and Heaven as partners in the eternal/earthy reel, meeting and parting and bowing and bending and swinging and dancing and maintaining their perspectives and acknowledging the meeting, but never quite melding - that is the sign on the intersection.
They will never be the same and yet, eternity enters our hearts and that is the foundation of the incarnational message - God can be in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.
Christ can be in us, the hope of glory - past that is transformed in meaning, the present that is infused with wonder, the future that is settled in security and hope.
Do your own work - It is in II Corinthians and Colossians. It is pretty deep and pretty simple and pretty impressive.
We are all time travelers, dancing through time and eternity, bowing, bending, and skipping. We hear the music which is often distant. We sense the rhythm and we move with as much grace as we can muster.
We are not expected to understand, but to dance.
We are called to awareness, curiosity, and amazement as well as participation.
Start with something simple: You are traveling through time as you move forward on the clock and calendar. That much is within your grasp right now. The rest will emerge.
Then, there is always, today.
Today is now.

Now it is today.

Tomorrow is not yet, but when it is, will be today.

Then today will be yesterday.

And we will start over.

So, if you are going to do anything at all, do it today.

For each today will pass away until they are all used up.

What is not done today will never get done.