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March 2023

Giving and Calling

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Giving and Receiving

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

To what extent would Paul travel to impart a spiritual gift and receive a material gift for others? The answer is that he would make great sacrifices and suffer untold hardships to be a vessel of giving. To impart a spiritual gift enriched the lives of those receiving the gift. But it also enriched the life of the church. Receiving a monetary gift would enrich the church. But it would also bless the giver and the recipient of the gift. Paul himself would be encouraged by the opportunity to participate in this process. When true Spirit-filled, God-directed giving takes place, no one loses and everyone gains. In the tangible expressions of our submission to God there is no subtraction, only multiplication.

To view life this way requires that we step out of ourselves and understand our significance as part of something larger than our own interests. We must deny ourselves to the extent that our hopes, dreams, and preferences are of lesser importance than the Kingdom of God.

From whence comes such a radical attitude? It comes from the place of prayer where we learn to say, “the will of God” with deep reverence and joyous anticipation. It comes from the exercise of His presence in devotion and contemplation of His Word. It comes from earnest seeking in the closet of solitude where He changes our heartbeat to pulsate with His own rhythm. In short, the attitude that embraces the twin Christian graces of giving and receiving comes from God Himself.


Come and See

“And the woman left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, ’Come, see a man, who told me all the things that I ever did. Is this not the Christ?’” – John 4:28-29

Are we too attached to our water pots to carry the call of Jesus to our cities? Are we so fixated on our trivial tasks that we cannot leave them to bear witness to His power, grace, and truth?

Here was a woman with the worst reputation in the village and she went to the very people with whom she had made her reputation. To the men of the city, with whom she had no credibility at all, she declared the credibility of Jesus. At least they would talk to her. And she did it without the slightest hint of intimidation and completely undistracted by the unfinished mission that had taken her to the well in the first place.

Who cares about two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen when you can have living water? Washing clothes can wait. Cooking can be done later. Even drinking water can be postponed. It’s not everyday that you have a chance to meet a man who can tell you everything you have ever done – and in such a way that you feel love, forgiveness, and acceptance rather that shame, guilt, and fear.

This woman had been summoned to a new mission, a higher calling. She received the call and bore the call with passionate conviction and urgency. The call is upon us and on our lips, but if it is to be heard by the people of the cities, we must leave our water pots and deliver it in person.

Free to Serve

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We all have rights and prerogatives that we do not exercise.

We are free to do so, but we are also free to let them go because our loyalty, our values, our marching orders, indeed, our very purpose for existence is focused on something higher and better than our comforts.

We set aside our preferences for the good of others because that good is in the heart of the One to whom we have pledged our total loyalty --- to love whom He loves and to care about the desires of His heart until they become the desires of our hearts as well.

" If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?"

"Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ."

(1 Corinthians 9:12 ESV)

Ban Marketing


I have heard some say that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

I am not sure I agree with that, but there have been times when controversy and adverse attention have worked to the advantage of an idea.

There is nothing like a good book ban to increase interest and sales.

There is nothing like telling the truth to make that book stand the test of time.

On this day in 1616 – Nicolaus Copernicus's book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres is added to the Index of Forbidden Books 73 years after it was first published.

"People of integrity expect to be believed and, when they are not, let time prove them right."


(Center picture - Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God, 1873, by Matejko. In background: Frombork Cathedral.)

Born of the Spirit


Supernumerary-rainbows-jb (1)

Creative commonsJohannes Bahrdt - Own work

From where does my strength come?

Where is my hope?

Is there more?

What do you mean, "That which is spirit is spirit?"

What is my Rainbow Connection?

Here is an expression of the longing of the human heart.

Psalm 121
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.


John 3:1-17
New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with that person.”

Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen, yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through him.


TRANSCRIPT  (Slightly edited) 

This morning, we're going to visit a conversation.  I invite you to have some coffee with me or whatever you drink, because we're going to go back in time. And this time that we're going back in is a time when Jesus, if it were happening in our time with our tastes, or at least my taste, would have sat down for a late night cup of coffee or tea or some sort of,  beverage with another rabbi, an old rabbi. I perceive, an older, young rabbi, early thirties, one who has created a great deal of controversy of late people are seeking him out. They're looking for answers, they're curious. He's evoking emotions and opinions on both sides of the fence.

And if the fence could have many sides, it would be many sides of the fence. Not just to protect his reputation because his reputation would be at risk, but openly in chapters to come in. John Nicodemus would at first defend Jesus and then later, take the big risk of discipleship, be called a disciple, and would claim his body to help,  Joseph Ahea give Jesus a respectable burial, which he would not have had,  as one who had been crucified and disgrace. But Nicodemus comes to Jesus, and for a rabbi to seek out another rabbi with the interview process as it was to really have an in-depth conversation, one would need to go by night to receive Jesus undivided attention, to be able to inquire, to be able to ask the deep questions. There's no doubt in my mind that we only have a portion of this conversation, that it may have gone on into the wee hours of the morning, that the conversation was long and it was deep and respectful and insightful, and was also a turning point in the life of Nicodemus. The scripture is found and one of the most familiar of all the passages in the Bible in the third chapter of the Gospel of John. And it includes many people's favorite verses, John three 16, that God so loved the world. But I would like  to have a conversation with you about this today, and I'd  to do it maybe as a launch from the Psalm of the day, just the first few words.

The psalmist is singing one of the Psalms of ascent that would be sung by the people as they came to Jerusalem for a feast. And as they're moving up toward the hill, they would be singing.

I lift up my eyes onto the hills question from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

Then take a trip with me back to the days of Abraham, the first of the patriarchs, when God speaks to Abraham in the country of his birth.

And he says, go from your country and your kindred in Genesis 12 and your father's house to a land I will show you.

I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed

 Later. In Romans four, Paul reflects upon this, and he says, God counted this faith of Abraham to believe this promise and act on this promise, to live in this promise as righteousness.

And now we go to the first century of the common era, year of our Lord, and a quiet place at night when many deep conversations take place when many deep thoughts are thought. Last night I posted a blog that I thought about all day. I started it in the morning. I did many other things. I kept coming back to it, and finally I got it posted. And it doesn't mention God by name. It simply raises the question that one of my young friends prompted in me just with a picture of his wife and kids watching the Muppets.

I had to think about it. Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side? Rainbows are visions and only illusions and rainbows have nothing to hide. I thought about this and I asked the question in the blog, why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Why? What is it that is creating this longing for whatever pot of gold it is at the end of the rainbow? Whatever it is that is mysterious and wonderful and beyond ourselves. And there has never been a time in the history of humanity as far as we can tell, and that is even going back and reading before language when there has not been this sense of wonder, this sense of other.

And some would say that with the decline in church attendance and church affiliation in our time, that maybe that sense of wonder and curiosity and awe is on the decline. But I do not think so. I think it is still present. And at every juncture of life we choose.

Can I explain this all in the flesh or do I need to turn to the spirit to explain what's going on? And there will always be, and there always has been this company of humanity that seeks the things of the spirit. And you who are tuning in here, either live today or later, even days later, it could be years later, are doing so because of that sense of wonder, that sense of placing a question mark somewhere in the portrait of your life. And so we do look to the hills and we say, where does my help come from? How is it that I'm breathing?

What is it that makes me alive and what will make me more fully alive? So in John three, we began with verse one. There was a pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews,6,000 Pharisees, living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. I just heard that figure yesterday,6,000 Pharisees of them 70 were members of the Sanhedrin court. They were the leaders.

And Nicodemus we know from other passages was one of them. They were moral and religious leaders of a sect of people who desired so much, who honor God and love God with their deeds and actions, that they became seriously meticulous about the observance of the law. And therefore they engaged in great discussions of the law. And they would often use argumentation. And they came often to argue with Jesus. And Jesus made an enemy of many of them, although he seemed to gravitate toward their love of God and their people came and inquired of him, he had much more in common with them than he did with the Sadducees. They didn't believe in anything supernatural beyond,  the personality,  and life of God himself.

But yet this misguided often, seriousness about dotting the I and crossing the Ts often led them away from the intent of the law. And they were desperate to do what was right. But this man was so attracted to Jesus and not just to argue with him, he was serious. He comes to Jesus by night and says to him, and this first word that comes out of his mouth is telling. He calls this young man, rabbi or teacher, rabbi, we know that you're a teacher who's come from God for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with that person. I'm going to pause again.

We look at life and we see the miraculous hand of God in the world, but we still have a choice. We can blame it on chance. We can attribute it to just the natural occurrence of things and factors beyond our control. Or we can look for the hand of God, the hand of the spirit, the hand of that which is other than us. And in many ways, that becomes a choice.

And Nicodemus has made that choice to look for the divine, to look for the sacred, to look for the holy, to look for the other, to look for God in the works and the words of Jesus. He's looking, but he's not completely seeing. So Jesus addresses the issue of his seeing. Jesus answered him barely, truly, very truly, or verily, verily or truly, truly. I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.

Now, what is this idea of seeing? This is Tom talking. By the way, if you can't tell from my voice or you're not following along with the reading, well they're seeing and then they're seeing, right? There is perception. There's understanding. There's that time when the lights go on, you're looking at that picture. You know those, those visual trick pictures that have more than one, more than one image in them. And you have to kind of train your brain to see not what you see at first, but what is buried in the picture. Once you see it, you can't unsee it.

And this is what Jesus is talking about. It takes a birth from above. It takes a new beginning. Now, if it had weren't such an honest and loving and respectful conversation, perhaps Nicodemus would've been insulted, but he was not insulted.

He was still curious. And Jesus was not insulting Nicodemus in any of these inquiries. He was engaging in a penetrating conversation. He was probing this man who had come to him by night. And so he says, Nicodemus, the  problem is, and you do have a problem, even though you're a great leader, you're a great teacher, you there's a problem, there's a step missing.

Well, Nicodemus doesn't understand what Jesus is talking about, seeing the Kingdom of God, kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God, the mastery of God over everything that begins in the hearts of human beings and penetrates society and begins to do what,  is often called in,  in later Judaism. Repairing the world. Fixing the world is part of the kingdom task. But it begins in the heart. it really begins before that.

It begins with having your eyes open and perceiving the kingdom of God. So he says, how can anyone be born after they've grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born? So Jesus speaks in metaphor and Nicodemus doesn't know what the meta is for.

Does he miss the metaphor or is he getting the metaphor and really not getting the application? How can I start again? How can I start thinking differently? How many people that you encounter are stuck in one way of thinking? They're just stuck. they can't break out of it. They can't see anything differently.

They have a paradigm or a set of glasses through which they see the world and they perceive reality, but they can't begin again. How can I be born again? How can I be born in a new way? How can I see things differently? Jesus answered and he takes it beyond seeing.

You see, the first step is you have to see it. The next one is then entering the kingdom. They're seeing the kingdom and then there's entering the kingdom. And Jesus says, barely.

Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water. And spirit was one of the flesh, is flesh. What is born of the Spirit is spirit. Now, without trying to get too deep into the illustration, Jesus really defines what he means when he says water.

He means flesh because he uses that again as a counterpoint to spirit. You have to be born, you have to become alive, you have to be, you know, in the flesh. We have to live in these bodies and in this reality, but we need that second dimension of life. He says, so what is born of the flesh is flesh. What is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you must be born from above.

The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the spirit. So seeing the kingdom of God is predicated upon being born from above. Entering the kingdom of God is predicated on being born from above, but it doesn't mean you necessarily understand everything. You don't always know where the wind comes from.

And yet you are moved by the wind. You soar with the wind. You're led by the wind. You're inspired by the wind. If you're born from the spirit, the kingdom of God enters you  a mighty wind and you flow, you fly.

You  go as the spirit leads you. And Nicodemus said to him, how can these things be? How can these things be? Maybe you're not plumbing the depths if you had never asked that question. I mean, we want to criticize Nicodemus for having a hard time getting it. But maybe if you get it too easily, you haven't wrestled with it enough. It was a dark night, it was a deep place.

It was an honest meeting. How can these things be in that question? Is hope in that question is yearning in that question. Is curiosity all mixed with the doubt?

And yet the faith that is akin to that of Abraham who didn't understand it all, but left the land of his father and wandered toward the land and toward the promise of many generations and the ordinary worshiper who is ascending the hill of Mount Zion and singing, where does my help come from? What brings me to this place? What stirs me on and spurs me on? What brings me to the feet of God?

Jesus answered him. Are you a teacher of Israel and you don't understand these things Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we've seen. Yet you do not receive our testimony. I've told you of earthly things and you do not believe. How can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things, no one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven. The son of man.

Well, he's saying, listen to me. I've been there. I've I've seen I'm, I'm giving you, I'm buried witness to you of what I know. And you have to make the shift. You have to be willing for that shift to take place in your life where you're born of the spirit, where all you're thinking in all your believing is transformed by the spirit in a way that you do not understand completely because the wind blows where it wait will, but will you be aware of it? Will you be moved by it or will you resist? The wind? History tells us that biblical history tells us that Nicodemus did not resist the wind, that Nicodemus academia felt the wind below and allowed it to blow him into discipleship and move him into followership and gave him courage to stand with Jesus. Even in his death, he had to swallow his pride as a teacher and understand there are things I do not know.

And then Jesus says something curious. It goes back to the exodus in the wilderness. When the serpents came in judgment and bit so many of the Israelites and so many died and so many were sick. And Moses took a serpent and lifted it up and Jesus and they lived. When they looked at the source of their injury and their pain and their disease and their poison, they were healed. Jesus says, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. So the son of man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. So just as we are needed to need to,  look at the source of our pain in Jesus, we look at the source of our healing through his pain because that lifting up was him bearing all the pain of the world and all the suffering and all the judgment and all the condemnation and all of the guilt and all of the agony and all of the doubt. And he's saying, look, when that happens.

And when it did happen, Nicodemus was there to identify with Jesus and to claim his body and to give him that dignified burial. And there you go, believe and have eternal life. Well, what is eternal life? Is it the pie that's in the sky in the by and by?

And that's part of it, but that's not the all of it or the whole of it or the essence of it. Who would want to live forever without meaning? Who would want to live ever forever without purpose? Who would want to live forever without joy, without fellowship, without presence, without a sense of wonder? It would be one monotonous moment after another. So we need eternal life right now with that great hope of it continuing and unfolding and growing in all of those qualities that make it eternal.

Jesus said later in a later passage that hopefully we'll get to this life eternal. That you may know him. You know God know me. It is that relationship that makes it life eternal and the purpose that we come to share in living in the kingdom and through the kingdom and being born of the spirit, being caught up by the wind becoming what Leonard Suite calls a pneumonaut.

Do you know what a pneumonaut is? You know what an astronaut is, right?

Who? Someone who travels through the solar system, the astro system. Well, a pneumonaut is one who travels on the wind of the spirit. Can you imagine anything more exciting and enlightening and enlivening than traveling on the wind of the spirit for God's soul of the world that he gave his only son, that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. Life is eternal for God. In other words, this is how God loved the world. It's not sentimental or primarily emotional.

It is a great act of loving that he gave his only son the embodiment of his inheritance for the ancient people, especially the Hebrews you live on through your children, you live on through your only son. This is your afterlife. This is your eternal life. This is  the hope of going on. He gave his air that whoever believes will have this kind of quality of life, of sailing on the wind of the spirit forever, now and forever.

And verse 17 says, indeed, because he's explaining more of it. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world through him might be saved. God loving the world this way, giving his legacy, intending as he told Abraham for all the nations of the world to be blessed through him loving the world. That in the fullness of time he gives his only son not to condemn, not to make them feel bad about themselves, not to come and say, I hate you, I judge you.

You're really a big disappointment to me. We already know and loathe ourselves that way. We already know our failures. We know our sins. Sometimes they need to be pointed out because we have blind spots. In Nicodemus case, Jesus confronts him and says, you need to be born from above.

You're, you're a teacher and you don't get it, but, and you need to in Nicodemus, you need to understand your need. But I'm not here to condemn. I'm here to lift. I'm here for all to be saved.

That's what I want. And when you enter my kingdom, you begin to embody that message and you carry that message to the world as well. Come to see as you seek, come to enter the kingdom as you look around and trust that this God that you seek is the God who gave everything. He could possibly give to invite you into that life of the spirit. That life is on the other dimension. That to connect you to that rainbow connection that you're always looking at. By the way, that's not un, it's not just unbiblical pop stuff.

God gave the rainbow as a symbol of hope to Noah. So, it's always been there, it's always been the physical reminder that there's something there. Why are there so many songs about rainbows, <laugh>? Because we've been looking at them all of our lives and knowing that there's more there than meets the eye. Yes, rainbows are illusions. I mean, they're refractions of light. I mean, we can explain a rainbow.

But what was the genius behind that? God didn't have to make it so beautiful, did he? He didn't have to make it so compelling, but he did. And as Kermit said, someday we'll find it.

The rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me. This is eternal life, as Jesus said, to know God. And Jesus invites us to know God through him.

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come by, will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For dying is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Leave your questions, your comments, and your pre requests, either in the chat box here on Facebook or the comments on YouTube or the comments section on the blog or LinkedIn or Twitter or wherever you find this cast.

Communicate, reach out, reach out and touch and believe and trust and explore. Be a Nicodemus. Go to Jesus by night and ask the hard questions and dialogue with him and open your heart to the possibilities of that glorious rainbow, that wind, that birth of the spirit that is possible for you, that is available for you, that God deeply desires for you to be drawn into. You're not here by accident today.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and be gracious under you and give you peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Uhde, Fritz von, 1848-1911. Christ and Nicodemus, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 5, 2023]. Original source:


Christ and Nicodemus

Tissot, James, 1836-1902. Christ and Nicodemus, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 5, 2023]. Original source:


Attribution: Pittman, Lauren Wright. Born Again, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 5, 2023]. Original source: Lauren Wright Pittman,


Title: Nicodemus
[Click for larger image view]

Attribution: JESUS MAFA. Nicodemus, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 5, 2023]. Original source: (contact page:



What Is the Rainbow Connection?

Rainbow_Connection - Fair UseFair Use of the cover art in the article complies with Wikipedia non-free content policy and fair use under U.S. copyright law .


"Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?"

Kermit's question is on target. It penetrates our veneer of superficiality and touches our vulnerability to what is real beyond our reality. It self-categorizes itself among the big questions of life.

What keeps us  singing about rainbows?

What is this longing to know what is  on the other side?

We all have the capacity to wonder. Our relative ignorance is the source of much human genius. Our imagination is triggered by little things that draw our attention to the greatest things.

Just when we think we have a handle on the world, we discover space. About the time we have some understanding of space, we are transported to galaxies and then, the universe unfolds before us and then, the possibility of the multiverse.

And we haven't even fully explained rainbows!

But we know that we do not know and we know that what we do not know contains vast possibilities and amazing opportunities. Our hearts are fixed on the many pots of gold for which we search.

Solomon, the wise king, referred to eternity in our hearts.

And so, it was and so, it is. We wake up to our dreams  as we cycle through the darkness. On the rainiest and cloudiest days, the sun breaks through and the rainbow appears.

Might our yearning and believing be an indication that there is reality behind our questions?

We have been persistent through the ages in our philosophical and theological ponderings and, for the most part, have not abandoned our musings about these matters.

It is not out of certainty that we always sing these songs, though some, through faith, approach some version of certainty called assurance. It is, and never can be, in the realm of intellect that we will settle all speculations.

"That which is of the flesh is flesh; that which is of the spirit is spirit."

What can be known consciously is overshadowed by that which can be known in spirit. Spirit and truth can often be seen holding hands and walking down the hall together.

It is not that intellect and spirit never meet. They can and they do. One need not abandon thought and reason to embrace faith. Even questioning faith is still faith. Sometimes faith is that gnawing sense that there is more to it all than we behold. It is a part of that which cannot be measured and cannot be verified in a controlled environment.

Even the observable cosmos does not always comply with the legitimate predictions of our pristine mathematical forecasts.

Yet, we keep singing about rainbows, those illusive refractions that have nothing to hid.

We are lovers and dreamers and we are yet to quantify or package those descriptions of ourselves.

They just are.


It Has Been Said

Original ideas

I know that my long threads of mediation, reflection, streams of consciousness, and contemplations are not for everyone. They are my musings, thinking, praying, meditating out loud. If anything in them is propelling or helpful for any of you from any tradition, I am grateful. I share from who and what I am and am blessed by so much of what so many of you bring to my attention.

So often, the best words have been said by others.

Most of these are from others. A college degree is no cure for stupidity. Sometimes education can even perpetuate ignorance... especially when the educators are exercising questionable intellectual discipline. And what year is this supposed to be? - Tom Sims

"At the cross God wrapped his heart in flesh and blood and let it be nailed to the cross for our redemption." - E. Stanley Jones

"Our actions are the results of our intentions and our intelligence." - E. Stanley Jones

“Do the truth quietly without display.”
― Brennan Manning

"The world is round so that friendship may encircle it." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

" We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

"You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

"Radiant Word…through which all our…encounter with the universe are come together into a unity. Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words: This is my Body. And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words which express the supreme mystery of faith: This is my Blood." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin



Plunging to the Depths

man jumping on body of water with rope

Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash 

How deep could I plunge anyway given the quantity of hot air that occupied every part of my soul?

I am much more likely to float than plumb the depths. To do other requires weight. In Greek, weight is often used with the word for proclamation, "doxa," from which we get "doxology." 

The heavier the glory that weighs us down, the deeper we go.

Deep thoughts?

Deep words?

How much time have I wasted looking and waiting for something deep to say or think when the deep waters are everywhere and everything that exists has unfathomed depts beyond the imagination to be explored?

Plunge in!


Preparing what I thought would be a message of judgment this morning, I discovered that Luke's emphasis (and that of Jesus) was a message of hope. 

Even when there are no signs of life in the tree, the Gardener gives another year --- and lovingly tends the tree to eek out the life that no one else sees but He still believes may be there.

In a message of judgment and destruction, imagine this main message is: God still believes in you.

Perhaps you'd consider returning the favor!

As you are plunging into the depths, do so with hope and compassion for yourself and others.


We flinch against a new norm that normalizes the tendency to exchange value for worthless pursuits. Thus is the description of idolatry. On one hand is a God who is a fount of fresh, cool water and, on the other, leaking cisterns.

And we gravitate toward the leaky novelties.

" Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water."
(Jeremiah 2:12-13 ESV)


Here is the ticket in the thicket.

Not today, but some days, I have been on the same page as the psalmist who said,

"My soul is cast down within me ... " (Psalm 42:6 ESV)

But he did not stop there. In the next breath he declares, "therefore I remember you ..."

That is the ticket! 

You are you are plunging into the depths.


In times of decline, we seek the Divine Incline.
Perceived or received, something declines for us,
And lofty edifices of our pride sink low.
Yet we ...
The "we" that is truly "us ..."
Shall not decline His inclination toward restoration.
Poor and needy
When greedy fires are consuming the underbrush of our lives,
From hesitation to preservation, His salvation
Rescues our souls.
From sadness to gladness we are lifted,
By grace, gifted ...
For God is good! In this we have stood!
God is forgiving! Thus, our living!
God is abounding in covenant love!
Give ear, Oh Lord.
Give Your full attention and intervention
To our plea for grace!
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!"
It is the day of trouble ...
For me ...
For many ...
We stand upon the precipice.
We cry for mercy.
Oh LORD, answer, please.


And the Psalmist Said

"Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me."
(Psalm 86:1-7 ESV)


As you pray, you are you are plunging into the depths.

You may be moving into some new, unknown, precarious, and frightening territory in your life. You are proceeding with caution and trepidation. It is a place where you must go, but you do not know the terrain or the hidden agendas of these new days .

All you know is Who is with you and leading you ...

... and that is enough.

" And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, 'Jacob, Jacob.' And he said,'Here I am.' Then he said, 'I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes.'"

"Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him."
(Genesis 46:2-5 ESV)

It was all the assurance that Jacob needed to set out and follow the path set before him into the vast unknown.

It is all we need.

God bless you in your NEW journey ... for each day is a NEW JOURNEY!

By faith, you are plunging into the depths.



Listen, God! I Have Been Betrayed by a Friend

Listen god

Our hearts sometimes cry out, "Listen, God!"

"Please, listen to me!"

If you follow the common lectionary suggested readings, you will get a steady diet of the psalms over and over.

That is because it is both our prayer book and our hymnal for daily living.

Every emotion is expressed in the Book of Psalms at least once.

They give words and expression to our feelings. They are not telling us how to feeling; they are helping us express how we feel, whether or not our attitudes need to be adjusted.

Sometimes the adjustment suggestion shows up in the psalm; sometimes, everything is left dangling.

I have often written on Psalm 55, below, but, today, I want to focus on one emotion: the feeling of betrayal by someone we love, trust, and consider close.

While there are always at least two sides to every story, is the the side that expresses the emotions of the one who feel betrayed.

"For had it been an adversary who taunted me,
then I could have borne it; *
or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me,
then I could have hidden from him.
But it was you, a man after my own heart, *
my companion, my own familiar friend.
We took sweet counsel together, *
and walked with the throng in the house of God."

There it is.

Have you never felt that way?

Many have had those feelings. Many have survived them, while others have chosen to cling to them rather than take them to God as the Psalmist did.

They may have festered.

They may have colored all of your future relationships.

They may have poisoned your friendships and trained you to be untrusting.

The better solution is to do what the Psalmist did: Express them in prayer to God and let God begin to help you sort them out.

In a world of imperfect people in process, we will all be betrayed and we will all be betrayers.

We all need grace and we all need to be formed into something more compassionate, resilient, and real.

Real prayer is about authenticity.

Find your emotions in the Psalms and pray them freely with faith, trust, and a sense that the God who hears you, understands and can heal you.

Psalm 55 NRSVU

Recent compositions based upon ancient spiritual songs, by Duncan and Shona Cullens,

All their music is available to download for free in the link below


Hear my prayer, O God; *
do not hide yourself from my petition.

Listen to me and answer me; *
I have no peace, because of my cares.

I am shaken by the noise of the enemy *
and by the pressure of the wicked;

For they have cast an evil spell upon me *
and are set against me in fury.

My heart quakes within me, *
and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.

Fear and trembling have come over me, *
and horror overwhelms me.

And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! *
I would fly away and be at rest.

I would flee to a far-off place *
and make my lodging in the wilderness.

I would hasten to escape *
from the stormy wind and tempest.”

Swallow them up, O Lord;
confound their speech; *
for I have seen violence and strife in the city.

Day and night the watchmen make their rounds upon her walls, *
but trouble and misery are in the midst of her.

There is corruption at her heart; *
her streets are never free of oppression and deceit.

For had it been an adversary who taunted me,
then I could have borne it; *
or had it been an enemy who vaunted himself against me,
then I could have hidden from him.

But it was you, a man after my own heart, *
my companion, my own familiar friend.

We took sweet counsel together, *
and walked with the throng in the house of God.

Let death come upon them suddenly;
let them go down alive to the grave; *
for wickedness is in their dwellings, in their very midst.

But I will call upon God, *
and the Lord will deliver me.

In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday,
I will complain and lament, *
and he will hear my voice.

He will bring me safely back from the battle waged against me; *
for there are many who fight me.

God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me and bring them down; *
they never change; they do not fear God.

My companion stretched forth his hand against his comrade; *
he has broken his covenant.

His speech is softer than butter, *
but war is in his heart.

His words are smoother than oil, *
but they are drawn swords.

Cast your burden upon the Lord,
and he will sustain you; *
he will never let the righteous stumble.

For you will bring the bloodthirsty and deceitful *
down to the pit of destruction, O God.

They shall not live out half their days, *
but I will put my trust in you.


Hear this beautiful reflection on the Psalm.

Get Wisdom

Get wisdom

Cost of Wisdom
"Though it cost you all you have, get understanding." - Proverbs 4:7b
Wisdom is a costly commodity.
We pay the price in time, heartache, experience, and study as well as money.
Yet, the wise man of old testifies to its enduring value. "It is worth all you have" is his message to those who might cheat themselves out of wisdom's riches.
It might hurt. It might bring you loss. It will cost you something, but get it. Whatever you do, get it.
In a world where we shy away from discomfort and inconvenience, we are admonished to sacrifice very visible treasures for invisible values. We do well to embrace the challenge, lean into our pain, and go for understanding.

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The Challenge Today

Live Wisely

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

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

Because we don't really know.

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

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

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

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

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



The Wisdom of the Bucket

Don't let your bucket list go empty ... Keep things moving out, but replace them regularly. Plan to die with some things undone for others to take up and do. Never stop looking forward. Eventually, your gaze will be firmly fixed on the heavenly prize, but the path to Heaven passes through these green pastures, still waters, shadows of death, feasts of plenty here. Goodness and mercy are following you all the days of your life and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever --- But keep replenishing that bucket list!

John the Cheerleader


Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash


In John three, beginning of verse 22 and through 36, John is on the opposite side of the water from Jesus. Jesus’ ministry is growing, and John is there preaching. He's baptizing, he's continuing his ministry. There's an overlap in timing. It's before John has been put into prison and this discussion about purification arises between John's disciples and a Jewish man. They came to John and they're asking, rabbi, this guy that was with you on the other side of Jordan and you testified about him, he's here baptizing, and all the people are going to him.  What are you going to say about that?

Is this a competition? And John says, he must increase, and I must decrease.  He makes it very clear, I'm not the Messiah. I told you I wasn't the Messiah. I'm a friend of the bridegroom.

I'm not here to take away all the attention from the pride groom. He must increase. I must decrease. That's the way things work.

That's the order of things. That is my role. My role is stating. So then we have a discourse about who Jesus is and it begins, and their new quotation marks in English.

And we don't know whether it's John speaking or John speaking  And by that, I mean John, the writer of the Gospel of John or John the Baptist. I tend to go with John the Baptist as interpreted by John the Evangelist.

It is a discussion. It's not Jesus' words when he said, the one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks of earthly things.  whoever believes in the sun has eternal life. Whoever disobeys the sun will not see life but must endure God's wrath.  These are the words of John one, John or another John.

What I want to focus on today, rather than figuring that out, is this attitude that John the Baptist has. He must increase. I must decrease. It sounds very spiritual.

Sometimes it sounds even hyper spiritual to say,  Jesus is my all in all. I just want Jesus glorified,  want Jesus to get all the attention. But that really is the attitude of a spokesman for Jesus. It's also an attitude we can apply in our lives to any who come after us.

We are most successful when they do better than we do, when they exceed us, when they shine. Now he's the Messiah. He's the one that comes from the Father. But even as we are preparing the way for a new generation, it is a strength of attitude. To be a cheerleader, to be a disciple or a preacher, or a witness or a prophet of God in many ways is to be a cheerleader for God. To get the attention and to be a disciple maker is to be a cheerleader for pushing the next generation into the limelight.

I know that there is a major difference between the two applications, but there's enough overlap for us to learn today. If we get those priorities straight, that we are paving the way for what God wants to do in the world and for who God is in the world and how God reveals himself, especially in Jesus Christ as a Christian message, then, we have our priorities straight that way. And if we apply it to the next generation of leadership, the next generation of disciples and disciple makers, it will be healthy for us to fade away and to,  run our parallel course.

Remain faithful to the end, but to be a cheerleader for all that is coming next. Have a great day.

Audacious Joy


Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash

I wish for you all a day filled with extraordinary, audacious, and joyful success.

May it be extraordinary because we were never called to be merely ordinary.

We were called, fashioned, and equipped to do the one job no one else in the world can do: be ourselves under God in a world that needs the uniqueness we have to offer.

May it be audacious because audacity is that which is invulnerable to fear or intimidation.

May nothing intimidate you on your path to greatness today.

Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

May your critics on the highway to mediocrity simply confirm in your heart that you are going the opposite and right way.

May it be joyful because joy is the culmination of a life of grace, gratitude, and generosity.

If you can discover the secret of abiding an d overflowing joy in the midst of all circumstances, you will be a success indeed.

All the best to you today and always.

Celebrating the March of Time, 3-1 Through the Centuries

A psalm of life

Life is real.

Life is earnest

And the grave is not the goal.

Deference 2

As noted yesterday, we missed February 29 this year. I have been off since February 28 and now it is March 1. How time marches on. I wrote some things of March 1 in past years. In addition to that, certain events transpired. 

I am on a bit of a run reviewing things I have written, observed, thought, or otherwise noted.

I might as well continue.

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Born this day in 1921 – Richard Wilbur, American poet, translator, and essayist (d. 2017).

"What is the opposite of two? A lonely me, a lonely you."

"Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things' selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder."

"When a poet is being a poet — that is, when he is writing or thinking about writing — he cannot be concerned with anything but the making of a poem. If the poem is to turn out well, the poet cannot have thought of whether it will be saleable, or of what its effect on the world should be; he cannot think of whether it will bring him honor, or advance a cause, or comfort someone in sorrow. All such considerations, whether silly or generous, would be merely intrusive; for, psychologically speaking, the end of writing is the poem itself."

"Wisely watch for the sight
Of the supernova burgeoning over the barn,
Lampshine blurred in the steam of beasts, the spirit's right
Oasis, light incarnate."

"The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body."

"There is no good art which is not consciously oblique. If you respect the reality of the world, you know that you can approach that reality only by indirect means."


Sometimes you just have to travel light and walk on tiptoe ...

... like a cat ...

... or a lamb ...

"Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road." - Luke 10:3-4

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