Previous month:
June 2023
Next month:
August 2023

July 2023

Transforming Prayer

Full joy prayer kahil gibran

Praying in the Fullness of Joy

"You pray in your distress and need; would that you would also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance."- Kahil Gibran, The Prophet

We pray when we will, but so often the will to pray is dependent upon desperation. That is not a bad thing if our desperation is one of constant longing for connection with the God who first thought of us and formed us. that sort of desperation is what Solomon alluded to when he said, "He hath set eternity in our hearts."

That is not, however, often the case. Ours is a desperation for temporal things and an avoidance of the negative consequences of emergencies.

Neither are emergencies all bad if growth is what emerges.

When prayer is so oriented, we begin to pray out of joy and abundance.


A Prayer by Clement XI

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith.
I trust in you: strengthen my trust.
I love you: let me love you more and more.
I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow.

I worship you as my first beginning,
I long for you as my last end,
I praise you as my constant helper,
And call on you as my loving protector.

Guide me by your wisdom,
Correct me with your justice,
Comfort me with your mercy,
Protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I want to do what you ask of me:
In the way you ask,
For as long as you ask,
Because you ask it.

Lord, enlighten my understanding,
Strengthen my will,
Purify my heart,
and make me holy.

Help me to repent of my past sins
And to resist temptation in the future.
Help me to rise above my human weaknesses
And to grow stronger as a Christian.

Let me love you, my Lord and my God,
And see myself as I really am:
A pilgrim in this world,
A Christian called to respect and love
All whose lives I touch,
Those under my authority,
My friends and my enemies.

Help me to conquer anger with gentleness,
Greed by generosity,
Apathy by fervor.
Help me to forget myself
And reach out toward others.

Make me prudent in planning,
Courageous in taking risks.
Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.

Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer,
Temperate in food and drink,
Diligent in my work,
Firm in my good intentions.

Let my conscience be clear,
My conduct without fault,
My speech blameless,
My life well-ordered.
Put me on guard against my human weaknesses.
Let me cherish your love for me,
Keep your law,
And come at last to your salvation.

Teach me to realize that this world is passing,
That my true future is the happiness of heaven,
That life on earth is short,
And the life to come eternal.

Help me to prepare for death
With a proper fear of judgment,
But a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death
To the endless joy of heaven.

Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Universal Prayer by Alexander Pope

Father of all! In every age,
In ev'ry clime ador'd,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!

Thou Great First Cause, least understood,
Who all my sense confin'd
To know but this, that Thou art good,
And that myself am blind:

Yet gave me, in this dark estate,
To see the good from ill;
And, binding Nature fast in Fate,
Left free the human Will.

What Conscience dictates to be done,
Or warns me not to do;
This teach me more than Hell to shun,
That more than Heav'n pursue.

What blessings thy free bounty gives
Let me not cast away;
For God is paid when man receives;
T' enjoy is to obey.

Yet not to earth's contracted span
Thy goodness let me bound,
Or think thee Lord alone of man,
When thousand worlds are round.

Let not this weak, unknowing hand
Presume thy bolts to throw,
And teach damnation round the land
On each I judge thy foe.

If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O teach my heart
To find that better way.

Save me alike from foolish Pride
Or impious Discontent,
At aught thy wisdom has denied,
Or aught that goodness lent.

Teach me to feel another's woe,
To right the fault I see:
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.

Mean tho' I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken'd by thy breath;
O lead me whereso'er I go,
Thro' this day's life or death!

This day be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun
Though know'st if best bestow'd or not,
And let Thy will be done.

To Thee, whose temple is of Space,
Whose altar earth, sea, skies,
One chorus let all Beings raise!
All Nature's incense rise!

My Prayer

God of hope in the midst of explosive sounds around us, may we refuse to be broken by breaking news.

May we only be broken by Your tender touch upon our hearts and the brokenness of those for whom You are broken.

In our own brokenness, may we not be shaken.

As we are dismantled by time and circumstance, may we be reassembled as a people who are useful in your mission of healing and grace.

May we remain pliable and reliable, gracious and sweet even when the world around us is filled with bitterness and the stench of decay.

We would be all that we can be and more that Your reputation for putting people together would continue to be a testament of grace and possibility.

May our doing of the distasteful and necessary, somehow be transformed into prayer that drudgery might become symphony and monotony might be incorporated into the larger score, orchestrated into the whole, pulse constant, conducted my the maestro and integrated into something magnificent.

We are not washing dishes and cleaning toilets.

We are participating in something grand!

A Referendum on Divinity

No nano god


Diminishing God

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him
than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness'
on the walls of his cell." - C. S. Lewis

There is no referendum on divinity.

This issue is, that it is not an issue.

It either is or it is not.

What we believe does not alter reality. What we refuse to believe does not nullify it.

Are we angry with God then, or with people who profess a belief in God? Are we angry with books and sermons and institutions because we do not like the character that they describe?

Can I base my acceptance of reality on whether or not I find the reality attractive or whether or not I understand it?

The importance of personal belief lies in what happens inside of me when I believe and identify with that which is ultimate. The current flows with overwhelming and sometimes invisible force in whatever direction it will.

I cannot change that current, nor its force, nor its direction.

What I can change is whether it will sweep me away or if I will flow with it for the ride of my life.

A Referendum on Divinity

No nano god


Diminishing God

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him
than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness'
on the walls of his cell." - C. S. Lewis

There is no referendum on divinity.

This issue is, that it is not an issue.

It either is or it is not.

What we believe does not alter reality. What we refuse to believe does not nullify it.

Are we angry with God then, or with people who profess a belief in God? Are we angry with books and sermons and institutions because we do not like the character that they describe?

Can I base my acceptance of reality on whether or not I find the reality attractive or whether or not I understand it?

The importance of personal belief lies in what happens inside of me when I believe and identify with that which is ultimate. The current flows with overwhelming and sometimes invisible force in whatever direction it will.

I cannot change that current, nor its force, nor its direction.

What I can change is whether it will sweep me away or if I will flow with it for the ride of my life.

A Digest of Certainty, Uncertainty, and Generalizations for the Day

False generalizations

Lincoln joke on self

"Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene." -- A.C. Benson

14th amendment plus

On this day in 1896 – The city of Miami, Florida is incorporated.
On another day, probably around 1958, the kid next door told me he was going to Miami.
I marched up to my mom and asked, "Do we have an Ami?"
No photo description available.


The adjective, רַבָּֽה׃ informs the verb for being moved and the adverb, "not," creating a sense that while we might be shaken, we shall not fall completely over. We may lose our balance a bit, but we regain it. Our rock and salvation are strong even when we are not.
"For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken."
(Psalm 62:1-2 ESV)


"... unfreezes pride and unwinds secrecy; it makes men forget themselves in the presence of something greater than themselves ..." - G.K. Chesterton

The World is waiting to hear an Authentic voice, a Voice from God—not an Echo of what Others are doing and Saying, but an Authentic voice.” -A.W. Tozer
“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you.” - Beatrix Potter
“Laugh till you weep. Weep till there’s nothing left but to laugh at your weeping. In the end it’s all one.” - Frederick Buechner
"Where can I go then from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I climb up to heaven, you are there; if I make the grave my bed, you are there also. " - Psalm 139:6-7
"Success is not so much what we have as it is what we are." -- Jim Rohn
“Love for the Lord is not an ethereal, intellectual, dream-like thing; it is the most intense, the most vital, the most passionate love of which the human heart is capable.” – Oswald Chambers, from Biblical Psychology in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
Frederick Buechner Quotes

Better People

Better people


You will never find better people by moving elsewhere.

Wherever you live, you will find the sort of people you expect to find.

The most important reason is because you take the main person everywhere you go, packed in your boxes, multiplied by however many mirrors you own.

If you are looking for friendly, open, kind, generous, non-judgmental people, you will find them in every city and village you can locate on the map.

If you are looking for hateful, vindictive, manipulative, dishonest, and judgmental people, they are everywhere too.

You will most likely attract the same people as your neighbor, but you may see them differently.

The best folks you can attract to yourself are neither perfect nor horrible; they are just people with lots of problems and flaws and many, many wonderful strengths, engaging stories, a much love to give and receive.

Geography does not define character or value, but our attitudes may.

The best way to find better people is to focus less on changing location and focus more on changing how we think and relate to people.

Boycotting Boycotts and Other Confessions


I was bragging to myself about how I seldom participate in boycotts.

For one thing, I'd have to start a behavior in order to stop it.

For another thing, I think a lot of them are petty.

Some are important and bring about great change for the common good, but most of those that my fellow Christians promote are about us imposing our cultural will on everyone else in the world.

Still, if I don't drink green peppermint cola in the first place, how can i boycott it, even for a great and noble cause? I suppose I could lie.

Then I found a contradiction below in my memories.

The truth is, I did not really boycott the series, I just did not go and no one noticed. I actually just had a perfect storm of three factors:

  • I lost interest in the franchise (I really did like the Phelps character on T.V.)
  • I drastically reduced my movie-going to about once a year and I fall asleep during movies at home.
  • Action movies are especially hypnotic for me.

That is all of my confession. Take it for what it is worth.

I will not be moved by guilt, shaming, and other forms of persuasion to give up something that I think is a quality product that is produced ethically.

I refuse to stop watching Barney :)

No photo description available.

Guilt By Association

Tom and villain

As much as I would love to discredit many people because of their toxic views and deeds, I would rather use their words and actions in context than some snapshot out of context. Pictures don't always prove anything. I have had mine taken with disreputable folks and will again.

Sainthood by  Association

Born this day in 1916 – Keenan Wynn, American actor (d. 1986).
I mention him because I did 2 funerals for a family in the Bay Area - mother and father of a son who was a film director who was a friend of Keenan Wynn and kept telling me I reminded him of his friend.
He calls his wife over after the second service and says, "Doesn't he remind you of Keenan?"
"Sweetest man," he said.
Personally, I see know resemblance.
Maybe I look more like his dad, Ed. (second picture)
Here is a guy who did not boycott an evil regime the year they hosted the Olympics.
And here is a little extra.


Thinking About the Exclusivity of My Thinking



If I insist upon the mutual exclusivity of paradoxical statements, there lays, upon me, an insurmountable burden of truth to understand all things at the same time thoroughly.

Can you convince me that I am absolutely wrong about this?

The one thought that keeps me grounded is God as I see God in the face of Jesus, for me and others, the human face of God.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux is said to have penned these words translated by Edward Caswall:

"Jesus, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest."

"O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
to those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!"

"But what to those who find? Ah, this
nor tongue nor pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is,
none but his loved ones know."

"Jesus, our only joy be thou,
as thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be thou our glory now,
and through eternity."

Fellow Brooders, Welcome!

Brooding over authenticity

Sometimes I brood over inconsequential trivia. Sometimes I wrestle with big questions, issues, and calling.

I cannot lead someone else's tribe. I cannot even throw stones at it or its leaders. I really will not because stones are always reciprocated back and forth and, as they fall, they only build walls.

I think we ought to be walking in the direction of more projectiles that can hurt us with nothing in our hands.

Authentic church is not about protecting ourselves from attack.

Authentic church welcomes outside criticism and neutralizes it with love and truth.

That takes courage and conviction.

Authentic church is about being the body of Jesus in the world the way Jesus was and is in the world. I can criticize my tribe because they are my stewardship, because they listen, because I love them, and because I believe in what they can be.

So --- I may have a word to say about decaying and declining elements of culture, but understand me --- they are the backdrop of our discipleship. We are not shaped into who we must be , we cannot be shaped, by our reactions to culture.

What we are becoming, by grace, if we are so becoming, is what we were becoming yesterday and the day before. The contrasts look different depending upon the shapes and colors in the background, but we are who we are becoming ... not just what we are and were.

We --- the people of God, individually and in community.

Now ... my brood :

How do I get that across and involve more people in being authentic church and shaping our lives by the example, presence, redemption, and life-giving power of God in Jesus Christ?

Easy answers --- not needed ... simple intention, affirmed .....

Fellow brooders, WELCOME!

I am feeling both frustrated and

Brothers and sisters, let us love God and ...

Let us love one another and .... Hopeful.

... our neighbors as ourselves.


Some Quotes from Authentic Folks

God put me on earth to do a certain number of things.
Right now I'm so far behind I'll never die.
-- Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Waterson

Grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life." -- Brennan Manning, Abba's Child

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
-- Scott Adams

You can observe a lot by watching. -- Yogi Berra

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. - Mark Twain

How will I know what I think
until I see what I write? -Lewis Carroll

Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, "Why me?" Then a voice answers, "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up." -- Charlie Brown in Peanuts, by Charles Schultz

"We live in a busy world but there's a difference between empty fatigue and gratifying tiredness. Invest in the things you deeply care about." - Eugene Cho

"Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds." ~ Albert Einstein

The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. - Abraham Lincoln

The best vision is insight. - Malcolm S. Forbes

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. - Theodore Roosevelt

"Willingness implies a surrendering of one’s self-separateness, an entering into, an immersion in the deepest processes of life itself. It is a realization that one already is a part of some ultimate cosmic process and it is a commitment to participation in that process. In contrast, willfulness is the setting of oneself apart from the fundamental essence of life in an attempt to master, direct, control, or otherwise manipulate existence. More simply, willingness is saying yes to the mystery of being alive in each moment. Willfulness is saying no, or perhaps more commonly, ‘yes, but…’"

"But willingness and willfulness do not apply to specific things or situations. They reflect instead the underlying attitude one has toward the wonder of life itself. Willingness notices this wonder and bows in some kind of reverence to it. Willfulness forgets it, ignores it, or at its worse, actively tries to destroy it. Thus willingness can sometimes seem very active and assertive, even aggressive. And willfulness can appear in the guise of passivity. Political revolution is a good example." — Gerald May

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson



Giving - Worship at Valley Springs Church

Valley Springs 7-22-23

A Message from II Corinthians 8

It mis always a blessing to share with the brothers and sisters at Valley Springs Church.

Here is yesterday's service and message.

One realization I had upon was review, was my dire need for a haircut and a comb.


2 Corinthians 8   - New International Version

 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.

 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.

 Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations:

 They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 

 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

 I am not commanding youbut I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.

 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

  1. Giving Is a Two-Way Experience of Grace
  2. Giving Requires the Grace of God to Make Us Able.
  3. Giving Is a Privilege of Participation.
  4. Giving is a Spiritual Exercise of Submission to God.
  5. Giving Is an Opportunity to Excel
  6. Giving Is More about Love than Law.
  7. Giving Is Modeled by Jesus.
  8. Giving Is About Intent.
  9. Christian Giving Is Proportional Giving.
  10. Giving Is to Be Done with integrity.


I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love … (II Corinthians 8:8)

There is something within you that is full of sincere love, something that desires to give of yourself completely to God and others. It is that new nature imparted by Jesus to you in conversion that pants for God and longs for His love to flow through you.

One of the easiest ways to create resistance is to push people to do what they don’t want to do. The Apostle Paul understood this. His method was not to badger but to help people to find that part of themselves that wanted to do what God wanted them to do. It was that part of the Corinthian Christians to whom he appealed regarding the offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem. It is that part of ourselves to whom we must appeal as we flip the dial of our lives from the flesh to our new nature in Christ.

Real commitment cannot be coerced or manipulated. It must flow from a heart of love. It was love that compelled our Lord to take up His cross and it is love that draws us to the cross and prompts us to take up the cross and follow Him.

Much has been said about sacrifice and giving. It is God's unspeakable gift in Jesus that paints the eternal masterpiece of loving sacrifice.

Love and sacrifice sanctify commitment and communion. Sometime in the near future, you will partake of the Lord’s Supper. We come to the Lord's table because His love led Him to offer His body and blood as a sacrifice for our sin that we might be saved and might have the opportunity to commit our lives to something significant and eternal. In a dark world, it is His life being expressed through our lives in sacrificial love and commitment that will light the way for others to find significance and hope.

Come to the table of grace daily with sincerity and joy but also with reverence as you remember Him and prepare to worship.


Jacob's Ladder and the House of God


The House of God

Genesis 28:10-19a

When were you last in the House of God?

Are you sure?

Is it possible that you were there and did not know it?

Could it be that you are there now?

Did you ever wake up in the morning, look around, and see something you didn't expect you would come to the place where you slept in the night.

You had slept.

You had dreamed.

You had tossed and turned in your bed.

Now you are awake.

The room looks different. The world looks different. It is a new day. It is a new place.

The story I'm about to tell you is not paralleled in that experience exactly.

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Heron, according to Genesis 28: 10 through 19.

He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night because the Sun had set.

Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and laid down in that place.

I have often thought that must have been uncomfortable. I have often wondered how a stone could be a good replacement for a pillow. Once I took a nap on a rock. The place where I laid my head was slightly elevated and slightly hollowed out, and it was a perfect pillow.

While Jacob was asleep, he dreamed. In his dream, he saw a ladder. The ladder had its feet on the earth. The top of the ladder reached to heaven. The Angels of God were ascending and descending on the ladder. It was then that a voice came to him.

The Lord stood beside him and said, "I am the Lord. The God of Abraham, your father, and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, I will give to you and your offspring. And your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad and to the West and to the east and to the north and to the South. And all of the families of the Earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring."

It was a renewal of a promise. The promise had been made to Abraham. The promise had to have been reiterated to Isaac. The promise was now being made to Jacob.

I will bless you, God says. I will give you land. I will give you an inheritance. But most important. God said to Jacob, in you, that is in your person, in your heritage, through your life, you will be a blessing to all people.

Your offspring, your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchildren, all the many generations after you, will be a blessing.

God continues.

God says, "Know that I am with you. Know that I will keep you. I will keep you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

It was at that point that Jacob woke up.

He awoke from his sleep, and he made this declaration. It is a declaration that we may have made from time to time when we have found ourselves in a place where we did not realize we were in the presence of God.

Jacob said, "Surely the Lord is in this place."

But he followed that statement with these words, "And I did not know it"

I did not know it.

God is here.

God was here.

God continues to be here.

I was not aware.

When have you been in the presence of God and knew it not? When has God been speaking to you and you were not aware? When has God been tapping you on the shoulder and you did not realize that it was God?

Jacob said, "How awesome is this place? This is none other than the House of God. This is the gate of heaven."

Jacob arose early in the morning, he took the stone that he had put under his head, and he set it up for a pillar and toiled and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel.

The name of the city originally was Luz. But now he called it Bethel.

The word "Beth" is house. The word, "El" is God.

Jacob put a rock down. It was a rock, a stone, that had supported his head.

Now had marked a place in the Earth of special significance, a place where the presence of God had been revealed to him.

He called the place Bethel. He called the place the House of God.

The House of God is that place where God meets you.

It is that place where God speaks to you.

It is that place where God reassures you of God's promises.

It is that place where God calls you to be blessed and to be a blessing.

It is that place where God promises to be with you all through your life.

It is that place where God promises to fulfill his purpose in your life.

It is that place where you meet God, and your life is transformed forever. It is that place where you may set a stone. It is that place that you will name the Bethel of your experience with God.

Art Description from the Top of the Page

Jacob's Ladder; as in Genesis 28:12: "And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."; illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible; illustrated by Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, and published by P. de Hondt in The Hague; image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries

No Immunity to Doubt

Hans kung
"There is no mystery of the faith that is immune to doubt." - Hans Kung
That is true of everything for the thinking person.
We decide it might rain; so we carry an umbrella. We sure not sure it is going to rain. We are not sure it will not. Faith is not the surety; it is revealed in preponderance of confidence that leads to the act of umbrella-carrying.
Decisions and commitments come into play.
In the realm of faith and ultimate concern, doubt it part of the relationship and the process that is always leading us into deeper seeking and dialogue with what is Other than us.
Did Kung nail it?
I do not think he was trying to nail it.
He was describing it.

A New Radicalism


“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

- M. Scott Peck

We are being called to radicalism in the same sense that M. Scott Peck called himself a "radical conservative" - one who goes to the root of things and seeks to conserve that ideal.

Sometimes the roots are buried deep beneath the surface. Sometimes they are in plain view. Always, they provide the strength and stability to the life they support.

To determine what the radix of the Jesus message is, one must focus on the person, work, and message of Jesus in His context and beyond His context.

No one was ever more forgiving; yet no one was ever more brutally truthful. His judgment did not condemn and His forgiveness let no one off the hook of personal or collective responsibility for their choices.

It is going to take some radical and disturbing voices to bring us back to true center and remind us that the standard for orthodoxy cannot be found in the last 100-200 years of the church as wonderful as some of those years might have been and as mighty as many of their preachers were.

Nostalgic faith can only carry us so far back into the history of God's salvific work in affairs of humankind.

The quest for roots must go back much further than that and be reexamined in light of timeless truths revealed by God. The message must be contextually and linguistically translated to each new generation without losing its core.

Then, concepts such as forgiveness will be meatier and more potent and the personal message of pietism and spiritual vitality will be seen within a Kingdom context.

We have some digging to do to get to the root of things and that can be uncomfortable.

The conviction that we need, besides the obvious conviction of our sins, is a deep conviction that "it" is all about God and not about us.

Perhaps that will be one of the contributions of a new generation of radical believers.

Something Entirely New


Nothing like this

The life to which Jesus calls us is beyond our frames of reference or box-in thinking.


“We have never seen anything like this!”

That is how yesterday's gospel reading from ark 2 ended, with head-shaking amazement.

Mark 2:13-22
Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me."

And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples-- for there were many who followed him.

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day."

"No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."

Something Entirely New


Nothing like this

The life to which Jesus calls us is beyond our frames of reference or box-in thinking.


“We have never seen anything like this!”

That is how yesterday's gospel reading from ark 2 ended, with head-shaking amazement.

Mark 2:13-22
Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me."

And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples-- for there were many who followed him.

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"

Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day."

"No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."



Photo by Joe Pearson on Unsplash

Remorse is not unhealthy.

Unresolved, unconfessed, and unrepentant remorse eats at us from inside.

True remorse leads to repentance, redemption, and reconciliation with God and others.

It is an indicator that we have not lost our humanity, our connection to the image of God within us. Fallen, as we are, we can still hear the welcoming, wooing, voice of conscience where God is speaking to us, calling us home.

There is nothing to hide from God. God knows:

"O Lord, you know all my desires, *
and my sighing is not hidden from you."

The soul longs for connection to its Maker as a child to a parent and as any part of creation, to its source.

"I will confess my iniquity *
and be sorry for my sin."

This is the great step on the path to hope.

And confident hope is eloquently expressed in these words:

"For in you, O Lord, have I fixed my hope; *
you will answer me, O Lord my God."


Psalm 38
Domine, ne in furore

O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; *
do not punish me in your wrath.

For your arrows have already pierced me, *
and your hand presses hard upon me.

There is no health in my flesh,
because of your indignation; *
there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.

For my iniquities overwhelm me; *
like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.

My wounds stink and fester *
by reason of my foolishness.

I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; *
I go about in mourning all the day long.

My loins are filled with searing pain; *
there is no health in my body.

I am utterly numb and crushed; *
I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.

O Lord, you know all my desires, *
and my sighing is not hidden from you.

My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, *
and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.

My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; *
my neighbors stand afar off.

Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; *
those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin
and plot treachery all the day long.

But I am like the deaf who do not hear, *
like those who are mute and who do not open their mouth.

I have become like one who does not hear *
and from whose mouth comes no defense.

For in you, O Lord, have I fixed my hope; *
you will answer me, O Lord my God.

For I said, “Do not let them rejoice at my expense, *
those who gloat over me when my foot slips.”

Truly, I am on the verge of falling, *
and my pain is always with me.

I will confess my iniquity *
and be sorry for my sin.

Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, *
and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.

Those who repay evil for good slander me, *
because I follow the course that is right.

O Lord, do not forsake me; *
be not far from me, O my God.

Make haste to help me, *
O Lord of my salvation.

The Beauty of Many Colors

Black and white and colors

Your true colors are shining through.

Let them show! They are beautiful!

WHITE is the color of milk/fresh snow. Not very descriptive, but beautiful in contrast with other colors.

BLACK is  the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; opposite of white.

Again, contrast adds delight.

While both are beautiful alone, they are seldom seen alone and difficult to perceive when they are.

In physics the very darkest color owing to the absence of or complete absorption of light; opposite of white.

I never met either color of person.

Our colorfulness is what makes us part of a wonderful human family.

Our varied cultures are given to be gifts.

Our histories, painful and joyful bring color to our music and art as well as to our shared values.

We have culture because we are multi-cultural.

Otherwise, we rob ourselves of our wealth.

I have met some dead people who had extreme colors --- but those who are alive, no matter how colorful, are neither all or nothing of anything.

I have met many on a continuum as we all are ... descendants of common ancestors and cultures. We absorb many colors and lights. That is good.

Any claim to superiority is misinformed and ignorant.

Our uniqueness is good, but so are our commonalities. All enrich what is already rich.

Race, as we define it today, is an allusion designed to separate or to dominate.

Celebrate your own heritage and that of your neighbors.

But also celebrate the unique beauty that is created when we all come together on the canvas of life!

No Time or Wine to Waste


Drink it all
This haste is the haste of no waste.

“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.” – Matthew 26:27
It was no time for waste. Nor was it a time to be sparing. There would be no holding back. Jesus was about to go the ultimate distance of sacrifice, give His whole body, and sacrifice everything He was for the redemption of mankind. He wanted His disciples to know that of all that He was giving, they would need all.
“Drink ye all of it,” He declared, not because they were thirsty for the fruit of the vine, but because they were thirsty for grace.
“Drink ye all of it,” because nothing less will suffice for the forgiveness of our sins than the total offering of Christ’s life for our lives.
“Drink ye all of it,” because we need to experience fully what it means to be absolutely dependent upon another to save us. We must realize in our own experience how desperate and depraved we are apart from the mercy of God in Christ.
“Drink ye all of it,” because it is all freely offered. Jesus held nothing back. He holds nothing back now.
“Drink ye all of it,” because it is a celebration of God’s transforming and unconditional love for us.
“Drink ye all of it,” because it is a reminder of His precious blood. There was a cost for our salvation. What has come to us without price was purchased at a heavy cost.
“Drink ye all of it,” because He wants to fill us completely with Himself.
“Drink ye all of it,” and celebrate the very presence of Christ as you remember Him.
He took his cup and drank it all for us.

Weary Bones

What say your tired, weary bones? Soul, are you depleted? Have your resources dried up? Are fresh out of all you need to keep going?

It is a good place, not a comfortable place, yet, a comforting place. It is a hard place, this school of reliance and trust. It is a rocky path with curves and tunnels, uncertain trails, and slippery slopes, but it is a prestigious school.

You cannot afford the tuition and you bring nothing of value to the bargaining table. Your enemy is too strong for you. He robs you of all you have left.

You are drained dry.

Your bones ache and you cannot move another inch.

Then ... you start singing with the ancient singer,

All my bones shall say,
“O LORD, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?” - Psalm 35:10 ESV

The Band of Buddies

File:Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles by Constantinople master (early 14th c., Pushkin museum).jpg

Who did Jesus call? Those he desired. He took his best buddies to a high mountain and called them out to something great and adventurous, dangerous, and intimate. He called them to be his closest followers and friends. He called a band of buddies.

Later, we would call them "sent ones (apostles)"

Here, they are "the called who came."

He called them to him to send them out.

And then, they would come back.

And then, sent out again.

He gave some of them new names --- two of them, teasing names ... "Sons of Thunder!"

I wonder what those guys were like.

And one ... was a betrayer.

There is at least one in every crowd ... even in a band of buddies.

"And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him." - Mark 3:13-19 ESV


Qnger management

"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil." - Psalm 37:8

Psalm 37:8 permits us three positive choices that negated three negative choices.

We can make choices in each of these areas:

1. When anger arises, we can refrain from it. Namely, we can deal it out of the predominant place in our decision-making.

2. When wrath seems attractive, we can forsake it. Leave it behind. Give it no voice at the table.

3. When we are drawn toward fretting and stewing, we can decide to stop feeding it; it has no valuable outcome for us or for anyone else.

" The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming."
- Psalm 37:12-13 ESV

Now, God is not a mean laugher who delights in anyone's destruction.

Yet, God sees the humor in man's pride and sense of indestructibility. God is our model for a healthy sense of humor when we are surrounded by the bellowing voices of confident evil.

Don't lose your sense of humor at the absurd. God hasn't. He is the original author of slapstick. It comes with a broken heart and tears for those who wander, but He does see the humor in it all as well.

... still reaching out to redeem and reconcile.

Liberating Fear

Remember jesus of naz

"Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!" - Psalm 31:19

The fear of God is the fear of straying from Him which leads us back toward Him. Fearing God is a longing for God and a sense of desperation at the thought of not finding our shelter in Him.

It is, then an entirely different understanding of fear and a unique response. Instead of being repelled, we are drawn.

It is comparable to my understanding of the wrath of God.

In my study of scripture, the wrath of God is less of an overt reaction to human stubbornness, self-will, and sin than an encounter between opposites. An object of intense velocity encounters an object of strong resistance.

Sometimes, God is the wall against which our stubborn determination to sin is halted.

Sometimes, our will is the wall that God's unstoppable force topples. Either way, God, and truth win ... and that is essence of His wrath. He wins.

God is the unmovable object and the unstoppable force.

To the one fearing Him and trusting Him, it is a source of great comfort, but to the one resisting, it is quite disconcerting and potentially disastrous.

It is always a choice of alignment.

"The fear of the Lord, the gift of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean being afraid of God, since we know that God is our Father that always loves and forgives us,...[It] is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace.” - Pope Francis (Harris, Elise. "Pope: Fear of the Lord an alarm reminding us of what's right", Catholic News Agency, June 11, 2014)


Frederick Buechner in The Magnificent Defeat:

God is the enemy whom Jacob fought there by the river, of course, and whom in one way or another we all of us fight—God, the beloved enemy, because, before giving us everything, he demands of us everything. Remember Jacob, limping home against the great conflagration of dawn. Remember Jesus, staggering on broken feet out of the tomb toward the Resurrection, bearing on his body the proud insignia of the defeat which is victory, the magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.

Bless us, O God, that we may see your hand not only in the wonders of the world, but in its pain, and ours. Amen.


I owe some of this articulation to an article by John Piper.


Never Lose Heart


Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

 "... we do not lose heart ..." - 5 words from II Cor 4:16::

Never lose heart.

To lose heart is to lose center and create vacuum which shall suck up something to fill itself.

We may not want that calling the shots.

Losing heart is no option. Losing heart is placing our choices in the hands of chance. Heart is what controls us - center -core - choice.

Losing heart is not an emotional "emptying;" but a void of choice, determination, and commitment. Commitment drives when all else come loose.

Our choice is to not lose heart, to maintain commitment to center, commitment to God, commitment to mission.

Calling - Hope - Obedience - Insight - Commitment - Energy.

Pro- Choice => CHOOSING not to lose heart in heartless deflating days of economic downturns. Recession is no excuse to take a recess.

Based on calling, with hope, in obedience, with insight, we commit to the energy necessary to choose => CHOICE!


If It Was Good Enough the First Time

Recycled words

Recycled Attempts at Wisdom and Thought-Provoking Ideas

These ideas were all, once, spontaneous.

Perhaps, they could be again, if they sprouted seeds, were planted in some minds, took root, and became new life-forms.

No photo description available.

No photo description available.

No photo description available.

Psalm 15:1 - Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?

The grand question introduces the next set of lessons from the psalms and sparks the imagination of all earnest seekers.

As believers in Christ, we have the answer in the gospel, but the very asking of the question is a matter of opening to God for all that He desires to teach us.

Do not take truth for granted or treat it as if it were not ever new and renewing.

Allow the question to move you to the next level of seeking as you go before the Father in prayer today.

No photo description available.

No photo description available.

Logic will get you from A to B.
Imagination will take you everywhere.
-Albert Einstein

No photo description available.

"What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do. " - Aristotle

No photo description available.

Quote from "The Confidence Factor," available today on Amazon: 


Challenging Perception

Flawed perceptions

Our strengths include the ability to perceive, discern, and aggregated our perceptions into our decision-making capacities. We have powers of reason. We enjoy great abilities to reflect and draw conclusions.

Those are also weaknesses. What we perceive around us can deceive us.

We have filters, assumptions, blind spots, selective memory, and brain plasticity. That plasticity includes a rather insidious tendency to expand upon and alter our own memories in our brains to quell the noise of ambivalence and cognitive dissonance that haunts us when contradictions arise between perception and belief.

A. Do not trust all of your perceptions without question.

It is not that our perceptions are entirely flawed; it is just that they are not flawless and need to be tested and retested.

B. Do not insist that the way you saw or heard something was the absolute truth of the matter.

C. When making a strong statement of fact, check and double check.

D. Don't be so sure that eye-witness testimony in court is reliable even if the witnesses are good, decent, and credible people

(I threw that in the pollute the jury pool).

E. Something else .... What?

How Are Things on Your Side of the Boat?


Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

How are things on your end of the boat?
Above water?
Floating along?
For whom does your bell toll?
Are you truly listening?
How much room is there on your end for the rest of humanity?
How much times is there before you start to sink?

Floating down De-Nile river, we are all sinking
Sinking unaware
Without a care.

What can we do?

Well, if we would pay some attention, we could work together to patch the boat while the rest of the crew worked at rowing us to shore.

The key word is "together."

T is for Trouble and Time.

At some point we all either face trouble are in trouble or feel troubles. Troubled waters rock all boats. Troubled lives and communities rock the waves of time. Trouble is a universal experience and varies with time. Is it your time for trouble or does the other side of the boat experience it more intensely at the moment

O is for Other and Our.

We can easily forget other people, other times, other places, and other situations. What what is true for others will often and eventually be true for us. Their experiences become our experiences Ours become theirs. They may vary in intensity and specificity, but what is common for one is usually common for all.

G is for Gathering.

As we gather together, we share in word, in deed, and in common experience. Whether we gather physically or virtually, we come together. Life is about meeting, meeting people, meeting ourselves, meeting that which is Other for us. To avoid gathering is to reject mutual support, encouragement and problem-solving. The road that leads toward togetherness, commences with a decision to gather.

E is for Enigma.

We come together because we are puzzled. Where my mother lives with other senior citizens, there is always a group in one of the lobbies working on a jigsaw puzzle. It is a center of fellowship and it is a place of mutual problem-solving. As one person solves the position of a piece of the puzzle, the enigma of moment shrinks and the big picture becomes clearer to all.

T is for Temper

The Latin root for "temper" is to mix and to moderate. As we come together and mix our efforts, gifts, temperaments,  ideas, perspectives, and experiences, our approach to the world is moderated. We are more likely to come to reasonable solutions that are good for all. We temper our own biases and drives in such a way that we begin to think about the good of all.

H is for Holy.

I am not exactly talking about religious holiness, although the implications are there. I am referring to the meaning of that which is sacred, that which is special, that which is set apart for significance. The moment of togetherness is holy. It is blessed. It is blissful. It is to be observed with reverence and respect. We see other people as holy and their lives as sacred. We value community. We see the  whole boat, sinking or floating.

E is for Energy.

Energy is compounded when it is brought together and focuses on solving one problem. The effectiveness of two is far grater than the sum of one plus one. Three multiplies the energy in a geographical progression and four creates explosive nuclear force. Energy is expanded into synergy and things happen together that could never happen separately.

R is for Respect.

To expand upon the implications of reverence for that which is holy, we look at the power of respect for the person in front of us, into whose eyes we are gazing. We see the image of the Divine. We appreciate their uniqueness. We see a brother or sister. We declare that person's worth and how essential that person is to the welfare of the whole. We call that human response of one person to another, respect.

In conclusion, there is only one big boat and we are all in it floating in one great ocean of life.

If one end is floating, we are all floating.

If one end is sinking, are all sinking.

Whatever the situation, we are together. So, we might as well come together.


Nothing New ... Except

Under the sun

Nothing is absolutely new in this world.
It is recycled, reconstituted, repackaged, or rediscovered, but it is not entirely new ...
Except today.
Today is entirely new and we are new in it.
Every thought, idea, experience, dream, and individual is new.
I am new and renewed today by grace.
God's blessings are new every morning.
The sun is now beginning to rise on this new day and I shall walk outside to greet the morning.
The new morning!

Feast of Jason of Thessalonica


It is the Feast Day of Jason of Thessalonica, and early Christian believer mentioned in Acts 17:5–9 and Romans 16:21.

Tradition says that Jason was numbered among the Seventy Disciples who were sent out on mission by Jesus two by two.

Jason is remembered as an official saint in Catholic and Orthodox traditions. That means that, while all believers are saints in that they are set apart for God's purposes, some are remembered as examples because of their exemplary lives from which we can all learn.

My take-away from Jason's life today is that he was a friend to Paul. All great men and women need friends to stand with and for them. Without our friends, we cannot accomplish all that we are called to do.

While on his second missionary journey, Paul stayed at Salonika, in the house of Jason. While there, Paul, the Apostle, stirred the city with his preaching.



70 C.E.

70 AD Jerusalem

The Road to Masada and the Great Show-Down started on this day in 70 C.E.

The armies of Titus attacked the walls of Jerusalem after a six-month siege. Three days later they breach the walls, which enabled the army to destroy the Second Temple.

Josephus claims that 1.1 million people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish. He attributed this to the celebration of Passover which had brought many to the city.

Titus and Rome celebrated this victory. Some 700 Judean prisoners were paraded through the streets of Rome in chains during the triumph.

A group pf survivors fled to Masada, near the Dead Sea, which was the final stronghold of the Judean rebels.

In 73 CE, the Romans breached the walls of Masada and captured the fortress, with Josephus claiming that nearly all of the Jewish defenders had committed mass suicide prior to the entry of the Romans.


Woes to pharisees

Matthew 23:27-28: "Woe to you, [** religious leaders ** ] hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

I omitted the specific addresses, "scribes and Pharisees,," but add them here.

Too often we see that and envision "them."

"That's not us; that is them."

But don't forget, those were Jesus' people - the folks with whom He was most likely to identify. He was more of a Pharisee by tradition than any other religious type .

Yet, what He criticized was a universal tendency of religious power-brokers to obscure the core teachings of the faith for personal gain, power, and self-aggrandizement.

For that reason, I made the quote more generic.

But to be faithful to text and context, I am disclosing the omitted words so you can add them in with understanding.

There is no intrinsic evil in religious leadership - but the danger of abuse of that leadership is ever-present and the "woes" are formidable.

Our efforts must be to make sure we are not they or them and that we do not abuse actual or perceived power with religion as our weapon of choice.

Meaningful Moments on a Monday with and Beyond the Memes of the Moment


Problems that surround us

Need not confound us.

When love shall abound around us,

Love and grace shall ground us.


The fame game and

The blame game

Fan the flame

Of the name game.


Life is as much a paradox

As a pair of mismatched socks

On a well coordinated Goldilocks.


In silence, I bow,


Head hung in all the humility

My proud heart can muster,


Straining to hear

The Voice

That speaks to the me from which 

I have been hiding,

The one under my thick layers of protective


And I do hear

The Voice

That whispers,

"I love you more as you are

For who you are

And not for who you feel

You must pretend to be."


I tried and sighed

And sighed and tried

And busted my hide

And swam against the tide

And made it.


You said,

"Come unto me."

You called me weary and heavy laden.

You welcomed me and I came.

I come.

I come.



There was this one last thing before I could come.

I had to drop this hideous burden I had been carrying.


Christ in me,

Be the voice that speaks through me.

Be the love that subdues me.

Be the heart that woos me.

Be the life withing me

And through me.



I am not a victim.

I am not subject to the wind.

I am not brittle.

With the wind, I can bend.

I am not the outcome of outward forces.

I am God's child.

And as God's child, I will respond to every circumstance

With a stance of victory

And grace.


The One Who Showed Mercy

Go, and do likewise.


Do, like the one you despise.

Do, like the one whose eyes

Were opened to the man in need,

Like the one who put aside his greed

And opened his own heart and purse.

Like the Samaritan. You could do worse.

This is the one  whose love I choose

To teach you a lesson you cannot lose.

Be a neighbor, a sister, a brother.

If you would love God, love one another.

No Dis-Grace

It's No Disgrace to Fail


I wish we would be more careful in using the word, "disgraced."

I am not saying we should eliminate it entirely, but we should seldom use it.

That is because, I believe that most dictionary definitions of it are wrong. It takes some audacity to disagree with the dictionary, but I do.

Grace is not subject to merit.

It is given.

It must be received to be appropriated.

But, when it is not received, it is not withdrawn.

Grace is freely given and freely received.

Grace is more about the giver than the receiver.

It is never too late for grace.

Any life can be reclaimed and rebuilt.

It is always too early in the story to declare that a person is disgraced.

So, instead of declaring anyone disgraced, let's be more graceful and grace-bestowing in our words and deeds and never dis-grace either.

What if It Were Today?

No photo description available.

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36

We knew she was coming sometime, just not when. We knew that every day brought the visit closer, but we were not certain exactly what day. We cleaned the house once, twice, and then again. Finally, we just got in the habit of keeping it clean. We’d stare out the window and watch, waiting for our great aunt to arrive with gifts and hugs. We were children. Our parents understood the calendar better than we could. We only knew seasons and it was the right season for a visit.

Don’t be dismayed that God keeps some things secret. He knows better than to entrust us with every detail of His plans. There are some things we simply could not understand if we were told in plain language. He tells us what is necessary and withholds what would breed complacency and contempt for His ways. Not knowing the details of His second coming means that we can live in constant expectancy of His appearing. We wait of tiptoe. We lift our hearts in wonder. Waiting for His redemption gives us a clue as to the spirit of messianic expectation that must of gripped the hearts of the faithful who waited patiently for His first coming.

Shepherds and wise men all eagerly sought word of salvation. While others despaired and resigned themselves to business as usual, there were always those who kept hope alive in their hearts. Our job in our generation is to eagerly seek Him in everything.

Jesus has come and Jesus is coming. Both statements stir the heart and ignite the imagination. Hope, born in the hearts of children, inspires hope in those who are tired of waiting. The call comes rolling down through the centuries. Live in constant expectation and you will never be disappointed.

Crown him  king

Burdened, Laden, and Free

Women_miners2njc98unv VanGough

We can all relate to being burdened, being weighted down by habits, behaviors, regrets, haunting memories, frustrations, and disappointments. Those are the things within us that burden us. Then, there are the outside forces of oppression and the limitations of our humanity and of society. We are burdened and heavy laden as Jesus said,

We ask ourselves, "Who is God?"

Who is God and what does that mean to me in the middle of this mess?

We wonder who we are and we get mixed messages.

We are told that we are wonderfully made and fashioned for a purpose, but we cannot get the traction we need.

Sometimes, we feel like wretches.

In the muddle and mess, we hear the call of Jesus to come.

Who Is God?

God is all mercy and grace—

    not quick to anger, is rich in love.

God is good to one and all;
    everything he does is soaked through with grace.

Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
    your holy people bless you.

They talk about the glories of your rule,
    they exclaim over your splendor,

Letting the world know of your power for good,
    the lavish splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
    you never get voted out of office.

God always does what he says,
    and is gracious in everything he does.

God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
    gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.

These are the qualities of God: Mercy, grace, patience, forgiveness, abounding love, and goodness to all. God's kingdom is good and eternal. God's ways are wonderful. God is constantly reaching out to broken, wounded, hurting, frustrated people to lift them.

This is the context in which we find any legitimate self-understanding.

So, then, if God is good, and God made me, who am I and what do I do?

Who Am I?

Wretched or Wonderful?

A Wretch Like Me

If God has created me fearfully and wonderfully, why am I still a mess?

“  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” – Romans 7:24

“ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: - Revelation 3:17

No one aspires to wretchedness. All resist the implication that they are wretched. No one wants to be known as a wretch.

However, to be a recipient of grace, the soul must know its great need and acknowledge that it is depraved and lost in a sea of sin.

The sound of grace, the voice of God, the Word of the Gospel, that Word which was made flesh has sounded forth from Heaven into the realm of time and space. It has declared with unambiguous truth, “Thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and bind, and naked.”

And without a breath or a rest in the song of grace, it has declared to us, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve that we shall be called Benjamin, for we are “the beloved of the Lord.”

Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, wretched in his righteousness, zealous in his misguided legalism, vengeful in his passion to please God. “Why persecutest thou me,” our Lord inquires. And grace came to Brother Saul and the wretched one became the instrument of proclaiming grace to the nations, even “the least of the Apsotles” and the chief of sinners who would declare,

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”_ I Corinthians 15:10

How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.        

We must know our state apart from grace that we might fully appreciate what God has wrought in us and done for us. It evokes in the heart of an honest soul both gratitude and hope, flowing from the fount of humility.

To be eligible for great grace, we must know how great our need is.

I may be a wretch, but there is more and it is wonderful.

Yes; It Is a Mess.

Jesus looks at the world around him and sees a bundle of contractions.

He sees us conflicted with and among ourselves.

“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we wailed, and you did not mourn.’

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

But out of this, he sees something simple and wonderful.

Children and common folks respond to a simple and caring gospel of hope:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Wearing the the Yoke - The Wonder of it.

What do I do?

What does Jesus say about it all?

The wonder comes when we wear the yoke of Christ.

There is a yoke that fits you well.

It is easy, but now in the way you might think of ease.

There is a role that suits you completely.

You may work harder than you've ever worked, but your steps will be light, your heart will be light, and your hope will be bright.

You will awaken to new days with a renewed spirit and an enthusiasm to start again.

There is a calling that is perfect for who you are ... who you were made to be.

There is a partnership that will bring deep rest to your soul, even as you labor with more energy and output than you have ever experienced.

"... my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:30

God DOES give you more than you can handle ... just no more temptation than you can run from.

He teaches us to trust and rely on His strength and help.

It is never more than He can help us handle.

It is too much to handle alone.

A yoke is "a bar or frame that is attached to the heads or necks of two work animals (such as oxen) so that they can pull a plow or heavy load." - Merriam-Webster


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11:25-30

Jesus' yoke is the yoke that allows us to plow with him and with each other.

It fits. Anything that does not fit, being to big or too small, hinder and injures us.

It is is reasonable. It is not a collection of hundreds of religious regulations nor is the arbitrary rule of an oppressive, occupying force.

It is the yoke that affords us the rest that can only come from fulfillment.

The easy yoke is χρηστός, kindly to wear, good, and serviceable.

The kindred noun, χρηστότης, writings, is rendered kindness in the writings of Paul.

"Christ's yoke is like feathers to a bird; not loads, but helps to motion" (Jeremy Taylor).

No man or woman is happiest in a vegetative state of inactivity and drudgery.

We have a desire within us to make a difference.

The yoke of Christ is a call to work in his kingdom, but it is a call the the weary, the burdened, and the oppressed. It is not a call to retire or retreat, but an invitation to come and engage in something that matters.

When we are so engaged, we find real rest and deep joy.

What do I do?

What does Jesus call me to do?

Come and wear the yoke.


A Final Thought

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” – Romans 7:18

As I struggled with my humanity this week, I was confronted with some important truths. There is no way that my flesh will ever improve to the place where God can use it or be pleased by it. In the flesh I am selfish, irritable, weak, un-spiritual, spiritually lazy, hungry for flesh-satisfying stimulation, unreasonable, stubborn, and emotionally volatile -just to name a few of my “charming” characteristics (They certainly “charm” me into deception).

My flesh is not getting better and shows no prospects of getting better.

Read Romans 7-8 to get the picture.

We all face Paul’s dilemma, and we are all disappointed when we discover that we cannot become what God wants us to be by doing what we think God wants us to do.

So, what’s the point?

The point is that, through grace, as God makes us what He wants us to be, we will desire to do, also by grace, the things that God wants to do through us. And, as we trust Him and turn our dials toward the Spirit and begin to walk in the Spirit that will all happen.

We’ve all been disappointed by people who we thought were strong Christians, but let us down. Those disappointments have been shocking at times and have caused us to question ourselves. That is not a bad thing.

What is dangerous is if we ever start feeling so proud of our “efforts” and “successes” that we forget we are vulnerable and weak and that we are capable, in the flesh of the same falls that we have witnessed in others.

We are totally and absolutely dependent upon God for the Christian life and God is totally and absolutely dependable to accomplish His purposes in and through us. He will never let us down.

 Trust Him and commit your moments and days to His care.

Ham & Eggs: Involved or Committed

On the menu

A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.

The Chicken says: "Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!"

Pig replies: "Hm, maybe, what would we call it?

"The Chicken responds: "How about 'ham-n-eggs'?"

The Pig thinks for a moment and says: "No thanks. I'd be committed, but you'd only be involved."

A variation on that shows the farm animals have a breakfast to show their appreciation to Farmer Brown.

The same menu is suggested and them pig, again, expresses reluctance:

"That is a contribution from you, but total commitment from me."

Let that simmer a bit and consider this quote, spoken by so many politicians that the attribut1on has been lost to history.

“If you’re not at the table, then you’re probably on the menu.”

That is a slightly different twist, but it goes to the issues of involvement, inclusion, commitment, but-in, and community engagement.

Sometimes, we ask the greatest commitment from those to whom we pay the least attention. We demand participation in the cost, but do not invite participation in the process. We want  acquiescence without listening to the voices of those most affected by the decisions of those who wield power.

A seat at the table is what is most needed and most lacking in our deliberations as a body politic.

We say, "I could give you a fish and feed you for a day or teach you to fish and feed you for a lifetime."

Then, we lock up the access to rivers, lakes, and streams.

Empowerment for one means that we release some of our own cherished power. Inclusion is meaningless if it is not full inclusion.

No one is reluctant to be committed as long as they have been involved from the beginning and have helped to determine the courses of action.

Conversations about what we can do for our communities often devolve into  what we are going to do to them, with them, and about them.

We can do better.




image from

I watched a ripple in the pond, gazed for a few moments, entered into that space where I freely consider things beyond my capacity.

I could not tell whether the ripple came from below or above.

I did not prompt it.

It did not matter.

Nor can I tell where it went when I could no long see its concentric, expanding rings that diminished from my sight.

Yet, I believe, even now, years later, that they continue and that perpetuation is without limit into an infinite sphere known only to God who alone knows their origin and destiny.

And mine.



Happy Birthday, Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

"Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself and be light.

"Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing."....Frida

What an amazing artist Frida was. She was a complex soul with multiple dimensions.

Her "personal fallacies, flaws, or failures never obscured, but often enhanced her artistry.

Out of suffering, torment, and anguish, she created beauty and ponder-able portraits of the visions within her own mind. There is something compelling and telling about her life and work.

"I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”

Happy birthday to her memory.

No photo description available.

Your Package Has Arrived

May be an image of text that says 'You have a gift on the way. Tom Sims, Watch for it. It may come in a rather plain wrapper. But it has your name on it and it is hand- picked for you. It is Your Blessing! Yours!'

Blessings to you this day.

You. who can see this, bless you.

I am not called to curse or withhold a blessing. Friend of enemy, though I can think of no enemies since I have turned them all into friends in my thinking, blessings.

Bless you.

I cannot control the package your blessing comes wrapped in, but I deeply desire God's best for you.

Please open the package and take a look before you return it.

The Very Best to you!.

There are no conditions from me.

The Manufacturer may have some conditions in order to deliver the prize, but the conditions will be part of the blessing and not a payment for them.

Grace to you.

Have a magnificent rest of your day.

Looking Our Neighbor in the Eye

What do I see when I look a person in the eye?

Jesus saw people with their potential and their pain.

He saw through their masks. He looked beyond their labels and arbitrary categories.

His eyes were keen in meeting their eyes, for the there is no ethnicity nor affiliation in the eye. He loved them as individuals and not as represntatives of any tribe or religion.

He assumed that his good news of kingdom repentance was for them at face value.

He called, touched, healed, and delivered with profound compassion knowing that each of us needed dismantling of our systems of believing and reconstruction of our lives by his message of grace through the Spirit.

We share the commonality of our uniqueness and the uniqueness of our commonality. This was driven home to me in the streets of old Jerusalem where he met and continues to meet so many kinds of people and looks them in the eye.

Can I do less?

I am at war with no one, but I am in constant battle with those spiritual forces that dehumanize, deflate, and devalue those into whose eyes Jesus gazes ... those created in God's image with purpose. It is sin that besets me and from sin he sets me free.

Give me the eyes of Jesus, Lord, as I walk the streets of my city.

Vine and Fig Tree

Vine and fig tree

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. – Micah 4:4

There is an empty bench under a tree somewhere with your name on it.  It is waiting for you to stop running so hard and sit for a while.

Samuel Walter Foss wrote,

“Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”

You can sit and greet people as they pass by. You can watch the children playing. You can read a book. You can behold the beauty of the world. You can watch life go by.

You can meet God.

God invites you to a life beyond the rat race, a place of safety and solace, a moment of quiet and grace.

Can you imagine a park with no benches?

Can you imagine a life with no quiet moments?

Can you imagine a world without any hope of peace and fulfillment?

God could not and so He made a promise through Micah of an age to come when people would sit in the open, secure, studying war no more, and drinking from the fountain of grace.

Every promise of the future has it glimpses, hints, and previews in this life. In Christ we come to find rest. We take His yoke and find it easy. We sit with Him in Heavenly places.

We take a break and behold Him.

When Your God is YHWH

YHWH is your God

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD..." - Psalm 33:12a

Israel’s God was the LORD, capitalized because the word, LORD is written and spoken as a substitute for God’s most holy personal name, YHWH. It set them apart as a people to know Him by name. Yet His name was not something they would flaunt or toss around in vain.

For that reason, Israel was blessed, not because of their brilliant leadership, industrious people, vibrant economy, wise judiciary, or lovely landscapes, but because of their God and their relationship with Him.

There has been only one holy nation among the governments of men and there shall be no others.

All other nations are, by definition, secular. In them, we who follow Jesus are all resident aliens. Our citizenship is in Heaven, our highest loyalty, to God.

That being the case, a nation can honor God in its justice, compassion, integrity, and fairness with others. Its people can individually honor Him with their worship and love. The nation itself can choose to stand among the blessed sheep in Matthew 25 who treat the poor and helpless with dignity and mercy and thus welcome Jesus.

That is what nations can do and how nations may be blessed.

America is blessed to the extent that those principles of human dignity, soul freedom, and justice upon which she was founded are observed and honored. In them, God is honored, the flag is dignified, and the people are blessed.

We honor our country today for her gifts of freedom and prosperity to us and because so often, she has done the right thing by others just because it was right and with no promise of reward.


Directions for a New Nation Entering a New Land

Note that the characteristics of God are ones that we are to seek to amplify in our lives. Thus, the words, "You shall also ..."

1. Do not show partiality in your fair dealings.

2. Do not take bribes. Be honest. Be fair.

3. Execute justice for orphans and widows.

4. Love strangers.

5. Reverence God and worship God only.

6. Be faithful and speak only as God would have you speak when you take a pledge.

7. Remember that God is awesome and worthy of praise.

Deuteronomy 10:17-21

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords,

the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe,

who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

You shall fear the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear.

He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.


The American Idea

American Idea

A Reach the Exceeds Our Grasp

My Prayer for America

A Work in Progress


America is a big idea!

I - Independence and interdependence.

Separating is biological reality. We began to become independent upon birth, followed by the severing of our umbilical chords. It is not about freedom, but touches freedom. It is more about becoming all we can become by moving more into independence and then, willingly functioning in community as interdependent unities - even communities of nations. It is also an indigenous principle.

D - Democracy, democratic republicanism, determinism.

It is more than a form of government or a political philosophy. It can work in multiple systems, though our system is essentially designed to facilitate it. It is not a method, but a philosophy of everyone having a voice and a choice. We accomplish that through direct participation on some levels and representative government on others, but the essential idea is democratic opportunity.

E - Equality

All are equal. That is the ideal, whether they fully understood it or not. Jefferson wrote it, whether he meant it for all or not. He is now stuck with it.


Like many prophetic statements, they are bigger and more comprehensive than those speaking, hearing, or accepting them can truly know, but they for the ideal. - That takes us back to the first letter - The IDEA of Independence is an ideal.

Once you get this idea, you can add an L and get a new word:




My Policy Statement on Apologies

Art of apology

I try to live by this.

I try.

Basic Policy Standard on Personal Apologies:
1. Never ask for one.
2, Never reject one.
3. Always assume it is sincere.
4. Watch what happens next to see if my assumption was correct.
5. Be glad if I was right.
6. Revise my assumption if I was wrong.
7. Resume correction if #6.
I do not really need an apology to feel OK about myself.
I do not need an apology in order to forgive because forgiving is my choice.
If you apologize because someone demands it, the apology is worthless.
If you apologize because you want to, I welcome it with joy.
I take it as a sign that you value the relationship and want to restore it.

An Outline for Romans 4

Solid faith

A Lesson or Sermon Starter on Faith.

This is just the outline. You will have to do the hard work.

From Romans 4, An Outline for Preaching or Teaching

 First – Consider the Giver - We Must Believe God

 1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Gen. 15:6; also in verse 22)

The Message puts it this way: "Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own."

 Second -  Consider the Gift - We Must Stop Counting on Our Works and Count Only on God’s Gift.

 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

The Message puts it this way: “If you're a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don't call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it's something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift. “

Third – Consider the Cost – The cost is forgiveness and forgiveness is costly.

"Blessed are they
      whose transgressions are forgiven,
      whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
      whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” (Psalm 32:1,2a)

Fourth – Consider Your Response – There is a twofold response.

 9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

 A Two-Fold Response

  • Take the Seal.
  • Walk in Faith.

 Fifth – Consider the Benefits

 13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations."[c] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

  • Great Promise
  • Great Possibilities

 Sixth - Consider Two Great Examples

 18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."[d] 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." 23The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

  •  Abraham demonstrated faith.
  • Jesus died, in faith, for all who would come by faith.


  1. Romans 4:3 15:6; also in verse 22
  2. Romans 4:8 Psalm 32:1,2
  3. Romans 4:17 17:5
  4. Romans 4:18 15:5