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August 2023


John locke
Born this day, August 29,in 1632 – John Locke, English physician and philosopher (d. 1704), the father of classical liberalism. Much of his thinking on classical republicanism and liberalism can be seen in the Declaration of Independence.

Empiricism and political philosophy were among his areas of profound influence. Locke believed that people were born with a blank slate for a mind which he called the "tabula rasa." Our knowledge would be gained by experience and perception.

Locke was influenced by the Baptist fathers, Smythe and Helwys with regard to religious toleration and his advocacy of the separation of church and state. When Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, he incorporated may of Locke's ideas.

He profoundly influences Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.

Of him, Jefferson wrote:

"Bacon, Locke and Newton… I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences."

About "the self," Locke wrote,

"that conscious thinking thing, (whatever substance, made up of whether spiritual, or material, simple, or compounded, it matters not) which is sensible, or conscious of pleasure and pain, capable of happiness or misery, and so is concerned for itself, as far as that consciousness extends."

Locke believed that the Bible was in agreement with human reason. His concept of man began with his understanding of creation. Based upon this, the American Declaration of Independence affirmed human rights partially on the biblical belief in creation.

" But there is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression." - A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)

"To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues."
- Letter to Anthony Collins (29 October 1703)

Works by John Locke at Project Gutenberg -

Our Place in the Story

Your place

You Have a Role to Play

We have a place in the story, whether we are great or lowly. It is a long and patient story with twists, turns, and gaps in reporting, but it is a story with miraculous continuity and eternal clarity.

In the midst of the story, we have only a limited perspective. We cry out the prayers of the Psalms such as:

"Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me." - Ps. 69:16

"For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." - Ps. 69:33

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Ps. 73:26

Then, we turn to narrative for hindsight and to the words of Jesus and His apostles for insight.

"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph." - Exodus 1:8

This is going to happen.

Joseph has his time. We have our times. He did his job. He elevated his people and all the people. He was well known and respected and he made a major contribution to the world.

Then, he died.

And he was remembered.

And then, he was forgotten, slowly, gradually, not completely, but enough so that honor and glory and strength of influence evaporated.

Generations had passed and the person of influence simply did not know Joseph. All he saw were people he perceived as a threat.

He lashed out with irrational and indiscriminate violence to commit an act of mass genocide. It was horrific and yet, it was the story of emergence. A new leader would emerge from the bulrushes who, 80 years later would stand before a king and lead a people to freedom.

And he would be reminded of the story of Joseph and he and those who later reflected upon his life and legacy would somehow, connect the two stories to make one continuous story.

That was the story of resurgent and emergent leadership in a world where leaders come and go and crises grow and recede.

Our stories may seem isolated, disconnected, intermittent, and separated by decades and more of discontinuity, but they are actually part of one story.

We are known, remembered, and forgotten. Then, years, decades, and sometimes centuries pass and some sliver of memory is passed to the next wave of God-work in human frailty and greatness. A new story grows out of the old story and something lost in memory comes again into memory and some tiny tentacle grows to connect the new to the old.

And it is one story from Joseph to Moses and to and through so many stories to our own generation, having passed through the cross and resurrection, the story continues and we cannot know how many more chapters shall be written before there is some grand tension that shall bring us to that last page that grips us with anticipation and then, the End, and then, we turn to page for ...

an Epilogue ...

for the "logue" is "logos" and the Word goes on and on and on ...

... and on ...

This is our time. What shall we do? How shall our story join the great ongoing story?

The story connects vertically AND horizontally.

"And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”" - Mark 8:29

"And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again." - Mark 8:31

Greatness and honor may come at a price too high for us to be willing to pay. Leadership is not about receiving accolades. This is demonstrated for us. Our place in the story, if we follow the Story Teller, is sometimes more humiliating than congratulatory. But it is the story and we are a part of it as well as beneficiaries of it. It is easier to read the first and last paragraph of every chapter and the first few words of every paragraph and skim over the gory details, but the big story includes some real pain, suffering, and sacrifice and most of that is done for us. Our place in the story is to take our place in the story and to want nothing more than for the Storyteller to finish it His way.

Thanksgiving and Anticipation

For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. - Isaiah 51:3

The God who comforts us has come with song. He has come amidst the sounds of thanksgiving and praise. He has come to a people in anticipation, a people longing for redemption. The God of comfort is He who turns deserts into gardens of delight. It is He who brings salvation and justice. It is He who writes His law upon on hearts. It is He who causes the ransomed captive to return singing. He is the God to whom we give thanks and whose advent we celebrate.

He takes our waste places and makes them flourish. Where are the waste places in your life? What of your hopes have you written off as hopeless? In what dimensions of your existence have you relinquished your dreams? These are your waste places. Into these wastelands comes the Messiah of Israel, your comforter.

Where is your wilderness? Change its name to Eden. By faith embrace the new day that God is bringing to you. Embrace Him in the desert and watch the flowers of new life bloom around you.

Sing with joy. Sing with gladness, Make melody in your heart. This is the day of thanksgiving. This is the time of refreshment. This is the time when longings swell into a chorus of fulfillment. The Day of the Lord is near.

He has indeed come. Every year we remember that as He once departed, He will come again in the clouds of glory.

This is our blessed hope. We welcome Him anew every Christmas season on the heels of Thanksgiving. We look back and we look forward. We are blessed with the big picture, but we also know that there is more to come.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Choosing a Path Through Treacherous Times

Make a difference kids

It is a crazy time in a crazy world and it would be easy to go crazy as a response.

Somehow, we have to choose a path that not only brings us through treacherous times, but let's us contribute. We need to choose a path that empowers us to make a difference in our world.

Going through some old social media posts, I thought I'd mash them all together with a bit of redaction and see if they could form a these. It started with shame, but while God's movements in our lives may pass through shame, they never end there. So stay with me.

There is a place for that emotion, especially in days of shameful deeds.

"Let them be ashamed and altogether dismayed who seek after my life to destroy it; let them draw back and be disgraced who take pleasure in my misfortune. " - Psalm 40:15

This is a prayer for those who seek to destroy, diminish, or marginalize life as well as those who take pleasure in the misfortune of others. It touches to those whose worst behaviors emerge in crisis rather than their best. It overlaps to greed, avarice, hatred, bigotry, and violence.

It is a prayer that they would find righteous shame in their actions and disgrace in their attitudes ...

That they might seek grace in its only true source.

We need a revival of shame, disgrace, and decency in a world that lacks compassion and truth ... and from there, the gladness of seeking God who regards the poor and afflicted. Then, we need to move beyond the shame.

Psalm 40 continues in verses 17- 19.

Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;
let those who love your salvation continually say, "Great is the LORD!"

Though I am poor and afflicted,
the Lord will have regard for me.

You are my helper and my deliverer;
do not tarry, O my God.

Cry out to God and never lose hope.

It only seems that evil is winning. God is working behind the scenes to bring a victorious outcome for the righteous and oppressed.

Don't report the final score before the whistle blows and don't assume that set backs predict loss.

Furthermore, don't pursue that which is easy, popular, or compatible with the dominant narrative of any generation at the cost of the soul-searching, soul-wrenching, upside-down message of sacrifice, service, and radical discipleship.

The depth, reality, and long-term character of the call is seldom what would seem most expeditious in a meeting of our own minds for the purpose of securing short-term gains.

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?"

And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others,one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah."

And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."

"For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." - Mark 8:27-9:1

The Kingdom is coming with power and not on our terms or by our own arranging.

We are compulsive arrangers ... at least those of us who labor under the dysfunctions of our own control issues. If things are working out, we easily fall for the call to quick and easy solutions, avoidance of pain and sacrifice, as well as the tendency to blame people.

Like Peter, we want to organize, fix, and manipulate things so that they will work the way we want them and never challenge our comforts, preferences, or aversion to chaos.

What follows from Paul is not a call to chaos or a condemnation of organization.

Rather it is a reminder that the great arranger is not some composite of us. Whatever we can do is not greater than what God is doing.

Behind the scenes, beneath the surface, and above our heads, something is going on beyond our control pointing to a better arrangement of things in the Kingdom that we could arrange ourselves.

It takes all the players.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.

And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.

But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. - 1 Corinthians 12:12-26

History, whether Heilsgeschichte (Salvation history), political history, social, or any other sort of history, is the story of learning, remembering, forgetting, cycling over and over, making some progress, taking some steps back, but always leaving markers along the trail of human experience.

It demonstrates to us, the progress of redemption and the capacity of a sovererign God to take anything that is thrown at Him (or us) and make it work for glory and for good.

For instance, reflect on this:

Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land."

Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites. The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, "When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live."

But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?"

The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them."

So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live." -Exodus 1:6-22

The meaning emerges from the reflective insights that bubble forth in scriptural interpretation and contemplative prayer focused upon the key questions we ask and are asked by God and our fellow travelers.

Joseph died. His brothers died. His whole generation died.. At some point, all that will be left us us on earth will be the elements of our legacies.

What comes next is that which sets the stage for our decisions to reverence God and act with justice toward others or to bow to the waves of power and intimidation.

Deliverance would come decisively to the oppressed, but this passage only pulls back the curtain to reveal many coming years of darkness and oppression during which faithfulness itself would have to serve as its only reward.

It is a piece of the history.

In times of danger, in times of defeat, in times uncertainty and scarcity, remember God's power, goodness, grace, and presence. Pray for and work for the shalom of your city and community. Be a disciple. Exercise your dual citizenship here and in Heaven. Live graciously, generously, and fearlessly. Be different. Stick out like a sore thumb.

Don't retreat. Don't be afraid. Don't be cynical or let your hearts grow heart or faint.

Renew your faith in the God of positive outcomes.

Make a difference.

The Places You Will Go

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born March 2, 1904.

The world is a happier place because he was here.

Much that I needed to know for life, I learned from some very special children's books. His were among them.

He had no children of his own. In fact he said we could have them and he would entertain them, which he did.

Along the way, he tapped into feelings and issues with which children struggle. He acknowledged their questions and became a fellow explorer with them. He mastered the art of writing books that could speak to children and adults at any stage of life.

Dr. Seuss took us to many fascinating places, but left it to us to explore the rest.

I have been doing so since I was a child.


Theodor Geisel died, September 24, 1991. Before that, and since, he was a tour guide for many of us, taking us many places and showing us the world through colorful lenses.

I was reflecting on the places within us where Dr. Seuss took us and I decided to look at some of his words and how they had affected my life.


I left home at 18 to go to college. I moved 6 hours from home. It might has well been across the world. It was a cross cultural move for me - from the Richmond with its unique cultural mix to Appalachia.

Then I moved to California.

I have yet to explore all of this state. I have been to many more. There is so much yet to explore.

But there is also the inner territories yet to find. Dr. Seuss said:

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

He brought perspective to the common insecurities of children and adults about who they were. He addressed our anxieties about being authentic.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

We have beginnings and endings, but the endings are beginnings and the beginnings are endings and on and on it goes. I do a lot of funerals. I collect stories - stories of well over 1000 people I knew but never met. Funerals are happy-sad times because the memories are sweet and the endings are bitter. It occurs to me that I frequently employ a principle he taught as I lead people in the celebration of the life of a loved one.

Dr. Seuss said:

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”

I sometimes have tough questions with which to wrestle. I meet people every day who are embroiled in existential crises, in deep pain, and in profound despair. Questions without answers plague them. I share with them, pray with them, and mostly, listen to them, I dare not pontificate, but Seuss said,

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
We have to figure out how to ask the right questions and we will find ourselves closer to the answers.

He encouraged us to face our troubles.

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”

He encouraged us to be honest with our feelings and words.

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.”

He encouraged us to learn.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

He warned us that life is but a vapor and is passing away - thus to embrace today today.

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

Yes, Theodor Geisel died, September 24, 1991. Dr. Seuss lives on.

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

I Check All the Boxes


I am every man.
I embody every extreme.

I am the plundered poor.
I am the plunderer.

I am he who treasures and keeps the Word.
I am he who wanders.

I am guarded.
I am he, from whom the guarded must be protected.

I am pure and I am vile.

I am all in one - a complete package.

I am beloved .
I am grateful.
I need and receive grace.

At every punctuation mark of this precious Word,
I see myself.
I identify.

I do so, reluctantly.

God, you have done so, in Jesus, intentionally and redemptively.

Today, I shall rather be plundered than plunder.

I shall prefer to be defrauded than to defraud.

Let me not exalt vileness.

Let me not wander.

May I cherish that which is precious and ...
May I live in the grace that is freely given.

Thank you for another day to learn to learn ...
To embrace your truth and to be transformed by it.
Of all the people I know,

I desperately need it.

" The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times."
"You, O LORD, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man."
- Psalm 12:6-8 ESV

Don't Go Phishing with Thieves

Gone phishing

Phishing is a broad term for many tactics designed to steal information from you that can lead to identity theft.

Often, you are encouraged to follow a link and then, sign in or give some other form of identification like a password.

To avoid being sent to a phishing site, here is one of a number of hints (but one often not practiced): Check the URL.

That is the address and it is in the address bar of every website and is included in every live link.

You can right click the link and get a menu. Then choose copy link or copy URL or whatever is there.

Then paste it into an editor like Notepad and look at it.

What does it say? Does the address look familiar? Is it spelled like the authentic address or is there an extra letter or a letter omitted?

Note: Going to the site will not usually cause a problem, but it may put cookies on your browser; so I do not recommend it unless you know what you are doing.

For instance, anything from Facebook will be spelled correctly and with no variation, ""

If it does not look right, it probably is not right.

Avoid the heartache and don't go phishing with thieves.  

Don't Go Phishing with Thieves

Gone phishing

Phishing is a broad term for many tactics designed to steal information from you that can lead to identity theft.

Often, you are encouraged to follow a link and then, sign in or give some other form of identification like a password.

To avoid being sent to a phishing site, here is one of a number of hints (but one often not practiced): Check the URL.

That is the address and it is in the address bar of every website and is included in every live link.

You can right click the link and get a menu. Then choose copy link or copy URL or whatever is there.

Then paste it into an editor like Notepad and look at it.

What does it say? Does the address look familiar? Is it spelled like the authentic address or is there an extra letter or a letter omitted?

Note: Going to the site will not usually cause a problem, but it may put cookies on your browser; so I do not recommend it unless you know what you are doing.

For instance, anything from Facebook will be spelled correctly and with no variation, ""

If it does not look right, it probably is not right.

Avoid the heartache and don't go phishing with thieves.  

Above My Pay Grade

Pay grade

Perhaps, I sometimes get into life, meaning, and theological/philosophical thinking way above my "pay grade."

Do you ever over-agonize the bigger, deeper, loftier issues in the land of awe and wonder? It is not a call the shallow thinking or disengagement of our intellect, but a reminder of the limits of our consciousness. We come to the end of our capacity where we integrate, frustrate, of meditate. It is there where we can emancipate ourselves from a world of care by becoming children again, resting as with our mother, not quite an infant, but not yet big kids either, just little children. There, we are hopeful.

In a disturbing, confusing, complex, and deeply divided world, we are not going to figure it all out. We are set in a far more chaotic universe where the order of things does not always readily appear. But we must live daily and daily, we must make little decisions.

How do we calm and quiet our souls when we want to take charge and fix everything and issues vie for our attention and everyone is shouting their own opinions at each other and we somehow long for non-synthetic synthesis and quiet?


We keep ascending and we consciously, keep resting and hoping in God.

And we keep reminding ourselves that some fixes will always be above our pay grades.

"A Song of Ascents. Of David.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore."

-Psalm 131 ESV

Like the Idols We Create

How do we become like the idols we create?

Silver and gold"Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them. "

What are the characteristics and limitations on the objects we worship that shape us into their own image? We make them in our images and find ourselves sucked into that place where we were when we made them and from there, we descend.

But these are the the psalms that follow after the Songs of Ascent. We have arrived at the holy hill and we must decide what we will worship.

We can still go higher, but not as long as we impose our own ideas, desires, motives, and biases upon our own worship. We cannot build our truth around our lifestyles. We must conform our lifestyles to truth.

Not only our lifestyles, but our thoughts, our theological constructs, our worship, and our devotion must conform to truth.

What we worship will always shape us.

We will become more and more like what we worship or who we worship.

If we worship what we ourselves create, then we are worshiping something less then ourselves (much more -- far less than God who created us). We will be worshiping that which, by nature, disintegrates and we shall disintegrate as well.

It is not that we are not made in the image of God nor than our creations are made in our images. It is that, We are not God and they are not us. With each degree of separation, there is disintegration. We must aim for what is authentic and true ... and above us.

If we worship that which infinite and eternal ... the potential for growth is eternally expansive.

It is our choice.

"The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them. " - Psalm 135:15-18, ESV

The Man Who Made Muesli


Born this day, August 22, in 1867 – Maximilian Bircher-Benner, Swiss physician and nutritionist (d. 1939). Ahead of his time, he popularized muesli and raw food vegetarianism. While many of his ideas were scientifically sound, some, it has been suggested are rooted in unverified pseudoscience.

The original Bircher-Benner recipe consists of the following ingredients:

Apples, "two or three small appl
es or one large one". The whole apple was to be used, including skin, core, and pits.

Nuts, either walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, one tablespoon.
Rolled oats, one tablespoon, "previously soaked in 3 tablespoons water for 12 hours".

Lemon juice from half a lemon.

Either cream and honey or sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon.

The dish was prepared by mixing the cream and honey or condensed milk with the soaked oats and lemon juice and, while stirring, grating the whole apple into the mixture. This method prevented the apple pulp from browning. The intent was to serve the dish fresh, immediately before any other dishes in the meal.

Where Heaven and Earth Meet and Mingle

Timelines and Sequences
Come up here
"Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."
You have to "come up here," or "go up there" to get a proper perspective sometimes.
The order of things may not be, in reality, as it appears down here.
Perspective brings clarity.
Eternity orders the temporal universe.
Truth begins and ends in the center of things where the Christ takes on an almost indescribable image and is worshipped.
It is in that center that everything makes sense and from that center that all things proceed. it is there, where it is said, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."
Revelation 4:1-11
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come." And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

St. Francis de Sales, Bridge Builder

Francis deSalles

Born this day in 1567 – Francis de Sales, Swiss bishop and saint (d. 1622). He was a bridge builder, known for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. His "Introduction to the Devout Life" is a classic of Christian devotional literature.

It can be downloaded at or read online or in other formats at

"When your heart roams or gets distracted lead it back very gently, softly putting it close to its Master; and even if you spend your whole hour doing nothing except gathering up your heart quite calmly and putting it close to Our Lord, and even if your heart does nothing except turn away as soon as you have led it back, your hour will have been very well spent"

"There are no galley-slaves in the royal vessel of divine love—every man works his oar voluntarily!"

"You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working ; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."

"The elephant, not only the largest but the most intelligent of animals, provides us with an excellent example. It is faithful and tenderly loving to the female of its choice, mating only every third year and then for no more than five days, and so secretly as never to be seen, until, on the sixth day, it appears and goes at once to wash its whole body in the river, unwilling to return to the herd until thus purified. Such good and modest habits are an example to husband and wife."

Is there an Intention Guiding Your Life?


The life of Joseph illustrates the power of God's intention for us to be a blessed so that we can bless others and positively change the world.

What is the meaning of my moments and movement beyond the movement of the moment?

In Genesis, the story of Joseph crescendos with this dance he choreographs to reconnect with the brothers who dealt so treacherously with him years before. Perhaps they have tried daily to forget, but they cannot. Nor can they know fully the pain and possibilities that were pregnant in their choices. When Joseph "sets them up," they are confronted with a question that is deeper than the moment:

" ... Joseph said to them, 'What deed is this that you have done?'"
(Genesis 44:15 ESV)

In fact, the deed they had most immediately done was none - none that would indict them. They are different men at that day than the men who sold their brother as a slave, but their transformation is not complete until the reconciliation is transacted and Joseph was confront them as much as they must be confronted ....

And they must confront the question that has ultimately brought them to this moment, "What have you done?"

It is, in the long run, a redemptive question and it is ours. It is mine? What is the meaning of my moments and movement beyond the movement of the moment?

What is the meaning of my life in an honest and full assessment of my life?

What would it mean apart from redemption? What does it mean in the light of redemption?

This is our moment for reflection.


Take a few steps back in the life of Joseph and witness his progress.

Joseph in the School of Life and Ministry

Genesis 35:16-18: Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.(NIV)

Background: Genesis 35-41

Benjamin was Joseph’s little brother, but in many ways, his name was a template for Joseph’s life. The sons of our sorrow become the sons of our strength through the transforming power of God in our lives.

In his father’s house, Joseph learned these lessons:

1. To shepherd sheep – Thus he learned the basic laws of leadership.

2. To dream great dreams … and yet, one more …

3. To be in the pits of rejection and despair … and still not to surrender ones dreams.

In Potipher’s House, he learned these lessons:

1. To manage a great business and the people in that business.

2. Agricultural principles which would later be employed to save an entire region from famine.

3. To resist temptation with integrity and yet, one more …

4. Not to be concerned that someone else received the credit and benefits of his work.

In jail, he used and developed all the lessons he had previously learned and more:

1. To manage people who did not want to be managed.

2. To make the best of a bad situation without growing bitter.

3. To help other people understand their dreams, and yet, one more …

4. To deliver bad news honestly and promptly.

All of these lessons brought him to Pharaoh’s house where God could use all these lessons and here he learned one more:

• How to speak truth to power with courage.

As a result, he was able to exercise the greatest leadership skill of his life: INFLUENCE!

And, by exercising influence, he was able to lead a nation and, indeed, many nations, through a time of famine.

Joseph was used by God to bless an entire nation during a time of profound crisis.

He was a dreamer of dreams.

A great vision for God's people in their communities comes from Genesis 41:41 and the life of Joseph. Joseph was used by God to bless an entire nation during a time of profound crisis.

" Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”

He was a dreamer of dreams. He was favored by his father and wore a coat of many colors. He did not fit in with his brothers. He stood out as a bit odd. As a result, he was sold and imprisoned.

In spite of hardships, he always "bloomed where he was planted." His troubles always brought him to the right place at the right time. Thus, he was waiting, ready, and prepared when needed.

He had the attitude of a servant. In fact, he was a slave until the day he died and lived his life for others. He knew he had been brought to a time and place of great influence to bless others as an alien in a foreign land.

He had a ministry to meet the physical needs of the Egyptians that extended beyond their borders.

Eventually, his own people were blessed and grew into a great nation within Egypt until they were "called out."

In Joseph's life and service, God's purposes were worked out and realized.

All of these insights from Joseph's life reinforce our vision for a theology of place and influence.

A Ogden Nash Moment

Ogden nash

Born on August 19, 1902 – Ogden Nash, American poet (d. 1971).

Few were better known for humorous and unconventional poetry.

Before he achieved success as a poet, he was also a salesman and a teacher as well as a staff writer.

He died on May 19, 1971, of complications from Crohn's disease aggravated by a lactobacillus infection transmitted by improperly prepared coleslaw.


"I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old."

"Why did the Lord give us agility,
If not to evade responsibility?"
Is Dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.
Oh, things are frequently what they seem,
And this is wisdom's crown:
Only the game fish swims upstream,
But the sensible fish swims down.
Man is a victim of dope
In the incurable form of hope.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.
A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.
It is common knowledge to every schoolboy and even every Bachelor of Arts,
That all sin is divided into two parts.
One kind of sin is called a sin of commission, and that is very important
And it is what you are doing when you are doing something you oughtn't...
It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The moral is that it is probably better not to sin at all, but if
some kind of sin you must be pursuing,
Well, remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing.
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.

One could go on, but you can look up more.


Nash poetry foundationMore Here


Keep It to Yourself


"If you wish another to keep your secret, first keep it to yourself." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

These are the days of going public with knowledge.

Some, like me, enjoy people knowing what we are thinking and doing, who we know, how to contact us, and other details of our lives.

It is a good thing because, like it or not, once we have posted it to one, it has the potential to go viral and spread to any who might care.

Of course, the great tragedy in our lives might be that not enough care.

It has been over 2000 years since Seneca spoke these words. They were true then too.

It is not that people want to disrespect your confidence; it is just very hard to keep it. They tell one person who they are sure will keep the secret and that person thinks the same about the person they tell.

The moral of the story is simply to be circumspect. Assume that what you tell will be told. Live transparently, authentically, and openly, but keep some things to yourself.

Science is


Science is ...

I am no scientist.

One might argue whether or not I am a philosopher or student of philosophers. I suppose am more of a philosopher than a scientist at any rate, sometimes one who enjoys philosophical inquiry about the nature of science.

Of course, there was a time in history where the two disciplines were interchangeable.

I have studied the scientific method. It facilitates its own kind of inquiry into questions of "how," "when," and especially, "what."

Yet, the question, "Is it scientific?" is no more ultimate than ...

-- Is it legal?

-- Is it feasible?

-- Is it popular?

A better question at any crossroads would be, "Is it true?"

Scientific inquiry can point us to one dimension of truth, but it alone cannot tell us the whole truth about anything. Science itself has deep appreciation for the notions of "unknowns" in the universe. Truth encompasses the universe and goes beyond.

That being said, when what we need is good science, good thoughts, opinions, and nothing else will quite do.

Here are some collected thoughts from others on science.

"In essence, science is a perpetual search for an intelligent and integrated comprehension of the world we live in." Cornelius Bernardus Van Neil (1897- ) U. S. microbiologist.

"Science is organized knowledge." - Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) English philosopher. Education.

"Science is simply common sense at its best that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic." Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95) English biologist.

"Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated." George Santayana (1863-1952) U. S. philosopher and writer. The Life of Reason.

"Science is facts; just as houses are made of stone, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house, and a collection of facts is not necessarily science." Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) French mathematician.

"Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club." Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95) English biologist. "The Method of Zadig" in Collected Essays IV.

"Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition." Adam Smith (1723-90) Scottish economist. The Wealth of Nations, 1776.

"Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know." Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English philosopher, mathematician.

"Science is the systematic classification of experience." George Henry Lewes (1817-78) English writer and critic.

"Science is a cemetery of dead ideas." - Miguel de Unamuno

Now, why did he say that?

Below, Aristotle, who laid a strong groundwork for the scientific method.

Over the Jeers of the Crowd

Truth over jeers


"Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another; and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar..."

You sort of feel for the Tribune who is trying to get the face in the middle of the uproar of contradictions and false information. And the entire commotion was based upon misinformation which fed suspicion, conspiracy theories, and predisposition toward a particular belief about Paul.

All that was needed was someone to stir up the crowd and the unwelcome committee was mobilized.

The world has not changed all that much.

Acts 21:27-36
New International Version
When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)

The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”


Other Thoughts on the Theme

" I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life." -Psalm 119:147-149 

"Beware of interpreting Scripture in order to make it suit a pre-arranged doctrine of your own." --Oswald Chambers

Ideas matter more. It's always nice when they connect. Better still, when truth grounds them And they are allowed to soar.

What I have to say is hard to say in 140 characters, but if that is all I have, I should make what little I can say as truthful as possible.

The soul is quieted for sleep, but awakened for what may be next -a great idea, a sweet and profound chord, a moment of truth, inspiration.

That old Twitter rule forces us to chip away at needless words and simmer the stew of thought down to the most fragrant and nutrient rich essence: truth.

When we run out of spaces for our lofty and exorbitant processions of verbiage, we can always link to a blog or put our words in a graphic.

Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness- ideas that can't be contained within a race, class, or even nation - dynamic stumbling blocks of truth.

Our founders had flawed motives, but latched onto an idea that was bigger than them, had a life of its own, and must be fleshed out by us.

I've always liked letting people speak for themselves, but one can appear to be unfairly misrepresenting someone by quoting them directly.

"I have the ultimate security, for I can make good, bad, and indifferent serve the ends for which I live!" - E. Stanley Jones

" I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life."  -Psalm 119:147-149 

Doubts giving birth to deeper faith. This is the ministry of perplexity. This is the simplicity of complexity and the complexity of simplicity.

This is the resolution of struggle in the quest for that rest that will not rest in easy answers or shallow understanding.

Gravity is drawn toward the pebbles on the surface, but truth calls to the deeper rocks hidden beneath that surface. Faithquakes come and that which is anchored endures, but that anchoring has come through some Peniel nights where we wrestle for the blessing.

Salvation is free, by grace, through faith, but growth in faith is a pricey proposition. It stretches us and then, settles us till the next quake and opportunity to dig deeper.

"Imagination is a preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein ... found on a friend's "about" page

While I have your attention, here is some ultimate truth.


Van gogh - wake walking

I am wake walking through a garden of dreams,
eyes open,
heart pounding,
life affirming.
I am dreaming within a dream
of dreams yet to be.
My heart is full of emptiness,
being filled and refilled.
My life is an adventure
where impossibilities unfold into realities.
I am wake walking.
Nothing is asleep within me.
Wake walking and wondering
what the next unfolding will bring.
Wake walking and willing
to awaken anew
to a deeper dream

What awakened you this morning?

What did it awaken in you?

What is it awakening though you?

“Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.”

What awakened

In the morning
With sleep in my eyes,
The eyes of the morning,
Intermittent sniffles of a new day,
Sneezing out the old,
Breathing in the new,
Resisting punctuation.

It is too early to punctuate,

Washing the senses,
Making music in my heart,
Whispering to the wind,
Singing with the rustling leaves,

Humming with the buzzing bees.

Life is awakening.
A new day is upon us.

It is fresh.
It is good.
It is alive.
And enlivening.

Embrace the morning!

The dark awakens every night.
Unveiling even greater light.
It is peculiar. Is it not?
Hot is cold and cold is hot.

Tom Awake

I am awake.
What a delightful surprise,
A twist of events that I embrace.
I would say shocking, but that would mean a stopping.
It is a stirring.
I greet this morning with wonder and anticipation.
For those who wondered, I am well.
For those who assumed it was so, it is.
For those who gave it no thought ...
Why should you have?
To you, I smile and say, "Good morning."
It is, you know. It is a very good morning.
We do expect to wake up, after all and
We expect all around us to do so with few exceptions.
But sometimes, rare moments, we see it for the gift it is and,
More than a gift,
A calling.




Behold Thy Mother

Behold thy mother william blake

William Blake - The Crucifixion, Behold Thy Mother, c 1805, Creative Commons, Public  Domain

“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” – John 19:26-27

Jesus was living through the darkest moment of His life. Lesser men would have thought only of their pain. One of the men being crucified with Him could only curse and fix blame on others. Jesus could only love for love had taken Him to that cross.

He looked down from Him place of suffering and saw His mother. He remembered how she had exercised faith in welcoming the Holy Spirit’s work in her life as she had conceived Him. He remembered how she had traveled so many miles with Joseph to Bethlehem for His birth and how they had fled to Egypt, far away from home and family, to protect His life from Herod.  He remembered how she and Joseph had despaired when they misplaced Him in the Temple when He was a boy. He remembered her sacrificial love and the warm home she had made for Him and His brothers. He reflected on her grace  and humble service.

She had cherished the memories of His birth and life in her heart all these years. She had raised her children, taught them the things of God. She had buried a husband and she had left all to follow Her son, the Son of God as one of His disciples.

She was His mother and He loved her from the cross. And so, in one of His last earthly human deeds, He presided over an adoption,

“Behold your thy son … Behold thy mother.”

How Will You Make This Day Memorable?

August 14Since this is not Leap Year, August 14th is  226th day of the year. 139 days remain until the end of the year. That. in itself, is something. Every day matters.

After acknowledging that, you can look back on the day, thumb through your records, stroll through history, read thoughts that you thought and others thought. Read, reflect, remember, and renew.

Consider that some things will happen today that will be remembered by some forever.

Even in the era called BC, these landmarks are recorded:

74 BC – A group of officials, led by the Western Han minister Huo Guang, present articles of impeachment against the new emperor, Liu He, to the imperial regent, Empress Dowager Shangguan.

29 BC – Octavian holds the second of three consecutive triumphs in Rome to celebrate the victory over the Dalmatian tribes.

Like most every day, August 14th is a Christian feast day:

Arnold of Soissons
Domingo Ibáñez de Erquicia
Eusebius of Rome[282]
Jonathan Myrick Daniels (Episcopal Church)
Maximilian Kolbe

Look them up!

It is Falklands Day, the celebration of the first sighting of the Falkland Islands by John Davis in 1592.

It is Independence Day in Pakistan, celebrating the independence of Pakistan from the United Kingdom in 1947.

At the same time, it is Partition Horrors Remembrance Day commemorating the victims and sufferings of people during the Partition of India in 1947.

It is the same event with two different perspectives.

How will you make August 14th significant in your history and the history of humanity?



Born this day in 1777, Hans Christian Ørsted, Danish physicist and chemist who discovered that electric currents create magnetic fields, which was the first connection found between electricity and magnetism.

On this day in 1935 – Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, creating a government pension system for the retired.

On this day in 1912 – U.S. Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier



Again, I ask:

How will you make August 14th significant in your history and the history of humanity?

Thoughts on Following


" ... I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. " - "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers.

We are all at sea. We are all vulnerable to waves and apparent chaos. He comes walking toward us and we ask, "Where are we going if we follow you?"
It is, perhaps, the wrong question.

"God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now."

So, we walk on it with Him ... and the journey is the destination.

"Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."
- Lloyd Jones

"The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child." - Thomas Kelly

I serve a God manifest in a man ...
A man with a broken heart.
How can I not follow one who so willingly ...
Wore a broken body
And bore a broken heart?

Psalm 69:22 -
" Reproach has broken my heart, and it cannot be healed; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I could find no one."

Thoughts on Following


" ... I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. " - "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers.

We are all at sea. We are all vulnerable to waves and apparent chaos. He comes walking toward us and we ask, "Where are we going if we follow you?"
It is, perhaps, the wrong question.

"God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now."

So, we walk on it with Him ... and the journey is the destination.

"Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed."
- Lloyd Jones

"The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child." - Thomas Kelly

I serve a God manifest in a man ...
A man with a broken heart.
How can I not follow one who so willingly ...
Wore a broken body
And bore a broken heart?

Psalm 69:22 -
" Reproach has broken my heart, and it cannot be healed; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I could find no one."

Hungering for More

Bread 2


"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." - John 6:27, (NIV)

" Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness' - Isaiah 55:1-2

After a miraculous meal, the crowds worked very hard to find Jesus.

He gently questioned their motives in order to get them to do the same about themselves.

Your harried, frantic efforts to feed yourselves are futilely flawed, he seems to suggest. Everything in which you invest your time, energy, and resources is already in the process of spoiling.

There is, however, a food that produces eternal satisfaction.

Place your focus there.

Thus, Jesus introduces a lengthy discussion of the bread of life. He started by stimulating their hunger and thirst to hear more.

What does it take for God to make us aware of our profound hunger for more?

Choose How You Will Think

Not cyrus

You are making choices about how to think about things, how to process information, how to sort out reality, and what to do about what you think.

You are constantly voting.

Your thumbs are going up and down, sometimes both at the same time. The world is a confusing place. Contradictory voices seem true all at the same time.

Watch your motives - whether it is me or anyone else telling you what your politics should be, examine the principles, examine your loyalties, examine your presuppositions, examine the evidence, and examine your own heart and motives prayerfully.

Neither Rome, Persia, nor America is the source of our liberty and power. God is, and we can serve God no matter who is sitting in the seats of power and temporal authority.

Caesar has no power to grant, to the church, the kind of power that she thrives on.

The church must derive its power from God or it is in grave danger of selling its loyalty to the highest bidder for the lowest possible advantage.

I do not care who is sitting on Rome's throne at any given time in history. It could be Nero or Constantine. It could be a persecutor or an ally.

Vote for whoever you wish to represent your political views, but do not do so for the wrong reasons.

Even in the days of Cyrus and Zerubbabel when Israel was granted the blessing or return to the land of  promise from Exile, it was not Cyrus who was the source of power, but God.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. - Zechariah 4:6, New International Version


Additional Meditations of Civil Religion and Authentic Discipleship


Demetrius and the artisans had a complaint.

Paul was stirring the truth pot urging people to seek God.

This threatened a lifestyle of privilege that gathered around a civil religion. Demetrius stirred the artisans with a chant that appealed, on the surface, to their local religion, but was really about their money and power.

Acts 19:21-41
Now after these things had been accomplished, Paul resolved in the Spirit to go through Macedonia and Achaia, and then to go on to Jerusalem. He said, "After I have gone there, I must also see Rome."

So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he himself stayed for some time longer in Asia.

About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, "Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her."

When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

The city was filled with the confusion; and people rushed together to the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul's travel companions. Paul wished to go into the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; even some officials of the province of Asia, who were friendly to him, sent him a message urging him not to venture into the theater.

Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward.

And Alexander motioned for silence and tried to make a defense before the people. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours all of them shouted in unison, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"

But when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, "Citizens of Ephesus, who is there that does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple keeper of the great Artemis and of the statue that fell from heaven? Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. You have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the artisans with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges there against one another. If there is anything further you want to know, it must be settled in the regular assembly. For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion."

When he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

In the Spring When Kings Go out to Battle


"In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem." 2 Samuel 11:1 ESV

We live is a raw world where nations go to war to grab power and place and people commit adulterous sins which lead to even more devastating sins where lives are destroyed and ended. Some of those people have the hand of God upon them and they wrestle with their humanity on the battlefield and off.

I am not for war. I am for peace. However, the story is raw and real and about real and really raw people. David was the king and the leader. He was supposed to be somewhere else fighting another battle when he was in a position to fight the battle of his life - and lost. What if he had been where he was supposed to be?

He was not in his place and so he had to fight his battle within.

Whether it was right to go to war every spring just because it was spring is a matter for another discussion. The point is that he had a role and was not playing it and so, in the wrong place at the wrong time, his eyes fell upon Bathsheba and he wanted her.

He wanted her badly.

His lust was greater than his sense of duty, responsibility , and integrity. It was greater than his loyalty to a loyal friend. It was greater than his will power.

It was greater, in the moment, than his own strength and he did not cry out to God for strength.

That is because lust is a strange meeting place of need (or distorted perceived need based upon real need) and arrogant power than pivots the universe around our own egos.

He wanted it and he could have it ... so he took it.

He took her from her husband and he also stole her dignity and choice. He was the king. He had the power. It  was actually a rape.

There will always be a battle unless we surrender to the enemy of our souls.

Sometimes the bad choices begin when we choose to stay home and not be where we are supposed to be.

The choices have devastating consequences. Two people died. Bathsheba was wounded in her heart. David was scarred for life. ....

But afterwards ...

Steadfast love and faithfulness met and righteousness and peace kissed each other.


Toothless Tom Tells a Timely Tale

Spoon lady

Several years ago, before I got my dentures, I had a moment of vulnerability.

Vulnerability can be a very helpful quality.

Be you!

Be you!
You Are
  • You-nique. That is better than just unique because it comes from you and your heart.
  • One of a Kind - There is only one you. There has never been and will never be another.
  • Under-rated - There is far more to who you are than meets anyone's eye. You may not be perfect, but you are not common either.
You are the only one!
This is my tribute to a wonderful, talented lady who is who she is whether people like it or not, Abby the Spoon Lady.
Hear her music at Here.

Grave Robbers

Grave robbers

Years ago, I read this article and had some thoughts about it.

Maybe we are all grave robbers from time to time.

Digging Up the Dead
Man takes father's remains from cemetery

VERSHIRE, Vt., Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A man who said he missed his late father allegedly brought home the man's remains from a Vershire, Vt., cemetery, police said.

Dominik A. Bailey Jr., 43, was charged with felony removal of human remains, WPTZ, Pittsburgh, reported.

Police in Thetford, who patrol the tiny hamlet of Vershire, said Bailey's mother called them Friday saying she believed her son planned to remove her husband's cremated remains and take them and the headstone home with him. She said she was going to the cemetery and later called police back and told them all she found was a hole in the ground.

Court papers said Bailey phoned an aunt in Connecticut and admitted taking the remains home.

Police interviewed a man Saturday who lives near the cemetery and said a man he didn't know asked if he could borrow a wheelbarrow. The man said he saw the stranger take the wheelbarrow to the cemetery.

Bailey could face a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.


So, he missed his dad. I wonder if he found that his dad was not as much company as he had been before,

And the hygiene issues!

Many of us miss our dads, but there comes a time to let go.

We might miss our hair, but it would be foolish to collect it off the shower floor and glue it back on to our scalps.

We miss our youth and the youthful irresponsibility we once enjoyed.

We need to stop digging up dead things and start investing in what is alive. The extreme teaches us in the mundane that we do the same sort of thing as Dominik Bailey. We just do it in more social respectable ways.

We dig up old grudges, old habits, old communication patterns, and old hurts just to feel comfortable with the familiar.

We are grave robbing.

What have you dug up lately that needs to go back in the ground?

A Sunday Conversation with Friends


"Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved." - Thomas Merton

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image." - Thomas Merton

"Alas for the unhappy man that is called to stand in the pulpit, and not give bread of life."- Ralph Waldo Emerson, July 15, 1838, Cambridge

"If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it." - Toni Morrison

"The growth of violence in Christian thought, in Christian actions, is in exact proportion to a loss of faith." - Jacques Ellul


There was a day in history when conversation failed and love did not prevail.

But there remains, hope.
God has given you a hammer, a bell, and a song.
Folk music has always given me hope that God can use people to make the world a little more righteous and has given me courage and resolve to be one of those people.
What is there to Talk About?
I value the way many diverse opinions and people meet on my page and the opportunity to talk things out.
Sometimes I post something provocative and see what folks do with it and sometimes someone else does.
Hopefully, I'll never scold or belittle you. I do have one or two opinions and sometimes I share them and sometimes I hold back.
My opinions are really worth very little.
What matters is truth.
I am often set in my faith and my ways, but hammering you with my beliefs will probably not bring you over.
So I don't do it.
I will share and certainly appreciate your indulgence when I do.
Thanks for being my friends.
"Wherever there's conversation, there's hope," Wendell Berry

Cartoons That Say Something

Conversation Starters

Just show up

Who Is Training Whom?

Let's not give up on language.

Do You Want Change?

A Conversation that Resulted in a Conversion

This Morning's Sermon

CORRECTION - It was Jacob who said to Esau that seeing your face is like seeing the face of God. Not the reverse.

I Am Me. Who Are You?

Be better
Any charge against me of imperfection and a pernicious old nature of sin and self-centered yuckiness is very likely true.
I embrace grace and strive to thrive on a righteousness not my own.
Feel free to pray for me any time .
I am in the struggle with you and am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me.
Any charge against me that I am not absolutely consistent in everything I do or say is ... probably accurate !
I am often disappointed, but never really shocked at how much of the old self lingers, distracts, and tries to get attention.
If I am not shocked by my old nature, I am certainly not going to be shocked by yours. Nor will I stop loving you for it or honoring the person God made you to be.
Be you.
I will be me.
Together, we will strive to be better.

Believe and Be Saved

Philippian jailer be saved
And they said, “Believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
Acts 16:31 
Here is an acronym for what it means to have saving faith:
B- Be convinced of the gospel message for your life: God loves you. Jesus died for you. Your sins are forgiven. Jesus’ resurrection is your promise of eternal life. This is the gospel
E– Examine your life honestly in the light of God’s living and written Word and admit your need of a Savior as a result of a broken relationship with God and others. The Holy Spirit will guide you through this process of conviction if you are open.
L– Let go of your sinful resistance and self-centered control of your life. Another word for this is repentance, a turning from sin, self, self-delusion, and deception to God. This is a turn-around in your mind, will, and actions made possible by grace.
I– Invest your life completely in God. This is basic, gut-level trust and is necessary for the new life in Christ. One way to express this change of heart to God is prayer – an honest and simple out-pouring of your soul to God.
E– Eternalize your values. Stop adding up your assets the old way. Understand that eternal reality is true reality and that only what lasts forever is worth our lives.
V– Visualize a new life of freedom, forgiveness, and fullness based upon God’s grace, mercy, and power. This is the beginning of the exercise of faith in your life.

E– Embody the life of Christ within you by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, his indwelling presence. This is new birth.


Quick Question

Quick question 3

"Quick question," my friends say as a preface. Absolutely. Ask away, but here is a warning, "Have you ever known me to give a quick answer?

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

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

"Yawn, never mind."

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

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

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

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

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


Take Courage; It Is I; Don't Be Afraid


Take heart it is i
Water Walking in the Wee Hours of the Morning

In the Fourth Watch of the Night - That is when it happened, perhaps at about 3:00 A.M.. It is that unique time when the extreme night owls are thinking of retiring and the extreme early birds are rising.

It is also at that time when "graveyard shift" workers are starting to yawn and requiring a second wind to make it through.

At such a time, a second wind came for the disciples in the boat Jesus sent on ahead of Him while He prayed. it was a big wind, the kid that beats and batters and threatens to beach even the most seasoned mariner.

In the hours leading up to this cataclysmic event, Jesus had been praying alone and the disciples had been trying to cross the body of water as the storm got worse and worse.

We really don't know exactly when the storm came, but when Jesus looked in on the disciples, they had only moved about three and a half miles and they were straining at their oars, desperately trying to survive. Matthew 14, Mark 6, and John 6 give essentially the same accounts, but Matthew records more of the dialog.

They see Him and He looks ghostly. At least they suspect He is a ghost - even more so when He starts moving toward them walking on the water.

Question: What beats your boat?

What winds are against you? What has got you nearly swamped? What forces are so overwhelming that you are making little or no progress? What are you rowing against that is defeating you?

To you, in your present situation, Jesus speaks three words and then a fourth and finally a fifth. First, "take courage; it is I; do not be afraid."

1. Take courage. The original Greek meaning was to lift or carry and came to mean endure, dare, suffer, and be bold. Thus, it is to have courage, to bear up under the great burdens, hardships, threats, and challenges that we face in spite of our fears and apprehensions and the odds against us. When we take courage, we refuse to throw in the towel and quit. We keep rowing when we think we are going nowhere.

2. It is I. Mark said that even after Jesus crawled into the boat with them, they were amazed, lacking in understanding, and hard of heart. Yet, knowing it was Him ought to have and did give them some comfort. It should strengthen our hearts and encourage our souls to know that in the midst of the storm it is Jesus walking toward us, above the storm and above the waves.

3. Be not afraid. He will calm our fears so that we will not be crippled or driven by them. We have many choices available to us. It is those we make based on terror or fright that will usually be shortsighted and poor.

It is at that point that Peter had a streak of boldness and made an audacious request. He asked Jesus to call Him out of the boat and into the water. "If it is you, bid me come to you on the water."

I admire the fact that Peter is unwilling to leave the boat if it is not Jesus and if Jesus does not call. That is wise.

Mark does not record this and Peter had Mark's ear. Matthew "tells on him."

Jesus utters the fourth word.

4. Come. It is a gracious word. It is inviting, affirming, and challenging. It is still the word He speaks to us in crisis. He is always, in the storm or in the calm, calling us to Himself to meet Him and to experience Him in a new way. We could hope for no better outcome.

Yet, Peter loses focus and then faith and falters. Ray Steadman said, "If your faith fizzles before the finish it was faulty from the first." Peter had what we used to call in Virginia "a ways to go." In his defense, he was the only guy willing to get out of the boat.

Peter cried out for Jesus to save Him and Jesus effortlessly reached for him and lifted him up. This gave occasion to His third word for the stormy moment.

5. You of little faith. Why did you doubt? I have heard this and said this before. Why did you stop? You were doing so well. You were almost there. You could have made it.

We get so close and then we stop in panic, retreat in horror, or slink away in a loss o confidence. The storms are real, but just a moment before, we were rising above them. We have lost our focus, our short term memory, and our faith. We have "a ways to go."

But none of that stops Jesus. He comes to our boat, we invite Him in, He climbs in, and eventually (or sometimes immediately) the winds subside. It is then that we declare again, "Truly You are the Son of God."

In 1925, Gertrude Ederle sought to swim the English Channel . "She had less than seven miles to go when her trainer, Jabez Wolffe, who thought she was too tired to keep going, pulled her from the water."

Some have said that it was because she could not see the shore that she grew weary.

The next year, she would not be deterred. She captured a vision of the prize in her mind and kept going. She became the first woman to swim the channel. More people have climbed Everest than have accomplished this.

For us, it is the vision of one who walks on the water in the fourth watch of the night who becomes the focus of our faith. We may not be able to walk on water, but we can certainly ride out our storms in the boat with confidence and courage as we take Him on board.

Prepared for Disappointment

Prepared for disappoinment

"Be prepared to be disappointed in the best and surprised in the worst of folks. Don’t expect too much of mankind." - Vance Havner

He is not being pessimistic, but realistic.

We set ourselves up for disappointment in people when we do not recognize that we are all frail, fragile, and flawed.

We have to deal with this in our own minds and discontinue our membership in any cult of hero worship if that means we must set our heroes up as invulnerable.

I need vulnerable heroes who need God and His grace and mercy as much as I do to function.

Unrelenting Love, Unaltered Calling

Eglon of moab assasinated

Depiction of the assassination of King Eglon by Israelite Judge EhudSpeculum Humanae Salvationis, 1360.

" The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord strengthened King Eglon of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord." - Judges 3:12

Don't single out the Israelite family based on this scripture and history.

They are simply a prototype of all of us.

Our histories are filled with betrayal, intrigue, back-stabbing, front-stabbing, coercion, dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and sinister machinations.

But we are also,  bearers of God's image and objects of God's love.

We are given this record so that we can relate and so that we can track the mercy of God to take a people of purpose and keep forgiving. restoring, and recommissioning consistently, persistently, and repeatedly through time.

This is the story of the relentless love of God. Judgment is not the flip side of this. It is included in it - not as a paradox, but as an exclamation mark because, throughout the Hebrew scriptures, God's judgment of His people was designed to lead to repentance and renewal of the covenant.

For that reason, we ought to shun sin and embrace the discipline of a God who passionately and sacrificially draws us into a relationship that is on His terms, knowing that His terms ooze with love, grace, and mercy ... even when it hurts.