Hosanna! Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the LORD!

Hosana
"... Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." - John 12:13b
 
In Judaism, to shout "Hosanna," was a call for help. It was a cry for salvation. It was deep and guttural.
 
While Christians sing it in songs of praise, for the Jews, it was an utterance of both faith and desperation.
 
Yet, John paints a portrait of the shout as one of jubilant hope and praise. It is the sound of a people who believe that their cry for help has been heard by God and that God has sent his very own representative to deliver them.
 
So, on this day, as the multitudes of those who had come to Jerusalem for the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they went out to meet him.
 
They waited for the one who would arrive on a donkey as foretold by the prophet. They took palm branches to welcome the conquering hero. They incorporated an age--old song of victory and sang with full voice, "Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name do the Lord."
 
It was a suitable welcome. It suits him. It is a recognition of who he is.
 
It was appropriate. Rocks and hills and trees and all nature would cry out if the people remained silent.
 
It was prophetic. It was the fulfillment of promises made centuries before,
 
This Palm Sunday, we know the whole story. We know the rest of Holy Week and beyond.
 
We know the story of the teachings of that week, the last supper, the prayer in the garden, the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion, the resurrection, his appearances, his commission, and his ascension into Heaven.
 
We have the whole narrative and still, we can enter into the celebration of that moment as we wave our palm branches and sing our praises to the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
 
And we can cry, "Hosanna! God save us!"


 

Hosanna! Blessed Is He Who Comes in the Name of the LORD!

Hosana
"... Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord." - John 12:13b
 
In Judaism, to shout "Hosanna," was a call for help. It was a cry for salvation. It was deep and guttural.
 
While Christians sing it in songs of praise, for the Jews, it was an utterance of both faith and desperation.
 
Yet, John paints a portrait of the shout as one of jubilant hope and praise. It is the sound of a people who believe that their cry for help has been heard by God and that God has sent his very own representative to deliver them.
 
So, on this day, as the multitudes of those who had come to Jerusalem for the feast heard that Jesus was arriving, they went out to meet him.
 
They waited for the one who would arrive on a donkey as foretold by the prophet. They took palm branches to welcome the conquering hero. They incorporated an age--old song of victory and sang with full voice, "Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name do the Lord."
 
It was a suitable welcome. It suits him. It is a recognition of who he is.
 
It was appropriate. Rocks and hills and trees and all nature would cry out if the people remained silent.
 
It was prophetic. It was the fulfillment of promises made centuries before,
 
This Palm Sunday, we know the whole story. We know the rest of Holy Week and beyond.
 
We know the story of the teachings of that week, the last supper, the prayer in the garden, the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion, the resurrection, his appearances, his commission, and his ascension into Heaven.
 
We have the whole narrative and still, we can enter into the celebration of that moment as we wave our palm branches and sing our praises to the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
 
And we can cry, "Hosanna! God save us!"


 

Peace and Justice Thoughts

Berkeley _California._University_of_California_Student_Peace_Strike_-_NARA_-_532103_(cropped).tif


The thirst thought I have is to eliminate the "and" because an adequate definition of "shalom" includes "well-being" of all and that includes justice. Furthermore, an adequate definition of justice implies well-being and the righting of wrongs.

Peace is not the absence of conflict. That is an inadequate definition of peace. There is plenty of conflict on the road to and in the quest for peace. It is how we manage conflict that shows whether or not we are at or in peace.

Peace is not at odds with truth and justice. It is a byproduct of both and a means to both.

We cannot let detractors define what peace is. Real peace is a spiritual reality first, but it is also a social reality and both dimensions are the concerns of God and God's people.

Peace is hard, complex work. The easy road does not lead there. The militaristic road does insure it. The political process does not fully facilitate it. I am not denying the place of simple thinkers, politicians, or military powers in the process or at the table. They are just not the ones who will get the hard work done of sorting out the complexities.

It is hard work because, usually, everyone is right and everyone is wrong. All interests are valid and some interests can be laid aside. All parties are human and all are endowed with dignity as a gift from their Creator. It is complicated and it is simple.

Peace is a goal because peace is just and comprehensive. Peace protects all people's rights to life and liberty as well as the pursuit of happiness as long as peace is properly understood and defined.

Peacemaking is a calling for followers of Jesus and cannot be denied. It is a primary calling that we have in the ethical realm. When we speak the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of peace is part of the package. We speak of and offer peace with God through Jesus, we declare a Kingdom message as well.

Did I mention that peace is hard work? It is, but it is also a grace-gift. The capacity for peace is available to all individuals and peoples.

Peace and peacemaking align us with a cause greater than ourselves and place us in the realm of the miraculous where all things are possible, even those things that are un-imagined and unimaginable. When we actually follow Jesus and obey His lifestyle demands in our relationships, things happen that defy logic.

Of course, we could get beaten up or we could die ....

... but our survival (I speak now only in the context of following Jesus) is not an ultimate value for our lives and choices. We have died already and the life we now live is by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us. So, if our bodies are sacrificed along the way, we have gained.

That is not to say we invite abuse.

It is to say that we shall not abuse in order not to be abused.

Peace and Justice are not two sides of the same coin. They are both on the same side of the same coin.


Everlasting Love

Eeverlasting

An Everlasting Love

 

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. - Jeremiah 31:3.

 Sentimentality suggests that human love can be eternal. In the genre of romance literature, film, opera, and popular music, the theme is often repeated with lyrical style and sweet harmony. We come to believe that “true love” lasts forever without great effort, commitment, or struggle.

The fact is that human love is fickle, self-serving, and often lazy. Separation may not make the heart grow fonder; it may in fact, make it wander. Hard times often drive a wedge between even the most starry-eyed lovers. Many a marriage, friendship, business relationship, or family tie has been severed over some petty disagreement. Harsh words have been the precipitating cause of animosity between people. Even churches have split over selfish and petty disagreements. Where is this everlasting love?

Only God’s love is eternal for God is the ultimate lover who, though spurned, loves on.

“God is love,” and “God so loved the world …” These are expressions of His very nature and yet, it cost God to love so profoundly and so persistently. We see some of that price paid on the cross. It is expressed in the real-life allegory of Hosea’s life and God taught the prophet the meaning of unconditional, relentless love.

If we are going to experience long-lasting love, we have to connect with the source. A relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ is essential to building life-long relationships that can weather the storms of life. From God we learn that real love is a commitment of time, energy, and faithful service to another person. It is work, but it is worthy of all our effort and stubborn perseverance.

We are amazed that God would love us as He does. We are encouraged that He can teach us to love. The man we know as St. Valentine is one of about three historical characters who performed many, many weddings – but it is God Himself who can make a relationship stand the test of time. Trust Him and His everlasting love and let His love be the endless supply of love, through you to others.

The Grand Courtship

Everlasting love. It is as much of a quality as it is an expression of duration. In fact, what makes God’s love endure is that it is durable, patient, passionate, and aggressive. That is the character of His love. God actively pursues the object of His love in the way described by Francis Thompson in his immortal poem, “The Hound of Heaven.”

God appears to us of old with this romantic word of wooing, He has been loving us all along. It is new only by its freshness. “Yes, I have loved you …” He affirms with conviction and passion, “and my love never ends.”

Not only does He love us, but He courts us. With loving kindness He reaches out to us and draws us to Himself. Loving kindness is an inadequate English translation of a Hebrew word, which is best translated, “covenant love.” It means that God’s own character, word, and integrity are at stake and that He loves us simply because He has chosen and committed to do so. He will not back down. He is relentless in loving us. It is about who He is that He loves so deeply.

God is a jealous lover—not in the immature sense of one who is insecure, but with the confidence of one who knows that He is the only one for us and that all other suitors are bent on our destruction. The jealousy of God is selfless and generous. He will settle for no less than the best for us.

Could we with ink the ocean fill

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God so fair

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could the part contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky.

- F.H. Lehman

© 1917, 1945, Nazarene Publishing House

The Hound of Heaven

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
            Up vistaed hopes I sped;
            And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
           But with unhurrying chase,
           And unperturbéd pace,
       Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
           They beat—and a Voice beat
           More instant than the Feet—
       “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

   I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
    Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
            Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of His approach would clash it to:
    Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars:
            Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
    With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
            From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
   I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
    Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
    Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
          But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
        The long savannahs of the blue;
            Or whether, Thunder-driven,
          They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
            Still with unhurrying chase,
            And unperturbéd pace,
        Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
            Came on the following Feet,
            And a Voice above their beat—
        “Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”

I sought no more that after which I strayed
            In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
            Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
            With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
“Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me” (said I) “your delicate fellowship;
            Let me greet you lip to lip,
            Let me twine you with caresses,
                Wantoning
            With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
                Banqueting
            With her in her wind-walled palace,
            Underneath her azured dais,
            Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
                From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.”
                So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
            I knew all the swift importings
            On the wilful face of skies;
            I knew how the clouds arise
            Spuméd of the wild sea-snortings;
                All that’s born or dies
            Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
            With them joyed and was bereaven.
            I was heavy with the even,
            When she lit her glimmering tapers
            Round the day’s dead sanctities.
            I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
            Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
            I laid my own to beat,
            And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
            These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
            Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
            The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
                My thirsting mouth.
                Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
                With unperturbèd pace,
            Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
                And past those noised Feet
                A voice comes yet more fleet—
            “Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
                And smitten me to my knee;
            I am defenceless utterly.
            I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
            I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
            Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
            Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
            Ah! must—
            Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou can’st limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
            From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
            Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpséd turrets slowly wash again.
            But not ere him who summoneth
            I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
            Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
            Be dunged with rotten death?

                Now of that long pursuit
                Comes on at hand the bruit;
            That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
               “And is thy earth so marred,
                Shattered in shard on shard?
            Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
            Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),
“And human love needs human meriting:
            How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
            Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
            Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
            Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
            All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
            Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
    Halts by me that footfall:
    Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
    “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
    I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”

Francis Thompson (1859-1907)







 

 

 

 


I Intend

  The Power of a Positive Intention

Statement Of Intention by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Statement Of Intention by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. Psalm 119:9

By living according to God’s Word a young man can keep himself pure. That is no small thing. If there is any creature on earth prone to impurity, it is a young man. For that reason, Solomon spends no small amount of energy and no few words in the Proverbs instructing young men on this very matter.

The psalmist asks the question with the intention of learning and complying with the answer and God inspires the answers that flow in the verses that follow. All revolve around the one great call to live according to God’s Word.

By seeking God wholeheartedly, verse 10 assures us, we will avoid straying from His commands.

By hiding God’s Word in our hearts, verse 11 promises, we will not be as likely to sin.

By asking for guidance with praise, according to verse 12, we will have God Himself as our teacher.

By speaking the Words of God, according to verse 13, we will be voicing what He has first voices.

By rejoicing in God’s statutes, as stated in verse 14, we shall be adopting a positive attitude which will recognize the immense treasures of His truth.

By meditating on God’s precepts, as commended in verse 15, we will be considering His ways.

By delighting in what He has said by decree, verse 16 suggests that we will not neglect His Word.

It is really a rather simple matter. We can pursue purity in our lives by living according to the Bible, seeking God in it, absorbing it into our hearts and minds, asking God’s guidance through it, speaking it with our lips, rejoicing in each new nugget of truth, meditating deeply upon it, and delighting in everything it says.

Temptations abound, but God’s Word is always available to purify our hearts as we seek Him with all that we have and all that we are. If it is a young man’s or young woman’s intention to live a holy and pure life, the way is provided.

 

 


Sacrifice and Following

Sacrifice is the essence of following.

Jesus could not shrink from his hour because his purpose in living was wrapped up in his hour of dying.

We die to all that is not our purpose and His purpose in us when we follow.

We empty ourselves of all we perceive to be self-honoring to receive the greater honor of the Father.

Jesus explains it so much better than I do:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."

"“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” - John 12:24-32 (ESV)


Checkered History

Checkered history 2

My tribe has a checkered history with forced conversions, violent power-grabbing, and militaristic exercise of religious dominance. To deny that is to deny history.

To not care is to ignore scripture.

We are flawed in our common humanity and sin with a lust for power that we are willing to exercise with violence and coercion.

Our religions, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate can be illegitimately co-opted as an excuse for that power-lust and every evil methodology we can muster to acquire what we want and think we deserve. At the moment, the world is experiencing extreme and frightening expression and demonstrations of this.

It is not the first in history and probably will not be the last.

Everyone has a different name for it and the names are debated, but it is all one thing throughout history.

There are political and military battles that shall be waged, but the most important battle is unseen; it is timeless; it is the most real. It is waged in the secret place of prayer, the public place of speaking truth in love, and the relational place of living the life of faith to which we have been called - to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.


Announcement of Things to Come

As often as you eat

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” – I Corinthians 11:26

As we eat and drink earthy elements of simple substance, we proclaim an eternal truth that transcends all formality and exalts the lowliest of deeds to the loftiest meaning.

Every day, we take a little nourishment to feed our bodies and drink a little something to refresh us in our thirst. Without food, we have no energy and our cells cannot reproduce. We die. Without water, we quickly dehydrate, and our bodies cannot sustain life.

Jesus said that when we eat the bread we are to think of His body and to do so in remembrance of Him, His life giving, life affirming, and yet lifeless body on the cross, given for us. Certainly, we do so in anticipation of His resurrected body on the third day and His living body on earth beginning at Pentecost. But nothing erases the image of His broken body given for us.

We drink the cup, and the sweetness of the grape does not cloud the memory of His poured-out blood. We are to “drink ye all of it” as a reminder that He poured out all of His blood for us. Without the shedding of blood, sin remains. Without blood in our veins, we have no life. We drink willingly and reverently and remember Him with gratitude and love.

But Paul says that every time we do this, we are making a visible announcement to the world that He is coming again in His glorified body. He promised to come to us, and He has in the Spirit and He will in person. He promised to never leave us, and He never has. He promised to prepare a place for us and come again and receive us to Himself and that is what we show forth every time we celebrate His presence at His table.

 


Hate? Really?

Hate

"Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple….So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions." - Luke 14:26, 33

It is a provocative statement.

Did it work? Did it get your attention? Is it hyperbole? Doesn't it contradict almost everything else Jesus said?

Many "yes" answers emerge, but there is also a "yes" to the unasked question. What is the unasked question?

What does it mean to turn one's back on everything to focus on one thing? What kind of hate is this that is absolutely compatible with unconditional love? What kind of dying is this that culminates in eternal living and what kind of emptying is it that fills us?

Everything is redefined in Jesus.

Every value is reordered.

Every love is reoriented.

What looked like love is revealed as dysfunctional, self-serving, enabling much-mush when compared to the true love that transforms us and causes us to live out the Great Commandment -- not only better, but from a new perspective.

This sort of hate and abandonment is the gateway to true love and fulfillment.

How can it be?

Go figure.


Which Is Easier? Mark 2:1-12

In Person and Online

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Faith to Carry

Faith to Be Carried

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVUE)New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition. Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Tragedy, Travesty, and Truth

 
 

 

In what President Theodore Roosevelt called, a stain on the frontier that will not wash away,” on March 8, in 1782, the Gnadenhutten massacre took place.

Ninety-six Native Americans in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, who had converted to Christianity, were killed by Pennsylvania militiamen in retaliation for raids carried out by other Indian tribes.

It was also known as the Moravian massacre. The ninety-six victims were pacifist Moravian Christian Indians (primarily Lenape and Mohican).

The act was carried out by U.S. militiamen from Pennsylvania.

Since Moravians were pacifists, they did not take sides in the American Revolution.

Under the command of David Williamson, they were tricked into be rounded up with a false promise of relocation. Then, they were sentenced to be executed. On the night before their deaths, they prayed and sang hymns all night.

They next day, still praying and singing, they were executed one by one.

Though they pleaded for their lives, they maintained their commitment to non-violence and offered no resistance or defense. Before murdering them, the captors raped with girls and the women.

Eighteen on the militia members objected to this crime but were outvoted.

These souls were declared Christian martyrs and they are remembered as such to this day in the Moravian Church.

It is true that both the British and the Colonialists sought alliances with indigenous tribes and some branches of the martyrs’ tribe ad sided with the British. Soldiers in the militia that committed the murder held vivid hurtful memories of loved one who had been slaughtered.

They blamed all indigenous people for their losses.

War and tragedy fuel bigotry, hatred and more war and tragedy and this is the only perpetual motion machine that does not defy the laws of physics.

Following the war, Williamson was elected to several terms as sheriff of Washington County, Pennsylvania.

We are not always noble. We are not always right. Yet, truth always sets us free. That is not just a promise; it is an accurate observation.

The urge to preach is strong, but this is a sermon you can develop on your own.

Read More

“The Poor Defenseless Ones Together Bowed in Prayer”: The Gnadenhutten Massacre
https://ohiomemory.ohiohistory.org/archives/2686

1857 Atlantic Monthly article: https://archive.org/details/atlantic23bostuoft/atlantic23bostuoft/page/184/mode/2up

 
https://www.jstor.org/stable/25096733

History of Gnadenhutten: http://traveltusc.com/files/gene/gnaden.pdf

Day of Remembrance: https://thebargainhunter.com/news/features/day-of-remembrance-highlights-moravian-delaware-perspective

 

 

 


Don't Stop Me; I'm Doing God's Work

Karina-carvalho-fKTKVrNqXQQ-unsplash
 
When the colluded powers sent their collaborating messengers to warn Jesus he was in trouble and that he was likely to be killed, his response was four-fold:
 
I am doing works of mercy and deliverance.
 
I will continue to do them until I am done. I will not be stopped. I will not be intimidated.
 
I won't die here, but I will keep moving toward the place of my death.
 
But there is a third day coming and no matter what anyone does or thinks they can do to me, I will move past it toward that day ... and then, and only then, my work will be complete.
 
Luke 13:32 : “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.’”
 
I Will Not STOP
 
S - Surrender to Negative Voices
T - Terminate before The Work Is Done
O -Obsess over Possible Disaster
P - Pivot from My Persistent Pursuit

Help Them Over It

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"I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life." - Philippians 4:2-3


How tragic. How sad. How disconcerting it is to see brothers and sisters at odds with each other and unwilling to find areas of agreement.

It breaks the heart of Paul to know that two special women, each occupying a special place in his heart, each of whom has meant so much in his work and in the growth of the church, are in conflict.

It is not that conflict is bad; it is just that unresolved conflict becomes a hindrance to Christian joy and witness. Euodias and Syntyche needed to work things out, but somehow, the challenge was greater than their resolve. They needed help.

Around you in the church are some folks who need that kind of help. They may or may not know it, but the help is needed nevertheless. It is needed for their spiritual health, for the sake of the relationship, and for the health of the church. They may not even realize how their stubbornness, selfishness, hurt feelings, or coldness is damaging the cause of Christ. In refusing God’s healing for the relationship and for their own pain, they are causing a festering wound that impacts the whole ministry of the church.

They need help. Sometimes that help comes in the form of a wake up call. Sometimes it is gentle prodding. More often it is loving mediation and prayer where everyone has a chance to be heard and love is restored.

Our names are written together in the book of life and we can allow no breach to continue in the fellowship. God’s love brings us together whatever our differences and there is seldom an issue worthy of dividing us that invades our ranks.

It may not be enough to say, “Get over it,” but that is what we all must do. It’s just that we may need a little help.


Judgment as a Message of Hope

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A few years ago, I was preparing a message on judgment when I was struck with a surprise - It was a message of hope.

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

In a message of judgment and destruction, imagine this main message is:

God still believes in you.

Perhaps you'd consider returning the favor!

That being said,

C.S. Lewis observed, in "The Great Divorce," that at the end, there are two kinds of people:

1. Those who say to God, "Thy will be done." and

2. Those to whom God say, "Thy will be done."

And remember,

"Harsh judgement is based not on the sternness of the Holy Ghost, but on my refusal to bear someone else's burden." --Oswald Chambers

-------------------------------------

 

And Entirely "Other" Thought.

Time passes ... slowly at first ... and picks up speed ... progression ... until it cascades!
 
And then, we wake up and know that whatever we must do, we must do now.
 
We have now and, in the precious now, is atomic potential for ...
 
We bring all of our yesterdays and all of our tomorrows into the explosive present ... the pregnant now and ...
 
WOW!
 
We live!
 
If we choose to do so!
 
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (KJV)
"Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom." (NLT)
- Psalm 90:12
 
and ... as The Message translates it ...
 
"Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well!
Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?—
and treat your servants with kindness for a change.
Surprise us with love at daybreak;
then we’ll skip and dance all the day long.
Make up for the bad times with some good times;
we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime.
Let your servants see what you’re best at—
the ways you rule and bless your children.
And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us,
confirming the work that we do.
Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!" (verses 12-17)
 

All Must Go

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Photo by the blowup on Unsplash
"What am I willing to lose in order to gain all?"

The parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of unspeakable worth all lead to the question.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Everything must go?

What does that include?

What is best?  What  does your heart desire most? Who are you made to be? What are you made to do? What is worth more than everything else in your life?

What is in the way of you becoming who you really are?

It is one thing to say that I sell it all and divest myself of all my other treasures. That I do in the most generalized possible way. It is a broad stroke, without any threat.

But then I start digging into the piles of specificity and it hurts to part with old ideas, false concepts of who I am, preferences, amusements, possessions, attitudes, and patterns of living. These have been my treasures for a long, long time.



Whether you are a faith walker or a just an honest lover of truth wherever it is found, there is a principle that can aid you in your journey. There is only so much you can carry with you toward your purpose, goal, and ultimate destiny. You have to let some things go in order to gain what you most desire and require.

You have to give up a great deal of good on the quest for the best.

For Jesus followers, this is the kingdom of God. For everyone, it is something and it is right in front of you.


Mother Necessity

Mother of invention

“our need will be the real creator” - Plato, The Republic

 

Necessity may indeed be the mother of invention, but it has, at times, been the mother of injustice.

William Pitt observed:

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."

Pitt spoke as the ally of Wilberforce in their quest to end slavery in England. Against their efforts were all sorts of arguments including those of necessity.

"We have no other choice."

"We must."

"We have to protect ourselves."

"We know it is wrong, but now is not the right time to correct things."

"If we do this now, everything will collapse."

There has never been a convenient time in history for doing the right thing. It has always been against the tide to stand for the rights of others. Liberty has never been practical. Freedom has never been feasible. Truth has seldom seemed profitable. Justice has never been easy. Light has never been appealing to those whose eyes have grown accustomed to the dark.

Our shortcuts can always be justified by expediency. In business, public affairs, and personal relationships, we can make our case for walking over other people and nations if we can establish that it is in pour best interest do do so.

When we do, we ultimately lose.

It is as if we have created a Greek god, named him "Necessarius," and bowed to him without knowing he is no god at all and will keep none of his far reaching promises.

Only what is right and true and just and compassionate will last beyond the moment. All else is as fleeting as our notions of necessity.

 


Grace that Teaches and Relieves Fear

‘Twas Grace that Taught My Heart to Fear

Deuteronomy 10

"…. Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children." - Deuteronomy 4:10b

School has been in session for a while now, but in reality, it has been in session all of our lives. God has been teaching us through all of our experiences the twin lessons of fear and trust. Some may call this “law,” but the New Testament translates even the law into the schoolmaster of grace through Christ Jesus.

Grace has taught our heart to fear. This is the fear of God, the fear that dispels all other fears. It is the fear that teaches us that God is God and we are not. It is the fear that we experience when we realize how awesome His power is and how pure is His holiness. It is the fear that knows His standards superimposed against our failures. It is the fear that causes us to both tremble and rejoice, to hesitate in His presence, yet approach at His invitation. It is the fear that enables us to be fearless in the face of all other dangers and acknowledge Him as Lord of all. Grace teaches us such fear. It is the gift of God who reveals Himself to us as He is.

 "… what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul ..." - Deuteronomy 1:12

What God requires of us is that we know He is God and behave accordingly. That means that we will walk in His ways, that we will love Him, that we will serve Him, and that we will do all of this wholeheartedly with all of our strength.

He wants us to mean business with Him and not to take Him lightly. He wants us to grow in our appreciation of His mystery and wonder. He wants us to catch a glimpse of His character and not take Him for granted. He wants us to revere His Name and live in awe of His glory.

Grace is our teacher in these matters, because God could have left us in the dark. He could have treated us with indifference as a people of no consequence. But we are not inconsequential in His eyes. We are people for His pleasure and for Him to fully enjoy us, we must learn to enjoy Him. Before we can enjoy Him, we must know Him and that means, as He is. So grace teaches our hearts to fear.

ONLY:

1. Fear the LORD your God
2. Walk in all his ways
3. Love him
4. Serve God with all your heart and soul
5. Keep God's commandments.
6. Circumcise your heart.
7. Stop being stubborn.
8. Love strangers.
9. Clothe and feed them.
10. Worship God.
11. Enjoy your blessings!


Deuteronomy 10:12-22:
So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. Although heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it, yet the LORD set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is today. Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. 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. Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven.


PITY - Been There, Felt That, Feel That - Psalm 22 and Mark 1:41

Compassion pity

He has been there and is there.

The Sermon:

 

Personal

Intense

Transformational

Yielding

 

 

Psalm of the Abandoned and Forsaken

Psalm 22:1 - My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

We have the retrospective luxury of knowing the messianic significance of this psalm in. It is messianic because the Messiah took these words to the cross as He identified with the sinfulness and despair that were already resident in humanity. He expressed the root of our hopelessness: abandonment - the awful sense that the God whom we ourselves have forsaken has forsaken us. To be separate from God is to be isolated and alone. It is the very terror of the night and it is the chief horror of the cross, which Jesus bore for us that this statement might never need to be ours again.

Psalm 22:2 - O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.

It is the hallmark of persistent prayer that it perseveres in silence. It is neither required nor assured that the believer will always “sense” the presence of God. What is called for is that we will remain faithful and not be silent when God is silent. In fact, God is not quieted. He is merely speaking on a frequency that we are not, at some given point in time, receiving. Keep praying – even amidst despair and doubt. Faith is found in the persistence and assurance and awareness emerge from the process. No matter how you feel about life, yourself, God, or others today, pray on!

Psalm 22:3 - Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

Immediately, out of dark despair, the worship leader of the psalms teaches us what drives persistent pray: It is the knowledge of the Holy One who is Other than us, enthroned, exalted, and worthy of praise. God does not need to earn our faithfulness in prayer and praise by making regular payments of blessings to our accounts. The starting point is that praise is due Him because He is the praise of Israel and the United States, the world, and the universe. If we can but come to some understanding that God is God no matter what we think or feel, we will begin to become messianic people.

Psalm 22:4 - In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.

History is an anchor that stabilizes faith by reminding us that God can and does act to deliver His people. He, who never changes, takes a personal interest in those who trust in Him. He is a faithful God. We can count on Him to do again what He has done before. The heritage we receive from our believing fathers and mothers is a legacy we must pass on to our own children. It is an intergenerational gift that passes through our hands. Take courage from the experience of others, but never let that experience substitute for one of your own relationship with God. Build on their stories.

Psalm 22:5 - They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

What was it that our fathers did that brought them into the experience of God’s deliverance? It was very little and very much. It was very little of human effort or initiative. However, it was a great expression of faith in two parts. First, their attitude was one of trust – that resolute act of resting on God’s grace. Second, the volitional action was crying out for mercy, help, and salvation in desperate resignation. We who scatter ourselves about in frantic frenzies of futile flailing exclaim, “Is that all? It can’t be!” It is. Unless it becomes that alone, nothing we DO matters. Only God saves.

Psalm 22:6 - But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.

Maybe today is your worm day. You have adopted the vision of yourself that you perceive others to have of you. You have resigned to the world, the rather than to God. It has become vitally important to you what others think of you and you are devastated. If, at any time, you allow yourself to be defined by others or even yourself, you will be depressed. Jesus identified with our struggles to understand self but overcame the temptation through a strong sense of who He was in relationship with His Father. We have the same mirror to our souls available, filtered by grace and the love of God.

Psalm 22:7 - All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

Consider Jesus today as you evaluate the evaluations of others and deflect their insults. Rather than lash out in reactionary anger or retreat in despondent silence, look to Him who endured. He was never shaken within by the opinions of people. He never lost His sense of standing with the Father or His assurance of His mission. He did not come down off the cross, nor can we. Our lives are nailed there, and our identity is securely fastened to His. Bathe in His love and acceptance when friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers mock your motives. You are cherished by Him.

Psalm 22:8 – "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him."

You can expect to be attacked in that area where you are most vulnerable – your faith. The world will taunt you with that which troubles you most within – the nagging suspicion that God will not come through for you. This is the real test of faith whether the taunts come from within or without: Can you withstand them and find your trust deepened? Your lips may declare firm belief that God can deliver you from and through any trial, but do you believe it for this current trial? The answer is that faith is, also, a gift delivered amidst fire. Receive it today in your present circumstances.

Psalm 22:9 - Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.

We started with a capacity to trust God because we had no other choice. As we experienced autonomy and choice, we chose to go our own ways as did our first father and mother. But the starting place was childlike trust. It is our first and greatest capacity and our one and only connector to God within our souls. It is the essence of the image of God within us - the plug through which He reconnects us in relationship within by His mercy, grace, and love. When we first chose to sin, we pulled the plug by trusting ourselves. Let God revive your trust today and choose to trust Him.

Psalm 22:10 - From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.

This is the psalm of the cross, which our Master chose to identify with us as He bore our sins. There were three great acts of emptying in His earthly life. The first was His birth. He divested Himself of all His self-sufficiency as God and became dependent upon God –even in Mary’s womb. The second was His baptism-temptation where He conspicuously stood in the place of sinners to face every life temptation and overcome only by the power of the Spirit and the Word. Finally, the cross – and there, He remembered who He was and who He trusted. We must trust God also.

Psalm 22:11 - Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

You will find yourself in circumstances, as did our Lord, where there are no solutions, alternatives, or assistance. There is no one and nothing to help. You are empty and alone. You cannot even depend upon yourself because your resources are depleted, and your energy is sapped. You can presume nothing in that moment. No one hears your plea, but God and your only non-negotiable request is that He remains near you. That is a powerful place in our lives. We cannot go on spiritually until we have been there. Embrace it and from that place, call upon God. You will find Him all-sufficient.

Psalm 22:12 - Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

The imagery may not be familiar, but it takes little imagination to see the precarious nature of these circumstances. What are yours? The idea of bulls surrounding you does not bring to mind the thought of a passive environment with benign enemies. These are angry bulls, poised for attack. They are frightening and intimidating, and they can do you great physical harm. But they cannot touch your soul. Only you and God know the depths of the battle you are in but know this: Jesus was there on the cross and He is with you now.

Psalm 22:13 - Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

You can see the lions devouring their prey and their eyes are now on you. You envision yourself being eaten alive by the forces within you and outside you that attack without mercy. It is a helpless feeling. Jesus experienced it fully on the cross. He placed Himself in that position willingly. He emptied Himself and “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” We cannot choose our end, nor can we know if this crisis is our end, but we can know God in the midst of it and trust in Him. There is no lion, no problem, no weapon of Satan that can defeat God or destroy His child.

Psalm 22:14 – I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.

What do you trust in a practical way to make it through the day? Do you count on your human resources, talents, ingenuity, or personality? You can be poured out like water. Do you trust your physical strength and fitness? Every bone can be dislocated from the others. Do you trust the strength of your character, perseverance, courage, and inner strength? Your heart can melt like wax and you will be left with nothing but God. This is the cross and Jesus has gone before us to show us that we can bear through His resurrection. Do not despair. You may be empty, but you are not alone.

Psalm 22:15 - My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

The cross is not a position of personal strength. It was not for Jesus and is not for us. We come to the cross and are emptied as Christ Jesus emptied Himself. Speechless and helpless, we lie in the dust of death and somehow realize that a God of love has allowed this experience in our lives and brought us to this place that, out of death, we might find life. If you will know resurrection, you must be laid out as dead before God. There is no other way. Any attempt to circumvent this process renders the cross as useless in your life. Trust God in the dry places and you will live.

Psalm 22:16 – Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

Onlookers, men and beasts, are waiting for your last breath. They are convinced that you are defeated. Around the cross, they all gathered, certain that they were about to hear the last of Jesus. Your enemies assume that personal failure and death will overcome you as well. Pain, it is felt, will conquer the spirit of any person. Not so with you. You are dead already and your life is hidden in Christ. In Him, you live. Whatever the enemy could throw at Christ was thrown, but He “arose a victor from the dark domain” and so will you in Him. Cast off despair and celebrate life!

Psalm 22:17 - I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

Have you ever counted your bones? How emaciated from the struggles of life, temptation, and sin have you been? Have you ever felt like such an oddity that people would stare? Have you ever been so humiliated that your enemies – especially those within, would gloat over your seeming defeat? When God made the choice to incarnate Himself into human flesh, He knew that He would be casting aside His glory for the lowest state of all. Hebrews 12 reminds us to consider Jesus who despised the shame but pressed on for the glory set before Him. Let us press on as well.

Psalm 22:18 - They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

We like to think that we will have death with dignity. We must redefine dignity then, for what Jesus experienced can only be described in human terms, as humiliation. Nevertheless, human definitions do not rule the spiritual realm, nor can they rule our lives. If we must face such a cross where even our clothes are bartered among our enemies, then so be it. Either we can scream and protest for our rights and “dignity” or we can enter into a deeper experience of trust and obedience. It is a crossroads that we face. If we are to die to self that we might live, we cannot set the terms.

Psalm 22:19 – But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

We are moving from first to second to third person intentionally in these thoughts – keeping the focus on God. That is where Jesus kept His focus in His lifetime identification with humanity. He asked only that His Father be near and trusted only in His strength. When we are empty and helpless, that is all we have and that is a very fine position for our lives. All other strength is an illusion and the sooner we understand that, the better. We have only God – He is all we ever have had, and we did not realize it. Perhaps now, we are coming to understand. Perhaps, we are coming into real life.

Psalm 22:20 - Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Did you know that your life was precious to God? Grace yourself with the thought that God cares more for you than you care for yourself. Why then, do you exercise the exhausting effort of worry? God knows all about the sword. He sees and hears the dogs. He is not removed from your suffering and He intimately acquainted with your struggles. He has never abandoned you and He has a plan for your deliverance that He has already set into motion. Call upon Him. He is ready to take your hand and walk with you through this present fire.

Psalm 22:21 - Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

Once we have come to terms with the reality of our circumstances and ceased our fruitless debates over the fairness of our surroundings, we can get down to the relevant business of petition. God does not keep us out of the lion’s den or the path of wild oxen; but He delivers us. Deliverance is far better than avoidance because God gets the glory and we get the victory. Beside that, the world gets to see a demonstration of the power of God that exceeds the expectations of limited minds. Daniel’s victory did not rest in avoiding the conflict, but in God’s salvation in the midst. Resurrection!

Psalm 22:22 – I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

We glory in the cross. We glory far more in the resurrection. Jesus came forth from the trial of the cross and the resurrection with a message of victory, redemption, and praise. We also emerge from our spiritual battles and, more importantly, the process of dying to self and rising to new life, with a message of hope. The faith-act of identifying with Jesus is what makes us evangelists. Good news permeates our beings so that our very lives are transformed into the gospel message. Like St. Francis, we preach everywhere and, when necessary, use words.

Psalm 22:23 – You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

Praise, honor, and reverence are the responses of all who know God as God. This fear of God is recognition of His utter divinity and absolute sovereignty. It is an awareness that is burned into our life through struggles and seared onto our hearts in crisis. It does not come easily. Do not associate praise with giddiness or shallow emotionalism. When it is refined, it flows from the very deepest places in our lives and transcend the moment, rises above circumstances, and soars to the heights of Heaven. It is a gem of great joy forged in the furnace of trial.

Psalm 22:24 - For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

The God we praise is a God of loving compassion. He knows. He cares. He heals. He listens intently to His people and He is near the broken. Jesus identified with our pain intensely and passionately. His participation in our suffering and affliction goes far beyond empathy. He entered in and continues to enter in. You can trust Him because He already understands and have your very best interest in His heart. When we back off from God., we do so in irrational ignorance. To really know Him is to trust Him profoundly.

Psalm 22:25 - From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

It all originates with God. If we think that we might like to organize our praise of God around ideas that intrigue us, we have missed the point. The very theme of praise comes directly from Him. It is about Him, from Him, and to Him that we praise. And, as we gather among those who know Him, this is understood. There are always personal and corporate dimensions to faith. There are individual vows that you make and fulfill to the Lord, but you do so in community among those who share a common vision of the God who is worthy of our praise.

Psalm 22:26 - The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him-- may your hearts live forever!

This is the grand turn-around. God feeds the poor. He fills the hearts of those who seek Him with praise. He brings life out of death and joy out of pain. He infuses our lives with such abundance that we cannot fully receive it. He lifts our spirits to heights we have never known. He fills our lips with praise and grants us eternal life. The present darkness is never absolutely dark because the light has already come to fill every crevice. We live now and always in the present reality of the resurrection and the future hope of Christ’s second coming. Seek Him and know this reality for yourself!

 

 

 



 

 


Better than Your Worse, Less that Your Best - - Sometimes

But Never Mind That!

Tracks

 

You are a lot better than the worst day of your life.

That's why there are some good people in prison and some other sticky situations.

You are probably not as great as your best day either.

Stop judging yourself by either one.

In fact, stop judging yourself at all. You are not qualified.

Own your bad decisions, bad attitudes, ugly deeds, and stinking thinking and move past them.

Own your successes and share the praise with those who have helped you along the way.

Give thanks to God for the breath of life and good genes.

Live today, your best life. At the moment, it is the only day you have.

And give others a chance to do the same and start with a clean slate if they need to.

Live graciously!


Fire that Purifies

Revealed with Fire

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. - - 1 Corinthians 3:13

Nat-cathedral-glass17

Washington National Cathedral - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ac4lt/11199433/

Believers welcome the revealing fire of God’s judgment with an odd sort of anticipation. Knowing that we have already passed from death unto life, we do not fear death, but embrace the joy of Heaven. We yearn to have the old dross of fleshly choices burned away so that what is of God can be refined for the enjoyment of eternity.

There is going to be some loss. And there will be some disappointment. But all that is lost will be worthless and the disappointment will be over the wasted time, energy, and emotion that were invested in the mess that was doomed for destruction.

There will be tears for Jesus to wipe from our eyes in Heaven. Some will be the tears of regret for what we could have been and done for the Master if we had been completely “sold out” to Him. There will be tears for misplaced priorities, unrealized visions that God gave us but we never pursued, and for words and deeds wrought in anger, lust, and greed.

There may be tears for those we could have told about Jesus’ love, but never did. Fear, apathy, selfishness, and pride kept us from rescuing the perishing and our hearts will be rightly broken when all is revealed and tested by fire.

Every motive and thought will be tried and we may not be happy with the results. But joy will follow when we are cleansed by the fire and all that is left is our true selves, purified and ready to meet God.

Why wait for eternity? God is ready to do his sanctifying work in your life even now. There are wonderful gains possible for us if we will invest in eternity. The fire within today can eliminate issues that ultimately must be burned away from without. Heaven is a wonderful mystery and fire is a necessary agent of sanctification. Let the fire burn in the altar of our hearts and let us bring everything we have and are to Him to be offered as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto him.


Equity in Our Lives

Jonathan-kemper-oHCalaoeD0Q-unsplash

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

 

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” – I Corinthians 3:6

How many people have invested in the harvest that is your life? How many hands and hearts have been involved in your progress toward maturity? Coming to the place of graduation from an academic regimen or from one stage of life to another has been a gradual process.

That is why it is called graduation!

The answer is many, too many to innumerate.

Each has had a role. Each has unselfishly poured his or her life, wisdom, and time into your life. Each is due a debt of gratitude. Each one reminds us to so pour our lives into others.

There have been planters. These are those souls who have deposited seeds of knowledge, sparks of insight, and fragments of dreams into the ready receptacles of our lives with the hope that they would grow into something greater than they were when they started.

There have been those who have watered the seeds, cultivators, and tillers of the soil who have not avoided the hard work of steady time commitment. They have counseled, coached, and mentored. They have taught us when we were hard to teach. They have consistently demonstrated truth. They have labored long and hard with high hopes of our lives bearing good fruit.

There are harvesters who were in the right place at the right time when we were ready to demonstrate our readiness to step up and step out. They have given us the opportunities to shine and to lead. They have ushered us the final steps of our journey.

Then there is God who was working in all of these and who ultimately brings the harvest. It is He who is present at the beginning and at every step of the way.


We Must Not Forget

We Must Remember

On February 19, 1942, one of America's best Presidents, authorized the U.S. government to incarcerate Americans on the basis of their heritage and appearance.

110,000 or more Americans, citizens, immigrants, and multi-generational countrymen were rounded up. They were forced to leave their homes, businesses, and communities.

These were the Japanese Americans.

Their entire way of life was disrupted and most lost their homes, jobs, businesses, and lifestyles.

It was a travesty.  We all agree, but most of us were not there and none of us signed the orders.

Why must we be reminded of these things?

After all, it was not the decision of all Americans.

No, but it was made on behalf of all Americans.

The rest of "us" could have made a difference.

Many would have, if they had known the whole story soon enough or felt empowered.

We must not forget what neighbors can do to neighbors or what governments can do to people.

Decent people can inflict pain on decent people.

If we are not reminded of how often it has happened, it is too easy to let it happen again.

Fear is a powerful force. People caught up in fear act irrationally and without compassion at times.

We let other people become the objects of our fears. Then, we act in ignorance.

We abandon the Great Commandment.

We do it too easily and we do it without regret and with impunity.

It only takes a few people to initiate grave injustice, but it takes all of us to allow it to continue.

"I hated the brutality, the sadism, and the insanity of Nazism. I just couldn't stand by and see people destroyed. I did what I could, what I had to do, what my conscience told me I must do. That's all there is to it. Really, nothing more." - Oskar Schindler

 


Thoughts on the Book of Judges

Judges

What follows are some theological reflections from my personal bible study a few years ago - not necessarily inspirational or for the faint of heart. Read at your own risk of boredom 

They are just reflections, but I might as well share them .

Not all scripture leaves us with warm feeling, unambiguous guidance, easy lessons, or peace of mind. Some of it really rocks our concept of everything else we read in the bible. So, we sometimes avoid those passages (assuming that they only occur in the religious literature of "other peoples" religions). Hermeneutics is the art and science of text interpretation. It is an important tool for people who wish to wrestle with difficult scriptures and be able to interpret them in their historical contexts and apply them to life today. You need in reading, as I am, the book of Judges.

Judges takes place in a rather chaotic time in the history of Israel where there is little unity, no one clear leader, syncretistic religious practices, and lifestyles not unlike other communities in the ancient near east. The difference is that the bible teaches a continuation of God's covenant with a people who are trying to work out what it means to be His people over a long, long period of history,. There are some high points and many low points and lots of flawed people who become extraordinary leaders. They are presented "as is."

So, here is one of those problem passages where the bible does not exhort, but report, where raw truth is simply delivered as it is and people who are struggling to understand who God is and God's ways make some good decisions and some bad decisions. Jephtha , in Judges 11:29, has been empowered by the Spirit in a mighty way and leads his army against the Ammonites.. He makes a vow to kill and sacrifice the first thing that comes through his door. When he looks at his door it is his precious daughter. She hears and encourages him to follow through with his vow, but give her a little reprieve to mourn in the mountains and come back to be offered - which she does. I am thinking, "Is this supposed to inspire me?"

But here is a take-away, warning, and admonition - whether or not it was intended. Just because someone is caught up in the Spirit and accomplishes some great spiritual and/or physical feats does not mean several things:

1. It does not mean that they hear or understand or know God at any greater way than anyone else.

2. It does not mean that there is a direct connection between their rash statements/promises and the grace that was granted them by God.

3. It does not necessarily make them immediately mature or wise.

We have the rest of the bible for guidance and balance, so we might assume that Jephtha made a "stupid" vow and he could have called things off at any point. If he had any familiarity with his own Torah, he would have known that human sacrifices are forbidden. At that point, he might have gone back into consultation with the LORD.

His daughter, while motivated by her own distorted sense of who God is and what God requires and by her devotion to her father, comes back from the mountains - a kind of misguided integrity, to be honored during her eulogy, but certainly to be questioned in application to our own lives.

But who are we to stand in judgment from afar? We have advantages and opportunities they did not have. Remember that these folks were influenced more by the idolatry around them than any sound Torah teaching. They had fallen away and were just now returning and even in that returning were subject to making bad decisions --- which they did.

Even good, sincere, religiously enthusiastic people can make bad decisions ... and do.

Lessons for 21st century Christians and other people of faith?

1. Stay grounded in scripture and sound teaching, ethical thinking, and mature deliberation. Check in with what concepts about God are influencing you. In your approach to scripture, develop good hermeneutics.

2. Get to know God and communicate with God. The life of developing spiritual maturity is intensely prayerful, deliberative, seeking, and humble.

3. Be slow to make rash declarations and do not make deals with God. Give what God demands and do not try to bribe Him.

4. Remember that good people can make bad decisions and not everything they say should be followed uncritically. In the same way, bad people can sometimes make good decisions and we need to weigh their ideas in the light of logic and truth, prayerfully.

There is much violence, greed, immaturity, bigotry, and idolatry in the bible - and that is just among the good guys! That is because God is patient and gracious and chooses to work among, through, and with human beings. The bible reports this process of history as God reveals Himself over time until, as Christian scripture reports, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we [finally - my word] beheld His glory. His teaching might seem contrary to thousands of years of salvation history, but Jesus reports them as fulfillment of all that God was trying to teach all along.

Time is a funny construct. We don't really understand it. Thousands of years form only a blip in linear time. Imagine them/it in light of modern physics as a thin strand of a whole. Then see them/it encapsulated into something infinite and eternal. The bottom line is that we need thr whole story and, with the whole story, we meet a God who, Himself provides the sacrifice and gives Himself for our redemption, a God of grace, love, mercy, truth, holiness, and unending wonder who has reveled Himself in Jesus Christ.

The book of Judges sure creates a thirst in my heart for knowing THAT God in a deeper way.

OK ... on to Samson .


Ready for Better

Better days
 
I sure know a lot of folks who feel this way and it is for you that I am having some prayer this morning.
 
I'm ready for you to have some peace of mind too.
 
I am ready for things to get better as well. If you'd like to have some better times or some peace of mind or some hope other either or both, just click like and I'll be praying for you.
 
 
Father, my friends have had a long time with no peace of mind, such turmoil, sleeplessness, worry, sorrow, pain, agony, perhaps insidious habits they cannot shake, attitudes they cannot escape, bitterness they cannot release, grief they cannot bear, hardship they cannot endure, and loss they cannot explain.
 
Whatever the pain, speak remedy to their souls.
 
Speak peace, comfort, and stillness to their hearts.
 
If there is something they must release, hold their hands gently to let them know it is OK to do so.
 
If it is something beyond their control, inform them of their options and grant them your strength.
 
If there is something they must learn, help them to see a glimpse of truth and hope.
 
If there is something they must gain, may they gain it in good time with patient endurance.
 
But if there is something you can and will change and it is time for things to get better, please intervene and lead them out of the darkness.
 
For those who must remain and struggle a little longer, grant even deeper, greater peace, grace, joy, and even laughter in the midst.
 
Lighten the darkness by Your presence and transform the place of struggle into a place of meeting You that it might become a precious place.
 
You know the needs of my friends and You have designed a particular blessing for each one.
 
Grant it, I pray, in Jesus' Name. Amen.
 
"Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." - Jesus
 

Let Us All Take Greater Courage

In honor of Alexei Navalny 

Hero

 

Photo by Mitya Aleshkovskiy This file was derived from: Alexey Navalny 2 (cropped).jpg

 

Guest Post on Super Heroes

 

 

It is the very struggle that moves us forward.

Sometimes the hero needs a hero to give him courage to take his last stand. It is about the Quest!

"You must fight and it doesn't matter whether you win or lose... Don't you remember? ... You must remember!"

It is the quest.

You are Dulcinea and you have a Don Quixote in your corner.

You are Don Quixote and you have a Dulcinea to encourage and to awaken you.

You are the dreamer and the doer and each time you fall, you shall rise again.

Give it your life.

Soon others may join you in the quest, but even if they do not ... keep on!

Watch and weep and be encouraged!

 


Something Is Ahead of Us and We Are Pressing On

Photo-1599744331048-d58b430fb098

Photo by MIL-TECH PHARMA LTD on Unsplash

Something is ahead of us beginning, and unfolding.

We are not there yet.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:12

I’m not there yet, but thank God, I’m not where I was.

Progress is the word of the day. It is that quality which enables me to “follow after” and not be discouraged by the distance ahead. As a Christian, I have already been captured, apprehended, and held secure by Jesus Christ. That is a great comfort. But it is not that false comfort that lulls one to sleep. It is not that sinister imposter that whispers in the ear, “You have arrived; now rest quietly. No further progress is necessary.”

It is not that at all. Rather, it is the assurance that what we are becoming is not to be stifled by our inadequacies. It is not to be prevented by our lack of ingenuity. It is not dependent upon our own strength. It is not limited by our lack of vision.

We are still to work out that which His has worked within us. We are to pursue the prize. We are to follow the course. We are to move forward in faith.

We are not there yet, but the race is not over. We keep on keeping on.

Do not lose heart. Others have gone before and they had no more and no less than you to propel them on. We are given the stamina and the fortitude for the pursuit in whatever quantities are necessary for our unique calling under God.

Never give up. Your life is no accident; your calling is no second thought of God. This journey you are on is His purpose for your life. No, you are not there yet, but neither are you where you were. Press on!

One Thing

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13-14 

We have an opportunity to refocus on the one thing. It is the thing Habakkuk longed for, Paul longed for, and we long for.

What if you had to leave everything behind except one thing?

What if you had to sort through your prized possessions and you only had a few minutes to make the decision? The storm is coming and you can only carry one thing with you.

What if you had to surrender all your trophies, all the reminders of your past success? What if your most cherished disappointments – that’s right, I said “cherished” disappointments – had to be forgotten. Men and women often treasure their failures out of some misguided sense of safety and security.

Forgetting what is behind means unshackling oneself from the comforts of past victories and the comfortable excuses of past defeats.

We are called to press forward toward a goal we have not yet achieved. The press involves some stress – the right kind of stress that is the tension between where we are and where we ought to be. It involves energy and intensity. It calls for commitment and consecration.

More than anything else, it demands a clear fix on the prize. Without knowing all the details, we can know that there is a clear mark. It is the calling of God in Christ Jesus, but it is not just any calling. It is the high calling.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, who you’ve been, or what you’ve done – great or small. The high calling is higher, loftier, and more wonderful than anything. It deserves to be the ONE thing in your life to which anything else of value is attached. If it cannot be attached, then it must be left behind because it is not worthy of the one great thing in your life: the prize.

A Complete Mind

We have all heard it said, when we complained about a pain, that it was all in our minds. That was probably not entirely true. Yet, it is true that our minds are powerful and how we set our minds and upon what we set them is vital to everything in our lives. That is why the Christian calendar devotes days of preparation for great celebrations like Christmas and Easter.

How much more so can be preparing for the great event of the unfolding of God's purposes in the culmination of all history?

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. - Philippians 3:15

There are two profound truths in this often-confusing verse. One is that if we are perfect in every other way, let us think as such – all thoughts fully integrated and focused on one great goal: the mark, the prize, the calling.

Of course, no one has arrived, but some think they have. Paul challenges such folks to live what they profess. Other ways of understanding perfection evoke visions of completion and maturity – relative terms. The point is this: if we have reached a certain point of maturity, it should affect the way we think. Our attitudes must be those reflected by Paul when he declared that he had not arrived and was committed to pressing on.

Mature people are always growing, always climbing, never satisfied with where they are spiritually, and always looking forward.

Another great truth is the principle of relaxed concern as regards the spiritual growth of our brothers and sisters. Relaxed concern means that we care, we help, and we pray, but we don’t take the whole burden for their choices on ourselves. We trust that God can handle the misconceptions of His children about themselves.

Our trust is in God and that, “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (1:5)

So, like Paul, we can encourage our brothers and sisters not to become self-satisfied, but we cannot judge their progress. That is God’s job and He does it well. What we can and must do is pray for spiritual dissatisfaction in our hearts and in the hearts of our fellow believers that is characterized by the words of the old hymn:

I am satisfied with Jesus.
He has done so much for me.
He has suffered to redeem me.
He has died to set me free.
I am satisfied. I am satisfied.
I am satisfied with Jesus.
But the question comes to me as I think of Calvary:
Is my Master satisfied with me?

Don’t Lose Ground

The prophet would not have had to pray for revival if the people of God had not lost so much ground in their pilgrimage of faith and obedience. Paul knew that it was possible to move backwards as well as forward.

Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. -Philippians 3:16

You shouldn’t have to start over again and again.

Nothing is as frustrating as having to retrace old ground. The solution then, is not to lose ground in the first place.

Have you ever wondered why some of us as Christians have to seemingly deal with the same issues over and over again? Why is it that we forget the lessons we have learned? Why do we insist that God rescue us from the same old tired errors and sins?

Why do we need so many personal revivals in our lives?

We grow complacent and the Spirit finds a way to wake us up. We stay focused on the prize for a time and then we get distracted. From distraction, we move toward boredom and from boredom to spiritual coldness and before we know it we are as useful as dead folks to the Kingdom of God.

And then we need revival again.

Revival is a good thing – especially if it is not always about reclaiming lost ground. Revival ought to be about encouraging us to the next step of spiritual progress, reminding us of the goal set before us, and stirring us up with a fresh breath of spiritual energy.

Sadly, it is often about waking the dead who ought to be alive. To that dilemma, Brother Paul speaks and admonishes us to walk by the rule of humble progress with our minds all focused on the one thing that surpasses all else.

Don’t lose ground – not this time. And if you do, regain it quickly and move on. The more you practice your faith, exercising it in daily discipline, the less likely you will be to fall, the more likely you will be to keep moving on toward the mark.

Let us keep moving forward, as we do, sing this song of ascent from Psalm 126.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

--------------------------------------

Excerpted from The Confidence Factor

 


February 14 - A Busy Day - Another Digest

1554

On this date in 1554, Anabaptists David van der Leyen and Levina Ghyselius were burned at the stake in Ghent.

"In the year 1554, there was imprisoned at Ghent, in Flanders, for following Christ and living according to God’s commandments, a young brother named David, who, when examined, freely confessed his faith. Being asked what he thought of the sacrament, David said, that he considered it nothing else than idolatry. Then a priest said to him, 'Friend, you err greatly, that you so readily confess your faith, for it will cost you your life, if you do not change your mind in time.'

"Thereupon David sweetly replied, 'I am ready to shed my blood for the name of Christ, even though it should be here in this place; for God is my salvation, who will keep me, and preserve me from all evil.'”

"The priest said, 'It will not be as good as though you were put to death secretly here in this place; but you will be burnt publicly at the stake, for an everlasting reproach.'”

"He was then brought into the court, where he was condemned to death, and his sentence was read, namely, that he had fallen from the true faith into heresy, and was therefore, according to the imperial edict, sentenced to be strangled and burned. David said, 'No one will ever be able to prove by the Scriptures, that the faith for which I must now die is heresy.'"

There was also sentenced to death with him a woman named Levina, who rather forsook, not only her six dear children, but also her temporal life, than her dear Lord and Bridegroom Jesus Christ. Arriving on the scaffold, David attempted to kneel down in order to offer up his prayer to God, but he was prevented, and they were immediately driven away to the stakes, standing at which, David said to Levina, 'Rejoice, dear sister; for what we suffer here is not to be compared with the eternal good that awaits us.' (Rom. 8:18)

"When about to offer up their sacrifice, both exclaimed, 'Father, into thy hands do we commend our spirits.'

"A little bag of gunpowder was tied to each of them, whereupon they were strangled and burned. But there happened a manifest miracle of God; for though they were completely burned, and the fire was as good as extinguished, David was seen to move his head, so that the people exclaimed, 'He still lives.'

"The executioner seized the fork, and thrust it three times into his bowels, so that the blood flowed out; yet even after this he was still seen to move, hence, the executioner threw a chain around his neck, and bound him to the stake, and thus broke his neck."

"Thus these two valiantly fought their way through, firmly trusting in God, who did not let them be confounded, since they had firmly built their building upon the only foundation; wherefore they shall never perish, but abide forever." –Martyrs Mirror


A 2-13 Digest

Posts from the Past

Digest 2 13

Gotta Go
Sometimes on the phone,
Sometimes in person,
Often on-line,
Occasionally when knocking on the door of the privy,
Always first thing in the morning ...
Gotta go!
When the waves of life's stormy seas become more
Than the tired cliché they are ...
And actually start to soak the boat,
Then,
I gotta go.
I do mean, to be correct, "I have to go" or
"I must go" or
"Pardon me"
OR ...
"Bye now!"
But "Gotta go" is just more ...
REAL.
GOTTA
G - Grabbing necessity
O - Overwhelming urge
T - Temporal urgency (urge on steroids)
T - Trust me; its true!
A - After I've gone, I'll explain.
GO -
G - Get going and get in the groove; its time for movement.
O - Out of here.
And that is where I am now ...
And will be at moments through the day ...
BUT ...
I felt
I had to write
Even something trite ...
I may not have time later.
What must be done, must be done now
Because ONE DAY ...
SOME DAY ...
When I say,
"Gotta Go!"
I'll really have to go ...
And ...
In spite of my efforts ...
Or anyone's
I'll be gone.
You too!
Gotta go ...
I'll probably be back ...
But you never know.
SEIZE THE DAY!!!!!
SEIZE THE MOMENT!!!!

 


On Your Toes

Stay on your toes 2

Stay on your toes.

Lessons from Some Ancient Wisdom

Whether or not you look to the Bible as your source of faith and ultimate guide for life, do not discount the business wisdom in the book of Proverbs. Much of the contemporary business advice in the world today either directly or indirectly quotes it.

The admonition is to be alert and take nothing and no one for granted. Live life on tiptoe in anticipation, but also in awareness of what is going on over the horizon. 

Boasting vs Believing About Tomorrow

We are to make faith declarations and dream statements as freely as we breath, but boasting is another matter. It presupposes that we are self-sufficient and need neither God nor other people to reach our aspirations and excludes gratitude from the success equation of our lives.

Thus, the writer of Proverbs declares (27:1) :

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring forth.” (New International Version)

Of course we do not know. There are variables beyond our oversight and capacity to predict. We do not control other people’s choices or the heartbeat of nature. There are larger purposes than our own and we function best when we view our lives as part of a larger plan and submit ourselves to a greater will.

When that happens, the dream that is planted within our hearts is a dream we must pursue and can pursue with divine guidance and power. However, we do not know what valleys of sorrow or storms of trouble through which we must pass.

We cannot boast about the time frame.

All that we can determine are our choices and our beliefs and these we must control or they will be controlled by circumstance.

You can believe in tomorrow without boasting about it. You can predict your own success without presumption. You can embrace a life of faith without assuming that there will be no battles to fight or hardships to bear. You can control your decisions without controlling all of your circumstances.

You can choose to be an overcomer without knowing what tomorrow will bring.

You can live in absolute ignorance of the specifics of the future and remain positive if you know and trust the One who holds tomorrow.

Another Form of Dangerous Boasting

One of the principles of network marketing is edification. We edify up-line and down-line. That is also true in the church, ministry, and every business and social endeavor.

Proverbs 27:2 says,

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else and not your own lips.

On might ask in panic, “How can I be sure that they will? If I don ‘t toot my own horn, who will toot it?”

Simple. It will be those you have built up in the eyes of others. They cannot wait to build you up. They will have, not only the desire, but the incentive, to increase the esteem others have of you by their own words.

The greater your credibility, the greater the credibility they can give to you when they speak.

Third party credibility is the lifeblood of marketing and all forms of networking, and it is the right thing to do.

Acknowledging all that as true, we return to the essence of the proverb: humility. It is the humble man or woman who does not destroy his or her own reputation through self-serving bragging. That sort of person undersells and over-delivers.

Dull Stupidity

Don’t be stupid.

The word “stupid” is offensive to some and rightly so. It has to do with being in a permanent stupor or daze and letting life pass by without our notice, attention, or intervention.

I know some really smart, stupid people who wander in and out of stupidity and allow their businesses, ministries, and lives to wander down paths of least resistance through minefields of needless danger with little awareness or care.

That is unnecessary.

Proverbs 27:12 says (NIV),

“The prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

How much trouble in your dealings can you chalk up to inattention to detail?

I know it is boring, especially for “hunters” like many of us. We are ambitious dreamers, focused on our multiple goals who do not want to be bothered with petty problems and possible snags in our drive toward success.

We must choose to be aware of the environments in which we operate or enter into stupors to our detriment.

That is what so many do when they dull their senses with chemical addictions and other forms of addictive behavior.

“If I don’t see it,” they delude themselves by declaring, “it is not a problem.”

Wrong! It is when we don’t see it that it becomes a problem. If we see it, especially down the road, we can take positive action and turn the potential danger into our own advantage.

Don’t be stupid. Wake up and take the proper refuge.

Sharpen Up

Are you taking full advantage of the opportunities that come to you with arms and legs every day?

You have been gifted with associates above you and below you on charts made by human hands who have the capacity to add value to your life with every conversation and as you observe them.

Some of them make big mistakes, but even they are not useless. You can use them as examples of what not to do.

You can learn from everyone with whom you come into contact.

Proverbs 27:17 in the NIV says,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

How does this happen? Many ways. Perhaps we can touch on a few of them with the word, SHARP.

S = Seeing

We observe the other person’s life, choices, habits, techniques, strategies, behavior, and interactions and learn. If we watch people closely, we will collect valuable information and will observe timeless principles being fleshed out in their lives. Paul once told some of the disciples to follow him as he followed Christ.

H = Hassle

The word means “struggle” or “contest,” but we use it to refer to the resistance we sometimes get when we need to reevaluate our behaviors and choices. So it is sort of a struggle that begins within us and continues as others compete with us or challenge us about our behaviors. we get shaper and either change our choices or become stronger in them. Never discount the benefit of a good hassle.

A = Accountability

If we are never accountable to anyone, we will drift into an undisciplined and unproductive life. That is almost always true because God has made us for community and has designed systems of accountability into the framework of churches and businesses. Network marketing employs that principle. So, call your upline or your pastor, or your accountability partner and do it regularly.

R — Respect

We learn respect for ourselves by respecting others, We learn respect for others when we reverence and respect God and His handiwork in fashioning people so magnificently. When you look upon one of those polished pieces of iron with arms and legs, you are looking upon the very handiwork of God. You will get sharper by respecting people.

P — Practice

People give us the opportunity to practice principles, to practice our presentations, and to practice our principles. People sharpen people through practice, interaction, conversion, struggle, and shared labor.

Don’t be a loner. If you make the choice to do it all yourself, by yourself, you will suffer unnecessary setbacks and delays. Let other people make you sharper and let them benefit through their association with you as well.

How is Your Fig Tree?

Proverbs 27:18 NIV) says, “He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored.”

This is pretty simple:

  • Do your job.
  • Do your best.
  • Then, do better.

Treat your job, if you still have one, like it is your own business and act in the boss’s interest as if his or her success is yours.

Even if you are trying to retire with all the energy and ingenuity you have during your off hours by building your own empire, do your J-O-B (just over broke) with diligence and be conscientious.

There will be fruit. Sometimes the fruit will grow in places you do not expect, but it will grow and you will eat it.

Of course, once you get your own fig tree, you will get a bigger share.

Counting Sheep

Some people think of counting sheep as a way of falling asleep. I would suggest it as a metaphor for staying awake and alert.

Proverbs 27:23–24 says (NIV),

“Be sure to know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

Your business or ministry will not thrive, grow, and prosper without your attention. Your people will not become all they can be without your help. Your organization will not be protected unless you protect it.

You must pay attention to what has been entrusted to you.

Your network needs your knowledge, and you need to know what is going on.

Technology is your friend. We have phones, e-mail, databases, back offices, and so many tracking tools … but we need to use them.

We cannot assume that everything will take care of itself and that matters will be OK if we ignore them. We need a hands-on approach while trusting people, systems, and the leaders we train. We have to know what is going on with our flocks.

You are a shepherd over your business or ministry. It is your job to care and guide.

Relaxed leadership is fine; disengaged leadership is disastrous. Inattentive and apathetic leadership hurts your entire organization and all the people in it.

Some of the things that require your attention are:

  1. The raw numbers. You need to be tracking the internal trends within your system.
  2. The attitudes and morale of your people. Look for subtleties that need to be addressed before they become problems.
  3. The trends in your industry and in those societal factors that affect and affect your industry and the attitudes of people toward it. don’t be the last to know.
  4. Technological advances and innovations. Don’t be caught off-guard.

These are just a few of the signposts to which you need to pay attention. The bottom line is: PAY ATTENTION!

The rest of the passage (25–27) is a promise:

“25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing, 
 and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk 
 to feed you and your family 
 and to nourish your servant girls.”


Unfair

Unfair

Life is not fair. Thus goes the lament.

Evil people prosper. There is no justice.

That is the lament of those who tag it all with this question:

"Why bother?"

The psalmist cried this often-cried cry and then,

"But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end." (Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)

"Until."

Until he went before God to gain perspective - the perspective of the whole of their lives, the whole of his life, and the vastness of God's purposes.

Some insights are simply unattainable outside the presence of God.

 


Unfair

Unfair

Life is not fair. Thus goes the lament.

Evil people prosper. There is no justice.

That is the lament of those who tag it all with this question:

"Why bother?"

The psalmist cried this often-cried cry and then,

"But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end." (Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)

"Until."

Until he went before God to gain perspective - the perspective of the whole of their lives, the whole of his life, and the vastness of God's purposes.

Some insights are simply unattainable outside the presence of God.

 


Visit Your Memories Often

Slide6

Visit your memories.
Relive them.
Move on.

This has been six years. I had to come to terms with this being my last bike ride. I enjoyed it, but it would be too dangerous for me now. We gave the bike away and I am not allowed to venture far from the house without some mechanical assistance "just in case," but it is good memory of a very happy ride.

What are some of your best memories over the last few years?

 

    

 



You can always visit them.
Relive them.
Move on.
---------------

" I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah"
(Psalm 143:5-6 ESV)-

 

 


Salty Seasonings for Today - A Digest

Have salt in yourselves

Self-conquest is the greatest of all victories." -Socrates


Socrates on self mastery

The power of self-conquest is in its greatest challenge, subjugating our own desires, passions, wants, and needs to something greater than ourselves.

When we can place things in their proper order, we can conquer any challenge.

When we have overcome self and self interest, we will have positioned ourselves for heroism should the need ever arise.

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"The scandalous part of grace is that it is big enough to include both the oppressed and the oppressors."-Shane Claiborne

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"... I will appoint Peace as your overseer and Righteousness as your taskmaster." Isaiah 60:17, NRSV

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In his musings, the psalmist wandered around the dusty trails of his own existence, traversing over his own struggles and victories, glancing upon the outgrowths of wickedness that tormented him and the grace that attended him.
 
He paused to pray a reflective prayer over his fleeting existence for perspective and resolve, assessing his own need of assessment.
 
" “O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

--------------------------------------

"Any time we rejoice in death, we disgrace the cross of Jesus." - Shane Claiborne

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No photo description available.

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Born this day in 1944 – Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, and poet. Happy birthday!

Alice walker


"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men."

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."

"Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet."

"The harm that you do to others is the harm that you do to yourself and you cannot think then that you can cause wars in other parts of the world and destroy people and drone them without this having a terrible impact on your own soul and your own consciousness."

"I think unless the people are given information about what is happening to them, they will die in ignorance. And I think that's the big sin. I mean if there is such a thing as a sin, that's it, to destroy people and not have them have a clue about how this is happening."

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it."

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Born this day in 1847 – Hugh Price Hughes, Welsh-English clergyman and theologian (d. 1902)He was a religious reformer in the Methodist tradition and leader of the "Forward Movement" in Methodism. The movement sought to reshape the Methodist Church as the moral and social conscience of Britain. He expressed discontentment with the notion that evangelical tradition had become overly focused on individual salvation, and it was time for them to become churches in a fuller sense, taking on responsibility for the salvation of society.

He was a leader for temperance and for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts and was a strong advocate for public education and international peace as well as home rule.

Hugh price hughes


"You cannot help being a politician. You cannot live for an hour without being a politician. But what a man generally means when he says that he is not a politician I am afraid is this--that he has been all his life enjoying his political privilege and grossly neglecting his political duties; and in that sense the observation is scarcely to his credit. As a matter of fact, politics, properly understood, is simply Science of Life--the doctrine of the way in which I am to do my duty to my neighbor, which is an essential part of true religion. It is nothing in the world except religion applied to human society; in fact, it is the practical recognition of the Second Table of the Law of God."

"Politics is the only serious subject that men think themselves qualified to act upon without any previous education or instruction whatever. If it happened to be astronomy, or botany, or medicine, or law, he would never be allowed to work in any of these arts, or to take a decisive part in the history of any one of these sciences without having, at least, acquired: the A B C of it; but the awful fact of politics is that we do not take the trouble seriously to understand the political situation."

"Free and just political institutions are absolutely essential to the progress and development both of the individual and of the race."

"What a man generally means when he says that he is not a politician I am afraid is this - that he has been all his life enjoying his political privileges and neglecting his political duties."

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William henry harrison

Born this day in 1773 – The shortest-term President in our history at 31 days - William Henry Harrison, American general and politician, 9th President of the United States (d. 1841). A Virginian, he was the son of Founding Father Benjamin Harrison V and the paternal grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States.
 
He was also the last president born as a British subject in the Thirteen Colonies.
 
He was succeeded by another Virginian, John Tyler.

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If I am going to enjoy righteousness and the pursuit of holiness, I must also understand the pernicious power of the sin that does so easily beset me. I am not immune and you are not immune from The Great Distraction or its destructive persistence. There is a duality to our lives - an authentic self and a false self. I cannot speak of the wicked man without recognizing the phony me who walks around in and desires to rule my body and mind. I can own the reality and reject the rule, but it is a daily deed. As bad as any can be, so can I be! Yet, there is more.
 
"Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil."
(Psalm 36:1-4 ESV)

 

Satchel page overview

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Praying together ...
 
Sometimes, when we cannot find the words or place within our hearts, we pray together ...
Across miles and timelines ...
Across languages and any other barriers to find mutual encouragement and to ...
Meld our prayers with those of others who have so prayed or would have ...
Or might and may and shall .
And to know that we always have at least one strong and true prayer partner means that ...
if we cannot pray well, He knows the secrets of our hearts.
 
 
 
I just love to post this song periodically from different artists and I love Joe Stead. I have a strong eschatology, but it does not preclude a hope for the present and near future based upon the calling we always have to be blessed peacemakers. May we never allow our eschatology to suppress our ecclesiology or to excuse us from our missiology.
 
 
 
No photo description available.
 
 

 


Posted on this Day through the Years

Jene-stephaniuk-Yc1Qi2e1MDs-unsplash

 

Photo by Jené Stephaniuk on Unsplash

 

In remembrance of Martin Buber's  birthday!
 
Born: February 8, 1878, Vienna
 
Died: June 13, 1965, Jerusalem
"It takes a lifetime to learn how to be able to hold your own ground, to go out to the others, to be open to them without losing your ground. And to hold your ground without shutting others out."
 
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."
 
"A person cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human. To become human, is what this individual person, has been created for."
"Play is the exultation of the possible."
 
"Through the Thou a person becomes I."
 
"The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings."
 
"To be old can be glorious if one has not unlearned how to begin."
 
"God wants man to fulfill his commands as a human being and with the quality peculiar to human beings."
 
"Solitude is the place of purification."
- Martin Buber
 
No photo description available.
 
-----------------------
 
Overheard:
Nurse : How are you?
Patient: I'm here, not all there.
Adding that to my repertoire
-----------------------
 

I set urgent goals,
make urgent plans,
play urgent roles,
Pray urgent prayers,
seek urgent interventions for my urgent cares.

God quietly,
silently, patiently hears my cries,
my fears,
my sobbing tears.
God speaks and cage-rattles as silently and patiently to my rage- battles.
And urgency gives way to intentionality ....
And rush to order ...
And I step into a different time-line where all that was slow
Is fast
And all that was fast
Is slow
And everything Is right on time.

"Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!" " Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:7-8 ESV)


Beauty for Beauty's Sake

John Muir quote on breaty

There is great value in beauty for no other reason than the fact that it is beautiful

“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”  -I Chronicles 16:29

The great naturalist, John Muir, once said, :.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. “

If God had not loved beauty so much, he would not have made so much of it.

The earth and the hearts of humans are consumed with glorious beauty and beautiful thoughts, words, melodies, colors, and  visions. Solomon said:

“He hath made everything beautiful in his time.”

There is the beauty of nature around us: flowers and grass, oceans and mountains, trees, rivers and plains, deserts and valleys, and all that God has made on this earth.

There is the beauty of the cosmos. The sun and stars, the planets and open space, all declare the glory of God.

There is the beauty of art. The written word lifts our minds. The spoken word stirs us. Music releases our emotions of love, joy, and pain. Paintings, sculptures, great architecture, and all forms of visual art cause our spirits to soar. All forms of art can express the beauty of human creativity and thus, the handiwork of God in our lives.

There is the beauty of children, the beauty of human love, the beauty of friendship, and the beauty of a sacrificial act of grace and mercy.

There is the beauty of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ and his saving work on the cross.

All of these forms of beauty are healing and nurturing, but more than that, all of these prompt us to worship God whose deepest expression of beauty is God's own holiness.




Beauty for Beauty's Sake

John Muir quote on breaty

The is great value in beauty for no other reason than the fact that it is beautiful

“Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”  -I Chronicles 16:29

The great naturalist, John Muir, once said, :.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. “

If God had not loved beauty so much, he would not have made so much of it.

The earth and the hearts of humans are consumed with glorious beauty and beautiful thoughts, words, melodies, colors, and  visions. Solomon said:

“He hath made everything beautiful in his time.”

There is the beauty of nature around us: flowers and grass, oceans and mountains, trees, rivers and plains, deserts and valleys, and all that God has made on this earth.

There is the beauty of the cosmos. The sun and stars, the planets and open space, all declare the glory of God.

There is the beauty of art. The written word lifts our minds. The spoken word stirs us. Music releases our emotions of love, joy, and pain. Paintings, sculptures, great architecture, and all forms of visual art cause our spirits to soar. All forms of art can express the beauty of human creativity and thus, the handiwork of God in our lives.

There is the beauty of children, the beauty of human love, the beauty of friendship, and the beauty of a sacrificial act of grace and mercy.

There is the beauty of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ and his saving work on the cross.

All of these forms of beauty are healing and nurturing, but more than that, all of these prompt us to worship God whose deepest expression of beauty is God's own holiness.




For the Good of All

Common good

A test of our immersion in and sensitivity to the Spirit, is that, in our work, play, and relations, we act for the good of all. We are a family and that precludes conceit, self-centeredness, and bitterness.

We are called yo work to forgive and restore people who fall, to have a realistic view of our own importance, to bear the burdens of others, but, also, to bear our own.

We are to live in awareness that what we plant in the Spirit, bears eternal fruit and what we plant in the selfish flesh, produced no lasting fruit.

It rots.

The promise of eternal life keeps us from growing weary in well doing. We know that harvest time is coming.

And we labor for the good of all.


Galatians 5:25-6:10
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.

Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.

All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.

Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

We need people to live fully in the Spirit and we need the Spirit to live fully among people. Competition, envy, pride, harshness, laziness, and weary acquiescence in resignation to the current of negative thinking and living are sown seeds of destruction and loss.
 
The life of the Spirit is that joyfully generous sowing of seeds for eternal benefit as we sow them into the lives of others. We need the world and all of its people and we need community of faith in order to have the soil for seed-sowing.
 
We need people to challenge us, stretch us, and bestow us with opportunities to live a life of service in the Spirit. As we live this life in the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, we are refined and others are built up. It is the genius of God and the genesis of eternal bliss.
 
Galatians 5:25-6:10 (NRSV
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

You Are the Laboratory for Your Greatest Ideas

Demonstration labs

We are demonstration laboratories for the truth that we embrace, internalize, and profess. 

What we add is conviction, attitude, and action. 

These gather under the broad yet specific category of faith. 

They, in turn, by the grace and power of God, contribute the twin evidences of credibility and authenticity through the thin filter of transparency. 

Our struggles are the testing grounds where the quality of our truth is either refined or shown to be faulty. 

One of life's goal, at this stage, and every stage is to authenticate and verify, as credible, the core Truth of my life that I have chosen to follow. 

I am weak, but God is able.

God wait for my resolve to do and to be what I believe in doing and being.

The world is waiting to see it so that it can be evaluated.

Does what we teach work?

Our lives are the laboratories for our declarations of truth.

Do we possess what we profess?

Can it translate to the real world?

These are questions that can become a template for our witness, our marketing, our sales, and our pitch decks. Whatever we promote requires a proof of concept. Whatever we pitch needs a demonstration.

Our lives and lifestyles are first in a long line of proofs of concept and life-demonstrations.

If I were coaching or mentoring around this concept, as simple as it is, I might ask some probing questions.

  1. Can you give me an elevator presentation of your mission in life?
  2. 2. Can you give me such a presentation for this project?
  3. What have you invested in it materially, or in terms of your reputation, time, energy, resources, or influence?
  4. If what you value and are asking me to value does not come into fulfillment in your life or in your community, what will be the emotional cost in your life?
  5. How do you feel when others see your passion and the reason for it?
  6. How do you feel as you imagine others buying into your vision?
  7. What are you willing to sacrifice to see your vision realized?

Contribute questions of your own to this list.

If you are coaching another person, use them. If not, use them on yourself. Coach yourself with them.


We Win

Malachi
Malachi 3:1-4

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight-- indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Malachi gives us plenty to chew on.

Here are some bites I am taking:

Sometimes it is confusing to sort the good from the evil. It is not really our job.

But God says there will come a day when it will be very obvious who serves God and who does not.

We might even be a little vague in our understanding of ourselves as we compartmentalize our lives. We think we are serving in this area, but not in another. We name some activity in our lives and designate it as something that honors the Lord.

But maybe it is more self-serving than we think.

We might dismiss some menial task we do as not worthy of God. Yet, it is this that pleases Him most.

We might be equally confused about people as a whole.

Stubble is what has no substance in our lives, Arrogance and evil burn away in the heat of God's righteous judgment. Nothing is left of them. Pray for that heat to come early in your life. You don't need the stubble.

The hotness of God's wrath will be manifest to His people differently. The sun of righteousness rises with healing in its wings.

We bounce like young calves with the joy of new life.

We tread down the wicked who oppress.

We win.


Something to do

Doing nothing is sheer torture.

We are motivated to be motivated and are on a quest to find what motivates us most.

Significance, conquest, purpose, overcoming, solving problems.

These are activities that motivated us to greater work and conquest. These are factors that drive us to deeper commitment. These are challenges that keep us in the game.

If they work for me and they work for you, how about building them into your organization or team as a part of your culture? How might assessing the question of what it is that triggers passion among your people bring your group together to do more and be more.

"Self-conquest is the greatest of all victories." -Socrates

The power of self-conquest is in its greatest challenge, subjugating our own desires, passions, wants, and needs to something greater than ourselves.

When we can place things in their proper order, we can conquer any challenge.

When we have overcome self and self interest, we will have positioned ourselves for heroism should the need ever arise.

"They laboriously do nothing." - Seneca

People are getting weary if they are doing nothing or doing much and accomplishing little or nothing.

You can wear yourself out and wear out your team with a lack of purpose.

It is never easy to do nothing.

It takes great effort.

In the avoidance of work there is backbreaking toil.

It is easier just to decide to get up and do something.

Then in doing something, we shall gain much ... if only rest from the labors of doing nothing.

"Enjoy your life without comparing it with that of another." - Condorset

People are not looking for rank. They are looking for that undefined "something" that says, "This was a day worthwhile. I accomplished something. I gained something."

No comparison with others is necessary.

Out of my faith tradition comes three statements that reinforce the answer to any tension between comfort, ease, rest, and a drive to accomplish more.

"...godliness with contentment is great gain." - I Timothy 6:6
"The fear of the Lord leads to life. Then one rests content, untouched by trouble." - Proverbs 19:23
"... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11

Clearly there is something about this business of contentment.

Contentment is not laziness. It is not disengagement. It is not a life without goals and challenges. It is a life with attainable goals, a desire for personal best, and a reason for every activity.

Once we gain contentment, we can reach beyond ourselves to realize our dreams. That is because we are whole without that which we do not yet have and fulfilled in the quest to become more than we are.

We learn to love the journey.

We love the challenges.

We love the rest at the end of the day.

We love the rewards that we give to ourselves.

We love the conviction that we have lived with conviction and have fulfilled our purpose for the day. We even love the tasks that we have to move to the next day from today's to-do list because there were just not enough hours.

Organizations can develop the kind of culture that nurtures such thinking. Coaches and mentors, along with supervisors can promote it, encourage it, and reward it.

Perhaps you already know how you might implement this philosophy into your leadership. I welcome your practical ideas in the comments..

Here are a few off the top of my head:

  1. In your staff meetings, make "why we do what we do" a matter of conversation for part of every meeting.
  2. Tell stories in walk-around, coaching or mentoring sessions, meetings, newsletters, and emails about the difference that your work has made in the lives of people and communities.
  3. Feature outstanding examples of people on the team or in your circle of influence who have gone beyond what was expected of them to accomplish more and create an impact.
  4. Ask, "How can we do this better?"
  5. Ask, "Are we on task?" and "Are we in danger of mission-drift?" and "Do we need to correct our priorities in any way?" All of these questions are designed to undergird the purpose of everyone's work and the organization's mission.
  6. Stop by workstations just to find a reason to pay a complement, offer support, answer questions, show interest, or engage with your team members.
  7. Send out emails to some of the people you work with. Do some of these daily. Make them personal. Focus on something they are doing and how if promotes the overall significance of the project.
  8. Take and display pictures of team members in action.
  9. Share "clippings," social media posts, news items, quotes, and videos where your team members or clients are being featured.
  10. Show pride in the people with whom you work.

There is much more, but a brainstorm of ten is a great place to start.

It is your turn to brainstorm.

Help your clients and team members to grow, to experience self-conquest, and to learn the art of contentment with deep motivation to do and be more.

Then, find a coach or mentor who can do that for you.

 

From Start to Finish

The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Author and Finisher of Faith

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …”  Hebrews 12:2

This verse tells us who Jesus is and what our response to Him must be. He is the author of faith. Faith originates with Him in its content of our faith and in our capacity to embrace it and live it.  Our response is to look unto Him.

Look unto Jesus, to turn every distraction of the world into an attraction for our response to Him. Looking to Jesus is not a passive, passing glance of recognition, but an act of wholehearted seeking whereby we exercise stillness and movement at the same time.

Looking unto Jesus involves every dimension of who we are: intellectually, physically, relationally, spiritually, emotionally, and socially. We cannot seek Him from a position of indifference or from a heart of cynicism. It must be the primary activity of our life to look unto Jesus.

But you ask, “How?” and it is a dangerous question to answer.

It is dangerous because any answer might be a formula, and this is not a matter of following a formula. Seeking Jesus is a state of mind and heart. It is a predisposition. It is an approach to everything we do, think, and feel.

Nevertheless, there are some pointers that we are given.

We encounter the written Word of God in the scriptures. So that is a place of seeking. We commune with Him in prayer, so that is another. We are called to see Him in others, so we might look unto Him in our relationships.

The same is true for opportunities to serve, songs of worship, the glories of creation, the arts, and every other thing we see, hear, or experience. The call is to look unto Him in everything.

As we look unto Him, He completes our faith.

 

Comment on the Art - from the National Gallery:

In the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Virtues were often personified by human figures carrying identifying attributes. Faith in this case had a chalice and a cross, now broken. As represented by Mino da Fiesole, a contemporary of Desiderio da Settignano and Antonio Rossellino, Faith and a companion piece Charity appear as slender young girls in clinging, layered gowns with fine pleats. Their heavy mantles are carved in distinctive, angular folds. Typical of Mino's style is the fine, precise, sharp-edged treatment of textile folds and locks of hair, giving these features an ornamental quality different from the softer approach of Desiderio and Antonio Rossellino.

Set in arched niches, the figures must have been intended as part of a monument combining architecture and sculpture, probably a wall tomb inside a church. The Virtues would represent reasons for the deceased person's good memory on earth and hopes for Paradise.

Faith and Charity stand on bases treated as little banks of clouds, as if they were already in heaven themselves. Hope, the third theological Virtue mentioned in Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, might have completed such a group.


From Start to Finish

The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Author and Finisher of Faith

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …”  Hebrews 12:2

This verse tells us who Jesus is and what our response to Him must be. He is the author of faith. Faith originates with Him in its content of our faith and in our capacity to embrace it and live it.  Our response is to look unto Him.

Look unto Jesus, to turn every distraction of the world into an attraction for our response to Him. Looking to Jesus is not a passive, passing glance of recognition, but an act of wholehearted seeking whereby we exercise stillness and movement at the same time.

Looking unto Jesus involves every dimension of who we are: intellectually, physically, relationally, spiritually, emotionally, and socially. We cannot seek Him from a position of indifference or from a heart of cynicism. It must be the primary activity of our life to look unto Jesus.

But you ask, “How?” and it is a dangerous question to answer.

It is dangerous because any answer might be a formula, and this is not a matter of following a formula. Seeking Jesus is a state of mind and heart. It is a predisposition. It is an approach to everything we do, think, and feel.

Nevertheless, there are some pointers that we are given.

We encounter the written Word of God in the scriptures. So that is a place of seeking. We commune with Him in prayer, so that is another. We are called to see Him in others, so we might look unto Him in our relationships.

The same is true for opportunities to serve, songs of worship, the glories of creation, the arts, and every other thing we see, hear, or experience. The call is to look unto Him in everything.

As we look unto Him, He completes our faith.

 

Comment on the Art - from the National Gallery:

In the art of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Virtues were often personified by human figures carrying identifying attributes. Faith in this case had a chalice and a cross, now broken. As represented by Mino da Fiesole, a contemporary of Desiderio da Settignano and Antonio Rossellino, Faith and a companion piece Charity appear as slender young girls in clinging, layered gowns with fine pleats. Their heavy mantles are carved in distinctive, angular folds. Typical of Mino's style is the fine, precise, sharp-edged treatment of textile folds and locks of hair, giving these features an ornamental quality different from the softer approach of Desiderio and Antonio Rossellino.

Set in arched niches, the figures must have been intended as part of a monument combining architecture and sculpture, probably a wall tomb inside a church. The Virtues would represent reasons for the deceased person's good memory on earth and hopes for Paradise.

Faith and Charity stand on bases treated as little banks of clouds, as if they were already in heaven themselves. Hope, the third theological Virtue mentioned in Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, might have completed such a group.


On the Sea

Sea of G boat

"And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples..."

This raises an interesting question that I will return to in a few paragraphs.

For me and for today, the big phrase in this morning's gospel portion is this phrase:


"I have compassion for the crowd..."


He was concerned that they were hungry and would not make it home in good health.

So, he immediately formulated a strategy and involved his inner circle in solving the problem, calling upon the power of Eternity to make up for what resources they might have lacked.

Then he got into a boat.

Here is another statement that I often overlook.

It seems that, while in Galilee, Jesus often traveled by boat and would just get in the boat.

Where did the boat come from?

Did he hire it, rent it, borrow it, or own it?

I think, I would like to imagine that it was a part of the mini-fleet from the business that Andrew and Simon Peter left behind.

I like to imagine that when they became disciples of Jesus, the resources that they had were available to the God-Movement and that there was always a boat ready for Jesus and the disciples.

What resources from your life and work have you brought to the God-Movement?

Are they available to Jesus at a Moment's notice?

Someone made fish and bread available, but there was also, that boat.


Mark 8:1-10
In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat."

"If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way-- and some of them have come from a great distance."

His disciples replied, "How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?"

He asked them, "How many loaves do you have?"

They said, "Seven."

Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd.

They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed.

They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.

Now there were about four thousand people.

And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

(Note, I took this picture at a port on the Sea of Galilee)

 


On Being Your Real You. And semi-related thoughts | by Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas | Jan, 2024 | Medium

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Living, itself, is a testimonial to others.Just living is harder for some folks. Those who continue to press forward, live as a source of courage for the rest of us. God knows who can be trusted to live openly & with joy on the wheel of suffering. Only God can measure the results.

Why is it that the same sort of shooting, bombing, and explosive violence we abhor in reality, we seek out and cheer in our entertainment? Then we are surprised when someone is unable or unwilling to see the dividing line.


Heal

Healing

"Heal the sick."

We were told what to do, not how to do it. All we got was this:

"Freely you have received; freely give."

The big hint, then is, that we have received something that, when we give it away, brings healing, resurrection, liberation, and cleansing to hurting people in a broken world.

The Master didn't say to spend endless hours figuring it out. We learn as we go and grow. He said, "Get started on your journey."

So, let's go.


Last to Die

Nolde

 

On this day in history, in 1973, as the Paris Peace Accords were bringing the war to an end, Colonel William Benedict Nolde became the last official American combat casualty of the Vietnam War.

He was the 45,914th confirmed death and 57,597th in the total list of Americans killed during the conflict.

Eleven hours later, the cessation of hostilities began.

Nolde was a professor of military science at Central Michigan University before joining the army.