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I Love You! Be Blessed

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
I Love you!
To my Republican friends: I love you.
To my Democratic friends: I love you.
To my Libertarian friends: I love you (and I want you to know that it is of my own free will)
To my atheist friends: I love you (and yes, I do think you have a moral center and some valuable ideas - many)
To my Christian friends: I love you, but some of you need to act a little more like Jesus. And some of you are so much like Him that you put me to shame. But you really are family and I need to act a lot more like Him too - and because we are family, we can talk tough love with each other.
To my Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, New Age, and everything else friends - I love you.
And some of you teach me a few things about how to be a better Jesus-follower.
I love my friends here and in 3-D.
It really does not matter whether or not we agree on anything. If we can make this kind of "meeting" of differing minds work here, maybe Congress could try it.
No one ever has to give up their convictions in order to love and respect and even, like people with entirely different views.
Respect for others does not mean you reject what you believe. It means you are confident enough in what you believe not to be threatened.
So, be free to share freely. I am and I will. What a wonderful opportunity we have to understand each other better and share our deepest beliefs.
Be Blessed
Times are tough.
You are tougher. Face the times.
Life is hard.
You are resilient. Keep moving forward.
The future is uncertain.
God is already there. Do not be afraid.
Hope is a rare commodity.
Hope is within the grasp of your imagination. Let it soar.
Money is scarce.
You have all you need in a seed. Plant it and watch it grow.
You are discouraged.
There is a great dream within you. Feed it, follow it, fulfill it.
You deeply desire a blessing.
Be a blessing.
You lack courage.
Encourage someone else.
You have nothing left to give.
Give what only God can supply.
You are frightened of failure.
Risk everything to be all you can be.
These are not idle words.
This is how you must live if you will live above your circumstances.
Weighing all possible outcomes of the choices you can make right now, to do nothing, risk nothing, and give nothing will insure that nothing will come back to you.
You will be a success in the art of failure by default.
However, if you risk extending yourself, you may also fail, but you will fail with the satisfaction of trying and with all the lessons you can only learn by climbing out on a limb.
But you might also succeed. Out on that limb, when circumstances cut it from under you, you may discover that you can fly.
You'll never find out without taking the big risk.

Where Do I Start Writing?



Start Writing

Keep Writing





I once called writing excruciating joy. It is the hardest work you will ever love, but it is a purposeful activity, and it is a rewarding activity. And for those who are hardwired to be writers, it is not an option. You write because you must write, and you write with purpose. The big question first is, what should I write about? Write about what you know, your own experiences, your own observations, your life, your beliefs, your journey.

Write what you know, and you will always be the authority on that. There are things that you care deeply about. Write about those things. It will engage your emotions. It will give you a voice. It will make you believable. Write what you care about. Don’t bother wasting your time with things that cannot engage you, that have no meaning to you. Write with your heart, right? With vision. Write what you can see in your mind.

Write about things that you can visualize that are picturesque for you. This will unlock the part of your mind, uh, where you can use picturesque language, where you can be vivid in your description of whatever it is in your heart. If you can see it, then you can write with vision about it perhaps is a soundtrack to what you want to write. You hear the music, you feel the dance. There is poetry.

More:  via www.linkedin.com

Just start and then, never stop. Here are some ideas to get you to the starting line.

First, you begin.
Then, you continue.
Finally, you never stop.

You Are Not Discarded


Jonah 3:1
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you."

Jonah might have considered it an honor and a privilege for the word of the Lord to come to him once.

Instead, he was blinded by hatred, prejudice, and reluctance. After all, God was asking him to preach to a bitter enemy that had proved its propensity for ruthlessness and violence against his people.

Jonah knew God well and knew God to be merciful and relenting in judgment. He did not want to take the risk that the people of Nineveh would hear the message of judgment, repent, and be forgiven by a gracious God.

So, he ran away, but God caught him.

That is another part of the same story.

Then, the word, the call, the summons came again.

For that word to come to us once is a major thing. For it to come twice is a sign of God's persistence in purpose and God's patience with us. God had as much mercy for Jonah as for the people of Nineveh.

Whatever your failure or rebellion, God still has a role for you in the Kingdom of Love.


Art: Walters Manuscript W.534, fol. 38v -- Illustrated Books of Hours in Greek are extremely rare. This example is also of interest because its miniatures show interaction between the Late Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. It may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the fifteenth century was ruled by Venice. 15th century

Oh My Soul! Selections from Psalm 103 for Lent

Blessing God


We Are Dust.

Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash

“Bless the Lord, O my soul … and all that is within me …” Psalms 103:1


Audacity and capacity are issues that are triggered by this prayer as it is suggested to us.  It is audacious to think that we could somehow bless God. Yet, He has given us the capacity to be a blessing to His heart.

We bless God when we worship Him. He delights in our praises. He enjoys our singing and our words of adoration. He looks beyond the superficial and relishes our heart devotion as we come to Him.

He is blessed by our love response as we receive His love and return it to Him in obedience, faith, and love for our fellow human beings.

We can bless God with our words, deeds, and emotions, but God is most blessed when our lives are completely engaged in love for Him – loving Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. He is blessed when we remind ourselves to bless Him and when we follow through with everything that is within us.

What is within you today? Not all of it is positive, but when you offer it to God, He is blessed because He can take it and transform it for His own purposes. Nor is everything within you negative. You cannot be the judge of that. All you can do is commit everything within you to His glory and allow Him to sort I out. It is His holy Name that must be honored, and His holiness is all that can make our lives holy and acceptable as offerings of worship.

In the process, He is blessed. And that is what counts.

Days as Grass

“As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.” – Psalm 103:15

For our season, whatever it may be, we flourish. Then comes the wind and we are gone. Soon, the very memory of our lives fades from the consciousness of our successors and we are thought of no more.

Such a thought might be deemed depressing were it the whole story.

The rest of the story teaches us that from everlasting to everlasting, God’s love is a constant toward us. His covenant people are never forgotten.

It goes on to tell us that God’s throne is never abandoned and that He rules over all.

He it is, according to Psalm 103, who forgives all our sin.

It is He who heals our diseases. Not one of them disappears apart from His wise intervention or creative genius.

He redeems our lives, crowns us love and compassion, satisfies, renews, and administers justice.

How comfortable it would be for us to remain as a grassy flowering meadow, but that is not the way of life. We come and go. Soon we will fade.

Our privilege and responsibility is to bloom in every place we are planted for as long as it is springtime in our lives. It is to be as inwardly beautiful for God as we can be for as many days as we can and to move through the seasons of life with grace and trust.

We may not always be green, but we shall always be loved.

From Psalm 103 NRSV

As a father cares for his children, *
so does the Lord care for those who fear him.

For he himself knows whereof we are made; *
he remembers that we are but dust.

Our days are like the grass; *
we flourish like a flower of the field.

Tender Love

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. - Psalm 103:13

The love of God is a tender love.

It is a father’s love.

It is a patient love, understanding, compassionate, forgiving, and gracious.

The love of God for His children moves Him to desire what is best for us, what brings us closer to Him, and what develops in us the character that is in Him.

God’s love for us as His children is consistent, persistent, and generous.

He never fails us. He is always present and always true.

Like any father, He wants His children to grow and mature. He wants us to make good and wise choices and honor our family name. He offers us His support, guidance, and correction to that end.

God’s love is real. For that reason, it is sometimes a tough love, a love that can say “no” and mean it, but a love that delights in every opportunity to say, “YES!”

God, our Father, rejoices with us, weeps with us, and loves us even when we are unlovable.

That is because we are never unlovable to Him.

Mostly, God, our tender, loving Father carries us on His shoulders and lifts us so that we might become more, through Him, than we could ever imagine on our own.


On This Day in February


Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash


On this day, 10 years ago, I journaled,

Leaving early to explore the mysteries of an uncharted day with great possibilities, a few challenges, lots of opportunities, and countless ideas to process and tasks to complete.

I wondered what I was doing and I looked  back at my calendar. It turned out I was speaking to a senior club called "The Mariners" at a local restaurant.

The rest of what I did that day remains a mystery to me.

But on other days, I made some journal entries.

I rejoiced in the opportunity of installing and ordaining a new pastor.


I reminded myself and others to stop looking for heroes and be a hero.

I saw, as I often do, irony in the headlines that referred to a mass killer as "cooperative" with police. Sometimes I wish I could get my tongue out of my cheek.

They call him, "cooperative." What does that mean? Is he a nice mass murderer as opposed to one of those terrorists or foreigners? Everyone who shoots a lot of people is a terrorist. They create terror. That is terrorism. And none of them are sane - no matter what color or nationality they are. I do not care what the legal definitions of sanity are and this has nothing to do with taking responsibility. We can never say that taking lives is sane. We cannot allow that to be normal, from spousal abusers, from gang bangers, from terrorists, or from anyone. They have all bought in, intentionally or not, to the insanity of the devaluation of life. We have gone "crazy."

Eleven years ago, I unplugged:

My phone's battery is dead and the charger is at home. I am out until bedtime. So ... leave me a message. Blessings!

I reflected on scripture:

I was encouraged by the Psalms!

I was reminded that no matter how old you get, you can dance for joy.

So, I danced for joy!

I reflected upon some powerful quotes:

"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith. "- Margaret Shepherd

"Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid." - Albert Schweitzer

"Everything that a person can possibly feel, experience, and say is brought into expression before God in the Psalms. "- Eugene Peterson

I remembered a soul who, only in recent years, have I come to fully appreciate:

On this day in 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated.
Malcolm X/Quotes:
No photo description available.
Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
At his funeral, Ossie David said, "There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—‌and we will smile. Many will say turn away—‌away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—‌and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—‌a fanatic, a racist—‌who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.… And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves."
We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, my brothers and sisters—Plymouth Rock landed on us.
The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.
You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality.
Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.
Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.
I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.
Without education, you are not going anywhere in this world.
I considered some history:
No photo description available.
On this day in 1828 – Initial issue of the Cherokee Phoenix is the first periodical to use the Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoyah.
The Cherokee Phoenix is the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States and the first published in a Native American language.
Sequoyah, or George Guess (or Gist), was born the son of a Virginian fur trader and the daughter of a Cherokee chief in the village of Tuskegee, Tennessee. Around 1809, he began work on the development of a writing system, and 12 years later produced the finished results.
Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) is a Southern Iroquoian language spoken mainly in North Carolina and Arkansas.
According to the 2018 Cherokee Nation Tribal Survey there are 1,200 speakers of Cherokee in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, 217 speakers in the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina, and 101 speakers in the United Keetoowah Band of Oklahoma and Arkansas
Sequoyah Biography by Thomas Bierowski - http://www.lehigh.edu/~ejg1/natimag/Tommy.html
And, I assume, I went to bed at the end of the day.


Enough of It All - Move and Pray!


Photo by Meg Jenson on Unsplash

Enough with the hand wringing.
Enough with the despair.
Enough waiting for someone else to have enough faith ...
Enough to change the world ...
Enough ...

Enough waiting on Republicans or Democrats or Independents.
Enough waiting on public opinion.

Enough complaining and waiting and procrastinating as governments do ...
What they do best ...
And worst ...
Wait and do nothing ...
Or worse ...

Enough passive hope and more active hoping.
Enough finger-pointing, shouting down, name-calling ...

Today, the little faith we have is what we bring to our active cry.
That little faith says the impossible and ...
Activates the impossible.

"Move, mountain of hate!"
"Move, mountain of fear!"
"Move, mountain of injustice!"
"Move, mountain of oppressive sin!"
"Move, mountain of terror, intimidation, bigotry, and torment."
"Move, mountain of convulsing hopelessness."

Our faith is small, but ..
What faith we have, we bring to this mountain and cry, "Move!"

Do something bold today.

Get Moving. Others Will Follow

No one is going to come along with you until you start moving.

Now one is going to see it, get it, or understand it until you live it and demonstrate it.

Do not wait for a vote of your peers or critics to start living a life of faith, compassion, or obedience to God.

If you are going to follow Jesus, it will be a counter cultural move.

Do not expect applause or ease.

Do expect to be called names -- it does not matter which ones.

You may be called a "liberal" by some or a "fundy" by others.

Forget it and move on. Some will call you fascist and others, a communist.

Neither will be true and it still does not matter.

They do not get it. They cannot get it. They have never seen it.
It is a different paradigm.

You are neither liberal nor conservative and you are, at the same time, both.

Let them scratch their heads in utter confusion over you.

You are like the wind that blows here and there, said Jesus, moved by the Spirit.

Let the Spirit move you and hear the word, "Move!"

No one is going to come along with you until you start moving ...

But ...
Once you start moving ...
Some will.

They are just people ...
They need to see it to get it.

Don't judge them... just do what you were called to do ...

Follow Jesus.

Lord of this morning,
Light of this day,
Master of the darkness that daily dies,
God of night and light and all that is,
I come ...
Empty handed, I come.
I bring to the morning and the day, nothing,
Nothing, but me ...myself .... my self,
Undone, unfettered, unconditionally empty.
I come.

Our Father ....

My loved one's Father .... Ours ...
Father of my dearest friends and most adamant enemies if I have any ....
Ours ... Father of the nations scattered,
Father of the stranger ...
Ours ....

Hallowed be Thy Name.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God Almighty. Thy name is Holy.
Thy Name ... vast, uncontainable, unfathomable, yet ...
Revealed to us as "I Am."
You ARE ... Hallowed be THY NAME.

Thy Kingdom ...

Thy rule .... Thy dominating, liberating, rejuvenating Kingdom of Love, of Life, of Wonder ...
I come. Thy Kingdom Come ...
Come to this house, to this body, to my church, my city, my nation ...
My world.
WE come, OUR Father ...
Send forth Thy Kingdom in us and through us.

Thy Will,

That which we know in part, in tiny part, Thy will, perfect and all-knowing will of grace and power, of holiness and kindness,
Thy will be DONE!!!
Start here and now with me, Oh God.

Straighten up my calendar. Schedule my appointments. Prepare my words. Master my thoughts. Guide me in Thy paths. Thy will be done.

On earth

... on the ground upon which we walk as in Heaven.
Heaven! "Eye hath not seen, nor ear hear, neither hath it entered into the heart of man ..." what You have prepared for us who love you.
Heaven! Your will! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

Give us, this day, our daily bread ....
As You have every day of our lives.
Thank you!

And you will again! Thank You!I trust you. I don't know how you are going to do it ...
And I am not sure when, but You always provide.
Thank you.

And You are OUR Father, so,
So, Dear God ...
Daily bread of healing for my friends who are sick ...
I name them before You...
For those in prison....
In distress....
On the streets ....
Struggling with decisions ...
Burdened with depression ....
Tortured for their faith ...
On battlefields ...
On mission fields .....
Just far afield ....

And those waiting for a word of encouragement ... maybe from me ...

And those waiting to hear the good news of repentance possible in Your Kingdom of turn-rounds ...

And those ...
Lost in a wilderness of ambiguity.
You are our provider.
You provide for Your work and for Your people.

Thank You.

And lead us not into temptation ....
Not that you would lead us into it...
It is a jungle out there and there are many snares.
We need You to handle some of those for us and the rest ...
In us and through us.
People are tripping up all the time, discrediting Your name and work.
I could, God forbid, be one of those.
I am weak and susceptible to temptation.
Deliver me for Thy Names' sake.

Give us strength and deliver us from evil.
I will not be preoccupied with such. You are my deliverance.
I will not fear for You, Oh Lord are able to ....
Deliver us from evil.

And again I ask ... lead me away from those snares that have snare us in the past ...
Lead us away in the future You have prepared for us ...
And handle any evil that may threaten me.

Thine is the kingdom! It is not mine ...
Except that Your Son has invited me to participate.
Thine is the Power ...
And You have shared much of that with me!

Thank You! I praise Your Name!

Thine is the Glory!!!!

Glory!!!! Glory!!!! Glory !!!!

And this part amazes me Lord of Amazing things ....
FOREVER .... and ever ... and ever .....

And I pray in the Name of the One who taught me to pray this way ...
And teaches me daily ...
And today ...
In Jesus' Name.

Come Home


Photo by Catherine Kay Greenup on Unsplash

“And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”  – Deuteronomy 6:9

“Come to the church by the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale”

– Dr. William S. Pitts (1857)

There is something in our past to which we ought to return. It is not for the sake of empty nostalgia or sentimental musing, but for realignment that we need to come to such a place.

Some years ago, I reopened the doors of an abandoned church. On the walls and doorposts were reminders of days gone by when, in that place, the Word of God was proclaimed. Children were taught to memorize scripture there. The love of God had been impressed upon their hearts. Men and women had met Christ and had their lives changed in that very place.

It is in homes and home churches that such altars once stood and, at every turn, the Word was reinforced and reaffirmed.

We must return from time to time to that place in the geography of the land or that of our hearts where we revisit the ancient stones and remember what we ought to have never forgotten.

Twice, when tempted, Jesus quoted from this very chapter to stand against the wiles of the devil. His earthly parents had written the law upon the posts and the gates of their home, and he had learned his Father’s Word well.

Tradition is about remembering the living, present activity of things that happened in the past.

It is about keeping the faith alive that brought us through the dark times and into the light..

May we do the same for our children and may we return to do the same for the child within us.

They day will come when we will need them to remind us and lead us from slavery to freedom or from the wilderness to the Promised Land


Come home to faith and may your faith take you wherever you must go until you come to rest where you will truly be at rest forever.

Come home to God.

Come Home!



Two You Might Have Missed


Photo by Bret Kavanaugh on Unsplash

In the 80s, I was introduced to hospice through the Vesper Society. As President Jimmy Carter enters Hospice Care, I am reminded of what a gift hospice is to those who are traveling their last miles and to their families.

Hospice allows people a dignity that hospital and curative care denies them.

It emphasizes living over the avoidance of death.  READ MORE.


Just Start Typing

Are you stuck?

Are you out of ideas?

You do not know what to write or where to start. Is that a fair statement?

OK. Let me give you a hand.

Open your word processor in another window and start typing.

Typing what?

I am glad you asked.

Try this: READ MORE

Blame Few; Praise Many


Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

It is human, far too human or less than what we aspire to be as humans, to deny our humanity. With humanity comes the dignity of responsibility for our own choice.

We take a risk knowing that things could go well or not so well. But we calculate the risk and take it with the understanding that the outcome will land in our lap. We will have no one to blame if it foes poorly. Great risk-takers are not great blamer-givers.

How odd that so many surrender their dignity in a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility.]

Some of our risks are not calculated. They have little potential long-term benefit, even in best case scenarios. They are simply poor choices from the start.

They may be obviously poor.

There is a strange commentary on this side of humanity in the biblical Apocalypse;

" ... People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds." - - Revelation 16:10-11 (ESV)

We see no relationship, in our addictive blindness, between our persistent choices and our consistent consequences. We swim in the river of denial cursing God or the universe, or the people out to get us rather than changing our course to float with the flow of grace.

How odd.

What are we to do?

First, we could decide to make better choices. what a concept! We could actually take the time to think through our moves and words before we make or utter them. what sort of difference would it make to seek and consider good advice? What would it cost to take a moent and think?

Next, we could practice taking responsibility for our choices. It is helpful if we do not insist on always being right or smelling like a rose. A little humility helps. A lot of humility helps even more. Humor tastes good on top of humility and brings out the best flavors of it.

Then, we could try reflecting and learning from our choices and consequences. Frankly, some things that did not turn out well were possibly the best choices to make given the information. Responsibility does not require self-condemnation. But all circumstances are apart of the curriculum of life.

Finally, realize that when things go well, you had some help. Be grateful and acknowledge those who have helped you, taught you, advised you, and encouraged you along the way.

Blame few; Praise many.

There is great power in a moment well done.
Moments create momentum without being obvious or ostentatious.
Momentous moments motion us over and envelop us like a cloud and then ...
Pass over.
Missing moments is a mournful sorrow.
Magnificent moments multiply in some invisible space called influence, but ...
Muddling moments may move us on to the next and the next and the next ...
Move in and with the moment or meddle with the muck.
Lots of luck with that ...
Rather, just be in that moment and be what you are intended to be for you ...
You were made for this moment and ...
This moment was made for you.
Who knows what it will bring to you and more ...
What it will bring through you and by that, I mean ...
But KNOW that NO moment well lived is ever lost and
Nothing, nothing, nothing is ever lost to God.

On the Mountain of Transfiguration


Exodus 24:12-18

The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction."

So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.

To the elders he had said, "Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them."

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.

The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud.

Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Moses, very much a priestly figure who stood between the people in God and represented God to the people and the people to God as a priest, was not able to move them into the messianic age of, uh, a kingdom as a king. And that would come much later with David, and David would take on that figure. But David was also limited David in Psalm two and other places that subscribes God, uh, in terms of, uh, wrath and fire and glory.

But David could not perform the priestly functions. He was some very strong stories about that. For instance, David could not build the temple. So David was the political leader who becomes the picture of a coming kingdom as well, a messianic role, but with limitations. Moses was presumably buried by God. The people did not bury him. David was buried. And at some point people knew where that grave was. Then comes Elijah.

He's the unburied one as well. He goes off into the wilderness and he meets a fiery chariot. He meets the glory of God in a fire. But that fire and that chariot takes him before the very throne of God. Elijah is the figure of the prophetic, uh, tradition. Elijah represents the prophets. He was not a priest, he was not a king. He was a preacher. He would tell fourth the word of the Lord and remind people of the law and point people to God and offer both a message of judgment and of hope.

You have these three figures, uh, David and Elijah and Moses representing prophet priest and messianic king. And then one day, one day, Jesus,  senses the need to take three of his disciples to a mountain. And there on the mountain, he is transfigured before him, before them. And they see Moses and Elijah and Jesus having a conversation. He might ask, well, where's David? Well, David is the, the king, the messianic king, and is represented by Jesus.

Jesus has assumed that role and is bringing together the prophet and the priest as well. And in the Christ event, you have the prophetic, the priestly, and the messianic kingly. The kingdom of God has come together. Of course, Jesus is buried in a borrowed grave, borrowed grave. There was  no need for him to be permanently buried subsequent to all of that. So you find Jesus meeting with two men who were limited in their roles.

Here is a preview of the kingdom of God. Listen to the scripture this morning from Matthew 17, one through nine, six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And while he was transfigured before them and his face shown like the son and his clothes became dazzling white, suddenly there appeared to them, Moses and Elijah talking with him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, it's good for us to be here if you wish. I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah. While he was speaking suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. And from the cloud, a voice said, this is my son, the beloved with him, I am well. Please listen to him. Listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.

Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"

When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid."

And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

That was an overpowering glory. And the natural reaction of the disciples who saw this great, great cloud and wanted to capture the moment was, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. They were overcome by fear. But his voice says, don't be afraid. Natural inclination when we meet something greater than ourselves, something overpowering because we're losing our power. That is a false power, a false sense of power. And we realized we're not in control is fear.

But Jesus says, don't be afraid. Get up, rather. And they looked up and then they saw no one but Jesus alone, you see everything else, he'd come together. By then, prophet priest King had come together in Christ, the prophet, the priest, the king, the embodiment of the kingdom of God, the reign of God.

Verse nine says, and they were coming down from the mountain. Jesus ordered them tell no one about the vision until after the son of man has been raised from the dead.

There is a presumption here that the final event of the passion, the resurrection, is the only thing that'll help anybody understand this, make sense of it and carry on what needs to be carried on. Now, there is a time when a little boost is needed and all of the three chosen disciples had experienced, ha had brought them to the place of need of this mountain experience. And they were about to experience something that they needed and that would be in their memories for the rest of their lives.

One asked that Jesus need the moment for what he was about to face. Well, he took the, the men to the mountain of transfiguration and only they would witness this event. We hear about it, they would witness it, they would question it. They would revel in it. They would reflect upon it. And later on, as it began to settle in what had really happened that day, they would tell about it. They would tell the story for the rest of their lives.

Not everybody can get your story of your encounter with God. And sometimes you have to determine when it's the right time to share it. And rather than wearing it on your shoulder, Paul talked about, uh, uh, being, uh, caught up in the heaven lease and yet not even being able to put it into words and not being able to speak about all of it. He referred to it. We only know about this event because those three men were present.

Otherwise we wouldn't know. There were no witnesses other than them. There were three who could verify each other's story. They helped keep the story straight. It was an overwhelming experience. It was probably difficult to put into words. None of us has ever seen anything quite so remarkable. Yet we have some amazing things that God has granted us. The privilege of witnessing, uh, moments of glory. And these spur us on and these inform us.

This puts things into context for us. These help us to understand the teachings that we receive and they prepare us for the work that we are to do in the world of the kingdom of God. We've had memorable God moments, and those moments have fortified us through trials and doubts as the three disciples would later testify and encourage the young church even so where to give our testimonies that encourage us to keep on following Jesus.

What memory comes to your mind today? Uh, that can be a testimony of a time when you saw the glory of God in a memorable, Peter is like the fourth character in all of this because he represents the next generation. He is the apostolic figure. He's a missionary. That's what apostle means. He brings all three traditions, the prophet, the priest in the king, into a missional message to the world through the church, which is the living embodiment in Christian theology of God manifesting his kingdom in the world.

And in II Peter 1 16-21, Peters reflects on the transfiguration. He says,

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

In other words, Peter is passing on this great moment to us and saying, this is not private. This is not my possession or the other two guys. It's not for us to privately interpret as our own personal revelation from God. This is a confirmation of all that God has revealed. This is for the world. This is for all of you to embrace. And this is like a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

But it's a little flicker of light that lives within us. The reminds us of a day when all shall be light and all shall be bright. It doesn't matter how dark the world gets, as long as that light is shining and that light will shine until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts. This is the promise of God. The transfiguration is on our Christian calendar for a reason.

It's there to give us hope. It's there to spur us on. It's there to encourage us, to keep on keeping on, to be in the world, God's prophetic voice to be in the world, a priestly nation, speaking to God for people and speaking to people for God and to be in the world,  a part of the messianic movement that builds God's kingdom and brings to pass justice and righteousness and truth and redemption, and the message of grace and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Introducing people to light who are walking in darkness. Indeed, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

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

Children's Sermon

Questions for Discussion

When did God take you to a mountain top to show you his majesty?

How did you feel?

What did you learn or what difference has it made in your life?

What have we learned from scripture about how we are to be and what we are to do in the world as representatives of the glory of God in Jesus?

Much Wisdom and Very Little of My Own

James-lee-BMO1SzQHWRs-unsplash (1)
Knowledge is mostly the acquisition of information. Wisdom is evaluated by how we use information.
Wisdom is for living.
Photo by James Lee on Unsplash
I start with, mostly, the wisdom of others and I will conclude with my observations on wisdom and how far our wisdom might or might not take us.
Today, we live. What does that mean to you? To live? To really live? Live fully; live well; live abundantly; live free. - Tom
“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.” ― Florence Nightingale
“Everybody wanted to be the hero of their own story. Nobody wanted to be comic relief.” ― Lev Grossman, The Magician King
On this day in 1801
An electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved when Jefferson is elected President of the United States and Burr, Vice President by the United States House of Representatives.
Welcome to the USA, Texas!
On this day in 1846 – In Austin, Texas the newly formed Texas state government is officially installed. The Republic of Texas government officially transfers power to the State of Texas government following the annexation of Texas by the United States.
“That’s the stuff stories are made of.”
“But she died.” Lac’s voice broke, embarrassingly.
“That’s the thing, kid.” The man refilled Lac’s empty mug from a crystal decanter. “Heroes die all the time.”
― Traci Chee, The Storyteller
“He did what heroes do after their work is accomplished; he died.” ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
“So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.”
― Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means 
Dr. Suess, Theodor Geisel died, September 24, 1991.
"A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about Him." -J.I. Packer
"Again and again I felt no one has the right to teach others who is not learning from them. I came to India with everything to teach and nothing to learn. I now stay to learn as well, and I am a better man for having come into contact with the gentle heart of the East. I think I know now the meaning of Ezekiel's going to the captives by the river to speak to them out of the "heat and bitterness of his spirit." As he was about to speak, God said: "No, Ezekiel, not yet. Sit down." And "for seven days I sat where they sat," said Ezekiel. For seven days he entered into the problems, the pains, the temptations of the captives -- for seven days he learned sympathy and understanding. At the end of that time God said, "Now you may speak," and when he spoke there was the undertone of understanding sympathy in his words. In these Round Table Conferences we have tried to understand sympathetically the viewpoint of the other man -- to sit where he sits, and I have been enriched through them. Life can never be quite the same again. -- From "The Christ of the Round Table" by E. Stanly Jones
And Now, My Thoughts on the Matter
It Is Wise to Seek Wisdom and Wiser Still to Know Our Limitations 

To continue the theme of leaning not on my own understanding, I gave some thought to general areas where my understanding is limited. However, I thought I might start with some random specifics.

I don't understand the how bumblebees can fly. Perhaps someone has explained it to me at some time, but I have forgotten.

I don't understand string theory - and I don't think anyone really does. I have some hints, but nothing to lean on.

I don't understand why traffic on the freeway can come to a near standstill while gawkers slow down to observe an accident across the median strip - but I should since I am sure I must have been lured into that web at least once.

I don't understand the transforming and transcending power of love, but I gladly participate.

That was random and incomplete. There are three areas where my understanding is also incomplete and here they are.

I do not always understand the big picture of everything. II. I do not always understand the basic principles of existence. III. I do not always understand the best sequence of events.

Allow me to elaborate.


I don't see it fully. I believe it exists and that it must exist, but I am inside of it and can not view it from the outside. I think there are two visions that I lack and long for:

The big picture embraces a bigger future than I can actualize. We are going somewhere. I accept that as a statement of faith, but it is also a sense we have about the universe. There is a path on which I believe I am being directed along with all of creation. I am not certain of all that destination entails and I cannot orchestrate it. So, I trust.

The big picture embraces a bigger family than I can visualize. Somehow, all of humanity is woven into the tapestry of this purpose. I don't know how everything and everyone fits, but I believe it does.


I understand some of the principles. I am guided by the wisdom of the ages as it has accumulated and by the scriptures which have never failed me, but I know in part. I can see some enduring truths being played out in human experience and scientific inquiry, but I know there is more to be discovered and uncovered.

Basic principles govern the unseen realities of our circumstances. The principles are in place. Some we know. Some we don't, but circumstances are not chance; they are logical inasmuch as we can perceive the logic. Logic is built upon logos - Word. In the beginning was the Logos. If we could truly perceive the Logos behind the principles, we might be able to predict circumstances. I cannot.

Basic principles govern the unanticipated results of our choices. Nothing happens by chance. Choices activate principles, known and unknown. We know enough to apply to get by and by learning more, we strive to thrive. But we do not know all and some of our choices will have unintended consequences. Sometimes, as children, we were told by people older and wiser to do or not to do some behavior. We did not and could not understand the ramifications of our obedience or disobedience. We have to trust with our hearts and acknowledge in our ways the wisdom of the wiser. If I had only leaned on my own understanding in these matters, I would have been dead years ago.


Things happen in order. Chaos and order are intertwined. People of faith believe that chaos is enveloped by order outside of itself. In our sphere of existence, most things have to happen in sequence. I don't always understand that sequence and cannot lean on my own understanding of it.

Sequence often defines objectives. One of the great habits of highly effective people as taught by Steven Covey is to begin with the end in mind. We can often glimpse where something might be going by the sequence of events and behaviors we observe. And yet ... we might miss a detail or two and that is the essence of comedy.

Sequence often determines outcomes. Without the proper sequencing, objectives may be lost and outcomes altered. This is obvious in matters within the purview of our own influence and control, but is unseen in the larger spectrum where multiplied details are unmanageable. There will always be factors beyond our ability to comprehend or quantify. They are part of the sequence of cosmic progression and people of faith affirm that they are guided by an Unseen Hand and related to an ultimate purpose.

That is why, when push comes to shove, while I value and pursue a deeper understanding of whatever I can understand, I do not ultimately lean on my own understanding and choose to:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

What Matters Most?


Kingdom Hope and Commandments

The Scriptures

Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash

Psalm 102
Domine, exaudi

Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; *
hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.

Incline your ear to me; *
when I call, make haste to answer me,

For my days drift away like smoke, *
and my bones are hot as burning coals.

My heart is smitten like grass and withered, *
so that I forget to eat my bread.

Because of the voice of my groaning *
I am but skin and bones.

I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, *
like an owl among the ruins.

I lie awake and groan; *
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.

My enemies revile me all day long, *
and those who scoff at me have taken an oath against me.

For I have eaten ashes for bread *
and mingled my drink with weeping.

Because of your indignation and wrath *
you have lifted me up and thrown me away.

My days pass away like a shadow, *
and I wither like the grass.

But you, O Lord, endure for ever, *
and your Name from age to age.

You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon her; *
indeed, the appointed time has come.

For your servants love her very rubble, *
and are moved to pity even for her dust.

The nations shall fear your Name, O Lord, *
and all the kings of the earth your glory.

For the Lord will build up Zion, *
and his glory will appear.

He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless; *
he will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for a future generation, *
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord.

For the Lord looked down from his holy place on high; *
from the heavens he beheld the earth;

That he might hear the groan of the captive *
and set free those condemned to die;

That they may declare in Zion the Name of the Lord, *
and his praise in Jerusalem;

When the peoples are gathered together, *
and the kingdoms also, to serve the Lord.

He has brought down my strength before my time; *
he has shortened the number of my days;

And I said, “O my God,
do not take me away in the midst of my days; *
your years endure throughout all generations.

In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, *
and the heavens are the work of your hands;

They shall perish, but you will endure;
they all shall wear out like a garment; *
as clothing you will change them,
and they shall be changed;

But you are always the same, *
and your years will never end.

The children of your servants shall continue, *
and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight.”

Psalm 107: Part I
Confitemini Domino

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, *
and his mercy endures for ever.

Let all those whom the Lord has redeemed proclaim *
that he redeemed them from the hand of the foe.

He gathered them out of the lands; *
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes; *
they found no way to a city where they might dwell.

They were hungry and thirsty; *
their spirits languished within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, *
and he delivered them from their distress.

He put their feet on a straight path *
to go to a city where they might dwell.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy *
and the wonders he does for his children.

For he satisfies the thirsty *
and fills the hungry with good things.

Some sat in darkness and deep gloom, *
bound fast in misery and iron;

Because they rebelled against the words of God *
and despised the counsel of the Most High.

So he humbled their spirits with hard labor; *
they stumbled, and there was none to help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, *
and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them out of darkness and deep gloom *
and broke their bonds asunder.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy *
and the wonders he does for his children.

For he shatters the doors of bronze *
and breaks in two the iron bars.

Some were fools and took to rebellious ways; *
they were afflicted because of their sins.

They abhorred all manner of food *
and drew near to death’s door.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, *
and he delivered them from their distress.

He sent forth his word and healed them *
and saved them from the grave.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy *
and the wonders he does for his children.

Let them offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and tell of his acts with shouts of joy.

Some went down to the sea in ships *
and plied their trade in deep waters;

They beheld the works of the Lord *
and his wonders in the deep.

Then he spoke, and a stormy wind arose, *
which tossed high the waves of the sea.

They mounted up to the heavens and fell back to the depths; *
their hearts melted because of their peril.

They reeled and staggered like drunkards *
and were at their wits’ end.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, *
and he delivered them from their distress.

He stilled the storm to a whisper *
and quieted the waves of the sea.

Then were they glad because of the calm, *
and he brought them to the harbor they were bound for.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his mercy *
and the wonders he does for his children.

Let them exalt him in the congregation of the people *
and praise him in the council of the elders.

Isaiah 65:17-25
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord-- and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent-- its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

1 Tim 5:17-22[23-25]
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves to be paid." Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. [ No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgment, while the sins of others follow them there. So also good works are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.]

Mark 12:28-34
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Then the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that 'he is one, and besides him there is no other' and 'to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,' and 'to love one's neighbor as oneself,'-- this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Calling the Riff Raff


Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash


Flotsam and jetsam along the shores of the world.

Discards bottles, empty containers, crumpled wrappers.

God would call the riff raff of humanity, like me, the unimpressive, not particularly wise, unimportant, unsophisticated, broken down and broke, common folk, put us on platforms, and shout through us, to a broken world, "I love you."

This is the miracle I have experienced for 50 years of preaching.

This is the air of wonder I regularly breath and shall inhaled until breath comes no more.

"Love bade me welcome."

And that love would not let me go.

" Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”"

(1 Corinthians 1:20-31 ESV)

Or the Vaughan Williams setting:


Leaning Not on My Own Understanding

I think that people, who may not have regard for the Bible as scripture or believe in divine direction, may often practice the principle of Proverbs 3:5 without knowing that they are obeying the scripture,

"Lean not on thine own understanding."

Every intelligent person I know bows in the presence of the unknowns of the universe. There is a common sense of awe at the wonder of the cosmos and the paradoxical nature of truth.

We tune our harps to what we know and set our compasses by given understanding of the polar realities and magnetic forces that govern us. We do that daily, but we also throw up our hands and surrender to the persistent gnawing of undiscovered forces and undefined principles of physics, mathematics, and even more mundane concepts that we know to be true without knowing why.

We comply and we continue to seek those universal theories of everything.

I know of no single thinking person inside or outside of the realm of faith who leans entirely on his or her own understanding ... except in areas where pride overcomes good sense.

We all take direction, follow laws we do not see the sense of, and follow orders we have not devised or whose meaning we have not discerned.

We do so because we often know that our lives are bettered in the process and we appreciate the finite nature of our own understanding. That is why we have experts who spend their whole lives studying minutia and sharing tidbits of their discoveries with the rest of us who are either generalists or specialists in other fields of intellectual or practical pursuit.

And every expert will inform us that there is more yet to discover than has been, as yet, grasped.

Somehow, in the sciences, this is seen as a great adventure.

It is, likewise, in the pursuit of spiritual discovery and the great adventure of knowing God.

We know enough to trust and so, the first part of the verse says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart."

That is a bigger leap of faith for many folks than the first affirmation. We are all on different paths and places along our journeys. This is something we must accept in each other. However, in my life, verse 6 has shown itself true, over and over again:

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

So, once I do know something, and know it with humble tentativeness, I go with what I know and wonder at the unknowns, trusting God, leaning not on my limited understanding, but acknowledging His leadership, caring guidance, and benevolent faithfulness to direct my paths.

That is what is working for me.



By What Authority?


The Cornerstone, Rejected and Affirmed!

Parable of the Vineyard

Or, if you prefer, on YouTube:

My  AI Speech Coach is curious to know if you could elaborate by answering the following questions:

Question 1: What other stories does Jesus tell in the bible to illustrate his teachings?

Question 2: How can we apply the teachings of Jesus to our lives today?

Question 3: What is the significance of the stone that the builders rejected?

Question 4: How can we better understand the mystery of our faith?

Question 5: What practical steps can we take to live out the teachings of Jesus in our everyday lives?

Not bad discussion question suggestions!


Here is the transcript of the talk with all the "um"s, "ah,"s, "and,"s and problems:

Hi, good morning. I had some time this morning and I thought I would record and go live at the same time, uh, with Bible study based on the day's lectionary readings. As you know, I use the, uh, common lectionary as a guide, uh, for choosing my daily readings, some of them, and my preaching, uh, texts on Sundays. I haven't always done this, and I may not always do it. The nice thing about being from a baptistic and free church tradition is you can kind of follow whatever you want to do and whatever, wherever the spirit leads, and that's where the leadership has been.

Uh, for my own personal discipline over the last few years, I'm going to, uh, turn off my face in a moment and put on the, uh, PowerPoint that I've prepared for today. We're gonna touch to, uh, some of the scriptures. What we may do if we have time, and if there's sufficient interest. I may come back to some questions at the end, but I'm just gonna go through these scriptures right now, mainly because I'm work on my own.

I'm my own engineer and not a very good one. And it's hard for me to track too many things. At the same time, as the Fellowship of Joy grows online, maybe we'll attract some volunteers and we can figure out how to manage, uh, more interactive, uh, participation. But for now, uh, this is sort of the way it's gonna be. If my face in the corner doesn't distract anyone, I may just leave it there.

But this is Bible study. You see, I'm not that good at selfies, but I wanted to be able to identify who was, who was speaking when we got around to it. Would you join me in prayer this morning if you're live? And you know, it really doesn't matter matter if you're watching this on a video because, uh, God doesn't so much keep track of time as a priority in our prayers, but our hearts, and it is a mystery.

But mysteries are a <laugh> wonderful part of our faith and, uh, essential to our faith. Our Father, today, we come to you across the miles, across, uh, time across space, uh, and across, uh, many different differences in our backgrounds and our predispositions, uh, maybe different faiths to explore scripture and what is being said in scripture. We don't intend to be exhaustive. We don't intend to touch to every fine point, but help us to use the scripture and to receive the scripture as your gift to us, to, uh, direct our thinking toward you and toward something you would have us consider and, uh, life change, uh, in Jesus name.

Amen. Well, we're gonna begin with just a note about two of the Psalms to today. Uh, Psalm 1 0 1 and Psalm 1 0 9, Psalm 1 0 9 has been used as a weapon to prey against people. But I will say to you that it is primarily an expression of a leader's indignation at wickedness and anger at his. And in this case, it was a hymn, uh, most likely, uh, his disgust at, uh, other leaders who are operating against him and against God.

It's not an endorsement for us that want revenge or to seek revenge, but it is an honest portrayal of a person's, uh, feelings at the moment, uh, as he sides with God's ways and against anything that is against God. He's feeling the brunt of God's anger, uh, in, uh, Isaiah 64, uh, verse nine, and is feeling, uh, rejected by God and is really shaking his fist to God when he says, don't be so angry with us, Lord.

Uh, please don't remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray and see that we are all your people. Well, when it comes to our own sins, we, we want mercy. And when it comes to other people's sins, we often want justice. And sometimes it's not justice we want, but retribution. But remember that it is mercy and justice that display the heart of God. So one Psalm 1 0 1, uh, verses one through two, I will sing of mercy and justice to you.

Oh, Lord, will I sing, uh, praises? I will strive to follow a blameless course. Oh, when will you come to me? I will walk with sincerity of heart within my house. Now, I wanted to touch to that a little bit as we prepared to go into today's gospel text from Mark 1127 through 12, which also expresses, uh, some very human, uh, understanding of what's going on in this context as well as a larger, uh, divine perspective.

Again, they came to Jerusalem as he, and we're talking about Jesus was walking in the temple. The chief priest in ascribes came to him and said, by what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you the authority to do them? Well, I think that is, is an important factor to consider the legitimacy of the question as well as the context of the question. Rabbis didn't teach on their own authority.

And these, uh, chief priests and scribes and elders, among them are some rabbis. And, and of course, the chief priests were walking a line between their religious duties and their political duties, uh, related to the temple and the religious observance. But they spent a lot of their time arguing the fine points of the law and citing references and citing various authorities who interpreted the law. And these citations would go back for centuries.

And here comes Jesus. And he doesn't always give book, chapter and verse. He refers to something that is in the common knowledge of the people in scriptures, and what he's doing seems at odds with what is being taught. And they say, well, whose authority are you operating under? So he asks them a rather pointed question to turn the tables. Jesus is often turning the tables. I I don't mean just the tables of the money changers in the outta court of the temple, but I mean, he turns the tables of the discussion because he knows what they're doing.

You know, he knows they have an agenda with their questions. It's not just a question, it's an, it is an agenda list question. So he says, well, I'll ask you one question. Answer me. I'll, I'll tell you a and if you do, I'll tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven or was it from human origin? Answer me. So rather than cite their authorities, and rather than give an honest answer, they calculated how their answer would be received by the crowd, and they argued with one another first.

And they said, well, if we say from heaven, he'll say, well, why didn't you believe him? And but if we say of human origin, uh, they were afraid of the crowd for all regarded John as a prophet. So they answer Jesus, we don't know. And Jesus said, well, neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. See, you don't have to answer every question, do you, especially if you think you're being set up.

And Jesus is not only intelligent and not only shrewd, but Jesus is also inspired by the spirit of his Father and the Spirit, uh, who is the Holy Spirit. And he is moved and directed, and he's all wise. And so he answers with great wisdom, and then he takes it a little further and he tells a story. Well, this story is, is, uh, a parable that means it has a teaching. It doesn't have to relate at all points,1,2,3, 4, like an allegory, but it is designed for a purpose.

So let's look at the story first. He began to speak to them in parables. A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watch tower. And then he leased it to the tenants and went to another country. That's not an uncommon practice. He's an absentee landlord, but he finds some good tenants. Uh, it is the business proposition. They take care of the vineyard, they treat it with respect, they try to make a profit on it, but they also are working to, uh, earn the man a profit.

So when the season came, he sent a, a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. To pause here a second, I say, this is not an endorsement of slavery. It's not an endorsement of the practice of the time. It is a story told in the context of common practice. So he wants to collect his share, he wants to collect his rent. Well, they seized him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed again.

He sent another slave to him. This one they beat over the head and insulted, then he sent another, and that one they killed. So they're escalating in their violence against these people that, uh, the, that vineyard owner is sending to collect his legitimate share is legitimate rent, which, uh, was in, in the context of a share of the prophets. You know, it was a fair rent. You know, if they didn't, hadn't really made anything, uh, the rent would've been calculated on that basis.

Well, and so it was with many others. He kept trying to collect the rent, and they kept me treating him. Uh, would this story have actually happened? Uh, I think Jesus is giving us an amazingly exaggerated, uh, story, uh, so that we will feel ultimate indignation at the, uh, just position of this vineyard owner. Uh, and so it was with many others. Some may beat others. They killed, he had still won another, another, a beloved son.

Okay? What's gonna happen with the beloved son? Are you, are you in stitches? Are you waiting? Are you, are you on the edge of your seat to see how this story is gonna turn out? Well, here it is. He sent him to them saying, they will respect my son. But those tents said to one another, this is the, he, uh, come let us kill him in the inheritance will be ours. Oh, they're, they're really tricky, aren't they?

They're going for the big stuff. They think, ah, man, we're gonna, we're gonna take this thing over. And so they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? Now he'll come and destroy the vineyards and give the vineyards to others. This is a story about people who are forgetting, who owns the vineyard, and thinking that if they mistreat the representatives of the owner, they're gonna get the big prize, but they're just setting themselves up to lose.

There it is. It's not a story about the character of God. If anything, the vineyard owner is very patient. This is a story, uh, of a character of, of the tenants and the landowner. And what are you gonna expect if, are you gonna just keep mistreating God's spokespeople, God's prophets, and thinking that if you can dominate them, that, uh, ultimately, uh, you can take over God's kingdom, that you can possess God's kingdom even by killing God's spokespeople and God's son?

And so Jesus is giving a story that might appear to the people who are questioning him, to have nothing to do with their questions because they're wiggling, but he is, he is not gonna squirm with them. Let 'em squirm because he is directing this back. They asked him about authority. He says, what is real authority? Who owns this vineyard? Who does, who does the kingdom belong to? And, uh, you're gonna mistreat slaves and spokespeople and servants, and you're gonna mistreat people.

You're gonna walk all over people, and you think you're gonna gain dominance with God. Well, here's how he concludes it. Here's how he draws the application. Haven't you read the scripture? Now you are form authority, okay? Haven't you read the scripture? The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing and is amazing in his eyes. And it's like this, the people who speak for God, prophets, teachers, rabbis, interpreters of God's law and God's truth, spokespeople of the times to from, from God to the people.

They say something that is often unpopular, that goes against the grain, that speaks against our greed and our indifference that speaks against our injustice, that speaks to the, uh, structures of the day. But it very well, well be, may well be that the structures of the day are built upon wrong foundations or wrong and on, wrong cornerstones, and you reject to your peril, uh, those things that are true and that are cornerstone troops.

And in this case, a cornerstone representative of divinity and truth itself. See, Isaiah speaks of the suffering servants as he was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet we did steam him, afflicted, smitten of God, even. But here, Jesus quote scripture and says, the stone that the builders reject it turns out, turns out that's the cornerstone, the thing you despise the most. The thing is that you reject the most at your peril, at your peril, because this is the cornerstone.

You have to deal with the cornerstone. You have to build around the cornerstone. You have to build a pond, the cornerstone. Well, at this point, they woke up and they realized, <laugh>, that Jesus was talking about them. So they wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd. So they left him and went their way. I'd like you to ponder that today. I don't wanna give you all the answers.

I may have some questions. I I'm gonna try to get back on here and see if you're posting any questions in the comments or prayer requests. If not, you can do it later and we can have an ongoing conversation. And the Facebook thread, you're getting this on YouTube, there are ways to contact me, or if you're getting this on LinkedIn or Twitter, you know how to get in touch with me. I'm, I'm easy to find.

But I wanna take you to a portion of the official reading today, because Paul is in his understanding of his mission, an interpreter of Jesus in terms of how do you apply these cornerstone teachings of Jesus to everyday life? And when he is writing to Timothy, his, he considered him a son, uh, a son in ministry, and a son in the faith, uh, he is giving a lot of very specific instructions that are specific to specific churches.

But this insight comes out today, and it pops me right between the eyes, you know, like a bullet. I hope to come to you soon, but I'm writing these instructions to you, so you may know that if I'm delayed, uh, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bull work of, of the truth. Well, another bit of cornerstone.

A living a stone on top of the stones of, of the house that God is building a household of God, the oco of God, the, the, the, the family of God, if you will, uh, your how do you behave as God's people in the world? How do you behave in relationship to each other? How do you bela behave based upon the truth that is given based upon Christ as the chief cornerstone?

How do you live? Sometimes it gets very, very specific in terms of, of defining relationships, which are defined by the law of love. Love God, love your neighbor, revere God, respect your neighbor, and especially your brothers and sisters in the faith, because this is frankly, the laboratory that becomes the proving grounds of how we could behave in the whole world if we recognize that we were one big family. But he takes us back to Christ.

And he says, without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great. It's mysterious. It's wondrous like the mystery of the sun. I think this may be the sun that's turning around here. I'm not sure it could be one of the planets. Uh, my astronomy is not great. I just live in deep re reverence for what God has has created, and, uh, it causes me awe. But he makes a summary statement, which I think is a great statement of faith.

All this is out of first Timothy three, 14 through 16. He was revealed in the flesh, vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels proclaimed among the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up into the glory. What a grand and glorious statement of faith and of the faith that has been delivered to us and made available to us in Christ. Uh, I'm trying to get to my, um, to my Facebook interface so that I can see if we have any discussion or questions.

I won't belabor it forever, but I'm gonna do my best to check. And, um, if I see them, I will try to answer them. If not, I promise to come back to them. Ah, here we are. I am somewhere. Anyway, I, in the meantime, I'm gonna start praying, uh, for you and for, for this application, our father today. I'm sure that as we gather for this, uh, Bible study and this time of fellowship across the miles that there are brothers and sisters, um, that are in need of your special touch.

I am certain that there are those who, uh, are confused and wondering and wondering and grieving and in pain and in sorrow and in the valley of decision. I pray for them, oh God, I pray that your spirit might touch their lives and that you might direct them and heal them and comfort them and strengthen them and be their God and their God. Help us to make Jesus who he already is for us in our lives.

In actuality, the chief cornerstone, even though he is the stone that the builders rejected in his name, we pray all these things. And now the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and be gracious under you, and give you peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. We'll do this again soon.





Truth or Fiction?


Photo by Shiromani Kant on Unsplash


Is this tidbit really true?

He wondered.

What is that, my friend, to You?

We plundered

Plundered fact and sorted fiction

Sorted through our doubts and friction.

"Does it matter?" I inquire


Does it flatter? Or inspire?

Or  clearly,

Is it just to entertain?

And I am welcome to refrain?

I hate to waste my fading youth.

Oy Vey!

I need to know the truth


Prayer that Benefits God and People

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Morning Meditations on Prayer
David Prays for Deliverance, 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld
Two arguments for prayer directed to God for people in power are given by Paul. It is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good summary of two categories, the good prayer does us and the kingdom value for aligning with God's purposes:
1. "... that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity..." - Our Benefit
2. God's Benefit - " ... who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth..."
So, it benefits us to pray so that our lives can be more stable ad it benefits God's purposes so that He can save as many people as possible and manifest His truth.
Welcome to the
Kyrie eleison!
Lord, have mercy!
Have mercy on me.
And grant that mercy and grace
Like soothing oil and
Refreshing water
Sweetened by Thy love
Shall flow through me into
The lives of all who come to drink,
Of all who come to be renewed.
May I be another light,
Another window, mirror, conduit,
Any metaphor that, materialized,
Brings this mercy to those
Who feel abandoned, lonely, discouraged, and alienated
From Thee, themselves, and others.
Thou who hast given me mercy
So freely and abundantly,
Show forth that same mercy in me
To all who are longing to receive.
I know not how to pray this other than
To offer myself as a receptor and reflector.
I who am needy, come.
I, who am filled and forgiven, go.
Kyrie eleison!
"Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34 New King James Version
The prayer of a maturing heart to be prayed in our youth, that we would be aware of the fragility of time, the shortening of days, and the seriousness of our sinful wastefulness, that we might embrace our suffering and discipline as part of God's love and our maturing process, that we would learn to be glad, that we would see with a broader deeper, and more eternal perspective, and that we would be satisfied with God's love.
The result, by grace will be the favor of God as shown in His blessing upon our work, His power in and through us. Amen.
" So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!"
(Psalm 90:12-17 ESV)

Flawed and Transformed

Photo by Mark Stosberg on Unsplash
I only respect flawed people. I respect them even more if they know they are flawed. That goes for leaders and people in public life.
I generally like them and appreciate them across the board as long as they operate on the integrity of their convictions with consistency, intelligence, and the willingness to question their own views by listening and negotiating.
There are very few villains out there - maybe some, but I cannot judge motives. I am critical and respectful of leaders and suspicious of them. It is a healthy tension. I am also hard on and suspicious of myself. I just wish we were not all so quick to posture, agree with ourselves, and run to our own corners of the room, but, I guess that is just one of the flaws I have to accept as part of our humanity if I am going to embrace and love humanity.
You can try to figure out what I mean and what point I am making if you like, but it will be a guess, because I do not even know for sure.
Sometimes our flaws can be useful, when recognized and utilized.
Most often, they make us relatable and, when overcome, inspirational.
When push comes to shove, I know that I declared my ultimate loyalty 60 years ago when I joined the Kingdom of Love through faith in Jesus. It was then that I adopted the value system that calls me to love my neighbor -- especially the one that is most unlikely for me to love, most different than myself, and least likely to believe as I do.
And I do not think I can love him without respecting him, listening to him, seeking to understand him, and trying to like him.
Besides all of that, in spite of every flaw, no one can predict what amazing fruit may come from a bent and tangled tree or an instrument in the Master's hand.

God's Law, God's Way

10 commndments

Loving God’s Law

God’s law is a measuring stick.

It is a school teacher.

It is a life-giving force.

Art -  Cranach, Lucas, 1472-1553

Deuteronomy 30:16 is part of a sermon and Moses is the preacher:

If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

To Follow God's Way Is a Choice that Gives Life.

  1. It is a blessing to seek God through God's Law.

    “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” - Psalm 119:2
  • When Moses gave the commandments, they were considered a gift to the people of Israel. It was God showing the people his way for them.
  • Moses told the people that there were many blessings that would come from observing God’s commandments.
  • David understood this when he wrote the psalm. Whole-hearted seeking of God’s ways brings blessings.
  • The idea was that we seek God by meditating on his instructions because he reveals his hear through them.
  1. It is Jesus who shows us God's intention in the Law.

    “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time … but I say to you” – Matthew 5:21a, 23a
  • In today’s gospel reading, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly uses this formula: “You have heard this said, but I tell you this.”
  • Jesus takes the Law that Moses delivered and helps us understand it and apply it.
  • He was not contradicting the law. He was reminding us of what God intended when he gave the law.
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s law.
  • Jesus summarized the law as loving God and loving our neighbor.
  1. We have received many teachers pointing the way.

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

  • Moses was a teacher and he challenged us to follow God’s way.
  • There is an epistle reading for today from 1 Corinthians 3. Paul speaks of a controversy in Corinth. The people in the church were divided over who was their favorite teacher, Apollos, Paul, or some other. Some were planters. Some were cultivators. Some were harvesters.
  • Many people come into our lives to teach us God’s way. Moses. Apollos, Paul, our Sunday School teachers, our pastors, and maybe our parents are all among these. They are important, but it is God’s message that matters.
  • Even today, we are taught by preachers, teachers, and books that help us understand what it means to follow Jesus, to love God, and to love others.
  • But we must remember that our primary teacher is God himself and a lone Christian, isolated in a place where no teachers are available, with a Bible can understand enough about following Jesus to do so faithfully.
  • Be grateful for your teachers but seek God in your own study as well.
  • Walk in God’s ways.
  1. The choice is always ours.

“… I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

  • Moses reminds us, in his sermon, that we must choose.
  • God’s way is the way of life.
  • Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
  • Jesus has provided for our forgiveness through the cross, our life through the resurrection, and our power to live through Pentecost
  • The same choice of life that Moses called the people to choose, is ours.

Moses_Viewing (1)

Art - Church, Frederic Edwin, 1826-1900


Wholehearted Seeking 

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” - Psalm 119:2, Aleph

There are countless blessings in God’s Word, but they don’t jump out from between the leaves and into our hearts. They come to those who seek God in His Word with wholehearted passion. They come as a result of digging for the treasures that are to be found in the pages of the Bible. God is found by those who most earnestly desire Him and look for Him.

God testifies of Himself and, in so doing, He sets forth His expectations for us. His purposes are higher and greater than those we have for ourselves. His calling is loftier and grander than any we can imagine. His very presence and nature compel us to come forth and enter into fellowship with Him.

We are truly blessed when we seek Him with the whole heart.

Wholeheartedness for God is a rare thing indeed. It is the deer panting for water. It is the hunger that knows no satisfaction apart from the manna of God’s truth. It is the little baby that can find no consolation apart from the comforting embrace of her mother. It is full engagement and absolute focus on seeking Him.

The psalmist knew what he was looking for every time he opened the scriptures. He was not seeking information or even inspiration. He was seeking God himself. He was looking for encounter and nothing else would do.

This is not a question of superficial concern. It is the great question of our lives: “What am I seeking and what am I willing to invest of myself to find it?”

In the answer lies the secret to our spiritual success. The answer must be: “God and everything.”

I will then go to Jesus who says that we may acknowledge God’s law without understanding God’s real intention in it.

It Has Been Said, But I Say

“Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time …” – Matthew 5:21

“My Momma always said.”

What exactly did she say?

She said a lot. Some was dead right; some was her opinion; some was partly, but not one hundred percent accurate.

Much had been said in the old times before Jesus.

He takes statements from the Torah in his sermon and reinterprets them, aiming for God’s intention in the law.

His statements begin with the words, “Ye have heard that it was said …”

Of course, it had been said:

“Thou shalt not kill,” but there was more. One must not desire to kill or let anger fester or kill the soul with words.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” but it is not enough to just refrain from consummating an act of adultery. Do not feed the desire.

“Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths,” but go further and tell the truth always.

“But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

That way of teaching continues with a purpose.

Jesus lets us know that life in the Kingdom of God is a call to a higher, grander, and loftier purpose than just getting by.

The standards are so high that we may never fully realize them, but we keep aiming and we keep calling on him for help.

You may have heard is said, but now Jesus is saying even more and trusting you with a greater calling.

We jump over to Apollos and Paul for a brief moment. Apollos came to Corinth before Paul, teaching the law in the new light of Jesus. He prepared the hearts of the Corinthians. Paul came with deeper truth and took the disciples further in God’s intent. But they chose to remain immature.

Many Teachers

“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.

Finally, we visit with Moses, through whom God gave he law.

Choose Life!

“… I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Moses brought the children of Israel to a crossroads. It was a place of crossing and a place of choice. The cross of Jesus is a crossroads of choice for us as well.

Whatever happened to the cross?

To the Romans it was merely another two pieces of wood that could be used again until wear and tear rendered them useless for their grotesque purpose.

To the believer, they represented an intersection of time and eternity, death and life, hope and despair. The two timbers are for us, the symbols of a crossroads in our lives – a place of choice.

Life is a choice.

That is part of the message of the resurrection. That is the message of repentance. That is what makes the gospel good news.

We can choose to reject sin, death, and hopelessness and embrace life. We can make a binding, decision to embrace the future that God has planned for us. There is no darkness so deep the light of the resurrection cannot disintegrate it, but we must choose.

It is like A-B-C.

We must Acknowledge

Acknowledge that we have not always chosen life. In fact, we have chosen the opposite. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and we have chosen all three: wages, sin, and death.

We have chosen wages because we so full of pride as to believe that we must earn everything that is coming to us when in fact we can only deserve condemnation in our own efforts.

We have chosen sin because the comforts of pleasure and the familiarity of our rebellion is less threatening that trusting God with everything.

As a result, we have chosen death over life because life divorced from God’s purpose and peace in our lives is death and denial of who we were fashioned to be.

We must Believe.

We must believe that some other choice is possible; that the message of Christ’s death and resurrection is real and that it is for us.

We must believe that repentance is an option and a mandate and that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We choose a gift we cannot earn or deserve, a relationship where He is Savor and Lord, and as a result, we choose life.

We must Confess.

Start today. If you believe it, confess it at the first opportunity. Confess before men and women that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, that you have chosen life over death, significance over meaninglessness, and hope over despair.

Don’t wait; do it now and then live out your confession daily in discipleship loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.

Small Talk Is Small

Two Things You Can Choose

2 things

Transcript (Unedited)

I am not going to tell you who to meet and I’m not going to tell you what to read. I’m going to tell you something that I heard Charlie Tremendous Jones say on a tape many years ago, and I know that it’s true. I’ve seen it verified in my life. I thank Tracy Jones for keeping this alive for all of us. And it’s this, you’re going to be the same person in five years except for two things.

The books you read and the people you meet. 

And those two things are really within your power to decide. I would include with those books, the things that you listen to, the lectures you attend, the webinars you participate in, the podcasts that go in your ear, the videos you watch on YouTube or wherever you get your videos, the entertainment that you entertain into your life. All of these, your input, but especially what you put your eyes on and read, whether you’re reading online, many of us are reading our books online, we’re reading journals online, we’re reading blogs online.

We’re reading articles online. They’re right on our screen. And a world of great literature is available to us. We have never lived in a time where we had so many options, both good and bad, both healthy and unhealthy and in the continuum in between. To read, to absorb, to consider, to take in information that can be life-affirming or life denying. What you read will change you over the next one year, two years, three, four, and five years.

And for the rest of your life it’s shaping you and the people you meet. You say, well, I’m, I’m living in my house. I’m working in my house and I’m restricted. This covid has has shut us down and even when we meet someone in the market, we have masks on. It doesn’t matter. There has also never been a time in the history of humanity when you had more opportunities to meet people and to have meaningful discussions with them.

Maybe you don’t have as much small talk or maybe you are doing small talk here, but you know, small talk is small and great talk is big. Gigantic, or as Charlie would say, tremendous. We can have meaningful in-depth conversations with people that we may not even have hope of. Meeting in person. I can’t tell you how many people I have met online because I wa

I’d like to have more conversation with them. And so I reached out and I found they reached back. You can choose in these two areas what you read and the people you meet and it will shape you, change you and you in turn my friend that I am so happy that I’ve met and we’re meeting right now. You in turn will change the world. Have an amazing day.

Cool Water in Days of Drought


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Our spiritual droughts and sense of distance from the Holy One may not be derived from a lack of religious activity or belief. They may emerge from our collective insensitivity to injustice and participation in what brutalizes people.

We need to hear the news, process world events, and pray for our world through the missional lens God's intention to build His Kingdom of love and righteousness with justice and shalom.

Instead, our first lenses are usually our own rather immediate temporal interests, our own security and, if peace, then peace within our own borders.

This is not a hopeless admonition. Nothing had shortened the hand of God -- only our perception of how far His hand can reach.

But we are separated, collectively and for some, individually because of collective and individual iniquity. We have blood on our hands and most of us are not intentionally drawing it' we are oblivious to it.

Yet we wonder, where God is.

I'd suggest reading the comments below for a word of hope!

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
No one enters suit justly;
no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
They hatch adders' eggs;
they weave the spider's web;
he who eats their eggs dies,
and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
Their webs will not serve as clothing;
men will not cover themselves with what they make.
Their works are works of iniquity,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
Their feet run to evil,
and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
desolation and destruction are in their highways.
The way of peace they do not know,
and there is no justice in their paths;
they have made their roads crooked;
no one who treads on them knows peace."

(Isaiah 59:1-8 ESV)

Praying Your Prayer of Desperation


(Open this link to read the photographer's story.)
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

When Darkness Is Your Only Friend

This is not my prayer of the day,
but it has been in days past.

It may be yours today.

It is not, necessarily an accurate representation of the petitioner's ultimate reality, but it is an accurate representation of his or her immediate and emotional experience.

The psalmist is angry and admits it. He is angry with God. He blames God for his problems.

Is it fair?

Maybe not, but it is honest and he chooses not to ignore God. He chooses honesty and that honesty is an expression of faith.

There is no expression of hope in the psalm. There is no declaration of glory. That would be phony for the psalmist in that moment. But the prayer itself is a glimmer of hope that there is one who will listen to his anger.

If it is your prayer, then freely pray it. It is yours.

It is a gift.

It is a lifeline.

It is your prayer of desperation.

God will never condemn you for your honest prayer of desperation.

Psalm 88, NRSV
Domine, Deus

O Lord, my God, my Savior, *
by day and night I cry to you.

Let my prayer enter into your presence; *
incline your ear to my lamentation.

For I am full of trouble; *
my life is at the brink of the grave.

I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; *
I have become like one who has no strength;

Lost among the dead, *
like the slain who lie in the grave,

Whom you remember no more, *
for they are cut off from your hand.

You have laid me in the depths of the Pit, *
in dark places, and in the abyss.

Your anger weighs upon me heavily, *
and all your great waves overwhelm me.

You have put my friends far from me;
you have made me to be abhorred by them; *
I am in prison and cannot get free.

My sight has failed me because of trouble; *
Lord, I have called upon you daily;
I have stretched out my hands to you.

Do you work wonders for the dead? *
will those who have died stand up and give you thanks?

Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave? *
your faithfulness in the land of destruction?

Will your wonders be known in the dark? *
or your righteousness in the country where all is forgotten?

But as for me, O Lord, I cry to you for help; *
in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Lord, why have you rejected me? *
why have you hidden your face from me?

Ever since my youth, I have been wretched and at the point of death; *
I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind.

Your blazing anger has swept over me; *
your terrors have destroyed me;

They surround me all day long like a flood; *
they encompass me on every side.

My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, *
and darkness is my only companion.

"Darkness is my only friend."

Born This Day - Alice Walker and More

Alice walker
Born this day in 1944 – Alice Walker, American novelist, short story writer, and poet. Happy birthday!
"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."
No photo description available.
Born this day in 1930 – Garner Ted Armstrong, American religious leader, son of Herbert W. Armstrong, Anglo-Israel theologian, radio preacher, and author (d. 2003).
He was controversial before and after being "defrocked" by his father.
He was also strongly suspected of being an "incognito" participant in the Religion Forum on CompuServe during the years I managed it, under the moniker, "G.T."
On this day in 1950 – Second Red Scare: US Senator Joseph McCarthy accuses the United States Department of State of being filled with Communists.
Take note of the 4th picture: Flier issued in May 1955 by the Keep America Committee urging readers to "fight communistic world government" by opposing public health programs.
No photo description available.
No photo description available.
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
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!"
Psalm 39:4-6 ESV
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
And yet, there is more ...
"Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O LORD."

Issues of the Day


In order to comment on some issues, one must define what the real issues are. if one is inclined to believe that no "position" can define the "issue," then it is difficult to find any basis for conversation.

First, there must be definition and, when definition is established, it is often found that there is no issue.

But that requires quite a bit of un-boxed thinking and a "radicalism" that goes to the radix/root - a process that is much too difficult for most of us whose roots go too deeply into the mud of traditionalism and the sands of connotation.

For others of us, the strange, the rabble-rousing few, no position is comfortable because all seem essentially off-center.

How Do You Know? You Don't


How do you know you are doing well, helping people, making a difference, and encouraging some soul with your posts?

Let me start by thanking Howie!

Photo by Howie R on Unsplash

Now, I will answer the question

You don't know if you've helped people, or how many.

This is especially true in this invisible realm of online content creation where writers craft words designed to lift, challenge, inform, or entertain people.

If two out of ten people thank, acknowledge, or communicate with you at all, you are doing twice as well as Jesus. i do not even come close to his one leper in ten returning to thank him. I do not think I hear from one in two hundred - and that is good news.

The reach is always greater than the response.

So, why do it?

First, you have something to say. It did not come easy to you. Your information or insight was hard-won. You suffered for it. It is valuable. Given the opportunity, you would share it with one person on an airplane or over the phone. Writing and blogging, podcasting or otherwise communicating online, the potential is much greater to reach many more.

You have something to say and you cannot not say it.

Second, whatever you post will live online forever and you are patient. Someday, it will reach the right person and make a difference in that person's life. They will internalize and apply the insight and share it with others.  You cannot measure the future impact.

Third, you can check your statistics and analytics and know that you are getting some exposure. on certain platforms.

Fourth, you can go out in public, bump into one of your subscribers, and hear them say or ask something that indicates an awareness of things you have been posting online. It is amazing. They never clicked "like," left a comment, or sent a note. Yet,  they read what you wrote and for the writer, that is enough thanks.

Fifth, you operate on the basis of faith and hope and that is what all creative people do. You may not be the master of viral self-marketing yet. You may never be. However, you believe in what you are creating and you believe in the power of believing and acting on belief. So, you keep at it.

That is five reasons and we all know more.

What are some I missed that drive you as a writer and content creator?

My final admonition is to stay with it. You may not get the response you hope for, but you are doing a lot of good!


Four Words of Advice and Some Food For Thought

Mother  t 2

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." ---Mother Teresa


Don't Be Shaped by the World.

Peace signPete Seeger tells of a Quaker kid holding a peace sign in the middle of the night.

A detractor asks, "Do you think you are going to change the world holding up that sign in the middle of the night?"

"Maybe not, but I am going to make sure the world does not change me."

You may not be able to change the world as dramatically as you would like to, but, if you can keep the world from changing you into something less than you are, the world will have a far better chance of changing for the better.



Zsa zsa

Keep Your Diamonds!

Even Zsa Zsa knew that hate never pays..

While there is great humor in her words, there is also great truth. Don't shoot yourself in the foot to prove you were right. Don't sink your own ship to prove that you are a better captain.

Hatred is another form of self-punishment.

Don't indulge in it.

Keep your diamonds. They were a gift.

Life is a gift too. So is forgiveness, to the one receiving it and to the one giving it.

You are too fine a vessel to play host to the toxic poison of hate and bitterness.

Live above the storms of hate.


Dry brittle bones It is What You Give Away that Lasts Beyond the Grave.

My grandmother said it this way:

"You only keep, in this life, what you give away."

She also wanted to give as much of it away while she was living so that she could enjoy the whole process more.

One day, even our names will be forgotten.

Those who carry our memories will also be gone along with their children and their children's children.

Yet, somehow, who we were and what we gave will still be alive in the world with a life of its own.


Finch on courage  Live a Life of Courage and Conviction

One of the most influential books of my youth was, "To Kill a Mockingbird."

I wanted to be Atticus Finch, defender of the oppressed and powerless. To me, it was what Joseph Campbell called, "The Hero's Journey."

There is something heroic in you as well.

In deciding where to stand and for what to stand, it is more than a matter of assessing the likelihood of success.

You follow your convictions even if it means going down with them.

Your assessment is the question, "What is right?"

When you know that, muster all of your courage to live in the light of the truth.


Martin Buber would be 145 on  February 8.


He still offers us his wisdom:

He said, "The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God."

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” - Martin Buber

"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." - Martin Buber

"We cannot avoid using power, cannot escape the compulsion to afflict the world, so let us, cautious in diction and mighty in contradiction, love powerfully." — Martin Buber

“Solitude is the place of purification.” - Martin Buber





10 Life Lessons from the Super Bowl


Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I sat down after a Super Bowl some time in the last ten years. I wanted to reflect and collect some life lessons from a game that involves running with a ball in one direction, occasionally throwing it, changing directions, and running some more - all in 1-10 second fragments of time.

But, still, there are lessons.

This particular year, there was a big reversal and the favorite of the first half came out second in the end.

Life Lessons from a Super Bowl:

1. You can't rest on the laurels of your first half of life.

2. You can't get discouraged by a slow start.

3. Keep playing till the end, even into overtime because: YOU ARE ALWAYS IN OVERTIME.
4. Your second half may be better than the first.
5. You may run out of time-outs. Adjust.
6. Expect turn-overs and play them.
7. It's not over until Lady Gaga sings - and then it's only half over.
8. Spectators, commentators, and wagerers have no effect on the outcome of the game. It is up to the players to play it.
9. Your opponents will offer as much resistance as they can. Expect it and resist it.
10. Keep playing and moving the ball.
I am just guessing that, if you follow these pointers, you will have better than a 50:50 chance of winning.
Remember, it only takes one point when the buzzer sounds.

Breaking the Chains of Procrastination

I was planning to write a piece on how to break the chains of procrastination, get free, and accomplish a goal, but I did not get around to it until now.

Having established that this is a common problem, let us all learn a few secrets to overcoming.

This article is a testimony, in and of itself, that it is possible.

Getting Up and Getting Going

You are sitting there, quite possibly stumbling upon this blog by accident because you are surfing the internet via a stream of consciousnesses in dedicated avoidance of whatever it is that you need to be doing right now.

I say this not as a prophet as much as a practitioner.

I can avoid tasks as much as the best of them… as much as you.

I find that avoidance falls into some neat yet overlapping categories for me. Together, they spell, “AVOID.”

Here they are:

A — Anxiety.

There is something irrationally or even legitimately frightening about the task to which we are committed. We are suffering from task-related anxiety. We are afraid to start.

V — Value.

We don’t personally value the task. Rather, it is a burden and a duty that has been imposed on us.

O — Obstacles.

We have listed as many as we can think of, but we are sure there must be more obstacles to starting — dull pencils, not enough information on hand, bad mood, weariness, no fresh ideas. The list goes on and on.

I — Intimidation.

The task is just so big that we cannot wrap our brains around it. We are intimidated by it.

D — Defeatism.

We do not believe in our capacity to do what must be done well enough and so our perfectionism is crippling us from doing anything. We have bought into a mood of defeat.

What must we do then?

Get up and get going!

Since we are already spelling, let’s continue:


G — Growl at yourself.

Get your attention somehow. You have lulled yourself to sleep and you can wake yourself up.

E — Energize.

Tell your body to move and then, move. After moving around, get a snack and make a decision to start.

T — Terminate

Terminate this connection (only after bookmarking this page) and get on with the task. It is time to leave motivation and move.


U — Unshackle.

Free your thinking from fear, intimidation, perfectionism, and obstacles. Get into a different mindset and focus on what you can do with what you do have right now.

P — Proceed.

There is no substitute for starting. So start. Do something. The job will organize itself as you go along. Resources will appear or you will realize what you do or do not really need.

Now, get GOING

G — Grab.

Take hold of your fear. It is your biggest enemy. The worst that can happen is a temporary failure from which you will learn lessons you could not otherwise be taught in any book.

O — Observe.

Take another look at the task and observe it in the larger context of why it is important. Find the value in it and do it.

I — Invert and Innovate.

Turn your obstacle thinking into opportunity thinking by of ways you can be innovative with this task and place your own unique mark on it.

N — Nudge.

Whatever intimidates you about this job is a bluff. Nudge it. Push back. Don’t let it be too big for you. Break it into bite size pieces.

G — Growl AGAIN!

This time with a shout of victory over defeatism.

Get up and get going.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

Make a Difference at Any Age.

Let’s all grow old, at least a little… | by Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas | Jan, 2023 | Medium


Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith “A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

Therefore I summon age

To grant youth’s heritage,

Life’s struggle having so far reached its term: 

Thence shall I pass, approved

A man, for aye removed

From the developed brute; a god though in the germ.- Robert Browning

If we are so blessed, we change in positive ways as we grow older. We grow younger in the ways that youth causes the soul to blossom. We grow old like those things which must be cured with time to reach their fullest potential...

Keep Reading at & via medium.com

Hidden Secrets, Salt, and Light


You are the light of the world!

You are the salt of the earth!

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

The Fellowship of Joy!

This is a message and sermon for The Fellowship of Joy all over the world.

That includes you!

Live Sermon will be added tomorrow, 2-5-2023, recorded  at 8:00 AM, from Facebook.com/tomsims

Discussion Questions for Small Groups at the bottom

You can organize your own groups of 2-3 or more where you are and we will assist you with resources.

The Message


Psalm 112 NRSVU

Praise the Lord!
Happy are those who fear the Lord,
who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
they will be remembered forever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady; they will not be afraid;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely; they have given to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked see it and are angry;
they gnash their teeth and melt away;
the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

You have, most likely. heard many sermons on salt and light and what it means for God's people to be like salt and light in the world.

Today, I just want to remind you that all of the ideas that arise from those two metaphors are very helpful and thought-propelling. I encourage you to review them, meditate upon them, and consider their benefits to the world.

But I am not going to focus there today.

The one thing both have in common is that they do good. They make the world a more livable and loveable place for people where people can see the love and glory of God.

Isaiah expresses God's desire for that kind of world as being the basis of our spiritual disciplines.

Isaiah 58:1-12 NRSVU

Shout out; do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they want God on their side.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day
and oppress all your workers.
You fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.”

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your needs in parched places
and make your bones strong,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

Download  and Listen to The Fast That Repairs and Brings Light

Isaiah takes us back in time. In his prophetic word, chapter 58, he is opening himself to allow the voice of God to speak through him and to ask the people a question, why do you fast?

Why do you fast? But you don't see?

Why do you humble yourselves? But you do not notice?

You serve your own interest on your fast day and you oppress all your workers. Uh, and it's true what Isaiah's saying and what Isaiah's allowing God to speak through him, that when they quarrel and fight and strike and act in selfish ways and do injustice, and then yet refrain from food and put off on slo and ashes, it's a contradiction.

They're contradicting their own beliefs. They're contradicting their own lives. They're contradicting their own religious behavior.

So in verse six of chapter 58, the question comes up because God poses it is not this the fast I choose to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppress go free and to bear every yoke.

God goes on This fast is for sharing your bread with the hungry and bringing the homeless pour into your house when you see the naked to cover them and not to hide yourself from your own kin.

We take up at verse eight, and there's a word of hope that goes with this admonition and condemnation. When you get it right, God says, then your light shall break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up quickly. Your vindicator shall go before you. The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the Lord will answer. You shall cry for help. And he will say, here, m i.

But verse nine, part b says, if you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of afflicted, then you're like shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like noon day.

The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your needs, impart to places, and make your bones strong.

And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

How would you like that reputation in this world and in the world to come? How would you like to be known that way as a restorer, as a repairer, as a rebuild of ancient ruins?

Would to God that we would have yoke removers among us, that we would have and be the people who share, the people who speak out against injustice, the people who work for justice, the people who love God's poor, God's people, God's oppressed, broken people in this world, and build them up, honor them, dignify them, and in so doing honor and dignify and glorify God, and bring glory and light in and through our own lives.


Tikkun olam  תִּיקּוּן עוֹלָם,.'repair of the world'  is an in Judaism, that names various action intended to repair and improve the world.

Isaiah says this is the glory of God being revealed.

Paul calls it all a great mystery that has been revealed in the good news. He calls it secret wisdom that has been communicated through the weakness of Spirit-empowered humanity and the cross of Jesus.

Secret Wisdom and Hidden Glories

Download  and Listen to Secret Wisdom

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory … But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him.” – I Corinthians 2:6 and 9

The hidden wisdom of God, revealed in Jesus and discerned by spiritual men, is offered to those for whom it is prepared. It is the wonder of God’s purposes and glory. It is shared on a “need-to-know” basis, as we need to know.

And what we do know is that there is much that we cannot know.

We have a glimpse if we have gained it through spiritual sight. We have the earnest of the Spirit. We are gladdened by promises from God Himself. But still, we see through a glass darkly. Only dim reflections illumine our insight into eternity for as yet, it is still far beyond us, above us, and other than us.

It is not that God does not want us to know or desires for us to remain in the dark; it is that we simply cannot receive the fullness of this knowledge while confined to time, space, and physical body. That is why what relatively little we know comes by other than intellectual receptors. In the meantime, He is preparing us for the day when we can know perfectly as we are known.

There is coming a time when all the secrets will be revealed. In that day, in a finite immeasurable moment, our eyes will be opened, and we shall be eternally with the Lord. Whatever we imagined about God and eternity, Heaven and glory in this life will not compare to what He has purposed to share with us.

Oh wondrous, glorious, mystery and bliss,

By grace, the moment we shall not miss,

Beyond the veil of time and space

When by His side we take our place.

1 Corinthians 2:1-16 NRSV

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within?

So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

What was in the mind of Christ as he walked, lived, and taught among us?

A Jewish Rabbi, who honored God's Law, Jesus said that he came to fulfill it. Further, he said that his disciples were called to exceed it by  living out its intentions and meaning.

True righteousness can never be only about dotting the letter "i" or crossing the letter, "T."

True righteousness is embodied in Isaiah's vision. It is Paul's mystery. It is the glory we experience when our righteousness comes by faith first and then enables us to live the lifestyle of Kingdom citizens.

Look to the word and heart of Jesus as he calls us to step out of ourselves and into the world as his people.

Matthew 5:13-20 NRSVU

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.


You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.

You live out the rituals and the law, the fasts, and the requirements of Torah, by having the heart and mind of Christ and by repairing, renewing, and restoring the world and its people.

Heal the world, and the song goes.

Do it because God has healed you and forgiven your sins in Christ. Do it out of joy. Do it as a response to grace. Do it because you have freely received that you might freely give.

Do it because, of all the things you can do and be, this is the one thing that is most satisfyingly and significant.

Now, hear this voice:

Small Group Discussion

  • Which of the scriptures or verses in this posting most describes where you are in life or speaks to you?
  • Why? How?
  • Is there a call to action in this message or in any of these passages for you, for your group r for your congregation?
  • What are some practical ways we can repair and restore where we live, being salt and light?
  • Are there obstacles? How will we deal with them? Can we stop and pray about them now?
  • What will we do between now and when we meet next?

List: Reading list | Curated by Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas | Medium

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Head Carriers


"The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around."
-Thomas A. Edison

We could say the same thing about the church as the Body of Christ.

It's chief function is to carry Jesus around, in the cities, in the countryside, on the land, on the sea, into the dark places, and wherever we go.

In weakness, He is strength. In helplessness, He is help. At the point of our extremities, God is sufficient. At the limits of our power and mobility, we rely on Him. His grace is enough. When we are powerless, we can know His greater power. When chaos bellows, shalom rules. Amen.

We are carriers of hope and glory.

Jesus took some of his disciples to the mountain to see his glory as a preview of coming attractions.

The vision of transfiguration comes in the days of preparation for intensifying opposition, humiliating disgrace, and unmerited suffering.
How could it be that one, illuminated in glory and endorsed by God, the Father, could be delivered to the hands of conniving men, beaten, scorned, falsely accused, and murdered?
How could it be?
Jesus counters that one's character, calling, and nature do not prevent suffering and unjust treatment in the world, Rather, they reveal the truth about ultimate reality, character, and vindication.
Three men needed this vision of what was real to carry them through the fog that was to come. Cling to the moments when God discloses Himself in your life because there will be long days of dark haze in which those moments may be your only guiding light.
This was another instance of Jesus preparing the future church to carry his head around and reveal his light and glory in a dark world.
Mark 9:2-13
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him." 

Up to Our Necks - Scripture Readings for Today

I Am

Up to My Neck in It All 



 Photo by Hughesdarren - Own work (Creative Commons). 

 Today's Readings in One Post from the NRSV)

We are up to our necks in
* Contradictory Realities
* Compassionate Welcome
* Contrasting Fruits
* Confounding Glory


We are up to our necks in Contradictory Realities.

"O God, you know my foolishness,
and my faults are not hidden from you ... But as for me, this is my prayer to you..."

Psalm 69

Salvum me fac

Save me, O God, *
for the waters have risen up to my neck.

I am sinking in deep mire, *
and there is no firm ground for my feet.

I have come into deep waters, *
and the torrent washes over me.

I have grown weary with my crying;
my throat is inflamed; *
my eyes have failed from looking for my God.

Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head;
my lying foes who would destroy me are mighty. *
Must I then give back what I never stole?

O God, you know my foolishness, *
and my faults are not hidden from you.

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; *
let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me, O God of Israel.

Surely, for your sake have I suffered reproach, *
and shame has covered my face.

I have become a stranger to my own kindred, *
an alien to my mother’s children.

Zeal for your house has eaten me up; *
the scorn of those who scorn you has fallen upon me.

I humbled myself with fasting, *
but that was turned to my reproach.

I put on sack-cloth also, *
and became a byword among them.

Those who sit at the gate murmur against me, *
and the drunkards make songs about me.

But as for me, this is my prayer to you, *
at the time you have set, O Lord:

“In your great mercy, O God, *
answer me with your unfailing help.

Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; *
let me be rescued from those who hate me
and out of the deep waters.

Let not the torrent of waters wash over me,
neither let the deep swallow me up; *
do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.

Answer me, O Lord, for your love is kind; *
in your great compassion, turn to me.”

“Hide not your face from your servant; *
be swift and answer me, for I am in distress.

Draw near to me and redeem me; *
because of my enemies deliver me.

You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; *
my adversaries are all in your sight.”

Reproach has broken my heart, and it cannot be healed; *
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I could find no one.

They gave me gall to eat, *
and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.

[Let the table before them be a trap *
and their sacred feasts a snare.

Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, *
and give them continual trembling in their loins.

Pour out your indignation upon them, *
and let the fierceness of your anger overtake them.

Let their camp be desolate, *
and let there be none to dwell in their tents.

For they persecute him whom you have stricken *
and add to the pain of those whom you have pierced.

Lay to their charge guilt upon guilt, *
and let them not receive your vindication.

Let them be wiped out of the book of the living *
and not be written among the righteous.]

As for me, I am afflicted and in pain; *
your help, O God, will lift me up on high.

I will praise the Name of God in song; *
I will proclaim his greatness with thanksgiving.

This will please the Lord more than an offering of oxen, *
more than bullocks with horns and hoofs.

The afflicted shall see and be glad; *
you who seek God, your heart shall live.

For the Lord listens to the needy, *
and his prisoners he does not despise.

Let the heavens and the earth praise him, *
the seas and all that moves in them;

For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; *
they shall live there and have it in possession.

The children of his servants will inherit it, *
and those who love his Name will dwell therein.


We are up to our necks in Compassionate Welcome.

" ... these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer ... I will gather the outcasts..."

Isaiah 56:1-8

Thus says the Lord:

Maintain justice,
and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.

Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil. Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from his people" and do not let the eunuch say, "I am just a dry tree."

For thus says the Lord:

To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant--

--- these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.


We are up to our necks in Contrasting Fruits

"By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit..."

Galatians 5:16-24

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.

I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.




We are up to our necks in Confounding Glory

"Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice,..."

Mark 9:2-13

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.

And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Then they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"

He said to them, "Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him."

A Stroke of Genius. On this day in 2012, I have a slip-up… | by Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas | Feb, 2023 | Medium

A Stroke of GeniusPhoto by Alexas_Fotos on UnsplashOn this day in 2012, I have a slip-up, a stroke of genius, a major fall.I called it a “Stroke of brilliance at the time.I finishing a pickup for our nonprofit thrift store and was unloading a tall, heavy entertainment center. It was as tall as me, maybe taller. I am six foot, two inches.Looking back, I want to say it was ten feet tall, but that would clearly be lying.

Demonstration Labs


We are works in progress!

NASA - A scale model of the Douglas SB2D Destroyer at the wind tunnel of the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California (USA), on 1 April 1942. Only two XSB2Ds were built plus 28 single seat versions, redesignated BTD-1.


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

We are prototype, still in development.

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 my life's goal, at this 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.




Truth to Power --- Prayerfully

Speak and pray

I am all for criticizing leaders, speaking truth to power, and holding that power accountable. However, I also know, that behind every position and title, there is a person who is a vulnerable, needy, and human as the rest of it.

If I do not devote more time praying for them than criticizing them, I am not acting in anyone's best interest.


Lord, God, I pray for our leaders and potential leaders, for our President and anyone who may come into that office. May they be blessed and guided, refreshed and equipped. You know no party and affiliate with none of our artificial labels.

May those who make critical decisions consult wise adviser and weigh the consequences of their decisions. May they act with compassion toward the poor and powerless and with fairness, justice, and pragmatism tempered with truth. May they be seekers, whether they be elected or candidates for election. Temper their speech. Grant them the grace to agree with their opponents when their opponents ring true. Grant them the courage to speak truth when no one else agrees. Grant them the confidence of their convictions and the humility of those who are willing to test those convictions.

May we, who occupy the highest offices of the land, citizens with the power to vote and speak, listen deeply, ignore rhetoric, and inform our consciences.

Then, when all the votes are counted, may we continue to speak truth in love and pray for those whom we have called to office, loving them and respecting them as our leaders, but also challenging them to greatness and righteousness.

Help us to appreciate those who differ with us, who challenge our own presumptions and assumptions. Teach us to listen to one another and respect our differences. Help us to embrace those who do not share our faith and appreciate the insights they bring to bear upon our minds knowing that You can speak to us through them.

Center us in truth. Thy Word is truth and you love truth wherever it leads us.

This is my prayer of the moment. In Jesus' Name. Amen.



“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” – I John 3:11

“Brethren, pray for us.” – I Thessalonians 5:25

Love is such a strong criterion for all our relationships that we are driven to prayer; that we might drink from wells of unconditional love. We plunge into the depths of God’s love that we might love one another. Therefore, we are compelled to seek him deeply in prayer for God is the source and the force of love. The Spirit’s course through our lives is an endless supply of agape.

We are called to seek God’s strength to love one another in prayer and to pray for one another that the love of God might flow through us substantively and visibly in a dark world.

Prayer is the expression of a love relationship with God that cannot help but overflow with love for others.

As we pray for one another, a miracle takes place. It is the miracle of empathy, for that is the soul of intercession. We feel the pain of the other for whom we intercede even as we experience his or her joy.

Consider the love prayers of Jesus as he interceded with his own blood. Allow his love to fill you and spill out from you into the dry and dusty world of the thirsty and loveless.

We are not capable in our flesh to love this way. We have neither the resources nor the inclination. We are at the mercy of God, and God is the one who can supply beyond our imagination. But we must find that supply in prayer and, in prayer, exercise the love that God supplies.


There is something powerful that happens in our lives when we seek God.

Jesus promised that all those who truly seek will find Him.

This requires an open heart.

Purity of heart and cleanliness of hands means that we bring no other motive or agenda, nothing in our hands or hearts, save the yearning to know God and worship Him in His fullness. S

eek His face today as you begin and as you continue.

In every face you encounter, seek His, in every circumstance, in every thought, word, and deed.

King of Glory

William-krause-IkYuzPneQWs-unsplash (1)Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

The God We Worship

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” - Psalm 24:1

Everything belongs to God. We have known this most of our lives as a theological truth. It is in the dimension of application that we are challenged to confront our ignorance on this subject. We have constructed exception clauses to make room for self-ownership and control over this and that. We want to think that some little ditty of a thing is ours and that we can have power over it. To this deception, the voice of God speaks clearly and forcefully, “No. It is mine. It always was and always shall be.

“For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” - Psalm 24:2

For starters, it is all His because it was His idea from the drawing board to the factory. He thought of everything, planned everything, made everything, and retains sovereignty over – your guessed it – everything. He made the world and all that it contains and filled it with wonder and surprise. He is the owner, but that is not the whole story. He is a generous God who shares all that He has and is with us and invites us to discover the wonder of it all and celebrate creation with Him.

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? ” - Psalm 24:3

When a soul discovers the wonders of God and His Sovereignty in creation and stands amazed at the glory of His Lord, there is but one response that rings true: worship.  “I must worship this great God,” is the heart cry of the honest seeker,” I must know Him! I must come into His presence! I must some how get connected with the source and object of my being.” And things, brings for the question of the ages, “Who can come before Him? Can I?”  You can, but you must come His way.

The People Who Worship

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. ” - Psalm 24:4

There is a lifestyle connection to worship. We cannot tolerate inconsistency in our lives that draws an arbitrary wall of separation between our relationship with God and those that we maintain with others. Nor can we divide our loyalties between false gods that give us temporary gratification and the only True God who has rightful claim to the world and all that is. Our hands are dirty and our hearts are divided. We are in dire need of the mercy and grace of God and His power to transform us into worshippers.

“He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. ” - Psalm 24:5

When one is qualified by God through grace to enter into His presence, a blessing follows. In a moment of immediate transformation, we are fashioned into pure hearted worshippers with clean hands and we enter into a new era of our lives that makes all that came before moot. God’s vindication covers our record and we simply stand before Him in awe. Our voices are lifted in worthy praise and we are blessed.

“This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:6

There is something powerful that happens in our lives when we seek God. Jesus promised that all those who truly seek will find Him. This requires an open heart. Purity of heart and cleanliness of hands means that we bring no other motive or agenda, nothing in our hands or hearts, save the yearning to know God and worship Him in His fullness. Seek His face today as you begin and as you continue. In every face you encounter, seek His, in every circumstance, in every thought, word, and deed.

The Way We Worship

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ” - Psalm 24:7

Expectancy calls for preparation. If our awareness of God’s glory is deep and our desire to worship, desperate, we will be anxious to lift up our heads to behold His face, to open the gates of our hearts for His anticipated entry. We will welcome Him wholeheartedly into the center of our lives and will exalt in His coming. The spirit of celebration and joy characterizes Old Testament worship, likewise, authentic Christian worship. The presence of God calls for singing and dancing. Lift up your heads!

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. ” - Psalm 24:8

 “Who is this King of glory?”  We tend to grow smug as we “mature” in the grace and knowledge of God. We hear the questions that we ought to be posing ourselves and point to the pages where we answered them in our notebooks years ago. We have gone shallow and are settling for yesterday’s encounter with God. If we think we really have a grasp on God, we are far, far away. Let us keep seeking and, as we seek, meet God in worship where the encounter is always new.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ” - Psalm 24:9

It is a refrain and we could simply overlook it and move to the next verse for commentary, but that would be an exercise in shallow worship. Something has changed in the last few days. We have a new way of singing this song, a fresh encounter with the Living God. We have deeper insights into what it means to lift our heads and open the gates. We have a more intimate relationship with the King of Glory having sought Him. We can never sing the same song twice the same way and call it worship.

“Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. ” - Psalm 24:10

Don’t assume that you know the answer just because you read a few sentences of devotional comment or thought the matter over. The Lord is Almighty – we shall never begin to fathom the riches of who He is or plumb the depths of His character and love. Glory annotates weight – a weight so heavy that is transcends gravity and displaces everything that comes across its path. He defies definition and demands reverence. When given the choice between shallowness and depth today, choose to go deep.

Dabble, Dive, Accelerate. Am I a dabbler or am I a diver? | by Tom Sims , Cultivator of Big Ideas | Jan, 2023 | Medium

Dabble, Dive, Accelerate

Photo by

If you are a dabbler, like I have often been with my hobbies and passing interests and avocations, you will make some progress, but it will be slow progress. I confess that sometimes on the important things, I will dabble, dabbling and distraction seem to go together. I dabble a little, distract myself, get distracted and distracted…

Q & Q & Q & A & Q

When I say, "Q & Q & Q & A & Q," I am describing a typical coaching session where the coach does far more asking and listening than answering.

It is a skill to answer a question with a question. It is difficult to acquire and remains difficult to practice once acquired.

It is also a very powerful tool in the hands of the person who knows how to ask the right questions at the right time.

I Want to Be Remembered, But ...


Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Yes, I do want to be remembered, but I also know that eventually, I will be forgotten.

That is OK.

What I really want is to contribute something that blends with other somethings and makes a difference in the world for good. Then, I want that new something that is blended with other somethings to take on a life and identity of its own and grow and be remembered for what it is, something positive, affirming, and compassionate.

That is what I really want to be remembered. Then, if someone thinks of Old Tom, I hope they will think of that.

My stone will read the day of my birth and the day of my death, but all the living will have been done in the tiny dash between.

Borders of Pleasant Stones


By User:Craig Michaud, CC BY 3.0,

“And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.” – Isaiah 54:12

Robert Frost, in “Mending Wall,” declared that “good fences make good neighbors.

Isaiah conveys a word from the Lord that seems to agree. He speaks of a day when there will be peace, righteousness, and freedom from fear. Security will be assured and life will be pleasant for the people of God.

One of the features of such a day will be clearly defined borders or boundaries. There will be no ambiguity, no argument, and no confusion over what is yours or mine and where one stands.

I crossed over into a neighbor’s yard out of necessity this very day. Yet, as I did so, I knew that without permission and agreement, I was trespassing. I would have been crossing a line I had no business crossing.

Isaiah’s prophecy anticipates the day when no one crosses the line of violation of another person’s rights and dignity. As one popular Christian song of the sixties put it, “We’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

What God will bring about as naturally as the rain in the righting of all things, we work very hard at today. What will flow freely in the day of the Lord’s righteousness, we struggle for in this realm of time, space, and sin. Lines of what is appropriate are being crossed all the time by some while others frantically seek to preserve them and protect what they perceive is their own.

In God’s new day, no one will have to protect his property, dignity, rights, or territory. God will take care of it all and it will be lovely.

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Download Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Today's Dad Jokes


Photo by Freddy Kearney on Unsplash

I tell "dad jokes" because they make me chuckle.

Then, when I repeat, other people chuckle for a different reason.

They chuckle because I look funny chuckling at my own silly jokes.

But, we all get to chuckle

"A dad joke is a short joke, typically a pun, presented as a one-liner or a question and answer, but not a narrative. Generally inoffensive, dad jokes are stereotypically told with sincere humorous intent, or to intentionally provoke a negative reaction to their overly-simplistic humor." - Wikipedia

No legged cow right where you left it
Q: Where do you find a cow with no legs?
A : Right where you left it.
No photo description available.
Q: What’s the best thing about Switzerland?
A: I don’t know, but their flag is a huge plus.
Aschenputtel cinderella
Q: What did Cinderella say when her photos did not show up?
A: Someday my prints will come
Q: Why did the picture go to jail?
A: Because it was framed.
Q: What did one toilet say to the other?
A: Are you OK? You look a bit flushed.
You have two options today:
Tell a dad joke or ...
Laugh at a dad joke.
Or Both!!!

Self-Doubt and Decision

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
What he said is always true. On one hand, we need the humility it takes to rethink our positions and consider other people's viewpoints. On the other  hand, we need the confidence to proceed with the possibility that we might be wrong.
We always be wrong if we do nothing,
If you have a viewpoint, it means you are located somewhere in space-time.
It means that, from that locations, you have the ability to see or perceive your surroundings and that you have a perspective from which to view that which is beyond you.
That is what it means, but it is somewhat meaningless unless you take into account an awareness of your location and the presuppositions associated with it.
If you are not aware of your filters, it is difficult or impossible to interpret what you see from where you are.
That being the case, you will need to make some decisions, taking into account, your biases, and points of view of others you respect.
It will require the kind of courage that Emerson suggested and the kind of humility that is necessary to grow and discern truth
Emerson also said,

“Don't waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
In our weakness, Go is our strength. In our helplessness, God is our help. It is good to be reminded that at the point of our extremities, God is sufficient. At the limits of our power and mobility, we can rely on God. God's grace is enough. When we are powerless, we can know, more fully, God's greater power. When chaos bellows, shalom rules. Amen.
One more from Ralph ...
"Never lose an opportunity for seeing anything that is beautiful; For beauty is God's handwriting...a wayside sacrament." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the meantime,

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." - Colossians 4:6

The Boat


From Mark 8:1-10

Who Provided the 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.


What Is Your Pronoun?



Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

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Dr. McElfresh wore a plaid, flannel shirt with a neck tie and a sport coat, and carried his Marlboro cigarettes in a Band-Aid can in his short pocket. He taught Greek and classical languages at Virginia Tech in the 70s and he was one of my most colorful professors there. When I inquired about a matter related to koine Greek, his answer was always the same, "The Greeks spoke Greek."

His other memorable quote, imprinted on my mind, was he had stopped trying to address letters to "Dear Sir or Madam" for fear of being offensive. He had simply moved to the greeting, "Good Creatures."

Some would say, he was far ahead of his time or far behind.

I have a been thinking about the awkward us of the pronoun “they” as a singular form of the personal pronoun.

At first my reaction was, “It's plural. It's poor English form. I don't like it.”

I am a grammar traditionalist. However, after reflecting, I will say that I've been living in a state of confusion as a writer and a speaker for several years regarding the correct gender pronouns.

Just because online and by name, you may not be able to tell if a person is male, female, or binary. And we have the issue of now even more complications on being able to discern which pronoun is appropriate.

Not everyone includes their, pronoun preferences in all communication channels. So, I wonder if a lot of this dissonance is about confusion. I am no stranger to confusion. Maybe I should welcome the pronouns, “they,” “their,” and “them” as a standard for everyone.

Indeed, it is showing up in some of the new business correspondence of today.

One thing we know about the English language is that it changes. Rules and forms change. Standards change. Everything changes. Language  evolves. Sometimes it takes a sudden departure up, down to the left or to the right. And I suppose that's okay.

So maybe I will give some consideration to this matter apart from any kind of political correctness or position on gender neutrality. There is a form of political correctness that I've always just called courtesy and good manners, that is,  addressing people the way they wish to be addressed.

  • Whether that's “sir” or “madam,” or “yes sir,” “no sir,” “Mister,” “Miss,” “Missus,” or “Ms.”
  • Your Honor, Your Majesty, Your Lofty Loveliness,
  • Pastor Reverend, Father, Rabbi, Grand Master
  • Officer, Deputy, Detective
  • All those variations.

Father, sister, brother.

And with that in mind, I can only say it may be a welcome change to have some standard that we can all somehow live by without the element of confusion. I want what I write and what I say, all humor aside, although, all humor is never aside, but this is serious, to stand the test of time and be relevant.

I know that not everything will always be relevant, but at least some of it be relevant for the future.

Don’t get me started on unisex bathrooms. I have always been in favor of first come, first serve private restroom is public. I might call that the Public/Private Sector.

So here it is. We do the best we can, and I will give some consideration to the pronouns. Them their, those, all of that.

And if you have “a beef” with that, take it to the pasture; I am a vegetarian.

No offense.


They Shall See God


Art by Laura James, LauraJamesArt.com

Big questions keep us awake at night. The answers define where we stand in relation to ultimate truth. They either cloud our view or take us to new vistas of awareness.

The psalmist asks a question.

Who can live close to God?

Who does God invite into proximity with the divine presence.

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

The grand question introduces the next set of lessons from the psalms and sparks the imagination of all earnest seekers. As believers in Christ, we have the answer in the gospel, but the very asking of the question is a matter of opening to God for all that He desires to teach us. Do not take truth for granted or treat it as if it were not ever new and renewing. Allow the question to move you to the next level of seeking as you go before the Father in prayer today.

Psalm 15:2 - … He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart…

Here we have an answer to the question posed yesterday, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary and live on your holy hill?” Consider this: not everyone wants that. For some, the price of letting go of blame and embracing righteousness is too much. Truth is too threatening, and the lure of sin is too great. The psalmist however, longs for the presence of God and that is what it means to desire eternal life and heavenly bliss. It is not the beauty of the hill that captures the heart, but the beauty of God Himself.

To desire God is to desire the qualities that God brings to our lives: blamelessness through forgiveness, righteous behavior through the power of grace, and a heart of truth by the transformation of the Holy Spirit within us. Let us pray for that heart change that redirects our focus from sin to God and then, our very longing for heaven will be indicative of our readiness to enter in.

Psalm 15:3 - … and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong, and casts no slur on his fellow man.

The man or woman who can stand with joy and confidence in the presence of God and fully embrace the wonder of His fellowship is in constant touch with his or her fellow human beings. Those relationships matter. They have affect upon and are affected by our vital and honest relationship with God.

It is not possible to claim footing on the holy hill while usurping the place of a brother or sister. Slander, malice, and simple disregard for the feelings of a neighbor are indicative of shaky spiritual grounding and contribute to spiritual tremblers in our fellowship with the Lord. Let the love of Christ enter your heart at the choice level in all of your dealings with those around you and express your deep desire to love God by loving others.

Psalm 15:4 - who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,

As we have so often noted, we must begin with the vile man within each of us and register our disgust with the vileness of our own sin natures. But we must go beyond that point. If we will despise the vileness within us, we must also honor the new man or woman recreated in God’s image that reveres God and loves truth.

That person lives inside of us as well and that person is fashioned by grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. He or she is the Christ-life gifted to us through new birth. There are new values and a new integrity that is constantly going for truth no matter what it will cost because God is truth and nothing else matters more than God.

If we will value and honor that person, it will grow and take over our lives. That is the person God has made you to be.

Psalm 15:5 - who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.  He who does these things will never be shaken.

What some have, in the past, called social gospel, the scriptures call justice and righteousness. It is a very clear matter to the earnest student of the Bible that one must deal fairly, honestly, and uprightly in every horizontal relationship if the vertical relationship with God is to flourish. Allow dishonesty, greed, malice, and bitterness to enter into your heart in any dimension of your being and it will undermine your footing before God upon the holy hill where you presume to stand erect.

The key to unshakable spiritual growth is to despise that which is vile and embrace that which is holy and true and to never compromise our purity of purpose in seeking God – whether our eyes are fixed toward His sanctuary or upon His face in the eyes one of His children.

Sing along with this video

1. Who may a bide in Your dwelling, O Lord?
He who walks rightly and follows Your word.
Who makes his home on Your high, holy hill?
He who speaks truth in his heart by Your will.

2. He shall not slander a neighbor or friend;
Neither does evil nor seeks to offend.
All who are wicked by him are despised;
God's faithful servants find praise in his eyes.

3. He keeps his word without thought to his pain.
Lends to the needy, expecting no gain;
Stands by the innocent man without fail.
He who does these things shall ever prevail.

Words: David P. Regier, Music: Traditional Irish Melody

In Micah’s day, the same questions were being asked.

Micah preached it poetically.

Micah 6:1-8, New International Version

Listen to what the LORD says:
“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains;
let the hills hear what you have to say.
“Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation;
listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.
For the LORD has a case against his people;
he is lodging a charge against Israel.
“My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.
My people, remember
what Balak king of Moab plotted
and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Out of the complex history of God’s dealings with his people up until that point comes a simple message.

In three short points, Micah summarizes the human obligation to God.

  1. Act with justice and fairness.
  2. Love mercy.
  3. Walk humbly with God.

When we walk in justice, we care about right and wrong in our personal lives, in our communities, and in the world.

We care about the poor, the wounded, the broken, and the disenfranchised.

We labor for the wellbeing of all people.

That is just justice. It is fair. It is right. It honors the dignity of humanity which is dignified by God.

But there is more. There is mercy. The people who love God, love mercy. The people who love mercy, feel the pain of others can care about them with great affection and passion.

Not to love mercy is to deny the heart of God and separate ourselves from God’s concerns.

Then, there is even more. The people who are drawn in to the inner circle of God’s presence are those who walk with God in humility. They have an honest view of themselves and a awe inspired view of God.

They cannot be self-focused because they have seen a glimpse of glory and that glory has humbled their hearts with reverence and joy.

Paul said such people who come to God in Jesus for mercy and grace, those who see God’s glory in the cross of Christ, those who have been transformed by the grace of God, are often considered as fools in the world.

How could thinking people accept such a simple and generous gospel?

1 Corinthians 1:18-31, New International Version

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

It is a great turn-round. Those who think they are clever, wise, sophisticated, powerful, and above-it-all will be frustrated and humbled. Those who have humbled themselves and received mercy shall be exalted.

Those who asserted their own importance shall realize how unimportant they are.

Those who knew they were weak and relied on God's strength shall be strong indeed.

God, working in Christ, makes people wise, and strong, and righteous as he redeems them and makes them holy.

It all makes sense in the charter message of the Kingdom of God, delivered on a mountain near the Sea of Galilee by Jesus himself.

Matthew 5:1-12, New International Version

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

    for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

    for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

    for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

    for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Let us  zero in on  verses 1 and 2

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:   And he opened his mouth, and taught them …” - Matthew 5:1-2:

The sermon on the Mount is the greatest description of kingdom living ever spoken.  Its ideals are high and unattainable in the flesh.  It lifts values and principles which go for the heart of God’s desire for the behavior of kingdom people.

To examine ourselves in their light is an arduous task.  It would be discouraging and debilitating apart from grace.  However, it can serve as a benchmark for progress is our spiritual growth.  It can also remind us that no matter how far we have come, God can take us farther.

With an Open Mouth

“And he opened his mouth, and taught them …“-Matthew 5:2

When Jesus began to teach, he opened his mouth. The words that came out were words of congratulations. They were words of encouragement. They were spoken to the multitudes. They were spoken to disciples.

They were spoken to men and women who were poor come who were in mourning, who were meek hungry for righteousness merciful sincere and peacemakers. They were these characterized by all of these descriptions, or they aspired to be the people Jesus described and would become them.

They were people who would know persecution and hardship and sorrow.

So, Jesus called them blessed.

Some call this blessedness happiness.

Some call it congratulations.

Whatever it is called the poor are blessed because of their greatest possession the Kingdom of God.

Mourners are blessed because of anticipated comfort from God. The meek are blessed because in their powerlessness they find great power to inherit the earth. It is a world of opposites that we enter when we invited into the Kingdom of God.

We become odd people, people who cannot be put into a box, people who are not easily defined.

We are blessed when we are persecuted. We win by losing. We gain great mercy in showing mercy. Our eyes are cleared to see God when they are purified by our hearts which are sincere before God in their seeking.

Rejoice Jesus says. Rejoice when you are beat up. Rejoice when people speak evil against you falsely. Rejoice when you are reviled. Rejoice and be glad. You have a great reward awaiting you in heaven.

Those who find the way of Jesus, the simple gospel of God's Kingdom, and answer the gracious, welcoming invitation to come, are invited to the Holy Hill. They are drawn into divine proximity. They are ushered into the sanctuary.

The Kingdom of God is made up of common people with a sincere desire to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, all of whom have had multiple failures in that attempt. However, they have risen from the failures, accepted forgiveness, and have started over - sometimes over and over.

They are a rejoicing people that are hard to understand, but they keep rejoicing because they have found a way like no other way.

Theirs is the Kingdom of God and they shall see God and for them, that is the greatest reward of all.

Wear Your Own Armor

Michelangelo _David_and_Goliath

Michelangelo, David and Goliath, Sistine Chapel

You remember the Bible story of David and Goliath.

Do you remember that when David approached Saul with the request to be sent to confront Goliath, the king tried to outfit the young shepherd?

David would not and could not wear Saul’s armor to battle Goliath. He was not Saul. He was not Saul’s size. He needed his own garb and his own weapons.

He was armored only with confidence. His only real weapon was a stone. 

When we realize that we are unique, fearfully and wonderfully made people, we will come to be free to be ourselves. We won’t try to fit into someone else’s armor or style. We will celebrate our own personalities and unique voices for sharing the message that has been seared into our hearts. 

We will abandon the need to use boiler plate strategies, jargon, and methodologies. 

We will awaken to the reality that no one else and be who we are nor do what we can do. We are gifted in our own ways and our giftedness becomes part of God’s gift to the world.

Try this on for size today: Be the you that you were made to be.

If you are not you, no one else will be. The world will lose something valuable and, perhaps crucial to its survival
Living, itself, is a testimonial to others. That may be what you bring to the battle.

Just living is harder for some folks than any other challenge. They put on the armor that fits them and they go out to face their giants. 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 and with joy on the wheel of suffering.

Only God can measure the results.

Be you.

Wear your own armor.