Monday, November 23, 2020

Don't Waiver

Jesus walks on water:  Matthew 14: 25-33 

Truly, you are the Son of God!

The story of Jesus walking on water brings us to several magnificent ideas about the Lordship of Jesus and the spectacle of Peter.  Peter wants proof Jesus is not a ghost;  he wants a miracle.  The one who fails the miracle is Peter.  Jesus offers the proof for them all, but Peter misses it.  Peter first walks on the water but becomes afraid as he looks to the danger and not to Jesus.

"Why did you doubt me?" Jesus asks.  My interpretation is "Why did you waiver?" Why did you take your eyes off of me? Get distracted?  Question my power?

Those in the boat, though, did not miss what was happening.  They beheld the whole scene in its entirety.  They were rapt!  As a result, they worshipped at the feet of Jesus.  They now recognized the status of Jesus as the Son of God. 

 "You really are the Son of God!"

Can distant observers see better than those enmeshed in a situation?  Would they be the better judge of conclusions?  As I interact with my Lord, maybe it would be best to get other's opinions and conclusions before I form my own.  I am like Peter, too prone to panic.  I too easily get distracted.

Maybe I do need to listen to trusted, other voices so I can see what they see.


Wednesday, October 28, 2020


 God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.                                                                  I John 4:13

Never has been an element of God so maligned and misrepresented as the Spirit of God!  It's a shame, given that this entire chapter of 1 John is the one which says, "test the spirits" so as to know the Spirit of God and then proceeds to tell us the markers, the evidence of this Spirit:

vs 2 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body.

vs. 6 If someone who "belongs" to God tells truth about him.

vs 12 If we love each other, God (by implication His Spirit) lives in us and God's love is brought to full expression in us.

vs 13  When Jesus is claimed as the Son of God, which is his rightful relationship with God.

Throughout these verses, love is the outcome of these guides to the Spirit's presence.  If any of these truths lead to any hate or deception, then they are not properly held truths.  To "hold" these truths rests in our ability to align our lives with the reality of a living God who inhabits his people.  The result will be known truths about the nature of God, which in its fullness is the expression of God, which is seen in the comradery, the family nature of the body of believers.  There will be no fear and no hate.

Most translations call this love for "brothers" or "brothers and sisters."  The Greek is adelphos, literally meaning someone who has shared parents or a shared ancestry.  It comes from a household word which means "womb."

The closeness we are to hold for each other indicated here cannot be overstated.  And the damage sin has done to the original family and many others cannot be ignored.  For some, the animosity between siblings is devastating.  Sibling rivalry is a common theme for many.

How do we then learn sibling love?  From the power of our acquired status as children of God.  Paul says it eloquently and connects life in the Spirit again with love:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  And you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you have received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, "Papa."  And his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs.  In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God's glory..."  Romans 8:14-17a"

Adoption and heirship is  powerful in New Testament culture.  Adoption is more powerful legally than sonship in the Greek culture (Romans is written to Greeks): it is irrevocable.  It is a message we need to hear.  God will not give up on us and he wants our joining of spirits to give us all privilege of sonship, the greatest legacy of which is love.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Love is a Lifestyle

 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion - how can the love of God be in that person?  

Dear ones, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.  Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

1 John 3:17-19

Compassion rules the day when it comes to God.  Love is the hallmark of the Christ way!  Sharing out of your plenty is always a good course.  This is because love is not a theory, not just a good idea.  It is a lifestyle. 

Make love your way of life.  Love in deed:  make it your business, your product, an act of labor.  And make it the basis that represents the truth about your life with Christ.  This truth is a visible reality that is objectively seen and is done with excellence, candor and with purity.  It seeks not its own extolment - just love's cause.  It is an honest presentation of the love in the heart of a person.  

Let there be no doubt what feeds and drives your life.  God's love in you makes it possible for your to purely love others, for you cannot give what you do not have for yourself.  So, if you want to love others well, garner the love of God thoroughly for yourself:

     - Let your roots grow down into God's love (Eph 3:17)

     - Have the power to undersand how wide, long, high and deep God's love is. (Eph 3:18)

     - Seek Christ's love with faithfulness. (Eph 6: 23, 24)

     - Receive the Holy Spirit, which God intended to use to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:5)

     - See the proof of God's love for us in that God sent Christ to die for us, while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8)

     - Fear nothing!  Love wins over all earthly powers! Rest in the triumph of love! (Romans 8:38, 39)

When God's love is completed in you, your love for others will be complete.  

Monday, September 21, 2020


 Consider the quality of love God has bestowed on us that we are named children of God.  Thus we are!  And just as the world does not know or understand, much less have a relationship with Him, we do!  

Beloved, we are God's children, in more than name.  It is our destiny, though he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears.  We do know we will be like him because we will truly see him as he really is.

This being our expectation, we will keep ourselves pure, just as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3

Purity - a set apart set of behaviors.  What does it mean to put away distractions and prepare for Jesus' presence?  Purity seems hard to pursue:  pulling away from the world's demands, preparing to enter the presence of Jesus.  

The Jews would do outward exercises.  Oils and teas?  Water and soap?  What stripping and anointing will cause me to be pure?  I first thought evil was the problem, but maybe busyness is the real problem.  Distractions.  Shiny things. Worry.  The world's agenda.

Is it about strictness and censure or an awakening that causes all worldly attachments to fall away?  

This makes me think of Step 11 of the Twelve Steps:  Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

Conscious contact.  An awakening to the presence of God in all things and the possibility of the Kingdom of Heaven to be present now.  Of all the things I have ever been in pursuit, this is the hardest.  In some ways, it is less tangible than worldly pursuits.  In other ways, it is the greatest reality to which I can hold.  Conscious contact.  Get "woke" to the possibility that I can be prepared to seek Christ in this day and in his future coming.  Might I miss the coming if I haven't sought it in the day I hold?

To seek out purity is to stay "woke" to the truth of the coming King.  All other worldly matters are either vehicles to ride into his presence or be discarded.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020


Don't fall in love(1) with this corrupt world or worship the things it offers.  Those who love its corrupt ways don't have the Father's love(2) living in them.  These do not come from the Father:

     the allure of pleasure (the lust(3) of the flesh(4))

     the passion to have things (the lust of the eyes(5))

     pompous superiority (pride (6)of life (7)).                                         1 John 2:15-17

I think the original language has a lot to teach us here, so I've highlighted certain words.  Let me explain:

Don't fall in love (1) - agapao - to love in a social or moral sense; to welcome or entertain; to be content with.  This world is not enough for you.  You are made for something more than it has to offer.  Don't attach to lesser things, lesser parts of who you are.

The Father's love (2) - agape - connected to a person, this word now is a noun - affection, goodwill, family love.  With the descriptor of "Father," love now is a give and take, relationship-based affection.

Lust (3) of the flesh (4) - Lust - ephithmyia - desire, craving especially for what is forbidden.  Flesh - sarx - this is not the body literally but the sinful response of people which leads them away from God.  "Sensual" might be a better term.  Peter describes it well:  "fleshly (sarx) desire (epithymia) by sensuality (aselgeia)."  2Peter 2:2)  The sense that it is the unbridled demands of lasciviousness and wantonness:  out of control, even to the point of addictive-type behaviors. ("I couldn't stop myself.")  It is not our senses and desires, except when hijacked, when  good sense and godly directives become driving forces.  Kind of like the difference between eating and gluttony, sex and pornography, anger (not a sin, you know) and rage, even need and want.  

Lust of the eyes (5) - ophthalmos - metaphorically, the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing - focusing.  What you attach to, find alluring.

Pride (6) of life (7) - Pride - alazoneia - bragging, arrogance which trusts in its own power especially over divine laws and human rights; an empty presumption.  Life - bios - the course of life; that by which life is sustained, its goods and resources.  Might have an emphasis of "personal trust in how a person's life is resourced by self."

Essentially, this world should not be held in higher regard than the eternal Kingdom, which we are called to recognize and live into even in the present.  As we seek Kingdom presence and ways, as we realize in its realities our needs on earth will be met in a deeper and continual fashion.  We are to seek that Kingdom - zeteo - crave it!  Desire it first!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Truth 2

 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you;  rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning.  The old commandment - to love one another - is the same message you heard before.  Yet, it is also new.  Jesus lived the truth of this commandment and you are also living it.  For the darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining.

If anyone claims, "I am living in the light," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.  Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble, but anyone who hates another is still living and walking in darkness.  Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.

1 John 2:7-11

Hate has no part.  No part in light.  It is only present in darkness.  There is someone I would "love to hate," but I cannot.  Jesus' example says I may not.  I realize that which I allow in my heart  - specifically to hate someone -- causes me to dish out on myself that very hate.

When that form of hate is unforgiveness, it inhabits sin and haunts my soul.  When I don't embrace (love) someone, I fail to embrace myself, not being far removed for the cause of hate in others.  Forgiveness has a big price tag.  Jesus paid that price so that I and my fellow Christian don't pay for it, except when we reject that forgiveness.  Then someone will pay.

Either the offender pays or the offended pays.  Sometimes both because compensation may not always cover the offense, even with good intentions.  So Jesus' work on the cross becomes paramount for my peace personally and relationally.  There is too much sin to manage on my own.

So, love, I must!  Forgive, I must!  I am ready to extend that which I learned from the one who loved first and best.  I am ready to forgive as freely as I have been forgiven.

To live in the light - the path lit, being able to see, being able to discern - is the course of true freedom.  "The way to go" can only be known when there is light.


Make it so!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


 Dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.  But, if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate who pleads our case before the Father.  He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.  He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins--and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.  

We an be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.  If someone claims, "I know God," but doens't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and not living in the truth.  But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him.  That is how we know we are living in him.

Specifically, those who say they live in God should livve their lives as Jesus did.

1 John 2: 1-6

This is the holiness standard:  avoiding sin, keeping Jesus' commandments in such a way that demonstrates an intimate relationship with Jesus.  It includes walking the same path as Jesus.

Where can we learn about intimacy?  The word here in the Greek, is the word for sexual intimacy, which is a metaphor for its other definitions.  It involves a meaning around deeper perception and understanding.  It is a comfort, a caring, a common experience, a shared history that allows for stability, growth and care of others.

That's my love life with my husband.  As we know each other deeply, our relationship is grown and is consistent.  Out of its strength and depth, we are both in a position to love others who need it.  Some marriages only have enough stability and strength to love their children or maybe their immediate family.  The ability to provide strength and stability demonstrates the marriage's depth and security.  The ability to be part of impact on a community comes from depth of relationship in a marriage.

Holiness is a relationship pursuit with Jesus Christ such that there is revelation and restoration for person, family and community.  The ongoing commitment to Jesus is about intimacy-building.  The comfort and care, a reflection on our past experiences together allows for stability, growth and care for others, as my marriage deonstrates.  It is proof of being on the same path as Jesus.

Sunday, August 09, 2020


 God is so rich in mercy and he loves us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sin, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you are saved.  For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and sealed us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-6, 7-10

Over and over I read about the generosity of God and the sacrifice of Jesus to deliver these riches to us. These origins of the faith, I cannot forget:  my peace from His torture, my healing from His wounds.  Heavenly realms are spoken in the present tense.  It’s now.   

“He raised me up” is the song by Josh Groban:

            He raised me so I can stand on mountains…

            He raised me up to walk on stormy seas….

What low place might we feel right now?  How might we “sit” ourselves in the heavenly realms with Christ?  Take 2 minutes and breathe that truth.  

So God can point to us in the future as the example of his incredible wealth of his grace and kindness, to show what is available for those united with Christ.

A life of meaning comes from the design of God.  We are to be the example to a lost world of his incredible grace and kindness.  To allow His gift to us to flow out is a gift, an honor, a burden.  The world doesn’t always seem to welcome it, but we an do no other thing.  Consider how we can show grace and kindness in all the places we are.

Monday, July 20, 2020


Jesus told them:  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but wiall have the light of life."  The Pharisees complained, "You are bearing witness about yourself;  your testimony is not true."  Jesus answered, "Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don't know these things...
                                                                      John 8:12-14

Jesus comes as a witness, about himself and about God.  His truth comes from the Father:

"I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me."  (verse18

Jesus' truth comes through the Father and has its beginnings and endings in the Father.  In fact, Jesus claims to be the very evidence of the Father.  If you know Jesus (and the truth he tells) then you know the Father and His truth.

With competing priorities and half-truths (i.e. lies) continually around us, we need foundational truth.  This includes half-truths about our very identities.  Thus, truth becomes significant in our thoughts about our value and worth and thus our identity.  

As "Word of God," Jesus expresses God's foundational truth.  This can be seen in his teaching, his life, his death and resurrection.  This Word include what is accepted as Scripture formally and what is revealed by Jesus Holy Spirit, which he promised.  I must live by this pentultimate truth.

Thank you, Lord, for Jesus, your written Word and the continued conversations.  I need you, Father, every moment!

Friday, July 10, 2020


So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on (get comfortable, button up, wear well) a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

As companions, bear with one another (stand together) and, even if a complaint, forgive each other.  In the same fashion as the Lord has forgiven you, you must forgive each other.

Above all this, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Colossians 3:12-14

Paul wants us to know who we are and whose we are, chosen with purpose by God.  Purposefully chosen and called to a purpose that can demonstrate His character to the world.  We are to get comfortable with the traits of His chosen people.  Wear them well, display them elegantly.  The Greek word is one of getting a robe put on correctly and getting comfortable in its layers.  The metaphor is perfect.

How might I get comfortable with compassion - letting my heart go out to others?  How might I be practiced in demonstrating kindness to all which whom I come in contact?  The robe I wear is not one of my own doing - making or earning - so being humble in this sacred role as chosen one, I must embrace. I must practice;  I must become "at home" in this role.  Whatever else I must take off or lay aside so that my own ego and personality might not keep me from gentleness or patience, I must!

My identity has changed.  I am no longer the rebellious one.  No longer the rogue warrior.  Now my identity originates from God's definitions and joins with His other chosen ones, because our level of interaction is further proof of this identity, which is not an individual one, but a communal one.  How I stand with my fellow appointees, especially in the application of love with each other, reveals the truth about me, the truth about the origins of my identity and my commitment to living out this role, which I gather from God and His truth about me.

Anything which tries to draw me away from these truths is suspect.  Anything which distracts me from my purpose is disposed of.  And actually, Paul gives us a way to identify the ways which will keep us focused as he continues:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your thankful...let the word of Christ dwell with you, teaching and admonishing one another...and whatever you do, whether word or deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God....(verses 15-17)

Gratitude is the lead and follower in this chosen life!  What an honor!  What an opportunity!   What a high calling that should give us pause and power, to the glory of the one and only Son of God!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

In a Pandemic

It's Saturday.  The day following the Crucifixion.  All hope has been wrenched away.  Terror reigns over what is left.  

We know what the disciples did not:  Resurrection is coming.  It's the last thing on their minds.  They are shaken.  They are hiding.

After our own peace is gone, when some terror invades our day and we are in the space of unknowns, the space of affliction, are we holed up somewhere like the disciples were?  Like them, are we stunned into paralysis?

But resurrection is coming!  When Jesus appears, there is disbelief and shock and there is glory!  Suddenly, so much is revealed:  the truths Jesus spoke about now seem real to the disciples. Eternity looks different.  Not only is He alive, but the disciples are enlivened.  They and the world will never be the same.

This is our Saturday.  Instead of cowering in fear, what if we looked for the glory of God?  Could a new reality emerge that would give us a new way to live?  Understandably, we cannot foresee on this, our Saturday, what may be brought to life later, but let's take this Saturday to grieve, heal and anticipate.  Especially, to look for that which would give glory to God!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Our Faith...

Our faith is in 
God the Maker
     Seen in creation
     Revealed in Scripture
     Experienced within,

Jesus His Son
     Known through his life
     Revealed in Scripture
     Experienced within,

The Holy Spirit
     Known in history
     Revealed in Scripture
     Experienced within.

For the Word of God in scripture
     within us
     among us
     reveals a living and active God.

Spirit of the living God,
Fall fresh on me.
Bless me.
Bless those in the world.
Bless us through this day.
Let us be part of the revealed and experienced love of God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


John 8:2-11

Early in the morning, Jesus came again to the temple.  All the people came to him and he sat down and taught them...

Here is Jesus asserting himself as teacher and many gave him an audience.  He is in the middle of several  teaching opportunities and confrontations with the religious leaders during the time of the Festival of Shelters, a time of celebration and gratitude by the Jewish nation.  He had hesitated to go at first, because he knew he was a marked man, but in his own time he went.  And in his own time, he took his seat and began teaching.  In the middle of the feast. In full view of the crowds and the religious elite.

After a couple of days of this, the religious leaders vacillated between awe and feeling threatened, so they plotted a public entrapment:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst of the crowd, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery..."

While they sought to condemn her, their real intention was to trick Jesus into some heresy or blasphemy by which they could have some charge to bring against him (vs 6).  As Jesus has been demonstrating his power and authority to set the standard in his teaching, the religious authorities recognized the power he held and wanted to subvert it, if possible.

I love how he was clever enough to not be tricked by their obvious question:  "Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  What do you say?"

Jesus turns it into a judgment on the Pharisees and scribes:  turning the condemnation they tried to exert onto the woman, instead, onto themselves.  Jesus calls out the real perpetrators of the crime in this case:  male, religious, a patriarchal and misogynist culture.  He knows that the woman  is a victim of gender placement in the minority culture of womanhood.  He has compassion for her.

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 

There it is!  Busted!  The condemned cannot condemn others.  Jesus didn't judge them, he let them judge themselves.  He let them own their truth about their own positional righteousness (or lack thereof).  

One by one, they slipped away.  How many of them might have actually used this sex slave, as all prostitutes are?  How many of them realized the eyes that were on them from the crowd, who had also bore the religious elite's high-minded judgments? 

Remember the marginalized and how their victim status might be perpetuated by your own actions.  Be careful how you judge others:  it could be the standard by which you are judged.  It's time we all came clean and told the truth about ourselves, at least to ourselves.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Get Muddy!

5-year-old Jude had a hard day.  He'd managed to be in 3 timeouts by 2:00pm.  The usual pleasures offered him, he turned away with disdain:  no blow-up pool could substitute for the new pool at his house; the park was mundane and not worth the walk (even though I offered to drive us).  He had hoped for the company (distraction) of the neighbor kids, but they were gone for the day.

He decided the sprinkler felt good.  The bubble maker was a good choice:  he could have the bubbles all to himself.  Then, he was reminded of the place behind the garage where he could get dirtiest and engage his imagination unfettered:  the sand path lined with stones.

With a "digger" in hand and some sand toys, he could devise cities, individual lives of sea creatures or totems to an underground army.  So, he dug, buried stones, piled stones.  He and his grandfather, who leisurely accompanied Jude, discussed whatever possibilities existed in the day. I half-listened from a bench nearby.

Suddenly, I pay attention to a question Jude asks:  "Is gravity everywhere?"
"Yes," I answer.
"Well, not here," he says.  I look up to see him lightly skip-dancing down the path.

He found his happy place.

He was wet and sandy. Holes were dug in the path.  Rocks were half-buried in the sand.  Muddy handprints on the garage.  It might be not be pretty, but it was beautiful.

He had found his happy place.

Where might we find our happy place in a day of discontent?  Do we need the discourse of our Father?  To dig deep into the usual well-kept parts of our lives?  Make a mess? Get dirty?  Find your happy place.  Be sure to get a good hosing afterwards.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


"Look, you scoffers! Be shocked to death!
For in your days I am doing a work,
a work you will never believe, 
even if someone tells you plainly!" (from Habakkuk)

Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave the synagogue, but the people wanted to hear more and urged them to return the following Sabbath. As the people dispersed after the meeting, many Jews and converts to Judaism follow Paul and Barnabas.  Paul and Barnabas continued teaching them privately and urged them to remain steadfast in the grace of God.  The next Sabbath, it seemed the whole city had gathered to hear the message of the Lord.  But some of the Jewish leaders were jealous when they saw these huge crowds.  They argued with Paul and Barnabas about their teaching.

Paul and Barnabas responded with great confidence:  It was only right that we should bring God's message to you Jewish people first.  But now, since you are rejecting our message and, by doing so, identifying yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to outsiders (Gentiles).  Remember the Lord's words:

I have appointed you a light to the nations beyond Israel,
so you can bring redemption to every corner of the earth...."

Acts 13: 41-52

Paul asserts that the good news is for all.  Jesus came to complete the work of the Jewish nation: salvation for all.  They failed; He prevailed.

I am sometimes like the Jews, presuming the message is personal, when it is also universal. This causes me to question myself.

Do I take for granted that the salvation message is for me and mine, forgetting the universality of God's intention?  Do I look on certain groups as outside the circle of "privilege" of being a member of God's household?  Do I keep others out with my exclusivity?  Let it not be so!  

Help me to provide comfort where ever it is needed!  Let my life be an example of Christ's offer to come into the family!


Sunday, May 03, 2020


2 Peter 1:3-8

God’s divine power gives us everything we need…
What!?!?  How did I miss this?  Everything?  I need?  I need to understand the fullness of the fact that God is working toward my good and knows what I need most.

to reflect God’s true nature and to experience the holy life, a godly life
Ain't  that a caution!  I have been trying to do it all along by following rules, doing all the religious things, but God’s power connects me to life in him, the kind of life I have been trying to achieve all along.  

we have received all of this by knowing him, who has called to us by his glory and virtue…
I love this.  I love him.  That is to be my pursuit: knowing him.  When I see him and see his glory and virtue, I am drawn into the relationship circle of God, Father and Spirit and enveloped into his true nature. (Jesus says this in John 17)

and this is a great and precious promise that enables you to share in his divine nature…
Divine nature.  That holy and righteous life that, with exposure, becomes who I am.  Becomes my nature, too.  I think of it like having a mentor or coach.  The more I go to practice, the more I get in on the planning and practice, I become part of the team.  In this case, part of a team which overcomes sin, overcomes corruption.

so make every effort to respond to God’s promises
So, I grasp the promises.  I make the promises part of my mantra, my purpose, my being.  I bring myself as close to these promises as possible.  It’s like winning the lottery:  I have to go to the store and claim the promises.  And with fervor:  with haste and with due diligence.  

Then Peter gives very specific instructions about the steps for claiming this victory:
…To achieve this, you will need to add virtue to your faith and then knowledge to your virtue.  Then add discipline and to discipline add endurance.  To endurance add godliness, and to godliness add affection for your brothers and sisters in faith.  Finally add love.

If you possess these traits (in your nature) and multiply them, you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with Jesus Christ… 

The NIV says, The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of, your relationship with Jesus Christ.

You will ABOUND in your relationship with Jesus.  It will be full and plentiful.  You will relish and grow these traits because they are the vehicles towards a full relationship with the God of the universe.  You will be rich in the resources of the relationship with Jesus for a holy, godly life.
I never thought I lacked perseverance, but these markers of progress really give me a measure of life in Christ.  As I keep my emotions balanced through these disciplines, I remember God and his intent for me.  In the end…in the end…these become evidence of my life with Jesus to the end.


Holy One,
there is something I wanted to tell you,
but there have been errands to run,
bills to pay,
arrangements to make,
meetings to attend,
friends to entertain,
washing to do...
and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you,
and mostly I forget what I'm about,
or why.
O God,
don't forget me, please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Eternal One,
there is something I wanted to tell you,
but my mind races with worrying and watching,
with weighing and planning,
with rutted slights and pothole grievances,
with leaky dreams I keep trying to plug up;
and my attention is preoccupied
with loneliness,
with doubt,
and with things I covet;
and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you,
and how to say it honestly
or how to do much of anything.
O God,
don't forget me please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Almighty One,
there is something I wanted to tell you
but I stumble along the edge of a nameless rage,
haunted by a hundred floating fears and...
I forget the real question is that I wanted to ask,
and I forget to listen anyway
because you seem unreal and far away,
and I forget what it is I have forgotten.
O God,
don't forget me please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

O Father in heaven,
perhaps you've already heard what I wanted to tell you.
What I wanted to ask is
forgive me,
heal me,
increase my courage, please.
Renew in me a little of love and faith,
and a sense of confidence,
and a vision of what it might mean
to live as though you were real,
and I mattered,
and everyone was sister and brother.
What I wanted to ask in my blundering way is
don't give up on me,
don't become too sad about me,
but laugh with me
and try again with me,
and I will with you, too.
What I wanted to ask is
for peace enough to want and work for more,
for joy enough to share,
and for awareness that is keen enough
to sense your presence,


Saturday, April 18, 2020


The crowds increased around Jesus, looking for a sign.  Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation.  It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah...The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here."  
Luke 11:29-32

Jesus often drew a crowd.  The people could see that Jesus held power, and maybe some even saw the good or could see God in what He did, but they wanted to use that power for their own definition of "good."  The crowd's interest was often less about relationship with him and more about getting what they wanted.  Those crowds wanted their own "sign," their own evidence for truth.  They often wanted a miracle that would satisfy them. 

 Jesus warned that any sign they received would not be what they expected.  How many times have you asked for something from God and didn't quite get what you wanted?  Maybe you found it lacking because it didn't fulfill your definition of "good."  

I have found that we like to dictate our requests to God to include the answer, as if he didn't know what we needed.  The truth is that we are the ones who don't always know what we need.  We go for relief, plenty or comfort, but what if "good" does not include ease?  What if God knows our requests are often limited to the present, the immediate? Imagine:  what if He knew better!    I think God is often saying to us, "Wait." "No." or "Better than this."

Jesus makes it clear that the "better" is repentance because that is what brings us the most of what we need - God himself.  Thus, He says the only "sign" would be one that compelled repentance, like what happened to the Ninevites.  Our sights are set low; we don't see the truth of what we need them most, so he adds,

"No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.  Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When you eyes are healthy, your whole body is also full of light.  But when they are unhealthy, you body is also full of darkness.

See to it then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Then, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you."

Could the crowds see it?  Could their "eyes" allow for light or would they stay darkened to the truth of what they needed most?  And us, can we be enlightened about our need for repentance, and thus to be righteous, or darkened to sin and its consequences in our lives?  When we go to request something from God, do approach with our own pretentions or do we desire God?  

Repentance is our greatest chance to finally be as we were intended:  holy and present to God.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Witness Protection

So it comes down to this:  since you have been raised with Jesus, the liberating King, set your mind on heaven above.  The Anointed Jesus is there, seated at God’s right hand.  Stay focused on what’s above, not on earthly things, because your old life is dead and gone.  You new life is now hidden, enmeshed with Jesus who is in God.  On that day when Jesus, who is our very life, is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory! 
Colossians 3:1-4

Anyone who is looking for the ways to follow Christ need not look any farther than Colossians 3.  Other places in the New Testament can help us see the divinity of Christ, the development of theology and evidence of the kingdom of heaven.  But here in the third chapter of Colossians is the key strategy for following Jesus in companionship with others.  Paul gives us directives and the source for living out those directives.

Paul is clear that my old life is gone and my new life is now hidden and enmeshed in Jesus.  Sounds like I am in a witness protection program, with Christ as the director, to the point that I have a new identity and new manner of living.  This make-over should make me completely separated from and unrecognizable to my previous life of sin (verses 5-10).  I no longer inhabit any previous spaces, nor engage in any former behaviors and be so far removed from that previous life that I am no longer identified by it.

The entire escapade of new life begins with an identity change:  You have sloughed away your old skin along with its evil practices for a fresh new you, which is continually renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One who created you.  (Colossians 3:9b-10 )  The make-over begins and is continual and puts my new design in direct correspondence to the image of Jesus.  I will now look like him and look like nothing of my former self.

Then, Paul makes it clear that I need to walk away from my former life.  Do I yet visit the neighborhood to keep my connections?  Do I hide somewhere in my being some part of my former life?  Or am I willing to chuck that whole past so as to be completely renewed?  Paul goes on to tell what that new person looks like:

Since you are all set apart by God, make holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life:  compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  (Col 3:12) These internal qualities, reflecting my new identity, then should translate into new set of relationship behavior:  Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, just as the Lord pardoned you.  And above all things, put on love!  Love is the perfect tie to bind these together.  It generates peace.  And be thankful. (Col 3:16)

Paul goes on to list several worship/wisdom efforts:  teach, counsel and instruct one another.  Sing songs and psalms inspired by the Spirit.  Be thankful.  And no matter what you do, it will be all for Jesus.  Belief is not enough for Paul:  it must produce right living.

I like to say it this way.  Belief is more than a good idea.  Lots of people think Jesus had some good ideas.  Belief is depending on his life and ideas as models.  Belief is valuing and trusting the Lord of the Universe, as he displayed himself in the life of Jesus, as the source for the life I should be living.  I need to get out of the ‘hood and walk in the palace, where I belong.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Pompous Piety

Don’t let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  They are just a shadow of the things to come.  The reality of life is found in Christ, not these rites. 
Don’t let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.  Such a person…is puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind.  They have lost connection with the head (who is Christ) from the whole body... All these regulations have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Colossians 2:16-23

We know the world has nothing to offer us in righteousness and spirituality.  To the Colossians, Paul makes it clear that religious ritual is no better.  It is a vague representation of what can be in a person’s life.  While the community of believers is important, too much of a structural façade removes us from relationship with Jesus, the Christ, and each other.  Learning and engaging with the advancing kingdom, all under the rule of Christ, usually requires we look outside of rules and into relationship with a needy world.   False worship is concocted by people, but we are called to only worship Christ and serve his purposes.

God doesn’t require fancy, complicated and fabricated religious practices.  His plan is simple:  focus on knowing Jesus and advancing His Kingdom His way.  No other is needed.  No other system of religiosity satisfies.  All the rules, the rites, the requirements do nothing to bring a life to bear into life in the Kingdom.  

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.  Finding ways to engage the truths Jesus purports requires more than just showing up, more than passive acquiescence to another’s design for worship and a life well-lived.  Determine to be in hot pursuit of the living Christ.  Following Jesus wholeheartedly will clarify life and the choices you may face. All else will fall away. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Kingdom

To the church at Philadelphia: 

I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut.  I have done this despite your limited strength, yet you obeyed my word and have not denied my name…Because you have obeyed my instructions to endure and be patient, I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test.  I will soon return.  Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor’s wreath.  Anyone who conquers through faithfulness, I will plant as a pillar in the temple of God and that person will never have to leave the presence of God. Revelation 8, 10-12

This passage is addressed to a faithful body of believers and I want it to be true for me!  Faithfulness will conquer!  This faithfulness involves being true to Jesus and His Kingdom, where my citizenship is housed.  It is my belonging place. When all else crumbles, when the façade falls around me, I will be standing on the surety of God-in-me and the evidence of His Kingdom.  

During my time on earth so far, the presence of Jesus’ Kingdom seems so clear and as I have entered into his realm (his way and his path), it’s amazing in what He has allowed me to participate.  I didn’t always see it so clearly when I was younger and the world’s siren call still held some (false) truth, but now I see that my allegiance can only be to one Kingdom.  Even the kingdom I built for myself, my small realm where I thought my will ruled, has now been subjected to the rule of the living Lord.  His rule is so much better and better for me!

I am grateful for this citizenship which will carry me into eternity.  No other passport exists for that trip other than that of the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Rejoice in the Lord always!  I will say it again!  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Don't be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philipians 4:4-7

The Lord is ever present with us !  That is our joy!  He loves the sound of our voices.  He holds the truth, the best for us.  Rejoice!

I think of the anxiety our life holds:  some things in our control, most not.  We currently have a pandemic encircling the globe.  Differing solutions.  Contentious debates.  A time when we might support each other, the disease requires we separate.  Not only is daily life disrupted, but political processes are in question.  National leadership worries us.

Yet God!    If I wallow in my misery and worries, I miss seeing his activity.  I miss seeing him.  Paul tells us to call out. He says to find that sacred place where our pleas can be pure.  Prayer and petition.  My tears need not be.  I need not be afraid! God is present.  He is able.

Dear Lord, watch over my heart and mind!  Lift my understanding.  In fact, lift me to you!  It is there I can have a wider view.  Maybe I can see things as you see them. Amen!

Peace comes from having a different perspective, God's perspective, knowing that God is in control and that he has a plan.  A plan that is limitless, dependable and for our good.  Rejoice!

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Eternal Life Now

God designed people to be a receptacle of the divine, a place where the life of God flows.  Jesus came to demonstrate that humanity could house divinity.  Thus, he became a doorway for people to access a life that has the qualities of eternity.  

Jesus' presence on earth makes it possible for all of us to receive the Holy Spirit as assuredly present (humanity houses divinity). (John 14)  To ordinary human beings, he makes it his mission to offer freedom and wholeness (Luke 4:18).  He brings light and life.  (John 8).  It seems no simple matter to make it possible for human beings to receive glory, yet Jesus does (John 17).  

This is no ordinary life.  It is how any of us can live "right side up," as Dallas Willard says, and head in the right direction.  This is good news.  This is the best news.  Heaven's evidence begins in me now.  For this I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Hold on!

While I have not yet arrived, nor have I become perfect, still I am charging on to gain anything the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, has in store for me - and nothing will get in my way because He has grabbed me and won't let me go.  Brothers and sisters, I know I am not complete but there's one thing I am doing:  leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission.  I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts:  to cross the line, to win the prize and to hear God's call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:12-14

My favorite line is "He has grabbed me and won't let go."  In the NIV, the translation reads "I hold on to that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."  Under the power of His attachment to me, I attach to Him:  I hold on!  This creates a sense of the tandem effort (Christ's being the greater), that Paul is depending on to advance to his ultimate goal:  heaven.

I have to leave all behind, drop my baggage, in the pursuit of the resurrected life.  Too often, we hold on to other things not helpful in the faith walk, which keep us from grabbing hold of the hand that Jesus Christ offers to us.  

As a former rock climber, the climb represents a good analogy.  Whether I use a hand up from a fellow climber or use the rope system to pull myself up, I depend on the placement and strength of my buddy or the ropes.  They don't give way.  They guide.  To engage the climb and the help offered, I cannot look back; my hands and feet have to be clear of all encumbrances not useful for the climb. My eyes have to be engaged on the system offered to me.

I see that Jesus, as he offers the hand, requires a total commitment from me.  Leave the past behind.  Embrace the present - the present moment and present gift of a life with Christ.  And to keep my eyes on the path I am on, both present and future.  I see it now:  it is the gift of the presence of Kingdom of Heaven now.  That is my focus.  It is my hope and surety.

Jesus was intent to offer this new life and his hand that is to lead us into new life.  He was intent upon its presentation.  The present tense nature of the language shows that this "attained" life is offered now; the only delay would be us.  God intends to give us access for life today, as much as the future.

For now, let's hold on to what we have been shown.  (The Voice)
Let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV)
Philippians 3:16

Friday, February 21, 2020


Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.  Remember, then, what you have received and heard; hold it fast and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know at what time I will come to you.  The one who is victorious will be dressed in white.  I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
Revelation 3:2,3, 5

It seems that the church in Sardis has lost sight of the ultimate goal of God.  They got sidetracked and have unfinished business with God.  It's interesting that we are not talking about overtly "bad" sins that we think about - cheating, killing, gossiping that John is writing about - but rather "unfinished business" that has fallen short of God's plans.  Coming up short, lacking victory is about to kill whatever progress they once made.

How much do I get sidetracked?  How much have I separated from The Way, The Truth and The Life that God intended for me.  What keeps me from Jesus?  Too much electronics?  Too much self-focus?  Too much enmeshment in this world?

I think about that first wave of Spirit-led life that I held in times of renewal:  truths I need to go back to; trust I need to regain.  To come "awake" to those, to grow conscious again of the guidance they hold in my life is crucial, John says, to be victorious and to be ready for the returning Christ.

This may mean the final return of Christ, but have my distractions and other-reliance caused me to miss Christ's presence and possibilities today?  The world's call to evil and to sin will cause me to miss the mark of his presence guiding me along The Way.  When he comes along, I may have missed the chance to be led or comforted.  I may have missed the path altogether.

I want to be recognizeable and seen (dressed in white) on the day present or final at the coming of the Lord!  I want to put aside distractions and diversions which would cause me to miss Him! I need to finish the business that the Lord has begun in me!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Terror or Treachery

O how terrible for those who confuse good with evil, right with wrong, light with dark, sweet with bitter!  O how terrible for those who think they're so wise, who consider themselves so clever! 
Isaiah 5:20 

I have been an alcohol and drug counselor and prevention specialist for 30 years and if I have to listen to this statement one more time....

"I don't regret my (bad) history (whether abuse, bad circumstances or poor choices), it's made me strong."

This is a lie.  Those things - whether terror or treachery - have not made you stronger, but rather made you weaker.  Look at your trajectory:
  •   Have you been able to persevere?
  •   Have you been able to do the right thing?
  •   Have you had success by any definition?
  •   Have you been able to maintain healthy relationships?
  •  Have you been able to set goals and follow through to completion?
  •   Have you kept yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy?
I would contend NOT!  Otherwise, we would not be in relationship right now with me as your coach or counselor.  Not only have you not done the right thing, you are so blinded that you cannot discern right from wrong, distinguish right from wrong and, in fact, you call the wrong "right."  Totally blinded.  Let alone have any ability - strength or direction - to do what is right, even if you could see it.

How terrible for those "heroes" who can outdrink anyone, those "champions" who take pride in their mixed drinks; those judges who set the guilt free in exchange for "a little something," all the while denying the innocent what they deserve!  It is no wonder that the LORD burns with anger at His people.  
Isaiah 5:22, 23, 25.