Monday, September 28, 2020


 1 John 1:8-10

If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.

Matthew 5:25-26

"Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you're likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won't get out without a stiff fine.

Admitting our sins-to God and one another-is as simple as saying ‘I’m sorry’.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Romans Road Sunday

 Romans 12:9-10

“Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (The Message)

Love loves the supporting role. Love rejoices in the success of the one supported. Oxymoron? Or ‘when one succeeds we all succeed’?

Friday, September 25, 2020

Light as Shared Life

 1 John 1:6-7

If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth—we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin. (The Message)

Matthew 5:23-24

"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. (The Message)

In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and the rest I suspect this would keep a lot of us out of church, if we practiced it. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Words matter

 1 John 1:5


This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him.

Matthew 5:21-22


"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

In the eyes of God there are no idiots. We are all beloved children. How we act, however, well, that’s a little different. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Training for Eternity

 1 John 1:3-5

We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him. (The Message)

Matthew 5:19-20

"Trivialize even the smallest item in God's Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won't know the first thing about entering the kingdom. (The Message)

Many imagine-or are taught-when one ‘gets saved’ some sort of switch is thrown and we immediately begin ‘walking in the light’. While this may be true for some, I believe for many learning to walk in the light is a lifetime process, much like being married. We are training for eternity while bringing eternity to the here and now. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Life and Law

 Matthew 5:17-18


"Don't suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God's Law or the Prophets. I'm not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working.

(The Message)

 John 1:1-2

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

(The Message)

Matthew 5:17-18


"Don't suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God's Law or the Prophets. I'm not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working.

(The Message)

Scripture interprets itself. In this case re-interprets. Do you see the connection between God’s Life and God’s Law?

Monday, September 21, 2020

Salt and Light and the presence of God


Matthew 5:13-1

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

The teaching here is simple and clear. Jesus’ followers are to influence culture by being Jesus’ presence-to bear God’s image and demonstrate God’s likeness. The Beatitudes describe the inner transformation needed.  The rest of the sermon will describe how that transformation works it’s way out-what demonstrating God’s presence looks like. Are you ready to open your heart to God? 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Romans Road Sunday

Romans 12:9-13

“Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.” 

(The Message)

The common theme here is simple-put others first. Put another way, work for the common good. Our brains are programmed in such a way that the common good becomes our good as well. Try it. 


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Passover and Exodus

      The call of Moses and the Exodus story, like Abram’s story, are very well known; I won’t go into details here, either. We are more concerned with what Passover brought about-the Exodus. Passover is one of three major festivals which required pilgrimage to Jerusalem (they are still major agricultural festivals and are still celebrated today). The other two are Weeks (Pentecost) and Booths (Tabernacles). Passover and Pentecost have been fulfilled in Christ. Interesting to note-the Tabernacle was the first place where God came to meet with God’s people after they left Egypt. Will the fulfillment of Tabernacles mean the permanent dwelling of God on earth? Remember this. It will be important later. 

Passover itself will become the celebration-and remembrance-of Israel’s liberation from slavery, the event by which Israel becomes a nation, God’s chosen people. It is hard-impossible, perhaps-to overstate how crucial to Israel’s identity ‘God’s chosen people’ is (again, keep this in mind; we will come back to it when we get to Romans). Israel was not just wandering around in the desert. They were being formed in the desert; formed into the people who would fulfill God’s vocational command to be made in God’s image and reflect God’s nature. This was how the promise to Abram would be fulfilled as well:

“I'll make you famous;

you'll be a blessing.

...All the families of the Earth

will be blessed through you."

Israel will accomplish this by bearing God’s image and demonstrating God’s likeness, by being the place where God comes to dwell with God’s people, which was God’s plan from the beginning. Freed from slavery to become God’s chosen people Israel would show the world the benefits of worshipping the one true living God. Freed from slavery to become what we were created to be all along. Freed from, to become....remember this too. This is important-crucial, in fact-to understanding the cross and resurrection. 


Saturday Psalm

Psalm 3

O Beloved, how numerous are my fears!

     They rise up within me whispering

      there is no help for you in love.

Yet you O my Beloved, radiate around me,

              my glory,

      lifting my head high.

I cry aloud to You,

      and you answer within my heart.

I lie down and sleep;

      I wake up again, for my Beloved

               holds me with strength

               and tenderness. 

      I shall withstand all my fears

               as they arise within me.

Rise up, my love!

Set me free, my Beloved! 

      for with you in my heart

      my fears will be transformed 

              into love.

Freedom from fear comes through Love;

May the Beloved’s blessing reign within

              all hearts!

from Nan C. Merrill; Psalms for Praying, An Invitation to Wholeness

Friday, September 18, 2020


 Matthew 5:13

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.“ (The Message)

  Salt is also a preservative. We are to season the culture and preserve God’s presence. In this way the Kingdom of God is present among us. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Sum of All Things

 Matthew 5:11-12

"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” (The Message)

How different from the prevailing culture today which demands ‘Christian values’ be accepted, by force if necessary. The ancient saying applies today more than ever: ‘Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.’ Is your life a Beatitude, or a political statement?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Blessed persecution

 Matthew 5:10

"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. 

(The Message)

This Beatitude demands careful thought. How do the key concepts-commitment to God, persecution, God’s kingdom-relate to each other?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Cooperate or compete?

 Matthew 5:9

"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.” (The Message)

The political implications here are quite clear. Where do you stand?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Romans Road Sunday

 Romans 12:6-8

“...let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” (The Message)

These are ways we can live our vocation to bear God’s image, to reflect God’s nature. Do you see yourself here?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Saturday Psalm

Psalm 100

Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved

all peoples of the earth!

Serve love with a glad heart!

Join hands in the great

Dance of Life!

Know that the Beloved of your heart

is the Divine Presence!

Love created us, and we belong to

the Most High;

We are born to be loving,

          Expressions of the Creator’s

Divine Plan.

Open the gates of your heart

with gratitude

and enter Love’s court

with praise!

Give thanks to the Beloved,

bless Love’s holy Name!

For Love is of God, and lives

in your heart forever,

With faith, truth, and joy, now

and in all that is to come.

Alleluia! Amen!

Love. It’s why we’re here. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Inside Job

 Matthew 5:8

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.“ (The Message)

Once we learn how to see, the what takes care of itself. The need, as Richard Foster once said, is for an inside job. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Care-full or cared-for?

 Matthew 5:7

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.“ (The Message)

There’s a bit of a word play here. Care-full becomes cared-for. Full of care for others becomes filled with care from God. Care, as an expression of love, never runs out. Never. Ever. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Setting things Right

 Matthew 5:6

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.“ (The Message)

Peterson seems to be equating “hunger and thirst for righteousness “ with “good appetite for God”. God is in the business of setting things right, one person at a time. Starting with me. Starting with you. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Me, or me?

 Matthew 5:5

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.“ (The Message)

I will never be this person or that one; or even like this one or that one. But I can learn from them how to be a better, truer me. Do you see the difference?

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Kingdom of God

 Matthew 5:3-4

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.“ (The Message)

The first two Beatitudes are about emptying, preparing. The Kingdom of God will bring a revolution. God will restore God’s people to “...[God’s] image, make them reflecting [God’s] nature...”. But first out image needs  to go. Old habits and thought patterns need to go. We must be ‘born again’. Are you ready?

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Romans Road Pt. II

 Romans 12:3-5

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.“ (The Message)

‘Rugged individualism’ in our country has all but erased the notion of Christ’s Church as a world-wide body. What can you do this week to better understand how “we all belong to each other”? What is your unique, God-given part?

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Saturday Psalm

 Psalm24 (NLT)

A psalm of David.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.

The world and all its people belong to him.

For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas

and built it on the ocean depths.

Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?

Who may stand in his holy place?

Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,

who do not worship idols

and never tell lies.

They will receive the LORD’s blessing

and have a right relationship with God their savior.

Such people may seek you

and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.


Open up, ancient gates!

Open up, ancient doors,

and let the King of glory enter.

Who is the King of glory?

The LORD, strong and mighty;

the LORD, invincible in battle.

Open up, ancient gates!

Open up, ancient doors,

and let the King of glory enter.

Who is the King of glory?

The LORD of Heaven’s Armies—

he is the King of glory.


This is a Psalm of the resurrection. Jesus, God’s Messiah, takes us with him into God’s holy presence. We are already there. Shalom. Amen. 

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Kingdom of God

 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” Matthew 5:1-3 (The Message)

Are you ready to be a climbing companion? 

Are you ready to become the you God created you to be? 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Kingdom of God Pt.1

   “From there he went all over Galilee. He used synagogues for meeting places and taught people the truth of God. God's kingdom was his theme—that beginning right now they were under God's government, a good government! He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the "Ten Towns" across the lake, others up from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan. 

Matthew 4:23-25 (The Message)

Do you see kingdom of God as already present, a future event, or both? Why?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Wedding Pt.III

 9 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, 10 "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!"

11 This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum along with his mother, brothers, and disciples, and stayed several days. John 2:9-12 (The Message)

The first glimpse of the Son’s glory-the first glimpse of what God-With-Us might mean for humanity-changing water to wine, at his mother’s request, before his time, that very few saw, for a group of friends at a wedding celebration. And what does Jesus do next? Hangs out with his family and friends for a few days. What do you think they talked about? Imagine yourself in this story; first as the steward, then as a servant who knew what Jesus had done. Which role fits best with your understanding of who Jesus is?

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Wedding Pt.2

 6 Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim.

8 "Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did. John 2:5-8 (The Message)

An act of compassion, known only to a very few. It wasn’t his time, and yet......

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Wedding in Cana Pt.1

  1 Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples were guests also. 3 When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine."

4 Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me."

5 She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it." John 2:1-5 (The Message)

Jesus’ answer appears almost rude, yet Mary says ‘do what he tells you’. How do you think she knew what Jesus would do?

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Romans Road: Everyday Life

“ So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2 Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.“ Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Do you think God is interested in your everyday, ordinary life? Why, or why not?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Atonement or Passover

On this day when we turn our thoughts to the last supper, let me give you a few points to ponder. If the cross was (strictly) about atonement, why wasn’t Jesus crucified on the Day of Atonement? Why does Jesus celebrate this Passover and infuse it with new meaning? Passover was the first of three great pilgrimage festivals-Pentecost the second, Booths the third. These were mainly agricultural festivals; Pentecost was first or early harvest; Booths late harvest. (Many Jews today celebrate Booths by building ‘booths’ or lean-to’s in their yards). How should we understand the fulfillment of these festivals in relation to one another? How are they fulfilled in Jesus? In ourselves?

 “If you only know what [Jesus] has done for you you have not a big enough God...”My Utmost for His Highest

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Fake News

This morning I read a Facebook post that said a Virginia pastor who said or wrote or posted covid-19 was media-driven mass hysteria intended to hurt Trump had died. I did a little checking; evidently the story is true but incomplete. But fact checking, important as it is, is not what prompted this response. The story is heartbreaking for at least four reasons. 

The first heartbreak is that the death occurred at happened at all. I found this pastor seems to have picked up covid-19 ministering in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Here is part of a story from The New York Post, which I also found on Facebook. 

“As he battled symptoms, he shared a controversial meme on March 13, comparing coronavirus deaths to swine flu deaths, Patch reported. The meme is no longer visible on his Facebook page.
The meme decried the public reaction to the pandemic as “mass hysteria” and suggested the media was using the outbreak to hurt President Trump.
In the comments, the pastor said he believes the coronavirus “is a real issue, but I believe the media is pumping out fear and doing more harm than good.”
“It will come and it will go,” he wrote, according to Patch.”

So the post I read was correct but incomplete, which leads me to the second heartbreak. There will be some-including Christians-who will jump all over this. Some who will be pleased, if not delighted, by this mans death simply because he appears to have supported Trump. I shouldn’t have to say this but I will anyway. This is not the way of Christ. 

Which leads to the third heartbreak. We must-all of us-be very careful whom we follow. Christians by definition follow Messiah Jesus. That means having a world view influenced first last and in between by the Gospels, which show us what Jesus actually taught. Far too many today have allowed their political and economic views to influence their theology. It should be the other way around. Our world systems are about money and power. Christ is not. Think deeply about this before you respond. 

Which brings me back around to the beginning, and the fourth heartbreak. Concerning social media posts, do your due diligence. I don’t care what side you’re on stop spreading lies and half truths. This is not the way of Christ either. You, me, none of us posts in a vacuum. Our words have power and influence. It seems to me far too few of us stop to consider the effect words have. Remember, once the word is released it will, to paraphrase Isiah, not return until it has accomplished its purpose. A purpose which is not always intended.

Finally, a brief word about death. It hurts those left behind. I know this. So do you. But remember-Jesus was dead on Friday but alive on Sunday. To quote some radio preacher whose name I have I long forgotten- “Friday may be here but Sunday’s coming”. Let be so. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Hope in Trying Times Pt 2

Jesus says ‘There’s only one sign I’m going to give you: the sign of the prophet Jonah’ (Luke 11:29; Matthew 12:39; 16:4). Sooner or later life is going to lead us ...into the belly of the beast, into a situation we can’t fix, can’t control...That’s where transformation most quickly happens. That’s when we’re uniquely in the hands of God. It’s God’s waiting room.” Richard Rohr; Just This.

“I live by the faith of the Son of God.” This faith is not Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith that the Son of God has imparted to him — “the faith of the Son of God.” It is no longer faith in faith, but faith which has overleapt all conscious bounds, the identical faith of the Son of God.” From My Utmost for His Highest Classic Edition

Once again Chambers and Rohr arrive at the same place by different routes. The goal is always “to destabilize the imperial ego” (Rohr); Chambers calls this ‘giving up my right to myself’. The goal is always identification-oneness-with our Lord and Life. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Philippians 4:4-8

 Transformative words of comfort and hope for our trying times. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Hope in trying times

A couple hours age one of my Facebook friends shared a post that said something like “why isn’t anyone reporting 80,000 people have recovered from Coronavirus. I did a little checking and that number appears to be accurate. I also discovered the worldwide mortality rate is 4%. The nationwide mortality rate is 1.7%. 
Yes I know people die from auto accidents but auto accidents are not contagious. And yes more people die from flu but right here, right now we are not dealing with flu. We are dealing with Coronavirus. And yes I firmly believe God will deliver us from this pandemic the same way He delivered us from polio, measles, swine flu, HIV/AIDS and the rest-by sending us women and men of faith and science who have the ability to discover cures. 

In the meantime, while we wait, we will do well to take all necessary precautions, to be kind to and look out for one another. If this virus teaches us anything it is that we are all connected. Finally, I would remind us that Jesus, when confronted with the temptation to fling Himself off the Temple Mount, replied “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:7). Words of wisdom for today from Wisdom Himself.