Tuesday, July 31, 2012


You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)

Most everyone knows this passage. Most know it was said by Jesus. Many know that Jesus embodies the truth. Some invest everything in trying to obey and follow Him.

Bear with me. Here is another take. One I think is just as faithful. If the words Jesus (or God) utters are the truth, do we listen to the GOOD truth about ourselves?
Here is the truth.
  • ·         You are more than a product of all that has happened to you. There is New Life.
  • ·         Not everything is your fault and you are forgiven for that which is. God allows do-overs.
  • ·         You are beautiful and just what God thought the world needs.
  • ·         You are not anyone else's project (or object)
  • ·         You are awesomely gifted. Do sweat what you don't have. You are not accountable for that. Test drive what you do have.
  • ·         Your value does not lie in your beauty, popularity, political leanings, youth, wealth, ability, or productivity. You just plain have value.
I dare you to embrace you today. Do it as tenaciously as God does.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Echo

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely
more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from
generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus
for ever and ever.     Amen.     Ephesians 3:20,21

To those of the Episcopal persuasion, you might remember this passage from the end of Morning Prayer. It is in my top Ten Scripture Passages (I'll publish those soon.) I love it. I depend on it.

Here God picks up echoes of Genesis and the Gospels. In fact echoes of the whole of scripture. The echo goes something like this.

"I, God, create something out of nothing. I take dead things and bring forth life. The subject of my love is you. I dare you to imagine and create along with me. You may be too puny but I will cover what you are missing. Deal?"

Are you lacking imagination of beautiful things because you are too tired or puny? Are you setting your sights too low today because you think you are alone? Dare to imagine what God specifically yearns for in your world. Create something beautiful. Deal?
The REAL Angry Birds

Saturday, July 28, 2012

How Long?

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.  Habakkuk 1:2-4 (NIV)
My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:10 (NIV) 

Do you take God (and yourself) seriously enough to get pissed off at God? I mean, really let God have it? No eloquent prose or poetry, just “tell it like it is?”

Prayer is so much more than politely telling God what you have in the way of a “to do” list for him for the day. Prayer is honest speech and honest listening. Prayer is the crock pot of relationships. People who invest in one another can tell it like it is. The investment in one another is “no matter what.” Casual acquaintances employ a clipped politeness or flowery inflated speech (if they wish to impress.)

Not so with God. Only when we will honestly speak and honestly listen with the transforming reality of God and God’s power take hold of us and our situation. The world, our world is full of pain and grief and, I believe, God is addressing that through us, the followers of Jesus.

Go ahead; engage in a real conversation with your Maker.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


For those of you in Houston, no, not the 610 Loop. 610 Ash Avenue, Rifle, Colorado. Christine and I designed and built this house. We moved into a boom town. The only housing was that which was built. Beautiful stained wood exterior (needed to be redone every 3 years due to the sunshine.) I spent a summer hand digging post holes to fence in the ¼ acre. Planted a huge 500 sq. ft. garden.  Planted fruit trees as well. Even got peaches and apples off of them before the oil "bust" came and we had to move.

This past week, we returned to Rifle and western Colorado to visit friends and the sun without humidity. We checked on the house. Well, it was just plan ugly. Yellow vinyl siding (do they allow that in Colorado?) Cedar fence gone. Fruit trees gone. Two huge cottonwoods (junk) tree instead. No garden. We were crushed. In fact, the entire street (we oil field trash build most of it) was a mess.

God reminds us that we cannot go back and, in fact, trying to go back will only serve to lessen our lives. There was no past Golden Era. Memory is selective. Time cannot be frozen, only savored.

What will you do to savor today, as ordinary as it may seem?

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62 (NIV)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I noticed these on the pharmacy counter while on vacation. Every puzzle was made "easy." I wondered who would spend good money on puzzles anyone could solve and solve quickly. While there are a myriad of tastes, I suspect we want to feel good about ourselves by "conquering" puzzles. Why not make it total? Quite honestly, I prefer the Sunday New York Times Puzzle, which I NEVER finish. I like the mental exercise, the battle. And I learn.

Jesus said that we were not going to wring out much life from taking the easy route. Do you believe him? Enough to seek challenges and risks?

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Jesus purposely sent his friends out into the world to do the impossible with minimal assets. In other words, he weakened their ability to rely on themselves and their accumulations even while having outrageous expectations.

(Jesus) called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
Mark 6:6b-9 (NRSV) 

How often do we surround ourselves with so much stuff in order to minimize risk and pain? How much to we prepare ourselves for all sorts of contingencies? How many of us feel safe with full storage units? How many accolades or ribbons do I need to be comfortable in my own skin?

I think Jesus wants us to have just enough so that we MUST rely on him. Too little and we may be crushed. But too much and we become our own god.

I would bet that we all would benefit from divesting ourselves in order to rely on Christ instead. What needs to go?

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Feeling Good

I heard one of those "upbeat-stories-at-the-end-of-a –dreary-news-day" essays that often close a newscast at night. It was about a person who helped the homeless. During the interview, the helper said, "I like to feel good making other people feel good." I wonder how much of our benevolence and outreach is done because we like (or expect) the positive reaction of those being helped.

Having been in the helping business for many years, I have seen more than a few times when those being helped are hostile or indifferent to the help and the helper. And I have seen many helpers crushed as a result.

I am all for feeling good. I personally love it. Who would not? But is feeling good meant to be a fruit of service or the goal of service? All too often, we make it a goal and are hurt or angered when we do not get the reaction we anticipate.

Jesus served and, while he got some thanks along the way, he ultimately was killed for his efforts. His mission was to alleviate the suffering sin had ushered into our lives. He stayed on track regardless of the outcome. I suspect he enjoyed it when he was thanked by a grateful recipient. I am sure he cherished the fruit of service. But feeling good was not his motivation. Participating in God's healing of a broken world was. Jesus did as asked. It was up to God and the person being helped what happened next.

I hope your efforts to help today yield good responses and good feelings. Do them because they are the right thing to do. When they do not yield smiles, remember that God is pleased by your service. It is even okay to feel hurt. Just move on to the bigger picture. You did God's work and that's enough.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


As I watched the National Basketball (NBA) Finals, I realized how much we like stars more than teams. It was a battle between Kevin Durant (most people gave him a white hat) and LeBron James (most gave him a black hat.) And they were exciting. But the teams were a bit of an afterthought. We forget that, in order to win, other people need to rebound, score, block, assist and otherwise give a rest to tired stars. Oh, and we like to knock stars off of pedestals, too!

We are always on the prowl for the next superstar, whether it is in sports or politics or entertainment. None of these people, however, could reach star status without a supporting cast; most of who toil in the background for little fame or pay.

As cool as Jesus was, he poured himself into his team. He knew the success of his ministry did not depend solely on him but on others carrying it forward. Jesus even shunned the spotlight. The team needed Him and He needed the team.

Pay attention to team players today, whether at the store, work, school, recreation, home or church. Thank them for their important role.

Look beyond stars. Embrace the teams in your life. Value your importance on a team even if you are not a star.

Here is our Lord's take on being the "star."
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 
6 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death —
        even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)


In Mark's Gospel (which we are reading this year,) Jesus continually tells his friends not to talk about the incredible things he does or who he might be (the Messiah or the Son of God.) He does not say why. This phenomenon is called the Messianic Secret by scholars. I can only speculate.

Labels reduce people and situations to cardboard characters (cartoons) that we can fantasize about, elevate to god-like status or vilify and push aside quickly. We see this in the political arena. Every sound bite usually contains a label that can be quickly done away with. Liberal. Conservative. Taxes. Patriot. Healthcare. Business. Labor. Ditto Entertainment and the Heroes and Villains of nightly news.

I think Jesus knew that people and situations are much more complex than that. And he took both very seriously. Neither was brushed aside by him. I need to learn this.

Today, don't reduce things or people to a label. Remind yourself that there is more. Leave room for God to inform you and transform not only you and your thinking but the people and situations as well.


Monday, July 2, 2012

You're Not Special

These were words from a commencement speech of teacher David McCullough, Jr.to the Class of 2012. He was chosen by the students and he was not being mean or cynical. His point was that in your "everyone-gets-a-trophy-feel-good-about-ourselves" culture, the real prize may be found in working to develop our own innate greatness through sacrifice and suffering – even failure. Sounds like Jesus to me. The Resurrection comes only after death. Jesus tells us that we must Die to Live.

"You're not special….You see, if everyone is special, then no one is," McCullough said. "If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. ... We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. ... No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it. … As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans."

The peace and contentment that comes in being ourselves will never come from a false propping up of fragile egos. It will come from a life dedicated to the messy work of God. It is worth it.

What will you risk today for the Kingdom and your own peace of mind?